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Real Estate News

Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape i.e. its decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul, you might think its ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldnt expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when youve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But dont be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didnt take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely wont be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.


While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing unless there are severe allergy issues, they dont want to see - and, especially, smell - evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You dont have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.


Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers dont nitpick and find a reason to question the homes condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If youre rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? Thats what real buyers do, and if they cant picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or its oddly configured - blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance - youre keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

"Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when youre selling a house its important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each rooms dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal," said U.S. News World Report. "A home seller can do this by decluttering,lighting up the roomand especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room." You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. Its not snooping at least, we hope its not snooping - its an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one "junk drawer," but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. "Whether its a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your homes closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers," said Apartment Therapy. "Box up off-season appa>Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, theyre much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.
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Recipient of the William R. Magel Award of Excellence Revealed

The most important and prestigious award Association Executives can aspire to in the real estate industry is the William R. Magel Award of Excellence.

ldquo;The William R. Magel Award of Excellence is presented annually to an individual who has truly excelled in his or her role as an association executive of a REALTORreg; association.rdquo;

This yearrsquo;s recipient is Walt Baczkowski. Walt is the CEO of the San Francisco Association of REALTORSreg;. He is a second generation Executive Officer with almost 40 years of service in the capacity of an Association of REALTORSreg;. His career path began as the Toledo Association Exec, followed by the San Diego Association, the New Jersey Association, the Greater Metropolitan Association in Michigan, and his latest position of the last 4 years, at the San Francisco Association of REALTORSreg;.

Walt is a dynamic leader who has made a difference in the real estate industry for many years.

Congratulations Walt...Well deserved

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New Forms To Be Released For Use By California REALTORS

In addition to the reorganized Statewide Buyer and Seller Advisory SBSA, three new forms will be >

The first one of these, the Tenant Flood Hazard Disclosure, satisfies a new requirement that in every residential lease or rental agreement entered into after July 1, 2018, the landlord or agent must disclose certain information regarding flood hazards including the landlords "actual knowledge." The TFHD informs the tenant that the property is in a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding if one or more of the following conditions are met.

1. The owner has actual knowledge of that fact.
2. The owner has received written notice from any public agency stating that the property is located in a special flood hazard or an area of potential flooding.
3. The property is located in an area in which the owners mortgage holder requires the owner to carry flood insurance.
4. The owner carries flood insurance.

There are no conditions under which either of the other two advisories is mandated by law; however, individual companies may choose to include them among their required documents.

The Disclosure Information Advisory is addressed to sellers. It provides them with some general information about required disclosures. It addresses many of the questions that sellers often ask their agents as to what is expected of them. The advice it provides for sellers is very similar to the advice that brokers often give their agents. For example, "you should not let subjective beliefs limit, qualify or downplay your disclosures. Avoid words such as lsquo;never, lsquo;minor, lsquo;insignificant, lsquo;small, or lsquo;infrequent as these terms may reflect your opinion but that opinion may not be shared by Buyers, professionals or others."

The DIA is 2 frac12; pages in length. It covers a lot of ground, much of which good agents already cover, although verbally. A particularly good piece of advice -- for agents as well as sellers -- is this:

"If you are unsure about whether something is important enough to be disclosed, you should probably disclose it. If you dont want to disclose a piece of information about the Property, think about your reasoning for why you do not want to disclose this information. If the answer is because you think a buyer will not want to buy the Property, or will want purchase at a lower price, that is exactly the reason why the fact ought to be disclosed: it materially affects the value or desirability of the Property."

Finally, there is the Buyers Homeowners Association Advisory. We have discussed in other contexts the fact that people who are buying a property subject to an HOA will receive a high volume of legally-required disclosures. Probably, there is a pretty low percentage of those buyers who have actually read all the documents they receive. This advisory provides a brief summary of the kinds of documents they should receive and emphasizes the importance of reading them. It also emphasizes that the buyers agent has not and cannot verify the information provided. It particularly notes, "Real estate agents are not qualified to assess the financial viability of any HOA."

Some of the advice, however, does challenge credulity. For example, "You should directly contact the HOA Board to determine whether the property can be used for your intended purposes."

Brokers and agents will do well to familiarize themselves with the new forms when they are made available. Theres no doubt that some will want to adopt them.

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Home Buying Checklist: What Else Does Location Mean?

"Location, location, location" are the cornerstones of property value and neighborhood popularity. Evaluating this seemingly-simple, triple-impact factor goes beyond me>

Yes, proximity to the places you and family members regularly must or want to visit is an important factor in identifying an ideal location. However, theres more to accessing location than an address.


Below is a comprehensive checklist of LOCATION FACTORS many of which may be overlooked by buyers until they move in and discover that their chosen and paid-for location is not all they expected it to be. Many of these factors also affect market value, now and in the future. All these factors will not be an issue for every property. Check off the factors are >

Walkability has many definitions which largely differ by walking purpose: destination-driven, exercising, socializing, exploring, enjoying the outdoorshellip;. Measures of walkability can be useful and may add to market value, but these scores are not absolute, so investigate the reference source and measurement approach. Experiment by walking where you and family members would walk and when. There may be obstacles, like very busy streets, that would affect whether walking would be the best transportation choice.

Nearby Shopping used to be a big location factor, but online shopping has taken the shine off this convenience for many buyers. In some areas, malls are falling into disrepair and closing. Would that be a concern for you? In other locations, new large-scale commercial ventures are underway in or closer to residential areas. How would you feel about having a big box store on your doorstep?

Developments especially large-scale projects, condominium towers, multiple-housing complexes, and commercial ventures, increase density, traffic, noise, andnbsp; pressure on schools and community services. Years of planning and arguing proceed ground breaking, so todays quiet streets may reveal little sign of what will begin once you move in. Ask a lot of questions about local development.

Street Status exists in most neighborhoods, which themselves each carry different status. Certain streets confer status on residents. Which street, side of the street, or end of the street carries greater real estate value or status? One end of the street may be closer to shopping and the other to parks. What do you value regarding physical location?

Sunshine is valued by most buyers, even though they may appreciate it for different reasons, ranging from gardening to solar energy. In some areas, south-facing backyards are more popular and, in others, its south-facing fronts. What is blocking sunlight to the property now and what might block it in the future?

Teardowns or properties more valued as building sites than homes, exist in most established neighborhoods. How many teardowns surround the real estate? Teardowns are not all dilapidated

structures. In many areas, attractive bungalows and two-storeys are demolished to build mega-homes, perhaps like the one you are interested in. During the demolition and build, neighbors are plagued by noise, dust, lack of parking, and inconsideration that can mean restricted use of their own properties for a year or two. Whats planned around the property?

nbsp; Neighbors may include Airbnb hosts and other home-based business owners, some of whom may conduct their ventures in ways that end up disturbing neighbors. Many municipalities and police receive complaints from homeowners concerned about what businesses are doing around their property.

nbsp; Schools particularly popular ones, can be a big influence on a location decision for those with children to educate.

nbsp; Transportation carries different importance for different buyers. Have public transit and road systems kept pace with rising population in the area? Are neighborhood-changing transportation projects like rapid transit scheduled to begin in the next year or so? Will the bulk of >

nbsp; Infrastructure is an often-overlooked factor. How recently have bridges and main roads, essential for access to the area and downtown, been up-dated and up-graded? Have water and sewage

services been upgraded to serve growing populations? Or, will you face months, if not years, of "under construction" streets around your home?

nbsp; Break-ins tend to be more common in some areas than others. Who keeps the neighborhood safe? Whats their track record? Do most neighbors have their own home security system? Are community safety groups active?

nbsp; Water Supply and shortages can be an issue. Droughts seem more common and last longer. How prepared is the community to handle water shortage? Do summer shortages affect lawn watering and landscaping, making local drought-resistant plants and no-grass front yards essential? Are bush fires a recurring threat?

nbsp; Flooding in low-lying areas and drainage basins can be a threat. Could rising water plague that real estate or the immediate area or access? How affordable and attainable is property

flood insurance in this area? When was the last time flooding was an issue and what happened during clean up? If the property is waterfront, is shore erosion or rising water an issue? Is the waterfront often fouled with dead algae or other smelly matter?

nbsp; Traffic is more of a concern in urban areas. Is the residential area under traffic calming and speed-management strategies to reduce rush-hour traffic through the area? If there are speed bumps, how are fire and emergency vehicles affected? Is there a plan to add or remove traffic calming and why?

nbsp; Airplanes can disrupt family life even if a property is not close to an airport. The increase in frequency of planes taking off and landing at all hours has many neighborhoods, even those distant from airports, plagued by airplane noise. Circling a city to land, means planes travel over many homes drowning out conversations and disrupting sleep. Just popping in for an open house or viewing may not make you aware of a noisy flight-path problem.

nbsp; Landscaping and mature trees enhance neighborhoods. Large trees can present hazards as they age. Are trees downed in storms replaced? What invader species are working their way through the area to undermine outdoor enjoyment?

nbsp; History of the home or location may be a concern in special cases. Has anything happened on the property or near it that has led locals to consider the real estate less favorably?

nbsp; Pollution mdash; air, noise, or water mdash;is a problem in some areas? What is being done to reduce the ill-effects for residents?

nbsp; Taxes are a key location-driven affordability factor. All of the above can impact how quickly property taxes and municipal fees go up. Whats the pattern of increase in the area? How does local government raise the funds it needs to maintain quality of life in the area?

Dont panic. All these factors will not affect every property.

Our point is that buyers should find out which, if any, of these issues could significantly affect their new home, its market value, and their life at that location before they buy.

  • Concentrating too heavily on interior decor and not on >
  • What could buyers do about surprises like those listed above after they move in?
  • Would issues like these affect what buyers are prepared to pay for that real estate in the first place?

Who can possibly know all these details about a property?

  • The property owner, or at least the smart ones, keep up on what is going on at or near their location because all of this affects property value and enjoyment.
  • Neighors know a lot mdash;maybe more than sellers realize.
  • Local real estate professionals know this and more because local knowledge and market value are what their work centers on. Listing professionals spend time with sellers to explore the history of the property and the area. Between them they know whats going on locally and how that property will be affected.
  • The local real estate professional or buyers agent who assists you in finding the right real estate for your needs and budget has access to the owners knowledge and that of the listing professional through the Multiple Listing Service. This plus their own local knowledge should help you understand the listed factors >

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Builder/Realtor Relationships Poised For Long-Term Win-Win

ldquo;I feel about as comfortable as a condemned man, lecturing the firing squad on marksmanship because everything I say can be held against me.rdquo;

Who would have the nerve to think what anyone had to say mattered to 1.3 million Realtors, most of whom are not encouraged or trained to work with homebuilders?

After thanking home builders for providing much-needed inventory, I can only think of two things to say to this hardworking, risk-taking group:

One, stop telling Realtors they wonrsquo;t get paid if they donrsquo;t bring the prospect to your sales office first. This 40-year policy became outdated about a generation ago the first time a home shopper completed a builders internet registration form. We both know you make exceptions on a regular basis. Why not say so up front?

Two, stop telling Realtors they need to learn construction because nothing could be further from the money ndash; or the truth. There no evidence to support this assumption. Case studies do, as we shall see.

What caused builder/Realtor >

The most important event by far happened in August of 2012, when and Builder Digital Index BDX announced a partnership whereby BDX would feed its national inventory of new homes to

Homebuilders now had what they had long lacked, access to the Realtors Multiple Listing System MLS. And Realtors had access to inventory of new homes in a format they are trained to use. Realtors can find inventory of new homes, floor plans, prices, amenities, and more side by side with resales.

The increased demand by new home shoppers forced Realtors to start showing new homes, whether they were trained to or not. It seems to be working big time.

ldquo;Millions of new home shoppers were drawn to this new service,rdquo; according to Senior Vice President of Channel Sales and Operation, Tricia Smith, speaking at the 2018 National Association of Home Builders International Builders Show in January.

In December 2013 the headline below appeared in Realty Times:

Bank of America Urging Home Builders and Realtors to Work Together.

ldquo;If you are a REALTORreg; looking for some unusual but timely business advice from a banker, E.J. Achtner, Senior Vice President of Bank of America, has some for you.

"Education, training and >

Why is a banker suggesting new home training to Realtors?

According to Achtner, "many builders, regardless of their size, are taking a much more collaborative view of partnering with Realtors than in the past and we encourage our builders to work with Realtors.rdquo;

It would be safe to assume that other lenders started encouraging their builders to do the same thing,

Then less than two years later, more than 25 MLS Partners were offering inventory of new homes from their local source.

BDX Announces 25 MLS Partners Providing Access To New Construction Inventory For 400,000 Realtors.

"With our partners in this effort, nearly 400,000 REALTORSreg; have direct access to New Home Source Professional through their MLS today," said Tim Costello, President and CEO of BDX.

"More than half of all home shoppers consider new construction, so its imperative that we continue this industry collaboration to help agents and brokers serve their clients.

ldquo;Today builders and Realtors are working closer together than ever,rdquo; Costello said.

Systems are in place to communicate clearly and accurately. Commission issues are few and far between.

While builders are finally working within the MLS system, they still have a way to go with their Realtor training. A study said they need to do a better job of bringing Realtors into their process.

Two Out Of Three REALTORS Say Homebuilder New Homes Training Is Not Useful

According to a study commissioned by Builder Homesite Inc, "nearly two-thirds of Realtors believe that builders are not offering useful training about how to sell new homes."

Why? Because what they teach does not engage Realtors in the sales process. The Builder Homesite study nailed it with this statement:

ldquo;There is a sizeable portion of Realtors that would welcome an outreach effort to engage them in a sales process and increase the proportion of new homes that they sell."

A national position on a few key issues would be helpful. We will get to those issues in Part 4.


Summary: Except for a lingering lack of trust, there is no excuse for Realtors to ignore inventory of new homes.

Homebuilders, your training question is this:

lsquo;Is what I am saying, or about to say, building more trust in my product or me?rdquo;

If you struggle with the answer, you need to rethink your message, which we will address.


Next: Part 2 How Experienced New Home Co-Brokers Feel About Selling New Homes

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Ask the HOA Expert: Restricted Activities

Question: One of our homeowners kids would like to raise chickens in the backyard. Our governing documents restrict this activity. Any advice to head off this public >Answer: Most HOA governing documents restrict raising poultry and other farm animals or local laws may do so. If this is something like a short term 4-H project, its probably no big deal. If it is an ongoing production facility for eggs and meat, not a good idea. The main issues are sanitation and noise particularly from roosters.

Question: I recently had a leak in my unit that damaged wall and flooring and I am in a battle with the HOA regarding who is responsible for the repair charges. My unit is in a mid-rise condominium. The leak was coming from a rooftop chiller pipe that feeds the air conditioning units for me and several neighbors. The plumber determined that the pipe was leaking because of improper soldering. The board says neither the plumbing repair or damage to my unit is the HOAs responsibility.

Answer: This is a >

Typically, the HOA is responsible for repairing common plumbing lines. Since the plumbing line in question serves multiple units, it is considered common. Damage repair to units caused by the leaking pipe, however, is usually the unit owners responsibility unless the HOA neglects to perform plumbing repairs in a timely manner when informed by a unit owner. For a sample Areas of Responsibility Policy, see

Question: A homeowner is requesting a copy of a violation letter that was sent to another homeowner. Are we required to provide that?

Answer: Unless state law requires sharing this kind of information, a violation issue is a private matter between the board, management and offender. Such information should not be shared with other owners.

Question: What is the proper protocol for a special assessment? Should the board hold a special meeting to announce it with the homeowners, then follow up with a letter to all of them?

Answer: If the board has decided to move forward with a special assessment, it should definitely hold an informational meeting to discuss the reasons and to answer questions. It is possible that there will be people that take exception to the special assessment and want to express that opinion. They have a right to do that as long as they are civil.

The board should attempt to respond to all questions and concerns if possible. Trying to respond to "I dont have the money" is a waste of time even if true. Special assessments are never pleasant and there will always be some that have a problem paying them due to disability, unemployment, divorce, too cheap, etc. Going forward, the board should have a long range plan to avoid them in the future by setting aside adequate reserve funds to avoid special assessments. It would a good thing to point this out to the members now.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
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The Legal Ties That Bind With Your Down Payment

Question: We are both in our upper sixties and retired. Last October, we put money down on a condominium apartment that is to be completed around September of this year. We put down ten percent of the price in cash and the money is earning a modest amount of interest until settlement. We have some savings, but the balance would be paid in cash from the proceeds of the sale of our present home.

Although we believe the price of the condominium has gone up slightly since we signed the contract, we now have serious thoughts about apartment living and about putting most of our resources into this transaction because of some new and serious health concerns.

Is there any way we can cancel our agreement and not lose the down payment?

Answer: The lawyer in me says that a contract is a legally binding document that must be upheld. The humanitarian in me suggests that, at the very least, you should try to get out of the contract, especially with the facts you have described.

First, review the terms of the contract very carefully to determine your rights and responsibilities. Are there any contingencies in that contract, such as your ability to obtain financing or the necessity to sell your house? If any of these contingencies legitimately cannot be met, it is possible you have the legal right to declare the contract null and void.

Next, determine whether the contract can be assigned. Although most developer contracts are not assignable, it may very well be that you have the right to sell your contract to someone else. And even if you do not have that right, it never hurts to ask the developer.

For example, if the contract is for 100,000 and the market value now is 110,000, if you have the right to assign that contract, you may find someone who would purchase your contract for the contract price -- or even a few thousand dollars above the contract price.

The person who buys your contract would be obligated to follow through on all of the terms of your contract. In effect, the buyer would be stepping into your shoes, assuming all the rights and responsibilities you presently have.

As I have indicated, although most developer contracts do not permit such assignment, it is worth looking at this aspect of your contract.

Next, do not hesitate to discuss this matter with both the real estate firm representing the seller and try to speak directly with the seller. Explain your situation. They may be sympathetic. If the market for your condominium is anticipated to be strong, the seller-developer may be able to make more money by reselling the property to someone else.

Finally, you may want to consider buying the property and then trying to sell it yourself. Unfortunately, this is risky because there never is any guarantee you will find a buyer quickly and the duplicate settlement costs, financing charges and other settlement->You may also have to pay a real estate commission for that second sale. Realize that until the developer has sold most, if not all of the condominium units, you are competing against the house. And as we know, the dealer always wins.

You indicated you have put down a deposit of ten percent and you do not want to lose the money. However, there are times when a buyer would prefer to walk away from a transaction, lose the money and avoid subsequent aggravation.

Peace of mind sometimes cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents. Although I cannot recommend forfeiting your deposit, if this is an option you are willing to consider, make sure you discuss the situation with the seller before deciding. Sign a >Basically, if a buyer defaults on a real estate contract, the seller has three options available:

  • Suing for specific performance, in effect, asking the court to require you go ahead with the transaction.
  • Suing for damages if there are substantial monetary damages involved as a result of your failure to live up to your part of the contract. For example, if the seller has to resell the property at a lower price than your contract price, this would be the measure of damages.
  • Electing to retain the deposit as the only remedy. Remember, if you decide to forfeit, make sure the seller agrees, in writing, that the only remedy will be the forfeiture of the deposit. This may also be spelled out in the form contract you signed.

Although I recognize that conditions often change and new circumstances often arise after a contract is entered into, it must be pointed out that, in most cases, the time to decide whether you want to purchase property is before you sign a contract.

After your signature is on the contract and you have given some money down as a deposit, you are legally bound to comply with all the terms and conditions of that document. Your fate basically depends on how the developer reacts to your situation.
Full Story >

Remodeling Your Home Office To Increase Productivity

Working from home is both a luxury and a curse. Sure, you dont have to fight with traffic or even get dressed in the morning, but the line between home and work can begin to blur to the point where youre not sure if youre working from home or living at work. Additionally, it is much easier to get distracted when your office is part of your house. Kids, pets, phone, doorbell mdash; these distractions can add up to sensory overload and prevent you from working productively.

The key to overcoming this problem is to redesign and remodel your home workspace. With a few tips, you can have all the advantages of working at home and still achieve the level of productivity that comes with working in an office.

Create a Reasonably Comfortable Workspace

You want your home office to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you are inclined to take a nap. You want it to be welcoming, but not so welcoming that your kids set up camp in there with you. The design of the space should be infused with elements of your personality, including paintings, furniture and decor, but these elements should not detract from the functionality of the space. These elements should take up as little floor and leg space as possible. Keep items like floating shelves, fold away desks and chairs, and wall-mounted cabinets in mind when considering how to best use your limited space.

You also want to make sure that your designated office or workspace is in an airy, well-lit domain in your home. An area with an existing heating and ventilation unit is ideal. However, if the only space available to you is in the basement, stock up on fans, an air purifier and a humidifier to counter the stagnant air.

Use Lighting Appropriately

In an ideal home office, three kinds of light should be available: task lighting, ambient lighting and natural daylight. Task lighting is light you can shine directly on your work, so a desk lamp or flexible floor lamp is a good option. Use compact fluorescent, energy-efficient bulbs for your task lighting because they stay cool, last longer and are available in different watts and color variants to best suit your individual needs.

For natural lighting, try to set up your workspace near a window. Natural lighting is the most effective and the cheapest of the recommended lighting types. Plus, being able to gaze out the window every so often as you work is good for the soul. Be sure to invest in some quality window treatments, though, to block out the distractions that the window might bring and also to monitor the temperature in the office area. A sheer curtain can also be implemented to create ambient lighting for performing tasks that do not require direct or natural light.

