Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Ask the HOA Expert: Who Is Supposed To Fix And Maintain What?
Question: Our board has a running battle with various unit owners about who is supposed to fix and maintain what. As a result, the board has paid for repairs that were probably the unit owners responsibility. How do we get this under control?
Answer:The board should adopt a Maintenance Insurance Areas of Responsibility Policy which defines responsibilities HOA vs Owner. The idea is to break down the buildings and grounds into component parts and then describe who is responsible. Always review and use the governing documents as a guideline if direction is provided. While the Areas of Responsibility Policy can be subject to interpretation under certain circumstances, it usually provides clear guidance to both the board and unit owners. Moreover, it provides the board with the basis for consistent handling of maintenance issues. Another benefit is it clarifies for the HOAs and unit owners insurance carriers what things the HOA is responsible for and eliminates claim disputes. This is a "must have" policy in any common wall community. There is a sample of this policy in the Policy Samples section of www.Regenesis.net.
Question: We have a resident we routinely have to call the police on for disturbing the peace, verbally assaulting and stalking neighbors and threatening them with physical harm. This resident is essentially psychotic and totally unpredictable. This has gone on for years and weve reached our limit. This situation is now affecting sales What can we do?
Answer: Have you been in contact with this persons >
Question: I am researching HOA pool liability. Recently, the board enacted pool hours which dont seem safe: 8am to 11pm. Im concerned about allowing people to swim after dark. The pool has no lighting.
Answer: Since daylight hours change daily, either longer or shorter, it makes sense to tie pool hour closing to dusk or 10 pm whichever comes first. Due to noise concerns, the pool needs to close at a reasonable hour unless the location of the pool doesnt create a noise issue. For the same reason, establish a pool opening schedule to avoid disturbing people who may still be sleeping. Of course in Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun, all bets are off. But the pool is probably frozen anyway.
For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net.
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The Real Estate Contracts Kick-Out Clause
Question: We are selling our house and have found a nice couple who have expressed interest. Unfortunately, they cannot afford to buy our house unless they sell their house first. We would like to work something out with this couple, but are concerned about taking our house off the market for an indefinite period while the buyers try to sell their house. How do you resolve this dilemma?
Answer: While no one likes to sign contracts which are contingent on the purchasers ability to sell their own house, unfortunately it is a fact of life that must be recognized by every buyer and seller. With house prices having increased dramatically over the years, and with the tightening of lender requirements, more and more buyers find that they can qualify to buy a more expensive house only if they first sell their current residence.
Generally speaking, when buyers present an offer to purchase, they can include a contingency for the sale of their house. This is known as a "contingent contract." In simple English, this means that if the specified event does not occur -- in this case the buyers do not sell their house -- then the contract to purchase the new property becomes null and void and the purchasers are entitled to a full refund of any earnest money deposit.
Needless to say, as you have suggested, sellers do not want to take their house off the market for an indefinite period.
Accordingly, a compromise has been developed, known as a "kick-out" clause. Under this arrangement, the sellers state in the contract that while they are willing to accept a contingency contract, the sellers will continue to market the house. If another qualified buyer is found, the seller will give the current purchaser a certain amount of time -- usually 72 hours -- in which to remove the contingency keep the contract alive or exercise the contingency and decide not to purchase the new property.
This kick-out clause has to be carefully drafted. If the potential purchasers are confronted with the 72 hour kick-out period, and decide to delete the sale contingency, they may still be able to get out of the original contract if they cannot get financing. Keep in mind that most standard sales contracts also contain another contingency, namely the ability of the purchaser to obtain the necessary financing.
This creates a dilemma for both parties. If the purchasers remove the sale contingency but still have the financing contingency in the contract, it is probable that a lender will not give a binding loan commitment to the purchasers unless they sell their house first. Thus, the mere removal of the sale contingency does not meet the sellers needs. The purchaser can still find an excuse to back out of the contract, based on another contingency in the contract.
Thus, sellers should include at the very least the following language in the 72 hour kick-out clause:
The parties agree that sellers property shall remain on the market during the above contingency period. If the purchaser does not remove the above contingency and provide evidence satisfactory to seller in their sole discretion of ability to perform under the terms herein within a specific number of hours after receipt of written notice that seller has accepted a secondary contract, purchasers deposit shall be promptly returned in full.
Under this contractual arrangement, the potential purchaser has the right to delete the contingency and go forward with the purchase. But the purchasers also have to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the seller, they are financially able to qualify for the loan. In many instances, the purchasers will not be able to satisfy the seller, because they obviously do not have the funds to permit them to go forward with the purchase.
From the sellers point of view, this is an acceptable arrangement. Although the sellers have signed a contract, in effect they are keeping the house on the market. The sellers have the right to continue to show it to other potential purchasers, and have the right to take back-up contracts if possible.
If you are dealing with a real estate agent, insist that the agent continue to market your house even after you have signed the first contract.
From the buyers point of view, the 72 hour kick-out is also an acceptable compromise -- but obviously is subject to abuse. The buyer can understand that a seller is >The 72 hour kick-out clause is a compromise for both parties, and has become an acceptable practice in the real estate arena.
However, the sellers should also insist that the buyer immediately begin to market their own property -- whether it be through a real estate firm or on their own. Specific language should be included in the contract that if the purchaser does not begin to market the property within a reasonable period of time -- for example 5 days -- then the seller has the right to void the contract and look for another buyer.
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6 Ideas For Selling Your Home In The Winter
1 Keep the house warm.
While you dont have to keep the heat on all the time, keep the house warm during showings. You dont want people shivering while they look through the house. Set the thermostat to at least 70 degrees -- whether youll be in the house or not.
2 Trim the outdoor foliage.
Remove snow from shrubs and trees so that potential buyers dont get wet as they walk up the sidewalk to your home. Brush off snow, prune the tree limbs and trim the hedges as needed. You can even hire a tree service to do this for you if youre strapped for time. While your lawn is dormant this time of year, you can at the very least make it look well maintained to give buyers a sense of what it looks like during the spring and summer. You can also display photos in your entryway of how your home looks outside during the greener months.
3 Handle winter conditions.
If you have ice and snow on your driveway and sidewalk, you need to take care of it way in advance of showings. Clear ice and snow with shovels and salt, so that your exterior looks nice and safe to buyers. It will also increase the aesthetic quality of your home to buyers and keep you from getting sued by a buyer who falls or slips. If you have particular trouble with ice and snow, you can call a snow removal service to do it for you.
Winter driveway photo courtesy of Provino Architecture, LLC
4 Show off the fireplace.
If you have a fireplace, you should showcase it as part of your homes aesthetic appeal. A gas fireplace is easy to turn on before a showing, and it adds natural beauty to your home -- not to mention warmth. A wood-burning fireplace is a bit harder to maintain, because you can run out of firewood. So you need to time the lighting just right before the showing. You also need to make sure the chimney is in good condition, so have it cleaned and checked by a fireplace professional ahead of a showing to avoid any problems.
Fireplace photo courtesy of Pinnacle Development Group, Inc.
5 Add comfort to your home.
There are other steps you can take to make your home more comfortable and inviting during the winter months. Focus on small improvements to your home like:
- Adding blankets to your couch
- Turning back the comforter on the bed
- Baking a pie or cookies for the smell
- Lighting some candles
- Turning on some >
Interior Lighting photo courtesy of Red Rabbit Construction.
6 Make sure your home is well lit.
Since winter takes away a lot of sunshine, you need to utilize light bulbs and other forms of lighting. Outside lights, security lights, candles, LED lighting -- every bit of lighting is crucial in the interior and exterior. You want all lights on when buyers are walking through your home -- dont focus on your electricity bill right now. You also want to make as much use of natural lighting as possible. Open your window treatments during the day showings.
|Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.|
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9 Ways You Can Score Great Deals For Your Home On Black Friday
For many of us, Black Friday shopping is key to a successful holiday gift-buying strategy for friends and family. But have you taken a look around your home lately? Maybe you need to put it on your list this year.
There are some great deals out there this Black Friday that can help you fix up, fancy up, update, and upgrade the place you call home. Here are nine ways to go about scoring the best deals.
One of the most exciting sale items weve seen for home this year is at Lowes. Wood-look tile is one of todays hottest trends for flooring, and on Black Friday, the home improvement store has it starting at just 99 cents per foot, down from 2.02 per foot.
Lowes also has some great deals on tools and home improvement items in their Black Friday ad. If you can get past the ho-hum-ness of buying yourself tools at this time of year, youll love the prices on this Kobalt 227-piece tool set with case and 39 Shop-Vac Vacuum.
Bring the smart home craze to your front door. This Kwikset SmartCode Satin Nickel-Single Cylinder Motorized Electronic Entry Door Deadbolt with Keypad is just 39 on Black Friday, down from 69.
Head to Lowes for this Samsung 4.5 cu. ft. ENERGY STAR High Efficiency Top Load washer and 7.4 cu. Ft. Electric Dryer are 499 each, a savings of 600 for the pair.
This Samsung Energy Star reg; 26 cu. ft. 36" Wide 3-Door French Door Refrigerator with Filtered Ice Makernbsp;is regularly priced at 1,999 and will drop to 995 at JC Penny on Black Friday. Other appliances are on sale for up to 40 off at both Home Depot and Lowes.
Also for the kitchen
Looking to do some renovations in your kitchen? This brushed nickel pull-down kitchen faucet is just 59 on Black Friday, down from 109, at Lowes.
Those who love to bake swear by KitchenAid mixers, and the must-have item is typically attractively priced over the holidays. The best price weve seen so far is 249 for the KitchenAidreg; Ultra Power Plus 4.5 Qt Tilt-Head Stand Mixer at Target. Its currently prices at 279, down from 349. You can also get the KitchenAidreg; >
Also for your gourmet kitchen needs, Target has two great deals on Ninja products for Black Friday. Both the Coffee Brewer and the Professional Kitchen System are being offered as doorbusters for 99 - thats half off Perhaps no single Black Friday deal will make home cooks happier than this one: Walmart has the insanely popular Instant Pot, regularly 100, for 50 on Black Friday.
Google Home is predicted to be one of the hottest items this year, and Walmarts Black Friday sale has it at 79 - a savings of 50. The 49 Google Home Mini Smart Speaker, which offers "hands-free help in any room" and is powered by the Google Assistant, goes on sale for 29 with a 10 gift card at Target. At that price, youll want to buy one for yourself and a few for gifts. If youd rather ask Alexa, head to Target for this Amazon Echo Dot, which will drop from 49 to 29.
TVs are a staple of Black Friday shopping. Personally, we have images of stampeding shoppers hoisting flat-screen boxes over their heads seared in our collective brain forever, but that wont stop us from trying to slide in there for a screaming deal. Forbes calls Best Buys Sharp 50-inch LED 2160p Smart 4K Ultra HD Roku TV for 179.99 - a savings of 320 - possibly "the best deal during the entirety of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017." nbsp;
Once you buy that flat screen, youll need a sound bar. Walmart has a 37" RCA Bluetooth version for just 29 currently priced at 49. Or, pick up this VIZIO 32" 5.1 Soundbar System package, which includes a wi>
And dont forget a mounting system. This one has tilt and fits TVs ranging from 47-80", Black Friday priced at just 19 currently on sale for 59.
A vacuum may not seem like the most exciting thing to buy on Black Friday, but you may change your mind when you see the price of this Dyson DC59 Animal Cordless Vacuum Cleaner at Walmart. We did Regularly priced at 369, it goes on sale on Black Friday for just 189
Walmarts high-thread-count hotel sheets are famous to smart Black Friday shoppers and are one of the most anticipated and quickest-selling items. Used to be you had to buy them in store, but theyre now online. If you want a set or four, heres a tip: get them in your cart ASAP when sales kick off, because theyll be gone in a flash. 24 per set. Macys has a worthy alternative with their Devon 4-Pc King Sheet Set, 900-Thread Count, regularly priced at 59; on Black Friday, they will be 29.
Another great sale item thatll make you say, "One for you, one for me," Targets chenille and sherpa throws are just 10 on Black Friday.
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Choosing The Best Hardwood Floors For Your Home
The rich patina of wood floors adds beauty and elegance to any home.
Older homes were once routinely constructed with hardwood floors, but that practice was abandoned in the 1950s, when new technologies made wall-to-wall carpeting available. Builders were able to build more homes faster, for the post-war baby boom, and save money on labor.
But today, many homeowners prefer hardwoods to carpet. Hardwoods help give the impression that your home is well-built with quality materials. Hardwoods are easy to maintain and improve with wear, unlike carpet that eventually needs to be replaced.
Hardwoods add value to your home, says the National Wood Flooring Association NWFA. In a recent survey of participating real estate agents, the trade association found that real estate agents said that a house with wood floors would sell faster than a carpeted house, by a margin of three to one. About 58 percent said a house with wood floors would bring a higher price.
If you have hardwoods under carpet, its easy and inexpensive to tear the carpet out and refinish your floors. Or, you can choose to install hardwoods if theres only sub-floor underneath the carpet.
You have several options:
Solid hardwoods -- Solid hardwoods are the most expensive option. They come in planks of various lengths and are typically 3/4 thick. The floors are installed as raw wood and sanded down and stained on site. The advantage is that your floors can be refinished often over the years. Solid hardwoods are not recommended over concrete slab foundations. Disadvantages are that hardwoods cannot be washed with water, water leaks can cause them to bow, and direct sunlight can cause stained finishes to bleach.
Engineered hardwoods -- Composed of layers or plies of wood that are glued together and finished with a laminate, engineered hardwoods are finished with a final layer of hardwood that is generally between " and " thick. The advantage of engineered hardwoods is that they are suitable for any foundation. Drawbacks are that laminated floors usually cannot be refinished.
Engineered hardwoods come in a variety of >Stains and finishes
If your floor comes unfinished, you need to know what kind of wood its made of in order to select a stain, as different woods can make stain colors change tone. A good way to choose is to ask the installer for samples, or you can go to a local paint and home improvement store and view stain colors. Sherman Williams "Wood >Keep in mind that unfinished floors must be sanded, stained and sealed on site, which is labor intensive, time consuming and messy as you wait for each layer to dry. Factory finished floors are usually warrantied, they can be installed immediately which saves time and labor, and only the glue to the subfloor has to dry.
Finishes are important to choose because they dictate how you will care for your floor. If your floor has a penetrating seal, you will have to wax it to keep it burnished. If the floor is sealed with a urethane, polyurethane or other polymer coat, its water resistant and easy to clean with a mop.
Types of wood
The most common woods for floors are species of oak, pine, walnut, pecan, birch, beech, ash, cherry, maple, cypress and Douglas fir.
Wood for floors can be exotic, and are prized for their unusual grains and colors. Exotic woods include mahogany, teak, and Brazilian cherry.
One of the most popular flooring options is actually a grass, not a wood. Bamboo is a quick-growing resource that is easily replenished, making it a good choice for green-building. Bamboo can be cut and finished like any hardwood, and is more durable in some cases.
To learn more about wood floors, visit Woodfloors.org.
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House Hunting? How Good Manners Can Help Get The Home You Want
As most people know, the real estate market shifts between a buyers or sellers market, depending on supply and demand. However, regardless of which market were currently in, buyer etiquette can help you get the home you want with the least amount of stress.
It may sound odd to some, especially first-time homebuyers, but manners matter when it comes to the real estate transaction. Im not talking about "Please" and "Thank you." So, what exactly does this mean?
Buyer etiquette is not only about doing the things that are vital to helping sales go through but its also about general manners like being on time for your viewing of a home, being prepared with your financial documents, and being responsive when requests for documents, signatures, or answers are needed from your real estate professionals.
This isnt about lecturing buyers about minding their manners; rather, think of this as the inside tips to helping land the home you really want. For instance, sometimes, being late for a viewing of a listing could cause you to lose that particular home. In a really hot real estate market, if youre late or you dont show up for the listing, you might not get a second chance - the home could be sold.
Another consideration is to be aware of how much time you need to view a home. If you try to see too many homes in one day, chances are youre not going to treat each home with the same respect. The first homes might get lots of attention by you in terms of time and what you notice. However, by the time youre on, say, 15th home of the day, you might be so tired that you blaze through it ba>
One of the most important etiquette tips is to make sure that youve been pre-approved and are a serious buyer, ready to take action should you find the right home. Shopping for homes is serious business. Its likely the largest monetary transaction youll make; being financially and emotionally prepared is good etiquette and will help expedite the process.
When viewing a home, if the sellers are present sometimes this happens, dont share your likes or dislikes about the home with them. Be courteous and keep the conversation to a minimum with the sellers. You want to make sure you leave the negotiation process to your experienced real estate agent. If you have questions about the home, be sure to take good notes and consult with your agent. Your agent is the liaison for good reason. The agent is experienced and knows how to find out the information you need without undermining your bargaining position. Polite conversation with the sellers is appropriate if the opportunity occurs. And, if the house isnt right for you from the moment you set foot in it, at least give it a quick walk-through, just to be absolutely certain.
Good manners when house hunting is about more than just having people like you. It could be the potential development of a successful real estate transaction. Good will during that process helps keep things moving along at a steady pace and possibly with a better outcome than if the sellers were selling to a buyer they really didnt like.
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Holiday Splurges And Saves To Make Hosting Easier
If youre hosting for the holidays, there is undoubtedly a lot to do and a lot to buy. You probably have a budget youre looking to stick to, but then you make the mistake of wandering in to Williams Sonomaand there goes your bottom line There are places to save a few bucks so you can make a few worthy splurges. Heres a guide that will help.
Splurge: Good cookware
The quality of your cookware can have a big impact on the quality of your food. If your pots and pans have seen better days, its a good time to splurge on a few high-end items, like this Swiss Diamond 10-piece set, made of cast aluminum with a PFOA-free nonstick coating. Consumer Reports rated the set the "best pots and pans for your holiday feasts."
Their lab kitchen evaluated "cooking evenness and how well nonstick surfaces >The Swiss Diamond set includes 8-inch and 9-inch frypans, 1.4-quart and 2.2- quart saucepans, 3.2-quart saute pan, 8.5-quart stockpot, and glass lids.
Save: Good cookware
The Consumer Reports article shows how, with a little research, you can find high-quality products without spending high dollars. Their top choice for nonstick frying pans? This 100 Zwilling J.A. Henckels version in stainless steel with an aluminum core. But in second place: A 20 Red Copper nonstick pan from Amazon.
Splurge: Amazon Prime
This is a splurge thats really a save, if you think about it. The service that costs 99 for a year ends up saving you money on all those last-minute gifts and things you forgot to buy and dont have time to get to the store for because there are rooms to set up and closets to clean out and food to prepare. Amazon Prime also includes free two-day shipping on more than 50 million items, plus you get access to tons of movies, TV shows, songs, and Kindle e-books.
Save: A trip to Costco
Yes, its going to be crazy. Yes, youre going to have to wait in line. But the stuff you cant find elsewhere or at least all in one place will be worth it. Top of our list: Masterpiece plastic plates and Reflections Silverware. Theyre nicer than your average disposable stuff and youll be grateful when you dont have to do dishes 12 times a day. And dont forget to buy lots of toilet paper, paper towels, and Chunky Artichoke parmesan Dip seriously, youll be happy you did.
Splurge: A cleaning crew
It may feel like an extravagance to hire a cleaning crew to come before your guests arrive or after they leave - or, who are we kidding: both But its an extravagance that will save you time and peace of mind, which is always important, and especially so when family is in town
Save: Your kids
The children may think holiday breaks are for catching up on sleep or TV, but you know better, right? Homes that have to be prepared for holiday guests needs lots of hands to clean out closets and organize pantries.
Splurge: A good set of knives
Or at least one good multipurpose knife. With all that cutting and chopping youre about to do between now and the New Year, its time to get a real knife. Food and Wines best knife is this MAC MTH-80 Professional Series 8-inch Chefs Knife with Dimples, which is 145 on Amazon. They praise its "hard, super-sharp blade" and "simple wooden handle thats extremely comfortable and feels secure in the hand." Their best value knife is the Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chefs Knife, 38 on Amazon, if youre only looking for a mini-splurge.
Save: Cutting board
Yes, it would be lovely to have a giant two-inch-thick butcher board and it would make for nice Instagram pics. But you dont have to spend gobs of money - this Walnut cutting board from Williams Sonoma is 155399 depending on size - to get the function you need. The Spruce broke down the best cutting boards of 2017 and found this 10.5" by 14.5" inch OXO Plastic board to be its best overall choice. The price: 15 at Amazon.
This plastic board from OXO "is a true workhorse," they said. "It is just the right sizea bit larger than a piece of letter size paper - so its ideal for most chopping tasks. The soft, tapered handles on two edges make it easy to grip and carry from your counter to the stove, and because it can go in the dishwasher its ideal for cutting up raw meat and fish." If youd rather have wood, they have several options listed, including a 36 butcher block.
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DIY Solutions To Your Flooring Problems
True story. The wood in our living room is scratched and worn, the dark tile in the kitchen imparts a sort of cave-like feel, and theres unfinished concrete in several of the bedrooms thanks to foundation repair that was done shortly after we bought the house. We could have had the four burly men that peeled away the 10-year-old carpet to jackhammer into the floor lay it back down, but, instead, we took that opportunity to rid ourselves of the it and thanked the guys for sparing us the cost of a dumpster. The idea was to get new floors in soon after, and, well, three years laterhellip;here we are. Still considering our options.
