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Updated: Friday, November 15, 2019

5 Surprising Ways to Invest in Your House

Expanded Driveway

One area that many people never think about changing is their driveway. Over the years, a lot of people have learned that they can expand their driveway to hold more cars. This is especially useful if you have multiple vehicles that members of your family drive.

In the average neighborhood, there is simply not enough space for more than a few cars. It is a small investment to expand the driveway of your home, and the potential future buyers will love this feature.

New Cabinets

The kitchen is one of the most important areas of the home when it comes to selling. Cabinets are a central point of any kitchen. If you want to improve or replace your cabinets, it is vital to work with a company that has experience in the field. Look for cabinet refinishing companies near you through online sources.

The cabinets in your kitchen should flow with the rest of your home. With such a large investment of both time and money, make sure that you have conducted research on the best cabinets for your current home.

Tile in Bathroom

Another vital room in your home is the master bathroom. You will spend a lot of your time in this room, so it is important to make it as inviting as possible.

Upgrading the floors in your bathroom is a great choice. Tile is the most common piece of material to use. Not only does it last longer, but it looks much better than other options as well.

Heated tile is another feature that many people enjoy. In the cold mornings of the winter, heated tile can be a nice luxury. As soon as you walk on the tile, your feet will be heated and you will enjoy the bathroom experience much more. This is new technology that a lot of people are upgrading to.

Smart HVAC System

Everyone knows that a new HVAC system is not cheap. However, there are new HVAC systems that focus on reducing your total energy consumption. Although these units are still expensive, you will save some money every month on lower electricity bills.

With so many options on the market today, it is vital to spend some time finding the right model for your home. If you live in a cold area, make sure the heating unit is large enough to heat your entire home. In many areas, the upstairs part of the home is difficult to heat in the winter without a large unit.

New Paint

Perhaps the easiest way to improve the value of your home is to simply paint the walls. New paint on the walls can really improve the look and feel of your home. Although you can do the painting yourself, it makes sense to hire someone who has experience painting.

Painting an entire house is a long process. Although it will not be cheap, it will improve the value of your home greatly. This is one of the best things to do right before you list a home on the market.

Investing in your home is one of the best financial decisions that you can make. As the housing market continues to improve in value, investing in your home will help you financially. You can even use the equity in your home to pay for the new upgrades that you want.

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Troubleshooting Plumbing Issues

Broken pipes

Orange County, for example, is one of the most densely populated places in America, and it is facing an expensive problem. About a fifth of the areas water pipes are coming to the end of their useful lifespan. Not only are the pipes a bit old, but the soil is also corrosive. Of course, much of the pipe that needs to be replaced is the citys responsibility, but some of the financial burden will rest on the shoulders of local residents.nbsp;This is also an issue for plenty of other lcoations nation-wide. If youre experiencing any of the signs of a major leak, be it reduced water pressure, damp spots in your yard or driveway, or a smell of sewer in the house, be sure to contact a plumbernbsp;to get things working the right away.

Leaking faucets

Leaking faucets are a pain. They can run up your water bill and even cause damage if the pooling leaks in a place you cant see. You might not believe it, but even a slow drip, if it is steady, can be costing you 20 dollars in water a week. In most cases, a dripping faucet is caused by a faulty seal on the valve that holds back the water supply coming into your home. Your water supply is under pressure, which is why water spurts out when you turn on the tap, and the seal holds this pressure back. To fix it, turn off the water supply and then remove the faucet assembly. Check that the screw and stem are not damaged. In most cases, the problem is the washer. Replace the washer with one of exactly the same size and be sure to wrap it in plumbers tape.

Slow drains

If only one drain has slowed, its likely to be a localized clog. In that case, your first step should be to look down the drain and see if anything obvious is clogging it. If not, try using a plunger to clear it. You can use a toilet plunger or buy one specifically for sinks: it is the same shape but has a shorter handle. If this doesnt work, try putting a half cup of baking soda down the drain and chase it with a half cup of vinegar. Let it sit for a couple hours and then send down some boiling water. If youre completely sure that grease is the problem, use a half cup of salt and a half cup of baking soda and a pot of hot water. Let it sit overnight. If you experience constant drain problems, see about having the pipes inspected and replaced. You have great roofing, perhaps even an Everdrain roof, to protect your home from seepage and wet from above: make sure its not being eroded from below by faulty old pipes.

Toilet problems

If youre not getting enough water in the tank to fully flush the bowl, try bending the float arm up just a bit. This will allow the tank to fill higher before the water turns off. If theres plenty of water in the tank but not enough makes it into the bowl, check the tank ball on the flush valve and consider resetting the guide. If neither of these issues fixes the problem, there could be buildup from hard water in the small holes that sit under the rim of the inside seat. These small holes are where the water comes out, and buildup can block the water. Trying using a mirror to inspect them and a wire coat hanger to unclog them. These are just a few of the problems you can face when it comes to your home plumbing. If you get in over your head, dont hesitate to call for professional help.

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Building New? Make Sure Your Preapproval is Ready for Your Permanent Mortgage

Funds for construction are provided to the builder in phases and not issued in one lump sum. For the first draw it might be to clear and prep the lot. The second might be to begin framing for the foundation and so on until the home is ultimately completed. During this time, the lender will send out an inspector who will verify the funded stage has been completed and ready for the next round.

The lender will also order an appraisal noting what the value will be as completed even though the home has yet to be started or in construction phase. Its this value where the lender establishes a minimum base loan amount. Depending upon the size of the job, a home can be built in as little as six months to a year or more. But once construction has been completed, the construction loan needs to be replaced. This replacement is referred to as the permanent mortgage and is nothing more than your traditional home loan.nbsp;

Your construction lender will want to see that youve already applied for a permanent mortgage and received a preapproval. To do this, you will need to provide your preapproval letter from your mortgage company.nbsp;

The permanent mortgage can be any available residential home loan. You will be expected to provide documentation verifying your income, employment and assets. Your credit report will also be pulled as well as credit scores. Upon the initial application, the lender can provide you with your preapproval letter. Yet as construction progresses and youre getting closer to completion, the lender will ask for updated credit documents, even though youve already provided them. This is due to the requirement that all credit documents, things such as your paycheck stubs, bank statements and credit report needs to be no more than 30 days old. When the lender is alerted that completion is nearing, the lender will need new documents from you.

Finally, there are loans sometimes referred to as one time close or construct to perm that combine funds for both the construction as well as a permanent mortgage. To find out which scenario is best for your situation, your loan officer can help find the financing for you.

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The Beginners Guide to House Hacking

In reality, house hacking helps you break into the real estate investment market while also covering your own housing expenses.nbsp;

That last part is huge. For most people, their biggest bill is their rent or mortgage, with the average rent in the United States hitting an all-time high of 1,405 last year. Theyre spending hundreds of dollars each month to keep a roof over their head, money that could otherwise be used to build wealth or achieve financial freedom. Home prices have skyrocketed in the last 30 years while household incomes have remained largely the same, so home buyers need to find creative ways to afford their monthly payments.

Whether youre a real estate investor newbie or are a seasoned investor looking for a new way to build wealth, house hacking not only provides an attractive income, but can also allow you to live for free.

What is House Hacking?

By definition, house hacking is the act of turning your investment property into your primary residence. In some cases, you might convert a single-family home into a duplex or rent out a bedroom. But typically, the practice applies to multi-family residences, one of which is yours and others are rented out to other tenants.

As the landlord, you receive rent from the other units, which will ideally be more than enough to cover the mortgage and your own living expenses. When this is done correctly, you can use the leftover money to quickly increase your investment capital. This is different than the house flipping popularized by HGTV its not about a quick flip.nbsp;nbsp;

However, there is some risk involved. If you end up with a money pit, you could end up spending more than youre collecting in rent, which would essentially defeat the purpose of house hacking.nbsp;

House Hacking Benefits

Lets say your household brings in an average salary of 73,298 each year. In a recent report, Americans spent an average of 19,884 on housing, which is roughly 27 of your annual pre-tax salary. Imagine what you could do with an extra 19,884 ever yearnbsp;

Maybe youd want to put it toward more rental properties to grow your portfolio. Or, perhaps youd want to save it to pay for your kids college, their first car, or even retire early

Heres a quick example of what house hacking looks like in action, based on a property purchased last year using this exact strategy:

Four-plex property: 220,000 including closing costs and repair credits
Cash to close: 10,000 including the down payment, property inspection, and 3,000 in additional repairs
Monthly rent from 3 units: 2,000
Monthly mortgage payment: 1,400
Monthly cash flow: 600
Budgeted expenses: 600
Final Income: 0
Money saved from not paying rent: 8,400 per year

There wasnt money earned on this deal, but rent was free. Instead, there was enough money to cover expenses and repairs. As for the money saved on housing, it was now invested in building wealth 8,400 per year.

But aside from living essentially for free, house hacking provides so much more. For some investors who are doing this, its their ticket to early retirement. For others, its a long-term plan for making money and allowing you the financial independence you crave.nbsp;

What You Need

Successful house hacking >

A multi-unit investment property
Affordable down payment
Low fixed-rate mortgage

Ideally, you can find a below market value property that will help you build instant equity. We recommend only considering properties where the total rental income is at least 1 of the propertys purchase price.nbsp;

Heres another bit of good news: if you plan on using the property as a primary residence, you can usually find more favorable financing.nbsp;

Money is usually one of the biggest obstacles that prevents people from investing in real estate. But when you can get a mortgage with a low down payment and low interest rate, like a 3.5 FHA loan, the barrier to entry is much lower.nbsp;

The right real estate agent can make all the difference, especially when you can work with an investor-friendly one. Lean on your agent throughout the process, from finding investment properties to exploring financing options. Youll likely get a lot farther with an agent than you could going it alone or using an iBuyer like Offerpad, especially if youre new to house hacking.nbsp;

Where to Start

Weve found that the best way to implement this investment strategy is in the Midwest where property is affordable, but it can also work in other parts of the country e.g. renting out an Airbnb in Denver to cover your mortgage.nbsp;

Youll want to do some digging in your local market to find properties below market value or at least affordable. Much of the country right now is still experiencing a sellers market, but there have been several signs thats about to change. The market looks to be cooling, which is great news for investors who want to score a potentially good deal on a multifamily property.

Foreclosed homes, HUD properties, or fixer-uppers are good labels to start with. When looking at these homes, remember youll likely need to do a little work to get them move-in ready. Look at the roof, the plumbing, HVAC system, foundation, condition of the windows and doors, appliances, and the kitchen and bathroom.

Youre not likely to find a property thats in good condition, in a good neighborhood, AND priced affordably. Youll usually have to bend on something, and we recommend prioritizing the things you cant change.

Getting Financing

Getting a mortgage for a house hack is similar to getting a mortgage for any primary residence, but its a little harder. You may have certain requirements to meet that you otherwise wouldnt.

Youll need to know your low down payment mortgage options, which in this case would be a VA Loan, FHA Loan, FHA 203K, or Fannie Mae Home>

Look at the credit score requirements, down payment options, property eligibility requirements, if you need mortgage insurance, and whether you can wrap home improvement costs into the loan.nbsp;

Its a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage first to be ready when you find the right property.

After Closing

You close on the property, fix it up, start getting tenants, and BOOM now youre a landlord.nbsp; One upside to living on property is being able to manage it yourself rather than outsourcing to a property manager.nbsp;

First and foremost, remember this is a business, and youll need to learn quickly what to do and what not to do if you want your house hack to be profitable.

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Is This the Future of Rent-To-Buy?

One of the main reasons why rent-to-own agreements are attractive to renters is because they can engage to a contract even though they have a bad credit status, said Passive Real Estate Investing.nbsp;He or she can improve their credit rating by renting the property and later on, they may be able to get a loan to purchase the property.

Another benefit of renting to own is that it allows buyers to lock in a purchase price, which can be especially beneficial in a time when home prices are on the rise, said Quicken Loans. If the option money or a percentage of the rent is applied to the homes purchase price, you can also begin to build equity in the home before you even purchase it.

Prospective buyers also get a test run of sorts to figure out if its the right house and the right area, or if they need to start their search over. If thats the case, they can walk away, said Passive Real Estate Investing. Of course, they lose whatever premium theyve been paying above and beyond what the regular rent one of been.

That premium is perhaps the biggest negative of entering into a rent-to-own arrangement. First, theres the upfront money. In a rent-to-own agreement, you as the buyer pay the seller a one-time, usually nonrefundable, upfront fee called the option fee, option money, or option consideration, said Investopedia. This fee is what gives you the option to buy the house by some date in the future. The option fee is often negotiable, as theres no standard rate. Still, the fee typically ranges between 2.5 and 7 of the purchase price.

You can expect to pay more per month, too. Typically, the rent is slightly higher than the going rate for the area to make up for the rent credit you receive, said Quicken Loans. But be sure you know what youre getting for paying that premium.

And thats not the only downside. In the end, when you decide not to buy the property, you will lose all the money you paid including the initial premium payment, said Passive Real Estate Investing. Also, in cases of missed or late payments, you may lose the option to buy the property.nbsp;

Youll also want to make sure you read the contract carefully so you know the terms. Some landlords include a lease-purchase in their rent-to-own agreement, which legally obligates the renter to purchase the home at the end of the lease, said Quicken Loans.nbsp;

A new way to rent-to-own

Divvy Homes is a new player on the rent-to-own scene that may be the answer for buyers looking to get into a home while mitigating some of the potential drawbacks to a more typical arrangement. Divvy works with buyers to figure out the budget that is comfortable for them and requires just 2 down while covering all fees, closing costs, taxes and insurance.nbsp;

You pick the house you want to buynot just any house, said Marketplace. Around 20 percent of your monthly rent goes toward what Divvy calls equity credits. After three years, renters own 10 percent, typically enough to qualify for a mortgage and buy Divvy out.

Divvy also refunds some of the money for those who opt not to purchase the home. If they leave or default before three years, theyll get back half of the equity theyve built.

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Identifying Dangerous Products in the Home

Last year, the Consumer Products Safety Program CPSP, part of Health Canada, received 2,355 reports about dangerous products, of which 22 involved a death and another 917 referred to a non-fatal injury. This list includes consumer products and cosmetics, but not vehicles, medical or food products, which are monitored by separate divisions of Health Canada.

Under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, companies that make consumer products must report any health or safety incidents to Health Canada. Consumers can also report unsafe products by filling out an online form.nbsp; In addition, the CPSP gathers information in Canada and internationally about any injuries and new science >

The top 10 consumer products reported to CPSP last year were, in order:

Toys: Reports of children getting cuts and bruises from toys and choking on small parts

Telephones or accessories: Burns, cuts and electric shocks

Diapers: Irritations and allergic reactions

Electric ranges or ovens: Burns, cuts, irritation or allergic reactions

Battery chargers and adaptors: Burns and electric shock

Laundry soaps and detergents: Irritations or allergic reactions and poisoning

Stroller/tricycle: No injuries reported

Light bulbs: Cuts, burns and electric shock

Thermostats: Fire, causing irritation or allergic reaction

Computers: Burns

Several household products were also blamed at least partially for a death. Five people died as a result of strangulation by cord entanglement from window shades, venetian blinds or indoor shutters. A floor lamp fire resulted in someone receiving extensive burns and dying as a result of complications. A heating system malfunctioned and killed a resident by carbon monoxide poisoning. There were 10 deaths from garden tractor and riding lawn mower accidents.

Recently Health Canada and the Ontario Fire Marshals office issued a warning about tabletop fire pots, also known as fireburners, patio burners, flamepots or tabletop fire pits. They are portable, decorative accents that support an open flame burning. They are generally made of ceramic and have an open fuel reservoir.

Ontario has recorded multiple fatalities and serious injuries >

In June, a Toronto doctor died after she was seriously burned while refueling one of the units.

Pegg says that a fire hazard called flame-jetting can happen if you try to pour fuel into one of these units before the flame has been fully extinguished. The flame is not always visible.

The Fire Marshals Office created a video to show how injuries can happen.

When using a firepot, make sure any flames are fully out and that its cold to the touch before refueling. Only refuel when there is nobody near the unit. Use a fuel container that has a flame arrestor, says the Fire Marshal.

Health Canada maintains a busy website that includes product recalls and warnings for all kinds of consumer products, as well as food, vehicles and health products. Here are a few household products that recently made the list that no manufacturer wants to be on.

Mid-Century three-drawer chests, imported by Home Meridian International: Some models of these chests are unstable if they are not anchored to the wall, posing serious tip-over and entrapment hazards that can result in death or injuries to children, says Health Canada. About 10 of the units were sold in Canada.

Carrier- and Bryant-branded 1.5-ton multi-zone, four-ton multi-zone and four-ton single-zone ductless heat pump outdoor units have been recalled due to a fire hazard. Health Canada says the fan motor can fail and catch fire. If the units are close to a building the flame could spread. As of August 2019, there had been five reports of fires in Canada and one in the United States. About 450 of the units have been sold in Canada. Consumers are advised to contact their installation servicer, dealer or contractor for a free repair.

DeWalt multi-functional 40-inch utility bars have been recalled because they may break while being used for prying. The bars are yellow at one end and black at the other. The model number DWHT55293 is printed in black on the yellow end. As of October of this year, the company has received no reports of the bar breaking in Canada.

ASKO dishwashers sold in stainless steel and custom panel-ready options have internal wiring that can overheat, melt or catch fire. There have been no reports of this happening in Canada as of September 2019, but 69 reports have been recorded in the United States. Health Canada says 4,324 of the units have been sold in Canada.

The Health Canada site includes dozens of warnings and recalls and outlines what consumers should do to dispose of the recalled products and get a refund.

Health Canada also works with international consumer production organizations. You can check out products that have been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or by other countries around the world.

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Tips to Check the Feng Shui of Your Home

A strong and healthy front door

In feng shui, houses are absorbing most of the needed energy nourishment via the front door, so the stronger your front door, the more good feng shui energy it can absorb. And the more good feng shui energy your door can absorb, the better energy there is to support you Having a strong feng shui front door is a bit like having a clear, strong voice and speaking up for yourself/letting yourself and your needs be known. Houses need to have a clear voice, too.

What makes a strong feng shui front door? A door that is proportionate to the size of the house, that opens easily and freely, enjoys beautiful paint in the right color and has good hardware. Other features include a door that is well-lit, has a good pathway leading to it, and opens up into an inviting main entry. In other words, a door that invites both respect and admiration, a door that looks good and feels good.

A main entry with inviting, self-contained energy

The main entry is very important in feng shui as this is the space that has to have the ability to draw in and further invite/direct the energy into your home. It has to have a quality of energy that is welcoming as well as self-contained, so that the energy can settle in. There should be no doors or windows directly facing the front door. When you have any door facing the front door be it a bathroom door or a back door the energy easily escapes without being able to nourish the house. The same scenario can be created by a big window facing the front door as this will promote a leakage of incoming energy.

A happy, active and nourishing kitchen

The kitchen is considered the heart of the home in many cultures for obvious reasons. In feng shui, the kitchen is also connected to the health and wealth energy, so it is very important to take good care of your kitchen.From best feng shui colors for your specific kitchen to creating and maintaining fresh and nourishing energy, any and all details matter in creating a good feng shui kitchen. There can be no good feng shui home if the energy in the kitchen is unhappy, stagnant or cold.

The bedroom as the most loved room in the house

You must have heard me many times saying that the bedroom is the most important room in the house. That is, in a good feng shui house, of course Instead of focusing most of our attention on grand living rooms and expensive dining to impress others, it would do the house and us so much good to create a good feng shui home by keeping our attention on the bedroom. Understand all the guidelines and basics that make a good feng shui bedroom, and then continue to bring lots of love energy into your bedroom.


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Drew Barrymores Peel-And-Stick Wallpaper Is Here to Dress up Your Holiday Home

We know what youre thinking: Isnt that for rentals? Let us tell you whats so great about peel-and-stick wallpaper regardless of where you live: Its temporary. It allows you to take risks with your interior design in a way you might not consider with less-temporary dcor items like, say, actual wallpaper. You can take it down and put something else up when you want your walls to rock a new trend. So, you dont have to live with the choices you make today for the next 10 years or more because you dread taking it down.nbsp;

Just how bad is it to take down real wallpaper? One Redditor on the OMG wallpaper removal sucks board commented that, I actually tore the walls down in my living room because I didnt want to steam the wallpaper off. I figured I could tear the walls down and rehang drywall faster than steaming and scraping.

