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Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2019

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

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

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

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

Flower by Drew Barrymore

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home size

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

Number of bedrooms

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

Move-in ready

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

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


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5 Tips to Save Time Setting up Your Christmas Decorations

1. Buy a Christmas Tree With the Decorations Already On

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

2. Have It Organized

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

3. Cut Down

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

4. Do Outside Decorating Earlier

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

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

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

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


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Inspection vs. AVM vs. Appraisal

A property inspection is ordered by the buyers. While not required by a lender, its certainly excellent advice and buyers should order an inspection very early in the process. A property inspector will physical examine the property from head to toe noting the functionality of various parts of the home. The inspector will flip light switches, turn on the oven and cycle the dishwasher among a host of others. If any issues pop up, the inspector makes note.nbsp;

Where do you find an inspector? Your real estate agent can provide you with a list of inspectors they have worked with before and recommend. You can choose from this list or find one on your own. However, its the agent that knows the quality of work of each inspector, making sure your property is properly inspected.nbsp;

Many of the items are those that need some attention but wont affect financing. However, when major repairs are needed, the lender might want to have those issues addressed before any funding will take place. If the inspector details a bad roof, the property appraisal will also take note. Minor problems can be taken care of after the sale by the buyers, but some issues must be addressed upfront. A full appraisal calls these issues deferred maintenance items.

Once the inspection has been completed and reviewed, the lender can order an appraisal. The lender wont want to order an appraisal at the outset but wait for the delivery of the inspection. If ordered right away and you have to pay for one upfront, its possible the condition of the home isnt up to conventional standards and the lender cant place a loan on the property.

An Automated Valuation Model, or AVM, is a digital evaluation of the value of a home. An AVM will quickly research the database of similar homes in the area and compare them with the value of the subject property. Many equity loans only need an AVM. When a loan is submitted for an automated approval, the approval will state if an AVM is the proper report required.

An appraisal is also a valuation tool for a subject property but in this instance a licensed appraiser will physically visit the property as well as research recent sales of similar homes in the area. The appraisal can be exterior only or a full appraisal. Again, the automated approval will state which is required. A complete appraisal contains information on both the exterior as well as the interior. Pictures are taken and included with the final report. Most often the appraisal is confused with an inspection because with an appraisal the property is indeed inspected by a licensed appraisal.


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Can Landlords Manage Rental Property From Out of State?

Why buy out-of-state property?

Each landlord has a different reason for managing property out of state. You might have a piece a property in a popular vacation area, which can be a lucrative opportunity. Some landlords may also be looking to spread their properties around the country, or they might purchase property with the intention to retire there later in life. If you have recently moved to a different state, you may choose to keep your properties instead of selling.

What challenges can you expect while owning out-of-state property?

One of the main challenges of renting out homes and apartments in other states is local laws. You will need to understand landlord-tenant laws, property taxes, building codes, and other municipal regulations. You will likely need to find a lawyer in the area to work with. It may also be challenging to understand the neighborhoods in the city where you own property. Unless you lived there in the past, you will need to do research on the local schools, activities, and businesses in the areas where you are renting out homes.

How can you handle tenant >

Tenant-landlord >

When it comes to finding the right tenants for your units, an online rental application form can be an excellent resource. You can get basic information and interview tenants without needing to be there in person. And if conflict arises, its essential to be accessible by phone and email. Strong communication skills can compensate for a lack of physical presence.

When should you hire a property manager?

One of the best ways to responsibly rent out properties in a different state is to hire a property manager. However, because this is an investment, you should consider some factors. Landlords who do not have the time to devote to managing their own properties or those who own many properties could benefit from property management services. If the cost of property management fits comfortably into your budget, then it can also be worth the investment. A property manager will understand local laws and the local housing market. They can also be a great resource for managing tenant >
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5 Designer Tips on How to Mix and Match Furniture

Dont stress by following only a few tips, you will be able to easily shape and >

Allow yourself to indulge and buy a few signature pieces and accessories to fill in the gaps in your designs and you will have a space you will be happy to call your home.

1.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Choose a >

When you begin your journey of design and mix-and-matching furniture, the first thing you should always consider is if you like what you are creating and if your space represents you. The area in which you are designing should resemble your own personal taste in >

By doing so, the end product of your journey will be one you love. It will inspire you to make your styling journey an ongoing one and to stay active creatively.

2.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Mix and Match Your color like You Mix and Match Your Furniture

As chic as an all-white bedroom seems, with pure white goose feather filled pillows and seashell pinch pleated curtains, why not add some bright and exciting colours like blue and pink to give the room character.

In a room that is filled with light shades like white and grey, try popping in a lounge chair with a velvet pink or purple color to give it personality. Or, if you have an office that is crying out dullness with its infinite amount of dark tan wood, fill up a bookcase with accessories of earth-like colours such as dark green to build charm.

