Museum Park Realty
About Museum Park Realty
Ten Museum Park
Luxury Condos
Property Search
Contact Us
Real Estate News

Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2019

Top 5 Reasons to Use White Glove Moving Services

A team of white glove movers can make any >

Top 5 Reasons to Use White Glove Moving Services

1. Professional packing and unpacking.

White glove movers will arrive at the indicated location with all the needed wrapping and packaging materials to properly pack your possessions the way they deserve. They will also take care of the unpacking and disposal of the unnecessary materials once your property is delivered to your new home.

2. Custom art crating.

Some items, such as valuable paintings and delicate sculptures, need to be crated in durable wooden crates for their safe >

3. Moving large and bulky items.

Most regular movers do not have experience and capacity to move such large and bulky items as grand pianos, antique furniture, and fitness equipment. White glove movers, on the other hand, can handle any objects, no matter their size and weight. So if you are planning to move oversized items of any kind, using white glove moving services is your best chance to complete the task without injuries and damage.

4. Storage and installation options.

Whether you need a secure place to store your possessions for some time before or after the move, or you need a >

5. Exceptional customer service.

White glove movers are all trained specialists with extensive experience in moving luxury homes and large estates. They are dedicated to providing exceptional customer service with an emphasis on transparency and efficiency, offering the best moving experiencenbsp;to each and every one of their clients.

Moving is always stressful, but you can make this process as easy and smooth as possible if you use specialist white glove moving services. Professional movers can take the worry out of any move, turning it into an enjoyable experience that you will remember for years to come.nbsp;

Full Story >

Can I Put Cameras in My Vacation Rental? Keeping Your Property Safe Without Violating Guest Privacy

There are plenty of ways vacation rental homeowners can leverage advances in security technology to both protect their property and the safety of their guests without infringing on their privacy. Understanding what monitoring devices are acceptable for vacation properties will help homeowners navigate the best devices for each particular property.

nbsp;Here are some monitoring devices you can use to make sure your home is safe, your neighbors are happy and your guests have the best experience.nbsp;

Surveillance Systems and Cameras

Letrsquo;s start with the most highly controversial ndash; video monitoring. As mentioned earlier, itrsquo;s important to obey the law and maintain the privacy of renters. What does the law say? In general, there canrsquo;t be any video monitoring where a guest would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. You can read Airbnbrsquo;s policy here.

What are some examples of locations where a guest would have this reasonable expectation? Airbnb states ldquo;bedrooms and bathrooms.rdquo; However, while TurnKey does not allow for any interior video monitoring of any kind, owners can use surveillance cameras outside the property to catch break-ins, stop a potential party or identify suspicious activity, so long as they are disclosed to guests in the listing description. The most common and simple setup we see is a doorbell camera. TurnKey integrates directly with Ring doorbell cameras, an effective solution that is also friendly on the wallet.

If you list your property with VRBO and Airbnb, make sure you are familiar with their policies. Both listing companies require owners to notify their guests when they have cameras or other surveillance systems throughout the property, including baby monitors, web cameras in computer monitors and other video and audio recording devices. If homeowners fail to comply, the guest may receive a full refund or free cancellation for the reservation, and the owner could have their listing removed from the platform enti>

Noise Monitors

As vacation rentals become more popular among travers, neighbors and local communities often have concerns about noise levels. As an industry, our goal is to provide a great guest experience while also being a good neighbor. In this light, noise is not our friend. To address these concerns, some property owners and managers are turning to noise monitoring devices. These devices monitor the noise level in and around their rental properties for added guest safety, and to make sure guests arenrsquo;t throwing large parties or becoming a nuisance to neighbors. At TurnKey, for instance, we make sure every home we manage has a noise decibel monitor to help protect homes and increase guest safety.

Just to be clear, noise monitors donrsquo;t record conversations or any audio at all. They simply detect high levels of noise activity, typically registering the decibel level inside or outside the home. This ensures guest privacy while also providing an added layer of security, as noise monitors can also help detect the presence of unwanted visitors, such and thieves or other intruders.

Lighting Control

nbsp;A dark house can be an invitation for burglars and a safety hazard for guests unfamiliar with the layout. Remote control and automation of your lighting can not only save you money on your electric bills, but can deter unwanted intruders while making guests feel safe and welcome. One security expert told me: ldquo;Want to learn when your home is being broken into? Get an alarm. Want to prevent the break-in? Get landscape lighting.rdquo; Lighting is one of the most effective ways to prevent issues.

There are several options for automating your lighting systems. Google Smart lighting and TCP wi>

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It is important to have a plan and the tools to detect a fire or carbon monoxide, not to mention keeping your guests safe while they are staying in your vacation rental. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are table stakes for keeping your home and guests safe from potential disasters like fires and gas leaks. But you may not know that many listing sites require hosts to agree to comply with local regulations, and may even display if a home has smoke and CO detectors right on the listing.

Private Security Patrols

Many neighborhoods have private security patrols in place, but for those that donrsquo;t, hiring a patrol to drive-by on a regular basis is extremely effective. Patrols can check for noise, parking issues, parties, damage and intervene when necessary. TurnKey has security vendors in every single market we operate in, some on regular nightly patrols of homes, others on call. In some markets we drive by homes 3-4 times a night on weekends and peak dates. Patrols can be expensive depending on your location and the density of homes nearby, but in many markets they can be worth it.

Security Systems

Thankfully the number of break-ins at vacation homes is incredibly low. It makes sense ndash; ra>

When using a security system on your vacation rental, itrsquo;s important to also consider guest privacy and overall experience. For instance, guests should not feel trapped within the home theyrsquo;re renting if your alarm system automatically activates after 10 p.m. Plus, you should not want to share the code to your security system with every guest who rents your home. Typically security systems are shut off before and during the entire guest stay, and re-activated upon check-out.

Home security systems can be costly depending upon the equipment used, installation, activation fees and upfront charges. Some also require a recurring monthly payment. However, home security systems have come a long way in the last 20 years and there are a variety of high-quality wi>

Door and window sensors: Leaving your windows unprotected can provide easy access for intruders and for potential damages from windows broken by tree branches, hail and high winds.

Motion sensors: In case an intruder makes it through the doors or windows undetected, motion sensors can detect their presence and serve as a back-up in case of failure of other features.

Mobile remote controls: Mobile controls give you the ability to arm and disarm your security system while yoursquo;re away. With housekeepers, repair people and guests coming and going, you can make sure your property is protected without any additional hassle.

Sirens: If an intruder were to enter your home, a siren can scare them off and warn them that the authorities are on their way.

As you can see, there are many monitoring, security and safety devices allowed in your vacation property to protect your investment and your guests. Make sure you evaluate your property needs to balance the solutions you require with what you can afford. In addition, donrsquo;t forget to account for the savings you could accrue from electricity bills and insurance discounts, as well as how these items can enhance your guestsrsquo; experiences when they feel safe and secure knowing you took the extra steps to ensure their well-being.


Full Story >

VA Closing Costs: Seller Paid or Buyer Paid?

Those who are eligible for a VA loan include not only veterans but also active duty personnel with at least 181 days of service, National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve members as well as unremarried, surviving spouses of those who died while serving or as a result of a service->

With VA loans, there is a form of mortgage insurance called the Funding Fee but itrsquo;s an initial, upfront fee that isnrsquo;t paid for out of pocket but instead rolled into the final loan amount. This fee varies but for first time buyers using a 30 year fixed rate loan, the current funding fee amount is 2.15 percent of the loan amount. This ldquo;loan guaranteerdquo; is a guarantee to the lender.

Should a VA loan go into default, the lender is compensated at 25 percent of the loss. VA loans going into default is actually rather rare compared to other loan programs and is one of the highest performing loans in the industry. This despite no initial ldquo;skin in the gamerdquo; from the home buyer.

There is no down payment but there are closing costs. There are closing costs with all home loans. Even so-called ldquo;no closing costrdquo; loans. When borrowers see the term no-closing cost, itrsquo;s important to understand whatrsquo;s being offered. For example, say someone is offered a 30 year fixed rate at 3.50 percent with no discount points. But the borrower is also offered a rate of 3.25 percent with one discount point. A discount point is expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. Conversely, the borrower can lock in a rate of 3.75 percent, or 0.25 percent more than the no-point loan, lenders can then extend a one point credit toward the borrowerrsquo;s closing costs. There are closing costs, theyrsquo;re just reflected in the higher rate.

VA guidelines however restrict the borrowers from paying certain kinds of closing costs, another benefit with the VA program. Borrowers are only allowed to pay for an appraisal, credit report, title charges, origination fees, recording and survey fees where required. The other buyer fees must be paid for by someone else. Often times itrsquo;s the sellers of the property. When an offer is made, and the sellers see the buyers are obtaining VA financing- it will state so on the offer- they know theyrsquo;ll be asked to pony up some additional funds at closing to pay for the additional fees.

But the sellers are under no obligation to do so. As an incentive to the sellers, a potential buyer might increase the offer to compensate for the additional costs. Note, these additional costs really donrsquo;t add up to much compared to the entire set of closing costs, but additional costs they are.

Full Story >

7 Packing Mistakes Youre Making

Here are ten moving mistakes you may be makingmdash;and how to avoid them.nbsp;

  • 1. You figure you can pack everything in a few days

  • Begin with a planmdash;and start packing weeks in advance, especially if you have a lot of stuff. But before you just start piling things into boxes, spend the time up front to make an inventory of everything that needs to be either packed or tossed and break it down room by room. It will save you time down the line and spare you a few grey hairs too.nbsp;

    2. You wing the whole labeling thingnbsp;

    Think yoursquo;ll be able to remember which boxes go with each room based on memory? Think again.nbsp;

    Label boxes by contents and room location to make delivering them to the right spots easiermdash;and so you donrsquo;t have to rack your brain trying to remember Donrsquo;t >

    3. You go cheap on moving supplies and boxes

    Between friends, donation centers, and neighborhood-sidewalk giveaways, there are lots of ways to get free moving boxesmdash;but donrsquo;t get skimpy about purchasing new ones. Itrsquo;s worth the extra 40ndash;50, especially if it spares you from breaking something worth much more.

    When it comes to buying boxes, make sure you have the right sizes for the different items youre packing. Heavier items like books, canned goods, and candles may need to be packed in smaller, more compact boxes, where lighter objects can go in bigger ones.nbsp;

    Bear in mind that youll need to pack all these boxes into a moving vehicle, so be strategic about getting boxes that can stack together and not just a few of each size.nbsp;

    Knownbsp; which packing materials should be used, and if yoursquo;re on the fence about how much you should buy, buy liberally. Itrsquo;s way better to have extra than to make a frantic last-minute trip to the store come moving day.nbsp;

    Also, know that moving with plastic totes is a no-no. Plastic totes seem cost efficient, but they have a tendency to crack when placed under a ton of weight.

    Lastly, steer clear of being that person who tosses a mishmash of random things into a trash bag. That person is likely to open those bags to a few broken items I may or may not be speaking from experience.

    4. You pack boxes thinking you have superhuman strength

    Your Stephen King collection isnrsquo;t going to move itself, so unless you want a good workout, donrsquo;t fill your boxes to the brim with books. The heavier and denser you pack a box, the greater the chance it could break through again, may or may not be guilty of this.

    As a rule of thumb, try to avoid making boxes heavier than 50 pounds. Not sure how to gauge whatrsquo;s 50 pounds? Slide that sucker onto a scale. And if you have a hard time lifting it onto a scale, well, itrsquo;s probably too heavy anyway.nbsp;

    5. You leave empty space in your boxesnbsp;

    Empty space equals shifting, which can equal your favorite mug breaking or your ceramic spoon rest cracking. Leave enough room for bubble wrap and packing paper, and fill any empty space in boxes with packing material e.g., packing paper, newspaper, good olersquo; peanuts.

    Maximize your space by wrapping things in towels and tee shirts to fill empty space. Plus, then yoursquo;re not filling one box with towels and tee shirts and another with only candles or booksmdash;this will make it easier to transport.nbsp;

    6. You donrsquo;t get rid of stuff before the move

    Take a cue from Marie Kondo and go through your belongings before you move so you can get rid of the stuff that doesnrsquo;t bring you joy. Yoursquo;ll have less to pack and load and unload and itrsquo;ll make the whole thing a lot easier.nbsp;

    As you pack, sift through your things room by room and categorize your joyless items into piles to toss, donate, or sell.nbsp;nbsp;

    7. You donrsquo;t pack an overnight bagnbsp;

    The last thing yoursquo;ll want to do once you arrive at your new home is fish for a towel so you can take a shower or shuffle through boxes to find some PJs.nbsp;

    Plan ahead by assembling an overnight bag with toiletries, clothing, and any other essentials yoursquo;ll need at your new pad until you start unpacking and settling in. Yoursquo;ll thank yourself later.nbsp;nbsp;

    Authorrsquo;s bio: A Washington, DC, native turned West Coast transplant, Julia is a full-time writer and amateur hiker. Experienced in >
    Full Story >

    Skip the Pool and Turn Your Backyard Into an Oasis With a Beach-Style Pond

    But have you ever thought about turning your backyard into a beach instead? You might now.

    There are a number of companies that will design and build backyard ponds for homeowners all over the country, but Zydeco Constructionrsquo;s ponds go a step beyond the norm. The company, based out of southeast Louisiana, approximates the look and feel of a tropical getaway with sand all around the pond, which creates a beach->

    ldquo;Why travelnbsp;to a beach when you can have one in your own backyard? Thatrsquo;s the idea behind one Louisiana companys latest projects,rdquo; said USA Today.nbsp;ldquo;Zydeco Constructionnbsp;builds lsquo;swimming pondsrsquo; that are crystal blue and have 360 degrees of sand surrounding them, resembling a beach. Each swimming pond is completely customizable, with accessories such as outdoor kitchens, gazebos, umb>

    If you need another reason to work with the company in creating the backyard of your dreams, consider this: Owner Eric White fought his way out of teen homelessness to found the thriving company.

    ldquo;I have a story to share that is pretty inspirational,rdquo; White said to USA Today. ldquo;Growing up, things werenrsquo;t easy for me. I was homeless at 15nbsp;for about eight months of my life mdash;nbsp;I had dropped out of school in the ninth grade and only had a second-grade reading skill. I could hardly even spell my name.rdquo;

    While pricing for these backyard ponds will vary depending on the size and the number of personalizations included, White has said that itnbsp;costs around 20,000 and up to constructmdash;ldquo;which is not far off from thenbsp;national average cost to build a standard-size in-ground pool, which clocks in at 22,000,rdquo; said simplemost.


    Image source: Zydeco Construction

    Full Story >

    Three Needless Seller Worries

    As if there isnrsquo;t enough for sellers to worry about when they decide tonbsp;sell their home, some of them needlessly worry about things that theirnbsp;real estate professional is responsible for. After making the decision to sell and selecting a listing broker, thenbsp;associated worriesndash;which sellers face alonendash;are behind them.

    Once the home is listed, sellers often shift to a new set of worriesnbsp;when really they should turn to the real estate professional they hirednbsp;to help them stop stressing. Then sellers can redirect their attentionnbsp;and energy toward contributing to a successful sale.

    Seller Worry 1. ldquo;My Listing Is Not Receiving Enough Exposure tonbsp;Buyersrdquo;

    bull; Are you insisting your listing professional advertise and postnbsp;everywhere, online and off?
    bull; Do you want open houses every weekend and multiple mailings tonbsp;the neighborhood?
    bull; Are you concerned that if your listing is not front and centernbsp;on every marketing and advertising site, in every brokerage campaign,nbsp;and in every real estate publication, yoursquo;re not getting enough exposurenbsp;to buyers?

    Unless you are a marketing professional yourself, step back. Let yournbsp;listing real estate professional do their job. What really matters isnbsp;exposure to specific buyersndash;target buyersndash;whonbsp;qualify-financially to purchase your home and whose needs match whatnbsp;your property has to offer. Marketing to people States away from yournbsp;home or to those without sufficient financial resources or those whonbsp;would not value your home is a waste of time, effort, and money. Thenbsp;Internet is a wonderful marketing tool because it enables targeting ofnbsp;specific subsets of people, not because the entire world could view yournbsp;listing.

    YOU WIN: If you were smart in your choice of listing broker, yoursquo;venbsp;selected a real estate professional and brokerage well acquainted withnbsp;the target buyer niches markets that will appreciate your listing. Theirnbsp;experience and success of matching buyers with properties is why you hirednbsp;this professional listing team. Real estate knowledge about where targetnbsp;buyers search for listings, online and off, and what benefits attractnbsp;them is what you need and what you are paying for. On-pointnbsp;communication in the right media will catch the eye of target buyers. Ifnbsp;your professional hasnrsquo;t told you already, ask about target buyers andnbsp;the strategies for reaching them.

    Seller Worry 2. ldquo;The Professional Is Too Busy To Work on My Listingrdquo;

    If you are concerned that your real estate professionalshy;ndash;thenbsp;listing salespersonndash;is not putting the time into your listing thatnbsp;they said they would during their listing presentation, call them onnbsp;this. You need to be sure your listing receives the attention you signednbsp;on for, but more may be going on than you realize, so approach thenbsp;subject with respect:

    bull; The multiple listing system or MLS is doing a lot of thenbsp;professionalrsquo;s work, as are online public versions and the internet innbsp;general. Allowing simultaneous access to your listing by multiple buyersnbsp;and real estate brokerages maximizes exposure and speeds up the sellingnbsp;process.
    bull; The other salespeople at the listing brokerage are also workingnbsp;to sell your listing, as are professionals on the local real estatenbsp;board. The listing salesperson will be searching out target buyers;nbsp;however, the professionalrsquo;s key value lies in promoting the propertynbsp;across the real estate board to salespeople who also work with the samenbsp;target buyer niche markets.

    Seller Worry 3. ldquo;My Home Is Not Being Described Properlyrdquo;

    Do you feel the advertising and online copy promoting your listing doesnbsp;not rave enough about your property or extol the virtues of yournbsp;favorite features?

    bull; Understanding what will catch the eye of target buyers is whatnbsp;really matters, not how you feel when you read the marketingnbsp;copy. Yoursquo;re not the target buyer. In fact, you may have little innbsp;common with them, except, hopefully, your house. They do not have thenbsp;knowledge associated with living in your home the way you do.
    bull; Buyers are buying a house or condominium unit based on hopesnbsp;and dreams that it will be their ldquo;dream home.rdquo; Before they live in it,nbsp;they need to love it and value itndash;perhaps for very differentnbsp;reasons than youmdash;so they will make a great offer.
    bull; The real estate professional understands how to stimulate thenbsp;interest of prospective target buyers by helping them make thenbsp;transition from thinking about ldquo;the propertyrdquo; to wanting it to be ldquo;mynbsp;home.rdquo; Creating this emotional attachment in home buyers who have spentnbsp;only a short time viewing a property requires communication skill andnbsp;real estate expertise.
    bull; Wording matters. Terms like ldquo;as is,rdquo; ldquo;total remodel,rdquo; or ldquo;fixernbsp;upperrdquo; leave different impressionsndash;good or badndash;withnbsp;different types of buyers who are looking for different types ofnbsp;properties. For instance, the word ldquo;modernrdquo; is very popular withnbsp;Millennial buyers and with buyers intent on a certain >

    Donrsquo;t stress in silence. Inquiring is not complaining. Express yournbsp;concerns to your listing professional, so they can reduce your stressnbsp;and help you understand real estate from your new ldquo;insiderrdquo; perspective.

    As you begin to fully grasp the significance of your transition fromnbsp;thinking about ldquo;my homerdquo; to celebrating the buyersrsquo; ldquo;new homerdquo; andnbsp;potential real estate purchase, yoursquo;ll feel more confident regardingnbsp;your decision to move and about the selling process.

    Yoursquo;ll also understand the value in helping your real estatenbsp;professional do their job for you.

    Full Story >

    How Airbnb Has Changed Things for Apartment Complexes in Recent Years

    Nowadays, Airbnb is a staple of avid travelers, nomads, foreign workers, and even locals. Itrsquo;s completely changed the face of the tourism, vacation rentals, hospitality industries, and as far as we can see, the popular brand will likely be around for many years to come.

    Not only has Airbnb drastically changed how people travel and book their lodgings, but itrsquo;s also made some big waves in the world of real estate. Communities and property owners have recently stepped up to talk about how the company has impacted their world. Some of the effects have been profitable. Others, not so much.

    Letrsquo;s talk about some of the major changes Airbnb has ushered in for apartment complexes.

    1. People Are Renting Apartments to Post on Airbnb, Not to Live In

    In places where tourists are common, an interesting trend has arisen since the boom of Airbnb. Many people are renting apartments not to live in, but to post on Airbnb and make a little extra money.

    Take a quick search on Google and yoursquo;ll find articles like ldquo;Making Money With Airbnb Over 10,000 Per Month.rdquo; Surprisingly, many people make a viable income with this new form of tourist accommodations. As long as you have space to lease and the permission of the propertyrsquo;s owner, then you can turn a quick profit by conducting short-term leases with visitors or even locals.

    Now, when you walk by an apartment complex in a place like New York City, itrsquo;s quite possible that one or many of the units are rented out to visitors - at least part-time on Airbnb. There are more than 17,000 listings in NYC alone, which has led to a great deal of discussion on the cityrsquo;s short-term rental laws and apartment complex contracts.

    2. Landlords and Property Managers Have Changed Their Contract Stipulations

    At first, there were very few restrictions as to what residents could and could not do when it came to renting their apartments on Airbnb. Now that the service is popular around the world, more and more landlords are making efforts to control what their tenants do with rentals.

    Although legal restrictions on short-term home rentals vary from location to location, landlords can also impose their own restrictions on how their properties are used. Now, if you want to lease your apartment through Airbnb, yoursquo;ll need to carefully read through your rental agreement. Many contracts now prohibit short-term rentals and sublets, unless the landlordrsquo;s permission is obtained well in advance.

    The punishment for leasing on Airbnb without permission from the landlord? In many cases, itrsquo;s an eviction.

    3. Rent Prices Are Increasing in Big Cities and Popular Tourist Destinations

    The simple math is that when there are more Airbnbs in a location, the increase typically coincides with a hike in rent prices. Why? A study conducted in Boston found that if Airbnb can make short-term rentals easier for people, including local residents, rent for long-term apartments would go up.

    Airbnb may be targeted at out-of-towners, but locals have certainly taken advantage of the business opportunities. Cities only have so much available housing, so the more apartments that are dedicated to Airbnb rentals, the less there are available for long-term rentals. More demand and less availability lead to higher rent costs.

    Because Airbnb, among other short-term rental services, is making such a direct impact on local rentals, policymakers around the world are trying to figure out how theyrsquo;ll deal with the problem. Many are looking to regulate short-term rentals to help stabilize rent costs and provide more housing for local residents. For instance, in Hawaii, legislators have recently approved a plan to tax Airbnb rentals more than regular apartment complexes.

    This will certainly change how tourists stay on the Hawaiian Islands, and it will also make a difference in how much rent costs as well as how landlords decide to use their properties. If it costs more in taxes to rent short term, perhaps more long-term living options will become available to locals.

    In Summary

    Airbnb has made travel more affordable and comfortable than ever for millions of travelers around the world. However, itrsquo;s clear that this new trend of short-term rentals has made heavy impacts on big cities, apartment complexes, and property managers.

