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Real Estate News

Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2019

First Time Home Buyers: Your Six Month Plan

Herersquo;s what to do financially when yoursquo;ve decided to stop renting and start owning.

Month 1:

Yoursquo;re still sort of in the exploratory phase but yoursquo;re still committed on buying your first home. Yet buying a home isnrsquo;t something you should do on your own, especially as it >

Month 2:

Now itrsquo;s time to get some referrals for financing. You can get them from your selected real estate agent, friends and family or your financial planner or CPA if you have one. Once you make your choice about where yoursquo;re going to get your first mortgage, yoursquo;ll then speak with your loan officer over the phone or at the place of business. This is the prequalification stage. After a >

Month 3:

Itrsquo;s getting closer. But now itrsquo;s time to submit a loan application to your loan officer. Most often this is done online but your loan officer might offer to come to your home or place of business and take the loan application face to face. Yoursquo;ll sign a list of documents, most importantly your loan application and authorization forms allowing the lender to inquire about your employment and credit history. Your loan officer will electronically submit your application to an automated underwriting system which will, within a matter of moments, provide a list of items needed to get your loan to the full approval state. You will then have a preapproval letter in hand. Itrsquo;s time to submit copies of your pay check stubs, bank statements and tax returns if needed.

Month 4:

Your loan officer told you not to make any sudden changes about your work, employment or make any >

Month 5:

By now yoursquo;ve likely looked at your fair share of homes and you may very well be in a position to make an offer. You should always keep in close contact with your loan officer as well. Interest rates move over time and itrsquo;s possible that rates have gone up which effectively lowers the amount you can qualify for. Conversely, rates may have gone down and your buying power received a boost.

Month 6:

Yoursquo;ve found a home. Wheels begin to spin rather quickly after the contract has been signed. Your lender will need an appraisal and many lenders ask for money to pay for an appraisal upfront. Your loan will be reviewed one more time and any expired documentation will need to be updated. Credit documents such as a credit report, pay stubs and bank statements need to be no more than 30 days old when itrsquo;s time to fund the mortgage. Once your loan has received full approval and yoursquo;ve met all your loan conditions, loan papers are orders. At your closing, you will sign a host of closing documents and have your down payment if needed and closing cost money wired to the settlement agent. After signing, the lender does one more review of your file, making sure all the documents have been properly signed. Yoursquo;re now a first time home owner.


Full Story >


Home Upgrades That Will Make Your House Worth Even More Moolah

Replace the Windows

Poorly insulated, drafty, or cheap windows can bring down the value of a home like nothing else. Todays discerning home buyers expect double or triple pane windows with elements like Argon gas, low-e coatings, and all the other elements that make good-quality windows look good and function well. According to money.com, homeowners who replace the windows in their homes get a 73 return on investment when they end up selling their home.

Replace the Roof

A damaged or faulty roof is one of the biggest reasons that homeowners have to hand over money to buyers during the buying process. Inspections frequently turn up issues with cracked shingles, holes, old tiles and all the other roof damage that can put your house at risk. A faulty roof not only makes the outside of the house look bad, but it also raises the risk for damage inside your house.

Do a Minor Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom renos can often take quite a bit of money. If you dont have a lot of money, you can still do a renovation that not only looks good but offers a great return on your investment. Doing something like replacing old, dingy tile or adding a new bathtub can completely change how the bathroom looks. If your tile floor has seen better days, consider replacing it with high-end vinyl flooring or adding a heating element. With small changes like these, you could see as much as a 100 return on your investment when you sell, making these moves a good choice.

Do a Little Kitchen Reno as Well

The same way that a small bathroom renovation can make a huge difference is the same way that a small kitchen renovation can make a huge difference. Like a bathroom, a full kitchen reno can cost well over 100,000, something that you may or may not have. If you have it, go for it. If you dont have it, you can still make small changes that will make a huge difference and how your kitchen is perceived by buyers. When we say "small kitchen renovation", were talking about things like replacing the cabinet doors, replacing the apron on a farmhouse sink or redoing your countertops. One of the easiest things that you can do that will make it look like you have a brand new kitchen is to replace your sink and faucet. Simply upgrading those two elements can create a visual transformation that is a sight to behold. Small changes like these can result in a more that 80 return on investment, according to Nerdwallet.

Replace Your Front Door

Theres nothing like a shabby, broken-down front door to negatively influence a potential buyers opinion of your home. No matter how good the inside of your house looks, that shabby front door will always be the first impression. The buyer may even go so far as to assume that because the front door is shabby, the rest of the home is secretly shabby, even if it looks good Its in your best interest to replace that front door as soon as you can. Buying a good front door will not only make your home look good, but it will give you as much as an 85 return on investment, according to Consumer Affairs.

By following the above home reno tips, youll not only be enjoying the way your home looks. Youll also feel confident that youve increased the value of your home as well.


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Americans Obsession With Murder Spurs Intriguing New Design Show

But is there a cap? Do we just want to see and watch and read about murder, or does it go further? How do you feel about buying a house where a murder was committed?

Thatrsquo;s the question new mobile streaming platformnbsp;Quibi is posing. When the platform launches in April 2020, it will offer a new show featuring renovations of some of the countryrsquo;s most ldquo;infamousrdquo; homes. The show will partner builders and decorators with forensic specialists and spiritual healers, with the goal of transforming both the ldquo;homersquo;s physical appearance but also its spiritual energy,rdquo; said Inman. ldquo;Are you a fan ofnbsp;fixer-upper shows,nbsp;haunted or otherwise creepynbsp;houses and true crime TV? Then you will love the latest home renovation show:nbsp;Murder House Flip. ldquo;Thinknbsp;Flip or Flop, with a sordid, and in some cases, paranormal, twist.

Over the years, there have been many stories of people buying ldquo;murder houses,rdquo; perhaps out of morbid curiosity, but also because, well, you might just be able to find a bargain.nbsp;

ldquo;Homes where a high-profile crime or murder occurred can sell for as much as 10-25 under market ratemdash;an enticing invitation for intrepid bargain hunters,rdquo; said The Hustle. ldquo;The mere presence of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmerrsquo;s Milwaukee apartment building depressed the value of surrounding homes for years, until a community development group bought it at a premium just to demolish it.rdquo;

In 2016, tech entrepreneur Braden Pollock purchased the ldquo;Los Feliz Murder Mansion,rdquo; where Dr. Harold Pe>

Most recently, Zac Bagans, actor, author, and host of the Travel Channelrsquo;s Ghost Adventures, purchased the Charles Manson murder housemdash;the luxury L.A. residence where Lenonbsp;andnbsp;Rosemary LaBianca were slaughtered by Mansonrsquo;s followers in 1969.

ldquo;Its unclear if the house is haunted, or filled with energy from the brutal murders, but Bagans is ready to find out,rdquo; said Newsweek. ldquo;He shared a story of dogs disappearing from the property, and said that past tenants have been spooked silly by seeming paranormal encounters. This isnt Bagans first interaction with objects or places >

Bagans may take his interest to a more detailed level than the average American, but we predict hersquo;ll be in good company watching Murder House Flip when it premieres next year.

nbsp;


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Falls on Stairs Fill up Emergency Rooms

Scary but true: there were more than 50,000 emergency visits for injuries from falls on stairs in Ontario in 2015, according to Ontario Injury Compass, which analyses and discusses injury issues in the province.

ldquo;In B.C., stairs were involved in approximately 8.2 per cent of all hospitalizations for fall->

And it gets worse: a 2011-2015 B.C. Vital Statistics report says, ldquo;On average, 38 people are killed every year in B.C. by falling on stairs.rdquo;

Whorsquo;s at risk? The young and the old are most prone to stair->

Whether itrsquo;s a long flight of stairs or just a step or two, falls happen.
There are three main contributing factors to why people fall on or from stairs. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC says they are environmental factors such as poor design, construction and maintenance; health factors, for example loss of balance, weakness or vision problems; and behavioural factors including wearing unsuitable footwear or carrying something that obstructs vision when using the stairs.

How do you prevent stair->

- Experts recommend removing reading glasses when travelling up or down stairs. They also recommend caution when wearing bifocals or progressive eyeglasses.

- Install handrails. CMHC says occupational therapists recommend handrails be installed on all staircases, even if they have three steps or less. Have at least one handrail. Two is even better. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says, ldquo;You should be able to run your hand smoothly along the entire length without having to adjust your grip.rdquo;

- Use handrails: Neglecting to use your handrails defeats the purpose of having them. Teach children to navigate stairs using the handrail so they can learn good habits early.

- Proper lighting is crucial, especially for people with vision problems. Having a light switch at the top and bottom means stairs can be well lit whether a user is travelling up or down.

- Make sure the edges of the steps are visible. CMHC recommends painting a contrasting colour on the edges of wooden or concrete steps, or on the top and bottom steps. Special strips that can enhance the visibility of each step are also recommended.

- Wearing proper footwear helps reduce the chance of falling on the stairs. Heels may get caught on the edge of a step, says the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. ldquo;Such mishaps are a routine cause of twisted ankles, sprained knees or more serious injuries incurred by a total fall.rdquo; Slippers that are loose or slip-on footwear is also not recommended.

- Pay attention when yoursquo;re using the stairs. This is especially important when yoursquo;re not familiar with the stairs or the staircase has uneven or narrower steps, such as those on a circular staircase.

- Rubber, metal or slip-resistant paint can help reduce the slipping risk.

- Make sure your stairs are in good repair and ensure stair treads are non-slip and are properly fastened.

- Consult an occupational therapist for advice about changes that can be made to the home to reduce the risk of falling on stairs, CMHC says.nbsp;ldquo;Simple modifications can be made to increase the safety of stairs, for example, adding a second handrail or installing visual contrast strips at the edge of stairs for easier visual detection.rdquo;

- Use baby safety gates at the top and bottom to keep very young children off of the stairs.

- Ensure stairs are kept clear of clutter and other tripping hazards.

- Do not carry bulky objects that block your vision.

- If yoursquo;re building or renovating a home, ensure stairs are built to code, with uniform steps. Handrails should be on both sides and continue one foot past the top and the bottom of the staircase, according to Fall Prevention Programming, a book by V. Scott.

- If stairs are too much of a challenge, install a stair lift or elevator.

- The majority of stairway falls result from a loss of balance, so be aware and take precautions.

- Experts also suggest removing loose carpets or throw rugs from the stairway landing.

The World Health Organization says falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injuries worldwide after road traffic crashes.

ldquo;Prevention starts by keeping in mind that there are risks in using stairs. Good planning and simple strategies can help prevent falls and injuries,rdquo; says CMHC.


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Creating the Smart Home of Tomorrow, Today

Real estate agents should champion these facts.nbsp;

Real estate agents should apprise clients of these facts, so as to reveal how real estate appraisers consider these facts.

On a practical level, homeowners should invest in technology that is as substantive as it is stylish. To distinguish between the twomdash;to know the two are not always the samemdash;is to invest in those things people want and need.nbsp;

For example: Rather than buying an appliance that is expensive but no better than the cheapest product on the market, rather than wasting an egregious sum on an everyday itemmdash;something people use every day, for years if not decadesmdash;it pays to look beyond how a product looks and feels.nbsp;

Forget the logo, the badge, and the emblem. Put aside the symbols of wealth, including the status symbols that have no currency among the wise and frugal, because a homebuyer is in the market for real estate, not products worthy of a high-end estate sale.

The homebuyer has an eye for value, not personal validation.nbsp;

The real estate agent, in turn, has particularly good eyesight. He sees what others do not notice; she notices what others may never see, that a costly appliance does not justify the advertised cost of a home, that the cost of an appliance does not always reduce the costmdash;in food and powermdash;of running a home, that less costly products match or exceed the features of the costliest appliance.

Take, for instance, Fridge Eye: a durable, rechargeable via USB-C, water-resistant camera that transform a refrigerator or cupboard into a smart appliance. Install the camera and download the Fridge Eye app, and streamline food shopping instantly.

I mention Fridge Eye not to tout a product, but to promote a way to shop and live more productively. I mention this fact to change the facts, because the average U.S. family throws out about 2,275 in food annually.

We cannot afford such decadence. We cannot sustain so much waste amidst so much squalor. We cannot continue to fill our stomachs and starve our souls.

We can, however, assuage our concerns.nbsp;

If we concern ourselves with saving lives by saving money, if we have more money to feed the hungry and help the homeless, if we have the intelligence to know and the strength to do, if we have the smarts to apply ourselves, there will be no question about the value of smart appliances.

The expense is minimal, the total expenditure minor, the benefit of maximum importance.

The future awaits us.


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Remodeling Stats and Spending Trends to Inform Your Improvement Plans

The study found that, ldquo;Spending on improvements and repairs to the US housing stock continued on an upward trend in 2017, setting a new high of 424 billion. This represents a 10 percent increase from 2015 and more than 50 percent gain from the low in 2010.rdquo; According to their analysis, 22 million homeowners across the country completed at least one home improvement project in 2017, the last year studied.

ldquo;The report, which charted changes in home renovation activity through 2017, attributed part of the increase to a shortage of new construction and a >

The primary ldquo;spendersrdquo; are spread among three main sources: Homeowners using surging equity to make improvements; others playing catch-up on deferred maintenance and much-needed updates; and ldquo;a significant increase in spending by rental property owners,rdquo; they said. It should be noted, however, that owner-occupied homes made up the largest segment of the remodeling market, ldquo;accounting for fully 55 percent of total expenditures in 2017.rdquo; Not surprisingly, the average spend was higher in places where price appreciation was the most robust.nbsp;

A fourth driver is the aging population, ldquo;given that households age 55 and over not only have higher homeownership rates, but many also have the resources to pay for renovations and replacements,rdquo; they said.nbsp;

Spending breakdown

The average expenditure on home improvement was rather modest; 40 percent of participants reported spending a total of less than 2,500, and almost 75 spent less than 10,000. ldquo;Even so, owners that completed large projects accounted for a significant share of the 233 billion homeowner improvement market in 2017,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Indeed, owners spending 50,000 or more contributed a third of national improvement outlays, while owners spending at least 25,000 contributed over half.rdquo;

Most popular home improvement categories

From a historical standpoint, homeowners typically allocate about 40 of their total expenditures on replacements and upgrades. In this study, the percentage was higher.nbsp;

ldquo;Coming out of the last downturn, however, the replacement share climbed to almost 50 percent, where it has remained,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The growing focus on interior and exterior replacements and system upgrades likely reflects necessary investments deferred during the recession. The aging of the housing stock is also a factor. With homebuilding activity still below historical averages, the median age of owner-occupied homes nationally rose to 39 years in 2017, up from 32 years in 2007 and 29 years in 1997.rdquo;nbsp;

Homeownersrsquo; desire for increased energy efficiency also plays a role. The report shows that ldquo;many common replacement projects are also directly >

Most common improvements

The most common project in 2017 was adding/replacing flooring, with 5.2 million homeowners, or 7 percent, reporting. The other most common projects included:

bull;nbsp;Adding or replacing plumbing fixturesnbsp;
bull;nbsp;New windows or doors
bull;nbsp;Built-in dishwashers or garbage disposals
bull;nbsp;New water heaters

ldquo;Nearly 1 in 4 homeowners had some type of replacement project in 2017 to update home components or systems, compared to 9 percent of owners making improvements to their lot or yard such as driveways or walkways, fencing or walls, sheds, landscaping, etc. and 8 percent making discretionary improvements including kitchen and bathroom remodeling, room additions, and porches or decks,rdquo; they said.

nbsp;


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USDA Loans: Theyre Not Just for Homes in the Boonies

If yoursquo;re saying to yourself, ldquo;But USDA loans are only for homes out in the sticks,rdquo; we get it. Itrsquo;s true that the loans were designed to help buyers in rural areas. But ldquo;ruralrdquo; is a broader term than you may know.nbsp;

On the USDA website, you can enter an address in the search bar and check if its eligible, or you can drop a pin in a location to find out whether USDA financing is available in the area. We tested a couple of locations with interesting results: Frisco, TX, currently the fastest-growing city in the nation, is not eligible for a USDA loan, but Prosper, just to the north and being called, ldquo;The next Frisco,rdquo; is. The popular Valencia, CA masterplan north of Los Angeles is not eligible, but areas of Santa Clarita, the city in which Valencia is located, are.nbsp;

For single-family homes, there are two main options for USDA loans:nbsp;

USDA Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program

There is no down payment required for this type of loan and the low minimum credit score requirementmdash;scores as low as 620 make the cutmdash;make it even more attractive for buyers.nbsp;

Your income must fall within the ldquo;moderaterdquo; category, which is defined as an amount below 115 of the arearsquo;s median income. You can check by state and county here. Loans are for 15 or 30 years, and there is no limit to the amount of square footage on eligible properties.nbsp;

USDA Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans

This program is intended for low-income homebuyers. Down payment requirements are low, and subsidies can take the down payment to zero. ldquo;Payment assistance, also known as subsidy, is granted to eligible very low- and low-income homeowners who obtain a Single Family Housing Section 502 Direct Loan from USDA Rural Development,rdquo; said the USDA.nbsp;

ldquo;The borrower signs RD Form 3550-12, Subsidy Repayment Agreement, at loan closing. The agreement outlines the subsidy repayment terms, the requirement to repay all or a portion of the subsidy received over the life of the loan i.e., subsidy recapture, and how subsidy recapture is calculated.rdquo;

Loans are for 33 or 38 years, and income limits are strict; you can see individual county limits here. In addition, the USDA mandates that properties generally benbsp;2,000 square feet or less. The direct loan typically requires a 640 minimum credit score.


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The 9 Best Tips on How to Find a Property for Profitable Investing

Tip 1: Buy a Property in a Top Real Estate Market

Anyone in the real estate industry will tell you that location is the first and foremost factor for a profitable investment. Where your rental property is located will determine the price you have to pay for it, the rental demand, the best rental strategy, the type of tenants you can expect, the rental rate, the occupancy rate and vacancy rate, and ultimately the return on investment. Thus, the first thing which any investor preparing to buy a property should do is to read about and research the best places for real estate investing in the US housing market. Donrsquo;t make the mistake of many beginners who focus on large cities only. Sometimes small towns and even villages offer a much higher return than major cities. For example, according to data from Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company, the census-designated area with a population of about 7,000 people, Joshua Tree, has been one of the top locations for Airbnb rentals in the past few years.

Tip 2: Donrsquo;t Spend More Than What You Can Afford

As a beginner investor, you should always start with a small, cheap, easy-to-manage property. After all, the best investment property is the one which you can afford and which you can manage. To find such a property, you should prepare a budget. On the one hand, factor in your savings, the income from your full-time job and other sources, and the money you expect to make from your rental property. On the other hand, make a list of all the one-time and recurrent costs associated with buying, owning, and managing an investment property such as the property price, appraisal cost, home inspection fee, closing fees, fixes and repairs, monthly mortgage payments, property tax, insurance, property management, maintenance, and others. In this way you will be able to figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend on a property without risking a foreclosure.

Tip 3: Find the Best Financing Method

One of the great things about real estate investing is that you have many financing options to choose from. You can go for a conventional mortgage, a hard money loan, a private money loan, a syndication, or a partnership, to mention a few possible choices. You should study each option carefully and decide on the best one for your particular case, based on their pros and cons and your specific situation.

Most probably, as a first-time investor, you will end up taking a mortgage loan. In this case, it is advisable to make the down payment as big as possible, without overspending on it of course. The higher your down payment is, the faster you will be able to repay your loan and the less money you will end up spending on repayment. Figuring out the best financing method is crucially important for profitable real estate investing.

Tip 4: Use Different Sources for Your Property Search

To find a property for profitable investing, you should put efforts into searching for properties for sale far and wide. Now that you know where you want to buy an investment property and how much you can afford to spend on it, start checking out local newspapers and real estate websites with both MLS listings and off market properties, talk to your friends and acquaintances, network with other investors in the area who might be selling a property, and connect with a local real estate agent. Each one of these sources will have access to a different kind of properties, and you should check them all out before deciding on the best type of investment property for you and narrowing down your choice.

Tip 5: Consider Investing in a Foreclosure

The most lucrative investments in real estate are those properties which you can buy below market value. Thus, you should consider investing in a foreclosed property. Forget the popular myth that foreclosures are always houses in a dire situation which makes them bad real estate investments. To the contrary, it is feasible to find a foreclosed property in a good shape which will bring you high return on investment. The reason is that you will most likely pay only a fraction of the fair market value of the property as the bank or other financial institution is trying to get rid of it quickly, while you can still charge full market value rental rate.

To find foreclosed properties to invest in, talk to the banks in the area, search for specialized real estate websites with foreclosed property listings including government agenciesrsquo; websites, and look for agents who work with foreclosures.

Tip 6: Hire a Real Estate Agent

Avoid the mistake of many first-time real estate investors who think they can manage the whole process of finding and buying a property on their own. It is recommended to look for an agent who works mostly with property investors and hire him/her to help you along. Your agent will be able to help you find lucrative properties for sale, connect you with lenders, prepare the offer, negotiate the best price, and close the deal quickly and smoothly. Moreover, you donrsquo;t have to worry about inflating your budget as agent fees are usually covered by the property seller and not the property buyer.