Keep in mind that too much color will cause the space to look cluttered, so limit your color palette. For example, in a bedroom try coordinating the nightstand, dresser and bed with the lighting, window treatment and artwork. Then, allow freedom of color throughout the rest of the bedroom.

3.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Be Aware of Space

If the room you are designing has too little in it, it will look plain and unstimulating. On the other hand, a room too full will feel crowded and messy. Find that balance and you will walk into a room that will fill you with comfort and embolden you.

When mix and matching furniture, be wary of scale. If you have a couch that is quite large and has square-like features, sit a thin-legged round side table next to it. The visual weight between a strong build and a petite structure will be complimentary.

4.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Take Advantage of Texture

Leftover, you have a wooden dresser, a silver-lined round mirror and a geometric glass candle holder. Three completely different textured types of furniture, how could you possibly fit these into your home to make use of them? You may think were crazy, but, put them all together.

When furniture and accessories placed beside each other all have the same texture, your eyes tend to simply glaze over. But when you place a textured object in the space, the elements pop

5.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Accessorise to Characterise

The ultimate and easiest way to successfully mix and match your furniture is through accessories.

Ensure the accessories are adding >

By following these tips, your mix and matching journey should not only be fun and lead to an end product that embodies who you are, but itll give you confidence to invite people to your home and to make use of the new space you have created.


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The Power of SEO How to Grow Your Online Presence

What is SEO?

When a user searches a keyword, Google presents them with a ranked list of results. Those links have been evaluated and ranked by an algorithm for popularity, >

To put it simply, SEO is how you refine your online presence to make it rank higher in the search results, and thus be more visible to the people youre trying to reach.nbsp;

How to Use SEO

The big search engines like Google and Yahoo are constantly evaluating websites and adjusting their rankings. Theyre looking at factors like keywords, the quality of a websites user experience, the type of content it offers, and its nuts and bolts aspects like URLs, images, security, and viewability to decide how useful that website would be to search users. So it stands to reason that youll want to adjust those aspects of your website to improve your ranking. Lets cover a few of the most important in more detail.

Leveraging Keywords

Lets start with the basics. Keywords are going to be the foundation of your SEO efforts, because keywords are how your users are going to find you.

Think of it as a matchmaking exercise. Your ideal customers are out there, looking for you, and to find you, theyre searching for various keywords. In order to connect with those ideal customers, you have to discover those keywords, and incorporate them into your website. Only then will those searches start landing on your site, which will lead to those customers clicking through.nbsp;

Whether youre trying to rank for a keyword like sell my house if youre in the real estate space or 1031 exchange in the investing space, its important to update your articles regularly to ensure they have correct information and are the best results possible, so Google will list them first.nbsp;

An important note on keyword research: many businesses put a lot of effort into keyword research in the beginning, and then never go back to it. Then they wonder why their web traffic plateaus. Google is constantly adjusting their search algorithm, which means that websites have to adapt if they want to maintain their ranking. Remember that keyword research is a constant, ever-evolving process.nbsp;

High Quality Content

As recently as a few years ago, SEO was seen mostly as a struggle to get users onto your website: raw clicks were king, and what users did after that initial clickthrough was more or less ir>

Google now measures how long users stay on your website after they click through. If too many users bounce right back to the search results after a few seconds, your site will likely be designated as low quality, and its ranking will sag.

So how do you get users to stay on your site? Theres no magic bullet here: if you want users to stay on your website, you have to offer that high quality content. Listicles and short videos wont get the job done in 2019: today, with so much consumer web traffic being driven by cost-conscious and community-minded millennials, the best way to hold onto eyeballs is to provide rich, informative, educational content.

One of the best ways to do that is with longform content. This might seem counterintuitive in an era of reduced attention spans, but the numbers show that most users today want to be educated, and that many websites are seeing great results with pieces of 2,000 words or even longer.

Dense Internal Linking

Another way to boost your SEO is with internal linking. This is effective for two reasons.

One, SEO is an inexact science, and user behavior is hard to predict. Once a user clicks on your link, they may realize that the page they landed on doesnt offer exactly what theyre looking for. But if youve provided a sidebar of >

Second, even that initial click got the user exactly what they were looking for, the right selection of internal linking can entice them to spend more time on your site. Not only does this increase brand awareness for you, but Google notices when users click deeper into a site, and incorporates this information into your authority rating. And having a strong authority rating puts you on the fast track to the top of the rankings.

A Pleasant User Experience

Theres never been more competition for consumer eyeballs. So how your content looks and reads is as important as the substance of that content. If your website is unsightly or clunky, your customers wont hesitate to click over to a competitor.nbsp;

If youre going to follow the trend toward longer content, make sure that your content is readable and unintimidating. Think short paragraphs, punchy sentences, and plenty of white space to give your pages visual appeal. Also consider incorporating visual aids like infographics and short videos to make the material more digestible.