    Over the next few years, we can expect more and more places to start analyzing their short-term rental regulations to keep rents from fluctuating with the ebb and flow of tourism and Airbnbs. We may also see more taxes and fines put in place to limit the number of short-term rentals.

    No matter what happens, one thing is clear: Airbnb hasnrsquo;t just changed the way we vacation; itrsquo;s changed the way we rent our homes, too.

    Author Bio:nbsp;Eric D. Davis is the Founder of Davis Property Management; we help property managers and potential tenants looking for Seattle Property Management and Maintenance services. We have been the front-runners in providing best-in->
    Full Story >

    10 Tips for Creating a Calmer, More Peaceful Home

    Add some greenery

    Studies have shown that plants can make your home feel calmer and ease anxiety. Plants like jasmine and English ivy can improve sleep, lavender and rosemary can lower stress, and several other plants have been shown to improve air quality so you breathe easier.

    Hide the electronics

    ldquo;Nobody wants to stare at a tangle of cords,rdquo; said Houzz. ldquo;Thankfully, we have more options than ever for keeping our tech devices hidden away. When possible, choose smaller, wi>

    Get a dog

    Or a cat, a bird, or a turtle, for that matter. Yes, having a pet can mean more noise and more mess. But, there are all kinds of studies that show that having a pet lowers stress. ldquo;Researchers found that pet-owning patients with high blood pressure could keep their blood pressure lower during times of mental stress than patients without pets,rdquo; said ldquo;Another study showsnbsp;that pet owners may also have increased odds of surviving for at least a year after having a heart attack.rdquo;

    Clear the clutter

    Going all Marie Kondo on your home can have surprising effects on your mental state. ldquo;Clutternbsp;can playnbsp;a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves,rdquo; said psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter innbsp;Psychology Today. ldquo;Messy homes andnbsp;work spacesnbsp;leave us feelingnbsp;anxious,nbsp;helpless, and overwhelmed.rdquo;

    Tone down the harsh colors

    Therersquo;s something to be said for going bold, but soft colors can bring on a calming feeling. If you want a deeper color, consider shades of blues and greensmdash;two colors that are known to be more serene than, say bright yellow, orange, or red.

    Clean up your entryway

    Itrsquo;s the first place guests see, and while you probably donrsquo;t pass by or through your front entry all that often if you park in the garage, it may not feel as welcoming as yoursquo;d like when you do.

    Soften the lighting

    Harsh overhead lighting can make you feel like yoursquo;re being interrogated, and can also be hard on your eyes. If you need to keep it because the space will be too dark otherwise, a dimmer can at least give you some control over just how bright it is, and allow you to create a mood with lower lighting as needed.

    Limit the patterns

    ldquo;Opt for solids and subtle patterns,rdquo; said Houzz.nbsp;ldquo;Busy patterns have their place, but if yoursquo;re aiming for calm, then solid fabrics are your friends. Donrsquo;t be afraid to include subtle patterns, though: herringbone, tone-on-tone stripes, and tiny dots can add textural interest without competing for attention.rdquo;

    Buy some fresh flowers

    According to a study by Rutgers, ldquo;The presence of flowers trigger happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive way far beyond what was originally believed.rdquo;

    Make your master bedroom a zen zone

    Getting good rest is key, and there are several ways you can create a soothing space. Keeping the colors serene is key, and so is a good mattress. Loading the bed up with soft textures can also help. ldquo;The sensation of touch is often overlooked, but a powerful way to unwind,rdquo; said

    Full Story >

    Six Creative Ways to Drum up Interest in Your Home

    Organize a block party

    If you live in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other, fantastic Get everyone together on the street and offer to serve drinks or dessert in your house so you can make sure everyone comes on in. If yoursquo;re not super friendly with them, a block party is a great way to get to know the neighbors yoursquo;ll soon be leavingmdash;and maybe uncover someone whorsquo;s interesting in finding a new place in the same neighborhood.

    Have an estate sale

    A garage sale may attract mainly ultra-bargain shoppers, but an estate salehellip;thatrsquo;s another story. Not only do you have an opportunity to sell some of the items you donrsquo;t intend to take with you to your next home, but you may find a potential buyer, too. If you donrsquo;t have enough items to sell, enlist a few neighbors. They might be more than willing to haul over their old sideboard and china set for a chance to get it sold with minimal effort.

    Show off the goods

    Have a newly renovated kitchen you want to show off? Ninenbsp;out of 10 property purchases are decided by women, so invite the neighborhood moms over for wine and hors drsquo;oeuvres. You never know who will fall in love with your kitchen island and decide they need to move.

    Let your neighbors know on Nextdoor

    Depending on how your neighborhood Nextdoor is run, your post may be flagged and taken down. But, before that happens, you just might be able to zero in on a prospect or twomdash;before you even list your home for sale

    Rent a gaming truck

    For a couple hundred bucks, you can rent a gaming truck to park in your neighborhood. Invite all the moms to hang out inside with you, where they can ooh and ahh over your home while the kids are occupied and having fun in the truck.

    Ask your neighbors to put the word out

    Turning your neighbors into an extension of your real estate agentrsquo;s marketing team is easy. After all, they care about who their future neighbor will be, right?

    Full Story >

    A New HomeWithout Moving

    What if there was some way to get that lsquo;new homersquo; buzz without the hassle? Well, of course there is, and thatrsquo;s why people spend time and money updating their homes.

    Here are five ways to get yourself a new homehellip; without moving

  • 1. Extend

  • A lot of people move home because their current house is becoming a bit of a squeeze. Maybe children have come along or you now work from home. If you have the garden space, it can make financial sense to build an extension rather than find a new property. The key thing is to do the sums up front, set a budget and stick to it.

    The joy of an extension is that you have a new rooms to plan and >

  • 2. Update the kitchen

  • The kitchen has become the heart of the home, with many properties now featuring a large living space based around the kitchen. Whether or not your house will allow for a big space for cooking, dining and just hanging out, replacing your kitchen is a great option. It will renovate your house, add value and give you that lsquo;new homersquo; pleasure.

    Work with a kitchen planner to create a perfect layout, but donrsquo;t be afraid to shop around to get the update done at a price you like. Itrsquo;s often cheaper to buy appliances independently rather than through the kitchen specialist.

  • 3. Blitz the bathroom

  • Lots of us love staying in hotels and luxury apartments because of their opulent bathrooms. If this is you, think about bringing a boutique bathroom to your home. A new bathroom suite costs less than you think and will revolutionise how you feel about your bathroom. You could focus on updating your shower-bath or creating a luxurious walk-in shower, and then adding new tiles and flooring to suit your personal >

  • 4. Change the layout

  • If extending isnrsquo;t an option for you, you might look to knock down an internal wall to create a more spacious room ndash; a larger living room or an extended kitchen space. If your floor plan doesnrsquo;t give you that option, think laterally about changes you could make. Could you move to a different bedroom? Swap a dining space with a living room? Add an en-suite to your room? All of these options will give your home a new lease of life.

  • 5. Open up your loft

  • Our attics and lofts are nearly always wasted ndash; theyrsquo;re just dark, dusty storage areas. Making better use of this space will give you access to a whole new room. A master bedroom, an office, a den for the childrenhellip; You can either formally convert the space with dormer windows, or renovate it yourself. There are lots of great ideas here.

    So, with a little imagination you can achieve that happy new home without all that house-hunting, packing and spending. Enjoy your new property

    Full Story >

    The Must-Have College Dorm Items You May Not Have Thought of and Cant Live Without

    Ultra-slim hangers

    Dorm closets arenrsquo;t what wersquo;d call spacious, and yoursquo;ve got to do what you can to maximize the space. These skinny hangers take up less space than those chunky plastic guys, which means you can cram more clothes in there. The texture also keeps stuff from falling off so all those college t-shirts dont end up in a pile on the floor.

    Foldable chair

    Floor space is limited in most dorms, but that doesnt mean your college student wonrsquo;t have friends over. A chair that folds is key because they can stash it under or behind the bed when not in use.

    Chair covers

    Dorm chairs are gross. Period. And, a chair cover is a great way to add a little design flair into the space.

    Bottom sheets only

    Have you heard that millennials are doing away with top sheets? College students are running with this trend, so dont waste your money. And remember to buy size twin XL for the bottom sheetsmdash;this is the most common size of dorm mattresses.

    A good mattress cover

    This may be the only time you want to allow yourself to think about how many other people have slept on that mattress, and what they might have done on it. Eww, we know. Now go out and buy something with the word ldquo;antibacterialrdquo; in it.

    A good mattress topper

    Yes, one more thing yoursquo;ll want to buy for your childrsquo;s bed. This one isnrsquo;t a necessitymdash;unless the quality of your college studentrsquo;s sleep is important. These mattresses arenrsquo;t exactly what yoursquo;d call cushy, and a memory foam topper can make a huge difference.

    IKEA bags

    We were late to the IKEA bag party, and now we donrsquo;t know how we lived without them. Whether your child needs a place to stash snacks, sweatshirts, towels, or shoes in the dorm, or just wants a sturdy bag for transporting dirty laundry home, these bags are invaluable. And theyrsquo;re only 5 apiece.

    A decent quality fan

    Donrsquo;t count on a consistent temperature in the dorm. Depending on the collegersquo;s geographic location and the particular dorm roomrsquo;s orientation, your child may get toasty. A fan that clips to the bed is your best bet since there will likely be limited floor space.

    A humidifier

    Depending on the age and maintenance of the dorm, you may have a moisture issue. In our experience, it was hit or miss Our daughter didnrsquo;t have an issue in her room, but many of her friends did. Since shersquo;ll be staying in a different dorm this year, wersquo;re going the ldquo;better safe than sorryrdquo; route and purchasing one in case she needs it. Wersquo;d rather have a fan on hand if needed than have her dealing with musty surroundings while we search for one.

    A book light

    The overhead light might be the only light in the dorm room, although many also have desk lights. Still, this may disturb your childrsquo;s roommate. A light they can use to illuminate a small area over their book or laptop while theyrsquo;re in bed can be quite useful.

    Noise-cancelling headphones

    If he or she cant get their roommate to stop yapping or turn down the music, these headphones will do it for them.


    Full Story >

    Time for an Open House: How to Stage Your Home for a Lucrative Sale

    Declutter Now

    Potential buyers dont want to walk into a tiny house. This scenario is an immediate turnoff. Make the home look like its double the size by removing clutter. Take out small appliances, stacked magazines and other items. Aside from a centerpiece, there should only be decorative items on a table or counter.

    Removing these items tells the buyers that you care about the home. This fact translates to rapid bids by multiple buyers. Leaving the clutter out can force the visitors to seek other properties as alternatives. nbsp;

    Rent Furniture

    When it comes to staging, its a good idea to go all out with rental furniture. Your couch and chairs may be in the space right now, but they arent new or overly attractive. Give the home a new look with renta furniture.

    Turn the bedrooms into huge spaces by comparing a twin vs full mattress. Pull the full bed from the room and let the twin do the visual talking. Your open-house visitors will be thrilled to see these large spaces although its more of a visual trick at the time.

    Remove Personal Items nbsp;

    Your visitors dont want to see family photos of the current residents. It takes away from the visual fantasy that you want to convey. Remove personal items before the open house. Replace them with artwork or other focal points. The fantasy of living in the home must work for every person in the space. For this reason, its always a good idea to let the real-estate agent do the presentation instead of the homeowners.

    Explain a Room With Staging nbsp;

    Your home may have a strange corner or room thats not obvious with its purpose. Staging is a perfect time to explain that room by decorating it, reports U.S. News amp; World Report.

    If the room works well as a breakfast nook, add a small table with matching chairs. You might add in details like coffee mugs in the middle of the table too. Allow the visitors to picture themselves in this space. It can be a selling point instead of a source of confusion. nbsp;

    Simplify the Decor nbsp;

    Remember that youre trying to create a fantasy during the open house. You want people to see themselves living in and enjoying the property for years to come. Keep the decor simple, suggests Realtor. Putting too much pizzazz or design into a home can turn off some buyers.

    They cant see themselves living in a home with artwork or paint jobs that are too unusual. Stick to neutral colors and basic designs. Leave your artistic talents to the next house you purchase. nbsp;

    Try the Mirror Trick nbsp;

    No property is ever perfect. Someone will always find something negative to say about it. If youre concerned with the light in a room or its size, add mirrors to the walls, reports Forbes Magazine. The mirrors create a reflective environment so that the light bounces off all four walls.

    The mirrors also give the appearance of a larger room. Its strictly a visual trick, but it does a lot for visitors moving through an open house. Try this suggestion in one room, however. Adding too many mirrors to the property can make it unsightly. nbsp;

    Dont forget that proper pricing of your property goes along with staging. Price yourself out of the neighborhood, and no one will want to see your staging in the first place. Compare pricing with other properties in the area. Be fair with the amount so that your open house is busy and productive.

    Full Story >

    To Pool or Not To Pool

    A pool can be an expensive, luxury item rather than a necessity. The cost of a pool, between the routine upkeep/maintenance, repair costs, and the direct effect it will have on your homersquo;s energy bills, are all reasons that deter buyers from exploring pool ownership, so donrsquo;t be surprised if you get some negative reactions.

    Safety risks are another factor that prevent buyers from signing on a home with a pool. Injuring yourself on a diving board and other safety concerns are things that consumers are hyper-conscious of, particularly those with young children. Pool owners have to increase their insurance coverage to offset these risks, which can be a turnoff for many would-be buyers.

    As prepared as you can be for those buyers who will have doubts and see the pool as a problem, be equally prepared for clients who already love pools or who can easily be convinced.

    Many who purchase a vacation or second home think to themselves: ldquo;I need to get a house with a pool in the backyard.rdquo; Having a backyard pool immediately improves the value of a home as a rental property. If you come across a prospective buyer of a second home who is hesitant about the pool, explain that a swimming pool immediately increases its appeal to vacationers, and thus increases rental income. With a strong stream of rental income coming in, the cost of owning a pool becomes more than justifiable.

    Outdoor living space is a huge draw for renters right now ndash; anything thatrsquo;s seen as a luxury, customizable item water features, hot tubs, outdoor seating spaces with TVrsquo;s/chimineas etc. is attractive to buyers/renters.

    Pools can also be extremely attractive to buyers who value fitness. Many see having a backyard pool as something that can be good for your health, an immediate >

    Any buyer who wants their home to be an escape and who values privacy, exclusivity, and unique access can be sold a home with a pool. Understanding the pain points and the upside will enable any agent or broker to be better prepared to educate their buyer to make a decision that delivers real return on investment.

    Seth Tilton is an NAR certified Realtor with ERA Evergreen Real Estate in Hilton Head, SC, a part of the national ERA Real Estate network. He has been in the real estate business for almost four years, and was recognized by ERA globally as one of the top 3 ldquo;Rookie Rock Starsrdquo; at their 2018 International Business Conference. He has extensive experience working with the South Carolina market, specifically with vacation home buyers and sellers, as well as with 3D real estate and event space photography technology. Previously, he worked as a sales and design consultant for a company that custom designs and refurbishes both indoor and outdoor pools

    Full Story >

    Are Luxury Apartments Worth the Cost? An Honest Answer

    You may have checked out luxury apartments too, out of curiosity. They look good and all, but the price is seriously high compared to a standard apartment. You probably ended up always choosing the average apartment, because it just sounds more reasonable to pay 1,500 a month instead of 3,500. And you do not have luxurious needs; you just want comfort and convenience at a decent price.

    End of discussion, right? Well, what if we tell you that living in a luxury apartment actually has the potential to save you money, instead of being a budget hole?

    Here is what to take into consideration when browsing for luxury apartments in your area: most luxury apartment complexes offer extra amenities for their residents. That is where your budget can be more efficiently spent, but it all depends on your life>

    Here are some examples of amenities that could be included in the price of a luxury apartment:

    bull; Gym membership: present in most luxury apartment complexes, a gym that is so close to your home can be extremely convenient and practical. Considering that gym memberships can get to over 400 a month in some places, having it included in your rent is very good for your wallet. The downside would be that they are usually quite basic and someone who trains passionately may not be satisfied with them.

    bull; Pool club membership: a common pool is also something you can often see in apartment complexes. While it wonrsquo;t save you a lot of money, you would be eliminating transportation, time spent and the hassle that comes with going to a pool that is not right in the back of your building.

    bull; Movies: some buildings have a movie theater. Yes, you heard that correctly. Check what your rent includes and enjoy the viewing If you are a cinema goer, this perk can save quite a lot of money. Plus you can easily suggest what to watch next time.

    bull; Tennis club membership: grabbing your tennis gear and just taking the elevator to the tennis club is priceless for some people.

    bull; Sauna and spa: how >

    bull;nbsp; Coffee: when you drink a lot of coffee daily, or you are the type who works on their laptops in a nice, quiet coffee shop, you will appreciate that some apartment complexes have lounge rooms with open coffee bar for their residents.

    bull; Secure parking: when you are the victim of reckless parking or clumsily opened doors that hit your car, you sure learn how to appreciate secure parking. The costs of repairing your vehicle can get high if you are unlucky enough and have your vehicle exposed on the street.

    bull; Washer and dryer: you may think that laundry is not an important expense for someone who is considering living in a luxury apartment, but it actually all adds up to the costs of living.

    bull;nbsp;Computer room: it might be a niche amenity, but it really makes a difference when you are a student, for example, and have to print out a lot of materials.

    These are a few examples of what kind of amenities you can find included in the rent for a luxury apartment. Now, you need to do the math. Do you usually pay for these services anyway? What price do you put on your time and the convenience of having it all in the same building you live in? The results may surprise you, and you might look differently at luxury apartments the next time you browse for a place to live in. It might not be worth it in many cases, but there are gems to be found anywhere if you look long enough. Good luck

    Full Story >

    Mistakes Buyers Make When Searching for Their First Home, and How to Avoid Them

    When looking for your first home, itrsquo;s critical to keep the most important considerations in mind so you donrsquo;t find yourself going down a real estate rabbit hole. Remember these common buyer mistakes to keep you on track.

    Buyer mistake No. 1: Being seduced by the pretty stuff

    Fresh paint, pretty throw pillows, nice bedding. Theyrsquo;re all decoration, and decoration can be dangerous for homebuyers. Donrsquo;t let it distract you from the house itself. Howrsquo;s the floorplan? Does it work for your family? Is there enough square footage? Does the location make sense? These are among the factors that should be driving your purchase.

    Buyer mistake No. 2: Searching for a home that fits your furniture

    How many times have you heard a buyer on House Hunters say, "Our furniture wont fit in here." When youre buying a property that costs a couple hundred thousand dollars, itrsquo;s silly to hold back over a five-year-old, 1,000 couch.nbsp;

    Buyer mistake No. 3: Getting too hung up on price

    Itrsquo;s easy to get anbsp;number stuck in your head and refuse to give up, but that figure might not be doable depending on your local real estate market. Raising your price range by 10,000 may vastly increase the available homes and may only mean another 50 per month. Thatrsquo;s one lunch out you can forgo to get what you really want.

    Buyer mistake No. 4: Not trusting your gut

    The price is right, the location is right, and the home has the right number of bedrooms and baths. But it just doesnrsquo;t feel right. You may not be able to put your finger on what it is thatrsquo;s bothering you about a house, but if somethingrsquo;s nagging at you now, imagine what it will be like to live there. It could be your gut is trying to tell you something.

    Buyer mistake No. 5: Ignoring the neighborhood

    The hope is that any major problems with the home yoursquo;re looking at will show up on an inspection report, but other issues could pop up to derail your purchase or kill your enjoyment of the home once it belongs to you. A lot of the time, that has to do with the neighborhood.

    That could mean a commercial area too close to home, a rundown house across the street, or some zoning changes that are bringing a ton of new multi-family units to the area and increasing traffic. Whatever it is thatrsquo;s bothering you, think it through. You can always fix your home, but you canrsquo;t change the neighborhood.

    Buyer mistake No. 6: Not thinking long termnbsp;

    Maybe you think yoursquo;ll only be in this ldquo;starter homerdquo; for two years, and, therefore, the neighborhood isnrsquo;t all that important. As long as the house meets your approval, yoursquo;re good, right? According to a study by ValuePenguin, ldquo;the median duration of homeownership in the U.S. isnbsp;13.3 years.rdquo; That varies depending on the location, however, of the 20 largest U.S. cities studied, the lowest median was 9.7 years in Denver.

    Does that mean yoursquo;ll stay in this home for 10 years or more? Who knows. But if yoursquo;re a young couple planning to have kids in the next three-to-five years, letrsquo;s say, it wouldnrsquo;t hurt to make sure the home you buy now can accommodate that life>

    Buyer mistake No. 7: Thinking too long termnbsp;

    By the same token, looking for a forever home when yoursquo;re newly married and/or just starting your careers and donrsquo;t know where your life may take you may not be the answer either.

    Buyer mistake No. 8: Not considering the commute

    No one moves two hours each way away from work because they enjoy the time in the car. A move away from the city center into the suburbs is typically driven by affordability, or, rather, a lack thereof. But, absorbing an exceptionally long commute may not be worth it in the long run. Buyers have to ask themselves, ldquo;How long is too long?rdquo;

    But, asking yourself the question is only the beginning. If you think a one-hour commute each way will be fine, try it for a few days. Do a test run. It wonrsquo;t be the same as having to do it day in and day out for years of your life, but it will give you a taste.

    Yoursquo;ll also need to consider things like:

    bull; What happens if there is an accident on your ride home, which extends your one-hour commute even longer?
    bull; Will you need daycare for your kids, and who is going to pick them up if you canrsquo;t get there in time?
    bull; What will it do to your mental state?
    bull; What about the financial hitmdash;wear and tear on your car, extra gas, and tolls, daycare?

    When you crunch the numbers and think about the logistics, you might see that it makes better sense to buy closer to work.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Where Are the Best Places to Own an Airbnb? It Depends on the Revenue, and the Rules

    Itrsquo;s not the first city to move to regulate short-term rentals, nor is it the most restrictive.

    If yoursquo;re looking to buy an investment property to turn into an Airbnbmdash;especially if itrsquo;s out of statemdash;yoursquo;ll want to pay attention not just to the potential revenue, but also the stringent laws that have been enacted in many popular cities. Wersquo;re checking out a few of the most interesting cities in terms of their bottom line and the red tape you have to navigate as an owner.

