Thursday, November 14, 2013

A freeze on the Washtenaw County real estate market? Not this winter

While it’s true that families traditionally plan their moves around their children’s summer vacations, several emerging catalysts are influencing a somewhat unknown trend: winter is a great time to buy or sell your home.

With the baby boomer generation retiring from the workforce and families finally unburdening themselves from a period of financial restriction brought on by the recession, a fresh crop of highly motivated buyers and sellers is rejuvenating the marketplace year-round. Additionally, recent data from Ann Arbor real estate team Piperpartners finds that the average amount of time a home spent on the market in Washtenaw County dropped from 62 days to 39 days between September 2012 and September 2013. In a market that competitive, many people looking to buy were forced into a holding pattern over the spring and summer months. Not confined by the academic school year, these buyers are ready to jump on the next great listing.

Average days a home spent on the market in Washtenaw County between Sept. 2012-Sept. 2013
Many sellers, assuming a drop in buyer activity during the holidays or choosing to not deal with the pressures of real estate during such a busy time of year, will shelve their listing until the spring. Those with property on the market through January will face fewer competing property listings. And while home affordability is currently at an all-time high, trends indicate that prices will begin increasing into 2014. Educated buyers know this, so sellers can expect a spike in activity among serious buyers between now and the end of the year. 

Number of properties sold each month are on the rise, a trend that we expect to continue into 2014
As we move into the 2013 holiday season, do not let old real estate myths put a freeze on your home buying or selling plans. Savvy sellers will face less competition for a still-strong pool of buyers during this period. And if the right home goes on the market in mid-December, a serious buyer — and there will be a lot of them — will take note.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today Clothing: Boutique Men's Clothing in Ann Arbor

Today Clothing is Ann Arbor's newest menswear shop, opened by Eric Hardin and Kevin Pearson, both veterans in the fashion industry.  Each owner brings incredible style, years of experience, and a passion for quality clothing, shoes, and accessories.  

Patrons often comment that they feel like they’ve been transported to Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles - the store itself is a destination.  The shop’s chic, clean style is unique to Ann Arbor and sets Today apart.  The boutique has been carefully designed locally-made poured-concrete tables, over-dyed vintage rugs, and a gorgeous industrial space.  

Unique, Quality Brands

Along with meticulous design, every item, product, and brand has been selected with great thought and care.  “We try to choose items we like, that we would wear and use,” Hardin says.  They also ensure they choose items that will age well, for customers to wear and use for many years. From apparel to shoes, and even accessories, there is care taken in each selection. Patrons will find classic pieces, remixed with bright colors, modern and contemporary flair, and high-end design. Every piece in the store is special - whether its a woven leather shoe, a dress shirt detailed with leather, or a classic wool blanket with an American history.
Kevin and Eric have curated a unique and beautiful collection of items and brands that highlight craftsmanship, creativity, and design.  The selection includes local designers and artisans - Goest Perfume.  The store has also worked with American designers and manufacturers to bring quality, fair-trade items.  

The owners have also selected a small collection of brands and up-and-coming European designers who all bring clean and modern sensibilities to classic pieces.  

For many of these European brands, Today is their first US location.  They feature famous brands including Apolis, Levi's Vintage, Tanner, Steven Alan, Philson, and Wolverine Shoes (largely made in Michigan).  Younger brands that are featured include AXS Folk Technology, Unmarked, and ISAORA.  

A Community Experience
Beyond impeccable style, Today Clothing is warm and inviting.  The staff and owners are happy to talk with anyone who walks in and help them find the perfect pieces.  They love to tell patrons about other stores and businesses they enjoy -- Literati Bookstore is just across the street and they are excited to talk about an upcoming womenswear store that will be launching two doors down.  
Kevin and Eric know the history and background of every item in the store; it’s amazing to see them at work.  Any shirt, jacket, pair of shoes - they can tell you a story.
Visitors to the store will see a new t-shirt hanging behind the counter every day, printed with the date, one-of-a-kind.  Eric and Kevin were inspired by artist On Kawara, a conceptual artist known for painting the date, to create something for Today.  
This is unique feature to the store invites you to interact and become part of their community.  What better way to mark a special occasion than to commemorate it with a completely unique, one-of-a-kind piece of art?