Peel-and-stick is easy to put up, is repositionable, and comes right off in a matter of seconds when youre ready for something new. While youre considering gifts for loved ones, be sure to think about how great this would look in your house

Flower by Drew Barrymore

Wallpaper is one of the new additions to the fall Flower by Drew Barrymore line also introduced were new furniture pieces, bedding, accessories, art, and kitchen/dining items.. The lineup includes artistic and abstract prints, patterns, and colorways inspired by the season, said Walmart. Each 18 ft. x 18.86 ft. roll is priced from 34-49. And includes:

Navy Vintage Palm
Tropical Toile, Teal
Tropical Toile, Yellow
Peach Vintage Palm
Orange and Blue Vintage Floral
Yellow Vintage Floral Peel
Coral and Blue Art Deco Fan
Blue and Yellow Art Deco Fan

My dcor >
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What Do Millennials Want? We Now Have a Better Idea

Millennials tend to have higher expectations than older homeowners did about their ideal starter home, according to a new survey by Clovered, said REALTOR Magazine.nbsp;

If you look at the buying trends of millennials, its clear that while they may be waiting longer to purchase their first home, their expectations of what that house should include certainly arent lagging. Compared to their parents and grandparents at their age,nbsp;fewernbsp;millennials are homeowners, but millions of younger peoplenbsp;havenbsp;invested in their own propertyand they might not be the starter houses youd expect, said Clovered. Despite living with their parents longer than any generation before them,nbsp;putting off marriagenbsp;for an increased time span, and sometimes strugglingnbsp;to find their dream jobs, millennials are going from perennial renters to owners of whatnbsp;might be their forever homes.

The company surveyed more than 1,000 millennial first-time buyers for insight into which features and amenities were highest on their list. Here are a few of the key points:

Home size

Does size matter? It does in pretty much every demographic, but millennials are the most sensitive when it comes to the amount of square footage they want in their home. Baby boomers ideal size home, according to the survey, is 2,949 square feet, Generation X prefers homes at 3,311 square feet, and millennials want the most space at 3,320 square feet.

Number of bedrooms

Millennials prefer 4.2 bedrooms, per the study, to boomers 3.7 and Gen Xs 4.1. While youre probably not looking to add a fourth bedroom just for the purpose of selling your home, this information may help you stage it intelligently. Clearing out that bedroom youve been using as a home gym or storage space and turning it back into a bedroom might be a good idea.nbsp;

Move-in ready

The top factors noted by survey participants had several things sellers cant do much about in terms of making their home more saleablethings like affordability of the area, local crime rates, short commute to work, and climate. Sellers can, however, do something about making their home move-in readyanother important factor for millennials.

Its hard to deny the emotional aspect of buying a home, Clovered said. When youre touring potential listings and trying to decide where you want to raise your family or put down roots, youre fantasizing about what life in that home could be like. Instead of thinking about where the house is located or how much youll have to pay in property taxes, its the tangible features of a home that really help sell it for most people.

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5 Tips to Save Time Setting up Your Christmas Decorations

1. Buy a Christmas Tree With the Decorations Already On

When you want to save a lot of time, consider investing in one of the many p>

2. Have It Organized

When youre putting decorations away this year, make sure that theyre organized to save yourself time next year. If youve ever found yourself unable to find your tree topper, or you feel like youre missing half of your ornaments, youll save yourself a lot of time by packing everything together in a logical way. Keep all totes in the same part of the attic, garage, or wherever you store your Christmas decorations so that you can find them quickly the next year. You can even have a computer file where you catalog where you put everything you pack away. And if you want to ensure that your ornaments will be intact the next year, use felt and other storage techniques.

3. Cut Down

You might be a Christmas decorator who pairs down regularly, but if youre not, take some time every year to cut out the things that are no longer bringing you the same amount of joy. For instance, if youve had Christmas lawn ornaments that are starting to fade or just arent that much fun to see in the front lawn anymore, get rid of them. If theyre in good condition, donate them to someone who will enjoy them. You can cut out hours of unpacking, packing, and setting up every year if youre mindful of what you actually want to keep.

4. Do Outside Decorating Earlier

If you live in a northern climate, you might know what its like to try to put up lights on the roof of a two-story house. You need to be more careful of slip hazards when ice and snow are present. Plus, your hands are freezing, which slows you even more. If you want to cut out some time, put up your Christmas lights before the weather is frozen.

5. Get the Kids Involved or Send them to the Grandparents House

If your kids are old enough, dont do it all yourself. Inviting your children to help with Christmas decorating isnt just a great way to build memories; its also a great way to cut down on the time that it takes to decorate. If youre still worrying that your toddler will stick something into his mouth, take him out of the equation by sending him to his grandparents house.

There are a lot of ways that you can cut down on the time that you spend decorating the tree and the rest of your house. In fact, there are time-saving hacks for cooking and other holiday activities, too. If you want to have a beautiful home for Christmas in less time, think about which projects will bring you the most happiness, and organize so that next year is even easier than this one.

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The VA Funding Fee Explained

VA loans are reserved for a select set of borrowers. These include veterans of the armed forces, active duty personnel with at least 181 days of service, National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve members with at least six years of service and unremarried, surviving spouses of those who have died while serving or as a result of a service->

Closing costs for VA loans are restricted for eligible borrowers. Borrowers can only pay for an appraisal and credit report, title insurance, origination fees and recording fees. In areas where surveys are required, borrowers are eligible to pay for a survey. One of these costs, the largest one as a matter of fact, is the VA funding fee.nbsp;

The funding fee is in essence an insurance policy the borrowers pay for in favor of the lender. This fee can vary based upon the term of the loan, re-use and any down payment. Its important to note here however that VA loans do not require a down payment, but borrowers may choose to provide one voluntarily. For first time buyers taking out a standard 30 year fixed rate term, the funding fee is currently 2.15 percent of the sales price of the home. For a 300,000 mortgage, thats 6,450.nbsp;

Thats quite a bit but remember the lender is approving a mortgage without any down payment. Should the loan soon go into default, there wont be any equity. There are also legal fees involved in such an instance so typically the lender is automatically upside down if the lender is forced to foreclose. However, this is rare as VA loans are some of the highest performing financing products in the industry.

The guarantee to the lender is 25 percent of the loss. Again, with an outstanding mortgage balance of 300,000, the lender is paid 75,000. This guarantee can also allow a lender to approve a zero down loan that it may not have approved with a low down payment conventional loan. Its the funding fee that finances this guarantee to the lender.

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Insulated Concrete Forms Growing in Popularity as Safeguard From Natural Disasters

Dallas-based builder Hoffmann Homes is putting that assertion to the test, building several homes in the city using ICFs, which he says can safeguard them from storms far greater than what just rumbled through.

One North Texas builder says homes he builds can withstand wind from an EF-5 tornado, said NBCDFW From the road, youd never know one of his homes being built in northeast Dallas is any different than a traditional wood-frame house. But, the walls are made of concrete sandwiched between two layers of foam.

Six solid inches of concrete, to be exact, which creates a nearly impenetrable surface. "It stops a 2x4 at 100mph, it just shatters a 2x4 when it hits a wall," Hoffmann told NBC.

Hoffmann uses this material in each of the homes he builds. Picture a foam Lego that is hollow in the middle, he told Voyage Dallas. These are stacked onto re-barb to wall height and then concrete is pumped down into the center of the form system. This wall then is comprised of three layers, two outer expanded polystyrene foam layers 2 1/2 thick with 6 of steel reinforced concrete in the middle. These are high performance, comfortable, weather resistant, and low-maintenance homes.

Just how strong is this material, and can it really protect a home from natural disasters? Up to 85 percent of homes currently destroyed by tornados can be spared, according to experts at the University of Alabama, said Insulated Concrete Forms amp; More. According to Andrew Graettinger, Civil Engineer at the University of Alabama,nbsp;"If you are above ground and you get hit in a storm like that, the one in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013 no matter the type of construction unless it is a concrete-reinforced structure, you are probably not going to have anything left.

Anbsp;study published by the Portland Cement Association PCAnbsp;found that concrete walls have more structural capacity and stiffness to withstand the in-plane shear forces of high winds than wood or steel framed walls, said Fox Blocks. And another study, this one bynbsp;Texas Tech University,nbsp;found that ICF wallsnbsp;resist damage from flying debris traveling over 100 mphnbsp;while conventionally framed walls failed to stop the penetration of airborne hazards. Insulated concrete form walls are the best protection from windblown debris to a home and its occupants during a tornado event.

Pictures of a home built with ICFs in Mexico went viral last year after surviving Hurricane Michael, which decimated nearly all the homes around it. This construction method was one major factor that allowed it to survive the hurricane while the rest of the neighborhood was destroyed, said ICF Builder.


The Attica, Kan. Homes of Randy and Linda Robbins was saved from a devastating EF-3 tornado in 2004 thanks to ICF walls. Powerful winds leveled all the surrounding buildings, and tore the roof from the Robbins home, said ICF Homes. But the walls stood strong. Another EF-3, this one with 200-mile-per-hour winds, caused mass destruction in Iowa in 1998; Monte Asburys home was savedas were his kids, who rode out the storm in the basement.


The bonus to using ICF is that it is also energy-efficient. In fact, Linda Robbins noted that was initially their main motivation in using the material. Houses built with ICF exterior walls require an estimatednbsp;32 less energy to cool and 44 less energy to heatnbsp;than comparable wood-framed houses, said Home Energy.

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Holiday First Look: 2019 Color Trends

While early November might be a tad too early to actually start putting up lights and changing out pumpkins for Santa, were definitely not above planning and shopping right now. And this year, were all about getting creative with the color story. These are the color trends were seeing for this year.

Blue and green

Pinterest searches for blue and green holiday decor are up, and we can see why. Swapping the >

Here are a few items we love:

Glitter starbust ornament set
Personalized Christmas stockings


This is a design >

If youre looking for a good accent color that plays nicely with metallic finishes, think about this pairing. Step aside silvergold has a new Christmas companion, said Hayneedle. Dark neutrals have been trending all year long, so were not surprised to see an increased interest in black this season. Black and gold holiday decor is perfect for non-traditional themes and creates a sophisticated look thats super festive when paired with glittering metallics. Try a black and goldnbsp;Christmas wreathnbsp;on your front door for a look that will welcome your guests well into the new year.

Here are a few items we love:

Frontgates 60-pieced Precious Metals Ornament Collectionnbsp;
Mercury orb
Pineapple ornaments

Rose gold

Rose gold ornaments and decorations are a new spin on the traditional silver and gold approach, said Good Housekeeping. Something about the warm metallic color is timeless and inviting, which is why were starting to see rose gold decor pop up everywhere. Below youll find the most gorgeous rose goldnbsp;holiday decorationsnbsp; like rose gold trees, garland, tree toppers, and wreaths and unique rose gold ornaments a few of whichnbsp;can be personalizednbsp;to your liking.

Here are a few items we love:

Pottery Barns pre-lit, four-foot rose gold Christmas tree
Rose gold string lights
Mercury glass tabletop tree


If theres one holiday pattern that will never go out of >

Here are a few items we love:

Glen plaid ornament set
Merry everything welcome mat
Holiday plaid Christmas stocking

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Can Regular Maintenance Save You Money On AC Repairs

How Often Should Maintenance Be Done to Avoid AC Repairs?

Depending on the expert company for AC repairsnbsp; you talk to, you should get regular maintenance done at least once a year. Some professionals say that twice is better. Ideally, the service should happen every six months, once in the Spring and again in the Fall. If you can only afford to do it once, or if you decide once is enough, Spring is the best time.

As the weather starts to get warmer, you dont want to be stuck with a necessary AC repairnbsp; because you failed to get the routine maintenance suggested. Thats what makes the Spring season the best time. Over the next few months, your air conditioning unit will be used more often, and you have to be prepared for whats to come. As the frequency of use increases, so does the potential for things to go wrong. After any HVAC company comes in and does their job, you can have peace of mind that your home will be properly cooled. Thats what you need when youre under the scorching summer Texas sun

What AC Repairsnbsp; Could Emerge from Skipping Air Conditioning Maintenance?

Theres a lot that could go wrong that would lead to you needing AC repairs. Your unit, regardless if its a central air system, ductless unit, or even a window air conditioner, is a complex piece of machinery. There is an abundance of interworking components that must all be fully-functional to get the most energy efficiency and performance.nbsp;

Explore some of the ways your cooling system could be affected:

Filters - Every air conditioning system has a filter. Some are good for a month. Others last up to three. Some filters are disposable, while others are reusable. Failing to take care of the screen can cause your air conditioner to require more energy, and you can end up with a frozen unit that requires AC repair .

Leaking coolant - The temperature can vary, and your air conditioner wont work correctly if there are refrigerant leaks inside. Leakage can be prevented with regular inspections by a professional.

Fuses and breakers - When an AC repairnbsp; is required because the device overheated, many times, its because of a fuse or breaker. The motor could potentially quit altogether if these arent checked.

Drainage - If dirt or debris is blocking the drain lines for your air conditioner, it can leak out of the pan and require AC repair .

Compressor - The compressor must be functioning correctly so that your ac system can cool your home. Its what gives energy to the coils and carries out the heat exchange. A unit without enough refrigerant will seize if it gets too hot. When theres too much refrigerant, you could also be dealing with a busted system.

Capacitors - The fans and compressor work because of the capacitors. If it burns out, you will lose efficiency.

Contactors - Inside your air conditioner, several different contactors are necessary for the operations of the fan motor, blower motor, and compressor. Over time, pitting and arcing can happen. That makes it difficult for the engines to start if they can start at all.

These are just a few of the things that could go wrong without regular maintenance. A qualified HVAC contractor knows what to look for.

What Happens During an AC Maintenance Service?

When you hire professionals to come in and do your ac maintenance service, you can expect them to start at the thermostat. They will ensure that its level, clean, not being affected by sunlight, and otherwise operating properly. Then they will move their attention to the air conditioning system.

To keep from having unnecessary ac repairsnbsp; come up, the technician will thoroughly clean all parts of the equipment with their professional tools, chemicals, and processes. They will check all your refrigerant and coolant levels to make sure they are correct. A thorough inspection for leaks of any type will take place along with measuring the airflow. During the examination, he or she will also explore your ductwork to confirm there are no clogs or other damages. Your HVAC technician will explore all of the electrical components and clean away any dirt, debris, or leaves that might hinder the performance.

Why Would I Need AC Repairsnbsp; During a Maintenance Service?

Sometimes, during maintenance, your technician may be required to do an ac repair . This is a good thing, though. Frequently, they will find something small that needs to be fixed, and they can do it right there on the spot. The positive is that if it were left alone, it could lead to a bigger, more expensive problem. You could potentially require a complete replacement in just a short time of use without the quick fix.

Some of the minor things your repair technician can do while completing maintenance are:

Combing aluminum fins back into place
Replacing coolant or refrigerant
Sealing up leaks
Removing clogs
Replacing filters
Repairing coils

How Long Does AC Maintenance Take?

You might be hesitant to hire someone to do your ac maintenance because you cant find the time in your busy schedule. Now that you know that its necessary to keep your system running at peak performance levels and with energy efficiency, you have to make the time.

It all depends on who you hire, how complex your system is, and what kinds of ac repairsnbsp; they have to do. While some can complete it in a few hours, others might require a day or more. Its something you can ask your contractor when you call to schedule the service.

How Much Does AC Maintenance Cost?

The national average for ac maintenance is between 70 and 100. Call around to a few different companies until you find someone that is in line with industry standards. Someone that offers a rate much lower than that isnt going to give you the complete quality service you expect. A contractor that asks a lot more is likely price gouging. Its better to pay the rate for maintenance than what an AC repair nbsp;could be. At a minimum, charges are 75, with a maximum of around 2,000.


Andrew Young is the owner of Superior HVAC, the Houston areas 1 provider of commercial and residential AC repairs and installation, furnace repairs, and air filtration systems. Andrew and his team have decades of experience in the Texas HVAC industry and specialize in virtually every make and model of AC and heating system in use today. Whether its a full-scale commercial HVAC system or a central residential AC, Andrew and his crew know how to keep that system operating at peak efficiency and the value of regular maintenance.

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Hidden Commission amp; Emerging Transparency

Disruption and transparency are driving forces in many industries, but not when it comes to learning the cost of selling your home or the possibility of negotiating real estate commission, which is based on a percentage of the sale price.nbsp;
Disclosure of fees has become the norm online and off, but not in real estate.nbsp;
Consumers expect to easily, quickly receive personalized online quotes for home and auto insurance and a range of home services, but real estate websites still do not openly post real estate commission percentages or offer self-initiated quotes.

According to the Consumer Federation of America CFA;, real estate fees are hidden and poorly understood by consumers. CFA is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups, founded in 1968 to advance consumers interests through research, advocacy, and education.

CFA recently >

The secretive nature associated with the annual collection of an estimated more than 100 Billion in commission is compounded in the following ways:

Real estate advice is common on broker and individual real estate sites, but this does not include discussion of brokerage fees, the most significant expense faced by sellers.
Phoning or emailing a brokerage to learn what commission percentage or range they charge, will not automatically result in discovering the cost of doing business with that brokerage.nbsp;
Even though claims of commissions are negotiable are common in the industry, 73 percent of the 200 agents interviewed said they would not negotiate down the commission level they quote.
An online national survey of 2000 representative adult Americans revealed only 32 percent of all respondents and 44 percent of recent home sellers and buyers knew that commissions quoted are almost always 5 or 6 percent.nbsp; On a 400,000 sale that would be a commission of 20,000 or 24,000, respectively.
Sellers typically pay the commission out of the proceeds of the sale. The total commission is split between the listing and selling brokerages, however, details regarding the buyer-side of the commission split is not shared with buyers.nbsp;

Research methodology included the national consumer survey, role-playing interviews with real estate professionals, a review of 263 real estate Google-listed websites, and an in-depth review of existing research on real estate commissions.

CFA attributes consumers lack of commission knowledge with elevated costs for sellers and home buyers, individually and collectively:

Without knowledge of typical commissions in the area, commission splits, and the uniform standard fees, a seller may be charged a higher than necessary commission. Sellers may not investigate area brokerages to locate those offering lower fees because the information is hard to find. Sellers may miss opportunities to negotiate the real estate commission split paid the listing brokerage or the buyer brokerage.

CFA research supports earlier research which revealed buyers can be disadvantaged when some real estate professionals place their commission ahead of the buyers interests. Buyers have been steered away from listed properties offered at lower commission splits.

Price competition is discouraged by the lack of information about commissions, apparently-hidden commission splits, and the charging of uniform real estate fees across large areas. In five of the areas researched, agents quoted the same rates; over the total 20 areas studied, 70 percent of the agents quoted 6 percent rates while 19 quoted 5 percent.

Report author and CFA Senior Fellow Stephen Brobeck offers these Report takeaways: In todays marketplace, we recommend that:

1. Sellers interview several agents making certain to discuss compensation, including whether the rate is negotiable and whether it will be reduced if the listing agent ends up working with both seller and buyer.
2. Buyers discuss compensation with their agents and also independently search portals such as Zillow for properties they might be interested in purchasing. That will minimize the chances for agents steering away from low-commission properties.

Lets take a closer look at a real estate transaction:

The seller is intent on at least netting the price they consider right for their property. That means the significant cost of real estate commission is added to that figure to create the sale price.nbsp;
In actual fact, buyers pay the commission because the sale price they pay for the property includes the real estate commission of 5 or 6 percent. The buyer then finances the sale price through cash down-payment and mortgage. Lower commission would mean less financing for the buyer.nbsp;

According to the Report, lower commission can be achieved by hiring brokers that charge less than area rates or by negotiating commission percentage at the time of listing or before signing the final contract:

Nationally and locally, commission rates tended to be uniform or near-uniform at 5 or 6 percent, although Portland and Baltimore were exceptions. Quoted rates varied somewhat, though buyer-side rates varied less than seller-side rates.
Reportedly, negotiation for lower rates is more successful for high-priced homes.
Sellers may negotiate a 1 or 2 percent drop in commission rate if the listing agent brings the buyer and will also be paid the selling commission. However, seven states have banned this practice of serving two masters or dual agency. Brobeck described dual agency as an oxymoron because you cannot equally represent two people with competing interests. If a real estate professional takes on both sides of a transaction, Brobeck suggests they must become a transactional agent or side with one or the other to the disadvantage of the other.