    Palm Springs, CA

    This city in the California desert topped Investopediarsquo;s list of 5 Best and Worst Cities for Airbnb Rentingmdash;this despite being ldquo;one of the most strictly regulated vacation rental markets in the country,rdquo; said VRM intel. ldquo;Vacation rental owners must apply for and renew a vacation rental registration certificate annually for 923, as well as submit a transient occupancy tax permit application, pool compliance statement, and HOA letter if applicable to the cityrsquo;s Vacation Rental Compliance Department before the home can be advertised or rented. Registrations are limited to one home per owner.rdquo;

    Still, home prices are >

    Lahaina, HI

    The draw of Maui is obvious, and, according to Scott Shatford,nbsp;co-founder andnbsp;CEO of Airdna, the Airbnb analytics firm that crunched the numbers for the Investopedia piece, short-term rentals give visitors a more affordable option than the high-end resorts in the area. The average home value in Lahaina is almost double that of Palm Springs, but the potential upside is huge thanks to the higher rental rate. Buy an investment property to turn into an Airbnb here and you could make a profit of almost 56,000 per year.nbsp;

    However, ldquo;The Hawaii Senate hasnbsp;passed a billnbsp;that would require hosting platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway to collect lodging taxes from guests of short-term rentals,rdquo; said Avalara. If signed by Governor David Ige, the bill will require ldquo;vacation rental operators to register with the state Department of Taxation and to include state registration numbers in all advertisements. It changes the penalty for violation of state short-term rental law from a criminal misdemeanor to a citation process, with fines starting at 500 per day for a first offense.rdquo;

    Additionally, ldquo;Onnbsp;Maui, votersnbsp;approved a ballot initiativenbsp;last year thatnbsp;dramatically increases penalties for short-term rentals operating illegally.rdquo;

    Las Vegas, NV

    Vegas is one of the most visited cities in the country, with an average of 42.9 million annual visitors. And, despite the vast number of hotel rooms, the city has a robust short-term rental market. However, new regulations around short-term rentals may just kill its burgeoning business.

    ldquo;Las Vegas real estate investorsnbsp;will no longer be permitted to rent out for less than 31 days in the city,rdquo; said Mashvisor. ldquo;The new Airbnb laws will only allow for property owners who personally reside in the rental to operate legally. Even then, these Airbnb rentals are required to renew a permit with the city every 6 months to avoid any fines or issues with the law. These new Las Vegas Airbnb laws will likely put 98 of the short-term rentals operating under legal permits in the city out of practice as only 2 of those are primary residences.rdquo;

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Scottsdale can act as a case study for an investor looking to make money in a location that is popular year-round, but that also has a couple of special annual events that draw an inordinate number of visitors, which could allow said investor to charge a premium Think: New Orleans for Mardi Gras and cities hosting upcoming sports events like the Super Bowl or Final Four.

    In Scottsdalersquo;s case, not only is it ldquo;a hotbed for American corporate elites looking for a weekend getaway full of mountain biking, golf, and hiking,rdquo; said, but the city also hots ldquo;15nbsp;Major League Baseball teams, including thenbsp;Chicago Cubsnbsp;andnbsp;Los Angeles Dodgersrdquo; for spring trainingmdash;many of them, and the fans who travel to see the team, preferring to rent a home over a hotel room. The ldquo;average daily raterdquo; for a short-term rental in the city is 301, but, in a luxury home with resort->

    Scottsdale also has some of the most lenient regulations in the nation when it comes to short-term rentals. ldquo;An effort to curb cramming too many people innbsp;vacation rentalsnbsp;didnt make it through the state Legislature, but such a rulenbsp;might not have done much good anyway if Scottsdales experiencenbsp;is any indicator,rdquo; said the Arizona Republic.nbsp;ldquo;Scottsdalenbsp;city code already limits short-term rentalsnbsp;to no more than six adults and their children.nbsp;But the local law is not easily enforced, a city official said.rdquo;nbsp;nbsp;

    Orlando, FL

    Orlando would seem like an easy target given the theme parks, and, according to Airdnarsquo;s data, the average daily rate on a short-term rental is 193 on a home with a median list price of just over 300,000mdash;numbers that tip in favor of the investor. But, there are a slew of rules owners have to follow.

    A new ordinance ldquo;allows homeowners to rent out part of their home mdash; as long as the homeowner stays on site while guests are present,rdquo; said Avalara. ldquo;The new law limits short-term rental hosts to one booking at a time, a maximum of two people per room, and no more than four non-family members in a short-term rental at one time.rdquo;

    Operators also have to register with the city, pay a 275 fee for the first year and 125 every year thereafter, and collectnbsp;lodging taxesnbsp;from guests. ldquo;These taxes include a 6 percent state transient rental tax and 0.5 percent county discretionary sales surtax that are collected by the state, as well as a 6 percentnbsp;Tourist Development Taxnbsp;that is collected by Orange County.rdquo;

    New Orleans, LA

    The good news for investors who want to buy in New Orleans: Airdnarsquo;s data as reported on shows a median list price of 350,100, an average daily rate of 230 for short-term rentals, and an occupancy rate of 78.

    The bad news: Airbnb rentals are now banned in both the Garden District and the French Quarter. Short-term rentals are still allowed in thenbsp;Central Business District and other commercial areas of the city.

    Miami, FL

    This tourist haven has upwards of 10,000 active short-term rentals, but, new laws are making it harder for investors to collect. Operators can typically make an average of about 200 a nightmdash;but vacation rentals are now outlawed ldquo;in residential neighborhoods outside the core Miami Beach downtown communities,rdquo; said

    The New York Times reported that code compliance officers were going door to door in search of illegal short-term rentals; rule-breakers can be fined up to 20,000.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Top 5 Features a 2019 Kitchen Needs to Have According to 30 Expert Interior Designers

    The following five trends have been deemed as the most likely to succeed in 2019 by a group of experts in interior design. In this report, they took to showcase what the hottest trends are for 2019 kitchen remodeling, and which ones are most likely to add function and value to a home.

    Smart Lighting

    Smart technology is one of the fastest growing fields. Actually, according to Vivint, approximately half of renovators are introducing smart devices as they make upgrades to their homes. With so many smart devices available, homeowners have a lot to choose from.

    According to experts, when it comes to the kitchen, smart lighting is the top trend within this category. Lighting within the kitchen is crucial to the design and the function of the space. Using smart lights, which can vary in color and brightness, and can be controlled via a tablet, can enhance the use of the room whether yoursquo;re cooking or entertaining. This makes smart lighting a good choice for homeowners looking for a first step into the smart home market.

    Shaker or Slab Cabinets

    Photo bynbsp;Jose Soriano on Unsplash

    Cabinetry is an integral part of any kitchen design. It provides the necessary storage the kitchen needs, but it also sets the tone for the >

    Experts felt that both the Shaker and the Slab cabinet door >

    Anyone looking to update their cabinets should also be aware that solid wood is the preferred material - outstripping all other options by a wide margin. Fresh, updated designs with real wood are sure to hold their value better long term, making this an investment that can pay off now or in the future.

    Pendant Lights

    All kitchens ideally need three types of lighting - ambient, accent, and task - to look and function at their best. Pendant lights were chosen as the most popular fixture to include in the kitchen, and with good reason; they can technically fit all three roles depending on how they are used and where they are placed.

    Groups of pendants can provide ambient light for large areas, while single pendants centered over a peninsula or table can be an accent. Hang a pendant directly over a workstation, and now you have task lighting as well. With this versatility, itrsquo;s no wonder that pendant lights make the most sense for inclusion in the design.

    Kitchen Island Layout

    Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash

    There are many ways to plan and layout a kitchen. When asked what was the most popular layout, a staggering 91 of experts agreed itrsquo;s the island kitchen. Islands aid in the function of the room, with most reporting that its main function is to bring additional counter space.

    Islands also improve the working triangle of the kitchen, and add additional storage as well, making this one of the best additions that can be made to a space.

    Natural Stone or Quartz Countertops

    Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

    Homeowners have more choices for countertop materials today than ever before. When it comes to the >

    Pay Attention to Whatrsquo;s Popular

    Itrsquo;s important to track trends as they emerge and change, because these will show the direction of the industry and what most homebuyers are looking for in a home. If a homeowner needs to choose strategically when it comes to picking which features to include in their kitchens this year, these 5 top the list. Be sure to read the full report to know more about whatrsquo;s popular in kitchen remodeling this 2019.

    Full Story >

    Google Affiliate Sidewalk Labs and Its Dreamy Vision for Toronto

    When Sidewalk Labs, an affiliate of Google, introduced its draft master plannbsp;for the Toronto community called Quayside, there was a long line of critics to shoot holes in the 1.3-billion proposal.

    The company produced a plan that went far beyond the 12-acre Quayside site to include another 20 acres of city-owned land, where it would like to build the Google Canada headquarters. It also pitched plans for a total of 190 acres of Torontorsquo;s waterfront.

    Local politicians werenrsquo;t pleased, calling the proposal an over-reach and a ldquo;land grabrdquo;. It has a number of controversial elements, including an unfunded LRT line, a proposal that Sidewalk Labs become the lead developer of the site and the suggestion that many regulatory issues ntilde; ranging from local planning procedures to the national building code ntilde; would require changes.

    Sidewalk Labs acknowledges that its motives ldquo;have been subject to speculation, even a fair amount of cynicismrdquo; but stresses that it is not seeking to sell personal information it collects about residents or people who would work on the site; that it is not ldquo;motivated by a desire to export Canadian talent or intellectual output to the United Statesrdquo; and that it isnrsquo;t trying to develop all of the Port Lands. Its mission, it says, is to ldquo;demonstrate the impact of urban innovation on the quality of liferdquo; and ldquo;earn a reasonable return.rdquo; The company says it has already invested more than US 50 million on the proposal.

    So, therersquo;s a lot of be done before any of this proposal becomes reality, but we can dream a little, canrsquo;t we? Letrsquo;s take a look at some of the innovations that are being proposed.

    The live-work community would become the largest climate-positive district in North America, featuring low-energy buildings, active energy management tools, an advanced power grid, a garbage disposal chain with ldquo;pay as you throwrdquo; chutes to sort and cut down on waste, electric vehicles and tall timber buildings.

    The company says Torontorsquo;s waterfront is only comfortable about 30 per cent of the year. The rest of the time itrsquo;s either too hot, too cold or too wet. Sidewalk Labs is proposing to increase comfortable outdoor hours by 35 per cent, using a variety of techniques.

    The Raincoat would be a large adjustable awning that could extend out from a buildingrsquo;s edge over the sidewalk. It would be made of a building material composite called ETFE, which ldquo;provides transparency without the heavy and expensive structure required to support glass and is uniquely customizable through printed patterns that can control light and opacity.rdquo;

    The Fanshell would be a collection of large, temporary shelters capable of holding up to 100 people. They have an origami->

    The Lantern Forest is envisioned as a collection of tall, lightweight structures that would be grouped together like a stand of trees or hung from buildings like paper lanterns. They would protect against wind tunnels that form between tall buildings and could provide a range of uses, including as warming stations or as kiosks for vendors. They also could be collapsed and stored during off-hours.

    The proposal includes a number of street design innovations. Modular paving stones would be heated to melt snow. The design would include permeable pavement to direct storm water and melted snow to underground stormwater management systems. The paving stones could also include lighting and could be easily removed to provide access to infrastructure below.

    Street designs would move away from wide lanes for cars and have narrow lanes that transit and self-driving cars would use, along with wider bike and pedestrian lanes. Sensors in the pavement could determine how many pedestrians need to cross the road and automatically change the timing for the traffic signals or could determine the pace a pedestrian is walking at and adjust the timing accordingly.

    The proposal includes a parking garage, but it would be designed so that in future, if there was no demand for parking due to the proliferation of self-driving vehicles, it could easily be turned into an office or residential building.

    The buildings would be made of mass timber ntilde; cross-laminated timber structures and glulam beams, made at a nearby factory that Sidewalk Labs proposes would be in operation by 2021.

    Residential units would be built with flexible floor plans and wall panels, designed in such a way that an apartment could be expanded into the next unit or downsized as the need exists. Sidewalk Labs would design a low-voltage power system that would travel over ethernet cables hidden under the baseboard or crown moulding of these flexible walls. This would eliminate the need for a traditional ldquo;breaker boxrdquo; and save power, but the company would also initially provide converter boxes for appliances designed for AC systems.

    The company would also eliminate traditional sprinkler systems in favour of a mist-based fire protection system ldquo;that can be hidden along a wall surface or ceilings in one-centimetre tubing, reducing renovation time to less than an hour while improving fire protection.rdquo;

    Co-living spaces would be offered and the proposal says more than 6,800 units of affordable housing could be created.

    These are all innovations that are currently being developed and or that wersquo;ll see in the near future. But whether wersquo;ll see them on Torontorsquo;s waterfront remains to be seen.

    Full Story >

    The Risks and Benefits of Buying Beachfront Property

    The Benefits of Buying Beachfront Property

    There are many benefits to purchasing beachfront property, and these benefits often cause investors to overlook the potential risks of this type of property.

    High Market Value

    One of the main ndash; and most obvious benefits ndash; to purchasing oceanfront property is the high market value it provides. Beachfront homes and condos are least affected by changing property market trends.

    And you gain peace of mind in knowing that even if your property does lose some of its value, it will likely be the first type of property to start appreciating again.

    Great Rental Area

    Beachfront homes and condos have high market values, but theyrsquo;re also easy to rent out. Renting out your beach home can provide you with a significant profit.

    Tourists are happy to pay a higher price to stay in a beachfront home or condo. Many people use that as a trial to buying overseas property.

    Low-Cost Getaways

    Purchasing a beachfront home will provide you with your own getaway. Trips are less expensive, as you already have a place to stay ndash; the most expensive part of a vacation.

    If you enjoy traveling during high season and holiday weekends, yoursquo;ll save a bundle on your vacations if you own a beachfront home.

    The Risks of Buying Beachfront Property

    While there are many benefits to purchasing a beachfront home, there are also some risks.

    Storms and Weather Damage

    One of the biggest concerns with purchasing oceanfront property is storm and weather damage. Hurricane Harvey had 125 billion in damages, and Hurricane Katrina had 161 billion in damages.

    With that said, if you invest in a condo, you may not have to worry about roofing, landscaping and siding. And if your unit is on a higher level, flooding may also not be an issue.

    Partying Guests

    If you plan to rent out your property, there is a concern that partying guests may cause damage to your property. Parties may also disturb neighbors, which can present legal issues.

    Beachfront condos are prime targets for college students and groups of young people who may want to have a party during their stay. Noise issues and disturbances can lead to fines, and property damage will cost you more money.

    Property Damage

    In addition to damage from guests, yoursquo;ll also need to consider property damage due to the local environment.

    Mold and mildew are major concerns among beachfront property owners. Humidity and moisture can cause mold and mildew to form in just a few days. Leaking pipes and roof leaks can lead to significant mold damage. The very nature of people coming and going from the beach and into the home can lead to mold or mildew growth.

    Flooring damage is another concern, as sand can get worked into the carpet or scratch hardwood flooring. Tile and area rugs are the ideal solution, as tile can stand up to the damage of sand.

    When considering beachfront property, itrsquo;s important to weigh these pros and cons carefully to determine whether itrsquo;s a sound investment.


    Full Story >

    How Construct-to-Perm Mortgages Work

    With a standard construction loan, the applicants consult with a local architect and builder. After the blue prints and timeline is prepared, the plans and specifications are handed over to a local lender. The lender will evaluate the documents and make an estimate of the future value of the property once completed. This estimate is provided by an appraiser. For existing homes, the value is referred to ldquo;as isrdquo; and with construction itrsquo;s ldquo;as completed.rdquo;

    If the completed value is appraised at 300,000, the construction loan amount will typically be 80 percent of that amount, or in this example, 240,000. It will be up to the borrowers to provide the down payment of 60,000. If the applicants already own the land, many times the land itself provides enough equity to cover the 20 percent down payment.

    The lender prepares a ldquo;draw schedulerdquo; which lays out how much money will be given to the contractor and when. The contractor does not receive a lump sum payment but paid out in predetermined draws. The initial draw might be for 10 percent of the loan amount to clear the lot. Once the contractor has finished this initial phase, the lender sends out an inspector to verify the lot has been cleared. Once that verification has been made, the lender >

    When the home is declared complete, the lender sends one final inspector to verify the home is ready for occupancy. The construction is completed and the construction loan is due in full. Most construction loans ask for periodic payments from the borrowers during construction while others wait until the very end. To pay off the construction loan, the new homeowners need permanent financing. This can be any type of residential home loan such as VA, FHA, USDA or conventional mortgages.

    When first applying for a construction loan, the construction lender wants to see a preapproval letter from a mortgage company if a third party lender is being used. First itrsquo;s a construction loan, then itrsquo;s a permanent loan. As there are two different loans, there are two different closings to attend, one for the construction and one for the long term financing. Lenders can also ask for an updated approval letter if the initial approval is more than 30-60 days old.

    A construct-to-perm loan, often referred to as a ldquo;one time closerdquo; loan, is both a construction loan and long term financing wrapped into one. That means there is only one loan closing to attend.

    This type of loan works just like a standard construction loan while the home is being built as funds are handed out in phases and inspections regularly performed. Yet because the permanent mortgage is already in place, once the final inspection is performed and a certificate of occupancy issued, the permanent mortgage is immediately put in place.

    Full Story >

    Do Newsletters Really Work to Keep You Connected?

    The internet has proved that the consumerrsquo;s level of interest or urgency to buy or sell may span from as short as a quick 8 weeks to longer periods of time, like 3 years. If you survey real estate agents, it is rare to find one that deploys strategies to put themselves top of mind on a consistent basis. Implementing a monthly ldquo;touchrdquo; system has proven to keep the agent connected and available to their clients, customers and prospects to ensure future and referral business.

    The challenge is creating the ldquo;habitrdquo; of connection through a system that incorporates three distinct intentions: A face to face meeting, a handwritten letter of value, and a phone call. When you add a monthly newsletter, print or digital, you deploy a platform that is consistent. When you regularly become a resource for all things real estate, and position yourself as a local expert, you have earned the right to be the one they call to help them with their real estate services.

    If a newsletter initiative is missing from your marketing plan, here are a few strategies to incorporate into your newsletters:

    1. Go for hyperlocal information. It is clear that general real estate information is ubiquitous and available all over the internet. When you narrow the information down to a specific zip code, the interest of the consumer is accelerated because it has >2. Instead of offering a complimentary ldquo;What is your home worthrdquo; invitation, offer a more general ldquo;reportrdquo; on Home Valuation Prices in the specific zip code you are targeting. When you offer information on the property values around a prospective seller or buyer, they are more likely to request the report. Make it easily downloadable or available through a link on your website so the consumer feels ldquo;saferdquo; until they choose to reach out. This adds value to your newsletter, and generates more interest than general city or state transaction statistics. .So get really focused to get star status.
    3. Video is the key to becoming the ldquo;celebrity authorityrdquo; in your community. Itrsquo;s never been easier to add a short intro video link to an electronic newsletter to allow the consumer to ldquo;experience yourdquo; in a way that supersedes text. Make it short, informative, and add a call to action at the end either with a graphic or to verbally to contact you and be sure to mention no obligation. Video formats that are easy to incorporate into email work well too check out or
    4. Shine a spotlight on a community leader, business, or upcoming event. People are naturally inquisitive, so feature a short interview, post a local achievement, schedule of upcoming activities, park schedules, farmerrsquo;s market hours, fireworks dates and times, or block party happenings. Keep it friendly, community driven and not all real estate.
    5. Add a Call to Action. Set up your newsletter with opportunities that promote engagement or conversation. For example, talk about establishing a kidrsquo;s toys exchange, garage sale postings, or interest in organizing a holiday pet parade. Ask for responses on your business Facebook page, or through a short survey link, and include email and an old fashioned phone call.

    Staying connected should be a premier status on your daily worksheet. When you stay connected, you reap the reward of going beyond a single transaction into developing mutually beneficial, long time >

    For a free copy of the Daily Success Habits Tracker, and other success tools, click here.

    For a newsletter resource from RealtyTimes click here.

    Full Story >

    6 Home Improvement Projects You Can Begin Immediately

    Update The Laundry Room

    The majority of laundry rooms that need to be upgraded are only in need of a few additional features to be significantly improved. Most of these features can be added or upgraded with minimal construction.

    From a practical standpoint, shelves and bins can be added, and a countertop can be built above the washer and dryer to add to the functionality of the laundry room. The appearance of the room can become livelier with the addition of new wallpaper or a few coats of paint.

    Normally, homeowners are urged to stay away from plumbing projects. However, an exception can be made for a simple project like installing a new faucet. The trick is to make sure you purchase a new faucet with the number of mounting holes best-suited for the sink.nbsp;Once you are ready to install the faucet, shut off the water to the sink. Then, you only need to follow the brief instructions that come with the faucet. The entire process is no more complicated than assembling a bookshelf.

    Crown Molding

    Adding crown molding to the top of door frames and walls or applying the crown molding on wall space located above cabinets can add appeal to your home without a heavy burden on finance or labor. Crown molding not only looks good on walls but will also cover any nicks and dings that are present. Crown molding also provides the home with the custom look that generates interest from homebuyers. A crown molding project can be completed in one weekend with the use of a ladder, nail gun, pain, miter saw, and drop cloth.

    Furnace Installation

    Installing a furnace yourself is complicated and dangerous. This is something yoursquo;ll want to have a professional install because you will need the correct tools and a little knowledge regarding wiring before you get started.

    Maximize Kitchen Storage

    A wall in your kitchen can be easily optimized for storage with the addition of pegboards; pots, pans, cookware, and utensils can then be hung from the wall. Pegboard can be purchased in a variety of >

    A Bathroom Vanity

    A bathroom can be made to appear much more modern by installing a new vanity. The new vanity can also be used to provide the bathroom space with more storage capability and countertop space. The older vanity can be removed without too much trouble and a prefab vanity unit can be purchased and installed. A drill and drywall screws should be used to assure the vanity is secu>

    Update Lighting

    Modern lighting can make any room appear larger and emit a feeling of warmness. You can accomplish this goal by switching out older fixtures and replacing them with more modern models. There are many stylish replacements to choose from including bronze and copper fixtures. Chandeliers and pendants can also be used to change the feel and look of a room.

    Bottom Line

    Many homeowners delay the start of a home improvement project due to fears the project will cost more in time and resources than they are able to provide. However, there are a number of improvements all homeowners can make to their home immediately.


    Full Story >

    House Flipping And What You Should Know

    That being said, there are plenty of real estate investors who make quite a bit of money flipping houses, and its possible for you to do the same thing provided youre willing to put in the hard work. Here are a few things you should know before you make your first flip.

    Limit Your Financial Risk

    In a reality show, flipping a house often has the drama of some unexpected doom. Things like a cracked foundation or an attic filled with termites that threaten to ruin the flip. While these are often hyped up for TV, the reality is that if you pay too much for a home without accounting for the cost of repairs and upgrades, your flip can turn into a flop.

    Most seasoned investors use the 70 rule which basically states that you should not buy a home for more than 70 of the after repair value of a property. In other words, the after repair value is what the home is worth after your done making repairs and a few upgrades.

    Make Sure You Have The Time And Expertise

    Now lets say youve settled on a home that needs some painting, floors, and a few other upgrades and repairs. Your next question is, who will make the repairs? and how fast can they be done? If youre planning on making most of the repairs yourself, then you need to be certain you have the time to do it.

    Television shows make the process of repairs and upgrades look fast and easy, but its anything but that. Scheduling professional contractors, repairmen, painters, and carpenters take time, and so does the work. If you plan on making most of the upgrades and repairs yourself, be certain that you can handle the job.

    First-time home flippers often feel that they can do most of the work themselves in order to save money, then find themselves overwhelmed or under skilled to handle the job.

    Find The Right House To Flip

    Patience is a key part of being a successful house flipper. First, you must find a home thats priced below its market value. Its crucial to find the right home, at the right price, in the right location. That takes patience and the help of a well experienced Realtor. You dont want to buy a home in a low-income neighborhood where homes are valued at 60,00 and try and sell it for 200,000.

    Educate yourself on the trends, markets and home values in the areas where you intend to buy your first home. When it comes time to sell a home, you have to consider who your potential buyers are, what they can afford, and where they want to live. A doctor who earns 250,000 per year is not going to want to live in a low-income neighborhood no matter how nice the home is.

    Flipping houses for a living can be a financially rewarding endeavor, but you have to know what youre getting into and educate yourself on the process. There are many investors who started off flipping houses in their spare time just to get a feel for the process.

