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Top 10 Home Security Cameras

Reolink B800 camera

A guide covering today’s security camera options to help choose the best system for you or your clients’ property.


April 15, 2022 by Brandon Doyle

Home security cameras are a great way to check in on your property, deter criminals, and provide video evidence when needed. The cost and complexity of systems can vary greatly. In this guide, we’ll go over the various security camera types and provide information about some of the popular options available.

Wireless Security Cameras

Wireless security cameras are a great entry point into home security. They allow you to watch a property remotely and are easy to install, but they do have some limitations. There’s often a delay in detecting motion, notifying users, and allowing them to view the camera’s footage, which can be frustrating for the user.

Battery-Powered Security Cameras

Battery-powered cameras rely on passive infrared sensors to conserve battery power. They also only record once motion is detected, which can result in some missing footage. The video is sent wirelessly over your home network and to the cloud. From there, you’re able to view it on your phone or other compatible device.

Knowing what’s available in smart-home technology is a value-add for agents selling new and existing homes. Check out more articles from The Ultimate Smart Home series.

Hardwired and Plug-In Cameras (Wi-Fi Enabled)

There are hardwired and plug-in versions of Wi-Fi cameras available which provides an advantage over having to recharge batteries. Footage can be typically viewed from an app on your phone, and it’s either stored in the cloud or backed up locally on a hub or micro-SD card. With some camera systems, you’re able to record 24/7, though a subscription may be needed.

Fully Wired Cameras

Fully wired cameras, such as those powered over ethernet, can store the footage on a local hard drive called an NVR. The footage can still be accessed from an app or computer, but it can also be viewed directly on the device by adding a monitor. Advanced smart homes can use the video feed from the NVR to bring up the live feed on any TV in the house.

Many security cameras come with features including detection zones, which limit notifications and recording to only designated areas within a shot—avoiding the street, sidewalk, or even movement within trees that could set some cameras off. Advanced systems can use artificial intelligence to determine if the movement is from a person, animal, or vehicle. These features typically require the camera to have a constant source of power and may require a subscription.


Price: $200
Subscription/Storage: A subscription for one camera is $3 per month or $30 for one year; a subscription for all cameras at one house is $10 per month or $100 a year. The subscription includes cloud-based video storage of up to 60 days.
Video quality: Up to 4K
Ecosystem: Amazon smart devices, such as Echo and Fire TV, and “Works with Ring”–compatible devices.
Battery or hardwired: Multiple options for both
Installation: Easy
Detection: Hardwired versions have detection zones whereas battery versions adjust based


Price: $180
Subscription/Storage: Nest Aware is $6 a month or $60 a year and provides 30 days of event video history. Nest Aware Plus is $12 a month or $120 a year for 60 days of event video history and 10 days of 24/7 history.
Video quality: Up to 4K
Ecosystem: Google only
Battery or hardwired: Both available
Installation: Easy
Detection: Can identify people and packages, including “familiar faces” with Nest Aware subscription.


Price: A single camera runs about $100; packages with a base station start at around $475.
Subscription/Storage: Local storage available via Hub; to access cloud storage and advanced features, Arlo Smart subscription is required. The Premier Plan is $3 per month for one camera or $10 a month for up to 5 cameras, with up to 2k quality and 30 days of video history. The Elite Plan is $5 a month for one camera or $15 per month for up to five cameras, with up to 4k quality and 30 days of video history. Continuous video recording is available for an additional fee.
Video quality: Up to 4K
Ecosystem: Arlo App, Amazon Alexa, & Google Assistant
Battery or hardwired: Both available
Installation: Easy
Detection: Smart Detect can identify people, animals, vehicles & packages.


Price: A single camera costs about $100; packages with a base station start at $200.
Subscription/Storage: No monthly fees for local storage on Eury’s Homebase device, which comes with 16 GB of memory to offer approximately 180 days of storage. Cloud storage requires a subscription, which starts at $3 per month or $30 per year per device with 30 days of cloud storage. Otherwise, the fee is $10 a month or $100 per year for up to 10 cameras with 30 days of cloud storage.
Video quality: Up to 4K
Ecosystem: Eufy, Alexa, and Google Assistant
Battery or hardwired: Both available
Installation: Easy
Detection: Activity zones and facial snapshot notifications


Price: Version 3 is about $30
Subscription/Storage: 12-second clips are saved for free to the cloud for 14 days and locally to a card in the micro SD slot.
Video quality: 1080p
Ecosystem: Wyze app
Battery or hardwired: Both available
Installation: Easy
Detection: Custom detection zones; person and package detection available with CamPlus


Price: Cam 2 will be $35 but is currently available to preorder for $30; an outdoor cam is $159.99 and can be used as a doorbell; it is weatherproof and has motion detection, unlike Cam 2.
Subscription/Storage: Standard package is 20 cents per day or $6 per month, which includes seven days of activity. A professional package is 66 cents per day or $19.80/month, which includes 30 days of storage and person detection.
Video quality: 1080p at 30 fps
Ecosystem: Abode app, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant
Battery or hardwired: Plug-in
Installation: Easy
Detection: Activity zones, person detection included with pro plan, preview on notification