Dont forget to optimize the nuts and bolts of your website, too. Make sure your site is crawlable by properly naming images, making links >

Be Patient

Above all, keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process, and a long one. Google adjusts its algorithm hundreds of times a year, so the results of your SEO adjustments will take a little time to gain traction. Some experts estimate that it can take a full year for the benefits of an SEO campaign to impact your rankings.nbsp;

Refining your sites SEO is like climbing a mountain. Be diligent, be consistent, and be patient, keep moving upwards, step by step, and before long, the top will be in sight.


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Co-Signing? Consider These Points

The first is realizing what happens if someone you co-signed for defaults on a loan. A lender typically wont foreclose on a property until two or three payments are showing up as more than 30 and 60 days past the due date. A single late payment wont start foreclosure proceedings but more often than not when these payments become seriously delinquent the co-signer remains in the dark until things start to deteriorate rapidly. If you co-sign, make sure you get copies of monthly statements for the mortgage and monitor them closely.

Another thing to consider >

Opening up new credit accounts will also affect your credit balances. By co-signing on a mortgage, the new payment, including principal and interest, taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance when needed, will be tacked on to your own personal debt. Should you decide to apply for a new mortgage or other larger purchase on credit, the amount you currently owe can affect whether or not you can obtain an approval.nbsp;

Maybe a gift would be a better option? To help someone qualify by co-signing, youre just as responsible for the mortgage as the primary borrower. Instead of co-signing, and you have the funds available, consider providing some financial assistance in the form of a gift. This would lower the amount borrowed and make it easier to qualify. Providing a gift also leaves out any longer-term solution. Co-signing means youre on the existing note. A gift can help but doesnt affect your credit lines. And if you do agree to co-sign, ask if this would be a long or short term situation. Do the primary borrowers need help as it >

And one final note here about co-signing. If one or both of the primary borrowers has damaged credit, co-signing wont help. When there are multiple borrowers on the same application, lenders use the lowest middle credit score of all the borrowers. If your credit score is 780 and their qualifying score is 500, you credit wont help. The lender will use the 500 as the qualifying score and likely headed for a turn-down.


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Are You Buying For The Right Reasons?

In the push to buy, have you stopped to decide what is driving you into homeownership in the first place?
With this in mind, are you sure youre well equipped to buy whats best for you?

The U.S. Census Bureau census.gov, which recently >

percent.nbsp;

Of the nearly 123 million occupied housing units in the US, almost 57 percent of them are owner occupied.
Although homeownership rates were highest in the Midwest 69.0 percent, homeownership levels have not statistically differed from rates a year ago in the Midwest, Northeast, and West.

Homeownership is valued and is a persistent trend, but not an escalating one. Existing homeowners bought for a variety of reasons over a wide time frame. Some love where they are and what they bought; some are disgruntled; some are planning to move again for reasons that matter to them.

What is your main reason for buying a house? That is, how will owning a home improve your life and that of your family?

Six Top Reasons For Buying A Home

Prioritize the following list of Six Top Reasons For Buying A Home to clarify exactly why you are buying real estate and how to do it well:

1: To Gain More Living Space

Has your family expanded or are you launching a home-based venture? Or, do you just love the idea of room to spread out, inside and outside? Space costs money, so if you want to keep costs down, smaller is better. How have you arrived at your desired square footage? Just following the pack or is it based on experience? Clarify whether you need more space for living and sharing or for storing your ultimately-expendable stuff.

Reality Tip: Good design is more valuable than square footage. Cleverly-designed traffic flow, room placement, storage utilization, lighting including windows and skylights, and interior decor including furnishings can make a small house feel like a spacious home. The more you learn about how good design pays off, the more effectively you can evaluate the true value of any property you view.

2: To Further Career amp; Income Development

If a location puts you near work, clarify how stable the employer and your job are. However, if mobility and career flexibility are essential to your chosen profession, buying a home now may not be the best plan. If career research confirms that you may have to move out of the area in a few years to get ahead, you might not recoup the cost of buying and maintaining a home in that short ownership period. Renting may be the best approach.

Reality Tip: If you love this location and hope to return to it when your career is established, buy now and rent out the house while your career takes you away. This property can function as collateral for buying more real estate and will provide income and equity-building potential. If you love the location, this strategy may keep you from being squeezed later out if area prices increase while youre away.

