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Real Estate News

Updated: Friday, September 21, 2018

5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make


Wrong Price

The first misstep is to price the home wrong. Either too high or too low. Getting the price ldquo;just rightrdquo; means getting the most out of your home while at the same time not pricing it out of the market to the point where very few, if any, potential buyers reach out. If you have some time to sell, you could list your home on the higher side compared to recent sales in your area. If you need to sell quickly, the lower end can help. You should contact a couple of real estate agents and ask for a Comparative Market Analysis.

Flying Solo

Some home owners think they can save a few thousand dollars by selling a home without a real estate agent when in fact it can cost someone thousands of dollars by not using a real estate agent. You simply canrsquo;t provide the reach that a licensed real estate professional can. When a home is placed into the local Multiple Listing Service, the home is then available for potential home buyers all across the country and not just your neighborhood. A deeper buyer pool means more offers.

Show Ready

One thing yoursquo;ll need to keep on top of is the selling condition of your home. This means both inside your home and out. Howrsquo;s the curb appeal? When someone first pulls up to your home are they automatically drawn in? Or maybe the lawn needs some work and the shrubbery is a little ragged. Keep the lawn trimmed and free of clutter. Power wash the sidewalk, driveway and front porch. Inside, you also need to de-cluttter. Open up each room by placing bulky furniture into a storage unit. Take down family photos and portraits. When buyers walk into your home they want to be able to visualize it being theirs, and having an instant reminder that itrsquo;s not by having family photos all around detracts from that.
Inspection Home buyers are advised to have a potential property inspected to discover anything that needs to be fixed, updated or repaired. But you too should hire an inspector to perform a complete run-down from basement to attic looking for anything that needs your attention. The buyers will order an inspection so you want to know what theyrsquo;ll discover before they do with their own.

Getting Anxious

Donrsquo;t get too anxious and donrsquo;t jump at the very first offer. Your sales price will probably be much higher than what you originally paid for it, but take a deep breath when that first offer comes in. Give your agent plenty of time to list your home and hold open houses to gain a wider audience and have some patience. If you accept an offer very early on in the process, you might be costing yourself thousands of dollars and no more offers.

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Seize the Savings: What to Buy in September and October

Yoursquo;ve already done the back-to-school thing, Labor Day is over, and yoursquo;ve got a bit of time before those Black Friday sales kick in. Whatrsquo;s a mega-shopper to do? Donrsquo;t worry. There are plenty of deals to be had right now, if you know what to look for. Wersquo;re breaking down the best things to buy in the second half of September and during all of October.

Outdoor kitchen faves

You might be surprised that you can still find great deals on outdoor living essentials even though Labor Sales have ended and Columbus Day sales have yet to begin. Check out Lowersquo;s and Home Depot for sales on grills and smokers.

Plants and trees

Depending on your climate, fall planting may not be out of the question. Thatrsquo;s good news, since, in September, ldquo;Nurseries are eager to clear out their remaining inventory and fall is an ideal time to plant trees, perennials, and shrubs,rdquo; said Bradrsquo;s Deals. ldquo;And because the retailers are dealing with perishable items, they may be willing to negotiate the price.


New appliance models are often >

Gardening tools

Itrsquo;s also a good time to stock up on items for your garden, even if you wonrsquo;t be needing them until next year. ldquo;As the seasons change and the temperatures plunge, all things garden-friendly start to drop in price, from lawn mowers and leaf blowers to hoses,rdquo; said Money Talk News.

Outdoor furniture

In most areas that have some semblance of a winter season, there are great deals to be had on outdoor furniture at this time of year. ldquo;Unless you live someplace like Florida, where it stays warm and sunny all year-round, you probably wonrsquo;t be spending much time on the patio or in the garden for the next few months,rdquo; said SmartAsset. ldquo;October is a great time to scoop up outdoor furniture and accessories.rdquo;


Clear some space in that garage, because your holiday shopping is officially about to start Bicycles tend to go on sale in September because ldquo;retailers wanting the bikes out of their stores to make room for winter sports gear,rdquo; said Bradrsquo;s Deals. ldquo;its an ideal time to grab new bikes for yourself. Itrsquo;s also a great way to get a jump start on some holiday shopping.rdquo;

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How to Stay Safeand Safeguard Your Homein a Flood

Many flood safety tips concentrate on what you can do to prevent one, but the most immediate concern for those who are in the path of rising waters is what to do to remain safe, protect others, and maybe even safeguard their cherished things at that very moment.

The most important tip

The single most important thing to do leading up to any storm in which flooding is a concern is to listen to officials. Heed warnings to evacuate; as we have seen in countless other storms and during the coverage of Hurricane Florence, those who stay behind put themselves, and those who then have to attempt rescues, in danger, and use up resources that are needed elsewhere.

Stock up on food and essential items

Let images of empty bread shelves in the days before a serious storm hits be a warning: The grocery store is going to be ravaged. Be the one to do the ravaging before everyone else gets there so yoursquo;re stocked up should roads be impassible and stores be inaccessible for a period of time.

ldquo;Once therersquo;s a hurricane warning, donrsquo;t wait until the last minute to buy groceries,rdquo; said National Flood Experts. ldquo;Stock up on non-perishables, water, and basic first aid items. Failing to do this will probably ensure that by the time you get to the store, yoursquo;ll be met with empty shelves. While yoursquo;re at it, also buy an external battery pack for your cell phone.rdquo;

Make your home as safe as possible

Hidden dangers in your house could prove disastrous during a flood. ldquo;If a flood is imminent, take the following steps as soon as itrsquo;s safe: Shut off electrical, furnace, gas and water, and disconnect appliances if safe,rdquo; said The Co-Operators. ldquo;Move valuables from the basement to upper floors. Raise large appliances up on wood or cement blocks. If items canrsquo;t be raised, consider anchoring them and protecting them with a floodwall or shield.rdquo;

Get to higher ground

If you happen to be out on the road when flooding occurs, ldquo;get to higher ground,rdquo; said ldquo;Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, drainage ditches, canyons, washes etc.rdquo;

If yoursquo;re at home, go to a second or third story. In some cases, you may need to go even higher to escape the rising tide. During 2017rsquo;s historic flooding in Houston, officials made it a point to discourage anyone from entering the attic, and climbing onto the roof instead.

ldquo;Officials are advising people to get on the roof of their home to escape extreme flooding inside,rdquo; said WeatherNation. ldquo;Those trying to escape the floodwater in their homes are instructed not to stay in the attic, because you could become trapped.rdquo;

Take your emergency supplies

You donrsquo;t want to get stuck on the roof of your home with no emergency supplies and no way to communicate that yoursquo;re in danger. As you move to higher ground, bring your emergency stash with you, if you can do so safely. And remember: Donrsquo;t risk your life going back for things that can be replaced. According to Esurance, a flood kit should include: ldquo;three days worth of water one gallon of water per person, per day, three days worth of non-perishable food, a hand-crank radio, which also operates as a flashlight and cell phone charger these are manually powered and can be purchased at most electronic stores, a flashlight and extra batteries, and a first-aid kit.rdquo; You can see the rest of the list here.

Tread lightly

Once the waters recede, the danger isnrsquo;t over. In fact, the condition your home is in could be hazardous to your health. ldquo;The initial damage caused by a flood is not the only risk. Standing flood waters can also spread infectious diseases, bring chemical hazards, and cause injuries,rdquo; said the Centers for Disease Control CDC. ldquo;After you return home, if you find that your home was flooded, practice safe cleaning. Remove and throw out drywall and insulation that was contaminated with flood water or sewage. Throw out items that cannot be washed and cleaned with a bleach solution: mattresses, pillows, carpeting, carpet padding, and stuffed toys. Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. Walls, hard-surfaced floors, and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.rdquo;

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Chimney Liners: Does Your Home Have One - Do You Even Need One?

Chimney liners are a protective barrier usually made of metal or ceramic. Liners insulate heat moving through the chimney, protecting flammable areas of your homes structure. They also protect flue masonry from cracks or crumbling mortar due to repeated heating and cooling.

Why worry about your chimney liner?

Cracks or damage can lessen the effectiveness of the liner, which make burning anything in your fireplace or wood stove risky. Plus, if your liner is damaged, you may have a hard time passing a home inspection and selling your house until its repaired or replaced.

In the "olden days," chimneys were completely unlined or only lined with clay tiles, which could crack or break >

Do you burn wood in your fireplace regularly? You should definitely have your chimney liner inspected as part of an overall maintenance plan performed at least once a year. Cleaning is a good idea as well: The products of burning wood, called creosote, can build up in your unlined or improperly lined chimney, and may eventually cause a fire. Cleaning and inspection from a chimney professional, sometimes called a chimney sweep,nbsp;averages 298 in the US, according to HomeAdvisors surveys of homeowners.

How do you know if your liner needs to be repaired or replaced?

Because its hard to see into your chimney, you may be uncomfortable determining whether your chimney professional is accurately assessing your needs. There are two options for confirming a diagnosis of damaged chimney liner:

1. See for yourself. From inside the house, open the flue and look up as far as you can. Next, check the chimney from the roof by removing the cap and doing a visual inspection. Any signs of cracks or rough edges can signify an issue and confirm your chimney professionals assessment.

2. Hire a chimney professional with a camera. Most modern chimney companies run a scope with camera down the length of the chimney as part of their inspection. Upon request, theyll likely be willing to record the video and share it with you, detailing the issues they see.

What if you dont have a chimney liner at all?

If your home is older and youve determined that your home only has the stone or brick of the outer chimney, you need to decide whether a liner is necessary. First, check your citys fire code. This may mandate that you install a liner if youre making any changes to or installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace. If you burn wood in your fireplace or in a wood-burning stove, its recommended that you have a stainless-steel liner to prevent overheating your chimney and risking a fire. In some locations, your citys fire code may mandate that you install such a liner if youre making any changes to or installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace.

However, if youre not using your fireplace and your chimney acts solely as a vent for your furnace or water heater, you may not need to have a liner installed. Cracked masonry should be addressed from an energy-savings perspective -- a lot of air could be escaping from your home, depending on where the damage to the chimney is located -- but its not likely to be a fire hazard.

Homeowners with gas or electric inserts most likely do not need a new liner because those types of fuel dont produce enough heat to damage a masonry chimney.

Do you have questions about your chimney and whether it needs a new liner? A chimney professional can answer your questions and schedule an inspection for your home.



  • HomeAdvisor: Chimney Maintenance Keeps Your Family Safe
  • Chimney Safety Institute of America: About Chimney Liners
  • Why Do I Need A Stainless Chimney Liner?

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quot;Cite and Finequot; Policy is at Work in California

The departmentrsquo;s ldquo;cite and finerdquo; authority is found in California Business and Professions Code sect;10080.9 and Commissionerrsquo;s Regulations 2907.

A 2014 DRE Bulletin explains the workings of ldquo;cite and finerdquo; this way: ldquo;A citation or other formal action will be considered when a violation is found after an investigation, audit, or examination of a licenseersquo;s records by CalBRE [now, DRE] in response to a complaint, through random selection of a licensee for an office visit, or from completion of a routine audit. Depending upon the nature such as the level of seriousness and potential for harm and type of the violation, the appropriate action will be determined.rdquo;

The Department says that ldquo;a citation is likely the appropriate actionrdquo; in cases of ldquo;>

Suppose a citation has been received. ldquo;The citation will identify the violations you committed, provide information on how to pay the fine, describe any corrective action needed if necessary, and explain the process for contesting the citation, if you choose to.rdquo;

Offenders will appreciate the policy that ldquo;information regarding specific citations issued ndash; and any fines paid ndash; will not be posted on the DRE website, nor will such information be attached to onersquo;s individual public licensee website record.rdquo; Still, the information is public and can be obtained through a Public Records Act request.

There is a review process if an accused wants to contest the citation. The first level of review is a Citation Review Conference which is an informal review of the citation conducted by the DRE. If the citation and fines are upheld, the next level would be a formal administrative hearing before an administrative law judge. That can take both time and money. Clearly, it will often seem prudent simply to pay the fine.

Not much has been heard of ldquo;cite and finerdquo; until lately. Ms. Goralik pointed out that in the months from July 2017 until March 2018 most recent figures available, there have been 768 citations issued and 311,550 in fines collected. The money collected, by the way, goes to the Real Estate Recovery Fund ndash; for consumers ndash; not to the Departmentrsquo;s operational budget.

The emphasis of this activity has been on compliance issues with respect to the recently-issued advertising regulations. Real estate ads occur in a perfect venue for the application of ldquo;cite and finerdquo;. A department investigator could stay home in his or her pajamas and compile lists along with evidence of non-compliant ads in the Sunday newspaper. Not to mention all the non-compliant websites and postings of listings.

Some prominent companies and agents have already felt the sting of the increased ldquo;cite and finerdquo; activity. Others can expect to. Itrsquo;s a good time to get compliant.

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Study Says Buying a Home is Cheaper Than Renting

"The report demonstrates that the money Canadians are spending on monthly rent, if used instead to finance a home, would be a very beneficial investment over time," says Will Dunning, author of the report. "The costs of owning and renting continue to rise across Canada. However, rents continue to rise over time whereas the largest cost of homeownership - the mortgage payment - typically maintains a fixed amount over a set period of time. The result is that the cost of renting will increase more rapidly than the cost of homeownership."

"Buying a home also has more long-term upside than renting," says Dunning. "Everyone wants to save for their future, but rising costs, including rent, are making that more difficult. The lower life-time costs of homeownership mean that owners have more ability to save for retirement than do renters. The financial benefits of homeownership go beyond equity accumulations."

The report comes as Canadas homeownership rate is dropping for the first time in 45 years. A report by Point2Homesnbsp;found that 11 of 13 provinces saw the share of homeownership drop in the 2016 Census, according to Statistics Canada.

Homeowners still outnumber renters by more than two-to-one. The homeownership rate hit a high of 69 per cent in 2011 but dropped to 67.8 per cent in 2016. The number of renters rose from 31 per cent in 2011 to 32.2 per cent in 2016.

Dunning acknowledges in the report that its not easy for first-time buyers to come up with a down payment, due to rising house prices and government housing policies such as the mortgage stress test. It requires borrowers to qualify for a mortgage at two percentage points higher than the posted mortgage rate.

The study determined that across the dataset of 266 locations and different dwelling types, the total cost of homeownership is an average of 3,052 per month, compared to 2,511 for renting the same property.

"However, the cost of ownership includes a substantial amount of principal repayment 990 in the first month. Since this results in a reduction in the amount of mortgage owing, it is a form of saving," says Dunning. "There is, therefore, a net cost of homeownership that excludes the repayment of the principal. This net cost of 2,062 per month is lower than the cost of renting by 449 per month. On this basis it is, on average across the dataset, currently cheaper to own than rent."

He says that since the homeowner is tying up a lot of capital with the down payment and closing costs, they should consider the rate of return on that investment.

"In this data set there is a negative rate of return -5.2 per cent per year when the total cost of homeownership is calculated," he says. But when calculating rate of return, "the repayment of principal must be taken into account since it is a legitimate component of the return on investment. On this basis, the rate of return at the beginning is an annualized rate of 4.3 per cent."

While some people might consider this "inadequate," Dunning says that since buying a house is a low-risk investment, a high return on investment shouldnt be expected. His calculations did not include any capital appreciation on the home, since there is no guarantee that house values will go up. "In most situations, homeownership is justified financially without any need to expect price appreciation," he says.

Another advantage is that homeownership in Canada has a tax-free rate of return, which other investments do not.

In Dunnings scenarios, if the mortgage interest rate does not change, in 10 years the cost of ownership will be lower than the cost of renting in 263 out of the 266 cases. If the rate rises a full percentage point after five years, owning will still be cheaper than renting in 92 per cent of the cases, and if the rate is up by two per cent after five years, 82 per cent of the homeowners in the scenarios still come out on top.

"Looking even farther ahead, by the time the mortgage is fully repaid in 25 years or less, the cost of owning will be vastly lower than the cost of renting in every one of the 266 cases," says Dunning.

He also looked at data from Statistics Canada to compare the wealth of homeowners versus renters and found that homeowners igrave;are distinctly better off financially compared to tenants who are similar in age and level of income. The difference is not just in terms of their home equity. Owners have more non-housing wealth than tenants. This may reflect that because owners have lower lifetime housing costs than tenants, they have more opportunity to accrue other savings.icirc;

Dunning adds: "In this light, is it any wonder that Canadians remain highly interested in homeownership? Contrary to what might be asserted by some housing bears, home buying is not the result of a cult, a mania or a delusion. It is the result of a reality that, even at much higher house prices, and even with the risk that interest rates may increase substantially, in most situations Canadians, over long periods of time, are still much better off as homeowners than as tenants."

Full Story >

HGTV Designer Leanne Ford Simplifies Finding the Perfect White Paint with PPG

ldquo;We all should feel empowered to create a space for ourselves that we love coming home to at the end of the day,rdquo; said Ford. ldquo;Color is such an impactful way to do this, so Irsquo;m thrilled to work with PPG, a leader in paint and color that is headquartered in my hometown of Pittsburgh, to bring the power of paint to life for homeowners. Itrsquo;s really about giving everyone the confidence to use paint and color fearlessly in their homes to create spaces that theyrsquo;re proud of. For me, this all starts with picking the perfect white paint.rdquo;

For Ford, the ldquo;perfect white paintrdquo; palette will be represented in three PPG tones: Pure White, a true white hue, Natural White with a warmer tone, and White On White as a cooler alternative.

Swatches of PPG Pure White, PPG Natural White, PPG White On White

How should homeowners choose the perfect white for their home? Ford simplifies the process by providing some design tips for each hue.

When using Pure White, Ford recommends pairing it with exposed brick, marble, or greenery to give spaces a more modern look, and also suggests Pure White in rooms that seek to enhance natural light.

Natural White is best matched for those homeowners seeking to create a ldquo;cozy retreat,rdquo; as this hue is the warmest of the bunch and is more likely to provide a sense of >

Finally, Ford suggests pairing PPGrsquo;s White On White with wood tones and mixed metals, and recommends using this hue in smaller rooms to make them feel more spacious.