    This is a good way to start for first-time flippers. Some of the best advice you can get is from someone who is already successful at flipping houses. Take some time to meet with other investors or attend a seminar on how to invest in real estate and flipping houses.

    Full Story >

    Thinking of Buying an Older Home? Here Are Some Things to Keep in Mind

    Foundation and Structural Issues

    Issues with the foundation or structure have the potential of costing a lot to fix. Since the foundation and structure are what is keeping the house upright, it is crucial that they are stable and sound. Cracks or unevenness in the foundation can lead to moisture damage, dry rot, corrosion, and shifting of the house. Signs of foundation or structural damage can be found in doors or windows that donrsquo;t open and close easily, cracks in the wall or flooring, and uneven floors.

    According to Safewise, ldquo;Foundation repairs can escalate to over 10,000, depending on the extent of the structural issues- and homeowners insurance wonrsquo;t cover these costs.rdquo; If foundational issues are suspected, be sure to hire a quality inspector or contractor to check out the home. Consider getting a quote for repairs and negotiating the cost into the purchase price of the house.

    Electrical and Plumbing Issues

    Many older homes have their original plumbing and rewiring, as updating these systems can be costly. However, keeping the original knob-and-tube wiring or the original cast-iron pipes can be a safety hazard. Old electrical systems can cause a fire, and old pipes can cause leaks or weak water pressure.

    Beware of older homes whose electrical and plumbing systems have been updated by a do-it-yourself homeowner. Be sure to ask if the work was done by a qualified professional.

    If the home has original electrical and plumbing systems or has been updated by an unqualified individual, ask an inspector to evaluate the systems. If they need to be replaced or repaired, consider getting a quote and negotiating the cost into the purchase price of the home.

    Hazardous Materials

    The older a home is, the more likely the chances are of it containing hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead. Lead is commonly found in paint applied before 1978 and in plumbing installed before 1985. The lead can leak into the water supply or the surrounding environment, causing a potential health hazard. Asbestos can be found in gas fireplaces, roofing, and insulation that was installed before 1980.


    The breakdown of uranium in the environment can cause a carcinogen known as radon. If radon gas gets trapped in a home, it can be dangerous. Homes built before 1970 were not built with this risk in mind, so they are more susceptible to a gas build-up that could potentially be harmful to its inhabitants.

    Outdated Heating and Cooling Systems

    Older homes were likely designed for a different type of heating system than what is common today. One hundred years ago, houses were heated with oil. After that, it was common for houses to be heated with coal or wood. Even in a home with a more up-to-date heating system, if it hasnrsquo;t been maintained well, it could be inefficient, unsafe, or both.

    Houses with cooling systems are likely to be a bit younger than oil-heated homes, however, cooling systems are known to have their own issues. Five common problems with older AC units include wear and tear, improperly working fans, reduced efficiency, refrigerant leaks, and electrical problems.

    Dysfunctional Alarms

    Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are important safety devices in any home. When looking at an older home, be sure that both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are present and in working order. Although not necessarily expensive to replace, asking homeowners to replace unsafe alarms will save the homebuyer the hassle later, and could potentially save someonersquo;s life in the meantime.

    Termites and Bugs

    Depending on where the home is located, termites and other bugs could be a major issue. The National Pest Management Association claims that termites alone cause around 5 billion in property damage yearly.

    The older a home, the longer it has been exposed to the chance of infestations. Termites especially enjoy soft wood, so a home that has had water damage over the years could be especially susceptible.

    Full Story >

    Weather Is No Longer a Safe Topic

    For real estate professionals, talking about the weather may carry an extra layer of complication: legal liability.

    In the rush to nail down all the details of offer generation or offer presentation, could casual ldquo;ice breakerrdquo; assurances like ldquo;this sure is not our normal weatherrdquo; come back to haunt the professional?

    Many buyers and sellersndash;and others for that matterndash;mistakenly believe that real estate professionals know more about the ups and downs of interest rates than banks. Consequently, real estate professionals must be on the alert to head off misunderstandings. They must be equally careful wording answers and opinions on many topics, so as not to mislead the public, inadvertently or through lack of care.

    Is it time for weather and >

    bull; ldquo;This weather is not normalrdquo; could lead an out-of-town buyer to believe this weather either very bad or very hot will not be part of their lives in this location. However, ldquo;not normalrdquo; has increasingly, become the pattern, occurring repeatedly and annually.

    bull; Could this leave a buyer feeling misled when they move and weather
    reality sets in?

    bull; 50-, 100-, and 500-year storms are coming more frequently than those historic time points. In 2017, north New York State experienced record-breaking severe flooding along Lake Ontario. Now, two years later, flooding and property damage appear ready to exceed 2017 levels. How do emerging patterns like this affect the value and practical use of waterfront properties?

    bull; Disaster clean-ups and property reconstruction are ba>

    bull; Annual short-term weather events like Mississippi River flooding have extended to immobilize vast areas for many weeks.
    bull; Historically-isolated events like tornadoes are combining into serial threats.
    bull; The California Department of Insurance reported that, as of April 2019, insurance claims from Californiarsquo;s Camp, Hill, and Woolsey wildfires in November 2018 already exceeded 12 billion.

    How are changing weather patterns going to affect ldquo;best places to liverdquo; choices and >

    bull; An October 2018 study of the exposure of real estate investment trustsrsquo; REITs to climate risk evaluated 73,500 properties owned by 321 listed REITs. Results revealed that, globally, 35 of REITs are exposed to climate hazards including inland flooding 17, hurricanes or typhoons 12, and sea level rise and coastal flooding 6. These hazards can translate into millions in damage. ldquo;Hot spotsrdquo; for damaging weather hazards like New York, Miami, Boston, and San Francisco are also ldquo;hot spotsrdquo; for real estate investment. Real estate professionals will be among those evaluating how this overlap will affect real estate values. Will this pattern reduce tourism and buyer interest in these currently-favored vacation and life>

    Real estate professionals are not meteorologists, but they arenrsquo;t lawyers, contractors, and a host of other professionals either; however, they are responsible for understanding all that impacts real estate value. Real estate professionals work to be clear and accurate about real estate issues they are responsible for.

    Their professional intent is directed at not giving opinions or advice outside their responsibilities or control which might unduly or unfavorably influence buyers or sellers:

    bull; Buyers moving into an area unfamiliar to them, willnbsp;increasingly want details on weather patterns and areas vulnerable tonbsp;weather hazards like flooding. Where should they get that accuratenbsp;information?

    bull; Sellers of waterfront property want to understand how their land values may be affected by changing high-water patterns. Who knows the real answers?

    bull; In both cases, property insurancendash;availability and affordabilityndash;is an expensive element which impacts on what buyers can afford, what sellers net from a sale, and what lenders will lend. How much of this knowledge is essential to gaining listings, generating transactions, and to enabling real estate professionals to fulfill their obligations?

    bull; Professionals must know what happens to a real estate transaction if bad weather damages a sellerrsquo;s listed property or destroys the house after the buyerrsquo;s offer is accepted and before closing. Once ldquo;long shotrdquo; events, the escalation of bad weather makes ldquo;donrsquo;t spend your commission until itrsquo;s in your accountrdquo; advice worth heeding.

    Hurricane Season: Predicting the Unpredictable

    June 1 marks the start of hurricane season for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. According to Co>

    ldquo;Early predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA indicate a near-normal year for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season,rdquo; reports Co>

    HEADS UP: NOAArsquo;s Weather-Ready Nation initiative includes public education services like hurricane preparedness and the Storm Prediction Center.

    ldquo;It is essential to understand and evaluate the total hazard exposure of properties at risk of storm surge prior to a hurricane event, so insurers can better protect and restore property owners from financial catastrophe,rdquo; said Dr. Tom Jeffery, Co>

    ldquo;Damage from storm surge and inland flooding has proven to be far more destructive than wind in recent years, so we cannot >

    In view of shifting weather patterns, if you canrsquo;t think of something useful to say, skip the weather and, instead, listen attentively.

    For more on effective communication, visit PJrsquo;s Whatrsquo;s Your Point?nbsp;Blog.

    Full Story >

    4 Special Offers to Make When Selling Your Home

    A Warranty on the Home

    Buyers are usually focused on getting a great deal on a beautiful home that meets all of their needs, but they also want to purchase a property that is in excellent condition. Savvy buyers understand that damage may lurk underneath the surface. They may order a property inspection to identify issues that they need to know about. A home warranty is a >

    A Decorating Allowance

    Some sellers will replace flooring, repaint the walls and even deck the kitchen out with new appliances before listing their home for sale. Their goal is to make their home look irresistible to a buyer. This is not necessarily a sunk cost because many improvements may result in increased property value that can be recouped through the sale. However, you may not have the time or money necessary to update your home, but you may be getting a substantial financial return from the sale. When you offer a decorating allowance to a buyer, you can address the propertyrsquo;s cosmetic concerns without creating unnecessary financial strain on yourself.

    Major Appliances

    The dishwasher and range generally are conveyed to a buyer through the real estate purchase, but other appliances are not included. Some buyers may not want to purchase a new fridge, washing machine, dryer or microwave as soon as they move in. They also may not have their own appliances that they are planning to bring with them. Offering to convey major appliances through they sale could benefit some buyers. However, other buyers may have their own appliances that they need or want to move into the home with them. Therefore, this type of special offer should be optional.

    Property-Specific Items

    There may be several features in your home that are true selling points for a buyer, but these may not be features that are typically conveyed during a real estate transaction. For example, you may have an elaborate playground and trampoline in the backyard, a large barbecue pit, an above-ground hot tub, a sauna or other similar items that buyers may be thrilled to have. Offering these items with the home may be more convenient for you if you do not have a place for them in your new home, and it may give buyers the feeling of getting an amazing deal with a special bonus. Keep in mind that not every buyer may want or need these types of items. Therefore, be prepared for a buyer to potentially negotiate for you to haul these items away.

    You can see that some special offers can benefit the buyer and the seller in different ways, but they are not always advantageous. As is the case with most other aspects of a real estate transaction, be prepared to be flexible and accommodating when it is reasonable to do so. The goal is to establish terms that are beneficial to both parties.

    Full Story >

    Smart Ways to Save on Your Bathroom Renovation

    Keep the same layout

    You might want to chuck it all and start over with a completely new layout, but the cost of moving everything could push your budget into no-manrsquo;s land. According to HGTVrsquo;s Scott McGillivray, ldquo;Moving the tub, vanity, and toilet will cost about 2500 each.rdquo;

    Do your own tilework

    Is the DIY spirit calling to you? Tiling your own bathroom floor and shower can be satisfyingmdash;and money-saving. Just be sure to watch a tutorial or two first. Its also a good idea to practice your technique on a piece of MDF with inexpensive tile before you break out the good stuff on your wall or floor.

    If you are springing for professional installation, keep in mind that large-scale tile will provide a savings. ldquo;The smaller the tile and more complex the pattern, the more expensive it is to install,rdquo; said McGillivray.

    Go garage sale-ing

    Yes, you can find some great accessories at a garage sale, estate sale, flea market, or even on Craigslist or Nextdoor, but keep your eye out for larger pieces, too. An old dresser can easily be turned into a vanity. Not only can it save you tons of money over something new, it also brings character into the space.

    Frame it

    ldquo;Dress up that builder-grade mirror with a fantastic frame, and at a fraction of the price of sourcing a huge hanging mirror,rdquo; said HGTV. ldquo;A frame will also hide any age->


    ldquo;An old tub or shower will su>

    Look for leftovers

    Stone yards, tile shops, contractorsmdash;they may all have leftovers you can purchase or even have. That countertop remnant could work perfectly on top of that vanity you have your eye on, and save you enough money to buy it

    Full Story >

    How Long Does It Take to Close on a House?

    Thatrsquo;s the average time it takes to close on a home, according to mortgage software company Ellie Mae. However, every loan is different, and there are a number of factors that can affect the closing date. The trick to getting through closing as quickly, easily, and painlessly as possible is knowing what to expect, knowing where you can step in to facilitate or speed things up, and being prepared for any surprises that pop up along the way. Here are some common occurences that can delay a closing.

    The type of loan

    The type of financing yoursquo;re using to purchase your home can help determine the amount of time it will take to close. For Federal Housing Authority FHA or conventional loans, the average time to close is 47 days; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs VA loans generally take a bit longer. There may still be ways to hurry things along by being diligent and in constant contact with your lender, however, some parts of the closing process are baked into the loan type.

    Down payment issues

    Did you budget for both the down payment and the closing costs. Maybe you had enough for both but then had to deal with an emergency. There are a number of ways down payment issues can arise, and if yoursquo;re faced with need to gather additional funds, it could put your closing date in jeopardy.

    Verification delays

    Expect your finances and employment history to be scrutinized and all the details verified when buying a home. The process is can be even more intense if yoursquo;re self-employed or if your down payment is coming from unconventional means like gift funds. Getting to the closing table in a timely manner will require cooperation from employers, bankers, landlords, and anyone else who needs to verify information. Being at their mercy is no fun, but one thing you can do to keep your closing moving forward is respond quickly to any lender requests that come your way.

    Irresponsible credit management

    Getting your pre-approval from a lender is not an invitation to go buy a car or apply for a new credit card. Doing so could derail your loan. The ding to your credit score can cause your interest rate to rise; and incurring more debt may raise your debt-to-income ratio DTI beyond the acceptable threshold.

    Quitting or losing your job

    Sometimes an employment change is out of your control, but you definitely dont want to willingly leave your job while yoursquo;re in escrow. Less than two years of steady employment could put your loan at risk, or at least cause a delay while your lender takes the time to figure out how your change in circumstances affects your approval and financing.

    Interest rate changes

    If you didnt lock in your interest rate and it rises during escrow, your payment may go up. In most cases, a minimal uptick wonrsquo;t make that much difference, but if you were already maxing out your budget or approval amount, this could become a problem. You may be able to work with your lender to adjust the rate or it may be necessary to come up with a little more money, which could add some time to your escrow period.

    The home doesnrsquo;t appraise

    A crucial part of the escrow process is the appraisal, which is usually required during any home purchase. The appraisal is used to determine the market value of the home; if it comes in lower than the sales price, there may be some more negotiating to do. If the seller is unwilling to lower the price, you may have to pay cash for the difference between the appraisal amount and the sales pricemdash;which could be dangerous if you overpay and end up under water on the home.

    The title doesnrsquo;t come back clear

    As part of the escrow process, a title company will complete a title search on the home to make sure there are no liens on the property and that no one else can claim ownership. Uncovering title issues can push the closing by weeks or even months.

    Inspection issues

    Unless yoursquo;re planning to waive the home inspectionmdash;which is not recommended since it can leave you on the hook for expensive repairs to things you canrsquo;t see, like electrical and plumbing issuesmdash;your purchase offer will contain a contingency for an inspection. This contingency gives the buyer an ldquo;outrdquo; if the inspection uncovers serious defects; the buyer can also opt to negotiate with the seller, however, that back and forth can push the closing date.

    Other contingencies

    Your purchase contract will typically have language that spells out other conditions that have to be met in order for the sale to go through; two of the main contingencies are for loan approval and appraisal. Additionally, if yoursquo;re selling one home in order to buy a new one, your new loan is likely contingent on the sale of the other property. The seller may have his or her own set of contingencies. If any of them become problematic, it could push the closing.

    Termite damage

    Your lender will typically order a pest inspection during the escrow process, and the evidence of termites or carpenter ant damage could put a wrinkle in your closing. Repairs may have to be made before the home can close, or, in a worst-case scenario, it could kill the deal altogether.


    Homeownerrsquo;s insurance is required on any home that is being financed, but certain conditions can make it hard to get a policy. A major claim against the home like mold or water damage, or multiple claims filed by a previous owner, may cause insurance companies to flag the home as a risk. It can also be hard to get insurance, or at least take more time, if the home is located in a flood or disaster zone.

    Inflated costs on the closing statement

    Your lender is required by law to provide you with a loan estimate outlining the different costs >

    Homeownerrsquo;s association feesTop of Form

    Delinquent homeownerrsquo;s association HOA fees and/or fines may show up during a title search if the HOA has put a lien on the home yoursquo;re buying, but can also pop up at any time during escrow and put your closing on pause. If you canrsquo;t convince the seller to pay the fees, reduce the price of the home accordingly, or provide a closing credit, it may be up to you to pay them. Bottom of Form

    Death of the seller

    Yes, it happens. And if it happens to the seller while yoursquo;re in escrow, yoursquo;re looking at probate court, which can take a few monthsmdash;or even a few years.

    Walk-through issues

    Even if everything else has gone smoothly throughout the escrow process, there is one more potential hurdle: the walk-through. This is your opportunity to make sure the home looks good, that any requested repairs were made, and that there is no damage to the home that may have been obscured or that is new since the last time you toured it. Any issues uncovered during the walk-through could delay the closing.

    Full Story >

    Approval Guidelines for 1099 Employees

    Lenders also look for the last two years of W2 forms which shows proof of a two year history of employment as well as being a cross-check of sorts with the information shown on the employeersquo;s paycheck stubs. But verifying someone who is not an employee but self-employed or receives commission or bonus income, there wonrsquo;t likely be any paycheck stubs or W2 forms. Instead, the applicant receives 1099 forms from the various sources of revenue.

    Itrsquo;s understood that someone who is self-employed or identified as an independent contractor wonrsquo;t typically receive a paycheck stuff on the 1st and the 15th. Instead, money comes in as services are performed. Some clients can pay immediately while others pay within 30 days. To verify income for an independent contractor, bank statements are needed, both personal and business. The business bank statements will show deposits at various times throughout the statement period.

    Income tax returns from the previous two years are also required for most programs. Two years of personal and business tax returns do two things: verify two years of self-employment, a requirement, and show year-over-year income. The reported income from one year to the next should be consistent. Better, income from one year to the next shows an increase. If there is a significant decrease from one year to the next, itrsquo;s likely the income cannot be used and thus the application will be turned down.

    Many independent contractors start out working as employees for other companies but might start doing some side jobs. A plumber might work for a local plumbing company but does some extra work for personal clients on the weekends. As long as there are two years of history for the extra income, it can be used to help qualify. Again, as long as the income is >

    Letrsquo;s say that one day the plumber decides to quit his plumbing job and become a full time independent contractor. In this instance, the self-employment income probably wonrsquo;t be counted. Why? Refer back to self-employment guidelines which requires a two year history of employment. There is a history of 1099 income but there is no history of being self-employed full time. Lenders have this guideline not only to see if the income and self-employment is secure, but the individual can handle being self-employed and not >

    1099 employees may also see a bit more stringent credit scores, although with most programs thatrsquo;s not the case. It also depends upon the type of loan being applied for. If itrsquo;s an FHA loan, the minimum score for FHA loans is 580 when using the minimum down payment. For conventional loans, the minimum credit score is 620.

    1099 income and W2 income are both verified. Itrsquo;s just that the 1099 version takes a few extra steps.

    Full Story >

    Curbio: Renovate Your Home for Sale Now, Pay for It Later


    Itrsquo;s all about the money, Honey.

    According to HomeAdvisor, renovating multiple rooms in a home can cost up to 75,000 or more. Just want to do your kitchen? ldquo;The average cost of kitchen remodels comes in atnbsp;20,474,rdquo; with homeowners spending up tonbsp;ldquo;49,000nbsp;or more for high-end projects,rdquo; they said.

    Enter Curbio.

    Billed as an ldquo;affordable pre-sale home improvement solution for realtors and homeowners,rdquo; Curbio is a new real estate technology company that offers a home renovation service sellers dont have to pay for until after theyrsquo;ve sold their home. There is no deposit required, nor is there a finance charge or a credit score or income requirement, for that matter. The bottom line for sellers: They can reap the benefits of a renovated home by getting it market-perfect now, and use their profits to cover the cost.nbsp;

    So, does it work? According to the company, thatrsquo;s a big ldquo;Yesrdquo; Per their numbers, using Curbio results in:

    middot;nbsp;A 209 average renovation ROI for sellers
    middot;nbsp;Homes that spend 58 fewer days on the market
    middot;nbsp;A 50k average profit increase

    How it works

    nbsp;Curbio works together with sellers and real estate agents, assigning a Project Manager to oversee the homersquo;s renovation and handle ldquo;everything:nbsp;ordering materials, scheduling deliveries, hiring subcontractors, pulling permits, and serving as a single point of contact for the homeowner,rdquo; they said.

    The company has announced marketing partnerships with real estate companies, includingnbsp;Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers innbsp;Atlanta, and, most recently, Ebby Halliday Companies in Dallas, which includes Ebby Halliday Realtors, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, and Fort Worth-based Williams Trew.

    Not yet nationwide

    Curbio is not yet available to sellers across the country but is in expansion mode, with services currently available in several markets. Home sellers can partner with Curbio in:

    middot; Washington DC
    middot; Northern Virginia
    middot; Maryland
    middot; Orlando
    middot; Philadelphia
    middot; Southern New Jersey
    middot; Atlanta
    middot; Dallas-Ft. Worth
    middot; Houston
    middot; Phoenix

    The next round of expansion will bring the companyrsquo;s services to Chicago.

    Full Story >

    How to Make Sure You Dont Fall out of EscrowBuyers Version

    So how do you protect your purchase and make sure you get to the finish line? These four tips will help.

    1. Prepare yourself for the inspection

    Especially if yoursquo;re buying an older home, there are bound to be some surprises in the inspection report. The sale fail trend is particularly pronounced for older homes.

    ldquo;Homes built from 1959 throughnbsp; 1969 had the highest sale fail rate at 5.2, compared to homes built in 2016, with a dropout rate of only 2.6, which is among the lowest proportion of failed sale bands,rdquo; said The Truth About Mortgage.

    While you canrsquo;t be prepared for everything, you can go into the process with a realistic understanding that the condition of the home may reflect its age. Expecting everything to be in tip-top shape will probably leave you disappointed.

    2. Buthellip;dont be afraid to negotiate

    That being said, the defects and recommended repairs that end up on inspection reports can be a lot to digest, and you have every right to expect a renegotiation for anything major. Your real estate agent should be able to provide guidance on how much seller cooperation is reasonable so it doesnt put your home purchase at risk.

    3. Donrsquo;t be cavalier with your credit

    Yoursquo;ve been pre-approved for a loan. Yay Maybe you should celebrate by buying a new car or a house full of new furniture. No Your preapproval is based on a number of factors, but credit score and debt-to-loan ratio are two of the big ones. Any change to those figures during escrow and you could find yourself with no financing.

    ldquo;The underwritermdash;employed by your mortgage lendermdash;will check your credit score, review your home appraisal, and ensure your financial portfolio has remained the same since you were pre-approved for the loan,rdquo; said Since underwriting typically happens shortly before closing, you donrsquo;t want to do anything while yoursquo;re in contract thatrsquo;s going to hurt your credit score. That includes buying a car, boat, or any other large purchase that has to be financed.rdquo;

    You may think itrsquo;s rare that a financing issue hampers a closing, but, ldquo;In fact, 32 of settlement delays come from buyer financing issues which can crop up at the very last minute,rdquo; said Homelight.