Add to that picture a couple of bathrooms that were tiled in 2004 when textured beige-y brown tiles were popular they were, right?, and we are facing multiple rooms that need new floors. The entire first floor needs new floors, if were being honest.
And while we have examined many, many really, it seems like hundreds of options over the last couple of years, nothing has stuck well enough to actually get to it. Part of the issue is that we dont want to hand over the installation to someone else. While that would probably be the most practical option, its not the most economical, and we tend to like to do things by ourselves. You, too? Then come with us on this journey to find the best DIY solution to our and your flooring dilemmas.
Frankly, anything that starts with "Sand surface" is an immediate turnoff. If they ever made a National Lampoons Renovation Vacation movie, there would undoubtedly be a scene where Chevy Chases Rusty Griswold lost control of the electric sander and major havoc ensued. Thats pretty much what we envision happening around here if a big, hulking sander is involved. That notwithstanding, painted wood floors do look pretty cool.
SF Gate has a good tutorial for painting heavily trafficked wood floors that involves really good preparation so if youre a step-skipper, maybe not for you and high-quality primer, but, honestly, were skeptical about smooth floors that look like the above.
But, were loving the rustic beachy-ness of this look. Our shabby floors are already part of the way there, and if the dogs scratch the surface, it just adds more texture, right?
We first saw blogger Remington Avenues tutorial for painted floors in 2015, which should tell you how long weve been tossing around ideas for our floors. She crafted a stunning painted tile floor using chalk paint and a stencil that created a trendy Moroccan cement tile look.
Stencils have become more readily available and in greater variety since then, and her new tutorial is even more interesting because she used luster epoxy paint, like you would use to paint a garage floor. That spells greater durability, and since multiple children and multiple dogs live in this house, finishes that cant endure kid feet and dog paws are a NO GO.
Should we do it? This would be a jackpot for that cave-like kitchen floor and beige-y brown bathroom tile floors that look just like her "before" floors, ironically.
First, lets get This Old Houses take: "Its hard to imagine a house being cozy without the warmth of wood flooring. The quickest way to get new wood underfoot is to install a floating floor. Unlike traditional solid-wood strips, a floating floor isnt nailed down. Instead, the planks are either glued or snapped together. The planks go down fast, over virtually any material - concrete, plywood, sheet vinyl, even ceramic tile. They have a complete tutorial here.
Now, our thoughts: The advantage to using a floating floor is that its definitely DIY-friendly in comparison to numerous other options because it requires no demolition other than removing baseboards - something we wouldnt have to do if we were painting the existing surfaces, BTW. We would have to put down plywood on the concrete surfaces to make everything flush, but thats not a big deal. The continuity that would be created by laying down one surface throughout the first floor of the house would be a dream given how broken up it currently is. The downside: its a pricier solution than paint, and the price, not surprisingly, goes up with the quality. Whether you are looking at using luxury vinyl planks, laminate, or engineered wood, its an investment.
We just havent been able to get rid of the idea of a soft, cushy carpeted surface in the bedrooms, but were not about to try to put in wall-to-wall carpet on our own. "I wouldnt recommend any homeowner try to install their own wall-to-wall carpeting," said Popular Mechanics. "First, just getting the carpeting into the room is a huge job. Second, precisely cutting it to size takes experience - one wrong cut can ruin the entire piece."
The potential answer: carpet tiles. Oh, we know. We say "carpet tiles," you say "ugly office building," right? Fortunately, carpet tiles have come a long way in terms of design. The carpet tiles below from Flor and these that are are our favorite newer >
The best part: theyre super easy to install. "One 3-inch-diameter dot is placed at each corner of a carpet square, with the sticky side up," they said. "The next square is set in place tight against the first square, and then its pressed down onto the adhesive dots. In the end, the result is a floating floor of carpet squares all stuck together at the corners by adhesive dots."
Actually, this may be the best part: Remember those previously mentioned kids and dogs? They make stains. Lots of stains. If one area of your wall-to-wall carpet gets stained beyond repair, youre out of luck. If the same thing happens to a carpet tile, you rip it up and set another one down. Tempting. Very tempting.
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2017 NAR Profile Can Help Agents Find Buyers And Sellers
We have noted that The 2017 National Association of REALTORSreg; Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers contains valuable information for sellers and their agents as to how buyers find the homes that they ultimately buy. The profile also contains valuable and interesting information as to how both buyers and sellers find the agents that they ultimately use. 87 of buyers used an agent in purchasing their home. That number has increased steadily since 2001 when the figure was 69. 7 of buyers purchased directly from a builder, and 6 bought directly from an owner. Of the 87, how did they find their agent?
Not a lot of "agent shopping" takes place among buyers. 70 interviewed only one agent, 17 interviewed two. So how do you get to be on the interview list? Referrals are far and away the dominant factor. 42 of buyers chose to work with an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or >This might seem like discouraging news for new agents. "What chance do I have of connecting with a buyer if I havent already built a referral base and a list of past clients?" Here, a new agent wants to remember that "friends, neighbors, or > Moreover, there are, just as there always have been, other ways of coming into contact with buyers who may choose to work with you. Some ways work better than others.
6 of buyers found the agent they used as a result of an open house. Another 9 found their agent through a web site. Interestingly, only 2 found the agent that they worked with as a result of walking into or calling an office and meeting the agent who was on duty at the time. In general, "floor time" is not very productive.
Agents who do want to get connected with buyers can prepare themselves so that a contact is more likely to lead to a >Sellers are just as likely as buyers to work with an agent. 90 of sellers had their home listed on MLS. But sellers, too, dont do much "agent shopping." Similar to buyers, 74 interviewed only one agent; just 15 interviewed two. Again, referrals and past business >Other seller contact sources drop into single digits. Interestingly, compared to buyers at 9, only 5 of sellers found their agent through a web site. Again, there are venues that agents who lack a referral or past client list might want to think about. Open houses account for 4 of the contacts that eventuate into a working >Would-be listing agents would do well to note that the most important factor -- 34 -- in choosing a sellers agent was reputation. Sure, its nice to have a track record of sales activity, but there are other aspects to reputation as well. 18 of sellers said that honesty and trustworthiness were the most important factors in considering an agent. Things like attitude and integrity are also components of ones reputation. Agents who want to build a business should pay attention to such things. Word gets around.
Also See: 2017 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information For Agents And Sellers
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Disruption and Accelerated Change In Real Estate
In this time of celebrated disruption and accelerated change, the context for everything, including home buying and selling, is facing disruption and change, globally and locally.
Corporations and governments are struggling to anticipate impact and benefits from disruptive technology while they try to manage change on many fronts at once. How successful they are in your area and in the industries that employ you and your neighbors will determine how sustainable your community, life>
The question that demands an answer is, "Whats that got to do with me and my real estate - my present and future home?"
The recent Toronto Global Forum mdash; the 11th organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas mdash; hosted representatives from 54 countries, including 130 expert speakers and more than 2700 participants. Many were high-profile leaders from governments, academia, public and private sectors, and civil society. The Forum focused on major issues >Redefining Globalization in reaction to significant political and economic volatility around the world.
Redefining globalization involves transformation of the concept to "promote an atmosphere of shared prosperity," according to opening remarks by Louis Audet, President and CEO of Cogeco. Many Forum speakers provided insight into leaders responsibility to ensure the economy works globally and benefits all.
"If you do not think technology is affecting your business, youre dead," said Mark Wiseman, Senior Managing Director at BlackRock Inc., during a panel discussion titled Global Economic Outlook: The Search for Growth. "[Technology] is affecting business around the world."
Wiseman illustrated his point by >
"The value in the bicycle is not in the bikes or in the value in environmental pressure off mass transit," explained Wiseman. "The value is in data as owners know where every [bicycle] is ridden and by whom. Investors and marketers are willing to pay a lot for that data. Owners are not in the bicycle business, but in the data business."
The Forum, a meeting of ingenious, globally-focused minds, proved that if we are not receptive as individuals, little or no progress will be made as this new industrial revolution rolls over us all.
Speaker and participant discussions at The Forum revealed 5 challenges mdash; problems and opportunities mdash; for corporations and governments facing technology-induced transformational change that can be mirrored in our lives:
1. Redefining Context Jim Barber, President of UPS International, explained that UPS now has 450,000 employees and automation has not hit their sector yet. "If we rest for more than a minute, we would be dead."
To illustrate the disruptive effect of technology, another speaker used the example of the 40,000 elevator operators in New York City who were displaced by push-button automation in 1915. Then, he posed a key question, "As corporation and political leaders, how will we treat those who will be left behind?"
- How prepared are you for Automated Intelligence AI and machine intelligence changes in your industry and workplace?
- How sustainable is your income?
- How could you use your real estate as a financial partner if your income were disrupted?
2. Redefining Risk Originally, the benefits of globalization "took for granted the world would come closer together." The key risk for the economy was Wall Street as was evident from the financial collapse of 2008. Now, Brexit and similar geopolitical events represent risk. Many still perceive risk in an archaic way, but risk is now arising "from behavior and geopolitical reaction." The world always faced disruption, but only in one sector at a time, like the textile revolution. Now, there is disruption in every sector at once. Unprecedented disruptions are changing the way we work, live, play, dreamhellip;.
Which risks would threaten real estate ownership, either present or future, for you?
3. Redefining Change "Change is 10X faster than in the Industrial Revolution, 300X the scale, and 3000X the impact of the industrial revolution," reported Patricia Meredith, Fellow at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. "These trends are gaining magnitude and impact to create monumental change. Combine this with climate change...and this is a truly complex and uncertain environment."
One suggestion for harnessing technology lies in being courageous, innovative, and curious.
If this unprecedented change is forcing corporations and governments to make decisions in spite of significant uncertainty, dont be surprised that individuals will share the same fate.
- What decisions might this change force on you?
- What role or roles could your real estate play in solutions and opportunities for sustaining your chosen life>
4. Redefining Corporate Thinking Corporate thinking is notoriously short-term while that of consumers and other investors can be the opposite. Wiseman shared a corporate decision-making study which reported that "55 of CEOs would forgo a project if it meant they would miss their quarterly stock value by 1 cent."
The cost to society of corporate short-term thinking is estimated at a trillion dollars. A shift to long-term thinking would have significant impact.
"The issue is systemic... Short term behavior caused the economic collapse, but in the decade since, thinking is more short-term," said Wiseman who explained that the neglected long-term thinking includes issues regarding the environment and the future of displaced employees.
Are you a short-term thinker when it comes to real estate? Real estate buyers who concentrate on the fleeting-glory of decor over the long-term benefits of location and quality of construction are short-term thinkers.
5. Redefining Paradigms During the "Navigating a World of Disruption" panel, Jonathan Crane, Chief Commercial Officer of Ipsoft, attributed the escalated, expansive growth of mega companies like Google and Amazon to the fact that they "did not do paradigm shifts, but paradigm leaps"
Cranes perspective on AI is that it will remove drudgery and monotony from the workplace, but not jobs. Work and careers will be transformed, expanded, or elevated. Disagreeing with the stated figure of "47 of jobs being at risk to technology," Crane stressed that transformation will hit 100 of jobs.
- If your job were transformed by technology would you still be qualified to receive that income?
- Real estate location has long been valued based on its proximity to "the best schools." That trend continues, but now "best" means forward-thinking, technology-based education that creates valued talent. When you buy real estate mdash; even if you dont have school-aged children mdash; do you seek out property near the best schools to take advantage of their market-value boost?
Holly Benson, Managing Partner, Infosys Consulting Inc. discussed the tendency to "rush to automation and deal with people later." She shared two insights that ring true in even the most intense vortex of change:
- "Never attribute to malice what can be attributed, in the full sense of the word, to ignorance."
- "Never assume that people automatically know what to do just because they have a title."
- In future columns, well continue to explore technology, disruption, and much more to discover what this all has to do with you and your real estate - present and future.
- Check out the 2016 Global Forum: "Explore New Markets At a Global Forum"
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The Missing Middle: Situation Dire In Toronto; Optimistic In Vancouver
In the Greater Toronto Area, 45 per cent of housing units are single-detached homes, 35 per cent are apartment buildings and just 20 per cent are known as the "missing middle" -- including townhouses, triplexes and low-rise buildings.
But soon, demographics suggest that two fast-growing age groups -- those in the 35 to 44 age bracket and those who are 65 -- will both be looking for the same kind of housing in that missing middle. A report from the Ryerson City Building Institute and Urbanation says that few of these projects are underway and there wont be enough to satisfy demand.
The report says that condo development in Toronto reached its highest level ever this year, but that most of the new homes in the pipeline are in buildings that are more than five-storeys tall.
"As millennials get older and seek larger spaces, and baby boomers downsize from detached houses, we need housing units that meet the needs and economic realities of these important demographic cohorts," says the report. "Given the current housing affordability context and projected population increases, the GTA will require more family-oriented housing units in mid-rise and low-rise buildings in comparison to the stock built during the last several years."
"Housing options for people living in the GTA have been either large expensive low-rise dwellings or smaller high-rise condos," says Bryan Tuckey, CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association.
"The GTA is in danger of becoming the next London, Hong Kong or New York City -- highly desirable cities, but unaffordable for most people."
The report says there are 105,000 condo apartments under development in the GTA, of which 94 per cent are pre-sold. At least half are owned by investors and will end up serving the rental market.
The price gap between detached houses and condos has tripled since 2007, from about 200,000 to 600,000. The average condo apartment in the GTA is currently selling for about 500,000, while the average detached home is around 1.1 million.
"Growth in the 35-44 age cohort will be higher than it has been in decades," says the report. "With an average first-time buyer age of 36, the 35-44 age bracket is one in which many individuals both move into homeownership and begin to seek larger, more family-friendly housing." In addition, more seniors will be looking for options "with enough space and bedrooms to accommodate their life>But the report says just three per cent of all condo apartments that will come on the market during the next five years are missing middle homes, especially in the downtown core of Toronto where the need is the greatest.
"The proportion of condo units with two or more bedrooms has been declining over time through the GTA -- a troubling trend given the surge of households that will be seeking family-friendly housing over the next 10 years. Only 41 per cent of units currently under construction or in preconstruction have at least two bedrooms, down from 67 per cent in buildings completed during the 1990s," says the report.
Tuckey blames the situation on "complicated and restrictive government policies, already lengthy yet still worsening approval processes, a shortage of shovel-ready and approved land on which to build, escalating land prices and the growing issue of NIMBYism Not In My Backyard."
The Ryerson/Urbanation report says, "If these construction trends continue, the proportion of family-appropriate housing available in location-efficient neighbourhoods close to transit, employments, school and services will decrease and affordability will further erode.
"This increasing demand for family-sized units means that young families will have to drive to qualify for any type of unit, not just detached housing. This may also contribute to pressure on greenfield lands and urban sprawl."
But theres a better story in other Canadian cities. Tuckey says Montreal "has embraced the power of this missing middle -- developers are building low-rise dwellings, mostly three-storey flats and mid-rise apartment buildings within the city and in the suburbs."
In Vancouver, like Toronto, "Strong economic growth has created rising labour demand and consumer confidence side effects, while net migration and a wave of millennials entering their household-forming years have rounded out a perfect storm of demand-side momentum," says a report by the British Columbia Real Estate Association BCREA. "The supply of resale homes has plunged to decade lows. This has led to continuing upward pressure on home prices" because supply has not kept up with demand.
But the report says multi-family starts in Metro Vancouver have recently surged, up to 55 per cent above the 10-year average. There are an estimated 19,700 multi-family starts expected this year and another 19,000 units forecast in 2019.
Although these are mostly not missing middle projects, BCREA says they will have a positive impact on housing availability and affordability because of three key reasons: renters will transfer into homeownership, increasing the rental supply; move-up or downsizing buyers will increase housing supply when they put their homes on the market; and more investors will buy and increase the condo rental supply.
"The aggregate increase in the housing stock can also help dilute the impact of migrants, non-income seeking investors and first-time buyers/renters on the cost of housing," says BCREA. "This surge in multi-family completions isnt the only solution for housing affordability in Metro Vancouver. However, a marked increase in aggregate supply can move the needle toward market balance and help slow the pace of housing price/rent growth in the region."
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2017 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information For Agents And Sellers
One of the most useful research projects of the National Association of REALTORSreg; NAR is the annual survey of homebuyers and sellers. It is particularly useful because it shows sellers and their agents what works and what sources buyers use to find their new homes.
This is the 36th year that NAR has conducted an annual survey of those who have purchased and sold homes. The most recent version 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers became available in November of this year. The information is based on answers to a 131-question survey mailed to a random sample of 145,800 consumers who purchased a home between July 2016 and June 2017. Names and addresses were provided by Experian, a company that maintains an extensive database of recent homebuyers that is derived from county records. After accounting for undeliverable surveys, there was a 5.6 percent response rate.
In 2016, first-time homebuyers constituted 32 percent of the market. That was the lowest participation rate by first-time buyers since 1987 30. This year, 2017, the first-time buyer rate was 34. Geographically, the highest percentage of first-time buyers was in the northeast 43. Over the years the historic norms for the country have been in the 40 range. As more low-downpayment mortgage programs come into the market, there may be a good chance of returning to those norms.
The most useful information for sellers and their agents is to be found in the section on the home search process. While the survey results are not significantly different from those of recent years, the trends continue. For example, this year 86 percent of buyers said that they used the internet frequently during the search process. In 2003 that number was only 42. This past year 55 of buyers said that they frequently used a mobile or tablet application. That is a newer and growing phenomenon. Two years ago it was 41 . 68 of buyers said that they frequently >Forty-two percent of buyers went to the internet as the first step in the home search process. 17 contacted a real estate agent first, and 6 began by driving through neighborhoods looking for homes for sale. How can driving around be an option? Half the homes purchased were within 15 miles of the buyers previous residence. Interestingly, 8 of home buyers began the process by going to a bank or mortgage company.
Buyers use multiple sources of information in the process of looking for a home. Far and away the most used sources are on-line websites 95 and real estate agents 89. Mobile or tablet applications 74 have replaced yard signs as the third most used source of information. Still though, 48 of buyers indicate that yard signs are one of their sources of information. Only 15 of buyers indicate that they used newspaper ads as an information source. A mere 2 said that they garnered information from television.
While there are a lot of intriguing data about the sources of information used by prospective homebuyers, certainly the most > This year the information source that was highest in that category 49 was the internet. Agents are second at 31. Note that this is not to say that buyers bought their home through the internet. The typical scenario would be that a consumer sees the home on the internet, and then contacts his or her agent. 88 of those who used the internet to search purchased their home through an agent.
The differences in a little more than a decade are fascinating. In 2001, 48 percent of buyers learned about their home through a real estate agent, and only 8 percent found their home on the internet. The times they have changed.
Some things, though, remain persistently the same -- or close to it. In 2001, a yard sign was the third most likely source of information leading to the home that was purchased 15. And this year? It is still the third leading source at 7, but this is now the fourth time in the survey history that it has been lower than double digits. Print media may not be dead, but it has shrunk to insignificance in this arena. In 2001, 7 of homebuyers found the home they ultimately purchased through a newspaper ad; in 2017, it was only 1. It has been that way for five years now. Fewer than 1 found their home through a home book or magazine.
The 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows what works. It is a valuable resource.
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Stylish Trends For Modern Holiday Dcor
If your idea of holiday decor still centers around popcorn on a string and ornaments that have seen better days, it may be time for an upgrade. Todays hottest holiday decor trends offer modern hues and >
Unless were talking about red-based plaid or your Great-Great-Grandmas Gingerbread Man comforter - may not necessarily impact a holiday feel. But rich fabrics like the velvet and faux fur being shown by West Elm this season bring the luxe, helping transform your space into a winter wonderland. "The retailer declared velvet lsquo;this seasons lust-have, offering quilts, duvets, throw pillows, and blankets in the textured fabric. And who could ignore their gorgeous newnbsp;faux-fur throws," asks MyDomaine.
This hot color is another surprising yet ultra-chic choice for your holiday house. "Twas the year of blush pink. Unsurprisingly, trendy galsnbsp;are swapping their red ribbons, buntings and blooms for something something rosier... and much less expected," said PureWow. All you need is some silk ribbon tied around some greenery to achieve a special look for your stairway.
Glittery white trees
Frosted branches, mercury glass ornaments, and twinkling lights create a glowing centerpiece to your holiday deacute;cor. Keeping everything light and bright and effervescent makes for a show-stopping look that is both brilliant and calming.
If thats a little too sedate for you, try this tip from Elle Deacute;cor and "make white your base color" with pops of red.
Is the traditional red and green color scheme on its way out? Never. But, this year a festive blue hue is making a strong argument for holiday domination. "Its all about the blue," said MyDomaine of West Elms luxurious take on this years holiday trends. "While red and green made an appearance in the form of an evergreen tree, ornament, or flower arrangement, almost every page featured a deep jewel-tone blue. Think dining chairs, pillows, and even dinnerware."
Black and white
Another color combination is bringing more interest to the holiday home. "One of the hottest 2017 holiday decoration trends is black and white," said Connecticut in >
We love how black and white brings beautiful >
Make your tree a focal point with these modern shapes and metallic hues.
