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Blog › October 2014

Home Staging Worth the Money, Effort? Yes.

Nearly every home seller hopes to get their property sold quickly and at top dollar.

Staging may be just the thing to help in that quest, according to the National Association of REALTORS’® 2017 Profile of Home Staging (

Using things like furniture, color, lighting, and accent pieces, professional stagers transform for-sale homes from ho-hum to oh-ah and work to make a property appeal to the largest number of prospective buyers

And their work has an impact: 39 percent of sellers’ agents said that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time the home is on the market, according to NAR’s report.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:


Additional findings include:

  • The most commonly staged spaces include the living room (83 percent), kitchen (76 percent), master bedroom (69 percent), and dining room (66 percent).

  • Staging the living room was found to be most important to buyers (55 percent), followed by staging the master bedroom (51%), and the kitchen (41 percent).

  • Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for buyers to visualize a property as a future home.



Open Yourself to the Twitter Universe

If you’ve not explored Twitter, you’re missing out on a vast resource for information, expertise, studies, links, and entertainment.

It can be a starting point if you’re facing a crisis, such as needing immediate information on long-term care or assisted living options or you need to find a contractor to make your parents’ house friendlier for aging in place.

But it’s also a place to pursue your passions, boost your career, and learn something new.

Look to Twitter for career advice and job hunts; chase down information about your interests, whether that’s photography, interior design, “Downton Abbey,” birding or the environment; follow organizations, such as art museums, linguistic associations, or pro basketball teams; and stay up to date on celebrities and favorite writers.

Twitter also is terrific for vacation planning, since it’s rich with information on destinations, deals, and group tours.

If you’ve not already done so, head over to Twitter and open an account. Learn more about Twitter, common lingo, privacy, and how to use it at:

Here are some categories to get you started. Keep in mind that these are the full addresses for accessing the information, but normally you’ll see Twitter handles  referred to simply as @xyz or @abc.


Personal finance:

Housing, universal design:

Aging, caregiving, health:

Innovation and technology:

News, city-specific spots:




Sitting kills

We sit at home in front of the TV and the computer. We sit in our cars to run errands.  We sit at the office for eight or more hours daily.

Then we sleep.

The sedentary lifestyle is a killer.

It’s not just weight gain that’s a concern. Couch potato habits also lead to diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

For instance, a recent study outlined in the American Heart Association’s “Rapid Access Journal Report” found that:

  • Men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure      than those with high physical activity levels, even after adjusting for differences in sedentary time.
  • Outside of work, men who sit five or more hours a day were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised.
  • Heart failure risk more than doubled in men who sat for at least five hours a day and got little     exercise, compared to men who were very physically active and sat for two hours or less a day.

Women don’t fare much better. According to a study about women, “Relationship of Sedentary Behavior and Physical Activity to Incident Cardiovascular Disease: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative,” physically inactive women who spent 10 hours or more sitting each day were at 63% greater risk for events related to cardiovascular disease compared with highly active women who spent 5 hours or fewer each day sitting. 

Women who met physical activity guidelines but sat for long periods each day were still at increased cardiovascular disease risk. 

Too much sitting other effects—sore shoulders, mushy abs, and a foggy brain—that are well illustrated in this infographic,

You don’t need to train for a marathon to combat the effects of too much sitting. For instance, guidelines for women who want to improve their health require:

Either 2.5 hours moderate-intensity (walking, ballroom dancing and leisurely

biking, for example) aerobic physical activity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity (jogging, uphill biking, and singles tennis, for example) aerobic physical activity or a combination of the two, along with muscle-strengthening activities two or more days each week.

When you do have to sit at work, there are ways to make those hours safer and more comfortable.  The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers up some strategies for reducing neck and back pain while sitting and ways to position chairs and keyboards. See: 

Every little bit of exercise helps, so instead of sitting at your desk at work the American Heart Association suggests trying to:

  • Walk during business calls.
  • Stand while talking on the telephone.
  • Walk down the hall to talk with colleagues instead of calling or e-mailing.
  • Stay at hotels with fitness centers or pool and use the facilities while on business trips.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or get off a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way.
  • Walk while waiting for the plane at the airport.

Even standing more during your day is beneficial. Learn about the benefits of standing at

For more on ways to improve your health, incorporate bits of activity into your day, see



Consumer Newsletter – October 2014

Canadian Edition; By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau





Boomerang Kids, Boomerang Parents

By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

When your kid decides to move back in with you and you end up returning your home office to a bedroom, know that you’re not alone.

According to the Vanier Institute of the Family (, Canadian seniors, boomers and millennials are increasingly living together and multigenerational households are on the rise.

It points to 2011 Census data showing the existence of 362,600 multi-generational households (or 2.7% of the population) and an increase of adults aged 20 to 29 who are living with parents. That figure increased from 27% in 1981 to 42% in 2011. Vanier anticipates multigenerational households to rise.