The Report also revealed that fifteen of the agents surveyed disclosed an application or listing fee that typically was several hundred dollars. Four Baltimore agents charged a fee ranging from 250 to 450; in seven other cities, one or two agents disclosed a fee ranging from 125 to 490. The Report stated it is unclear there is need for this fee in addition to a five to six per cent commission. Always ask if there are additional fees or charges beyond the listing commission percentage and typical closing costs.

With current home prices at historic highs in many areas, sellers and buyers can be so overwhelmed by the amounts involved they lose focus of the true commission cost. Do the math to learn dollar values involved.nbsp;

Keep in mind that uniform real estate commission rates do not reflect differences in the quality of professional services, which include depth of experience, range of services, consistency of results, customization of follow-through, and the unique talents of those delivering listing or buyer services.

Transparency is emerging

On August 29, 2019, technology-based Redfin announced it would be the first brokerage to publish the commission percentage offered to the buyers agent for homes listed with a Redfin agent on This is intended to help buyers understand costs and incentives in the real estate transaction. A Redfin survey had revealed that 51 percent of recent homebuyers didnt fully understand how the real estate professional they worked with was paid.

As of October 1, 2019, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service NWMLS, which operates across Washingtons Seattle-Tacoma area, added transparency to selling office commissionsthe part of the split that sellers pay to the brokerage representing the buyer. Listings now include the commission percentage that goes to the buyer side of the transaction with the added change that sellers have the choice of how much to pay buyers agents. This is the first of the 600 Multiple Listing Services across the country to allow brokers to publish selling office commissions to support buyers.

Earlier this year, a >

It would help encourage price competition if the commission splits were clearly disclosed to consumers on the property listing. But the real solution would be to decouple commissions, so that sellers were able to price and negotiate the listing agents commission, and buyers were able to price and negotiate the buyers agent commission.

Some have argued that buyers will balk at paying a commission, but that is unlikely to happen if this commission is added to the mortgage, which effectively it currently is. And when both sellers and buyers have greater opportunity to negotiate commissions, these are likely to decline to the benefit of both.

Additional resources:

  • CFAs first report, January 2019:nbsp; The Agency Mess: Home Buyer and Seller Confusion and Costs >
  • PJ Wades Decisions amp; Communities article Agency Mess Report: Are You Doing Enough?

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    6 Essential Things to Consider While Buying Property Overseas

    However, with international real estate, you have to factor in every issue >

    How to Ease the Process of Investing in Real Estate Overseas?

    The first two things that come to mind when purchasing an international property are travel and legal issues. If you are going to buy an overseas real estate, you will have to deal with both these problems at once.

    Nevertheless, you can ease the process by seeking out some advice and tips. When you have a streamlined resource coupled with some basic guidelines to remember and consider before purchasing real estate abroad, it becomes much easier for you to make the right investment.

    And thats precisely what we will be helping you with today. In this article, we will provide some tips for purchasing a property abroad.

    6 Things to Remember Before Making Your International Real Estate Purchase

    1. Seek the help of local professionals

    You need to get help from two local professionals. First, when buying properties overseas using digital media, always get yourself a local lawyer to help you deal with the legal matters. Secondly,nbsp;contact real estate brokersnbsp;of the area to help you become aware of the market, to stay organized, and most importantly, to help you find the best deal.

    2. Consider your tax liabilities as investors

    Everyone has different circumstances when it comes to taxes, especially in the volatile and diverse real estate market. Every country has its own legislation and tax laws, which may ask you to repay the inheritance tax, title transfer tax, and even the stamp duty at the time of purchase. Aside from these, some countries ask for land tax to property owners, and its usually in the form of the annual cost. These potential costs need to be added to your budget, or you might face legal penalties.

    3. The need for funding and finance

    Once you know your motivation behind the purchase, selecting viable properties that are in conjunction with your needs is quite simple. The challenging part, however, is securing finance, especially when itll be liable to international laws, which are generally in terms of local currencies. To get started, make sure you obtain your "Agreement in principle" before making the purchase as it will safeguard you when you do not get a loan or are not able to get your initial deposit back.

    4. Confirming title amp; ownership

    As investing in international real estate is remote in nature, it can be quite challenging to build trust with the agents and vendors. As such, one has to be extremely careful when discussing title and ownership issues. This is crucial because you will be liable to pay any debt that may exist on a property once you have made the transaction.

    5. Bridge the language barrier

    Whether you intend to >

    6. Have an exit strategy

    No matter what your intentions are for purchasing property overseas, its crucial to keep in mind that even the most well-articulated plans can, sometimes go awry. It is, therefore, essential for you to have a contingency plan or an exit strategy ready. In doing so, itll help in curbing any inconvenience that may arise in the event of a potential financial loss.nbsp;

    Purchasing properties overseas doesnt have to be that complicated. If you keep yourself aware of the laws and legislation of the country youre >

    Also, following and keeping some essential tips and advice in mind can go a long way. That said, consider the above factors before making your international real estate purchase.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    Ghosted? 3 Reasons Why Youre Not Closing Millennial Buyers

    This behavior has become prevalent among millennials in their dating lives, social lives, and even their careers. But why do millennials do this? More importantly, how can we as realtors spend less of our precious time chasing down these ghost leads?nbsp;

    As a millennial agent in San Francisco, I understand the roots of why millennials behave this way. In short, its all about technology. Technology is both the reason for, and the solution to, being ghosted by millennial buyers. In this article Ill explain the reasons why millennials ghost, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.nbsp;

    Fear of confrontation

    Millennials grew up with the internet and texting. The ability to communicate with our peers digitally, and on-demand, has resulted in a generation with a deep social anxiety around in-person, face-to-face meetings. After all, its easier to escape an awkward text chat than a tedious meeting at a coffee shop. All you have to do is stop responding However, dealing with a realtor in-person when youre getting cold feet is a deeply uncomfortable experience.nbsp;

    Moreover, for in-person meetings, the stakes feel higher. Millennials are the busiest and most distracted generation in history, due to our smartphones making us available to everyone, on-demand. As such, at any given moment, our coworkers, friends, or family might ping us and let us know that were needed right away. In these situations, our network of close and intimate >

    Unfortunately, youll never really know what specific reason a millennial had for ghosting on your meeting, and its unlikely youll ever get the facts. However, if they go totally silent on you, theyre probably trying to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted about backing out on you.nbsp;

    Theyre worried that youll waste their time

    There exists a fundamental difference in how the millennial generation gathers information. Millennials grew up with Google and smartphones, and are thus accustomed to being able to quickly research any and all topics, on-demand. As such, millennials often feel that they can find information about a property and a market on their own. Whether or not this is true, it leads to millennials asking themselves, why should I take an hour out of my day to meet realtors in person when theyre just going to tell me info I can find online?nbsp;

    Thus, millennials are unconvinced that a followup meeting is worth their time. Theyre expecting to hear information that they think they already know. Theyre also expecting you to pressure them with a hard sale, which raises red flags for their anxiety around confrontation. Since they ba>

    You havent gained their trust

    Another reason why millennials are ghosting on you is because you havent built rapport with them in the way that they want to be engaged. This leads to a tricky catch-22, because you set up followup meetings with them to build rapport, yet you need rapport to get them to show up to the meetings. This begs the question: why did this millennial buyer not trust me enough to show up?nbsp;

    There are two main reasons for this. First, if a millennial is serious about working with you, its very likely that he or she has researched you on Google, social media, and Youtube. If you dont have a presence across these platforms, youve unintentionally blacklisted yourself to millennials.nbsp;

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Tim McMullen tmcmullen99 on

    Tech savvy millennials live their lives digitallynbsp;

    This generation is tech savvy and their lives are deeply linked to their online identities. Thus, at best, youll be seen as unsophisticated and behind the times. At worst, youll be seen as untrustworthy. After all, to millennials, a person who cant set up a YouTube channel is laughably incompetent, and a person without a social media presence is a stranger.nbsp;

    Instagram is the new coffee meeting

    Ultimately, the way to build trust with millennials is to leverage technology to scale your rapport building. Start by producing interesting and frequent property->

    nbsp;To get an idea of the type of content that feels authentic to millennial audiences, check out this Instagram video from San Francisco based real estate team Kinoko:

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Kinoko
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    Is New Construction for You? Weve Got the Pros and Cons to Buying New

    Con: No haggling allowed

    Negotiating is a key part of buying a resale home. But if youre looking to negotiate the price on something new, you may be disappointed. Builders and developers dont generally like to lower the price of homes since it tends to aggravate those who purchased previously and didnt get the benefit of a discount.nbsp;

    Pro: But there may be different perks

    That doesnt mean there isnt room for negotiation. Working with real estate agents who have experience with new construction is key here because they can negotiate things like closing cost help and upgrades.nbsp;

    Con: Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance arent everything.

    New-home communities typically have homeowners associations HOA, which means youll have to tack another payment onto your monthly tally. In return, you get some built-in protections for your home value, but if your budget is unforgiving, youll want to factor this in.nbsp;

    Pro: You can personalize your floorplan.

    Depending on the home and community, you might be able to make some changes to the floorplan to make it work better for your household. Perhaps you want to turn a den into a bedroom or vice versa or add a loft or extra garage bays. The floorplans online or in the community brochure will display the available options, but if theres something specific youre looking for that isnt offered, be sure to ask. There may be more available than what you can see.

    Con: Every change you make will cost you.nbsp;

    If youre planning to make floorplan changes, you can throw out that home price they gave you.nbsp;

    Pro: You can upgrade pretty much everything.

    One of the huge perks of buying new construction is being able to customize it to your liking. Want a fancy backsplash? Go for it. Hand-scraped wood floors? Yes, please. You want it, you got itas long as the sales agent and design center says you can have it. And, you can pay for it, of course.nbsp;

    Con: There goes your budget, and your cushion.

    You may be surprised how much some of this stuff costs. That 350,000 house you thought you could afford? Its now 100,000 more.

    Pro: You can roll the extra costs into your mortgage.nbsp;

    Even though the number might sound exorbitant, its not so bad when you consider the monthly difference it makes in your mortgage payment.nbsp;

    Con: Itll take a while to build.

    The advantage to buying resale is that you get to move in as soon as you close escrow. Buy new and it can be many months before you get your keys.nbsp;

    Pro: But youll be the first to live there

    That makes it worth the wait, right?

    Con: The neighborhood will be a mess for a while.

    Unless youre purchasing when few homes are left to build, expect to be living with construction trucks and construction dirt for a period of time. While this will likely be a blip compared to how long youll live in the home, it can feel interminable when trucks are making noise and kicking up dust.nbsp;

    Pro: It can be easy to meet people when youre all moving in at or around the same time.nbsp;

    This is great for families with young kids or those >

    Con: Higher cost

    Most homebuyers wont be surprised to learn that brand-new homes almost always cost more than resale ones, said NewHomeSource. Historically, newly built homes cost about 17 percent more than resale ones, based on national median price data that date back to the 1960s.

    Pro: There may be amenities

    Having a community pool and maybe a park or other amenities can make it even more rewarding to live in a new-home community.

    Con: Nothing comes for free.nbsp;

    Youll pay for those amenities through the HOA.

    Pro: Your home may appreciate faster

    Studies have shown that well-built homes in popular communities can earn equity faster than some homes in some older neighborhoods.nbsp;

    Con: This could also make your property taxes go up.nbsp;

    Property taxes can rise due to reassessment of value after a home is purchased, said Street Directory. Property taxes on new construction are based upon the assessed value of the land until a certificate of occupancy for the home has been issued by the local government. Once this occurs the property will be re-assessed as a home for the next complete property tax billing cycle.

    Full Story >

    Buying A Lot Vs. Buying A Home: The Differences You Need To Know

    What is the Zoning?

    When you purchase a home, you can typically take an educated guess that the zoning for the land is residential. On the other hand, when a lot is vacant, its imperative that you learn the usage it is zoned for.nbsp;

    From an investment perspective, the value of the land will be determined by how it can be used. For example, vacant land that can not be built on due to zoning issues is a lot less attractive from an investment standpoint than a piece of land that can be utilized.nbsp;

    Its also worth noting that even if you purchase a piece of land with an existing building on it, its still essential to find out whether the zoning has changed since the structure was built. This can sometimes happen due to soil contamination among other issues - and will be a determining factor in whether thenbsp; property is a good investment or not.

    Can the Land be Subdivided?

    Subdividing is the act of dividing a tract of land into several buildable parcels. Acquiring a piece of land that can be subdivided can be an excellent investment opportunity.nbsp;

    One of the main benefits of being able to subdivide land is that it may be more profitable to sell the property as several parcels, as opposed to one large piece. Another advantage is that it allows you to liquidate part of your real estate without having to sell the whole piece. Before you purchase land with the assumption that it can be subdivided, you must do your due diligence. Multiple factors can affect the ability to subdivide, from neighborhood covenants and ordinances to deed restrictions. It is imperative that you seek the advice of an experienced real estate professional before making any decisions.

    What Are The Tax Implications?

    Whether you purchase a tract of land or a property with a home on it, you are liable to pay property taxes.nbsp;

    Local taxing authorities periodically assess the value of all properties within their jurisdiction.nbsp; The taxable value of the land depends on the propertys assessment. While the method of assessment can differ between built-out and vacant land, the process still aims to determine the lots market value. Property taxes are ad valorem according to value, so the lower the assessed value, the lower the property tax will be.

    Land tends to be valued according to its highest and best use. Its important to bear in mind that this may not be the lands current use. Depending on factors such as zoning, available amenities, and local laws,nbsp; there are several possibilities for what could be construed as the lands highest and best use.

    A final point to consider is that land is taxable - whether it is making a profit or not.nbsp;

    Maintenance Requirements

    Purchasing an investment property requires more maintenance than owning a piece of land. Buildings require upkeep and renovations to keep them usable or to improve resale value. Investment properties must be managed by the investor themselves, or a dedicated property manager. Tracts of land, on the other hand, do not require an investor to know anything about how to renovate or manage a property. The only important thing that you need to know about vacant land is: "Is it suitable for building?" If someone else can build on the land when you are ready to sell it, your investment should be secure.

    Its also prudent to note that the IRS does not allow you to depreciate land; however, a building can be depreciated for tax purposes. For example, if you make renovations to an investment property, it is possible to depreciate the cost for this, along with the home value.

    Cash Flow Potential

    Land has little cash flow potential compared to a house. Options are limited to land lease, agricultural usage or boat amp; trailer storage.nbsp;

    An investment home, on the other hand, can be rented out to generate a consistent income. Of course being a landlord comes with other responsibilities, but if you would like an income while also waiting for the property value to increase, renting would be the ideal solution.

    Resale Potential

    The resale potential of both raw land and developed real estate is dependent on several factors. Considerations such as, does the local area have a strong real estate market? and is there demand for this particular type of real estate? are important in determining how easy the sale of the property will be.

    Houses tend to sell more quickly than land alone. This is because there is a higher demand for homes that are already built and move in ready. Land, on the other hand, takes a particular type of buyer, who is willing to invest the time and money required to develop the land.nbsp;

    Whether selling land or a house, it pays to have a knowledgeable real estate agent on your side. There are many benefits to working with a professional, such as helping you understand the market and creating a strategic marketing plan to target the right buyers. Any investment should be treated like a business opportunity. Maximize your profit by doing your due diligence and seeking professional help when required.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    The VA Funding Fee Explained

    VA loans are reserved for a select set of borrowers. These include veterans of the armed forces, active duty personnel with at least 181 days of service, National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve members with at least six years of service and unremarried, surviving spouses of those who have died while serving or as a result of a service->

    Closing costs for VA loans are restricted for eligible borrowers. Borrowers can only pay for an appraisal and credit report, title insurance, origination fees and recording fees. In areas where surveys are required, borrowers are eligible to pay for a survey. One of these costs, the largest one as a matter of fact, is the VA funding fee.

    The funding fee is in essence an insurance policy the borrowers pay for in favor of the lender. This fee can vary based upon the term of the loan, re-use and any down payment. Its important to note here however that VA loans do not require a down payment, but borrowers may choose to provide one voluntarily. For first time buyers taking out a standard 30 year fixed rate term, the funding fee is currently 2.15 percent of the sales price of the home. For a 300,000 mortgage, thats 6,450.

    Thats quite a bit but remember the lender is approving a mortgage without any down payment. Should the loan soon go into default, there wont be any equity. There are also legal fees involved in such an instance so typically the lender is automatically

    upside down if the lender is forced to foreclose. However, this is rare as VA loans are some of the highest performing financing products in the industry.
    The guarantee to the lender is 25 percent of the loss. Again, with an outstanding mortgage balance of 300,000, the lender is paid 75,000. This guarantee can also allow a lender to approve a zero down loan that it may not have approved with a low down payment conventional loan. Its the funding fee that finances this guarantee to the lender.

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    From Seed to Suite: Real Estate Agents and the Cannabis Industry

    This opportunity comes during a time of rapid innovation: a time in which the face of the cannabis industry, or rather the popular impression of what the face of the industry looks like, of a stoner with his mouth open and his eyes shut, gives way to people who look and act like entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley.

    Such is the real face of the cannabis industry, of the faces of men and women who want to buy or lease space for their companies, storefronts, or dispensaries. Such is the nature of an industry whose most successful brands emulate the look and feel of the worlds top brands like Apple, Facebook, Instagram, and Nike.

    According to David Albanese, CEO of High Farms and WeeDeeLiver:

    The cannabis industry is as much about square footage as it is acreage. The latter influences the former, since so much of the industryfrom finance and consulting to marketing and technologyhappens inside a building rather than outside a barn. As a real estate investor, I have more than a passing interest involving these issues. If anything, my pastime is a full-time commitment to further developing this industry.

    I second that sentiment for two reasons, starting with the wisdom most real estate agents possess.

    To have the wisdom to know a clients needs. To know how to advise a client. To know when to tell a client what he needs to hear. To know why these things matter is to be a professional.

    And secondly, professionalism begets referrals.

    The power of word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable, exceeding whatever value a client may enjoy in dollars and cents, because no amount of money can buy what a professional must earn: trust. The trust a client has in a real estate agent. The confidence a client has in his agent. The duty an agent has to act as his clients counselor and confidant.

    These values represent the best of the real estate industry.

    These values find reciprocity among business owners in the cannabis industry. The >

    Safeguarding this >

    This >
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    The Home Improvement Decisions that You will Never Regret

    What to Avoid

    While some home remodeling options may look trendy on the surface, they may not be ideal for a long term engagement.nbsp; For instance, one of the trends you would not want to get involved in is specialty finishes on hardware. While most homeowners find specialty finishes on the bathroom or kitchen trendy, their >

    In most cases, homeowners would try to do all they can to improve the overall outlook of their bathroom. However, some of these additions may be unnecessary. For instance, while adding a veined marble wall to your bathroom is a beautiful endeavor, going overboard can prove overwhelming since, in a few years, it will look outdated. The same applies to graphic tiling that seems trendy at the moment. At this age, Pinterest and Instagram, soon everybody will be going for it, and it will not be desirable in a few years to come.

    What to Focus on in Home Remodeling

    So you have everything figured out and are set up to make your investment in home renovation. Before starting your renovation project, make sure to budget all your expenses. With a detailed budget, you will know, whether is it better to consider a personal loan for home improvement or to use your savings and pay with cash.nbsp;

    Where do you start? With funds ready, you ought to go for priority aspects of your home remodeling. The following are some of the notable areas to lay your emphasis.


    Come to think of it; a building is essentially meant for storage apart from being home. This fact explains why one will go to great lengths to create several rooms of various storage purposes.nbsp; Over time, we accumulate a lot of stuff, and it only makes sense to create enough space for the same. Consider both your current and future storage needs when creating these spaces. This applies to both the interior and exterior storage.


