Who Took the Dogs Out & Where’d They Go?

Dog Friendly Spots in Waukesha County

There’s no doubt about it, dogs are humankind’s best friend & more than ever – we are looking for places we can relax, exercise, or eat that will allow a canine plus one. So, check out some of our top picks for dog friendly spots in Waukesha County. 


The Tap Yard 

Enjoy a beer garden with your dog by your side at The Tap Yard in Minooka County Park, which happens to be a dog-friendly beer garden in Waukesha, WI. With brews, rotating food trucks, and the occasional live music – it’s a pretty stellar place to relax with your four-legged bud. It is open at select times of the year, so be sure to check before you go. 

Minooka Park also has a dog exercise area on 19 acres with an area for large and small breeds to run & play. 


Kiltie Drive-In 

We know quite a few people are counting down the days until Kiltie’s flags are flying again; we know quite a few pups who are too! 

The Kiltie Drive-in allows both owner and pup to enjoy the warmer seasons while dining on some classics, either in their car or the provided picnic tables. 

Keep an eye on the Kilties Facebook page, where they post as soon as they’re open!


Lapham Peak

At 1,000 acres, Lapham Peak State Park, in Delafield has something for everyone; with cross – country, hiking, mountain biking, and even horse riding trails. Dogs are also allowed to walk the trails, while on-leash. 

If you’re looking to get out in nature and get the dog some exercise – without going to the typical dog park, then this state park is a fantastic spot for you to visit. 

You will need to purchase a day pass for entrance purposes or purchase a year-long pass. 


Nashotah Dog Park  

Nashotah Park has two dog areas, encompassing 18 acres for off-leash roaming and playing. They have a large and small dog (20 inches tall at shoulder or less) exercise areas, to allow dogs to play with other dogs of the same size, with watering stations. 

There are also plenty of trails outside the dog park areas, where dogs can walk while leashed – if your dog prefers a more individual park visit. 


Lucky Mutts Bakery 

Oconomowoc is lucky enough to have its very own doggy bakery & if you haven’t gone yet, it’s certainly worth the trip. With sweet treats, custom creations, and anything else a dog could want, they’ll tell you they need one of everything! 

It’s also located in the back of the building that also houses Roots Coffee Shop, so while you’re picking up some treats for Fido, you can also treat yourself. Then, take your treats and enjoy a walk around Fowler Lake – which is steps away. 


We’re going to be enjoying these dog friendly spots in Waukesha County with our dogs this summer and hope that you will be able to get out & visit them too! 



seller real estate myths

Myths are commonplace in our world; it can be hard to distinguish between the truth and fiction with such established lore. Unfortunately, myths are profuse on both sides of the transaction when it comes to real estate. On Myth Mondays, we will be analyzing common real estate myths and using our experiences/knowledge to label them as truth, fiction, or somewhere in between. 


  1. You should price your house higher so you have room to negotiate.
  2. Home values listed online are accurate. 
  3. You should always renovate your kitchen & bathroom before you sell.
  4. Going with the first buyer is never a good idea. 
  5. Selling a home is just how it looks on TV.  



Overpricing a home is not the best tool to facilitate negotiations. The first step in starting negotiations with a buyer is getting them through the door, overpricing a home can prevent them from ever happening.

Additionally, buyers categorize homes in their minds often by price point; overpricing a home will lead to stiffer competition in the minds of buyers, as it bumps it into a different category of homes that may have more bells and whistles. 

Overpriced homes are more likely to stay on the market for longer, which can lead to buyers questioning the issues that may be causing a longer length of time – when it is all due to price. 

If you’d like to learn more about the issue with overpricing homes, check out our blog post on the topic by clicking here. 

Myth One: Busted 



An innovation in the world of real estate is the ability for sellers to look up estimates about their home prices online with websites like Zillow & Realtor. However, some sellers take these online prices as total truth – when in some cases, they may be misleading.

The estimates are calculated through an algorithm based on the price/square foot in the area. In this way, it is automated, focused on patterns, and does not give value to unique property aspects. So, although these estimates can certainly provide some insight, they may not be 100% accurate in all cases; especially if it is a unique property or there is a sudden market change that the algorithm has not accounted for in time.

It is important to note though that the algorithms have been worked on and are gradually becoming more nuanced, but at this point, it doesn’t seem that they can account for all property benefits.  

Myth Two: Busted 



Renovations are something sellers need to consider before putting their home on the market. Often, major renovations, like that of kitchens & bathrooms will not result in a major return on investment.

Zillow study found that a “mid-range bathroom remodel of $3,000 or less could bring back $1.71 for every dollar spent,” while higher-end remodels saw a more modest .87 cent return on the dollar. Meanwhile, Zillow found that kitchen remodels saw a return of .50 cents. So, if you’re remodeling these two areas solely for a return on investment, it is generally not advisable. However, minor touch-ups may be a good idea, with changing out fixtures or cabinet pulls to more universal options to help present more of a blank canvas for interested parties to imagine their own lives in the home. 