Price: Wi-Fi cameras start at $180, and a 4K NVR kit with four cameras starts at $650
Subscription/Storage: Free cloud storage is provided for 24 hours and local storage for 60 days available with Secure+ plan for $4.99/month
Video quality: 1080p or 4k
Ecosystem: Swann app
Battery or hardwired: Battery, plug-in, or power over ethernet
Installation: Wi-Fi system is easy to set up; NVR requires ethernet cables to run.
Detection: Zones and identification


Price: Battery cameras start at $110; wired cameras start at $55, and power over ethernet cameras cost about $100 each. A kit with 4 cameras and a 4K NVR unit is around $470.
Subscription/Storage: Free seven-day storage for one camera and 6.99 per month for 30 days of storage for up to 10 cameras.
Video quality: 1080p and 4K options available
Ecosystem: Reolink app
Battery or hardwired: Battery, plug-in, and PoE options available
Installation: Wi-Fi system is easy to set up; NVR requires ethernet cables to run.
Detection: Adjustable zones


Price: $109.95 on website, but discounted elsewhere
Subscription/Storage: Free 24-hour cloud storage, 7 days for $2.99/month, or 90 days for $9.99
Video quality: 1080p
Ecosystem: Toucan app, works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Battery or hardwired: Battery
Installation: Had connectivity issues
Detection: Customizable detection zones


Price: $59.99
Subscription/Storage: Locally on micro SD card with cloud storage available: 7 days costs $1/month, 30 days costs $3/month, Continuous recording is available when plugged in.
Video quality: 1080p
Ecosystem: Nooie app, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant
Battery or hardwired: Plug-in
Installation: Easy
Detection: Customizable sensitivity

My Top Picks

Best Overall

My overall recommendation is a Reolink NVR system that uses PoE cameras. The app is easy to use and the base unit stores 24 hours of footage locally. If you’re not willing or able to run ethernet cables to the camera locations, Eufy is a great affordable route with a lot of features that work wirelessly.

Best Budget Option

Wyze Cam is a great budget option to check in on your property or pets, but we would not recommend it for primary security due to the short clips that may miss key moments.

Best If You Already Have a Security System

If you’re already paying for a subscription to Ring, Nest, Arlo, or Abode, adding additional cameras within those ecosystems makes a lot of sense. There is no reason to pay for two subscriptions and it will be nice to be able to access everything within one app.

Whenever possible, be sure to install cameras in a location with a constant power source. That way you do not need to worry about recharging batteries, and you will be able to access all the system’s features. The current best practice is to install cameras that are powered over ethernet and connected to an NVR.

Brandon Doyle

Brandon Doyle

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. He is also coauthor of the book M3—Mindset, Methods & Metrics: Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. Learn more about Doyle at

Home Organization That’s Easy to Maintain

A Murphy bed along a wall can turn a guest bedroom into flex space for other uses.

Home Organization That’s Easy to Maintain

Share these tips with your clients to help them take a deep dive into decluttering and storage for greater efficiency and enjoyment of their abode.


March 14, 2022 by Barbara Ballinger

Key Takeaways:

  • The first step is to get rid of what’s not needed.
  • Homeowners should choose a space accessible for what’s used regularly.
  • Storage that’s in sight should fit the decor. Out of sight storage should have visible labels for access.

Bookcase on top with onion and potato storage below.
Bookcase on top with onion and potato storage below.

Having a well-organized house that functions for everyday living takes time to achieve. It requires putting in the time and having the right supplies for storage that allows for a harmonious aesthetic.

Whether it’s holiday decorations, winter clothing, legal documents, or children’s toys, storage that’s out of the way yet easy to access is an important system for the home. This helps owners avoid exhaustive hunts for items and feel more at ease in their space.

“When there’s a home for things, people tend to put them back rather than pile them on the counter, far from where needed, or on the floor,” says Raleigh, N.C., designer Leslie Cohen.

The goal should be to keep belongings so organized that a room’s contents add to rather than complicate daily living.

When the pandemic hit, and everyone was at home 24/7, even well-organized homeowners needed additional help. “I got calls for turning dining room tables to desks and areas for kids to do homework or Zoom classes,” says Santa Monica, Calif.–based certified professional organizer Cary Prince.

Extra storage above and below windows with creative use of shelving.
Extra storage above and below windows with creative use of shelving.

The good news is that there’s a growing cadre of support—members of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing, books, YouTube videos, and shows like Netflix’s “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Piecing together organizational hacks from several sources is worthwhile, and it can all be done in a way that enhances rather than detracts from decor due to an expanding assortment of attractive containers, bins, baskets, and file drawers. Prince has found that attractive storage containers are key.

“Visual clutter is what drives everybody crazy,” she says.

Besides saving time, removing frustration, and creating more usable space, there’s yet another benefit to home organization. Homeowners who decide to sell will find they need less time to ready their homes before listing.

Here are six steps that organization pundits say can help.

Kitchen pantry with attractive organizational containers.
Kitchen pantry with attractive organizational containers.

