What Are the Top Kitchen Trends for 2018?

So, every year, the website Houzz creates a trends report regarding design, kitchens, color, housing and remodeling trends.

You may be thinking of remodeling your kitchen.

Maybe just making minor upgrades.

Or just changing the color and accessories.

I just recently read a report that I would like to share with you on Kitchen Trends for 2018 that will remain trendy at least for the next few years.

First of all, some goals that homeowners are striving for when upgrading their kitchens:

  • Decluttering counters – 75%
  • Putting things away – 65%
  • Recycling bins – 49%
  • More home cooking – 48%
  • Dishwasher – 46%
  • High-end coffee makers – 38%

Refreshing the surface of the countertops was mentioned by 94% of those who responded to the survey.

  • 43% Engineered Quartz
  • 34% Granite

40% wanted to add a kitchen island.

And it’s 50/50 split on whether homeowners opted for a traditional or a farmhouse-style kitchen.

Total kitchen remodeling costs can run up to $40,000 depending on your area of the country.  However, upgrading countertops could cost as little at $3,000 to $5,000.  Depending on the brand, updating appliances averages $3,000.

Some less expensive updates are:

  • Changing countertops only
  • Upgrading faucets and handles
  • Adding a tile backsplash
  • Changing the door style (only the doors and drawer fronts) on the cabinets
  • Changing the sink
  • Changing the lighting fixtures
  • Painting the walls.

Home Improvement stores usually employ kitchen designers who will help you with the process.

In addition, keeping your kitchen on trend will be a huge selling point if you ever decide to sell your home.

The Fed Will Be Watching

A View from the Beach

March 6, 2018 –


The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January meeting were released the week before last. These minutes indicated that the Fed is comfortable that an expansion with “substantial underlying economic momentum” could sustain additional increases in interest rates this year. This statement was of no surprise to the markets, as rates have been increasing for several weeks now in anticipation of action by the Fed due to a strong economy.

With the next meeting of the Fed just two weeks away, obviously this statement heightens the possibility of a rate increase announcement at the March meeting. A rate increase at this meeting is not a certainty, but it definitely could happen. What could keep the Fed from holding off at this late juncture? The volatility of the stock market could be a factor, especially if additional drops become precipitous. Additionally, late economic data showing the economy is not as “hot” as expected would be taken into consideration.

The most important data is to be released this week. The jobs report is the first reading of data for February and is watched closely by the Fed. The Fed will be watching both the amount of jobs created, but also will be looking for any signs of stronger wage inflation. We may actually need a disappointing jobs report with no acceleration of inflation to convince the Central Bank from holding off at this point.


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Assessing Returns

A View from the Beach

February 27, 2018 – 

There are many questions which have arisen because of the movements in the stock market and interest rates. For example, how high will interest rates need to go in order for investors to start thinking that they can achieve better returns than the stock market? That seems far-fetched because the stock market has done so well since the great recession, with the S&P gaining an average of over 10% per year. But, keep in mind that these gains have included a rebound from sharp losses during the recession and were fueled by record low interest rates.

And where would one go to achieve these better returns? One possible place would be real estate. One reason rates are rising is because recently, inflation has become a factor. Well, inflation has affected rents being paid and home prices for some time. If someone purchased a house five years ago, chances are they have done very well — whether they are living in the home or it is an investment property.

As we have said, this year’s wild ride has made it even tougher than normal to make predictions. It is possible that these gyrations could start affecting economic growth, despite the stimulus of the tax legislation. Investor and consumer confidence are really important factors — and neither likes to witness the uncertainty that volatility brings. The best news would be for the markets, rates and inflation all to calm down a bit as spring approaches. Next week’s jobs report could go a long way to convince the masses that everything is on-track and not overheating — if we don’t get a surprise on the low or high side.


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Beach Repair Update

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Philadelphia District has announced the schedule for the much-needed repair of our beach. The work on our beach is slated to begin May 15, 2018 and is scheduled to be completed within 28 days.

