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Real Estate News

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2018

Student Loans Proving a Barrier to Homeownership. We Have Solutions.

ldquo;Among buyers rejected for a mortgage from a lender, 40 percent had college debt, the NAR found.rdquo; Per the same study, 80 percent of millennials donrsquo;t own a home, and 83 of those non-homeowners said student loan debt was a barrier to buying.

The NAR found that ldquo;Two in five buyers, like Jodi Meyers, cut out luxury or nonessential items to save up for a home,rdquo; said USA Today. Her family, in the midst of paying off Meyersrsquo; 55,000 in student debt, cut out all necessities and purchased outside of their preferred area to be able to afford a 249,000, four-bedroom home in Lakeland, Florida. The upshot: ldquo;Itrsquo;s not my dream home, but it got my foot in the door, and now Irsquo;m building equity,rdquo; she told them.

Of course, compromise is nothing new when it comes to buying a home, especially if itrsquo;s your first. Few of us can go out there and purchase the waterfront mansion of our dreams, but that doesnt mean we donrsquo;t aspire to do so someday from our starter home in the lsquo;burbs.

Check out a site like Student Loan Hero and yoursquo;re going to read about things like front-end ratios and back-end ratios and it can all get very confusing. And, the truth is, the average person doesnrsquo;t need to know the nitty-gritty. The important takeaway is that, in your lenderrsquo;s eyes, your income needs to be sufficient to cover a mortgage and all associated expenses when all your debts are taken into account. Having student loans in the hundreds of dollars per month can make it harder to qualify.

So what CAN you do if yoursquo;re looking to budget and buy a home, but student loans are holding you back? There are options.

Amass a higher down payment.

ldquo;If you can save a 20 percent down payment, your student loans are far less likely to affect your loan process,rdquo; said Student Loan Hero. Your lender should be able to give you details of what loans allow your down payment to come from gift funds from a family member.

Pay off your debts.

Talk to your lender about this. You may be surprised that a scenario in which you redirect some of your down payment funds to smaller debts that can be cleared out could make it easier to qualify for a mortgage. ldquo;Paying down that high-interest credit card balance, for example, is a great place to start,rdquo; said Dave Mele, president of Homes.com on Bankrate.

Get a side hustle.

If you canrsquo;t negotiate a raise, find other ways to make more money so you can add to your down payment or use it to pay down your student loans. ldquo;If education debt is making your debt-to-income ratio too high, consider looking for ways to pay off your student loans faster. Therersquo;s no penalty for prepaying student loans, so you can make extra payments anytime,rdquo; said Student Loan Hero.

Switch to an income-driven repayment plan on your student loans to make payments more affordable.

ldquo;An income-driven repayment plan sets your monthly student loan payment at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and family size,rdquo; said Federal Student Aid. Fannie Mae changed underwriting rules around income-driven repayment plans last year, making it easier for those on these plans to qualify for a mortgage. ldquo;Depending upon the plan, your monthly payment could be capped as low as 10 of your discretionary income,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;And if your discretionary income is low enough, your monthly payment could be as low as 0.rdquo;

Get creative with your loan type.

While many first-time buyers opt for an FHA loan because of the low down payment as low as 3.5 and generous credit score requirements as low as 580, there are other options. ldquo;The Fannie Mae HomeReadytrade; mortgage is another loan available to borrowers with student loans,rdquo; said The Mortgage Reports. ldquo;Via HomeReadytrade;, buyers can show a debt-to-income of up to 50, with certain off-setting factors; and a down payment of just three percent is allowed. The minimum credit score to get approved for a HomeReadytrade; home loan is 620.rdquo;


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Ask the HOA Expert: Limited Common Elements, Quorum Rules

Answer: Common elements available to one or several members instead of all are referred to as "limited common elements". This means they are common but limited to exclusive use of one member as in the case of a unit deck or designated members as in the case of a private street.

These limited common elements are typically identified on the legal plat and cannot be expanded without encroaching on common areas which belong to all owners in an undivided interest. So, the board has no authority to allow such requests. Changing this requires a vote of members which may be up to 100.

Question: At our recent annual meeting, an issue was brought up and a motion was made on something that was not on the agenda for the meeting. The president allowed the motion to be made, seconded and voted upon. But, there were not enough members represented to constitute a quorum. Was this an illegal vote?

Answer: The vote was illegal due to lack of quorum even if it had appeared on the Meeting Agenda. Without a legal quorum, no business may be transacted or elections held. You might have a lively discussion but nothing official can take place.

Lack of quorum is an all too common scenario than can be cured by proxies. A proxy is the written authorization by one member given to someone to act on their behalf at the Annual Meeting. Proxies must be distributed well in advance of the meeting and collected before the meeting to ensure a legal quorum. Getting folks to return their proxies can be challenging and multiple requests may have to be made, including going door to door to collect them if necessary. There is a sample Proxy in the Meetings section of www.Regenesis.net

Question: We recently had our unit chimneys cleaned. A board member accompanied the contractor and opened and secured units upon exiting. As a result of this process, it was discovered that one of the units was jammed with stacks of newspapers, garbage, furniture blocking hallways, piles of clothing and cases of cans. The resident is clearly suffering from a hoarding problem.

Should the board get involved in this situation? No neighbors have complained of any noxious smell. The area outside her condo is tidy. She keeps to herself, is pleasant to the staff and not a smoker.

Answer: Turning a blind eye to a hazardous situation is not the way to go. A letter to the resident and landlord if applicable is in order. When garbage isnrsquo;t being disposed of regularly, it is only a matter of time before there is vermin problem. The fire hazard potential sounds great as well so the letter should include a request to remove or store flammables.

Question: Can the board offer discounts to members that prepay a special assessment rather than participate in a payment plan?

Answer: No discounts should be offered since they would cause a shortfall. It is appropriate, however, to charge late fees to those that donrsquo;t pay as agreed.

However, it is a bad idea for HOAs to finance special assessments at all because of the increased administrative costs and the likelihood of dealing with delinquent payments. For example, If you have a 30 unit condo and allow 24 monthly special payments, you have 720 payments to track and 720 potential collection problems. Instead, require each member to provide special assessment funds from whatever source they have available. Some have cash, some has an equity line of credit or credit card. The HOA should not finance the special assessment or borrow the money.