Control the Stimulation Level

When considering colors for your workspace, remember that some colors stimulate the brain more than others. Colors that are too dark or too vibrant may prove distracting or can even elicit anxiety. For the walls, choose a neutral color that is soothing in the warm months of the year and also warming in the cooler months. Shades like cream, lemon and pastel blue are smart choices.

Too much noise can also be a stimulant and a distraction when trying to work from home. The kids yell, the dog barks, the television blares. Your workspace needs to block out these noises while still allowing you to hear whats important. A good rug or carpet can absorb some of the noise; however, you can also install panels on the wall or add sound-proofing mats for added absorption. Simply upgrading the insulation in the room and the air sealing can cut back on noise pollution significantly.

So, if home is where the heart and the office is, a few remodeling and designing tips can help you boost your productivity and better enjoy your home office.
Full Story >

Six Surprising Retirement Trends You Need To Know

Tiny homes. Rockin communities where Jimmy Buffet is your spirit animal. Rockin a strenuous hike minutes from home. Yeah, this is not your Grandfathers retirement.

Long gone are the days when people packed it in and moved to a nice, calm little home for the aging in Florida the day they turn 65. Not only are people working longer today, but they are looking for more out of their retirement - more fun and excitement, more job opportunities, and more opportunity to hang out with family. If youre getting ready to retire, these are the trends youll want to know about.


And were not just talking about weekly bingo. There is a wave of new retirement communities, most notably Jimmy Buffets foray into a new career path, that cater to a much more active life>

Other developments, like the new 100 million-plusRancho Mission Viejoin Orange County, CA is being developed "as anupscale mixed-generation development, with housing catering to older adults integrated into clusters of neighborhoods," they said. "Developments like New Yorks new community center for theMorningside Retirement Health ServicesMRHS showcase arenewed focus on active, communal space. A cohousing development for seniors on Oaklands waterfront called Phoenix Commons has been compared to a dorm for grownups."

Retiringbut not all the way

Mid-size and larger cities are becoming havens for retirees because, among other positive attributes, they offer thriving job markets. So why would that be important to someone who is getting ready to stop working? Because, increasingly, retirees arent retiring all the way. Or, theyre embarking on secondary careers, often part-time, post retirement. "74 of working Americans plan to work past retirementage, with 11 expecting to work full time and 63 expecting to work part-time," said The Street.

Chasing happiness

U.S. New World Reports 2018 list of the Best Places to Retire compared the top 100 metros for their potential as retirement spots, using data including housing affordability, taxes, and access to healthcare facilities. Their overall desirability and average levels of happiness were also key to the rankings. "Several cities in Texas made the top 10," while "three cities in the mid-Atlantic region are highly rated." You can see the entire list here.

Multi-generational living

Multi-generational living is on one of real estates fastest-growing trend. "In 1940, about one-quarter of the U.S. population lived with three or moregenerations in one home. After WWII, American families largely became two-generational, with parents and minor-age children under one roof," said Forbes. "The percentage of households with multiple generations started declining to 21, reaching a low of 12by 1980." According to Pew Research Center data, 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived in multigenerational homes, including 26.9 million three-generation households."

In fact, the trend is so pervasive today that builders are increasingly creating highly livable granny flats and tiny homes that can live on family land or in backyards. Theyre also building new construction homes like Lennars Next Gen, which is billed as a "home within a home" and includes "all the features youd expect in a separate unit a kitchenette, single car garage and full bathroom while giving you the freedom to pop in whenever youd like," they said.

Increasing the activity level

"The choice of recreational activities is gradually shifting as the baby boomer generation heads into retirement," said U.S. News World Report. "A recent study by the Physical Activity Council revealed some interesting findings. Activities that are increasing in popularity include camping, bicycling, hiking and canoeing. Activities that are decreasing in popularity include golf, swimming for fitness and working out using machines or weights."

The AARP found that boomers are increasingly migrating to states "with mild climates and recreational options. "A newly >Following family

Another of todays top trends has retirees moving closer to family. For many grandparents, moving toward their children and grandchildren is "the last chance to focus on family and to leave a legacy of special memories," says Christine Crosby, editorial director ofGrandmagazine," to Kiplinger.
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For Sale By Owner Dot Com...

This is Breaking News...wonder what the plan is? Media Company, Brokerage, and FSBO site combo..., LLC, a Delaware limited liability company the "Seller", an indirectly, wholly-owned subsidiary of tronc, Inc. the "Company", completed a disposition of substantially all of its assets used in its business of operating a for-sale-by-owner real estate market place, pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement, entered into on March 13, 2018 the "Purchase Agreement", among the Seller,, LLC, a Michigan limited liability company the "Buyer", Tribune Publishing Company, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company "Tribune" and In-House Realty LLC "IHR". The closing purchase price consisted of 2.5 million in cash, subject to a post-closing working capital adjustment, of which 700,000 is being held in escrow as security for specified indemnity obligations.

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5 Smart, Easy Ways To Add Smart Home Technology To Your Place

Has technology passed your home by? Its never too late to update it. Whether you just want to bring the homes function into this century for your personal use or are looking to put it on the market, incorporating some smart home items is, well, a smart strategy.

"The stock advice for homeowners putting a house on the market used to go like this: Give the exterior, or the front door, a fresh coat of paint; tame unruly shrubs; and swap out a few light fixtures. But todays homebuyers are expecting a little more," said Consumer Reports. According to Coldwell Bankers latest annualnbsp;smart-home survey, most potential homebuyers want smart-home tech preinstalled."

Specifically, "Seventy-seven percent wantnbsp;smart thermostats, 75 percent want smart smoke detectors, 66 percent want smart home security cameras, and 63 percent wantnbsp;smart locks, to name a few."

Smart thermostats

Not only will a smart thermostat make your air conditioner function better and make your house more comfortable, it will save you money in the process. "With anbsp;smart thermostat, easily control the temperature in your home from a central control panel, with the sound of your voice, or using your mobile device," said Vivint. "Combined with a smart assistant that intuits and learns your preferences and behaviors, your thermostat can automatically adjust the temperature - saving you valuable time, energy, and money."

The Nest Thermostat is one of the most popular options on the market. It "currently costs 249 butnbsp;projects an average savingsnbsp;of around 173 per year," said UpNest. We also love the ecobee because it has multiple sensors. The latest version, the ecobee4 249, also has built-in Amazon Alexa.

Smart door locks

There are lots of smart door locks out there, which eliminate the need for a key and replace it with a keypad and code that are used for entry. But, we love this August Smart Lock, which takes smart home capabilities up a notch.

"This battery operated device sells for 199, and communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth," said Nerds on Call. "When the Smart Lock identifies your Bluetooth signal approaching, it unlocks your door, and can lock it behind you if you choose that setting. It also allows you to set up virtual keys for guests, with the ability to grant access for only certain dates and times for each key. The activity log keeps track of when each unique user comes and goes. Perhaps the best part about this smart home upgrade is that it goes over your existing lock, meaning that you can have strong security and an intelligent lock. If you choose, you can pair the Smart Lock with the lsquo;August Connect for 79, which lets guests in and locks the door behind them. The Connect also grants real time status of locked or unlocked, and alerts you instantly when somebody comes or goes."

The August Smart Lock Pro is also a Consumer Reports fave. "We tested the previous-generationnbsp;August Smart Locknbsp;and found that it offers a wealth of smart features that potential homeowners will appreciate," they said.

Video doorbell

The humble doorbell has come a long way in the past few years," said Business Insider. "Gone are the days when all a doorbell would do is alert you to the fact that someones at the door. These days, doorbells can connect to your Wi-Fi network to offer enhanced home security with built-in cameras and microphones. Of all the doorbells you can buy, thenbsp;Ring Video Doorbell 2nbsp;currently 199 is our top pick because it doesnt have to be hard wired and it has an excellent 1080p camera."

Smart smoke detectors

If youve ever dealt with a smoke detector going off in the middle of the night, this product should thrill you. But, of course, knowing your family is safe is obviously your No. 1 priority. And why not save a little money at the same time, right?

"Another smart technology product, the smart smoke detector, could not only save you money approximately 5 on yournbsp;insurance premiums, but could even save your life," said UpNest. "One 2014 CBS news report cites a figure of 2/3 of all home fire fatalities occurring in residences where the smoke detectors are missing or disabled -- which is something many of us have resorted to at one time or other out of sheer frustration when our typical lsquo;dumb detector insists on shrieking an alarm every time we try to fry up some bacon. A smart detector will allow you to keep on frying without fear of interruption. Two such products, thenbsp;Birdinbsp;and the Nest Protect, will not only monitor smoke but also carbon dioxide and general air quality. They can even send an alert to your smart phone or tablet if anything is amiss.nbsp;These products retail for 119 and 99 respectively."

Smart irrigation system

The SkyDrop: Smart Irrigation System Controller is a next-level automatic sprinkler system that allows you to control your irrigation from anywhere by using their app, and, "The best part is the irrigation will adjust itself based on your local weather," said Nerds on Call. "The SkyDrop can be programmed to adhere to local water restrictions in order to contribute to saving water. An amazing part about SkyDrop is that it can calculate how much water your lawn uses every day and adjust the amount of watering time to keep your lawn healthy. This device sells for 200 on Amazon, and connects to your existing irrigation system along with your WiFi network."

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Keeping Costs Down When Building Your New Pool

Having a pool can be one of the most enjoyable parts of homeownership, but building it can be an expensive undertaking. "If youre planning to install a pool, be prepared to open your wallet," said US News. "PK Data reports that the average cost of a residential in-ground swimming pool was 39,084 last year."

If you want a pool without the high price, there are ways to keep costs down:

1. Get multiple bids

Talking to only one company gives you no point of reference. Youll want to compare at least three bids from three different companies while youre deciding who is going to build your pool, even if the companies in the running are referrals. And, speaking of referrals, make sure you get them. Entrusting someone with that much money and responsibility without the recommendation of someone you trust - and without thoroughly checking them out - may not end well.

2. Think about the big picture

It might be that a larger upfront cost can lead to savings down the line. Consider this from Marc Sheridan of River Pools: "In the past, concrete, or gunite pools as theyre also called, were almost always more expensive or at least priced about the same initially as fiberglass pools. This year thoughhellip;Ive been witness to some of the lowest prices offered on concrete pool installations in over 10 years. For example, on large pools, Im finding that most concrete pools come in 5-10k less than a fiberglass pool."

The problem lies with using inexpensive surfaces that may not have lasting power. "Most consumers have no idea that theyll be shelling out an additional 8-12k minimum only a decade after install" of white plaster," he said. "When one compounds this number over the course of 20-30 years, the cost to the homeowner is even worse. This doesnt even account for the fact that most pool owners are now using salt chlorinators with their swimming pools, a technology of which I am a huge fan of but has been shown to be more abrasive on concrete pool surfaces than regular chlorine. This is also why I always recommend to my clients that decide to go with a concrete/gunite pool that they should go with a more permanent surface like PebbleTec. I always base decisions and recommendations on what is the best for the long-term, and not for the initial moment price. What good does it does to save a few thousand dollars upfront on a swimming pool purchase if these savings will cost you thousands and thousands more in the long run?"

3. Go with a simple design

A pool design with multiple curves, steps, shelves, and other add-ons will raise the cost. Keep it simple for the best chance of keeping the price down.

4. Limit the materials

Exotic tiles and finishes in the pool, and upscale materials used on the decking and patio, can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.


5. Forgo the bells and whistles

A spa, a waterfall, a bubbler, and an Infinity edge... All are desirable pool features, and all will add to your bottom line.

"By some estimates, the actual construction of an in-ground pool is only about half of what you will eventually pay," said Pool Pricer.

6. Pay attention to size

The bigger the pool, the more expense youll have in piping, pumps, filters, chemicals, and energy used.


7. Do your own maintenance

Pools get dirty and have to be cleaned and maintained regularly. The monthly cost averages 130 to 378, according to HomeAdvisor, with pool cleaners charging 75 to 100 per hour or more. But, much of this cost can be eliminated if you choose to maintain the pool yourself.

"Maintaining your pool yourself will take less than two hours as long as you do it regularly. Routine maintenance not only keeps your pool clean for use, but it also allows you to spot problems early on - before they become big, costly repairs," they said.

8. Build a self-sustaining pond instead

The swimming pond is a growing trend that brings a natural look to the yard and limits the amount of maintenance that needs to be done. "One of the great benefits of a swimming pond is that it is chemical free. When managed properly, natural swimming pools have crystal-clear water and require no chemicals to maintain because they are self-cleaning mini-ecosystems," said Good Housekeeping.

9. Wait on the pool heater

"Adding a heater after having owned the swimming pool a season or more can be a great idea because pool owners can get a true gauge on just how much they need a heater, as well as what type of heater will suite them best," said Sheridan. This is especially useful in warmer climates where homeowners may not even need a heater in the summer.

10. Carefully choose the location

A pool that is located under trees may benefit from shade and therefore not need as much heating, however, it might end up with more leaves and debris, increasing the need for cleaning. The distance from the house is also a factor. "Well-planned pools are generally located close to the house, reducing costs associated with energy and water," said

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10 Tips To Upgrade Your Home Security

Keeping your home and family safe is a priority we all share. But beyond locking the doors and getting a home alarm, there are numerous steps we can take to protect who - and what - we love, and it doesnt have to break the bank.

1. Change your locks

Did you change your locks when you moved into your new home? Yeah. Neither did we. That means someone might already have the most important thing they need to get into your home: a key.

2. Upgrade your door security

While youre changing your locks, look for those that give you more secure options. If youre not sure how important this is, consider what Family handyman reports about FBI burglary statistics: "65 percent of break-ins occur by forcing in the front, back or garage service door."

3. Remove that extra key

The FBI also reports that 12 percent of break-ins are caused by thieves simply finding your hidden key. If you have one sitting under your welcome mat or in a planter, its time to remove it.

4. Use timers

"Put interior lights, TVs, and radios on timers so that you can create the illusion that someone is home when theyre not," said Bob Vila. "Modern digital light timers offer a key benefit over traditional models by having lights cycle on and off randomly."

Make sure to include motion detector lights in key spots around the exterior of your home. A light that pops on just as a burglar is approaching your back door may be enough to make him back away form your home. Home automation products make all of this easier than since you can control lights, TVs, and other items via Smartphone.

5. Get a dog

Seriously. Homes with dogs are less likely to be broken into, according to a study by The University of North Carolina, because they bark to create a ruckus and can also harm an intruder by biting.


6. Fake the alarm

If you cant swing the cost of an alarm, pretend you have one. "Thieves look for an easy mark; making your home look tough to crack will encourage them to move on," said HGTV. "You can easily put up security system decals - a clear deterrent - even if you dont have a system."

7. Install a camera

"Thanks to >8. Check doors and windows

You might think your home is more secure than it is. Maybe that backdoor is easy to open with a good push or the guest room window isnt shutting all the way. Eliminating easy access points by shutting doors and windows and locking everything up will cost you nothing, but if you need a backup for that easy-access slider door, a good old broomstick cut down to size will do the trick.

9. Call the police

In many areas, a police officer will visit your home to give you tips on how to make your home more secure, and it will cost you nothing.

10. Eliminate hiding spots

"If your shrubbery is too tall, bushy, or not well spaced, youre providing a nice hiding spot for a potential burglar," said Consumer Reports. "Trim and prune plantings."
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Theres A Color Of The Year For Everyone

Color experts such as The Pantone Color Institute, provide a number of services to companies all over the world to help them learn more about color and how to use it in their businesses. One of the most famous examples of color trending is Pantones Color of the Year, which "provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design."

To remain >The idea is to stimulate change and perhaps get comfortable with a color you might not normally try in your home. In other words, the Color of the Year is a stimulus to spend money. You might not buy the purple couch, but youll be tempted to go bolder on something. Youll try a new set of towels for the bath or buy a set of glasses in some bold shade to set off the dinner table.

There are other colors of the year that are getting plenty of notice.

Sherwin Williams put its 2018 money on "Oceanside," a bold, sexy teal blue thats not just for the coasts. You dont have to live on the water to appreciate its mysterious depths.

Another aggressive choice is Pittsburgh Paints "Black Flame," a smokey hue that connotes drama and sophistication. Its a good excuse to wean homeowners away from the neutral and safe light greys and whites of the past few years.

Too strong? Then try Pratt Lamberts soothing blue "Heron," or Behrs blue-tinged green "In the Moment." These are still a far cry from white, beige or grey.

The only paint company not to go in the direction of blues, greens or greys is Benjamin Moore. Its Color of the Year is a spicy hot red called "Caliente."

Does the color of the year mean you should run out and buy a purple couch or paint your babys room black? No, the color is an inspiration for the year, and may be completely different from the color of the year from the year before and the year to follow. Its only this years inspiration to give you ideas to think about, sort of like runway fashion introduces new silhouettes.

Most products for the home are designed to have a longer use than a year. But, you may see the color and be tempted to try it in a small way or in a more muted tone. A fresh new color looks modern and takes you away from colors that may date your home, like ashes of roses from the 50s, avocado green from the 70s, or Tuscan gold from the 90s.

If theres one takeaway from the colors of the year, its that they give you permission to go bolder. You can still stick to the safety of white, grey or beige, but you might use an eye-catching color on an accent wall or in a throw pillow or in a piece of art. And if you want it in a mixer or crockpot, you can have it.

Think of color as an expression of your personality and the mood you wish to convey -- both great places to start when designing and decorating your home.
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Eight Signs Its Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Lets face it: Its probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, life>But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

Youve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If youre the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

Youre at each others throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you dont have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if "your quality of life is suffering," said Unpakt. "This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just cant keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, youre stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear."

The neighborhood is changingand not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary or wanted renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it - or get it into tip-top shape for a sale - is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You dont want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You dont want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because its overdone and considered overpriced.

"Weighing against renovation is the risk youll over-improve your home comparedwith others on the block," said Bankrate. "When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect."

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If youre still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe its time to find one that better meets your life>Youve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. "Its not just the sticker price on the house; its thelong-term costs associated with it," said "When you go up in square footage, you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance." And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming "house poor" by "using onlineaffordability calculatorsto figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.
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Rapid Transit Project May Call For Eminent Domain
Question: I understand that our State government has plans to expand our rapid transit railway system and many of us are concerned that they will take our houses in order to complete the project. What is the law on this? Do they have the absolute right to do this? Joseph.

Answer: Joseph. You are referring to a concept called "eminent domain" -- also known as "condemnation". The short answer: if the taking of the property is for a "public use" -- such as road or a rail transit -- the government has the absolute right to take your house or even your business.

The Fifth Amendment to our Constitution reads, in part: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation". And the Fourteenth Amendment applies that same concept to all States. That means that while you have very little chance to fight the taking, you can challenge the amount the government initially offers you. You have the right to a full jury trial to have the court determine what is "just compensation".

Although the process may differ from state to state, typically once the government makes a determination that it needs certain property for its "public use", it may actually hold hearings where the pros and cons are discussed. In fact, often you -- the effective homeowner -- may not even be aware of the facts until you get a formal notice of the taking. In many states, the government does what is known as a "quick take" -- they immediately record the title to the property in the name of the government.

What is a public use? A 2005 Supreme Court opinion muddied the waters somewhat when it ruled that the City of New London, Connecticut, could condemn private property and give it to a private developer to be used a part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan. According to the Court, "the governmental taking of property from one private owner to give to another in furtherance of economic development constitutes a permissible public use under the Fifth Amendment." Kelo v City of New London.

As a result, many States have reacted to the high courts decision by enacting legislation that prohibits a state from taking property and giving it to another private land owner, even for example in the case of job creation.

I suggest that you and your neighbors immediately retain experienced local counsel so that you will be prepared in case that condemnation notice comes your way. There should be a lot of advanced preparation, such as getting your own appraiser, so that you will be able to challenge -- if necessary -- the dollar amount that the government will initially offer you as compensation.

Question: I read your informative articles and I have a question concerning condominium organization. First we have an association in "title" only, since it is run by one lady who collects the fees. Problem one: shes too tired to collect the fees from the owners that have abandoned their units. Problem two: how do we collect the fees from bank owned units. I am trying to organize the other owners, and plan to schedule a meeting with them. Hopefully we can move forward. Jilma.

Answer: Dear Jilma. I doubt that this will be any consolation to you, but you are not alone. Many, many community associations have the same problems. There is a lot of apathy since many owners bought into the community so that others could cut the grass and shovel the snow.

And where there is apathy, someone -- such as your lady -- sees an opportunity to be called "madame president", and basically takes over the association. Unfortunately, it is an ego trip on the part of many board presidents.

I do want to make it clear that the great majority of associations are run by boards of directors who take their positions seriously and are working without pay for the good of the entire community.

What should you do? There is a provision in your legal documents that allows for board members to be recalled. There are requirements, such as giving the board member adequate notice and an opportunity to defend him or herself before the community votes on the issue.

I would contact the Community Association Institute and find an attorney in your area that practices and understands community association law. Your group should retain a lawyer to guide you through the process.

To answer your questions, there are two ways to collect -- whether it is from bank owned units, current or abandoned owners: you either file a lawsuit against the delinquent owner or you foreclose on the unit.

You need a lawyer to represent your interests. Your condo unit is your investment; dont lose it.

Question: If I rent a house from owners whose house is paid off, are they required to have and keep homeowners insurance on their property? Antonia.