The colors are available in the PPG Timelessreg; and PPG Diamondtrade; paint lines at The Home Depot locations across the U.S.

To read the full press >

Photos courtesy of PPG.

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Construction and Permanent Loans Explained

A construction loan is one where funds are issued to build a new home. Some construction loans provide financing to build on someonersquo;s lot they already own while some construction loans provide funds for both the lot and the construction. Construction includes funds for both soft and hard costs. Soft costs are those for things such as permits, zoning and legal compliance while hard costs are for materials and labor, for example.

When someone builds a new home, theyrsquo;ll work with an architect to design the home. Sometimes they can also pick from a builderrsquo;s list of plans and choose a set of blueprints previously completed. The next step is to get a bid from a contractor who will break down the cost to build the home and how long it will take to complete the project. Next, the plans are delivered to the bank who will review the project and if it complies with the bankrsquo;s construction guidelines, the loan is approved.

But the construction loan isnrsquo;t issued in one lump sum. Instead, funds are issued in stages of completion as the home is being built. The first issuance of funds might be to clear and prepare the lot. Once the bank is alerted the lot has been prepared, an inspector will arrive at the property and confirm its completion. Then, the next stage is funded and so on until the home is finally finished. The bank will order out one last inspection to confirm the property is ready for occupancy. Now, the bank wants its money back.

Construction loans are short term in nature, only long enough to finish the project. This is where a permanent loan comes into play. While the home is being built, the buyers also obtain approval from a mortgage company that will issue a traditional mortgage, paying off the construction loan completely. There are a few programs out there that combine both the construction and permanent financing with just one loan, referred to as a ldquo;one time closerdquo; loan or something similar.

Yoursquo;ll want to talk to your mortgage loan officer about permanent financing and the construction process in general and get your various financing options. But with many, getting a construction loan first and then replacing it with a permanent loan is the less expensive path.

Full Story >

The New District of Columbia TOPA Law

In July, the D.C. Council revised the law - exempting most single-family homes, including those with basement rentals also known as "accessory dwelling units." The council opted to exempt single-family homes based largely on a study showing that only 5 percent of renters ended up buying their homes under the previous law.

If youre a renter disappointed that you wont be able to buy the single-family house youre in, you might be interested to know that there are two exceptions - if the tenant is more than 62 or disabled and if they signed a lease before March 31 and moved in by April 15 they are entitled to a modified TOPA.

The law is a little complex, so lets take this example:

John owns a D.C. condo and Gale is his tenant. John has just listed the property for sale with a real estate company for 650,000. Gale does not qualify for the modified TOPA. Prior to July 3, John had to send a single-family TOPA form to his tenant. Now, he only has to send Gale a notice that he
intends to sell. A copy of the form referred to as "Form 1 must also be sent to the D.C. Office of Tenant Advocate as well as to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development DHCD. Since TOPA is not applicable in our example, John is free to sign a contract with anyone and ultimately go to closing. Of course, Gale still has all of the other rights available to tenants here in the District, and still has the right to buy if she submits an offer which is accepted.

But now lets change the facts: Gale is either over 62 or disabled and meets the calendar requirements spelled out above. She receives Form 1. By law, she must advise John within 20 days after receiving the form that she may be eligible for the new TOPA. Gale officially advises John by sending him Form 2 which explains her status. That form is called "Letter to Landlord."

Proving that Gale is over 62 is not difficult. All she needs is a passport, a drivers license or some other document reflecting her age. But proving disability is more difficult. Accordingly, Gale sends another form Form 4 called "Response Letter to DHCD" if claiming elderly or disabled status. To protect the privacy of the tenant, that form only goes to the District, which will determine if Gale qualifies.

If the city certifies her as eligible, John must then send her a form that either tells her he has or does not have a third party sales contract. Once Gale receives either form, she has 20 days to advise John of her interest in buying. She then has 25 days to negotiate a sale contract with John. If that is accomplished, Gale has an additional 45 days to go to settlement. That can be extended to 75 days if a lender indicates it needs a little more time.

The interesting question: Can Gale assign her TOPA rights to a third party? One of the main reasons TOPA was recently amende is that many tenants were assigning TOPA rights for lots of money, much to the disadvantage of the landlord. And often landlords were literally held hostage by tenants demanding money in order to >

Yes, Gale can assign her TOPA rights, but she cannot receive any financial payment for the assignment. The assignee can only give Gale is a 12-month extension of her lease after it expires and at the same rental rate.

Tenants living in houses with only two to four units or in buildings with five or more apartments remain under the old TOPA law.

The new law will clearly make it easier for single-family homeowners as well as owners of condos and co-ops to sell without having to go through a time-consuming process, and will discourage the efforts by tenants to stall the process in order to get more money. Since its inception many years ago, there have been numerous lawsuits in which plaintiffs often tenants were seeking guidance
on the impact of TOPA on a specific set of facts.

Only time will tell if the modified TOPA is judgment proof.

The new forms can be found here.nbsp;

Full Story >

Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids Messes While Selling Your Home

Hide in Plain Sight

With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniturersquo;s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether itrsquo;s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your homersquo;s cleanliness and open floor space to think about whatrsquo;s inside.

Hide Within Reach

Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategymdash;underbed and attic storage. While the underside of your childrsquo;s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an oversized quilt that conceals whatrsquo;s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kidsrsquo; teepees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot whatrsquo;s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage

Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesnrsquo;t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks--kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some >

Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesnrsquo;t. Sort into ldquo;keep,rdquo; ldquo;donate,rdquo; and ldquo;throw away.rdquo; This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? Yoursquo;ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kidsrsquo; areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little >

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kidsrsquo; messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that theyrsquo;ll want to make their own.


Heather Cordonnier is a writer for Crate and Bar>
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5 Ways Moving Improves Your Happiness

This Is Your Brain on Moving

Whether yoursquo;re moving out of necessity or out of desire, the act of >

1. Nicer Neighborhoods

If yoursquo;re not happy with your quality of life in your current neighborhood, apartment building, or town, a move can help you find greener pastures. A sense of community can be a big indicator for personal happiness; when you feel connected to your surroundings, your sense of fulfillment will be higher.

Our environments also impact our happiness in significant and surprising ways. Quality of life is directly linked to our surroundings, and major cities across the world have begun using happiness as a metric for understanding the economy. Moving to a nicer neighborhood with more trees, a vibrant downtown, or a peaceful local park can truly improve your happiness if your current location is lacking these basic amenities.

2. Social Support

A social support system is an essential part of feeling safe, comfortable, and happy. Our friends and family are often an essential resource when it comes to personal fulfillment. The American Psychological Association APA finds that social support systems are a strong indicator of reduced stress and increased happiness.

Moving closer to friends and family can put your social support system within easy reach so you cope with lifersquo;s stresses in a more productive way. If yoursquo;re moving to a new area without a social support system, there are lots of ways to branch out and find new friends. Once you get settled, your social network will start brightening your life.

3. Economic >

Our finances are often the main driver of a move. Whether yoursquo;re seeking a new job or an area with a lower cost of living, a move has numerous ways of reducing financial stress. Money can be a big driver of unhappiness mdash; in fact, itrsquo;s the top cause of stress in the United States, according to the APA. Moving to >

If yoursquo;re planning to move for financial reasons, applying to jobs in several cities and picking the best offer is a good strategy. Cities vary by cost of living since utility prices and general costs like food or transportation vary across the nation. Finding a city with a good ratio between cost of living and average salary can leave you with much more financial freedom; cities like Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia have high hiring rates and some of the lowest living costs.

4. Better Climate

It can be hard to live in a place where the weather stresses you out. Weather->

Moving to an area with more tolerable weather for your personal preferences can have a big effect on your overall happiness. Nicer weather and more sunlight can coincide with increased levels of happiness, and nice weather enables activities like outdoor exercise, which can definitely lighten your mood.

5. Safer Cities

In the famous psychologist Abraham Maslowrsquo;s hierarchy of needs, a feeling of safety is second only to basic physiological needs like breathing, eating, and sleeping. Feeling safe is a complex emotion, combining aspects of physical, psychological, vocational, and economic security. Feeling insecure can put a hard cap on how happy yoursquo;re able to feel.

Moving to a city with a lower crime rate or a neighborhood with a little more privacy can give you the space you need to breathe, >

Find Your Space

The process of moving can be stress-inducing, but the long-term benefits can make it worth the trouble. Moving for any of these reasons can help you make the positive changes in your life to feel more content and gratified.

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Renovating With Your Kids: Projects You Can Do Together

Renovating your home? Why not make it a family affair, getting the kids involved in projects that can make them feel included and proud of their work.

Not every job is gong to be right for your kids.

But there are several tasks they can do with supervision, and a few they might be able to handle on their own, depending on their age and maturity level.

The first step is to properly explain the tasks at hand and identify any risks.

"Parents really need to talk to their kids who are old enough to understand and lay down ground rules for the renovation," says Eric Phillips, vice president and general manager at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen of the Triangle in Apex, NC on Bob Vila.

"And once the rules are there, parents really have to have the discipline to enforce those rules with their kids."

Feeling good about their ability to help? Go renovate something together


Cleaning and chucking

Before any renovation can start, youll probably have some cleaning out to do. The traditional three-pile method of "keep, sell, donate" can work well for kids. Telling them they can keep whatever they make on the sale of their old things usually inspires a job well done.

Painting the walls

Your kids have probably been painting since before they could speak. With their fingers, anyway. They probably havent lost the love of covering surfaces in pretty colors, so set them up with a paintbrush and let them go Youll want to give them a basic tutorial that illustrates how to best get paint on the desired surface without dribbles. And dont forget to prepare the area with heavy-duty dropcloths, tape up baseboards, and move furniture and furnishings out of the way so they dont accidentally get splattered.

teal amp; lime


Use caution with electric sanders, or any power tool for that matter, when your kids are involved. But sandpaper or sanding sticks and a surface that needs to be stripped down could be a good way to bring some kids in on a renovation. Youll need to make sure they have a dust mask, eye protection, and a well-ventilated area. Sandpaper in tender hands might cause abrasions, so make sure there are gloves as well.

Creating new art

You probably already have a stack of your kids art showcased or stashed in your home. But directing them to create something new specifically for a showcase wall or tabletop is a great way to involve them in your renovation without worrying about them getting hurt. Choosing colors and materials together at an art store and show them ahead of time where their art is going to be displayed can get them excited about this new projectmdash;and maybe make them feel better about the fact that they dont get to handle the nail gun.


Doing your own kitchen backsplash is a >

Pulling up carpet

Kids who love to dismantle stuff read: all kids will love being able to help roll up carpet for removal. The box knife needed to slice it up is probably not the best tool to put in a kids hands, but taking up the tack strip? A handy child can use a pry bar and rubber mallet to handle this task. Just take proper precautions with gloves, eye protectors and the like. Those nails can be nasty.


Laying wood floors

Kids can be helpful gluing and placing wood planks and might even enjoy the process. Can you leave your five-year-old alone to handle the job? Probably not. But working side-by-side with your children laying out the wood pieces will make you all feel good every time you take a step.

Wallpaper removal

The tedious peeling away of old wallpaper might be the perfect task for your kids. Even if they dont finish the job, any wallpaper you dont have to peel off yourself is a bonus. Trust us.

Other demolition

An invitation to break stuff? Oh yeah Just remember to take all safety precautions goggles, closed-toe shoes, and gloves if needed and make sure the demo is appropriate for the age group i.e. you might not want to leave your five-year-old alone with a power saw..


If your renovation includes an outdoor element, youre in luck Kids love to get dirty. Depending on the age and inclination of your children, a bag of soil and a shovel might be considered a good time

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7 Home Items That Will Absolutely Make Your Life Easier

A crumb and dog hair vacuum

We were at the hairdresser when we first spotted the EyeVac Home Touchless Sensor Activated Vacuum. She swept up a big ball of hair into this wondrous little stationary machine in the corner and it gobbled it all up. Clearly this had to be purchased for a home with three shedding dogs. Magic happens when you sweep with the included broom crumbs and hair and anything else collecting on your floor into the slot at the bottom. You can keep your malfunctioning Rumba. Wersquo;ll take our EyeVac.

The Airmega 400S

While this is not a budget item itrsquo;s currently on sale for 548, down from 849, on Amazon, you canrsquo;t put a price on good air quality, right? Whether someone in your household has bad allergies or you just want to make sure yoursquo;re breathing cleaner air, this air purifier is a great option. Technological advancements make it easy to use; the built-in air quality sensor can be controlled by Airmegarsquo;s app or by Amazonrsquo;s Alexa.

A hidden trash can

If you have dogs, and if those dogs like to get in the garbage, and if yoursquo;re sick of doing things like picking up half-eaten trash strewn about your home, yoursquo;re going to love this trash can. Not only does it hide away the trash so your pets canrsquo;t get to it, but it does so while looking good. Therersquo;s a nifty DIY tutorial here, but if you want one ready-made, be sure to look for a tilt-out version. Theyrsquo;re easier to empty.


Why are you not using Tile yet? If yoursquo;re the type that misplaces your keys or other important items, itrsquo;s a must-have. ldquo;Tile is one of the most popular lost item trackers on the market,rdquo; said Tech Crunch. ldquo;The company, to date, has now sold over 10 million of its Bluetooth-connected dongles that work with an app on your phone to help you find misplaced items, like your keys, purse, wallet, tablets, laptops, luggage and more. And because of the way its app works, Tile can leverage its community of millions of app users to help you find your device, even when yoursquo;re out of range. That is, if another Tile user is near your missing device, an alert with the location attached is sent to your phone.rdquo;

A gel anti-fatigue kitchen mat

If you have to spend time making dinner and/or doing the dishes, at least make sure your feet and legs are comfortable and feeling good duringmdash;and after. Therersquo;s nothing worse than sore legs from housework instead of a good workout The rub on comfy kitchen mats has always been that you can get cute or you can get effectivemdash;but not both. That is changing, as these GelPro mats actually have some stylish options.

Dash Deluxe Rapid Egg Cooker

We first saw this on vacation, where it was perched next to the buffet table, cooking up soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. Yoursquo;ll want one, too, since it can ldquo;perfectly cook 12 eggs in less time than it takes to boil water,rdquo; said Dash, making ldquo;omelettes, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, and poached eggs.rdquo; Plus, it can ldquo;steam vegetables, seafood, dumplings, warm tortillas, and more.rdquo;

The Snap SmartCam for home security

ldquo;This is one of the most perfect gadgets you could want for home security,rdquo; said Money Inc. ldquo;Though it looks like a USB charger, it isnrsquo;t. It is a full HD 1080p resolution security camera that will watch your home while you are away at work, shopping, or any other necessary daily task. No batteries are required. But the advantages just keep on coming. The Snap SmartCam will continuously record the activities inside your home, and when it reaches the end of its maximum recording capacity it continues by overwriting the earliest videos on the device. You can download the recorded videos is you want to retain them for your records. Oh, the USB appearance not only conceals the security camera, but it actually functions as a charger.rdquo;

Full Story >

The VA Streamline


But beyond all of these advantages, there is another that comes into play when someone decides to refinance an existing VA loan. Maybe rates have fallen or home owners want to switch from a hybrid to a fixed. With a refinance, either or both can be accomplished. When replacing an existing VA loan with a new one, borrowers can take advantage of the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or IRRRL. However, most in the industry refer to this process as a VA ldquo;streamlinerdquo; primarily due to the lack of documentation needed to approve and close the refinance request.

With a standard VA mortgage, borrowers are asked to provide evidence of employment and income for the past two years with either pay check stubs and W2s or income tax returns for those that are self-employed. While there is no need for a down payment there will be closing costs involved so lenders need to verify sufficient funds to close which is accomplished by providing copies of bank statements. To establish a final value, a new appraisal will be ordered. Yet with a VA streamline you can ignore all of this.

As long as the existing loan is a VA mortgage and replaced by a new VA loan the streamline is an option. The lender will verify there are no payments made within the past six months more than 30 days past the due date and no more than one such payment over the last twelve. There needs to be evidence the new rate is lower than the old one, the borrowers are switching to a shorter term or they are refinancing out of an adjustable rate loan or hybrid and into the stability of a fixed. VA guidelines simply think that if someone has made their payments on time for the last year at the old, higher rate then it makes sense they can continue to do so at a lower rate.

The VA loan comes with a lot of advantages that other loan programs simply do not have, and making available the streamline option is yet another one.

Full Story >

Smart Homes: Backed-Up Your Fridge Lately?

Computers may make life easier, but they dont necessarily make things simpler or automatically safer.

This is very true for smart home technology or intelligent home automation which aims to combine internet-connected computers with every aspect of home life. According to Digital Journal, "the smart or automated home applies new technology to control and automate heating, ventilation, air conditioning and security, but can involve appliances as well such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers and many other items."

As Fall Home Shows start to roll out, expect to see familiar and new smart home technology showcased as the latest "must-haves."

According to, smart home household penetration is 32.0 in 2018 and is expected to hit 53.1 by 2022. The global market is projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 14.5 between 2017 and 2022 to reach 53.45 billion by 2022.

Smart, connected appliances and systems can make life easier and more convenient for families, but not automatically simpler or safer.

Each year, smart technology appears in more incarnations, but we are a long way from industry-wide standards with significant cross-compatibility, avid consumer adoption, and problem-free systems and technologies.

When you explore smart home potential at a Home Show or online, here are key issues to consider:

1. Hacker target : Instead of being locked out of your computer if you dont pay a cyber ransom, what if you were locked out of your smart house unless you paid up? Computers operating with out-dated software, like older versions of Microsofts Windows Operating System, are easy targets for hackers. These problems are further complicated by interconnectivity: infection spreads quickly through computers and networks, locally and globally. How will you ensure the nasty things that hackers can make happen to your laptop or smartphone wont happen to the smart technology running heating, cooling, or security systems in your homemdash;all of which

will probably be controlled by your laptop or smartphone?

2. Code flaws : The software driving smart home technology consists of millions of lines of code which, by their sheer number and complexity, are vulnerable to glitches and failuresmdash;many of which are hard to detect before significant damage occurs. Will software and system manufacturers take responsibility for ongoing investigation into glitches, correcting them, and providing online patches to reduce downtime and keep systems at top efficiency?