Question: Our homeowner association is made up of condominiums built in a townhouse >

Answer: Itrsquo;s a very bad idea to allow individual unit owners to do or pay for this kind of work directly because of:

1. Quality Control. Is the person doing the work experienced? Is the material being used of good or superior quality?
2. Risk Management. Is the person doing the work properly insured for injury and liability?
3. Owner Still Financially Responsible. Doing this kind of work does not >

Question: What kind of expectations or working >

Answer: The board should:

1. Support the managers decisions unless a clear mistake has been made.
2. Not undermine the managers actions in rules enforcement and collections.
3. Carefully consider the managers advice since it comes from experience and training.
4. Be respectful of the managers busy schedule.
5. Allow the manager to execute the terms of the management agreement without micro-managing.
6. Remember that the manager works for the board.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


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The Best Mobile Plans for Real Estate Agents

Find the coverage you need

It may seem obvious, but the most important part of a mobile plan is coverage. It doesnrsquo;t matter how much data or how many minutes you have if you canrsquo;t use them, and this is true not only on your home turf, but wherever youre likely to go. If you typically stay local, that makes the search easier. But if you travel regularly to real estate conferences or for out-of-town clients, make sure your coverage will be just as good when youre on the road.

Tips:

Look at the coverage map for your carrier so you wonrsquo;t be surprised by gaps in coverage.
Search for online reviews of your carrier in geographic areas you frequent.
Dont forget international coverage, if thats part of your business needs.

All about the data

Today, most mobile plans beyond prepaid plans have unlimited talk and text, but data is still a large variable. Data needs vary from person to person based on their office setup, work >

Office bound
Do you spend a significant amount of time in the office, with sporadic journeys out for showings and closings? Is your phone largely for communicating and browsing simple listings, reading contracts, or researching? If so, consider a smaller data plan or a pay-by-the-gig plan. Basic Web browsing and using your navigation app wont use much data, and therersquo;s no need to pay for more than you need. Pay-as-you-go plans are particularly flexible, giving you access to as much data as you need at a reasonable price, without wasting money.

Road warrior
Are you a realtor who lives in the car? While yoursquo;re out of the office, are you catching up on listings, watching video walkthroughs, updating images on your site, and sending files? You may get by with a pay-by-the-gig plan, or you may want to go full-out on an unlimited option.

If you can, look through your data usage for the past few months. If its more than 3-4 GB/month per line, its time to upgrade. If youre not sure if you need unlimited data, start with a flexible data plan and upgrade if you find yourself buying a lot more.

Office manager
If you have several agents on one plan for a collective or small office, you may want to jump right into the unlimited plan, especially if your team trends more toward road warriors than office bound. If your data use justifies it, this can help lower tensions that can crop up when one person is using more data than someone else.

Saving money

If the cost of data is a concern, you can save money with a little effort and creativity, especially if you work in urban or heavily settled areas. Scope out coffee shops, libraries, and other local businesses with free WiFi and move your work out of your car. Also, take a closer look at your mobile plan. You may find that they also offer WiFi hotspots that their customers can use rather than burning through data.

Keeping track

Once youve picked the best plan for your location and use, you will still want to keep track of your account to make sure youre not leaving money and unused data on the table. Most carriers have an app for tracking data usage and billing. Keep an eye on your data use and adjust your plan as needed.

With so many options available today, choosing the right mobile plan can be a challenge. But armed with the right questions, you can weed out those that donrsquo;t meet your data and financial needs, and find the perfect plan for you and your business. That way, you can focus your efforts on building your business and matching clients with their perfect properties.


Christy Matte is a die-hard techie and contributing writer for Xfinity Mobile. Shes a Boston-based writer who has been covering tech for the past decade or so, and enjoys video games, surfing the Web, and any gadget she can get her hands on.


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Making Canadian Suburbs More Age-Friendly

As the population ages and the life expectancy of Canadians increases, therersquo;s a lot of discussion about where older people are going to live and how to make their communities more age-friendly.

The baby boom generation is moving into their senior years, but most of them are not yet interested in downsizing to condominiums or moving from their current homes. In fact, they are still actively purchasing move-up homes and recreational properties.

But Statistics Canada says that as the boomers age, beginning in 2031 the share of the population aged 85 and older will increase rapidly. Almost one in four seniors in Canada will be 85 or older by 2051.

Thatrsquo;s going to put a lot of pressure on seniorsrsquo; residences and long-term care facilities. Currently about a third of those aged 85 and older lives in these types of residence.

Most seniors want to stay in their own homes for as long as they are physically and financially able to do so, but some homes and communities make that easier than others.

About two-thirds of Canadians live in suburban areas, built after the Second World War and filled with young families who enjoyed their single-family houses and roomy backyards. But if you live in the suburbs, you likely need a car to get to local amenities such as grocery stores, medical services or community centres.

A report by Glen Miller for the Institute for Research on Public Policy says that by 2036, 42 per cent of residents aged 75 and older will no longer have a driverrsquo;s licence, according to estimates by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

Citing research by the Canadian Urban Institute CIU, Miller says, ldquo;As the design of subdivisions changed, the average size of single-detached dwellings increased from 850 square feet in the 1950s, to 2,000 square feet in the 1970s, to 2,000 to 3,000 square feet in the 1990s, to 3,500 square feet today, even though average household size has declined. The result is that many neighbourhoods lack the critical mass of population to support local services and amenities. Instead, residents of newer subdivisions >

Miller says, ldquo;Itrsquo;s fair to say that our current suburbs are no place to grow old.rdquo;

Without the ability to drive themselves because of physical or financial limitations, seniors can quickly become isolated in their communities. The problem has been recognized by municipalities for many years, Miller says, and in 2007 the concept of age-friendly communities AFC was introduced by the World Health Organization.

ldquo;More than 500 municipalities have since committed to becoming age-friendly,rdquo; writes Miller. ldquo;Despite the original enthusiasm, however, the AFC movement has led only to minor physical improvements, such as the addition of park benches, better lighting or clearer signage, and it has thus far failed to generate the scale of public policy intervention needed to bring about significant changes to the built environment.rdquo;

He says in most municipalities, the planning department doesnrsquo;t take AFC into consideration. A study by the CIU of 25 cities that committed to becoming age friendly found that none of them have incorporated the idea into their official plans. None of them modified their approvals process to reflect AFC goals or put the aging population as a priority when planning development.

Miller notes that the governmentrsquo;s health care policies support healthy aging and aging at home. ldquo;In order to capture the imagination of the older adults who stand to benefit from age-friendly development practices, municipal planners and their developer colleagues need to seek out and deliver compelling examples of age-friendly development that will benefit people, and customers, of all ages.rdquo;

He provides some recent examples of AFC. In Port Credit, part of the City of Mississauga, Ont., a brownfield site that was once the St. Lawrence Starch factory has been developed into a mixed-use community over 15 years. First townhomes and mid-rise condos were constructed, along with retail and other amenities on the ground floor. Then a retirement residence was added. The development is within walking distance of the commuter rail station.