    4. Make sure you have all the required documents when you go to close

    The last thing you want is to get to your closing and realize you forgot one of the documents you need. Donrsquo;t leave the house without:

    bull; A driverrsquo;s license, passport, or some other government-issued photo ID
    bull; Proof of your homeownerrsquo;s insurance
    bull; A copy of your sales contract
    bull; Any and all home inspection reports
    bull; Any other paperwork the bank used for loan approval double-check with your lender in plenty of time
    bull; A notarized document giving you power of attorney if your spouse wonrsquo;t be present at closing
    bull; A bank check or wire transfer for the full amount of your closing costs check with your lender on the means of payment and final amount

    Full Story >

    6 Things to Consider When Building Your Dream Home

    Going By the Numbers

    Before you apply for financing, its important to consider all of the costs associated with building your dream home. In addition to working with contractors for the actual construction of the home, consider how much you will have to pay for the land, building permits, taxes, insurance, and the installation of utilities. Also bear in mind that you will first need a construction loan to pay your contractors, which will later be converted into a traditional mortgage.

    Buying the Land

    Its important to be very critical of the land you buy. The first thing to consider is accessibility for yourself and for the construction equipment and building supplies that will have to be transported to the property. If theres not clear street access, this may pose a legal problem with trespassing. Additionally, you will have to have the land surveyed to identify drainage issues that may result from uneven or rocky land. Itrsquo;s also advisable to look at what will be involved in delivering water, electricity, and gas to your new home.

    Hire the Right Professionals

    Many contractors employ electricians, plumbers, and other skilled workers, which allows them to offer a comprehensive service. Whether you hire a contractor like this or hire individual professionals,nbsp;be sure youre always working with reputable professionals. Check to be sure their licenses, certifications, and insurance are all valid and up to date. It may also be sure to check online customer reviews to learn what previous customers had to say about them. While you will ultimately have to >

    Work Closely with an HVAC Service Company

    From the beginning, when youre working with the architect to design your home, and throughout the building process, keep your HVAC company involved. Their input will be invaluable when it comes to designing the layout of the home and keeping your living spaces energy efficient. Otherwise, the completed home may be too susceptible to mold growth or it may be too costly to heat and cool. Your HVAC professionals can help advise you, so you can get a design you like that wont drain your pocketbook six months of every year.

    Designing a Green Home

    In addition to working with an HVAC technician, you should also choose an architect experienced in thinking green. For instance, you may want to ensure your living room and dining area faces the south to maximize sunlight, while also ensuring those rooms have ample window exposure. Conversely, you may want bedroom windows facing north and you may want those windows smaller to minimize sunlight. This can help create a more >

    Prepare a Punch List

    A punch list is a list of items that need to be addressed, before you will consider the construction complete. The unreasonable flaws should be addressed first by your contractors, because fixing these items will allow you to move into the home and begin the closing process. The reasonable flaws, or those that dont affect the livability of the home, can be repaired later. Remember to account for everything in creating the punch list or you may be left with overlooked flaws that need to be repaired out of your pocket.

    You may have more concerns as far as the design of your home, but these factors are major points to consider in constructing your dream home. While this overview shouldnt discourage you, it should give you a more practical sense of what will be involved. Taking these factors into consideration can help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.

    Full Story >

    Financing Your First Rental? Expect These Five Things


    Lenders view non-occupied properties as a greater risk than a primary residence. The thinking is that if someone who owns multiple pieces of property and gets into some financial trouble the borrowers will sell or let their rental properties go into foreclosure before they would abandon their own home. To offset this risk, you can expect higher rates. Not a lot higher but higher, nonetheless. You can expect a non-owner occupied fixed rate to be anywhere from 0.50 to 1.00 percent higher.


    The two primary drivers of real estate investing are long term appreciation and monthly cash flow. Name one other asset >

    Being a Landlord.

    Potential first time investors can start their own search online to check out the market. They see a home listed for sale and also note the home brings in 2,000 per month in rent. After a couple of calculations, they discover that not only is the 2,000 enough to cover the mortgage payment, insurance, taxes and maintenance, therersquo;s an extra 500 left over. Thatrsquo;s profit. The rent pays for the mortgage. But, the lender wonrsquo;t let you use that rent to qualify as income. Why? Lenders want to see real estate investors be real estate investors for at least two years. Until that point, the buyers must qualify without the benefit of the rental income.

    Nobodyrsquo;s Home.

    Okay, so now yoursquo;ve owned your rental for a couple of years and can indeed use that income to help qualify for yet another purchase. On the loan application yoursquo;ll enter the net rental income from the unit. The appraiser will also make note. However, the lender will discount that amount by 25 percent. Instead of 2,000 per month, qualifying income is now 1,500. Why? Lenders consider a vacancy factor assuming that at some point the unit will be vacant when one tenant leaves and a new tenant has yet to arrive.

    Down Payment.

    Circling back to additional risk, in addition to higher rates yoursquo;ll need a larger down payment compared to an owner occupied property. You can expect to make a down payment of 20 percent for a conventional loan and you can get slightly better terms with a 25 percent down payment.


    And herersquo;s your bonus tip at no extra charge. Conventional loans will be your option as well as maybe a few portfolio options. But government-backed programs such as VA, FHA and USDA programs are reserved for those intending to occupy the property. Your loan officer will provide an array of options to finance your first rental.

    Full Story >

    Buyers: Hesitant or Decisive?

    Are you hesitant or decisive?

    Does thinking about buying real estate make you feel nervous or are younbsp;ready to plunge in?

    Can you see yourself confidently signing an offer to purchase a housenbsp;worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or does the idea terrify you?

    During the process of buying real estate, yoursquo;ll probably be bothnbsp;hesitant and decisive.

    These are natural reactions you may think, but buying real estate is notnbsp;anbsp;natural activity for most of us.

    In fact, purchasing a home may be a once-in-a-lifetime action for some.

    The rest of us may buy two, three, or more properties over our lives.nbsp;However, few purchase enough real estate to completely understand whatnbsp;is going on or to consistently make the best decisionsnbsp;alonendash;unless they turn professional.

    Even investors, who buy many properties over their careers, will notnbsp;always be right or even confident about their decisions although manynbsp;may never admit this.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; ,

    The key to a successful purchase lies in controlling both the urge tonbsp;make snap decisions and the urge to change your mind about what yoursquo;venbsp;already decided, that is, to lt;igt;second guess yourself

    bull;nbsp;The downside of decisiveness involves reacting quicklynbsp;to impressions, negative or otherwise, based on superficial informationnbsp;or details. ldquo;Definitely do not want to buy that onerdquo; reactions tonbsp;out-dated but easily-changed decor or interior design may close the mindnbsp;to otherwise-obvious benefits of the ldquo;good bonesrdquo; or layout of thenbsp;building, its location, and/or its price.

    bull; Hesitancy may pop up when buyers are faced with signingnbsp;on the dotted line to purchase a house or to take on very significantnbsp;mortgage debt. Without confidence in lt;igt;howlt;/igt; and lt;igt;whylt;/igt; anbsp;property is chosen or a solid grounding in real estate basics, hesitancynbsp;can undermine great real estate opportunities, especially when fed bynbsp;time constraints in hot markets.

    Four of PJrsquo;s Pivotal Hacks for Overcoming Decisionnbsp;Barriers

    Buyers have many good reasons to be nervous or hesitant, but none ofnbsp;the reasons is an insurmountable barrier to making confident decisions.

    To facilitate decision making, concentrate on shifting or transformingnbsp;uninformed thinking into a constructive mindset. With the assistance ofnbsp;your real estate professional, pivot to an informed point of view.

    In the following list of Four of PJrsquo;s Pivotal Hacks for Overcomingnbsp;Decision Barriers, yoursquo;ll discover Four Key Decisionnbsp;Barriers. Some will mirror your thinking; others could, although younbsp;may not realize this:

    1 Decision Barrier: No Real Estate Training

    If you confidently make many decisions a day, or even an hour, in yournbsp;day job, you may still find yourself hesitating with real estate. Whennbsp;you know your stuff, decisions come easy or at least easier. Buyersnbsp;are not trained to buy real estate. They havenrsquo;t studied for yearsnbsp;or had years of full-time work experience in the field. Most buyers arenbsp;newbies.

    1 Pivotal Hack: Leverage Professional Expertise

    You may not have done any of the above things to prepare to buy realnbsp;estate, but all this intelligent, practical effort adds up to what realnbsp;estate brokers and salespeople do to earn and maintain their licenses.nbsp;Buying real estate involves many small decisionsndash;more thannbsp;most buyers make in their daily livesndash;which culminate in the ldquo;signnbsp;or not signrdquo; decision. Leverage the experience and expertise of realnbsp;estate professionals for your personal gain. They love that

    2 Decision Barrier: Live with Your Mistakes

    Online shopping has thrived because making returns is easy. Buy with anbsp;click; return the purchase for a full refund. With this degree ofnbsp;flexibility, who can resist buying. Thatrsquo;s not how real estate works. Once you buy therersquo;s no quick, easy way out. Wersquo;ve all heard thenbsp;horror stories about money-pit homes that drive the new buyers crazy ornbsp;broke or both. Who wouldnrsquo;t worry that could happen to them?

    2 Pivotal Hack: Everything But Location Can Be Changed.

    What canrsquo;t be altered is location. Use a map to visualize what surroundsnbsp;the property. Drive and walk the area. Consider what you want to be nearnbsp;and what you want to avoid. Are there noisy or smelly things nearby?nbsp;What do you want to be within easy walking distance of? Then, to benbsp;sure about what yoursquo;re buying, make your offer to purchase contingent onnbsp;a >

    3 Decision Barrier: Spending Money You Donrsquo;t Have

    Mortgage worries keeping you awake at night? Be clear: itrsquo;s not thenbsp;mortgage. Stress is caused by the pressure of repayment when you donbsp;not fully understanding what yoursquo;re getting into and how to get out of it.

    3 Pivotal Hack: Leverage Mortgage Broker Expertise.

    Mortgage Brokers not mortgage bankers work with many competitive-ratenbsp;lenders. They shop their lender network for the best rate and terms fornbsp;your mortgage. These licensed and regulated financial professionals actnbsp;as an intermediary between you and potential lenders. Mortgagenbsp;Brokers work on your behalf, even though most commonly they collectnbsp;their fee from the lender. Brokers will take you through the applicationnbsp;process including checking your credit score and helping you file annbsp;application that can be sent to many lenders over a short period to earnnbsp;you the best rate and terms. Resource: National Association of Mortgagenbsp;Brokers.nbsp;

    4 Decision Barrier: Too Many Choices to Make

    Which neighborhood? Which >

    4 Pivotal Hack: Consider Properties One at A Time

    Concentrate on one property at a time. Rather than trying to keep allnbsp;the properties and their details in your head, take notes or build anbsp;spread sheet on paper or digitally. Many real estate professionalsnbsp;provide viewing checklists to help buyers easily keep track of detailsnbsp;and >

    Before you start viewing properties, have this hesitant-decisivenbsp;discussion with your real estate professional. The right mindset willnbsp;get you the home you deserve.

    Resource for professionals: How do you make decisions? PJ shares anbsp;post titled ldquo;Anticipate Decision Barriers."

    Full Story >

    6 Tips to Make Your Home Look More Expensive


    Moulding is an easy ways to take your walls from drab to fab without looking gaudy. You can choose a more ornate, Victorian >

    Whichever you choose, paint your moulding and walls the same color to provide a cohesive look to your home, and consider splurging to hire professional to help you out. A licensed handyman can not only repair existing moulding in your home, but can also help you add new moulding. A professional can make the new moulding look seamless, like it has always been a staple part of your homes character.


    Whether you are going for a minimalist or eclectic look, your accessories can provide both interest and elegance to your home. nbsp;Things like candles and fresh flowers can bring add points of interest to your home as can throw pillows and blankets.

    Get creative and DIY items that can be pricey in stores, such as making throw pillows from fabric scraps instead of spending 45 for one at Target. You can also make your own wreaths, or reupholster chairs to give them a new look.

    Save your money for investment pieces, like large artwork that can instantly become a focal point to your rooms. Of course, save money when you can by thrifting these too.

  • Mix Up Your Textures

  • Experts say a design that is too matchy-matchy ndash; excessively color-coordinated, in other words ndash; can actually make it look less expensive. Instead you should mix and match different textures throughout your home that can help to enliven multiple senses at a time. A faux-fur throw on top of a leather couch, for example, as well as velvety pillows and knit rugs. Each of these items can provide beauty to your home on its own, but when put them together it will give the feeling of a well-thought out and unique space.

    Let Someonersquo;s Trash Be Your Treasure

    One of the easiest ways to add a bit of >

    Check out your local thrift stores and garage sales to get the best deals on vintage furniture. Many people just want them out of their homes, without considering their value. You can advantage of these pieces, repaint them, or just refinish them to former glory. Your home will instantly look more cultured, and you will help keep items out of the landfill as well

    Make Your Own Built-Ins

    I love looking through Zillow, picking out my favorite homes and imagining my family inside of them. One thing I always look for first is built-ins. There is just something about them that screams >

    Ikeas hacks are all over the internet, and the one that most often catches my eye are DIY built-ins using Ikea bookshelves. The Billy Bookcase comes in several different heights and colors, making it versatile for your home. Add a bit of moulding to make them truly blend in, and it will look like they have always been there.

    You Shouldnrsquo;t Judge a Book by Its Cover, but Many People Do

    A personrsquo;s opinion of your home does not start when they walk through your door. It starts when they are standing on your sidewalk. Keep your yard tidy and pruned, your lawn mowed, and your walkway clean and clear of cracks if possible.

    Raised garden beds are pretty to the eye and can help you save money if you fill them with herbs and vegetables. And perennial flowers, such as tulips and peonies, only need to be planted once but will make your garden beautiful year after year.

    You do not have to own a million dollar listing to make your home and inviting and expensive looking place for you and your family to enjoy. Even the smallest budgets can have a big impact with a bit of planning and work ethic. Roll up your sleeves and get to work, your only limit is your own imagination



    Author Bio: Edward Flanagan is the founder of Edwardrsquo;s Enterprises Remodel Contractor amp; Handyman Repairs and has been improving homes and providing facilities maintenance in Southern California since 1996. Their handyman services include carpentry, landscaping, plumbing, and electrical repairs. Edward currently divides his time between Camarillo and Venice Beach, CA, and loves the 405.

    Full Story >

    The USDA Guarantee Fee Explained

    With VA loans, there is only one such premium and it is rolled into the loan amount. FHA loans have two such premiums, an initial, upfront premium rolled into the final loan amount and an annual premium that is paid for in monthly installments for the life of the loan. USDA loans have a guarantee and also have two premiums, an upfront fee and an annual premium. The upfront fee is rolled into the loan amount and the annual fee is paid in monthly installments.

    USDA loan guarantee fees, appropriate named ldquo;Guarantee Feerdquo; are the lowest of the three government-backed mortgages. The initial fee is just 1.00 percent of the sales price of the home and rolled into the loan and the annual fee is just 0.35 percent of the outstanding loan balance. Compared to a VA guarantee fee of 2.15 percent of the loan amount, the initial fee is lower although the VA program doesnrsquo;t carry an annual premium paid in monthly installments.

    When comparing guarantee fees with conventional loans, theyrsquo;re also very competitive. Conventional loans ask for a private mortgage insurance policy for loan balances exceeding 80 percent of the value of the property. These policy prices can also vary based upon the type of the loan, credit scores and equity in the initial purchase.

    The guarantee fee funds an insurance policy that compensates the lender for the loss occurring as the result of a foreclosure. These loan guarantees also make lenders a little more amiable to issue a loan with zero down payment and >

    But a lender filing a foreclosure does not mean the borrowers lose the home. Initially, itrsquo;s protection for the lender. The last thing a lender wants to do is foreclose on a property. The lender wants the interest, not the home. Even after a foreclosure notice is filed the lender works with borrowers to figure out a repayment plan or a modification. The lender would rather work something out rather than proceed with an expensive foreclosure. If the lender does move forward, the guarantee fee is there to issue compensation to the lender.

    Full Story >

    The Importance of Exterior Maintenance of Your Home When Marketing it For Sale

    Staging a Home for Marketability

    When it comes to the interior of a home, many home sellers are accustomed to the idea that homes that are pleasing on the interior and show well will sell quicker. This an easy takeaway piece of knowledge as a tip for sellers. Statistics show that ldquo;stagedrdquo; homes and homes with high care for their interior and exterior sell quicker than those homes that meet only the status quo. This is where the world of ldquo;stagingrdquo; comes into play.

    Staging an interior of a home involves the process of making the interior of the home look enhanced and polished. The basic task is beautifying the home to present it to look like a cutout from an interior design magazine. In most cases, it involves creating an atmosphere that looks elegant and ldquo;stagedrdquo;. This process removes many personal items from the home, including some furnishings and decluttering it. The home is then accented with design accessories to make it look polished.

    When it comes to the exterior of a home, ldquo;stagingrdquo; would be a process of making the yard and the exterior of the home look beautified with a greater curbside appeal. While a homeowner might get concerned that this process would require a sizable financial investment, it can usually be accomplished with an investment of several hundred dollars and some sweat equity.

    Improving the Homersquo;s Exterior for a Sale

    While many homeowners count on the interior of the home being the primary way to get peoplersquo;s attention to buy, the exterior of the home is also one of the main factors buyers look at when considering the purchase of a home. Since exterior aesthetics are the first impression people see when looking for a new home to buy, this is should always be considered a vital selling factor. Well-kept homes on the exterior are a signal to buyerrsquo;s that shows the homeowner has cared for the overall property not just interior design.

    In most cases, a yard can be beautified by general clean up and light landscaping projects. Adding some outside furnishings and creating a patio type environment can be a big plus. This is part of one of the more recent trends that has garnered a great deal of attention in homes and involves the creation of outdoor living areas. Creating a basic outdoor living space allows for buyers to visualize what it will be like to enjoy living at the home and enjoying the yard.

    Basic Exterior Improvements and Maintenance

    When working on creating a great outdoor living area for marketing, it is probably a good time to consider good quality pest control.nbsp;Homeowners should count on for annual home insect control. Yards that appear to have a higher insect infestation can be a big deterrent to home buyers.

    Additionally, clearing the yard of any debris can be essential and will reduce insect infestation problems. Most homebuyers donrsquo;t want to buy a home that is going to require extensive repairs and maintenance as soon as they move in. Yard work should be kept up with during the sales process.

    Investing in treated bark mulch and a few shrubs and plantings by the entryway as well as repairing walkways can also improve the aesthetics. Another helpful investment would be the purchase a new front door or painting an existing one if needed. While this may seem insignificant, this can be an important factor for improving the overall look and exterior aesthetics of the home.


    Full Story >

    Things To Consider When Choosing A New Neighborhood

    Thatrsquo;s why you need to review certain necessities that your neighborhood must have to ensure a comfortable living experience. These factors will affect how much money yoursquo;ll have to spend, your ability to do your job, and how much fun you can have on the weekends. Here are some things to consider when choosing a new neighborhood.


    It can be easy to get attracted to an apartment or house you found online just because it has a low selling price. However, low cost and high quality donrsquo;t always line up, and a cheap rental could actually mean you are getting a bad deal. The picture of the home on the website might look pleasant, but they may not be showing that it is located in an area with poorly constructed homes and high crime.

    It helps to communicate with mortgage services and real estate agents in person and at the location so that you know what yoursquo;re getting yourself into. This is especially important for parents who want their kids to grow up in a safe environment without having to worry about possibilities of violence breaking out just down the street.

    Housing Prices

    The most important things in life cost money, and homes are certainly no exception. As much as the houses at the top of your list may have a high-quality design and reside in a safe and productive neighborhood, this is often associated with higher prices, whether itrsquo;s for the down payment, monthly bills, or both. This is why you need to form a budget before you start looking at neighborhoods so that you will be able to afford your new home.

    Finding a neighborhood that has a balancenbsp;between housing prices and the quality of living will help you find the best spot for you and your family. This should also come in handy if your friends or current neighbors are also looking to move and you want to show them a neighbor that will suit their financial needs.


    One of the main reasons for why people choose to live in certain neighborhoods is because of the opportunities that are available for careers. Whether yoursquo;re still in college or are looking to make a career change, it helps to live somewhere that provides an abundance of options so that you can fall back on another path in case your first choice doesnrsquo;t work out.

    Commuting plays another role in where people choose tonbsp;live, as the distance between your neighborhood and your job if it is out of town can affect how much money you have to spend on traveling. This also affects how much you have left over to take care of bills, tuition and other expenses, as well as how likely you are to stay at the job, or in that neighborhood.


    If yoursquo;re a parent, yoursquo;re thinking about more than whatrsquo;s best for you when considering what neighborhood is best for your family. The next town that you call home needs to have the right sources of education for your children so that they can grow up prepared for the real world and able to fulfill their dreams. The more options your neighborhood provides for school, the better off your kids will be.

    Education is also a significant element for picking neighborhoods fornbsp;those who are still in college or going to grad school. People in these situations are also likely to be working part-time or full-time jobs while they continue their studies on the weekends. Being close to universities will make the living experience and career progress more enjoyable in this case. But, it doesnrsquo;t have to be a deal breaker. There are a variety of accredited online and continuing education degree programs to choose from.


    No neighborhood is complete with sources of fun, as yoursquo;ll want there to be something fun to do close by so that you donrsquo;t have to spend time and money driving out of town to find entertainment. The neighborhood you decide to move to should have plenty of attractions activities available that provide something new to do every day so that you donrsquo;t get bored.

    It helps to pick a neighborhood that has an equalnbsp;distance between the more populated areas and spots that are closer to nature. This means that you can enjoy the night life and parties commonly associated with cities on Friday nights with your friends and then go hiking or fishing with your family Saturday afternoon. Restaurants should also come in varieties so that you have something new to try.

    Remember these factors so that you find the neighborhood that is right for you.

    Full Story >

    5 Smart Ways To Finance A Real Estate Business

    When expanding your real estate business, you must assess your position as a buyer before you invest in any commercial commodity mdash; seeking SBA Loans for your small business? Look at the flowchart below.

    While a significant capital infusion can help finance your real estate investment property, opting for traditional bank loans is not in your best interest. There are plenty of alternative financing routes that you can choose from, mainly because you can pursue your dream and save millions of dollars at the same time with returns.

    Mentioned below are five smart ways to finance a real estate business:

    1. Hard Money Lenders

    As opposed to traditional bank loans, hard money lenders provide business loans mainly for short-term projects. Since hard money lenders are typically private financers, they have their own set of rules that must be discussed before sealing a deal.

    Their loan criteria are usually backed up by high interest, therefore, make sure you opt for a hard money lender only if you can bag equity with your investment and pay back the principal in time.

    Since there are discrepancies in understanding the difference between the two terms, consider the above chart before opting for a loan. Hard money lenders fund real estate projects that they believe have the potential for growth.

    Without focusing on any corporate procedures, they usually ask for a sizable down-payment that most investors can afford, especially if they are starting. In addition to the down payment, most hard money lenders require personal collateral or guarantee before financing your investment property.

    Despite having a high interest rate of 10 - 12, you must make sure that your investment qualifies for the hard money loan and enables you to pay back the loan according to the short-term turnaround time. Many myths are surrounding hard money loans, so research wisely.

    Pro Tip:
    If you dont have an excellent personal credit history or score, then opting for hard money loans from private investors will be quite risky despite its flexibility of loan structure.

    2. Cash Out Refinances

    If youve traditionally invested in real estate properties before, you might be able to cash out refinances by opting for bank loans to invest in them all over again. By investing in pre-existing properties via traditional bank loans, you can extract the equity that has built up on your mortgage and use them as down payments for new investments.