    Apart from location, the homes infrastructure can become a make or break point for your home remodeling design. By building a custom home, you have the autonomy to decide where each of the main features will be located. This is in addition to the assurance that whatever is used under the floor and behind the walls is high quality. Some of the notable infrastructural considerations in home remodeling include electrical systems, cooling systems, siding, plumbing, insulation, and windows. Work hand in hand with your architect or designer to ensure each of these works to improve the overall performance

    The Kitchen

    Kitchen remodeling is a worthy endeavor, but this comes at a price. However, there are changes you can make that will not only cost you less but also stand the test of time. For instance, you may see the need to stick to white in your kitchen. Apart from reflecting light, white makes small kitchen spaces seem larger. For flooring, hardwood takes the day. This is because hardwood can blend well with any kitchen >


    Lighting is often overlooked when it comes to home renovation in place of other design aspects. It shouldnt be the case as lighting makes a strong statement about the overall look of your property. This is especially so for interior design, as it affects every detail in the room. In this case, take your time to study each room in terms of its components and how best to accentuate them. Use accent lighting to highlight some of the aesthetically pleasing fixtures in the room. While at it, consider the need to have sufficient sources of natural light into space.

    Home remodeling doesnt have to be a complicated process; the simpler, the better. The rule of thumb, in this case, is to go for options that stand the test of time. You do not want to incorporate features that will lose value or appeal in a few years.


    My name is Lidia Staron.nbsp;Im a passionate creative writer and marketing manager atnbsp;;As a financial advisor and certified financial planner, I know that life is full of major events and crossroads. Im enjoying to help people navigate through important financial decisions while avoiding common mistakes.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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    What to Do If Your House Is Haunted: Should You Move, Can You Sell It, and Other Crucial Questions

    If youre freaked out and wondering if you could be in the presence of something otherworldly, youre in good company. According to the New York Times, Half of all Americans believe innbsp;paranormalnbsp;phenomena. A Harris Poll says, specifically, that about 45 percent of people believe in ghosts, and that almost 30 percent of the respondents said they believed that theyd personally been in the presence of a ghost.

    To figure out whether what youre experiencing is the real deal, first, use some expert tips to rule out other sensible explanations. If your house is also home to a ghost, it should be somewhat easy to identify, said Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allures resident astrologer. Her five ways you can tell whether your house is haunted include: unexplained temperature changes, strange technological glitches, unusual scents, object movement or unidentifiable sounds, and pets making contact.

    If you nodded your head to at least a few of those, well, congratulationsor, sorryyour house might actually be haunted. So now what do you do?nbsp;

    What do you do if you think your home is haunted?

    Definitely not this.nbsp;

    Wicca seems to be favored by many as a way to ward off spirits, and the burning of sage and along with prayer is one such practice, said The Mirror. They warn against using a Ouija board or having a sance to try to contact the spirit, unless you are fully trained in these methods.

    You can, however, reach out to a paranormal investigator. Think Ghostbusters without Bill Murray, or the cool car. Volunteer paranormal investigation organizations have proliferated across the country in recent years, thanks largely to the popularity of realitynbsp;TV showsnbsp;such as Syfys Ghost Hunters and TLCs Paranormal Lockdown, said The current crop of ghostbusters dont usenbsp;proton packs and Ecto Containment Units like in the movie. Some use tape recorders and electromagnetic meters. Others help wayward souls cross over by recitingnbsp;incantations or prayers. And some just opt for some good, old-fashioned Ouija board burnings.

    What do you do if you think your home is hauntedand you want to sell it?

    Greenfield, MA-based is one such Ghostbusting resource, led by David Franklin Farkas. Farkas calls himself a professional house healer and ghost rescuer, and a Technician of the Sacred who has been ridding homes and lives of ghosts full-time for more than 12 years. A company like his may restore the balance in your homeor at least restore your sanity.nbsp;nbsp;

    And then there is the question of what to tell prospective buyers. It may be a problem that one only thinks about during the Halloween season, but if youre trying to sell a haunted house, its a dilemma every day of the year, said HGTV. The first course of action is to talk it over with your real estate agent, especially if you believe a new owner would be in danger.

    Depending on the state the home is located in, you may be legally required to disclose the paranormal activity because the house is considered stigmatized.nbsp;

    In Massachusetts, property owners are under no obligation to disclose psychological defects, according to Lindley Law.nbsp;In Virginia, emotional defects need only be disclosed if those defects also affect the property.nbsp;For example, a friendly or unfriendly ghost wandering the halls would not need to be disclosed.nbsp;However, bloody handprints that cannot be washed off a ceiling, or lights that inexplicably turn on every morning at 3:15 a.m., are defects that require disclosure.

    California law requires emotional defect disclosures, but only if it has occurred in the past five years, they said. Neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey considers a prior murder or death in the house a material defect as it does not actually affect the flesh and bones of the house itself. Similarly, in North Carolina, though property owners are required to furnish a disclosure statement, there is no duty to disclose whether a property is stigmatized or not. However, when a prospective buyer asks about supernatural occurrences or whether the house is haunted, a seller cannot lie.

    Bottom line: Be sure to ask your real estate agent about laws in your state. Fail to do so, and the sale of your home may just haunt you.nbsp;

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    October Real Estate Roundup

    Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that "The outlook for a favorable resolution to the trade dispute between the U.S. and China is still unclear, introducing some volatility into financial markets and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield. Mortgage rates are following suit but are at near historic lows, while mortgage applications to purchase a home remain higher year over year."

    30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 3.75 percent with an average 0.5 points for the week ending October 24, 2019, up from last month when it averaged 3.64 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.86 percent.

    15-year FRM this week averaged 3.18 percent with an average 0.5 points, up from last month when it also averaged 3.16 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.29 percent.

    5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.4 percent this week with an average 0.3 points, up from last month when it averaged 3.38 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 4.14 percent.

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    Peace of Mind: Wake Up Confident With a Home Warranty

    What is a Home Warranty?

    To answer this question, lets first make clear that a home warranty is different than homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance is generally required by the bank before you can get a mortgage. It covers damage to your house as a result of emergencies such as fire, hurricane, theft, and other catastrophes. It can also cover costs that may accrue should a visitor on your property get hurt.nbsp;

    A home warranty, on the other hand, offers you protection if appliances in your home stop working when no emergency has occurred. After all, machines eventually break even under the best of circumstances.nbsp;

    What Does a Home Warranty Cover?

    Various providers of home warranties cover different things, so it is important to have a clear understanding of your particular home warranty in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. For instance, a home warrantynbsp;might cover different things than one offered in Maryland. That being said, items generally covered by home warranties include dishwashers, electrical systems, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning. Items not generally covered by home warranties include pools, spas, well pumps, septic systems, washing machines, and faucet repairs.nbsp;

    Again, neither of these lists are exhaustive, and provide only a general idea. It is important to consult your specific home warranty agreement to determine what is and is not covered. It is often times possible to pay a higher fee in order to add certain items to the list of things that are covered.nbsp;

    What Else Should I Know About Home Warranties?

    In general, the way it works is that you notice one of your covered appliances or systems in your home stops working. At that point, you call up your home warranty company, and they in turn call a service person who they have an affiliation with. The service person then makes an appointment to come to your home and inspect the damage. The home warranty company then decides if the damage is something it covers based on the report given to them by the service person. Assuming the damage is covered, the service person then repairs or replaces the broken appliance.nbsp;

    There are reasons why repairs will not be covered, such as if the damage is not caused by normal use but is deemed to be caused by excessive or reckless use. Also, improper installation may be a cause for a home warranty to deny coverage. There may also be a maximum amount that can be paid for replacement items.nbsp;

    Having a home warranty is a good idea because it provides financial security, which in turn provides emotional security. Studies show that a sense that finances are in order is the biggest cause of happiness that Americans identify. Also, money problems constitute the largest source of stress.nbsp;

    Having a home warranty, then, solves two problems. First, it means that you wont have to go without clean laundry for a week while you wait for your next paycheck to clear. Second, it will give you the peace of mind not to have to worry so much about money, because you know that the basic necessities that keep your household functioning are protected. You cant put a price on feeling safe about how your life is going.nbsp;

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    New Fixtures: The Easy, Affordable Update Youre Not Making to Your Bathroom

    Trading up for a new faucet or showerhead can give a bathroom a whole new luxurious feel and its one of those cheap bathroom ideas, said Family Handyman. Its especially fun to update those fixtures that you use every day.nbsp;

    If you have older cabinets and countertops that are in need of updating, you may think a new faucet or bath fixtures wont make a dent. But you may be surprised. These items may seem insignificant, but updating them can make a big difference in your bathrooms look, said Money Crashers.nbsp;

    These small updates may be enough to make an older bathroom look freshened up, which is important if youre trying to sell your home. But they may also help you enjoy your space more, even if you have no plans of moving anytime soon. These improvements are affordable, easy, and quick, yet they will give the room a fresh new look, said Termines Specialty Supply.

    Aesthetics are obviously important. But, depending on how old your fixtures are, updating them might also save you money, and improve your footprint. When you install new plumbing fixtures that are designed for improved efficiency, you can reduce water usage, said Termines. This change is not only responsible conservation, but it can also lower your monthly water bill. Saving money and water doesnt have to be complicated or expensive. Replacing an old shower head with a new model designed for lower flow or installing an aerator in your current faucet can make a positive difference.

    A word on finishes

    If you dont have a personal preference, you might choose a finish for your new sink fixtures to match whats in your bath or shower, assuming youre not changing those as well. Or maybe youre making your decision based on whats on sale. Here are a few things to consider if youre not sure which way to go:

    PriceBudget is obviously a driver here, especially if youre looking for an affordable update. Our pro tip is to check with local building supply warehouses, where you can often find overstock and clearance items for a great price. We also recommend signing up for Lowes and Home Depots daily emails so youll be alerted to their Special Buy of the day. Bathroom fixtures are in the regular rotation.

    CleanlinessIf youre a neat freak, the fact that shiny chrome fixtures are more likely to show water spots and fingerprints may be a deal breaker. A more matte finish may be a better option.nbsp;

    Trend factorMatte black is the latest trend when it comes to fixtures, but youll have to weigh whether you want to go super current and risk your fixtures being out of fashion quickly. The good news is that because this is a >
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    Whats the Deal with Those quot;We Buy Houses for Cashquot; Companies?

    But what if you need to sell your home quickly? Those we buy houses for cash signs may have caught your eye. Is it really true that you could sell your home in a few days without having to do any repairs or even clean your home for buyer walkthroughs?nbsp;

    As the saying goes if it seems too good to be true...maybe it is.

    Lets find out

    Who Are They?

    We buy houses for cash buyers are not your typical buyer. They are not regular folks looking for a home to live in or even rent out. They are real estate investors looking to make a quick profit.nbsp;

    As such they are looking to purchase a home for the lowest price possible, fix it up as necessary, and sell it on the open market a short time later. They are very good at what they do and often make a huge profit in just a few months.nbsp;

    Who Do They Target?

    They do this by specifically targeting motivated or desperate sellers. For example, have you ever tried to list your home and the listing eventually expired without resulting in a sale? You probably were contacted by a cash buyer soon after. Discouraged by your failure on the open market, you may be willing to sell your house for cash for a rock bottom price or so they hope.

    However, there could be any number of reasons why your home didnt do well on the market. A knowledgeable agent can advise you on what to change for your next attempt. With the right agent, you can always net more on the open market than what you would get from a cash buyer.

    In the same vein, cash buyers go after people in situations that require a fast sale. A few examples include:

    Divorcing sellers
    Employment change
    Probate sales

    These types of buyers are sometimes referred to as opportunity investors. This is because theyre looking for an opportunity to make some serious cash. Unfortunately, the opportunity often presents itself in someone elses misfortune.


    However, for many people in situations such as these, selling their home quickly can seem like a blessing. Perhaps they arent getting the return on their investment that they had anticipated, but a fast sale takes care of a problem they are facing.

    And selling to a cash buyer certainly is fast.nbsp;

    The typical financed purchase takes about 30 days to close. The lender is often the entity that drags out the process with appraisals and other procedures and paperwork that must be done before they approve the >

    Cash buyers dont have to deal with that. Theyll often come to your home within a day or two of you contacting them. They may make an offer on the spot or youll receive one within the next day or two. They often process the sale in-house and have a title company at the ready to clear the title.nbsp;

    Another thing that often slows down the sale process is the home inspection. Though not required, most buyers will request them and may request repairs to be made before completing the sale.

    Cash buyers dont do this. They typically buy the home as is and take care of the repairs later.

    In only a few days, youll be turning over the keys and the house has been sold.


    Sounds great, doesnt it? Whats the catch?

    Say goodbye to any profits, and probably the equity that youve built up in your home. The offer that cash buyers make is often suspiciously just enough to pay off your mortgage. In general, you will only receive 50-80 of market value.nbsp;

    80 of market value might seem like its worth it to avoid the hassle of going the conventional route. But the average is more like 65 of market value. There are also alternatives iBuyers like Opendoor pay closer to market value and offer even more convenience and speed.

    You also have to be extremely careful with these types of companies. Some of them are scammers. A common scheme is to buy your home but never take care of the mortgage. More than one unsuspecting seller has ended up still being responsible for paying the mortgage on a property they no longer own.

    In short, if you are considering selling your house to a cash buyer, do your research first. Selling a home to get out from under it isnt the only alternative you have. There are other, more profitable options.

    Full Story >

    What Happens in 30 Days

    At this stage, it might seem a little quiet on your end. Youve supplied all the requested documentation and you might think very little is going on but in reality thats not the case at all. The very first thing you should do is order a property inspection. While your mortgage company doesnt require one, its important that you do. Your real estate agent will provide you with a list of inspection companies for you to call. From light switches to sink disposals to hot water heaters, the inspector makes sure everything is in working order. Small items such as a light bulb that needs changing is something for you to note but the lender wont mind. Cracks in the foundation, however, will give a lender pause. So much so that the loan cannot be approved. Once youre satisfied with the inspection, the lender will then move forward.

    The appraisal is ordered and depending upon local market conditions you should receive a copy of the appraisal within a week. An appraisal can be in the form of an Automated Valuation Model, or AVM, or it can be a full appraisal where the appraiser literally visits the property, takes pictures and researches recent sales in the area of similar homes. Your loan officer will give you an idea of this timeline. A title report is ordered, and escrow is opened.nbsp; The title report will show if there are any outstanding liens against the property as well as show a chain of ownership.

    After a week or two, your loan is submitted to the underwriter. The underwriter is the individual within the mortgage company that makes sure the loan package submitted meets all the approval guidelines for the selected loan program. Again, depending upon volume, you should have your approval within a few days. It doesnt take very long for an underwriter to actually approve the loan, but it might take some time for your file to be reviewed. An underwriter might have 25 or so active files at any one time.

    When your loan is fully approved, your loan papers will be ordered and delivered to your settlement agent. The settlement date is listed on the first page of your sales contract and while most closings do take place on that date, its always better to sign your papers a day or two ahead of your final funding. This is in case there are some issues that might come up as you approach your closing. Giving yourself a few extra days to address any issues is always a good idea. If possible, that is. Once both buyers and sellers have signed and the documents delivered back to the lender, the paperwork is reviewed. When the lender has determined the documents have been properly signed, the lender >
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    Five Chic Fall Home Trends

    Natural materials

    Were all about different textures when the weather takes a cooler turn, but this years natural materials takeover has us excited. Woven textures in all their forms add softness to any space and are having a moment in fall decor 2019, said Jane at Home. Think baskets of all shapes and sizes, interesting textiles, woven pendant lights, natural rugs, and cane and rattan furniture.


    This luxe material continues its dominance into yet another season. Expect to see the deep, rich jewel tones you love, and some more unexpected choices. Soft, plush, and gorgeous velvet is a fantastic addition to your home decorating, said The Turquoise Home. Velvet is HOT this fall. You are going to see so many different velvet items that you wont be able to prevent yourself from tossing a few into your cart. I especially love all of thenbsp;pretty colors, like dusty pink and moss green in these pillow covers that are only 9.99


    Speaking of pink, its super hot for fall. Blush is no longer making an appearance just during the spring and summer months, Abbe Fenimore of Dallas-basednbsp;interior desighn firm Studio Ten 25 told MyDomaine. This versatile hue will be taking over fall color palettes with its subtle undertones and ability to make any space instantly chic.

    Benjamin Moores just-announced 2020 Color of the Year is First Light, a soft, not-too-sweet pink that is flattering and fun, said Architectural Digest, so incorporating this hue into your home is as easy as a trip to the paint store.


    Yes, this goldish-brownish yellow is a bold color choice. But, its one that instantly reads fall, and it offers a wide range of options when it comes to color pairings. Use it with dark blue or gray for a modern look.nbsp;

    Optimistic, earthy, bold and rich, ochre isnt all that newin fact, theres something nostalgic about this burnt-yellow, all-natural hue, said HGTV. And now its back in a bigger way. Literally. Were talking couches, duvet covers and throw blankets.

    Plinth >

    This minimal, slab->
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    5 Home Projects That Will Prevent Your Home From Flooding For All Budgets

    Whatever the cause, floods cause more than 40 billion in damages each year. They are one of the leading causes of fatalities from natural disasters, killing as many as 30 people a year inside their homes.

    While some floods cannot be prevented, you can take steps to keep water out and your house safe. Depending on your homes location and what your risks are, you have numerous options. The five projects below are listed from least to most expensive so that you can better determine which is best for your situation.nbsp;

    Pipe Insulation

    Floods do not always start outside of your house. Sometimes, they occur from within. There are many causes of an indoor flood, ranging from a malfunctioning washing machine to an overflowing tub. However, the most common and dramatic in-home flooding comes from burst pipes.

    Pipes burst when the temperature in the house drops low enough for the water in the pipes to freeze. As the water freezes, it expands. If the temperature drops quickly and the water freezes fast enough, it can expand so rapidly that it causes the metal or plastic pipe to split. When the ice thaws, the water then pours out of the holes or cracks.nbsp;

    One way to prevent this is to insulate your pipes. Pipe insulation helps keep them at a more even temperature so that they do not freeze.nbsp;

    Project Cost: 100 - 1,000, depending on how many pipes are at risk.nbsp;

    Installation Difficulty: Simple, precut pipe insulation slips right over the pipes.nbsp;

    Sump Pump

    French drains are considered a passive method of directing water away from your home. If you want an active approach, use a sump pump. Sump pumps also use a trench, but rather than funneling the water away passively, they collect the water in a pit, then use a pump to force it out. They are more effective when paired with French drains, particularly in areas of very heavy rainfall or in homes that have experienced flooding before. If you have a large property, you may need to install more than one.nbsp;

    Project Cost: 550 - 1,100

    Installation Difficulty: Installation can be simple if a pit is already there or difficult if a pit and trench must be dug.nbsp;

    French Drain

    If you live in an area where home flooding occurs because of heavy rainfall or high water tables, a French drain could help. A French drain directs water away from your house. It can be installed inside or outside the home and can help prevent flooding from groundwater.nbsp;

    It is installed via a trench that collects the water and moves it away from your property. Interior drains are more expensive, but they may be more effective, removing water from the most crucial areas. In either case, they can be installed in new construction or an existing home and can be paired with other systems, such as sump pumps, to lower your flood risk even more.nbsp;

    Project Cost: 5,000

    Installation Difficulty: This can take several hours to days, cutting into either the ground or the concrete in your basement to install.nbsp;

    Foundation Sealing and Waterproofing

    Floods are not always a sudden occurrence. Sometimes they involve the slow and steady accumulation of water through a crack in your foundation. Over time, this crack can grow and allow more water into your home until you have a flood. Waterproofing and sealing your foundation can prevent this from happening.

    Waterproofing helps repair any small cracks and stop water from getting into your foundation. It is frequently paired with both sump pumps and French drains, particularly if you live in an area that allows moisture to slope down to your foundation. If your home is on top of a hill or the ground slopes away from the foundation, then waterproofing by itself may be a good answer.