Most of the buyers >

Another example is in Don Mills, Ont., which was touted as Canadarsquo;s first car-oriented suburban subdivision. A local plaza was turned into an indoor mall but later it was redeveloped with mid-rise condominiums and a new plaza with open community spaces.

Existing suburbs are a tougher challenge, but Miller points to two examples of streets near suburban areas that have become community hubs. Broadway, in the Kitsilano suburb of Vancouver, and a North Toronto neighbourhood around Yonge Street both have several mixed-used mid-rise developments.

ldquo;Although not explicitly planned as age-friendly projects, both focus on creating a high-quality public realm through zoning that encourages a mix of community-oriented uses and street grids that facilitate walking and easy access to public transit,rdquo; says Miller. ldquo;These two community hubs have proven attractive to empty nesters as well as young families who can afford to rent or own condos.rdquo;


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Credit Inquiries: Why Lenders Care

FICO scores are calculated using an algorithm originally developed by The FICO Company. This algorithm considers five different characteristics of a credit file. Of course, payment history carries the most weight, contributing 35 to the total, three-digit score. The second most important >

How long someone has used credit is also a factor, making up 15 of the score and the final two of the five both contribute 10. Types of credit used and credit inquiries. Types of credit boosts scores when consumers responsibly use different types of credit and credit inquiries logs in the number of times someone has requested credit. But about that 10 for a credit inquiry, if it makes up such a small part of the total score, why do lenders care about this category?

For one, requests for credit over the past year or so wonrsquo;t hurt scores but making several requests for different credit accounts in a >

Each time a consumer makes a request for credit, that request is recorded in the credit file. Again, an occasional request is fine. What can cause a loan application to stop dead in its tracks is to see a recent credit inquiry on a credit report but no indication any account has been opened. It usually takes about 30 days. That can mean someone opened up a credit account or maybe bought a car and financed it but the amount borrowed and the terms havenrsquo;t yet made it to the credit bureaus. When a lender looks at a credit report with recent inquiries, there is no way the lender can properly determine a consumerrsquo;s new monthly payments. Someone with >

When this happens, the lender will request the borrower to explain the inquiry and verify that no account was opened and if an account was opened, to send in documentation regarding the terms of the new account. Thatrsquo;s why loan officers tell you that once you apply for a mortgage, just sit tight with any other credit requests until and after your loan is ultimately funded and closed.


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The Smartest Fall Renovations to Make if Youre Planning to Sell Your Home

While some trends carryover, there is some great info here for those who are looking to make some updates to enjoy now, while being able to reap the potential future financial benefits.

Matte appliances

These are a ldquo;hot trend of the moment,rdquo; said McGillivray. And while he says that he likes how they ldquo;lend a luxurious look to the kitchen, and how they look great when paired with neutral colored cabinets,rdquo; he still thinks stainless steel is your best bet if yoursquo;re looking to sell anytime soon. Itrsquo;s the ldquo;best choice for a long-term return on investment,rdquo; he said. While these matte finishes are great of-the-moment looks, I expect theyrsquo;ll look dated a few years down the road.rdquo;

Quartz counters in warm colors

We may be moving away from all that white or counters that look like Carrara marble only easier to care for. While quartz isnrsquo;t going anywhere, McGillivray is seeing a trend toward warmer shades. ldquo;Countertops that look like marble will always be in demand because theyrsquo;re >

Light floors

ldquo;Along with the light and airy trend comes a desire for lighter floors,rdquo; he said. ldquo;Dark walnut and cherry finishes are out, and lighter, blonder woods are in. Similar to kitchen counters, I think the trend will be toward warmer colors rather than cooler colors. But light is definitely the way to go trend-wise.rdquo;

Hands-free technology

Smart homes arenrsquo;t the way of the future. Theyrsquo;re here, now, and the smarter the home, the more attractive it may be to buyers. ldquo;This may seem like old news to the early adopters, but more and more people are starting to embrace hands-free and SMART technology,rdquo; he said. ldquo;This means that anything in your home that you can command with your voice is going to be super popular.rdquo;

Less Serious and More Fun Spaces

Itrsquo;s time to go a little wild with your homemdash;but within reason. ldquo;I predict that people are going to stop taking their homes too seriously and have a little bit more fun,rdquo; he said. ldquo;This means more colors, more patterns and less concern over whatrsquo;s lsquo;proper.rsquo; While smart return on investment design decisions should still be made for fixed items in your home, letrsquo;s all >
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Why Get Involved?

A. You have lived in your community for a long time, and are pleased with the way it is working. Do you know why? Most likely it is because there is a conscientious, hard-working board of directors, who are concerned about the welfare -- financial and otherwise -- of your association.

A community association does not function -- good, bad or otherwise -- without leadership. Often, as we all have read and heard,some boards of directors are on ego trips. Even though they may care about the welfare of the association, they are more interested in preserving and fostering their own personal agendas. Indeed, I know of one association in which the outgoing Board President seriously considered putting his picture in the social room, as a reminder of his long-term service to the Association.

But the great majority of board members are hard-working and honest. Service on the Board is not fun; the hours are long and the pay is zero. Budgets have to be planned to meet the needs of the association while at the same time satisfying the pocketbooks of the owners. Rules have to be adopted -- and then enforced. Delinquencies haveer to be addressed, and it is often difficult -- if not embarrassing -- to have to approach your neighbor or your friend to remind him/her that there is a delinquency.

I do not know how many owners are in your community. But regardless of size, boards must understand they are running a business -- and some of these businesses have budgets which are as large or largerthan corporations trading on the New York Stock exchange.

This is a serious responsibility, which cannot be taken lightly. Many years ago a Court ruled in the State of Maryland that Board members only have to exercise good business judgment in carrying out their board responsibilities. This means that unless someone can prove fraud, cheating or stealing, a court of law will not second guess the decisions of a board of directors -- even if their decision turns out to be the wrong one.

Despite this "good business judgment" rule, I still maintain that a member of the board has a fiduciary duty to the owners who elected him/her to the board. This means that a board member must act fairly, honestly, openly and -- of most importance -- use common sense in making decisions which impact on the entire community.

Many years ago, the President of a large association gave his "state of the community" speech at the annual meeting. I take the liberty of quoting some of his remarks:

For the past two years, I have served as your President. You have called me at all hours of the day and night; you have pushed me into the swimming pool, and have poured molasses into my gas tank. The hours are long, and the pay is zilch.

But, if I would not have served, you [expletive deleted] would have screwed it all up.