    Pro Tip:nbsp;
    In addition to funding your new investment property from the equity obtained through other real estate businesses, refinancing will allow you to lower your finances for your new investment property, making this funding option a win-win situation in both cases.

    3. Small Business Association Loans

    Small business Association SBA loans allow you to acquire current funding from a bank in addition to the government. The 504 and 7A SBA loans are quite popular in real estate financing, mainly because they have sizable down payments, which requires only 10 percent of the original investment and they have fixed interest rates.

    Another advantage of these business loans is that they guarantee to fund the rehabilitation of the building, including equipment from several lending sources that are prime and available for you to choose.

    They, however, require personal collaterals and guarantees from the investor in addition to high origination fees and prepayment penalties. SBA loans also require significant proof of business profitability in numbers in addition to a proper history of having sought and dealt in real estate investments through the years. SBA Loans by industry are explained below.

    Pro Tip:
    SBA Loans are flexible and trustworthy despite the demand for collateral and personal guarantees. Choose an SBA loan if you have a good credit history and substantial proof of profound bookkeeping in the real estate industry.

    4. Private Money

    While you need an attorney to sit through your business dealings with your private money lender, this type of loan is not only flexible but guarantees >

    However, these loans require high-interest rates, but the down payment can be discussed between the lender and the investor for flexible means. They are more personal than any of the conventional financing methods mentioned above.

    Pro Tip:
    You can seek these loans from friends, family, or from anyone who shows interest in financing your investments for mutual return policies. However, draft your policies and terms in the presence of a lawyer, to avoid any discrepancies or feuds in the future.

    5. Marketplace Lending

    Marketplace lending or crowdsourcing is another brilliant option for real estate capital seekers and individual investors. Marketplace lending provides a platform with a mutual opportunity for investing in real estate projects for both the parties involved. Differences between models of traditional bank lending and marketplace lending are explained in the chart below.

    Equity-based marketplace investment allows funders to share the equity with the investor of the real estate project with a perk of its own. If the real estate project fails and doesnt show the returns in numbers as expected, the project funders or sponsors can waive off the demand for payback on loan.

    Debt-based investments, on the other hand, allow the lender to fund the project with a guarantee from the investor who must pay back the loan in bits and pieces to secure the deal. They provide the investor with better leverage than the ones based on equity. Any revenue generated by the business or returns earned with the help of the borrowed funds is deposited to the investors end of the deal.

    Pro Tip:
    While you can opt for any of the two, choose the one that gives you enough leverage and space for processing your returns, interest rates, and pay back loans at the same time.

    The Final Verdict

    In addition to the above-mentioned business loans, financing a real estate business in any age requires diligence and vigilance from both parties, especially if you opt for hard money lenders and private funders. Plan out your real estate business strategy before you invest in a market that seems quite appealing and lucrative. Make sure that you have assets to invest in real estate before youre knee deep in debt due to high interest with no returns to show for your investments.

    Full Story >

    Purify the Air, Drown out Traffic, and Reduce Stress, All by Adding a Fountain

    Until the day comes when we can surround ourselves with hammocks and tropical flora and wild monkeys and Pina Coladas on a permanent basis, wersquo;re on a quest to make our home environment as peaceful as possible. And today wersquo;ve got fountains on the brain.

    While fountains are super pretty to look at, there are a number of additional advantages to adding one to your home. Herersquo;s a few reasons why you need one immediately.

    They can help reduce stress.

    Sitting outside watching the fountain bubble and flow is naturally calming. Bring it inside and yoursquo;ll get an extra dose of >

    ldquo;How exactly do fountains decrease stress? Because not only are you providing soothing sounds of water flow, but you are also filling the air with negative ions, which can help to improve a personrsquo;s mood and energy,rdquo; said Kinetic Fountains. ldquo;Many fountain users report that simply installing a fountain nearby helps them to attain peace of mind, calmness and a certain lsquo;serenersquo; feeling.rdquo;

    They can help drown out the sound of traffic.

    If you live on a busy street or have other environmental noises that detract from your happiness or peacefulness, a fountain is a great solution. ldquo;You will be amazed at how even a soft flowing water sound can drown out other sounds around you such as traffic, voices in the next room, that dog that always barks at the same time every night and the neighbor in the upstairs apartment who walks loud,rdquo; said Serenity Health.

    They improve the ambiance.

    ldquo;Annbsp;outdoor water fountainnbsp;can turn any backyard into an oasis,rdquo; said Good Changes Now.

    They can purify the air.

    Add a fountain to your indoor space and it can work to improve the air quality. ldquo;In todayrsquo;s electronic world there are many gadgets that emit negative ions in our homes and offices,rdquo; said Serenity Health. ldquo;Indoor water fountains can improve the air in your home with negative ions, reducing the air pollution. Dust is attracted by the negative ions so your water fountain is actively working to purify the air. The continuous moving water in a fountain will not only >

    They are natural humidifiers.

    Letrsquo;s face it. Humidifiers are ugly and loud, and can stand out in a room for all the wrong reasons. But, ldquo;Dry environments are a catalyst for poor health and irritating for those suffering from dry skin conditions,rdquo; said Water Gallery. A fountain makes a greatmdash;and much better lookingmdash;substitute.

    ldquo;Regular humidifiers require constant attention and refilling. The most common models are bulky, plastic eyesores that are meant as temporary solutions,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Theyrsquo;re loud, out of place, and spray a mist not easily controlled and excessive. In addition, humidifier filters need to be changed regularly and are costly to replace.nbsp;Water walls, falls, and other indoor water fountains are natural humidifiers. Water from a fountain or waterfall feature only evaporates as the dry air absorbs it, at a natural rate. If the air isnrsquo;t dry, water wonrsquo;t be evaporated. The threat of over humidification is eliminated.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Bring the Noise: Why Buying a Home in a Flight Path Could Be a Problem

    Thatrsquo;s the bottom line of a new study by, which looked at airplane noise in New York City in the context of neighborhoods whose real estate listings may suffer because of the high noise level. ldquo;Specifically, the site looked at areas where noise levels exceeded 55 decibelsmdash;or roughly the equivalent of a television with the sound on low, or conversational speech,rdquo; said the New York Times. ldquo;Anything higher quickly becomes intolerable: Once you get up to 65 decibels, the Federal Aviation Administration FAA has determined, an area may not be suitable for residential use.rdquo;

    The information for the report was culled from a 2017 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey noise-impact study, and Port Authority complaint data spanning 2014ndash;2017.

    ldquo;With the cityrsquo;s two major airports in Queens, it should come as no surprise that airplane noise was worst in that borough,rdquo; they said. ldquo;In fact, the study found, one in 10 listings is likely to suffer from excessive noise. But itrsquo;s not as simple as proximity to an airportmdash;the more important factor is flight paths, and which neighborhoods are beneath them. In Brookville, just north of Kennedy International Airport, 96 percent of all home listings were in a zone where noise levels topped 70 decibelsmdash;something resembling the sound of a blow dryer or vacuum cleaner.rdquo;

    The negative impact of owning a home in a flight path is not a new phenomenon, nor is it >

    ldquo;The roar of jet engines has never been a desirable neighborhood feature, which is why homes located near major airports and under low-lying flight paths often sell for a discount,rdquo; said MSN. ldquo;But in 2013, the Federal Aviation Administrationrsquo;s 35.6 billion Next Generation Air Transportation System began implementing changes to flight paths over major metropolitan areas. In some neighborhoods that are >

    That has led to growing outrage, and activism. Homeowners in places that are adjacent to an airport and/or directly in a known flight path might not be able to do much to better their situation, but those who have been impacted by changing paths are not sitting around with their headphones on.

    ldquo;Impacted residents from wealthy communities such as Roslyn, N.Y., and Georgetown in Washington D.C., are organized, politically active and technologically savvy,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Since 2013, dozens of opposition groups have popped up, including the Scottsdale Coalition for Airplane Noise Abatement and Sky Posse Palo Alto. They are teaching neighbors how to register complaints with airport authorities and lobbying state representatives to make changes.rdquo;

    The bipartisan congressional Quiet Skies Caucus was also formed in 2014 to address these issues, and lawsuits have been filed against the FAA in cities like Phoenixmdash;resulting in a change of course literally, with the FAA reverting ldquo;most of the flight paths over Phoenix to where they were before.rdquo;

    Full Story >

    Tax Canadians Housing Wealth, Group Urges

    In the lead-up to the federal election this October, an advocacy organization for young people is calling for Canadian political parties to commit to taxing housing wealth.

    Generation Squeeze, which describes itself as a ldquo;national research, education and advocacy organization for Canadians in their 20s, 30s and 40srdquo; is calling on all parties to address housing affordability in their platforms by taxing ldquo;housing lottery winnersrdquo; who have benefited from home price appreciation. ldquo;Wersquo;re calling on all parties to adopt a guiding principle of Homes First: because housing should be a place to call home, not a way to get rich,rdquo; says the organization.

    ldquo;Going forward, federal policy shouldnrsquo;t encourage owners to expect more wealth from the sale of their home than they put in through principal payments and home renovations, plus inflation,rdquo; says a blog on the Generation Squeeze website. ldquo;We shouldnrsquo;t encourage landlords to expect more income than is warranted by the total cost and ongoing labour of providing a rental home.rdquo;

    The group says the rise in home prices, particularly in urban centres in B.C. and Ontario, has outpaced changes to the tax system.

    ldquo;For example, annual revenue from municipal property taxation is down 4.4 billion measured as a share of gross domestic product by comparison with 1976, despite the 2.6 trillion in additional net wealth accumulated in principal residences over that same time period.

    Similarly, federal estimates show that non-taxation of capital gains from principal residences will cost the federal coffer around 6 billion in 2019, with corresponding losses to provincial coffers as well.rdquo;

    Federal politicians have been >

    ldquo;As housing values have spiralled out of control, huge new inequalities have been created between renters and owners, and young and old. Our tax system has yet to catch up, which exacerbates housing costs and burdens many of us more than is fair,rdquo; writes Eric Swanson, executive director of Generation Squeeze. ldquo;Thatrsquo;s why Gen Squeeze has been advocating for a tax shift: less tax on local incomes, more tax on speculation and unhealthy housing values, and better investments in young and old alike.

    ldquo;B.C. has made the most strides here with its new Speculation and Vacancy Tax, the expanded foreign buyer tax, and increased taxes on homes worth more than 3 million.rdquo;

    The organization recently >

    It says for housing to become affordable by 2030 where people are spending less than 30 per cent of their pre-tax earnings on housing, average home prices in Canada would need to fall 223,000 ntilde; about half their current value ntilde; or full-time earnings would need to increase to 93,400 per year, which is almost double current levels.

    In Metro Vancouver, prices would need to fall by 795,000 or three-quarters of current levels, or earnings would have to quadruple to 200,400 per year. In Toronto, they would have to fall by 523,000 or earnings would need to triple, to 150,000 per year.

    The study says it takes a 25 to 34-year-old 13 years to save a 20-per-cent down payment on an average-priced home in Canada, compared to the five years it took back in 1976.

    It says affordability has not yet been lost in most of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and in Atlantic Canada except for Halifax, but those provinces are home to less than 10 per cent of the countryrsquo;s population.

    Canada must protect housing and residential land ldquo;against egregious uses by money launderers, cheats, speculators and those parking money in empty homes,rdquo; says Swanson.

    The taxation proposals form only part of the organizationrsquo;s housing policy. Itrsquo;s also calling for a second phase of the federal governmentrsquo;s National Housing Strategy that would expand from the current focus on social housing to include the entire housing market.

    Itrsquo;s calling for a strategy to reduce ldquo;harmful demandrdquo; by ldquo;tracking and restricting global capital flows into local real estate, eliminating hidden ownership, penalizing excessive speculation and lsquo;flippingrsquo;, cracking down on money laundering and fraud, taxing empty homes, restricting and regulating short-term rentals, and holding the line of mortgage stress tests and amortizations.rdquo;

    It would increase housing supply by opening up low-density zoning to make room for more housing, with an emphasis on family-sized units and purpose-built rental.

    ldquo;Itrsquo;s important to recognize that there is no silver bullet that will solve Canadarsquo;s housing problems,rdquo; says the study. ldquo;Instead, silver buckshot is needed to address these issues across several fronts.rdquo;

    Generation Squeeze was founded by Paul Kershaw, a professor in the University of British Columbiarsquo;s School of Population and Public Health.

    Full Story >

    5 Common Mistakes That First Time Home Buyers Commit and How to Avoid Them

    Here are five common mistakes that first time home buyers make and how you can avoid them.

    Doing It On Your Own

    There are some things that you simply need the help of a professional with, and home buying is certainly one of them. Beyond providing help while you navigate the twists and turns during the searching process, realtors can also provide you with valuable resources at a flat rate that end up saving you tons of time, energy, and money in the long run. For instance, instead of scouring Craigslist and other free online platforms for homes that will end up being red flagged or a waste of time, a home buyer in The Sunshine State can utilize the help of a broker to access a flat fee MLS in Florida.

    The MLS Multiple Listing Service is an extremely valuable weapon to have at your disposal as a buyer because it allows you to work with who you want, while at the same time, providing you insider access to all the homes that meet your requirements from serious sellers. According to the National Association of Realtors, more than half of recent buyers used the MLS in their search for a new home.

    Avoiding Budget Talks Before Shopping

    Discussing finances can be an uncomfortable activity for many people, but itrsquo;s so important to have a realistic understanding of where you are financially before you look for a home. Beyond being disappointed by finding the perfect home that you canrsquo;t afford, you can also run into woes down the line if you canrsquo;t put down a serious offer on the table, or even worse if you canrsquo;t afford the house when all the monthly bills start coming in. Buying a home takes some serious work ethic, so make sure yoursquo;ve prepared yourself for future costs and have an honest view of where you are financially before committing.

    Not Looking Beyond the House

    While you may have found the home of your dreams, it wonrsquo;t mean much if yoursquo;re situated just off of a busy highway or in a lackluster location. It is very important to remember to look at things like walkability, proximity to schools and hospitals, and what the general feel of the neighborhood is like before buying a home. Would you feel safe walking the dogs or taking the kids to school? Are you near a busy intersection that might keep you awake at night? Remember, yoursquo;re not just living in this property for a few months or a year, yoursquo;re buying, and you need to picture what it will be like to wake up in your new home every day. Keep in mind all the things that make you happiest in life, beyond how a home currently looks.

    Opening a Line of Credit Before the Sale is Final

    Your credit score plays a large role when itrsquo;s time to close the sale on a house. The most critical days are after yoursquo;ve applied for your mortgage and the weeks in between closing your sale and getting the keys. If you apply for another credit card during this downtime, it may affect your credit score negatively, and that is a red flag for mortgage lenders. Sit tight during this process, and make your next big buying decision once yoursquo;ve closed on the house. Nerd Wallet advises you to wait until after closing to open new credit accounts or charge furniture, appliances, or tools to your existing credit cards. Itrsquo;s okay to have those things picked out, but donrsquo;t buy them on credit until you have the keys in hand.

    Being Emotional Rather Than Visionary

    Being budget conscious doesnrsquo;t always have to mean being bland and boring. If you see a home in a fantastic neighborhood that falls into your price point, but its deacute;cor doesnrsquo;t blow you away on the inside, take a step back and realize its potential rather than its current state. You have total creative control over the interior and exterior of your home unless you have a picky Home Owners Association. If you think the current owners have chosen horrible wallpaper or lighting fixtures, or think the backyard isnrsquo;t being used to its potential, yoursquo;ll have plenty of time to fix it up Another way in which emotions can muck up a home sale is to be too starry-eyed by the interior of a house.

    Homeowners will throw down some serious cash to have professionals come and stage their homes with the intent of having you fall in love with their interior design. Keep in mind, this may be done to distract you from some glaring flaws like neighborhood safety or a less-than-desirable location. Approach each home with a level head and an open mind, and you should be able to strike a balance between affordability and ingenuity.

    Buying a home is a major decision in everyonersquo;s life, but if yoursquo;re armed with the right tools before you begin your search, then your big decision doesnrsquo;t have to translate into a big headache. Remember, once yoursquo;ve hired a professional, itrsquo;s okay to ask as many questions as you need to, after all, thatrsquo;s what theyrsquo;re paid for Do as much research as you can on the area surrounding your potential new home, and remember to always compare agents when selecting your realtor, as well. Putting in hard work here will save you a good chunk of change down the road in terms of interest rates, commission fees, and even renovation and repair costs after yoursquo;ve purchased your new home. Good luck and happy hunting

    Alejandro Herrera is a content writer working for beycome specializing in copywriting, and general blogging. Check out more of his work in the beycome blog to see more articles to help out homebuyers like you.

    Full Story >

    7 Reasons to Keep Your Credit Good After Youve Bought a House

    Not exactly. While you may have met the goal of homeownership, your credit remains vitally important. Keeping your scores up can benefit you in a number of ways. Here are 7 reasons you should keep your credit good even after yoursquo;ve bought a house.

    To furnish your home

    Now that yoursquo;ve got that new home, itrsquo;s time to furnish it. If you qualified for a mortgage, therersquo;s a good chance yoursquo;ll also be a good candidate for new store cards. This can be an easy way to spread a large expense over a period of time, but, beware the pitfalls.

    ldquo;Store cards or store 0 percent financing deals can enable you to make big-ticket purchases such as furniture, appliances and outdoor fixtures with no interest for several months,rdquo; said ldquo;However, many 0 percent deals charge interest on the original purchase amountmdash;often 20 percent or moremdash;if you donrsquo;t pay the entire balance by the end of the promotional period.

    Todd Christensen, director of education at Debt Reduction Services, told them: ldquo;A lot of people will just make the minimum payment without thinking, and at the end of 18 months therersquo;s still a 3,000 balance. If they donrsquo;t pay it all off, here comes 25 percent interest back-dated to day one.rdquo;

    To save money

    The best cards are typically reserved for those with the best credit. If you let your credit dip and you want a new credit card, you still might be able to get onemdash;but yoursquo;re not going to get the best rates. You may also be limited to cards that have a hefty annual fee, which will cost you more money.

    For the miles

    Cards that offer miles, cash back, or some other perk arenrsquo;t offered to just anyone. If you keep your credit score high enough to snag one, yoursquo;ll love being able to rack up miles to use for travel or apply a cash back bonus to everyday expenses to keep costs down.

    For a job

    Many employers run your credit as part of the hiring process. Let your credit drop and it could keep you from getting a new job.

    To take advantage of falling ratesnbsp;

    You never know whatrsquo;s going to happen to interest rates. Maintain your good credit and you may be able to refinance if rates drop.

    To stay in your home

    Defaulting on credit cards wonrsquo;t affect your ability to stay in your home, but if your credit problems extend to your ability to pay your mortgage, you could be looking at foreclosure.

    To buy another home

    If yoursquo;ve already bought a home, you know that, in order to get the best loan and interest rate, you need to have a good credit score. You can qualify for some loans with a lower score, but itrsquo;ll cost you. ldquo;According to FICO, a homebuyer with a credit score of 760 or higher could paynbsp;nearly 2,500 less per yearnbsp;on a 210,000, 30-year home loan than someone with a score of 620,rdquo; said

    Full Story >

    USDA Loans- Rural Financing Made Simple

    These areas are officially designated by the United States Census Bureau. Every 10 years as the national census is taken, the USDA identifies new areas that qualify for the program. Nearly 97 percent of the entire country is eligible for the program. To find out if a home is in an approved area, you can contact a USDA approved mortgage lender who will research the area and determine whether or not the USDA loan is an option.

    An individual canrsquo;t determine whether or not an area qualifies just by looking around. Most likely in an area where there are very few homes, itrsquo;s probably okay. But itrsquo;s your loan officer who can make that determination for you. The USDA loan does not require a down payment and is offered with competitive, 30 year fixed rate terms. There are no adjustable rate options for the USDA program. The USDA loan also provides a guarantee to the lender. Should the loan ever go into default, the lender is compensated for the loss. This compensation is financed with two separate forms of mortgage insurance, an initial premium which is rolled into the final loan amount and an annual premium paid out in monthly installments along with the mortgage payment.

    What may be surprising to many however is where the loan can actually be used. The last census was taken nearly 10 years ago. And as suburban areas expand, itrsquo;s possible a USDA loan can be used to finance a property in an area that looks nothing close to being rural. The only other zero down loan is the VA home loan program but that is reserved for veterans and certain members of the military. The USDA loan has no such restrictions regarding membership in a particular group.

    In addition to location there are also household income limitations. For most parts of the country the household income limitation for a 1-4 member household is 82,700 and 109,150 for a 5-8 member household, all 18 years or older. Note, this is household income, not the income of those appearing on the loan application. In certain high cost counties, the limits can be as high as 125,700 and 165,900 respectively for 2019.

    Applicants will be documented much like any other loan program. To verify income, paystubs covering the most recent 30 day period will be needed along with the last two years of W2 forms. Self-employed borrowers can be expected to provide the last two years of income tax returns along with a year-to-date profit and loss statement. Though there is no down payment needed there will still be standard closing costs. Your loan officer can provide you with a list of estimated fees at your request.

    For approved areas the USDA loan is the proper choice. Conventional financing will require recent sales of similar properties in the area, typically no more than one mile away from the subject unit. In rural areas, there are few if any such comparable sales. This is where the USDA program comes into play and designed to finance such properties in approved areas.

    Full Story >

    June Real Estate Roundup

    Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Surveyreg; shows that "while the industrial and trade >

    bull; 30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 3.73 percent with an average 0.5 points for the week ending June 27, 2019, down from last month when it averaged 4.06 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.55 percent.

    bull; 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.16 percent with an average 0.5 points, down from last month when it also averaged 3.51 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.04 percent.

    bull; 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.39 percent this week with an average 0.4 points, down from last month when it averaged 3.68 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.87 percent.

    Full Story >

    The Drain Game: Fixing Drain Problems

    Signs of trouble

    You have to prepared for signs of trouble. The slow-draining bathtub or sink is one of the biggest ones. Experts say you should also pay attention to any gurgling noises coming from your drain. The walls may not be able to talk, but your pipes and drains definitely can. If theyrsquo;re making a noise that seems off, then you need to pay attention.

    In extreme scenarios, raw sewage can back up and come out of your sink or tub. No one wants that. If your toilet and shower are located next to each other, the pipes could clog in a way that redirects sewage into your tub. That sounds gross because it is. Ideally, yoursquo;ll want to call a plumber to come over before that happens.

    There are times when you can clear your drain on your own, but a raw sewage backup isnrsquo;t one of them. If you have long hair, then yoursquo;re more likely to get hair clogs in the shower. Those can be removed with a drain snake and a bit of hard work. If using a drain snake and pulling up sludgy hair feels gross, look at install a hair catcher in your drain to keep it from getting washed down the pipes in the first place.

    Pinpointing drain problems

    Older plumbing lines often have more problems than newer lines. Theyrsquo;ve undergone more wear and tear over the years, so it makes sense that they wonrsquo;t be able to handle issues the same way they did 10 or 20 years ago. If you live in an old house with a lot of trees in the backyard, then you should be prepared for the possibility that tree roots are clogging up your drain.

    If you never that of that possibility, yoursquo;re not alone. Roots are kind of underground by nature, so you can pass the same pine tree every day and never suspect that it might be wreaking havoc on your drain. The roots can get so tangled up with your pipes that yoursquo;ll need to hire a team of plumbers to come out and perform a professional drain cleaning.