    Project Cost: 5,000

    Installation Difficulty: Sealing and waterproofing can take several hours to complete or may take days, depending on the condition of the foundation.nbsp;

    House Raising

    House raising is not the answer for every property. But if you live in a flood zone, meaning near a body of water that has flooded in the past, it may be your best answer. House raising is a major project that involves taking your current home and lifting it several feet before building a new foundation or crawl space below it. The amount that you need to raise your house is calculated by the Base Flood Elevation BFE. This number takes into account the ground elevation, the flood zone, and how far your home already sits above it. If your BFE is 10 feet and your house is 5 feet above the zone with a crawl space below it, it will need to be raised 5 more feet to get it out of the flood zone.nbsp;

    House raising can be expensive but can save thousands of dollars in potential flood damage. It will also keep your home safe for years of possible flooding.nbsp;

    Project Cost: 35,500

    Installation Difficulty: This is a very invasive and difficult procedure that must be done carefully to avoid disrupting the integrity of the houses structure.nbsp;

    Protect Your Home from Floods

    Floods are dangerous and expensive. They cause a lot of damage in a very short time, and they do not discriminate about which houses they impact. Protect your home from flood damage with these five techniques and stay dry regardless of what is going on outside.nbsp;

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    How to Make Your Home Animal Friendly

    Keep Things Locked Up

    Some dogs will chew anything. And even cats have been known to poke around and get into things that they shouldnt. Things like medications, cleaning products and even foods that are completely safe for humans, can cause serious harm to your pet. Make sure that medications are put out of reach. Put put child safety latches on cabinets that are low enough for a dog or cat to reach. And if your pet has access to the outdoors, make sure that lawn equipment and fluids are tightly locked in the garage or storage shed.

    A Pet Door

    A pet door can give your furry best friend access to the outdoors. When they get bored or when they get excited about something out in the yard or if they simply need to go out, they can take themselves out. Not only does this save you the trouble of letting them out or taking them out when they want to go, it also saves your door. Many pets, especially dogs, will scratch at the door when they want to go out. Over time this will damage your door.

    A Fully Fenced Yard

    If you are going to have a way for your pet to access the yard, then you had better get the yard fully fenced. Not only will this protect your pet, but it will protect the neighborhood from the damage your buddy can inflict on flower beds and personal items. Fencing in the yard will give your dog or cat a safe place to play and get some exercise. They can sniff, explore, >

    Pet Friendly Floors

    Most pet owners prefer a floor without carpeting. Hardwood, tile, vinyl and laminate flooring are easier to clean up than carpet. They can be swept and mopped and accidents are not likely to leave a stain as they might with carpeting. It is important with hard flooring options to keep your dogs nails trimmed so he does not scratch up the floors as he walks.

    If you do opt for carpeting, you will have to vacuum often. You should probably also have it deep cleaned on a regular basis to keep down on the dirt and flea population. You might compare carpet cleaning prices from professional cleaning companies to get the best deal. You might consider, as a pet owner, it may be more economical to buy your own machine.

    Easy-to-Clean Furniture

    Maybe you are not the sort of person who would allow your pets on the furniture, but many folks are. It can be nice to snuggle with your four-legged family member while you are watching television. If you have pets, consider getting furniture made with easy-to-clean fabrics. Crypton, leather and ultrasuede are all good choices.

    Exercise Equipment

    Having toys for your pets will keep them busy and prevent boredom. If you keep your dog toys in one place, they will not always be underfoot and your dog will know where to find them when he wants them. Cats need a place to exercise their claws, such as a scratching post. If you rub that scratching post with a little bit of catnip, they will be more inclined to use it.

    When you have a pet, making your home pet-friendly will make your life easier. It will make cleaning easier and will lighten the amount of wear and tear put on your home and furnishings. It will also keep your pet happy and comfortable.

    Full Story >

    Should You Rent or Buy Your Home?

    The case for buying your home

    The conventional wisdom on the renting-versus-buying debate is simple: Buying is better. Thats an oversimplification, of course, but the traditional logic leans in this direction. The reason that buying a home is often considered to be the wiser choice lies in the difference between rent and mortgage payments. To buy a nice home, youll almost certainly need to take out a home loan. That means youll be paying every month, much as you would with rent. But while rent goes in your landlords pocket, mortgage payments go toward your debt on your home. Eventually, you may pay the whole mortgage off; at that point, you wont have to make monthly payments anymore. And if you ever move and sell your home, youll likely get much of the value of your mortgage payments back. In short, a home you buy is a store of value, and that means that mortgage payments can contribute to your net worth in a way that rent payments never can.nbsp;If youre lucky, your home may even increase in value over the years. Increasing real estate prices are not a good thing for renters who may see their rents go up, but they can be great for homeowners; while real estate tax payments may rise, the homeowners net worth will be going up, and they may even make a profit when the home is sold.

    The case for renting your home

    With all of these points in favor of buying, why would you ever rent a home? The case for renting instead of buying hinges on two things: the down payment and closing costs. When you buy a home, you dont just start paying a mortgage. First, you have to put some cash in as a down payment often 20 percent of the homes cost. Thats a big chunk of change, and if you dont have enough, renting may be your only real option. Its also important to remember that this cash could do other things for you. If you put all of your money into a house, you wont be liquid, and will be vulnerable to financial emergencies. And a down payment could be invested instead of put toward a home; depending on how the market does, you could offset your rent payments and come out ahead. The down payment is a judgment call, but the closing costs argument against buying is pretty basic. The idea is this: When you buy a house, you pay a big chunk of change to cover one-time closing costs. Collectively, these costs can be as high as 5 percent of the value of the mortgage. If you turned around and sold your home the next day, you would lose money. You might get what you paid for the house, but the closing costs would be gone forever. If you wait decades to sell your house, however, youre likely to come out ahead. Those advantages mortgage payments have over rent will have added up to far more than the closing costs. So the decision on whether or not to buy a home often comes down to the question of how long youll be staying there. Moving soon? Then you should rent. Settling down? Its often better to buy. Other reasons to rent include high costs associated with taxes and maintenance. As always, do the math on your specific situation. What this means for you is that youll likely want to do some math before you decide whether to buy or rent your home. Happily, a lot of calculators online may be able to help you out. Make a careful decision, and do whatever is best for you.

    Full Story >

    3 Reasons Why AR is a Cheat Sheet for Realtors

    Because larger organizations can afford better marketing efforts, team-based organizational structures are becoming increasingly common. But as agents continue to work more collaboratively, they need better tools for communication. The best way to ensure success would be to set aside time to train and teach junior professionals how to show each property. However, with all the work they do to bring in sales, its unlikely that any top performers will have the time to spare. Additionally, you probably dont want to pull your best workers out of the field.

    The solution? Augmented reality. Rather than force your agents to take detailed notes and give extensive tours to colleagues, you can cut time and increase retention by using this accessible frontier technology. Here are three reasons why AR is the ultimate cheat sheet for realtors.

    Boost team performance

    When youre working in a team, its inevitable that some agents will know more about certain properties than others. If an agent with less knowledge of a property is the one showing it, they wont be able to sell it as effectively as one of your superstars would. AR communication apps can help you distribute your well-honed narratives, and ensure that anyone who shows the listing is successful. By having your agents record videos of themselves explaining selling points throughout the house e.g. the wood on this deck was imported from Indonesia, this is one of the largest master bedrooms in the neighborhood you can set your newer or less knowledgeable associates up for success.

    Using an AR communication app like Taggr is simple. Simply stand in front of the area you want to record information about e.g. the kitchen, and start talking. Once the videos are created, you can pin them in specific locations in the property, like digital post-it notes.nbsp;nbsp;

    When an associate enters the listing at a later time, they can use the app to locate any videos that were left behind for them. The best part is that these movies are easily accessible at any point in time. An agent can enter a home just 10 minutes before the showing, or open house begins, and review the digital post it notes and make sure they are up to speed.nbsp;

    A faster way to share information

    In business, time is money, and researching a property effectively can take hours. The most efficient way to get this information out is to have one agent research a listing and then share what they know with others. However, many agents like working in real estate because they can show real houses and homes outside the confines of an office. They dont want to sit at a computer writing, editing, and distributing files filled with detailed notes.nbsp;

    AR can streamline the sharing process. Transferring information is as easy as taking a series of 30 second selfie videos. Your best agents simply visit the properties they are most familiar with, and run through their typical presentation, providing helpful hints like make sure to keep the blinds open to highlight the view along the way. These videos are fast and simple to create, and even faster to consume.nbsp;

    The nature of an AR app means that its ideally suited for sharing information about a three dimensional space like a house, condo, or apartment. Miscommunication can occur when an experienced agent writes that the homeowners have installed a brand new sink, only for another agent to get to the property and wonder which one? because there are two. AR communication apps eliminate these concerns because videos are recorded in front of the object. Its easy for a new agent to view the information without having to scroll through emails and request access to shared files.

    Easier to remember information about listings

    One of the most challenging parts of communicating knowledge about a listing to another agent is making sure they retain the information. If an agent receives and reads a file in the office days before they are scheduled to show a house, they might easily forget an hours worth of reading. AR communication apps allow agents to quickly refresh their knowledge while they are onsite, because the videos are short and immediately accessible through a phone.

    An SF-based realtor pins a video to the kitchen of a luxury building. The video explains to colleagues the ideal way to tour this particular property.nbsp;

    You can boost the performance of your agent teams and save time by taking advantage ofnbsp; augmented reality. These capabilities allow you to upload and view information much faster than digital notes would, and agents who watch these videos are more likely to retain what they have seen. Were just seeing the beginning of how virtual and augmented reality will impact the real estate industry, and great opportunities lie ahead for those who give them a try.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    6 Ways for Realtors To Increase Brand Awareness

    Regular Content

    You need to be consistent, and the best way to do that is to create regular content and keep your name out there on the internet. There are many ways to create content, but by far the most popular one is blogging. If your brand already has a website, then you should definitely have a blog on there and employ someone - even a freelancer - to write posts about your services or products, and anything specific to your area of expertise. People generally like to see content which helps them in some way, like how-tos and tips for using your products, or even links to other places which can give them extra information. If you can be helpful to them, theyll keep coming back for more advice, and posting regularly means they can work you into their weekly schedule. Brand awareness can only work if you work for it, and give your customers something new to remind them of you every time they go online.

    Utilizing Influencers

    Influencers are everywhere online, so you need to start using them in your brand awareness plan if you want to get anywhere on the internet, says Natalie Wyman, a marketing blogger at Academized and Boom essays, and creating lasting >

    Your Story

    Most websites will have an about us page, so if yours doesnt, then youre missing out. Yes, customers want the best products or services, but they also want to hear the narrative behind how your business came into being - they want to see the people behind the corporate logo and slogan, Andrew Palmer, a brand writer at State of writing and Big Assignments, so invest in some part of your content which will tell your customers a story about how you got to where you are, who made you what you are today, where you came from and where youre going. Once they see a human face and hear a human voice within your content, customers will be invested, and thats one of the best ways to increase brand awareness; you need to show people that youre real, because humanizing your company is one of the first steps in becoming a great success. People like people, after all.

    Useful Newsletter

    A large number of people sign up to newsletters then end up unsubscribing just weeks or even days later. Why? Theyll sign up to the promise of discounts or helpful tips, and instead be flooded with useless promotional material which doesnt benefit them whatsoever. If you have a newsletter, make sure that its actually what you advertise it as, because misleading customers is one of the worst ideas ever for a blossoming business which is trying to increase its brand awareness positively. Include video tutorials and images which >

    Contests And Giveaways

    Theres nothing that anyone loves more than free stuff, so if you create some sort of contest or giveaway, its guaranteed to catch the publics attention. Announcing such an event on your social media account is a good idea, and having one of the stipulations be that the customer has to share your social media account is also amazing for getting a new audience to find your page, since it has a snowball effect of customer after customer revealing you to their followers online, who could even carry on the chain by entering the contest or giveaway themselves. All in all, youre giving away >

    Member Privileges

    Lots and lots of website-based businesses are going freemium, meaning that normal users can access the basics of the website, but paying customers i.e. paying for a membership to the website, not just buying products and services get special benefits that others dont get. These could be anything, from free shipping to a no-advertisements online experience, or even a discount for a certain number of items every month. Youll need to clearly display the benefits of becoming a member somewhere on your website, perhaps even in a pop-up, and show how to become a member clearly on your website. Pricing should be fair, since these customers will still be buying from your business, just with perks, so dont hitch up the prices too far and keep it reasonable. Paying monthly or yearly are common payment options, so that members can quit if they dont want the benefits anymore, and dont feel tied into your business - they feel like theyre there voluntarily, and choosing to benefit.


    A marketing and tech writer with CV writing services UK and Write my Australia, Ellie Coverdale is highly involved in research based around technology and development projects. Coverdale loves researching new developments >
    Full Story >

    Four Ways to Make Your Ceiling a Standout

    ldquo;Anbsp;creative ceilingnbsp;can completelynbsp;change the look of a room, taking a space from so-so to stunning,rdquo; said House Beautiful. Here are four ways to create a statement ceiling in your home.

    Get colorful

    ldquo;The power of paint is undeniable,rdquo; said A. Houck Designs. And they arenrsquo;t kidding. If you havenrsquo;t thought about adding paint to your ceiling, we bet you will once you see how taking color up to the fifth wall transforms a space.nbsp;

    ldquo;White was the furthest thing from our minds as we updated our clientsrsquo; powder room,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We wanted to create big drama in the tiny space, so we started by covering the walls with this over-the-top, floral paper fromnbsp;Designers Guild. Suffice it to say, this wallpaper introduced plenty of wow-factor all on its own. We decided to up the ante, though, by pulling one of its lush shades of green for the ceiling color Grenada Villa 690 bynbsp;Benjamin Moore.rdquo;

    On their site, yoursquo;ll also be able to see several examples of painted ceilings that veer more toward subtle but which still attract attention.nbsp;

    Make it metallic

    Talk about glamorous. Splash some metallic paint up there to create a one-of-a-kind look with luxury appeal. Keep in mind that metallic paint will cost you more than a standard finishmdash;possibly as much as double for the materials. Modern Masters is a go-to for high-quality metallic paint, but wersquo;re also fans of the PPG Metallic Paints at Home Depot, which are about 40 of the price.

    Turn wallpaper into ceiling paper

    We cant promise it will be easy to hang, but wallpaper on the ceiling is sure to be a conversation piece. Use it in a bedroom where you can enjoy it from bed. ldquo;A lot of times when yoursquo;re in a bedroom, yoursquo;re on your backrdquo; when you wake up, Quintece Hill-Mattauszek, an Alexandria, Va.,nbsp;designer, told the Washington Post, ldquo;So, itrsquo;s really nice to see something really cool.rdquo;

    Using wallpaper in a powder room is another designer trick that allows you to make a big impact in a small space. ldquo;Itrsquo;s always fun to do something unexpected in a powder room,rdquo; Elizabeth Reich of Baltimore-based interior design company, Jenkins Baer Associates, told the Post.

    Add some architectural detail

    Love the look of exposed beams but donrsquo;t want the expense? Faux beams are a great way to create that rustic ambiance at a much lower cost. Plus, theyrsquo;re lightweight, which makes them DIY-friendly. Get some ideas for what to do with your beams here.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Is It a Good Time to Buy a House?

    So, in a word, Yes

    ldquo;Housing activity indicators displayed further gradual improvement in August,rdquo; the report said. ldquo;Single-family housing starts and permits have rebounded over the past three months. New and existing home sales rose in August. A still-strongnbsp;labornbsp;market and low mortgage rates could continue to provide support to housing.rdquo;

    The report noted todayrsquo;s low mortgage rates, which create greater affordability and buying power for those looking to purchase a home. It pointed to ldquo;Augustrsquo;s 7.1 gain in new-home sales to 713,000 at a seasonally adjusted and annualized pace, which was 18 above the year-earlier month,rdquo; said HousingWire. ldquo;And, the Fed cited the 1.2 gain in existing home sales in August that put the sales pace 2.9 above a year earlier.rdquo;

    Homebuilding was also a focus of the report, thanks to housing startsnbsp;that are up 12.3, reaching their highest point in more than a dozen years.nbsp;nbsp;

    ldquo;Over the last three months, single-family housing starts and permits have rebounded,rdquo; said Realtor Magazine. ldquo;New home sales gained 7.1 in August month over month and are 18 higher than a year earlier. Homebuilding has also seen some increases, surging 12.3 in August to reach the highest level since June 2007, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. A good portion of that has been in the multifamily sector, which includes apartments.rdquo;

    According to the report, the combination of a strong labor market and favorable mortgage rates should continue to keep the housing market in positive territory. However, ldquo;The report did note the shortage of homes for sale as one major hurdle facing the housing market that could limit its continued growth,rdquo; said Realtor.nbsp;

    The report was partially based on the Federal Reserve Bank of New Yorkrsquo;s U.S. Economy in a Snapshot, a monthly look at national economic factors.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Helping Clients Convert Houses Into Homes: A Strategy for Success

    A good real estate agent brings housewarming gifts of measurable value and immeasurable worth. Examples include a smart thermostat a Nest for the nest, so to speak or a brand of smart speakers, or a SOUL power charger that keeps everything running so people do not run, so no one fills a room with a sense of despair, so no one flees a room with a look of panic.nbsp;

    Forget the customary giftsthe pretty but otherwise useless presentsthat come in ribboned boxes, inside blue or yellow shopping bags, that connote pride, prestige, or prominence.

    Give clients what they will use.nbsp;

    Strengthen their spirits with gifts that make a home more comfortable and inviting. Invite them to play by helping them customize their plug-and-play devices. Take the initiative by showing them how these gifts work. Take the time to do these small things, so as to instill by installing these gifts a commitment to service.

    Have practicality triumph over pricey but impractical gifts: items that go on a shelf in a basement or garage; items that homeowners are loath to keep, but happy to giveto regiftto someone else; items that evoke a variety of feelings, but fail to help homeowners remember a real estate agents name.

    The power of giving homeowners something they will use increases the likelihood that more clients will make use of an agents knowledge and expertise: that referrals will ensue, sales will follow, and commissions will climb.nbsp;

    Bear in mind, too, that an agents most effective marketing plan is neither a series of ads nor a collection of flyers. An agents greatest asset is his name, or rather the way his clients speak of his name.

    If clients cherish and use what an agent gives, that gift has the power to generate more leads than all the commercials and billboards an agent can buy.nbsp;

    To have clients of such gratitude and fervor is rare. To have more of these clients is doable, so long as agents invest in and bestow tangible expressions of thanks.

    Whether the gift is a device or some other consumer electronic, whether the gift is something an agent knows a client wants or suspects a household will use, what matters is that the gift itself matters.

    Humble in his words and generous in his actions, the connection between an agents deeds and a clients act of signing a deedthe bond is real, the trust genuine, the result remarkable.

    May more agents embrace this truth.

    May more agents promote this truth.

    May everyone rejoice and prosper because of this truth.

    Full Story >

    Which Digital Communication Page Are You On?

    With so many aps, social media platforms, technologies, and digital tools in use, ensuring communication compatibility on many levels with target prospects and clients requires forethought.

    Have you ever watched two professional scuba divers before they dive down to work at great depths? They invest time running through a series of hand signals and movesmdash;their only form of communication underwater. They guarantee that they are both on the same communication ldquo;pagerdquo; before they submerge. Not a bad metaphor for working with real estate clients in this fast-paced, high-pressure, digitally-crowded world where effective communication is even more difficult under pressure.

    Real estate professionals are most successfulmdash;for themselves and their clientsmdash;when the professional goal is engagement on clientsrsquo; terms:

    1: When marketing to prospective target buyers or sellers do you consider what they are thinking about or are intent on when your advertisement or social media message pops up on their screen?

    2: Is your communication accepted because it blends with what they are receptive to at that moment or is your messaging seen as an intrusive sales pitch?

    3: When you begin a working >

    Consider how genuinely client-centric and useful your digital messaging is:

    Online Advertising

    1. Facebook Advertising:nbsp;Facebook ads will not automatically bring you targeted hot-leads or eager prospective clients.

    bull; First, you must define which digital marketing goals you want to pursue and how yoursquo;ll measure progress. What do you want people to do when they see your Facebook ads? Be attracted to visiting your website or blog? File your name away for future use?
    bull; Then, select from the variety of Facebook ad types for the right fit for your target markets and what you want to achieve. What are Facebook users intent on when your ad pops up? Are you catching them when they are already thinking about buying or selling real estate? Or, are you intruding on their efforts to do something completely different?

    Ad Objectives: Awareness? Connection? Conversion?

    bull; The learning curve that represents understanding Facebook advertising includes figuring out ad types, terminology, ad mechanics, and >bull; Whether you invest time learning which Facebook ad types will bring the best returns or you spend time interviewing online professionals to find the best fit, this effort will be reflected in results and cost.
    bull; Jump in without understanding how to target the specific buyers or sellers who drive your practice or without learning how Facebook ads work, and you may spend too much, accomplish too little, or both.