Tip 7: Conduct Thorough Property Analysis

An indispensable step in the process of making the most profitable real estate investments is performing an investment property analysis. Once you have narrowed down your choice to a few top properties, you should study them in detail to calculate exactly how much return on investment you can expect from them, based on your preferred rental strategy. Find out the cash flow, the cash on cash return, and the capitalization rate which you can expect. To beat the competition in the local real estate market and find the best property for profitable investing, make sure to use real estate investment tools such as a rental property calculator. This will save you a lot of time in analyzing properties and allow you to make an offer before the other investors in the area.

Tip 8: Choose the Best Rental Strategy

You can rent out your investment property on short-term basis as an Airbnb rental or long-term basis as a traditional rental. The optimal strategy in each case depends on the location, the demand, the rental rates, and other factors. So, in your investment property analysis you should see which rental strategy will bring you a higher return on investment. If you decide to go for a short-term rental, donrsquo;t forget to study the local regulations carefully as many places have adopted major restrictions on this type of rentals in recent years. Ideally, you should look for a location where both owner-occupied and non-owner occupied properties can be rented out on short-term basis in all residential neighborhoods. For example, the Dallas real estate market is one of the major cities with the least Airbnb legal issues in the US at the moment.

Tip 9: Select the Best Property Management Strategy

Profitable investing in real estate doesnrsquo;t end with finding and buying a property with a high potential for return. Afterwards, you have to manage your rental property in the best possible way. If you invest in your local housing market, have some free time, and exhibit the right personality welcoming and kind but also assertive, you can become a landlord and deal with a rental property and tenants on your own. However, before you decide to manage your property by yourself, you should know that this can take a lot of time and efforts and can turn into a real headache.

If, on the other hand, you invest out of state, have a busy job and a family to take care of, and/or are simply not fit to be a landlord, you can hire a property management company to deal with your investment property. You should be prepared to pay them a monthly rate, but it will be worth it as they will be able to maximize your profit while you can enjoy the positive cash flow in your free time.

How to find a profitable investment property is the first thing you have to learn as a real estate investor in order to make money. The good news is that it is absolutely feasible and doable if you follow our 9 tips above.

nbsp;


Daniela Andreevska is Marketing Director at Mashvisor, a real estate analytics tool which helps real estate investors quickly find traditional and Airbnb investment properties. A research process thatrsquo;s usually 3 months now can take 15 minutes. We provide all the real estate information in easy to understand visualizations.


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The Role of iBuying in Todays Market

Large, institutional property investors traditionally focus on multi-family units. The great housing recession last decade, when the stock market was providing lack-luster returns, opened the door for big money to find its way into the single-family acquisition market. As hedge funds began buying large blocks of single-family homes, rehabilitating them with primarily cosmetic facelifts such as carpet and paint, and offering small investors shares in these behemoths, they created an investment vehicle that had the potential to beat Wall Street. If it could work in the ldquo;hold-and-rentrdquo; market, su>

Many fortunes have been made buying, renting, trading and selling real estate. Historically, real estate values trend up, making it a smart investment, so large firms jumping into the real estate investment game made perfect sense. Will it make sense long term? What about the newest entrants to the iBuying fray? How long will they find this practice attractive? Frankly, there is no reason that this approach cant co-exist along with more traditional real estate ownership. Take ERA Real Estatersquo;s "Sellers Security Plan.rdquo; It has been in place for decades and survived both housing booms and busts. Why? Because the price that anyone will pay for a property is based on economics 101: the law of supply and demand. Not only this, but ERA is doing what many iBuyers are not, and that is keeping the real estate agent at the center of the transaction. While iBuying is certainly a buzzworthy term in real estate these days, there are many consumers across the U.S. who still donrsquo;t know what it means and are intimidated by its unfamiliarity and at the prospect of gambling with one of the biggest transactions of their lives. The components that enable iBuyer programs to cut through the clutter: simplicity, convenience and efficiency.

So, as long as an institutional real estate buyer doesnt panic in the midst of a housing downturn and "dump" large blocks of homes on the market, driving prices down further, nor get too crazy when faced with a housing bubble and over-extend their financial resources, natural economic factors will drive prices up and down, allowing these new, large buyers to benefit from changing market values.

What do traditional real estate professionals need to consider when advising their clients about iBuyer options? Here are some questions to ask:

1. What is the clientrsquo;s motivation? MUST they sell by a particular date in order to move forward with their plans?
2. What repairs are needed to get the most money for the property? Does the client possess the financial resources to make the home marketable for top dollar?
3. Are home prices trending up, making waiting to sell a better option or is waiting simply costing the Seller time with little chance of bigger gain?

If the client needs to sell in a hurry, lacks the funds necessary to make the property marketable or wonrsquo;t benefit financially by holding out for a better price, it might be in the clientrsquo;s best interest to take advantage of the iBuyer option.

There is no doubt that there is risk. There is in most financial transactions. But isnt that where all big money is earned? As long as iBuyer companies are well-funded, take a long-term view of this business and focus on adding a measure of value to the end-user buyer and seller, there is no reason that this practice canrsquo;t be a permanent part of the new American real estate landscape.

nbsp;


Greg Martin is the president and managing broker of ERA Sunrise Realty in northern Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Together with his business partner David Moody, they opened a new branch of ERA Sunrise Realty in 2002 and have since expanded the company to seven offices with more than 130 agents. He is very proud of the work ERA Sunrise Realty does, and of their recognition as the winner of the 2018 ERA ldquo;Jim Jackson Memorial Award for 1st in Service.rdquo; Greg has been in real estate since 1998, before which he served as a marketing and sales team leader for Union Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad. Greg is also part owner of Sure Close Title Services LLC and is co-owner and school director for The Real Estate Productivity Center, a state-approved real estate school devoted to improving the knowledge and professionalism of real estate agents across Georgia.


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Finding an Apartment Without Going Broke

Utilize technology to avoid scams

In the year 2019, you can do most of your p>

Watch out for pet fees and rent

If it seems like most apartments have started charging extra ldquo;rentrdquo; for pets in the last two or three years, yoursquo;re not imagining it. USA Today referred to pet rent as ldquo;the latest costly apartment fad.rdquo; Pet rent is not unreasonable by itself, but it can start to feel a bit much when combined with hundreds of dollars in pet fees and deposits. Paying several hundred dollars to move your cat into an apartment in the city is one thing, but for many people, paying an extra 30 or 40 a month on top of that is a bridge too far. You may feel like you donrsquo;t have a choice. But first, ask if therersquo;s any way to spread out the cost of a pet deposit. For instance, some landlords will let you pay out 600 in pet fees and deposits over a few months, while others will require you to pay everything upfront. Either way, therersquo;s no harm in asking.

Look for public transit options

Some apartments will advertise a unit as ldquo;close to the bus linerdquo; or ldquo;right by public transit.rdquo; If itrsquo;s not mentioned in the ad, feel free to ask when you tour the property. Better yet, you can pull up the address on Google Maps and search for nearby public transit options. Taking the bus or train can save you in a couple of ways. For starters, you donrsquo;t have to pay 50 or 100 a month for a parking spot. Even if your parking spot is free, you may still want to take the bus sometimes and save money on gas. Sure, going to the grocery store and buying a lot of food may require taking your personal vehicle, but not every errand or trip will. If yoursquo;re visiting a family member at an assisted living community in New Jersey, hopping on the bus or train will probably be less stressful than driving yourself there and attempting to find parking near the facility.


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The Many Steps You Can Take to Start Saving For Your First Home

Find Out How Much You Should Save

Many potential first time home buyers do not know how much they need to save in order to pay for a home. Now is the time to find out. In general, mortgage lenders expect all buyers to have at least ten percent in savings. A good mortgage will typically account for no more than a third of the buyers take home income. Its also important to keep in mind that lenders also do not want to see that youre carrying much debt. Now is the time to think about how to accomplish other goals such as paying off any credit card debt and student loans.

Think About Your Time Frame

Buying a first home can take time. Its good to start the process of thinking about it right now. Set up a short time and long term time frame. The short term should include thinking about your present housing situation and where it may fall short. Over the long term, it should include looking at potential neighborhoods in person. Stroll areas that appeal to you directly. Go to open houses and see whats on offer. Open houses let you see houses directly and examine them from attic to basement in great detail. Know where you want to be six months from now, a year from now and five years out.

Create a Streamlined Budget

Now is the time to create a streamlined budget. You can still travel now and then, however, its also important to pay close attention to all the little details that will add up over time. Avoid spending money you dont need. Make coffee at home rather than buying it on the way to work. Buying items like toilet paper in bulk can save money. The same is true of other changes. Put off buying that second car. Continue using your current model. Think about using public transportation to get to work or take a walk there and save on the fares.

Bank Any Windfall

If theres an unexpected windfall, its best to bank it rather than spend it. If you file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, take the money thats being deposited in your account and keep it right there. The same is true of any and all raises as well as an inheritance, a bonus check or any other funds that are not needed right now. Designate them as part of your home down payment plan by putting them into a separate account designed solely for this purpose.

Be Flexible

While working hard and saving money for a down payment are good, keep in mind that life may have other plans. You may face other bills such as car payments, health issues or a sudden layoff. Its crucial to have an emergency fund on hand that youve built up in advance. This will make sure you can meet such expenses with ease. Any sudden financial issue should also not push you away from your ultimate goal. Your goal is to keep saving up enough money for the kind of first home youd like to live in going forward.

Taking the long view is crucial. Saving up enough money for a first home can take lots of time. You should never lose sight of what youll get in turn. Youll have a first home where you can set down roots and enjoy life.

nbsp;


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Clever and Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Use Less Electricity

One of the easiest ways to lower your carbon output is to use less electricity. You can easily start by turning off lights when youre not in a room and unplugging devices when you are not using them. You may think that turning off your devices is enough, but electronics like your television still use electricity even when switched off. You can also save power by running your air conditioner and heater less and hanging your clothes on the line instead of using the dryer.

Use Solar Power

If you really want to use less electricity, consider installing solar panels. These panels can drastically reduce the amount of electricity you use. While there is a cost associated with solar panels, you will eventually save money on your electric bill. You can also easily learn how to clean solar panels, so upkeep is minimal.

Reduce the Amount of Meat You Eat - or Go Vegetarian

The meat industry produces more carbon emissions than any other industry, so reducing the amount of meat you eat can help to lower your carbon footprint. Red meat is the worst offender, so if you are not ready to give up all meat for good, consider eating less red meat and you will still make an impact.

Walk When You Can

Fossil fuels are another major cause of carbon dioxide emissions, so the less you can drive, the better. If you live close enough to your work, shopping and restaurants, it is easy for you to walk or ride your bike. As an added benefit, you will be getting in some extra exercise while you are helping the environment. For those times you have to use a car, make sure your car is well-maintained with proper oil changes and tires with the right amount of air pressure. A well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. If you are in the market for a new car, consider an electric car or a hybrid.

Use Less Water

Using less water is important for many reasons. It can reduce your carbon footprint, and, as water is a finite resource, it is important to conserve it. There are many ways that you can conserve water. Avoid watering your lawn, take shorter showers and turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Surprisingly, using your dishwasher actually uses less water than washing dishes in the sink.

Create Less Waste

There are many ways to avoid waste in your everyday life. Look for ways to reuse things you may throw away, such as cardboard boxes. Use fabric bags instead of paper or plastic bags to carry your shopping. Try to avoid buying large amounts of "stuff" that you do not need. When possible, buy items that are used.

Plant a Garden

The agriculture industry has a huge carbon footprint. By growing your own food, you can help reduce carbon emissions. Growing your own fruits and vegetables has the added benefit of encouraging you to eat healthier. If growing a garden is not an option for you, you can still make an impact by buying foods that are locally grown.

Climate change and global warming are important issues that we as a society must address. While you may think that as an individual there is little you can do to help or make a difference, if everyone would follow the simple steps listed above, we could greatly reduce carbon emissions and help slow down global warming.


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Are You Ready for Some Football? Move to One of These Top NFL Cities

Yes, for some people, there is no greater motivator to move to a city than whether or not therersquo;s an NFL team to root for, and the chances of them actually ending up in the Super Bowl. Now that the new NFL season has started, wersquo;re taking a look at the best places to live for football fans.nbsp;

We used WalletHubrsquo;s study of the Best and Worst Cities for Football Fans, which compared more than the 240 U.S. cities with at least one professional football team or college, but that didnrsquo;t rate on our list across 21 key metrics, as our base. Then we weaved in some additional info about each of the top 4 cities on their list. Is one of these cities a touchdown? Depends on what yoursquo;re looking for.nbsp;

No. 1 Pittsburgh

WalletHub has Pittsburgh at the top of their list. The city came in third for their best-performing team metric, was fourth for most accessible stadium, and tied with Green Bay for most engaged fans. ldquo;The six Super Bowl titles for the Steelers are the most for any NFL franchise,rdquo; said CheatSheet. A list of the teamrsquo;snbsp;greatestnbsp;players includes a fair share of the NFLrsquo;s best all-time players. Throw in the devotednbsp;fans,rdquo; and itrsquo;s no wonder Pittsburgh leads the pack.

So is this a great place to move? Livability thinks so. They ranked the city No. 8 on their new list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America. ldquo;The Burgh scored high in the studyrsquo;s economy category, as well as infrastructure,rdquo; said CBS Pittsburgh. ldquo;Editors also say that Pittsburgh has seen an influx of young people and tech companies in recent yearshellip;with local universities including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh driving innovation and nurturing talent. Editors also talked about Pittsburghrsquo;s climate, home values, brewers, dream jobs and weather.rdquo;

No. 2 Boston

Not surprisingly, Boston is at the top of WalletHubrsquo;s best-performing NFL city list, and is ranked No. 3 for the most engaged NFL fans. ldquo;Boston College and Boston University play football within the city limits, and Harvard plays just across the Charles River in Cambridge,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;But college football isnrsquo;t why Boston makes the list. It has a little something to do with the New England Patriots and their five Super Bowl titles. Those [six] championships and the legions of fans who live and die with the Patriots will keep Boston high on the list of top football towns for a long time to come.rdquo;

U.S. News amp; World Report has Boston ranked No. 27 on its national list ofnbsp;Best Places to Live and No. 25 innbsp;Best Places to Retire. ldquo;Boston often feels like a small town with all the perks of city life,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The metro area features a diverse culinary scene, access to the cultural institutions, and proximity to world->

The downside? ldquo;Boston is a notoriously expensive metro area. If you are looking to purchase a home in Boston, prices can vary drastically based on the neighborhood, though they tend to be higher than the national median.rdquo;

No. 3 Green Baynbsp;

This city has fervent fans, as evidenced by their No. 1 ranking in a tie for most engaged fans in the WalletHub study. Green Bay also ranked first for most accessible stadium. ldquo;The Green Bay Packers are the No. 1 reason people in northern Wisconsin leave the house in autumn and early winter,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;OK, that might be stretching the truth, but not by much. At least the team givesnbsp;Packers fansnbsp;something worth watching. Their topnbsp;quarterbacksnbsp;are among the best to ever play the game. The team has four Super Bowl titles, and itrsquo;s always a contender to win another one.rdquo;

Green Bayrsquo;s median household income is a bit higher than the state and U.S. median, but rising home prices have taken a bite out of affordability. Prices are up in the hot Green Bay market by more than 15 over last year, and many homes get multiple offers and sell for over asking price. Still, the average sales price is only 190,000mdash;significantly more attainable than homes in other parts of the country.

No. 4 Dallas

Dallas has five Super Bowl titles and a loud and proud legion of fans across the country and around the world. WalletHub has the city ranked as the No. 4 best-performing NFL team. ldquo;Theyrsquo;re called Americarsquo;s Team for a reason, and the Super Bowls have something to do with it,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;Theyrsquo;ve been better at crushing fansrsquo;nbsp;dreamsnbsp;recently, but their legacy of success makes Dallas a great football city.

Dallas has been growing at a rapid rate for several years and shows no sign of slowing. The job market is strong, and, while home prices have risen alongside population gains, transplants from places like New York, California, Seattle, or Chicago will be surprised at the >

nbsp;


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A Checklist for the New Homeowner

1. Notify the Post Office and the Bank

The first thing that you should do is make sure that you contact the post office and make sure that theyrsquo;re aware of the change. All you have to do for this is fill out a change-of-address form. Head into the closest Post Office and fill out the form. Then, call your banks and make them aware of the change as well. This would mean that you should also change your billing address for credit cards and for any online shipping like Amazon.

2. Switch Your Utilities and Services

Step two is just as easy. After yoursquo;ve taken care of the important things with the Post Office and the bank, call your utilities to let them know that yoursquo;ve switched addresses. This will stop you from receiving any bills from your old address which is important if yoursquo;re renting it out and ensure that you are receiving the bills for your current address. If you had any pest control services, lawn care, or any other service performed on your old home, give them a call and make sure that they know yoursquo;ve moved. Hopefully, they can still service in your new area and the change will be quick and easy.

3. Make Sure Yoursquo;re Safe

Once most of the finances are taken care of, itrsquo;s time to make sure that yoursquo;re as safe as possible. If yoursquo;re buying a home from someone else, itrsquo;s possible that they still have copies of the keys used for the house. To be safe, contact a locksmith and get all of the keys remade and changed. Change all the codes for the home and garage as well. Then, head inside and make sure that all of the safety features of the home are working. This means checking the Carbon Monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers. It doesnrsquo;t hurt to hire someone to come out to double check the home for mold or termites either this should have been done before the house was put up for sale.

4. Fulfill Promises to Your Family

Things are going to feel weird in the new home for a couple days. The fastest way to move in and get settled is by making the home feel like itrsquo;s really home. If there was anything that you sacrificed to the get the new home, make plans with your family to get it. For example, if all your kids wanted was a new pool but the house didnrsquo;t have one, create a financial plan to get there and think it out step by step. Start by researching for a company that does custom pools in nbsp;your city.. Then, work with the company to create a financial plan to put in the pool. In order to help your children best adjust to the idea of moving to a new place, make sure that yoursquo;re honest with them the entire process.

5. Review the HOA Rules

If yoursquo;ve purchased a home in an HOA area, make sure that you review the rules a few extra times. Hopefully, you already know what to expect from your HOA, but reviewing the rules will help ease any stress while yoursquo;re figuring out the area. The Home Owners Association usually has very strict rules for what you can and canrsquo;t have outside in the area. They can also be strict about the upkeep of a property and the >

After yoursquo;ve taken care of the important things, go ahead and do the fun steps. Go out and meet your neighbors, explore the area, decorate the inside of the home, and >

nbsp;


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Reasons to Power Wash Your Home Before Putting It On the Market

Soft wash pressure washing dramatically improves the overall curb appeal of your home. Safely yet adequately cleaning away dirt, mold, mildew, and other debris will make your property look brand new. You dont have to stick with just your homes exterior either. Pressure washing decks, patios, driveways, walkways, fencing, roofing, and everything else you can see is a guaranteed way to increase your property value and sell your home faster.

Power Washing Makes Your Home Stand Out Against the Rest

Chances are, there are several homes for sale in the city or town that you live in. When people start talking with a realtor to find their next home, they will explore all of the properties within the area they have an interest in. By having a professional pressure washing company come in and properly clean away years of dirt and other blemishes, your property will look like it was just resided or had a fresh paint job.nbsp;

The draw for you is that its a lot less expensive than actually completing one of the more significant projects. You might think that your homes exterior needs to be replaced because youve been looking at all the problem areas for so long. However, you might be surprised to find out that what you thought needed to be updated only needed a proper power washing.

Someone cruising around looking at houses for sale will notice whether or not your property has been taken care of. People want to have the feeling that theyre getting something brand new even if it isnt. Pressure washing your home gives the look and feel of a just-built home for a fraction of the cost.

Step out into the street or drive by your house and take a look at it in its current condition. Is it something that you would get a good first impression looking at? If you havent had power washing done within the past year or so, the answer is likely no. Get it pressure washed by a trusted company, and you might find yourself reconsidering even selling it in the first place because it will look so stunning.

Going Beyond Pressure Washing Your House

When you think of pressure washing your house, do you only think about siding, shutters, and maybe windows? While thats what plenty of homeowners will have done regularly by a power washing company, there are so many more options that are going to work in your favor.

A pressure washing company that has the proper tools, equipment, and experience will be able to offer you other cleaning services for your home pre-sale that will make it look even better. Some of the other features you should think about having professionally power washed include:

bull; Decks
bull; Patios
bull; Driveways
bull; Sidewalks
bull; Roofing
bull; Gutters

This information was given to us by a local Michigan pressure washing company called ProClean Pressure Washing West Bloomfield. The more dirt, mold, debris, salt, algae, and other blemishes you can wash away, the more attractive your house will be to those driving by. Its a small investment that you can make now. It comes with a high probability youll get a 100 return on your initial cost because of how great your house looks.