    In some cases, plumbers may need to lower a camera into your pipes to get a better idea of whatrsquo;s going on, though. That should not be the first thing they do as soon as they get to your house, though. Instead, they should try more low-tech methods before jumping to a >

    If you feel uneasy about their proposed methods, that means you need to ask more questions and get some clarification. A quality plumbing company will be happy to explain the thought process behind whatever theyrsquo;re doing. A shady company will shrug off your questions and ask you to just sign the paperwork. Look for companies that are transparent and pleasant rather than enigmatic and surly.


    Full Story >

    Do Wine Cabinets amp; Cellars Increase the Value of Your Home?

    According to, a wine cellar ranks highly among home buyers who have incomes greater than 150,000. In fact, 31 percent of these home buyers listed anbsp;wine cellar as their most desired amenitiesnbsp;when shopping for a home.

    The other trend, beyond that of a wine cellar is an in-home wine room where homeowners and guests can store and sip wine at their pleasure. These rooms are climate controlled for optimal wine storage, meaning the temperature is likely between 55 and 65 degrees. They often contain seating, multiple wine cabinets, and various accessories to make enjoying wine more pleasurable.

    Not only do wine cellars and wine rooms meet the expectations of many buyers in the high end housing market, homes exceeding 800,000 in value, throughout most of the country, but they offer homeowners an opportunity to add a little ldquo;wowrdquo; factor to their homes.

    Some people have taken to using wine cabinets and other wine storage options as showcase piecesnbsp;in their wine cellars. While it is important to make your wine cellar your own so you can enjoy it fully, if yoursquo;re eyeing a higher resale value for your home, then you also want to make it somewhat universally appealing too.

    Herersquo;s where things get tricky though. Many people purchase homes with the idea of it being a 10, 20, 30-year or longer investment. If yoursquo;re planning to live in your home, itrsquo;s not just about improving the value of your home for future owners. Itrsquo;s about improving the value of your home for yourself and the needs of your family. If wine brings you pleasure, therersquo;s no reason you shouldnrsquo;t have a wine cellar or a wine room in your home.

    In fact, doing so could improve your perceived value of your home and your personal space within your home. It certainly lends elegance to your home, is impressive to your guests, and it allows you to secure and store your wine in a manner that maximizes its flavor and appeal.

    The only time it may be in your best interests to avoid adding a wine cellar is if yoursquo;re planning to sell your home soon and it is in a lower price point. While home buyers looking at houses in the middle 500,000 range may appreciate a wine cellar in the home, that isnrsquo;t the practical guarantee it would be at higher price points.


    Full Story >

    Summer Chores for a Happier Home


    - Staining your decks/fences should be done during the summer because it takes several days of warm weather to dry out the wood completely. You dont want to put stain down unless you have had several days of consistently warm weather and you also want the weather to stay warm for a few days after putting stain on so that it will dry properly and last longer.


    - Exterior painting is the same as staining decks; you do not want rain. You also dont want overly hot weather, so this can be a delicate balance, but warm weather is best so that you can give the paint time to dry.


    - New roofs are best to install in the summer. We live in a very raining part of the world, so to avoid having to tarp your roof while replacing the roof, it is best to have this completed in the summer.


    - It is best to clean your windows during the summer months because this is the time of year when you notice dirty windows the most and your windows will stay cleaner longer with less rain hitting them. This is also the best time to replace any windows so that you avoid rain damaging the home during the replacement process.


    - Gardening should typically be done before summer spring is best however if you havent gotten around to weeding or putting bark done, it can be done in the summer months. This will also help from keeping weeds from popping up as they are likely rapidly growing about this time.


    - Driveway resurfacing should also be done in the summer months. Pavement seals best when it is dry and hot both during the day and remaining warmer during the nights. Longer daylight hours also mean that what may have been a two-day job can be completed in one day.


    - Sewer line repairs should be done in the summer because its cheaper for them to repair. When sewer lines are replaced during rainy months, the rain turns the dirt to mud and makes the replacement or sewer line repairs more challenging and costly.


    - There are also usually a lot of great deals this time of year if you want to add an A/C system. Keep an eye out for companies offering promotions this time of year. A/C repairs, on the other hand, can be much more costly this time of year since companies are busy installing new systems so that you would want to have done before summer.

    Full Story >

    What to Know Before Investing in a Vacation Rental

    The Income Potential of Short-Term Rentals

    Short-term rentals are a growing segment of the real estate investment market, but are they really a smart investment? It depends.

    Investors in cities like Nashville, Asheville, and Anaheim can see annual profits of 20,000 or more on a single short-term rental property. However, investors need to be smart when choosing a location for their purchase. In areas with jumbo home prices, like San Francisco or Santa Monica, rental rates arenrsquo;t high enough to net a profit. The key to vacation rental success is buying in an area with low home prices, low vacancy rates, and high rental demand.

    Even within a city, home prices and rental rates vary by neighborhood. Investors should understand what travelers want when booking a short-term rental and work with a real estate agent to find the best area for their purchase.

    Financing a Vacation Rental Purchase

    Second homes require different financing strategies than primary residences, and financing is complicated further when buying an investment property.

    In general, lenders want higher credit scores and larger down payments for vacation properties. You may have purchased your primary residence with as little as 3.5 percent down under an FHA loan, a popular option for first-time buyers without a lot of savings, but you canrsquo;t use it to purchase an investment property. Instead, yoursquo;ll need to apply for a conventional loan.

    Down payments for second homes start at 20 percent, but some lenders require more. You can tap into your primary residencersquo;s equity for the down payment via a home equity line of credit or cash-out refinance, but be cautious about putting your home on the line. When possible, cash is king for second home purchases; in fact, 42 percent of vacation rental investors pay cash.

    Laws Restricting Short-Term Rentals

    Cities are beginning to place restrictions on short-term rentals. Your city may require short-term rental permits, cap the number of short-term rentals, limit where they can operate, or restrict which types of properties can be used as a short-term rental.

    Short-term rental laws are highly local and some cities are stricter than others. Before purchasing, familiarize yourself with local laws and any rule changes that are underway. Buying a property that complies with the law protects your ability to earn income from your investment.

    Vacation Rental Taxes

    Cities also collect taxes on short-term rentals, as do state and federal governments. Cities and states may levy lodging, occupancy, excise, and business taxes, while the IRS taxes rental income earned from your property.

    If a property is used as a rental for more than 14 days in a year, property owners must pay taxes on the income, but theyrsquo;re also able to deduct business expenses. Utilities, cleaning and maintenance, furnishings, property management fees, property taxes, and mortgage interest are all eligible business deductions.

    When done correctly, vacation rentals are a great investment. Short-term rentals can earn up to three times what a traditional long-term rental makes. And while vacation rental properties cost more to operate, investors who buy in the right location and market their property effectively can net sizable profits from a short-term rental. When yoursquo;re ready to buy, talk to a real estate agent to find a property thatrsquo;s a smart investment for you.

    Full Story >

    5 Steps to Follow After House Fire Damage

    By knowing ahead of time what steps you should follow after fire damage has occurred, you will make a traumatic situation a little less stressful. Have your insurance company phone number close by, because you should call them first. Then, get in touch with a fire restoration company, report to the utility companies, find a place to stay, and begin going through and sorting your personal belongings.

    Call Your Insurance Company to Discuss Fire Damage

    As a homeowner, it is your responsibility, and often a requirement from the bank that you have your mortgage through to keep house insurance on your property. The reason for that is for these situations just like fire damage. The premiums that you pay every month are going to seem like a much better investment when your fire cleanup and restoration gets fully paid for.

    So, your first step after the fire department leaves is getting in touch with your insurance agent. Let them know what has happened, and they will give you further directions from there. Every company is different, but they are most likely going to want documentation of everything you can get.

    Youll want to have a camera, piece of paper, and ideally, someone else with you while you go around recording all the fire damage, smoke damage, water damage, and other destroyed property that you find. Youll have to be able to share this information with them if you want to get reimbursed for what you lost. Some companies will send out an agent after a disaster to assess the fire damage themselves, but you should always keep your own records too.

    Contact a Fire Restoration Company

    This is a step that can easily be interchanged with step one. For some, its better to call the fire restoration company first. These professional fire damage contractors have worked with all different kinds of homeowners insurance companies over the years, so they can help you with your evaluation and documentation of the fire and water damage.

    If you wait until the second step, thats perfectly acceptable too. Choose one that offers 24/7 emergency fire cleanup services. You arent going to want to wait any longer than necessary to get your fire damage repairs started. The fire damage companies that are open around the clock are the ones that truly understand what a horrific situation youve been through, and they want to be there for you whenever it happens, not just during normal business hours.

    Even if youve never been through a fire before or suffered water damage at your home, its a good idea to have a restoration company in your contacts ahead of time. While its not something that you want to worry about happening, its better to prepare yourself just in case it does.

    Tell Your Utility Companies About the Fire Damage at Your Property

    Depending on the severity of the fire damage that has occurred, you should contact your gas, water, and electric companies and let them know about the event. Before any fire restoration or water damage cleanup can start, they may want to come in and shut off the services for safety reasons.

    For things like electrical, you dont want to be cleaning up standing water with live wires around. The results could be catastrophic. You can expect your provider to send out their own contractor to come and do an evaluation. They will be able to quickly tell if you should have your services suspended until the fire damage restoration and water cleanup is completed.

    Locate a Safe Place to Stay with Your Family

    For minor smoke damage or fire damage, you might be able to stay in your home while the fire restoration process takes place. However, in most instances, youre going to have to >

    When talking with your insurance agent, ask them about housing if you cant stay at your residence. A lot of times, there will be a living allowance included in your coverage. You will get a check written practically instantly to cover the cost of food, lodging, and even travel expenses for some. If you dont want to wait until after fire damage has occurred, thats something you can review at any time with your insurance company. They will be able to tell you what kind of coverage you have.

    Begin the Fire Cleanup and Restoration Process

    Finally, after you have all the above steps taken care of, the fire cleanup and restoration processes are going to begin. Some homeowners will elect a fire damage restoration company to take care of everything from start to finish. Other people want to be on location to watch the progression of their homes smoke cleanup and fire restoration.

    It is highly recommended that you at least take part in the fire cleanup process, so you can check your belongings and decide what can be salvaged and what has to be tossed in the garbage. It is an excellent time to get documentation and pictures of what is being lost for your insurance company as well. Many policies will give you a certain amount of money to cover any personal possessions that you lose like televisions, furniture, and clothing.

    As long as you choose a trusted fire restoration company, you can leave them to handle this part of the job if it makes you more >

    Ramon started over 30 years ago as an insurance adjuster. Since then, he has learned from the best and started his own company and crew of water damage and fire damage restoration contractors to help homeowners and properties when they flood. His company 24/7 Water Damage Charlotte is in the unfortunate position of being located in prime hurricane area and where flooding and storm damage is very frequent. This is his company is ready for any size disaster 24/7 to make sure nearby homeowners get the help they need, when they need it.

    Full Story >

    How to Make Your Backyard Feel Like a Resort

    Multiple seating areas

    An area for dining, another for lounging, maybe some seating around the fireplace or fire pitmdash;now you have an outdoor space thatrsquo;s perfect for entertaining, but also useful for every day. Creating a layered backyard will make it more useful, but will also make it feel more luxurious.

    Cover it up

    You can spend several thousand dollars on a pergola or patio cover, creating a permanent structure that extends your living space. But, a covered outdoor space doesnrsquo;t have to be expensive. Take a cue from resorts and put up a big articulating umb>

    Add a bar

    Sidle up to this three-piece bar, currently on sale for just 209, and your intimate get-together is now a party. Itrsquo;s also perfect for hanging with the family. Pack an outdoor fridge or cooler with drinks or drink fixinsrsquo; and no one has to go inside and get the floor wet.

    Up your barware game

    You canrsquo;t have a cool bar without cool barware. Part of the fun of being on vacation is ordering a cocktail, which arrives in a fancy glass. You can replicate that feeling with a visit to Tuesday Morning or HomeGoods or to a site like Wayfair. The best partrdquo; Theyrsquo;re plastic, so you dont have to fear a broken glass situation.

    Spring for the good towels

    If the towels at the hotel yoursquo;re staying in are old and hole-y, it might be time to find a new hotel Same goes for your towels at home. Plush, oversized towels can make the experience of swimming or lounging so much more enjoyable.

    Light it up

    Good lighting is key both indoors and out, and that simple patio light probably isnrsquo;t cutting it. Why not string some twinkle lights over your dining table or across the fence? Accentuate an outdoor living room with mood lighting on a tabletop or opt for something wall-mounted. And donrsquo;t forget the task lighting for outdoor kitchens

    Full Story >

    Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe During Summer

    Gate your pool

    According to the Center for Disease Control CDC, ldquo;there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings non-boating >

    Always watch the swimmers

    A pool gate is meant to keep the pool area from being breached. But itrsquo;s equally important to always keep an eye on anyone in or around the pool. Despite the dramatizations we see on TV and in the movies, drowning does not typically involve flailing arms and loud splashing, and itrsquo;s easy to miss the signs. Familiarizing yourself with what it actually looks like and making sure there are always eyes on the swimmers is key.

    Check your insurance

    Even if yoursquo;ve been ultra-responsible with your homeownerrsquo;s insurance, you may not be totally aware of what ismdash;and is notmdash;covered. ldquo;Ah, summer. Longer days, better weather, and maybe even a little vacation time. Yoursquo;re almost certainly ready we sure are, but is your homeownerrsquo;s insurance policy?,rdquo; asked Kin.rdquo; For example, do you know whether your homeownerrsquo;s policy will protect you if you build a fire pit in your backyard? Now is the time to find out.rdquo;

    Yoursquo;ll have to update your insurer if yoursquo;re building a pool, and things like trampolines and outdoor cooking devices may also prompt a review of your coverage.

    Keep medications and toxic substances out of sight

    Even if you took precautions with all the medications and dangerous substances like cleaning agents in the home when your kids were young, you may have gotten a little lax as theyrsquo;ve grown. But ,new little ones in the house may be curious, and their curiosity could prove deadly.

    Put non-slip pads under area rugs

    A slip and fall can can be dangerous, and can also cost you financially. Securing rugs with an anti-slip pad can help. Yoursquo;ll also want to make sure that people donrsquo;t walk inside with wet feet, which can cause them to slip and slide.

    Check for allergies

    So little Jimmy didnrsquo;t tell your husband he was allergic to nuts before he dove into that peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Oops. Making an easily accessible chart of everyonersquo;s allergies and any other medical issues can keep this type of oversight from turning into a medical emergency. It also wouldnrsquo;t hurt to keep an EpiPen on hand.

    Full Story >

    The Refi Boom Goes Bombastic

    ldquo;Mortgage applications surged an impressive 26.8 WoWmdash;the largest jump since Jan 2015mdash;led by a massive spike in refis as mortgage rates tumbled alongside the Treasury market. 30-year rates ldquo;dropped back below 4.00mdash;the lowest since Jan 2018,rdquo; said Zerohedge.

    So whatrsquo;s all the hubbub about? There are a few other key pieces of data at play:

    bull; Refinances jumped 47 for the week last week and and are up 97 for the year.
    bull; Mortgage volume rose by 41 over the same week a year ago.
    bull; Real estate purchases also rose, by 10.

    In fact, for the week of June 13, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is averaging 3.82. ldquo;Nearly halfway through the year, the popular product has managed a weekly increase only six times,rdquo; said MarketWatch. ldquo;It now stands at about a two-year low. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.26, down from 3.28. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.51, down 1 basis point.rdquo;

    That has led to a cavalcade of refinances by savvy homeowners and investors who are paying attention to the market and falling ratesmdash;and/or who have a good lender whorsquo;s reaching out to customers when they have a unique chance to save some money.

    ldquo;Consumers saw an opportunityhellip;and took it mdash; in a big way,rdquo; said CNBC. ldquo;Will rates stay this low or move even lower? Impossible to predict, but there are definite signals.rdquo; Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily, told them, ldquo;Wersquo;re in a consolidation phase now where markets are coming to terms with the longer-term move lower that began in late 2018. The next move will depend on how economic data evolves and whether there are any more trade policy bombshells.rdquo;

    The Federal reserve was expected to raise interest rates several times this year, and many experts thought mortgage rates would follow. ldquo;Markets and some analysts now predict that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year,rdquo; said MarketWatch.nbsp;In addition, ldquo;Demand for home loans has been so robust that mortgage lender profit margins turned positive for the first time in nearly three years.rdquo;

    Full Story >

    Five Opportunities to Supercharge Sales Communication

    What could supercharge your sales communication without requiring you to spend big or make big changes?

    Do you spend time and money searching for the ldquo;hot new tech or social mediardquo; instead of continually perfecting what you have already invested in?

    Overlooked or underestimated room for improving communication effectiveness surrounds real estate professionals.

    Prioritize the following Five Opportunities to Supercharge Sales Communication to align with your sales goals and reveal where your untapped room for improvement lies:

    1. Listen Instead of Talking

    No salesperson listens themselves out of a sale. Talks themselves out, yes. Too many get used to telling their stories and forget to listen to those of prospects and clients. Professionals who know a lot about real estate can always think of something to say, but random chatting is not effective professional sales communication. Increased use of email and texting, can leave professionals distracted and intent on responding quickly, not being strategic.

    The opportunity=talk less, listen more.

    Do you periodically record your presentations and client conversations to confirm what value you add and to learn what you miss? After years on the job, you can fall into conversational habits instead of remaining sharply conscious of what you ask about, say, and respond to. During accelerated exchanges through email and texts, do you concentrate on thinking ahead to anticipate challenges and seize opportunity for your clients and yourself?

    2. Questions Sharpen The Sales Edge

    Is it the prospectrsquo;s and clientrsquo;s job to know what they need? Often buyers, especially first-time buyers, are not fully aware which property features or benefits will best deliver on their needs and dreams. They ra>

    The opportunity=tell less, ask more.

    You understand the importance of asking questions to demonstrate your genuine interest in serving buyer and seller needs. Do you prepare questions and query sequences in advance to achieve specific communication goals during the sales process? Remember, you know what is coming next, but the sales process may be a surprise to buyers and sellers. Questions are not only information gathering tools, but opportunities to help prospects and clients increase their awareness of why and how they make decisions. Ask a wide variety of questions to learn exactly what will attract or repel buyers. What realities about what a buyer or seller wants versus the market realities facing them, will they need your help adjusting to?

    3. Anticipate Objections amp; Build Rapport

    When preparing a listing contract or an offer to purchase, what potential objections from the seller or buyer are you considering? Real estate is a very popular ldquo;media star,rdquo; where everyone seems aware of and at ease with real estate transactions. Some real estate professionals overlook the fact that individual buyers or sellers can be nervous about signing a binding contract or may have little experience with large financial decisions. In hot markets, professionals may be swept up in the competition, so they brush aside client uncertainty and >

    The opportunity=anticipate resistance and prepare

    When resistance increases, are you aware of whatrsquo;s not working for the seller or buyer? Whether expressed or not, objections persist to undermine real estate decisions. Instead of dodging resistance, have you honed your communication skills to draw out client fears and objections, so they can be dealt with effectively and without pressure? From first contact, do you work to build rapport and establish your fiduciary role to help prospects and clients feel comfortable voicing any and all concerns to you? Which buying and selling objections do you anticipate and deliberately prepare for to ensure prospect or client hesitation is replaced with clarity, confidence, and intention?

    4. Identify The Decision Making Process

    In a hot market, when there may not be time for a second or third viewing or time for a lawyer to review the buyerrsquo;s offer, professionals may have to scramble to keep the deal on track when faced with fulfilling last-minute requests. Down-to-the-wire requirements for a >

    The opportunity= Identify the decision makers.

    Learn, in advance, who you are dealing with. Ask who, ultimately, is or are making the decisions. Clarify how many others must be involved in the sales processndash;who must view the property and who must approve or sign any offer or contract involved. At the start, and while explaining why, confirm the signing process and everybody involvedndash;including their contact information, location, and availability during offer time. If others must view the property, attempt to include them in initial showings to save time and ensure everyone has the same real estate experience for evaluating ldquo;the best buy.rdquo; Further prepare by asking yourself ldquo;what ifhellip;?rdquo; questions, that will also reduce surprises and impress clients with your think-ahead professionalism. Keep track of your objection-handling strategiesndash;successes and failuresndash;to always be prepared.

    5. Ask For The Offer

    When I was just out of university and knew nothing about real estate, I wanted to buy an income property. The real estate professional took me out to see properties. A few I said I liked. One I said I loved and wanted to see again. I was never asked to make an offer, so I bought nothing with that real estate professional. This experience did catalyze my interest in communication though. Real estate professionals can get so caught up in not being high pressure and in showing homes that they forget what they are paid to do: get the offer.

    The opportunity=ask for the offer or the listing.

    Buyers and sellers can be naturally subject to what I call informed inertia. They know more than they did when they met you, but not enough that they feel driven to take the frightening next step of making an offer or signing a listing. How do you take them from informed inertia to informed action? What are the approaches you have developed for asking for the offer in a manner and >

    Prioritize these five opportunities in line with your strengths and weaknesses. You may decide to improve on what you do well or to dig into areas that need more attention.

    Eventually, branch out to supercharge your entire sales process and your complete listing procedure.

    Donrsquo;t just chase whatrsquo;s new. Continually invest in what yoursquo;re good
    at to become a supercharged communicator.

    Also available: PJrsquo;s Whatrsquo;s Your Point?nbsp;Blog.

    Full Story >

    Advise and Consent: Business Advisors in the Real Estate Industry

    Which is to say the real estate industry is in the midst of ldquo;tech-tonicrdquo; change: a shift above ground as great as any movement below; as serious, economically, as the costliest collision of tectonic plates, because the quake that will strikemdash;the Big Onemdash;will be more fiscally disruptive than physically destructive.

    Its epicenter is within the ethereal realm of technology: everywhere yet elusive just the same, because there is no one location for the algorithms that govern electronic commerce, including real estate advertising, sales, and the rankings of individual agents or brokers.

    Without the help of a business advisor, who can interpret data, there is only one interpretation about the near future of the real estate industry: passivity. That is, technological change is so conclusive, its casualties so clear, one cannot help but conclude that inaction is inexcusable.

    According to Nick Chini, Managing Partner of Bainbridge, technology is at the forefront of the rise of smart cities, innovations in urban planning, and the development of various commercial real estate projects.

    In turn, the role of a business advisor is to avoid generalities. To abjure restating the obvious, albeit in the vernacular of white papers and PowerPoint presentations, and offer real, measurable value.

    By value, I mean a straightforward answer. An answer based on the wisdom of a particular advisor. An answer based on that advisorrsquo;s analysis of intelligence, with the aid of artificial intelligence AI, so he may extrapolate from what technology shows but does not tell: a course of action about where to invest, or when not to invest, thanks to that advisorrsquo;s ability to read what few can ba>

    Make room for that business advisor.

    Include a team of similar advisors, since the real estate industry will need these people.

    The real estate industry needs people with the independence to speak truth to power. To go beyond the power to compute. To have the power to do what no computer can do on its own: persuade.

    A business advisor must persuade an executive to act, not for the sake of doing something in lieu of nothing, but for reasons of prudence.

    The evidence is in the rationale behind a recommendation, complemented by an advisorrsquo;s appeal to facts instead of feelings. The evidence makes it easier for an advisor to be persuasive, provided his argument is direct, his directive unambiguous, his position unequivocal.