Answer: Dear Antonia. Thats a great question, and I dont really know the answer. However, I do not believe that your landlord is required to have any insurance. But regardless of whether one is legally required to have homeowners insurance coverage, it is -- in my opinion a foolish decision if you do not have the protection that such an insurance policy can give you.

You should get what is known as "renters insurance". This will not insure the physical structure of the building or the apartment in which you live but will cover loss of your personal property because of such catastrophes as fire, theft or vandalism.

You should ask your landlord if he has sufficient insurance coverage should there be problems in the building. If not, you should first contact your insurance agent and discuss your options. You might be wise to move out unless the appropriate coverage is available.
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California Association of REALTORS To Release New And Revised Forms

Twice a year, in June and December, the California Association of REALTORS CAR >

Three new forms will be >As its title indicates, the SBSA is an advisory given to both buyers and sellers, though its provisions are generally more >A significant improvement is that the new SBSA will be divided into categories. The earlier and present versions were pretty much a hodgepodge, making it somewhat difficult for most people to locate quickly any particular section among its twelve single-spaced pages. By presenting a table that shows how the topics are arranged within various categories will make it considerably easier to find ones way around the advisory.

Seven general categories are presented. They are: A. Investigation of Physical Condition; B. Property Use and Ownership; C. Off-Site and Neighborhood Conditions; D. Legal Requirements Federal, State, and Local; E. Contract >There are, of course, a number of specific revisions and additions that have also been made to the SBSA. These include:

1. There is new language on page one informing the parties that different reports may not be consistent with one another and that brokers have not verified the information in the reports.

2. There is new language regarding hiring proper professionals if square footage and boundaries are material to the buyer.

3. A new paragraph addresses Accessory Dwelling Units.

4. A new paragraph addresses the Buyers Intended Use of the property.

5. Additional language has been added to the section regarding marijuana use and California law.

6. There is a new paragraph regarding short-term rentals and the possibility of local restrictions on short-term rentals.

7. Added to the current very long paragraph addressing "Neighborhood, Area, Personal Factors, Buyer Intended Use, High Speed Rails, and Smoking Restrictions" is some language and references regarding drones.

8. To a section on advertising new language has been added regarding staging and explaining that some furnishings and decorations may not be included in the sale.

More generally, it is highly beneficial that a number of web sites have been added that will provide helpful reference material.
Full Story >

How A Housing Shock Would Impact Canadas Economy

Last year various Canadian governments took measures to slow down the booming housing market, imposing new taxes and strict mortgage qualification requirements. The governments feared that homeowners were sinking too far into debt and that runaway house prices in Vancouver and Toronto were unsustainable.

Some people who are struggling to get into the market say they hope theres a "housing crash" that will bring prices down to an affordable level. But a recent report by the British Columbia Real Estate Association BCREA says we should be careful what we wish for.

"The desire of some well-meaning British Columbians for government to drive down the price of homes through demand-side policy may sound practical at first blush. However, when you consider the broad and deep economic toll that a negative shock to home prices would exact on both homeowners and renters, it quickly becomes apparent that such an approach is at best, a mugs game."

The association estimates how much a shock of 10, 20 and 35 per cent on home prices would impact the economy.

"Nearly 70 per cent of British Columbian households own their home. A >The Canadian Real Estate Association CREA commissioned Altus Group to determine the impact of resale housing transactions on the economy. It says between the period of 2014 to 2016, 61,600 was spent in an average transaction on items other than the actual house and land.

This includes renovations, conducted both before the sale to make it more marketable and afterwards as homeowners tailored the property to their needs; new appliances and furnishings. It also includes fees to real estate agents, lawyers, appraisers, home inspectors and appraisers.

The ancillary spending added up to more than 31 billion per year across Canada.

CREA says that during the same period, 220,065 jobs are estimated to have been generated each year. "Canada-wide, the finance, insurance, real estate, construction and professional services sectors benefited the most from MLS system home sales," says CREA.

"If home prices fell 35 per cent, a level some activists are championing, the B.C. economy would collapse into recession," says BCREA. "The average homeowner would have lost 245,000 in equity, housing starts would fall by half, 64,000 jobs would be forfeited -- sending the unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent with 4.4 billion in forgone retail sales and a colossal 8 billion loss to GDP in the first year."

Not everyone agrees that a housing shock would have such a dramatic impact on the economy.

Laura Cooper, an economist with RBC Economists, wrote in 2017 that "tallying up the contributions of everything from the building of new homes to the costs of maintaining and running a home, housing->But she says not all that activity would be vulnerable to a downturn in sales, estimating that "close to 15 per cent of the economy has a degree of exposure to a drop in home sales, but only five per cent has a strong >Based on historic declines in housing, Cooper says the impacts on the economy "tend to be limited and occur over different stages of the housing cycle. This implies a one-time blow to the economy resulting from a sales slump is unlikely."

She says rising home prices make homeowners feel wealthier, contributing to all types of consumer spending. "Vehicle purchases, eating out at restaurants, spending on recreation, cultural events and financial services all have a tendency to slow somewhat against a backdrop of declining home sales, but tends to occur over a period of six to nine months following the beginning signs of a housing downturn," she says.

Cooper says although renovation activity is susceptible to a housing downturn, historically "the drop in the value of home renovations tends to be less pronounced than that of home sales, declining by about one-third of the sales drop."

But she adds, "There is always the risk that households pull back more on spending now than in past downturns given elevated levels of household debt and prospective increases in interest rates." She adds, "A broad 30 per cent drop in home resales, and attendant spillovers to building activity, house prices and consumer confidence could translate into a hit on the economy of one per cent to two per cent, with a drop in ownership transfer costs and new home construction accounting for two-thirds of the decline."
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Why Do So Many HOAs Fail To Properly Plan For Predictable Expenses?

A fortune teller asked me to gaze into her crystal ball. "I see wear and tear in your condominiums future. I see a new roof will be needed. I see cracking paint and asphalt in need of repair. I see gasp no money to pay for these things"

It doesnt take a fortune teller to predict that common elements are going to wear out and it doesnt take a crystal ball to predict that HOAs are going to need money and a plan to fix them. So why do so many HOAs fail to properly plan for these predictable events and expenses?

The truth is that too many HOA boards are busy putting out this years financial fires and havent the time to think about next year and beyond. Remember, "its hard to drain the swamp when youre up to your behind in alligators". In other words, its easy to lose track of long term goals

when you get sidetracked by more immediate demands. Putting out fires is what HOAs do, right? The poorly run ones seem to do just that.

HOAs are no different than any other business. Those that are successful engage in long range planning. Those that fail to plan fend off disaster after disaster and board members come and go through a revolving door. No real magic here. To know where you are going, you have to have a destination in mind. In spite of bumper sticker wisdom, those that wander really are lost.

So back to the HOA scenario. When a homeowner association doesnt have the funds to handle a major repairs, they defer those repairs until the funds are available. Of course, money doesnt grow on trees and without a plan to collect more money, band-aiding and deferring become the default reality and slippery slope.

How do you steer your HOA back up to high and stable ground? The first step is to review your reserve study. "Whats a reserve study?" you say. A reserve study identifies all common element components that have useful lives between 2 and 30 years like the roof, fences, decks, paint, paving, etc. The average condominium has 15-30 components. The average high rise condo can easily have 100. And HOAs that own golf courses and marinas can have many more. Regardless, a reserve study is customized to the HOA in question.

SIDEBAR: "But our condominium is small", you say meaning, "why is a reserve study even necessary in our case?" Its basic math: The more people you have to share the cost, the less the cost per person. Smaller HOAs have a greater need for reserve planning because the cost per person is greater.

After the component list is determined, a current repair or replacement cost must be determined for each as well as the remaining useful life. With this information and the current inflation factor, a funding plan can be made to instruct the board how much money to collect and set aside each year to meet future financial needs.

While there is no state or federal requirement, the reserve study should be performed by a professional since evaluating condition of components and establishing useful lives and current pricing takes special training that few boards have. The professionals carrying the highest credential in the industry, the PRA Professional Reserve Analyst, belong to the Association of Professional Reserve Analysts. A list of members and contact information can be found at

Rather than crystal ball your future, get a proper reserve study done and follow the funding and schedule recommendations. Leave the crystal balling to Lady Luck.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
Full Story >

Summer Savers: 9 Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Home Before The Heat Hits

Things are heating up and school is winding down. That means summer is right around the corner. But its not all flip-flops and sunglasses and smiles. Summer is also hot and sweaty and often expensive when youre trying not to be hot and sweaty, or you just want your home to run more efficiently. There are things you can do and changes you can make now to save money this summer.

Have your sprinkler system and outdoor faucets looked at

You could have sprinkler heads that are malfunctioning or not working at all, which could harm your grass and cost you money to replace it. Leaky outdoor faucets could also be costing you in increased water bills.

Do a leak check inside

Cold air escaping and hot air intruding - its the reality of many a home, and not only can it make you feel uncomfortable, it can make your air conditioner work overtime. "For a thorough and accurate measurement of air leakage in your home, hire a qualified technician to conduct anenergy audit, particularly ablower door test," said the U.S. Department of Energy. "A blower door test, which depressurizes a home, can reveal the location of many leaks."

Do an appliance check

Have a mixer, blender, and knife sharpener plugged in on your kitchen countertop? How often do you really use any of these items? The more you unplug, the less energy you use.

Have your A/C unit checked and serviced

Not only do you not want your air conditioning to conk out in mid-summer when its blasting hot outside, but you also want to make sure you catch little issues before they become giant, expensive ones - and before youre A/C guy books up. "There are two main reasons to schedule annual air conditioner maintenance with your local HVAC contractor: saving money and saving money no that isnt a typo," said HomeAdvisor. "For starters, you greatly increase the chances that your A/C technician will catch small problems before they become big ones by schedules regular check-ups. Repairing a small refrigerant leak shouldnt cost much more than the service call. Buying a new compressor when low refrigerant levels burn your current one out, however, can cost a thousand dollars or more. The other way an annual check-up saves you money is by ensuring that your A/C unit is working at optimal efficiency. When your A/C is running well it uses less energy to cool your house, and lower energy use means bigger savings for you on your monthly utility bills."

Remember to change your filters regularly, too. According to, "The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency ofyour air conditioneris to routinely replace or clean its filters. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a cleanonecan loweryour air conditioners energy consumption by 5 to 15."

Use the toaster instead of the oven

The heat from the oven can raise the temp in your home, causing your air conditioner to turn on. Using smaller appliances - your slow cooker is another idea - can help keep the temperature lower. Even better, use your outdoor grill, instead

Cover up

Windows that are exposed to afternoon sun can heat up the house quickly, undermining your A/C and making everyone in the house uncomfortable.

"Air conditioning is blissful during the summer, but running it nonstop during a heat wave will have you cursing when you get your utility bill," said Consumer Reports. "Fortunately, clever use of blinds, curtains, and other window treatments can help keep your house cool and your bills in check. The Department of Energy says that smart management of window coverings can reduce heat gain by up to 77 percent."

Cover up inside and out for the best protection. "Studies show that medium-colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gain by 33 percent,according to the DOE.Because of the horizontal slats, its difficult to control heat loss through interior window blinds, although they do offer some flexibility. Unlike shades, you can adjust the slats to control light and ventilation. When completely closed, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent, says the DOE. They can also be adjusted to block and reflect direct sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling, which diffuses the light without much heat or glare."

Outside, consider solar screens, or awnings."Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows,according to the DOE."

Turn up the temperature

That goes against the whole "keeping the house cool" thing, right? But, if you can stand it, a few ticks up on the thermostat can lower your costs. "According toEnergy Star, almost half the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling. Even making small adjustments, such as turning up your air conditioning by only one degree, can make a huge difference," said Huffington Post. "For each degree you reduce your air conditioning, its estimated youll save 3 percent on your utility bills. You can also save money by using a programmable thermostat. When used correctly, a programmable thermostat saves the average family 180 per year."

Get a learning thermostat

Unlike old-school thermostats that you can program for different times and days, products like Nest actually learn from you, and your house, which can then save you money. "Why should you have to figure out your thermostat? The Nest Thermostat learns from you," said Nest. "Just turn it up and down for the first few days. The Nest Thermostat will get to know the temperatures you like and when you like them. Then it programs itself and creates a schedule for you. The Nest Thermostat even learns from your home and figures out how it heats or cools, because no two homes are exactly thesame."

Add insulation

The upfront expense will will pay dividends later when your energy bills go down. "Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your homes energy draw by 20 to 30 percent," said Real Simple.
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Easy Ways To Lower Your Energy Usage At Home

California just became the first state to require solar panels on every new home starting in 2020 in a landmark move for state building regulations and "government controls over climate-warming carbon emissions," said NBC News. This will be a huge plus for homebuyers who were already looking for ways to be greener, but there is a downside, albeit one with a long-term potential upside: the cost.

"The average estimated cost of a solar system is 9,500, or 40 a month when amortized over a 30-year mortgage," they said. "But the systems are projected to save customers an average of 80 a month on their utility bills."

Thankfully, there are a number of other options out there for eco-friendly living that are low cost, and many of them are also low effort.

"To reduce energy consumption in your home, you do not necessarily need to go out and purchase energy efficient products," said Energy Sage. "Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off lights or appliances when you do not need them. The behavior adjustments that have the highest potential for utility savings are turning down the heat on your thermostat in the winter and using your air conditioner less in the summer. Heating and cooling costs constitute nearly half of an average homes utility bills, so these reductions in the intensity and frequency of heating and cooling offer the greatest savings."

Here are some other easy ways to save energy and money:

Ditch the plastic

Some states have already banned plastic bags at the supermarket and many places are also in the process of changing over from plastic straws to paper straws. You can apply the same concept at home. An easy way to start is by ditching your plastic bottle habit. Instead of buying 36-packs of bottled water, grab a Britta filter instead.

Go meatless on Monday

"The one single factor in our diets that contributes the most to our carbon footprint is meat," said Tastemade. "Those who eat a lot have double the carbon footprint of those who are vegan. Animals, and livestock, in particular, require a lot more resources like water and grain to raise and process than, say, a head of lettuce." Experts say that a family of four who regularly eliminates meat from one meal a week can have the same environmental impact as driving a hybrid.

Use less water

If you cant break your long shower habit, think about other easy ways you can conserve water, like: turning off the faucet when youre brushing your teeth and only running your washing machine when its full. Lowering the water temp from high to medium or even cold, where possible, is another great way to lower your energy usage.

Use the dishwasher

You might think youre saving water by doing dishes by hand, but the opposite is often true. "Doing a full load in your machine is far more efficient than washing the same number of dishes by hand," said This Old House. "This is especially true if you have an Energy Star dishwasher, which requires an average of four gallons of water per load, compared with the 24 gallons it takes to do them in the sink. Using one will save you 5,000 gallons of water, 40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time each year."

Donate to declutter

"By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you dont another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill," said Real Simple. Take your things to a thrift store or donate to a charity, instead. Your donations will be tax deductible, and youll feel great as you start to declutter your place.

Get a Costco membership

There are so many great reasons to shop at Costco, like the free samples and the 1.50 hot dog and soda combo. Buying products in bulk also "reduces the amount of packaging needed, thus providing considerable benefits to the environment," said Conserve Energy Future.

Get to stepping

"Walking is simply the most environmentally-friendly way of getting from A to B," said "It uses no fossil fuels, produces no air pollution, and is generally a pretty quiet way of getting about. So if youre keen to go green, switching from driving to walking for short journeys is one of the easiest ways to make a real difference." And, its good for your heart, too

Switch out your household cleaners for something greener

Switching to green cleaners can reduce pollution in the air inside and out of your home, "minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health," said Real Simple. "Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels."

Learn basic composting

If you do want to get your hands a little dirty, composting offers multiple benefits, including reducing the amount of waste in landfills lowering theemission of methanewhile food is decomposing. "An awful lot of people have said an awful lot about composting," said Attainable Sustainable. "Mostly, they make it sound like an awful lot of work. Let me clear the air:composting is easy. You do not have to do anything to turn your kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost.Mother Nature will do it for you. Passive composting is an easy way to turn your waste into a useful product without much work on your part at all. You do not have to have a fancy composter. All you need is a place to put your compost pile. And thats all it has to be: a pile. Dump your kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, and leaves in a pile and forget about it."
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A Guide To Selecting The Right Outdoor Furniture

The outdoor living and dining season is finally here. If youre like many of us, you may have looked around your deck and realized your furniture could use an upgrade. Of course, if you realized the deck itself needs an upgrade, we can help with that, too

Here are some tips to help you purchase the ideal furniture for your outdoor space. Weve included information on furniture sizing, the pros and cons of different materials, and a checklist to guide the buying process. Happy shopping

How to determine the proper dining table size

If youre replacing your current dining table and chairs, you probably already know the size you need. If youre starting from scratch, or if you didnt size your original set properly, make your first purchase a pad of graph paper.

Then, follow these steps for a foolproof furniture plan you can use this same process for other deck furniture you might want:

  • Draw your deck to scale 1 inch equals 1 foot, example.
  • Mark the locations of stairs and doorways.
  • Cut out "furniture" using the same graph paper and scale. Tip: Look online for furniture you like; then, use the dimensions of those pieces for this exercise.
  • Avoid the temptation to overcrowd the deck. Ensure adequate room for guests to push back their chairs and move around freely. Leave some general "walking around" space as well.
  • Dont forget to allow room for your grill.
  • If you often host larger gatherings, choose a table that fits your space properly; then, purchase additional seating that can be easily stacked and stored when not in use.
  • If space allows, consider adding a small bistro set or bar-height table and chairs for more intimate dining or a cozy spot to enjoy your morning coffee.
  • Consider furniture with built-in storage or a deck box that can protect cushions, grill items, or outdoor accessories from the elements.

Which deck furniture material is best for your space?

Here is a quick rundown of the pros and cons of different furniture frame materials.

  • Solid and sturdy
  • Doesnt get overly hot or cold
  • Teak is extremely long lasting with proper care
  • Hardwoods more resistant to weather
  • Will fade in the sun
  • May require preservatives to prevent cracking, decay
  • Some species need oils to preserve natural color
  • Some species prone to splintering
  • Wooden tables need protection against moisture rings and heat marks
  • Lightweight, easy to move
  • Chairs usually easy to stack
  • Resists moisture, rotting, cracking
  • Salt water not a threat
  • Resists fading
  • May contain recycled content
  • Can blow around easily in strong winds
  • Inexpensive pieces may look cheap or flimsy
Cast Aluminum
  • Resembles wrought iron yet easier to move and maintain
  • Stays cooler than wrought iron
  • Low maintenance annual soap and water cleaning
  • Wont corrode, rust, or fade
  • Higher-end sets can be costly
  • Lower-priced sets might not be quite as durable store inside during the winter
Rattan and wicker
  • Synthetic versions are fairly weather-resistant
  • Synthetic versions available in wide range of colors
  • Synthetic versions can be washed with soap and water and left to dry
  • High-end synthetics are usually UV-resistant; wont fade or crack
  • Natural fibers are not as hardy as synthetics
Wrought iron
  • Elegant and timeless
  • Newer pieces usually powder-coated to resist rust and chipping
  • Wont blow around in strong winds
  • Difficult to move
  • Can get very hot in the sun
  • Chairs can be uncomfortable without cushions
  • Older pieces can rust and chip
  • Annual refinishing recommended for older sets

Choosing the perfect outdoor dining set

Where should you shop for outdoor furniture? Fortunately, you can find attractive outdoor furniture everywhere from big box home improvement stores to warehouse club stores to high-end furniture retailers. Let your budget be your guide. To further assist you in the buying process, use these tips from

  • Pay close attention to the height of both the table and the chairs. If the table feels too high or too low >
  • Examine the construction of the table. Is it sturdy, or does it move easily when you push on it? Are screws or other fasteners capped and hidden? If not, are they made from rust-proof stainless steel?
  • Is the finish smooth and uniform all over? Any sharp edges visible?
  • Do the chairs fit comfortably close to the table or do the armrests get in the way?
  • What about the seats? Can you easily slide all the way back or is the angle uncomfortable? Unless youre a riveting storyteller, chances are your guests would rather not eat their meals perched on the edge of their seats.
  • Dont forget about seat cushions. Do the cushions fit the seats appropriately and have plenty of comfy padding? Can the material withstand the elements, or will you need to be extra-diligent about putting them away after every use?

If youll need to purchase cushions, are the seats a standard size and shape? Meaning, will you be able to purchase cushions easily, or will they need to be custom made? Either way, purchasing outdoor cushions can be a pricey proposition. Factor in the added expense.

Need an umb>

Warm sunny days are glorious hellip; unless youre sitting in direct sun trying to enjoy a meal or beverage. The easy solution, of course, is an umb>

  • If your new table is equipped for an umb>
  • Wooden umb>
  • Most metal umb>
  • For durability and longevitys sake, look for umb>
  • To ensure adequate protection from the sun, use the following formula to determine the optimal umb>
  • If your table does not accommodate an umb>

Know your furniture options hellip; and your decking options

As with most significant purchases, a little time spent doing some research will yield much better results.

Of course, if you are researching decking options, check out the advantages of Fiberon composite decking over wood -- especially when it comes to low maintenance and durability. Composite decking has come a long way; you may be surprised by what you learn.