Power Washing Before Inspection

Unless someone walks up and offers you an all-cash payment for your home, you will be seeing a lending house inspector at some point during the sale process. Banks and mortgage companies have to go out to the location to ensure the money they are borrowing to a homeowner is worth it.nbsp;

By having your professional power washing done before the inspector gets there, it will cut down on the amount of time it takes them to go over your property thoroughly. Not only that, but they will be able to easily see that the siding, roof, windows, and other surfaces that have been washed are in good condition.nbsp;

When there is dirt or debris stuck to these areas, they have to take the time to do a closer inspection. If you want to sell quickly without a lot of questions being asked, professional power washing is one of the most effective ways to reach that goal.

Power Wash the Outside to Improve the Inside

Experts suggest that serious homebuyers are more attracted to homes that have an open and well-lit interior. Before you power wash your home, you might not even realize that the natural light that was once coming in has been obstructed. Time passes, and dirt and grime on the windows and the rest of your homes exterior build up.nbsp;

After you have your favorite pressure washing company show up and do the cleaning of your homes exterior, the interior will shine a lot more brightly. The debris that was blocking the sunlight from coming in has been blasted away. Afterward, youre left with a much cleaner and fresher environment that buyers look for.

Well-Maintained Homes Sell Faster

People dont want to buy someone elses problem. If you lived in your house for 20 years and never took care of the power washing of the roof, siding, or other surfaces, expect buyers to keep driving on by. They dont want to have to do everything that you neglected for so long to get their new house livable.nbsp;

After pressure washing is complete, your home instantly looks like its been taken care of. Even if you didnt replace the windows or fix the roof, just by it being cleaner, the problem areas arent as noticeable. People that see a clean house on the outside will automatically believe that everything on the inside was taken care of the way it was supposed to be as well.

There are people out there that look for homes that need a little bit of work so that they can get it at a lower price. If you arent worried about how much money youll get for the sale of your home, then go ahead and sell it as-is. If you want to get the most out of your investment, then proper professional power washing is a no-brainer.nbsp;

Make sure to request pressure cleaning of your siding, windows, roof, gutters, driveway, sidewalks, and other surfaces when you call a power washing company near you. It will increase your chances of getting that higher asking price faster.

nbsp;


Nate Knebl of ProClean Pressure Washing West Bloomfield has been offering his wide range of exterior cleaning services through Michigan for over 15 years. Over the years he has earned himself a 5 star reputation and consistently gets referrals from clients looking for his spotless cleans. He stays in touch with the industry and is always on the cutting edge.


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How Lenders View Retirement Income

Social security is a given. You can apply for social security up to three months before you turn 62. However, if you wait until 65 your monthly social security income will be higher. There are arguments on both sides as when to take social security, so itrsquo;s important that you have a discussion with your spouse and financial planner. And yes, social security income is considered taxable income.

Dividend income and interest come from savings and retirement accounts. Therersquo;s a special section on the loan application labeled ldquo;Interest and Dividend.rdquo; As it >

Borrowers will need to provide the last two years of federal income tax returns showing the amount of interest income received during that time frame. Lenders will average those two years together and then divide by 24 months to arrive at a qualifying amount. At the same time, lenders must also make a general determination that the interest income will continue into the future. Itrsquo;s a judgment call but lenders typically want to be assured the income will continue for at least three years. Borrowers may also be asked to provide copies of statements from these accounts showing the account balances issuing interest as well as the terms of the amounts being paid. Itrsquo;s important to show that the accounts providingnbsp;interest payments are sizable enough to make these payments without directly withdrawing from the account balance. This would reduce monthly interest income.

Dividend payments are a bit trickier because they may not come on a regular enough basis where borrowers can use the dividend payments to service debt and monthly expenses. If a dividend payment comes once per year, it wonrsquo;t be available year-round for debt service. For dividend payments that come quarterly, it can be assumed the funds will be available to help pay the bills in retirement. As with any other type of income, there needs to be at least a two-year history of receiving it and the lender makes an internal determination the income will continue into the future for at least three years.

A 401k account will also pay dividends. Borrowers should be prepared to fully document the terms and payouts of a 401k account, when the borrowers expect to withdraw funds from the retirement account and if there are enough funds available to help service any type of monthly debt.

In essence, any income outside of social security needs to have a history prove the likelihood of continuance well into the future. Even though someone is receiving some type of retirement income, therersquo;s the possibility it canrsquo;t be counted toward qualifying income. For this, yoursquo;ll need to speak directly with an experienced loan officer.


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NAR Report Emphasizes Agent Must-Haves for Strong Digital Presence

ldquo;The world we live in today is a digital one and searching for a home is no different,rdquo; they said. Buyers now have apps that let them search by location and neighborhoods. Online searching maximizes the ability to compare and contrast homes on the market by selected features. Most of this is done before a potential home buyer connects with a real estate agent. In the Real Estate in a Digital Age report, we examine the process home buyers go through in the initial online search and how REALTORSreg; are connecting with customers in the digital space.rdquo;

Wersquo;re running through some of the most important data points in the NAR report.

Are your properties showing up online?

The wider the net you cast with property listings, the better. Homebuyers search first for properties online a whopping 44 of the time.nbsp;

Social media more important than ever

Whatrsquo;s your Facebook page looking like? Do you even have a business page on the social media site? Have you mastered Instagram or are you still writing it off as unimportant to your target market? You may be surprised. On the report under ldquo;top tech tools that give the highest quality leads,rdquo; social media was the leader by far, at 44. Coming in second was MLS site at 32, followed by the brokeragersquo;s website at 29.

Is your website mobile optimized?

It isnrsquo;t enough to have a great website if it only works on desktop. The majority of buyers today are using their mobile device to search for homes, across all demographics. The NAR Infographic showed that, ldquo;81 of Older Millennials, 80 ofnbsp;Younger Millennials and 78 of Generation Xnbsp;found their home on a mobile device compared to 68 of Younger Boomers.rdquo;nbsp;

nbsp;Photos rule

Itrsquo;s no surprise that buyers want to see pictures of listings, but the percentage of buyers who made this the most valuable feature about online properties in the report was compelling: 87. No. 2 was detailed property information, and No. 3 might be surprising: floorplans. Realtors may have an opportunity to set themselves apart by showing property floorplans along with the other identifying information in online listings.nbsp;

nbsp;


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Its a DIY World out There. Are You Game?

Wersquo;re looking at five of the most popular projects to determine whether you can have at it or you should turn it over to the pros.

New floors

The cost to install new wood floors can range widely, and is largely dependent on the cost of the product itself. HomeAdvisor estimates the cost of installation at 3ndash;8 per square foot; You can save thousands by installing it yourself, but it can be challengingnbsp;

ldquo;Installing wood or wood-like floors can range from a fairly easy DIY project to one that requires a good bit of carpentry and finishing skills,rdquo; said Todayrsquo;s Homeowner.

Truth be told, installation is hard on the knees, hard on the back, tedious, and seemingly never-endingmdash;and also incredibly satisfying if you pull it off. ldquo;Flooring is one of the most popular home improvement projects because itrsquo;s a way to transform the look and feel of the home without spending a fortune,rdquo; Dan DiClerico, home expert at renovations website HomeAdvisor, told Money. ldquo;Wersquo;ve seen the project really take off in the age of open-floor plans in contemporary homes.rdquo;

Be sure to invest in good products, good tools, and take breaks as needed to keep your bodymdash;and your mental statemdash;in a good place.

New lighting

A sparkly chandelier over the dining table, some new pendants that illuminate the kitchen islandmdash;the right lighting can make a huge difference in how your house looks and feels. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of lighting to make a space look fresher or give it some personality. But, while wersquo;re all about picking out the good stuff, we donrsquo;t mess around with anything that can electrocute us. If you have basic wiring skills and feel confident that you wonrsquo;t set the house on fire while installing a new sconce, have at it. This post will give you some good info.nbsp;

For the rest of us, count on an hourly rate of ldquo;40 to 100 per hour with a 75 service call-out fee,rdquo; said HomeGuide. ldquo;Small electrical projects range from 141 to 419 with most homeowners spending 280 on average. Project and hourly rates depend on thenbsp;electriciansnbsp;experience level and the type of work.rdquo;

New plumbing fixtures

Plumbing is the other thing we donrsquo;t mess with. Wersquo;re happy to pay a professional to do the job right. But for those in the know, the savings over hiring a plumber can be well worth it. Adding a shiny new sink and faucet to a kitchen can give the whole space a lift. Ditto in the bathrooms, where changing out a shower head and faucets can make it appear that the space has been updated.nbsp;

Expect to pay a plumber ldquo;from 175 to 450 for a typical job with the average costnbsp;per hour ranging from 45 to 200,rdquo; said HomeAdvisor.nbsp;

Replacing windows and doors

New windows and doors can add curb appeal, improve energy efficiency, and provide pretty good ROI while theyrsquo;re at it. For most people, however, this is a professional job. ldquo;Window replacement is a bigger job than most homeowners may expect,rdquo; said The Spruce. ldquo;Window installers, after all, replace windows every day of their life; what is difficult for the DIYer is rote for them.rdquo; In addition, ldquo;it is difficult for homeowners to buy their own replacement windows for self-installation.

According to HomeAdvisor, ldquo;labor will runnbsp;150 to 800 per window,rdquo; so the savings can be substantial. If you want to take a chance, there is some good how-to info here, and Window E-Store is a good place to start looking for windows.nbsp;

Painting your kitchen cabinets

Weve talked a whole lot about painting kitchen cabinetsmdash;because itrsquo;s one of homeowners most-wanted renovations. The cost of hiring a professional can make the project price prohibitive; yoursquo;re looking at several thousands of dollars to get a fine finish. Scrimp on someone without the experience, or who isnrsquo;t going to do all the prep or skip steps, and you might save a few bucks, but you might also end up with drips, cracks, peeling paint, or all of the above.nbsp;nbsp;

That having been said, painting your own cabinets is a tremendous undertaking. It will test your patience, your resolve, and maybe even your marriage. So consider this one carefully.nbsp;

nbsp;


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What Can Happen if You Take Your Home Off Market and Decide to Refinance Instead

Therersquo;s some initial interest, a couple of ldquo;lowballrdquo; offers that border as an insult, but they pay little attention to them. Theyrsquo;re just going to wait. They hire a professional house cleaner to perform a thorough cleaning. They pay some money to stage the home and also pay for a storage unit to house the furniture the stager didnrsquo;t like. A month passes, then the phone calls stop coming in. Two months go by and now itrsquo;s heading into the third month. The homeowners scratch their heads a little bit and decide theyrsquo;re not going to get what they need, so they decide to go ahead and refinance their current mortgage and at least get their monthly payments down. But there now may be a problem.

When a lender accepts an application for a home loan, the research wheel will begin to turn. An appraisal will be ordered. The appraiser will take the appraisal order and start looking for homes in the area that have recently sold and how long it took to sell the homes. The appraiser will also note which homes in the area have been listed and make note of that on the appraisal. This can mean the subject property pops up on the MLS. A mortgage company wonrsquo;t be all that excited about approving a refinance application in this scenario. Why?

The primary reason is cost. Cost to the lender. There is enough overhead a mortgage company goes through that it can mean the lender wonrsquo;t start to see some profit from the interest on the new loan until maybe two years have passed. Otherwise, approving a short term loan becomes an expense, not profit. If a lender reviews an application and sees the property was recently taken off the market, there will be some explaining to do. The loan application wonrsquo;t automatically be declined, but it can make it more difficult to get the lender to ldquo;yes.rdquo;

Why did the home not sell? Is the current real estate market softening? If the markets come back soon, will the owners decide once again to sell the property, retiring the note? The owners in this situation will be asked to provide an explanation letter assuring the potential lender that they have permanently changed their mind and selling is out of the picture. Maybe the owner just wanted to get their toes in the water and see what type of activity could be generated. In any scenario, taking a home off the MLS then immediately applying for a refinance might be more difficult than first imagined.

The difference is whether or not the owner intends to keep the property. If the owners can convince the lender it was essentially a ldquo;toes in the waterrdquo; thing, it most likely wonrsquo;t be an issue. But what if it is? Then itrsquo;s probably best to sit back a few months and wait. And just maybe the owners might decide to stay after all, and the lenders can >
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Buy for Children Before You Have Them

If you donrsquo;t have children, but you and your partner share the solid conviction that your lives will revolve around children in the near future, consider buying a home as if you now have children.

Thenbsp; ldquo;2019 Moving With Kidsrdquo; Report, >

How would pretending to yourself that you already have children change how you approach your home search

According to the ldquo;Moving Withrdquo; Report, having children impacts buying decisions in many ways. Even before you have children, you may benefit from buying as if you do, for instance:

bull; The Importance of Neighborhood

Fifty-three percent of buyers who have children evaluate neighborhoods based on the quality of school districts. Half of these buyers select a neighborhood based on the convenience to schools. The value and spirit of a neighborhood revolves around its schools, so yoursquo;d buy into the heart of the neighborhood from the start. Yoursquo;ll benefit on resale as properties near preferred schools usually carry higher market values.

bull; Home Size

Buyers with children, tended to purchase ldquo;larger homes of 2,110 square feet in size with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.rdquo; If you buy a slightly larger home now, yoursquo;ll save the cost and inconvenience of moving again when the children arrive. In the meantime, the extra rooms could be used as a home office, a workroom, a distribution center for your online business, or short-term Airbnb rentals to generate more income. Use this additional income to pay down your mortgage more quickly and benefit financially in many ways.

bull; Limitations >

Twenty-six percent of buyers with children, reported the financial pressure of child-care expenses delayed home buying. This ongoing financial burden necessitated compromises regarding ldquo;the condition and size of the home, followed by price, lot size, and >

Savvy buyers with children look at a potential home purchase and ask themselves and their real estate professional, ldquo;Why might we want to sell this home in the future?rdquo; That is, what location or design factors might challenge a growing family in the future?

bull; If keeping children within the same school district and community throughout their schooling is a vital concern, the feasibility of long-term ownership should be considered before you buy.
bull; If a move in the future would be practical or preferred for a variety of reasons, the home may only need to suit the children during their early years.

The ldquo;Moving Withrdquo; Report revealed that 24 percent of owners with children under 18 sold because their home was too small. Other reasons for selling included job >

bull; Almost a quarter of buyers with children reportedly sold their home ldquo;very urgently,rdquo; compared to 14 percent of child-less buyers.
bull; Twenty-one percent of sellers with children requested help from their real estate professional to sell within a specific timeframe, 20 percent wanted skilled input to price their home, and 19 percent needed assistance with marketing the home to potential buyers.

With your real estate professional, review what typical buyers with children seek out in the areas yoursquo;re searching. How are the differences between those choices and your ldquo;no children nowrdquo; search significant to your overall results, financial and otherwise?

The benefits of buying now with your family in mind versus buying something smaller now and then selling and buying a larger property before the children start school, may include cost savings, convenience, and minimized disruption.

bull; In some areas, real estate prices rise steadily, so what you can afford today may be out of reach in three or four years.
bull; The sale of a home and purchase of a new one within a few years of the initial buy may be an expensive alternative if the value of the current home has not appreciated much and the next homersquo;s value has gone up significantly.

These are all very couple-specific decisions:

bull; Use the stats to get you thinking not to restrict your search.
bull; Your real estate professional will help you thoroughly investigate your options.
bull; Your vision of your future and your sense of >

You may want to read more on this subject to clarify the differences between your ldquo;pre-childrenrdquo; thinking and what yoursquo;ll be considering soon regarding full-on family-home purchasing. The buyer profiles in NARs Buyer Bios: Profiles of Recent Home Buyers and Sellers may spark some interesting discussions.

nbsp;


More Savvy Buyer articles by PJ Wade:

bull; ldquo;Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensiverdquo;
bull; ldquo;Home Buyers: Seven Insights Into Confident Decision Makingrdquo;
bull; ldquo;Three Things Home Buyers Should Never Dordquo;


Full Story >


5 Tips You Must Know Before You Start Repairing Your Home

Before you give in to that universal itch, here are 5 things that you should know before you start improving and repairing your home.

  • Have a Plan

  • One of the worst things to happen in terms of home improvement is starting a renovation project without any major details of how itrsquo;s supposed to gomdash; design, materials, time and costmdash; be as realistic as you can from the start.

    Nothing will cost more than having second thoughts like changing your tile choice or moving an appliance somewhere else. Consider using design tools to conceptualize your home improvement project and add a healthy buffer of 10 ndash; 15 percent on top of that to your final budget and renovation time to account for those inevitable surprises.

  • Be Realistic About Your Timeline And Get Ready For Inconveniences

  • Although you have a plan, know that it will usually take longer than expected. Thus you need to be prepared to make adjustments to avoid any frustration.

    Also, if yoursquo;re planning a major renovation, you will likely be inconvenienced. You will not be able to use the rooms while the project is ongoing. Consider how you will manage without those facilities as well as the time of the year and how uncomfortable you might be during the project.

  • Expect The Unexpected

  • All homes hold dirty secretsmdash; under the floor, in the walls, behind your appliances, everywhere. And a home renovation can bring those secrets to light. For instance, when moving the fridge aside, you might notice a leak of some sort or weird noises coming from it which will need to be repaired before you start.

    You can either troubleshoot it yourself or have repair servicesnbsp;do the hard work for you. Regardless, you might find something else to deal with during the renovation project that you might not have anticipated.

  • Permits For Major Works

  • Depending on the state you reside in, you might need to secure permits before starting any renovation projects. Contractors should offer the costs for all permits on the quoted estimate and they are usually responsible for securing permits from local offices unless youd rather do it yourself.

    Major home improvements that might require local permits include electrical and plumbing work, structural changes such as building a deck or patio and new structures like fences and windows. Regardless, your city council office should have all the information for home projects and improvements that will require permits.

  • Choosing The Right Contractor

  • You wonrsquo;t have trouble finding contractors willing to manage your renovation project. However, finding the right contractor will definitely take some time.

    nbsp;In your planning stages, make sure you interview multiple contractors. Ask them about their communication and work >

    Another option is to ask family and friends for their recommendations. Consult those in your network that you can trust. Ask contractors for any videos and/or photos of their most recent projects. Those who actually know what they are doing and run a reputable and solid business will have no problem showing off what they are capable of. Remember that experience heavily counts in this regard.

    Furthermore, the BBB, or Better Business Bureau, advises every homeowner to consider contractors that are a member of a professional association which will ensure that they adhere to specific standards or code of ethics. All BBB Accredited businesses uphold the BBB standards of ethics in the marketplace. BBB reports can show you just how long a company has been in the business, posted reviews negative or positive, complaint detail as well as any known government actions.

    Conclusion

    When done properly, home improvement projects not only add value to your home but also comfort and confidence. On the other hand, these projects can bust your wallet and end up failing miserably if you neglect to plan ahead. However, with the above tips, you will definitely steer your home renovation towards success.


    Full Story >


    4 Ways to Save Energy and Money on your Home

    Before you decide on a method of energy conservation, look at your energy bill to see your monthly usage usually in kilowatt hours. Often times, energy companies and government agencies will provide tips to help you use less energy. One of the improvements for which energy companies and even the government just might be willing to provide incentives has to do with that great ball of fire in the sky.

    Sleek Solar panels

    Solar panels save you money and help the environment by producing energy plus, they are usually tax deductible. You can purchase solar panels in different forms. For example, you can opt for the traditional panels, or go sleek with glass roof tiles. Even though the former is a mark of onersquo;s intent to help the planet, the roof tile solar panels are less conspicuous because they blend with the roof. Energy production is not the only way you can save on your heating bill. A common household upgrade can sometimes let in more than the sunlight.

    Dressy Windows

    One of the more common ways a home can lose heat is through its windows. If you do not use the proper insulation and/or you do not have the right type of window, heat escapes, and cold air gets in. On average, 30 percent of a homersquo;s heat is lost through windows. You can either install energy efficient windows, or you can opt for less expensive options, such as window dressings. Curtains, drapes, or blinds can help reduce heat loss through the window by acting as a sort of stylish insulation. The utilization of another element of the Earth in our everyday lives can also be reduced.nbsp;nbsp;

    Inconspicuous Water Heaters

    Water heaters are normally large and hidden away in dank, dark basements. They store the water and heat it up giving us our hot water for dishes and showers. Instead of reheating stored water, tankless water heaters heat only the water you use. Their smaller sizes allow them to be placed in more accessible areas. You would no longer have to waste energy on standby heat loss when keeping unused water hot. To reduce overall usage, you can reduce it in smaller areas first.

    Neater Space Heaters

    Space heaters are no longer the open flame disasters-in-waiting appliances of the past. Smaller models today not only heat more space, but their heat sources are not exposed. Plus, they do not look like space heaters. Many are ceramic, making aesthetically pleasing shapes, sizes, and colors that can blend into any decor. You can still ask such questions as How much electricity does a space heater usersquo;, but there are compact sized units that use low kilowatt hours that heat sizeable areas.

    There are many ways you can be energy conscious. Solar panels, windows, tankless water heaters, and space heaters are prime examples of methods of energy reduction and production. They can also fit into anyonersquo;s >
    Full Story >


    Common Metal Roof Repairs

    There are several reasons why these types of roofs can leak and need repair.