If you’re interested in learning more about remodeling or selling as-is and our agent’s thoughts – check out our previous blog post on the topic. 

Myth Three: It depends on the property and the seller



Some sellers go into a sale with the intention of not taking the first offer because they don’t see it as a good idea. They think that something better will always come along; however, that may not be the case. It is always a good idea to carefully consider all offers – no matter what order they come in. 

There are situations where it might be a better idea to wait and others where you may want to take that offer – it is all dependent on the situation. A good agent will be able to walk you through all the considerations

Myth: Talk to your agent to get the best option for you!



We all know it, HGTV. The channel were we can see home selling, renovating, updating, and building all the time!

There are so many television shows that showcase the process of home selling & buying. However, like most things on television, there is an element of production that separates it from reality. In this way, it makes it look like buyers only choose from a few homes, that sellers make decisions in minutes, and that open houses always sell a home. Although it does make for excellent television, it can be confusing & disheartening when real-life selling doesn’t work out the same way. 

Myth: Busted (but that doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying all of your HGTV shows!)



Myths can easily influence people’s choices and viewpoints on things. In the case of selling a home, it’s an important thing to be able to see clearly and not be influenced by the rampant misinformation. We hope that this gives you a better idea of whether these particular myths are truth, fiction, or something else. If you have any more myths or viewpoints on selling real estate that you’re wondering about – please contact us; one of our qualified agents would love to help you!



zombie buildings

They’re not out for your brains, but the empty office buildings have been termed zombie buildings – as they sit vacant, wasting away. These “zombies” are, largely, a result of the pandemic and the boom of work-from-home that came with it. Even now, three years on, hybrid work has become more of the norm, and these buildings remain empty. Experts fear these these buildings represent a debt timebomb and a potential destruction of the commercial real estate market as we know it, as commercial landlords walk away from these zombies. 


A building is a “zombie” when its vacancy rates result in  50% or less utilization. A research study done by the Boston Consulting Group found that, on average, vacancy rates have risen 5% and utilization has dropped by 28%. 


A big reason for these empty buildings is the covid-19 pandemic, pushing office workers to hybrid or work-from-home models. It also lead to more short-term lease options; as a result, 60% of office leases are set to expire in the next three years.


Although it may seem that the low utilization would be just an issue for the owner(s) – it’s not the case. As zombie buildings have been noted for a time now, experts are starting to see a cycle emerging

Offices are not being rented –> less money spent at surrounding businesses –> less rent revenue for those building owners –> less money for building improvements –> decreases property values & resources –> other businesses that cater to office workers must relocate –> more vacancies –> cities suffer 

This is not a problem for just one group of people or people of a certain tax bracket. Therefore, solutions require the work of owners, city leaders, lenders, and others. It requires collaboration on options for improvements and on how to break the cycle. 

In some cases, there are fears that building owners may owe more than the building is worth, leading to defaults. In February of this year, two office skyscrapers were defaulted on, with 784 million dollars in loans. Faced with loans due and decreasing profit, some investors are electing to give the keys back to the lenders. 


These buildings are a problem in most major office markets, but typically in markets that have a higher concentration of office buildings than residential and retail; as well as areas whose prevalent industries are able to accommodate work-from-home structures, like tech. 

Some examples of cities hit hard by zombie buildings are: 

Per Investopedia, within the ten largest US markets, more than 50% of office space sat unoccupied in June 2023. This could spell future trouble as leases come up, experts are afraid that the tenants won’t renew & as delinquency levels rise. 

There are also certain buildings more at-risk of becoming zombies. These buildings are specifically older, cubicle office buildings that lack modern amenities or are occupied by industries that do not have to work on site.


Property managers will have to consider their commercial portfolio and sections of different buildings to determine if they should:  

Many are asking for these zombie commercial buildings to transform into residential units. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that more than 2,000 office buildings in America could be converted into apartments; yielding between 170,000 & 400,000 new apartment units. As the United States is in a housing crisis, these new units could be good to help remedy the situation – especially as the three worst areas for zombie buildings are also ones that have high housing costs and a need for more housing. 

This conversion would also be a more eco-friendly and potentially more economically beneficial option – as it can be cheaper to retrofit buildings and if they were done in a “green” way it could also open up the opportunity for grants

Some other ideas that have been posed for these office buildings include: hotel or hostel conversions, pop-up shops, educational institutions, green spaces or urban farms, art/cultural centers or tech/innovation hubs, amongst others.


Although it may seem that these zombie buildings only affect the corporations that own or manage them, experts believe that the ramifications will be far reaching if no resolution occurs. They believe that over the next three years the number of unoccupied buildings will continue to increase; therefore, it is vital that cities, lenders, and owners get ahead and begin brain-storming ideas to reduce their economic hit and keep the economies of these cities thriving.   



 It’s every homeowner’s nightmare, their house crumbling away – but for some, this nightmare is their reality, as sinkholes swallow their homes. 


Sinkholes are holes in the ground that form when water dissolves the rock on the surface, resulting in a sinking of the ground. Although they can be naturally occurring, there are also actions taken that can cause them to develop, including: 

There have been a few prevalent sinkhole subdivisions in the news in recent years. A few notable include. . . 