I cannot add much more to this erudite speech. You have an investment in your association, and service on the Board of Directors is a way -- perhaps the only way -- of preserving that investment.


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Lifting the HOA Veil

Anything that could negatively impact the value or marketability of the property needs to be divulged before closing. While there are usually statutory disclosure requirements of single family house sellers, these same disclosures are generally not required of homeowner association home sellers. This is a huge problem and herersquo;s why:

Homeowner associations HOA impose substantial financial obligations to the members. So, while a buyer may purchase a condo in great condition and needing no repairs, that same buyer is also obligated to share the cost of certain repairs to all the condos, which may be in very bad condition. Since there is no specific legal requirements in most states to disclose these obligations, the buyer often finds out after closing when presented with a special assessment that can amount to many thousands of dollars.

Herersquo;s the key to uncloaking this problem: The board of directors controls the quality and quantity of disclosure information. The responsible board treats the HOA like the business that it is and keeps certain basic information available such as:

Governing Documents. Includes the Declaration, Bylaws, Rules amp; Regulations, Resolutions which are the specific obligations each member has.

Newsletters. Reveal events renovation, litigation, etc that could indicate a possible special assessment.

Meeting Minutes. Same as newsletter but with more specifics.

Annual Budgets for Last 3 Years. Could reveal expense trends and failure to adjust for inflation.

Financial Reports. Monthly reports comparing actual expenses to budget should be available to track income and expenses.

Collection Activity. How much of the assessments are overdue 30, 60 or 90 days? If some donrsquo;t pay, guess who gets to?

Litigation Activity. Are there any pending lawsuits that could trigger a special assessment?

Reserve Study. A 30 year plan to maintain components like roofs, painting, paving, etc. This is the biggest time bomb in the many homeowner associations that lack one. Failure to plan for predictable long range expenses often mirrors a lack of ongoing maintenance which causes spiraling property values.

Percentage of Rental Units. More than 50 rentals could directly affect financing options and saleability.

Key Contact Information. How to contact the board and manager.

This list of items is the same information that any informed buyer would want. Itrsquo;s the boardrsquo;s responsibility to make it available to owners so they, in turn, can provide proper disclosure to their buyers. If buyers are informed of their responsibilities, they will make better neighbors. Does the HOA really want members that donrsquo;t care how business is handled? Is your board prepared to lift the veil of on disclosure?

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


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How To Choose The Right Vanity To Kick Off Your Bathroom Remodel

"Its not always the most glamorous part of a bathroom remodel, but choosing the right vanity can make or break your bathrooms design," said Houzz. "If its placed awkwardly in a traffic route, uses poor or mismatched materials, or doesnt have enough storage, the rest of your bathroom will suffer."

The right >

Choosing a vanity can speak volumes about your design aesthetic. Lean toward traditional >

Maybe you love antiques. Finding an old sideboard or dresser and fashioning it into a vanity can bring interest and distinction to the space. Just remember to treat the wood properly to keep water away.


HGTV

Modern lines have been the trend for several years, and there is no shortage of vanities that bring some panache to the bathroom.


ALL MODERN

The right size

Having dual sinks is generally preferred in bathrooms, except for powder roomsmdash;in this space, using a decorative vanity thats not dependent on extensive storage space can give this room a lift. But a tight space may make it difficult to accommodate two sinks and any semblance of counter space in a bathroom that needs to function for family.

As HGTV says, "Often its the size of the room that dictates the size of the vanity." If youre redoing a bathroom, you might want to ask your real estate agent if installing a small dual-sink vanity like this one from IKEA is a better option than a one-sink vanity with more counter space.

One of the newest trends is floating vanities, which can give a bathroom some modern flair while also functioning well in a smaller space. This wall-mounted option creates an airy feel because of the open space below.

Modern Bathroom by Palo Alto Architects amp; Building Designers Maydan Architects, Inc.

Sometimes a custom vanity is whats needed. Choose one with open space like this option to create a stylish look; you can increase the storage space with baskets.


Housely

The right material

Traditionally, vanities are made of some kind of wood or wood product, whether theyre painted, lacquered, or kept in their natural state. But they dont have to be.

They also dont need to be a traditional shape or >

This vanity reflects its abode in a unique way. "When New York design firm Carrier and Company converted an old dairy barn into a guest cottage for a client, they saw big possibilities in this soapstone cow trough salvaged from the property," said DIY Network. "Owner Jesse Carrier and his team added custom hinged wood tops to create one of the most unusual and beautiful bathroom vanities youll ever see."


DIY Network

This upcycled bicycle vanity from artist Benjamin Bullins made him "a Pinterest phenomenon," said DIY Network.


DIY Network

If you really want to use wood for your vanity, REALLY use wood. This live edge vanity will su>


HOME DESIGNING

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Dos And Donts For Painting Your Bathroom Cabinets

Do: Get a paint sprayer: A paint sprayer will give you the cleanest, most professional look. You can buy a pretty basic unit for under 100, but for about the same cost, you can rent one for the day and get a much better version.

Dont: Fret if a paint sprayer isnt going to work out. A foam roller and brush can give you a pretty clean finish.

Do: Buy several of them in different sizes and shapes. Theyre cheap, so stocking up wont cost much, and having a variety will help you to easily get into corners, nooks, and crannies.

Dont: Use a crappy product. The last thing you want is to walk into your bathroom every day and scowl at the poorly done bathroom cabinets - kind of the way you do now. One of our favorite DIYers from The Turquoise Home found a great product that we cant wait to try: "Aces amazing Cabinet, Door and Trim Paint. You can brush it on and it will level and not leave any brush strokes"

Behr Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel is another favorite for painting bathroom cabinets. "It basically performs like an oil-based paint but without the horrible smell and difficult clean up," said Provident Home Design.

Do: Take the time to sand. Weve tried the lazy girls version of painting right over other paint and it just doesnt work out well. Admittedly, sanding is a terrible, tedious process, especially if you have detailed panels that require you to get into lots of little corners, but its well worth it in the end.

Dont: Sand inside. Take it outside and put a mask on while youre at it. The dust you kick up is unkind, especially if anyone in the house has asthma.

Do: Clean the surfaces thoroughly. Youll want to use a degreasing product like "trisodium phosphate TSP cleaner and a scrubbing pad or sponge to thoroughly wash all surfaces to be painted," said Lowes. "Then rinse at least twice with fresh water and a sponge." And after sanding, youll also want to make sure you vacuum up all the dust and wipe down all the surfaces thoroughly so you dont get little pieces stuck in the paint.

Dont: Leave the doors and hardware on when you paint. You cant easily get every part of the door if you dont take everything off, and the paint you inevitably get on the hardware will make it look like a DIY job.