    So if you have a metal roof, be on the lookout for any of the following reasons why repairs may be needed:

    Metal Roofing Screws

    The majority of leaks on metal roofs are formed as a result of roofing screws that were either installed incorrectly or that have weakened over time.

    These types of screws seal water out by compressing a rubber washer at the base of the screw head, which forms a type of gasket when the screw is driven into the metal roofing panel.

    Typical things that can go wrong include under driving screws, over driving screws, driving screws at the wrong angle and screws that completely missed the framing.

    Missing Sealants

    Metal roof sealants hardly ever last as long as metal roofing panels do, so they will need to be replaced with regular roof maintenance.

    Sealants all need to be topped off from time to time, as they will experience a good amount of wear and tear.

    If you do need to make this type of replacement, be sure to use a sealant specifically made for metal roofing, as silicone caulking may not adhere to the paint on the roofing panel and trims.

    Curb Flashings

    Installing metal roofing panels is really not all that difficult, but the flashing that goes along with it can be a challenge for even the most experienced metal roofer.

    HVAC units on metal roofs are usually sitting on curbs and therersquo;s little room for error when fabricating the flashing. And keeping a curb dry can be extremely difficult.

    Water can often get trapped behind the HVAC unit and remain behind the flashing, which eventually erodes sealants and begins to leak.

    The more you caulk or seal the uphill side, the more water it will hold. But itrsquo;s difficult to remedy these types of problems without removing the metal roofing panels and essentially starting over.

    Stack Flashings

    Another area where yoursquo;ll find a lot of leakage on a metal roof is an area known as stack flashings, which is the material around the pipes that come out of the metal roof.

    HVAC vents, air vents and plumbing pipes all have to vent and come through the roof and the stack flashing is how the pipe is waterproofed.

    Most stack flashings are made or rubberized material that sits flat on the metal roof and forms a seal around the pipe.

    The movement in the metal roofing from expansion and contraction, as well as the sun, continually test these flashings, which generally last only about half the time as the roof itself.

    Seams and Overlaps

    Seams where two pieces of metal roofing overlap each other often leak because of capillary draw, or the process by which water actually travels uphill between two tightly joined pieces of metal.

    Placing sealant between the two pieces of metal can break the capillary draw. But if not used correctly, it can actually make leaks worse than if you had never used it at all.


    Full Story >


    10 Man-Cave Essentials

    A Recliner For >

    A recliner should be the first on the list because a man cave should also be a place where you can >

    A Mini Fridge For A Stress-Free Drinking Session

    Have more fun with beer and liquor when you have your mini-fridge inside the man cave. You donrsquo;t have to go out of the space every time you need a drink. Lucky for you, a mini-fridge is available in your local hardware store at a reasonable price. You can also look online for cheap, second-hand mini-fridge units. A mini-fridge also makes it easier for you to host future gatherings or parties if you want to use the man cave as there is no need to go back and forth for your guestsrsquo; drinks.

    A Television For Entertainment

    The purpose of the man cave is to give 100 >

    A Pool Table

    Aside from the television, itrsquo;s also better to have a form of entertainment that doesnrsquo;t need electricity. Just like the good old days, man caves used only to have pool tables as a source of entertainment. A television sounds tempting but here are the advantages of choosing a pool table as a source of entertainment:

    bull;nbsp;It burns calories for players.
    bull;nbsp;It increases and improves focus, control, and strategy.
    bull;nbsp;There are hand and eye coordination.
    bull;nbsp;It improves cognitive skills.
    bull;nbsp;It can be a bonding tool for the family, whatever age.

    A Few Extra Seats

    Your personal space also needs a few extra seats for when you invite friends over. You donrsquo;t have to purchase high-end recliners for everyone. Look for comfortable monoblocs or chairs that are comfortable. You may also visit your local hardware store and find the cheapest set of chairs that donrsquo;t take up too much space but are also convenient. Another option is to recycle extra chairs if you have them and add pillows to sit on.

    DIY Liquor Dispensers

    Liquor dispensers are great not only for additional room design but theyrsquo;re also space savers for when you donrsquo;t have a mini-fridge yet. All you have to do is follow these steps:

    bull;nbsp;Go to the hardware store and purchase a rack that can fit all your favorite liquors, as well as the needed screws, drill, paint. Make sure you are buying adjustable shelves.
    bull;nbsp;Drill the rack on the wall.
    bull;nbsp;Replace all liquor caps with a faucet-like dispenser.
    bull;nbsp;Measure and place all liquor on the rack.
    bull;nbsp;Label each liquor bottle.

    Another advantage to taking note of is that the DIY liquor dispensers save you a lot of electricity. If yoursquo;re not that high-maintenance, buy ice, and yoursquo;re ready to take the night off and >

    A Snack Box Or Snack Vending Machine

    A man cave isnrsquo;t complete without food to eat. If you have the extra budget, you can start looking for vending machines second-hand machines are available online, but make sure you check the quality and state before purchasing. Vending machines also save you the time and effort whenever guests arrive. You donrsquo;t have to cook anything because they can quickly get snacks when they get hungry. On the other hand, if you lack the funds to buy a machine, opt to buy large tupperwares or bins instead and fill them up with different snacks.

    Sports Memorabilia And Movie Posters

    Give off that vintage vibe by filling the walls with movie posters. You can look for old movie posters at thrift stores or antique shops, or you can go online and look for sellers who have collectibles although it could be for a hefty price. Sports memorabilia such as a signed baseball bat or football can be displayed as a centerpiece or also hung up on the walls.

    Some Personal Items

    Itrsquo;s always nice to add a few personalized items of your own. Personalized items are the right way of reminding you of the memories and good times you had. In addition to this, you donrsquo;t have to spend on additional room designs or unreasonably priced displays. In addition to this, your family members could also help. They can design their memorabilia to put up in your man cave. You can put up pictures and stick them on the wall, of stick them to a string and hang it up.

    A Bookshelf Door

    Design your door and make it look like a bookshelf by purchasing plywood from the hardware store and make it your base. Once you place that on the door, you can start adding different things you want to put in your bookshelf such as:

    bull;nbsp;Books of course.
    bull;nbsp;Picture frames.
    bull;nbsp;Vases.
    bull;nbsp;Certificates.

    You can choose anything you want as long as theyrsquo;re old and your family is okay with you using it as a design. The goal is to cover as much as possible and make the door go unnoticed by guests.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    How to Get a Jump on Fall Home Projects

    Consider your window coverings

    Conventional wisdom says you should trade out your lightweight draperies for something more substantial for the colder seasons. But sheers are great in fall and winter. Letting some sunlight trickle through can help heat the home while still providing privacy, and they can be added to any window, regardless of the type of treatment you already have.nbsp;

    Mulch. That. Yard.nbsp;

    ldquo;Should you mulch plants in the fall? The short answer is: yes Mulching around plants in autumn has all kinds of benefits, from preventing soil erosion to suppressing weeds to protecting plants from moisture loss and shifts in temperature,rdquo; said Gardening Knowhow.nbsp;

    Invest in some covers for your good patio stuff

    Every year we say wersquo;re going to do this and every year we fail. Consequently, we had to replace our patio cushions this year far sooner than we would have liked. Dont be like us. You can prolong the life of your patio furniture and grill with a good waterproof cover. ldquo;During the warmer months, yournbsp;outdoor patio furniturenbsp;likely gets a lot of use,rdquo; said Hayneedle. ldquo;In colder months, you probably spend less time outside and thus less time utilizing your outdoor furniture. If you live in an area that has a cold or wet climate in the winter, you will need to take steps to make sure that your patio furniture is properly protected from the elements.rdquo;nbsp;

    Get your heater checkednbsp;

    We get it. No one wants to turn their heater on when itrsquo;s 100 degrees outside. But what you really donrsquo;t want is to be faced with a broken heater when itrsquo;s 0 degrees outside. See if you can make an appointment now to get your system checked in October, and if your chosen company doesnrsquo;t schedule appointments that far in advance, at least make an appointment with yourself to make another call at the end of September.

    Clean out your gutters

    Clogged gutters can pose a danger to your home. Get them cleaned out now to make sure rain and snow can flow freely and isnrsquo;t being impeded by leaves and debris.nbsp;

    Do a chimney checknbsp;

    Schedule this well in advance to make sure you can safely use your fireplace when the first chilly night hits.

    Get a tree inspection

    Heavy rain, wind, and snow can put pressure on tree limbs. You donrsquo;t want them snapping and ending up crashing through your roof or breaking a window. This is the perfect time to have them checked out.

    Examine your utilitiesnbsp;

    Check current bills against the same time last year. Has your electric bill gone up dramatically year over year? You could have an air leak that needs to be addressed more on that below. Is your water bill significantly higher than 12 months ago? You may have a dripping showerhead, a running toilet, or a problem with your hot water heater. Time to call a plumbernbsp;nbsp;

    Check for leaks around windows and doors

    About those air leaks: Little leaks can cost younbsp;big time, and the sooner you deal with them, the sooner you can start saving money. ldquo;An average home loses up to 30 of its heating and cooling energy throughnbsp;air leaks,rdquo; said Houselogic. ldquo;The most significant air leaks tend to occur around windows and doors.rdquo;

    You can easily check for leaks with incense. ldquo;With windows and doors closed, hold a lit stick of incense near window and door frames wherenbsp;drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement,rdquo; they said. Then itrsquo;s just a matter of adding caulking and weather strippingmdash;both easy and inexpensive DIY fixes.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Cant Afford to Buy a Home? Have You Looked Into Down Payment Assistance?

    nbsp;

    A surveynbsp;from Apartment List shows that most millennial homebuyers canrsquo;t come up with the funds for a down payment. ldquo;Seventy-two percent of millennial renters who plan to purchase a home cite affordability as a reason that they are delaying homeownership, with 62 percent pinpointing a lack of down payment savings specifically,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Forty-eight percent of millennial renters have zero down payment savings, while just 11 percent have saved 10,000 or more.rdquo;

    Down payment assistance programs can fill in the gap, but many buyers donrsquo;t even know they exist. ldquo;Down payment assistance can come from many different sourcesmdash; including federal, state, county, city and nonprofit agenciesmdash;and arent always well-publicized,rdquo; said U.S News amp; World Report. Anyone who is interested in down payment assistance is encouraged to check with their real estate agent or lender, but doing your own research is key.nbsp;

    In Texas this week, Wells Fargo amp; Co., NeighborWorks America, and the Business amp; Community Lenders of Texas rolled out the NeighborhoodLIFTnbsp;program, a new down payment assistance program promoting sustainable home ownership in the northern part of the state. This program is so new that some industry professionals might not even know it exists.

    NeighborhoodLIFTnbsp;offers up to 15,000 in down payment assistance plus homebuyer education to eligible families in Dallas as well as Tarrant County. Eligibility is based on income. In addition, ldquo;Military service members and veterans, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians may reserve down payment assistance grants of 17,500 and earn up to 100 of the area median income,rdquo; said NBCDFW.

    How to find down payment assistance:

    1. Do a national search.

    Yoursquo;ll be surprised how many programs you can find. ldquo;Do you even know that down payment assistance DPA programs exist? Yoursquo;re in good company if you donrsquo;t,rdquo; said The Mortgage Reports. ldquo;These programs help homebuyers with loans or grants that reduce the amount they need to save for a down payment. And there are more than 2,000 of them nationwide.rdquo;

    2. Check out statewide programs.nbsp;

    From the HUD site, you can search by every state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to see which programs are available for you.nbsp;

    3. Now take it local.

    Dont forget to check for programs in your city. The City of Los Angeles Housing Community Investment Department HCIDLA offers up to 90,000 in financial assistance for first-time,nbsp;low income homebuyers. In Memphis, there is a zero-interest deferred loan that provides funding for first-time homebuyersrsquo; down payment and closing costs for eligible homebuyers through its Division of Housing and Community Development HCD. In Miami, you may be able to get a forgivable zero-interest deferred MDEAT Homeownership Assistance Program HAP loan; the program was designed ldquo;to increase the number of first-time home purchases for low-to-moderate income residents living in Miami-Dade County.rdquo;

    4. Search by your profession.nbsp;

    If yoursquo;re a current or former member of the military, you likely already know about VA loans. Did you know they require no down payment?nbsp;

    The Neighbor Next Door Program is another good one. This program for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and teachers requires only a 100 down payment for eligible homebuyers. Because the program is tied to the idea of revitalization, homes in these communities are offered to eligible buyers at a 50 discount. Buyers must commit tonbsp;living in-home for at least three years.nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Taxable vs. Non-Taxable Income for Mortgage Qualifying

    When deductions are taken from gross monthly income, itrsquo;s taxes, both federal and state, that take the biggest chunk. Again, though, itrsquo;s the gross income thatrsquo;s used. Lenders simply ignore the various deductions. Itrsquo;s both easier that way and is applied universally. Self-employed borrowers are evaluated a bit differently but everyone else is approved in mostly the same manner. But there are types of income that is not taxable such as child support or disability pay. So how do lenders view non-taxable income if not taxes are taken out? Whatrsquo;s the gross amount for non-taxable income?

    Lenders ldquo;gross uprdquo; non-taxable income in an effort to put taxable and non-taxable on a level qualifying field. For example, an employee makes 5,000 per month. Thatrsquo;s the amount used to qualify. There may be other types of income that does not come from an employer that may also be taxed. Part time income, dividends and interest payments and bonus income can be taxed. The loan application has fields where these and other types of taxable income are entered. The amounts are added together to reach a qualifying income amount. Now letrsquo;s look at non-taxable income.

    Conventional loan programs, which account for nearly two out of every three loans originated in todayrsquo;s market, can have non-taxable income grossed up by 25 percent. Note, lenders have the ability to increase the amount by a lesser percentage but cannot exceed the 25 percent number. For instance, an applicant receives 5,000 per month in non-taxable income. But thatrsquo;s not the amount lenders use for qualifying. Instead, the lender takes a multiplier of 1.25 to obtain the amount used. In this example, it would be 5,000 x 1.25 = 6,250. Grossing up the non-taxable income places it on par with taxable.

    This is important because those who do receive non-taxable income often use this amount when applying for a mortgage. A 25 percent increase in non-taxable income is a considerable bump in qualifying income. This type of income must also be evaluated just as with any other type of income. Qualifying income must have a two year history and it must be consistent. A determination is made whether or not the income will continue into the future. If these factors are met, the income may be used. A non-taxable inheritance for example could not be used be used for example because itrsquo;s a one-time event.

    Finally, if therersquo;s any question about qualifying income, itrsquo;s important to speak with a mortgage loan officer before applying. The loan officer can provide you with a qualifying amount over the phone after a brief conversation over the phone. From there, you can be provided with a prequalification which gives you an idea on what you might qualify for.


    Full Story >


    The Trouble With Those Win a House Essay Contests

    Itrsquo;s an idea thatrsquo;s been tried many times over the years in Canada: run an essay contest that offers your home as the top prize. You collect an entry fee from everyone who enters the contest, which allows you to dispose of a property that you were unable to sell.

    Trouble is, I was unable to find one of these contests in Canada that had a successful outcome.

    The most recent flurry of contests started this year when Alla Wagner of Millarville, Alta. held one for a home she valued at 1.7 million. Like most of these contests, contestants were requested to write an essay explaining why they deserved to win the house and send it along with a 25 entry fee. The fee would not be returned if a winner was chosen, but Wagner said a minimum of 68,000 entries would be required. Later she dropped that number to 60,000.

    But by the time the contest came to an end, only 4,627 entries had come in, according to the Calgary Herald. Wagner is now in the process of refunding all the entry fees, less a small service fee to cover her expenses.

    At least the contest got that far. In 2004, a similar contest in Grand Prairie, Alta. offered a hotel valued at 1.5 million as a grand prize, with entry fees set at 1,000. But shortly after the contest was launched, Alberta Justice shut it down, deeming it to be an illegal lottery. In the 1990s at least two other similar contests in Ontario were shut down by the Ontario Provincial Police.

    For Wagnerrsquo;s contest, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis AGLC agency launched an investigation by a team that included AGLC investigators, two RCMP members and a member from each of the Calgary and Edmonton police services, reports the Toronto Star. The investigators concluded that since the essay was not a game of chance, but would be judged on the merits of the entries, it wasnrsquo;t a lottery and was allowed to go ahead.

    Though often touted as a unique new idea, these contests seem to date back to the 1996 move The Spitfire Grill, in which an essay contest was featured.

    Wagnerrsquo;s contest received lots of enthusiastic media coverage, with many stories stating that she was ldquo;giving awayrdquo; her house ndash; but that was only if she collected the 1.5 million in entry fees.

    The publicity for Wagnerrsquo;s contest failed to result in enough entries, but it did inspire several more people to launch contests of their own. In each case, it seems the homeowners tried to sell their homes using traditional means, but when they could not get the money they wanted, they decided to try a contest.

    Ivan and Marsha Negrych are hoping that 17,000 people will send a 500-word essay and 100 to them by Oct. 31, 2019. The prize is a bed and breakfast in Cardston, Alta. that has been designated as an Alberta Historic Resource. The original log cabin, built in 1889, was extensively renovated and expanded from 1913 to 1929. It includes hardwoods from all over the world, intricate ceiling tiles and stained glass imported from Italy.

    Ivan told the CBC that the bed and breakfast was on the market for more than a year before he heard about Wagnerrsquo;s contest and decided to try something similar.

    You could also enter a contest to win a 40-acre property near Sherwood Park, Alta. This one has a 250 entry fee. The contest was to close on Aug. 31, 2019 but as of Aug. 28, only 61 of the 2,500 required entries had been submitted. That contest is likely to get a six-month extension.

    Or, you could go for a 4,400-square-foot mansion in Calgary. The website for this contest outlines how the owners, Teresa and Bill, designed and built their dream home in the Mount Royal neighbourhood in 2014. But the home was constructed ldquo;against an increasingly dark and ominous backdrop in the Province of Alberta,rdquo; says the contest website. ldquo;For Teresa and Bill, the ink on the construction bill of 2.9 million had ba>

    The website says the contest ldquo;was born from the need to think outside the box.rdquo;

    It requires a minimum of 100,000 people to join the contest by sending 35 along with a great photo of their pet. The owners hope to be able to grant three runner-up prizes of 50,000 as well as give 100,000 to share among three Canadian charities.

    Even if a contest is successful, it could create tax issues for the homeowners, says Carolyn Hogan of Miller Thomson LLP in Calgary. Generally, when a person sells their principal residence in Canada, itrsquo;s tax-free. But can entry fees for a contest be considered proceeds of the disposition of a property? Hogan says that since most of those fees come from people who will not receive anything in exchange for the money, those fees may not be considered part of the sale price of the property.

    In the case of Alla Wagner, for example, if the entry fees were determined to be taxable business income and Wagner had reached the goal of 60,000 entries or 1.5 million, she might have been liable for income tax of up to 720,000 not including expenses, says Hogan.

    If the winner of the house was unable to live in the property and claim it as their principal residence, and then sold it, they would incur a taxable capital gain on the entire value of the property, not on the increase in value since they acquired it, Hogan writes.

    Getting enough entries to make the contests viable seems to be the biggest hurdle to these contests. In the U.S., which has seen many of these contests over the years, the Washington State Gambling Commission says they ldquo;may sound like a neat idea, but we donrsquo;t know of any houses that have actually been given away in Washington. Usually there arenrsquo;t enough contestants to pay for the house, so the contest is cancelled or postponed to allow for more entries.rdquo;

    It says if you are thinking of entering such a contest, make sure the person running it actually owns the property and that the location and characteristics of the property are being properly represented. If the contest is cancelled, find out how much of the entry fee will be refunded.


    Full Story >


    New Program Makes It Possible to Rent Tesla Solar Panels

    With no upfront costs, homeowners now have a newly affordable opportunity to add Tesla solar power to their home.nbsp;

    How it works

    Homeowners donrsquo;t pay for installation and can start the process with a small depositmdash;as low as 50, which covers the first month of service. The monthly cost is fixed, and includes the panels themselves, hardware, and ongoing support and maintenance.

    The systems come in three sizes: ldquo;In every eligible state except for California, Tesla will charge 50 per month for a lsquo;smallrsquo; 3.8kW solar panel system that generates an average of 10 to 14kWh of energy per day, 100 per month for a lsquo;mediumrsquo; 7.6kW system that generates 19 to 28kWh, or 150 per month for a lsquo;largersquo; 11.4kW system that puts out 29 to 41kWh per day,rdquo; said The Verge.

    ldquo;The average US household usednbsp;about 28kWh of electricity per daynbsp;in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration. Monthly rates are higher in California; rentals will cost 65, 130, and 195 per month for small, medium, and large systems, respectively.rdquo;nbsp;

    The homeowner needs also to be a customer of a participating utility in their state, which are listed on the Tesla site. If you sell your home, you can transfer the agreement to the new homeowner.nbsp;

    Is there a downside?

    There are a few potential negatives. First, you can choose to remove your solar panels, but it will cost you 1,500. According to the Tesla site, the company doesnt make any money on this fee. There is also a 1,500 fee for downgrading to a smaller system, so customers will want to make sure they choose the right size the first time.