But dont stop there Ornaments look great in other places throughout the home, too, like over the dining room table. "Dont restrict magnificent baubles and sparkly snowflakes to the tree when it comes to your Christmas decor ideas," said Real Simple. "Accentuate overhead lighting with shimmery decorations and stick to a fresh winter palette like pale blue and silver. Finish it off with an elegant satin ribbon gently dangling from the chandelier."
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Technology for the Betterment of the Real Estate Industry
Far from being a threat, technology is an asset for the real estate industry. Specific services and applications can enable agents to better serve their clients, be they landlords, tenants, employers or employees. That ability, thanks to the resources agents can leverage, can ease an otherwise stressful process; a process that has too much uncertainty and too little >
I refer to traditional methods of listing space for rent, as well as the way people search for roommates. Agents can be very helpful on both fronts, provided they have access to a site that eliminates the guesswork of renting or sharing space with someone. Agents can offer their expertise regarding a potential match between two prospective roommates, in addition to doing something similar for corporate clients.
In this situation, technology makes a real estate agent more >
How, then, can real estate agents add value to this process?
In a word, experience; meaning they can screen these candidates for an individual or a company, where an extra set of eyes can focus with greater intensity on nuances others might miss or not know to review in the first place.
According to Steven Yos, Founder of WeRoomies:
"Real estate agents are important advisors, ones we should not overlook when using a tool that matches users based on similar interests and compatibility in general. Agents respect a commodity such as transparency -- they seek to ensure people can learn more about one another before entering into a rental agreement -- because that advantage is indispensable to improving quality of life. It is crucial to empowering individuals to live well without living expensively."
"By offering a social network of this kind, in which users may chat on a one-to-one basis or join a group chat or create their own, accuracy becomes the priority it must be. Accuracy of outcome, where roommates are more than people who share the same physical space, is critical to establishing domestic tranquility."
I agree with that sentiment, and I second those remarks, because technology is a tool. It is a tool that experts can use with an intensity all their own; applying their knowledge to something that they alone can analyze for the good of a site or a community of individuals.
We need to welcome technology, lest we ignore its benefits or fail to benefit the needs of the very people real estate agents serve.
The solution Yos speaks of, which is free to use and easy to navigate, promises to revolutionize a multitude of industries.
Real estate professionals can lead this movement.
Lewis Fein is a writer and commentator about the real estate industry. Based in Los Angeles, you may contact him at .
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Expert Advice for Styling Beautiful Home Photography
Annette Joseph shares her tips for styling beautiful home photography and finding the soul of a room.
Atlanta-based photostylist/producer Annette Joseph possesses an intangible skill that keeps us hooked on our favorite shelter magazine publications: the ability to breathe life into interior spaces. My first encounter with Joseph was at a private mock photo styling session where I watched her artistry in action. It was at that moment I realized how much I took for granted the effort that goes into making an interior space magazine-ready.
I often look for her name in the styling credits as I read some of my favorite shelter magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens, Atlanta Magazine, and Renovation >
Erika Ward: How do people and pets effect the overall mood conveyed in a >
Annette Joseph: Interior shots that include people in this case, the homeowner and pets truly speak to me; they are the key elements that essentially bring the photo to life.
Each shelter magazine has its preference regarding the use of life>
I will say that once you introduce life into the shot it complicates the process and becomes more time consuming. Nevertheless, people and pets are my preference, and they add an element of fun.
Photo by Annette Joseph - Browse home design ideas
EW: How does styling a photo for a magazine differ from staging a home for sale?
AJ: I have >
Photo by Annette Joseph - Look for home design design inspiration
EW: What are some of the key elements that make a space feel welcoming in photographs?
AJ: A sense of order is very important in a photograph; great composition, balance, and warmth are a key factors. But that is not all - its not that simple. When I work with talented photographers to make a beautiful image, it is collaborative and artistic. A photo needs a soul, and finding that soul in the home is what I do. It is not a tangible thing.
Photo by Annette Joseph - Look for home design pictures
EW: Give an example where you >
AJ: There are times when the flow of a space is not ideal, but most of the spaces we photograph are beautiful to start. When the flow is not ideal the camera angle is actually more important than the styling.
Photo by Annette Joseph - Look for home design pictures
It is very difficult to >
EW: Why should an interior designer consider using a stylist when shooting photographs for a portfolio?
AJ: When a potential client sees your portfolio, they should want to live in a space that you designed. This feeling should resonate through every photo in your portfolio no matter the room.
Photo by Annette Joseph - More home design photos
A stylist can help your client to translate comfort, function, and great design without them having to physically visit the space.
Simply put, designers and stylist work hand in hand to tell a story and evoke feelings through interior photography.
Interested in styling your home? Start with a small vignette to gain confidence. Many of the items pictured above are pieces you may already own.
With a wall mirror, stylish lamp, books, vases, and flowers you can create a gorgeous feature in any room of your home.
Photo by Annette Joseph - More home design photos
Annette Josephs photostyling tips and tricks:
1. Photograph your rooms in slices. Looking at your room from a photograph gives you an objective view of the space.
2. When photographing multiple rooms, use a color thread throughout each room to make the photo story come together.
3. Less is more.
Photo by Annette Joseph - Search home design pictures
4. If you like tchotchkes, corral them in a tray for a cleaner look.
5. When making a space look lived-in, pull the chair out just a little from the dining room table. When shooting a bed ruffle the sheets a bit.
6. Instead of purchasing flowers from a prepackaged bouquet, buy a mass of the same flower.
7. Continue to examine each photo for equal weight and balance.
- Stylish Plant Stands Hold Fresh Blooms
- Desk Lamps in Every >
- Picture-Perfect Bedroom Designs
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10 Holiday Gift Must-Buys From HomeGoods
Truth be told, its not hard to find a reason to go to HomeGoods. But, ever since we heard that the company is continuing to pay workers at Puerto Rico stores along with Marshalls and TJ MAXX that remain closed, were doing as much of our holiday shopping as possible there. Thankfully, finding thing to purchase is not a challenge not purchasing every one of them for yourself is.
HomeGoods a holiday bonanza right now. Were talking shelf upon shelf and table upon table of every holiday item you can imagine. Wreaths. Santa figurines. Holiday-scented candles. Ornaments. Reindeers. Trees of every size, color, and texture you can imagine. And thats just the themed stuff. For your gift-giving pleasure, weve rounded up a list of 10 holiday must-haves for teachers, neighbors, colleagues, friends, family, and, of course, yourself.
Choose your Santa. Any Santa or tree or bunny. Prices start at just 6.99.
Have a name-brand fan in your life? The festive tablecloth from Kate Spade is just 24.99, and the colorful mugs are 3.99 each.
Oven mitts and kitchen towels may not be what you think about when you think hostess gifts, but you will when you see this cute assortment of themed items, ranging in price from 5.99 to 9.99.
Hello, Christmas Day O.J. Wouldnt it taste so much better poured from this 14.99 jug? The host you gift it to will certainly think so.
Whats even better than a festive holiday platter? One that is UNBREAKABLE. Buy a few of these great-looking plaid plastic platers. At 9.99, youll definitely want to keep one in your kitchen.
Dont forget the little ones. Stuffed animals start at just a few bucks.
Gift pretty without spending a pretty penny. This sparkly bowl set is only 6.99 and the martini glasses 3.99 apiece.
You might not have explored HomeGoods food section, but you definitely should, especially at this time of year. You can find great baskets perfect for your fave foodie, exotic jams, crackers, and gourmet sweets if youd rather make your own, and items like this 9.99 trio of hot chocolates that you may just want to buy 10 of.
Impress the millennial pink lover in your life with this 179 tree.
Or, soothe the dark soul of your moody teenager with this black tree, also 179.
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3 Tips for Aspiring First-Time Homebuyers
After years of renting, you are more than ready to take the plunge into home ownership. You dream of having a cozy casa to call your own, and you cannot wait to start the house hunting process.
While looking for your first home is exciting, it can also be stressful as unexpected bumps in the road tend to pop up. To avoid as many negative curveballs as you can, keep the following cautionary tips in mind:
Get your finances in order
Many Realtors will not work with home buyers until they have been pre-approved for a loan. In order to be sure that you qualify for a decent amount, spend some time getting your financial house in order. As Bank Rate notes, start by checking your credit score and report, since it will be a key factor in how much you will qualify for, as well as determining your interest rate. You can use a free credit score checking service like CreditKarma, or if you have a credit card like Discover, you should be able to check your FICO score there as well.
In addition, get copies of the actual reports from these companies that show all of your lines of credit as well as the reasons for your score, and go over everything with a fine-toothed comb. Look for mistakes, unpaid accounts and any collections, and if there are any issues, start the repair process at least six months before buying a home. Having a high debt to income ratio may also negatively impact your FICO score; if this is true for you, do all you can to pay down your credit card bills and other debts before shopping for a home.
Choose your neighborhood carefully
Some first-time home buyers are so focused on getting a certain >
Check to see how close needed amenities are, like grocery stores, gas stations, coffee shops and hospitals, and do a practice commute to see how long it takes you to get to work. You can also check the local crime stats, and if you drive through it at different times of the day, you can check for unexpected noises and activity levels; like a busy fire station nearby or a sports field where high school bands go to practice.
Make sure technology is working
Once you start the actual home search, you may be pleased to see that some of the homes come with innovative features like a home security camera system, thermostats and other cool forms of technology. Rather than assuming that everything works, either check these gadgets yourself to be sure they are functioning properly, or if you have made an offer on the home, ask your home inspector to determine that the tech is in good working order.
If you find that the security system and other tech is broken or woefully outdated, you can either ask the sellers to change it out to a newer system, or you can ask for a credit so you can purchase a new home security camera system or other tech when you move in. If you go with the latter option, you might want to check out HD security cameras and other home security systems from Lorex Technology; the company offers DIY high definition surveillance systems that are affordable, easy to install and do not require you to sign a contract.
By doing your financial and neighborhood homework and remembering to never assume that anything in a potential home is working properly, your house hunting experience is sure to be more fun and fruitful than stressful and overwhelming.
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Condominium Owners Must Pay Their Condo Fees
Qustion: I am the President of a large condominium association, and most of our owners pay their condominium fees each and every month on time. However, one owner is refusing to pay the condominium fee, claiming the association is not performing certain functions properly, and the owner is attempting to offset the fee as leverage to get the condominium to do that work. Does the owner have the right to withhold the fee under these circumstances?
Answer: A condominium unit owner, in my opinion, never has the right to withhold the condominium fee -- whether or not the association legitimately owes money or some other duty to the owner.
If one unit owner decides unilaterally to withhold the monthly fee, this can put a serious strain on the condominium associations budget. More importantly, if one owner is permitted to withhold the fee, every other owner in the complex will be able to claim the same right, and clearly this will raise havoc within the association. The condominium association has certain monthly obligations. It has to pay taxes, it has to pay insurance, it has to pay a water bill, and it has to pay a management fee. And of course it has to pay its attorney. Every year, the board of directors of the association -- often in conjunction with the property manager -- develop a projected budget, estimating what the annual income will be for the next year, and attempting to estimate the operating costs for the coming year. These estimates are often based on the past two or three years history of the association, and of course the association also has to budget an adequate amount of money each year for reserves.
Reserves are an important part of any condominium budget. Every association must have adequate reserves available in the event an emergency occurs, or an unforseen problem occurs that will necessitate a considerable expenditure of money. Most owners will acknowledge that they would rather pay 5 or 10 a month each and every month into a reserve account, than be hit with a special assessment of 2,000-3,000 or more because there are not sufficient reserves.
Thus, if the projected income on a month to month basis is not reached because one or more owners refuse to pay their fee, this begins to put a serious strain on the overall budget of the association.
There is a case in California that is instructive to all condominium association owners, property managers, and boards of directors.
An owner refused to pay the condominium associations assessments, because he alleged that the condominium association had violated the condominium documents and had committed wrongful acts when it performed certain repair work to his unit.
The court in California recognized there is generally a right of setoff, which can be defined as follows: "A" owes 100 to "B," but "B" owes 75.00 to "A." In our example, "A" really owes 25.00 to "B," and "A" can withhold setoff the balance of the 100.00 owed because "B" owes "A" that money.
However, the court also determined that if the claim of setoff defeats public policy, such a setoff would not be permitted.
The language of the court in discussing the public policy of a condominium assessment is very instructive:
Because homeowner associations would cease to exist without regular payment of assessment fees, the legislature has created procedures for associations to quickly and efficiently seek >Thus, as a member of your board of directors, you must take prompt action to collect the delinquent fees owed by all unit owners. The collection procedures vary among the various states, but you and your property managers cannot permit the delinquencies to continue to stay on the books.
There is another important legal concept in condominium and homeowner association law, namely uniformity. A board of directors cannot treat one unit owner in a different manner than they treat other owners. The board cannot be arbitrary and capricious in its application of the laws, but must enforce the laws uniformly across the board. If the board permits one owner to stay delinquent, all of the other unit owners may soon claim the same right, and thus your association will begin to have serious financial consequences.
This does not mean to suggest that unit owners have no rights. On the contrary, they certainly can file suit against the association, and in those jurisdiction where mediation or arbitration is provided, can request a dispute resolution mechanism in an effort to settle any outstanding matters. But unit owners cannot be permitted to let their condominium fees lapse.
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Realty Times Acquired by Industry Visionary
Real estate news portal poised for rapid growth and digital innovation
November 7, 2017 -- Realty Times, one of Americas largest and most trusted real estate news portals, announced today that it has been acquired by a new leadership group led by industry veteran Mr. John Giaimo.
The new company has extensive plans to leverage its news legacy, while introducing new programs and partnerships with many of the top players in the real estate sector.
"Our goal is to align a variety of groups with community-based initiatives that benefits everyone involved in the real estate process. This includes nonprofits, homebuyers and agents, through the innovative Agent with Heart program, as well as creating programs to connect more millennial buyers with leading-edge digital technology," explained Mr. Giaimo.
As part of the acquisition, Realty Times will also be able to work with real estate companies to introduce and expand product offerings through bundled services and marketing expertise, both through the media portal and its real estate focused call center.
Mr. Giaimo is transitioning into his new role with Realty Times immediately.
About Realty Times: As one of Americas largest and most trusted real estate news portals, Realty Times connects buyers, sellers, brokers, nonprofits and agents with everything real estate >
Full Story >
Gifts That Give Back To Fire, Flood, Shooting Victims, And Charities Around The World
We do a "gifts that give back post" every year about this time, providing a look at those presents that offer a charitable component. This year, more than ever, people are looking to make a difference with their gifts. Floods, fires, mass shootings - its been a year filled with heartache for so many. The options we have chosen can help change a life while supporting companies and organizations that are doing good all around the world.
Support for Puerto Rico flood victims via T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods
Many of us need little or no prodding to head to T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods throughout the year, and holiday time is no different. But the news that these three stores are continuing to pay displaced workers of stores that remain closed as a result of the Puerto Rico floods means we may just be doing all of our shopping holiday and otherwise here in support of these generous efforts. Hurricane Maria killed more thannbsp;50 people, and approximately 30 percent of Puerto Ricos population is reportedly still without water and 25 percent without electricity.
Massachusetts-based corporation TJX is getting a lot of praise for supporting itsnbsp;employeesnbsp;in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
"The owner of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods confirmed to WBZ-TV it is stillnbsp;payingnbsp;workers at stores that remain closed because of hurricane damage," said CBS Sacramento. "We believe it is the right thing for us to do under these circumstances," a TJX spokeswoman said.
Donations to aid Sutherland Springs shooting victims
One of the knocks on charities set up to help after natural disasters or other tragedies is the unknown of how much actually reaches the people in need. Texas-based grocery store H-E-B is known for its generous charitable outreach, and its response to the Sutherland Springs shooting is no different. They have pledged to donate 150,000 in support of the victims of the First Baptist Church shooting and have also set up a donation site, with 100 of the donations going directly to those affected.
Sonoma County fire victim help
Public Good is a clearing house for charities to aid those impacted by the fire that killed more than 40 people and decimated whole neighborhoods in Sonoma County, CA. Donations are split between "recommended, IRS-verified nonprofits," they said, including Community Foundation Sonoma County, Convoy Of Hope, Direct >
South Asia flood help
South Asia has also experienced devastating floods recently, with more than 1,000 killed during the summer. There are several ways to make a difference for those affected, including donating to Goonj, which "aims to reach 75,000 families throughout rural India," said In>
Oxfam "is helping those affected by the floods to get clean drinking water, hygienenbsp;kits, shelter, and food supplies while also working alongside local partners to prevent future crises from emerging," said In>
Elon Musk of Tesla made news with his pledge to return Puerto Rico to power with solar power and has already installed "Teslas Powerpack commercial energy storage batteries and solar panels, restoring power to Hospital del Nintilde;o,nbsp;a childrens hospital in San Juan," said Big Think.
So, get out there and buy Teslas for everyone in your circle Or, purchase a few soy candles fromnbsp;The Starling Project, which "help providenbsp;solar energy to under-resourced countries across the globe, granting needy communitiesnbsp;access to electricity, clean water, safety, health, education, and more," said Womans Day.nbsp;
Zebra Wood Fillmore Wi>
Not only are these headphones from LSTN, a speaker and headphone company, cool and useful, but the innovative company actually puts its profits toward providing hearing aids to those in need. "So far, its helped over 20,000 people hear in the U.S., Peru, Kenya, Uganda, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic," said Womans Day.nbsp;
Brooklyn Candle Studio Love Potion 9
This fragrant candle with notes of jasmine and lavender from Brooklyn Candle Studio was a favorite project before the horrific events of Charlottesville. In light of the tragedy, the company decided to direct a portion of its proceeds to the ACLU.
"As a graduate of UVA, the events in Charlottesville obviously hit very close to home, and I am absolutely appalled by them," said Tamara Mayne, founder of Brooklyn Candle Studio and a 2006 graduate of UVA. "As a woman, a mother, an Asian-American, and as an employer of woman and minorities, and, frankly, as a human being, I feel that I have a duty to give back by helping those fighting for equality here in the United States. I would like this candle to serve as a reminder to choose love, not hate."
Support women free from the Indian sex slave trade with your gift of colorful printed punjammies from Sudara.org, loose fit and 100-percent rayon pajama pants "made proudly in India by women working to forge a new path, free from sex slavery," said Real Simple. The punjammies are "inspired by the beauty, colors and textures seen throughout the local culture and are crafted by brave women in the community who wish to remain free from the trade they escaped," according to the website.
Conscious Step Sock Collection
Socks have grown in popularity and are no longer considered a throwaway gift. Make them even more impactful with socks from Conscious Step that are stylish, unisex, comfortable soft organic cotton, and created under fair trade conditions. "The money from each collection purchased goes to three causes," said Real Simple. "The yellow and black pair donates the equivalent of two books to schoolchildren in Asia, the argyle pair provides 18 months of safe water for a person in need, and the red and black pair raises awareness around the issue of poverty."
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How To Create An Enjoyable Outdoor Space On a Budget
The lawn and landscape outside your home can be your own personalized creation, and it does not have to be expensive. It is through the effort of creating what you want within your limitations ndash; both financial and physical ndash; that you come to love the space you craft. By learning frugal methods to care for your lawn and landscape, you can have the lawn you want within the budget you can afford.
By installing native plants, mulching appropriately and minimizing the size of your actual lawn, you can save a lot of money on maintenance and watering. Your local Master Gardener group, or the local city government, will likely have information on xeriscaping for your area. Lush green lawns are certainly beautiful and pleasant to play on, but they are also resource intensive. Unless you are one of the lucky few that live in an area with heavy rainfall, you will spend large amounts of money keeping a large lawn alive.nbsp;According to Bankrate.com, a 4,000 square foot lawn takes an average of 2,500 gallons of water a week to stay green, or about 400 a year in water costs.
Cost Effective Lawn Care Tools
Once you have minimized your lawn space, you can determine exactly what tools you need to care for your landscape. If the lawn is small enough, a push reel mower may be enough. Push mowers can be hard to use if you have physical limitations, though. Electric push mowers are also another excellent option. Older models used to require an extension cord, but newer models are often cord-free, according to Naturersquo;s Finest Seed. Other accessories, like leaf blowers, can also ease your cleanup and make for a nicer looking landscape. Electric models are not terribly expensive,nbsp;and can offer a quick solution to sidewalk clutter.nbsp;
Compost Organic Waste
Composting is a wonderful way to recycle your food scraps into valuable fertilizer or top soil. Small bags of compost can be expensive and it seems silly to pay so much when you can just make your own. Pre-made compost containers are always an option, but you do not have to spend a lot of money if you have a little out-of-the-way space to make a pile. Chicken wire and wood scraps are enough to cordon off a small area for dumping your organic waste, including lawn clippings, food scraps, leaves and anything else that naturally decays. Remember to turn the pile every month or so, and eventually you will have your own fertilizer.
Be Water Wise
Water is one of the greatest expenses for the home gardener. Water conservation is in everyonersquo;s best interest, and local city governments will often have information on how to conserve water across your entire home. Take the time to learn about minimizing the water use in your lawn, and it will save you money for the foreseeable future.nbsp;
Going green with your yard is great, but if done well it can also add to the value of your home. SFGate.com notes that good landscaping with a coherent layout and plan can add from 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent to the value of your home. On a 300,000 home, that can add up to 38,100 in value.
Beautiful lawns and landscapes do not have to be expensive. By adopting the above practices, you can begin creating the landscape you want within your budget. Not only will you save money, you will also do the environment a favor as well.