Photo taken by Christine Wood Photo

Homes Affected: 14 

In Canada, a developer bought a land parcel overlooking Snake Bay with a plan for a 28-lot neighborhood of luxury homes with stellar views. The city’s bylaws required geotechnical reports to be done – which obtain information on the physical properties of soil, to ensure it is viable for the plan. 

In 2006, a report was issued by a geotechnical engineer for the site that documented sinkholes present and set forth a plan for safe construction. Due to this report, the city required that the developer register a restrictive covenant against the title on each of the lots, which would alert prospective buyers to the findings. However, buyers of the lots claimed that this important information was never provided to them at any point. 

Then, in June 2012, the first major sinkhole occurs, and in 2015, one claims its first home. Eventually, on Christmas Day in 2018, another large sinkhole appears and the city performs a report, which proved that continued use of the site could be deadly. On February 7th, 2019, the city tells residents to evacuate the site or face removal. 

The city reports spending $680,000 on ways to remedy the site. One of these reports estimated that a potential repair would cost upwards of $10 million, with no guarantee of success; the city did not move forward with any plan from these investigative efforts. 

Three years after being forced to leave, the state of emergency was liftedhowever, sinkholes were still a problem, and the value of the once million-dollar homes sat at $2, according to local assessments.

Now, the homes sit empty, slowly deteriorating with items destroyed or thrown around and the walls bearing graffiti; this video uploaded 9 months ago shows the current state of the neighborhood, homes, and sinkhole situation. 


 People in the Hideaway Hills subdivision say the hole is getting bigger.
Photo by Jack Caudhil

Homes Affected: 158 

In April 2020, a sinkhole appeared in the Hideaway Hills neighborhood – swallowing up an entire front yard. Since then, the sinkhole has continued to grow, claiming other homes. The sinkhole’s existence stems from an underground mine, that has caused instability in the ground of the subdivision; this is because the mine was never closed properly and extends beyond its recorded limits. To fix the problem, the houses and infrastructure would have to be removed and the ground supported via filling or putting in supports – before rebuilding. 

The photo below is part of the case, showing where the mining was occurring in comparison where the subdivision was built.

1968 USDA photo showing widespread underground and surface mining by the state of South Dakota, in the Hideaway Hills subdivision, where a collapse happened and a sinkhole opened in 2020. Green markings indicate the location of homes since built above the abandoned mines. Source: Fox Rothschild

The sinkhole has caused structural problems to occur in the evacuated homes, like:

This has decimated property values and made homes unlivable, causing residents to have multiple home payments or face the difficult decision to face foreclosure. 

In September 2022, a South Dakota judge granted the homeowners the ability to bring a class action lawsuit against the state. The suit claims that the state acted recklessly when it did not properly close the state-operated mine. The case is set to take time – if you’d like to follow along with updates, the case name is Andrew Morse and John and Emily Clarke et al. v. State of South Dakota et al. 


Residents of the Lake Padgett Estates community recently weighed in on how to restore Ocean Pines Drive where a massive sinkhole opened on private property last summer. LUIS SANTANA | Times
Photo by Luis Santana

Homes Affected: 7

In July 2017, a sinkhole formed and destroyed two homes; in the following days, five more became unsafe. Florida is a hot spot for sinkholes, due to the limestone in its soil composition – which is soluble. It’s such an issue that there is even an area coined “Sinkhole Alley” in central Florida

Even during the cleanup, which ended up costing around 1.1 million dollars, the sinkhole continued to expand in diameter, by 25 feet

The two main homes had sinkholes previously in 2012. These sinkholes were “remedied” through a process called grouting – where a dozen pipes or more are driven down into the soil with depths reaching 60 feet and then filled with concrete. Evidently, this remediation was not successful and led to an eventual failure that proved catastrophic. 

It is unclear what happened next to remediate the situation this second time – there were talks of connecting it to a nearby lake, creating a turnaround for delivery trucks, and a few other options. As of now, the site appears fenced and vacant (from Google Maps).


No, sinkholes can be a problem anywhere – from roadways, to single homes, to fields. The sinkholes in subdivisions threaten more homeowners, which is why you may hear about them. Some recent sinkholes that have occurred outside of subdivisions include. . .

There are countless other sinkhole stories on the Internet and plenty more that never actually hit the news, due to their level of notability.


Well, luckily, sinkholes are unlikely to occur in Wisconsin based on the makeup and distribution of the bedrock; however, that’s not to say it can’t or won’t ever happen (as seen in the Hank Aaron State Trail). 

Sinkholes can occur in any area that has krast, which is a landscape that occurs when water dissolves rocks. In Wisconsin, krast is most likely to be found in a “V-shaped swath from St. Croix County, along the Mississippi River across the bottom two tiers of counties, and northeast along Lake Michigan up to Marinette County.” So, if you’re looking to avoid sinkholes, you’ll want to avoid buying in a place with krast.