    Buying Tesla solar panels

    If yoursquo;d rather purchase the solar panels, yoursquo;re looking at 7,012 for a small, 14,024 for a medium, and 21,036 for a large system, before incentives. Those incentives can shave thousands of dollars off the total price. ldquo;The federal tax credit for solar panels currently covers 30 percent of the total cost, though that incentive begins a multiyear phaseout starting on January 1st, 2020,rdquo; said The Verge.nbsp;

    Renters wonrsquo;t be able to take advantage of those incentives; According to the contract with Tesla, ldquo;all tax credits, incentives, rebates, and certificatesrdquo; must be passed along to the company. ldquo;In Arizona, for example, this means Tesla stands to make between 4,021 and 10,063 per installation in combined federal and state tax incentives.rdquo;

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Will New Window Installations Help You Sell Your Home Faster?

    New window installation is something that buyers see as a significant positive when looking for their next home. New windows are more energy-efficient, they make your home look more beautiful, and you can get most of your investment back when the final purchase agreement is signed.

    Energy Efficient Windows Are What Buyers Are Looking For

    Anyone that has been in the market looking for a new house knows that windows are one of the most prominent features to take into consideration before putting in an offer. If your windows are the old wood or aluminum >

    Instead of stopping in to take a tour of your property, they will see the old windows, and instantly, their mind will turn your home into a "fixer-upper." Sure, there are many contractors or new home buyers that arent going to mind putting in the work themselves, but those individuals are fewer and farther between. If you want to sell your home fast, then new windows add instant charm.

    As soon as you can point out the new windows, you can discuss how your home has become more energy-efficient since having the work done. You might even want to bring out some of your heating and cooling bills to prove what youre talking about. If you have your window installation completed a month before you put the "For Sale" sign out front, youre likely going to see some differences.

    Residential Properties Look More Appealing with New Windows

    While some homeowners look for things like energy-efficiency and functionality of a home, there are plenty of others that want that first look to grab their interest. If you havent redone your windows since moving in thirty years ago, there are likely cracks, chips, or even glass thats broken.

    A potential buyer pulling into your driveway is going to look for things like the condition of the roof, what the overall exterior siding or brick looks like, and how well maintained the windows are. By having brand-new energy efficient windows put in that match the >

    New Window Installations Offer You a Return On Your Investment

    Go ahead and get a quote for your new windows now. Many window installation companies in your area will offer the information to you for free. All you have to do is schedule an appointment. They will come to your home, show you what your options are, and leave you with an estimate of what the project is going to cost. Then, its up to you what to do. However, if your primary goal is selling the home as quickly as possible, you should take the steps necessary to get the project in motion right away.

    Many window contractors will tell you with honesty that youre not going to get 100 of your money back on the sale of your home when considering the price of the window installation. On average, experts say that you can expect to get about 70 of that investment back though, which isnt all that bad if you want to sell now.

    Of course, you have the option of leaving your old windows in. You can expect that people wont be as willing to put an offer on a home that theyre going to have to start putting money into right away. Think of it like this: If you and your neighbor have identical homes up for sale and you replace your old windows and they dont, yours is going to sell first and for a higher price.

    How to Tell if Its Time to Replace Your Windows

    Now that you know putting in new windows will help you sell your home faster, you need to be able to determine if its time for a new window installation.

    There are several factors to take into consideration, including:

    bull; Visible chips, cracks, or water damage to the window frames
    bull; Excessive outside noise coming through the windows
    bull; Feeling drafts leak in when the windows are closed
    bull; Condensation between the layers of glass
    bull; Cracked or broken glass
    bull; Problems opening, closing, or locking the windows
    bull; Cloudy glass
    bull; Recent increases in your energy bills
    bull; Older single-pane windows instead of double-glazed modern windows

    When you know one or more of these things to be accurate, you should start researching what your options are for new windows.

    Make sure when you talk with your window contractor that you discuss >

    Many people decide to put new windows in their homes before selling because they would rather spend a little money to have the sale go quickly. Thats just one of the benefits though. Even if your home doesnt sell as fast as you want it to, youre going to save money on the energy bills while youre still there. That goes without mentioning how gorgeous new windows look to those driving by. Eventually, someone is going to see the new energy-efficient windows that accentuate your home beautifully. They wont be able to resist putting in an offer on your property.

    nbsp;


    nbsp;Luis Rios and his Aurora based window company have a combined 60 years of experience in the Window replacement industry. They have a mission of only installing the highest efficiency energy efficient windows and doors to save local residents on their utility bills while providing comfort in the cold climate they live in.


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    Investment Properties and Vacancy Factors

    That means first time real estate investors must be able to qualify with current debt and the new mortgage, including principal and interest, taxes and insurance. Thatrsquo;s a pretty high bar for many. But, once the initial rental property purchase has closed, any subsequent investment property purchase can use rental income from that unit to qualify.

    There are a couple of basic reasons for this, one being a lender wants to make sure someone can handle the new monthly payments along with managing the property. This is evaluated over a two year period. If that two year period sounds familiar itrsquo;s because lenders need all qualifying income to have a two-year history of being received.

    In addition, lenders need to make a determination the income will continue into the future. The standard guideline is for two to three years but in reality, itrsquo;s really impossible for a lender to make sure the income will continue but instead make a reasonable determination that it will. If income has been consistently received for the past two years it can be reasonably determined it will continue.

    Yet the rental income that appears on a loan application isnrsquo;t the amount used by lenders. Lenders also consider a vacancy factor. A vacancy factor takes into consideration the rental unit wonrsquo;t be rented out 100 percent of the time. And typically, thatrsquo;s what occurs. Tenants can give a 30 day notice, usually anyway, to leave the property at the end of the lease term. The tenants ultimately vacate the property, but the owners need to then clean the unit, make any repairs and prepare the property for a showing. Once the unit is ready for new tenants, it will take some time to find new tenants.

    Vacancies can reduce qualifying income by 25 percent. If a unit brings in 2,500 per month, qualifying income will be lowered by 25 percent, to 1,875 to account for the times the unit is not occupied and bringing in money each and every month.

    Okay, but what about the real estate investor who currently owns rental units? Income from current rental properties is typically taken directly off of income tax returns, specifically on Schedule E. Lenders have the ability to use that amount for qualifying or they can also apply a degree of vacancy.

    When an investor buys a subsequent rental property, the income can be used to offset part or all of the mortgage payment. Investors buy properties that cash flow. If the unit doesnrsquo;t cash flow, itrsquo;s likely it wonrsquo;t be in an investorrsquo;s portfolio. Thatrsquo;s why itrsquo;s not uncommon for a real estate investor to own multiple rental units because theyrsquo;re not an expense, but income.

    Calculating qualifying rental income can be a bit tricky for first time real estate investors, but once that initial purchase has closed, it becomes so much easier.


    Full Story >


    Benefits of Granite Countertops

    Add Value to the Home

    Since granite is a trendy and modern material, it is a highly sought after countertop material that will increase the value of the home. Moreover, unlike other materials such as wood, it happens to be eco-friendly which is something a lot of modern buyers value. To add to that granite has been around for a few years and has not yet lost its appeal. This makes it a >

    Highly Durable

    There are many types of stone-based countertops out there but there are not many that are as hardy or as durable as granite countertops. When it has been properly installed by a professional, a granite countertop may last for a lifetime. It will not chip or crack and is resistant to scratching and staining. Since they are so hard they will also take to heat well without getting any kind of damage. While it is not recommended to place your hot pans on the granite countertop, if you forget and do so, there will be no serious damage such as what you will get with wood, laminate or other materials.

    Retains its Natural Look for Years

    Granite is an eco-friendly material that once installed will retain its natural look for years as compared to softer materials such as wood which have to be replaced every few years. The cut and polished granite rock comes with a high sheen that is as natural as it can get. The natural speckled, marbled, and basic patterns of granite countertops will never fade away even after you have been using the kitchen for years.

    Resistant to Dirt and Bacteria

    Granite is not an organic material such as wood or laminate which can be a breeding ground for bacteria and dirt. As an inorganic material, water, food, and other liquid spills will not seep into it making it very easy to clean and keep free of bacteria. The perfectly sealed, flat and smooth surface makes it easy to clean up every spill and mess leaving your countertops hygienic and safe.

    Easy to Fix and maintain

    Even if the granite countertop got scratched or chipped it is very easy to fix. For instance, if a cast iron pan fell onto the countertop and left an unsightly chip, all you need to do is get a professional to repair or replace the tile that got a chip. Professionals can not only replace a chipped tile but can also fill up holes in the countertop with a putty matching the colors of your countertop and then resealing it and it will be as good as new.

    Family Friendly

    Children love to help out in the kitchen but they do not have steady hands and could be prone to spilling sauces, soups and other liquids on your countertop. Unlike organic or softer countertops, granite can take all the spilling without any damage. Older family members can also forget and place hot pans on the countertop, or the cat may jump on the counter and you do not have to worry that it will get damaged.

    Increased Functionality

    Granite countertops improve the functionality of the kitchen countertop given that they are perfectly flat. This makes them a good place to roll out your dough for kneading bread or making cookies. This makes them perfect for the homemaker, the culinary artist who takes cooking as a hobby or the professional chef or baker.

    Conclusion

    Granite is not cheap and may even be the most expensive item when you are looking to remodel your kitchen. Nonetheless, the benefits of granite countertops far outmatch those of anything else you may want to install or renovate in the kitchen. They are highly durable, improve utility and function, are easy to fix and maintain, and increase the value of the home in case you want to sell. This makes granite countertop more of an investment in your house rather than a vanity purchase.


    Full Story >


    How to Arrange Furniture When Moving to a New Home

    Since itrsquo;s a new space, you might have to go through a lot of trial and error. Your furniture once belonged to another house. To make the very same items work for another space will be difficult.

    You might have to throw out some things and buy new items. Remember that this is a new house. It will not be the same as your old one. Now that you have a great opportunity to start fresh, donrsquo;t waste it.

    Plan it out Before Moving

    We often make the mistake of moving in and then deciding to arrange the furniture. This results in no-rest weekends, bad positioning and sometimes awkward placements.

    Give your new place a visit right after it is completely cleared out. Walk around and decide on what you want to do with the space.

    Donrsquo;t forget to visualize. In our minds, we often have some ideas as to what to do with our new place.

    It is vital to take measurements of each room so that you know exactly how much space you have. Measure your large furniture pieces. This way you will know exactly what you are bringing into which space.

    Use an App

    An important step of pre-planning is visualization. Sometimes the blueprint of your place will be available. Pay a visit to the land registrarrsquo;s office. If it is not there, it might be with the old homeowners or the developer.

    Alas, if all else fails, what are the alternatives? Donrsquo;t worry, yoursquo;ve not hit a brick wall. There are many apps and online tools that can help you.

    This is where the measurements you took will come in handy. With apps like Room Planner, Home Design, etc, you can design and arrange your new space in no time.

    With free online sites like BHamp;G Arrange-A-Room amp; Free Online Room Planner, you can plan out your space with ease.

    Remember to Leave Space for Movements

    We often stub a toe or hit an elbow while walking inside our houses. We often blame it on our own clumsiness. Yoursquo;d be surprised to find that on most occasions, it is not even our fault.

    Poor furniture arrangement and cluttering are the ones to blame. It is essential to leave space for movements.

    Figuring out your walking paths inside the house requires planning. What are your entry points? Which paths do you need clear to access parts of the room?

    You must arrange your furniture focused on the important areas and traffic stream. By successfully doing so you make your space more functional and save your toe from becoming collateral damage.

    Give Yourself a Few Weeks for Trial and Error

    We can wait for the moving period to end. We hastily arrange our furniture in whatever way it works and get on with our lives. Letrsquo;s try not to do that.

    There are two main points to keep in mind while organizing our furniture: functionality and aesthetics. We must find a design that fulfills both the conditions.

    The very first order of things may not be the best. Try and see if it is working for you. If not, find a weekend and rearrange things. After trying out some arrangements, you will figure out what works best for you.

    This trial and error period is crucial for making the most of your belongings.

    Consider Living Like a Minimalist

    Us humans are such hoarders. We love keeping meaningless mementos and useless furniture and appliances. Donrsquo;t become a victim of nostalgia.

    Give away or throw out things you do not need. Donrsquo;t be afraid, you will probably not even remember it in a few days. Unless a useless item has a lot of emotional value, donrsquo;t keep it. It will only clutter your house.

    While decorating, less is more. If you go on to Pinterest, yoursquo;ll find plenty of examples of a minimalistic life>

    You donrsquo;t need an extra couch or a thousand art pieces to make your house >

    Find the Right Tools

    Find the tools that you will require during moving in before you move in. It is often difficult to put up a painting or to drill in a shelf when you donrsquo;t have the right tools to begin with. Making a thousand runs to the hardware store will only delay the process.

    Sit down and think about all the tools yoursquo;ll need. If you already have them in your house, bring them together and put them in a box.

    When moving to a new place, people take it as an opportunity to build new things. For those who love building shelves, cabinets, etc, get a set of building tools. Find the right drill or blade set you are comfortable with.

    Try Out Feng Shui

    If you want to put your belongings in an arrangement that is harmonious with your outer environment, try Feng Shui. It is a system of Chinese laws regarding spatial arrangement to bring in positive energy to your home.

    For example, decluttering is also a part of Feng Shui. So, is putting decoratives that make your guests stop after they enter the threshold to take in the environment.

    According to the laws of Feng Shui, how you live can directly affect your life.

    For example, it might make you feel suffocated or stuck. Hence, by following the guidelines you can create a more efficient and comfortable living environment for yourself.

    Conclusion

    Moving into a new house gives you an opportunity to express yourself differently. Instead of just existing inside your own house, find an arrangement that makes coming home more welcoming.

    Donrsquo;t be afraid to try out a new way of living. You donrsquo;t always have to buy new things to make your space visually pleasing. Rearranging your old items in a new way can give you a brand new home.

    Arrange your house in a way that brings in the positive vibe and gives you an excuse to come home.


    Full Story >


    Selling Your Home Soon? Get That Outdoor Kitchen in Order

    According to REALTOR magazine, outdoor kitchens continue to be a ldquo;major draw. The appeal of outdoor living continues to be important to homeowners, and the outdoor kitchen is at the center of that,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The latest American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey shows that outdoor kitchens are among the most wanted kitchen features in new architectural projects.rdquo;

    In fact, almost 50 of the architects who responded to the survey ldquo;reported the popularity of outdoor kitchens is still growing,rdquo; and not just in ldquo;warmer climates like Florida, Texas, and Californiamdash;outdoor kitchens are also taking hold in colder areas like the Northeast.rdquo;

    The problem with outdoor kitchens is they can get pricey. ldquo;Outdoor kitchens are known for being expensive,rdquo; said HGTV. ldquo;Factor in durable, weather-resistant materials, quality appliances and electrical and plumbing installation, and you may feel like youre tackling a full kitchen renovation.rdquo;

    There are ways to keep costs down, though. Figuring out the secret sauce so you spend just the right amount to attract interest and get good return on your investment instead of overspending is key.nbsp;

    Watch for sales

    You may think itrsquo;s a poor time to add an outdoor kitchen because wersquo;re heading toward the end of the summer, but itrsquo;s actually a great time to buy a grill. ldquo;To get a deep discount on anbsp;gas grillnbsp;ornbsp;charcoal grill, the best time to buy isnbsp;in September and the Fall,rdquo; said The Spruce Eats. ldquo;You have to wait until the summer grilling season is truly over and stores are eager to get all remaining grills out the door.rdquo;

    While yoursquo;re at it, look for deals on patio furniture and things like fire pits, too. Staging your outdoor area is a good way to help buyers picture themselves living there, and the bonus is you get to take your new stuff with you

    Stay away from custom

    Custom built-ins can make your costs skyrocket. ldquo;First, consider purchasing a pre-made outdoor grill island or bar->

    Search, search, search

    Donrsquo;t limit yourself to big box stores when looking for materials. ldquo;Look to reuse-it centers and salvage yards for inexpensive outdoor kitchen cabinets, countertops, building supplies, apartment-size appliances, and other materials you can upcycle to flush out your budget-friendly outdoor kitchen,rdquo; said Better Homes and Gardens.nbsp;

    DIY that sucker

    If yoursquo;re a little bit handy, or just good at following directions, you can create an amazing grill island that looks like a custom job. ldquo;If you have a space for it, this DIY grill island is the perfect outdoor kitchen,rdquo; said DIY amp; Crafts. ldquo;You can have this one built in a weekend, if you have a few friends that will help with the heavy work. It can be covered in stone when itrsquo;s finished, which gives it a wonderful appearance or you could cover it in brick or another material. This is a pretty simple one to build and is sure to save you a bundle over having one professionally built.rdquo;

    Be smart about adding water and power to your island

    "Running gas lines, electricity and water to an outdoor island is fairly expensive," said DIY Network. ldquo;If youre on a tight budget, you might want to consider using propane bottles to fuel your grill."

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Why the Fall May be the Best Time to Buy a Home

    Best Time to Buy a Home

    Are you aware that October is the best month for snagging home buying deals? This is backed by RealtyTracrsquo;s data over a period of 15 years and 32 million home sales during that time period. More so, their data showed that those who purchased homes in October ended up paying 2.6 less than the estimated market value for the homes they purchased. Thatrsquo;s thousands upon thousands of savings

    Think about it, a home worth 500,000rsquo;s 2.6 is 13,000. You can use that 13,000 for purchasing really good appliances or have a vacation. Think this lsquo;discountrsquo; is out there? Just wait until the 8thnbsp;of October because homes purchased on that date averaged 10.8 less than their market value estimates. Thatrsquo;s beyond a good deal Thatrsquo;s a steal

    Take Advantage of Less Competition

    For those with kids, the start of fall is usually a very busy time as people get back to their daily lives after all the fun of summer. Those who were home hunting in spring and summer have either grown weary or already bought homes. Though it is true that sellers also typically drop out of the market during fall and usually resurface after the New Year, keeping an eye out for new listings can give you a beautiful new home before the holidays.

    Make the Holidays Work for You

    The holidays are just around the corner come fall and people are either hurrying to sell so they can move to another home or that theyrsquo;ve taken a time out from buying as they get busy for the holidays. This factor can come in handy when you spot a new listing knowing that the owner would want to vacate their old home as soon as a deal is finalized.

    Your Real Estate Broker Will Have More Time for You

    Because there are generally less listings and less buyers in fall, your real estate broker will have more time to show you homes that fit what you are looking for plus answer all questions you may have. Theyrsquo;d also be more motivated to make lots of sales as the end of year nears and holidays approach.

    Bargain Home Improvement Season

    Fall is generally the time of the year when appliances are at their most affordable and new models are being launched. This is also the best time to purchase cookware, patio furniture, TVs, and sometimes, pay for home improvement services.

    All of the above that point to why fall is thenbsp;best time to buy a homenbsp;are great, but year-end tax credits might be one of the best incentives for you. It is possible that yoursquo;ll be able to score quite a significant tax deduction come tax season.


    Full Story >


    August Real Estate Roundup

    Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Surveyreg; shows that "The drop in mortgage rates continues to stimulate the real estate market and the economy. Home purchase demand is up five percent from a year ago and has noticeably strengthened since the early summer months, while refinances surged to their highest share in three and a half years. Households that refinanced in the second quarter of 2019 will save an average of 1,700 a year, which is equivalent to about 140 each month. The benefit of lower mortgage rates is not only shoring up home sales, but also providing support to homeowner balance sheets via higher monthly cash flow and steadily rising home equity."

    bull; 30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 3.55 percent with an average 0.5 points for the week ending August 22, 2019, down from last month when it averaged 3.75 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.98 percent.

    bull; 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.03 percent with an average 0.5 points, down from last month when it also averaged 3.18 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.02 percent.

    bull; 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.32 percent this week with an average 0.3 points, down from last month when it averaged 3.47 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.82 percent.


    Full Story >


    10 Homemade Remedies for Bug Prevention

    1 Citrus

    Orange and lemon essential oils are great in discouraging bugs away. Create a natural spray that can repel those itsy bitsy spiders by mixing 5 drops essential oil, 5 drops biodegradable dish soap with 4 cups of water. If you have 100 undiluted lemon juice, you can it mist around cracks in your home. Then, place orange or lemon peels on bookshelves, cupboards, and other locations where spiders and other bugs like to stay. Lemon peels are also found to be efficient against moths lurking in closets, same with cedar.

    2 Peppermint

    If you are battling with pesky ants, dried mint leaves and essential oil can be your best allies. Add 8-15 drops of peppermint essential oil in one cup of water and put it in a spray bottle. Shake the container well and spritz along cracks or areas where ants are seen. Adding a few drops of biodegradable dish soap to the mixture can be great as it would kill ants on contact. Mint can also help deter flies away.

    3 Garlic Oil Spray

    Garlic Oil Spray is perhaps one of the safest and effective natural insect repellents. Just add three to four cloves of chopped garlic into two teaspoons of mineral oil. Allow it to sit for 8-12 hours and then, remove the garlic out of the oil through a strainer. Mix two tablespoon of the oil with one pint of water and put a teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap. You can store the garlic oil mixture in a separate jar and dilute it with water whenever needed.