3. Multitasking systems : Before smart technology took hold, if the fridge died, youd lose a tub or two of pistachio ice cream. As refrigerators become increasingly complex equipmentmdash;which may also monitor family wellness, check food inventory, pay bills, and fulfill other functionsmdash;cyber attacks may have even more impact on families. Back-up systems may be essential precautions. Home insurance will provide some security, but limitations will exist. Just as home policies may not pay on problems caused by poor maintenance or unlocked doors, out-of-date software may invalidate claims if home smart systems fail and cause damage.

4. Support failings : To reduce service costs, manufacturers >5. Equipment failure : Using a smartphone or iPad as a smart controller, homeowners can change room temperature, turn on the oven, or unlock the front door from miles away or as they pull into the driveway. However, if that mobile-computing device is lost, stolen, broken, or batteries die, there are two concerns: 1. could those and other essential smart-systems still be turned on or adjusted by the family, and 2. who else would have access to this information and your home? What back-ups are necessary when power fails? The other flaw in home security could be you. If you dont set alarms, manage passwords, review data about system efficiency, and carry out maintenance system-wide and with individual equipment, your failure may undermine the security and efficiency of the smart system.

6. Transaction precautions : When smart technology is included as part of a home purchase or rental agreement, a detailed inventory of this equipment is essential. Model numbers and age are among the details necessary for estimates of value. If you are selling your home with its smart technology intact, erase your user, security, and payment profiles from each appliance and system by restoring factory settings, so you leave no data trail.

Soon it will be hard to buy an appliance that doesnt incorporate smart technology, but integrating appliances and systems may remain a smart home challenge for a while.
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Making Ethics Important

In last weeks column we emphasized the distinction between ethicsas a body of rules and principles and being ethical as a disposition to conform to those rules and principles. We noted that it is certainly possible to teach someone ethics, but it is a different task to lead someone to be ethical -- to internalize those principles and to be guided by them. See: Ethics Can Be Taught, But Thats Not All There Is To It

To be sure, there are some who would reject this view that a person could know what is good or right, but not choose it. It is a view that Plato rejected, so they would be in good company. Nonetheless, I think there is plenty of evidence that someone may do what is wrong, even though they know it is wrong. I will go no further than to cite the church->Be all that as it may, we are still left with the very real question: what would it take to incentivize REALTORSreg; to behave in a way that would conform to the articles and principles embodied in the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics? I think the answer is fairly simple, although implementing it could take some work.

REALTORSreg; are more likely to become conversant with the Code, and to conduct their businesses in accordance with its provisions, when they see and believe that this is important to the firms that they work for and the people they work with.

If agents only hear through general pronouncements that ethics are important to their company, and yet they only see that ethics seems to be the Boards, or Associations, concern, they are not much liable to seek to learn about the Codes provisions, nor to let those provisions affect the way they do business.

Its pretty simple really. If agents are going to conduct their businesses in accordance with the Code, they will need to see that doing so is important to their company. This, of course, would also entail seeing that the unethical would not be tolerated by their company.

Easy to say; but what would it take to make it happen that agents could see that ethics was important to their company? First and foremost, I would say, there needs to be on-going ethics training at the office or company level. Some might remember that this was the central tenet of the federal guidelines when it came to matters of corporate behavior. It is a mitigating factor in the case of unethical or unlawful behavior by an employee when it can be shown that the company had a program that tried to teach right behavior.

Theres no question but that it would take work for companies to provide ethics training. Certainly, the Associations could help to develop programs and materials. Perhaps they could even provide instructors. But it would have to clearly be the companys enterprise, not "the Boards."

Moreover, the question arises: why would companies want to devote time and resources to this? Well, perhaps the Realtorreg; Associations, who are very good at promoting certifications -- which are earned through taking courses -- could come up with something that would give public recognition to a company or an agent for pursuing a regime of ethics->The possibilities, I believe, are endless.
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Prep Or Pay The Price: What You Do Before You Paint Matters More Than The Paint Itself

So youre sitting there on a Saturday morning, watching HGTV and drinking your coffee, when it hits. Its the urge to paint a room, and its not going away. Next thing you know, youre dipping that brush right into the paint can and slopping that blue hue up on the wall.

Itll all be fine, right?

Its a scenario well admit to knowing all too well - one in which eagerness and adrenaline push patience and logic aside, and not always with the greatest results. But, the reality we must all face eventually is that the right preparation makes all the difference when it comes to painting. For the best job that looks like it was done professionally, these are the steps to take.

Do a little research

A paint color chosen on a whim can end up being wonderful... but, most of the time, it ends up being a mistake. Yes, buying a couple of samples to put up on the wall and watching them for at least a few days so you can really get a feel for which one works best in your space, with your stuff, and at different times of the day and night, takes time. But itll all be worth it when you find the right color, instead of having to repaint because your whim choice ended up looking off.

Buy the right supplies

A successful paint job is one in which you not only achieve a great result, but you do so without running back to Lowes 12 times because you forgot something or you go without and make a big mess. According to Sherwin-Williams, "Important items for your supply list include:

  • "Primer
  • Paint
  • Stir sticks
  • Paint rollers
  • Roller covers
  • Small paint brushes, for cutting in or touch-ups
  • Paint trays, and if needed a sturdy holder for your paint tray
  • Painters tape
  • Rags
  • Drop cloths"

    Buy the good stuff

    Painting is one of the least expensive, and most effective, ways to make over a space. But that doesnt mean you should buy the cheapest products you can find. Bargain basement paint likely wont give you the coverage you want, and cheap brushes can leave brush marks, streaks, and even bristles on the finish. The Spruce has a good guide to the best interior paints. Brands of brushes and rollers can vary depending on the store, so be sure to ask the paint specialist which options they would choose for their own walls.

    Tape, tape, tape

    Its tedious and time-consuming and a pain in the butt. And were speaking from personal experience. But paint all over your moldings or baseboards is not a good look. And, sadly, were also speaking from personal experience here, too.

    Cover your stuff

    Even if you have the gentlest, most even, most professional stroke in the world, splatters happen. So do drips and spills. Dont take the chance of ruining something special because you didnt remember to get a drop cloth.

    Take a good look at your walls

    Dings, cracks, or other imperfections in the walls will not be covered by paint. They may even look worse once youre done. Use Home Depots recommendations to get them looking good before you start layering on the color.

    • "Carefully inspect walls for cracks, holes, dents or other surface imperfections before priming or painting.
    • Use a lightweight spackling compound and putty knife to fill and repair any holes or imperfections, then remove any excess spackling with the putty knife and allow the area to dry completely.
    • Once dry, use a small piece of very fine 220-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge to smooth the repaired areas flush with the surface.
    • Wipe the walls clean with a damp towel or sponge and allow them to dry before priming or painting.
    • Use a floor duster to wipe the walls clean of dust to ensure paint applies evenly."

    Full Story >

    Community Living Rules Enforcement

    Question. We live in a nice community, but every so often someone breaks one of our rules. Sometimes the infraction is minor -- such as washing their car on the public street. Other times, the violation is more serious, such as yelling, arguing and even threatening people. The violators may be unit owners or tenants. Can you outline in general terms what our Board of Directors can do to curtail these various infractions?

    Answer. In my years of representing community associations, I have developed a long list of "Ps" of community living, including pets, people, presidents, prostitutes, parking, pianos, pigs vietnamese, pools, psychiatrists, portals, plumbers, etc.

    Lets address the most serious matters first. Whether the person creating the problem is a tenant or an owner, if criminal conduct is involved, call the police immediately. Neither the Board of Directors nor management is competent to nor should -- handle such matters. More importantly, you do not want to be involved in obstructing the authorities in their investigation.

    If the problem is not criminal, but involves an infraction of your association documents or your rules and regulations, we then have to determine if the alleged perpetrator is a unit owner or a tenant of an owner:

    1. Owner: Here, the situation is >Make sure the alleged conduct does in fact violate your rules or your associations documents. If you have any uncertainty, discuss the matter with your association attorney.

    Once you are satisfied you have a strong case, advise the owner that the Board or an authorized committee will hold a hearing, for the purpose of giving the owner an opportunity to defend his or her position. The owner can be represented by counsel at the hearing if he or she so desires. The hearing is informal and can be held before a panel of board members or other owners selected and approved by the board.

    If the Board or the committee determines the owner has violated the governing rules, the Board has a number of options at its disposal. It is important to note that these comments are general in nature; some association documents may not permit some of these options or may even have others:

    a. fine the errant owner;b. suspend voting;c. sanctions, e.g., the owner cannot use the Association amenities -- the pool;d. take the owner to court seeking declaratory or injunctive >e. have the owner sign a statement an agreement to the effect that the problem will not happen again. Such statement should include language spelling out what happens should the situation occur again.

    2. Tenant: Many associations over the years have adopted -- and implemented -- a requirement that each owner and each tenant sign a "lease addendum". Such a document allows the association to step into the shoes of the owner and take all appropriate legal action against the tenant if there are violations created or caused by the tenant. If your association does not have such a "lease addendum" policy, again, it is strongly recommended that you immediately adopt such policy.

    On the other hand, if the tenant did not sign a lease addendum, you may find it more difficult to take legal action against him/her. However, you should follow the same procedures as discussed above concerning owners with the owner receiving copies of all the notices and documents mailed to the tenant. In some cases, the Board may need to explain to the tenant that this is a community association, and that everyone is expected to honor and follow certain rules and regulations. Often, I have found that tenants are not aware of the applicable rules, and welcome the opportunity to learn about them.

    If the tenant shows no concern -- or indeed is hostile to your overtures -- advise the tenant and owner that the Board has to follow the rules and that legal action will be taken if the alleged violations do not cease.
    Full Story >

    Legal Marijuana: Where To Move, And Why

    Because you need it for medical reasons. Because you want to become a grower or open a dispensary. Or because youre simply a fan of getting high. Theyre all reasons for moving to states where marijuana is now legal. But there are also a few you may not have thought about, like the fact that, "Legal marijuana is a boon to the economy," said Forbes. And that the economic benefit is largely being felt by homeowners.

    "One thing is clear, pot entrepreneurs are contributing to real estate booms in commercial and residential markets in states that have legalized the drug for medical and recreational use," said PropLogix.

    The impact on commercial sales has been palpable, with growers and dispensaries creating demand for warehouses, factories, and "long-abandoned strip malls. As a result, states like Colorado and Washington are seeing premium prices for building leases and purchases within the proper zoning," they said.

    As for residential sales, Colorado provides a prime example of the demand being created. "Colorados state law allows for counties to determine if they and how they want to legalize and regulate the drug. Areas where its legal attract more homebuyers, including marijuana users as well as entrepreneurs and job seekers. As more growers and retailers open up shop in these municipalities, the demand for workers rise. The influx of new residents inevitably leads to more home sales and higher rents. There are also plenty of people moving to pot-friendly states without intent to work for the industry, but rather to enjoy the bud of its labor."

    So how does that translate to home values? The Cannifornian also turned to Colorado for a look at how the states home values were affected by the legalization of marijuana. "Researchers looking at the impact of legalized recreational marijuana on Denvers home prices found a surprising trend: dispensaries that began selling recreational marijuana had a large positive impact on neighboring property values," they said. "After recreational sales became legal, houses close to a participating dispensary saw their value increase more than 8 percent >In addition, looked at real estate values in Colorado and three other legalized states, Alaska, Oregon and Washington. They "showed a marked increase in home prices well above the national median price," after at least "a year of experience with recreational marijuana sales," said the Herald-Tribune.

    Where its legal

    Oklahoma recently became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana. The rest are:

    • Alabama
    • Arizona
    • Arkansas
    • Connecticut
    • Delaware
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Hawaii
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Iowa
    • Kentucky
    • Louisiana
    • Maryland
    • Michigan
    • Minnesota
    • Mississippi
    • Missouri
    • Montana
    • New Hampshire
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico
    • New York
    • North Carolina
    • North Dakota
    • Ohio
    • Pennsylvania
    • Rhode Island
    • South Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Virginia
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin
    • Wyoming

    Nine states, plus Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use:

    • Alaska
    • California
    • Colorado
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • Nevada
    • Oregon
    • Vermont
    • Washington
    • Washington D.C.

    Several additional states including New York are considering the move, especially in light of the growing support pun intended and tax ramifications. The Verges recent look at whether or not New York should legalize weed brought up several interesting points in favor:

    "Itd certainly be a popular move, since one in 10 New Yorkers used marijuana in the last month. It could also help fight the opioid epidemic. After all, medical cannabis can be prescribed for pain->Indeed, a Gallup Poll shows that support for marijuana legalizationis at "64 of Americans, and a recent report predicts "the legal marijuana market will reach 24.5 billion in salesa 28 annual compound growth rate - by 2021, as more state-legal markets come online," said Business Insider.

    The financial consideration for states is tremendous. "In the end, legalizing pot could be good for New York States bottom line because the state could rake in the tax revenue," said The Verge. "People buy between 6.5 and 10.2 million ounces of weed illegally in New York State every year. If you estimate that it costs between 270 to 340 per ounce, that adds up to a 1.7 to 3.5 billion-dollar market. With taxes, anywhere between 173.3 million to 542.3 million of that could end up in state coffers."
    Full Story >

    What its Really Like to Live in a Mountain Town - The Steamboat Springs Experience

    In 2005, my wife and I, along with our two sons, decided to do just that. Many of our friends thought we were nuts. How could we leave a stable, mid-career environment and venture into the great unknown? Wasnrsquo;t that supposed to be for ski bums? Shouldnrsquo;t we wait until we retire?

    But undaunted, we took the plunge, and moved to Steamboat Springs, nestled in the Rockies in a beautiful but isolated corner of Northwest Colorado.

    Herersquo;s what we learned from our personal experiences.

    Yoursquo;ll be the Happiest Contrarian Around
    We felt the time to make the move was when we could really enjoy it. Who knows what wersquo;d feel like when we retire, or what kind of shape wersquo;ll be in. We decided it wasnrsquo;t worth the risk to put our dreams on hold.

    Visitors will Envy Younbsp;
    Often while skiing, people will ask, ldquo;how did you do it?rdquo; We tell them candidly we just decided to do it. Most people have the skills to adapt to different situations or work remotely, and wersquo;re no different.

    Yoursquo;ll Live in a Magical Bubble
    Steamboat Springs, along with many other ski resort towns, just feels different. Yoursquo;ll see it in its unbridled optimism. People donrsquo;t complain about the weather because snow is welcomed and Colorado is very sunny. Residents are doing the ldquo;snow dancerdquo; during ski season.

    Your Kids Will Go to Some of the Best Schools in Colorado
    In 2018, announced that the Steamboat School District placed second in the state, ranked on math and reading scores, dropout rates, funding, and poverty rates.

    Your Kids will Learn to Ski or Snowboard on a Black Diamond Run
    Your kids can learn to ski with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, the most awarded ski club in North America. Itrsquo;s amazing to see kids three and four years old coming down black diamond runs, and thinking nothing of it.

    Yoursquo;ll be Living in a Town Full of Olympians
    Steamboat Springs has sent more athletes to the Olympics than any other place in North America. This is a remarkable feat when you consider Steamboatrsquo;s population is estimated to be 12,965.

    Yoursquo;ll Enjoy Some of the Best Water and Air Quality in the World
    According to the EPA, Steamboat Springsrsquo; water quality is 100 ndash; itrsquo;s the best it can be. And the air quality is 93, compared to the U.S. average of 58. We wanted our kids to be able to grow up in an area with pristine air and water.

    Viewing the Milky Way is a Common Occurrence
    Along with the elevation and pristine air is the opportunity to see stars the way natured intended. On a clear night, the stars come out in staggering numbers, which you may have only seen in pictures before.

    Yoursquo;ll have Access to World >
    If you think snow sports are the only thing to do in a mountain town, you havenrsquo;t checked out the bike trails, gold medal fishing, amazing hiking, and adventurous kayaking. In Steamboat, yoursquo;ll be living where most people vacation.

    Yoursquo;ll discover Champagne Powderreg;
    The term Champagne Powder refers to the super light and dry Rocky Mountain snow that falls in the Steamboat area. Different than snow with a higher water content, yoursquo;ll be able to float on the snow that has its own name.

    Yoursquo;ll be Part of Close-Knit Community
    Steamboat was originally a ranching community, and then when the mountain opened for skiing, it became a tourist destination. But itrsquo;s western roots and authentic hospitality continues to this day.

    Yoursquo;ll be Doing it Your Way
    Moving to the mountains is something that many people dream of, but few do. You can take the long road, and say this is something yoursquo;ll do eventually. Or you could dream big and make the move now while your family can enjoy it.

    Housing in Steamboat Springs
    Steamboat is not cheap, but itrsquo;s not as expensive as other ski towns like Aspen, Telluride, and Vail. You can check out a beautiful 4-bedroom home here to find out what a family home looks like.

    Full Story >

    Where the Best Places to Raise a Family Meets the Best Real Estate Markets

    WalletHub >For the family list, "WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 46 key metrics that consider essential family dynamics, such as the cost of housing, the quality of local school and health-care systems, and the opportunities for fun and recreation," they said.

    The real estate list establishes "the best local real-estate markets in the U.S.," by comparing "300 cities of varying sizes across 22 key indicators of housing-market attractiveness and economic strength," they said. "Our data set ranges from median home-price appreciation to home sales turnover rate to job growth."

    Evaluating both lists, three cities stand out: Irvine, CA; Seattle, WA; and Boise, ID.

    Moving to Irvine

    Irvines total 70.74 score for their No. 2 ranking on the Best Cities for Families list includes:

    No. 28 for Family Fun
    No. 3 for Health and Safety
    No. 3 for Education and Child Care
    No. 49 for Affordability
    No. 4 for Socio-Economics

    The citys No. 27 rank on the Best Real Estate Markets list breaks down like this:

    A total 67.58 score

    No. 40 for Real Estate Market
    No. 27 for Affordability and Economic

    In their look at the Best Places to Live, Time: Money noted: "Its no wonder people flock toIrvine; it boasts high-paying jobs, stellar public schools and a quick 10-mile drive to the coast. Plus, for 11 years running, the FBI has named this family-oriented Orange County city one of the safest in the country."