1. Declutter.

To get and stay organized, many follow Marie Kondo’s “KonMari” method of decluttering a home, which caught fire after she published her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her advice is to keep only possessions that spark joy and discard the rest rather than store them. A big part of that advice is to consider how much something is used.

“Do you really need five whisks and 10 spatulas?” asks Prince. “Curate your home like a museum might do by keeping the best and getting rid of the rest.”

Forewarn homeowners that this step takes time because it requires careful sorting of closets, drawers, cabinets, boxes, bins, and file cabinets. Instead of just giving things a heave-ho, homeowners might donate to community groups like the Buy Nothing Project or to a local thrift shop. Caution them to call places first. Due to the pandemic, many organizations are over capacity and might be accepting more items at this time, or they may limit the types of goods they accept.

Modern entertainment center with shelves.
Modern entertainment center with shelves.

2. Seek help.

Many agents are skilled in organizational advice. However, you may want to refer clients to a specialist, especially if they need a lot of help. Members of NAPO, stagers, designers, and even cabinet manufacturers have creative ideas for storage. For example, a homeowner might want to get rid of an old entertainment unit that looks dated and detracts from a room’s decor, but they need suggestions on how to replace it with modern storage.

Experts know all about finding furnishings that offer dual functions, often with inconspicuous storage, says Houston-based real estate salesperson Maya Peterson of These include benches and ottomans, custom sofas with deep drawers underneath, or custom bed platforms with drawers around the frame.

3. Improve available space.

Many homeowners think they need to add square footage to create added storage, but they might not be maximizing what they already have, Cohen says. She advocates for fashioning a better pantry or adding custom storage in a dead corner. These types of makeovers are less costly and time-consuming than building from scratch. One such hack that sparked interest during the pandemic was to construct a home office in an extra closet, says Charlotte, N.C., designer Laura Van Sickle, owner of a Closets by Design franchise. In Texas, many make use of floored attic space, termed a “Texas basement,” since most homes there don’t have basements, says Peterson.

Create additional storage with by going vertical.
Create additional storage by going vertical.

Other ways to find space and even make rooms look bigger is to go up, out, and under. Going vertical is smart in many garages, attics, and basements by using pegboards, hooks, and shelves. Homeowners can use a library ladder to reach books and other items high up or add a second rod in a closet, says Prince. A Murphy bed along a wall can turn a guest bedroom into flex space for other uses, says Marco Angelucci, design director at Philadelphia-based Marguerite Rodgers.

For homeowners who add horizontal shelves, Van Sickle recommends not extending them more than 14 inches so items don’t get hidden behind other objects.

Homeowners can also carve out new space beneath a staircase or take advantage of existing space under a window seat or bed. Paul Moody, an interior design and home expert with Pro Mover Reviews, says that under-bed storage is a convenient place to keep bedsheets in flat plastic boxes. But Nashville organizer Cynthia Lindsey-Goodman of Its Arranged, also a salesperson with Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty, warns that storage there tends to collect dust.

MasterBrand kitchen cabinets in Foxhall Green.
MasterBrand kitchen cabinets in Foxhall Green.

Some places should be used with caution, such as hot or cold attics or potentially wet basements. Besides weather, insects and animals may get into storage that’s not been well-sealed, says Lindsey-Goodman. Even clear containers should be labeled, and homeowners are wise to make a list on their computer of what’s where in case they forget or others need access.

4. The benefit of zones.

Organizational experts agree that the best place to store items is near where they’re needed. In some rooms that may mean setting up zones, such as for baking or food prep in a kitchen, says Lindsey-Goodman. Zones can also be set up in spaces like an attic, garage, or basement for what’s not needed as often. Garden tools might go in one area, old paint cans in another, and sports balls in yet a third.

5. Make storage visible and attractive.

While it sounds like a simple rule to follow, many homeowners fail at making storage attractive because they don’t have the right containers, drawers, or cabinets. This can be especially true with clothing. The advantage of a neat, visible system is that it can help homeowners dress faster. For example, Van Sickle likes to roll t-shirts and yoga pants in drawers to grab and go rather than stack them in a pile.

Drawer with pegs to organize dishes.
Drawer with pegs to organize dishes.

These days, companies like The Container Store, Ikea, and Target make it easy by offering myriad affordable options in rustic, clear plastic, acrylic, wood, and other materials to fit in with decor. Built-ins or freestanding furnishings should suit a room’s style, too. When done well, they can create a handsome backdrop for Zoom calls, says Van Sickle, who favors classic white, gray, and taupe hues. But pops of color can also be stylish such as glossy black shelves against a white wall, says architect Giuroiu Anton, CEO at Architecture Lab.

Lindsey-Goodman has found that built-ins can add value to a home, but some spaces don’t call for the expense. Generally, she suggests deciding based on how many years a homeowner will stay. If fewer than five years, she suggests portable furniture that can move with them.