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Solutions To Saving Money On Your Next Move
Buying a house and moving in is gonna cost you. Theres no way around it. Right? Well, actually, there may just be a way to make it not quite so painful. A willingness to negotiate and put in a little work plus a little inside info on special deals you can take advantage of can help you cut some costs. Here are eight ways to save money on your move and move in.
1. Dont take it all with you
Furniture youre no longer in love with or appliances like washers and dryers or the fridge you have in the garage can be a pain to move. You can potentially save money and time and hassle by including them in your home sale. First-time buyers or someone moving from out of state may appreciate your old stuff far more than you, and you dont have to pay to haul it to your next place.
2. Leave the flat screen
If you have a mounted flat screen TV thats at least a few years old, consider leaving it behind too. The cost of taking it down and repairing the wall behind it plus the care involved in moving it might not be worth it. Flat-screen technology is always improving while costs are coming down, so its a good excuse to buy something bigger and better without spending a lot.
3. Negotiate everything
If youve been looking for a house or have bought one before, youre probably already aware of closing costs. But you might not be aware of how much you can negotiate with your lender.
"Shop around before choosing a mortgage lender, but dont stop there," said Bankrate. "When you receive your good faith estimatenbsp; of closing costs, or GFE, the negotiation hasnt ended." This itemized list of estimated closing costs includes lenders fees as well as items such as appraisal charges and title insurance premiums.
"The lender or broker charges some fees, and third parties charge others. The first step is to find out which are loan origination fees and which are third-party fees. Dont guess. Ask the lender or broker."
Bankrate advises that while "some items are non-negotiable: taxes, city and county stamps, recording fees, prorated interest and reserves," negotiating on others that can "be waived or reduced" can save you money."
4. Barter for services
Need a handyman and have appliances or furniture youre getting rid of? You just might be able to make a deal. Ask around for referrals and then introduce a barter system into the equation during your first conversation. You might be surprised what you can get for what youve already got.
5. Move Smart
Once youre out of college, or maybe out of your first post-college apartment, thinking about renting a U-Haul and moving yourself or with a few good friends seems less than desirable. But if youre willing to sweat a little ok, a lot you can save a bundle. Just remember two important things to entice and thank your friends: Pizza. And beer.
If you dont want to do the whole thing on your own, think of ways you can save by doing a hybrid move:
- Do the packing and unpacking yourself
- Have everything on one floor. Stairs can add considerably to the cost of a move.
- Pare down. Maybe you dont need to bring all that stuff with you. Selling it will earn you a few bucks and save you a few more.
6. Consider moving and storage hybrid options
A company like PODSnbsp; or U-Packnbsp; might be a solution for you if you need self storage wrapped into your move. Essentially, the company drops off a mobile storage unit at your house and you pack it up yourself. They then pick it up and move it for you. You can tack on storage at the end if needed, making this a particularly good solution for those who have time between their move out and their move in. This type of move can cost up to 35 percent less than traditional movers, but keep in mind you will be doing the labor - just not the driving.
7. Take advantage of special offers
Move-in offers for cable, Internet, and phone service can save you a lot of money. But they often come with a catch that could cost you down the line. Look out for special limited-time offers - one-year or six-month specials that expire, leaving you with much higher rates after the introductory period.
8. Dont rush the renos
Chances are, after you move in, youre going to start receiving all kinds of junk mail asking if you want to refi, redo your lawn, and apply for 72 different credit cards. In what seems like an endless pile of junk mail will be some special offers for new homebuyers, but they might not arrive for a month or more. Look out for coupons from handymen, companies selling flooring and window coverings, home furnishing companies like Bed Bath and Beyond and World Market, and offers from landscapers with discounts for new clients. If youre planning to shop, renovate, or do some work on your interior or exterior, taking advantage of a few of these offers can help shave down the cost.
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Proof That We Jumped to Conclusions about Millennials and Home Buying
Ever since the millennial generation reached adulthood, demographers and social scientists have been exploring the many trends that set this younger generation apart from their parents and grandparents. These studies have confirmed that Millennials are very different from Generation X and the baby boomers in many ways. One supposed difference that has recently proven to be incorrect, however, is a lack of interest among Millennials in buying homes.
What Previous Assumptions Proved to be Wrong?
Assumptions regarding Millennials and home ownership have evolved considerably over the past several years. As recently as 2015, the prevailing explanation for historically low rates of home purchases among the younger generation was that Millennials simplydidnt want to buy their own homes. Many different factors were presented to support this hypothesis, including the concomitant decline in marriage rates among Millennials driving down demand for single-family homes. Similarly, as Millennials a>More recently, another picture of Millennial attitudes toward home buying has emerged. In this version, Millennials wanted to buy houses, but simply couldnt afford to save for down payments. Many Millennials reported havingless than 1,000 saved up, far less then even the lowest possible down payment on an average home. Though this vision of how Millennials >What the Most Recent Research Shows
Now, starting from the knowledge that Millennials did want to buy homes, researchers began looking into their specific plans and ability to do so more closely. Among the roughly two-thirds of Millennials who dont already own homes, a majority report that they plan to own a home at some point in their lives. What was more surprising than this, however, is the fact that68 percent of Millennialsplan on owning more than one home in the future. This finding indicates that, while mobility may still be a factor Millennials consider, they plan to approach it through serial home ownership, rather than through perennial renting.
Another encouraging statistic with regards to Millennial home ownership rates is the fact that some 40 percent of this generation who are over the age of 25 have begun saving in earnest for the down payment on a house. In part, this may be part of an effort to save money, as new studies have shown that buying is now less expensive than renting in42 of the 50 US states.
What do Millennials Look For in a House?
Given that Millennials are now seriously planning to become consumers in the real estate market, it becomes interesting and important to understand what members of this generation look for in a home. Arecent surveyin which 1,000 Millennials were given a hypothetical home buying budget found, unsurprisingly, that technology plays a major role in what Millennials think of a house. In that survey, some 47 percent of respondents wanted solar power, while an astonishing majority of 75 percent said they wanted all-new appliances. In the survey, luxury and larger properties proved less popular among younger potential buyers, with extra-long driveways being a feature only 9 percent of respondents wanted and properties of more than one acre being popular with only 24 percent.
The same survey also found that location is important to Millennial buyers. Roughly one-third of those surveyed said they wanted a home within 10 miles of a major city. This indicated a preference for the conveniences offered by larger cities over the greater privacy to be had in smaller, quieter communities. Overall, Millennials prefer areas with easy access to services like dining and shopping. They also tend to prefer close access to vital service providers, such as a doctor or dentist, as opposed to suburban or rural areas where those providers may be more difficult to reach.
With this more complete picture of how Millennials plan to approach home ownership and what they value in a property, real estate professionals can now begin adapting their businesses to the needs and wants of the next generation of buyers. As Millennials continue to age and settle into homes, it is likely that the trend of historically low rates of home ownership will gradually return to more normal levels, leaving the myth of Millennials not wanting to buy real estate firmly in the past.
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New Forms Release Will Include A Team Agreement
Twice a year -- in June and December -- the Standard Forms Committee of the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR >
The new forms will probably receive the most attention, and, of those, two particularly stand out. One is entitled "Property Images Agreement". Especially in the realm of higher-end read "very expensive" properties, the subject of ownership and control of photos, videos, etc. is sometimes an issue. This form documents a licensees right to use, for marketing purposes, photos, videos, or other images of property taken by a third party.
Undoubtedly, the most attention will go to the Team Agreement form. Given the market presence of real estate teams throughout the country, it is actually surprising that no standard team agreement contract has yet emerged, regardless of who might have produced it.
In its now almost-final version, the Team Agreement form produced by CAR is a four-page document -- single-space of course -- that focuses primarily on matters of compensation and on the determination of which of the agents client >The form is designed to be used between a Team Member and the Team Leader. The company Broker is not a party to the Agreement, although it does require the Brokers consent.
The Team Agreement is not a form for defining the role of a teams transaction coordinator or providers of services not requiring a real estate license. For that, the CAR Personal Assistant Contract is recommended.
Many had expected that a Team Agreement form would address the question of employee v. independent contractor. The new form does not, except to say that the Team Member and the Team Leader "are licensed under Broker as independent contractors, it does not create a partnership or other separate entity between the parties" However, "should the parties determine that the >The Team Agreement is an important document, albeit not an easy one to read. Team leaders and members who anticipate using it would do well to take a pre-
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Agent Marketing Lists: Its Quality Not Quantity That Matters
How long should a marketing list be?
Thats like asking how long is a piece of string.
The vital aspect of lists, whatever their length, is managing the list to achieve your desired return on investment. This can be as frustrating as pushing a piece of string uphill unless you really know about those on the list, what is >
For real estate professionals, longer may not always be better when it comes to email marketing lists.
The internet is packed with suggestions and services for list building and online marketing. Numbers matter to online product sales. Lists of thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers are valuable to online and email marketers when these are lists of the "right" consumers and the list is strategically managed to generate product sales and ongoing revenue.
When lists are strategic to >quality of subscriber data and the strength of the communication connection with these opt-in subscribers can outweigh the importance of quantity of subscribers.
- Brokerages may cultivate extensive databases for a number of reasons, but they usually have special shorter lists of repeat clients, influencers, investors, and other individuals or organizations key to brokerage sustainability and success.
- Real Estate Teams may combine the client and contact lists of individual team members into one larger list to take advantage of economy of scale, but the main goal is not just to have a longer list.
- Real Estate Professionals usually maintain lists of past clients and prospects, but it is the potential for future business that is the driving factor, not me>
Two main challenges can undermine the effectiveness of creating and maintaining the above mentioned lists and in building new targeted lists:
1: True Value: Too often the measure of list value may be based on the total number of leads or the value of the transactions that resulted from the original client >
2: Disconnection: Communication is a two way, brain-to-brain connection by my definition. Emailing or even mailing a newsletter or other marketing content[mdash;]however clever[mdash;]to someone you did business with, perhaps years ago, does not mean effective communication has occurred. Are you reaching the right person, with a "right on" >
estate professional your subscriber has contact with? Do you shine in comparison?
When did you last invest time reviewing the details of your list?
- If you have established success with a specific target market, how many of the existing list subscribers are now part of that target group?
- When was the last time you spoke with each subscriber to find out what is important in their lives with respect to the real estate they own or want to own? They had to give their permission or opt-in for you to add them to your list, but are they still genuinely interested in doing business with you?
- Is yours a high-qualify list, that is, are subscribers accurately profiled with sufficient detail that you can group those with common interests to deliver >
- What research did you undertake to decide on the most >
- I think of the content we send out to our subscribers as a conversation or conversations. Is this an accurate metaphor for your situation or might recipients consider your emails as one-way "noise?"
- Since most communication with subscribers is periodic or intermittent, not daily, consider each email as a reconnection. Respect the fact that many things may have changed for recipients since your last email and act accordingly.
- What is your competition doing to continuously reconnect with your subscribers? That is, what are subscribers comparing your communication efforts to?
If you do not have your list of past clients, prospects, and other leads in easily accessible, email-able form, there are many resources available. MailChimp.com continues to be a popular provider. Their free service supports lists of up to 2000 subscribers. This is considerably more of the right subscribers than many professionals may need to drive their business goals. Again, those on your list must give you permission to email them, that is, must opt-in to your list, so this interaction is part of the lt;a=https://mailchimp.com/resources/guides/getting-started-with-marketing-automation/?utm_source=MailChimpSystemAlertsamp;utm_campaign=f3a5fb9bdb-Announcingfreemarketingautomationnon-openersamp;utm_medium=emailamp;utm_term=0_21eda42079-f3a5fb9bdb-189365097amp;mc_cid=f3a5fb9bdbamp;mc_eid=ed08165a96 target="_blank"gt;MailChimp process.
- If you are not technically inclined, MailChimp offers customizable templates and fill-in-the-blank services. Forms and signup lists are hosted on their secure site. A button on your website or blog takes potential subscribers to MailChimp.com to start the sign up process.
- For those with technical ability, embedded forms can be customized to conform with branding patterns on your website, blog, and email signature.
Concentrate on subscribers who reflect your chosen target market and who share your interest in making their real estate needs and dreams come true and youll have the best list going.
You dont need a long list, but you and your subscribers deserve a great list
Full Story >
The Best Cold-Weather Sheets To Buy
When the temperature drops, we make some obvious changes around the house to accommodate the colder weather Hello heater, my old friend. But, bedding is a great place to focus a little attention to make it comfy and cozy - and also allow you to potentially save a bit on bills while you sleep soundly.
"With cooler weather headed our way, your mind may be on new boots and jackets. But, while youre shopping for cold weather essentials, dont forget one that will get you through those long, snowy nights," said Bustle. "Thenbsp;best sheets for winternbsp;will make your bed more comfortable and transform it into a warm sanctuary all winter long, no matter the weather outside."
We culled together some recommendations for the best sheets to use this winter.
Flannel is an obvious choice for winter because it creates warmth. Flannel sheets can get pricey, but not if you know where to look. In this case, the place to look is, largely, Amazon, where a number of worthy options can be purchased for the price of lunch or maybe a mid-range dinner.
Bare Home Fleece Super Soft Premium Sheet Set, 27-35,nbsp;Amazon
Breathable and hypoallergenic, this sheet set also has a great side benefit: no pilling. "One of the biggest complaints about fleece is that it pills too quickly - but you wont have to worry about that with these pill-resistant, 100 percentnbsp;fleece sheetsnbsp;that are plush, hypoallergenic, and resistant to stains," said Bustle. "This set, which includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and pillowcase, comes in every size from twin to split king. Reviewers use words like lsquo;soft, lsquo;fluffy, and lsquo;warm to describe them, but also say they are great for hot sleepers because they wont trap too much heat inside of them.
Pinzon Velvet Flannel Sheet Set, 65-75,nbsp;Amazon
This sheet set ups the ante on the luxe factor, with velvet flannel that is silky soft, comes in both prints and solids, and washes and dries just like any other sheets. "These sheets are so in demand they have more than 3,500 reviews," said Bustle. "One writes that these wont make it any easier to get out of bed in the morning: lsquo;Super thick, sturdy construction, and oh, so soft. A truly exceptional price for sheets of this weight and quality. I have no doubt they will last a very long time. I love them so much I just bought another set."
L.L. Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet Set, 109 for queen set
Wirecutter spent 120 hours researching and testing different flannel sheet sets. Their favorite" L.L.Beans Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet Set. "These sheets offer the best combination of softness and durability at a really good price," they said. "Theyre among the plushest sheets we tried, and this is one of the few sets that never made us sweat.
Targets Threshold Flannel Sheet Set, 22.79 for a queen set
Wirecutter also found a surprising winner among its contenders: Targets Threshold Flannel Sheet Set. In brushed flannel and available in 11 different solids and a bunch of cute patterns including plaid and geographic prints, the sets are super affordable and have been called "the best sheets ever" by reviewers.
Mellanni Cotton Flannel Set, 39 for queen set
The Spruce is also partial to Amazons velvet flannel sheets, but a close second is the Mellanni Cotton Flannel Set that "contains many of the same qualities as our first pick, but with a lighter consistency," they said. "Made from the highest quality flannel, it also features a luxuriously soft and fitted feel, perfect for any room of the home."
Aspen Flannelette Sheet Set, 58.97 for a double
This Aspen Flannelette Sheet Set features a chic cable knit pattern and a "flanelette" material that allows you to "warm up but not overheat," they said. With this more lightweight version of flannel, youre almost guaranteed a good nights sleep.
Micro Fleece Sheet Set, 67.01 for queen set
Not a huge fan of flannel? Try fleece instead. This micro fleece sheet set from Amazon is amazingly soft and plenty warm, includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillow cases. One reviewer said, "If you love COZY and REALLY WARM, then THESE are THE SHEETS for you"
Full Story >
The Best Early Black Friday Deals You Can Buy Now
Were still weeks from the "official" Black Friday shopping period, but that doesnt mean you cant save on a great array of items right now.
"Its true that the biggest sales in terms of hype and deal volume wont take place until Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, but you dont need to wait until then to find deep discounts," said Yahoo. "In fact, some of the deals youll find beginning November 1st are just as good as any Black Friday sale, but without all the stress and chaos that comes along with Black Friday."
Here are the must-buys that are available right now.
Amazon always loves to come early to the party with their own unique sales offerings, and, this year, Black Friday for the worlds largest retailer kicked off on November 1, with daily specials across the site. Their "Countdown to Black Friday" offers a slew of deals.
Todays deals include:
- More than 70 off teeth whitening kits.
- More than 50 off universal smart home remotes, like the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote.
- More than 50 off a smart Bluetooth-enabled body fat scale.
Check back daily for new specials.
Targets Black Friday sale is one of the most anticipated of the season, and while we wait for their ad to drop, they have >
- Buy 2, Get 1 Free Board and Video Games.
- Free Xbox One Game - up to 59.99 - when you buy any Xbox One S Console.
- 20 off Xbox One Wi>25 off PlayStation VR Core for PS4 - Target Cartwheel Deal.
"If Amazon is already turning up the heat on its pre-Black Friday deals, you know Walmart wont be far behind," said BGR. "The retailer has adedicated page of "Holiday Specials"full of products that are already discounted ahead of Black Friday."
- The Samsung 55 >The Dyson DC33 Multifloor Bagless Upright Vacuum for 199, down from 279.
- The Braun Series 7 790cc-4 Foil Electric Shaver with Clean Charge Station, 176 from 269.97.
- The Dyson DC34 Bagless Cordless Hand Vacuum for 99, regularly priced at 169.
Home Improvement Stores
Home Depot and Lowes have both put out early Black Friday emails loaded with great deals, including 40 off appliances and deals on a variety of items throughout the stores. Some of the best deals weve seen so far from Home Depot include:
- The GE 4.6 cu. ft. ENERGY STAR Top Load Washer in White for 499. Thats a savings of 200.
- 300 Savings on the Whirlpool Stainless Steel Electric Range with Convection, now 498.
- The popular 25.5 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel - 998 from Home Depot - a savings of 776
Full Story >
How To Hire An Architectural Photographer
Although digital cameras have made it much easier for architects, interior designers and contractors to record their work, there often comes a point when you need something a little better than what your 100 Canon can produce. Portfolios, contest entries and advertising all benefit from crisp, clear images that bring the attributes of a project to life. Thats when an architectural photographer can help.
But how do you find one? What will it cost? And will there be limitations on how you can use the images afterward? We asked a few architectural photographers across the United States for guidance.
What kind of photographer do you need? Houses present their own peculiar challenges in terms of lighting, styling, perspectives and distortion, so you want to hire a photographer who specializes in them. "You dont want a photographer who does everything," cautions Jamie Salomon of James R. Salomon Photography in Portland, Maine.
There are two kinds of photographers who specialize in shooting homes: architectural photographers and real estate photographers. If youre looking to document a project strictly for selling purposes, then a real estate photographer is the way to go.
"Real estate photographers are very inexpensive," says William Wright, an architectural photographer in Seattle. "They will go through the house in less than an hour and generally dont touch anything."
But if you want photographs that capture the artistry and character of a space, Wright says an architectural photographer is your best bet. "Architectural photographers will meet with you and figure out the best approach, think about the styling, move the furniture around and put a lot more thought into getting the photos," he says.
Where to find a photographer. Of course Houzz is a good place to look for architectural photographers. Find the Houzz Photographer Network here.
The American Society of Media Photographers lists professionals by location and specialty, although membership in the organization is not an indication of whether someone is qualified or not. Ask other home pros in your community who they would recommend as well.
Photo by OLSON LEWIS Architects - Discover family room design ideas
Choosing the photographer whos right for you. Once you assemble some names, look on each photographers website for a portfolio of work. Do you like the quality and character of the photos? Is the photographer accustomed to shooting projects like yours? If the person shoots mostly hospitals, and your home is a Tudor, it might not be a good match. Who has the photographer worked for in the past? A list of former clients is often included on the website and will indicate whether he or she is accustomed to shooting for clients like you.
Photo by Peter A. Sellar - Architectural Photographer - Search exterior home pictures
Do you want to publish the photos? "Decide if you want to have the project published; that will affect the kind of photography you want to go for," says Salomon, who regularly works with art directors at 10 or 20 different publications. A photographers connections can mean your project has a better chance of being published than with a blind submission. Architectural photographers who work regularly with shelter home design magazines also know what kind of look those publications like to see and will shoot in that kind of >
Photo by Tommy Chambers Interiors, Inc. - Discover living room design inspiration
How long will it take, and what will you get? Shooting a house typically takes one day, although many photographers are willing to negotiate half-day rates if youre capturing just a room or two. A full-day shoot will generally yield eight to 20 images, depending on the project, the photographer, the amount of styling needed and the time of year. Is the sunset at 4:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.?
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Who will >
Photo by Coddington Design - Search family room design ideas
What will it cost? A typical architectural photographer charges between 1,000 and 3,000 per day, with most falling somewhere just north of the middle. That price includes the creative fee the actual photography, the cost of an assistant generally 200 to 250 and whats generally known as a processing fee.
Photo by Murphy amp; Co. Design - Browse kitchen ideas
Although todays photographers shoot digitally and no longer have to send their work out to a lab, they still have to manipulate each photo individually, adjusting the lighting and color, removing distractions like motion detectors or stray electrical cords, and often piecing together the best attributes of several images to create one perfect composition. The cost for this processing may be calculated per photo or per shoot, but generally adds anywhere from 40 to 90 per image to the cost of the shoot.