    What works magic for this mixture is the compounds in garlic called diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide. These two are irritating and fatal to most insects. The oil and soap allow the mix to stick on stems and plant leaves. If you are looking to repel aphids, beetles, and whiteflies, this spray will keep them away. Be cautious, though. Dont spritz the mixture on a hot sunny day as the oil may cause the leaves to burn quickly.

    4 Lavender and Eucalyptus Essential Oil

    Mosquitoes are undoubtedly irritating and can carry viruses that can jeopardize your familys health. Its great that you can avoid them from sucking your blood off by using a mix of lavender and eucalyptus oils. Moreover, the blend helps heal any existing bites you got. The mixture has a natural fragrant odor which you can adore, but, on the other hand, mosquitoes dont find appealing. Lavender oil is one of the few essential oils you can apply directly to your skin. It is advisable, however, to consult with your doctor first for any allergy concerns.

    5 Coffee Grounds

    Bug and other pests dont like coffee the way you do - they actually hate it. You may use recycle leftover coffee grounds and sprinkle them around in areas outside your home where you think critters are emerging. For ants, coffee is fatal, while other pests cant endure the odor of the ground and will steer away.

    6 White Vinegar

    Vinegar might be the most versatile ingredient from your kitchen. Not only it pickles your cucumbers, clean your windows, or remove stains from your clothes, its also efficient in avoiding ants and other pests from meddling in your space. Half of the white vinegar mixed with half water in a spray container works much in repelling annoying critters. You can spritz the mixture in the perimeter of your house, around a tent or a screen house or on the legs of tables where you place food to get rid of flies. Just reapply the concoction as it wears off or when necessary.

    7 Banana Peel and Tin Foil

    Dont throw those banana peels away. You can chop them and place them on the soil around the stems of your plants. While it steers aphids and others pests away, it also adds nutrients to the ground. Another trick to deter aphids is by placing foil on the base of your plants. Sun rays will bounce from the foil onto the bottom side of the foliage. Be wary enough, though. Too much sunlight might burn your plant.

    8 Apple Cider Vinegar Fruit Fly Trap

    Another way to get rid of flies is by creating this fruit fly trap. Get a bottle or other container with funnel-shaped opening, choosing such will allow flies to get in but not out. Put apple cider vinegar and any chopped fruit pieces, you no longer have to endure that buzzing sound in your ear.

    9 Cayenne Pepper

    Cayenne Pepper is another valuable ant deterrent. If you sprinkle it in areas where ants usually gather, like locations near sugar or crumbs, they will steer away. What peppers spice does is that it tricks the ants by signaling to them that none of their favorite sweet stuff is there. It can be quite messy, though, to spatter cayenne pepper in locations that arent utilized often. Make sure to use it in your discretion, most likely on areas that have sweet goods or baking supplies.

    10 Basil

    While it works magnificently on our dishes, sweet basil can also be useful if you want to get rid of flies. Just plant one in your patio and place it in a sunny area next to your frequently used door. Flies wont be wandering in your home anymore.

    Its essential to feel comfortable in your beloved home and not be bugged by those pesky critters. Try the following home remedies about to ensure that you always at ease, or visit Pestwikis site to get more tricks in getting rid of flies, ants, aphids, spiders and other uninvited visitors.

    nbsp;


    References:

    https://www.quickenloans.com/blog/5-diy-natural-insect-repellents-protect-homenbsp;nbsp;https://www.huffpost.com/entry/8-homemade-pest-control-s_b_5667174nbsp;
    https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/9-natural-remedies-for-pest-control/nbsp;


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    Bold Patterns: Tips for Using the Trend in Your Home

    Here are the tips to use to make your space sing.nbsp;

    Start with the walls

    ldquo;Forget about blank walls, because one of the best interior design trends for 2019 is the use of mesmerizing wallpapers,rdquo; said Deacute;cor Aid. ldquo;Installing wallpaper is a great way to add an interesting twist to your dull living spaces. This yearrsquo;s wallpapers were more decorative and bold than ever before and this interior design trend is certain to replace the use of artwork and other art pieces for wall deacute;cor. Some of the most popular wallpaper designs for 2019 featured landscape scenery, abstract shapes, and colorful geometric patterns.rdquo;

    Think tropical

    Palm imagery is on Elle Deacute;corrsquo;s hot list, and we can see why. ldquo;Whether embroidered on a pillow, perched askew in a vase, or replicated on wallpaper, palm imagery is a major trend right now,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The look is lush, natural, warm, and most importantly, versatile. With palms, your surrounding design can be opulent and raised to the heavens or more down to earth, an organic oasis."nbsp;

    Deck out a small space

    You donrsquo;t need to have a palatial space to use a dramatic print. In fact, bringing large-scale patterns into a small-scale space ldquo;can actually make a much brighter impact than you might think,rdquo; said Apartment Therapy. ldquo;Adding a graphic pattern in the form of watercolor drapes, artwork, pillows, and rugs can maximize patternmdash;without overwhelming. Choose a lighter huehellip;in a contrasting color to complement rather than clash.rdquo;

    Keep in mind, though, that, ldquo;Sometimes, less is more in the case of bold patterns being corralled to contrasting bed linens rather than the entire room. Choose three colorshellip;and incorporate a mix of solids along with your chosen patterns to add dimension and texture to the look.rdquo;

    Make a great first impression

    One Kingrsquo;s Lane loves graphic florals, and recommends using the saturated prints to ldquo;give your entry or a passageway a bold dash of color and florals in the form of a gallery wall made upnbsp;of modern and abstract prints. As a high-traffic area that generally doesnrsquo;t invite pause, itrsquo;s a perfect place for introducingnbsp;extra color. The addition of annbsp;equally mesmerizing floor pattern or rug makes fornbsp;eye-popping balance.rdquo;

    Layer, layer, layer

    If you really want to get that designer look, layer in different patterns within your color story. A floral wall covering with blue, green, black, white, and pink gives you lots of options for pulling colors out. How about a black-and-white checked pillow, a rug with a blue background, and a checked throw? Now yoursquo;ve got a space that look like it was hit with a professional touch.nbsp;

    Start slowly

    If you love the idea of bold patterns but need to tiptoe into the trend, consider going with solids on large areas and bring in some patterned accessories. ldquo;Pattern is the great unifier in interior design,rdquo; said Freshome. ldquo;In a room featuring bold colors, you can use it to bring the design together bynbsp;choosing a patternnbsp;that features your shades in a cohesive application. Look for patterned rugs, throw pillows and blankets. Though, if yoursquo;re looking to make an even bigger statement, patterned furniture will certainly fit the bill. Think about adding in a patterned accent chair or sofa to serve as the focal point of the space.rdquo;

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Rise of the Colorful and Cultural Kitchen Backsplash

    One area we predict a surge in popularity is in the kitchen backsplash mdash; an often overlooked feature of modern kitchen design. Historically, backsplashes are an extra layer of tiling placed on walls behind worktops, sinks and stoves to protect them from food splashes and spillages. They have always been an integral part of the kitchen but not just for their practicality and hygiene mdash; they are also a fantastic way to inject colour and character into a kitchen. Tiles have a decorative prowess and with many different >

    The Portuguese lsquo;Azulejorsquo; Backsplash

    When talking about tiling and backsplashes, Portugalrsquo;s Azulejo tile is one of the first that springs to mind. Anybody who has visited Portugal may recognise the >

    The last few centuries saw an explosion in Azulejo popularity. Today, it is common to see Azulejos adorning churches, palaces, schools, restaurants, bars and train stations, as well as regular homes. They are also used extensively in interior decoration. In the kitchen below the Azulejos inject a perfect degree of character into the kitchen. The pastel blue, beige and yellow colours are soft and modest, rather than overpowering. The mandalas are decorative but not excessive, they compliment surrounding neutral walls without creating a busy effect.nbsp;

    Mexican lsquo;Talaverarsquo; Backsplash

    The tiling techniques introduced to the Portuguese and Spanish by the Moors were then introduced to Central America when it was colonised by the Spanish and Portuguese over 500 years ago. This can most obviously be seen in Mexico, but again, the tilework here now boasts its own unique >

    Thenbsp; Talavera tile is most recognisable tilework hailing from Mexico. These tend to showcase the timeless combination of blue and white, but they also come in more vibrant colours. The >

    Blue tiles seen here became a common >

    Dutch lsquo;Delft Bluersquo; Backsplash

    Another extremely recognisable >

    This design was first introduced around 1600 and flourished during the Dutch Golden Age that spanned the 17th century. By the end of the 17th century, Delftware had become a major industry, exporting tilework all over Europe.nbsp;

    The designs found on a Dutch Delft Blue backsplash will not be to everybodys taste as they depict elements of Dutch culture like clogs, tulips and canal houses that may not be >

    Turkish lsquo;Iznikrsquo; Backsplash

    This Turkish backsplash is reminiscent of the more simple Portuguese Azulejos design. Each tile is identical and depicts the same intricate pattern, rather than the variety seen in Mexican Talavera tiles and Delft Blues.

    Turkish tiles and ceramics are prominent in the history of Islamic art and their roots can be traced as far back as before 700AD. At first, they were monochromatic in design and commonly displayed stars and crosses. However, they later became associated with geometric patterns and a range of colours including greens and reds.

    The tiles seen in this backsplash are a tame version of the popular Iznik ware, which hails from the Western Turkish town of Iznik. This particular >

    Moroccan Backsplash

    Last up is this gorgeous colourful Moroccan backsplash. It takes inspiration from the Moroccan Zellige art form, which used mosaics to create geometric shapes, as Islam forbade the representation of living animal or human figures. Art, therefore, instead featured shapes such as diamonds, squares, triangles, stars and tessellated patterns.nbsp;

    Traditionally, Zellige art was mosaic, typical of the tilework that decorates Granadarsquo;s Alhambra, but as mosaic can be a particularly excessive decoration in the kitchen, the backsplash featured here is made up of different square tiles. Masters of creating these patterns would go undergo lengthy training beginning in childhood and would need expert knowledge of mathematics and geometry. Later in the 17th century, this art form grew in its vibrancy and variation. Colours were used to represent different elements, with red symbolising fire, yellow air, and green water, for example.

    This curveball option provides a refreshing alternative to the monochromatic and minimalistic tendencies of modern kitchen design. Though the colours are certainly more vibrant than those of other backsplashes, they are toned down and carefully balanced so as not to be overly intrusive. The reds, greens and yellows are controlled shades that add character without being too bold or overbearing. It brings a slice of culture to the kitchen and makes for a standout feature for guests.nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Increasing Your Property Value with Asphalt Paving

    When putting your home up for sale, or trying to do the most you can to get the market value up, you should take into consideration having asphalt paving done to your driveway. It increases the curb appeal, therefore adding worth. Asphalt paving is affordable, long-lasting, and can be done quickly to draw additional interest from potential buyers.

    Asphalt Paving Increases Curb Appeal

    Take a drive through your neighborhood. Are most of the driveways paved and yours isnt? Are all of the other driveways gravel, but youre looking for a way to make your home stand out? Then asphalt paving is one affordable way to solve either of those concerns. Maybe you have a paved driveway that was previously completed with concrete. You could have that done again, but its going to cost you a whole lot more than what asphalt does. In some areas, contractors report concrete is 40-60 more than asphalt.

    A cracked, worn down, or chipped driveway is going to scare potential buyers away from your property. Additionally, if you have a gravel or dirt driveway currently, people will view that as a weak spot. It opens a door where they can bargain to get a lower price on your property if you have it for sale. Generally asphalt is also more viable in areas where ground is less likely to crack, split or expand from weather. We interviewed a local business in Dallas, Texas where we learned that asphalt is the go-to over concrete in their region because of how long it can last without the cold. This enables them to offer incredible warranties on their product.

    If most of the homes in your area have gravel or dirt driveways and you take the time to have an asphalt paving done, your property is instantly going stand out from the rest. People will give your home a greater value if it looks nicer than the others around it. If most of the driveways around you are already paved, you need to get asphalt resurfacing scheduled now if you plan to put your home on the market. As soon as potential buyers see that your home isnt quite up to the same standards as the rest on the block, they will try and get a lower price.

    Why an Asphalt Driveway is Your Best Option

    You might be wondering what the difference is between concrete vs. asphalt. Concrete was traditionally used to pave driveways, but more and more people are turning to the more affordable asphalt option.

    One reason that people like asphalt driveways instead of concrete going beyond the price is because its a more flexible material. With the environment constantly changing, you want your driveway to be able to move with it to avoid cracks, chips, and the need for asphalt repairs. As long as the asphalt paving is done the way its supposed to be, it can last for up to 30 years before a new asphalt driveway installation is necessary.

    Asphalt driveways are a different color than concrete too. That means when fuel, oil, dirt, and other debris lands on it, you wont necessarily be able to see the stain as easily. You wont have to do as much cleaning and maintenance to keep it looking like new.

    Useful to those that live in climates where there is snow and ice in the winter months is the fact that it melts faster off of asphalt driveways than it does from concrete. Think of all the time you will save in the morning by having an asphalt driveway thats started clearing the unwanted precipitation on its own before you even get out of bed

    Repairing Existing Asphalt Driveways Before the Sale

    When you are ready to put your home on the market, if you have an existing asphalt driveway, then its highly recommended that you do the asphalt repairs first. One thing that is nice about using asphalt to pave your surfaces is that you can do a crack fill, chip seal, or sealcoating to repair minor issues. With concrete, cobblestone, or brick driveways, you cant just put a patch on the problem and call it good. You have to do significant renovations to make sure that everything matches up and looks like it should.

    Asphalt professionals have the methods, tools, and equipment to come in and carefully fill in small cracks and chips to preserve your existing surfaces. When visitors come to explore your property thats for sale, or even if you have guests over for a dinner party, they will notice. You will hear comments about how youve taken the time and put the attention into ensuring your homes exterior is maintained correctly.

    Dressing Up Your Asphalt Driveway with an Edge

    So, youve done the asphalt driveway paving, but youre still not impressed with how things look. Theres one way that you can draw even more attention to your well-maintained driving surfaces that you invested in. After the asphalt company drives away and tells you that your asphalt is settled and ready for you to use, you can start working on improving the areas around it.

    When you accessorize anything, it gets more attention because the eye is naturally drawn to the little details. Around your new or repaired asphalt driveway, think about putting in an edging. You could line the sides with a colored brick that matches the exterior of your home for one improvement.

    Another option is planting flowers, shrubs, or bushes along the edges of your new asphalt. Not only is it going to look a lot nicer and more well-kept, but small changes like that all help in boosting your homes value. If youre selling, its worth the investment. You can get more money for your property faster if you take care of the little projects like this before listing it.

    It doesnt matter if youre planning on selling your home soon, or if your goal is to stay there for the rest of your life. As someone thats put the time, energy, and resources into the property that you have, you want it to be the best it can be. Scheduling an asphalt paving, crack fill, or even an asphalt sealcoating of your existing asphalt driveway will make all the difference in the overall look of your property.

    nbsp;


    nbsp;For over 45 years, Tommy Caroll and his father have been literally paving the way for asphalt throughout Texas. He started under his father before taking over the family business and proving to the world and the industry that with he can continue to provide superior services under the solid foundation that his father had built.


    Full Story >


    Move-In: Will I Like What I Bought?

    Home buyersndash;especially first-timersndash;who have not experienced the reality of the home-design features and household systems that are on their ldquo;must haverdquo; list, may be at a disadvantage while searching for their dream home. For instance:

    bull; Originally, ldquo;must haverdquo; stainless steel appliances drove many homeowners crazy since the surfaces showed every fingerprint and grease smudge. What if you pay more to get stainless only to find out something else is now the ldquo;inrdquo; kitchen look in that area?
    bull; ldquo;Must-haverdquo; expensive granite counter tops look fabulous at open houses and in model homes. In reality, messy, spilling daily living means unsightly staining and regular maintenance sealing, not me>

    How many of the ldquo;must havesrdquo; on your home-buying wish list have you already experienced and how many items will be new to you? Some of the things that may become concerns for buyers after move-in may seem less important or even insignificant before they live in the home.

    Even the most sought-after wishes like open-concept design can disappoint:

    bull; If you are a project lover quilter, entrepreneur, model makerhellip; who wants to leave your latest and unfinished creation undisturbed when yoursquo;re interrupted, open-concept design may lead to your project corner being labeled ldquo;an unsightly mess.rdquo;
    bull; Parents who count on uninterrupted lines of sight making it easier to keep their small children out of trouble may find theyrsquo;re still not close enough for safety. The >bull; Excerpt from my earlier RT article: ldquo;If the lsquo;must haversquo; list for your new home, recreational property, or office includes hardwood flooring, large windows, high ceilings, open-concept design, and lots of marble and granite, you may be shopping for troublehellip;sound-wise, that is. These sought-after, high-end features can add up to noisy, distracting spaces. They look great, but are hard on the ear and, therefore, on conversation, hearing, >

    Even what unquestionably seems a benefit worth paying for can be a let down in real life or may add costs in unexpected ways. For example:

    bull; A resale home with a new furnace sounds like value plus, but if the old duct system did not distribute heat evenly and efficiently, replacing only the furnace may not result in a comfortable, draft-free home. Find out exactly what was modernized. Make sure your home inspection includes a competent HVAC evaluation of the heating and cooling delivery systems.
    bull; All the reasons you love large windows and the open, airy, natural-light spaces they create are valid and thatrsquo;s why yoursquo;re willing to pay more for a house or condominium that has them, buthellip;and the ldquo;butrdquo; may be a big one:

    bull; If the windows and window-walls are poor quality or poorly-insulated, windowsndash;which are really just big holes in the wallndash;can be drafty or make rooms hard to heat. On the other extreme, over-heating during sunny days and in summer can make the living space very uncomfortable and boost AC costs.
    bull; If the view from the window includes being overlooked by other houses, pedestrians, or buses and traffic, homeowners can feel they are living in a fish bowlndash;on display for all to see. This means, perhaps unexpectedly, window coverings become a necessity. Large windows may require automated or programmable open/close systems which are expensive. In many of the new large-window homes in my highly-urban neighborhood, the blinds seem to always be down, which means less natural light and less of that sought-after airy feeling.
    bull; If yoursquo;re buying from plans with ldquo;architect renderingsrdquo; of surroundings, trust your eyes over an artistic interpretation. Go to the location and look across the street and at neighboring buildings to see for yourself what yoursquo;ll be looking at and whorsquo;ll be looking at you. Take pictures so you can ask the sales team which views will be yours.

    To avoid unpleasant move-in surprises, herersquo;s four typical buyer expectations to check out before you make an offer:

    1. Off-site parking is often not considered until the first house-warming guests come to visit. Check out local parking regulations and availability of parking permits. My block has no street parking before 10am and there are no more on-street parking permits available.

    2. Wherersquo;s south? If yoursquo;re ready to pay more for a large backyard and/or a pool, a south-facing backyard may be key. If yoursquo;re an avid gardener, a south-facing front yard may be your preference. Or, if either passive solar heating or summertime over-heating are on your mind, where the sun strikes will matter. At the same time, evaluate large window placement and views for the best interior benefits.

    3. Are you planning to pay more for a location? Perhaps one near a preferred school or shopping mall? Check to make sure the school is accepting new enrollment and has maintained its high scholastic standard. Explore the mall to see how itrsquo;s exposed to the current trend toward store closings.

    4. If your wish is a quiet, residential location, be sure a hi-rise development, housing subdivision, or municipal project is not planned for your immediate area. Construction of a large project can go on for years.

    What might unpleasantly surprise you about your new homendash;house or condominium unitndash;once you move in?

    Regrets and ldquo;if only Irsquo;dhellip;rdquo; recriminations are expensive and annoying to live with. Ask your real estate professional a lot of questions and get confirming documented proof about anything essential about your ldquo;must haverdquo; items so you avoid move-in disappointment. Some details may even belong in the offer.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Home Adaptations for the Elderly

    According to Live-in Care Hub, there are 75 fewer falls and fractures when you can be cared for in your own home, compared to moving into a residential facility. So making use of services like companion carenbsp;along with home modifications can improve your safety and mobility around your home, as we will discuss below.

    General considerations

    Cluttered rooms can be difficult to navigate with walking aids, leading to trips or attempts to move around without assistance. If you need to use a stick or Zimmer frame in your home make sure you reduce the amount of furniture to allow ease of movement. Consider where your aid will be stored when you are >

    Rugs can be another trip hazard so are best removed. If you have been diagnosed with dementia you may begin to see rugs and similar changes in floor texture differently, as holes or gaps, leading to stumbling.

    In the bathroom

    If you find it difficult to get into the bath then grab rails can give you something to hold onto. Non-slip matting on the bottom of the bath will also help you as you stand up. Avoid bathing unless there is a >

    You may prefer to get rid of the bath enti>

    Toilets can often be too low for comfort. Adapters can be fitted to raise the height of the seat. If you find flushing it difficult then talk to a plumber about fitting a different flush mechanism.

    In the bedroom

    If you struggle to get out of bed, but donrsquo;t want to replace it, you can fit raisers which increase the height of the mattress. Make sure that your bedside table is easy to reach once you are in bed and that you can turn a light on easily.