Within the cabinets and drawers, design experts recommend internal organizers. “The inside of cabinets has dramatically changed,” says Mitchell Parker, senior editor at Houzz, a design and remodeling resource. What’s available includes options like inserts and drawer dividers, holders for plates, spices, and cookie sheets, and pull-out waste and recycling baskets.

6. Keep it flexible.

Large storage cabinets in laundry room.
Large storage cabinets in a laundry room.

Prince advocates thinking of organization systems like planting and caring for a garden. “Everything planted needs care and watering over time,” she says.

By making systems flexible, it’s easier and less costly to adjust when changes arise. Good examples are shelves that can be moved up and down, using brackets rather than those fixed in place, and pegboards with hooks that are easy to move, Van Sickle says.

A well-organized home can give a house an edge for resale. “Houses may be moving fast, but homes that are decluttered and well taken care of—where people can see the house and not all the stuff—will go faster,” Lindsey-Goodman says.

Ample kitchen storage in an open floorplan home.
Ample kitchen storage in an open floor plan home.

BONUS: Storage in the Kitchen

Cabinets with roll out shelves for efficiency easy access.
Cabinets with rollout shelves for efficiency and easy access.

Among the toughest rooms to organize is the kitchen because it has so many items often used, and it also doubles as a workspace for many people working from home. Jasper, Ind.,-based MasterBrand Cabinets, one of the country’s largest manufacturers, and J.T. Norman, in charge of business development, product design, and innovation at Kitchen Magic in Nazareth, Penn., offer these tips for keeping the room organized and looking its best:

  • Drawers rather than doors on base cabinets offer the same amount of storage but with greater accessibility, especially when rollout trays are incorporated.
  • Big walk-in pantries have become akin to small general stores with space for canned goods, utensils, pots and pans, small appliances, and sometimes even a sink, says Norman.
  • Panel-ready appliance fronts provide a sleek, cohesive look, which can mimic cabinet fronts and blend with cabinetry in adjoining rooms, sometimes part of an open plan layout.
  • Floating shelves permit quick access to items and a way to personalize a kitchen. But don’t eliminate all upper cabinets, since they can keep things out of view to help the room look neater.
Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor 

The Impact of Russia-Ukraine Tensions on the U.S. Housing Market

March 7, 2022International Real EstateBy: Scholastica (Gay) CororatonPlease note: The Tableau data visualization embeds in this post are best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer.

Any decline in international real estate transactions will have little direct impact on the U.S. housing market. Russian foreign buyers account for less than 1% of foreign buyer purchases, and overall, foreign buyers account for about 2% of existing-home sales, according to NAR’s 2021 International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate Report. Moreover, the decline in foreign demand will ease supply constraints for domestic buyers. And in the short-term, with escalating geopolitical tension, the U.S. Treasury Note and the 30-year mortgage rate may not move in lockstep with the federal funds rate as investors reallocate their portfolios toward U.S. Treasuries, as happened last week when the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 3.76%. However, should oil prices be sustained above the $100/barrel level, the deeper effects of higher inflation, bigger future interest rate adjustments, weaker global currencies relative to the U.S., and slower global growth creates significant downside risks to the housing market.

Russia: less than 1% of foreign buyers

Russia has little direct impact on the U.S. real estate market as it accounted for less than 1% (0.8%) of all foreign buyers who purchased U.S. residential property during April 2015–March 2021, according to data from NAR’s survey of foreign buyer transactions of its members with about 5,000 respondents. Moreover, total foreign buyer purchases account for just 1.8% of total existing-home sales.

According to the NAR survey, Russian foreign buyers purchased properties during April 2015–March 2021 in Florida (29%), Georgia (16%), New York (13%), California (8%), and Illinois (5%).

Even in Florida, which had the most Russian purchases, they account for just 0.2% of Florida’s total market during July 2020-June 2021, according to NAR’s and Florida REALTORS® Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida. Florida’s major foreign buyers are Canadians, Latin Americans (Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Peru, and Chile), and Western Europeans (United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy). Russian buyers were more active in Bradenton-Sarasota, accounting for 6% of foreign buyer purchases in that area during July 2020-June 2021. However, Bradenton-Sarasota accounts for just 4% of Florida’s foreign buyers, so total Russian purchases just made up 0.2% of the Florida market.

Russian foreign buyer statistics

According to NAR’s surveys, 41% of Russian foreign buyers who purchased residential property lived abroad, and the majority already lived in the U.S. as visa holders (e.g., for work, as diplomats, students) when they purchased the property. This is about the same share as all U.S. foreign buyers. Because a majority of Russian foreign buyers reside in the U.S., 54%, purchased the property for use as a primary residence, and only 36% purchased the property for vacation use or to rent out. Slightly more than half of Russian foreign buyer purchases were all-cash, and this is more likely of foreign buyers who lived abroad. Those who obtained mortgage financing are the buyers who reside in the United States and live here. However, there appears to be a preference for condos among Russian buyers, with 26% purchasing condos, compared to 17% among all foreign buyers. Foreign buyers who live abroad tend to purchase condos, based on the characteristics of all foreign buyers. So, Russians living abroad may have difficulty making payments on their condo fees, but the overall impact on the condominium market will be small given the small share of Russian buyers to the housing market.