3: To Find a More Affordable Location

If all you can afford to do in your current area is rent, buying a home will probably require a move to a new area. How does that balance against commuting costs, work potential, amenities, and what you love about where you live now? Do the math: is it better to rent and save to invest, or buy elsewhere? Ideally, housing costs should be 30 to 35 percent of gross income. Have experienced real estate professionals fill you in on the benefits and realities of living in new areas youre considering. For instance, even if you dont have kids, local school quality will still have a big impact on how quickly your new location appreciates. Dont just wander around online. Spend time walking and touring the new areas. Before you invest time looking at a lot of houses, this complete reality check will let you know whether the shift to a less-expensive neighborhood or a move further out of town makes life>

Reality Tip:nbsp; To stay in the area that means a lot to you, you might consider the shift from a detached house to an attached townhome or even a condominium. Townhomes, condominiums, and lesser locations all tend to appreciate in value more slowly than detached homes and highly-desired locations, so consider the long-term costs of settling for less at the start.nbsp;

4: To Invest amp; Build Equity

Determined to improve your finances by investing in a fixer upper and building sweat equity through do-it-myself renovations? The savings can be amazing, especially if you buy the best location you can afford and take advantage of the value your improvements and location add. If you are not trained or experienced in construction, invest time locating contractors who deal fairly and who have a lot of on-the-job experience. You dont want to pay them to learn on the job. Cheap quotes and fast talk can be expensive in the long run. Recent home buyers hired a renovator to get the 30-year old home they bought looking good and to renovate bathrooms and the kitchen. That all went well, but serious problems with the foundation were glossed over by the renovator who had no experience with foundations and water issues, just decor. Those homeowners overspent on renovations and now have to refinance to tackle foundation repairs.

Reality Tip: Renovating a home yourself or hiring experts is very doable, but dont confuse what you want with reality. Because you have and want to spend only 30,000 does not mean your planned changes will cost 30,000. Take the time to cost out construction changes and include a healthy contingency fund for surprises. Once you agree in writing on renovation details with your contractor, avoid changes. Changes drive the budget up and dont always improve the outcome. You may benefit from investing time and perhaps a few hundred on a short consult with an interior designer or architect. Theyll fill you in on common renovation problems and usual errors before you start.

5: To Move Ahead In Spite of Everything

Have you stayed out of the real estate market because sluggish wage growth and increasing debt make your dream home seem less affordable every year?

Time for a redo of that dream. Search out a real estate professional who specializes in helping first-time buyers maximize their advantages to make a solid move into real estate. Thats the professional who is very interested in helping you buy well, so youll come to them when its time for you to sell and move up.

Reality Tip: In your mind, separate interior decor from building condition and design. Decor offers a superficial, and often do-it-yourself, fix while changes and improvements to the building can be expensive, but, done well, add space and utility. Buy real estate with solid bones and the best location you can afford. The rest is paint and imagination which can take place gradually as you get to know the building and what really works.

6: To Live More Green

Research will be your friend here. Technology and materials may be labeled green, but they are not always as effective as advertised. They may also be much more expensive. If you want to go green, make sure you know what you and everybody you hire are talking about. One home buyer opted for many environmental systems in his new build. He did not investigate installation requirements but >

Reality Tip: Environmental features can include building orientation, window placement, energy-efficient appliances, lighting, HVAC systems, landscaping for energy conservation, and long-lasting materials and technologies. A home office can be an environmental feature if it saves on commuting costs. The time spent talking to homeowners who have successfully created environmentally-sophisticated homes will be priceless. Learn from their mistakes and mis-spends, not yours.

Clarify why you want to buy a house and youll know what you need to investigate and understand before you start the actual search. This is how to guarantee youll make informed decisions about the best fit.


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You Dont Need 20 Down and Seven Other Myths That Are Getting in the Way of Homeownership

You need to be well-established in your forever career

There has been a lot of discussion about how millennials are waiting longer and longer to purchase homes. As a result of their consequent struggle to save,nbsp;millennialsnbsp;are delaying major life milestones like getting married and buying a home, said Business Insider.

Nonetheless, there are still millennials jumping into the market because, even know their name isnt yet on the door, theyre excited to have a home in their name. Having a stable job, a comfortable salary, and the desire to own a home may just be enough.nbsp;

Sure, you might not be ready to buy the house of your dreams or move to the neighborhood where you can imagine raising kids and, someday, retiring, but that doesnt mean youre completely out of the game. A smaller place closer to work or an attached property can, quite literally, get your foot in the homeownership door and allow you to start earning equity.

You have to be completely out of debt

Recent data shows that nearly half of all undergraduates are delaying homeownership because of student loans. According to a recentnbsp;Federal Reservenbsp;study,nbsp;a 1,000 increase in student loan debtnbsp;lowers the homeownership rate by about 1.5, equivalent to an average delay of about 2.5 months in attaining homeownership, said Clever Real Estate. For the average college debt holder with 37,000 in debt, that ends up being about a 7.7-year delay in their path homeownership.