    In the kitchen

    There are many gadgets to make cooking and preparing food safer. If funds allow, then refitting the kitchen with a high-level oven and microwave and easy to open cupboards and drawers is a good move. Smaller improvements could include fitting a tipper stand to your kettle, buying an electric tin opener or specialised gripper chopping boards. Talking scales and big scale measuring jugs can help if you find reading difficult but still wish to cook.


    Full Story >


    Conventional, Subprime and Private Loans Defined

    Conventional loans are those that are made by mortgage lenders where the lender assumes all the risk of making the loan. Should the loan ever go into default, the lender must recover the property and re-sell, hoping to recover enough through the sale to pay off the existing mortgage amount plus associated third party services needed to close the mortgage. These are by far the most common type of home loan. Lenders approve loans using established guidelines and once the loan is approved and funded, the loan is sold primarily to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Two-thirds of all residential mortgages made today likely adhere to Fannie or Freddie guidelines.

    Conventional loans can be conforming, or they can be non-conforming. Those that follow Fannie or Freddie guidelines ldquo;conformrdquo; to issued requirements. There are several guidelines that must be followed. For example, in most parts of the country the maximum conforming loan limit is 484,350. When a lender approves and funds a conforming loan, it is sold to Fannie or Freddie, either individually or packaged with other conforming loans and sold in bulk. Jumbo loans can also be conventional, but the loan amounts exceed the conforming loan limits and not eligible for sale to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

    Subprime loans have been around for years to some degree and for a while were nearly non-existent. Today, theyrsquo;re often referred to as ldquo;non-primerdquo; which sounds a bit softer. Subprime loans are offered to those with lower credit scores. Such loans ask for a larger down payment to help offset some of the risk of making a loan to someone with low scores. Subprime loans will also carry higher interest rates compared to conventional mortgages. Most such loans are >

    Subprime mortgage lenders cater to a specific market, although the market is >

    Private loans are those issued by private individuals or companies. Private lenders can establish their own guidelines without any need to conform to another entitiesrsquo; guidelines. Private loans arenrsquo;t necessarily subprime but do provide financing options that do not fit conventional needs. Private lenders like to finance a property that needs some rehabilitation. Once a property has been acquired and rehabilitated, the owner of the property can then apply for conventional financing or otherwise sell the property. Private lenders look at the long term and not the current condition of the unit. A private lender must be convinced by the borrowers however the unit can be sold, or the private loan refinanced once the rehabilitation has been completed.


    Full Story >


    4 Upgrades for Your Home Office

    1. Natural Lighting

    One of the most important things that you can do for your home office is to have natural lighting. Natural lighting helps people to stay more focused and is easier on the eyes than artificial lighting. Artificial lighting has a tendency to fatigue the eyes fast and can even cause headaches for some people. Natural lighting has the opposite effect. It helps you to stay alert and focused for as long as you need to since it regulates your natural circadian sleep cycle. If you want to focus in your home office and get the most out of your work day, the very first thing that you should do is enhance the amount of natural lighting that you get in your home office. If yoursquo;re currently looking for a home, find one that has large windows in one of the smaller rooms a room that yoursquo;ll likely turn into a work office. If you already have your office set up, pull the blinds away from the windows and allow the sunlight to stream into the room all day long.

    2. Clear Up Space

    The last thing that you would want to do in your home office is put so much stuff in the room that you feel cramped. Clutter is the notorious creative jammer. Itrsquo;s hard to focus when the office is messy, disorganized, or it just feels ldquo;full.rdquo; To avoid this feeling, make sure that your office is clean and clutter-free. Donrsquo;t use it as a storage closet. In fact, move everything out of the office so itrsquo;s nearly impossible for it to get full of clutter. You want the room to feel open, like you could lie down on the carpet and stretch in the middle of the workday if you felt like it. The carpet should be clean and free of junk, the windows washed, and the desk wiped down before you sit down for the day.

    3. Set Up Mobile Printing

    You might want to set up mobile printing to avoid any extra equipment in the office space and to help you better access and organize your home office. Mobile printing is one of the easiest things to set up and it can help you to organize your materials, create a breathable workplace, and allow you to have access to your work through the ease of your phone. If yoursquo;re on the go and need to quickly print something from work, you can simply connect to the nearest printer through your phone and print the material.

    4. Get a Real Chair

    There are a wide variety of office chairs. If yoursquo;re cheap, you might have settled for a small chair with no cushions. A chair like that makes it nearly impossible to sit for more than 15 minutes in the same spot without you starting to feel a cramp in your back. A small, simple chair is not what you should have in your home office. You should have something that cradles your nerves that doesnrsquo;t force the weight of your entire upper body to sit on your lower spine. Some of the best chairs for this are ldquo;gamer chairs.rdquo; These chairs are designed for people who sit on the computer all day. They are cushioned and are flexible. They also fit nearly every body type to make sure that yoursquo;re going to be comfortable no matter what stage of life you are in.

    Conclusion

    There are a lot of options for changing your home office. However, only a few are going to be right for you. If you focus better when the room feels like itrsquo;s outdoors and therersquo;s a fragrant smell of flowers in the air, then add that to your room. Fill the walls with hanging plants to help you focus. Or, if you focus best with an absolutely bare room, then only have a desk. If yoursquo;re into aromatherapy, pick the scent that makes you perk up in the morning. The great thing about having a home office is that you can customize it to fit your needs.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Developing Real Estate by Realizing Health and Wellness

    A man of resilience, a woman of courage, a real estate developer sees opportunities. He or she seizes the opportunity to personalize the skylinemdash;to beautify the coastline, toomdash;through construction.

    Nowhere is this rule more obvious than in the world of health and wellness. Nowhere is the choice more clear, the cause more critical, the concern more comprehensive than the one real estate agents and developers face right now.

    To build centers for recovery, to emulate the example of the best buildings on behalf of recovery, to inspire patients by drawing inspiration from buildings that further recovery, all of these things depend on real estate developers who invest in recovery.

    Thanks to my conversations with developers and doctors, in addition to my correspondence with the experts at Clear Sky Recovery, I have a better understanding of how one industry can better another. Or: Wellness is as much a state of mind as it is a statement of fact about how to live, during and after recovery.

    The benefits of recovery are both fiscal and physical, and metaphysical too. That is to say, the benefits reveal themselves in every city and hamlet, in every state and every city.

    The benefits also reveal themselves in a rise in jobs, and a raise for all through razing the landscapemdash;by ridding the landmdash;of buildings too dangerous to enter, too costly to maintain, and too wasteful to ignore. The benefits reflect a happier and more productive workforce, of workers producing goods and services that serve the greater good of forming a more perfect Union, to promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty.

    Development is, then, impossible without recovery.nbsp;

    In this context, the real estate developer is an icon. He represents, she symbolizes what is iconic. The library, the museum, the schoolhouse, the park, the playground, the church, the temple, the center, the sanctuarymdash;icons, all of them.

    In the words of another icon, Winston Churchill: ldquo;We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.rdquo;

    The developer has the power to shape the health of much more than the real estate market. He has the ability to shape the future. She has the means to ensure the future looks like what it should be, better.

    The future of recovery begins with seeking a lasting recovery. A recovery among the states. A national recovery.

    Achieving this recovery is an act of discipline.nbsp;

    To discipline ourselves for the good of one industry, the real estate industry, is to be more industrious in general. To see the results of recovery is to know what recovery can be; what it must be, so the best within us may endure.


    Full Story >


    How to Calculate Your Average Moving Costs

    Location ndash; Local

    Research conducted by Zillow states that about 57 of those who sell their house to move are moving locally. And an estimated 86 of movers >

    bull;nbsp;A one bedroom apartment will take about 3 to 5 hours to move and cost 200-500
    bull;nbsp;A two bedroom apartment will take about 5 to 7 hours to move and cost 400-700
    bull;nbsp;A three bedroom house will take about 7 to 10 hours to move and cost 560-1,000
    bull;nbsp;A four bedroom house will take over ten hours to move and cost 800-2,000

    When we calculate these prices, we are talking about hiring movers to assist you in your move, because, honestly; doing it on your own is a virtually impossible feat.

    Location ndash; Long Distance

    When yoursquo;re packing up for a long distance move, pricing will be on the higher side of the equation. If you need to cross state lines, for example, itrsquo;s essential to factor in that you will accumulate costs for gas and labor. When working with a professional and reputable moving company, they will devise an agreement that outlines the cost, breaking down all the essentials, so you can get a full picture of where your dollars are being used.

    Do It Yourself

    You might be thinking that you donrsquo;t want to hire a moving company, as yoursquo;re tight on cash; so yoursquo;ve elected to make a move yourself. You could ask all of your friends with big cars to help, but keep in mind if a moving truck is something that you want to invest in, itrsquo;s about 20 a day.

    Minimum Options

    You can ask for just a loading and transportation service, where you pack everything up and pu>

    Storage

    What if you need to move out by a specific date, but your new home wonrsquo;t be available right away? This means you will have to factor in a storage unit, which could range anywhere from 50 to 400 a month.

    Moving is certainly not the most blissful activity, but you are hopefully moving because you are upgrading your living situation. So, be sure to factor everything in beforehand


    Full Story >


    How Technology Can Give You the Edge in Real Estate amp; Mortgages

    However understanding how technology is used for mortgages and real estate on all sides can help individuals to better understand their options better and understand how technology is going to affect each and every decision we make in the future.

    The Changing Landscape of Getting a Realtor

    There are major corporations who specialize in connecting sellers with a realtor. One of the largest sites along this line is Redfin, but there are literally hundreds of companies who use a similar model of online setup. Most of these companies talk about setting up sellers with local realtors, but a lot of them are a commission based model that involves referrals.

    While this opens up the options, these companies online arent always completely transparent about how this works or that the realtors getting these leads often pay for them. While this can work out in some situations, really good realtors often dont need to pay for leads through a 3rd party company which means often times those buyers and sellers who are going through a company like that often get sub-par realtors who really arent the cream of the crop.

    There always are exceptions, but in general this is going to be true in most cases and when dealing with most transactions.

    Then theres the trust factor. Theres nothing like meeting with a person face to face to get a basic impression of them and a read in order to trust your gut instinct on whether you like the individual, trust them, or feel like they are trustworthy or not. That face to face meeting can tell a lot and visiting multiple potential realtors can feel intimidating but those meetings can give a lot of first hand information that simply isnt available from online interactions or transactions.

    Digital Mortgage Applications

    At the moment there is no online mortgage application that is 100 online but many banks and lending companies have started with pre-qualification options online to give potential buyers an idea of whether or not they will qualify, how much they are likely to qualify for, and what types of terms to expect.

    This can be a very useful tool to help individuals decide whether it is a good time to press forward, whether they need to spend more time fixing up their credit, and understanding what the viable price range is for them to look at. This is all important information that because of the way technology is being used, is much more available than it has been before.

    These are still estimates, but especially if a potential buyer is working in person with the same bank or lender whose tools they are using online then this can help to expedite the process for both sides.

    nbsp;

    Current amp; Future Benefits to Mortgage Brokers amp; Realtors

    One of the major benefits that technology is giving both sides is to make the process easier. Instead of having to make multiple hard copies of documents like employment history, credit scores, recommendations, the ability to have all of these in file form that then can be uploaded online where they can be grabbed over and over to put on an online application makes it easier to always have those available so a few clicks attaches the document and the online portion can be sent in.

    There is no question that drastically cuts down on time and expense of the process. Making things easier is never a bad thing, and considering it is the same documents needed for each potential lender, it only makes sense to have a setup like this which makes things run more smoothly and makes those documents easily available for the multiple potential applications.

    While its hard to say where technology will take the mortgage market in the future, it is definitely reasonable to assume that as more things become streamlined and more services continue to be offered online that even more of the process will be made available online and more of it will be automated.

    While this can seem scary in some ways, it also has the potential to make sure that buyers have more of a handle than ever on how the process works, what their options are, and they can leverage that information to get a better deal with making the process easier on a realtor to get a property bought or sold. That is the ideal win-win situation for all involved.

    nbsp;


    This article was submittied by Eitan Pinsky of Pinsky Mortgages in Vancouver, BC. Check out his original article here.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Startup Rent the Backyard Is Here to Make You Some Money and Solve the Affordability Issue

    Wouldnrsquo;t you love a backyard that actually did something? How about one that can make money for you? Thatrsquo;s the idea behind Rent the Backyard. Or, part of the idea anyway. The other, much more important part is how this new company can help address a lack of affordability in the real estate market, especially since the company is located in the Bay Area, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world.nbsp;

    Herersquo;s the deal.nbsp;

    Rent the Backyard partners with companies to build prefab studio homes for free on unused land. Specifically, your unused land. If you have at least a 30-by-30 space to spare and you live in the Bay Area, you could be a candidate.nbsp;

    ldquo;Theyrsquo;re partnering with companies likenbsp;NODE, who make sustainable, carbon-neutral homes that can be installed in just a few days,rdquo; said Dwell. ldquo;Utilities will hook up to the propertys principal dwelling, and theyll be metered and reimbursed. Participants can expect to add roughly 10k to their annual income dependent on the going rate for a studio apartment in your city, and cities will get new affordable housing in previously unused space.rdquo;nbsp;

    About that ldquo;for freerdquo; part

    Yes, therersquo;s no upfront cost to customers. No. Upfront. Cost.nbsp;

    And once the prefab studio apartment is built and rentedmdash;They also find tenant to rent the unitmdash;the company splits the profits with you. Sure, you could go out and build your own tiny house, but are you really game for that? Think of all the hassle. Just the thought of dealing with permits makes us want to run. Did we mention that Rent the Backyard takes care of all the permits, too?

    Rent the Backyard estimates that homeowners can make between 10,000ndash;20,000 in added income per year with a unit in their backyard, depending on the unit, the location of the home, and a few other factors.nbsp;

    The one downside: Itrsquo;s only happening in the Bay Area. Co-founder Spencer Burleigh told us they are ldquo;really focused on the Bay Area right now and have no immediate plans to expand beyond the Bay Area.rdquo;nbsp;

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Why You Should Replace Your Roof Before Selling Your Home

    New roof installation will help with the selling of your home for several reasons. You can increase the asking price, prevent potential buyers from trying to bargain with you, sell your home faster by improving the overall appearance, and avoid negotiation issues with lending companies.

    Increase Your Asking Price After a Roof Replacement

    You might have a price point in mind for your home based on what you paid for it, the work youve done already, and what its worth to you. That number can be increased significantly if you add a roof replacement to the work you do before you put a for sale sign out in front of your property.

    Even though youre going to be spending the money initially on what a complete residential roof replacement costs, you will get all of that back. You can even add on extra because you took the time to have it completed. As soon as you mention "new roof" on the features your home has in the realtor sales listing, people will automatically be more attracted to it. Its one of the top factors that potential home buyers look at when deciding what house they want to settle on as their permanent residence.nbsp;

    If you have ever looked at buying a new home yourself, you know that when you see houses that have roofs that are ten years or older, you arent going to be willing to pay top dollar. Anyone that has done their research knows that the age of the roof has a huge impact on the price a seller can put on their property. A new roof allows you to keep the price point a bit higher so you can get the most out of your investment.nbsp;

    Save Time on Dealing With Roof Repair Negotiations from Buyers

    Its human nature to try and get something for less than the asking price, especially when it comes time to purchase a new home. Its not just a couple of hundred dollars that buyers bid below what they see listed either.nbsp;

    They will often look for features of the home like the age of the roof and try to take thousands off the asking price.nbsp; You put the value on your home, taking into consideration the age of the roof, but thats not how outsiders view it. A new roof installation is a big job and a significant investment. Buyers know when they are looking at buying a home with a roof that is ten years or older, they have some work ahead of them. That additional effort they will have to put in allows for a bit of wiggle room. You put the value on your home, taking into consideration the age of the roof, but thats not how outsiders view it.

    Taking the time and spending the money to put a brand new roof on your home for sale is going to save a lot of time and headache.nbsp; The people looking at your home wont be able to use the age of the roof as a reason for you to lower what you want when the sale is final. If youre in a hurry to get your home sold as quickly as possible, asphalt roof installation will shave a decent amount of time off the whole process.

    Speed Up the Sale Process with a Beautiful New Roof

    There isnt much need to look at your roof on a routine basis and inspecting it for damages only happens a couple of times a year. However, when people are considering the purchase of their dream home, the roof is one of the first features that gets investigated. Nobody wants to move in and discover that there are holes or leaks in what they thought was their ideal forever home.

    If a person sees an older roof, they are more likely to skip over the house as an option. People dont want to have to put major improvements into a home theyre just moving into. For most, new homeowners want to be able to pull the moving truck up, unload their things, and sit and enjoy everything they just committed to with the purchase of a house.

    With a brand new residential roof installation in your area, the people that are simply driving by are going to see that you took the time to have the work done. They will slow down and want to take a closer look because youve taken care of the exterior. Inquiring minds will want to see the interior. The more that people are stopping to explore your property, the quicker youre going to get the final offer settled.

    Keep Lending Companies Satisfied with Adequate Roof Repairs

    You might not care about the age of your roof when you have your house up for sale. Youre ultimately not going to be living there anymore, so why worry about it. You may even get lucky and find a DIY buyer that has no issue with doing their own roof repairs. That all sounds great until you get to the point in the home buying process when the bank or mortgage company comes to do their own inspection of the property.nbsp; This is especially true in colder climates where often hail damage has a huge impact on roof degradation. For example, this last winter, there were record numbers of roof repair in Fort Collins due to consistent hail storms and the damage thereafter.nbsp;

    When they see that residential roof repairs are required, they might refuse to approve the loan enti>

    Instead of trying to sell your home as-is, consider the plethora of benefits that come along with doing a complete roof replacement or at least the necessary roof repairs before putting your "For Sale" sign out front. Youre chances of getting more money increase. You wont waste time dealing with negotiations from the buyers or requirements from the lending company. All in all, everything will go much more quickly because of the updated and gorgeous appearance a new roof gives your property.


    James Elliot and his team of expert roofing contractors at Fort Collins Roofing Company have been helping homeowners through the consistent hail damage plaguing the area for over 4 years. His expertise is in their streamlined process of helping homeowners through insurance claims processes so that they can get a new roof as soon as they need it.

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Why This Might Be the Time to Buy a Condo

    New guidelines from the Federal Housing Administration FHA means more homebuyers may be eligible for a government-backed mortgage. That could mean a lower down payment and easier qualifying than what is required for conventional loans for condos.nbsp;

    ldquo;The federal agency >

    According to the National Association of Realtors NAR, ldquo;The changes, many of which NAR has championed for over a decade, should yield thousands of new homeownership opportunities and help alleviate affordability restraints impacting markets across the country.rdquo;

    Condos are often a more affordable option than single-family homes, which is what can make them so attractive to first-time buyers. The low-maintenance level is also an important factor. Because condos typically have homeownerrsquo;s associations HOA, front-yard maintenance is usually taken care of, and there are generally no yards to worry about.nbsp;

    Some homebuyers look at HOAs as a negative because of what they consider to be strict rules governing what they can and canrsquo;t do, and also because of the fees. But, the truth is that most master-planned communities today have HOAs, which means the same rules and fees will apply.nbsp;

    ldquo;HOA fees typically can range from about 200 to 300 a month; other factors may contribute to how much the fee will be, like your location, unit size and available amenities,rdquo; said Magnify Money. Monthly condo association fees can go as high as 700 or more, also depending on the amenities and services provided.rdquo;

    Yoursquo;ll definitely want to do a strict comparison between any condo yoursquo;re considering and a single-family home. It may turn out that you can get more for your money with a home thatrsquo;s not in a planned community and therefore doesnrsquo;t have fees. Or, the converse may be true. Even with HOA fees, a condo may be the better buy simply from an affordability standpoint, but also because its newer, has more space, or is in a better location.nbsp;

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Millennials Compete With Seniors for Prime Real Estate

    A recent report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC says that rising homeownership rates among seniors in the Toronto area is making it tougher for younger generations to get into the market.

    Author Inna Breidburg says that as Torontorsquo;s senior population grows at a faster pace during the next decade, ldquo;the conventional view is that this demographic shift will likely help to increase the supply of housing to younger homeowners, since seniors typically downsize or leave homeownership.rdquo;

    But she says baby boomers are working longer than previously and have more wealth, as well as community supports that will allow older seniors to stay in their homes longer. ldquo;Thus, over the next decade, seniors might not be freeing up the expected number of dwellings for younger households thus limiting supply. Furthermore, the share of seniors preferring to rent ground-oriented homes may increase further, thus contributing to tighter market conditions in this housing segment,rdquo; says Breidburg.

    In 2016, when the most recent census was conducted, seniors represented 14 per cent of the Toronto population, up from 11.3 per cent in 2006. That percentage is expected to grow to 18.2 per cent by 2026.

    Seniors owned 25 per cent of the homes in the Toronto area in 2016, up from 20.4 per cent a decade earlier. The homeownership rate among seniors was 75.1 per cent in 2016, up from 73.4 per cent in 2016.