When negotiating fees with a photographer, make sure you ask whether the cost of an assistant and processing fees are included in the price.
After the shoot the photographer will usually give you the photos on a disc or flash drive, and/or allow you to download them from an FTP site. Images will often be furnished in several sizes and formats.
Photo by Sortun-Vos Architects, P.S. - Browse living room ideas
Who owns the photos? Unless youve made arrangements in advance, the photographer retains the copyright to his or her work. You will be granted permission to use the photos for advertising or promotional purposes, or to post images on sites like Houzz. But if a third party, like a magazine or a manufacturer, wants to publish the images or use them as part of an ad campaign, that usage must be negotiated with the photographer, who may seek additional compensation.
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If you want to own the images outright, with no restrictions, the photographer will typically request an additional fee equivalent to the creative fee the part of the bill >
"A professional brings a lot to the table," says veteran architectural photographer Susan Gilmore of Minneapolis. "Considering [the designer] could win awards for this or use it for advertising, its not a lot of money. The better a project looks, the more work itll bring."
- The Best Kitchen Design Ideas for Photos
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What Keeps Buyers From Finding Their Next Home
Buying a home is like searching for a mate. Youll go on many first dates and in the end, the one that has most, but maybe not all of the characteristics that you want, will win your heart.
However, first-time buyers and sometimes even serial homebuyers are disappointed by how long the process takes. Yet they may not understand how their expectations, beliefs, and lack of action may be causing the delay in finding the right home.
Here are five pitfalls that buyers can fall into that cause them to let the right home slip by.
Seeing a home "as-is". I dont mean that buyers should not view homes on the market that are listed for sale "as-is"; rather I mean not being able to see beyond the "as-is" home. In other words, some buyers walk into a home and are immediately turned off by something as simple as the color of paint which can be easily changed, or maybe its the carpet or wallpaper. Regardless, when buyers see the home "as-is" without the ability to envision it differently, they do themselves a huge disservice and fall into a pitfall of thinking that the home is not right simply because of the condition they are currently seeing it in.
Not working with an expert agent. Buyers can weed through the paper and click around the Web looking for open houses and listings but a quality agent can help identify the best-suited properties much faster. An expert agent also often knows about other listings that are about to come on the market and would not be in the paper or on the Web yet. Its worth it to spend time interviewing agents to find the right one who can help you find the right home. If you fall into the pitfall of trying to do everything on your own, youre likely going to miss seeing some of the houses that might offer the best match for your wants and needs.
Letting the important things slide. Weve all done this when making an expensive purchase. We compromise on something that is important simply because its less expensive. Later we regret it. Whether its a new car, new house, or flat screen TV, when youre making large purchases, you need to know which things are important and non-negotiable and then stick to that list. Of course, there may be some small, less important things that youll compromise on, but if you compromise on something big that is important to you, youre likely going to be disappointed down the road.
There is a reason you were searching for a three-bedroom home. So, for instance, when you fall in love with that quaint, cozy two-bedroom home, remember that you had specific reasons for needing an additional bedroom. If youve clearly defined your living needs and wants before you begin house hunting, youll have guidelines to keep you on track.
You might find that the smaller home has a secondary unit on the property and, while its not a third bedroom, it will suit your needs. So, yes, be flexible and think of the possibilities, but do remember your list of what you originally deemed important. The tendency is to get caught up in the moment, either because a home is so charming or because it appears to be such a good deal that you start to say, "Well, I can make-do without that." Maybe you can...but youd better be certain before you close escrow.
Living strictly in the moment. Most of the time I write about practicing living in the moment because so many of us lead hectic lives. But when youre buying a home, youd better be thinking about the future. Whats good for you today will likely need to be good for you for many years to come. So, do your homework to find the right home. Work with your agent to find out how the neighborhood is changing. What future plans are there for the community? Pay attention to the congestion of an area and to the types of retail shops and restaurants that are coming into the community...then compare that to your future plans. You cant always know what lies ahead but many times you can see what types of projects have been proposed for undeveloped land in the area.
Skipping an inspection. Ive written a lot about this one. Inspections are critical. Theyre the equivalent of taking a car you want to buy to your car repair shop for a look before you buy. Just like you dont want to end up with a lemon for a car, you dont want a home that has too many and too costly repairs needed. Inspections give you a "health" check of the home. They let you know what youre in for should you buy the home. Youll be glad you have a report to help validate your reasons for wanting to purchase this home over others.
Avoiding these pitfalls will help you more quickly find the right home and the right investment for your future.
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Are You Game To Live On Candy Cane Lane?
If you watched last nights Halloween-themed episode of This Is Us, you saw Randall making a map of the "good houses" before the kids set out for trick-or-treating. Every neighborhood has them. You know, the houses that go all out with their Halloween deacute;cor, creating spooky scenes and chilling displays. Not only are they eerily representative of of the spirit of the season, they also, presumably, have better candy - at least according to a certain 11-year-old who is just down the hall from the spot where this is being written, devouring the eight pounds of candy he collected during his two-hour trek through the neighborhood.
Halloween decorating has grown exponentially over the past few years, as individual homes and the errant neighborhood have taken it upon themselves to scare up an experience that goes well beyond a pumpkin at the door to greet trick-or-treaters. The city of Maricopanbsp;holds an annual Halloween home decorating contest called Mysterious Mansion Mayhem, with 25 homes in the mix this year - "the most participantsnbsp;in the events 11-year-history, according to Niesha Whitman, the citys special event and marketing manager," said azfamily.com.
In the California city of Vacaville, residents of Arlene Drive, which transforms into Candy Cane Lane during the holidays, has been increasingly participating in Halloween decorating, as well.
"Theres a lsquo;dark side of the Vacaville neighborhood at Halloween," said the Daily Republic.nbsp;"Some of the homeownersnbsp;put some scare in the air with ghosts, goblins, witches and such. Homeowners here prepare for the onslaught of kids with as many as 1,400 pieces of candy.
Thats not a huge expense - and certainly not one that compares to the cost or extravagance of preparing a holiday house, especially if you live in a neighborhood thats known for its elaborate displays. According to the Daily Republic, 80 percent of the neighbors on Arlene Drive, as well as neighboring streets, participate in the holiday decorating tradition.
The question of participation is a curious one; those moving into neighborhoods known for these displays have an expectation to go along with the tradition, and stories of intimidation toward those who refused to participate have been floated around over the years. On Milwaukees famous Candy Cane Lane, new residents know the deal when they buy, especially since, "A neighborhood committee sends out letters letting everyone know when Candy Cane Lane starts and ends, where meetings are, what to expect and why they do it," said On Milwaukee. For some, being part of such a storied neighborhood may even be part of the draw.
"Before Christy Hall Watson and her husband, Craig, bought their first home, their realtor told them it was inside the boundaries ofnbsp;Candy Cane Lanenbsp;- an entire neighborhood of holiday light displays that benefits the MACC Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund - and that moving there would mean a lot of lights, festivities and traffic on their block during the month of December," said On Milwaukee
The new homeowners found it lsquo;immediately appealing and said that lsquo;living on Candy Cane Lane is the perfect antidote to the Grinch in all of us" because it melts away work stress as you drive through the lights. It should be noted, however, that there are those who dont embrace the work of decorating and the chaos it brings to the neighborhood. "We hadnbsp;a couple people actually put their houses up for sale because they hated it so much," said one resident to St. Louis magazine.
Key to the enjoyment: learning to "adapt to traffic." You leave a little extra time to get somewhere and you pee before you head home in case you get stuck in traffic," Watson told On Milwuakee. "Actually, hearing children and even parents comment on the lights and sounding happy is a great lift to the spirit. It makes everything worth it."
Another downside for those considering moving to a Candy Cane Lane: the cost. Expect to see eye-popping electricity bills with a several-hundred-dollar increase for the months the displays are up. And thats a conservative estimate; one resident of a California neighborhood has said she has spent as much as 1,800 in December, although annual costs have gone down as homeowners have transitioned to LED displays.
But, for those who can forgive the cost for all the joy it brings and the camaraderie it creates, living in an area that attracts hundreds or even thousands of visitors over the holidays is grand. "I put up with an 85-year-old, falling-apart house because of this neighborhood," Tracey Sconyers, resident of Ravennas Candy Cane Lanenbsp;Neighborhood in Seattle, told the Seattle Times. "Its so worth it with these neighbors."
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Renovations to Make Aging at Home Easier
As you or your loved one ages, your home may need to be adapted to accommodate life>Grab Bars
Installing grab bars can significantly decrease falls and injuries. They should be installed where the floor may get wet or transition to a different level. Grab bars should be installed by a professional contractor because they require special reinforcement. If a grab bar is improperly installed it can be pulled from the wall causing injury.
Places grab bars should be installed:
- near toilets
- room transitions
Access to the main level without the use of stairs is a change you can make to your home without changing the overall curb appeal. This requires planning ahead. A ramp can be designed with wood or concrete that provides a gradual incline to the front door. By planning ahead, you can have a contractor design a ramp that fits the aesthetic of your home without reducing its value. This provides accessibility for wheelchairs, walkers and those who cannot use stairs.
Making Doorways Wider
Increasing the width of doorways is a simple way to make living at home easier with walkers or wheelchairs. Widening a doorway is a project that should only take a contractor about a day. Making a door 36 inches wide as opposed to the normal 24" or 32" allows for easier access, especially in tight spaces.
Creating room for maneuvering is important. There may be times that you need space to use a wheelchair. A wheelchair requires a square five feet to move freely. Creating an open floor plan is a good way to open space to move around. This can be done by removing full and pony walls, creating cased openings, and >When aging in your home you may need to restrict living to a single floor to accommodate for the difficulty of climbing and descending stairs. It is important to ensure that there is a kitchen, bathroom and a space for a bedroom on the main level of your home. If there is not a full bathroom on the ground floor, a contractor can create a full bathroom by adding a shower to an existing half bath or creating a new bathroom enti>Removing Thresholds
Removing floor thresholds between rooms can prevent tripping, which is the number one cause of injury for aging individuals. Many homes have a threshold between rooms where flooring changes. This can be alleviated by removing the threshold or installing a ramp that lets them move easily.
The bathroom can be a dangerous place due to slippery floors and tripping hazards. Even with the help of grab bars and grippy bath mats, it is important to remove tripping hazards. A popular option is to convert a bathtub into a shower without a threshold. This renovation can allow for ease of access especially for those in a wheelchair.
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October Hits a Record Month of Real Estate Donations, Sending Funds to Local Nonprofits Through the Agent with Heart Program
Las Vegas, NV - PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that four of their esteemed real estate professionals each made donations on behalf of their clients to the nonprofits of their clients choice.
Kristina Vanderpool of Century 21 Fairway in Apple Valley, CA has made a donation to the American Red Cross Southern Nevada Chapter on behalf of her clients, Losha and Frank Jackson.
Jason Isley of Seven Gables Real Estate in Tustin, CA has made a donation to the CHOC Foundation on behalf of his client, Crystal Turner.
Tara Burdick-Sandy of Coldwell Banker Triad in Winston-Salem, NC has made a donation to Beth David Synagogue on behalf of her clients, Ed and Jaime Bunnell.
Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential in Irvine, CA has made several donations this month, including one to Families Forward on behalf of her clients Ava Chii and Shige Itoh, one to the American Red Cross Orange County Chapter to assist with Canyon 2 Fire >
"It is so wonderful to see how much kindness is in the hearts of our agents. Thanks to Kristina, Jason, Tara and Dana we have reached another record month of donations, and I could not be more appreciative," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise.
"Through the Agent with Heart Program, our goal is to assist as many nonprofits as possible, and the selfless nature of agents like Kristina, Jason, Tara and Dana actively propels us toward reaching that goal. I would like to personally thank each of them for their commitment to giving back to their communities. We are continuously grateful for their great generosity, for truly understanding what it means to be an Agent with Heart, and for helping us to make a difference nationally."
About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local agents who agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit www.AgenwithHeart.org.
To contact Kristina Vanderpool, please call 760-617-8026.
To contact Jason Isley, please call 714-478-6750 or visit his website at www.jasonisley.com.
To contact Tara Burdick-Sandy please call 336-451-5867 or visit her website at www.agenttara.cbtriad.com.
To contact Dana Roberts, please call 949-433-6694 or visit her website at www.DanaRobertsRealEstate.com.
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Shortage Of Accessible Housing Creates Opportunity For Investors
Imagine not being able to use your kitchen, go out on your balcony or enjoy the privacy a bathroom door provides because you cant have one. Such has been the life of Tim and Natalie Rose for the last six years, and until a few weeks ago, they had no hope that their living conditions would ever improve.
But times are changing. Tim, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair to get around, and his wife, Natalie, bought a suite in DuEast, a recently unveiled Daniels Corporation building in Torontos Regent Park. It includes units designed for people who use mobility devices.
Tim and Natalie werent looking for new accommodation, having already scoured the rental and housing markets and coming up empty. Even though they could afford market rent, there was simply no accessible housing to be found, says Tim. They made changes to their apartment, removing the bathroom door so Tim could drive his wheelchair in. They paid to have an automatic front door installed. Other than the bathroom, Tim has access to one bedroom and the living room.
They found out about DuEast by chance during one of Natalies regular visits to accessibility expert/real estate agent Jeffrey Kerrs website. With Kerrs help, within the week the Roses were signing the papers to buy their dream home -- a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with a roll-in shower and a downtown location. "For me it was like seeing a unicorn," says Tim. "I didnt believe it at first."
"It has everything we wanted and never thought wed find," Natalie says.
Their suite is one of 20 accessible units being offered through Daniels Accessibility Designed Program ADP. The accessible units have the same floor plans, features and upgrades as the other suites but offer roll-out/low-threshold balconies with a swing door, large roll-in showers with mosaic tile flooring and interior doorways that are a minimum of 34 inches wide to accommodate a variety of mobility devices. Entry doors have electric openers and bathrooms have fold-down seats and grab bars.
But best of all, there is no extra cost for these features.
Natalie says they were quick to jump on the opportunity knowing "there was fair pricing across the board. Daniels is more than a money grab." She says accessible features are "not a luxury, theyre a basic necessity."
An accessible kitchen that includes under-sink clearances, lower countertops, a side-opening oven and a double-door fridge is available for an additional 5,000.
Suites are located throughout the building, but are mostly on lower floors. Accessible suites will be offered by Daniels in its projects going forward, says Kerr, a sales rep with Re/Max Unique in Toronto.
Daniels called Kerr in January to seek advice and feedback from the expert, who has been helping buyers with accessibility challenges find homes since 2004. "Jeff is really the only one" who specializes in accessible housing, Natalie says. "My Dad says Jeff wouldnt have gone into helping people with accessibility challenges if he didnt care. The sale is more than just a commission to him."
Kerr says hes happy that Daniels incorporated two of his suggestions -- the roll-in shower and roll-out balcony. Kerr referred Quadrangle Architects, a leader in universal design to Daniels as the project progressed to ensure the suites were perfectly designed.
The building also has mobility features in its amenities, entrances and common spaces. Concierge desks are lower and party rooms have accessible kitchens.
Kerr has been actively promoting the accessible units for a couple of months through social media and networking with his clients. A couple of his clients have already purchased suites, and Natalie and Tim say many of their friends are interested in future offerings.
"Its been a lot of years since a builder recognized a need and reached out to the market. Its definitely a trail blazer," Kerr says.
The developer is offering one, two and three-bedroom suites. There are only two suites on the main floor and both have been designated as accessible. One-bedroom, one-bathroom suites with 606 square feet of living space start at 444,900. Two-bedroom, two-bathroom 855-square-foot suites start at 589,900 and three-bedroom, two-bathroom suites with 1,067 square feet are priced from 748,900.
The design is not only suited to those with mobility issues. It is universal design that offers easy living spaces for families with babies in strollers or small children, or any family who has an elderly person visiting. Its a win-win situation for a living space to be able to accommodate a stroller and aging grandparents, Kerr says.
Another important feature is the design -- the space is elegantly and attractively designed, not institutional, Kerr says. Accessible parking is also available.
He is encouraging clients to buy now with an eye to the future. Buying accessible units theres a shortage of accessible housing also provides an opportunity for the savvy investor.
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Disposinig Of Investment Property
Question. We are retired and have two children older than 21. We have some investment properties we do not want to sell at this time. However, we do not want to continue to be involved in the rental aspect of these properties and would like to know what alternatives we have in solving our problem.
Answer. You could consider hiring your children to be the property managers and pay them a fee for their services. This may >
You might also want to consider gifting a portion of the property each year to each of your children. Under the tax laws, an individual may exclude from the total amount of gift subject to tax the first 14,000 in value of gifts to each donee during a calendar year. For several years, the tax stayed the same, but the IRS recently announced that as of January, 2018, it will be increased to 15,000.
Thus, next year, you and your wife can give gifts of 30,000 15,000 each to each of your children, and then depending on whether this amount will be increased another 30,000 to each of your children the following years. And, assuming that Congress does not change these tax laws, this could go on for ever on a yearly basis.
The gift does not have to be in the form of cash. It could also be property or a portion of your property.
Let us assume that you both own one rental property worth 300,000. If my math is correct, a total of 30,000 is the equivalent of 1/10th of the property. You can deed to each of your children 1/10th of the property this year, and then another 1/10th of the property to each child next year -- depending on the then-current market value of the property.
Under this approach, by deeding a portion of the property each year to your children, they obtain the tax benefits, if any, on their portion of the property, and they can also collect their proportionate percentage of the rents.
Unfortunately, your childrens basis for tax purposes will be the same as your basis in the property. When a person gives a gift, the tax basis of the giver becomes the tax basis of the receiver. Accordingly, depending on how and what the kids do with the property, they may have tax consequences when they ultimately sell. If you have significantly depreciated the property over the past several years, then your childrens basis will also be significantly reduced. This can be a problem, since when they sell the property, they will have to pay a large capital gains.
However, If they purchased the property from you, their basis would be their cost. But you would have to pay capital gains tax on your profit.
You could, of course, wait until you both die, in which case your children would inherit the property at the stepped-up basis, which is the market value on the date of your death. However, this requires probate proceedings in most cases, which can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive.
In many jurisdictions throughout the United States, if there is a transfer of property between parent and child, the county and state will impose no transfer or recordation tax. All you would have to pay is the nominal fee for actually recording the deed among the Land Records in the county or city where the property is located.
Many people have indicated they would prefer not to transfer the property, but rather just give a gift letter to the children indicating that a portion of the property has been transferred to them.
I cannot recommend this approach, since you have not physically conveyed legal title to your children. The IRS may want to challenge this approach. Thus, in my opinion, it makes greater sense to actually physically convey a portion of the property to your children each and every year, if this is the approach you intend to take.
The advantages are simple. Your children will gradually become the owners of your property, and will be able to take whatever tax benefits may be available for their interest in that property.
However, the disadvantages must also be explored. First, by actually deeding property to your children, you both have no more interest in that portion of the conveyed property.
If, down the road, you face the need for cash, you no longer own that portion of the property, and thus do not have any control over it.
Second, you are giving up your right to a percentage of the rental income stream. This means you are going to receive less cash from the rental property than you were getting while you owned the entire property.
As I have indicated, there are serious and complicated tax issues that must be explored, and thus you should check with your own tax advisor before finalizing any arrangement with your children. You could also consider doing a like-kind tax-free exchange, and swap your current rental property for other investment property which will not take as much personal involvement of your time. For example, if you find some rural land which has long-term future appreciation value, you certainly have the right to exchange your current rental property for that land.
But Congress is trying to pass a major tax reform law, and tax-free exchanges may be on the chopping block. So if thats of interest, talk to your attorney immediately to get the ball rolling.
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Planning Your Outdoor Patio Remodel
Creating and sticking to a home improvement projects budget is about as easy and comfortable as pulling teeth. But when it comes to a task as exciting as an outdoor space remodel, its necessary to think and talk about the budget before taking any further steps.
The good news is that with a little practice and some research, youll be able to conquer your patio design project and stay within your financial boundaries - and maybe even have a little left over for that kitchen cabinet remodel youve been dreaming of tackling next
Plan and Prioritize
Its time to plan the actionable steps. Make sure your supply list includes preparation items, tools and decorative accessories. If youre redoing the outdoor brick pathway, will you be using any of the old brick? What type of concrete is needed, and is there a less expensive alternative? Are you looking to go eco-friendly or simply cheap and efficient? Nail down the details beforehand to eliminate potential headaches while shopping.
When embarking on any new project, start by going over what resources you have on hand. Do you have an account allocated for home renovations, designated money under your mattress or a forgotten gift card or coupon in your desk drawer?
Next, whether youre looking to replace a brick walkway or reupholster outdoor furniture, research similar projects that have been completed near your location. Enti>
Taking all these factors into consideration, target each piece of the project to create a holistic budget. Then, purchase a gift card at the retailers where you intend to purchase supplies during the course of the project. Stores like The Home Depot even offer Project Cards and DIY Cards exactly for this purpose, so by allocating the money up front, youll be able to monitor the funds, see how theyre being spent, and avoid going over budget. Plus, you can safely give the card to a contractor to purchase supplies, without the concern of handing off a credit card to a stranger and youll be able to see exactly what things cost.