This project, which costs $19,284,320, also includes dune and beach repair to South Bethany and Fenwick Island and will restore 1,437,000 cubic yards of sand to our beaches.

The work on this project will begin in Bethany Beach, move to South Bethany and then to Fenwick Island. Work is scheduled to be completed in Fenwick Island by mid to late July.

The work for the project involves dredging sand from approved offshore borrow areas. The sand is pumped through a series of pipes onto the beaches.  The sand is then graded into a dune and berm template designed to reduce potential storm damages to infrastructure, businesses and homes.

Pipe and other construction equipment will be moved to our beach and staging areas in mid April. Continue reading

Town of Bethany Beach – Flood Protection Information



Many areas in the Town of Bethany Beach are low lying and/or are located in Special Hazard Flood areas (SHFA) and are prone to flooding during storms and heavy rains.  Most areas lying north or Garfield Parkway (Route 26) and east of Route 1 are in coastal AE and AO zones. Properties fronting on the ocean may be in a Coastal V and/or AO zones.  Areas west of Route 1, specifically in Bethany West and Turtle Walk have recently been added to the SHFA and are in an AE zone.   If you are in a SHFA, you should know about services available to you and how to protect yourself and your property from flooding.


The Town of Bethany Beach offers the following services:

  1. Flood Maps and information have been provided to the South Coastal Library and are available for review.
  1. The Building Department, located on the first floor of Town Hall also has current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and can assist with determining a site’s FIRM zone and the base flood elevation or depth.  The Building Inspector can be reached at 302-539-8780.
  1. Handouts from FEMA concerning questions about the National Flood Insurance Program are available from the Building Department.
  1. Completed elevation certificates for buildings in Special Hazard Flood areas constructed in the floodplain since 1992 are on file in the Building Department.
  1. The Town of Bethany Beach uses the CodeRED Emergency Notification System which includes the feature CodeRED Weather Warning.  The CodeRED Weather Warning will automatically call citizens when severe weather (tornado, flash flood, and severe thunderstorm) warnings are issued by the National Weather Service for your address.  The CodeRED Weather Warning System calls only when warnings are issued and only if your address is in the path of the storm.  Bethany Beach residents can also sign up for CodeRED Weather Warning while signing up for CodeRED. Citizens can sign up on the Town’s web site.
  1. If requested, the Building Inspector and/or the Director of the Public Works Department will visit a property to review its flood problems and explain ways to prevent flood damage.  The Building Inspector can be reached at 302-539-8780.  Public Works can be reached at 302-539-1339.


The Town of Bethany Beach participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and flood insurance is available at a reduced rate to all homeowners in the Bethany Beach area.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a 10 percent rate reduction on the cost of flood insurance for all properties in Special hazard Flood areas in the town.  The Town of Bethany Beach received the NFIP rate reduction for implementing measures aimed at reducing property damage caused by flooding and increasing public awareness of flood risk.

Bethany Beach received a Class 8 rating on the NFIP’s Community Rating System. The Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes community floodplain management activities that exceed minimum program requirements.  Contact the Town Building Department for additional information.


In order to prevent flood damage, all development in the floodplain is required to meet current National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards for flood proofing and all new work is required to first obtain a building permit from the Town.  Those properties located ocean front may also be required to submit plans and an application to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Controls (DNREC) for review and approval.  Building permit applications can be found on the Town’s website.


Existing buildings with proposed “substantial improvements” or repair of “substantial damage” are also required to be brought into compliance with NFIP requirements for new construction.

Substantial improvement is defined as any combination of reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a structure taking place during the ten-year period immediately preceding the date the permit application is

submitted, the cumulative cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the reasonably estimated market value of the structure before the improvement or repair is started.  This term includes structures which have incurred “Substantial Damage”, regardless of the actual repair work performed.  The term does not, however, include any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state and local health, sanity or safety code specifications which have been identified prior to the application for a development permit by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions.