Dont: Forget to number your cabinet doors so you know how to put them back on when youre done. This is not a fun thing to figure out after the fact.

Do: Label the hardware, too. See above.

Dont: Paint with your animals in the room. Just trust on this one.

Do: "Let the paint settle for a couple of minutes and then look back over it for paint pooled in the corners or drips underneath the edges," said The Turquoise Home. "The paint will still be wet enough to clean up those areas and will still level and dry flat.

Dont: Quit after one coat. Youll probably be dying to be done after one, but remember: A little more effort here goes a long way.

Do: Prep, prep, prep. Tape stuff. Use dropcloths. Make sure everything you dont want covered in paint is nicely protected, or youll be scraping paint off of it FOR LIFE.

Dont: Use flat paint. Because its not washable, it wont hold up as well as another finish.


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2018 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information for Agents and Sellers

This is the 37th year that NAR has conducted an annual survey of those who have purchased and sold homes. The most recent version 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers became available in November of this year. The information is based on answers to a 129-question survey mailed to a random sample of 155,250 consumers who purchased a home between July 2017 and June 2018. Names and addresses were provided by Experian, a company that maintains an extensive database of recent homebuyers that is derived from county records. After accounting for undeliverable surveys, there was a 4.6 response rate.

In 2017, first-time homebuyers constituted 34 of the market. This year, 2018, the first-time buyer rate was 33. Geographically, the highest percentage of first-time buyers was in the northeast at 45; the lowest was in the west at 29. Over the years the historic norms for the country have been in the 40 range. As interest rates continue to crank up, it may be a while until we see such numbers again.

The most useful information for sellers and their agents is to be found in the section on the home search process. While the survey results are not significantly different from those of recent years, the trends continue. For example, this year 83 of buyers said that they used the internet frequently during the search process. In 2003 that number was only 42. This past year 57 of buyers said that they frequently used a mobile or tablet application. That is a newer and growing phenomenon three years ago, it was 41. 63 of buyers said that they frequently >

44 of buyers went to the internet as the first step in the home search process. 17 contacted a real estate agent first, and 6 began by driving through neighborhoods looking for homes for sale. How can driving around be an option? Half the homes purchased were within 15 miles of the buyersrsquo; previous residence. Interestingly, 7 of home buyers began the process by going to a bank or mortgage company.

Buyers use multiple sources of information in the process of looking for a home. Far and away the most used sources are on-line websites 93 and real estate agents 86. Mobile or tablet applications 73 have replaced yard signs as the third most used source of information. Still though, 46 of buyers indicate that yard signs are one of their sources of information. Only 13 of buyers indicate that they used newspaper ads as an information source. A mere 3 said that they garnered information from television.

While there are a lot of intriguing data about the sources of information used by prospective homebuyers, certainly the most >. This year the information source that was highest in that category 50 was the internet. Agents are second at 28. Note that this is not to say that buyers bought their home through the internet. The typical scenario would be that a consumer sees the home on the internet, and then contacts his or her agent. 89 of those who used the internet to search purchased their home through an agent.

The differences in a little more than a decade are fascinating. In 2001, 48 of buyers learned about their home through a real estate agent, and only 8 found their home on the internet. The times they have changed.

Some things, though, remain persistently the same ndash; or close to it. In 2001, a yard sign was the third most likely source of information leading to the home that was purchased 15. And this year? It is still the third leading source at 7, but this is now the sixth consecutive year in the survey history that it has been lower than double digits. Print media may not be dead, but it has shrunk to insignificance in this arena. In 2001, 7 of homebuyers found the home they ultimately purchased through a newspaper ad; in 2018, it was only 1. It has been that way for seven years now. As has been the case for the past ten years, fewer than 1 found their home through a home book or magazine.

The 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows what works. It is a valuable resource.


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Will the New Congress Compromise on Flood Insurance or Are We All Going Under?

Part of the issue that has led the bill to ldquo;languish in the Senate since late last yearrdquo; is, not surprising: Republicans and Democrats are on opposite sides. ldquo;The GOP-led House voted in favor of the bill 237-189 despite significant opposition from coastal Democrats, who believe premiums on high-risk properties could skyrocket under the reform initiative,rdquo; they said.

So whatrsquo;s really at stake? A lot, potentially.

Premiumsmdash;If the ldquo;21st Century Flood Reform Actrdquo; passed as is, ldquo;premiums, which on average cost homeowners 650 annually but can spin out of control in coastal regions, would be capped at 10,000,rdquo; said Inman.

A lapsemdash;If the program lapses without signoff by November 30, the National Flood Insurance Program wouldnrsquo;t be able to sell or renew flood insurance policies. ldquo;Right now our financial position is okay ndash; but we wouldnrsquo;t be able to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to pay claims for our existing policies,rdquo; said David Maurstad, chief executive of the National Flood Insurance Program, on the Texas Standard.

Even more people could end up without flood insurancemdash;Despite the risks associated with having a home in a coastal area, many people still opt to forgo flood insurance in places where it is not required by law. ldquo;One recent study suggested about two-thirds of people in areas that have a 1 percent chance of flooding in a given year do not have flood insurance,rdquo; said the Citizen-Times.

Common reasons laid out by the publication include: homebuyers ldquo;dont recognize the riskrdquo; because they donrsquo;t understand ldquo;flood maps and may never inquire whether they have anything to worry about; Banks and mortgage companies dont always require it; theres a myth that the governments going to bail you out; and they think their homeowners insurance will cover flood damage. Almost all policies exclude claims from flooding.rdquo;

Flood insurance may ultimately have to look to privatizationmdash;Some say this is a much better answer, anyway. ldquo;The National Flood Insurance Programrsquo;s NFIP financial woes stem from the fact that it consistently fails to charge program participants rates that cover the full risk of flooding to their properties,rdquo; said Inside Sources. ldquo;As a result, the NFIPrsquo;s revenues from premiums donrsquo;t even cover its claims during an average year. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that the program is bleeding 1.4 billion annually. In years of catastrophic flooding, the NFIP has needed to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to honor its commitments to policyholders. Its debt now stands at about 20.5 billion, and thatrsquo;s after Congress forgave 16 billion of the programrsquo;s debts last fall. Unless action is taken, the NFIPrsquo;s finances will only deteriorate in the wake of the 2018 hurricane season and with each passing year.rdquo;


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Credit Inquiries: Why Lenders Care

FICO scores are calculated using an algorithm originally developed by The FICO Company. This algorithm considers five different characteristics of a credit file. Of course, payment history carries the most weight, contributing 35 to the total, three-digit score. The second most important >

How long someone has used credit is also a factor, making up 15 of the score and the final two of the five both contribute 10. Types of credit used and credit inquiries. Types of credit boosts scores when consumers responsibly use different types of credit and credit inquiries logs in the number of times someone has requested credit. But about that 10 for a credit inquiry, if it makes up such a small part of the total score, why do lenders care about this category?