Editor in Chief
Lets be realisticmdash;its pretty common to grab a few extra items while roaming the aisles. Whether these are things you forgot to list or their shininess just happens to catch your eye, do a quick calculation to determine if those extra items are simply fun add-onsmdash;or budget breakers. While outdoor lanterns could seem like a necessity for the atmosphere you wish to create, they may be out of reach, for now.
Make sure to consider taxes, construction fees, labor costs, cleaning materials and any extra expenses you may have overlooked while budgeting. A good rule of thumb is to subtract 15-20 from your total available funds and >
Review and Refine
Even after the construction of your new patio is completed, you may notice that something is missing. Maybe the new walkway needs some romance or the reupholstered furniture needs one more layer of color. Then what? This is when you can go back for those add-ons that you edited from your cart previously. If you have a little bit left on your gift card, bring in some greenery, textiles or lighting to spruce up your space while you save up for some more elaborate upgrades.
When your birthday or the holidays come around, consider asking friends and family to give you specific gift cards so you can continue your renovation process. With outdoor patios or backyard spaces, its easy to switch up the decor seasonally to make the area look new, again and again.
Although its not easy, budgeting for an outdoor remodeling project is a task that will result in a beautiful, tranquil space you can be proud of. Remember to stick to your guns and go with your gut when starting projects and making big purchases. Ask advice from people who have completed a similar project and considermdash;and differentiatemdash;your wants from your needs. Before you know it, youll have a brand new outdoor area ideal for >
|California interior designer Kerrie Kelly and her design lab team have worked with clients for years on home outdoor projects that come in on budget. Kerrie writes about her experiences with outdoor renovations and design for The Home Depot. For info on Home Depot gift cards that you might consider using for your next outdoor home project, you can visit the companys website.|
Full Story >
Six Easy Ways To Prepare Your Home For Holiday Guests This Weekend
Itll be here before you know it: holiday season. If those two words just sent a chill up your spine, its probably time you started getting prepared. The good news is that while may think your house needs a bulldozer, or at least a few teams of HGTV stagers to make it guest-ready, it will probably be easier than expected to get it in good shape. Here are a few things you can do this weekend to get started.
Make over your guest room
If your guest room looks old and thrown together, a few easy fixes can have it feeling like a welcoming space. "Unless youre constantly hosting visitors, your guest bedroom probably goes unused much of the year," said HGTV. Isnt that the truth. In many guest rooms, whatever furniture exists is often leftovers from other spaces. But that doesnt mean it cant look great. If youre not looking to add to or replace anything in the room, get out that paint can. A coat of paint can transform a dowdy old dresser into something fantastic.
How does the bed look? Tired or drab bedding can make the whole space feel blah. Thankfully, you dont have to spend a lot for a great set of sheets. Top it with a graphic-patterned comforter and a few pillows, and voila. On the nightstand, a favorite book and a scented candle will make your guests feel well-taken-care-of.
Polish your silver
If you get out the good stuff for the holidays, you dont want it to look tarnished. Several simple tricks will have it looking stellar in no time. Our favorite: ketchup
Make it inviting
Stores like HomeGoods, Tuesday Morning, or TJ Maxx can be a goldmine for little, inexpensive items that can make your guests feel like theyre staying at a fancy hotel. Stock up on guest soaps, hand towels, lotions, and, if you really want to be fancy, set out a new robe and slippers.
Think about function
While youre making everything look pretty, make sure you consider function, too. Your guests will need a place to put their things. This is a perfect time to put away summer clothes or pack up a few boxes of giveaway stuff to create space in a closet.
Now, hit your coat closet. "Plan ahead You know guests will be coming in from the cold and will need a place to hang their coats," said Huffington Post. "Go through your closet or the hooks by your door, and store away any extra jackets you may have hanging there."
Consider the lighting
While youre out shopping, hit the lighting aisle, too. "Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests cant," said houselogic. "Make sure outside lights are working so they dont trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets."
Do a smell-over
Everyday scents, especially if you have pets, can get past us in our own home. Believe it or not, there is actually a science behind this. "We adapt to smells very quickly," said Mental Floss. "Within the space of just a few breaths, we can lose our ability to detect new odors. Its callednbsp;olfactory adaptation, and its the same reason you cant smell your own breath, your body odor, or even your perfume after a few minutes."
Outside of the typical tactics of cleaning and deodorizing, there are a few tricks that can help freshen up your place: "Fill 2 to 4 shallow bowls with fresh coffee grounds, depending on the size of the room," said SF GATE. "Shut the windows and the door to the room, then leave the bowls overnight to let the coffee grounds absorb the odor. Throw the coffee grounds away the next day. Repeat one more night with fresh coffee grounds for particularly stubborn odors."
Another quick fix for a lingering stink: "Pour about a cup of white vinegar in a sauce pan on your stove top and bring it to a simmer," said lifehacker. "The simmering vinegar will >
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REALTOR Association Sues City Over Mandatory Pre-Sale Inspections
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America provides that:
"the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things seized."
The U.S. Supreme Court has written that "The basic purpose of this Amendment... is to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions by government officials." Moreover, it has said, "the physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed."
A while back we wrote about a Federal Court ruling as unconstitutional a city ordinance that mandated inspections of rental housing. Baker v. City of Portsmouth, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Sept. 30, 2015 The Youngstown, Ohio, ordinance, adopted in 2012, required the inspection and any required repairs of single-family dwellings before they could be issued a permit which would allow them to be operated as a rental property. The scope of the inspection included a list of eighty search items.
Now, in a somewhat similar situation, the Santa Barbara Association of REALTORSreg; has filed suit against the City of Santa Barbara, alleging that its Zoning Information Report ZIR ordinance "as applied and on its faceimposes unconstitutional conditions on the Fourth Amendment right of homeowners to be free from unreasonable searches."
Here, according to the complaint, are the facts:
- The ZIR requires sellers of residential property to apply for and submit to the City a zoning information report ZIR prior to the sale of the home.
- In order to obtain a ZIR, homeowners must first submit a ZIR application and pay a fee to the City no later than five days after entering into a sale agreement. The fee is currently set at 475 for individual units.
- The ZIR lists any known or discovered nonconformities or violations of any ordinance or law.
- In addition to other documents, the ZIR must include "the results of a physical inspection."
- The ZIR inspection is required, and includes the interior of all residential units and accessory structures e.g. garages, sheds, studios, as well as the entire grounds of a sellers residence.
- A property owner may refuse to consent to a ZIR inspection.
- If a seller refuses consent to enter the home, the City divulges to the buyer that the seller refused consent, and requires the seller to pay a 355 ZIR fee.
- Any homeowner refusing to comply with the ZIR ordinance is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof punishable by a fine of up to 500 or by imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
In the City of Portsmouth case, mentioned at the outset here, in order to comply with the Courts ruling, the city developed an administrative mechanism whereby the city could obtain a warrant for the inspection. It was the warrantless aspect of the inspections that caused the problem. Whether such an alternative might be available to the City of Santa Barbara, or whether it would be palatable, is not known at this time.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, a respected public-interest law firm is representing the Santa Barbara Association of REALTORSreg;. Whatever happens in the Superior Court action, it will not be at the level to be precedent-setting. Nonetheless, it will be closely watched.
Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .
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How To Design An Entryway That Fits Your Need
Its easy to think you need to live like a robot to have a beautiful home, but thats not the case The design for your home should always support your unique life>
I always encourage my clients to note their daily routines so we can set up a space to best serve them. Do your shoes never seem to make it to the bedroom? Do backpacks get left on the floor by the entryway? Do your coats just get thrown on the nearest piece of furniture? Dont berate yourself. Just notice. Then you can make design choices that will help make your life easier, less stressful mdash; and yes, more aesthetically pleasing.
Examine Your Entryway
Are shoes, purses, backpacks and scarves piled up? Are there stacks of mail? Can you never seem to find your keys? Notice what you need when leaving and notice what you naturally do when you come home. Dont judge; just observe.
Photo by Oak Hill Architects - Discover entryway design inspiration
If you throw everything down on the nearest surface when you get home, chances are that all of your design solutions need to involve one or two steps max. More steps away from the entry than that, and you probably wont stick with your plan.
Photo by MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. - Look for entryway design inspiration
Why set yourself up for failure? Just accept yourself exactly as you are and make your home serve you, "bad" habits and all.
Photo by MuseInteriors - Look for entryway design inspiration
Choose the Right Systems for Your Items
Once youre clear on how you use your space, you can choose systems and tools to accommodate your habits.
Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design - Look for entryway pictures
Usually people have to figure out what to do with things like shoes, purses, backpacks, umb>
Photo by Terracotta Design Build - More entryway photos
Consider your needs and the setup of your home. Maybe you dont have a back entry, and one of your needs is a gorgeous front entry that can also serve you with storage. >
Coats. You might think the solution to your coat pile is to hang your coats in the coat closet. But when it really comes down to it, will you? Maybe the act of opening a door, pulling out a hanger, putting your coat on the hanger and hanging it back in the closet will just always be bypassed for the one-step option of throwing it on a chair.
If you know this about yourself, choose a one-step coat-hanging option, like hooks.
Photo by Molly Frey Design - Browse entryway ideas
Shoes. Maybe putting shoes away in the bedroom closet seems like the normal thing to do, but who cares? This is your home, and if having a space for all of your shoes near your door serves you better, then its the right choice.
Photo by Peregrine Design Build - Browse entryway ideas
Not all homes have the space for shelves like these, but you can always outfit a front closet with shelves for shoes or add a rack near the door for shoes you wear every day.
Mail. I have a client who uses baskets just like this in her front entry; she tosses in all the catalogs and magazines that arrive in the mail during the week. On Saturday mornings she takes the basket into her kitchen and goes through it while she drinks coffee. It keeps her organized with minimal effort.
Photo by Viscusi Elson Interior Design - Gina Viscusi Elson - Discover entryway design ideas
The little things. A group of small boxes displayed on a table is a great tool Boxes can hold anything: keys, mail, even makeup. Again, this is setting your house up to serve you. If you rush out the door every morning, and having your mascara near the door is the easiest thing, who can say its wrong?
Photo by Rachel Reider Interiors - Discover entryway design ideas
Implement Your Strategies
Once you know your needs and have picked the tools that can serve you best, its time to pull everything together.
Photo by Corynne Pless - More home design photos
Be flexible. Dont be afraid to think creatively when it comes accommodating your needs. I have one client who keeps all of the familys multivitamins near the door. If they cant grab them as they are walking out the door, they forget to take them.
Thats not where most people keep vitamins, but that location serves her family best.
Photo by Gamp;L and Sons Renovations - Look for entryway design inspiration
Be stylish. It also never hurts to make a statement. If you need to store something out in the open, do it with >
Photo by Kimberley Bryan - Discover entryway design ideas
You cant see them, but mail, keys, makeup and multivitamins are hiding in those drawers.
Photo by Jamie Laubhan-Oliver - Search living room design ideas
- Space-Saving Coat Racks for the Entryway
- Savvy Storage Cabinets to Hold Mail, Shoes and More
- How to Set Up Your Foyer for Success
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Start Decorating Your Home For Christmas In October
Autumn isnt usually the season most people begin decorating for Christmas, but its a great time to get a head start on all your holiday preparations. Planning your decorations before the holiday rush gives you time to organize materials and avoid last-minute shopping. Here are some ideas for creating a put-together Christmas look.
Get Ready to Light Up the Night
By hanging your Christmas lights early, youll be able to test the lights and power sources. You also have more time to select the right length strands to fit each location. Remember: You dont have to turn on the lights just because you hang them up. With your decorations finished earlier, you can light up your home for Thanksgiving guests or plan a big reveal night at the start of the season.
The weather also tends to be milder in October. With less chance for snow and ice, youll be safer on ladders and roofs and can enjoy decorating without needing to bundle up.
Add Some Christmas Whimsy
If youd like to add flair with large or small inflatables, map out the best spot for each figure and plan where you will plug in extension cords. If youre working a few weeks ahead, you have time to test that your power source and inflatables are working properly.
Not a fan of inflatables? Easy-to-use light projectors are the latest trend. Opt for sparkling stars, a snowman, or a holiday saying on the front of your home.
Spruce Up the Front Porch
Shop for holiday decor before the Christmas rush so that you have everything ready when December rolls around. An inviting front porch creates the feeling of holiday spirit even before guests walk through the door. Here are some ideas for a festive entryway:
- Hang a gorgeous wreath on the front door. Battery-powered LED wreaths light up without any dangling cords. Attach fall leaves and wooden pumpkins when you hang it up, then swap them out for red bows and candy canes when Christmas arrives.
- Place small evergreen trees - real or artificial - in porch pots. Theyll add natural color and life to your porch. During the holidays, decorate them with weather-resistant decor like red bows, artificial birds, and glittery pinecones.
- Fill a basket with gourds and pumpkins and place it by the front door. As the holidays approach, replace the fall items with wrapped "presents" - a good use of last years leftover Christmas wrapping paper and boxes.
- Simply add a doormat with a holiday motif in place of your usual one.
October is the perfect time to begin decorating for Christmas. Plan your decor early this year and youll have a stress-free, carefully curated holiday scene.
Lea Schneider is a professional organizer who writes for The Home Depot about all things organization, including the best ways to plan for the holidays. She provides useful tips on using outdoor Christmas decorations to spruce up your homes curb appeal during the holiday season.
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10 Things You Need To Run And Buy From Targets New Project 62 Collection
Because Target doesnt already take far too much of our money, the retailer has now come out with a new furniture and deacute;cor line called Project 62 featuring pieces that are making us twitchy. Frankly, we want five of everything, but, somehow, weve managed to craft a top 10.
The collection, which was named after the year Target launched and also the year "modernist design hit its peak," they said, is comprised of 1,200 pieces ranging from 3 to 700 with a mid-century modern bent and a color palette that includes black and white, cobalt blue, blush, and neutrals.
Heres the thing: its almost the holidays. You know you could put this stuff on your holiday list and get at least some of it. If you can wait that long.
Emmond Mid Century 72" Dining Table White amp; Brown
The mid-century modern styling will grab your eye and the 399 price will make your wallet fling itself right into the hands of the checker. Seriously, if we could fit the floor model in the car, we would walk right out with ithellip;after paying, of course.
Were also digging the coordinating Holmdel chair, which is just simple enough to give it that mid-century ease and comes in two shades of gray and a warm blue. The chair is priced at 99 each.
5-Piece silverware set rose gold
Hello, fancy This takes your dinner game up a notch - or 100. Even if youre just eating something you blasted in the microwave, rose gold silverware is bound to make it taste like a gourmet meal.
Soriano square arm channel tufted chair
You just want to sink into the Soriano chairhellip;with a martini, right? Gorgeous lines, sumptuous materials, rich color - it would be a winner at three times the 249 price. The chair also comes in blush and gray.
Glasgow console table
We love the simple lines of this console table, which is not only stylish and functional with a second shelf, but super affordable at just 69.
Modern radial glass globe ceiling light
You could drop thousands of dollars on a standout lighting fixture, or you could come to Target and spend 149 on this amazing brushed nickel creation. We also love the Madrot Multi-Globe Glass Ceiling Light, which features a brass finish, and the Geneva Glass Globe Pendant, which would look great hung three across over a kitchen island.
Round decorative wall mirror brass
Metallic finishes are featured throughout the Project 62 collection - in the lighting above, in furniture legs and frames, in drum tables, and in chic deacute;cor items, like this 49 mirror.
Marble and Wood Cheese Cutting Board
One simple metallic band separating the marble and wood on this cutting board takes the >
Verken mid-century modern settee bench
The lines of this settee bench are amazing, and the prize is right at 149.
Cocktail shaker - rose gold
Yeah, youll tell yourself youre going to buy this rose goal and acacia wood cocktail shaker it for a friend, but you know its never leaving your house. Better buy a few at just 12, you can.
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Ready For Staging: 4 Repairs You Need Before Selling Your Home
Selling your home is a complex process that may take weeks to complete. This is partially because your house may need to be updated or renovated before it can go on the market. What are some of the most crucial fixes that you should make before listing your property?
Update the Exterior
The first thing that you will want to do is make sure that the homes exterior is in good condition. This may involve landscaping work such as removing trees or shrubs that are dead or dying. It may also involve inspecting the roof, siding or other exterior components that may need to be repaired or updated to make the house easier to sell. At the very least, a fresh coat of paint should be applied before putting the house on the open market.
Check the Air Conditioning
If you have a central air conditioning unit in your home, make sure that it works properly. This means that it should start easily and produce an even amount of cool air throughout the house.
Ideally, you will have it inspected once a year by someone like Doctor Fix-It. However, inspecting it and making repairs prior to selling your home should be considered mandatory. It may also be a good idea to check the furnace and clean the ducts before you show the home to buyers.
Make Sure the Floors Are Adequate
Whether your home has wood floors or carpet, make sure that they are in good condition. If necessary, wax and clean the wood or put down new carpet in areas where it may be frayed or dirty. If you are going to replace your carpet, make sure that it is the same color and >Check the Plumbing and Electrical Systems
Buyers arent going to want to put an offer on a home that has poor water pressure. They are also unlikely to want to make an offer on a home that has dangerous electrical wiring. If the fixes to either system are >Selling your home can be a great way to help you downsize or lock in profits. However, if the process is not done right, it could reduce the sale price of the home or result in the home staying on the market longer than you anticipated that it would.
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.
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Tips For Getting Your Home Sold In The Winter
So youve decided to list your home this winter. Perhaps youve had a job change, need to >
Take photos early... or late
If you can take photos before the trees become barren and the grass goes dormant, do so The last thing you want is for your home to look blah and depressing in photos. If you can capture a snowy day with perfectly scraped walkways, of course, that works, too. It never hurts to have your home looking like a winter wonderland.
Go easy on the holiday deacute;cor
"Deck the halls, but dont go overboard," said HGTV. "Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with >
Always mind your curb appeal
Just because its winter doesnt mean you can let things slide out front. Potential buyers wont give you a pass on chipping paint, a fence that needs repair, or a front door thats seen better days just because its frigid outside.
Shoveling the walk from the street to your home is necessary to make it reachable, make it inviting, and also make it safe. The last thing you want is a slip and fall that could result in an injury, and a lawsuit. "Continually shovel a path through the snow, especially if snowflakes are still falling," said the balance. "Footprints on freshly fallen snow will turn to ice if the temperature is low enough, so scrape the walk. Sprinkle a layer of sand over the sidewalk and steps to ensure your buyers stable footing. Remember to open a path from the street to the sidewalk so visitors arent forced to crawl over snowdrifts."
Get a good indoor mat
Perhaps you never use a mat for indoors or yours is grubby or tattered from 10 straight years of winter wear. This one super easy move may not be noticed by visitors - but it sure will if its missing or not in good shape. Little things like a 10 mat can give buyers the impression that your whole house is well cared for, or just the opposite.
Clear the front door clutter
If you live in a climate where there is likely to be snow or rain, there are a few more steps youll probably have to take in order to keep your house looking great inside. How does your coat closet look? If its stuffed with jackets, scarves, boots, and gloves, >
Make sure everything is functional
Imagine you live in a climate that stays >
Light it up
Shorter days with earlier sunsets limit the amount of natural light in your home. Turning on all the lights before showings is more important than ever. Think about the exterior when it comes to lights, too. If you only have a porch light, you might want to consider adding some landscaping lighting, which will help accentuate your outdoor space.
Listen to your REALTORreg; when it comes to price
Will you be able to command top dollar for your home and get the same price you would have had you listed in spring or summer? That depends on so many things, including your neighborhood, the available inventory, the condition of the home, and, of course, your listing price. A trusted real estate agent will take all mitigating factors into consideration and use comparables in your area to develop a pricing strategy.
When it comes to offers, remember this tidbit from Realtor.com: "Just because yournbsp;homes onnbsp;the marketnbsp;during the slow, chillynbsp;months doesnt meannbsp;you have to accept anbsp;lowball offer. If you make your home attractive in all the right ways, qualified buyersnbsp;willnbsp;come."
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Dress to Match The Market You Sell
When you cover a wide variety of listing in different areas of your state, you may find it challenging to build a professional wardrobe. An ensemble suitable for a high-end apartment in the city may not be as appropriate for a country farmhouse off the beaten path. If youre looking to avoid multiple clothing changes every day, follow these tips on dressing to match the market you sell - without losing your personal >Build a Perfect Foundation
Like any great work wardrobe, youve got to start with a solid foundation. Start with comfortable, versatile pieces. Those pieces may vary based on your personal preferences: You might feel your best when youre wearing a crisp pair of black trousers and a button-down shirt, or you could be more inclined to perform your best in a tailored dress. No matter the >Find flattering fits and fill your closet with items you love. If youre starting completely from scratch, shop secondhand and consignment stores to find high-quality pieces that wont break your budget. Opt for neutral colors and >Make Thoughtful Additions
Build on your foundation pieces to suit the market youre showing that day. Find accessories that dress up a simple white shirt and tailored blazer for a company meeting, or dress down that same white shirt with a sweater and scarf if youre planning on spending time outdoors. When youre heading back from a showing to your kids soccer game, throw on a pair of sunglasses and roll up your sleeves. Most mportantly, find accessories that allow your personality to shine through. Theyre a great way to add color, interesting details and fun functionality.