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4 Steps to Finding a Nonprofit to Support

1. Consider your passions and whatrsquo;s important to you

The things that stir up the most emotion in you are the things you feel most passionately about. When it comes to giving back, ask yourself what areas yoursquo;re most interested in assisting. Perhaps your passion is in the environment, in the welfare of animals, education, assisting veterans, or feeding the hungry. Take into consideration the areas that mean the most to you and that you would like to impact the most.

Then, when yoursquo;ve decided on an area of interest yoursquo;d like to focus on, break it down a little more to get even more specific. For example, if your passion lies in animal welfare, what kind of animals are you interested in assisting? All animals? Dogs? Cats? A specific breed or species of animal? Narrow down the options until you have a solid starting point to begin your nonprofit search.

2. Location, location, location

Where your nonprofit is located will also sometimes determine whom theyrsquo;ll be helping. Some nonprofits assist on a local level while others serve on a national or even international level.

If itrsquo;s important to you to give back locally, be sure to narrow your search to areas close to where you live, or to smaller chapters of larger organizations near you. Choosing a national or international nonprofit doesnrsquo;t mean you canrsquo;t still give back locally. Many national and international organizations have smaller chapters throughout the country to which you can donate directly if yoursquo;d like to keep your donations closer to home.

3. Do your due diligence

The internet has a plethora of resources to choose from when it comes to selecting a nonprofit. However, anyone can say their organization is a nonprofit, even if it may not be. Before sending a donation off to a nonprofit yoursquo;ve never worked with before, make sure you do your due diligence to ensure that the nonprofit is legitimate, and that your funds would be used for programs and other areas that you prefer. Visiting a nonprofitrsquo;s website is one easy way to gather all the information yoursquo;ll need.

Simply ask yourself these questions:

bull; Does the nonprofit have a clear mission statement?
bull; Does there appear to be transparency on how theyrsquo;re using funding?
bull; To which programs do their funds go?
bull; Do they have a registered EIN number visible on their website?

That last bullet is the most important of the bunch. If a nonprofit does not have an EIN number, that means that it is not a tax-exempt organization. If you cannot find an EIN number on the nonprofitrsquo;s website, you can do an easy lookup on the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search.

4. Start paying it forward

Once yoursquo;ve decided on your nonprofit of choice, there are numerous ways you can give back. One easy and popular way to pay it forward is through third party donations simply because they are free donations from third parties that you get to direct to your nonprofit, just for purchasing the items you were already going to purchase. Some examples might include grocery stores and AmazonSmile, but there are also companies like PinRaise, Inc., which assists nonprofits nation-wide through its innovative Agent with Hearttrade; program. Through Agent with Heart, real estate agents pledge to make a donation to their clientrsquo;s nonprofit of choice at the close of escrow.

Aside from third party donations, there are many ways for you to pay it forward with your nonprofit; from volunteering directly, allowing supporters to work closely with those that they are assisting, to personal donations, fundraisers, and more. Explore what opportunities your nonprofit provides and choose the ways that work best for you and yoursquo;ll be well on your way to making a difference.

Full Story >

Would You Buy A Home From Kanye West?

Among the controversial rapper/artist/fashion designer/pop culture phenoms recent flurry of eyebrow-raising tweets comes this gem: So would you buy a home from Kanye West? You might soon be able to.

The announcement of Yeezy Home was met with a lot of "Huh?" and "What?" and "Why?" but also a fair amount of "Hmmm" and "Wow" and "More info, please." Sohellip;not unlike almost everything else Kanye West does. And thats especially true of his most recent behavior.

He has courted controversy on Twitter yet again with his take about slaveryhellip;namely that it was a choice. The post-tweet backlash was swift as people quickly came out to condemn the idea. Huffington Post said he was "schooled on history" and one longtime fan spoke for many with his emotional letter to Kanye, which was printed by Variety, explaining why he was putting the artists music "on pause" because of the pain his words have inflicted. Kanye also supposedly lost nine million followers in the immediate aftermath, although Twitter says that was "a glitch."

Either way, he still has his fans, his followers, and, certainly, his apologists, and he may soon have a team of architects and industrial designers working with/for him and, presumably, buyers who love the idea of a Kanye-created home.

Why architecture?

But, who are they? And, why architecture? For now, we can more easily answer the second question.

"West first mentioned his interest in pursuing architecture and design in a 2013nbsp;interviewnbsp;with the BBC, said Architectural Digest. "I want to do product, I am a product person, he said. lsquo;Not just clothing but water bottle design, architecture...I make music but I shouldnt be limited to once place of creativity. He went on to explain that he was working with lsquo;five architects at a time to figure out exactly what he wanted. Later that year, he spoke to students at Harvard Universitys Graduate School of Design, telling students, lsquo;I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be architected...I believe that utopia is actually possible - but were led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political."

That Kanye arrogance is nothing new; some might say its even part of his charm. And, he does have an eye. His footwear and appa>

Who are the potential buyers?

Which brings us back to the "Who are they?" question. With so much emotion tied up in the homebuying purchase, anyway, does a home associated with such a polarizing figure crate a barrier right out of the gate? Perhaps not for fans, if they can even afford it. Kanye has expensive taste - his Hidden Hills, CA home with wife Kim Kardashian is said to be worth 60 million, and, although another one of his recent tweets said that the clothing line would be "working with the most genius-level talents and creating product at an affordable price," ArchDaily countered that, "Given the current three-figure price of Wests product line, the tweets are a difficult knot to untie."


So, while not much detail is known at this point about Yeezy Home, one can presume, given his taste in homes, that price points could reach sky-high levels. Which would leave many a fan on the outside.

Kanye and Kims home is gorgeous, if you like minimalism, all-white spaces, and an almost "cathedral-like quality. "The couple worked with renowned Belgian architect Axel Vervoordt, whosenbsp;clientsnbsp;include Robert DeNiro and Calvin Klein, to transform the property," said People. The publication also noted that, "West was nominated for anbsp;prestigious design awardnbsp;in 2017 for his fashion line, Yeezy, and evennbsp;pitched a furniture collaboration to IKEAnbsp;in 2016, though so farnbsp;nothing has come of the proposition."

His love or brutalism could also offer stylistic clues and design inspiration for Yeezy Home. "West also seems to have a penchant for Brutalism - the heavy-handed, much-contested architectural >
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Effective Staging Ideas Can Transform Your Home

Appearance is crucial when selling your home. Making your home look sensational will go a long way in being able to get what you want out of the property. Its here that staging comes into play. But many homeowners arent able to afford the cost of a professional stager. Thankfully, you dont have to turn to a professional. There are a number of things that you can do on your own to transform the look of your home.

1 Pack up your personal items.

Packing up all of your personal effects is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to prep your condo or home for sale. Removing your personal touches will help a potential buyer to see the home as their own. Sometimes your personal items can make that difficult. Pictures, artwork and other decor are more distracting than you realize. Hide them in the basement or a storage space while conducting tours.

2 Get rid of the clutter.

Getting rid of any excess clutter is a great way to get potential buyers to look at your home. Sometimes emotional attachments can make throwing out clutter difficult. Its easy to gather clutter if you have lived in the same home for years. Excess items can have a negative impact on how your potential buyers view your property. De-clutter your home as much as you can to attract more buyers.

3 Rearrange and neutralize your rooms.

Even though you might enjoy the blue walls in your bedroom, that doesnt mean a potential buyer will. Loud or eclectic design elements might make a potential buyer think about all of the work that they have to put into the home. The best thing you can do is to repaint your rooms a neutral color, like white, tan or cream. This will appeal to more buyers and allow them to visualize their own decor in the home.

Consider rearranging the furniture in your rooms to increase their functionality. Think about how to show potential buyers how much they could do with a room. Maximizing space is crucial when selling a home.

4 Eliminate smells and stains by deodorizing and scrubbing your home.

No buyer wants to walk into a home that is dirty and smelly. The best thing you can do is scrub everything from floor to ceiling before having an open house. You dont want any dirt, dust or odors lurking around the home. You want to make sure your property shines as much as you can. Greet buyers with a clean, fresh smell in every room. If youre short on time, hire a cleaning service. A pro will save you time and ensure a spotless home.

5 Replace the hardware around your home.

Most homeowners can afford to replace the hardware around their home. Focus on your doors and kitchen first. Next, make your way through the rest of the home. Swapping out your old hardware with new hardware can make a big difference in how your cabinets and doors look.


In going through the tips above, you can quickly transform the appearance of your home. Even making these small changes can make a major difference in how potential buyers view your home. You dont need to spend a fortune staging your home. Instead, invest some time and effort in making a difference in the way your home looks.

Andrea Davis is the editor for Home Advisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

Full Story >

Pool Maintenance In Your HOA

The climate in many northern states offers limited access to outdoor pool facilities, generally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Many elements such as weather, temperature, rain, sunshine, oils, lotions, sweat, etc., have an influence on water clarity and purity. It is important that regular inspections of the water and mechanical equipment be performed and recorded on a log in compliance with local or state requirements. A regular review of the maintenance and chemical treatment logs, combined with needed preventive maintenance adjustments, will assure a season of uninterrupted fun and enjoyment.

Safety Considerations.

1. There is no substitute for adequate supervision. The "buddy system" is always a good practice. Even good swimmers can drown if they bump their head, become entrapped, or have a medical emergency.

2. Pools are an "attractive nuisance" and most jurisdictions require, at minimum, a four foot fence with a self closing and lockable mechanism on the gate.

3. Pool rules should also be prominently displayed. Rules and regulations can be community specific and should always be board approved.

4. Rescue equipment must be readily accessible and include a ring buoy, life hook and backboard. First aid kits should be visible and nearby.

5. Alcohol consumption should be carefully controlled or prohibited in the pool area.

Pool Chemical Storage.

  • Store in a cool, dry, well ventilated area that is kept locked. Do not leave chemicals sitting in the sun or in an enclosed area in which heat builds up.
  • Keep chemicals separate from each other and from other chemicals. Violent reactions such as explosions, fire or noxious gas production can occur. Never mix chemicals together.
  • Do not stack chemicals containers on top of each other.

6. Always replace lids and caps immediately and firmly after each use.

7. Post Material Safety Data Sheets and emergency information and telephone numbers near by.

8. Never allow smoking around the chemicals; fire or explosion could result.

Facts and Statistics.

  • 75 of drowning victims studied by the Consumer Product Safety Council were between 1 and 2 years old.
  • Drowning incidents involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a telephone. 75 of the victims had been missing for less than five minutes.
  • Child drowning is a silent death; there is ra>Survival for a child or an adult depends on rescuing quickly and restarting the breathing process; seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.

Pools are a great way to socialize with neighbors and friends. Properly maintained and controlled pools can offer many hours of fun and games. Heed these considerations and enjoy

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
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The Right Landscaping Can Increase Your Homes Value

Whether youre looking to sell your home or simply improve its overall appearance, consider upgrading the landscape. These six tips will help you utilize landscaping to increase your homes curb appeal:

1. Freshen your mulch

Mulch eventually dulls and blends in with the surrounding plants and shrubs. Adding new mulch doesnt cost very much and can greatly improve the appearance of your flowerbeds.

2. Add potted plants

Container plants allow you to add mobile color to your home. Add attractive containers to your porch, driveway or any other place that company enters your home.

3. Plant shrubs

Make sure to trim existing bushes for a well-manicured appearance. Adding additional shrubs in sparse areas gives your yard a lush look. Shrubs also add privacy to your home and property. For additional springtime appeal, invest in flowering shrubs.

4. Spruce up your porch

Add a porch swing with comfortable, colorful cushions to create an inviting atmosphere. Rocking chairs are another way to add some old-world charm to your home and porch.

5. Plant trees

Even smaller trees have a big impact on the beauty of your property. Plant a few trees that have interesting blooms and trunks, like dogwoods or Japanese maples. Trees also help with your homes energy efficiency by providing cover from the sun and storms.

6. Add landscape lighting

Choose a >Conclusion

Landscaping will enhance the value, enjoyment and appearance of your home. A few fundamental improvements to your yard will help your home entice prospective buyers or keep your family comfortable for years to come.
Full Story >

Airbnb Redefines Rental Communities

What was promoted as a way for homeowners to earn extra income by hosting short-term rentals has ramped up to offer large-scale landlords and developers opportunities to cash in on short-term rental income earned by tenant hosts.

Airbnb Inc. is disrupting itself after disrupting both the hospitality and rental industries. This online booking giant is moving beyond its original homeshare foundation to simultaneously engage big business and entire rental communities.

High-rise landlords and developers have complained about the impact of the online booking companys short-term rentals on their bottom line. When individual tenants embraced Airbnbs homeshare concept and rented

out a room or rooms in their apartments to earn income, landlords objected. Airbnb, already valued at 31 billion, has turned this negative into its own special positive by partnering with some of its biggest critics.

Together landlords, real estate developers, and Airbnb stand to profit on many fronts:

The First Airbnb branded apartment complex: Deep in Disney territory, Floridas 300-unit Domain gated community will be transformed to emerge this summer as "Airbnbs grand hybrid experiment." Leases allow tenants to share their units for up to 180 days each year and access tools like a new app integrated with Airbnb for check-ins. Tenants and landlord will share short-term rental profits. Partner Miami-based Newgard Development Group oversees the Domain project through its Niido Powered by Airbnb brand. Equity investor Brookfield Property Partners , with an initial investment of 20 million, will share in the 25 percent cut of revenue from each apartment subleased on Airbnb.

Airbnb expands into branded Florida buildings : Reportedly, as many as six more Airbnb-branded complexes like Domain will open in Florida. In October 2017, Airbnb announced plans to team up with more real estate developers and facility managers. For instance, Brookfield has committed a total of 200 million. Management companies are offered 5 percent to 15 percent of the profit tenant-hosts generate.

Purpose-built homeshare buildings: Airbnb reports there will be a series of developments that support home sharing in communities across the Southeastern United States: "Airbnb and Niido will work together to design new units and buildings that include features like keyless entry and shared communal spaces that make them optimal for home sharing. Niido will fully support the costs of construction and retain full ownership of the buildings."

Airbnbs Friendly Buildings Program : Since 2016, landlords have enrolled 13,000 units in this Program. Homeshare Permission for long-term tenants represents a new profit center for landlords who, through this, control rental activity and receive a percentage of short-term rents collected by their tenants.

Additional Partnerships redefine local rental: Partnerships like that with San Franciscos largest and often-criticized landlord Veritas Investments along with tech start-up Pillow Residential will facilitate rapid penetration into existing markets. For instance, in this Partnerships pilot project, Veritas will commit tenants in 5 of its 200 buildings to renting their residential unit through Airbnb and sharing profit with the landlord.

What will life be like for full-time tenants living in these Airbnb "hives?"

Tenants are faced with the extra security and privacy stress of living with the costs and obligations of leasing an apartment in a hotel->Residents of Domain balked at the invasion of their upscale resort->Reportedly, at Domain, residents who rent through Airbnb would pay Niido 25 percent of their homesharing income. In exchange, Airbnb offers residents[mdash;who will actually pay for the hotel->A careful read of lease fine print is essential to clarifying the degree to which a landlord is tied to Airbnb or another online booking venture. Receiving a portion of the rental profit for your unit may sound appealing, but is homesharing the life>Airbnb has already been condemned for reducing rental availability and for increased rents in many communities. How will areas targeted by Airbnb and its big business partners fare? Will full-time tenants gain or suffer because of the hospitality focus that overrides traditional patterns of residential rental?

Will popular travel destinations become saturated with short-term rentals, so that long-term renters are squeezed out of town? As tourism shifts towards stays that allow travelers to experience real day-to-day life in the areas they visit, will travelers like what they find? If tourist demand lessens, how will that affect the value of these apartment buildings, hotels, and surrounding real estate?

Airbnb must live up to valuations and prove its worth to investors. To achieve this, Airbnb growth is aggressively directed toward luxury markets and chasing luxury-obsessed travelers. Airbnb Plus is a significant step toward becoming the go-to booking site for top-of-the-line hotel and >Will the Airbnb intense one-dimensional development model squeeze the life out of communities and put renters and residential property owners under tremendous daily stress?
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The Tenants Opportunity To Purchase Act Is Dead: Yes and No

TOPA -- the tenants opportunity to purchase act -- was enacted over 30 years ago by the Council of the District of Columbia. It was designed to protect tenants from being kicked out of their homes by landlords who wanted to make more money selling the property.

Over the years, depending on who you were, TOPA was either hated or loved. Tenants called it "tenant capitalism"; landlords blasted it as "pure blackmail".

Why? Especially with single family homes, including condos and coops, when a tenant received a TOPA notice that their landlord had a contract offer to buy, they would demand lots of money in order to >All of this came to a head when the Council, on April 10, 2018, enacted a bill that to a large extent, eliminated TOPA from single family dwellings. The Council >Oversimplified, the new law abolished TOPA as it applies to single family dwellings, which includes a condominium or cooperative apartment. If you own a house with a basement that has a kitchen and bath facilities separate from the main dwelling house, and may even have a separate entrance, that is referred to as an "accessory dwelling". Even if there are tenants in both units, and this becomes law, it will be exempt from TOPA.

However, even though the landlord no longer has to issue the TOPA notice -- which had to be in English and Spanish, and copied to the Office of the Mayor -- the tenants still have to be given notice of a proposed offer. That notice also has to be provided to the DC Office of Tenant Advocate.

To complicate this even further, there are different requirements where certain tenants are elderly or have a disability. If such a tenant signed a lease to occupy a single family accommodation by December 31, 2017, and physically took occupancy by January 15, 2018, then a modified TOPA still exists. Such tenants must respond with 20 days after receiving the notice expressing interest in buying. Then that tenant has at least 25 additional days to negotiate a sales contract, and closing must take place at least 45 days thereafter. However, once again, if a lender needs more time, the tenant can have an additional 30 days in which to get lender approval and then take title. A tenant who is 62 years or older is considered elderly.

The Council was sensitive to the concerns of the real estate industry -- and many home owners -- that tenants were flipping assigning their rights to speculators for large sums of money and also delaying closing. The new law is very clear: the only consideration an elderly or disabled tenant can receive for selling its tenant rights is the "right to immediately use and occupy the tenants unit for a period of 12 months following the sale and at the same rent charged at the date of the offer".

However, there are three different TOPA requirements. One is or was for single family properties; another was for properties with 2-4 units, and a third was for apartment buildings with 5 or more units.

The latter two remain alive and kicking. Tenants in those properties still have rights to purchase their property, although if you live in an over 5 unit complex, only a formal tenant association can speak and act for the tenants. There are different time frames in which the tenants or their association have to respond. For example, if you live in a two-four unit building, all tenants must respond expressing an interest in buying. However, if not everyone is interested, or if 15 days have elapsed since getting the TOPA notice from the owner, any one tenant can send in such a notice, which must be within 7 days thereafter.

The tenant or tenants have 90 days to negotiate a contract to buy, and if such a contract is entered into, the buyer has at least another 90 days in which to go to closing. However, if a lending institution gives the tenants a notice in writing that it needs more time. the settlement can be extended for another 30 day.

If you think thats complicated, lets look at the over 5 unit complex. Here, once all of the tenants get a TOPA notice, they have 45 days in which to form a tenant organization with the legal capacity to hold property. They then have 120 days to enter into a contract, and another 120 days to take title. Once again, if a lender needs more time, the landlord must extend the time in accordance with the lenders estimate of how long it needs.

Since its enactment, TOPA has been the subject of literally hundreds of lawsuits, some brought by landlords and others by tenants. I suspect that litigation will continue regarding the 2-4 and the over 5 unit requirements; only time will tell how the new law will fare regarding single family properties.
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Branded Amenities and Lifestyle Services: Monetizing All Aspects of the Real Estate Industry

As the real estate industry becomes more competitive, and as agents and developers seek to attract a global clientele, every square foot of residential or commercial space will assume greater importance. Which is to say, every room or floor that does not generate consistent income is a candidate for conversion not into something else, because of its added worth in terms of social status or brand appeal. Take, for example, a fitness center in a high-end apartment building or a communal area at a luxury resort.

In either scenario, the space may be a necessity: It often is a loss-leader for an owner, though it is an amenity tenants or guests expect to see, regardless of whether they intend to use the space at all. A gym, then, becomes a showroom rather than a room that agents can showcase and owners can transform into a source that makes money instead of losing it.

The best way to achieve this goal - the only solution to ensuring expensive equipment does not gather dust and an entire floor of otherwise very expensive real estate does not go to waste, where there is neither a vacancy in lieu of valuable rent nor an empty space when there are groups with deep pockets - the sole means of realizing this idea is through partnering with the very experts and personalities who have an established and positive identity in their respective fields.

I write these words from experience, as I am the namesake of my own brand, Bob Caputo Living Well, which includes everything from fitness and nutrition advice to exercise training and live cooking >Hence the shift toward private amenities, by which I mean exclusive to residents only, such as branded gyms and trainers in uniforms bearing the name and logo of the company they represent, and guest speakers, too. These amenities then become part of a tenants rent, a charge they absorb independent of their usage of a specific space.

Chances are they will use the space - they will make more frequent use of their gym - if the brand affiliated with that space elicits praise or enjoys prestige among the right audience. The same is true for experts whose sessions on everything from health to wealth draw a crowd, based on the reputation of each spokesperson and the fees each individual commands in the market.

This amenity goes into the cost of rent, proving building owners with a way to recoup any initial losses and thereafter receive the equivalent of a monthly annuity from all of their tenants. So long as the amenity provides genuine value, and provided the amenity matches or exceeds its perceived value, it will be a winner.