For one, requests for credit over the past year or so wonrsquo;t hurt scores but making several requests for different credit accounts in a >

Each time a consumer makes a request for credit, that request is recorded in the credit file. Again, an occasional request is fine. What can cause a loan application to stop dead in its tracks is to see a recent credit inquiry on a credit report but no indication any account has been opened. It usually takes about 30 days. That can mean someone opened up a credit account or maybe bought a car and financed it but the amount borrowed and the terms havenrsquo;t yet made it to the credit bureaus. When a lender looks at a credit report with recent inquiries, there is no way the lender can properly determine a consumerrsquo;s new monthly payments. Someone with >

When this happens, the lender will request the borrower to explain the inquiry and verify that no account was opened and if an account was opened, to send in documentation regarding the terms of the new account. Thatrsquo;s why loan officers tell you that once you apply for a mortgage, just sit tight with any other credit requests until and after your loan is ultimately funded and closed.


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7 Rules for Choosing The Right Area Rug

There are so many questions: Should the furniture be placed on or off the rug? Does the rug go underneath or next to the bed? How big should a dining room rug really be? It can seem overwhelming, but here are seven simple tips to help you choose wisely. After all, a good rug is an investment, and you dont want to make any costly mistakes.

Rule 1: Always Go Big

Too big is always better than too small. A rug thats too small not only looks skimpy, but seems like an afterthought. However, you also dont want to go overboard. Pick a rug thats the size of your seating area rather than the size of the room.

Rule 2: Keep Your Furniture on Your Rug

An area rug should anchor your seating arrangement, so place rugs underneath sofas and chairs. Ideally, your rug should fit enti>

Rule 3: Try Layering

Consider layering your area rug over wall-to-wall carpeting. Most people seem to think that this is a decorating "dont," but nothing could be further from the truth. An area rug over carpeting adds texture and color to a room. In this case, the area rug can be a little smaller than usual - just make sure its placed right up to the edge of the sofa/chairs. And make sure your area rug and carpeting are compatible: a too-thin area rug over plush carpeting will never lay flat and may slide around.

Rule 4: Use Color

Dont be afraid of pattern, color and texture An area rug can be the focal point of the room. If your furniture upholstery is neutral, choose a colorful or patterned rug. It doesnt have to match perfectly, but it should coordinate with the other colors and fabric in the room.

Rule 5: Your Rug Should Be Bigger than Your Bed

Think big when choosing a rug for your bedroom. Your area rug should be big enough to extend two or three feet beyond the edge of the bed. After all, you want to step onto a cozy, warm rug when you get up in the morning

Rule 6: Your Dining Chairs Must Fit Completely

Chairs should sit perfectly and completely on an area rug in your dining roommdash;that means all four legs on the rug even when theyre pushed away from the table. Never have the front legs of the dining chair on the rug and the back ones off. Not only does it look funny, but its dangerous, as your chairs are unbalanced and more prone to tipping over. You can easily estimate the size rug youll need by adding 24 to 36 inches to each side of your table. If your table has extension leaves that you use often, choose a rug size to accommodate the table with the leaves in. In terms of shape, a rectangular table needs a rectangular rug. A round table can support either a round or square rug.

Rule 7: Think Outside Standard Sizing

Area rugs tend to come in standard sizes, usually including:

  • 3 x 5 feet
  • 5 x 8 feet
  • 8 x 10 feet
  • 9 x 12 feet

If you need an odd size rug, you can always have one custom-made. It might sound expensive, but it may be more affordable than you think. Simply purchase regular wall-to-wall carpeting, have a carpet installer cut it to your desired size, and finish the edges with binding or serging to get a custom rug without the custom price tag.

Now you can avoid the stress of buying a brand new rug only to find its the wrong size. Just follow these rules to make sure your new area rug fits perfectly in your home, so you can enjoy your beautiful, cozy new space.

As a Wisconsin interior designer, Merri Cvetan of MEC Design Studio has lots of experience fitting a rug to your space. She gives great tips on sizing, color and patterns to help you make the right rug choice for your room. To gather more info and see a large selection of area rugs, visit homedepot.com.

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Essential Garage Equipment for Car Enthusiasts

Garage Space

First, you need a garage with adequate space. A small garage might provide enough space to park your car, but if you want room to work, you may prefer something bigger. Chicago architect Allan J. Grant recommends that a single-car garage should be a minimum of 10 feet wide, and a two-car garage should be at least 20 feet wide, with 24 feet being optimal. For a car enthusiast, a two-car garage provides better working space.

Workbench

A good workbench is the first piece of essential equipment, says Popular Mechanics. You can build your own workbench inexpensively or purchase one from the store.

There are several ways to design your own workbench. The simplest is to use a pair of sawhorses to support a solid-core door or a plank of medium-density fiberboard. You can also find many designs online for building workbenches out of simple materials such as 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s. Bob Villa offers five different DIY designs for workbenches you can build in a weekend.

To speed things up, kits for building your own workbench are also available from suppliers such as the Simpson Strong-Tie Company and Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation with its 2x4 Basics product line. If youd prefer to buy a pre-made workbench, modular workbenches from manufacturers such as Craftsman and Gladiator provide the flexibility to customize your workspace.

Vises

To use your workbench, you will want a good bench vise. A bench vise holds your projects in place, provides extra force and stabilizes items while glue dries. Avoid cheap vises, and invest in a quality vise from a manufacturer such as Craftsman.

Lighting

Adequate lighting is essential for working on your car. The easiest way to improve the quality of your overhead lighting is by installing ceiling-mounted fluorescent light fixtures. Four-foot instant-on T8 bulb fixtures with wide reflectors or diffusers are a good start.

However, to get lighting in hard-to-reach places, youll want more than overhead lighting. Mercedes mechanic Kent Bergsma recommends avoiding clip lights and halogen-type shop lights and instead using stage and movie lighting equipment, such as an LED video lights with barn doors.

Storage

The more tools you own, the more storage space you need. For general storage, a pegboard is the most affordable way to store individual tools and other pieces of equipment, and a tool chest provides organized storage.

To store your off-season tires, it puts less stress on tires to store them upright than to stack them. You can hang tires on hooks if theyre mounted on the rims, but never hang unmounted tires because this will distort and damage them.