    They also point out the desirability of Irvines family friendly neighborhoods or villages. "Homes in each surround a neighborhood park, playground and pool, and youd be hard-pressed to find anyone outside the pool on a hot summer day," they said. "On weekends, Irvines bike paths are also busy; more than 350 miles of on- and off-street bike lanes connect all corners of the city."

    Irvine ranked 15th on U.S. News World Reports 2018 Best Places to Live in the United States list, which was created to "highlight areas across the country that have the characteristics residents are looking for, including steady job growth and affordability," said Patch. "The top-ranked places are areas where citizens can feel the most fulfilled socially, physically and financially."

    That affordability is >less pricey than some other California cities, it may be a rude awakening for those coming from other parts of the country.

    Still, if you can afford it, Livability says youll love living in this city that "consistently ranks as one of our Best Places to Live" thanks to "an average temperature of 71 degrees," its focus on technology, "more than 16,000 acres of parks and open spaceand access to three top medical facilities."

    Moving to Seattle

    Seattles total 63.44 score for their No. 15 ranking on the Best Cities for Families list includes:

    No. 47 for Family Fun
    No. 37 for Health and Safety
    No. 25 for Education and Child Care
    No. 27 for Affordability
    No. 59 for Socio-Economics

    Seattle is No. 8 on the real estate market list with a 72.16 score, including:

    No. 3 for Real Estate Market
    No. 171 for Affordability and Economic

    Looking at that last number and shaking your head? Yes, Seattle is expensive. Thecost of living"isnt as high as it is in that other West Coast tech hub, but it isnt exactly low either," said SmartAsset. "Whats more, as a result of rapid population growth in recent yearsliving costs have been rising quickly. If youre in the market for buying a home, be prepared to face a lot of competition."

    But those who live there and love it think there are enough upsides to make the price points worth it. Mostly. Here are some pros and cons of living in Seattle according to SmartAsset:

    "Seattle is a city unlike any other," they said. Nestled between the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, along the shores of the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, its natural beauty causes manywho visit to wish they could stay forever."

    Theres no state income tax but there is a high sales tax rate.

    "Seattle has the countrys best summers. Theyre warm and dry, with low humidity and lots of sunshine. Its the perfect time of year to enjoy the many natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest, like Olympic National Park or the San Juan islands."

    That rain may not be so bad. "Usually when it rains in Seattle, it comes down as a mist. Seattleites dont even bother flipping the hood on the raincoat they probably purchased at REI. The real problem is the gloom. Seattle has more cloudy days than almost any other U.S. city, and its far-northern location means winter days are especially short." If you start to get down when you havent seen the sun for a day, Seattle might really affect you.

    The aforementioned population explosion. "In 2000, the population of Seattle was about 560,000. Today, the population has grown to more than 660,000. Thats 100,000 new residents in 15 years, and the growth shows no signs of slowing down, with tech companies like Google, Facebook and especially Amazonplanning on increasing their hiring in the city. That has downsides, like the competitive rental marketand the gridlocked streets, but it also has upsides. For example, as a new arrival, you shouldnt have any problem meeting people who are also getting acquainted with the city."

    Lots of local sports team with fervent fans.

    Bad traffic but decent public transportation. "If you dont have a car or dont want to drive,Seattles public transportation system should get you where you need to go."

    And, of course, some serious coffee. This is the birthplace of Starbucks, after all.

    Moving to Boise

    Boise scores a total of 63.26 on the Best Cities for Families list for a No. 17 ranking and gets:

    No. 17 for Family Fun
    No. 18 for Health and Safety
    No. 169 for Education and Child Care
    No. 8 for Affordability
    No. 55 for Socio-Economics

    On the Best Real Estate Markets list, it comes in at No. 19, which breaks down as:

    A 68.95 score

    No. 23 for Real Estate Market
    No. 40 for Affordability and Economic

    If youre thinking about a move to Boise, its important to note that the city ranks highly on US News Best Places to Live as well as its Best Places to Retire lists.

    "Boise is a recreationalists paradise," said US News. "If you value the outdoors and time spent among rivers, mountains, canyons, deserts and lakes -- and all the activities encapsulated therein -- its worth a serious look.

    In addition, the city has a "booming" downtown area with ample new construction, "locally sourced food and drink," and ample entertainment options. "Idahos capital sits squa>Local radio personality Jeremy Hobson from Here Now weighed in on whether "Boise is the next Portland" on WBUR, saying: "Boises cultural cachet is growing as tourists and new residents seek out its unique food and music scenes, as well as its low cost-of-living."

    Boises lower cost of living is a huge driver for those moving to the city, as is its reputation as a safe city, and changing economic landscape. "People really like to come here, especially from the tech sector. That is changing the look and feel of Boise. For a long time, Boise has been kind of flyover country, and that is changing in a big way."
    Full Story >

    HOA Board And Manager Authority

    To achieve effective communications between homeowners and their homeowner association, it is important to understand the authority that belongs to the property management company, the board members individually and the board as a whole.

    For example, the management company may be able to solve a problem quickly while at other times, management may not have the authority without board approval. When that occurs, frustration and conflict may ensue. Can this situation be avoided?

    The Management Company and the Board: The management company serves as the agent of the HOAs board of directors. In other words, the management company has limited authority. When that authority is exceeded, the board must provide the additional authority. Similarly, an individual board member including the President does not have the authority to override board policy or governing document authority.

    Homeowners Concerns: It is not uncommon for an owner to ask the property manager to take certain action to assist that homeowner. However, that manager may not have been granted authority to make decisions on behalf of the board. Its helpful to understand why some owners might prefer for the management company to assume the authority and bypass the boards decision making process:

    Mistrust: If a board communicates poorly or has issued unpopular edicts, homeowners will be leery and suspicious of a boards ability to make the correct decision on their behalf.

    Past Failures: If there is a history of problematic board decisions, such as failure to allocate reserve money for maintenance, then resistance and distrust are assured.

    Buyers Remorse: Some owners buy into a covenant-restricted HOAs without realizing the requirement to abide by the governing documents and rules.

    Speed of Decisions: People expect timely results and dont want to wait.

    How the board can facilitate communication:

    • Adopt policies to handle routine items that the management company can follow without having to go to the board every time a routine approval is needed.
    • Hold consistent board meetings. If the meeting schedule is known in advance and when the board makes decisions, the wait becomes more palatable.
    • Have a reply sent immediately to the owner after the decision is reached and state the reason for the decision if their request is denied.
    • Give members an opportunity to address the board when requested.
    • Provide a newsletter and website that keeps members informed of board policies and procedures.

    From an owners standpoint, it is a good idea to get involved in the governance of the HOA. Attending board meetings, serving on committees and running for the board are excellent ways to learn how an HOA works.

    Some homeowners view the conformity required in homeowners association as a sacrifice of rights. However, most people enjoy the stability, structure and self-governance that are part of every homeowner association. They appreciate the rules that protect and maintain the quality and value of their investment. The key to success is a board of directors that works to promote harmony among the owners and does what it can to make swift and fair decisions.

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

    Quinlan Realty Sets Record Month of Giving Through Broker with Heart Program

    Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 12 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program.

    Agent with Heart Tayler Stanowski has made three generous donations, first to St. Jude Childrenrsquo;s Research Hospital on behalf of her clients, David J. Westrich Jr. and Iona Marcu, next to Shriners Hospitals for Children St. Louis on behalf of her clients Stephanie and Charles Keyser, and lastly to the Buddy Fund, made on behalf of her client, Becky Murch.

    Agent with Heart James Connor generously donated to the Buddy Fund on behalf of his client, Jim Masters. Additionally, James made a second donation to Team St. Louis Wrestling Club on behalf of his client, Derrick Swaney.

    Quinlan Realtyrsquo;s distinguished Broker with Heart, Craig Carr, generously matched each of Tayler and Jamesrsquo; donations, in addition to making two donations of his own. Friends of Kids with Cancer Inc. will receive a generous donation on behalf of his client, Steven Mitchell, as will St. Louis Childrenrsquo;s Hospital on behalf of his client, Rob Francis.

    ldquo;We are truly blown away by the incredible generosity of Quinlan Realty,rdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Craig Carr has truly embraced the Broker with Heart Program and instilled an impeccable sense of giving within his brokerage that is truly inspiring.rdquo; The Broker with Heart program was created in conjunction with PinRaisersquo;s Agent with Heart Program, with the hope of allowing entire brokerages to participate in making a donation to the clientrsquo;s chosen nonprofit after each closing.

    ldquo;I would like to personally thank Craig, Tayler and James for their admirable generosity, and for dedicating themselves to truly making a difference within their community. It is especially moving to me that Quinlan Realty is such a new brokerage and is already impacting the city of St. Louis and surrounding areas in such a large, positive way. We are truly grateful to have Quinlan Realty as a partner in helping our program make a difference,rdquo; concludes Mr. Giaimo.

    About the Broker with Heart Program: Through the Broker with Heart program, brokerages agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their commission from a home sale or purchase 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 Craig Carr, please call 314-401-9286 or visit

    To contact Tayler Stanowski, please call 314-401-9889 or visit

    To contact James Connor, please call 314-583-4594 or visit

    Full Story >

    Generous Real Estate Agents Make August Record Month of Giving Thanks to Pay it Forward Mentality

    Las Vegas, NV September 4th, 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.

    Kellie Bradt of RG Realty Group in Coon Rapids, MN has generously donated to Algalita Marine Research Foundation on behalf of her client, Sanjukta Chaudhuri, as well as a second donation to Walker Methodist Care on behalf of her clients Dnauth Hanuman, Kim Rendahl, and Jeremy and Krystyana Bolz.

    Jason Isley of Seven Gables Real Estate in Tustin, CA has made two generous donations. First to the American Heart Association on behalf of his clients Meghan and Jacob Huffman and Dawn Christine Burnett, and the second to the Assistance League of Santa Ana on behalf of his client, Karen Connor Johnson.

    Dawn Veronica Curry of Keller Williams in Fredericksburg, VA has made a generous donation to Empowerhouse on behalf of her client, Gary Gough, as well as a second donation to Micah Ecumenical Ministries Inc. on behalf of her client, Emmanual Akagwu.

    Peter Lunde of Coach Realtors in Stony Brook, NY has generously donated to the American Brain Tumor Association on behalf of his clients Kristopher and Christina Anselmo.

    Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Irvine, CA has generously donated to the Childrenrsquo;s Hospital of Orange County on behalf of her clients, Brenda and Derek Jacobs.

    Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 12 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program. Read more about their donations and generosity here.

    ldquo;What a way to round out the summer season All of us at PinRaise are incredibly grateful to Agents with Heart Kellie, Jason, Dawn, Peter, Dana and Quinlan Realty for their generosity this past month. Because of agents like them, nonprofits everywhere are able to benefit from much-needed funds. We are so proud of our program and all the good it does, but we would not be able to accomplish any of it if not for our esteemed partners in giving, our dedicated Agents with Heart,rdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. Through the Agent with Heart Program, real estate agents make generous donations to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after each close of escrow. The program was created to connect real estate agents to nonprofits with the goal of assisting nonprofits nation-wide.

    ldquo;I would personally like to thank Kellie, Jason, Dawn, Peter, Dana and Quinlan Realty for their admirable dedication to paying it forward within their communities. It says quite a lot about a person when they are willing to shave off part of their commission to not only make a donation, but to make it to a nonprofit that their client supports and cares about. I truly appreciate their support in helping us to assist nonprofits everywhere,rdquo; concludes Mr. Giaimo.

    About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the Agent with Heart program, real estate agents agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their commission from a home sale or purchase 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 Kellie Bradt, please call 651-269-8435 or visit

    To contact Jason Isley, please call 714-478-6750 or visit

    To contact Dawn Veronica Curry, please call 571-436-8321 or 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 Quinlan Realty, please call 314-401-9286 or visit

    Full Story >

    Ethics Can Be Taught, But Thats Not All There Is To It

    The current issue of California Real Estate, official magazine of the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR, contains a transcript of an interesting panel discussion titled, "Best Practices, Pet Peeves, and Challenges." "Moderated by C.A.R. CEO Joel Singer, the panelists exchanged ideas about the market and shared their best practices as well as the pet peeves and current challenges."

    One of the panelists, a thirteen-year veteran of the business, made this comment: "I think that ethics is a really important thing thats missing overall throughout the industry. Ethics training was the very first thing [I learned when I started]. Now, I feel that people dont get it." That elicited the following response from Joel Singer: "Ethics is something difficult to teach. Either you are ethical or youre not. The one thing that we always say to the legislature, who wants to teach you ethics ever day, is that the problem is if youre unethical, it doesnt make any difference."

    This response, I believe, represents a widely-held, if not often articulated, point of view. Sometimes it is summed up in the slogan, "Ethics cant be taught, it must be caught." But this viewpoint conflates two distinct items: 1 Ethics, as a set of rules and principles about behavior; and 2 Being Ethical, as a disposition to act according to those rules and principles. Having made that distinction, one might then express the viewpoint as saying, "Ethics can be taught, but you cant teach someone to be ethical."

    We can teach our teenagers the rules of grammar, but we may not be able to get them to speak grammatically. If we want people to behave a certain way including acting ethically, we need to motivate them to do so.

    Can ethics -- the rules and principles of ethics -- be taught? Of course they can. It has been happening for thousands of years in a myriad of cultures. To be sure, the ethics of some cultures may differ from others, but that is a different and essentially un>Can people be motivated to conform to the ethical rules they have been taught? Again, of course. Some more so than others, though, and not always with results that we like. MS-13 members, for example, may conform highly with the behavioral rules they have been taught.

    If there is an unacceptably high incidence of ethical misbehavior in the real estate industry, perhaps industry leaders would do well to honestly and thoughtfully address the facts that contribute to that. One thing is for sure: if we keep doing what we have been doing, we should not expect to see different results.

    Any program or plan to increase ethical behavior and to lessen unethical behavior among the ranks of REALTORSreg; would have to have at least two components: one would be the effective teaching of those rules and principles embodied in the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics; the other would be supplying motivation to act in accordance with those rules and principles.

    The current requirement for familiarizing agents and brokers with the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics is so minimal -- take a 2 1/2 hour course once every two years -- it suggests that even the organization doesnt take it very seriously.

    The National Association of REALTORSreg; is rightfully proud of its Code of Ethics, a document first formulated in 1913, and amended at more than 30 different national conventions since then. With 17 articles, supplemented by over 88 Standards of Practice and more than 154 official Case Interpretations, it presents a complex set of documents. At best, a 2 hour >As we have noted before, the very need for a real estate code of ethics is rooted in the same fact that has led other businesses and professions to develop their own unique codes of ethics. It is that, as one gets into the details of conducting the practice of real estate or law, or counseling, etc. people -- even very ethically good people -- find themselves in situations and settings that are distinctly new and different. Even if we are already schooled in the application of ethical principles to the situations of everyday life, we are liable to find ourselves unsure how those principles apply in situations involving matters such as agency, exclusive representation, multiple counter offers, and the like.

    Much of the Code deals with matters that may be complicated and that dont have parallels in the everyday world. Even very good, well-intentioned people may be at a loss when confronting them. While it is not a sensible aim to make every Realtorreg; an "expert" in the Code, it does make sense, and is achievable, to make members more conversant with it than can be accomplished with the present requirement.

    Many REALTORSreg; do need to learn more about the Code. One way to achieve that might be to have the first year or two years of membership require some ethics training in addition to that which they received in their orientation process. Courses could be made available in a variety of formats, from on-line to provision by the agents own brokerage. The point, of course, would be to better familiarize them at the beginning of their careers.

    But what has been said here only treats learning the principles of an ethical code. What about applying them? What about being ethical? Well tackle that topic next.
    Full Story >

    Rental Scams Target Tenants, Landlords

    Earlier this year, a woman in Brantford, Ont. had several people come to her door to view her house, which they said they had arranged to rent. Problem was, the house wasnt for rent and the homeowner knew nothing about it.

    In the Ottawa area, landlords who rent to international students were contacted by people who said they wanted to pay a years worth of rent upfront, sending a cheque or money order. But soon after the tenant said their plans had changed and asked the landlords to refund all but two months worth of the money. The initial cheque bounced, and the landlords were out the funds "refunded".

    In June, CityNews in Toronto reported that more than two dozen people showed up at the same home in North York to move into a room. The man who was renting the home wasnt the owner of the house. Most of the victims were international students and visitors, says CityNews, who found the home on Facebook or Kijiji and paid money up front for the room. The tv cameras were rolling when a student from Japan arrived and discovered someone was already living in the room he paid 1,200 to rent.

    These are just some of the many rent->

    The Vancouver Police Department says there are two common scams aimed at tenants. In the first, the scammer poses as the landlord but says they are out of the country, often calling themselves "a business person who travels abroad." But the property they are advertising may be completely fake. The photo shown in the listing may have been lifted from a real estate advertising site or a rental site such as Airbnb. The scammer asks for a deposit through a money transfer and then disappears.

    In the second type of scam, the fraudster has access to a property and shows it to the victims. They ask for an immediate deposit and give the victim a move-in date, promising to send the keys soon. But the keys never arrive, and the scammer cant be found. Or, in some cases, the keys do arrive, but several people show up at the property, all believing they have rented it.

    If you are looking for a place to rent, here are ways to protect yourself as recommended by the Competition Bureau, the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP:

    Recognize the red flags: If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. If they are asking for a cash deposit, or if they want the money to be wired someplace, dont do it. If they want you to send money outside the country, be wary. They may promise you a "full refund" if you are not happy with the property, but thats unlikely to happen.

    If the person will only deal with you via email, its another red flag. If you have a contract, does the name on the emails match the name on the contract?

    Some scammers direct would-be tenants to a website that asks you to fill out a form with personal or financial information. Dont fall for pressure tactics, such as "several other people are interested so you must decide right now."

    Research the property online. You can copy a photo of the listing and use Google Image Search to see if the same photo has been used to advertise other properties.