Regardless of your debt, whether its from student loans or credit cards, it may still be possible to qualify for a mortgage and afford the payments, especially because rents are often comparable to mortgage payments. Mortgage underwriters dont expect homebuyers to be debt-free; In fact, having no debt might actually work against you. They like to see responsible credit use and management.

You need to have a family

Yes, many would-be homebuyers hold off until parenthood is looming, because theyre not ready to move to the suburbs, get married, and have kids. But, a third of todays new homeowners are unmarried, according to CITYLAB. The shift is detailed in anbsp;new working papernbsp;from Harvard Universitys Joint Center for Housing Studies, in which researchers crunched demographic data from HUD and from American Housing Surveys taken every other year between 1997 and 2017. Perhaps the most notablenbsp;departure from 20 years ago is the marital status of new homeowners. According to the paper, the share of married buyers declined from 61 percent in 1997 to just over half by 2017. Meanwhile, 35 percent of first-time homebuyers in 2017 had never been married.

You need to be a man

There was a time when single women wouldnt even have considered buying a home on their own. That time has clearly passed. According to the National Association of Realtorsnbsp;2018 profile of home buyers and sellers, single women homebuyers outnumbered single male homebuyers bynbsp;2 to 1

You need a 30-year conventional loan

There are tons of different loans that can help you purchase your first home, make payments more affordable and/or give you the flexibility you need to make homebuying affordable. FHA loans are among the most well-known and most popular loans for first-time buyers because they require just 3.5 down and have low credit score requirements. Other loans worth looking into depending on your circumstances include: government VA loans for veterans; USDA loans for properties in rural areas; and loans like Fannie Maesnbsp;Home>

You need to have great credit

If your score isnt in the 800s, or even the 700s, it doesnt mean youre going to be living that apartment life forever. You might be surprised to see the credit score minimums for some loans. While there is no official minimum credit score for a home loan approval, the minimum FICO credit score for conventional loan approvalnbsp;tends to be around 620, said Credit.com.

It has to be your primary home

Some rich urban millennials are choosing tonbsp;rent in the city and buy a vacation homenbsp;instead of a primary residence, said Business Insider. Meanwhile, some other savvy investors are continuing to rent and plunking down money to purchase homes in tourist-friendly locations so they can take advantage of the AirBNB craze. According tonbsp;Priceonomics, hosts on Airbnb are earning more than anyone else in the gig economy and are raking in an average of 924 a month, said Travel amp; Leisure. Airbnb hosts make nearly three times as much as other workerswith some hosts making more than 10,000 per month.nbsp;


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Identifying Dangerous Products in the Home

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

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

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

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

Telephones or accessories: Burns, cuts and electric shocks

Diapers: Irritations and allergic reactions

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

Battery chargers and adaptors: Burns and electric shock

Laundry soaps and detergents: Irritations or allergic reactions and poisoning

Stroller/tricycle: No injuries reported

Light bulbs: Cuts, burns and electric shock

Thermostats: Fire, causing irritation or allergic reaction

Computers: Burns

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

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

Ontario has recorded multiple fatalities and serious injuries >

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tips to Check the Feng Shui of Your Home

A strong and healthy front door

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

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

A main entry with inviting, self-contained energy

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

A happy, active and nourishing kitchen

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

The bedroom as the most loved room in the house

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

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The Beginners Guide to House Hacking

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

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

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

What is House Hacking?

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

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

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

House Hacking Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You Need

Successful house hacking >

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

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

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

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

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

Where to Start

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

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

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

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

Getting Financing

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

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

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

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

After Closing

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

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


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Is This the Future of Rent-To-Buy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new way to rent-to-own

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

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

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


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Troubleshooting Plumbing Issues

Broken pipes

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

Leaking faucets

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

Slow drains

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

Toilet problems

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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5 Surprising Ways to Invest in Your House

Expanded Driveway

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

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

New Cabinets

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

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

Tile in Bathroom

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

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

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

Smart HVAC System

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

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

New Paint

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

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

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


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The VA Funding Fee Explained

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

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

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

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

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


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Insulated Concrete Forms Growing in Popularity as Safeguard From Natural Disasters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nbsp;

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

nbsp;

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


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Holiday First Look: 2019 Color Trends

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

Blue and green

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

Here are a few items we love:

Glitter starbust ornament set
Personalized Christmas stockings
>

Metallics

This is a design >

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

Here are a few items we love:

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

Rose gold

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

Here are a few items we love:

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

Plaid

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

Here are a few items we love:

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


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Can Regular Maintenance Save You Money On AC Repairs

How Often Should Maintenance Be Done to Avoid AC Repairs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens During an AC Maintenance Service?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Long Does AC Maintenance Take?