The median purchase price among Russian buyers was $325,000, just slightly higher than the median purchase price among all U.S. foreign buyers of $303,200. However, the average purchase price among Russian buyers was $652,915, compared to $480,695 among all foreign buyers, suggesting there were more high-end Russian buyers.

Canada, Brazilian, and Mexican foreign buyers less likely to be impacted than China and Europe

During April 2015 – March 2021, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France accounted for nearly 20% of U.S. foreign buyers. Canada accounted for 11% of U.S. foreign buyers, while Mexico and Brazil accounted for 11%.

With two-thirds of Europe’s crude imports and 41% of EU’s natural gas coming from Russia[1], the Western European economies face a looming energy crisis (i.e., a shortage of natural gas and high prices).

Meanwhile, China may also be impacted because of higher prices for wheat, corn, and sunflower oil, as it is the second largest country that Ukraine exports to. China and Europe account for nearly 20% of U.S. foreign buyers.[2]

On the other hand, net oil producers like Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia won’t be as hard hit by a protracted Russia-Ukraine political crisis.

Texas, North Dakota, and oil-producing states face growth upside

In the United States, the economies of oil-producing states face upside growth prospects as oil production is increased to beef up global supply: Texas, which produces 43% of U.S. crude oil, as well as the states of North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Alaska, and Wyoming. More employment in these states will increase the demand for housing and push up home prices in these markets.

[1] Eurostat, is external)

[2] International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate,…

Gay Cororaton, Senior Economist and the Director of Housing & Commercial Research, NAR

Scholastica (Gay) Cororaton

Research EconomistScholastica Gay Cororaton is the Research Economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.

Picture of an off-white colored home from the sidewalk, with a large front yard and a white picket fence in the foreground.

Best Paint Colors for Selling in 2022


February 3, 2022

Greens may dominate paint firms’ lists of the hottest color of the year, but neutral colors still reign for the largest buyer pool. Eighty-one percent of interior design experts recently surveyed say whites and creams are the best colors to use when selling a house in 2022, according to the Paint & Color Trends 2022 Report conducted by Fixr, a home improvement resource.

“Whites and creams make a neutral, clean, fresh backdrop for many rooms,” according to the report. “You can still include color in your textiles if you want to add personality to the space, but it can make it easier for prospective buyers to see their own furnishings in a space when looking at a white or light-colored wall.”

A group of six images of living rooms painted and decorated in neutral colors.

On the exterior of homes for sale, white is the most frequently recommended color for the second consecutive year, according to Fixr. White received 58% of the vote from designers this year. Off-white also has increased in popularity, nabbing 41% in this year’s survey.

“White and off-white can both make a home look fresh, clean, and new regardless of age,” the study says. “These colors have nearly universal appeal, helping improve the curb appeal of a home and making it more likely to sell in a timely way.”

A group of six images of home exteriors showing the most popular colors for the outside of a house.

Source: “Paint & Color Trends 2022,” (2022)

I-Beam fixture designed by Mick De Giulio

What’s Trending in Kitchens for 2022?

The kitchen is the heart of the house where everyone congregated during the pandemic, and it’s still the go-to room for multiple functions—that means it keeps changing.


December 10, 2021 by Barbara Ballinger

Key Takeaways:

  • White still reigns but color shows up in cabinetry, appliances, and countertops.
  • Lighting is now in layers rather than a trio of pendants above an island.
  • Steam ovens are the hottest new appliance.

The kitchen became an even more significant heart of the home during the pandemic as the focal point for gathering, working, entertaining, and, of course, cooking, says Joe Fava, CEO of Fava Design Group in Miami. Now, homeowners are putting more into their kitchen space—literally. They’re buying larger refrigerators, freezers, and sinks, and second dishwashers and ovens, he says.

Homeowners are entertaining and cooking even more at home, and the price tag reflects their exuberance. Those who can afford to do so spend upwards of $100,000 on kitchen upgrades. But your clients don’t have to pay that much to get a kitchen they love. Much smaller, less costly improvements can make any kitchen more appealing. Here’s how.

Moss green kitchen cabinets

Think color. Kitchen colors are changing. Although white cabinets remain the most popular choice, according to the Houzz design site, the trend is moving toward additional color and warmth to give the room more personalized, says designer Kristie Barnett of The Decorologist in Nashville. Medium green cabinetry is becoming popular, as well as dramatic quartzite countertops and backsplashes. Some reflect hues as vivid as purple, says Fava.

The use of green is part of a bigger trend dubbed “forest bathing,” which means being surrounded by natural materials and spending time among nature to calm oneself, which the Japanese call shinrin-voku. If you can’t walk in a forest, some say bringing the colors in can help destress. The nature-inspired shades and textures are turning up in unexpected places like cabinetry, appliances, and hoods, says J.T. Norman with Kitchen Magic in Nazareth, Pa. For example, Fulgor Milano’s “Sofia” professional range door color kits offer six matte and glossy hues.