Although, even if you avoid krast, it doesn’t mean you will avoid sinkholes. Sinkholes can also be man-made, which make this variety more random and close to impossible to plan for. 


If you feel like you’ve been hearing about more sinkholes lately, it’s probably because you are. They’re becoming more common and happening more often across the World – mostly due to human causes. 

Human activities do have an impact on sinkholes – as it mostly relates to water, digging, or disturbance of an area. Human activities that lead to sinkhole development include. . . 

As disruptive human activities have increased, there has been an increase in the occurrence of sinkholes.


Sinkholes are a nightmare resulting in high costs, crushed dreams, and lengthy lawsuits to try and find a responsible party. When purchasing homes, especially in areas with high frequencies of sinkholes, buyers must be aware of the potential for them to occur with no warning. In some areas, sinkhole insurance may be available to add to a home insurance policy.  

Unfortunately, there are some things that are a part of home ownership and the potential for sinkholes is one of these things that owners need to be aware is a tragic possibility.



use of ai in real estate


You’ve undoubtedly heard about it; Artificial Intelligence, commonly shortened to AI, is a hot topic in the news. Essentially, it is the simulation of human intelligence by software, which allows it to. . .

  • Complete tasks
  • Create content
  • Drive cars,
  • Play chess
  • Comb through data
  • Analyze information and much more!


AI is impacting every industry; real estate is no exception – experts expect to see notable impact. They expect it to alter various areas of real estate, from transactions, to property management, to home ownership.


However, AI is already present in the industry, with data analysis programs providing information to agents, buyers, and sellers. It is a different market than it was around thirty years ago; when realtors were knocking on doors to obtain this information, they can now get it in a few clicks.


Current AI tools are things like Zillow’s Zestimate, tracking home values/sales to calculate an estimated value. As to the accuracy, Zillow states they are always trying to improve it through updates.


Although AI is already present in the realty industry, experts expect further advancements to make some significant changes.



The changes to AI will continue to affect buyers, sellers, and agents in a transaction.



Buyers will benefit from AI due to the increased amount of data and personalization offered to them. For example, AI Learning models will be able to create incredibly personalized searches. It will allow for more natural language searches, like “homes with water feature” rather than using a sqft. It will also promote other homes that buyers are most likely to want based on previous interactions. This will be similar to a website like Amazon, offering other homes based on an original search.



AI will impact sellers by allowing them to consider more data when pricing. They will also benefit from optimized listings, more marketing features like digital tours, and more predictability in decision-making regarding their home sale.



Some agents have already begun utilizing the new AI methods available – the most recognizable being ChatGTP. They use it to write home descriptions, create social media posts, automate responses, calculate numbers, and tweak emails. However, other agents see ChatGTP as a way to lose credibility or an agent’s voice in an industry primarily formed on personal relationships.

Some other ways in which AI is projected to assist agents are: optimizing their listings based on data, predictive analysis, and fraud detection.


Some agents are excited about future AI developments that aid their clients in making more personalized decisions, but that technology is still not here as of today. Other agents are apprehensive about this change. In the past, the real estate industry has been slow in accepting new technologies. So, to what extent or the speed at which the industry will adopt AI is still up-in-the-air.



Besides transactions, AI will impact countless other areas of the industry, like:
  • Property Maintenance & Management: AI can be used to plan better when properties will need maintenance based on running data and respond to maintenance requests from tenants
  • Property Valuation: AI is useful in valuing a property by compiling all relevant information on a site
  • Customer Service: Some agencies will use AI chatbots and response services for replying to common inquiries
  • Marketing & Lead Generation: Many will turn to AI for graphic design or content creation and chatbots for interacting with potential clients
  • Using AI to Build a Dream Home: Use it to visualize a space before actually building it.


There could be. AI has the potential to be useful and good, but it can be an evil force in the hands of unscrupulous or even unsuspecting individuals.


In the past, AI has been accused of discriminatory hiring and lending practices. In 2014, Amazon began to build an AI meant to review applications and help in hiring. The project was scrapped after a year, as the results showed that women applying for more technical jobs were discriminated against. They built the program with resumes of current employees, who were overwhelmingly male, so it searched for resumes that matched their current workforce. Luckily, they caught the discriminatory nature of it before using it on actual applicants.  It found three areas as discriminatory:

  • Any candidate who went to a women’s college
  • Downgraded resumes that contained the word women’s
  • Privileged resumes that used more verbs that men tend to use


Mortgage lenders already use software to run applications for a mortgage – called Classic FICO to determine whether an applicant meets the standards to be considered for a conventional loan. This algorithm was created 15 years ago with data from the 90’s and many consider it to be harmful to people of color. This is because it relies heavily on traditional credit, which statistically they have less access to. It also doesn’t consider on-time payments, but late payments will be regarded as harmful and punish people for previous medical debt even after it has been paid. Besides this standard, institutions may also run applicants through their own programs, which are often considered secret and the specific algorithm not public information.