    Keep in mind that most Facebook users are not there to shop and buy, but to mingle and share, so ads may seem intrusive, even pushy.

    2. Amazon Advertising:nbsp;ldquo;Find. Attract. Engage.rdquo; is the advertising pitch for Amazon, the third-largest digital ad platform in the US. Amazonrsquo;s extensive data is the big draw for advertisers. User buying-patterns reveal connections for many advertising objectives. According to Amazon, use ldquo;Amazonrsquo;s ad products to reach those people, both on Amazonrsquo;s properties and through a network of third-party sites.rdquo;

    Advertising on Amazon can be complicated and is probably more suited to a campaign. Hiring knowledgeable digital marketing professionals should save time and money while increasing effectiveness.

    Amazon data, collected from people who are there to buy, could be used to target people purchasing items like interior design books or do-it-yourself home repair products who potentially may be preparing to list their home. Instead of selling real estate services on Amazon, data enables targeting these consumers on Amazon and multiple sites.

    Note: Free online promotion may provide creative outlets for less traditional approaches.

    Social Media Platforms

    You realize that you canrsquo;t be active on everything from Facebook and Linkedin to Pinterest and have time for all thatrsquo;s required of a real estate professional. Social media eats up a lot of time, so how do you measure return on investment?

    bull; Select platforms important to your target market.
    bull; Tailor your messages to match how targets use the platforms of their choice. On Facebook, aim to build >bull; Consider teaming up with other real estate professionals like mortgage brokers or interior designers to offer diverse, practical content that will attract buyers or sellers to you. Become an online destination to create genuine engagement.

    Flexible Individual Contact

    Newsletters, bulletins, videos, blog posts, emails, textshellip;therersquo;s an ever-increasing list of digital communication tools for marketing to past clients and prospective buyers or sellers. Again, your choice of how many tools to employ and which ones to use should arise from research into what your target markets prefer, not what is easier or cheaper for you.

    During the intensive buying cycle, an important part of getting to know a prospective buyer or understanding how to serve a listed seller is achieving communication compatibility.

    bull; Interview your client or prospect to establish communication compatibility. That is, decide between you which set of digital tools and social media platforms are going to be ideal for effective communication.
    bull; When you need to reach them quickly and they need to reach you without fail, what approaches will be easiest for them? Would a combination of Twitter and texting or FaceTime suit that buyer? If voice-to-voice calls are preferred by a client, a special ring tone may be in order for your phone and theirs. Being connected is vital.

    Respecting the targetrsquo;s intent and strengthening their sense of control is paramount when communicating for any purpose, in any medium. Communication compatibility, or using digital tools and methods that prospects and clients are comfortable with, reduces stress and earns the trust of prospects and clients.

    This deliberate recognition of the essential value of selective digital usage with buyers and sellers, prospects and clients, reinforces client loyalty. What seems like a small thing, may increase the likelihood theyrsquo;ll feel connected enough to you to refer you to friends and call you in the future.

    Full Story >

    Three Ways to Successfully Negotiate Realtor Commission

    Real estate agents are vital to the sale process. Depending on the circumstances, they can get an average 30 higher sale price than trying to sell your home yourself. Obviously, this makes their help worth it, but if you could pay less for the same service that would be ideal. After all, 6 on a 300,000 home is 18,000 mdash; no small chunk of change

    The good news is that itrsquo;s possible to successfully negotiate realtor commission and save. Check out three ways here.

    Know the Market

    Like most things in real estate transactions, realtor commission is negotiable. In fact, by law agents canrsquo;t say that commission is a set X-amount in their market. However, about 6 is the average industry standard and what most people end up paying.

    However, if you know the market well and understand that it is a sellerrsquo;s market, you may have some bargaining power.nbsp;

    A sellerrsquo;s market means that there are proportionately more buyers than inventory, making it very easy to sell homes. In fact, in strong sellerrsquo;s markets, itrsquo;s possible to get an offer within days or even hours of putting the home on the market. You may even enjoy the sellerrsquo;s dream of having several buyers competing for the home.nbsp;

    In that case, itrsquo;s easy to sell the home and the agent wonrsquo;t have to put as much effort into the sale. You can use this to your advantage when negotiating the commission. The agent knows it will be an easy sale and may have no problem accepting a reduced commission.

    Just remember, yoursquo;re pitting yourself against a master negotiator. Be sure to read up on how to negotiate before you begin that conversation.

    Discuss Your Needs

    What if your market isnrsquo;t a strong sellerrsquo;s market at the moment? Will you be stuck paying full price?nbsp;

    Well, how good are your negotiating skills?

    This is a great tactic if you have a bit of real estate experience yourself. You may not require all of the agentrsquo;s skills. For example, you may be willing to handle buyer walkthroughs yourself or you can write the marketing materials. Perhaps you already have a buyer, which is a huge part of the agentrsquo;s job, and you just need help navigating the rest of the transaction.nbsp;

    If you ask them for it, many agents will provide you with a list of services they offer. If you donrsquo;t need everything they offer, they may be willing to amend their service package and drop their price to accommodate.

    Established Real Estate Referral Network

    Hands down the easiest and most efficient way of saving on realtor commission is by using an established real estate referral network. These networks have already done all the hard work for you.nbsp;

    A big part of an agentrsquo;s job is finding new clients. Unless they are investors, most people donrsquo;t make frequent real estate purchases. Agents are lucky to get a handful of repeat clients.

    By streamlining and handling marketing services for thousands of agents, a referral network makes it possible for the agents to spend more time selling homes. Without all the extra marketing work on their plate, the agent can provide the same full real estate services to their clients for a reduced price.nbsp;

    Find your agent through one of these companies and you could save thousands on your home sale. As a bonus, you also donrsquo;t have to worry about investigating the agent beforehand. The referral network has taken care of that for you too. They donrsquo;t work with agents who donrsquo;t perform well mdash; and that includes offering top-notch customer service.

    Just be sure to pick a reputable network. Some companies offer this type of service at rock bottom prices because the agents provide subpar work.nbsp;nbsp;

    Why Pay More Than You Have To?

    Selling a home is expensive enough, why pay more in realtor fees than you have to? Check out one of these ways to successfully negotiate realtor commission before you put your home on the market. You have nothing to lose and thousands of dollars to gain.

    Full Story >

    Halloween 2019 Home Dcor Trends

    A whopping 2.7nbsp;billion of that haul is expected to be spent on decorations. Clearly, itrsquo;s not enough to just plop a pumpkin on the porch and hang a fake skeleton from the tree on your front lawn anymore. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to decorate for Halloween in >

    Moonlight Bash collection

    Wersquo;re digging the Moonlight Bash collection from Target, which includes ldquo;everything you need to create a unique, spooky and fun ambiance that your guests will love. From an animated boombox to a wheel of fate to velvet skulls to a decorative DJ skeleton prop, this Halloween party decor collection will have all the ghouls, goblins and ghosts groovin and jamming while they enjoy your perfectly spooky and cool atmosphere.rdquo;

    We especially love the Light-Up LED Eyeball Halloween Decorative Wreath and the Studded Halloween Pumpkin. Punk-rock porch, anyone?

    Halloween light bulbs

    Are you picturing one orange outdoor bulb and one black outdoor bulb? Cause we are This simple trick can make a dramatic impact.

    Petrifying plantersnbsp;nbsp;

    According to Etsy, petrifying plantersnbsp;are all the rage this year. ldquo;One of this seasonrsquo;s hottest trends is adding a spooky vibe to your plantparent game. Etsy shoppers are increasingly searching for Halloween twists on their everyday planters, with searches for ghost planters up 137, monster planters up 60, and skull planters up 10 in the last three months compared to the same time last year,rdquo; they said.nbsp;

    Wintery white

    If yoursquo;re going to go artificial with your pumpkins, you donrsquo;t have to do orange. These white versions introduce a little elegance.nbsp;

    Go Dark

    Whether yoursquo;re throwing a party, or just looking to bring the goth glam to your home, this dark and stormy Halloween deacute;cor will do the trick. ldquo;Donrsquo;t be afraid of the dark and decorate with black table cloths, matte black plates and even black candles, then balance out with gray or silver napkins and flatware,rdquo; said Deacute;cor Aid. ldquo;Another Halloween home decor trend thatrsquo;s gaining a lot of popularity is goth themed decor. Incorporate skulls as accent pieces, centerpieces or even use smaller skulls as place holders. An affordable decorating tip is to paint over plastic skulls, using darker matte shades to do so. This will make these decorations less cliche and your guest will be surprised you went with such an unconventional look. Black and red roses not only add to the goth theme but add a hauntingly glamorous look to your decor.rdquo;nbsp;

    Pastel punch

    Herersquo;s an even more unexpected color twist: pastels for Halloween ldquo;Not into the dark and spooky decor that comes with Halloween? People are now using pink and pastel color schemes to sweeten up the look,rdquo; said TODAY. ldquo;According to anbsp;new report from Pinterest, searches for ldquo;pink Halloweenrdquo; are up 221 this year over last. And ldquo;pastel Halloweenrdquo; is close behind with an increase in searches of 164.rdquo;


    Full Story >

    5 Bathroom Ideas for Your New Home

    Naught the Pedestal Sink

    You should replace the normal and boring sink with a modern-looking one. Likewise, installing some vanity gears would greatly improve the room. Vanities can be easily installed, most include sinks, countertops, and hardware. You may opt to choose natural wood for it to look timeless. Clean lines and cool color, like light gray cabinets and marble countertops, will do if you want a contemporary aesthetic look.

    Trendy Tiles

    If you want to have a bathroom that is both cozy and warm, try to play and combine different types of tiles. This will add flair and >

    Bold, Lavishing, Lighting

    If you choose a daring look, lighting could make you achieve it. Remove your old fixture and put vanity lighting to add glamour in your bathroom. A bright vanity light will illuminate over-the-sink spaces and push light even farther to the room. On the other hand, if you prefer a modern look, add sconces on each side of the vanity area and choose a proper lighting to compliment the room.

    Splash of Green

    Plants are not just for exterior designs. It can also be used inside and put some in the bathroom will level up the design. It is actually becoming a modern trend. Plants will add cool contrast to the tiles and will give you a >

    Functional Faucets

    According to the Kitchen amp; Bath Industry Show, black matte faucets and fixture are currently on the trend. These kinds of design will provide a modern look but will still add more warmth and space. Matte black faucets are perfect for modern space and add edge to a boring bathroom. Regardless of what design you choose it is highly advisable to purchase a WaterSense certified faucet, as it is more water efficient compared to those which are not certified and will actually save you more money in the long run.

    Full Story >

    If You Have the Option of Putting More Money Down, Should You?

    Many times, this additional cash comes from the sale of a previous residence but of course it doesnrsquo;t have to. While conventional loans do have low down payment options, with a down payment of less than 20 percent of the sales price, private mortgage insurance will be required. Making a down payment of 20 percent or more eliminates the need for PMI. A larger down payment obviously results in a lower monthly payment which is another factor to consider.

    Making a large down payment will also affect liquidity. A down payment is instant equity in a real estate transaction, the only way to get the money back is either through the sale of the property or an equity loan of some sort. Putting more money down often means tapping into a retirement account such as an IRA or pulling funds from any investment or savings account. When those funds are removed, interest is lost. A larger than required down payment could also mean the funds would be put to use in a better way such as paying down consumer debt or paying off student loans, for example.

    Considering an existing mortgage, loan programs today allow you to pay the loan down. Perhaps retirement is soon coming into the picture and paying down a mortgage is a solid financial plan. One thing to note however is that with a loan carrying a fixed interest rate, the payment will not change, just the loan amount will be lowered. With an adjustable rate loan however, the monthly payments will change as the loan amounts are reduced.

    Coming in with a large down payment is a personal financial decision and for most that means itrsquo;s time for a talk with a financial planner and your loan officer. There are multiple considerations when paying extra on a mortgage or coming to the settlement table with a larger-then-required down payment which means seeking advice from a professional.


    Full Story >

    Fall Renovations to Try and Why

    Here are a few good renovations to make this fall. Come spring, yoursquo;ll be glad you accomplished something with the last warm days of the year.

    Get Last Minute Repairs Done to Winter Proof Your Home

    Winter can take a heavy toll on a house. Snow and ice block things up. Poor insulations makes your furnace work doubly hard, and the sheer cold can inflict damage on certain surfaces.

    New insulation is a >

    And speaking of windows, getting your frames fixed up and panes replaced is a great idea for the same reason as is new insulation. Theyrsquo;ll keep you snug and toasty during the hard months to come. And, of course, a well-insulated home is a home thatrsquo;s easy to heat. Yoursquo;ll save money and make things easier on your furnace which itself could you save you on repairs some day.

    Go Big and Make it Easier on Your Workers

    Cool fall air is easier to work in than summer mugginess. So why not do some major work? There has got to be something thatrsquo;s been brewing in your brain for a while now. Considering a new deck? New siding? A new attachment? These are things for which workers will be required to spend long, hard days working. The workers will be more productive and in better spirits if theyrsquo;re not suffering through 96 degree weather through it all. And if theyrsquo;re not exhausted to point of weariness, theyrsquo;ll be less likely to get sloppy and have an accident.

    Consider Where Yoursquo;ll Be Spending Time in the Winter

    People cook a lot during the winter, so why not renovate your kitchen? Imagine how much fun yoursquo;ll have preparing heart holiday meals with a bunch a new gadgets and redone space at hand. Winter will so much easier to deal with if yoursquo;ve got a shiny new environment in which to get things done.

    Similarly, people spend hours every night in their living rooms during the winter. Imagine how much fun your family would sitting around a fireplace while watching the evening news. The warm flicker of a fire is a great way to build fond memories and bond around a shared experience.nbsp; nbsp;

    Think Ahead to Spring

    Imagine ahead. When the snow finally melts and the warm sun begins to reclaim its prominence, what will make you the happiest? Probably not a bunch of impending renovations. No, spring is a time for celebration. You want to get your work done now.

    Great spring activities could include driveway basketball, grilling on a new patio, even a new swimming pool. Think ahead. Yoursquo;ll thank yourself six months from now.

    Full Story >

    9 Practical Tips in Handling Plumbing Emergencies

    Plumbing affects several areas in your home from the bathroom to the kitchen. Plumbing problems can arise suddenly, without warning. While some minor issues are easily fixed, some difficulties can quickly escalate into a major crisis that causes damage to your home. If this isnt taken care of immediately, you can suffer thousands of dollars in loss, with lasting consequences.

    How can you potentially limit a plumbing disaster? Here are some helpful tips that you can apply to protect your home:

    Shut off the Water

    As soon as emergency strikes, turn off the source of water immediately. It can be as simple as turning off the valve at the base of your commode. However, if larger emergencies like flooding occur, turn off the main valve in your home. Most water valves usually have to be turned off clockwise.

    Turn Off the Electricity

    Electricity and water will always make a deadly combination. If there is any chance that the flooded water does come into contact with any electrical circuit, then, stay away from the leaking or flooded water. If you can reach for the main switch without touching any of the water, the better. The next thing you can do is to turn off the power switch and disable the circuits.

    Check Your Water Heater

    After youve stopped the flooding and flow of water into your home using the main switch, you will have to turn off your water heater as well. Its crucial to note that once the all the water in your home is shut off, there is a tendency that the pressure and the water levels inside your water heater will start to rise. This situation is potentially dangerous once the pressure increases above the heaters limit, the unit can burst, making the whole situation even more hazardous.

    Wear Protective Rubber Gloves

    For your safety and protection, wear rubber boots and gloves if the leak is contaminated by the sewage or is in a drain line. Even after the whole area is cleaned and dried, you still need to disinfect it after thoroughly.

    Assess the Damage

    Before you call a professional, try to asses the damage first. Providing the plumber with sufficient information over the phone gives them a good idea of the problem at hand. As a result, they can quickly fix the problem.

    Open Drains and Spigots

    You have to understand that there will still be water in the pipes even after youve turned off the main valve. To move this water away from your home, turn on spigots and open drains. Also, give the hose in your garden a few extra squirts to ensure that you clear out the water as well. If youre experiencing a small clog, open the drain using >

    Avoid Using Chemicals on Pipes

    Try not to use chemical cleaners in your pipes as it can make the situation worse. If youre experiencing a backed-up drain, avoid using a bottle of drain cleaner. Drain cleaners will erode the pipes, and if your home is older, this can cause lasting devastating effects. While these chemicals can usually wash away debris and dirt, they still cause significant problems. As an alternative, try using a plunger. If it still doesnt work out, its time to call an expert.

    Handle Small Leaks

    Small leaks are quite easy to identify. The best thing that you can do about it is to stop them as soon as possible. You can try stuffing rags and towels around the pipes. Also putting buckets under those dripping leaks can help as well. Let your plumber know about these leaks the moment they arrive so that they can be addressed in the safest order.

    Call a Plumber

    When youre facing a plumbing crisis, its essential to call a plumbing professional or a plumbing company. Doing so gives you peace of mind that your safety and the overall condition of your home is well-taken care. Call a plumbing company that offers 24-hour, emergency service. Try to give the plumber as much information as you can about what fixtures are affected and what you have done to fix or stop the problem.

    Full Story >

    Can Someone Achieve a Perfect Credit Score?

    Itrsquo;s possible but in all my years in the industry Irsquo;ve never seen a perfect score. Credit scores, commonly referred to as FICO scores, the acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation which developed the algorithm, are three digit numbers ranging from 300 to 850. Most conventional loan programs today will approve an application with a credit score around 680 but some programs go as low as 620. Government-backed loans accept lower scores such as FHA loans. FHA programs ask for a minimum score to be at least 580 with some allowances for scores as low as 500 accompanied by a 10 percent down payment. Low down payment conventional loans can require a score of 720 or better.

    There are consumers who strive to achieve the highest score possible, whether or not theyrsquo;re actually applying for a mortgage. And there are ways to better scores, primarily through payment history and account balances. Credit reports log payments as theyrsquo;re made and can report payments that are more than 30, 60 or 90 days past the due dates. Making sure payments are made not necessarily on the due date but certainly no more than 30 days past due will keep scores getting progressively better.

    Scores tend to rise more slowly compared to a score falling due to a late payment.
    35 percent of the total score is attributed toward payment history. 30 percent of the score compares account balances with credit limits. Some consumers mistakenly think that keeping a zero balance is the way to better scores but in reality, thatrsquo;s not the case. In fact, scores will rise faster if a balance is at or around 33 percent of credit limits. If you think about it for a second that makes perfect sense. How can credit be evaluated if there are no payments being made on an account? Thatrsquo;s why those who are always wanting to boost scores keep balance around one-third of credit limits.

    Taking all of that into account, how high can credit scores actually be for an individual consumer? Personally, Irsquo;ve seen credit scores in the low 800s but those are >

    Finally, if there is more than one person on a loan application, lenders use the lowest qualifying score. Each credit repository, Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union, use the same algorithm but the reported scores will be similar to one another but ra>

    While striving to achieve the perfect score of 850 is certainly an admirable goal, as it >
    Full Story >

    New Appraisal Rule: What Does It Mean for You?

    So how will this affect home buyers and sellers? First, it should be noted that those homes that do receive the exemption still have to be evaluated ldquo;to provide an estimate of the market value of real estate collateral,rdquo; said Housingwire. ldquo;The agencies state that the evaluation must be lsquo;consistent with safe and sound banking practices.rsquo; To that point, the rule establishes that an evaluation ldquo;should contain sufficient information and analysis to support the regulated institutionrsquo;s decision to engage in the transaction.rdquo;

    Also, the new exemption is not applicable for homes using FHA, HUD, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac financing, which eliminates a huge percentage of homes right off the top.nbsp;

    If you are in a position to buy or sell a home that no longer needs an appraisal, should you still proceed with one? Herersquo;s why you may want to consider it.