Substantial damage is defined as damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damage condition would equal or exceed 50%of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.


Town of Bethany Beach website – www.townofbethanybeach.com

The Town code is available from this site and Chapter 453. Flood Damage Prevention contains definitions and information related to construction in flood prone areas

NFIP insurance information –www.floodsmart.gov

You are able to search for an insurance agent, learn about risk and see what flood damage really costs

FEMA – www.fema.gov

This is FEMA’s website used to get the most recent Flood Insurance Rate Map and Flood Insurance Study information throughout the nation.  Available non-regulatory Flood Risk Products can also be downloaded from here.

Ready.gov – www.ready.gov/

The online tool created to assist everyone in creating a ready kit for evacuation from home or work.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control – www.dnrec.delaware.gov


The Wild Ride

A View from the Beach

February 20, 2018 –


Several weeks ago, we spoke about the negative effects of economic growth. The two factors we cited were higher interest rates and higher oil prices. Now we are starting to see the markets react to this new reality. Many are blaming rising interest rates for causing what we can now call a stock market correction. A correction which we have not seen for some time. Why would higher rates cause stocks to falter? Abnormally low rates have propped up the markets for years. Why keep your money in the bank earning 1.0% interest when you can earn 10% or more in the stock market? That is an over-simplification, but certainly higher rates are taking some of this extra stimulus out of the equation.

Not that rising rates are the only explanation with regard to the trepidation in stocks. As we also explained several weeks ago, the tax plan was great news for stocks because it immediately made companies more profitable by lowering their tax rates significantly. Stocks have been rallying for nine years, comprising the second longest bull market in history, but the rally intensified in anticipation of the tax plan. We surmised that all the good tax news was already built into stocks, but the rally continued anyway — until rates started rising.

The question now is whether this is just a healthy and long-overdue correction which may reverse quickly, or is it the beginning of the end for the bull run? As always, we will stay away from predictions. Rates could ease back down or stabilize — and the market could climb back. Right now, the economy is healthy and rates have not risen far enough to cause the economy to pause. Actually, if the growth eased a bit, this could cause the Federal Reserve Board to be less concerned with inflationary pressures and perhaps permit them to take their foot off the pedal. For now, we have a pretty wild ride going on.


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Unique Ways Real Estate Agents Can Create a “Brand”

A View from the Beach

Branding is the name of the game in this era of social media, email and online marketing – and let’s face it, you have a business to build.

There are so many different ways to brand yourself, but you many want to consider doing something different from what all the other agents are doing.


So, I have a few suggestions for you:

  • Bring donuts, bagels, sandwiches to local police and firefighters on a quarterly basis. Include your business cards and a sign “compliments of….”
  • Hang out at a local coffee shop with a sign on the back of your laptop that says “Ask Me Anything About Real Estate”.
  • Change your phone message on your voice mail every 3 months and try to make it more humorous.
  • Sponsor a cause that matters to you. Make it part of your brand for the entire year, and convey to your clients and on social media why you are passionate about the cause.
  • Join a club or organization. Invite me to join with you. Join a committee with the goal of becoming chairperson of that committee.
  • Connect more offline than online with calls, snail mail newsletters, postcards.
  • Ask for testimonials and post them everywhere (FB, Active Rain, website, your listing booklet).
  • Sponsor a family-friendly movie night. Invite past clients, loan officers, title reps. Provide popcorn and health snacks.
  • Record a 2-minute videos about real estate. Why getting pre-approved is critical when buying a home. Why you need a home inspection. About title insurance. The closing process. Home owners insurance. Certified funds at closing.
  • Instead of celebrating traditional holidays, send out on less recognized days. Valentine’s Day. National Donut Day.
  • Create a list of “fun facts” that most people don’t know about you. You speak fluent Spanish. You are a cancer survivor. You love oysters. This will help you connect with people who can relate to you and make you more “human” in their eyes.

Please let me know if you’d like to meet to talk about some of these strategies – and maybe we can do some joint marketing together.