In October 2022, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) announced some changes to the Classic FICO to reduce any discrimination [even though it has previously been denied that any prejudice was occurring]. They expect the changes to be fully in place by the end of 2025.
As AI becomes more used in real estate, transparency is critical to show that it is not unfairly discriminating against a protected class. In addition, the algorithm must be constructed in a way that will be fair and not lead to one population getting unfair treatment, either good or bad.



The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Some believe that AI can absolutely take over for real estate agents, with automated drones taking photos, ChatGPT (or the like) writing descriptions, and self-tours by way of automatic codes.


Others believe that while AI can undoubtedly take over the tasks of real estate agents, it will never completely replace agents – for the following reasons:

  • The process of buying a home is a complex and emotional process
  • Personalized service is an aspect of the industry
  • Humans are adaptable
  • There is value beyond transactions, like advice on property investment or assistance with property management
Meanwhile, others believe that there can be a happy middle ground, where qualified agents utilize AI tools to better assist their clients in their real estate purchase, sales, and searches.
If you’re looking to see why a good real estate agent is irreplaceable, reach out to one of our qualified agents who can get you started on your own real estate journey!

is airbnb over

The short-term rental: a furnished and self-contained housing unit rented for a short period (less than 30 days), has exploded in popularity in recent years; even the pandemic couldn’t slow its growth. However, recently, the topic of the sustainability and longevity of this industry has emerged. In fact, a hashtag about the phenomenon has been created – #Airbnbust. 

The company most synonymous with short-term rentals is Airbnb. A site where homeowners can put a property online to rent on a short-term basis, even just a night. Originally started as a way to make rent in the expensive San Francisco, the founders of Airbnb originally coined it AirBed & Breakfast, charging $80 for an air bed on their floor to those in town for a convention who couldn’t book a hotel. From there, they had ups and downs with the company, at one point selling election-campaign-themed cereal boxes to fund their start-up. However, in 2009, after entering the New York market and gaining funding, the site took off. In fact, not many will call a short-term rental an Airbnb, even if it’s not listed there. But, recently people have begun to wonder, is Airbnb and the short-term rental market going bust? And if yes, then why? 


Due to the popularity of Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rental sites, many saw them as the next big thing to invest in. This has led to some cities having numerous listings, usually in the same area. The pandemic played a role in this, as bookings increased by about 21% in 2021 and another 21% in 2022. These high rates of bookings, coupled with low mortgage rates, resulted in many purchasing additional properties specifically for short-term rentals, with a 19% increase in listings from 2021 to 2022. However, with all the new listings, a reduction in the travel frenzy, and high inflation rates – there has been a correction. 

This oversupply has especially been evident in cities with no short-term rentals regulations. The cities that do have rules and a cap on short-term rentals have not had the oversupply issue, as much. This has led to a continued steady profit for short-term rental owners there, due to less competition. On the flip side, cities with limited regulations on short-term rentals opened up an opportunity for investors that many took advantage of. This large pool of listings, is good for the travelers and no so good for the hosts whose listing are not selected. 

Is Oversupply an Issue? Yes, in many places there are too many listings, creating a highly competitive market for hosts


In terms of government, changes are happening there that are affecting short-term rentals. For example: 

—  A bill was just passed in Indiana that now lets local government units charge an annual $25 inspection fee

— In New York City, hosts must be present at the site if a guest’s stay is less than 30 days 

— In San Francisco, short-term rentals must be the host’s primary residence for at least 275 nights a year 

— Laguna Hill recently banned all short-term rentals as of May 26th, 2023

Wisconsin is considered one of the more friendlier states towards short-term rentals; however, that doesn’t mean certain areas haven’t devised regulations or even outright placed bans on short-term rentals. 

Recently, there has been a shift in many communities, whether they desire to keep a community culture, keep neighborhood prices down (for both rentals & purchased properties), reduce the potential for noise, or simply have a personal ideology to push their local municipalities to put a stop to or make new rules for hosts. 

Even if it is not an outright ban on short-term rentals, some of the new rules mean that a host can no longer make a short-term rental feasible, leading to a sale or transition into a longer-term rental. If more municipalities begin to enact short-term regulations, there could be a drop in listings, which may correct some of the oversupply; however, too many regulations may dry up the availability altogether, with hosts having to become long-term landlords or sell out. 

Are Governmental Regulations an Issue? They can be, especially as more neighbors are calling for regulations or outright bans.


Despite what social media would have you believe, the demand for short-term rentals is not slowing down. In fact, it keeps going up; in April, it was reported at 10% higher than in 2022, and the booked summer revenue was 14.5% higher. 

This heightened demand is certainly noticeable in the southern states and large urban cities and also vacations abroad, to European getaways.  

Although many post on social media that they are over the short-term rental market due to rising fees and hosts rules for their properties, the numbers don’t appear to reflect that. So, people are simply venting on social media and then still booking, or the amount of people who have sworn off Airbnb is so small that it isn’t going to have a noticeable impact on demand.

Is Demand an Issue? No, people are still booking short-term rentals, no matter what social media states.