Real estate agents can use these amenities to satisfy the demands of an increasingly exacting number of clients, while every amenity is accountable for contributing to a propertys earnings.

Welcome to the world of branded amenities and life>

Bob Caputo is the Founder and Host of Bob Caputo Living Well, a health and life
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REALTORS Tax Initiative Draws Opposition

Some months ago October-November, 2017 we wrote that the directors of the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR had voted to support a signature drive with the intention of placing a CAR-sponsored initiative on the November 2018 California ballot.

The initiative, if passed, would allow "individuals 55 years of age and older to transfer their property tax basis to any home in the state, to purchase any price home, and to transfer their basis as many times as they wish."

To appreciate the significance of this, it is necessary to have some idea of Californias property tax system. Property tax valuations are based on purchase price. You buy a house for 700,000, the assessor will value it at 700,000. After that, increases in property tax value are seve>

If you have lived in the same home for 15 -- 20 years or more, you are probably enjoying >

Californians sought to solve this problem in 1986 with the passage of Proposition 60. It allowed seniors to keep their property tax base assessment when they moved within the same county. However, in 1988, Proposition 90 was passed which allowed each individual county the option of participating in this tax base transfer by seniors who move from one county to another. This had great significance, because many retirees move to a different county e.g. in the mountains, or desert than the ones in which they had lived.

Only eleven of Californias 58 counties will allow a senior from another county to transfer his or her old property tax base to a newly-acquired home in that county. It is estimated that 75 of California homeowners over the age 55 are still living in the same home they lived in since the year 2000. That is not because they still love living there. It is because of the tax consequences.

Suppose that Mr. and Mrs. Baby Boomer bought a home in 2001 for 400,000. It was taxed on a value of 400,000 the first year. Its value for property tax purposes could only increase 2 per year. So now it might have a taxable value of 560,000. At a Proposition 13 tax rate of 1, that is 5,600, even though the house might now have a market value of 900,000.

If Mr. and Mrs. Boomer sought to move down in size, they might buy a nice not fantastic two-bedroom which could cost them 700,000. Under current law their taxes would increase by 1,400 to 7,000.

However, if the CAR tax initiative were in effect, their tax value would be proportionately the same to actual value as with their previous home. In this case, it would be 62, and their property tax would be 4,340. It would be 2,660 less than it would under current law.

No wonder the initiative garnered more than one million signatures to put it on the ballot 585,407 was the required number. Its the best idea since sliced bread, right? Well, no; not in everyones eyes.

Ballot initiatives are accompanied by a report of the Legislative Analysts Office LAO. In this case the LAO painted a bleak picture of the initiatives impact on tax revenues. According to one briefing paper, the initiative would result in a 150 million loss for cities and counties and special districts, and another 150 million loss for school districts in the first years. Ultimately, it would grow to a total of 2 billion in losses.

It now appears that the LAO analysis has generated significant opposition to the initiative by city and county governments as well as teacher unions and firefighter associations.

CAR argues that the LAO analysis is flawed because it looks at the potential revenue lost because of the tax savings, but it doesnt account for the revenue gained as a result of the seniors home now having a new, increased tax base. It is a "static" analysis rather than a dynamic one.

Now, all of this could be sorted out through an extensive educational campaign; but that costs money, lots of money. It has been estimated that strong opposition could push the costs of backing the initiative into the 90 million range. Frankly, CAR doesnt have that kind of money lying around.

At their recent meetings Sacramento, May 2 -- 5, CAR directors voted to pursue an alternative to the ballot initiative as well. It would be to seek support to have the legislature place the issue on the ballot in 2020. By seeking such legislative support, CAR would be able to free up resources to address other crucial issues in 2018. Whether this alternative will be possible wont be known until late June. Stay tuned.

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Fresh, New Backsplash Trends To Update Your Kitchen

Tired of seeing white subway tile on every kitchen backsplash? Youre not alone. And while the tile will always be a >

Create a showstopper

In a kitchen where everything else is neutral, or at least a bit tamer, an eye-popping backsplash can be just what you need to create a killer kitchen.

Go for one big pop

Moroccan tiles and other brightly colored and intricately patterned confections are everywhere, but it can be overwhelming to think about running something so bold throughout your kitchen. Identifying one key spot where you can let it rip may be the answer. "Minimalism loves maximalism, translated, is a peripheral trend toward a clean, simple design framework which features a single, bold focal point of colorful florals or other bright patterns or colors," said Design Milk. "Its a pleasant antidote to straight lines and introduces color, warmth and visual emotion in a surprising yet modern design statement -- a backlash from recent years of minimalism in our interiors."

Bring in concrete

Especially if youre going with concrete for your countertops, running it up part or all of the wall can create a winning look. "Concrete is making its way up from the floor to the countertops and we love the look," said Emily Henderson. "Concrete gives you quite a bit of liberty when it comes to customization as well as color and it is also a very affordable option. But it isnt just for counters, your walls can look just as chic in the material. These lighter toned walls with a slight texture are so beautiful and have a wonderful color variance to them."


Rediscover terrazzo

Yes, "The marble mosaic flooring popularized in 1920s Art Deco architecture is back," said MyDomaine, and it looks better than ever. Now were seeing it spill over into tiles as well, which is an easier install and cheaper alternative to the real deal.

Go to the ceiling

"What area comes to mind when you think of backsplash tile? The space between the countertop and the underside of the wall cabinetry," said Sebring Design Build. "If there was no wall cabinetry above the countertop, then it was common to still place the tile straight across in the same location as if there had been wall cabinetry there. Perhaps by instinct or tradition. But its time to break the mold and bring that tile all the wall to the ceiling. Ceiling-height backsplashes can give >

Use marble in a new way

While marble is nothing new, different applications can make it feel fresh. Especially if youre worried about the maintenance of marble on a countertop, using it on the backsplash is a great alternative. And, the options for complementary materials are endless.


Use a mirrored or metallic finish

A mirrored backsplash can make a small space look infinitely larger by bouncing light around the room. Go metallic to add just the right touch of luxe to your space.

Go larger with subway tiles

If youre not ready to give up on the idea of subway tiles but want something with a little more flair, go big. Instead of the standard 3x6 look, you can go to a larger format 4x8 version, or even a 4x12.

"A large format subway tile backsplash can be especially helpful for a small kitchen where the large tiles create the perception of space," said Sebring Design Build. "Large format subway tiles can also help in creating a feeling of continuity especially if you are extending the backsplash to the ceiling; besides, lets not forget the ever favoritehellip;fewer grout lines to clean."nbsp;

Use some color

Another way to do something new without veering too far from the familiar is to stick with the subway tile shape but in an unexpected color. The black backsplash tile brings some great contrast to all that white and "makes the neutral kitchen more interesting," said DigsDigs.

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4 of the Best and Worst Home Improvement Projects

Considering some potential home improvement projects in the near future? If thats the case, its imperative you do your homework. While some renovation ideas tend to add value to ones home, others equate to throwing money down the drain and getting nothing in return.

With this in mind, here are four of the best and worst home renovation ideas, as well as some resources that can help you decide what to improve and what to leave as is:

Learn What Offers the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

Each year, Remodeling magazine conducts an in-depth survey of experts to determine which home improvement projects offer the highest and lowest return on investment. Dubbed the Cost vs. Value Report, it compares the typical costs of 29 common renovations that were completed by professionals in 99 major cities. Talk about an excellent primer of ideas.

Yet another great resource for homeowners is answers to commonly asked questions about construction, including many that >

1. Good: Kitchens and Bathrooms

According to HGTV, splurging for a kitchen and/or bathroom remodel is typically a wise investment, one that usually nets homeowners with 100 percent ROI. For example, basic kitchen renovations typically run about 15,000. And in cities like Miami and New Orleans, homeowners who then later put their home on the market recouped top dollar in total resale value.

As for specific projects that offer the most bang for your buck, upgrading your cabinets to solid-wood options, countertops with a new stone or quartz finish and/or flooring with a stone mosaic are all safe options.

2. Bad: A Second Bathroom

For homes with only one bathroom, the thought of adding a second one even a half bathroom makes good financial sense, especially if you plan to one day sell it. And while you may very well appreciate having an extra lavatory on hand for your family, be advised that you may not necessarily recoup the full renovation cost when putting your home up for sale.

Simply put, adding a new bathroom is an expensive proposition, one that can run you a hefty 25,000. However, in most cases, homeowners can expect to receive an estimated 60 percent ROI. Bottom line: If you have no intention of moving mdash; and have the necessary funds available mdash; adding on a second bathroom could very well be a worthwhile endeavor.

Of course, if youre weighing your homes resale value, there are certainly better ways to spend your hard-earned money.

3. Good: Curb Appeal

Homeowners can invest thousands of dollars to upgrade their kitchen and ensuite bathroom, but if your front lawn and trees look shabby, potential buyers will drive on by. As notes, you can easily make a number of budget-friendly and >

In fact, for less than 100, you can rent a power washer to clean off the driveway, sidewalk and porch, and then spend some time cleaning up the yard and putting or throwing away old lawn furniture. Add a fresh coat of paint on the front door and spring for new, stylish house numbers and voilagrave; mdash; you just breathed some serious new life into your home.

4. Bad: Anything Over the Top

Before springing for that enormous and expensive commercial grade gas stove and pricey custom marble shower, research the local listings to see what features similar homes offer. Instead of making any number of over-the-top renovations, you should err on the side of caution and choose more modestly priced and >

This doesnrsquo;t mean you have to select low-quality or unattractive finishes, as you can certainly still replace any old or cracked floor tiles with an attractive and durable tile that looks like wood. And heavens knows how much youll save by choosing to not import stone flooring from Italy.

Bottom Line: Choose Renovations Wisely

When it comes to your homes resale value and recouping any renovation costs, know that not all projects are created equal. By acquainting yourself with >
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Goodbye, Boring Walls: Easy, Affordable, And Eye-Catching Ways To Create Interest With Simple Molding

Unless youre buying an 18-century French chateau or a meticulously restored craftsman home, your walls may lack a little character. This is especially true if you have new construction, and super especially if your home was on the lower end of the pricing spectrum.

Plain drywall is the hallmark of many a modern-day home. You may have some sort of spray-on texture finish, but, lets be honest - all that really does is create a problem and an unsightly booboo when someone inevitably knocks into it, throws a ball against it, or time and humidity have their way with it. Thankfully, you dont have to move to France, or to California circa 1920, to create a rich, layered look in your home. Moldings can transform your walls in numerous ways, and adding them is an inexpensive and >

Fit for a King

You can easily create the look of European royalty with a quick trip to Lowes and some metallic paint. Varying the widths of the panels gives this look even more depth.

Board and batten wainscoting

This is another project you can do yourself with a little skill and some patience. It is also extremely economical, especially when you consider the impact - Hello, luxurious living space Use MDF to keep the cost as low as possible. You can see a supply list and a complete tutorial here.

Applied box molding

"This is one of the most simple and easiest of the options that we have in this category," said Emily Henderson. "It consists of adding strips of wood to your already existing walls either with glue or nails and then painting the entire wall to match. You can customize not only the size of the boxes, to be squares rectangles or a combo of each, but also the thickness of the boards that you add to the wall to achieve just about any look."

Create a grid

You can use molding to create any type of pattern you envision as long as it has straight lines. If rectangles arent your thing, maybe this look will do it for you. The advantage to creating a large-scale installation is that, not only does it draw the eye, but it helps cozy up a large space or one with large or tall walls. "By using wood trim to create architectural interest, a tall wall goes from bland and boring to a piece of art itself," said Forbes. "Further adornment isnt necessary when you have gorgeous floor-to-ceiling and three-dimensional texture."

Tip:nbsp;Design your pattern on paper and tape it out on the wall before putting up wood trim. And always remember to measure, measure, measure"

Photo by Burnham Design - Browse living room photos

Open up to something new

A little molding can also transform a boring, flat door into something special.

No space for a mudroom? No problem

All you need is an empty wall and a thorough scouring of your local home improvement store to create a mudroom alternative that will bring function, and a great look, to the space.

A cozy place to have a seat

A blank wall, an awkward space, or the area on either side of a fireplace or TV niche can become a focal point with wall panels, trim, and a few decorative handles. "A >

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A New Supply of Services for the Real Estate Industry: Reinventing Supply Chain Management

The real estate industry has its own supply chain of vendors, contractors, developers, builders, and investors. Indeed, individual agents and brokers - both commercial and residential - are part of this process: They are one of several professionals in a chain that can be simpler yet stronger, faster yet more facilitative, and accessible yet more accountable. This shift ensures total transparency, where it is easy to track the exchange of goods and services, and even easier to authenticate and audit contracts.

I refer, specifically, to a solution like SupplyBloc. A blockchain-based means of lowering costs without compromising standards, this platform benefits the real estate industry as a whole. Take, for example, something as simple in theory as hiring movers to box and transport personal belongings, or to deliver and unpack furniture for a newly purchased home.

In this scenario, a real estate agents reputation can suffer serious harm if his recommendation goes awry; if his client expresses her frustration - if a family articulates their anger - without distinguishing between an agent who is responsive and a mover who is not; if the absence of clarity causes people to draw erroneous, and egregious to the agent, conclusions about someone who is in fact a model of exemplary behavior. The fallout can take months or years to undo, regarding negative reviews, a drop in referrals, and the end of word-of-mouth marketing.

Compare that situation to one where uncertainty is a thing of the past, thanks to an immutable ledger that records every transaction and lets users do their own virtual inspections. Compare that situation to a system that disciplines the otherwise disorganized, while it shows how - and why - it pays to be prepared. Compare that situation to a network that is more efficient and less expensive than the status quo.

This situation alone illustrates the importance of supply chain management to the real estate industry. If we think of how the weakest link in this chain of events can weaken the chain in its entirety, if we think of the things that make it difficult, if not impossible, to identify this weakness beforehand, if we think of how this weakness rewards the bad and is indifferent to the good, then we should not have second thoughts about the need to adopt a better alternative.

Blockchain technology is the answer we need, because it is the only answer that speaks to our needs as buyers and sellers of real estate. It reveals the existence of a supply chain, which may lengthen or narrow as circumstances permit, but is never longer than necessary. It also offers users the convenience they want and the >With an infrastructure of this caliber, complemented by the oversight every user expects and any business leader would encourage us to receive, we can help real estate agents worldwide. The subsequent uptick in sales would be too substantial to deny or dismiss.

We owe it to ourselves to supply the real estate industry with a superior form of supply chain management.

Lewis Fein: A writer and branding consultant, Lewis Fein covers the real estate industry, technology, and marketing, among other issues. A graduate of The Emory University School of Law, Lewis resides in Southern California. You may reach him at.
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How To Keep Paint From Peeling In Your Home

You may notice it in the bathroom, above the shower, or on your windows alongside the panes of glass. Anywhere moisture can get trapped under paint, peeling paint will result.

Windows and mirrors sweat. Bathrooms and kitchens retain more humidity than other areas of the house. When wood absorbs moisture, it expands and crumbles, allowing the primer and paint on top to lose their grip. Aging paint or improperly prepared paint can easily lose integrity. Even some preventative measures can fail, such as caulking, which can lose its elasticity and allow seepage.

While not all peeling can be avoided, it can be delayed and prevented with proper preparation and maintenance. Make sure the area you want to paint is clean, particularly in kitchens where greasy cooking film can build up on walls. Also, prepare properly with scraping, sanding, and priming with a good interior primer.

Start with a high quality paint that is designed to last. If you are painting on bare wood, be sure to use a primer. Paint two coats for depth, rich color values, and coverage.

If you find peeling paint, look for the reason. Uncaulked windows, poor ventilation, roof leaks, and foundation issues all contribute moisture which loosens paint. Make sure youre using the correct type of paint to cover old paint. For example, many oil-based paints have been replaced by latex paints that may require a coat of primer.

Make repairs to your home to prevent peeling paint. All bathrooms should have an exhaust fan in the ceiling to help dispel moisture accumulation. Make sure that all windows are caulked between the frame and the glass. Caulk quarter round between the floor and bottom edge and again between the upper edge and the wall so that moisture from cleaning products doesnt gravitate behind walls.

Inspect tubs and showers frequently to see if the caulk is holding up between the walls and fixtures. Peel off weak caulk, and recaulk. If you dont have a ceiling vent, install one. It can lift moisture up and away from vulnerable areas such as window sills, sinks, and showers.

If youre planning to paint a room or two yourself, ask your professional paint salesperson for advice on the best products to use for every room in your home.
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Its News to New Agents

You have dreams about becoming a successful real estate professional. You want to be like the big names in the industry, and acquire their polish, experience, and contacts. As you begin your new career, youll benefit from knowing how to get where you want to go.

Were you recruited? If so, a broker met you and saw potential in you and is willing to sponsor you while you obtain your license. Were you tired of teaching school for pennies or standing on your feet in retail or nursing? No matter what your previous profession, you have valuable assets to bring to the real estate industry -- the ability to meet people, make cold calls, overcome objections, inform, empathize, convince, organize, multi-task, and so on.

It may be news to you, but the number one ability youre really going to need is sales. Selling is the process of developing, managing and closing a lead. Your job is to bring business to the broker, not the other way around.

It costs a broker real money to sponsor you. Theres office space you can use, adding you to the brokerages website, twitter, training you, including you in company advertising, etc. The broker pays significant franchise fees to become part of a respected brand like Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices or Century21, and in return, you and they get the systems and services of the franchisor.

The broker can provide a few opportunities to get started. You may be asked to sit an open house or to do phone duty at the brokerage, where youll be expected to convert any leads you develop into closed sales. But heres the newsflash -- most of the leads you get will come from developing them yourself.

So following the next morning meeting, where the broker tells you about the latest listings and other company news, prepare to hit the phones. Make a list of everyone you can think of and put them into a contact manager database where you can include as much information as possible -- name, spouses name, names and ages of children, birthdates, employers, hobbies, goals and other data. Tell them what youre doing and ask how you can help them. Everyone you know should know that youre a real estate professional. And sooner or later, someone is going to need to move to a new home.

And if anyone objects to hiring you as a newbie, remember that your job is to overcome objections. Tell them that actually now is the best time to hire you because your broker is closely supervising you, so its almost like hiring the broker themselves.
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The Dangers Of Love At First Sight When Buying A Home

Facebook just announced they are getting into the dating app game, giving those who are looking for love yet another avenue to potentially find it. While we dont yet now specific details of how it will work, one thing is for sure: There are bound to be a lot of matches made based solely or at least mainly on looks, alone. Is this a smart strategy? It all depends on what youre looking for. And the same could be said of your home search. If youre just looking for a pretty face, its easy to fall in "love" - with a person, or a home. But you need to look deeper if you want it to last.

The kitchen makes your stomach do that roller coaster thing and the master bath is so pretty it should be on the cover of How to Seduce a Homebuyer magazine. Its hard to ignore the pretty stuff when youre home shopping. The trick is not getting distracted by the pretty stuff and ignoring the important stuff. You can take yourself out of the house hookup land and help avoid falling for the wrong home by asking yourself these questions during your home search.

Is it a keeper?

If youre looking for a long-term >

Is there any substance behind your emotional attachment

You walk into a restaurant to meet your date, and before you even sit down, youre a goner. Is it the eyes, the smell? Some cosmic thing at work? Love at first sight? Who knows.

You walk into a house that seems like nothing special, and before youre even passed through the hallway, youre a goner. Whats at play here? Is it some reminder of a home from your childhood, maybe? Who knows. But now youve got it bad, and you have to have that house. Time to get real with yourself, because falling for a person - or a home - and going on emotions alone typically doesnt end well.

"Buying a homenbsp;is a very emotional process, but if you allow those emotions to get the best of you, you may fall prey to a number of common home buyer mistakes," said Investopedia. "Since buying a home has many far-reaching implications -nbsp;ranging from where you will live to how hard it will be to make ends meet -nbsp;its important to keep your emotions in check and make the most rational decision possible."

Is it too much of a project?

Weve all heard of the project person - you know, a guy or girl that could be great with just a little or more than a little work. A project house could be even more alluring. Seriously, who doesnt love the idea of a fixer-upper these days? But, you need to know your limits, says Bob Vila.

"Dont overestimate your abilities.nbsp;Determine if the house you like needs work," they said. "Then assess whether youre really capable of doing it." Its also a good idea to properly estimate the post-renovation potential with help from your real estate agent. "Make sure that if you cant do the work, you getnbsp;estimatesnbsp;before you buy the house so you know what youre getting into. If the cost of the house plus the renovations will put the homes value significantly above others in the neighborhood, its probably not the best investment - or you may need to scale back the renovations."

What are its friends like?

You can tell a lot about someone by their friends, and the same is true of homes. If the home youre looking at is fixed up and well-taken-care-of, but the rest of the neighborhood is eh, that could be reason to walk away. "Before making an offer on that picture-perfect home, take a look at the surrounding houses. If theyre all in disrepair - or just obviously less nice than the one youre considering - you might be buying the most expensive house in the neighborhood," said Their three reasons include: 1 "When it comes time to sell,nbsp;unloading the priciest home on the block will be anbsp;challenge. 2 A home is an investment - and the best investments have the most room for improvement. Ideally, youll be adding to the home during your ownership,nbsp;buildingnbsp;equity in hopes of a payoff when you eventually sell. 3 You cant bet on the neighborhood to improve."

What are they not telling you?