    Breidburgrsquo;s report prompted a reaction from people who felt she was blaming boomers for the struggles that young people, particularly millennials, are facing in the real estate market.

    A popular millennial internet meme says, ldquo;If I had a dollar for every time a baby boomer complained about my generation, Irsquo;d have enough money to buy a house in the market they ruined.rdquo;

    A recent report by the Real Estate Intelligence Network REIN says millennials are the largest demographic in Canada, ldquo;which means their preferences will impact housing trends for years to come.rdquo;

    The report says so far, the Prairie provinces are the only place where there are more millennial homeowners than baby boomer owners.

    The report authors couldnrsquo;t resist adding a few jokes ldquo;Look at that millennial, walking around like he rents the place.rdquo;, but it says real estate investors must learn how to cater to this growing demographic. The homeownership rate for millennials in the GTA is expected to rise from 40 per cent in 2016 to 60 per cent in 2026.nbsp;

    ldquo;We know that millennials want to purchase a home, but that means getting rid of student debt, having stable employment that pays well and saving for a down payment,rdquo; says REIN. ldquo;This cohort is living at home longer, delaying marriage and having children, and delaying their own home purchase. Millennials are more likely to purchase a condo or townhome in an urban centre with good transit and amenities that supports their individual life>

    The report says as of June 2018, 35 per cent of Canadian millennials were living at home. The increase in the number of intergenerational homes shows that rather than hurting millennialsrsquo; real estate prospects, many baby boomers are helping them by allowing them to save money while living at home. Itrsquo;s a win-win. Seniors get to stay in their homes longer with live-in support, while young people have time to build a nest egg.

    This is also part of the reason why seniors are taking on more mortgage debt than they did a decade ago. The CMHC report says 26 per cent of all senior homeowner households in Toronto had a mortgage in 2016, up from 20.5 per cent in 2006.

    ldquo;The known reasons for having a mortgage at an older age was financing in-place retirement, renovations, investments, as well as helping other family members,rdquo; says Breidburg.

    The REIN report says millennials are ldquo;not necessarily looking for the same housing solutions as their parents or grandparents ndash; i.e. not the ranch bungalow in the suburbs.rdquo;

    The report says the average age of a first-time mother has been steadily increasing since the 1970s and is over 30 in many parts of the country. ldquo;On average, it is only the first wave of millennials that has started to have children in the last few years. For a real estate investor, this translates into millennials not yet desiring a three- or four-bedroom house in the suburbs, instead preferring condo living in the urban centres.rdquo;

    However, a shift may be in the works as affordable real estate becomes harder to find in the cities. ldquo;The number of millennials moving out of Toronto and Vancouver for less expensive areas of their province is trending upward,rdquo; says the report. ldquo;Family is important to this generation, despite their delay in marriage or having children, so theoretically, eventually millennials may shift to suburban living, or at minimum, larger dwellings with multiple bedrooms, in greater numbers.rdquo;

    Breidburgrsquo;s report says among renters, the income of seniors was less than younger generations.nbsp;

    ldquo;Historically, across all age groups, homeowner households tend to have higher incomes compared to renters,rdquo; she says. ldquo;However, over the past years more young professionals with high earnings have been renting in Toronto, thus contributing to a decrease in the income gap between renters and homeowners in the younger cohorts. For seniors though, the income difference between renters and homeowners widened further.rdquo;

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    Seven Next Steps to Becoming Favorably Known as a Trusted New Home Advisor With Credentials And a Marketing Plan

    Your New Home Co-Broker NHCB designation gives you professional credentials to separate your services from your competition, or can if you take the following steps to make it happen. Bookmark this page and refer to it often.

    Step 1. Announce your credentials in Realty Times. Free. See sample.

    Before you do anything else, announce to the world that you earned your designation. All you have. Send a high-resolution .jpg of your photo and your contact information to with "NHCB Press >

    Step 2. Market your credentials in social media and your contact list.

    Now that you have a professional announcement in a real estate new service that draws about 500,000 visitors a month, copy and paste the announcement web address into your email, and your social media announcements. Show your announcement to your broker, because it is good publicity for your broker, too

    Step 3 Make sure you can access new homes inventory on demand.

    Subscribe to newhomesourceprofessional.com. This gives you access to the same new homes inventory and floor plans you will see on Realtor.com. Never worry about finding new homes inventory on demand again. Free.

    Step 4. Enter the names and contact information for three internet advisors in your mobile phone contact system.

    Remember: they register your home shopper online, recommend specific products you should show, and many are now setting your appointments.

    Step 5. Download your logo your certification logo.

    If you wish to add your NHCB logo to your printed materials, website or blog, and need logo, download it here.nbsp;

    Step 6. Become your own publicist.

    It has been said that an expert is a person who has been quoted. There is a lot of truth to that. You can easily become favorably known as a trusted advisor by writing and publishing your own publicity right here in Realty Times for free. Click here to get started.

    Step 7. Implement a consistent, measurable and affordable social media and communications strategy that requires little or no thinking, writing, or planning on your part.

    Working closely with Realty Times, on your behalf, I am grateful and excited to strongly endorse a marketing package that makes more sense than anything I have researched over the years.

    Take a close look at the social media tools and newsletter combination with the understanding that your one monthly payment for less than a 100 a month takes all the marketing pressure off of you. Cancel any time.

    The task was to address these three issues:

    a. ldquo;I dont have the talent or the time to think about marketingrdquo;
    b. "I can never tell what I am getting for my money."
    c. "I cant afford it."

    The one thing none of us can say is, "I dont need to market my services."

    I looked long and hard for a long time and I have found nothing that better solves your marketing needs with as little demand and inconvenience to the agents as what is offered here. As is our policy we do not accept referral fees, because it would cloud our objectivity.

    Thank you for your business and thank you in advance for your referrals.

    Since>

    David Fletcher
    Founder, Lic. Real Estate Broker
    New Home Co-Broker Academy LLC
    https://newhomecobroker.com

    nbsp;


    Full Story >


    The Annual Percentage Rate Is Not As Confusing As It Sounds

    When potential borrowers start making a few phone calls to different mortgage companies to compare rates, itrsquo;s fairly straightforward. The loan officer answers the phone, gets a little information and provides a rate quote. Once the borrower decides where to apply, the wheels begin to turn. Lenders are required by statute to provide certain loan disclosures within three days of receiving an application. The Loan Estimate will feature the estimated loan amount, current rate for the day the quote is prepared, and the APR, among other items. But herersquo;s where it can get tricky.

    The rate quoted over the phone is the note rate. Thatrsquo;s the rate used to calculate the monthly payment. The monthly payment includes both the principal and interest. If the borrowers choose or are required to have impounds or escrow accounts, the monthly payment will also include an amount for taxes and insurance. But when consumers receive their estimate within that three day period, one of the things theyrsquo;ll notice is the APR, prominently displayed. However, the APR wonrsquo;t be the same as the note rate. Why? Because the APR takes into consideration not just the interest rate but also additional fees to pay for other services and documents. These additional services and documents include both lender and non-lender fees.

    The APR was initially designed to help borrowers compare loan choices among different lenders. And while thatrsquo;s true in reality itrsquo;s not all that helpful. Why? Rates change daily, sometimes intraday. They proper way to use the APR is to compare the note rate with the APR. If there is a slight discrepancy, that means there are lower fees involved. The note rate might be 3.50 percent and the APR 3.52 percent. But if the note rate is 3.50 percent and the APR is 3.75 percent, there are a lot more fees at play here.

    Thatrsquo;s the APR. Itrsquo;s the cost of money borrowed expressed as an annual rate. Itrsquo;s not something to be ignored, but understanding its purpose and how itrsquo;s calculated can help consumers better understand their initial loan disclosures.


    Full Story >


    Generation X Turns 55: How Are They Prepping for Retirement?

    This generation, often typecast as angst-ridden and cynical, is in fact extremely driven and focused on their long-term goals. Theyrsquo;re always planning their next big move ndash; whether it be working longer or deciding where they want to live.

    Del Webb, a leading builder of active adult home communities for those 55 and older, recently conducted a study of what Gen Xers really want for their future, and the results may surprise you.

    3 Top Trends Among Gen Xers:

  • 1. Gen Xers consider the idea of retiring, but they enjoy workinghellip;and many feel they need to.

    While 72 percent of 50-year-olds surveyed said they look forward to retirement, 85 percent also reported that they enjoy their jobs. The amount of savings Gen Xers have set aside for retirement has increased as compared to those of the same age group a decade ago, with only 35 percent reporting having saved less than 50,000, as compared to 50 percent in a Del Webb survey conducted ten years ago. Despite this, most Gen Xers acknowledge that they may need to continue working longer. This has had a major impact on developers of adult home communities, and an increasing number of these communities are now popping up in large metropolitan areas and employment hubs.nbsp;

    2. Gen Xers plan to pack up and move.

    Despite the convenience of living closer to where they work, more than half of Gen Xers surveyed do not plan to reside in their current location in the future.nbsp; In fact, 60 percent stated they will move, with 58 percent of these people planning a significant move to a new city, state or country. In contrast, only 22 percent of those planning to move envision remaining in their current town.nbsp;

    3. Gen Xers wonrsquo;t compromise when it comes to living space.

    Previous research reported that Gen Xers help to drive the multi-generational housing trend, and this latest study by Del Webb suggests that trend will continue. Of the respondents, 71 percent preferred that their next home have three or more bedrooms, and 29 percent anticipated having to accommodate aging parents. With amenities such as dual master bedrooms, in-law suites and additional living space on their wish lists, Gen Xers are seeking homes designed specifically to accommodate their changing needs. In fact, among those who said they were looking to move, 43 percent expect their next home to be just as large as their current one, while 22 percent plan to go even larger.nbsp;

    Builders of active adult communities have reacted to this trend by introducing innovative new home designs with larger floor plans and work-convenient locations that offer Gen Xers the flexibility they want as their needs continue to change. To read more about the Del Webb study and the future of Generation X, visit the Del Webb Blog, The 55 Society.nbsp;

    nbsp;


  • Full Story >




    Copyright© 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

    Featured Property Other Condos
    Museum Park Project
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    Real Estate News
    Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2019


    Finding an Apartment Without Going Broke

    Utilize technology to avoid scams

    In the year 2019, you can do most of your p>

    Watch out for pet fees and rent

    If it seems like most apartments have started charging extra ldquo;rentrdquo; for pets in the last two or three years, yoursquo;re not imagining it. USA Today referred to pet rent as ldquo;the latest costly apartment fad.rdquo; Pet rent is not unreasonable by itself, but it can start to feel a bit much when combined with hundreds of dollars in pet fees and deposits. Paying several hundred dollars to move your cat into an apartment in the city is one thing, but for many people, paying an extra 30 or 40 a month on top of that is a bridge too far. You may feel like you donrsquo;t have a choice. But first, ask if therersquo;s any way to spread out the cost of a pet deposit. For instance, some landlords will let you pay out 600 in pet fees and deposits over a few months, while others will require you to pay everything upfront. Either way, therersquo;s no harm in asking.

    Look for public transit options

    Some apartments will advertise a unit as ldquo;close to the bus linerdquo; or ldquo;right by public transit.rdquo; If itrsquo;s not mentioned in the ad, feel free to ask when you tour the property. Better yet, you can pull up the address on Google Maps and search for nearby public transit options. Taking the bus or train can save you in a couple of ways. For starters, you donrsquo;t have to pay 50 or 100 a month for a parking spot. Even if your parking spot is free, you may still want to take the bus sometimes and save money on gas. Sure, going to the grocery store and buying a lot of food may require taking your personal vehicle, but not every errand or trip will. If yoursquo;re visiting a family member at an assisted living community in New Jersey, hopping on the bus or train will probably be less stressful than driving yourself there and attempting to find parking near the facility.


    > Full Story

    The Role of iBuying in Todays Market

    Large, institutional property investors traditionally focus on multi-family units. The great housing recession last decade, when the stock market was providing lack-luster returns, opened the door for big money to find its way into the single-family acquisition market. As hedge funds began buying large blocks of single-family homes, rehabilitating them with primarily cosmetic facelifts such as carpet and paint, and offering small investors shares in these behemoths, they created an investment vehicle that had the potential to beat Wall Street. If it could work in the ldquo;hold-and-rentrdquo; market, su>

    Many fortunes have been made buying, renting, trading and selling real estate. Historically, real estate values trend up, making it a smart investment, so large firms jumping into the real estate investment game made perfect sense. Will it make sense long term? What about the newest entrants to the iBuying fray? How long will they find this practice attractive? Frankly, there is no reason that this approach cant co-exist along with more traditional real estate ownership. Take ERA Real Estatersquo;s "Sellers Security Plan.rdquo; It has been in place for decades and survived both housing booms and busts. Why? Because the price that anyone will pay for a property is based on economics 101: the law of supply and demand. Not only this, but ERA is doing what many iBuyers are not, and that is keeping the real estate agent at the center of the transaction. While iBuying is certainly a buzzworthy term in real estate these days, there are many consumers across the U.S. who still donrsquo;t know what it means and are intimidated by its unfamiliarity and at the prospect of gambling with one of the biggest transactions of their lives. The components that enable iBuyer programs to cut through the clutter: simplicity, convenience and efficiency.

    So, as long as an institutional real estate buyer doesnt panic in the midst of a housing downturn and "dump" large blocks of homes on the market, driving prices down further, nor get too crazy when faced with a housing bubble and over-extend their financial resources, natural economic factors will drive prices up and down, allowing these new, large buyers to benefit from changing market values.

    What do traditional real estate professionals need to consider when advising their clients about iBuyer options? Here are some questions to ask:

    1. What is the clientrsquo;s motivation? MUST they sell by a particular date in order to move forward with their plans?
    2. What repairs are needed to get the most money for the property? Does the client possess the financial resources to make the home marketable for top dollar?
    3. Are home prices trending up, making waiting to sell a better option or is waiting simply costing the Seller time with little chance of bigger gain?

    If the client needs to sell in a hurry, lacks the funds necessary to make the property marketable or wonrsquo;t benefit financially by holding out for a better price, it might be in the clientrsquo;s best interest to take advantage of the iBuyer option.

    There is no doubt that there is risk. There is in most financial transactions. But isnt that where all big money is earned? As long as iBuyer companies are well-funded, take a long-term view of this business and focus on adding a measure of value to the end-user buyer and seller, there is no reason that this practice canrsquo;t be a permanent part of the new American real estate landscape.

    nbsp;


    Greg Martin is the president and managing broker of ERA Sunrise Realty in northern Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Together with his business partner David Moody, they opened a new branch of ERA Sunrise Realty in 2002 and have since expanded the company to seven offices with more than 130 agents. He is very proud of the work ERA Sunrise Realty does, and of their recognition as the winner of the 2018 ERA ldquo;Jim Jackson Memorial Award for 1st in Service.rdquo; Greg has been in real estate since 1998, before which he served as a marketing and sales team leader for Union Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad. Greg is also part owner of Sure Close Title Services LLC and is co-owner and school director for The Real Estate Productivity Center, a state-approved real estate school devoted to improving the knowledge and professionalism of real estate agents across Georgia.


    > Full Story

    The 9 Best Tips on How to Find a Property for Profitable Investing

    Tip 1: Buy a Property in a Top Real Estate Market

    Anyone in the real estate industry will tell you that location is the first and foremost factor for a profitable investment. Where your rental property is located will determine the price you have to pay for it, the rental demand, the best rental strategy, the type of tenants you can expect, the rental rate, the occupancy rate and vacancy rate, and ultimately the return on investment. Thus, the first thing which any investor preparing to buy a property should do is to read about and research the best places for real estate investing in the US housing market. Donrsquo;t make the mistake of many beginners who focus on large cities only. Sometimes small towns and even villages offer a much higher return than major cities. For example, according to data from Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company, the census-designated area with a population of about 7,000 people, Joshua Tree, has been one of the top locations for Airbnb rentals in the past few years.

    Tip 2: Donrsquo;t Spend More Than What You Can Afford

    As a beginner investor, you should always start with a small, cheap, easy-to-manage property. After all, the best investment property is the one which you can afford and which you can manage. To find such a property, you should prepare a budget. On the one hand, factor in your savings, the income from your full-time job and other sources, and the money you expect to make from your rental property. On the other hand, make a list of all the one-time and recurrent costs associated with buying, owning, and managing an investment property such as the property price, appraisal cost, home inspection fee, closing fees, fixes and repairs, monthly mortgage payments, property tax, insurance, property management, maintenance, and others. In this way you will be able to figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend on a property without risking a foreclosure.

    Tip 3: Find the Best Financing Method

    One of the great things about real estate investing is that you have many financing options to choose from. You can go for a conventional mortgage, a hard money loan, a private money loan, a syndication, or a partnership, to mention a few possible choices. You should study each option carefully and decide on the best one for your particular case, based on their pros and cons and your specific situation.

    Most probably, as a first-time investor, you will end up taking a mortgage loan. In this case, it is advisable to make the down payment as big as possible, without overspending on it of course. The higher your down payment is, the faster you will be able to repay your loan and the less money you will end up spending on repayment. Figuring out the best financing method is crucially important for profitable real estate investing.

    Tip 4: Use Different Sources for Your Property Search

    To find a property for profitable investing, you should put efforts into searching for properties for sale far and wide. Now that you know where you want to buy an investment property and how much you can afford to spend on it, start checking out local newspapers and real estate websites with both MLS listings and off market properties, talk to your friends and acquaintances, network with other investors in the area who might be selling a property, and connect with a local real estate agent. Each one of these sources will have access to a different kind of properties, and you should check them all out before deciding on the best type of investment property for you and narrowing down your choice.

    Tip 5: Consider Investing in a Foreclosure

    The most lucrative investments in real estate are those properties which you can buy below market value. Thus, you should consider investing in a foreclosed property. Forget the popular myth that foreclosures are always houses in a dire situation which makes them bad real estate investments. To the contrary, it is feasible to find a foreclosed property in a good shape which will bring you high return on investment. The reason is that you will most likely pay only a fraction of the fair market value of the property as the bank or other financial institution is trying to get rid of it quickly, while you can still charge full market value rental rate.

    To find foreclosed properties to invest in, talk to the banks in the area, search for specialized real estate websites with foreclosed property listings including government agenciesrsquo; websites, and look for agents who work with foreclosures.

    Tip 6: Hire a Real Estate Agent

    Avoid the mistake of many first-time real estate investors who think they can manage the whole process of finding and buying a property on their own. It is recommended to look for an agent who works mostly with property investors and hire him/her to help you along. Your agent will be able to help you find lucrative properties for sale, connect you with lenders, prepare the offer, negotiate the best price, and close the deal quickly and smoothly. Moreover, you donrsquo;t have to worry about inflating your budget as agent fees are usually covered by the property seller and not the property buyer.

    Tip 7: Conduct Thorough Property Analysis

    An indispensable step in the process of making the most profitable real estate investments is performing an investment property analysis. Once you have narrowed down your choice to a few top properties, you should study them in detail to calculate exactly how much return on investment you can expect from them, based on your preferred rental strategy. Find out the cash flow, the cash on cash return, and the capitalization rate which you can expect. To beat the competition in the local real estate market and find the best property for profitable investing, make sure to use real estate investment tools such as a rental property calculator. This will save you a lot of time in analyzing properties and allow you to make an offer before the other investors in the area.

    Tip 8: Choose the Best Rental Strategy

    You can rent out your investment property on short-term basis as an Airbnb rental or long-term basis as a traditional rental. The optimal strategy in each case depends on the location, the demand, the rental rates, and other factors. So, in your investment property analysis you should see which rental strategy will bring you a higher return on investment. If you decide to go for a short-term rental, donrsquo;t forget to study the local regulations carefully as many places have adopted major restrictions on this type of rentals in recent years. Ideally, you should look for a location where both owner-occupied and non-owner occupied properties can be rented out on short-term basis in all residential neighborhoods. For example, the Dallas real estate market is one of the major cities with the least Airbnb legal issues in the US at the moment.

    Tip 9: Select the Best Property Management Strategy

    Profitable investing in real estate doesnrsquo;t end with finding and buying a property with a high potential for return. Afterwards, you have to manage your rental property in the best possible way. If you invest in your local housing market, have some free time, and exhibit the right personality welcoming and kind but also assertive, you can become a landlord and deal with a rental property and tenants on your own. However, before you decide to manage your property by yourself, you should know that this can take a lot of time and efforts and can turn into a real headache.

    If, on the other hand, you invest out of state, have a busy job and a family to take care of, and/or are simply not fit to be a landlord, you can hire a property management company to deal with your investment property. You should be prepared to pay them a monthly rate, but it will be worth it as they will be able to maximize your profit while you can enjoy the positive cash flow in your free time.

    How to find a profitable investment property is the first thing you have to learn as a real estate investor in order to make money. The good news is that it is absolutely feasible and doable if you follow our 9 tips above.

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    Daniela Andreevska is Marketing Director at Mashvisor, a real estate analytics tool which helps real estate investors quickly find traditional and Airbnb investment properties. A research process thatrsquo;s usually 3 months now can take 15 minutes. We provide all the real estate information in easy to understand visualizations.


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