Kitchen with wood veneer cabinets

Think wood. In addition to color, wood veneers are also in vogue as part of the forest bathing trend, says Fava. “Clients come to us with an interest in a warmer aesthetic of a wood veneer in anigre, an exotic wood, or sometimes a lighter wood color.” The younger generation is more interested in sustainable materials and designs than older clientele, he says. Because of the wood veneers, some cabinets no longer require hardware and depend on a touch latch to open and a button to close. But for those cabinets that use hardware, they’re showing up in a variety of metals: gold, champagne, matte black, and rubbed oil bronze. Norman is seeing more greiges or warm brown and taupe tones returning as part of this outdoor vibe.

Multi-layered kitchen lighting

Light in layers. With advancements in LED technology, new lighting options continue to roll out, according to kitchen designer Mick De Giulio of de Giulio Kitchen Design in Chicago. “You can now incorporate small, beautiful lights in colors that range from 2700 to 3000 Kelvin—warm to cool—and layer different effects throughout any room,” he says. In a kitchen, De Giulio likes to use lighting to outline a room’s features—floor toe kicks, cabinets, backsplashes. For more decorative purposes, he may add wall sconces or a linear fixture above a kitchen island. Recessed cans have gone out of style because they make a ceiling look cluttered.

Consider simpler but varied cabinets. Cabinetry is going in a few different directions. Some are taking cues from European-inspired design. Elmwood recently introduced a collection called “Renaissance” that offers a choice of metallic paint hues in gold, silver, copper, all inspired by the continent’s great palaces. Simpler, more modern is also in, which means less maintenance is needed, says Norman.

Kitchen with a mix of cabinets and metallic accents

Architect Eddie Maestri of Maestri Studio agrees and sees fewer Shaker boxes and more taupe-gray color of the wood and other colors if the kitchen is traditional. In his own kitchen, he used brass for upper cabinet doors and black walnut for lower ones.

Cook healthier and smarter. Some homeowners consider a steam oven today’s “it” appliance choice because allows for healthy cooking. Fulgor Milano’s 30-inch model allows optimal vitamin retention and flavor and works as a steam, convection, and combi-steam cooking unit. Smart appliances that can be paired with a smartphone via download apps are also desirable among homeowners. Smart refrigerators, for example, alert homeowners when they’re low on items so groceries can be ordered. Smart ovens can be turned on via an app to preheat even when homeowners aren’t home, says Norman.

Try larger flooring tiles. Fava is using more large-format porcelain tiles in the kitchen today—as big as 30 by 60 inches instead of plank styles, which, he says, “have seen their day.” Norman also likes larger tiles but in luxury vinyl that better mimics wood. Maestri steers clear of hardwoods and prefers “statement” tile in concrete, depending on the house, he says.

Read More: 13 Home Trends Stealing the Spotlight in 2022

Go seamless with the backsplash and countertop. The same material is being used for both areas to offer a less choppy, seamless look, says Norman. He favors quartz. Maestri likes this approach, too, or using two similar designs in quartzite, marble, or certain granites.

A kitchen with two islands

Double the island. One island is considered great, but now two are twice as good (if there’s room). “It’s a twin to the existing island,” says Norman, whose clients are willing to take down a wall to make it feasible. Instead of using the same island, Maestri might include a design that resembles furniture, which can also function as a barrier between a less open kitchen and adjoining living space.

Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).

Experts: Housing Market Likely to ‘Normalize’ in 2022

Graphs and charts 2022


December 16, 2021 Catherine Mesick

While strong homebuyer demand and inventory shortages will continue into 2022, the housing market is unlikely to repeat this year’s dizzying heights, in which existing-home sales reached their highest point in 15 years with an estimated 6 million sales. Slower growth in home prices, decelerating inflation, and multiple interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve could contribute to a more normal housing market in the new year, National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said Wednesday during NAR’s virtual Real Estate Forecast Summit. Yun presented a consensus real estate forecast based on a survey of 20 leading economists.

For 2022, the group of experts predicts that annual median home prices will increase 5.7% and inflation will rise 4%. “Overall, survey participants believe we’ll see the housing market and broader economy normalize next year,” Yun said. In addition, Yun expects existing-home sales will decline to 5.9 million in 2022 and housing starts will increase modestly to 1.67 million as the pandemic’s supply chain backlogs subside.

Housing affordability remains a concern. Even if the market begins to settle down, affordability issues likely will continue to dampen homebuying prospects for many would-be owners. Housing affordability had already reached crisis levels before the pandemic added to the strain, said Todd M. Richardson, general deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development and Research.

However, the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan offers several programs that have the potential to increase housing access for all. The bill provides $10 billion in down payment assistance for first-generation home buyers, $24 billion for housing choice voucher rental assistance, and $15 billion for the Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve over 150,000 affordable homes for low-income households. “Our programs are about unlocking possibilities,” said Richardson. “Support is needed most for housing in low- to moderate-income communities.”