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

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

How Much Does AC Maintenance Cost?

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

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


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Hidden Commission amp; Emerging Transparency

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

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

CFA recently >

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets take a closer look at a real estate transaction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transparency is emerging

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

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

Earlier this year, a >

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

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

Additional resources:

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

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    6 Essential Things to Consider While Buying Property Overseas

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

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

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

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

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

    6 Things to Remember Before Making Your International Real Estate Purchase

    1. Seek the help of local professionals

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

    2. Consider your tax liabilities as investors

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

    3. The need for funding and finance

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

    4. Confirming title amp; ownership

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

    5. Bridge the language barrier

    Whether you intend to >

    6. Have an exit strategy

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

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

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

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    Ghosted? 3 Reasons Why Youre Not Closing Millennial Buyers

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

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

    Fear of confrontation

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

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

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

    Theyre worried that youll waste their time

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

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

    You havent gained their trust

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

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

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    Tech savvy millennials live their lives digitallynbsp;

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

    Instagram is the new coffee meeting

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

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

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    Is New Construction for You? Weve Got the Pros and Cons to Buying New

    Con: No haggling allowed

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

    Pro: But there may be different perks

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

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

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

    Pro: You can personalize your floorplan.

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

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

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

    Pro: You can upgrade pretty much everything.

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

    Con: There goes your budget, and your cushion.

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

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

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

    Con: Itll take a while to build.

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

    Pro: But youll be the first to live there

    That makes it worth the wait, right?

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

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

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

    This is great for families with young kids or those >

    Con: Higher cost

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

    Pro: There may be amenities

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

    Con: Nothing comes for free.nbsp;

    Youll pay for those amenities through the HOA.

    Pro: Your home may appreciate faster

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

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

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


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

    What is the Zoning?

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

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

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

    Can the Land be Subdivided?

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

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

    What Are The Tax Implications?

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

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

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

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

    Maintenance Requirements

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

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

    Cash Flow Potential

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

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

    Resale Potential

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

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

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

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    The VA Funding Fee Explained

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And secondly, professionalism begets referrals.

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

    These values represent the best of the real estate industry.

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

    Safeguarding this >

    This >
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    The Home Improvement Decisions that You will Never Regret

    What to Avoid

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

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

    What to Focus on in Home Remodeling

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

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

    Storage

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

    Infrastructure

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

    The Kitchen

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

    Lighting

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

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

    nbsp;


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


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

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

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

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

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

    Definitely not this.nbsp;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    October Real Estate Roundup

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

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

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

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


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    Peace of Mind: Wake Up Confident With a Home Warranty

    What is a Home Warranty?

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

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

    What Does a Home Warranty Cover?

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

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

    What Else Should I Know About Home Warranties?

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

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

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

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


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    You Dont Need 20 Down and Seven Other Myths That Are Getting in the Way of Homeownership

    You need to be well-established in your forever career

    There has been a lot of discussion about how millennials are waiting longer and longer to purchase homes. As a result of their consequent struggle to save,nbsp;millennialsnbsp;are delaying major life milestones like getting married and buying a home, said Business Insider.

    Nonetheless, there are still millennials jumping into the market because, even know their name isnt yet on the door, theyre excited to have a home in their name. Having a stable job, a comfortable salary, and the desire to own a home may just be enough.nbsp;

    Sure, you might not be ready to buy the house of your dreams or move to the neighborhood where you can imagine raising kids and, someday, retiring, but that doesnt mean youre completely out of the game. A smaller place closer to work or an attached property can, quite literally, get your foot in the homeownership door and allow you to start earning equity.

    You have to be completely out of debt

    Recent data shows that nearly half of all undergraduates are delaying homeownership because of student loans. According to a recentnbsp;Federal Reservenbsp;study,nbsp;a 1,000 increase in student loan debtnbsp;lowers the homeownership rate by about 1.5, equivalent to an average delay of about 2.5 months in attaining homeownership, said Clever Real Estate. For the average college debt holder with 37,000 in debt, that ends up being about a 7.7-year delay in their path homeownership.

    Regardless of your debt, whether its from student loans or credit cards, it may still be possible to qualify for a mortgage and afford the payments, especially because rents are often comparable to mortgage payments. Mortgage underwriters dont expect homebuyers to be debt-free; In fact, having no debt might actually work against you. They like to see responsible credit use and management.

    You need to have a family

    Yes, many would-be homebuyers hold off until parenthood is looming, because theyre not ready to move to the suburbs, get married, and have kids. But, a third of todays new homeowners are unmarried, according to CITYLAB. The shift is detailed in anbsp;new working papernbsp;from Harvard Universitys Joint Center for Housing Studies, in which researchers crunched demographic data from HUD and from American Housing Surveys taken every other year between 1997 and 2017. Perhaps the most notablenbsp;departure from 20 years ago is the marital status of new homeowners. According to the paper, the share of married buyers declined from 61 percent in 1997 to just over half by 2017. Meanwhile, 35 percent of first-time homebuyers in 2017 had never been married.