Ramps, Jack Stands, Lifts and Hoists

Its also essential to have equipment to elevate your car. An auto ramp set is great for working under your car. Jack stands with safety pins will come in handy to change tires. If you can afford it, a vehicle lift will really make your garage look like a car shop. An engine hoist with a stand is also useful.


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Updating an HOA Reserve Study

1. Component cost changes that happen frequently can dramatically change the reserve study projections.

2. Rate of Inflation. Changes every year and directly affects future dollar needs.

3. Return on Invested Reserves. Changes every year and directly affects future owner contributions.

4. Balance of money in reserves. Changes every year and impacts funding recommendations.

5. Component Useful Lives. Can change for some components and affect the renovation schedule. Site inspections are recommended at least every three years for accurate useful life projections. When a reserve study is originally performed, each component is assigned a life expectancy based on current condition, quality of installation, preventive maintenance and affects of weather.

6. Cost of Renovation. Could change for some components and impact future dollar needs.

7. Changes to state statute can affect how the reserve study is done.

8. Lenders require a current reserve study. FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac underwrite the majority of homeowner association loans. As a condition of loan approval, they require a reserve study current within 12 months. If the board cannot provide it, members run the risk of having their refinance or buyer loans denied.

Some boards may be tempted to do annual reserve study updates to save money. This can possibly work if there is a board member that specializes in construction cost estimating. However, for the vast majority, the results will be shooting in the dark since very few boards have the expertise to perform an in-house reserve study. In most cases, the reserve study should be done by a qualified professional like a Professional Reserve Analyst PRA member of the Association of Professional Reserve Analysts. See www.apra-usa.com for a list of members. The costs are reasonably priced and the results are professional, informed and accurate. Why would the board not want to take advantage of a service provided by a qualified professional?

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


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The Ultimate Contractors: Real Estate Agents as Independent Contractors

It is this tenacity that warrants our attentionmdash;and deserves our praisemdash;because each agent is an icon unto him- or herself. Each agent is responsible for how he represents himself to the public, regardless of his association with a firm of solid repute or a strong foundation.

Pardon the construction metaphors, as they constitute a descriptionmdash;they are a construct, pun intendedmdash;for the many ways in which real estate agents try to appeal to clients. This attempt is, first and foremost, an exercise in building an identity. It includes symbols that speak for themselves without the need for a single word, in addition to collateral materials that complement a message by their appearance alone. All of these things, and more, are the building blocks of success.

What, then, does success look like? As the image that accompanies this column shows, it looks customizable; which is to say it looks familiarmdash;it is familiarmdash;because familiarity breeds comfort, not contempt. It breeds confidence, not concern.

According to Janil Jean, Director of Overseas Operations for LogoDesign.net, real estate agents should embrace the familiar. She says: ldquo;Familiar is not a synonym for generic. For example: A house may have a particular >

I agree with that statement, based on my exposure to failed marketing experiments in which >

I also agree that real estate agents can inspire us to be better marketers in general. Their work is a study in perseverance and a profile in the steadfastness necessary to succeed. They work by staging homes and taking clients on tours of various homes. They home in on the things that make a home, so to speak; the accoutrements and accessories; the decorations and designs; the symbols and signposts that adorn the streets and sidewalks along the byways of America.

Let us celebrate their work ethicmdash;and emulate it, too.

Let us put real estate agents at the forefront of a movement, whose progress advances our common interests.

Let us do so with passion and integrity, in tribute to a profession defined by excellence and driven by exceptional people.

Let us transform the real estate industry.


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Many quot;Clean Upquot; Changes to Real Estate Laws

Many of the changes are simply matters >

Of particular note are changes in the rules regarding agency disclosure and identification.

bull; Under current law, the requirement of an agency disclosure in a residential transaction is limited to residential properties of less than five units. That limit has been removed; the disclosure is now required on all real property transfers including vacant land.
bull; It is no longer required that a buyerrsquo;s agent present an agency disclosure to the seller. That provision made sense once ndash; when agency disclosures were something new, and it was often likely that disclosure might not have been made to the seller by the listing agent. But now, agency disclosure is so ingrained that the ldquo;third disclosurerdquo; is just an awkward fifth wheel.
bull; Agency disclosure is one of the areas where the term ldquo;selling agentrdquo; and ldquo;listing agentrdquo; have, respectively, been replaced by ldquo;buyerrsquo;s agentrdquo; and ldquo;sellerrsquo;s agent.rdquo;
bull; The agency confirmation section has been changed in order to clarify roles. Presently there is only one space each for the buyerrsquo;s and sellerrsquo;s agent. That space is meant to be filled in by the firm name, although many agents incorrectly enter their own name there. Now, there are two spaces each for both buyer and seller each. One is for the brokerage firm, including DRE number, and one is for the individual agent and his or her DRE number. Also, the term ldquo;dual agentrdquo; has been added, to be used where appropriate. The recent CAR memo emphasizes that, if an agentrsquo;s firm represents both parties, then even if the buyer and seller are represented by different individual agents, both agents are dual agents.

Among other changes:

bull; Responsible brokers will no longer by required to maintain physical possession of salespersonsrsquo; licenses.
bull; Salespersons may enter into compensation agreements among themselves e.g. in referral situations, or by ldquo;sharingrdquo; a client, but payment must be paid through the responsible broker.
bull; An agency listing, whereby the seller can still procure their own buyer without owing a commission, is now termed a ldquo;seller reserved listing agreement.rdquo;

The CAR memo emphasizes that the changes were not intended to create new law, but only to ldquo;me>
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What to Look for When Signing Your First Lease

1. Do Your Research

Treat your commitment to renting a property in the same way you would carefully consider buying an expensive appliance or a new car: do your research. Look for online reviews from previous renters attached to the property profile in Google or on other social media platforms like Facebook. Search under either the landlordrsquo;s name or the name of the property company or apartment complex to find reviews in Yelp. You can even dig up complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

2. Read the Lease

This seems like an obvious piece of advice, but itrsquo;s worth repeating. Read the lease and then read it again. Ask for advice from someone you trust who has the >

bull; Length of the lease
bull; When rent is due and how to pay it
bull; Security deposit rules and refunds
bull; Lease termination and penalties
bull; Rules about roommates or subletting
bull; Whether pets are allowed or prohibited

3. Get It in Writing

If you donrsquo;t see a topic or rule specified in writing, request to get it added to the lease. Even if it seems minor, it should be clearly outlined in the legal agreement between you and the landlord. Look for language about who handles the utilities and rules for personalizing your space. Fleshing out the details in the lease protects both you and the landlord from future misunderstandings and financial headaches.