    What is an appraisal?

    ldquo;A home appraisal is an unbiased determination of the fair market value of the home by a professionally-trained third party,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;While that may sound complicated, all it means is that its a chance for someone whos not personally involved in the sale of the home to give a true representation of the homes worth. Its worth noting that an appraisal is enti>

    There are a number of factors that contribute to that fair market value. ldquo;In a purchase-and-sale transaction, an appraisal is used to determine whether the homersquo;s contract price is appropriate given the homersquo;s condition, location, and features,rdquo; said Investopedia. While the evaluation process is intended to provide guidance when it comes to pricing, it is unknown at this point how those evaluations will compare to appraisals, if they will carry the same weight in terms of establishing home value, if they will disproportionately favor the lender, etc.nbsp;

    Value protection

    Buyers and sellers each have a vested interest literally in knowing how much the home they are buying or selling is worth. For sellers, an appraisal can help inform the listing price, and may also be able to help a seller justify a higher listing price because of improvements they have made to the home.nbsp;

    On the other hand, if a home appraises for less than the sales price, buyers have a negotiating tool. ldquo;An appraisal is important because it protectsnbsp;your investment,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;Its there to ensure that, as the buyer, you dont pay more than the home is actually worth. Its also important for securing financing. In todays mortgage industry a bank will only give you a loan up to the fair market value of the home. Therefore, if an appraisal comes back lower than the purchase price, the lender may only issue you a loan for the appraised amount.rdquo;


    Full Story >

    Tips for Selling Your Home in Autumn

    Autumn traditionally sees a drop the number of homes available for purchase.

    Less inventory means fewer properties to compete against and more chances for your home to catch a buyerrsquo;s eye. Of course, in even the tightest sellerrsquo;s market itrsquo;s important for sellers to price their home correctly. A home thatrsquo;s overpriced rather than listed at true market value can discourage buyers from even viewing the property, especially during the crucial two-week period following listing. Itrsquo;s important that sellers take the advice of their REALTORSreg;, who have reams of data and calculators at their fingertips to help them arrive an appropriate listing price.

    Fall also historically sees a decline in buyer demand that can, in some markets, lead to an expectation for autumn sellers to negotiate more willingly. However, in sellerrsquo;s market conditions with limited inventory mdash; such as Orlando and the nation overall are currently experiencing mdash; sellers shouldnrsquo;t expect to see requests for big discounts to their initial asking price regardless of the season. On the contrary, with fewer homes on the market, sellers are likely to continue to see competition among buyers.

    Autumn homebuyers are often highly motivated.

    With the prospect of inclement weather coming up fast and the likelihood of a significant inventory jump on hold until late spring, autumn homebuyers are often a motivated bunch who anticipate:

    bull; Less inventory of available homes;
    bull; Less competition for REALTORSreg;rsquo; time and attention;
    bull; Less competition for available financing;
    bull; Less competition for >bull; Homeowner tax breaks such as

    bull; Mortgage Interest Deduction
    bull; PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Deduction
    bull; Prepaid Interest Deduction
    bull; Property Tax Deduction
    bull; Energy-Efficiency Upgrade Deduction

    By purchasing a home in autumn, homebuyers know they can be all settled into their new home in time for the holidays

    Fall colors look great on everyone.

    Therersquo;s hardly a more beautiful time of year than autumn, so take advantage of it to ramp up curb appeal. Attending to your homersquo;s landscaping is crucial for making that all-important first impression. Rake up the leaves, clean gutters of debris, and make sure flowering ornamental grasses are tidy. And who doesnrsquo;t love a pumpkin and pot of mums on the swept front porch? Nobody Keep it simple, though, and donrsquo;t overdo it with fall deacute;cor inside or out.


    nbsp;Jeffrey M. Fagan is the president of the Orlando Regional REALTORreg; Association and is regional vicenbsp;president of Watson Realty Corp.

    Full Story >

    The Basics of Mortgage Fraud

    In the interest of protecting the typical consumer, we put together a brief post about the basics of mortgage fraud. If you are buying or selling property, be sure to educate and defend yourself starting with this basic knowledge.

    What Is Mortgage Fraud?

    Fraud is deliberate misrepresentation and deception using false facts, information, and figures. Mortgage fraud, then, is deceptive lending, buying, and selling practices in real estate. Itrsquo;s more than predatory lending; mortgage fraud includes an array of misdeeds that can hurt lenders and consumers alike.

    Industry bad actors see mortgage fraud as the path to a huge payday. Most cases involve millions of dollars. For borrowers, the goal is real estate ownership, and if a legitimate loan is out of reach, some individuals with the help of an insider leave out or misrepresent details about employment, debt, income, and other metrics used in loan applications to secure mortgages.

    The list of individuals who commit fraud is a long one. It includes everyone involved in the sale of a property, from the builder, realtor, and insurance agent to the title company and escrow agent. Occasionally, a complete shadow network of professionals conspire to commit mortgage fraud, and the one that takes the blame is often the buyer or seller of the property. He or she may not realize fraud was committed in their name.

    Common Types of Mortgage Fraud

    Fraud can be carried out by various methods. Here are four common types:

    bull; Occupancy fraud - a borrower misrepresents how the property purchased will be occupied. Loan rules differ depending on whether the property is a primary home, second home, or investment property. Mortgage and interest rates vary as well.nbsp;

    bull; Income fraud - the borrower misrepresents the amount, source, or continuance of income. Lenders fail to verify false employment documents and pay stubs from non-existent employers.

    bull; Transaction fraud - the nature of the transaction itself is misrepresented. The down payment is falsified, or there is a secret agreement between a buyer and a seller. The straw buyer is a common trope, sometimes coupled with identity theft. The identity of someone with good credit is used to hide the real buyer with bad credit. Then, when the title is transferred to the bad creditor, the lender is left holding the bag, and the straw buyer may get blamed.

    bull; Appraisal fraud - Usually in cahoots with the appraiser, the seller inflates the appraisal value of a property to set a higher price. House-flipping may involve both appraisal fraud and income fraud with inflated numbers for both.

    Other ways fraudsters profit off real estate transactions is through foreclosure rescue schemes, loan modification schemes, and equity skimming or stripping. Air loans, according to the FBI, involve victims who fund a non-existent property loan where there is no collateral. Reverse mortgages are a popular way to trick senior citizens so that a scammer gets most of the money.

    How to Protect Yourself from Mortgage Fraud

    Obviously, donrsquo;t falsify documents, donrsquo;t lie on the mortgage application, and avoid aggressive lenders. If a lender is hounding you for your business, stay away.nbsp;

    Always read and understand every document you sign. If you dont understand something, ask, and if you dont like the answer, stop the transaction until you are satisfied.

    Get the property inspected by a third party you can trust and check out the title history. Most lenders require a title report, so keep an eye out for it among the many documents you have to sign. If not, get it done before finalizing the purchase.

    Be thorough and cautious when buying or selling a property. A major purchase like this deserves your time and attention. Dont let anyone railroad you. Educate yourself about loan and property practices. Use reputable lenders. And look out for red flags that indicate potential trouble.

    Referencing Co>


    nbsp;Paul Cones is the President of, a technology company that provides legal record search products and services. Since 1982, their online repository of courthouse documents has helped real estate agents and other professionals find the documents they need.


    Full Story >

    Trend Alert: Socially Conscious Real Estate on the Rise

    The pull is stronger among some demographic groups than others, with millennials largely driving the trend. Chief Learning Officer stated that, ldquo;By and large, baby boomers sought workplaces that offered stability and high pay. Millennials, however, have different priorities. Millennials have high expectations for the actions of business when it comes to social purpose and accountability; and they want to work for companies that uphold these values.rdquo;

    According to a report titled ldquo;Millennials at work ndash; Reshaping the workplace,rdquo; corporate social values ldquo;become more important to millennials when choosing an employer once their basic needs, like adequate pay and working conditions, are met,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The report states that lsquo;millennials want their work to have a purpose, to contribute something to the world and they want to be proud of their employer.rsquo;rdquo;

    ldquo;Social purposerdquo; goes beyond philanthropy and charity and ldquo;encompasses much more than the terms lsquo;corporate social responsibilityrsquo; and lsquo;community investmentrsquo; evoke.rdquo; But when it comes to real estate, many of todayrsquo;s buyers and sellers are seeking out agents and companies whose beliefs track with their own. If yoursquo;re looking for a socially conscious company when buying or selling a home, here are a few to consider:

    Give Realty, Austin, TX

    ldquo;Give Realty is a full service real estate brokerage with two passions: Real estate and the community,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We donate 25 of our commission to the 501c3 nonprofit of the clientrsquo;s choice.rdquo; So far, they have donated almost 900,000 to various charities.nbsp;

    Giving Tree Realty, North and South Carolina

    ldquo;Giving Tree Realty is built upon a foundation of giving back,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Our unique charity platform was designed to ensure that a portion of every sales commission our Realtors earn is donated to the charity of their choice. When a Realtor joins Giving Tree Realty, they chose a charity that is near and dear to their heart.rdquo; The company has donated more than 500,000 to local charities since 2010.

    The Conscious Group, Denver

    ldquo;Our Colorado real estate agents donate 10 to the nonprofit of our clientrsquo;s choice,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We are Denver and the Front Rangersquo;s only residential real estate agency social enterprise. Our real estate agents contribute 10 percent of agent commissions to the nonprofit of your choice.rdquo; The company also specializes in ldquo;eco-friendly homes and business practices.rdquo;

    Windermere, Western United States/Mexiconbsp;

    ldquo;For the past 30 years, the Windermere Foundation has donated a portion of the proceeds from every home purchased or sold using a Windermere agent towards supporting low-income and homeless families in our communities,rdquo; they said. ldquo;What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need innbsp;Washington State, has grown to encompass ten states and has raised over 38 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, food, childrenrsquo;s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help most.rdquo;

    There are also a number of individual real estate agents who make it a point to give back to charity, and programs like PinRaise help support those efforts. PinRaisersquo;s Agent with Hearttrade; program ldquo;is a platform designed to support local nonprofits and recognize the generosity of real estate agents and brokers who give back to the community they serve,rdquo; they said.nbsp;

    Agents in the program donate to the nonprofit of theirnbsp;clientrsquo;snbsp;choosing when their home closes escrow. You can find a participating agent here.

    Full Story >

    How to Find a Real Estate Agent: A Few Things You Might Not Have Thought Of

    Their reviews

    We live in an era where you can find as much information as you want about just about anyone, with just a few clicks. Itrsquo;s imperative these days to read reviews, whether yoursquo;re looking for a good air conditioning technician or someone to help you buy or sell what is likely your largest asset. But donrsquo;t just depend on the reviews on the realtorrsquo;s website. Google any agent yoursquo;re considering, and check out whatrsquo;s being said about them on Yelp and on social media. Look to see if any complaints have been made about them. And keep in mind that every Realtormdash;even the best of the bestmdash;can have a negative review here and there from a disgruntled client. What yoursquo;re looking for is an overwhelmingly positive consensus.

    Their listings

    If yoursquo;re selling your home, you want your agent to be active, and that means having listings. But the number of listings can be telling. If they just go on and on and on, it could be an indication that the agent doesnt have the time to give you the level of service yoursquo;re looking for.nbsp;

    Their affiliation

    Is the Realtor yoursquo;re considering affiliated with a real estate company yoursquo;ve never heard of? This may or may not be of importance to you, depending on their qualifications. But you will want to make sure you do your due diligence to make sure the company is legit.

    Their experience

    Are you thinking of using a real estate agent who is newly licensed and has never helped anyone buy or sell a house before? Everyone has to start somewhere, but you might not want to be the guinea pig. You may have pressure from family or friends to use their daughter/cousin/uncle/next door neighbor, but itrsquo;s OK to politely tell them that yoursquo;re going with someone elsemdash;someone with many years of experience.nbsp;

    Their area of expertise

    Just because a Realtor has tons of experience doesnrsquo;t mean they have experience thatrsquo;s >

    Their attitude

    Even if the real estate agent in question checks all the other boxes, there may still be something off. Maybe they come off as aloof. Maybe theyrsquo;re so serious yoursquo;re afraid to ask questions. Maybe theyrsquo;re not serious enough. You donrsquo;t have to gel with your Realtor. Itrsquo;s perfectly finemdash;and perfectly normalmdash;to get through your transaction and never do business with that agent again. But an agent you really mesh with could end up becoming your agent for life, and maybe also become a friend.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    Improved Canadian Housing Data Helps With Real Estate Decisions

    Yoursquo;ve probably heard this one before: ldquo;There are three types of lies ndash; lies, damn lies and statistics.rdquo; ndash; attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. Or how about this one: ldquo;Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.rdquo; ndash; Mark Twain.

    You would think that compiling housing data would be a fairly straightforward process, but in Canada itrsquo;s been anything but. Through the years, housing stats have been called incomplete, inadequate and part of a plot by organized real estate designed to hide agentsrsquo; commissions.

    When it comes to real estate statistics, for years consumers and the government have >

    But ldquo;average or median prices can change a lot from one month to the next and paint an inaccurate or even unhelpful picture of price values and trends,rdquo; says CREA. Thatrsquo;s why in 2009, CREA and five of the countryrsquo;s largest real estate boards hired Altus Group to develop the MLS Home Price Index.

    Altus says the index ldquo;analyzes all of the sales data from a board or associationrsquo;s MLS system, applies a value to the lsquo;typicalrsquo; home for various types of dwellings for each submarket, and tracks the >

    The index has grown to include 18 boards across the country. Recently CREA and Altus Group announced an agreement that will expand the index to include all of CREArsquo;s 90 real estate boards and associations. However, the news media still prefers to report average prices, likely because itrsquo;s easier to understand than the index.

    Another popular statistic is days on market DOM, which is used to track how long it took an average home to sell via the MLS system. One would assume that the shorter the DOM, the hotter the listing or the local market.

    But in Toronto, it became common practice for Realtors to >

    The Toronto Real Estate Board says that in February 2019, 20 per cent of sold listings had been listed, terminated and then >

    The board is now providing members with a new statistic, average property days on marketAve. PDOM, which includes the time a property has been on the market, regardless of the list-terminate->

    CREA has been criticized for double-counting some sales in their national numbers when the same sale was reported by two different boards. However, the association says that impacted a very small percentage of transactions.

    Statistics provided by the real estate boards are based on sales via the MLS system, and do not include private sales, transfers to family or corporations and sales of new homes and condos where the builders marketed directly to consumers. New home sales have traditionally been provided by local branches of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

    A few years ago, when various governments started looking at the issue of foreign buyers and how they could be taxed, there was little data about just how many foreign owners there were in the marketplace. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. was tasked with coming up with some hard numbers to support government housing policies.

    In 2017, Statistics Canada also upped its game with the introduction of the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, with a mandate to gather information about residential property ownership. In June, it >

    For example, it found that 95.5 per cent of residential property owners in Ontario were individuals and residents of Canada. The same goes for 92.7 per cent of owners in B.C. and 92.1 per cent in Nova Scotia.

    Statistics Canada says 6.8 per cent of Nova Scotia owners had two or more properties, and that Nova Scotia owners were about one-third more likely to own a second property than those in Ontario and B.C.

    There were slightly more female owners than males: 51.9 per cent in B.C., 51.9 per cent in Ontario and 51 per cent in Nova Scotia.

    The largest share of owners in B.C. and Nova Scotia was born from 1950 to 1959, while in Ontario, those born from 1960 to 1969 held the largest share. Millennial owners, which Statistics Canada says were born from 1980 to 1999, accounted for one in eight owners in Nova Scotia and one in seven in Ontario and B.C.

    As more information is collected about homeownership and real estate, governments should be better able to form housing policies, and home buyers and sellers will become more equipped to negotiate the real estate market.

    Full Story >

    4 Ways to Save When Selling Your Home

    Selling your home can be a thrilling and very lucrative experience. But for the first-time home seller, it can also be nerve-wracking and deflating.nbsp;

    Thatrsquo;s because selling the largest investment of your life can be counterintuitively expensive. Getting your home ready to be scrutinized by strangers takes a lot of cash and elbow grease.

    As the saying goes, it takes money to make money.

    However, there are some easy ways to cut down on your front-end expenses to make your home sale more profitable. Letrsquo;s look at five of the best.

    Stage Your House Yourself

    Professional home staging is expensive. The average cost of staging a home is just over 1,000, and renting furniture can add more. Thatrsquo;s the bad news. The good news is, you can do a lot of home staging yourself.

    At base, the art of home staging is simply making a home as appealing as possible to prospective buyers; therersquo;s a reason that real estate agents say that people ldquo;buy with their eyes.rdquo; You want to show your home in the best possible light, and help buyers envision the potential of your living space. Thatrsquo;s easier for a trained, objective expert to do, but you can get a great result if you follow a few general rules.

    If you hired a professional stager, theyrsquo;d likely deep clean your home before they staged it, so start with that. Clean the floors, walls, windows, appliances and trim; if your home needs a lot of work, hiring a professional cleaning crew might be a good investment.

    Next, consider that the key to a beautiful photo or film is the lighting. Remove all window coverings, like blinds or drapes, to admit natural light.nbsp;

    Now consider your furniture. If itrsquo;s out-of-date or in poor condition, put it in storage or throw it out. Even if your furniture is up-to-date and in great condition, keep in mind that having too much furniture crammed into a space is just as bad as not having any at all. You want to have enough furniture in your home to make it warm and inviting, but keep enough open space so that prospective buyers can project their own tastes onto the home.

    The ldquo;less is morerdquo; rule definitely applies here; above all, make sure your home doesnrsquo;t look cluttered.

    Pre-Sale Inspection

    A pre-sale inspection can save you money and a lot of potential stress. If you wait until the buyerrsquo;s inspection to discover problems with the house, that could mean choosing between a price reduction, or paying for a list of repairs on the buyerrsquo;s timeline.nbsp;

    The average cost of a pre-sale inspection is just over 300, and covers everything from the roof, foundation, plumbing, HVAC systems, the chimney and fireplace, and exterior features of the home like sidewalks.nbsp;

    Discovering problems with your home ahead of time allows you to perform repairs at your own pace, shopping around for the best contractor rates, instead of having them done in a panic.nbsp;

    Itrsquo;s also a great marketing advantage. Telling prospective buyers that your home has undergone a pre-sale inspection, followed by repairs and remediation, encourages them to bid with confidence.

    Low Cost Repairs

    Even if your home doesnrsquo;t require any major repairs, freshening it up a little can pay huge benefits when it hits the market. And wersquo;re not talking about a new roof or an in-ground pool; some of the most effective repairs are also some of the cheapest.

    A Fresh Coat of Paint

    A new paint job can make a home look warmer, cleaner, and brighter; itrsquo;s also a job that can be done in a weekend, for the cost of paint, some drop cloths, and a few rollers.

    If you decide to paint the interior of your home before you put it on the market, choose your colors carefully. Though white may seem like the obvious choice, it can seem harsh and institutional, and shows dirt easily. Opt for a softer, off-white tone for more aesthetically pleasing walls.nbsp;

    White does work for ceilings, though. Painting the ceiling a lighter color than the walls makes the ceilings seem higher, which makes the entire room seem larger. Just remember to invest in high-quality paint; the smoother, more uniform texture makes a big difference.

    Clean Carpets

    Carpets can take a beating in a busy, family home, and worn or stained carpets can make a hugely negative impression on prospective buyers. But a lot of staining, matting, and apparent wear can be cured by a thorough cleaning.

    Even if your carpet still looks good, it might have a faint odor that yoursquo;ve become nose-blind to, so a deep cleaning is always a good idea.

    The easiest way to thoroughly clean your carpets is to rent a steam cleaner. Make sure you follow the directions, and donrsquo;t use too much cleaning solution, which can leave unsightly residue. Afterwards, opening windows and using fans can speed up the drying process.nbsp;

    Fixing the Roof

    A new roof isnrsquo;t exactly ldquo;low cost,rdquo; considering it can be the single most expensive home repair of all, but if you do have roof problems, itrsquo;s better to deal with it before you put your home on the market, rather than let it become an issue down the road.

    In 2017, the U.S. Census found that Americans spent an average of 6,800 to replace their roofs. Considering that 50 of that cost is labor, you could assume that the materials for replacing your roof cost about 3,400.nbsp;

    If itrsquo;s a >

    List with a Flat Rate Agent via Referral Network

    One of the biggest single expenses of selling your home is the commission, which traditionally comes to 6 of the final sale price, split between the listing agent and the buyerrsquo;s agent. For the median American home valued at just under 230,000, that comes to about 13,800.nbsp;

    Selling with a flat fee agent from a referral network ensures that yoursquo;re working with a pre-vetted, top agent, unlike if you worked with an in-house agent from a discount brokerage, and gets you a full-service experience for a low, flat fee, instead of a big chunk of your profits. That can save you thousands of dollars in commission, and yoursquo;ll be sacrificing nothing on the service end.