    You need to be a man

    There was a time when single women wouldnt even have considered buying a home on their own. That time has clearly passed. According to the National Association of Realtorsnbsp;2018 profile of home buyers and sellers, single women homebuyers outnumbered single male homebuyers bynbsp;2 to 1

    You need a 30-year conventional loan

    There are tons of different loans that can help you purchase your first home, make payments more affordable and/or give you the flexibility you need to make homebuying affordable. FHA loans are among the most well-known and most popular loans for first-time buyers because they require just 3.5 down and have low credit score requirements. Other loans worth looking into depending on your circumstances include: government VA loans for veterans; USDA loans for properties in rural areas; and loans like Fannie Maesnbsp;Home>

    You need to have great credit

    If your score isnt in the 800s, or even the 700s, it doesnt mean youre going to be living that apartment life forever. You might be surprised to see the credit score minimums for some loans. While there is no official minimum credit score for a home loan approval, the minimum FICO credit score for conventional loan approvalnbsp;tends to be around 620, said Credit.com.

    It has to be your primary home

    Some rich urban millennials are choosing tonbsp;rent in the city and buy a vacation homenbsp;instead of a primary residence, said Business Insider. Meanwhile, some other savvy investors are continuing to rent and plunking down money to purchase homes in tourist-friendly locations so they can take advantage of the AirBNB craze. According tonbsp;Priceonomics, hosts on Airbnb are earning more than anyone else in the gig economy and are raking in an average of 924 a month, said Travel amp; Leisure. Airbnb hosts make nearly three times as much as other workerswith some hosts making more than 10,000 per month.nbsp;


    > Full Story

    Are You Buying For The Right Reasons?

    In the push to buy, have you stopped to decide what is driving you into homeownership in the first place?
    With this in mind, are you sure youre well equipped to buy whats best for you?

    The U.S. Census Bureau census.gov, which recently >

    percent.nbsp;

    Of the nearly 123 million occupied housing units in the US, almost 57 percent of them are owner occupied.
    Although homeownership rates were highest in the Midwest 69.0 percent, homeownership levels have not statistically differed from rates a year ago in the Midwest, Northeast, and West.

    Homeownership is valued and is a persistent trend, but not an escalating one. Existing homeowners bought for a variety of reasons over a wide time frame. Some love where they are and what they bought; some are disgruntled; some are planning to move again for reasons that matter to them.

    What is your main reason for buying a house? That is, how will owning a home improve your life and that of your family?

    Six Top Reasons For Buying A Home

    Prioritize the following list of Six Top Reasons For Buying A Home to clarify exactly why you are buying real estate and how to do it well:

    1: To Gain More Living Space

    Has your family expanded or are you launching a home-based venture? Or, do you just love the idea of room to spread out, inside and outside? Space costs money, so if you want to keep costs down, smaller is better. How have you arrived at your desired square footage? Just following the pack or is it based on experience? Clarify whether you need more space for living and sharing or for storing your ultimately-expendable stuff.

    Reality Tip: Good design is more valuable than square footage. Cleverly-designed traffic flow, room placement, storage utilization, lighting including windows and skylights, and interior decor including furnishings can make a small house feel like a spacious home. The more you learn about how good design pays off, the more effectively you can evaluate the true value of any property you view.

    2: To Further Career amp; Income Development

    If a location puts you near work, clarify how stable the employer and your job are. However, if mobility and career flexibility are essential to your chosen profession, buying a home now may not be the best plan. If career research confirms that you may have to move out of the area in a few years to get ahead, you might not recoup the cost of buying and maintaining a home in that short ownership period. Renting may be the best approach.

    Reality Tip: If you love this location and hope to return to it when your career is established, buy now and rent out the house while your career takes you away. This property can function as collateral for buying more real estate and will provide income and equity-building potential. If you love the location, this strategy may keep you from being squeezed later out if area prices increase while youre away.