    Request a lease or rental contract and review it carefully. A landlord who doesnt want a lease is unusual. Most landlords will ask you a lot of questions and demand letters of employment and a credit check to make sure you are going to be a good tenant. They will want to protect themselves from non-paying tenants and will demand a lease. If this doesnt happen and they seem eager to rent to you without one, be suspicious.

    Insist on meeting the landlord or property manager in person and inspecting the property. If you are out of town, try to get a trusted friend to visit the address and ensure that it exists and is as advertised. Ask neighbours or other tenants about the owner and the property.

    If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your local police department. If you have provided financial information to the scammers, alert Equifax and TransUnion to make sure it has not impacted your credit score. Contact your financial institution as well.

    The bottom line is to use common sense and think it through before shelling out any money. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says: "Go with your gut. If it seems fishy, it probably is."

    Full Story >

    Get Your Fitness In At Home With These Calorie-Burning Cleaning Tasks

    "You know what I love about fitness. I love fitness whole pizza in my mouth."

    Its an old joke, an eye-rolling joke, but one that still garners a chuckle if only for the inner truth of it all. And heres a nugget that makes it even more >Heres the good news. That cleaning youve been putting off can help you burn some calories so you can enjoy a slice or three or at least reduce your no-gym-going guilt.

    "Does housework count as a workout? The answer: Yes Theres a reason they call it housework," said Fitness Magazine. "You can burn serious calories during a marathon cleaning session."

    These are the home cleaning tasks - with one home reno and two weekend chores thrown in - to take on this weekend. Note: While youre figuring out which activities to conquer, remember to apply your personal weight to each.

    Calorie-burning numbers listed are based on "an average weight of around 150 pounds," said Today. "If youre lighter, in the range of 120, then estimate about 20 fewer calories burned. The same goes for a higher weight: if youre closer to 180 pounds, youll burn about 20 more calories per activity. So, if vacuuming burns 200 calories for the "average" 150-pound person, then the estimate for a lighter person would be roughly 160 calories, while the heavier person would be in the range of around 240 calories for the same activity."

    Vacuuming:"Depending on the size of your home, vacuuming could make a significant dent in your 10,000 recommended steps a day," said Shape. "In the process, you could burn 119 calories per 30 minutes.

    Mopping: Your floors probably need it, and the best news is that this task will burn about 150 calories in an hour

    Cleaning the bathroom: Honestly, we hope you dont have an hours worth of cleaning to do in one bathroom, but you could easily spend that time cleaning up to three bathrooms and burn off 180 caloriesenough to enjoy a treat after dinner

    Scrubbing the tub:Maybe its only the tub that needs serious attention. This unpleasant activity sounds a lot better when you consider how many calories you can burn. Fifteen minutes of heavy soap scum busting can burn more than 90 calories and give you a great arm workout.

    Gardening: Its time to get out into the yard and clean up the flower beds or prepare the space for cooler weather to come. All that bending, kneeling, and leaning means you can burn about 250 calories in one hour.

    Get the windows sparkling clean: "Wash the inside and outside of your windows for 30 minutes to burn off 100 calories," said Health.

    Painting the walls: Ready to bring some new color into your home this weekend? Paint for one hour and burn about 270 calories.

    Grocery shopping: This may make you rethink having your groceries delivered or using the markets pre-order/load them up in the trunk service. A one-hour grocery store trip can burn 350 calories
    Full Story >

    5 Fall Home Maintenance Items To Check Off Now Before The Cold Kicks In

    Summer is on its way out - even if it doesnt feel like it - and fall is on the horizon. That means its time to start thinking about how to get your home ready for winter. "Summer hasnt quite wound down yet, but fall isnt as far away as it seems," said Forbes."Doing a round of simple fall maintenance chores now can save you time, money, andstress when the cold weather comes."

    Here are five fall home maintenance activities to start thinking about this weekend.

    Clean your gutters

    Depending on your climate, you may have to get up in those gutters more than once to clear out leaves and other gunk and keep your home safe from flooding and damage. Giving them a look before the leaves fall will help ensure there is room for all that foliage. Once they fall, making sure to clean them out before the first freeze can limit clogs and keep dangerous ice dams away.

    Check your chimney

    Make sure everything is in order before the first fire of the season. "Creosote buildup causes chimney fires," said Family Handyman. "You should have your chimney professionally inspected or cleaned after every 70 fires. If you burn wet wood which you shouldnt, have it inspected or cleaned every 50 fires. Dont remember the last time you had it cleaned by a pro? A quick way to tell if your chimney needs cleaning is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner. If you find a 1/8-in. layer or more of buildup, call a chimney sweep."

    Check your roof

    Storms, wind, and other weather conditions over the past year could have done damage that youre not aware of. You definitely dont want to wait until the first heavy snow to find out you have a leak. If youre not comfortable on a ladder or just want a professional eye, a pro roofer will typically charge you under 100 to check it out.

    Seal it up

    There are three important reasons to make sure your home is air tight: 1 Keeping moisture out; 2 Keeping critters out; 3 Keeping warm air in. "Fall is when critters often enter our homes to build a nest and ride out the cold weather," said Forbes. "So walk around the exterior looking for ways small animals can enter your house and seal them off. A mouse can wriggle through an opening as small as a dime, so look carefully for those small holes."

    Sealing up holes and cracks can also make your home more efficient so it takes less effort and money to keep warm in the winter. All you need in most cases is weather stripping and caulking.

    Disconnect garden hoses from faucets

    As soon as the weather dips, its time to disconnect those hoses. This simple task can potentially save you a lot of heartache later. "Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets," said HouseLogic. "Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in theplumbingpipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesnt sneak up and cause damage." Be sure to also "Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, youll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet."
    Full Story >

    How to Keep Your Jewelry Safe While You Sell Your Home

    Its an unfortunate fact that thieves often target homes on the real estate market. Sometimes these thieves are serial offenders, but they can also be prospective buyers or real estate agents gone rogue.

    To minimize temptation, store your valuables, especially fine jewelry, in a safe and secure place whenever you have potential buyers or agents in your home. Avoid leaving valuables unsecured in easy-to-access areas. Weve outlined several ways to avoid mistakes and keep your valuables safe before and while you sell your home.

    Before Listing Your Home

    Protecting your belongings starts before your home even goes on the market. Complete these simple tasks ahead of time to ensure that you can protect yourself and recover any losses if something goes wrong.

    1. Make sure you have a detailed receipt or appraisal for each piece of jewelry. A detailed receipt will have information about each items metal and diamonds or precious gemstones. It should also have the price you paid or a current estimate of the pieces value. These documents will be very useful in the event something does happen to your valuables.

    2. As you begin the process of listing your home and staging your house for pictures or virtual tours, take jewelry boxes off the counters and remove jewelry cabinets or armoires from view. Criminals often case homes using the listing photos, so dont leave any signs of fine jewelry in these promotional images.

    3. Were focusing on your precious jewelry and valuables, but you can also apply these tips to any item someone may be tempted to steal.

    While Your Home is on the Market

    Now that youve appraised your jewelry and removed it from sight, lets talk about how to protect your belongings while strangers visit your home.

    Lock it up -- Most real estate experts will tell you that the best way to keep any item safe is to lock it up. Its not as simple as "out of sight, out of mind"; you dont know who might open drawers or cabinets during an open house. Find a secure place that you can store your valuables, such as a safe or a locking drawer. If you dont have a safe or secure place to lock away your jewelry, consider renting a safety deposit box while your home is on the market.

    Find a friend -- Your friends and neighbors will be sad to see you go, but you might be able to ask them for one last favor. Ask a trusted friend to babysit your valuables temporarily. Explain that youd like to keep them out of the house while strangers are present, and be willing to reward them with homemade treats or a bottle of wine for their generosity. But before you ask, make sure theyre a good candidate for the job. Do they have small children who get into everything, or do they have contractors or other strangers in their home? No matter what, secure your pieces in a locked box before you take them over.

    Take it with you -- This wont work for everyone, as some agents bring prospective buyers over when youre out of the house. But if you require your agent to give you notice whenever they schedule a visit, this option may be the perfect fit for you. Keep your valuables ready to lock up and take with you before the appointment begins. This option may be the most difficult in todays housing market, since many buyers want to see your home on short notice.

    Whichever solution you choose, make sure to put your pieces into soft velvet pouches, jewelry boxes, or small plastic bags. This storage technique will keep each item separate and safe from scratching, tangling, or other damage. Check your homeowners policy to make sure your policy covers valuables. Your diamonds may be covered against chipping, cracking and loss from the mounting by your jeweler, but loss and theft of the entire ring may not be covered. If you need additional coverage, its best to know as soon as possible.

    Selling a home can be a stressful time, but these steps will save you from worrying about your valuables. With some creativity and planning, you can rest assured knowing that prospective buyers wont be tempted to take anything thats not theirs.

    Dan Decker is the charismatic, romantic, and knowledgeable Customer Care Manager for Robbins Brothers. He has been with the company for nearly 20 years and enjoys helping customers fulfill their engagement dreams. When hes not working, its all about quality time spent with his daughter and lovely wife of 20 years.
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    There Are Tax Benefits With Home Ownership

    Homeownership has always been the "great American dream". And Congress -- with one exception -- did not take it away when it passed the tax reform bill last December.

    To foster and encourage this dream, Congress has consistently enacted -- or preserved -- tax legislation which favors homeowners. Indeed, much has been written that our tax laws discriminate against renters, by giving unfair and unequal tax benefits to those who own homes.

    Every four years, some candidate for high political office tries to focus our attention on equalizing the tax laws, and repealing the homeowner benefits, but these arguments have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

    For those of us who own homes, here is a list of the itemized tax deductions available to the average homeowner. Every year, you are permitted to deduct the following expenses:

    Taxes. Real property taxes, both state and local, can be deducted. The one exception referenced above: tax filers can deduct on Schedule A any combination of state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes but only up to a total of 10,000. Interestingly, married couples who file their own separate tax return can only deduct up to 5000.

    However, it should be noted that real estate taxes are only deductible in the year they are actually paid to the government. Thus, if in year 2018, your lender held in escrow moneys for taxes due in 2019, you cannot take a deduction for these taxes when you file your 2018 tax return.

    .Mortgage lenders are required to send an annual statement to borrowers by the end of January of each year, reflecting the amount of mortgage interest and real estate taxes the homeowner paid during the previous year.

    Mortgage Interest. Interest on mortgage loans on a first or second home is fully deductible, subject to the following limitations: acquisition loans up to 1 million, and home equity loans up to 100,000. If you are married, but file separately, these limits are split in half. But note that for new loans taken out after December 14, 2017, the limit on deductible mortgage debt is reduced to 750,000. Loans in existence prior to that date are grandfathered.

    You must understand the concept of an acquisition loan. To qualify for such a loan, you must buy, construct or substantially improve your home. If you refinance for more than the outstanding indebtedness, the excess amount does not qualify as an acquisition loan unless you use all of the excess to improve your home. However, any other excess may qualify as a home equity loan.

    Let us look at this example: Several years ago, you purchased your house for 150,000 and obtained a mortgage in the amount of 100,000. Last year, your mortgage indebtedness had been reduced to 95,000, but your house was worth 300,000.

    Because rates were low last year, you refinanced and were able to get a new mortgage of 175,000. Your acquisition indebtedness is 95,000. The additional 80,000 that you took out of your equity does not qualify as acquisition indebtedness, but since it is under 100,000, it qualifies as a home equity loan.

    Several years ago, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that one does not have to take out a separate home equity loan to qualify for this aspect of the tax deduction. However, if you had borrowed 200,000, you would only be able to deduct interest on 195,000 of your loan -- the 95,000 acquisition indebtedness, plus the 100,000 home equity.

    One more caveat: the proceeds of a second mortgage -- or a home equity loan -- are still deductible but only if the money is used to substantially improve the property.

    The remaining interest is treated as personal interest, and is not deductible.

    Points. Because mortgage rates are still considerably low, not too many borrowers are paying points. When you obtain a mortgage loan, in order to get a lower rate mortgage, you would pay one or more points. Whether referred to as "loan origination fees," "premium charges," or "discounts," these are still points. Each point is one percent of the amount borrowed; if you obtain a loan of 170,000, each point will cost you 1,700. And the interest rate on your loan will be lowered.

    The IRS has also ruled that even if points are paid by sellers, they are still deductible by the homebuyer. Points paid to a lender when you refinance your current mortgage are not fully deductible in the year they are paid; you have to allocate the amount over the life of the loan. For example, you paid 1700 in points for a 30 year loan. Each year you are permitted to deduct only 56.66 1700 divided by 30; however, when you pay off this new loan, any remaining portion of the points you have not deducted are then deductible in full.

    Needless to say, if you have any questions about these tax benefits, discuss them with your financial and legal advisors.
    Full Story >

    Five Tips For The Best Granite Countertops

    The interior design industry has been trying for years to break homeowners addiction to granite counters. Theyve introduced stainless, concrete, glass, quartz, wood, marble and other ideas to wean people away, but the alternative surfaces just dont have the luxury look that granite does.

    If youre getting granite countertops for the first time, here are five things you need to know:

    Choose the right stone. Granite is a general term that describes a type of granular igneous rock formed by cooled magma and indigenous minerals. Depending on where the granite is quarried, it can be stunning with streaks of gray, pink, red, green, blue or gold. The rarity of the vein of granite can drive up the price considerably, as well as the thickness and the type of fabrication you choose.

    When you shop for granite, dont choose from a sample. Youre basically buying the whole slab so thats how you should shop. Look only at whole slabs, as the fabricators will use as much as possible to match sections and to minimize waste. Sometimes its possible to buy two or more slabs from the same lot. They are sliced just like pieces of toast so they can accommodate large kitchens. If theyre put back to back, they form butterfly or mirror images of each other.

    The beauty of granite is the movement of color and the pattern of streaks and dapples, so choose wisely. A strong graphic pattern will be highly energizing, while a softer color and pattern will be calming.

    Hold the Dumb End of the Tape. Granite is sold by the square foot. You can get an idea of the number of square feet you need by multiplying length by width for each section of the kitchen, such as countertops, backsplash, and an island. Then add the square feet of each section together.

    But thats not all there is to measuring. Theres an edge allowance, seam allowance, sinks and other things to consider. You can tell your salesperson how many square feet you think youll need, and he or she can direct you to slabs and lots that are large enough to fulfill your order. Once you choose, the salesperson will "hold" the slab with a deposit, until the fabricator can come out to measure exactly.

    Meanwhile, your cabinets should be installed before the fabricator comes out. Most appliances fit under the countertops, but if youre installing a new sink or cooktop, the fabricator will need those measurements, too. Let the fabricator take the measurements. That way the fit is guaranteed.

    Be aware of slab thickness. Not all granite slabs are sliced the same, so expect to pay more for a three-inch thickness than a one-inch thickness. If you choose a thick granite, make sure your cabinets can support that much weight.

    Next, youll choose an edge that is bullnose, ogee or beveled, or raw-edged. The finish can also change the look of the granite. Polished granite is glossy and reflective. Honed granite is a smooth matte finish. Leather is a textured finish.

    Ask for as few seams as possible. If youre doing a large area like a kitchen, you want to use as few seams as possible so that the flow of the granite pattern and color is less interrupted. A seamless slab in a kitchen looks beautiful and holds more value than seamed pieces because its like a work of art. Ask the fabricator if any parts of the job can be done without a seam. Sometimes its very possible, depending on the design of your kitchen.

    To save money, you can choose granite tiles, which is like a tile, so there will be no seams, but they add little value to your home. You can also order from scraps the dealer may have leftover from other jobs, but theyre only be suitable for small jobs where you dont have to match another granite, such as a powder bath or laundry.

    Granite requires care. Granite is fairly heat-resistant and easy to clean, but you should keep in mind that its also porous. It can crack, chip, stain and show scratches.

    Dont put hot pans directly on the surface; use a trivet or hot pad. Use only granite-safe cleansers. Dont use bleach, ammonia products, scouring pads, or anything acidic such as lemon or vinegar to clean. Dont use dish soap to clean as it can leave a dulling film on the surface. Spills of wine, juice and tomato sauce should be cleaned up quickly.

    Some finishes such as polish act as more of a seal, but you can also purchase granite sealers at your local market. Just wipe it on once a year or so to keep your countertops looking their best.

    If youre wondering whether your countertop needs sealing, spill some clean water or the surface and cover it with a paper towel. If it leaves a stain, it will go away eventually, but youll know its time for sealant.
    Full Story >

    5 Reasons To Visit Magnolia That Arent To Meet Chip And Joanna Gaines

    As of late 2017, Magnolia Market at the Silos, Chip and Joanna Gaines Waco store and popular tourist destination, was averaging more than 30,000 visitors a week. To put that in context, its "Bigger thanthe Alamo," said the Waco Tribune. Those weekly numbers convert to "about 1.6 million people" yearly, according to the Waco Convention and Visitors bureau. Those include four chartered buses that have carried tourists from New York to Waco over the past year."

    Judging by the crush of people at the retail destination on this Friday afternoon, those numbers will reach even higher this year. And thats not including all those folks who are waiting nearly an hour and a half to eat at the couples popular nearby restaurant, Magnolia Table.

    If youre considering heading for Magnolia, you should know thats its highly unlikely youll run into Chip or Jojo. The couple ra>For the design ideas

    Design inspiration is everywhere at Magnolia Market and Magnolia Table. Who would have thought paint brushes could create such an eye-catching display or that layering a bunch of different clocks could be the answer to your wall dcor? Look beyond the products and youll get all kinds of ideas for how to Gainesify your space.

    For the family fun

    You may not equate shopping with family fun, and, yes, the inside of the store itself is a major "Dont touch that" zone, but the grounds are surprisingly kid-friendly. Beside the store there is a large faux grass lawn with balls, hula hoops, cornhole games, and bean bag chairs. There are also swings and a huge covered area to escape the sun.

    For the food

    There are food trucks that park along the perimeter of Magnolia Market every day, so before or after your shopping, you can grab a meal or snack. And youll definitely want to hit Silos Baking Co. for cupcakes.