Perfect for Winter and Holiday Shopping

Situated on Fourth Avenue, just a block from Main Street and a quick walk from State Street, the store is perfectly walkable for residents and students in the area.  The store has been gaining in popularity, getting more and more visitors and locals to venture beyond Main Street to enjoy Ann Arbor's many unique offerings.
Today offers a variety of stylish, quality winter coats, boots, hats, and accessories.

Events at Today Clothing
On December 1st, the store will launch a special art installation from local artists who will be creating hand-numbered, “art-meets-commerce” art pieces right in the store.  Pearson explains, “There are a lot of creative people in this town, and it’s nice to create a space in retail for [artists] who wouldn’t normally have a spot like this to show their interesting [work].”  Today Clothing will keep rotating installations of art, collections, designers, music, and more; all focused on highlighting local talent.  
Today will also participate in Ann Arbor’s annual holiday shopping event - Midnight Madness on December 6th.  Hardin promises, “It will be well worth your while.”  

Today Clothing
215 S 4th Ave
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
Monday-Saturday 11-8
Sunday 11-6

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Literati Bookstore: Bringing Ann Arbor's Community of Readers Together

Hilary and Michael Gustafson are building a community of readers in Ann Arbor with their bookstore, Literati.  The town has long been known for its literary culture formed by writers, readers, students, and academics.  The University of Michigan helps Ann Arbor attract a rich community of scholars and writers who inspire each other and the city around them.  That is what Literati Bookstore aims to enhance and enliven with their downtown store.

Literati may not be Ann Arbor's only bookstore, but they are the only general, new bookstore in the walkable downtown area.  Nicola's Books offers great independent press books.  West Side Book Shop offers beautiful antique and used books.  Aunt Agatha’s sells mystery and detective novels, Vault of Midnight offers anything a comic lover could want, and a handful of other stores offer specialized selections and used books.  All of that adds to Ann Arbor’s strong culture of readers, but Literati is the first general bookshop to open since the town lost two other major stores a few years ago.  Literati’s owners have carefully curated a wide selection of fiction, poetry, children’s books, non-fiction, local favorites, young adult, mystery, fantasy, and more.  Literati has it all.

Literati opened its doors in April, 2013 and quickly found that Ann Arbor was just as welcoming as they had hoped.  As co-owner Michael Gustafson put it, “The difference was a punctuation mark… When we told people anywhere else that we were opening a bookstore, they’d say, ‘A bookstore?’ But when we told people in Ann Arbor, they’d always say, ‘A bookstore!’”  Michael and Hilary knew Ann Arborites would be excited about their business, and they were hoping that excitement would make their big investment a big success.

Building a Community

They certainly have tapped into that excitement by creating a space that lets their customers interact with each other and engage with their books.  They’ve placed Scrabble tiles for patrons to leave little messages to each other and the store.  The Literati logo is a vintage typewriter, mirroring one of their best touches - an open typewriter that is always loaded with blank paper.  Visitors can sit in the colorful basement, enveloped by carefully curated books and write anything they want.  People have left poems, epiphanies, confessions, jokes, and even letters on the typewriter that Michael carefully maintains.

Hilary and Michael shared that the local Violin Monster (a very talented violinist who performs on Ann Arbor’s streets in a monster mask) and a young boy named Logan became friends through the typewriter.  For weeks, they exchanged messages, and a friendship formed.  Logan is now the official Violin Monster Junior - violin and all.

The Perfect Place for a Small Business

Ann Arbor is more than a literary community; it is a city that strives to support local entrepreneurs and business owners.  “People are really into buying local here - they really want to support their local businesses,” says Hilary Gustafson, co-owner.  As the owners have seen, people in Ann Arbor are excited to shop local, stay local, and talk local.  That is part of why Hilary and Michael strive to involve so many local authors by holding readings and talks in the store’s basement.  

Megan Levad, MFA, is the Associate Director of the University of Michigan MFA Program and the Director of the Zell Visiting Writers Series.  She recently gave a reading at Literati and said of the store: “I think that Literati has done a great job already of curating their selections for our particular audience--which includes University professors and students, of course, but also a highly literate community of readers who are interested in being challenged by new literature.  It is an honor and a joy to share my work with those readers, and I look forward to hearing from other writers in that shared space.”