    3: To Find a More Affordable Location

    If all you can afford to do in your current area is rent, buying a home will probably require a move to a new area. How does that balance against commuting costs, work potential, amenities, and what you love about where you live now? Do the math: is it better to rent and save to invest, or buy elsewhere? Ideally, housing costs should be 30 to 35 percent of gross income. Have experienced real estate professionals fill you in on the benefits and realities of living in new areas youre considering. For instance, even if you dont have kids, local school quality will still have a big impact on how quickly your new location appreciates. Dont just wander around online. Spend time walking and touring the new areas. Before you invest time looking at a lot of houses, this complete reality check will let you know whether the shift to a less-expensive neighborhood or a move further out of town makes life>

    Reality Tip:nbsp; To stay in the area that means a lot to you, you might consider the shift from a detached house to an attached townhome or even a condominium. Townhomes, condominiums, and lesser locations all tend to appreciate in value more slowly than detached homes and highly-desired locations, so consider the long-term costs of settling for less at the start.nbsp;

    4: To Invest amp; Build Equity

    Determined to improve your finances by investing in a fixer upper and building sweat equity through do-it-myself renovations? The savings can be amazing, especially if you buy the best location you can afford and take advantage of the value your improvements and location add. If you are not trained or experienced in construction, invest time locating contractors who deal fairly and who have a lot of on-the-job experience. You dont want to pay them to learn on the job. Cheap quotes and fast talk can be expensive in the long run. Recent home buyers hired a renovator to get the 30-year old home they bought looking good and to renovate bathrooms and the kitchen. That all went well, but serious problems with the foundation were glossed over by the renovator who had no experience with foundations and water issues, just decor. Those homeowners overspent on renovations and now have to refinance to tackle foundation repairs.

    Reality Tip: Renovating a home yourself or hiring experts is very doable, but dont confuse what you want with reality. Because you have and want to spend only 30,000 does not mean your planned changes will cost 30,000. Take the time to cost out construction changes and include a healthy contingency fund for surprises. Once you agree in writing on renovation details with your contractor, avoid changes. Changes drive the budget up and dont always improve the outcome. You may benefit from investing time and perhaps a few hundred on a short consult with an interior designer or architect. Theyll fill you in on common renovation problems and usual errors before you start.

    5: To Move Ahead In Spite of Everything

    Have you stayed out of the real estate market because sluggish wage growth and increasing debt make your dream home seem less affordable every year?

    Time for a redo of that dream. Search out a real estate professional who specializes in helping first-time buyers maximize their advantages to make a solid move into real estate. Thats the professional who is very interested in helping you buy well, so youll come to them when its time for you to sell and move up.

    Reality Tip: In your mind, separate interior decor from building condition and design. Decor offers a superficial, and often do-it-yourself, fix while changes and improvements to the building can be expensive, but, done well, add space and utility. Buy real estate with solid bones and the best location you can afford. The rest is paint and imagination which can take place gradually as you get to know the building and what really works.

    6: To Live More Green

    Research will be your friend here. Technology and materials may be labeled green, but they are not always as effective as advertised. They may also be much more expensive. If you want to go green, make sure you know what you and everybody you hire are talking about. One home buyer opted for many environmental systems in his new build. He did not investigate installation requirements but >

    Reality Tip: Environmental features can include building orientation, window placement, energy-efficient appliances, lighting, HVAC systems, landscaping for energy conservation, and long-lasting materials and technologies. A home office can be an environmental feature if it saves on commuting costs. The time spent talking to homeowners who have successfully created environmentally-sophisticated homes will be priceless. Learn from their mistakes and mis-spends, not yours.

    Clarify why you want to buy a house and youll know what you need to investigate and understand before you start the actual search. This is how to guarantee youll make informed decisions about the best fit.


    > Full Story

    Co-Signing? Consider These Points

    The first is realizing what happens if someone you co-signed for defaults on a loan. A lender typically wont foreclose on a property until two or three payments are showing up as more than 30 and 60 days past the due date. A single late payment wont start foreclosure proceedings but more often than not when these payments become seriously delinquent the co-signer remains in the dark until things start to deteriorate rapidly. If you co-sign, make sure you get copies of monthly statements for the mortgage and monitor them closely.

    Another thing to consider >

    Opening up new credit accounts will also affect your credit balances. By co-signing on a mortgage, the new payment, including principal and interest, taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance when needed, will be tacked on to your own personal debt. Should you decide to apply for a new mortgage or other larger purchase on credit, the amount you currently owe can affect whether or not you can obtain an approval.nbsp;

    Maybe a gift would be a better option? To help someone qualify by co-signing, youre just as responsible for the mortgage as the primary borrower. Instead of co-signing, and you have the funds available, consider providing some financial assistance in the form of a gift. This would lower the amount borrowed and make it easier to qualify. Providing a gift also leaves out any longer-term solution. Co-signing means youre on the existing note. A gift can help but doesnt affect your credit lines. And if you do agree to co-sign, ask if this would be a long or short term situation. Do the primary borrowers need help as it >

    And one final note here about co-signing. If one or both of the primary borrowers has damaged credit, co-signing wont help. When there are multiple borrowers on the same application, lenders use the lowest middle credit score of all the borrowers. If your credit score is 780 and their qualifying score is 500, you credit wont help. The lender will use the 500 as the qualifying score and likely headed for a turn-down.


    > Full Story



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