Homebuilders have recognized the trend and some, such as Metric Homes  and Smallworks (, now are offering housing options suited to the unique needs of multiple generations that are living together.

Cities too, are revising zoning policies to allow for the construction of granny flats. In Vancouver, for instance, the city’s policy ( on laneway housing allows residents to build small stand-alone additions behind their single-family property to accommodate family members or renters.

Upsize. Don’t downsize

Gregg Kantak, SRES® knows multigenerational living well, both as a real estate practitioner and because he lives in a multi-generational household. Kantak, a practitioner with Realty Direct in Largo, Md., and McLean, Va., shares a house with several family members, including his 80-something parents, his 100-year old grandma, a daughter, and a tween grandchild.

His living arrangement came about when the 55-year-old was planning ahead and thinking about downsizing from a multi-level townhouse to a single-story property.

At the same, time his parents were downsizing, his grandmother in Florida had lost her husband and wanted to move closer to family, and other family members had felt the sting of the economic downturn.

Upsizing and having everyone live together seemed like a great solution to Kantak. His family agreed. So they all bunk together in a 6,300-square foot house on 10 acres in southern Maryland.

Financial, emotional advantages

The arrangement comes with benefits for everyone, particularly for the seniors. Kantak’s grandma, for example, is being taken care of by loved ones and she can save money for a time when she may need skilled in-home nursing care.  His parents sold off their house and socked away the sale proceeds for their future and they’re now able to travel a couple weeks each month.

Kantak, whose family members get along extremely well, sees it as an ideal arrangement. On the economic front, he says, “It’s ridiculous that we all have expenses and struggle when we could pool our money and have that combined wealth working for each other.  We could all get a better quality of life together.”

Before they all moved in together, Kantak suggested a two-week staycation during which everyone lived together and did daily living activities – laundry, grocery shopping, going to the movies, and cooking dinner. “We wanted to see what ‘normal’ could be. 

The test-drive worked well,” recalls Kantak. 

And it turned out that dividing up daily chores wasn’t a chore at all. One person liked doing laundry, another enjoyed meal prep, and another didn’t mind cleaning up the kitchen.

Multiple communal gathering spaces, including a living room and two family rooms, provide enough relaxation spots for everyone. The arrangement also solves troublesome aging-in-place questions. For instance, two first-floor master suites with their own sitting rooms address the seniors’ living needs. Kantak expects that one day he’ll occupy one of those spaces.  

Unseen benefits, bridging generations

The other benefits of the lifestyle have nothing to do with money.

For one, multiple generations living together minimizes some of the intensive scheduling associated with caregiving because there’s always someone around to help Kantak’s grandma.

And rather than being at odds with one another because of a huge generation gap, Kantak’s grandmother and her great-grandson learn from one another. She imparts history especially well, according to Kantak, and he brings her insight into the modern world and a view of technology innovations. 

“It’s also a wonderful way to instill in younger people that this – ageing – is our future and it’s not to be feared, especially when you have this arrangement and know that someone you know and love, not a stranger, is caring for you,” Kantak says. 

5 Tips for Creating Your Own Modern Family

If your family is considering a move to a multi-generational house, here are five considerations.

Legal implications. Meet with elder lawyers and estate planners to discuss how a house will be titled, how to minimize tax consequences when a family member dies, and the effect the living arrangement has on estate planning.

Financial obligations. Have a realistic discussion about finances. How much money can each person contribute? What are everyone’s big and small – prescription drugs, tuition, cars, hobbies, and so forth -- monthly expenses? How will those expenses shrink or grow? For instance, will an elderly family member need in-home, skilled nursing care? How much can you afford to spend on a house? “Make realistic choices so that no one person is fully supporting the other,” comments Kantak.

Space considerations. Have open discussion about everyone’s needs and daily living expectations. What does privacy mean to each person? How do they want to spend their time? How do they relax? What kind of home spaces and amenities are important to each person?  Don’t set yourself up for failure by, for example, buying a house with one bathroom.  Be certain there’s appropriate space for everyone’s comfort, privacy, relaxation, communal gatherings, and meals. 

Universal design. Be certain the house has ageing-in-place features or that it can be retrofitted to include a bedroom or master suite on the first floor, 36-inch-wide doorways, walk-in showers and other universal design elements critical to ageing safely.

Daily chores. Decide how household duties be divided.  For Kantak’s family, it was an easy, organic process that was accomplished with open discussions. Thus, in his house, there’s no rigid agreement about day-to-day duties. But some families may prefer a more formal arrangement to minimize friction. Decide what works best for your family.

Additional reading:


Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market

Gary Born

Prudential Sussex Realty – Gary Born

604-990-6464 direct