Keep a Change of Clothes on Hand
For those days where one outfit just cant last you from showing to showing, consider keeping a change of clothes at the office or hanging in your car. Additionally, its good to be prepared with a fancier dress if you need to attend an after-work dinner or client party at a moments notice. Having a few layers on hand wont hurt, either. With the change of seasons, the weather can be quite a surprise. An extra sweater, rain jacket or light t-shirt will ensure that youre always comfortable, especially if you have a long day of home visits on your schedule.
Choose Your Shoes Wisely
Shoes are one of the easiest ways to express your personality, but be mindful of practicality and choose them wisely. Consider the work youll be doing on any given day. As with clothes, keeping a change of shoes on hand is never a bad idea. Flats are compact enough to fit in your purse, should you need to swap from your showing heels to a more comfortable option. Stow a pair of boots in your car if you live in a snowy climate or frequently visit sites under construction.
Find the Best Bag
Youre a REALTORreg;. You have paperwork. Find a bag thats big enough to become your mobile office but still matches your aesthetic. Try a leather crossbody or messenger->As a REALTORreg;, youre sometimes required to make changes in your schedule at the very last minute. Whatever the property youre working on, there are ways to adhere to your personal >Amanda Light is a mom of two who knows how challenging it can be to find a wardrobe that fits your life
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Ask the HOA Expert: Solicitation And Trespassing
Question: Our HOA entrance is posted with signs that prohibit both solicitation and trespassing. However, we frequently have people wandering through the community leaving coupons and flyers on the doors. This prompts owner complaints why this is "allowed". The greatest concern is security because many units are second homes and vacant much of the year.
Answer: Solicitation is usually construed to be door to door person to person selling, not leaving advertising material on the door. The advertising is hand delivered, of course, because its much cheaper than mailing it. Usually a phone call to frequent offenders stops it. But it is an ongoing process since anyone that wants to sell something can use this technique. This is just another form of junk mail and one of lifes little irritations. It sounds like the HOA has done what is reasonable to stop it by posting signs. Periodic calls to the worst offenders may lessen the frequency but until the HOA has controlled access to the grounds, stopping it altogether will be next to impossible.
Question: Do you have any information about "Victory Gardens"? Our HOA pays over 100K in water bills for unit, pool and landscaping needs. I would like to turn some of the vast lawn areas we have into gardens.
Answer: Victory gardens were also called "war gardens" or "food gardens for defense". They were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia during World Wars I and II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.
Victory gardens are a historical fact but what you are suggesting is a mechanism for converting unproductive and costly to maintain common area into productive crop gardens. This concept is particularly >"Xeriscaping" xeros is Greek for dry is a word coined to describe a form of landscaping featuring drought tolerant native species that require little water, pest control or maintenance. With proper plant selection, an HOA can convert a resource hogging lawn to a resource miserly oasis.
The downside of your garden proposal is curb appeal. HOA landscaping is typically maintained by professional landscape contractors. Your proposal to turn maintained common area over to individual owners assumes that each owner will adequately and consistently maintain their garden plot. Such experiments are usually hit and miss at best with many plots turning into unsightly weed patches.
However, if the garden plots are properly screened or in areas that would not detract from curb appeal, it could work. And if it doesnt, the area could be converted to a xeriscape design which the landscape contractor could reasonably maintain. The idea has merit in the right setting.
For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net.
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California REALTORS Face Assessment To Fund Ballot Initiative
Recently the directors of the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR voted to place a 100 assessment on each of the associations approximately 180,000 members. This vote took place at the directors annual fall meetings, held this year in San Diego, October 11 -- 14. The purpose of the assessment is to help fund a CAR-sponsored ballot initiative to be placed on the November, 2018 California ballot.
The initiative, if passed, would allow "individuals 55 years of age and older to transfer their property tax basis to any home in the state, to purchase any price home, and to transfer their basis as many times as they wish."
To appreciate the significance of this, it is necessary to have some idea of Californias property tax system. Property tax valuations are based on purchase price. You buy a house for 700,000, the assessor will value it at 700,000. After that, increases in property tax value are seve>If you have lived in the same home for 15 -- 20 years or more, you are probably enjoying >Californians sought to solve this problem in 1986 with the passage of Proposition 60. It allowed seniors to keep their property tax base assessment when they moved within the same county. However, in 1988, Proposition 90 was passed which allowed each individual county the option of participating in this tax base transfer by seniors who move from one county to another. This had great significance, because many retirees move to a different county e.g. in the mountains, or desert than the ones in which they had lived.
Only eleven of Californias 58 counties will allow a senior from another county to transfer his or her old property tax base to a newly-acquired home in that county.
Californias housing market is currently hampered by a lack of inventory. One of the causes is said to be the "log jam" created by the situation outlined above. It is claimed that large numbers of seniors are >Could a 100-per-member assessment result in such a beneficial effect? Hardly. That money just gets things started. According to background material supplied to the CAR directors, the assessment would only provide part of the funds needed. "The cost to circulate the initiative for signature gathering is 3 million, with the cost of the subsequent campaign ranging between 30 million and perhaps upward of 50 million, if the initiative is heavily contested. Funding would come from C.A.R. political action committees, reserves, NAR funds and a C.A.R. member assessment [i.e. the one now being discussed]."
Strong opposition to the ballot is expected. It would not be surprising if a supplementary assessment became necessary. And, of course, no matter how much funding is achieved, the voters could always reject it.
Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .
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Selling: Half The Winning Real Estate Strategy
Lets zero in on the family home to reveal room for improvement in ways this investment can be put to work when owners are intent on living full, active lives.
Traditionally, when the children were grown and gone, "empty-nester" homeowners/sellers were faced with two options regarding the family home:
Option 1. Sellers who did not intend to re-enter the real estate market put their profit to work in other investments or projects that meant a lot to them, or they lived off the proceeds. Historically, homeowners who sold the large family home slipped into a quieter, cheaper life>
Option 2. Sellers who used the proceeds of their sale mdash; "cashed in their nest egg" mdash; to purchase a smaller home remained in control of their lives and finances. The ideal downsizing scenario involved selling the large family home and buying a bungalow or condominium unit using less than half the proceeds of the home sale. The left-over capital was used to finance years of quiet, comfortable living on the edge of the mainstream or not mdash; sellers choice.
Currently, many seasoned homeowners are not interested in selling their family home only to settle for a lower standard of living, less control of their homes and lives, or disappearing from the mainstream. When traditional options are unattractive or unavailable, sellers often stay in homes and communities that no longer suit them and wait to see what will happen next:
- When faced with the prospect of selling without netting the funds for their ideal next stage, many homeowners hunker down to wait out the real estate market. In many markets, this reaction accounts for lower numbers of available listings.
- In hot sellers markets, sellers may be discouraged from cashing in their now-higher-priced homes because they would still not be able to afford their preference mdash; a smaller property in the same or a better area which is significantly less expensive, so theres a nest-egg leftover. The problem for many seasoned sellers is that competition with first-time buyers and builders drives up prices for smaller homes and this, in turn, stalls seller moves.
The full return from real estate ownership mdash; on top of the benefits gained by living in the property or renting it out mdash; comes from buying smart in the first place, selling smart, and putting the earned profit to work either to purchase more real estate or other investments. Long-time owners are usually able to sell for more than the original purchase price. However, sellers who invest time and effort only in selling, may miss out on earning even greater profits and returns by wisely using the proceeds of the sale.
In many markets, rising residential prices have meant bonuses for sellers and frustration for buyers. Since many sellers become buyers, sellers become winners and losers as described above.
Its way past time to step outside the box of traditional options. Even in tough markets, a range of housing alternatives should be explored. Imaginative approaches allow sellers to win on the sale of the family home and on the purchase of their next home.
In many real estate markets, sales are not equally brisk throughout the entire area nor through the entire price spectrum. For instance, homes in neighborhoods with popular schools may sell more quickly and at higher prices. Homes listed under 500,000 and over one million may be selling well while the middle market is stalled. Sellers in hot areas will do well when they sell. Those who buy in a stalled market may also gain on their purchase. However, sellers who buy a smaller home in a hot market may pay more than they wish for a lesser property since they are competing with first-time buyers and builders.
Different Seller Strategies Will Earn Different Rewards
Strategy 1. If they cant find a desirable lower-priced bungalow, sellers could spend more and buy a duplex, triplex, multiple-unit apartment building, or mixed-use commercial/residential building which would provide living space equivalent to a bungalow in the desired neighborhood plus income from the other units, tax deductions, and other financial benefits. An experienced real estate and financing professional will explain how to finance this transaction using the existing real estate and the income history of the revenue property, while keeping the potential for increased appreciation in mind.
Strategy 2: Sellers could explore the full range of community choices open to them beyond what they know about. With the help of an experienced real estate professional, they could search out a variety of locations where the type of housing they want to buy as their next step is available at the price theyd like to pay. The adventure involves expanding beyond what sellers have experienced so far. This is a big country. And then theres the world..
Strategy 3: Sellers could shift from passively waiting to see whats next to creating more value in their real estate that could also increase their flexibility with the next step. For instance, adding a self-contained rental suite or apartment mdash; if it is done correctly and to zoning bylaws mdash; can achieve four key results at once:Increase property valueAttract more buyersProvide extra income and tax advantages until its time to sellProvide choice mdash; the seller could move into the smaller secondary unit and rent out the rest of the house for even more income and flexibility until a move makes sense.
Local municipalities and experienced real estate professionals know how adding a rental unit must be done. Armed with the correct information, sellers can engage the right contractor, with >
Consciously shift from traditional, last-century thinking about your real estate. Design the 21st-Century Selling Strategy that works for you and your property.
Resource: Savvy Seller Series:
- Why Buyers Wont Buy Your Home"
- Five Key Questions For Home Sellers"
- Are You Prepared For Disaster?"
To understand more about how buyers view the sales process, read our Savvy Buyer Series:
- Buying: From Whose Perspective?"
- Savvy Buyers Search Out Visual Disasters"
- Home Buyer Regrets Are A Reality"
For more about PJ Wades views on effective communication, visit Whats Your Point? Blog
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IKEA Just Announced A New Pet Collection And Well Take Two Of Everything
Admit it. IKEA is your guilty pleasure. For us, its a little like deacute;cor Disneyland, and we soak up all that Scandinavian goodness with a side of Swedish meatballs. An easy little dresser we can hack into something amazing here, an inexpensive set of pillows there. And dont even get us started on the kitchen gadget or lighting sections.
The one thing they have always been missing: stuff to make our pets as happy as their build-it-yourself everything makes us. Until now. IKEAs just-announced LURVIG collection offers pet products for dogs and cats, including beds, couch covers, scratching posts, and accessories.
"Have you ever felt like your cat or dog wasnt just a pet, but a member of the family? Its exactly that focus that led IKEA to make the comprehensive LURVIG pet product range," they said. "Created by pet loving designers with support from trained veterinarians, the range covers all the bases of our shared life with pets indoors and out, so you and your pet can enjoy your home together."nbsp;
LURVIG means "hairy" in Swedish, BTW. Appropriate, no? Check out some of our faves from the upcoming collection.
Forget that regular old dog bed. This one has a bona fide frame that raises it up from the floor and can also be used upside down for more height.
Then, choose from an array of different cushions to complement your deacute;cor. At 7.99 to 19.99 depending on the size, you can order a bunch.
Well also be going with the "cat/dog bed," because, who are we kidding? THATS AN ANIMAL FUTON Well take one for each room of the house.
The cat house is practical and cute, and slips right into the KALLAX shelf unit.
For the pooch that loves propping his head up on a pillow.
Same color story, different graphic pattern: This dog blanket will look great on your couch, and you and your guests will appreciate how it leaves the other cushions dog-hair-free.
Forget the ugly scratching post and protect your furniture at the same time by wrapping the legs with this LURVIG scratching mat. Even bettermdash;its only 5.99.
A kitty hangout thats also a chic side table? Yes, please. Its actually a cat house on legs, but were not telling anyone that.
Its not like you cant get a dog bowl at any pet store, home improvement store, Target, Walmart, and on and on. But the nicer ones can be pricey. These bowls are metal, and also have a non-slip bottom, for just 2.99
We also like IKEAs new collection of leashes, harnesses, and collars, which are affordable, come in a range of sizes, and are made of a reflective material.
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DIY Fall Decor Tricks
Who says you have to spend big bucks to give your home some fall flair? All you need is a little creativity. If you also have a few basic art or crafting items at home, you may not need to spend any money at all
This fun craft is something the whole family can do. Even little kids can help pick out leaves and other items and place them on the pumpkins. This is a no-carve craft; all you need to stick your stuff down is Mod Podge.
These more fanciful versions were made with leftover party napkins and glitter. Note that you can decoupage a real or craft pumpkin.
You dont need super DIY skills to create a warm welcome this season. For this great-looking wreath, you dont even need a wreath form Just go grab a wire hanger from your closet.
If you dont live in an area where you can readily find pinecones or or dont want to go foraging through nature, try using felt instead. The bonus: you can choose any color you want
Or, pick up a simple dropcloth to make this neutral, chic wreath that will certainly get noticed.
The great thing about faux, carvable pumpkins is that you can use them to create gorgeous centerpieces without worrying about the pumpkin going bad. We love this mix of florals, leaves, and filler. The best news is that you can cover and store it, and then take it out again next year
Theres a reason pinecones show up so often in fall deacute;cor. Not only do they exude the bounty of the season, but theyre also: free, or at least inexpensive if you dont live in an area where they fall from trees; and, they can be used in so many ways to create inviting deacute;cor. This centerpiece couldnt be easier, with a hurricane in the center of the big wooden bowl, surrounded by pinecones and mini pumpkins. You could also choose to just use the pumpkins, an array of mini gourds, or acorns. When it gets closer to the holiday, add in cranberries.
Your kids are going to love helping you make this one. "Faux leaves become pretty lightweight bowlsnbsp;with just a little DIY time," said Midwest Living. "Blow up a balloon the larger the balloon, the larger yournbsp;bowlnbsp;will be and rest in in anbsp;bowl. Cover the top of the balloon and the top sides of leaves with decoupage medium. Gently layer the leaves face down on the balloon, forming anbsp;bowl shape. Brush more decoupage medium on the backs of the leaves. Let dry, then poke a hole in the balloon and discard balloon.?nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;
Another fun way to use acorns will yield pretty, sparkly finishes that look great displayed through the holidays.
We love being able to use unconventional materials to create something special, and these mason jar lids fit the bill. Simply fasten them together and add any accoutrement you wish.
This great vase is actually a recycled oatmeal container wrapped in rope. pgt;
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13 Decorations to Pair With Beautiful Dark Walls
Dark walls, from inky blue to charcoal and black, are refined and dramatic - but decorating around them without making your space feel too dark can be tricky. If youve been thinking of painting one or more walls a deep, dark hue, these ideas for color and decor pairings should help.
Natural wood. Natural wood, whether in a mirror frame, rustic tabletop or chair, helps lighten up dark walls while also emphasizing their richness. You cant go wrong with a driftwood or barn wood mirror, a farmhouse table or bentwood chairs.
Sculptural shapes. Place anything colorful or white in front of a dark wall, and your eye will be immediately drawn to its contours. Try placing a group of pottery pieces on a console or mantel. Or highlight the shape of an unusual table or chair by positioning it in front of a deep, dark wall.
Photo by Ingrid Rasmussen Photography - Browse home design photos
Green plants. Potted plants and indoor trees look even lusher when placed in front of a dark wall. The dark color recedes into the background, creating the feeling of having a mini forest in the room instead of a few plants. Bonus >
Photo by Claire Stevens Interior Design - Browse entryway photos
Large artwork. A single piece of oversize art hung on a dark wall has the most impact - even more than a salon->
Photo by i3 design group - More bedroom photos
White. If you feel at all unsure about which direction to go in with the other elements in your dark painted room, choose white mdash; it always works. In this bedroom a charcoal wall is set off by a grouping of wall-mounted plants on white bases, white bedding and white window treatments.
Photo by Honey Bee Interiors - More bedroom photos
Pale, watery hues. Soft and ethereal, pale aqua, mint, champagne and silvery gray bring lightness to a room with dark walls. Try these watercolor-inspired hues in bedding, a throw or pillows for an elegant feel.
Photo by Louise de Miranda - Discover bedroom design inspiration
Rich mustard and teal. These hues complement deep blue, gray or even dark chocolate walls by bringing in the colors of fall. Just a small touch of mustard, teal or both hues will do mdash; try a throw, pillow covers or curtains.
Photo by Breeze Giannasio Interiors - Browse powder room photos
Wild card pairing: brights. A flash of hot pink, neon yellow or vibrant turquoise is daring - and exciting Brights work best with black or charcoal; adding these bold hues to a room painted another dark color like navy or forest green is riskier. Test out a fun color pairing with a low-cost addition like hand towels or a cluster of bright vases.
Mirrors. Dark walls in a room without much natural light run the risk of making it feel oppressive. Boost what light you have by adding mirrors - even small, decorative mirrors, like the ones shown here, can help lighten things up. If the room is very dark, add a larger mirror, either on the wall or leaning against it.
Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design - Search bedroom pictures
Acrylic and glass. Like mirrors, clear materials, like acrylic and glass, can help a dark space feel a bit lighter. Swap out a wood piece, like a console, for a glass or acrylic version. Or add a large glass vase filled with greenery for a quick boost.
Photo by Tamara Magel Studio - More bedroom ideas
Photo by Rikki Snyder - Browse living room photos
In this living room, dark gray walls are lightened up with a glass coffee table, an acrylic TV stand, white trim and a light sofa and rug.
Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design - Search family room design ideas
Rich texture. Dark walls call out for touchable textures, like velvet, silk, oiled wood and fluffy mohair. Consider a plush velvet sofa, velvet or silk accent pillows, or a mohair throw in a living room with dark walls.
Photo by Oak Hill Architects - Search dining room pictures
Oriental rugs. Rolling out an Oriental rug is a good way to marry a daringly dark wall color with a traditional home. These carpets tend to include a range of rich, deep colors, lending them well to dark walls in just about any hue.
Antiques. As with using traditional rugs, bringing in an antique piece or two is a wonderful way to take the edge off a strong wall color. In the room shown here, dark walls look refined alongside an eclectic mix of antiques and modern Lucite chairs.
- Why Golden Pothos Make the Best Indoor Plants
- Add Little Pops of Color With These Beautiful Vases
- Stylish Wall Mirrors to Lighten Up a Dark Room
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The FAFSA And Real Estate: When To Buy And Refi To Get The Most Aid For College
Getting ready to fill out the dreaded Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA? Its the form that strikes fear in parents of college students and college students-to-be who have been cautioned about the tedious process involved, and the disappointing results. And while there is a ton of advice out there about how to properly prepare, what you need, and what to expect, theres another layer of concern for homeowners and homebuyers: How does the FAFSA affect you if youre in the market, already own a home, have investment property, or are thinking about refinancing? Were breaking it down.
First, a little bit about the FAFSA for those who have not yet had the pleasure: "Based primarily on your familys income and assets, the Expected Family Contribution EFC qualifies students for federal grants, loans and work-study programs," said Bankrate. "The purpose of the FAFSA is to calculate your expected family contribution, or EFC - the amount the government believes your family can contribute for college that year."
The good news for homeowners getting ready to fill out the FAFSA is that a principal residence is not reported as an asset. But, other real estate holdings may count as assets and may reduce your financial aid award.
If you have a small business that is both owned and controlled by your family and has fewer than 100 full-time or full-time equivalent employees, it is not a reportable asset. However, income from a rental property cannot be included as a small business.
"Rental properties are a popular tax and investment strategy among parents, but they do not qualify as a family controlled small business asset that can be excluded from the FAFSA," said Forbes. "Dont make the mistake of thinking that you can just throw your rental properties in an LLC and exclude the value as a small business on the FAFSA."
Real estate can be reported as an asset on the FAFSA as either investment real estate or business/farm assets. "For real estate to be considered a business asset, it must be used in the operation of the business, not incidental to it," said Fastweb. "Sub-regulatory guidance published by the US Department of Education indicates that, A rental property would have to be part of a formally recognized business to be reported as such, and it usually would provide additional services like regular cleaning, linen, or maid service. This is similar toIRSguidance concerning whether rental income from real estate must be reported on Schedule E or Schedule C ofIRSForm 1040."
If youre unsure of whether to report rental income as a business asset or investment asset, there are some rules of thumb that you can read about here, but the best course of action is to consult with your accountant or tax attorney. Keep in mind, though, that reporting real estate as a business or farm asset has "less of an impact on the students expected family contribution EFC than investment assets."
Because your principal residence is not a reportable asset on the FAFSA, it doesnt matter how much equity you have in your home; whether the house is worth a mere 100 more than when you bought it or you have 300,000 worth of equity, it wont count against you.
Paying down the balance on your home prior to applying for the FAFSA is one of the strategies recommended by financial professionals for those who need to lower their cash on hand and savings. "To get the most financial aid, consider shifting some assets from reportable categories into nonreportable ones before you sit down to fill out your FAFSA," said TIME Money. "For example, you might use some money from reportable assets like bank accounts and mutual funds to pay down the mortgage on your home, which doesnt count as an asset on the FAFSA."
But, home equity can come in handy in another important way: tapping into it can be a smart move if youre low on funds and need to find a way to pay for college, especially if the interest rate is lower than a federal Parent Plus loan or a private education loan.