Yes, there are seller disclosures, but theyre only going to tell you so much. Have you checked out the neighborhood in terms of crime statistics, sexual offenders nearby, and any big plans for the neighborhood or surrounding area that could affect your home value or life>

Are they dating someone else?

Its human nature to want someone who is wanted by someone else. Seeing a lot of interest in a particular home may affect you similarly, and you may find yourself pressing for a home because its in high demand. Are you just trying to "win," or do you really want the house?

Conversely, a home thats seemingly unpopular because its been on the market for a while can have the opposite effect on us. Dont let a good one get away just because it hasnt already been snapped up by someone else. In either case, refer to your list of must-haves to remind yourself of those things that are really important to you before making a move.

Does it have good character?

This is obviously important when looking for a >
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Some months ago October-November, 2017 we wrote that the directors of the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR had voted to support a signature drive with the intention of placing a CAR-sponsored initiative on the November 2018 California ballot.

The initiative, if passed, would allow "individuals 55 years of age and older to transfer their property tax basis to any home in the state, to purchase any price home, and to transfer their basis as many times as they wish."

To appreciate the significance of this, it is necessary to have some idea of Californias property tax system. Property tax valuations are based on purchase price. You buy a house for 700,000, the assessor will value it at 700,000. After that, increases in property tax value are seve>If you have lived in the same home for 15 -- 20 years or more, you are probably enjoying >Californians sought to solve this problem in 1986 with the passage of Proposition 60. It allowed seniors to keep their property tax base assessment when they moved within the same county. However, in 1988, Proposition 90 was passed which allowed each individual county the option of participating in this tax base transfer by seniors who move from one county to another. This had great significance, because many retirees move to a different county e.g. in the mountains, or desert than the ones in which they had lived.

Only eleven of Californias 58 counties will allow a senior from another county to transfer his or her old property tax base to a newly-acquired home in that county. It is estimated that 75 of California homeowners over the age 55 are still living in the same home they lived in since the year 2000. That is not because they still love living there. It is because of the tax consequences.

Suppose that Mr. and Mrs. Baby Boomer bought a home in 2001 for 400,000. It was taxed on a value of 400,000 the first year. Its value for property tax purposes could only increase 2 per year. So now it might have a taxable value of 560,000. At a Proposition 13 tax rate of 1, that is 5,600, even though the house might now have a market value of 900,000.

If Mr. and Mrs. Boomer sought to move down in size, they might buy a nice not fantastic two-bedroom which could cost them 700,000. Under current law their taxes would increase by 1,400 to 7,000.

However, if the CAR tax initiative were in effect, their tax value would be proportionately the same to actual value as with their previous home. In this case, it would be 62, and their property tax would be 4,340. It would be 2,660 less than it would under current law.

No wonder the initiative garnered more than one million signatures to put it on the ballot 585,407 was the required number. Its the best idea since sliced bread, right? Well, no; not in everyones eyes.

Ballot initiatives are accompanied by a report of the Legislative Analysts Office LAO. In this case the LAO painted a bleak picture of the initiatives impact on tax revenues. According to one briefing paper, the initiative would result in a 150 million loss for cities and counties and special districts, and another 150 million loss for school districts in the first years. Ultimately, it would grow to a total of 2 billion in losses.

It now appears that the LAO analysis has generated significant opposition to the initiative by city and county governments as well as teacher unions and firefighter associations.

CAR argues that the LAO analysis is flawed because it looks at the potential revenue lost because of the tax savings, but it doesnt account for the revenue gained as a result of the seniors home now having a new, increased tax base. It is a "static" analysis rather than a dynamic one.

Now, all of this could be sorted out through an extensive educational campaign; but that costs money, lots of money. It has been estimated that strong opposition could push the costs of backing the initiative into the 90 million range. Frankly, CAR doesnt have that kind of money lying around.

At their recent meetings Sacramento, May 2 -- 5, CAR directors voted to pursue an alternative to the ballot initiative as well. It would be to seek support to have the legislature place the issue on the ballot in 2020. By seeking such legislative support, CAR would be able to free up resources to address other crucial issues in 2018. Whether this alternative will be possible wont be known until late June. Stay tuned.
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Agent with Heart Program Generates Cross-Country Giving and New Single Agent Donation Record

Las Vegas, NV May 1st, 2018 ndash; PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that the donations continue with the help of their esteemed real estate professionals each making donations on behalf of their clients to the nonprofits of their clientsrsquo; choice.

Peter Lunde of Coach Realtors in Stony Brook, NY has made a donation to the Long Island Youth for Christ on behalf of his clients, Aiden Orsquo;Hora and Maria Rivera.

Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Irvine, CA has made two donations to St. Jude Childrenrsquo;s Research Hospital on behalf of her clients Dan and Sabrina DiMascio, as well as an additional donation to the American Red Cross Orange County Chapter on behalf of her client, Mike Huang.

Craig Carr of Keller Williams in Chesterfield, MO has made donations to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation on behalf of his clients Mark and Kim Pinkerton and Stacey Barklage, another to Friends of Kids with Cancer Inc. made on behalf of his clients Gerhardt Gern and Mark Cartwright, and a final donation to Habitat for Humanity St. Louis on behalf of his client Charleen Vocca.

ldquo;A very special thank you to Peter, Dana, and Craig for their incredible generosity. Thanks to them we are able to benefit numerous nonprofits across the country. We are so very grateful to be able to count Peter, Dana and Craig amongst our real estate agents who are truly dedicated to making a difference in their communities, and I thank them for being shining representations of our Agent with Hearttrade; program,rdquo; said Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Agents like Peter, Dana and Craig are the reason we are able to assist so many communities, and we are immensely grateful to have such wonderful partners in giving as them.rdquo;

ldquo;Irsquo;d also like to personally recognize Dana in particular, as she has reached over 20 donations through our program, assisting more than 15 different nonprofits within her community. This is no small feat and is something that truly deserves enormous recognition as the impact she has made with her kindheartedness goes unmatched. Irsquo;d like to thank Dana for her giving spirit and her dedication to making a difference.rdquo;

About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local nonprofits who agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit

To contact Peter Lunde, please call 631-601-7906 or visit

To contact Dana Roberts, please call 949-433-6694 or visit

To contact Craig Carr, please call 314-401-9286 or visit

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Ask the HOA Expert: Prepaying HOA Fees

Question: Can the HOA offer discounts to those who prepay their HOA fees or special assessments?

Answer: The HOA should not offer discounts since the budget requires payment of full fees to fund it and offering discounts would create budget shortfalls. It is appropriate, however, to charge late fees to those that pay late. The budget should not anticipate extra revenue through late fees although there will likely be some. By the same token, there could be a shortfall in revenues if collections are not successful or take a long time to collect.

Question: Is it permissable for individual condo unit owners to pay for their own roof replacement?

Answer: Condo owners typically dont own their roofs unless the condos are stand alone units. Virtually all common wall condo roofs belong to the HOA. As such, roof repairs should only be paid for by the HOA according to a prescribed schedule. While lack of funds may force doing only a portion of the condo roofs, for example two of five buildings, doing the roof over one condo makes little sense since the same unit owner is responsible for a share of the repairs of all unit roofs.

Question: Our HOA is billed in bulk for electricity. Each unit has a submeter which is read monthly and billed to each unit owner. Subtracting the total unit usage from the bill leaves the total usage for the common areas. Currently, we are adding 3 cents per kilowatt hour to each owners bill to pay for the common area cost. So, owners who use more electricity pay for a larger percentage of the common area electricity. All other HOA costs are shared equally. Are we doing this correctly?

Answer: If HOA costs are shared equally, this applies to common area electricity. The board has no authority to do otherwise. To correct this, an accounting of common area electricity charged to units should be done and credits or charges processed as appropriate.

For more Ask the HOA Expert, see
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Can IRA Assets Be Used To Purchase Real Estate?

Question: We are interested in buying investment property? Currently, our IRA is not producing the income we would like. Can we use some of our IRA assets to purchase real estate? - Anna

Anna: The simple answer is yes, but its complicated and full of risks. This column can only touch on the surface; if you remain serious, you must talk with an attorney and a qualified financial adviser.

The typical real estate investor can get lots of tax benefits, such as deductions for property taxes, mortgage interest as well as the ability to depreciate the property on your annual tax return. However, if your IRA owns the investment property, you cannot take advantage of any such tax benefits. In fact, it is even more complicated, if you are over age 70 1/2 and have to start taking the required minimum distributions RMD.

Since the annual calculation is based on the balance of your IRA at the end of each year, you actually have to get your investment appraised, so as to plug that number into your calculations.

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot invest your IRA in property you already own. Furthermore, even if the property is a "so-called" vacation home, you cannot legally use it, even occasionally. And all expenses >

Bottom line: It may not be worth it. Talk with your advisers about other investments that may be available for your IRA.

Question: I have a friend who owns his home outright. He is in financial difficulty but refuses to look into a reverse mortgage because an attorney friend of his told him to stay away from reverse mortgages. In my opinion, a reverse mortgage sounds like the only way for him to go since he has no wife or children to consider when he passes. Any ideas why people are afraid of reverse mortgages? - Cindy

Cindy: Thats a very good question. To some extent, journalists may be part of the reason people dont like reverse mortgages.

Over the years, I have often written that a reverse mortgage should be the last resort; see if you can get a new loan or refinance your existing mortgage before looking at a reverse.

Why was I so negative? Two reasons: First, the upfront costs were very high, and second, all too often there was no regulation and no enforcement against the reverse mortgage lender. For years, celebrities like Fred Thompson, Henry Winkler or Pat Boone were touting the benefits of reverse mortgages, but they were not disclosing all of the facts - all the pros and cons.

However, there have been significant changes in recent years. First, in order to get a reverse mortgage, you now have to demonstrate you have the ability to pay your real estate tax and maintain adequate homeowner insurance. Second, before you can get such a loan, you must meet or talk with a professional housing counselor. You have to know the facts before you can get this kind of loan.

Yes, in your friends situation, since he has no real family, a reverse mortgage probably makes sense. However, I will continue to strongly suggest that anyone considering a reverse mortgage should first look at all the options, such as refinancing, selling and downsizing from your present home or getting loans or gifts from >

Question: I am an owner in a six-unit townhouse fee simple a building where the owner pays for some exterior maintenance with 200 annual assessment complex. Last year, we decided to have the complex painted. However, one of the owners wanted to wait until the spring. Currently, the same owner is negligent in returning the painting companys emails in regards to paying the deposit.

Do the other five owners have any recourse? We would really like to get the complex painted. As an added note the negligent owner lives out of state and is renting out the unit. - David

First, did the association formally vote to paint the complex? Was the out-of- state owner advised of the vote? Do you have proof that she got notice?

If you are satisfied that you all complied with the legal requirements in your association, then all of you should pay the contractor and then pursue legal action against that owner.

You should retain a local attorney who can guide you through the process. You might be able to file a lien against her home, and, in fact, you might even be able to foreclose.

Different states have different collection procedures, but the fact that the owner is out of state should not be a problem.

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Ask the HOA Expert: Prepaying HOA Fees

Question: Can the HOA offer discounts to those who prepay their HOA fees or special assessments?

Answer: The HOA should not offer discounts since the budget requires payment of full fees to fund it and offering discounts would create budget shortfalls. It is appropriate, however, to charge late fees to those that pay late. The budget should not anticipate extra revenue through late fees although there will likely be some. By the same token, there could be a shortfall in revenues if collections are not successful or take a long time to collect.

Question: Is it permissable for individual condo unit owners to pay for their own roof replacement?

Answer: Condo owners typically dont own their roofs unless the condos are stand alone units. Virtually all common wall condo roofs belong to the HOA. As such, roof repairs should only be paid for by the HOA according to a prescribed schedule. While lack of funds may force doing only a portion of the condo roofs, for example two of five buildings, doing the roof over one condo makes little sense since the same unit owner is responsible for a share of the repairs of all unit roofs.

Question: Our HOA is billed in bulk for electricity. Each unit has a submeter which is read monthly and billed to each unit owner. Subtracting the total unit usage from the bill leaves the total usage for the common areas. Currently, we are adding 3 cents per kilowatt hour to each owners bill to pay for the common area cost. So, owners who use more electricity pay for a larger percentage of the common area electricity. All other HOA costs are shared equally. Are we doing this correctly?

Answer: If HOA costs are shared equally, this applies to common area electricity. The board has no authority to do otherwise. To correct this, an accounting of common area electricity charged to units should be done and credits or charges processed as appropriate.

For more Ask the HOA Expert, see
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Proposed Legislation Would Require Certification Of Property Managers

California Assemblyman, Rob Bonta, has introduced a bill AB 2618 that would require educational courses and certification for landlords and property managers. In support of his proposal, the author says this:

"Millions of Californians rent the place they call home. With increasing housing costs the number of renters in the state is estimated to continue growing. While current law prohibits landlords from engaging in discriminatory behavior, there is no formal education on fair housing or tenant rights that landlords are required to have in order to rent a unit. AB 2618 would take a proactive approach to ensuring landlords are aware of all fair housing and tenant rights laws by creating a certification program to be administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs. Certification will be granted upon completion of educational >

By mandating certification of all landlords and property managers, we are ensuring that the individuals who control the homes of millions of Californians are aware of the laws they should abide by when renting their residential properties. AB 2618 is a necessary ingredient to protect tenants and keep a safe roof over their heads. The history, culture, and character of our communities suffer when residents live with no security."

Under existing law only licensed real estate brokers can engage, for compensation, in property management, with certain exceptions. The most notable exception is that for "resident managers." The law requires landlords of apartment buildings having 16 or more units to have a resident manager, or other responsible person living on the premises, to manage the property if the landlord himself does not live there. As the author of the bill notes, the resident manager "is often hired by virtue of the fact that he or she already is a responsible, >

Neither resident managers nor landlords who self-manage properties of less than 16 units are subject to any education or training requirements. The point of the bill is "to ensure that the individuals who control the homes of millions of Californians are aware of the laws they should abide by when renting their residential properties."

The bill provides that those subject to its requirements would receive at least four hours, but no more than eight hours of instruction. Course content and providers would be as determined by the Department of Consumer affairs. "The coursework shall include training on compliance with the Unruh Civil Rights Act Section 51, the California Fair Employment and Housing Acthellip;and regulations that may be issued thereunderhellip;"

Also, the coursework "shall include training on rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenantshellip;" This would include subjects covering habitability requirements, preparation and service of notices, rights and responsibilities >

We have noted that, currently, a licensed broker or one working under the supervision of a broker may engage in property management. Licensees would not be required to take these courses or to receive certification. Nonetheless, AB 2816 does address a perceived deficiency in the current system.

As it now stands, a broker or licensee engaged in property management does not have to have taken a course in property management, tenant rights, etc. Many such courses are available pursuant to continuing education requirements. AB 2618 states that licensees engaged in property management would be required to take such property management courses as offered under supervision of the Department of Real Estate.

The provisions of the bill would become operative on January 1, 2020. Persons subject to its requirements would have until June 30, 2020 to obtain certification.

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Using Staging Tips To Update Your Home

A staged house always looks so fresh, bright and inviting. How can you make your home look as good, even if youre not selling it? Take some staging tips and use them to update and refresh your space.

Stager/organizer Nina Doiron, president and lead designer of of Toronto, says her No. 1 recommendation is to declutter. But that doesnt mean buying a bunch of storage containers, filling them up and putting the containers in the basement. She says when homes are staged, the space is decluttered and the items are taken right out of the house. By removing clutter your house will seem larger and youll have more usable space than you thought you had.

Donate, give away or recycle items you no longer use or want. There are always people who can use it, says Doiron, who recommends that homeowners declutter two times a year.

"A tidy space means that everything should have a home. I only recommend purchasing a storage solution once the decluttering is complete. If you buy a storage solution beforehand, youre just adding another piece of furniture to the space. Often once you declutter, youll find that your existing storage solution is enough," she says.

Paint is an inexpensive way to update and refresh a space. "Paint ages, yellows and the sun can fade it," she says. If youre handy, it can be a cost-effective project because paint will only cost a couple of hundred dollars per room.

Staging employs lighter paint shades to lend an airy and spacious feeling, but when redesigning for your own enjoyment, go with your own personal sense of >

When she does a colour consultation, she asks clients what colours they gravitate to and which ones make them happy. "I also look around their space. People tend to buy things in colours they gravitate to."

There is a way people can use their favourite colours to give an updated look, even if they arent considered "in" colours. For example, they may like green, which is not on trend right now. However, they can use a shade of green that gives a sense of being on trend but reflects their own >

"Painting the cabinets and cupboards is a really inexpensive way to update the kitchen, especially if the hardware is changed as well," she says. "Despite whats been said, its not a crime to paint over wood."

If homeowners decide to go with a light paint colour, even if they prefer darker shades, they can use the latter for accessories instead.

"Accessories allow you to bring in your own personal >

They add interest and wow to a space, but the key is to use them sparingly. Less is more, she says.

Since well-lit spaces tend to look larger, she suggests putting maximum wattage bulbs in lamps and light fixtures. For those who prefer low ambient light, dimmers can be added so lights can be turned down as desired.

You may also want to look at replacing light fixtures and lamps. Light fixtures can date a house. The good news is that lighting can be swapped out >

For smaller spaces, add a decorative mirror limit to one piece per room to reflect light and make the space feel less heavy.

Great places for mirrors include over the fireplace mantel, in the foyer and in the dining room. A statement piece can be placed over the buffet to add a touch of sparkle. In dining rooms and kitchens, ensure people dont face their reflections.

Fresh linens and towels are another way to freshen a space. Doiron also suggests getting in the habit of making the bed and keeping things off the floor. Keeping spaces neater will make your home feel more >

In homes staged for sale, personal pictures are removed. If youre not selling your home, remove the pictures scattered throughout the house and create a gallery wall instead. Strategically placed frames add interest and a focal point, but dont use them in every room. "Search online to get information about the best height to hang" pictures and artwork, she says.

Again, think minimal. "Its not necessary to display every photo. Change out photos as the kids change," she says. You will appreciate the photos and it wont be overwhelming.

As for the exterior of the property, keep everything neat and tidy, she says. "Remove dead plants and empty planters. Curb appeal is appreciated by all."

Start by creating a plan. "If you have the resources, do the painting, flooring and lighting at the same time for continuity, then tackle one room at a time," Doiron says.

If you are planning to paint, clear out the room as much as possible, she says. Go through everything in the room and decide what youre going to keep and get rid of the rest. Once the space is decluttered, you can look at redecorating with the pieces that are left," she says, "or buy a few new accent pieces to add interest, light and a focal point to the space."

Full Story >

What Not To Do When You Are Moving

Whether moving across town or across the country, packing up and moving can be stressful, costly and full of surprises. From shady movers and inaccurate price quotes, to overpacking or not allowing enough time to get the move set up, every step of a move has the potential for mistakes that can make a move a nightmare.

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.

Weve all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe youve been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angies List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation -- and even your >

If youve done your research and still arent confident in the movers youve come across, you always can go the DIY route -- just be sure youre up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.

If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company wont do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.

Along those lines, dont >

3. Packing too much stuff.

Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you havent laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to "edit" your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and >

4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.

During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks -- or, better yet, months -- in advance. You dont want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before youre supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.

Youll find very few people wholl say that packing is fun. In fact, a recent survey found that people whod moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.

You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you wont need right away -- for instance, if youre moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that theyre out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, >
Full Story >

Modern Guide To Bathroom Finishes

Hate the faucets in your bathroom? Its amazing how something so small can make such a difference - for better and for worse.

"For something you touch several times a day, why not pick a finish for your faucet that will make you feel good? People will notice if you put in an unimpressive faucet," Peter LaBau, a Charlottesville, Va.-based architect, told HGTV.

If youre in need of a finish update, you have options. Lots of them. There are some major trends in this area, but there are also >


"This finish being the most common, and probably the most popular, it works well with all >

Satin Nickel

"Finish-wise, satin nickel still reigns,"nbsp; Leah Peterson, executive VP ofnbsp;SEN Design Groupnbsp;dealer buying and business development group, told Kitchen amp; Bath Design News.

Satin nickel is sometimes referred to as brushed nickel, but take care if youre mixing both to make sure the finishes match precisely. The specific difference between the two finishes is in the way they are achieved: "A brushed finish is just that - brushed with a tool to give the metal a matte finish with the abrasions or brush marks all following the same direction," said Portals Luxury Hardware. "You can see those brush marks on the finish. "Satin is another matte finish, but its achieved by chemical process, not brushing. You can tell satin from nickel by checking for brush marks - satin doesnt have them."

The great thing about both satin and brushed nickel is that they are easy to maintain and clean and are less likely to show water spots.


"Copper is unmistakable and bold. It gives the bathroom a rich feeling, especially when mixed with a subtler material, such as marble on a countertop," said Houzz.nbsp;It also has "natural antibacterial properties" and develops a beautiful patina over time. The disadvantages:nbsp;"A shiny copper finish might require a little more maintenance than brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze and chrome. Its harder to match accessories and other fixtures to copper, and its not as durable as other finishes."

Oil-Rubbed Bronze

"A great aesthetic alternative to standard chrome and brushed nickel,nbsp;oil-rubbed bronze gives the bathroom a more traditional look and feel," said Houzz.


Brass is back, but not in the shiny lsquo;80s finish you probably just got a mental picture of. Satin brass has a fresh, modern feel.