    But, Magnolia Table, the Gaines restaurant that opened in March, is a must-visit. Yes, the wait was long. But it was worth every minute and those minutes were spent on the generous covered patio sipping tea, BTW. Having previously eaten at the historic Elite Caf the restaurant that previously stood on this site and which "can trace its founding back 97 years," and which famously served "a young soldier named Elvis Presleywhile stationed at Fort Hood," according to the Waco Tribune, we didnt know what to expect. Frankly, it would have been enough to just gaze at the completely renovated space, the result of which is a farmhouse chic bonanza.

    But, the food was actuallydelicious. The shared Bacon Eggs deviled eggs, brown sugar bacon, and jalapeno jam was outstanding, as was everything else we ordered. One guest remarked that the Gaines Brothers Burger was the "best hamburger shes ever had in her life," and another ordered the Simple Salad, which is anything but. It was so large and so packed with goodies that she still hasnt finished it. Breakfast is served here all day long, so do yourself a favor and order Jos Buttermilk Biscuits with strawberry butter and the crispy, Housemade Tater Tots with anything else you get.

    For the gifts

    Youll be the best daughter, niece, cousin, neighbor, or friend ever if you return from your jaunt with a gift in hand for your fellow Fixer Upper lover. While the store is packed with options, were partial to a few of the logo-emblazoned items.

    If youre hitting Magnolia Table, be sure to pop in to the takeaway store, and head straight for the caramels. If you eat in the restaurant, they bring these goodies with your check. Buttery, gooey, salty, savory and sweet, theyre a fitting end to a fantastic meal, and, despite how full you are from your Tater Tots/Avocado Toast/Burger/Bacon Eggs, youll likely find yourself eating every bite and then licking the wrapper or maybe that was just us. You wont find these caramels anywhere else, including at the Silos, so buy a bunch before you leave. Just dont tell any of your friends about them. That way, when you eat all of them on the plane/in the car on the way home, they wont know theyre missing anything.

    For the pictures

    Just think of what a trip to the Silos will do for your Instagram Theres a whole lot to shoot here, and they also have their own Instagram spot and hashtag milestomagnolia. Tip: Magnolia Market is not open on Sundays, but if you happen to be in town, its a great day to get some pics sans the crowd.
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    Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensive

    Based on what John and Lee privacy protected learned about real estate from friends and online searches, these first-time buyers believed that location is less important than price.

    Do they know what theyre talking about?

    John and Lee currently rent a spacious apartment in the city where they both work. They thoroughly enjoy their urban, walkable neighborhood and its proximity to work and to all that matters to them.

    Ready to move onto the next phase of their lives, the couple recently decided its time to invest in real estate. They are attracted to a less-pricy real estate market in the smaller, more-rural center across the state line because they feel theyll get more house for their money there.

    List price can dominate decision making for buyers, but is it always a clear indicator of where value lies? List price is the pricemdash;based on each sellers own criteriamdash;that sellers indicate they may consider selling for as part of their public offering.

    The couples decision to move to a cheaper real estate market is based on key assumptions theyve made, not on a drive to dramatically change their life> 1. Square footage is their immediate focus since the couple plans to start a family once they are homeowners and assume theyll need more space.

    2. Commute time or expense is not a big concern to them, even though living in a community across the state line will force them to battle often-unpredictable bridge trafficmdash;Lee each week day and John several days a week.

    3. Older, more established neighborhoods appeal to this couple, even though neither of these long-time renters have any hands-on experience with living in or maintaining an older property, or paying others to do so.

    4. Interest rates have been low for so long, these eager buyersmdash;John a self-employed entrepreneur and Lee a teachermdash;assume that theyll get the mortgage they need once they find the right property.

    5. The couple is confident they can "figure out real estate" by asking friends and checking things out online. They assume that theyll always act in their own best interest.

    Based on your own experience, do you have any concerns about their assumptions and > Could anything go wrong for them? What should their first step be?

    John and Lee made assumptions that are common buyer limitations. Watch enough real estate TV shows, follow enough buyers on social media, and check out enough online listings and you can feel like a real estate expert. If it were that easy, no one would ever buy the wrong house or choose a poor location. Nor would anyone arrange a poorly-suited mortgage or fail to arrange necessary financing.

    The big question for buyers to consider before they begin the buying process is, "What cant we afford to learn in hindsight?" Hindsight, or looking backward to second guess yourself, is 20:20; however, the knowledge gained always arrives too late to act on.

    Buying a house, condominium unit, recreational property, or even vacant land is complicated by the fact that each real estate property is unique, so comparison shopping is tricky at best, especially for uninitiated buyers.

    Everything may go smoothly for John and Lee during the buying process or it may seem to. However, if they are wrong about any one or more of their 5 assumptions above, they may not discover the full impact of these failings until long after they move in or when they want to sell and use the expected profit to up-grade to their next home.

    Real estate professionals will tell you that each of these common buyer assumptions raise many questions and concerns that should be resolved before buyers sign on the dotted line.

    Heres Five Key Real Estate Realities tied to the Five Buyer Assumptions:

    1. Square footage: Buyers may gain more square footage in lower-priced real estate markets, but those properties will usually not increase in value as quickly as more prized locations, if they do at all. For instance, market value is also strongly tied to local schools and amenities, so proximity to top-notch schools will drive real estate appreciation, even for owners who do not have school-aged children.

    Assumptions that big houses are better are distracting. Space-efficient design and layout can make smaller homes more cost-effective and more pleasant to live in.

    2. Commuting: Commuting is expensive in terms of time, money, stress, and lost time with family, friends, and favorite past-times. Location, in the form of proximity to work and play, adds value to real estate properties through walkability, reduced transportation costs, and improved life balance. Buying into a different life> 3. Condition: Modernized properties carry more value because they are more comfortable and economical to live in and maintain, and they can look more appealing.

    4. Mortgages: Rural properties can be harder to finance than similar urban homes. Self-employed individuals may discover that qualifying for a mortgage is more difficult than it is for those with standard employment histories.

    5. Real Estate Knowledge: Learning the hard way can be expensive in real estate. What we dont know that we dont know or fully understand can result in missed opportunity, over-paying, or being taken advantage ofmdash;if not being subject to out-right fraud. Real estate professionals can explainmdash;>Buyers can benefit from starting their home search by discussing, with real estate professionals who work in their preferred location, buyers often-unconscious real estate assumptions and conclusions about their online research. These professionals can help buyers weigh alternatives and effectively expand their search area, as necessary, after the professional fully understands buyer needs. Professionals can also explain how market value, not list price, is the key factor when buying.

    With professional ingenuity and support, buyers can transform assumptions into knowledge and the potential for hindsight disappointments into forward-thinking strategies aimed at investment in financial and real estate security.

    Additional Resources by PJ Wade

    • Live It Up in a Smaller Space
    • Much More to Mortgages Than Interest Rates
    • Home Buyers: Seven Insights Into Confident DecisionMaking

    Full Story >

    Ask the HOA Expert: Qualifications To Run For The Board

    Question: We have an unmarried resident couple and only the woman is a legal owner. Does her partner qualify to run for the board or serve on a committee? And if they are legally married but he is not an owner, does that change things?

    Answer: In most HOAs, only owners are allowed to serve on the board. You need to read your governing documents to see if that is the case in yours. On the other hand, committee members can be unmarried partners, renters and non-residents.

    Question: The board is thinking about circulating a survey to evaluate the manager companys effectiveness. Any suggestions?

    Answer: Since the majority of owners are disconnected from the day to day HOA business and have little understanding of the managers scope of work, most would not have an informed basis for evaluating the managers effectiveness. An input form might be more effective. List the various tasks the HOA is responsible to perform in general categories like General Maintenance, Landscaping, Pool, Janitorial, Communications, Newsletters, Rules Enforcement, Financial Reporting etc. and ask for specific recommendations for improvement. If the suggestions are directly >Question: Can we publish the complete list of what each HOA employee makes or is this a breach of privacy?

    Answer: Disclosing this kind of information could create animosity between employees or prompt interference from members who feel someone is paid too much or too little. It is something the board should keep confidential. It is appropriate, however, to disclose the total amount of wages/salaries paid in the annual budget.

    Question: During a week of 100 degree weather recently, I asked permission from the board to install a window air conditioner. I was denied. I read the governing documents and rules and window A/C units are not mentioned. My son has a compromised immunize system. His doctor has recommended carefully controlled temperatures not too hot and not too cold. I can control the cold part but need A/C to control excessive heat. Shouldnt I be able to get an exception due to health reasons? I dont want to have to pay his doctor to write a letter to the board.

    Answer: The board should make a reasonable accommodation for this purpose. You should ask your doctor to provide a letter at no charge explaining the need for it so the board has the ammunition it needs to make an exception to the rule.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
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    Clever And Creative Ideas For Kids Study Areas

    The school year has started, and that probably means your kids are doing their homework: sprawled on the bed, on the couch in front of the TV, on the floor, or at the dining room table. It probably also means their stuff is everywhere and the distractions are making it hard from them to properly concentrate. You can address the mess, and give them a dedicated space to study, even if your place doesnt have a separate home office option.

    No matter where you create your study area, make sure you stick it well. Having everything they need on hand will help keep them on task and eliminate excuses for getting up. That means notebooks, pens and pencils, a pencil eraser, a calculator, and also a comfy, supportive chair, and task lighting if the existing lighting isnt bright enough.

    Borrow the bedside

    With a bed, dresser, and two nightstands, it may seem like theres no place in your childs room for a desk. There may be if you ditch one of those nightstands. A small desk placed next to the bed can double as a place to keep her phone and bedside lamp, and the less matchy-matchy look will invite some eclectic >

    Overhaul the hallway

    "American standards call for a minimum 36-in.-wide hallway in most circumstances," said Houzz. So, if your home is blessed with an extra-wide one, you may have a study area in the making. Find a long, narrow desk so it doesnt impede passage.

    Create a cool nook

    Maybe you just think you dont have a proper spot for a study area. What about the space next to your fireplace? You know, the one thats meant to house your TV. The TV you put over the fireplace. You can easily and inexpensively turn that nook into a chic study space that will look like it was meant to be used that way. Check out all these desktop options for under 100 at IKEA.

    Make smart space decisions

    We love this built-in desk just adjacent to the kitchen, especially with the lively pop of yellow. Your floorplan may not be able to accommodate this, but you can get creative with a modern secretary desk that looks sleek, gives you some needed storage, and has a drop-down desk that folds away when not in use.

    Clean out the closet

    A hall closet or unneeded closet in an extra bedroom can beautifully transform into a great study area, and the best part is that it all disappears when you close the doors.

    Tailor the table

    Having your child hunkered down at the dining room for homework time may not be ideal, but it also may be your only or best option. You can help him stay organized and minimize the chaos with creative storage solutions. A banquette offers hidden storage that could be a great answer for all the supplies your child needs for daily homework and studying. If thats not a reality, a fully-stocked bin they can take out of a pantry or cabinet and return when they are done is an easy answer for quick cleanups.

    Full Story >

    REALTOR Duty To Cooperate Is A Narrow One

    Real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORSreg; are, for the most part, rightfully proud of NARs Code of Ethics. They have all agreed to abide by it, and when a fellow Realtorreg; appears to be acting contrary to the Code, most react with consternation.

    Article 3 of the Code enjoins REALTORSreg; to "cooperate with other brokers"; and, in days when "coming soon" but not yet on the MLS is widely employed, and semi-exclusive marketing clubs have become common, I think its a fair guess to say that a lot of REALTORSreg; feel that Article 3 is being widely violated. Phone calls go unreturned. Offers languish in some netherworld of non-response. Listings stipulate a veritable obstacle course of requirements that must be met before an offer will be considered. The list goes on and on. If this is cooperation, can you imagine what adversarial >It would be a mistake, however, to think that behavior which may range from arrogant to rude and boorish necessarily constitutes a violation of Article 3. REALTORSreg; forget sometimes what the Code of Ethics is and is not meant to do.

    The Code is not a comprehensive set of rules for living. It does not supplant the Ten Commandments, or the strictures of any other >The Code, for example, prohibits false advertising or making false statements about a competitor; but it doesnt prohibit making false statements in general. You can cheat on your spouse without violating the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics; although you may have some answering to do with respect to certain other rules of behavior.

    Article 3 does not require that REALTORSreg; play well with others or even that they act civilly. What it does say, in full, is this:

    REALTORSreg; shall cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is not in the clients best interest. The obligation to cooperate does not include the obligation to share commissions, fees, or to otherwise compensate another broker.

    The specific sense of "cooperate" here is that the Realtorreg; will -- except when it is not in the interest of the principal -- share with other REALTORSreg; information about the property, its availability, and terms on which it is offered for sale. If compensation to other brokers is offered, those terms are to be spelled out.

    Like other Code of Ethics articles, the implications of Article 3 are fleshed out in a series of Standards of Practice. They all have to do with various disclosures and information about a listing. Regrettably, perhaps, none of them requires good manners or a helpful demeanor.
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    Understanding the quot;Tax Freequot; Exchange

    But real estate investors -- large and small -- still have to pay capital gains tax when they sell their investments. And since most investors depreciated their properties over a number of years, the capital gains tax can be quite large.

    There is a way of deferring payment of this tax, and it is known as a Like-Kind Exchange under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. And although Congress repealed this tax benefit for exchanges of personal property ndash; such as art work or airplanes ndash; it did not change anything for real estate exchanges.

    Keep in mind that the exchange process is not a "tax free" device, although people refer to it as a "tax-free exchange." It is also called a "Starker exchange" or a "deferred exchange." It will not >

    The rules are complex, but here is a general overview of the process.

    Section 1031 permits a delay non-recognition of gain only if the following conditions are met:

    First, the property transferred called ">

    Second, there must be an exchange; the IRS wants to ensure that a transaction that is called an exchange is not really a sale and a subsequent purchase.

    Third, the replacement property must be of "like kind." The courts have given a very broad definition to this concept. As a general rule, all real estate is considered "like kind" with all other real estate. Thus, a condominium unit can be swapped for an office building, a single family home for raw land, or a farm for commercial or industrial property.

    Once you meet these tests, it is important that you determine the tax consequences. If you do a like-kind exchange, your profit will be deferred until you sell the replacement property. However, the cost basis of the new property in most cases will be the basis of the old property. Discuss this with your accountant to determine whether the savings by using the like-kind exchange will make up for the lower cost basis on your new property.

    The traditional, >

    Congress did not like this open-ended interpretation, and in 1984, two major limitations were imposed on the Starker non-simultaneous exchange.

    First, the replacement property must be identified before the 45th day after the day on which the original >

    Second, the replacement property must be purchased no later than 180 days after the taxpayer transfers his original property, or the due date with any extension of the taxpayers return of the tax imposed for the year in which the transfer is made. These are very important time limitations, which should be noted on your calendar when you first enter into a 1031 exchange.

    In 1989, Congress added two additional technical restrictions. First, property located in the United States cannot be exchanged for property outside the United States.

    Second, if property received in a like-kind exchange between >

    In May of 1991, the Internal Revenue Service adopted final regulations which clarified many of the issues. Here are some of the major highlights:

    1. Identification of the replacement property within 45 days. According to the IRS, the taxpayer may identify more than one property as replacement property. However, the maximum number of replacement properties that the taxpayer may identify is either three properties of any fair market value, or any number of properties as long as their aggregate fair market value does not exceed 200 of the aggregate fair market value of all of the >

    2. Who is the neutral party? Conceptually, the >

    3. Interest on the exchange proceeds. One of the underlying concepts of a successful 1031 exchange is the absolute requirement that not one penny of the sales proceeds be available to the seller of the >

    Generally, the sales proceeds are placed in escrow with a neutral third party. Since these proceeds may not be used for the purchase of the replacement property for up to 180 days, the amount of interest earned can be significant.

    The IRS permits the taxpayer to earn interest -- referred to as "growth factor" -- on these escrowed funds. Any such interest to the taxpayer has to be reported as earned income. Once the replacement property is obtained by the exchanger, the interest can either be used for the purchase of that property, or paid directly to the exchanger.

    The rules are quite complex, and you must seek both legal and tax accounting advice before you enter into any like-kind exchange transaction.

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    How To Identify And Avoid Dangerous Hazards In Your Home

    Its safe to say that none of us is purposely making our homes a hazard. And, no matter how hard we try, accidents still happen. But there is nothing more important than protecting ourselves, our families, and our investment.

    "The home is supposed to be where you and your family are safe and protected but every year accident and emergency units deal with serious injuries and sometimes fatal accidents that occur in the home," said StaySafe. "It is not just children and the elderly that can come to harm in the home with things like chemicals and choke hazards. Accidents in the home claim 18,000 lives each year in America alone, "accounting for 21 million medical visits annually. Many of these accidents are preventable."

    These tips will uncover key areas where dangers typically lie and the simple maintenance involved in avoiding them.

    Dryer vents

    Thousands of fires are started in the home every year because of deferred maintenance >


    A third of all fatalities in the home are due to falls. A great number of them are >


    The thought of a young child being strangled due to hanging cords from window blinds is horrifying. But it happens. According to USA Today, "Injuries and death from window blind cords send two kids to emergency department each day." Eliminate the worry without having to give up the blinds by choosing a cordless version. They give you the look and room-darkening features you want with some added safety measures.

    Fire alarms

    Whens the last time you changed your fire alarm batteries? If you cant remember, youre obviously overdue. "Installnbsp;fire alarmsnbsp;on all levels of your home, and check and change the batteries at least annually," said safewise. "Consider investing in a smart smoke detector likenbsp;Nest Protect. This alarm uses Wi-Fi to provide real-time updates and remote monitoring right on your smartphone or other mobile device."

    A dirty oven

    Most ovens today have a self-cleaning feature. While its not enti>

    "A dirty oven can cause fires while cooking, allowing charred food or grease to ignite," said Home Security. "Clean your oven regularly and always attend food while cooking in the oven.

    Carbon monoxide poisoning

    Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because "its presence is not known until symptoms of the exposure are experienced," said Poison Control. "It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and potentially dangerous gas. You cant see it or smell it."