Refinancing, and, especially a cash-out refinance, can be especially tempting if you have an interest rate that is higher than what is currently being offered. A cash-out refi would readjust your rate hopefully to something lower than what you currently have and give you money that could be used to pay for college tuition. But, there are issues associated with this type of refinance that may make you think twice, like the upfront disbursement.
"This yields a lump sum in advance, years before the money is needed," said fastweb "The interest rate may be very low, but the borrower will pay interest on the loan for many years before the money is needed to pay for college bills. Interest begins accruing from the date of disbursement. Another problem with a cash-out refinance is that the money will be counted as a parent asset until it is used, reducing eligibility for need-based financial aid."
For this reason, a home equity line of credit HELOC is often the preferred refinancing method for those looking to use the funds for college.
"In a climate of lower housing interest rates, a home loan might seem like an attractive option for some parents to help shoulder the cost of paying forcollege," said US News. "A HELOC is a type of home equity loan that allows borrowers to borrow a line of credit against the value of their home - it operates almost like credit card and usually has a floating interest rate. A borrower can limit the amount to just whats needed under a HELOC compared with a home equity loan, which requires taking out a lump sum. The minimum amount for a home equity loan can range between 10,000 and 25,000 at lending institutions, home loan experts say."
Be aware, though, that, a HELOC may be counted toward yourEFC. Because of this, the timing of taking out the loan and filling out the FAFSA is critical. Waiting until after you file the FAFSA to take out the loan, or timing it so the proceeds of the HELOC do not hit your bank account until after you file, can protect these funds from being counted against you and having your need-based aid reduced.
Getting ready to buy a house
If youre in the market and wondering you to manage the timing of your home purchase and FAFSA filing, youll be pleased to know that buying now will likely help you when it comes to getting money for college. In determining your need-based aid, any money you currently have set aside for your down payment and closing costs would be used to reduce the amount of aid awarded. Putting it into a home improves your financial picture, at least in terms of the amount of help you can get for college.
The FAFSA has questions that "ask about how much cash students and parents have in savings and checking accounts atthe moment you are filling out the FAFSA," said TIME Money. "But notice that there are no questions on the FAFSA about your debts or bills."That means that sheltering your money in real estate, so long as that real estate is the only property you own and you intend to live in it, is a smart move.
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Protecting Community Associations Against Money Loss
Qustion: I am the President of a 135 unit condominium association and have just read that a local Property Management company has been the victim of an embezzlement. I understand a lot of condominium money that was held by the Management Company may have been lost. What can our association do to protect ourselves against such events?
Answer: In my law practice, I have represented at least two property management companies that went out of business in this area, leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills and large losses from community associations reserve and operating accounts.
There are many ways in which to protect your association funds.
First, before you hire a property manager, make sure the firm is licensed in the jurisdiction where your property is located. However, not every state requires a license.
Second, check out the property manager carefully. Perhaps you should even obtain credit reports on the firm and the property manager who will be servicing your project; this will, of course, require the permission of the manager, but they should not object if they want your business.
Third, keep control of your funds. Generally speaking, there are two pools of moneys in community associations: operating accounts and reserve accounts.
Regarding the operating account, set a dollar figure above which the property manager will need the co-signature of at least one board member on all checks going out of that account. This will, of course, create a burden on both the property manager and the board member who has to sign checks. But, in my opinion, if you want to serve on the board, you should be willing to assume those responsibilities which will protect the funds belonging to the unit owners who elected you -- and yourself as well.
Clearly, there are routine checks that have to be paid on a monthly basis -- such as water bills, insurance, and trash collection. If you set a dollar limit such as 1,000, the property manager can write checks up to that amount without a second signature. But any checks over that limit must be co-signed by at least one board member. Your bank will give you signature cards and these requirements should be spelled out in those documents. Then, the bank will have to honor your request.
Regarding the reserve accounts, they should only be in the name of the association and only board members should be authorized to sign checks or transfer funds from those accounts. Community associations do not transfer moneys often from reserve accounts; it should not be a hardship on anyone to require that only board members be authorized to have access to those funds.
Fourth, make sure the property management company has adequate insurance covering your association in the event of embezzlement, fraud or other activities which may cause your association a loss. The insurance industry will write "third party coverage" bond insurance which will give you protection in the event of a loss. The amount of the policy will depend on the amount of the reserves you anticipate you will carry. Some associations have hundreds of thousands of dollars in reserve; clearly, third party coverage in the amount of 50,000, for example, is woefully inadequate for those associations.
Fifth, make sure that the management company has a fidelity bond in place covering any loss created by its employees.
Sixth, make sure that you and not the property manager hire an accounting firm to give you a full audit each and every year. Your association should give a letter of engagement to the accountant, and the accountant should report back to you -- and not the manager.
Seventh, and perhaps most importantly, insist that the property manager give you and your board members a monthly financial status report, which will include copies of the actual bank statements received by the management company. Review these carefully every month within five days from receipt. Keep in mind that every board member has a fiduciary >Most property managers are honest and hard-working. However, one dishonest manager will unfortunately cast a broad brush of distrust on the entire industry. I do not believe that property managers will object to the various suggestions I have made, and indeed may have more recommendations of their own.
Several years ago, the United States Attorney in New York indicted a large number of property managers there. Clearly, not all were involved in community association management. However, the lesson to be learned from New York and from the two incidents in the Washington area is quite clear: when there is money there will be greed and corruption. Community association board members have the power to control -- as best they can -- the financial security of association funds, and steps should be implemented immediately, while it is not too late.
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How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?
Home alarm systems can be particularly hard to calculate into resale value or return on investment ROI because their job is to prevent loss rather than achieve gains. You purchase a home alarm system with the hope that you never need to use it.
The reality is that a burglary is reported to police every 14.5 seconds. But robbery isnt the only thing that alarms can save you from. Smart alarms can detect smoke and hazards.
More than ever, homeowners want to feel safe in their homes. A built-in alarm system may be just what it takes to get your house off the market.
1. Alarm Systems Arent as Expensive as They Used to Be
According to HomeAdvisors survey, most homeowners invest between 330-1,040 when purchasing and installing home alarm systems. However, with the advent of smart, connected technology, home security is more affordable than ever.
Products like the Nest Cam Outdoor monitor your home in 1080p high definition video that you can access from your smartphone 24/7. This monitor also has a two-way audio feature, meaning you can use your voice to scare off intruders or give live instructions to a delivery service. Smart products allow you to monitor your home yourself, which cuts down the cost of hiring a security company to do the monitoring for you.
Smart products send security alerts right to your phone, allowing you to act fast and take control. Monthly security subscriptions on smart products are usually a fraction of the cost of subscribing to a traditional security service.
2. Add Resale Value
Owning a safe and secure home is appealing to every home buyer, from frequent travelers to families. That means pre-installed cameras, smoke detectors, and smart locks can be huge selling points. The more convenient and easy-to-use the security, the better.
One of the most desired security features for homeowners is motion sensor lighting over the driveway. Not only does it scare away late-night intruders, it also helps homeowners navigate in the dark. Buyers want added safety and convenience in their everyday lives, and the right security system can provide both.
3. Home Security Lowers Neighborhood Crime
In 2016, Rutgers University >
Burglars are less likely to break into homes that are protected with home security, and that fact carries over when applied to entire neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods are highly desirable to homeowners and can help your home sell faster and at a higher price.
4. Alarm Systems Can Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance
If you financed your home with a mortgage, you are most likely required to have home insurance. While the price of home insurance varies, most companies offer discounts to homes with security systems.
With a home monitoring system installed, you can save up to 20 on home insurance. Those savings can amount to hundreds of dollars per year or the cost of the security system all together.
5. They Save Money in the Long Run
Burglaries can cost you, not only in the possessions stolen from your home, but also in the damage that many homes incur during a burglary.
Most burglars enter homes through the front or back door or first-floor windows, usually breaking them in the process. The cost of fixing a broken window or kicked-in door can be even more expensive than the valuables taken.
It was found that when burglars enter homes with security systems, they are much more likely to leave quickly, taking fewer items with them.
While security systems arent foolproof, they do offer the benefit of safety and security. Whether youre installing a system for yourself or for future homeowners, the peace of mind it offers is the ultimate ROI.
Written By: Katy Caballeros
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Condo Renovations: Making The Most Of Your Space
In real estate, nothing ever stays the same. In Toronto, the types of condo buyers are constantly changing, says real estate agent Cynthia Goodchild of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, Johnston and Daniel Division.
Many buyers are now families or young couples with a baby on the way. They dont want to rent but cant afford to buy a house. Or some, regardless of age, dont have the time or inclination to maintain a home.
Condo suites are smaller than they used to be, so it pays to renovate to make the most of every inch and to make the space functional for everyday living and entertaining.
Designer Sabrina Bitton, an expert in all things space saving and clever, recently transformed her 825-square-foot suite into a showpiece of good, functional, flexible and space-efficient design. Her suite offers the clean-lined and less-is-more sensibilities todays buyers want.
She embraces European design, with a dash of Frank Lloyd Wright bringing the outdoors in while ensuring no space is wasted, she says.
Her original two-bedroom suite had large windows in the living room and master bedroom, the rooms side by side at the end of the suite. Bitton removed the master bedroom wall and incorporated the square footage and windows into the living space.
She sealed up the doors to the walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom and lined the walls with floor-to-ceiling custom millwork. Instead of extending the built-ins to the end of the living room wall, she added open solid walnut shelving to provide an airy feeling and to offer a place to display treasured items.
Walnut is used for several features throughout the suite, bringing a touch of nature and creating a sense of flow between rooms.
The kitchen includes walnut shelving and a walnut island. To create maximum storage space, Bitton took advantage of the nine-foot-high ceilings and extended the built-ins to the ceiling. The high space is ideal for storing large boxes of out-of-season clothing and seasonal items that dont need to be accessed on a regular basis.
Vents for heating and cooling are hidden behind cupboard doors and kick plates, with slits to keep the air circulating.
Storage space is always a challenge in condos, so finding creative ways of adding more makes the unit more functional. "I have so much storage space that some cupboards are actually empty," she says.
A clever "Bitton trick" is a bar-height island on wheels that fits over the existing kitchen island so it doesnt take up additional floor space.
When entertaining be it for a sit-down dinner for eight, a buffet or a large cocktail party, the bar-height island can be wheeled out to provide a separate table. Or it can be used as buffet space, a place to enjoy cocktails or additional work space.
Downsizers who arent ready to give up their sit-down eating space find this a particularly welcome idea, Bitton says.
She chose bar stools with lower backs so when theyre tucked under the bar, they dont obstruct the view from the kitchen. Bitton added a clear rectangular blown glass chandelier over the island to add drama without distracting from the view.
Seamless, clean-lined built-ins on another wall in the living/dining space include a fold-up desk, and a surprise. Instead of hard-to-reach cupboards at ceiling height, Bitton added pull-down rods so hanging clothes are easily accessible.
When renovating, figure out what you want, how to achieve and what you want to invest your money on. Bitton splurged on a comfortable sofa.
"Comfort is important. Also, since its a linear space, the curved couch adds a feeling of movement. You could also add an additional sleeping area by using a sofa bed."
In the second bedroom, which is beside the original master bedroom, a door was added to provide access to the walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom. More custom built-ins were added in the closet.
In the bedroom, the original closet doors were removed and the closet space was lined with walnut to create a headboard/nook for her bed. The window seat was extended from 18 to 24 inches to create a cosy sitting area. Custom built-ins were installed below the window seat and extended along the wall. An unused alcove space was filled with shelves and glass doors to create a fun display space for Bittons fancy shoes.
Light-coloured floors are used throughout, chosen over dark, which shows dust and visually closes in a space. Paint and window treatments are different tones of the same creamy neutral colour family. Doors are painted light grey to complete the Zen ambiance.
Before buying a new condo, Goodchild says its important to speak to the builder to find out what changes can be made. You may not want the kitchen thats there or would prefer to omit a wall, but the builder may not be able to accommodate your needs.
Few developers will allow preconstruction changes. In that case, choose the least expensive finishes for features you plan to remove, and then renovate with an eye to creating functional and multi-functional space, says Bitton, of Sabrina Bitton Interior Design. "Its all about creating smart condos."
Times have changed from 20 years ago, when condos were purchased primarily by retirees, Goodchild says. Now people in their 50s are buying too because they want less upkeep, more freedom and the ability to do more of what they want, including travel.
"Retirees still make up a large percentage of purchasers, but the under 35-year-olds find condo ownership appealing because they want to be downtown and be close to work. They want to have the ability to work, live and play in the same neighbourhood," Goodchild says. "Then they have children and sometimes stay."
Whoever the buyer, making the most of the space is key, says Bitton, who along with in-person service, offers Skype design consultation. A portion of her fee goes to charity.
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Earmarking Reserves In Your HOA
Most homeowner associations are entrusted with substantial common elements which must be maintained, replaced or renewed. All of this costs a lot of money. Borrowing said money is a very bad idea because it comes at a very high price in the way of interest and fees which must be repaid along with the principal. The cheapest and fairest way to pay for these expenses is to earmark a portion of the monthly, quarterly or annual fees and hold this money in reserve for future expenses. A properly done reserve study will inform the board how much the earmark should be so that all pay a fair share of a 30 year plan. If this is done, special assessments are never needed and the board has the money when needed.
But keep in mind that even the best reserve study has its limitations. While it predicts likely useful life spans and replacement costs, it cant guarantee either one. A reserve study is based on assumptions that change over time. The climate, weather, soil conditions, maintenance, design and construction quality play a role in the aging process, causing some components to age differently than expected. The financial climate is also variable. Investment earnings and the inflation change. To keep the reserve study accurate, industry experts recommend and state statutes often require that the reserve study be updated annually.
How Much Do You Need? The reserve study will estimate how much money is needed for future projects and when the funds will be needed. For the typical garden >Communicate with Owners. For HOAs that are not currently contributing enough to reserves, the solution is to start contributing more by increasing the monthly fees. Lenders shy away from HOAs which have little or no reserves but it negatively impacts a lenders collateral. Once the reserve study is completed, provide owners with a copy and encourage them to read it. Hold a special meeting and invite the reserve study provider to explain it. Make sure owners understand the reserve funding schedule and emphasize the >Dont Commingle Funds. Reserves should not be used to pay for ongoing preventive maintenance and repairs. Those should be paid out of the operating budget. Reserve funds should be segregated in a special bank account apart from operating funds. Typically, the portion of HOA fees earmarked for reserves is swept into this separate account monthly. Only reserve >Borrow Reserves Funds Carefully. Borrow from reserves only in an emergency or because of seasonal high expenses like an insurance premium that comes due early in the year and not enough fees have accumulated yet to pay it. If you must borrow, document the board vote approving that decision, establish a reasonable repayment plan and stick to the plan.
Develop a Reserve Investment Plan. Reserve funds are typically placed in FDIC insured savings accounts, money market accounts and Certificates of Deposit. Most state laws dont have specific reserve investment standards for homeowner associations. The governing documents usually give the board investment discretion. Boards should develop a written investment policy that defines the investment goals, establishes the objectives against which the investment performance will be measured, and identifies the boundaries within which investment selections will be made.
The investment policy should include:
- Keep the reserves safe dont risk the principal.
- Preserve earning power by choosing investments that match or exceed the inflation rate when possible.
- Ensure that the funds are available when they are needed.
Other issues to consider include:
- Consider working with an investment professional. This is particularly important when the reserve fund is large.
- Remember that this is OPM Other Peoples Money. Tread carefully.
- Document the investment decisions in meeting minutes.
- Diversify the investments savings, CDs, etc.
- Focus on liquidity. Industry experts recommend holding 5 of reserves in cash for emergencies, another 10-15 in short term six months or less securities and the rest spread among varied investments with varied maturities. The reserve study provides the schedule for work and projected cost for investment planning.
- Review your investment strategies annually to make sure they still match near and long term goals. Dont let cyclical changes in the market alter the investment strategy which should remain long term.
Maintaining adequate reserves is a fundamental part of the boards fiduciary duty. Make sure to earmark the budget for reserves.
For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net
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Benjamin Moores 2018 Color Of The Year: A Modern Guide To Using Red In Your Home
Neutrals, be gone If Benjamin Moore has its way, interiors will be going from soft and soothing to red hot next year. The paint companys Color of the Year for 2018 is Caliente, and the name is appropriate. The fiery red is "hot, passionate, and sexy," said Benjamin Moore. With a hint of orange,nbsp;calientenbsp;has lots of personality and is the perfect hue for you if you are drawn to the warmer tones of red.
The companys Director of Strategic Design Intelligence, Ellen ONeill, weighed in by adding, "Strong, radiant and full of energy, Caliente AF-290 is total confidence. It is pleasing, passionate and makes people feel special, like red carpet treatment. "Whether used as one note or on four walls, the spirited personality of red turns heads signaling surprise and adventure. The eye cant help but follow its bold strokes."
Indeed. Architectural Digest believes that, "This years choice will stop you in your tracks." Whether or not youre a fan of red, youre bound to notice it. Red can be a polarizing color, with some loving the energy it brings and others finding it a tad too bold for their space. The key to making it sing in your home is knowing where to use it, and how much.
If the principles of feng shui are important to you, consider that red conjures fire and, "Fire represents the energy of sun and life," said The Spruce. "A balanced feng shui fire element in your home will bring joy, excitement, and strongnbsp;sexual desire. An imbalance of the same element will bring either fiery arguments, restlessness and even aggression too much Fire or a lack of energy and enthusiasm for life too little Fire."
When it comes to the home, red "signifies richness, luck and luxury," they said. "If used too much, though, it can bring bursts of anger and over stimulation." That means a cautious hand may be best. Covering the walls in every room and oversaturating the spaces with furniture and deacute;cor pieces could just be a bit too caliente.
We know from the study of color theory that different colors can affect moods. If you apply that to the home, it makes sense that some spaces would be a better fit than others for a color called caliente.
"Rednbsp;raises a rooms energy level. The most intense color, it pumps the adrenaline like no other hue," said Freshome. "It is a good choice when you want to stir up excitement, particularly at night. In the living room or dining room, red draws people together and stimulates conversation. In an entryway, it creates a strong first impression." In the bedroom, it could mean a fiery sex lifehellip;but trying to sleep might be an issue.
You may not be ready to take the bold hue through your whole kitchen, but careful placement can make a huge impact, like on this island.
Juxtaposed against bright white, Caliente is a standout on the walls - especially in a room that flooded with natural light.
Hows that for a warm welcome? The rich, red door is a beautiful complement to the neutral deacute;cor and adds another element of interest in a space with a wealth of architectural detail.
Dont want to splash this color on your walls? One standout piece in the electric hue can energize the whole room.
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Real Estate Cyberfraud Continues. Is It Time To Return To Paper?
Cybercrime continues to thrive in the real estate brokerage environment. By this, I dont mean the kind of electronic skullduggery that results in stolen identity information or hacking into someones bank account. Rather, I refer to the business of fraudulently inducing a principal -- sometimes even an escrow officer -- into wiring funds to a bank account controlled by a hacker or someone in business with the hacker.
Heres what can happen: the hacker gains access to the "network" of participants involved in a real estate transaction. His entry point may be through a real estate agents email account, or escrows, or any one of a number of affiliated services such as title or home warranty. Certainly, the hacking of an agents account seems the most likely. The hacker will monitor the transaction, learning all the names, phone numbers, and financial information involved. Then, at some point near closing, the hacker will send an email -- posing as one of the >More frequently, this kind of theft is occurring at the beginning of a transaction. One scenario is this: the hacker is monitoring electronic communication between the buyers agent and the sellers agent and between the agents and their principals. Shortly after a purchase is agreed upon, the hacker sends the buyer an email appearing to have come from his agent telling him where to wire the earnest money. That will be to an account controlled by the hacker.
The scam at the beginning of a transaction doesnt generally yield as much money. It is deposit money, not a down payment. But it takes less time and saves watching an escrow that might fail anyway.
California REALTORSreg; have available to them a useful one-page document entitled "Wire Fraud Advisory." We have discussed that in an earlier column July, 2016 and need not review it here. Instead, it is important to focus on the use of the form.
Two things: 1 As the above scenario illustrates, the advisory -- read "warning" -- should be provided early on in the process. Just as agency >2 It should be given singular attention, not simply included in a pile of papers with "you should read these" instructions. The issue needs to be addressed.
Some companies have their own version of the advisory, which is fine -- as long as they are provided in a timely and focused manner.
Indeed, some companies are now advising their clients to use cashiers checks, rather than to trust the electronic handling of their funds. Is that just too impossibly retro for you? Well, it made sense to some of the people who recently attended the most recent meeting of the Directors of the California Association of Realtors CAR.
The topic of wire fraud received extensive discussion; and one group was formulating a request for the Standard Forms Committee to revise its treatment of earnest money deposit in the standard purchase contract Residential Purchase Agreement, RPA. As it is now, the default position in the RPA is that deposit funds will be provided by electronic transfer. One can still choose an option of personal check or cashiers check, or cash for that matter.
Brokers initially loved the electronic transfer -- and probably most still do -- because it >Speaking of which, it emerged in other discussions that brokers need to do a thorough assessment of their risks in this regard. It turns out that more than a few insurance policies that have an electronic fraud provision dont, in fact, cover the kind of fraud and loss that has been discussed here.
A topic for another day.
Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .
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