Mixed metals

Who says you have to choose just one? New trends are supporting multiple finishes in one space. "It used to be considered a design no-no to mix metals in a bathroom," said Making Joy and Pretty Things. "You had to have polished chrome or nickel everything. Well, gone are the days where every single finish on everything at to be matchy matchy. And boy does it feel good to see that trend dying. Combining different metal finishes creates depth and adds visual interest in any room. And, it makes the room feel collected and made over time instead of builder-grade not that theres anything wrong with builder grade, necessarily."

Matte black

"Matte black stands out against a stark white backsplash, complements charcoal veins in a marble countertop and is cohesive with other black accessories," said Delta Faucet. "But this look isnt just for the kitchen. If youre ready to expand your love of matte black to new spaces, look no further than the bathroom. Deltas faucets and shower fixtures add a dramatic finish to your bathroom. Use them to turn heads and create a strong impression in your contemporary and transitional spaces that leave people raving about your >

A meacute;lange of trending options

If you really want to be on the forefront of change, consider rose gold. Or maybe gunmetal.

"Youre going to see even more finish options for faucets and handles in both kitchen and bath. Weve already seen gold and bronze make a comeback in recent years, but now we are seeing the growing rose-gold and bronze tones as more manufacturers are hopping on this train, and some are going in a direction thats a

little warmer or less shiny," said Gerhards.nbsp;"In addition to these hues, theres a rise in gunmetal and matte-black finishes."

Full Story >

When You Want To Renovate Everything, How Do You Choose What To Do First?

New fence. Covered patio. Expanded bathroom. Painted kitchen cabinets. They all cost about 3,000 give or take a couple bucks. So when you want to renovate everything, how do you chose? What comes first, and what shouldnt you bother with at all? Its all so confusing.

Thats the conundrum many people face when they go to renovate, or theyre simply trying to make a plan of action that doesnt include having to sell their house because theyve gone broke fixing it up. Moving forward can be tricky, and the renovation process can be anxiety-producing. Taking the time to properly research, set your budget, and determine the return on investment of individual projects - if thats even important to you - are the keys to success. Follow these tips before you swing that hammer.

Ask yourself why youre doing it

"It is vital that you know the objective of the renovation before you start as this will help you keep on track and make the appropriate decisions once the work has started," said Your Investment Property. "The objective may be any one of the following: increase rental return; improve capital value; own enjoyment; keep up with the next door neighbors; provide an income when property is flipped ie: purchased, renovated and then sold in a short period of time; or something else that is important to you."


This one can be hard when what you really want is a top-to-bottom overhaul, and it may require you to have a few tough conversations with yourself. You may love the idea of a covered patio, but will you get real use out of it? If youre a person who doesnt much like to go outside or if the covered patio would only be the beginning of the expense because youll now need to add an outdoor fan and a heater and drapes and mosquito netting and new outdoor furniture and a waterproof television once you have the patio cover, perhaps your dollars are better spent elsewhere. When you have limited funds, taking care of renovations on items that are more frequently used, or that you can at least look at and appreciate on a more regular basis, might be a better bet.

Consider your budget

About that budgetsome renovations obviously cost more than others. And some might be more important to you than others. Some of us have instant gratification issues umm, guilty. Perhaps it would be best to knock out a few small items that will make you feel good about your progress. Or, perhaps what you really need is a couple months of serious money-saving so you can put in those countertops youve been dreaming of.

Ask around

You might be able to slash your hard costs by finding a skilled handyman to do your flooring installation instead of going with a flooring company. Or, you may be able to take advantage of a special from a big box store that cuts down on costs, like free carpet installation at Home Depot - a special they are currently offering. Signing up for daily emails from Home Depot and Lowes is another way to take advantage of limited-time specials that can save you money. Both have "Daily Deals" they send out in their emails, which are good for that day and until theyre all sold out only.

Consider the ROI

If you cant rule out one or the other based on how much use you think youll get from the areas youre looking to renovate, look at the potential value. One might provide a much better return on investment than the other. The Cost vs. Value Report, which "compares average cost for 21 popular remodeling projects in 149 markets with the value those projects retain at resale in 100 U.S. markets," is our Bible when it comes to determining ROI.

Assess Your House

You might have a lot of "wants" >Think about everyday costs

New appliances and items like new doors and windows can have a significant upfront cost, but they will save you money on a regular basis because theyre energy-efficient.
Full Story >

Should You Fix Up Your House Before Listing Or Sell It As A Fixer Upper?

If youre thinking of selling your home, this is probably a question youve been asking yourself - and your real estate agent. There is no hard and fast answer; the route you go will depend on numerous factors, the most important of which are: the condition of your home, the strength of the market in your area, and the potential profit to be made both with and without updates. These tips will help you decide whether to sell now or later.

Consider your buyer

The words "fixer upper" might actually be a selling point for some buyers who perceive theyre getting a deal, who are specifically looking for something they can put their stamp on, or who just cant afford to buy something turnkey. The marketing your agent does is key here so you dont end up with nothing but unacceptable offers.

"In any marketing communications surrounding a fixer-upper, its important to remain focused on value," said ExtraSpace. "Prospective homebuyers know that a fixer-upper will sell at a lower price point than newer or more modern homes on the market. But that doesnt mean you need to accept a lowball offer. Instead, emphasize the homes investment potential by reminding buyers of the future sale opportunities after the home has been remodeled."

If your home needs A LOT of work and you cant, or dont want to, put the time, money, and effort into getting it in top condition, targeting investors could get it sold quickly. "A few years ago, a past client called to say her next-door neighbors needed to immediately sell their home. To say it needed work was an understatement," said Sacramento-based real estate broker Elizabeth Weintraub on The Balance. "The home appeared inhabitable. It had holes in the walls all the way to the exterior and urine-soaked wood floors; most of the electrical didnt work and the bathroom tub had fallen through the joists. All the faucets leaked and, in one bedroom, I found a pile of dead rats swept into a pile in the center of the floor. This was not a home that could be easily fixed up. Not even a coat of paint would have helped sell this place. We priced it low enough that it attractednbsp;multiple offers and sold with zero days on market. Only contractors and flippers made offers on this home."

Since flipping is more popular than ever, a home that needs work - especially certain kinds of work - may be attractive enough to investors that you dont have to do any work at all. "A good rule of thumb: If your home needs kitchen or bath remodels, a new roof, or foundation repairs, theres an 80-plus chance your buyer is going to be an investor," Bruce Ailion, a broker and REALTORreg; in Atlanta, said on

Get an honest assessment - and be able to hear it

If youve lived in your home for quite some time and/or havent kept up with updates and repairs, your real estate agents assessment of its condition and the recommendations he or she makes to get it market-ready may be eye-opening. They may also make you angry. Try to listen and keep an open mind, even if you feel offended. In the end, you share the same goal, which is to get your home sold for the best possible price.

Be realistic on pricing

"Finding out your homes value isnt as simple as subtracting the costnbsp;of repairs from your home. You also need to factor in lsquo;aggravation costs, said Ailion. "In other words, turnkey homes often sell at a premium to traditional buyers because they dont have to do any work. If your home needs some sprucing up, youre likely going to have to incentivize buyers to dig in and get their hands dirty."

It may be that fixing your home up makes the most sense because of the financial upside. In presenting you with comparables, your real estate agent should be able to show you other properties in your area in varying conditions depending on the number of active listings or recently sold homes near you. This will help inform the pricing for your home and also give you some idea of how much youd have to put into it to get top dollar. Now all you have to do is come up with the money

Choose your updates wisely

A 30,000 kitchen renovation may not be in the budget and may not give you the return on investment youre looking for, but there are smaller updates you can do to your kitchen to make it look fresh and, you can use the same principles in other important areas, like bathrooms. Better Homes and Gardens has a great list of updates you can make for under 2,000, including hanging a pendant that "illuminates the sink area" and swapping out a tired sink for a "farmhouse sink that adds character to the space." Also think about painting cabinets and installing new hardware, and, if youre up to the task, adding an eye-catching backsplash.

Make necessary repairs

Investors arent expecting perfection, and their offers will be based on the condition of your home and the potential profit they can make once its fixed up. Non-investor types looking for a deal may not necessarily be scared off by a few cosmetic issues, but major repairs that are needed are another story. If youre looking for the smartest place to put your pre-sale renovation dollars, this may be it.

"It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking atnbsp;big-ticket itemsnbsp;like the age and condition of the roof,nbsp;air conditioning and heating systems, water heater, electrical panel and pipes," said Inman. "If any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well asnbsp;insurability of the property."

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Sellers: Clutter-Free Tips That Can Make Your Home Look More Appealing

Tidying up your home for your open house or a buyerrsquo;s showing can make all the difference when it comes to selling your home. Yet, sometimes sellers neglect to do this even though it will help increase their chances of getting an offer.

A little bit of tidying up, organizing and showcasing your homersquo;s best features can help shorten the amount of time your home is on the market.

Here are some hot clutter-free tips that can make your home look more appealing andndash;an added benefitndash;easier for you to live in, too.

The kitchen is an area that tends to get cluttered easily. Even if the countertops are cleared off, inside the cabinets often lies a cluttered mess. Those crammed cabinets are not appealing to buyers. They often see the disarray and think therersquo;s less room for their own items than there really is because they canrsquo;t see behind the clutter.

Star Hansen, a professional organizer, says cans create the most clutter. She recommends using soup can racks to store them. Theyrsquo;re inexpensive and they store three times as many cans. Spice racks are a great way to clear the clutter out and make it look clutter-free.

Hansen also shows how to use storage solutions like airtight containers, hanging baskets, shelf dividers to separate food items, and how to use chalkboard and magnetic paint.

Painting the inside of your cabinet with magnetic paint allows you to hang light-weight items like aprons, towels, or recipes inside your utility cabinets. Using chalkboard paint, you can write notes inside your cabinet about which supplies you need to purchase.

Using airtight containers to store pastas, grains, and other food works well in the cabinet to conserve space because theyrsquo;re stackable. Hansen also recommends using a label maker to mark all the food sections.

Grouping food together in categories such as ingredients or prepared food and then placing those items in boxes allows you to easily grab what you need without having to move 15 items just to get to the one you need.

The key to this type of clutter-free reorganization is to make sure itrsquo;s portable. Since yoursquo;re selling your home, you likely donrsquo;t want to spend the money installing professional systems that will remain with the home when you move.

Fortunately, there are wonderful products on the market that help you organize without having to drill or glue them into your cabinets. These shelving products look good and, when all the items are placed inside the shelves or under-shelving hanging baskets, yoursquo;ve created the illusion of more cabinet spacendash;a plus for all buyers.

So where do you look for these products? Without even leaving your home, companies like Rubbermaid, make it simple to view a wide selection as well as see some creative options for organizing your pantry. Many of the products are under 20 and well worth the price to reduce the headache of searching through a crammed pantry or over-stuffed cabinet. One of my favorites is the Corner Helper Shelf: it holds up to 10 pounds and allows you to stack food items below it.

The best part of doing this type of reorganization is that when you move, the inside of the cabinets look great for buyers and yoursquo;ll be able easily pack up and take all this work with you to your new home.

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Problem In Your Condo Unit? You May Have To Pay The Deductible

Many condominium projects in the Washington metropolitan are old, having been converted from previous rental apartment buildings. Pipes periodically break or leak, often causing thousands of dollars of damage. Who pays? The unit owner or the association?

Every condominium association has insurance coverage, typically called the "master policy". This is contrasted to the policy every owner in this area must carry for their own unit, called an HO-6 policy.

When damage occurs, the Master is usually obligated to cover certain repair costs. But every insurance policy has a deductible -- an amount that must be paid up front or deducted from the insurance proceeds. This can range from as low as 5000 to a high of 25,000 or more. And until recently, the bylaws of many associations stated that the deductible is a "common expense": in other words it has to be paid by the association.

Association Boards of Directors do not like to pay the deductible every time there is a problem; such expenditures are typically not plugged into the annual budget and often at the end of the year, an association may have to significantly increase the monthly assessments to make up for any shortfall.

A few years ago, the Maryland legislature gave every association a significant break. It enacted what is called "strict liability". If the cause of any damage to the condominium started from within a unit, regardless of whether there was negligence, that owner must pay the deductible up to 5000. And the law is not limited to plumbing problems; any incident that occurs in the unit that triggers payment by the Master policy is covered under that law.

The Maryland law makers then did something highly unusual. Almost all bylaws then in existence me>Condominiums in the District of Columbia were facing the same problem: pipes were breaking and leaking all over, especially when temperatures dropped below the freezing mark. The District 0 condominiums -- acting through the Community Association Institute -- supported an amendment to the DC condo act that basically is identical to that in Maryland. It reads: "if the Bylaws do not indicate the entity responsible for payment of a deductible amount if the cause of damage to or destruction of a portion of a condominium originates from a unit, the owner of the unit where the damage... originated shall be responsible for the associations property insurance deductible in an amount not to exceed 5,000."

In Maryland, in order for the association to legally collect the 5,000, the board must -- on an annual basis -- inform all owners of the amount of the deductible and their obligation under the law should a problem occur within their unit.

In Washington, in order to be obligated to pay the deductible, unit owners must be advised before any damage occurs. Best practice: the Board, through its management company, should advise all owners of this law annually.

Accordingly, deductibles remain a common expense except when there is a problem in a specific unit.

However, nothing in law is simple. Most Bylaws were written before 2010, state that all deductibles are common expenses, and thus must be paid by the association. In order to collect the up-to 5,000 from the unit owner where the damage occurred, the Bylaws should be amended to reflect the new law. And in the District, this will take a super-majority vote from all owners. Interestingly, although the law limits the payment to 5,000, if the amended Bylaws do not limit this amount, a District association may actually recover the entire deductible it has to pay when the insurance claim is filed. Careful drafting of the Bylaws will allow a condo with a larger deductible to collect the full amount from the owner in the unit where the problem occurred.

Amending Bylaws is not an easy task. In many associations, its hard enough to get a quorum for the annual meeting, let alone get a super-majority vote to make changes to their legal documents. But all is not lost. When unit owners recognize that such a proposed amendment may significantly curb operating expenses -- and thus either lower condo assessments or at least keep them stable -- most financially thinking owners will support such an amendment.
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Committees Are A Untapped Treasure Available To The HOA Board

Besides benefitting the board by spreading the work around, committees are an excellent training ground for future board members. Folks that may be >Committees come in all shapes, sizes and functions and may be temporary or long term, as the need dictates. They are only limited by the boards imagination. A committee can assume a variety of roles, such as:

Research Development. Complex tasks can be assigned to a special committee which can research the task and advise various courses of action to the board. This includes large renovation projects, proposed amendments to the governing documents and local zoning or crime issues.

Task Execution. Committees like Rules Enforcement and Architectural Restriction can hand out citations and review appeals.

Maintenance Oversight. Committees like Landscape/Grounds and Pool oversee the contractors performance and improve the quality of service.

Cost Control. A Maintenance Committee can prescreen requests from owners to ensure they are indeed the HOAs responsibility and, if so, prioritize them and group them for better cost efficiency. The Budget Committee refines costs based on study of the past and anticipated future expenses.

Socialization. An oft overlooked function is planning social events to help neighbors meet neighbors. The events dont necessarily need to be party oriented. The Annual Meeting can become the Social Event of the Year with food and entertainment. Spring Planting Parties dont have to be all work. Reward the volunteers with catered food, beverages and T-shirts. The Social Committee can help build real community and lasting friendships.

Security. Turn that nosey neighbor into the Neighborhood Watch Chair who can monitor suspicious activity or recommend better security techniques.

To facilitate committees, the board should provide the proper resources. Some need funding but most just need clear marching orders and limits of authority. The board should never abrogate its final authority over HOA matters to a committee. That means committee power should always be limited and if a committee is making judgment calls, like Rules Enforcement, there should always be the right of appeal to the board.

All committees need a plan of action and goals. Part of the plan should include reporting to the board at regularly scheduled meetings. That report should include recommendations for board approval. These reports provide a good way for the board to assess the ongoing need or effectiveness of a committee. If little is being done, it might be time to retire a committee or find a new chair.

Some committees need to meet regularly, some sporadically and others ra>Heres a novel idea: Allow renters to join committees. Many want to be good neighbors and to serve. At least ask. You might be surprised at the response and it might encourage owners to step up as well.

One of the best ways to promote committees is by praise and recognition. It is the currency of care in HOAs which brings a huge return. Recognizing effort and superior performance is 1 on every Job Satisfaction Survey. It works the same way in an HOA. Thank you notes, accolades in the newsletter, plaques and Certificates of Merit go a long way.

Mining your committee options will produce a wealth of treasure for the HOA. Committees lead to better information, greater harmony, new friendships, enhanced trust, involved neighbors and less work for the board...all good and no bad. There be gold in them thar hills. Grab your picks and shovels and start digging

For more on this topic, see
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White And Grey Kitchens Dallas Style

White kitchens never seem to go out of >Often called the New Chicago, Dallas is coming into its own as an interior design capital thanks to nationally recognized names such as Charlotte Comer, ASID RID.

"White and grey are eternal," said Comer. "You never get tired of the combination, but there are ways of using them that make the look successful."

Comer believes a monochromatic color palette works best if the client wants their interiors to stand the test of time, but monochromatic doesnt mean all the same hue. For this contemporary kitchen, Comer used Decorators White and Ozark Shadows by Benjamin Moore cut by 75. palest grey anchored by whispered natural hardwoods to achieve a pristine harmony. The waterfall island countertop in Bianca Quartzite by Aria Stone Gallery is the only pattern.

The picture window was greatly enlarged to bring the outdoors into the kitchen. "With white and grey, suggests Comer, "edited use of color becomes more important. So choose statement paintings, accessories and sculptures wisely. And a beautiful view can be all the vibrant color you need."

Kitchen planner Helene Terry accented the purity factor with hidden appliances and touch cabinetry. "The reason discerning clients love white is that its clean," said Terry, "but white can be as challenging as any other color. Thats why its important that everyone on the team works well together, so we all know what we mean by BM Ozark Shadows 25."

Terry worked with General Contractor Ronny Henderson on the contemporary kitchen pictured below which features bookmatched Crema Calacutta marble as the main focal point. The colors in the countertop, cabinetry and floors pick up the tranquil veins of sandy beige in the statement piece stone. "You want the whites and greys to appear curated because they are when you factor in everything else besides wall color," advises Terry.

A final way to do white and grey well is by pairing them with a little color, as this transitional Dallas high-rise kitchen demonstrates. Interior Designer Dona Rosene used this beachy palette of whites, driftwood and blue to remind her clients of their East Coast seaside home. She used Benjamin Moores Cotton Balls on the ceiling, and used Sherwin Williams Creamy on the molding to transition to Benjamin Moores Beachglass. The color choices complement the sunny suburban Dallas skyline.

"White makes everything else pop," says Rosene. "In this home, the ceiling looks crisp against the light warm gray on the cabinets and the Beachglass on the walls. The effect is cheerful and calming, like a vacation by the sea."

Whites and greys have to be chosen in the home and the home has to have good light. "That way, you can see the undertones," advises Rosene. "Do the whites and greys go too pink, too yellow or too blue? The right tone makes a room appear warm while the wrong tone makes it feel cold and drab."

Remember what you want from white. Look for colors that are calming, clean as opposed to muddy, and use paint with a matte finish or soft eggshell finish to avoid hot spots and reduce glare.
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Saying I Do To Your House Before Your Spouse: Heres What You Need to Know

A home of your own complete with a white picket fence, the realization of the "American Dream." If youre unmarried, though, you might feel this dream is out of your reach. After all, arent wedding bells supposed to proceed house hunting? Well, according to recent stats, there are many couples who are reversing the order of things and opting for home ownership before marriage.

Stats on Home Ownership Before Marriage

According to a study by Coldwell Banker, one in four couples, between the ages of 18 and 34 years-of-age bought a house together prior to marriage. Another poll performed byMONEYdiscovered that40 of millennialsfeel it is a good idea to put home ownership before marriage. Perhaps, you agree and would like to realize the American dream of homeownership before saying "I Do." Read the helpful tips listed below for turning your dream of home ownership into a reality:

Learn Your Credit Scores:

While married couples are often viewed as a single unit, you have the advantage as an unmarried couple to decide which person best fits the home buyer profile. This of course means, which of you has the best credit score and the most assets. You can choose to cosign or own your home jointly if you prefer. Keep in mind, though, that if one of you has a less than stellar credit rating, it could reduce the amount of money you qualify to borrow.

Title Your Home Properly:

There arethree main optionsyou can use to title your home as an unmarried couple. They are as follows:

1.Sole Owner:This means one of you is the sole owner, 100 responsible for the debt. The other is not listed on the title at all, thus they have no rights or responsibly regarding the property.

2.Tenants in Common:This means that both of youown the property but in differing amounts. For examples, one partner might own 60, while the other has 40 ownership. Keep in mind this will prevent your home from transferring in its entirety to a surviving partner should one of you pass away. Instead, the living partner will simply retain their percentage of ownership. To get around this, partners can "Will" their percentage to the other partner to transfer upon their death.

3.Joint Tenant:This gives you equal ownership of the property. If one of you should die, the property will automatically be awarded to the living partner.

Understand That the Debt is Permanent:

If you choose to enter into a joint tenancy arrangement and your >Create a Legal Agreement:

Yes, technically, if you own the property jointly you are already both legally bound to the property. However, this agreement is slightly different. Seek out the help of a lawyer to create a binding agreement that outlines who will be responsible for what aspects of the property. For example, figure out and specify who pays the rent, the taxes, repairs on the home, etc. This will prevent a lot of heartache down the road by getting expectations out in the open from the beginning.