Readings are almost always well-attended by locals, students, and fellow authors.  These readings give local and visiting authors a chance to showcase their talents and personalities, while meeting locals and signing books.  Authors like Megan Levad, Doug Trevor, Keith Taylor, and Ray McDaniel give local flavor and bring energy into Literati.  The store also brings in children’s authors for fun and interactive activities with their youngest patrons.

The Power of Buying Local

Buying books locally does more than support a single store or a single owner, it affects the community around it.  Locals are employed and enjoy the benefits of events, readings, and excitement a store can build.  Literati has already employed quite a few locals in their store - even pulling experienced employees from the former Borders and Shaman Drum stores.  They are dedicated to having knowledgeable, well-read staff who are always ready to help shoppers find the perfect book.  

Literati’s owners have discovered that Ann Arbor is a place where creativity, community, and engagement thrive.  Ann Arborites are, in turn, discovering that Literati is a perfect place to continue building a community that is friendly, innovative, and full of ideas.

Literati Bookstore
124 E Washington St - Corner of Fourth Ave & Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Getting to Know Plymouth, Michigan

The historic town of Plymouth offers more than beautiful homes, safe streets, and great schools. Plymouth is all about community.  From the bustling town square to the grocery store, Plymouth feels like a small town with all the amenities of a big city.
Community events thrown by the Parks and Recreation Department, local committees, businesses, and others bring everyone into the heart of Downtown.  Plymouth offers a weekly Farmers’ Market, weekly music in the summer months, an art fair, charity runs, festivals, and carnivals at different times of the year.

Downtown Plymouth

Kellogg Park, at the heart of Downtown, offers many events for every season.  Art in the Park is an annual art fair that brings in hundreds of artists from all over the country.  The whole town comes together to find new and exciting jewelry, sculptures, paintings, photographs, furniture, and more.  Fall Festival is celebrated in early September every year in Downtown Plymouth.  Carnival rides, local artisans, food trucks, a car show, and live music bring excitement and fun into town.
Coffee lovers will enjoy gourmet coffee houses like Espresso Elevado and Plymouth Coffee Bean.  Fantastic restaurants line the Downtown area such as the Sardine Room, Compari’s on the Park, 336 Main, Panache 447, Nico Vali, and so many more.  Other great local businesses offer shopping for gifts, wine, antiques, outdoors equipment, and clothing – from men’s suits to casual women’s wear.
The Plymouth District Library offers a variety of programs for Plymouth residents, as well as an impressive collection of books, movies, music, and other media.  The library offers book clubs for adults (including Books on Tap for those who enjoy books and beer equally), children’s reading challenges and programs, and performances for children and the general community.

Luxury condominiums nestled in the heart of Downtown give residents a chance to enjoy the best of the community.  A wide variety of restaurants feature everything from gourmet seafood to pub food and Coney Islands.

Old Village
Courtesy of 
Old Village, a section of downtown, boasts historic buildings, unique local businesses and gorgeous homes and apartments. Whether you are looking for guitar lessons, an art gallery, or a local microbrewery, you're in luck in Old Village.

The train industry is celebrated at the famous Station 885, a restaurant in the former station, which offers weekly specials on Prime Rib and other home-style dinners.  Try a fabulous brunch at Crawford’s, known for its great omelets and French toast.
Liberty Street Brewing Company is a local brewery with many great beers and a fantastic, local atmosphere.  Herman’s Old Town Grill boasts games and fun for kids and grown-ups.
Old Village also boasts many professional services and beautiful homes.

Plymouth Township
Greater Plymouth Township enjoys easy access to the Downtown area, major freeways, shopping centers, and city and state parks.   The Plymouth area offers many amenities to every one of its nearly 10,000 residents.  The area boasts many restaurants and businesses that residents will enjoy.   The Township boasts many parks with walking paths, playgrounds, and public spaces for athletic activities.
Plymouth Parks include:
  • Plymouth Township Park
  • Hines Park
  • Fairground Park
  • Lion's Park
  • Rotary Park
  • Garden Park
  • Starkweather Park
  • K of C Park
  • Kiwanis Park
  • Kellogg Park – The main Town Square
  • Smith Park
  • Pointe Park
  • Caster Park
  • Jack Wilcox Park  

Plymouth Township is also home to the Plymouth Whalers, a major junior hockey and feeder team for the NHL.  Sports fans will love heading to Compuware Arena to watch games.
Many inviting neighborhoods and quality subdivisions are located within Plymouth Township.  Visit for more information today!