    Its typical for smoke detectors to be in homes, but despite the fact that a carbon monoxide detector can save lives, they are often left to the homeowner to purchase and install. "Each year in the United States, more than 200 accidental deaths are caused by carbon monoxide CO poisoning. It is considered the leading cause of death from poisoning in the United States."nbsp;Compare the most recommended units on The Spruce.

    Full Story >

    How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?

    Home alarm systems can be particularly hard to calculate into resale value or return on investment ROI because their job is to prevent loss rather than achieve gains. You purchase a home alarm system with the hope that you never need to use it.

    The reality is that a burglary is reported to police every 14.5 seconds. But robbery isnt the only thing that alarms can save you from. Smart alarms can detect smoke and hazards.

    More than ever, homeowners want to feel safe in their homes. A built-in alarm system may be just what it takes to get your house off the market.

    1. Alarm Systems Arent as Expensive as They Used to Be

    According to HomeAdvisors survey, most homeowners invest between 330-1,040 when purchasing and installing home alarm systems. However, with the advent of smart, connected technology, home security is more affordable than ever.

    Products like the Nest Cam Outdoor monitor your home in 1080p high definition video that you can access from your smartphone 24/7. This monitor also has a two-way audio feature, meaning you can use your voice to scare off intruders or give live instructions to a delivery service. Smart products allow you to monitor your home yourself, which cuts down the cost of hiring a security company to do the monitoring for you.

    Smart products send security alerts right to your phone, allowing you to act fast and take control. Monthly security subscriptions on smart products are usually a fraction of the cost of subscribing to a traditional security service.

    2. Add Resale Value

    Owning a safe and secure home is appealing to every home buyer, from frequent travelers to families. That means pre-installed cameras, smoke detectors, and smart locks can be huge selling points. The more convenient and easy-to-use the security, the better.

    One of the most desired security features for homeowners is motion sensor lighting over the driveway. Not only does it scare away late-night intruders, it also helps homeowners navigate in the dark. Buyers want added safety and convenience in their everyday lives, and the right security system can provide both.

    3. Home Security Lowers Neighborhood Crime

    In 2016, Rutgers University >

    Burglars are less likely to break into homes that are protected with home security, and that fact carries over when applied to entire neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods are highly desirable to homeowners and can help your home sell faster and at a higher price.

    4. Alarm Systems Can Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance

    If you financed your home with a mortgage, you are most likely required to have home insurance. While the price of home insurance varies, most companies offer discounts to homes with security systems.

    With a home monitoring system installed, you can save up to 20 on home insurance. Those savings can amount to hundreds of dollars per year or the cost of the security system all together.

    5. They Save Money in the Long Run

    Burglaries can cost you, not only in the possessions stolen from your home, but also in the damage that many homes incur during a burglary.

    Most burglars enter homes through the front or back door or first-floor windows, usually breaking them in the process. The cost of fixing a broken window or kicked-in door can be even more expensive than the valuables taken.

    It was found that when burglars enter homes with security systems, they are much more likely to leave quickly, taking fewer items with them.

    While security systems arent foolproof, they do offer the benefit of safety and security. Whether youre installing a system for yourself or for future homeowners, the peace of mind it offers is the ultimate ROI.

    Written By: Katy Caballeros

    Full Story >

    How to Say Goodbye to Renting and Hello to Home Ownership

    Focus on the Down Payment

    In order to leave the land of rent, you are going to need a down payment mdash; plain and simple. While it is common to put down 20 percent, some lenders now allow a much smaller amount, and first-time home buyer programs may go as low as 3 percent. While a smaller down payment may sound enticing, a 5 percent down payment on a 200K home is still 10,000 mdash; not exactly a small sum. If saving money does not come naturally for you, donrsquo;t worry. With some >

    Avoid Identity Theft

    Unfortunately, the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft increase when you are buying and moving into a new home. The stacks of documents that are part of buying a home and that are filled with your personal information may accidentally fall into the wrong hands, and once you move, mail may not be routed correctly and thieves may steal your mail and your identity from your old mailbox. Prevent this situation from happening by purchasing an identity theft protection program; find a trusted company that will help safeguard your personal data. In addition to letting you know when a bank pulls your credit report and asking if you have authorized this inquiry, certain services will monitor your financial activity and alert you if anything is amiss.

    Check Your Credit Report

    When you start the pre-approval process for a loan and then move on to the Big Kahuna of applying for an actual mortgage, your credit report will be pulled numerous times. Your credit score will then be used to determine if you are approved for a loan, and what type of interest rate you will get. Please do not wait until you have the down payment saved and you are champing at the bit to go look at houses to check your FICO score mdash; check your credit as early in the process as you can. If you have a credit card that has been issued through your bank, give them a call and see if they can run your report for you for free; in the cases of some credit cards, they also offer a free monthly FICO score check. Read through the report and check for any errors; this includes credit lines you never opened and delinquent payments that you know were made on time. Dispute any mistakes that you find and look for ways to boost your credit score, like paying down credit card bills and setting up automatic bill pay so you are never late with your payments.

    Full Story >

    Ready For Staging: 4 Repairs You Need Before Selling Your Home

    Update the Exterior

    The first thing that you will want to do is make sure that the homes exterior is in good condition. This may involve landscaping work such as removing trees or shrubs that are dead or dying. It may also involve inspecting the roof, siding or other exterior components that may need to be repaired or updated to make the house easier to sell. At the very least, a fresh coat of paint should be applied before putting the house on the open market.

    Check the Air Conditioning

    If you have a central air conditioning unit in your home, make sure that it works properly. This means that it should start easily and produce an even amount of cool air throughout the house.

    Ideally, you will have it inspected once a year by someone like Doctor Fix-It. However, inspecting it and making repairs prior to selling your home should be considered mandatory. It may also be a good idea to check the furnace and clean the ducts before you show the home to buyers.

    Make Sure the Floors Are Adequate

    Whether your home has wood floors or carpet, make sure that they are in good condition. If necessary, wax and clean the wood or put down new carpet in areas where it may be frayed or dirty. If you are going to replace your carpet, make sure that it is the same color and >

    Check the Plumbing and Electrical Systems

    Buyers arent going to want to put an offer on a home that has poor water pressure. They are also unlikely to want to make an offer on a home that has dangerous electrical wiring. If the fixes to either system are >

    Selling your home can be a great way to help you downsize or lock in profits. However, if the process is not done right, it could reduce the sale price of the home or result in the home staying on the market longer than you anticipated that it would.

    Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

    Full Story >

    What Kinds Of Mortgages Are Available?

    Once you have signed a contract for the purchase of your new home or condominium or cooperative apartment, and assuming you do not have all of the cash in your bank account, you will need to obtain a mortgage loan.

    There are many different loans on the market - and many different loan programs from which to choose. You should contact at least three different lenders, and ask them to give you a list of the loans which they can offer you. Take careful notes, and remember one important thing: do not give any lender any money until you are absolutely certain this is the lender - and this is the loan - you want to obtain.

    The three basic loan programs are as follows:

    1. Conventional: this type of loan in generally available from a bank, a mortgage broker, or a credit union. Within the category of conventional loans, there are various options available, such as a fixed 30 year loan, or an adjustable rate loan called an ARM.

    ARMs adjust on a periodic basis, although in most cases they will run for a period of thirty 30 years. Generally speaking, the shorter the term of the adjustment such as a one year ARM the lower the initial interest rate will be. However, when the adjustment period comes around, the interest rate for the next adjustment will either go up or down, depending on the economy at the time of the adjustment. When interest rates are falling, an ARM seems like a good deal. However, when interest rates are rising as they are now doing, the consumer who obtains a one-year ARM is almost guaranteed to see the interest rate hike as high as 2 percentage points at the end of the first year.

    This is not a complex issue, and all lenders have or should have a written explanation of the way their particular ARM works. Read it carefully and seek assistance from your financial and legal advisors if you have any questions.

    2. VA Loans: This type of loan is generally available from mortgage brokers, It is called a VA loan, since only military veterans can obtain such loans. They are guaranteed by the Veterans Administration. There are certain conditions which you must meet if you want a VA loan, and you should make sure that your potential lender provides you with all the details, up front.

    3. FHA loans: This loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA will guarantee the lender against a default by the borrower, but the borrower will have to pay an insurance premium for this coverage. Once again, there are conditions which must be met before such loans can be obtained, and you should discuss all these terms with the potential lender.

    It is not possible in a short article to fully discuss all the various mortgage loans on the market. Furthermore, creative lenders are always coming up with new programs in an effort to be competitive. However, not all these loans are in your best interest.

    You should shop around, and dont accept the first loan that is offered. While the real estate agent and often the seller may give you loan information - and the name of potential lenders - only you can make the final decision as to what is best for you. After all, remember that the life of the loan may be as long as 30 years and thats a long time to be stuck with an uncomfortable loan.
    Full Story >

    How To Get Free Money Or Make Easy Money For Your Down Payment

    Want to buy a house but short on cash to get the deal done? Its a common problem that is keeping countless potential buyers on the sidelines. "Money issues often stand in the way of homeownership," said Bankrate. "Anbsp;survey by rental service Apartment Listnbsp;found that 80 percent of millennial renters want to buy a home, but most say they cant afford to."

    A recent story in Apartment Therapy titled "How I Saved 40K in 5 Years for a Down Payment" piqued our interest. Their tip: Get a side hustle and sock all that money away. Those are some Impressive saving skills, but if youre saying to yourself, "I dont even want to wait five months, let alone five years", we have some tips that can help. None of them are quite as hardcore as working a second job late into the night but if youre just that committed, more power to ya. Instead, were focusing on ways to get free money or make easy money.

    Get down payment assistance

    Many people dont think about looking for down payment help beyond asking their parents, anyway. And many of those who do think about it dont realize they might be eligible. Yes, many grants and other programs are specifically for low income borrowers, but others have surprising income caps that could spell the difference between buying now and having to wait a while.

    "Grants and loans help you cover the upfront costs of purchasing a home," said NerdWallet. In Nevada, for example, prospective homeowners can qualify for a grant of up to 5 of their mortgage to put toward a down payment and closing costs. District of Columbia residents can qualify for a down payment assistance loan of up to 3.5 of their mortgage. The loan needs to be repaid only if you sell, refinance or vacate the property within the first five years. Help isnt reserved for low-income borrowers. Nevadas grant program is available to those with an annual income below 98,500. The D.C. program caps income eligibility at just over 132,000."

    Move your money around

    You may be aware of intro offers on credit cards that allow you to do a balance transfer to a lower or zero interest rate. While these are great options to take advantage of if you are trying to pay off an existing balance at a higher interest rate, be sure to check with a lender before you take on any new credit; if youre looking to buy a house soon, this could ding your credit and make it harder to get a loan.

    Credit cards arent the only place you can take advantage of great offers to save - or make - some money. Open a Chase Total Checking account and you could get a 200 bonus; a new savings account with them could add another 150 if you meet the requirements for both. Discover has a similar offer.

    Sell your stuff

    You might be shocked to learn how much you can make just by selling the stuff you already own - and probably dont want to take with you to your new place anyway. Garage sales can yield a couple hundred dollars, depending on the crowd and the goods. Craigs List is a great place to list items you dont want to let go of for a couple bucks at the crack of dawn on a Saturday. Everything from gold and other jewelry to silverware and old phones can be listed online. Furniture, art, and designer clothing can fetch more money at a consignment shop.

    Switch providers

    Seeing great deals out there for cable/satellite and Internet that are far better than what youre getting? Packages that offer super low prices to everyone but existing customers are frustrating. Dont be afraid to look around, even if youre planning a move in the next few months. Providers typically have a moving package that will allow you to transfer your service to your new address for free.

    If you called your existing provider and youre getting stonewalled, call again and ask for the loyalty department. Our recent call to DISH resulted in a 70 monthly savings and upgraded equipment at no cost. This was a far better deal 65 a month better, and no 100 new equipment fee than we were offered by customer service.

    Ask your boss for a flexible schedule

    Working from home one day a week can save on gas, tolls, and even daycare if youre in a situation where your young child could behave while youre working alongside her and your daycare will work with you on price for using them four days per week instead of five. Some employers will also allow you to work more flexible hours on a daily basis so you could leave in time to pick your child up from school and forgo after-school care. Letting them know youre saving for a house may help elicit the cooperation you need.

    Collect plastic bottles

    If you drink bottled water and are accustomed to putting all the bottles in your recycling bin, collect them and sell them back to make a little extra cash. Will it be life-changing money? No. But it may be enough to enjoy a meal out here and there during your super-saving mode, or pay for a few knickknacks after you move. "The number of bottles that recycling centers will pay per bottle depends on the type of plastic, as well as how many you have," said Small Business. "Michigan pays 10 cents a bottle whereas most other states pay anywhere from a few pennies to 5 cents for each bottle. Check with the recycling center that you intend to use for its rules. Some prefer that you keep caps on the bottles or if they dont accept them at all."

    Negotiate your closing costs into the deal

    This isnt exactly free money because you end up paying for the closing costs anyway albeit over 30 years, but if youre a little short on cash getting in, adding the closing costs into the mortgage could get you where you want to go faster. Even better: If the seller will pay the closing costs This could save you thousands of dollars upfront.

    Research alternative mortgages

    It could be that a different kind of loan than the traditional 30-year mortgage or FHA loan could greatly cut down on your down payment and also save you money monthly. USDA loans for homes located in certain rural areas may require no down payment. VA loans offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs "help active-duty military members, veterans and surviving spouses buy homes" with zero down payment, said Bankrate. HUDs Neighbor Next Door program "is designed to encourage renewal of revitalization areas by providing an opportunity for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and teachers to purchase homes in these communities," according to the HUD site. "HUD provides a substantial incentive in the form of a 50 discount off the list price of eligible properties."

    Full Story >

    Boomers Still Drive Canadas Housing Market

    Canadas baby boom generation isnt ready to stop buying and selling real estate, new data shows. In addition to purchasing their own primary and recreational homes, boomers are also helping millennials get into the market.

    "Dont count them out yet -- baby boomers will impact Canadas housing market in a big way in the coming years, as another 1.4 million of this large demographic are expected to sell and buy real estate between now and 2023," says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. A survey by the company found that of those planning to buy a home within the next five years, 45 per cent will purchase a detached home, 32 per cent will most likely purchase a condo and 10 per cent are looking for a semi-detached home.

    "Baby boomers affect the Canadian real estate market on multiple levels," says Brad Henderson, CEO of Sothebys Realty International of Canada. "As direct consumers who drive housing demand and product mix, as arbiters of market confidence and as indirect influencers through their financial support of the next generation of homebuyers."

    A recent Re/Max study found that 91 per cent of popular Canadian recreational markets are being driven by retirees. "Combined with the fact that Canadas senior population is the largest it has ever been, and many of these retirees are using recreational properties as retirement properties, pricing has increased across the majority of markets," says Christopher Alexander, EVP and regional director at Re/Max Integra.

    This is making it tougher for younger buyers. Re/Max says brokers in B.C. expect the market to shift from retirees to younger buyers within the next two to five years, while in Ontario the two age groups are competing for recreational properties.

    Recently Point2 Homes conducted a study that found most millennials greatly underestimate the amount of money they will need for a down payment on a home. The national average down payment is about 25,000 but 30 per cent of millennials say they have less than 10,000 in savings and 10 per cent said they have no savings at all.

    The survey says 66 per cent of millennials interested in buying a home want to do so within the next year, but 35 per cent say they are saving less than 10 per cent of their income each month and 30 per cent of respondents say they only save between 10 and 20 per cent.

    The report concludes that even if they can save 20 per cent of their income each month, millennials starting from scratch would need between 14 and 35 years to save enough for a down payment in the countrys seven most expensive markets, including five Metro Vancouver communities and Oakville and Richmond Hill in Ontario.

    It would take about 4.6 years to save enough in Toronto. But on the bright side, there are 40 Canadian cities where millennials could save for a down payment in less than a year, led by Timmins, Ont. Other cities in this group include Quebec City, Edmonton, Halifax, Gatineau, Que., Regina and Saskatoon, Sask.

    However, the Point2 report says the majority of millennials do not yet meet the minimum requirements to qualify for a down payment on a home. Thats where their boomer >A Sothebys report from data gathered last year says one-third of boomers in Canadas four major metropolitan centres plan to, or have already, given a living inheritance to help >Calgary boomers are apparently the most generous, with 41 per cent of boomers planning to help >The median amount gifted for real estate is between 25,000 and 50,000. The median age of those receiving the gift is 30 to 34. Forty-four per cent of those receiving the gifts would not have been able to make their home purchase without the help, and one-third of givers say that without the gift, the beneficiary would not have been able to secure a conventional mortgage.

    Royal LePages 2017 research "into the largest group of first-time home buyers in Canada, which we call the peak millennials, showed many were roosting in the family nest well beyond the traditional age of exit," says Soper. He says the new boomer survey confirmed that boomers are allowing their children to stay at home well into adulthood, but "they wont stay forever, and when they go, the folks are going to go condo shopping."

    Royal LePage says that the boomers who are buying homes for themselves are interested in smaller cities and recreational areas. "This large segment of our population views our big cities as generally unaffordable for retirement purposes," says Soper.

    The survey found that 77 per cent of boomer homeowners have paid off more than 50 per cent of their mortgage and 61 per cent have paid off more than 90 per cent.

    "This is a generation that deeply values home ownership and very much wants their children to have the same opportunity," says Soper.
    Full Story >

    Crunching The HOA Budget

    Fall is the time when most homeowner associations count last years costs and crunch next years numbers hoping to squeeze blood out of the HOAs turnip. Often its so dry, there isnt even any turnip juice left much less any O positive. But crunch you must. Here are some of the ways to make the cash flow more freely.

    Adjust by Inflation. This is a no brainer. Check the area Consumer Price Index - CPI governmentese for "tax increase" and raise all budget items by at least that amount. An exception is utilities which often enjoy a larger rate increase based on the utilities the utility companies expect not to sell added to the cost of maintaining antiquated power generation plants plus a fudge factor they hope to slip by the utility rate commission a bit of budget humor.

    Add a Contingency aka Slush Fund. A contingency is 5-10 of the total budget which is used to either cover all those things you forgot to include or could not foresee.