Manufactured housing offers a potential source of inventory that could help ease the housing crunch. Affordable entry-level homes continue to be among the units in shortest supply, and modern manufactured housing—with its high-quality factory construction and lower per-unit cost—could help fill in some of the gaps, said Lesli Gooch, CEO of the Manufactured Housing Institute. In addition, manufactured homes could offer wealth-building opportunities for buyers. “Research by LendingTree shows that, from 2014 to 2019, the median value of manufactured homes increased by 40%—six points above site-built homes,” said Gooch.

Naa Awaa Tagoe, acting deputy director at the Division of Housing Mission and Goals at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, seconded the call for more affordable housing and shared her agency’s strategies in 2022 for increasing equitable access to homeownership and rentals. Appraisal efficiency, small-balance mortgage purchases and refinances, and low-income housing tax credits are among the division’s top priorities for 2022, said Tagoe.

Regional differences could affect the housing market. Housing prices are likely to moderate nationwide, but regional variation could occur in 2022. Overpriced areas with lower predicted population growth will experience a greater slowing of prices compared to those with higher predicted growth, said Ken H. Johnson, associate dean of graduate programs at Florida Atlantic University. “Everyone will experience moderation, but there will be differences,” he said.

Strong building starts in the suburbs could be good news for first-time buyers. Businesses are competing for workers right now, said® Chief Economist Danielle Hale, and that means buyers could have more flexibility in choosing where they live. In contrast to Yun, who saw “hidden gem real estate markets” in the South, Hale counseled would-be buyers to look further north. “The Mountain West, pockets of the Northeast, South, and Midwest are all locations where affordability creates incentives,” said Hale.

Demographics offer insight into the future. Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of behavioral insights and demographics, offered highlights from the 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, noting several demographic trends that will continue to affect the housing market into 2022 and beyond:

  • Baby boomers want to age in place and will continue to hold onto their homes, contributing to the ongoing inventory shortfall.
  • Millennials are the largest generation of potential buyers, but they face significant headwinds, such as low inventory, high prices, and student loan debt.
  • A drop in the birth rate to a 100-year low could contribute to continued stagnation in the market: The birth of a child is often a motive to buy, and a child moving out is often an impetus to downsize and sell.

Commercial offers opportunities for growth. Commercial experts on the panel offered their predictions for 2022:

  • Multifamily: Rents will likely continue to increase, though part of that accounts for a continued correction from the declines in 2020. Rental units, like single-family homes, are in short supply, and ramping up construction could alleviate some of the strain.
  • Industrial: Despite a drop in cap rates, industrial will continue to thrive, with retailers leasing more warehouse space to hold inventory and manufacturers increasing production in the U.S.
  • Retail: Brick-and-mortar stores will attract foot traffic with innovations such as livestreaming of products, custom concierge services, and curated local offerings.
  • Hotels and lodging: Hotels will continue to struggle with a labor shortage that is affecting capacity. The industry needs to get out the message that hotel jobs are steady, provide good pay, and offer upward mobility.
  • Office: This sector is still in the middle of its recovery. The stage is set for growth in the second half of 2022, with central city cores emerging as important hubs for workers commuting from greater distances.

Top 5 Remodeling Projects to Boost Resale Value

A keeling woman mixing paint


November 22, 2021

House hunters will likely wonder about the age and upkeep of certain big-ticket features in a home like the roof and HVAC system. But they will also likely be interested in just how move-in ready the home is. Sellers can take on some prep work to get their house move-in ready to appeal to the largest buyer pool.

HomeLight, a real estate referral company, recently interviewed real estate agents to list some of the top remodeling projects before selling a home. Some of the projects that topped their list:

1. Painting

  • Average project cost: $954 to $2,893 (depending on location, paint type, and labor)

Stick with neutral colors throughout, like whites, beiges, or soft grays. “It’s fine when there’s an accent wall or whatever; that’s different,” MaryBeth Harrison, a real estate professional in Dallas, told HomeLight. “But when every room’s a different color …  that’s cheap to fix with paint.” More than half of real estate professionals surveyed by HomeLight said they advise sellers to paint their interiors before listing. Some of the most popular colors: Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray and Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter.

National Association of REALTORS®’ Remodeling Impact Report

NAR’s Remodeling Impact DIY Survey

Styled, Staged & Sold blog

2. Keep flooring consistent

  • To install carpet: $789 to $2,794
  • To install hardwood floors: $2,493 to $6,754
  • To install vinyl floors: $800 to $2,900

Real estate pros may be more likely to recommend this house project if the home has several different kinds of flooring throughout. A more uniform flooring look—one or two types—can be more appealing to buyers. Real estate pros say that many buyers may expect hardwood floors or premium vinyl. But not all carpeting has to go. However, many real estate pros do suggest removing any dated carpet, like those in bright colors, as well as any stained or worn carpet.

3. Brighten the kitchen

  • Average project cost: $382 to $1,064 (depending on equipment and labor); $2 to $20 per piece of hardware

White-colored kitchens remain the most popular. They can brighten the look of the space. “What the buyers are looking for today is white and clean—they just want clean,” Harrison told HomeLight. “It doesn’t have to be stark white. But they just want a clean palette.”