    Full Story >

    Effective Social Media Strategies for Realtors

    The results are conclusive: social media is a great tool for real estate agents. However, first agents must understand the ways in which this medium should be harnessed for this particular industry. Herersquo;s all you need to know:

    Utilize social media demographics

    Platforms such as Facebook have detailed targeting tools which can really help you hit that required demographic, so if you are listing a property which is great for a first home for those looking to climb onto the property ladder, or alternatively a perfect downsize for an older couple whose kids have left home, then you can reach out specifically to these age ranges by using targeted demographic campaigns. Understand your audience first, and then utilize the tools which can help you reach out.

    Use images and video

    Instagram is obviously a great platform for marketing properties with its focus on pictures, but donrsquo;t forget video too. In fact, all popular social media channels, as well as LinkedIn, allow the opportunity to share video content, and when selling or renting properties itrsquo;s a perfect opportunity to show people around both inside and outside.nbsp;

    ldquo;You can even save yourself considerable time and effort in terms of physically showing people around, so put the resources into making great videos and this tactic really pays off,rdquo; says Tanya Maher, a real estate SMM manager atnbsp;Writinitynbsp;andnbsp;LastMinuteWriting.

    Use hashtags

    See whatrsquo;s trending in terms of real estate circles and follow popular hashtags online yourself to make sure you are on the ball in terms of the topics that people look out for when searching for properties online. For example , JustListed and DreamHome are two such popular options.nbsp;

    ldquo;Hashtags are part of the bigger social media picture for a real estate agent which means conducting thorough social media research and having active accounts where you follow other real estate agents in order to stay up-to-date,rdquo; suggests Kirk Forrester, a tech journalist atnbsp;DraftBeyondnbsp;andnbsp;ResearchPapersUK.

    Promote the area too

    As any real estate agent worth his salt knows, promoting a property is as much about promoting the neighborhood and town/area in general as it is about promoting a physical building. As part of that bigger social media picture, utilize links to events, local promotions and any other activity in the place the property is situated to show off a vibrant community or peaceful oasis of calm, or whatever it is about the area that you believe complements the property itself. For example, if the property works as a family home, include links to popular family events which really showcase how family-friendly the location is.

    You can also flip this around by actively posting on online community pages that you know attract the types of users who would be interested in the property. Donrsquo;t just wait for the audience to come to you, but actively go out and seek that audience by ascertaining the best places to find them. Local community online noticeboards are a great example.

    Include reviews

    In fact, you shouldnrsquo;t just include reviews, but build your who advertisement around the reviews themselves, as these really help convince viewers that the property and area is right for them. Use the reviews coming from and directed at your target audience, and be sure that the review includes key words and key topics that you know >

    And make sure your profile is optimized

    This is a simple point but often overlooked. Make sure that with any posts your contact details are overtly clear so users can quickly engage you about the property. In the world of real estate, things can move quickly, so ensure efficiency of communication with optimized profiles.


    nbsp;Professional writer and real estate agent Ashley Halsey can be found contributing her insights at LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, where she has established her reputation as an erudite and intelligent observer of real estate marketing trends.


    Full Story >

    How to Solve an Ant Problem

    If you are interested to know about how you can get rid of ants naturally, then you are at the right place. Ants can be found anywhere and everywhere. You can see a trail of ant army in your kitchen. To successfully get rid of these ants, you need to try some of the best and most effective methods.

    Tips to Get Rid of House Ants:

  • Homemade Ant Bait

  • Borax can be an excellent compound for killing house ants, and at the same time powdered sugar will attract them. To make a homemade ant bait, you need to mix one part of the borax thoroughly with 3 parts of powdered sugar. You can fill the bottle caps with this homemade ant bait and place these at the places where you suspect the invasion of ants.

  • Spraying Vinegar

  • You can take a little bit of white vinegar and spray it in the cracks and on the kitchen countertops. These are the places where the ants mainly travel through or walk around for the search of food. You need to allow the vinegar to dry on the surfaces or you can also wipe it with a clean cloth. This can eliminate any chemical trail.nbsp;

  • Keep the Place Sanitized

  • One of the best ways to keep ants out of your house or kitchen is by practicing good sanitation practices. Do not let the bread crumbs and food spills to stay in the kitchen. Clean them immediately. Make sure to clean the garbage too on a regular basis. Keep the sweets in zip-lock bags or in air-tight containers so that the ants cannot get into them.nbsp;

  • Peppermint Essential Oil

  • Another great method that can deter the ants from entering into your house is the peppermint essential oil. You can either spray it all over the places where it is infested by the ants including the cracks from where they enter. You can also put some drops of peppermint essential oil in a cotton ball and place them near the areas where ants move or crawl through. Make sure to find 100 pure essential oils.


    So, these are some of the best prevention methods on how to solve an ant problem. You can try all these ways to effectively eliminate the ants from your house. All these steps can be effective, but if you still see ants in your house, it is better to call for professional help.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    5 Questions You Should Ask About Senior Apartments

    Moving to a retirement residence could be the answer to senior housing thata yoursquo;re looking for. Older seniors who are considering the next stage of their retirement have a lot of reasons to downsize into a retirement residence. Today, housing options like these offer benefits such as:

    gt;gt; Active living amp; social life>

    gt;gt; More convenience and greater affordability

    gt;gt; Flexible care options that help seniors age in place

    gt;gt; Accessibility without costly renovationsnbsp;

    Finding senior apartments that will fit your needs and expectations will take research. You may want to get family members involved or make the decision independently. Whatever you do, make sure to ask lots about the facilities and get your questions answered while you take the tour. Making an informed decision will help you stay where you are years down the road. These are just some of the questions everyone should remember to ask the residence, their family, and themselves.

    1. How much will it cost to live there?

    Understanding the full costs of moving to and living in a retirement residence will help you put together your complete financial picture. Find out about the cost differences of different suites, as well as the cost of more intensive future care. You can also ask residences how they raise the rent; costs will have to go up to keep up with inflation.

    Look beyond your immediate expenses and try to see how much it may cost years down the road.

    You should also ask about how the residence might terminate a lease, or what kind of financial penalties might apply if you terminate your lease.

    2. What kind of activities does the facility offer?

    Find out about what kind of activities, >

    3. Are the suites right for you?

    Are you looking for a 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, or studio apartment? Find a residence that offers all the space you want and might need. If yoursquo;re looking for something budget-friendly, studio apartments are an affordable option. Many seniors would rather downsize their space for more convenience to walkable neighborhoods or for a more vibrant social life.

    4. Are the care options you need available to you?

    As you get older, the possibility that you may require care increases. Donrsquo;t neglect this fact when you are looking for a senior apartment. Make sure the place you live offers the kind of care you may need later, allowing you to age in place and remain where you are.

    5. What are housekeeping services like?

    One of the perks of moving into a retirement residence is shedding some of the chores yoursquo;ve been doing your whole life, including home maintenance and housekeeping. Find out if the residence offers housekeeping services to your liking.

    As you prepare for this next stage in your life, you need all the information. Donrsquo;t be afraid to ask questions and get answers.


    Full Story >

    A Guide for San Diego Seniors Planning to Downsize During Retirement

    Costs to Include When Planning Out Your Downsizing Budget

    Remodeling Expenses

    When looking for a new home, yoursquo;re not likely to find one with all of the aging-in-place features to make your golden years safe and comfortable. So factor the costs of making those home changes on your own into your budget. You can use online tools to quickly find out how much home projects cost in your area. For instance, an average bathroom remodel runs 10,332 to 24,516 in San Diego, but project specifics can drive those costs up or down.nbsp;

    Costs of Selling a Homenbsp;

    You may have already thought about local home prices when planning your downsizing move, but many seniors are surprised by the costs of selling a home. Two of these costs that tend to take homeowners by surprise are the expenses of preparing a home for sale and the fees involved with selling a home. Closing costs can vary according to your location, but seniors should be prepared to pay for at least a portion of closing costs when selling a home. Plus, you may need to cover closing costs on your new home. The best way to prepare for these transaction expenses is to consult your real estate agent when buying or selling a home.nbsp;

    Moving Expensesnbsp;

    To help your downsizing move go smoothly, you need to anticipate all potential moving costs. A local San Diego move can cost you anywhere from about 365 to 1,255 depending on your homersquo;s size, but you may also need to factor storage costs and professional moving fees into your budget. Hiring professional movers may be an added moving expense, but having that extra help can help you avoid the headache of packing and moving heavy boxes on your ownmdash;especially since it can take time just to declutter and downsize your home before you even think about packing.nbsp;

    Things to Consider When Searching for Your Perfect Golden Years Home

    Location and Sizenbsp;

    If yoursquo;re not sure which San Diego neighborhood is best for your retirement, you could always rent a vacation home to test out different neighborhoods and home types. Per Turnkey, San Diegorsquo;s 70 miles of gorgeous coastline and mild average temperatures make it a perfect retirement spot, and test-driving homes in areas like La Jolla and Torrey Pines can help you find your perfect retirement neighborhood. There are also quite a few San Diego County cities, such as La Mesa and El Cajon, where you may be able to stretch those retirement dollars further without sacrificing access to all of the perks that San Diego has to offer.nbsp;

    Floorplan and Featuresnbsp;

    Aging-in-place modifications can make any home safer for your retirement years. These modifications are specifically tailored to prevent falls and home accidents that can reduce senior independence, all while adding comfort to your golden years home. While you may not be able to find a San Diego home with all of the aging-in-place features you need, you can look for senior-friendly design elements, such as no-step entries and slip-resistant flooring. Also, pay attention to the floorplans of potential homes, since open floor plans may make it easier to move around and provide enhanced lighting throughout all of the living areas in a home.nbsp;

    The whole point of downsizing is to simplify your golden years. So donrsquo;t let the process of downsizing and moving to a new home cause you more stress than it needs to. Keep this guide handy every step of the way, and be sure to get the help you need with downsizing tasks. These are some of the best years of your life, and you deserve to enjoy them


    Full Story >

    Now That Its Fall, Did You Miss the Home Selling Boat?

    But that doesnrsquo;t mean you canrsquo;t offload your home now, or that you wonrsquo;t get a good price if you do. If you have to list now and you want to get your home in the best position to sell quickly and for a good number, heed these tips.nbsp;

    Make sure your home is market ready

    Buyers at this time of year tend to be serious. They may not be any more excited about buying right now than you are about selling, but theyrsquo;re in the market because of a >

    A home thatrsquo;s not in great shape is typically going to take longer to sell at any time of yearmdash;unless itrsquo;s a super bargain. When there are limited buyers out there and yoursquo;ve got competition from other area homes, your place has to show well.nbsp;

    That doesnrsquo;t necessarily mean you need expensive or extensive renovations. But a >

    bull;nbsp;Scour and tidy up

    Your real estate agent may have some other suggestions to make your home more sellable.

    Celebrate the season

    A few pumpkins, a fall wreath, a couple of candles with an autumnal scent or a simmering pot of cinnamon sticksmdash;theyrsquo;re little touches that can help your home feel more inviting and more fall-like for showings, without going overboard. Your Halloween deacute;cor may be stellar, but real estate agents steer sellers away from over-decorating so buyers arenrsquo;t distracted or turned off.nbsp;

    Put in a little extra effort for great photos

    "According to one study done by a real estate photography company, top-notch photos cannbsp;make your house sell 32 fasternbsp;than a house with low quality or average pictures,rdquo; said Homelight. ldquo;Thatrsquo;s not just for million-dollar mansions, either. The study, conducted by VHT Studios, took houses of all values into account.rdquo;

    It might be a little more challenging to get those photos in fall, however; Natural light is preferable for listing photos. ldquo;Fall and winter photos run the risk of looking drab, but well-timed summer photos are bright, clean, warmmdash;really everything you need to stand out to serious buyers. So take advantage of the seasonrsquo;s best days and include those photos in the listing when you go to sell in the fall,rdquo; said

    If good natural light is hard to come by at this time of year in your area, using a professional photographer is even more important. They will have tricks to help overcome the challenges.

    Let There Be Light

    Emphasizing the natural light in photos is one thing. You also want you home to look as light and bright as possible for showings and tours. ldquo;Retract blinds, and widen curtains, so therersquo;s minimal window coverage,rdquo; said HGTV.nbsp;

    ldquo;The windows will look bigger, and itrsquo;ll encourage daylight to flow into your space. Experiment with your lightbulbs to find the most flattering hues for your space. A bathroom looks great with daylight bulbs 5,000-6,500K and living spaces, such as bedrooms and living rooms, look best with soft white bulbs 2,700K. In general, your homersquo;s design and color palette will play a part in what looks most appealing. Go for cozy and bright. If yoursquo;re upgrading bulbs in hard-wired fixtures, consider going all LED. Let the buyers know yoursquo;re leaving the bulbs for them.rdquo;

    Be mindful of your curb appeal

    Falling leaves are inevitable in autumn. You may not be able to rake or remove every single one of them in time for a surprise or last-minute showing, but making sure you take a walk around your house every day to address any areas that need clean-up can help you from having to make a big effort when an agent calls with an interested client.

    You know what they say: You only get one chance to make a first impression. ldquo;Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn,rdquo; said The Balance. ldquo;Dont let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cutaway summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.rdquo;nbsp;

    Adding a few fall flowers is another good idea that will up your curb appeal. ldquo;The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums or mums, and they bloom for a long time. Marigolds are another idea for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk.rdquo;

    Key in on your target market

    Your agent should be able to help you pinpoint who the most likely buyers are. Armed with that info, you can tailor your home to specific target markets.nbsp;

    ldquo;If you have a hunch your house may appeal to empty-nesters, herersquo;s how to play up that attraction: Emphasize multipurpose spacemdash;for instance, stage one bedroom as a home office-cum-hobby roommdash;because empty-nesters crave flexibility for the future,rdquo; said Bob Vila. ldquo;Provide a map to points of interest within walking distance. To the extent possible, aging baby boomers wish to integrate exercise into their daily habits.nbsp;Showcase quality. Without teenagers around, empty-nesters can enjoy more delicate finishes and fine details, so give them something to brag about. They want to upgrade as they downsize.rdquo;


    Full Story >

    Copyright© 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

    Featured Property Other Condos
    Museum Park Project
    Google Map Search
    Real Estate News
    Updated: Friday, November 15, 2019

    5 Tips to Save Time Setting up Your Christmas Decorations

    1. Buy a Christmas Tree With the Decorations Already On

    When you want to save a lot of time, consider investing in one of the many p>

    2. Have It Organized

    When youre putting decorations away this year, make sure that theyre organized to save yourself time next year. If youve ever found yourself unable to find your tree topper, or you feel like youre missing half of your ornaments, youll save yourself a lot of time by packing everything together in a logical way. Keep all totes in the same part of the attic, garage, or wherever you store your Christmas decorations so that you can find them quickly the next year. You can even have a computer file where you catalog where you put everything you pack away. And if you want to ensure that your ornaments will be intact the next year, use felt and other storage techniques.

    3. Cut Down

    You might be a Christmas decorator who pairs down regularly, but if youre not, take some time every year to cut out the things that are no longer bringing you the same amount of joy. For instance, if youve had Christmas lawn ornaments that are starting to fade or just arent that much fun to see in the front lawn anymore, get rid of them. If theyre in good condition, donate them to someone who will enjoy them. You can cut out hours of unpacking, packing, and setting up every year if youre mindful of what you actually want to keep.

    4. Do Outside Decorating Earlier

    If you live in a northern climate, you might know what its like to try to put up lights on the roof of a two-story house. You need to be more careful of slip hazards when ice and snow are present. Plus, your hands are freezing, which slows you even more. If you want to cut out some time, put up your Christmas lights before the weather is frozen.

    5. Get the Kids Involved or Send them to the Grandparents House

    If your kids are old enough, dont do it all yourself. Inviting your children to help with Christmas decorating isnt just a great way to build memories; its also a great way to cut down on the time that it takes to decorate. If youre still worrying that your toddler will stick something into his mouth, take him out of the equation by sending him to his grandparents house.

    There are a lot of ways that you can cut down on the time that you spend decorating the tree and the rest of your house. In fact, there are time-saving hacks for cooking and other holiday activities, too. If you want to have a beautiful home for Christmas in less time, think about which projects will bring you the most happiness, and organize so that next year is even easier than this one.

    > Full Story

    What Do Millennials Want? We Now Have a Better Idea

    Millennials tend to have higher expectations than older homeowners did about their ideal starter home, according to a new survey by Clovered, said REALTOR Magazine.nbsp;

    If you look at the buying trends of millennials, its clear that while they may be waiting longer to purchase their first home, their expectations of what that house should include certainly arent lagging. Compared to their parents and grandparents at their age,nbsp;fewernbsp;millennials are homeowners, but millions of younger peoplenbsp;havenbsp;invested in their own propertyand they might not be the starter houses youd expect, said Clovered. Despite living with their parents longer than any generation before them,nbsp;putting off marriagenbsp;for an increased time span, and sometimes strugglingnbsp;to find their dream jobs, millennials are going from perennial renters to owners of whatnbsp;might be their forever homes.

    The company surveyed more than 1,000 millennial first-time buyers for insight into which features and amenities were highest on their list. Here are a few of the key points:

    Home size

    Does size matter? It does in pretty much every demographic, but millennials are the most sensitive when it comes to the amount of square footage they want in their home. Baby boomers ideal size home, according to the survey, is 2,949 square feet, Generation X prefers homes at 3,311 square feet, and millennials want the most space at 3,320 square feet.

    Number of bedrooms

    Millennials prefer 4.2 bedrooms, per the study, to boomers 3.7 and Gen Xs 4.1. While youre probably not looking to add a fourth bedroom just for the purpose of selling your home, this information may help you stage it intelligently. Clearing out that bedroom youve been using as a home gym or storage space and turning it back into a bedroom might be a good idea.nbsp;

    Move-in ready

    The top factors noted by survey participants had several things sellers cant do much about in terms of making their home more saleablethings like affordability of the area, local crime rates, short commute to work, and climate. Sellers can, however, do something about making their home move-in readyanother important factor for millennials.

    Its hard to deny the emotional aspect of buying a home, Clovered said. When youre touring potential listings and trying to decide where you want to raise your family or put down roots, youre fantasizing about what life in that home could be like. Instead of thinking about where the house is located or how much youll have to pay in property taxes, its the tangible features of a home that really help sell it for most people.

    > Full Story

    Drew Barrymores Peel-And-Stick Wallpaper Is Here to Dress up Your Holiday Home

    We know what youre thinking: Isnt that for rentals? Let us tell you whats so great about peel-and-stick wallpaper regardless of where you live: Its temporary. It allows you to take risks with your interior design in a way you might not consider with less-temporary dcor items like, say, actual wallpaper. You can take it down and put something else up when you want your walls to rock a new trend. So, you dont have to live with the choices you make today for the next 10 years or more because you dread taking it down.nbsp;

    Just how bad is it to take down real wallpaper? One Redditor on the OMG wallpaper removal sucks board commented that, I actually tore the walls down in my living room because I didnt want to steam the wallpaper off. I figured I could tear the walls down and rehang drywall faster than steaming and scraping.

    Peel-and-stick is easy to put up, is repositionable, and comes right off in a matter of seconds when youre ready for something new. While youre considering gifts for loved ones, be sure to think about how great this would look in your house

    Flower by Drew Barrymore

    Wallpaper is one of the new additions to the fall Flower by Drew Barrymore line also introduced were new furniture pieces, bedding, accessories, art, and kitchen/dining items.. The lineup includes artistic and abstract prints, patterns, and colorways inspired by the season, said Walmart. Each 18 ft. x 18.86 ft. roll is priced from 34-49. And includes:

    Navy Vintage Palm
    Tropical Toile, Teal
    Tropical Toile, Yellow
    Peach Vintage Palm
    Orange and Blue Vintage Floral
    Yellow Vintage Floral Peel
    Coral and Blue Art Deco Fan
    Blue and Yellow Art Deco Fan

    My dcor >
    > Full Story

    Copyright © 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

    Copyright © 2007 Museum Park Realty
    1040 Biscayne Blvd Miami, FL 33132
    Tel: (305) 753-4154 | Fax: (305) 960-2008 |
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