    Looking Back for Future Savings. Next years budget should be based on prior years actual expenses. Do a side by side comparison of the last three years actual costs. You may learn something like seeing large and unnoticed utility cost variances. You may catch a cost savings that got passed by unscrutinized.

    Leave Out Potential Income. Late fees may not happen so dont count on them. Besides, its a bit insulting to plan on owner delinquency.

    Assign Expenses by Category.

    1. Administrative. Management Contract, Legal, Reserve Study, Accounting, Office Supplies, Postage

    2. Utilities. Water/Sewer, Electrical, Phone, Gas, Cable amp; Internet

    3. Maintenance. Landscape Contract, Gutter Cleaning, Pool Maintenance, Elevator Maintenance, Janitorial.

    4. Reserve Contribution. To fund painting, roofing, fencing, etc. See Reserve Study for details.

    Itemize Significant Expenses. Its important to know where significant monies are being spent. For example, rather than lumping everything into "General Repairs" divide it among "Plumbing Repairs", "Electrical Repairs" and "General Repairs". If this hasnt be done in the past, start doing it in the future. In other words, when a significant bill is paid, assign it a proper description so that next year the Budget Committee can assess whether there is a trend.

    Reserve Intelligently. Reserves are funds collected to pay for periodic maintenance and repair to roofs, siding, paint, pools and other common area components. Its critical that these >

    Include Board Education. While the board members are unpaid volunteers, the HOA should invest in educating them to improve their performance. Subscribe to The Regenesis Report, a monthly HOA management newsletter at Its free, informative and will return enormous dividends as director competence improves.

    Other Cost Cutting Hints:

    Irrigation Water Costs. Does your system have a rain override that kills the sprinkling cycle when appropriate? You would be amazed how cheap this technology is. Budget for and get it installed before the next irrigation season.

    Control Pool Temperature. A solar blanket can pay for itself very quickly. A 3-5 degree reduction in pool temperature heating can result in significant savings.

    Solar Pool Water Heating. A pool is one of the HOAs biggest energy hogs. Solar heating can significantly reduce this cost and pay for itself in a few short years.

    Lighting Conservation. Swap common area lighting for LED lights. Add solar or clock devices to control exterior lighting.

    Pay for leaky faucets and toilets. Even though fixing unit owner plumbing is not an HOA responsibility, the resulting water bill is.

    Install Programmable Thermostats. For common hallways and clubhouses, these inexpensive controls can slash heating and cooling costs.

    Xeriscape. This concept reduces landscape turf area in favor of local, drought resistance bushes, plants and ground covers. Besides reducing or eliminating mowing costs, water savings are impressive.

    Crunching the budget is not near as hard as you thought, now is it? When you see the savings pile up, that "crunch" will sound oh so sweet.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

    Full Story >

    Retirement Housing: Fixing Big Problems with Tiny Solutions

    You go out and start searching for a home to last you through your golden years. Unfortunately, finding a place is much tougher than you expected. You look all over town only to discover that all the senior living options are either depressing or prohibitively expensive or both.

    You agonize over the Sophiersquo;s choice of paying for housing or preserving your lifersquo;s savings for your family. When you finally move into your new senior living center, yoursquo;re treated like a child. You have to live under their rules. No pets. No alcohol. No overnight guests. No sweets. They decide when you wake up and go to sleep. In the final years of your life, yoursquo;ve lost your autonomy.

    With such miserable alternatives, aging in place is surging in popularity. Perhaps for lack of other reasonable options, many seniors try to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Eleven million elderly Americans now live alone and those aging in place can suffer from social isolation. Lonely seniors are at increased risk for depression, dementia, and death. Since families are scattered far away, children worry whether grandma is lonely. Is she safe? Who will look after her if she falls ill?

    Fortunately, hope is on the horizon: affordable tiny houses. Instead of a bleak retirement home or assisted living facility, now imagine living in your own, customized tiny house. Everything is ADA-compliant and designed for you. Doorways accommodate your walker, cabinets are a snap to open, and everything is within reach.

    The commode, kitchen, and shower are fully accessible. Upper-level storage is automated and springs to life at the touch of a button. Pets, chocolate cookies, and overnight guests are allowed. It is your home, after all

    You make the rules and preserve your dignity. Herersquo;s how it works. Geriatric specialists partner with builders to create a fleet of tiny homes tailored for seniors. They are designed from the ground up for folks with physical limitations. Then, each buyer is individually evaluated and the unit is further customized to his or her particular needs.

    Finally, the houses are outfitted with easy to use sensors and voice assistants capable of calling family, monitoring the home, and contacting emergency services. Once the home is built, it can be transported to wherever yoursquo;d like to live. For instance, these homes can be installed in the yards of family members as a detached in-law unit.

    Grandparents can live near grandkids, which is perfect for childcare or tea. Yet, everyone has their space and privacy. Alternatively, homes can be arranged as a senior living community complete with friends and activity centers. Senior loneliness can be a thing of the past Itrsquo;s time to think about customized and affordable tiny homes for our loved ones struggling with housing in their golden years.


    Gregory Charlop is a technology pioneer, author, childrenrsquo;s physician, and social entrepreneur. He brings real estate and technology experts together to solve societys toughest problems. Greg is particularly focused on improving senior housing and is currently writing a book about technology and the future of the real estate industry.

    Greg is the host of The Real Estate Flash, a free daily news and opinion flash briefing available on Amazon Alexa devices. Enable the Flash on your Alexa and check out the show

    Greg is also CEO of Visionary Remodels. He is developing a real estate app that uses augmented reality to help real estate agents prepare homes for sale. You can check out Visionary Remodels anytime.

    Greg is also a speaker at real estate and technology meetings. You can contact Greg on his LinkedIn page.

    Full Story >

    Code Of Ethics: Its Not The Boy Scout Oath

    Some years ago, I participated in a meeting of NAR National Association of REALTORSreg; directors from our state. To put it mildly, we -- a sizeable group -- were being admonished with respect to what had become a common problem. That is, too many directors were guilty of leaving meetings early, having made travel arrangements that were a convenient and b predictably incompatible with the likely time for adjournment. One of the directors there scolded the guilty ones because they, as REALTORSreg;, were supposedly committed to a Code of Ethics and, su>In previous writings we have tried to show that the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics is not simply an arbitrary set of rules, disconnected from everyday morals and ethics, meant to govern the behavior of REALTORSreg; as they pursue their profession. Rather, the Code, so to speak, grows out of our everyday ethical codes. It gives application of general ethical imperatives to the out-of-the-ordinary and specific situations found in the transaction of real estate business.

    In that respect, the Realtorreg; Code is similar to other professional codes that are designed to give guidance to those who find themselves in ethically-charged situations not experienced in everyday life.

    The Realtorreg; Code, like other professional codes, is intended to supplement general ethical principles, not to supplant them. It is not the Boy Scout Oath. It does not, like that oath, require that its adherents be "morally straight." Confounding as it may be, its conceivable that a person could be a Code-compliant, professionally-ethical Realtorreg;, while all the while being a bit of a scound>Some years ago, a California Realtorreg; was found by a Hearing Panel to have violated Article 1 of the Code of Ethics. A buyers agent, he stole a bottle of wine from a listing. The act was recorded by a security camera. When contacted, the agent acknowledged his guilt and returned the bottle of wine. An Ethics Hearing found that the agents act violated the Article 1 duty to treat all parties to the transaction honestly.

    My reaction to this true story is that, to be sure, he did something both morally and legally wrong, but doing something wrong is not in and of itself a violation of the Code of Ethics. Moreover, I did not think that the act of stealing from someone is not, by itself, an act of dishonesty. Certainly, dishonesty may be involved in some thefts. Hence, I think that this is an example of trying to make the Code do too much. And I think we should avoid that.

    My dear friend and colleague, Duane Gomer, disagrees with me. He thinks it was a case of dishonesty, and that the Hearing Panel got it right. Now, Duane is a real estate educator and something of a guru. I always pay attention to what he says; but I cant agree with him on this one. What say you?
    Full Story >

    Has Blue Become A Neutral? Heres How To Use It In Your Home

    Feeling blue? Youre not alone. The color is hotter than ever - so much so that its being called a "neutral" by interior designers and color specialists. Move over, beige. Theres a new contender in town.

    "They used to take a backseat, but todays neutrals are leading the way in unexpected directions," said House Beautiful. "Lilac, navy, and Etruscan red join the ranks of white, grey, and beige - and the result couldnt be more stunning.

    Here are eight ways to use the color in your home.

    Paint one room

    While you may not want to paint an entire interior in navy, deep, rich blue looks great in a dining room, master bedroom, or home office. The bigger the room, the taller the ceilings, the more expansive the windows, the better.

    Refurb a hand-me-down

    That antique dresser or sideboard that once belonged to your great-grandmother doesnt have to sit in storage. Get out the paintbrush and transform it into something youre proud to show off.

    Bring >

    Drapes are a low-commitment item but one that can help bring a room together or provide a little punch of color and >Embolden your bathroom

    White, shmite. If youre thinking of painting your cabinets, consider blue in just about any hue. It brings a freshness to the space and contrasts beautifully with the white youre probably looking at for the shower, bath, and countertops.

    Go "ba>

    While deeper shades bring the mood, just a whisper of the color allows you to go blue without veering too far from your comfort zone. "According to designerJonathan Rose, for a house in the country or by the sea, aqua is the new white and is the perfect complement to greenery or an ocean view," said House Beautiful. "The idea is for the wall color to be quiet so it can blend seamlessly with the outdoors. This blue-green is a pastel with personality. Keep the overall feeling serene with light floors, white trim, a touch of deeper aqua, and a few dark accents to anchor the room."

    Think like a fashionista

    Many home trends originate on the runway. If you take a look at how the fashion world thinks about the color blue, you can translate the idea to home. "Its one of thefashion neutral colors," said LiveAbout. "That means it can be worn with any other color, so its a very handy color for mix-and-match purposes. Navy blue jackets or trousers are good examples of wardrobe staples that mix well with other separates."

    Make a statement with your sofa

    Yes, conventional wisdom says you might be better off with a neutral sofa and color on the pillows, which can be more easily changed out. But if blue is actually considered a neutral now, why not just go big with your one of the main furniture pieces in your living space?

    Express yourself with art

    Again, if youre just not ready to make such a large color commitment, but you want to ease blue into your dcor, the walls are a great place to start. Go oversized with a floral or abstract for an attention-getting display.
    Full Story >

    Go West...Err, Midwest, To The Hottest Housing Markets In The Country

    Call it "The Heartland." Or "Americas Breadbasket." However you choose to refer to the area between the Rockies and the Appalachians, you can also assign an important new descriptor: Home to Americas hottest housing markets. In the latest market report from, California cities that once dominated the list have been replaced by several Midwestern cities, like Fort Wayne, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan.

    "Fast-growing Midwest markets are overtaking pricy California cities on property search websiterealtor.coms hottest markets report, which looks at the areas of the country in which properties are selling at the fastest rates by days on market," said Inman. "The July listnamed seven midwest markets and five in California."

    So whats responsible for the geographical shift? Blame or credit continually rising prices and inventory issues, which is driving homebuyers to less costly markets.

    "With the median home list price hovering at a record level, affordable markets are very attractive for buyers, which is contributing to the popularity of many Midwestern markets," chief economist Danielle Hale said in a statement, per Inman. "Although construction is increasing in many regions, inventory remains scarce due to strong buyer demand and years of underbuilding. Even these affordable markets run the risk of what weve seen elsewhere if they arent able to keep pace with new construction."

    Added Mansion Global: "The shift to the Midwest underscores the severity of the housing shortage in some areas, where developers have built very little besides high-end homes since the Great Recession."

    The list is based on listing views and median days on market. "Properties in the 20 markets chosen moved 17 to 30 days more quickly than homes in the rest of the country," said Inman. "Homes in these 20 markets spent four days fewer on the market on average than this time a year ago. Listing views were 1.8 times higher than the national average and 16 percent higher than last year."

    The No. 1 market on the list remainsWest Texas oil town Midland, Texas - the fourth month in a row the city has been at the top. "With rising fortunes in the West Texas oil patch, demand for homes is booming in Midland and houses sell in less than a month on average," said the Dallas Morning News.

    At No. 2 is Fort Wayne, Indiana, followed by Boise City, Idaho; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California; Columbus, Ohio; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan; Racine, Wisconsin; Vallejo-Fairfield, California; and Rochester, New York. Janesville-Beloit, Wisconsin; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts; Pueblo, Colorado; and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan are also in the top 20.

    "Formerly depressed areas of the country, particularly in the Midwest Rust Belt, have watched prices soar over the past year as more homebuyers are entering markets where theres been very little new home building since the housing bust of 2008-09," said Mansion Global. "The situation in Boise highlights the severity of Americas affordable housing shortage. Arecent studyby the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, found there are 10 times more buyers looking for a home in Boise than available homes for sale. Median days on market was down to only 34 days."
    Full Story >

    6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

    Were coming to the end of summer, and that means that families seeking to buy a new home before school starts have likely already done their thing. But that doesnt mean youre out of luck if youre looking to sell. Whether youre just getting ready to list your home or havent had any bites on your existing home for sale, these tips will get it - and you - moving.

    Price it right

    This is the most obvious, but also the most contentious, tip when it comes to selling a home. Everyone wants top dollar. But rule No. 1 about a house that isnt selling is to lower the price. Likewise, listing a house now at an unreasonable price likely wont get you the sale youre looking for, especially when kids go back to school and sales naturally slow down. ABC News has a good piece on how to tell if your home is overpriced, butif its not selling, and your showings are limited, and your real estate agent has already talked to you about this maybe more than once, including when you first discussed the list price, you probably already know why its not selling.

    Heres how to get past the disappointment of having to list your home at a lower price than you want or lower it when its sitting on the market: Your ultimate goal is to get the home sold and get on with your life, right? Maybe that means buying a larger home. Perhaps youre looking to downsize or even move out of state. Whatever your plans, youre delaying them by letting your home stay on the market.

    Every month it doesnt sell is another month youre in a holding pattern. And, it means youre spending more money on carrying costs if youve already moved to a new home before your old one has sold. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what your happiness or peace of mind is worth. Chances are its more than the money youll miss out on if you sell for less. Once youve come to that realization, it should be easier to make a price adjustment.

    Choose the right REALTORreg;

    Another "Duh" statement here. But the reality is that the right agent can make or break your sale. You may be inclined to list your home with a friend whos just getting into the business or a cousin twice removed due to family pressure, but consider this move carefully. When youre dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner who has the knowledge and experience to navigate professionally and successfully through every step of what can be a very complicated process. While your pal or >Paint your front door

    We all know the value of curb appeal, so getting your front yard in order is a must-do when listing your home. If its not selling, perhaps a little more sprucing up out front is in order. But dont skip your front door while youre trimming bushes and laying down new mulch. A refreshed or new, if needed front door regularly tops the list of improvements providing a good return on investment on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. Its an easy DIY update, too.

    But, before you run off to buy paint, carefully consider the color. Choose wrong and you could turn off buyers. Choose right and you could actually get more for your home.

    "When it comes to paint color, homeowners may have reason to go back to black. Houses with front doors in shades of black - from charcoal to jet - fetched 6,271 more than expected when sold, said MarketWatch. "Pops of color are especially important for front doors. It often forms the first impression in a prospective home buyers mind and can determine how they will view the rest of the property when touring a home. A door paint in a popular color can help make buyers feel that the property is well cared for."

    Take half the stuff out of your closets

    Yes, your overstuffed closet can kill a sale. If a potential buyer feels like they wont have enough space for their stuff, they wont be a potential buyer for long.

    Put your personal stuff - and your personal taste - away

    "Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Youll have to do it eventually anyway when you move, and buyers tend to have a hard time seeing past personal effects. You dont want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they cant do that if yours are there," said The Balance. "This goes for furniture items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share your taste, so if you have your bright red sofascreams, "Im unique" you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to stick with your more understated pieces."

    Keep your emotions out of it

    Selling your home can be an emotional experience, especially if it was your first home or its otherwise filled with memories. But emotions can get in the way of a home sale, and waylay your objective, which is to move up or move on.

    "Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the homes owner," said Investopedia. "By looking at the transaction from a pu
    Full Story >

    What to Expect When Getting Pre-Approved

    What about other debt? What sort of monthly payments are you obligated to pay each month? The loan officer would then take that information, plug in current market rates back in 1981 the average 30 year rate hovered around 17. No, really and give you an amount you can qualify for. Maybe even the loan officer typed up a prequalification letter you could carry around.

    Not anymore. If all you have is a prequalification letter itrsquo;s possible your real estate agent will ask that you go back to your loan officer and get pre-approved. The terms do sound somewhat alike but sellers, lenders and real estate agents alike know the difference.

    A preapproval ups the qualification game by verifying the conversation you had with your loan officer. Instead of a conversation over the phone, yoursquo;ll be asked to submit a completed loan application. The key word here is ldquo;complete.rdquo; Well, almost. You donrsquo;t have a property picked out yet so yoursquo;ll leave that part blank. What you can expect to provide is proof of your income instead of a conversation. This means the most recent copies of your pay check stubs. To make sure yoursquo;ve been working for at least two years, your W2 statements for the last two years will also be reviewed.

    If yoursquo;re self-employed, you may not have pay check stubs. Regardless, yoursquo;ll need to provide your last two years of income tax returns, both personal and business.

    In addition, a year-to-date profit and loss statement should also be prepared. This Pamp;L doesnrsquo;t necessarily have to be completed by an accountant or otherwise certified, you can put one together on your own if you want.

    Regarding your credit history, yoursquo;ll also be asked to sign a Borrowerrsquo;s Authorization form which allows the lender to pull your credit report and credit scores. Yoursquo;ll need funds for a down payment and closing costs so copies of recent bank statements must be at the ready.

    In short, you need to get your preapproval application to the point where all you need is a property to buy along with a signed sales contract. Now, not only can you shop in confidence, but the sellers and the sellerrsquo;s real estate agent can put you at the top of the list when considering your offer.

    Today, absolutely everyone should be shopping for a home with a solid preapproval letter in hand. Therersquo;s no question about it.

    Full Story >

Updated: Friday, September 21, 2018

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