Dated kitchen cabinets can be painted by a pro for a quick fix. If the kitchen has other colors throughout, real estate pros recommend painting the walls white to try to brighten the space. Also, kitchen cabinets can get an upgrade with new hardware, such as hand pulls.

4. Replace dated countertops and appliances

  • Average project cost: $40 to $100 per square foot for new countertops (depending on material); $1,360 to $19,050 for appliances

Dated appliances and countertops can turn off buyers. If replacing the countertop, Harrison suggests a bright, monochromatic look, such as a gray or white countertop made of granite, marble, or quartz. Butcher block countertops could be a more cost-effective option. Harrison advises against brown or multicolored granite, which she says can date a home. She also recommends not replacing a countertop if the rest of the kitchen has not been upgraded and is dated. New countertops will look out of place.

5. Hire a professional cleaner for your bathroom

  • Average project cost: $70 to $85 per hour for a professional

A thorough cleaning of the bathroom can make a big difference, and often a professional cleaner can do the most thorough job. Pay attention to tile grout lines and any signs of mildew.Source: “What to Remodel Before Selling Your Home: 9 Light-Lift Projects,” (Nov. 1, 2021)

The Ultimate Smart Home: Light Strips

Light strip under kitchen cabinets

Creative, custom lighting in a home is easier to achieve than ever. Light strips are an affordable way to personalize and liven up a space. Here are some popular options homeowners might consider.


October 15, 2021 by Brandon Doyle

App-controlled light strips have become a trendy, stylish addition to home interiors, commonly installed above or below cabinets in the kitchen, behind a TV or bar area for entertainment, around tray ceilings, mirrors, and artwork, on shelves, and even around desks and monitors. But homeowners should consider their light choices carefully to avoid clashing colors or overstimulating effects.

When it comes to brands, Philips Hue is the most popular choice. These strips can be paired with bulbs to create entertainment areas. When paired with a bridge and the Hue Sync app, they can be connected to a TV and fill the room with color that matches what is shown on the screen. They’re also the most expensive light strips—the starter kit is 80 inches long and costs $80.

Knowing what’s available in smart-home technology is a value-add for agents selling new and existing homes. Check out more articles from my Ultimate Smart Home series.

If you’re handy with soldering, you can make your own with LED strips and a compatible controller unit. But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on options that can be used out of the box and bought from major retailers including Amazon.

Other popular light strips options include:

AduroSmart: 120 inches for $60 ($6/foot), they can also connect to Hue Bridge.
Slyvania: 72 inches for $35 ($5.83/foot) extensions are 48 inches for $18 ($4.50/foot).
Sengled: 196.8 inches (16.4 feet) for $30 ($1.83/foot).
LIFX: 80 inches for $90 ($13.51/foot), extensions are 39 inches for $30 ($9.23/foot).
TP Link: 79 inches for $70 ($10.64/foot), extensions are 39.6 inches for $25 ($7.57/foot).
YeeLight: 78 inches for $40 ($6.15/foot).
Govee: 196.8 inches for $20 ($1.22/foot).
RGBGenie Power supply and controller $69. Pair with any LEDs, such as LE’s 196.8-inch strip for $13 ($1.83/foot).

Each of these options connects directly to both SmartThings and Hubitat home hubs. Sengled also has its own hub that, when used with its app, has additional modes built in, similar to Philips Hue.

Smart light strips can easily be controlled via an app on your phone, voice assistant, a Philips Hue remote, or Lutron Aurora, which is a part of the Friends of Hue program.

Some strips have more advanced options for control that require replacing switches, including the Lutron Pico remote, which can connect via a bridge to Hubitat hub, an Inovelli Red Series switch with scene control, a Brilliant Controls panel, or RGBgenie wall controller. These solutions provide great control over the light strips right at the wall, allowing anyone—including guests—to change the color, brightness, or quickly turn them on or off.

Brandon Doyle

Brandon Doyle

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. He is also coauthor of the book M3—Mindset, Methods & Metrics: Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. Learn more about Doyle at

Instant Reaction: Housing Starts, October 19, 2021


October 19, 2021By: Lawrence Yun

New home construction fell modestly, 1.6% in September from the prior month, but the year-to-date activity is solidly higher by 17% compared to 2020 and by 23% compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019. More housing inventory will therefore steadily emerge. Newly constructed homes are generally larger in size and more expensive than existing homes, and not geared toward first-time buyers. Nonetheless, more supply of these homes allows trade-up buyers to make their move and in the process place their previous homes on the market. In addition to construction, more inventory will appear as the mortgage forbearance program is winding down. The current mortgage default rate of at least three months is running high at 3.5% compared to less than 1% before the pandemic. However, foreclosures have been at historic lows so far due to the forbearance support. The default rate will certainly fall as long as the economy continues to generate jobs, but the end of the federal support program inevitably means some homeowners will need to sell. This will be another source of housing inventory.

The listing count across the country is still below one year ago and near record lows. Based on increased home construction and from the ending of the mortgage forbearance program, more inventory will appear next year compared to this year.

Lawrence Yun

Lawrence Yun

Chief EconomistLawrence Yun is Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.