Courtesy of 

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools
Plymouth Canton Community Schools have excellent ratings and offer a wide variety of opportunities to children from elementary to high school.  The District consists of 15 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, and one alternative school.  Extracurricular activities are offered from athletics to academics and the arts.  Sports include: football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, softball, track, swimming, and more.  Many language courses are offered.  All of the high schools also offer many college prep and AP classes, which will serve students well as they move on to college careers.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to Get Your Kids Ready for Winter

Get ready to enjoy winter!  Michigan winters can be long and difficult, but most of the time they are fun and beautiful.  Few scenes can compete with the pristine beauty of freshly powdered yard and hillside.  Michigan winters bring lots of snow, which means winter sports and winter clothes are soon to follow.
There are certain preparations that will help your kids and your whole family get ready to safely and warmly enjoy the winter.
Winter Clothes
The most important part of preparing your kids for winter is getting the right clothes for the season.  The right outwear will keep your children safe and warm while enjoying the snow and many fun winter activities.
  • Coats

    • Whether it is at recess, waiting for the bus, or playing outside with neighbors, siblings, and friends, most kids will spend a considerable amount of outdoors this winter.  Parents should pay special attention to how insulated, durable, and waterproof winter coats are.
    • Look for bright colors, which will help make kids more visible at the bus stop and out in the yard.
    • Parents should also look for hooded coats with zippers that cover the neck.
    • Some coats also feature reflective patches that will help ensure your kids are safe even early in the morning or in other low-light times of day.

  • Snowpants

    • Every kid needs a great pair of snowpants.  Snowpants in a bright color will keep your kids excited and happy about going outside, but will also help you keep track of your kids on a busy snow hill.  That said, black or other neutral colors will be easier to hand-down from kid to kid.
    • Waterproof snowpants are always a good idea because they will help keep kids safe and dry as they play in the snow – even for extended periods.
    • Younger children will benefit from overall-styled snowpants because they are less likely to fall down and they add extra insulation.

  • Hats, Gloves, and Scarves

    • Gloves are incredibly important because hands are so quickly susceptible to frostbite and require extra protection.  Waterproof gloves will work best for kids who plan to play outside.  Snowballs and snowmen will be much more fun without wet hands.
    • o   Hats are another important accessory because heads lose heat so quickly and leave kids exposed to wind and cold.  Kids with short hair, especially, will need extra coverage in the cold months.
    • Scarves are less necessary than other accessories, but are a great addition to any kid’s winter wardrobe.
Try shopping local for winter goods this year.

Bivuoac Clothing - Downtown Ann Arbor
Great winter coats, boots, scarves, hats, and other accessories.

Sun & Snow - Downtown Plymouth

Winter Games and Sports
Every Michigan kid will love learning to make snowmen and snow angels.  There’s something really special about the first snowball fight or sledding adventure of every season.  Parents can encourage fun and safe play that will get kids exercising and exploring the great outdo

Easy activities like building snowmen or making snow angels will be fun for the whole family and require little or no supplies.  Sledding is another fun and easy way to enjoy the snow, but you will need to find sleds, saucers, or toboggans.  Practice safe sledding by choosing smaller hills for younger kids, and avoiding areas with trees or near cars.

Staying Safe
Winter requires that kids and families need to practice extra safety measures.  With ice, earlier sunsets, and snow accumulation, it pays to be a little more cautious throughout the winter months.  Give your kids and yourself a little extra time in the morning to bundle up and slow down on the way to school and play.
Because many sidewalks and walking paths may be closed, narrower, and/or slippery, pay special attention to any routes your kids may take.  Encourage them to slow down and pay more attention.
As long as your kids have the right clothes and the right guidance, they will have a great winter!