Understand Buying a Home Isnt Easy:

This article onAngies Listis super helpful as it talks about everything you have to do before buying a home. It examines the importance of loan qualification, home inspections,and timing when it comes to buying a home for the first time. Read it over if this happens to be your first time entering the home buying process.

Know the Expenses Doesnt Stop at The Purchase Price:

Home ownership is a grand adventure. One that also comes with many unexpected expenses. Just take a look at the true cost of repairs onHome Advisorfor an idea of what you could be facing. However, by in large, the benefits of homeownership far outweigh the problems.

We wish you and your partner happy house hunting as you face this new adventure of home ownership head on
Full Story >

New Bluehammer Empowers Agents in the Renovation Boom

When touring a home with a client, how often do they mention interest in making renovations of any size, and then ask you for cost estimates and advice? In the midst of a ldquo;renovation boom,rdquo; home buyers are actively seeking to either make repairs on their home for resale, or to make adjustments on a recently purchased home and itrsquo;s important for real estate agents to be prepared. In fact, first time homebuyers especially, including millennials, seek out homes that will require repairs or some kind of remodel.

Now, agents have a brand new resource they can use to be able to provide an estimated cost of any home repair, big or small, based on the specific location of a clientrsquo;s home. This recently launched service, bluehammertrade;, makes it easy for real estate agents to quickly provide accurate information directly to their clients using their home improvement calculator.

An agent will simply look up a home in their profile and select the anticipated repairs to provide an estimated quote. Whether a client wants to repaint a room or replace a roof, no task is too small or too large for bluehammertrade;. The home improvement calculator can also be used as a listing presentation tool to impress potential clients with the additional service agents can provide.

bluehammertrade; also acts as a personal advertisement for an agentrsquo;s real estate services in a number of ways. Firstly, with each home estimation an agent provides for a client, their agent ad and contact information will be displayed each time that client logs in to their bluehammertrade; profile to view or use their estimation tools. The client will also receive digital home improvement articles branded with their agentrsquo;s ad. Best of all, agents are able to select zip codes theyrsquo;d like to be promoted in and bluehammertrade; will display an agentrsquo;s advertisement to other users in those areas.

The value proposition: one year of advertising to targeted zip codes, consistent branded communication and an awesome tool that provides pre-sale as well as well post-sale service.

Be an early adapter, stand out from the competition and use bluehammertrade; to better provide for your clients. The annual subscription is 99; however, subscribe through Realty Times and receive a 20 discount using our special link or using promo code rtagent.

For more information, email .

Full Story >

9 Home Improvements That Can Help and Hurt Value

Home improvement can be taken as very demanding action, but there are also some ways of home improvement you can do yourself. Therefore, before you start with any, see what improvements are the most needed in your home. Nowadays, a big attraction is an energy-efficient home which saves a lot of energy and reduces energy costs. On the other hand, maintenance problems and pest or bug infestations are a major turn off and should be looked into ASAP.

We bring you several great pieces of advice you can use to improve your homes value and feel more comfortable and cozy.

1. Water Filtration System

A water filtration system in your kitchen is a small addition that will appeal to many home buyers and is used for purifying the water. When you have a water filtration system installed in your house, you dont have to buy bottled water anymore. The best thing is that its not expensive at all, and everyone can afford it.

2. Removing Old Carpets

Besides looking old, old carpets might also be hiding contaminants and allergens which means you have bad air quality in your home. Sometimes the best option for testing an indoor air quality is to call a professional company because they will su>Wooden floors are an excellent way to bring the touch of outdoors in your home. Great examples of environmentally friendly natural products are tile or laminated floors. By replacing your old carpets with a hard surface floor, your house will be easier to clean, and youll have more time to do things you like.

3. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling

It is no secret that homes with popcorn ceilings are outdated so get rid of this popcorn ceiling fast. To be sure that it does not contain asbestos, it would be best to hire professionals to test it. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling is as simple as buying a solution to soften the texture from the hardware store and scraping the popcorn away.

4. Bathroom Remodeling

Remodeling bathrooms is a great way to add more value to your home. If a full rebuild is not in your budget, you can invest in many small changes that will freshen up your bathroom. Replace the dated wallpaper, old lighting, add some fancy cupboard knobs or change the faucet and shower heads.

5. Kitchen Remodeling

Just like the bathroom, a big kitchen update can do wonders. Stained sinks and old appliances are all things to look at. If replacing the kitchen cabinets is too much for you, you can always give them a new look by adding a new varnish or paint layer and swap those old doorknobs with modern ones.

6. Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance is an ongoing process, no matter if you plan to live in your house for a long time or move soon. Repairing or replacing broken appliances or fixtures will avoid further damage. Certain things are not to be left, and for example, leak spots on the ceiling can cause great damage to your roof if not taken care of immediately. If your home is up for sale, a sign of poor maintenance will make the home seekers wonder what else is wrong with the house.

7. Water Heater Upgrade

An old water heater can be a turn off for some home buyers, but you can find water heaters that come with a tankless model. This kind of water heaters are more efficient as they only heat up the water that you need.

8. Appliance Updates

Nowadays, energy-efficiency is becoming trendy. Appliances with an energy star label use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than other conventional appliances. New models look great, and many are stainless steel which is a bonus. If you do not have the money for buying modern devices, upgrade the lighting to energy star.

9. Update Fixtures

Fixtures in your home include curtain rods, light fixtures, doorknobs, switch plates, outlet covers, etc. Make sure that these are updated because sometimes its the small detail that counts. For example, outlet covers and switch plates look more attractive when made of metal. These changes are easy to do yourself and arent so expensive, just be sure you choose the right color which looks great combined with other furniture in your home.

Matt James is a freelance writer specialized in home improvement, smart technology, architecture design. He has a love of outdoors and spending time with his dog Cooper. You can reach him on Facebook and Instagram.
Full Story >

Dont Recarpet Your Home Before Reading This

Getting new carpet can be pricey, but it sure does look great when its done If youre getting ready to lay down some new stuff, or at least researching your options, you may have a bit of sticker shock. But, there are ways to save if youre willing to do a bit of looking around and possibly even do some of the work yourself. These tips will give you a head start.

Skip the middle man

"Find out if there is a carpet wholesaler in your area," said One Creative Mommy. "Can you skip the middle man? This might not be possible in all areas, but you might just get lucky. Check with any carpet installer, or contractor friends to see if they have connections. Do you know anyone who might lay your carpet as a side job to their regular job - instead of going through their more expensive company? It never hurts to ask"

Dont ignore the little guy

You may assume that large flooring stores and places like Home Depot and Lowes would have some of the best prices around because they deal in volume, but you might be surprised. Check out the small shops in your area. You just might end up with a better deal.

Dont go for the very best

We are conditioned to think that the more expensive something is, the higher the quality is, but thats not necessarily true in every case. "Along with being savvy about carpet quality, get to know your fibers - syntheticandnatural," said Pet My Carpet. "If you want a good synthetic fiber,nylonwill give you the greatest durability and resiliency. However, itll also cost you the most per square foot. If you dont need as much durability, consider alternatives likepolyester, which, aside from being cheaper, have other benefits, such as increasedstain resistanceand ecological friendliness."

Also, you want to take into consideration how long you plan to live in the home before you make a big purchase. "No sense spending 25 per square yard for carpet when you expect to move or build in two years," said Dalton Carpet.

Dont go for the cheapest option either

"On the other hand, spending too little may result in uncleanable, flat, dead carpet on the floor for many years to come," added Dalton Carpet. "Keep in mind that most carpet doesnt wear out as much as it uglies out."

Pitch in

You can save money by doing some of the prep work yourself. Moving your own furniture and removing and disposing of the existing carpet are just a few ways you may be able to chip away at the cost and make it more affordable.

Look for "seconds"

"Most of the time, retailers stock first-quality goods meaning there are no defects in the carpet, and full manufacturerswarrantiesare in effect," said The Spruce. "Sometimes, though, manufacturers will sell off secondscarpets that have a slight flawor are off-color the color doesnt match the carpet sample. Seconds can offer great savings opportunities, but the lack of warranty and the extent of the flaw may not be worth the cost savings. Be sure to confirm with the retailer that the carpet in stock is first-quality, and carries a full warranty. If not, be sure that you can accept the risk that comes with buying seconds."

Look at remnants

If you have a smallish space to carpet, a remnant can offer great savings. These are pieces of carpet that are leftover and often at the end of a roll. They are typically discounted beyond what you may be able to find in other carpet options.
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Freshen Up Your Home With Spring And Summer Updates
Updating your home can seem like a huge undertaking, especially if its been a while and it seems like everything needs an overhaul. But there are easy ways to freshen it up and make it look spring- and summer-ready that wont break the bank and wont create a long, drawn-out hassle. Each of these updates represents a >Take it to the floor

There was a time when the Persian rug dominated formal spaces. But take a look at this one from Wayfair. The somewhat worn look of the Aliyah rug brings in a vintage feel but the color palette is all new. This is an easy and affordable way to instantly update a living room with bold colors that will get your space noticed.

"If theres one piece to invest in this spring, its a rug," said The Glitter Guide. "Its a surefire way to bring interest and >Brighten up the bedroom

While youre thinking about patterns"Swap in a patterned headboard," said Elle Dcor. "You dont have to grab your paint rollers or ready the wallpaper to revamp a bedroom. Upgrade the centerpiece of your roomthe headboardto something bright and cheery."

Patterns, patterns, patterns

Mixed prints have been all over the runway, and you can create a similarly textured and stylish look at home. Mix it up, mash it up, and freshen it up with an assortment of printsflorals, houndstooth, stripes, graphic patterns. You can create a look that brings depth to your space by using one main color as your anchor and then creating a mix of patterns around it.

Coordinate your pet decor

Your basic scratching post or dog bed may fade into the background for you, but they can stand out like a sore thumb to visitors. Pet decor has come a long way, and no matter what >Spring for a new appliance

Lowes and Home Depot have both been running spring specials with appliances that are 3540 off. These discounted prices could easily lead you down a rabbit hole, and before you know it, youre wanting to redo your whole kitchen. But a new fridge all by itself sure would make your kitchen look pretty. If you really want to make the purchase painless, look into 0 financing that lets you spread the cost of the purchase over 24 or 36 months with no interestits an easy way to upgrade that appliance without the crunch of putting out a lot of money upfront.

Paint, paint, paint

There really are few places inside and out of your home where paint cant make a huge difference, and with such a low dollar commitment, you just have to pick and choose your projects. We love a good-ole fireplace makeover that can totally change the energy of your living space in one weekend for almost no money.

Bring in the flowers

When spring flowers start blooming, we have a natural desire to bring them into the home. After all, just the smell of fresh flowers can lift our mood. "Flowers always brighten up a space, no matter what kind you use," said The Spruce. "You also dont need a lot of them. A small floral arrangement on a table, mantle or windowsill makes a big difference. Whats particularly great about flowers is that every color and combination works together, so its a great way to experiment with colors you wouldnt normally put together."

Big, bold floral patterns are also a huge trend this season, so, while youre thinking about how to display your cut roses, consider where you can also make a splash on the walls, on an upholstered piece, or on the bed.

Frame your windows

Another easy way to bring an additional layer of interest to your home is with modern window coverings. Already have blinds or shutters? Framing the windows out with drapes that can be changed seasonally is a great way to create an interior that always looks updated while calling attention to the outdoors and to your architecture or creating architecture where there isnt much.

Shop your home

You can give areas of your home a whole new look without spending a dime. "I love updating the look of our home by styling the coffee table, accent tables,shelves, countertops,and mantel," said Jane at Home. "One of the reasons I love styling is that I can use items I already have on hand. If I dont like how something looks, I can easily change it by moving things around or bringing in new items from another part of the house."

Some of her styling tips include: "Use stacks of books to raiseobjects off the surfaces; combine items in groups of threespreferably with a tall item, a shorter, more sculptural item, and a horizontal item; balance hard and soft objects, as well as things with different textures, colors, tones, and
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Rent Burden On The Rise

The world has changed and renting has changed right along with it.

Renting has long been the traditional first-step toward home ownership and, in later life, a life>

  • The latest Report by The Pew Charitable Trusts reveals that the lingering legacy of the 2007-09 Great Recession is more households making a slower transition to homeownership because they are "rent burdened."
  • This research also showed that senior-headed households were more likely to be rent burdened than households headed by people in other age groups.

In the Pew Report, "American Families Face a Growing Rent Burden: High

Housing Costs Threaten Financial Security and Put Homeownership Out of Reach for Many," authors define "rent burdened" households as those spending more than 30 percent of their pretax income on housing. Such

families are usually "more financially fragile" than those spending a lower percentage of their income on rent and than those who own their own homes. "Seve>

  • Rent Burdened: The Report examined how, between 2001 and 2015, increasing rent cost affected the ability of American households to use financial services, accumulate savings, and transition to homeownership. In 2015, 38 percent of the more than 40 million U.S. renter households were rent burdened, an increase of about 19 percent from 2001.
  • Seve> In the same period, the share of renter households that were seve>
  • Data Source: Pew research was based on the University of Michigans Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the longest running since 1968 longitudinal household survey in the world. This survey of 18,000 in 5,000 American families has generated data about household finances that is free and broadly accessible.
  • 55 Renters: Pew Project Director Erin Currier said she was most surprised to learn that, although the share of renter households has increased by 10 percent for all age groups, the current rental spike is propelled by renters 55 and older. In 2015, about half of senior-renter families were rent burdened with more than one-fifth seve>

Whats the eviction picture in your community?

The Eviction Lab The Eviction Lab at Princeton University explains rent-burden patterns this way: "Today, the majority of poor renting families in America spend over half of their income on housing costs rent plus utilities, and eviction is transforming their lives. Yet little is known about the prevalence, causes, and consequences of housing insecurity."

Sociologist Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, discovered that eviction, incredibly prevalent in low-income communities, functioned as "a cause, not just a condition, of poverty."

In 2017, Desmond established The Eviction Lab with the shared conviction that "a stable, affordable home is central to human flourishing and economic mobility." The Labs nation-wide data bank ] of more than 80 million eviction records going back to 2000 is accessible to the public and researchers at no charge.

The Labs open invitation to policymakers, community organizers, professionals, and anyone interested in real estate encourages the use of online tools like The Map to understand how eviction, and the associated traumatic and financial loss, are shaping individual communities. The intent is that this participation will contribute to laws, policies, and programs that are effective locally in reducing poverty and eviction and fostering residential security.

How are evictions affecting value in your community?

Researchers believe that sharing data about local housing, eviction, and poverty patterns will raise awareness of local issues and stimulate development of new solutions. This in turn should improve understanding of what drives poverty in America and what can be done to strengthen housing stability for low-income families and communities.

Two Faces of Rentalhellip;

Real estate investors, property owners, and >

  • At its best, this investment drive will lead to the construction of more rental units which may stabilize demand and pricing.
  • At its worst, this could result in evictions mdash; already considered at crisis levels by many mdash; rising above the almost 1 million evictions annually.

As research raises awareness of the social impact of rent burden is there room for both sides mdash; landlords and tenants mdash; to benefit from decreasing eviction and creating healthy stable rental markets?

After more than 40 years in property management, Jeff Cronrod developed LeaseGuarantee, a cosigner product that guarantees tenant performance to protect landlords from financial loss through eviction. This product helps landlords, but I asked Cronrod whether tenants may benefit, too.

Cronrod responded by email: "As for tenants, LeaseGuarantee may be used to offset all or part of the required move-in money, thus significantly reducing the cash required to secure a new rental. Additionally, a tenant who has had some credit challenges in the past can use LeaseGuarantee to help them qualify for a unit without seeking a cosigner. A tenant who successfully completes their tenancy without delinquency may also have their credit bolstered if reported to the credit bureaus."

Renting is no longer the cheap, easy-to-arrange housing alternative in many communities. Rents continue to steadily increase, demand is continually growing, homeownership is on the decline, incomes have not kept pace with rising real estate and rental costs, and short-term rental is monopolizing housing stock. Whats next?

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Whats Wrong With Oklahoma?

As the two-week Oklahoma teachers strike ended last week, its clear that the rabidly red state has some serious problems, namely that oil money doesnt trickle down like economics are supposed to. Ignoring the benefits of its central location, >

Take the wind industry, for example. Once on track to be the number one source of wind-generated energy by 2030, according to the Department of Commerce, Oklahoma decided instead to cut the industrys last tax incentive in 2017 in House Bill 2298. Meanwhile, oil and gas production tax rates have plummeted, from an average seven percent to two percent for new wells for the first three years, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

At 7 percent, Oklahomas tax rate is well below that of other major energy states, says the OPI, compared to 8.3 percent in Texas and North Dakota, 13.3 percent in Louisiana, and 13.4 percent in Wyoming, according to a 2017 report by the Covenant Group.

According to forecasts from the Oklahoma Tax Commission the new subsidy will cost Oklahoma 333 million in lost gross production tax revenue, says the OPI. Are oil companies going to refuse to drill if they have to pay 7 percent? And if its causing such a shortfall that teachers have to march to get lawmakers attention, isnt that a good enough reason to review the governors budget?

And that brings us back to the teachers. According to The Guardian, Oklahoma ranks 49th in state teacher pay. The state offered teachers a raise just in time to stop the strike, but the teachers soldiered on because they are striking for the children. State spending per pupil has dropped by 26.9 percent since 2008 and is also the last time teachers got a raise. Students are making do in many areas with outdated and duct-taped schoolbooks, four-day school weeks and school closings.

Legislaters fight back with a Catch-22 - the budget shortfall doesnt allow the state to meet the teachers demands. What the lawmakers fail to realize is that catering to the oil and gas industry is preventing other jobs from coming to Oklahoma, which is starving the mostly rural state.

One of the three busiest trucking highways in the nation goes smack through the middle of the state, I-40, coming east from Memphis, Federal Expresss hub, and west from Barstow, California, outside of Los Angeles and a major highway intersection of I-15, California State Route 58, U.S. Route 66 and I-40. Intersecting with I-75 at Henryetta, Oklahoma, and I-35 in Oklahoma City, 1-40 creates a nice triangle to and from Dallas, home to DFW international airport. Yet, when one drives through Henryetta, theres little commerce, just fast food restaurants and a duck decoy manufacturer. Nearly equidistant to Tulsa and Oklahoma City, it just doesnt make sense why Henryetta isnt a huge town, teeming with manufacturing, packaging and shipping jobs, but to date, its only claim to fame is as the birthplace of Troy Aikman.

The trickle down of poo continues with the housing industry. According to Zillow, the median home value in Oklahoma is 116,900, less than half the national median and the median list price per square foot in Oklahoma is 99. And yet, nearly 12 percent of OK homeowners are underwater on their mortgages.

Californians, foreign investors and retirees smell the blood in the water. You can buy property cheaply, pay almost nothing in property taxes another problem and live like its 1970. Just dont expect any updates.
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Inside Tips On Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens make dining al fresco at home more appealing than ever. A rebounding trend in outdoor living reveals more and more properties feature outdoor kitchens that once were the province of only the very wealthy.

Today, moving the homes indoor central meeting place outdoors creates an open-air living space thats both accessible and inviting as any indoor room. Great for gatherings and socializing, having a kitchen and dining area outdoors also eliminates some of the indoor mess and hassle of food preparation and makes for a more inclusive cooking experience.

You can create outdoor living space that is an organic part of your yard or a discrete, open-air self-standing room or suite for your home. With features ranging from simple and functional to more extravagant, an outdoor kitchen investment comes with a return thats at least equal to a major kitchen remodel - 80 percent or more.

Talk to your real estate agent about the return on your investment in an outdoor kitchen in your specific neighborhood. If you are enterprising, hands-on and have budget constraints, you can put ideas into play yourself. If you need a truly professional look, hire a contractor to design and build the area.

Here are a few elements to keep in mind when crafting your outdoor living space:

Outdoor kitchen appliances

Durability is paramount for any outdoor appliance and should be a primary concern, especially if you live in a harsh climate cold, wet, dry or hot, even if you cover your appliances in inclement weather.Cooking fuels are commonly gas or charcoal, but outdoor kitchens can incorporate a wood-burning oven, outdoor fireplace, or a fire pit.

Barbecue fans might opt to include a smoker or mesquite grill. Higher end outdoor kitchens often include ample counter top space, drawers and cabinets for storage, as well as a sink, and refrigeration. Existing utility connections could narrow your choices, but you can run a natural gas line to the outdoor kitchen. Adequate plumbing pressure is a must in order to accommodate hot and cold running water.

Outdoor kitchen living space

The living space that frames your appliances helps set the tone for outdoor living.

If you have an existing deck or patio, you could develop that space into a living area. If you install an island and bar area with stools or opt for a simple outdoor dining set, consider protecting your space from the elements, just as you would your appliances.

Some kitchens incorporate a roof, covered archway or pergola; others could need only an ample patio umb>Outdoor kitchen flow

To build functionality into your outdoor kitchen, consider the flow of space just as you would your indoor entertaining areas. Keep your cooking area accessible to your indoor kitchen, when possible, to experience less running around with dishes and ingredients you keep inside the home.

Put seating near your cooking area, but not so near as to interrupt the flow of the chef.

Outdoor kitchen ambiance

Keep lighting in mind when it comes to evenings. Its a lovely time to >Overall, the design of your outdoor kitchen should compliment your home, especially adjacent areas.
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Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018

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