The truth is, the #Airbnbust is largely social media overhyping something; short-term rentals have carved a place out in the rental market and are likely here to stay. Although there may be some oversupply and negligible fluctuating demand, more is needed to rock the industry. Currently, the two major threats to it are governmental bodies imposing restrictions and hotels entering the space.

Governmental bodies are hearing from neighbors who are unhappy with the short-term rentals and taking steps to alleviate these concerns. It’s a discussion that pits host against neighbor and is happening around the country. Governments will need to balance both sides, with community members concerns and the money/tourism that these short-term rentals provide. 

Meanwhile, hotels have taken notice of the lure of short-term rentals and have begun to venture into this space. Hotels have the added benefit of commercial laundry, cleaning staff, and on-site concierge service. These three aspects can be shortcomings for the small family-run short-term rental and give the hotels an advantage. This is alongside the fact that they have more power with governmental bodies and are not often in residential areas. 


Although short-term rentals are not “over”, hosts will need to make changes to survive this changing short-term rental industry. These will include things like: 

— Introducing more sustainability to appeal to the environmentally conscious renter

— Differentiating with design or hobby offering

— Appeal to a certain kind of traveler (some have begun to market specifically to Bachelorette Parties)

— Offering more services or a unique offering to renters 

— Improving upon their use of technology and data to make decisions and communicate with travelers 

— Participating in local events and building a brand in the community

— Working with governmental bodies and neighbors to devise regulations that do not threaten their business

Short-term rentals are far from over, and parties still have the potential to enter the industry; it will just take more thought and work than listing the property online to turn a profit.

accessory dwelling units


An Accessory dwelling unit or ADU is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot. There are different types of accessory dwelling units, with most falling under the following categories:

1) Detached ADU 

2) Garage/Shed Conversion ADU

3) ADU Above Secondary Structure 

4) Attached ADU

5) Basement Conversion ADU

6) Internal ADU

Although there can be many different types of ADUs, they have some similarities. These include aspects like. . .



Like most things, ADUs have their supporters and opposition

The supporters use the following in their defense of the units. . . 

Meanwhile, the opposition’s points against them include:

Some of these opposition points aren’t necessarily 100% accurate, but it is what is said in opposition of expanding ADUs in communities.



There are illegal, or rather unpermitted ADUs; these occur when additional living space is added without permits to allow extra habitable space. ADU owners that have the necessary permits, have legal ones though as they are fully permitted and follow all relevant zoning rules. 



ADUs are not regulated by state law, which means municipalities are welcome to establish the defining characteristics and rules for such places. 

Some municipalities have decided to regulate aspects like limiting the number of ADUs per lot, minimum lot size, setback limitations, square footage, aesthetic requirements, parking, etc. 

We recommend contacting your municipality directly if you are interested in potentially building or remodeling a space into an ADU to determine the restrictions or regulations. 



An ADU can be value-adding to your property, providing rental revenue or an increase in the appraisal value of a home. Different categories of ADUs can bring different levels of value



ADUs were common before the age of zoning took over, with extra little homes that were more affordable; however, the increase in zoning rules led to a decrease in ADUs. Recently, the housing crisis has pushed forward a new wave of ADUs, especially as rental prices rise. 

California is an excellent example of the increase of ADUs. In the 20th century, California pursued the removal of ADUs — instead preferring a homogenous neighborhood of single families to ADUs and apartments. In 2016, a policy change led to an increase in ADU applicants, and between 2016 and 2021, the number of ADU permits jumped 6,230% in L.A., and the number of ADUs permitted increased by 1,421%.

ADUs may not solve the housing crisis, but they could certainly be an excellent first step for a few reasons: 


Whether you call an accessory dwelling unit a backyard cottage, granny flat, or in-law suite, this form of housing is making a comeback and offering individuals an alternative to typical housing. If you are interested in adding an ADU to your space, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Be sure it is permissible in you municipality
  2. Identify your needs
  3. Evaluate your property
  4. Find a contractor
  5. Choose an ADU Style
  6. Set your budget
  7. Obtain the permits



ways trees benefit homeowners

Trees are an integral part of the environment, providing habitat, cover, cooling effect, and oxygen. However, did you also know that trees benefit homeowners who plant them in their yards? The following 5 points are reasons why homeowners should consider planting another tree, or two, in their yards. 


Landscaping is a large part of curb appeal, and trees can be a large part of landscaping. They’ve been found to have an impact on property value, with mature trees adding to a property’s value (the percentage can vary from 2 to 15% depending on other factors). The study found that the most significant increase will likely be seen in high-income areas compared to less affluent regions. These mature trees give a real character to the property and can help it to stand out amongst the competition on the market.


If choosing the proper trees, trees can offer a green screen or natural privacy barrier from neighbors – allowing for visual blocking and a sound barrier. 


In Lake County, and beyond, runoff and soil erosion can be a real issue with all the water bodies. Although many think these issues are relevant only to developments or agricultural land, this is a misconception.