    A business advisor of that sort deserves a spotmdash;an important onemdash;in the real estate industry of today, and tomorrow, because now is the time to prepare for the changes described above.

    Full Story >

    4 Steps for Finding the Perfect Home

    Moving is one of the most stressful things that you will need to do. It puts pressure on you, your spouse, and your children as you all try to find something that fits with each personrsquo;s expectations. You also have to consider the location of the new home, the size of the home, the size of the outdoor area, and the quality of the neighborhood. With all of these things that you need to consider, sometimes finding a house can seem like itrsquo;s impossible. The good news is that if you focus on these 4 main things, finding your home will be a whole lot easier.

    1. Define Your ldquo;Perfectrdquo; Home

    Get every in your family together and talk about what your perfect home would be. Your kids might want to have a big backyard and you want it to be close to your childrenrsquo;s school. If therersquo;s a room size that yoursquo;re looking for, make sure that you write that down as well. You want your list to cover everything that you need. Itrsquo;s also important to figure out what you need and what you want. For example, if your kids are big swimmers you might want to look at houses that have custom pools. However, this might not be something that you need in the house since a pool can be an easy addition to afterward. You need to realize which things can be compromised and which things cannot. Then, once yoursquo;ve defined what your perfect home is, give the list of needed things to your real estate agent and theyrsquo;ll be able to locate houses that fit the criteria much easier.

    2. Stay in the Budget

    You might find a home that fits everything that you want, but itrsquo;s out of the budget. Now, you have a choice. You can abandon the budget and get the house, or find something that sticks within the price range. This piece of advice comes from years of experience--always choose to stick with the budget. You will only regret spending more than you were planning on spending and it will create financial stress in your future. It might take longer, but you need to find something that actually works with the money that yoursquo;ve set aside for buying a house. If you do, you will be a happier family with less financial stress on your shoulders.

    3. Think About Remodeling

    Remodeling is always an option. Letrsquo;s say that you find a house that is perfectly in your budget maybe even a little cheaper but it has one fewer room or the layout of the house isnrsquo;t what you were hoping for. Donrsquo;t just pass up the house. You might want to factor in the cost of remodeling the house and if thatrsquo;s still in your budget, this might just be your dream house after all. Itrsquo;s perfectly fine to remodel aspects of your home right after you buy it. Again, just make sure that remodeling isnrsquo;t going to push you outside of your budget.

    4. Picture Your Family in the Home

    Your family is the reason why yoursquo;re moving. Maybe your old home was getting too small for a family thatrsquo;s always growing. Or, maybe yoursquo;re moving to a location that has better schools for your children. Sometimes, people move because they were offered a better job that will help them to better care for their family. Most of the time, the move is fueled by the desire to have a better location for the family. Because of that, the family should be at the heart of the home. Can you image your family happily living in the home? If no, then you should keep looking. If yes, then this might be the home for you.

    Just make sure that your family is happy with the choice. Encourage your children to be apart of the move as well so that they know that their voices are valued in these big decisions.


    Full Story >

    How Essential Oils Can Help You Sell Your Home

    You want to make sure that your home is clean and that you have not just put out a deodorizing smell. If you put out a bunch of scented candles or plug-ins, a potential buyer might think you are masking a smell or they might not like the scent at all. In some cases, the smell may be so overpowering it distracts the people from being able to make a decision on the home.

    Cleaning Your Home

    The very first thing you want to do is clean the entire home from top to bottom. Make sure that you get every nook and cranny to ensure that there are no smells. If you hate cleaning, get the whole family involved. Ask them to help you clean the entire house to help you get it ready for sale. If you have trouble getting your family to help, consider using whatever reward necessary to help them get the house clean. Cleaning the house will help the overall smell of the home.

    While you are cleaning your home, it is important that you use a simple fragrance. Using more than one fragrance can actually be unpleasant and overpowering. Using a cleaner with an essential oil not only helps to clean your home, but will also help with the smell. Here are some of the essential oils that you should use. Below are some ideas of essential oils that you may want to consider using for your home.


    Citrus essential oils like lemon essential oil and orange essential create a pleasant smell that will last throughout your house. These oils also have a disinfecting quality that can help rid your home of bacteria that might cause smells.


    Essential oils herbs cause an inviting smell in the home. Consider diffusing the essential oils of basil, thyme, and rosemary. This smell will create a warm environment for potential buyers.

    Pine and cedar.

    Pine and cedar create a warm environment for guests. You can use this essential oil to clean your home as well as diffuse when you have potential buyers looking at your home.

    Green tea.

    A mix of essential oils from green tea can help to restore harmony in your home and refresh the mind. This scent can give buyers clarity about whether or not they want to purchase your property.


    This essential oil gives your home that warm cozy feel. People will be more attracted to a home that smells cozy and sweet. This fragrance is best to use in a diffuser, and can be mixed with other essential oil to bring in a fresh scent.

    Consider adding these essential oils to your cleaning routine as well as diffusing them or using candles created with them throughout your home. You want to make sure that your house is clean and smells nice for when a potential buyer comes to visit. There are many options when it comes to essential oils so make sure that you take your time and find the one that most benefits your home. Remember to make sure that is not too overpowering as overpowering fragrances can make a person not want to purchase your home.

    Full Story >

    Summer Dcor Trends: What to Look for When Decking out Your Deck or Patio

    This year, itrsquo;s all about color, texture, and a little something different. Here are the six looks we canrsquo;t live without for summer.

    1. A fancy seating area

    We love the intricacy of the pattern on this rattan set second chair not shown, and it was surprisingly comfortable. Beware red wine drinkers and those with kids: Those white pads may not stay white for long. Also, beware those with animals: itrsquo;s pretty delicate. Especially if you have cats that like to, you know, claw stuff. You might want to go with something more sturdy. Still, we love the idea of this for a balcony or private outdoor space that doesnrsquo;t see a ton of kid/pet traffic.

    2. A fanciful umb>

    Yeah, it may not hold up as well as something with Sunb>

    3. Fun little pillows

    If yoursquo;ve ever been to HomeGoods, you know itrsquo;s filled with aisles and aisles of pillows in every shape, size, and color. You can go the expect route with a neutral color story 100 different ways for your pillowshellip;or you can take a little leap this summer. After all, you can always go back to the store in the fall and change out this inexpensive item. Donrsquo;t you love how fun that palm tree pattern is and how the color gives you an unexpected punch?

    4. A whole lotta color

    Of course, why stop at just a little color? Seating in a rich huemdash;one that also happens to be inspired by nature, like this greenmdash;can give your outdoor space the jolt it needs.

    5. Modern lines

    The squared-off shape and gray color gives this set a modern, updated touch, while the worn, wooded touches bring that farmhouse chic vibe. This one is definitely Chip- and Joanna-approved.

    6. A bushel of baskets

    Woven baskets in a variety of colors and shapes are the perfect way to introduce a worldly, bohemian feel to your outdoor spacehellip;except that these arenrsquo;t woven at all. Like two of the seating areas above No. 4 and No. 5, these baskets are made of an easy-care material that only looks like fragile rattan.

    Full Story >

    Top Tips for Repatriation

    Whether you were hoping to stay or glad to leave, itrsquo;s important to try and make repatriation to your point of origin as painless as it can be. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider before you go, from bureaucracy and paperwork to dealing with goodbyes.

    Plan your timeline

    Yoursquo;ve already done at least one international >

    Be prepared for as many eventualities as possible by starting your planning as far ahead as you can, and sitting down to make notes on what needs doing and when. Donrsquo;t just think about packing, flights and logistics ndash; be sure to factor in time for your farewells.

    Dinners with close friends, farewell drinks and simple emails about your departure for those you arenrsquo;t as close to are all things to consider. If you have children in tow, prioritise their wellbeing and make time to organise farewells to their friends too.nbsp;

    Your repatriation timeline should include everything from check-out days to immunisations, which brings us on to the next point.

    Know the protocols

    Itrsquo;s the least fun part of any move, but itrsquo;s crucial to understand any paperwork, laws and legislation around your repatriation. How much notice do you need to give at work, if any, and to your landlord? How far ahead do you need to organise the cut-off date for your household bills, and is an international forwarding address enough?

    Depending on where yoursquo;re heading back to, you may also need proof of certain up-to-date immunisations in order to return easily, and you may no longer be entitled to things like national health insurance if yoursquo;ve lived abroad for several years. Find out about any periods for which you will not be entitled to healthcare or other public services, and ensure that your international health insurance plan continues on your return until this period ends.

    Other things to watch out for are the weight limits for your flight luggage, or restrictions on shipped items. If you have any pets, theyrsquo;re going to need a passport of their own ndash; and itrsquo;s likely yoursquo;ll need to pay substantial fees for their flights and quarantine before they can finish their own journey on the other side.

    Be financially ready

    On that note, itrsquo;s also advisable to be really thorough with checking your finances when committing to a repatriation. The cost of >

    The cost of living in your home country may well be very different to your expat home, and changes in the economy and inflation can mean that things are more expensive than you remember. If yoursquo;re returning to a particular job, or are negotiating a new role for your return, be certain of how far the salary will go and any areas where you need to save or can afford to splurge.

    If you still have a bank account open in your point of origin then this is one less thing to take care of, but if your lack of local address has meant that you no longer have a local account, setting one up should be on your to-do list too. If you bank with an international bank like HSBC, transferring your account should be >

    Capture memories

    Something thatrsquo;s easy to forget in the rush and multi-tasking of an international move, is the simple act of taking photos, or storing other kinds of memories. Once yoursquo;ve lived somewhere for a few years, the idea of taking photos of your day to day life might seem a bit odd. But when yoursquo;re looking back at your expat experience in another ten yearsrsquo; time, simple things like photos of your home and of places yoursquo;ve visited can become cherished items.

    In the run up to leaving, capture everything. Friends and family, favourite spots, local foods, anything that sparks a little joy. One of the sad truths of expat life is that unlike the goodbyes you say when you leave your original home, which are said knowing you will likely see the recipients again, often a goodbye to other expat friends really is a final goodbye.

    Living a global life>

    Understand what may have changed

    Last, but not least, be ready for the things that may have changed since you last lived at your starting point. From people and >

    Just as you will have changed and grown as a result of your time away, know that returning back to where you started from is not the same as having never left. See repatriation as another new chapter in your adventure, only this time in more familiar territory.

    Full Story >

    What Happens When Your Sales Contract and Appraisal Dont Agree

    An external influence might be someone forced to >

    Most often the appraisal reflects the sales price. When an appraisal is ordered, the appraiser receives a copy of the sales contract showing the amount the buyers and sellers agree to. Before the appraiser steps one foot outside there is some initial research completed. The appraiser looks at recent home sales in the area that are similar to the subject property.

    In most states, this information is readily available via entries in the public record. Some states however keep this information private. If someone has access to the Multiple Listing Service, this information is easily available. Either way, the appraiser does some initial homework before inspecting the property.

    Itrsquo;s important to note there the appraiserrsquo;s job is to establish value and is not the same individual who will physically inspect the property for any seen and unseen defects that need some attention. The appraiserrsquo;s job is to establish value based upon recent sales of homes in the area. If the sales contract says the agreed to price is 250,000 then the appraiser will research other homes in the area and compare them all. Sometimes the appraised value comes in higher than the sales price.

    But what some think is this extra value is immediately available to the buyers in the form of equity or even help out with the down payment. Neither applies. If the appraised value comes in higher, well, thatrsquo;s great for the buyers. Itrsquo;s when the appraisal comes in lower that can cause some problems.

    The lender will always use the lower of the sales price or appraised value when evaluating a loan application. If the sales price is 250,000 and the appraisal 260,000, the lender still uses 250,000 as the value. If the price is 250,000 and the appraisal 240,000, the lender will use 240,000. This leaves the sellers with a dilemma. Either come in with the extra 10,000 or walk away from the transaction enti>

    There might be another option which is to order another appraisal, but the new appraiser will be using the very same information the first one did. Or, the sellers will agree to a new, lower sales price. Most often this is the result because the sellers know theyrsquo;ll more than likely face the same issue with the next offer and understand their property might just be overpriced for the area.

    Full Story >

    5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Kitchen Remodel Design Team

    Before putting money down for a deposit on your new kitchen remodel, you need to look at several factors including the years of experience, previous customer reviews, availability, option for cabinets, flooring, and other components, and the cost.

    1. How Many Years of Experience Does Your Kitchen Contractor Have?

    It doesnt matter if youre doing a small kitchen remodel project or if youre looking at completing a total overhaul; in every situation, you want to hire a kitchen contractor that has the experience to get the job done the right way the first time. While every kitchen contractor and design team has to start from somewhere, you are taking a significant risk allowing someone that hasnt been in business very long to do the work.

    The ideal way to select a kitchen remodeling company that has enough knowledge and skill to assist you is by looking at those that have at least five years of work in the industry. That says that they have been able to keep their operation up and going through providing quality work to their customers. If they werent capable of doing what they say they can, then the likelihood of them still being operational after five years isnt very high.

    Additionally, if you select a kitchen design team that isnt well-established yet, you could be asked to pay for some or all of the cost of your new kitchen up front. While in some instances there is no issue with getting the work done that way, its another risk youre taking. After you pay your kitchen contractor, theres no reason for them to hurry up and get the work done, or do it all, unfortunately. You could be stuck with an unfinished kitchen remodel for much longer than you expected, or they could disappear with your money.

    2. Are There Enough Positive Customer Reviews On Your Kitchen Design Team?

    Thanks to technology, the internet, and social media, it isnt hard to find out what other customers experienced when working with a specific kitchen remodeling company. All you really have to do is type in the name of the kitchen contractor youre considering, and within seconds youll see anything positive or negative that others have said about them. While you have to be careful if the reviews seem like they might be scripted, if there are poor ones, you can trust that they are factual.

    If there arent any reviews on the kitchen contractor at all, that should also make you leery of hiring them. They might not have as many years of experience as they claim, or perhaps they had to change their name because of all the negative things people were sharing about them. Negative reviews online are nearly impossible to get rid of, so kitchen contractors that have them have been known to change the name of their business instead of trying to get rid of them.

    You can always skip the internet enti>

    3. Will Your Selected Kitchen Design Experts Be Available?

    Some of the best kitchen contractors near you are likely going to be booked out several weeks, months, or even longer in advance. Think about when you want the project done. Also, take into consideration how long you are going to want the kitchen design team in your home. There are plenty out there that will be able to give you an accurate estimate of how long its going to take from start to completion. If they hesitate on being able to share the details with you, then you could be looking at a company that isnt dedicated to completing the job promptly.

    When do your research, look for kitchen contractors that have guarantees on their time projections. Many of them will even offer a discount or money back if they go over their time terms. Those are the ones that you can bet will get the job done when they say they will.

    4. Does Your Kitchen Contractor Have the Options Youre Looking For?

    You might be inclined to think that every kitchen contractor in your area can complete the same tasks and offer you whatever materials and products you want. That isnt necessarily true. Some kitchen remodeling companies will only handle cabinets and flooring, for instance, while others are capable of completely changing the footprint of the room. Here in the Treasure Valley area where our company operates, North Star Kitchen and Bath Remodels pride ourselves in being a full-service remodeling company, that can handle just about any kitchen remodelnbsp;customers are looking for.

    Check for kitchen contractors that will give you personal attention, and preferably your very own design team or expert to work alongside from the start to the finish of the job. That way, you can have someone that you will be able to easily describe any custom kitchen cabinets, flooring options, countertop choices, and appliances you have in mind. They should be able to quickly offer you alternatives or let you know that its not something that they are capable of doing.

    Select a kitchen remodeling company near you that starts you off with a free estimate. Thats when you can go over in detail exactly what you have in mind, and youll know right away if theyre going to be able to get the job done for you or not. With a free estimate, if they cant, youre not out any money.

    5. What is Your New Kitchen Design Going to Cost?

    The last thing you want to think about is cost. You dont want to pay prices that are way out of the ballpark compared to the other ones, but you should never go with the cheapest one you find either. If a kitchen remodeling company can offer you a meager price in comparison to the rest youve looked at, its likely they are cutting corners on quality, labor, or the processes that they use.

    It is recommended to get at least three different quotes before choosing any one company to work with. That way, you can have a clear idea of how the kitchen design and remodeling industry works, and you can get the results you deserve for your investment.

    Scott Merriman is the owner of North Star Kitchen and Bath Remodels which operates in Boise and the greater treasure valley area. nbsp;He has over 18 years of experience working in the remodeling industry and knows how to bring the most value to any remodel when a realtor or homeowner is looking to buy or sell.

    Full Story >

    Copyright© 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

    Featured Property Other Condos
    Museum Park Project
    Google Map Search
    Real Estate News
    Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2019

    A New HomeWithout Moving

    What if there was some way to get that lsquo;new homersquo; buzz without the hassle? Well, of course there is, and thatrsquo;s why people spend time and money updating their homes.

    Here are five ways to get yourself a new homehellip; without moving

  • 1. Extend

  • A lot of people move home because their current house is becoming a bit of a squeeze. Maybe children have come along or you now work from home. If you have the garden space, it can make financial sense to build an extension rather than find a new property. The key thing is to do the sums up front, set a budget and stick to it.

    The joy of an extension is that you have a new rooms to plan and >

  • 2. Update the kitchen

  • The kitchen has become the heart of the home, with many properties now featuring a large living space based around the kitchen. Whether or not your house will allow for a big space for cooking, dining and just hanging out, replacing your kitchen is a great option. It will renovate your house, add value and give you that lsquo;new homersquo; pleasure.

    Work with a kitchen planner to create a perfect layout, but donrsquo;t be afraid to shop around to get the update done at a price you like. Itrsquo;s often cheaper to buy appliances independently rather than through the kitchen specialist.

  • 3. Blitz the bathroom

  • Lots of us love staying in hotels and luxury apartments because of their opulent bathrooms. If this is you, think about bringing a boutique bathroom to your home. A new bathroom suite costs less than you think and will revolutionise how you feel about your bathroom. You could focus on updating your shower-bath or creating a luxurious walk-in shower, and then adding new tiles and flooring to suit your personal >

  • 4. Change the layout

  • If extending isnrsquo;t an option for you, you might look to knock down an internal wall to create a more spacious room ndash; a larger living room or an extended kitchen space. If your floor plan doesnrsquo;t give you that option, think laterally about changes you could make. Could you move to a different bedroom? Swap a dining space with a living room? Add an en-suite to your room? All of these options will give your home a new lease of life.

  • 5. Open up your loft

  • Our attics and lofts are nearly always wasted ndash; theyrsquo;re just dark, dusty storage areas. Making better use of this space will give you access to a whole new room. A master bedroom, an office, a den for the childrenhellip; You can either formally convert the space with dormer windows, or renovate it yourself. There are lots of great ideas here.

    So, with a little imagination you can achieve that happy new home without all that house-hunting, packing and spending. Enjoy your new property

    > Full Story

    Six Creative Ways to Drum up Interest in Your Home

    Organize a block party

    If you live in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other, fantastic Get everyone together on the street and offer to serve drinks or dessert in your house so you can make sure everyone comes on in. If yoursquo;re not super friendly with them, a block party is a great way to get to know the neighbors yoursquo;ll soon be leavingmdash;and maybe uncover someone whorsquo;s interesting in finding a new place in the same neighborhood.

    Have an estate sale

    A garage sale may attract mainly ultra-bargain shoppers, but an estate salehellip;thatrsquo;s another story. Not only do you have an opportunity to sell some of the items you donrsquo;t intend to take with you to your next home, but you may find a potential buyer, too. If you donrsquo;t have enough items to sell, enlist a few neighbors. They might be more than willing to haul over their old sideboard and china set for a chance to get it sold with minimal effort.

    Show off the goods

    Have a newly renovated kitchen you want to show off? Ninenbsp;out of 10 property purchases are decided by women, so invite the neighborhood moms over for wine and hors drsquo;oeuvres. You never know who will fall in love with your kitchen island and decide they need to move.

    Let your neighbors know on Nextdoor

    Depending on how your neighborhood Nextdoor is run, your post may be flagged and taken down. But, before that happens, you just might be able to zero in on a prospect or twomdash;before you even list your home for sale

    Rent a gaming truck

    For a couple hundred bucks, you can rent a gaming truck to park in your neighborhood. Invite all the moms to hang out inside with you, where they can ooh and ahh over your home while the kids are occupied and having fun in the truck.

    Ask your neighbors to put the word out

    Turning your neighbors into an extension of your real estate agentrsquo;s marketing team is easy. After all, they care about who their future neighbor will be, right?

    > Full Story

    10 Tips for Creating a Calmer, More Peaceful Home

    Add some greenery

    Studies have shown that plants can make your home feel calmer and ease anxiety. Plants like jasmine and English ivy can improve sleep, lavender and rosemary can lower stress, and several other plants have been shown to improve air quality so you breathe easier.

    Hide the electronics

    ldquo;Nobody wants to stare at a tangle of cords,rdquo; said Houzz. ldquo;Thankfully, we have more options than ever for keeping our tech devices hidden away. When possible, choose smaller, wi>

    Get a dog

    Or a cat, a bird, or a turtle, for that matter. Yes, having a pet can mean more noise and more mess. But, there are all kinds of studies that show that having a pet lowers stress. ldquo;Researchers found that pet-owning patients with high blood pressure could keep their blood pressure lower during times of mental stress than patients without pets,rdquo; said ldquo;Another study showsnbsp;that pet owners may also have increased odds of surviving for at least a year after having a heart attack.rdquo;

    Clear the clutter

    Going all Marie Kondo on your home can have surprising effects on your mental state. ldquo;Clutternbsp;can playnbsp;a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves,rdquo; said psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter innbsp;Psychology Today. ldquo;Messy homes andnbsp;work spacesnbsp;leave us feelingnbsp;anxious,nbsp;helpless, and overwhelmed.rdquo;

    Tone down the harsh colors

    Therersquo;s something to be said for going bold, but soft colors can bring on a calming feeling. If you want a deeper color, consider shades of blues and greensmdash;two colors that are known to be more serene than, say bright yellow, orange, or red.

    Clean up your entryway

    Itrsquo;s the first place guests see, and while you probably donrsquo;t pass by or through your front entry all that often if you park in the garage, it may not feel as welcoming as yoursquo;d like when you do.

    Soften the lighting

    Harsh overhead lighting can make you feel like yoursquo;re being interrogated, and can also be hard on your eyes. If you need to keep it because the space will be too dark otherwise, a dimmer can at least give you some control over just how bright it is, and allow you to create a mood with lower lighting as needed.

    Limit the patterns

    ldquo;Opt for solids and subtle patterns,rdquo; said Houzz.nbsp;ldquo;Busy patterns have their place, but if yoursquo;re aiming for calm, then solid fabrics are your friends. Donrsquo;t be afraid to include subtle patterns, though: herringbone, tone-on-tone stripes, and tiny dots can add textural interest without competing for attention.rdquo;

    Buy some fresh flowers

    According to a study by Rutgers, ldquo;The presence of flowers trigger happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive way far beyond what was originally believed.rdquo;

    Make your master bedroom a zen zone

    Getting good rest is key, and there are several ways you can create a soothing space. Keeping the colors serene is key, and so is a good mattress. Loading the bed up with soft textures can also help. ldquo;The sensation of touch is often overlooked, but a powerful way to unwind,rdquo; said

    > 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 |
    Equal Housing | RealtorReal Estate Website Design By: Real Estate Systems Integrator - RESI