Storm water management is an essential aspect of urbanization and residential neighborhoods. When rain falls on impervious surfaces, it does not allow the water to be taken into the ground; it then runs into the areas’ streams, creeks, wetlands, lakes, and rivers. This runoff can carry pollutants like nitrogen, phosphorous, metals, and bacteria, to name a few. Although cities typically have storm water management in place to deal with most of these issues, it is vital to be a responsible citizen and attempt to do one’s part in reducing this impact. Trees help to decrease the amount of storm water runoff and pollutants that reach the local waters in a few ways: 


Did you know that trees can help you save money on energy? In fact, properly positioned trees can “reduce a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 25%.” Planting trees can quickly become an energy saver with respect to three areas: shading, windbreaks, and dead space. Deciduous trees, or ones that lose their leaves, are ideal for energy conservation as they provide shade during the summer months and minimal cover during the winter; meanwhile, evergreen trees are best for providing a windbreak. But, of course, there are more planting rules than just the type of tree when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck. 

When choosing trees for energy savings, things to keep in mind are insect/disease resistance (especially if planting multiple trees of the same species in one small area), wind tolerance, height and width maturity, and timeline of growing (faster-growing trees are typically weaker than slower growing ones). 


A healthy lawn needs good soil to thrive, and organic matter and water are a significant part of good soil. Trees provide these two aspects by bringing in rainwater, roots breaking up the ground, and leaf litter providing organic matter. So, by planting trees, soil health will be improved, thereby, improving the overall look of your lawn. 


Picking out the right tree depends on what you’re looking for, as different trees can provide different benefits, so if you’re looking for privacy barrier, then you’ll want . . . 

However, if shade and cover is what you’re after, you would do better to choose something like. . .

Some individuals just want a colorful backyard, with flowers or fall leaves, which makes the following ideal choices. . .

Meanwhile, for those who want to attract wildlife to their yard, they’ll want to go for a . . .

No matter the reason for planting trees, it’s an important aspect of homeownership to consider. With early spring here, it’s a great time to consider adding a new tree, or two, to the yard. 

Real estate is not immune to scams; one that has become more common is real estate wire fraud. This scam occurs when a scammer contacts a homebuyer through phishing, tricking them into wiring cash to a fake account. This is a complex scam, with well-developed conversations to convince homebuyers to trust them as valid entities. 

Unfortunately, it’s one of the most prevalent cybercrimes in the United States, with over 13,000 people falling victim to it in 2020, a 17% increase from 2019. The highest reported came in the form of emails, with hackers forging emails and other information to assume the role of a party in the transaction. 

The amount of wire fraud increased from previous years primarily due to covid, according to those who monitor the crime. With the onset of the pandemic, transactions quickly pivoted to online communication, which made it easier for hackers. In total, there was an estimated $1.8 trillion loss in 2020 due to this scam, with the average victim losing nearly $100,000. The online presence of the necessary information to complete the scam, coupled with the number of transactions, rising prices, and all-cash offers all were factors that increased the occurrence of wire fraud. 

There are plenty of heart-breaking stories related to this scam, with people losing their life savings to these criminals. Hence, why it’s essential to be aware of this scam, how it works, and the best ways to avoid it. 


Real estate wire fraud relies on phishing. Phishing occurs when a hacker uses fake emails, phone numbers, or websites to impersonate someone. In this case, they would be impersonating a party within the real estate transaction. 

Typically, the hacker will use stolen information to craft an at-first-glance, legitimate email. These are not your run-of-the-mill scam emails either; they will look highly correct. However, after taking another look, you may notice some inconsistencies like double letters, an incorrect signature, or a different host domain. 

The process typically follows the following pattern, as criminals. . . 

       1) Gain access to a known party’s email

       2) Monitor communications, but wait to act until the money is moving

       3) Use a compromised authentic account or a spoofed account to impersonate. 

       4) Provide instructions to the buyer to steal from them 

The emails have four hit points, according to an expert in the field, that are common across all these scam emails:

The confirmation request after you’ve wired the funds is for their fast re-routing of the money into their own account, attempting to ensure the scam is complete without intervention.  

As a note, just because the person seems to know a lot about the transaction, it doesn’t mean they are legitimate. As these scammers watch the transaction, gathering vital information, they will know the perfect time to strike and also have answers to questions you may ask to verify their legitimacy. 


The first mistake is thinking that you’ll never fall for a wire fraud scam. It could happen to anyone, no matter how intelligent or well-versed in the world of real estate one is. 

In order to avoid falling victim to these scammers, these steps are suggested by experts. 

We would always recommend double-verifying information provided via email by contacting a trusted party via their established phone number. 

Also, if it’s an option in your transaction, to avoid wiring the funds altogether, you could always pay with a cashier’s check as a safeguard. 


There’s no straightforward answer; it varies based on the situation. 

It might be assumed that the bank or financial institution will bear the burden, as they typically do so in other instances of fraud. However, in real estate wire fraud, the bank is rarely found liable — as in most cases, the consumer willingly authorized the transaction. 

While the consumer is usually liable, it’s not always the case. Courts have also found the fault to be attributed to real estate agents, brokers, escrow companies, and sometimes even title companies if they are found to be negligent in their duties. 


The following are the best ways to improve the chances of recovery. However, it is important to note that only 29% of victims see all their money recovered, and in 40% of cases, only 10% or less is recovered. 

This article provides some further context regarding the steps listed above if you would like to learn more. 


Real estate wire fraud has become the unfortunate reality in this modernizing industry. In order to attempt and prevent the continual rise of wire fraud in transactions, education is vital. By reading this blog, you’ve already started your journey to learning more about this vicious scam. We would recommend continuing to read and keep up to date with this fraud, especially if you’re employed in the industry or entering it as a buyer or seller.



are "green homes" worth it

In today’s society, things are evolving to become more sustainable to reduce carbon footprints and the effects of climate change. This includes the construction and remodeling of homes.  

Some of the new elements included when building “greener” homes are:

The popularity of these initiatives has boomed as people begin to “greenify” their lives due to news on climate change; in addition, environmentally friendly homes cut down on total energy costs. Although there are new construction practices to create more eco-friendly homes, there are also plenty of renovations or improvements that can be done to an existing home to improve their impact on the environment. 

However, the big question is: are “green” homes worth it? To determine an answer to this question, there are a few other questions to consider. . .


Yes, environmentally friendly building practices do make a difference. In fact, new construction is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases, “accounting for almost 40% of emissions globally,” in a 2021 report done by the UN Environment Program. This, alongside using natural resources, could make traditional new construction an environmental threat. 

Certified green projects are environmentally friendly, using fewer resources and recycling protocols. They can also work to create a cleaner building space with the material used being less taxing on the environment. These changes make the home more environmentally friendly and reduce carbon emissions. They can also make the home less expensive to operate due to its energy efficiency, reducing total energy use, which is also eco-friendly. 


Buyers searching for homes do consider environmental impact when searching for a new home; to what extent it boosts resale value is debatable. 

A 2019 study found that homes rated energy efficient sold for 2.7% more than unrated homes. But, of course, one must consider that homes rated energy efficient are likely newer, and newer real estate typically demands higher prices. 

In terms of buyer desires, a survey sent to 1,000 agents in 2022 found that 48% said their buyers prioritize energy efficiency in their home search. They also estimated that the value it adds to a home has increased from $6,556 to $8,246. However, buyers are likely only willing to pay more for these environmentally friendly upgrades when they understand the benefits of it, specifically in regards to cost-savings, and even then, it is not guaranteed. 

Some environmentally-friendly features are considered more desirable amongst buyers, which may boost the potential for consideration of higher sales prices. The following percentages from the National Association of Home Builders show that:

Therefore, these may be the best to consider when pursuing eco-friendly improvements. 

Overall, may it increase resale value? Yes, it very well may, but it also may have no impact. Therefore, if resale value is your only motivating factor for making changes on an environmental level, then it may be best to reconsider. Alternatively, if you are doing it for many reasons like personal choice, energy cost-savings, AND the potential to raise property value, then it is likely a good path for you.


Yes, absolutely! Even if your home may not be built with or have these new environmental advances, it is still possible to create a more eco-friendly home. This doesn’t mean you have to get solar panels, there are plenty of lower costs options available. Some ways to do so include: 

And so many more! Check out this resource for additional ways to make your existing home greener. 

Additionally, if you ever decide to renovate or demolish an older home to build new, consider doing so in an eco-friendly way. Deconstruction, rather than demolition, is a green alternative, sending 85% less materials to landfills. The deconstruction industry is still an up-and-coming one, but a quick Internet search should provide you with some local options in your area.  


Did you know that the state of Wisconsin is going to be offsetting the cost of making your home greener? The estimated launch for the program is sometime in 2023; however, the current plan is as follows. . .

The HOME Rebates program will provide up to $4,000 per household and up to $400,000 to multi-family buildings for energy-efficient retrofits. The rebates will be provided on a sliding scale, dependent on the impact of energy use: 

There is also the home electrification program which will offer the opportunity to improve your home with all costs covered if your income is 80% of the median or below in your area. The cap would be $14,000 per household, with the following breakdown:

The most rebated item is heat pumps, although other things like electric stoves, clothes dryers, and insulation are also eligible.

Are you interested in either of these programs? The best first step is to connect with an energy assessor company that can determine ways to make the home energy efficient and let you know if you qualify for certain rebates. Also, be sure to follow the news to be up-to-date with everything concerning this new and upcoming program.  


Eco-friendly is the future of many industries, and real estate is no exception. “Green” advancements are being made in the building industry and will continue to be made, according to the experts, as it becomes more mainstream.

As to the question, are “green” homes worth it? The answer depends on the viewpoint from which it is being asked. If it is a personal question, and resale is the only consideration of the person, making their home more eco-friendly, may not be worth it for them; if there are other considerations, like environmental impact, it may well be worth it.

However, on a general scale, making homes more green is worth it in the long run, as people seek to reduce carbon footprints and ensure that the World is a cleaner place for the current generations, and future. 


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