4. Be Clear about Maintenance Responsibilities

Understand and document what your responsibilities are in terms of maintenance and who you should call in case of an emergency. When you move in, the landlord should document the condition of the propertymdash;if there is preexisting damage, insist that itrsquo;s recorded accurately before you accept the keys. Check all the appliances, door locks, and plumbing, and if anything needs attention, require that it be addressed now so you donrsquo;t end up paying for it later.

If your landlord doesnrsquo;t supply a checklist to verify the current condition of the property when you sign the lease, supply one yourself. There are several free templates online that you can use to document the condition of the property and ask your landlord to co-sign.

5. Check Out the Security

Check with the landlord or property manager to determine the security measures in place for your rental. If you are moving into a complex, make sure all areas are well lit and measures like security cameras are in place. If the apartment or home isnrsquo;t outfitted with security safeguards, ask the landlord if they allow tenants to install their own security systems. Some DIY systems cater to rentals for 15ndash;25 a month, meaning you still have security options if the property doesnrsquo;t have them already.

You can also research the surrounding area to see if they have a Neighborhood Watch program in place, and you can ask local law enforcement if the area has any crime trends.

6. Donrsquo;t Forget about Parking

This may be one of the last things on your mind when yoursquo;re signing the actual lease, but itrsquo;s crucial that you understand where you can and cannot park. Whether itrsquo;s off-street or on-street parking, covered or out in the open, the parking arrangement may end up being a pretty large hassle depending on the weather and the safety of the neighborhood. Request clarification about the parking situation if it isnrsquo;t clearly outlined in the lease.

7. Consider Renters Insurance

Insurance probably isnrsquo;t a priority when yoursquo;re still apartment or house hunting, but it should be something you consider getting before moving in. In addition to protecting you from property loss, renters insurance can sometimes help with damage caused by poor maintenance that wouldnrsquo;t be covered by your landlordrsquo;s insurance policy.

Once yoursquo;ve thoroughly reviewed the lease and checked off all these boxes, you can feel more confident about signing on the dotted line.


nbsp;Victoria Schmid enjoys writing about technology for the ldquo;everydayrdquo; person. She is a specialist in online business marketing and consumer technology. She has a background in broadcast journalism.


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8 Fab Ways to Give Your Home a Fall Refresh

We have to say wersquo;re inspired this year, though. Fall/winter/holiday trends are looking intriguingly inviting, and the new crisp weather and changing leaves has us craving texture and warmth. Itrsquo;s a natural connection, says MyDomaine. ldquo;When fall rolls around, the urge to redecorate always hits us hard. After the carefree days of summer, and inspired by all the beauty weve absorbed along the way, we are finally ready to get back to the grind and nest while the temperatures slowly drop. Its only natural to want to get our spaces up to snuff before we prepare to hibernate.rdquo;

So, were making a greater investment in deacute;cor updates for the coming cold seasons, and taking some cues from current and predicted design trends. This is what wersquo;ll be buying.

Some blingy holiday swag

Come on. Yoursquo;re dying over that feather tree, right? Yeah, us, too. We donrsquo;t ususally go so glam with our holiday deacute;cor, but this display is making us rethink that.

Something to pretty up our banquette

ldquo;From breakfast nooks to kitchen booths to family rooms, banquette->

Bold colors

Good thing bold colors are big for fall. Truth be told, our living room is pretty neutral, too. Think Revere Pewter walls and a mushroom sectional. This season, we take a leap into the world of jewel tones. "I think people are tiring of neutral and muted color schemes and are looking to use bolder colormdash;in either traditional or modern interiorsmdash;to enliven their spaces," said interior designer Perry Sayles on Apartment Therapy.
Wersquo;re starting with the couch, and since wersquo;re not ready to replace it, a melange of pillows will kick off our trek into a more colorful world. Pillows in velvet, to be specific. After a trip to HomeGoods, we have to admit that we might have a bit of a velvet problem that could require an intervention. If yoursquo;re going, might we recommend getting the small cart so you donrsquo;t have the space for more than a few items?

Arches

ldquo;Arches are seeing a major resurgence in contemporary architecture, but this trend is even felt in home deacute;cor and furniture,rdquo; said MyDomaine. We love this Fifi Contemporary Arch Wall Mirror, which not only incoroprates the arch trend, but also has a bit of an exotic, Moroccan feel, which makes it seem collected, not purchased on sale. Speaking of which, itrsquo;s currently priced at 143, down from 309, on Wayfair.

Oversized florals

We love the idea of adding a bold floral pattern in fall, when, traditionally, florals would have been concentrated in the spring. ldquo;This is a really lovely trendmdash;who doesnrsquo;t love flower prints and on a large scale? Look out for big blousy designs that have a pre-Raphaelite >

Jet black

Black has started to make its way into the kitchen and bathroom, in the form of cabinetry for the bold and jewelry for those looking for smaller doses. Expect it to be showing up all throughout the house in the coming months.

ldquo;Fans of monochrome will adore this trend,rdquo; said House Beautiful. ldquo;Its all about the accessories ndash; and they need to be black. But if yoursquo;re not a massive fan of large amounts of black you can make this trend work by using small blocks here and there. ldquo;

An overdyed Persian rug

Our design >

Art with faces

ldquo;The analysts at online vintage furniture, art, and home accessories site Chairish have studied sales data to find out what >

This is another trend wersquo;ve had our eye on. In fact, this in in our basket in icanvas right now. We love that itrsquo;s so colorful and that it has a bit of a Picasso thing going on. Now itrsquo;s time to hit ldquo;buy.rdquo;


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Are You Overspending on Rent?

ldquo;Chances are if you are renting you are spending too much of your income on your monthly housing expense,rdquo; according to mortgage expert Kevin Pierce from Mid America Mortgage. ldquo;There is a long-standing lsquo;rulersquo; that a household should not pay more than 28 of their income on their rent or mortgage payment. This percentage allows the household to save money for the future while comfortably covering other expenses.rdquo;

That rule, known as the 28/36 rule, also states that a household should spend ldquo;no more than 36 on total debt service, including housing and other debt such as car loans,rdquo; said Investopedia. ldquo;This rule is used by mortgage lenders and other creditors to assess borrowing capacity, the premise being that debt loads in excess of the 28/36 parameters would be difficult for an individual or household to service and may eventually lead to default.rdquo;

Landlords may also use calculations similar to this to qualify rentersmdash;and some cap that amount even lower, at 25, said Quicken. Although, if you look at nationwide data, it appears that renters are significantly ldquo;cost-burdened, meaning they spent more than 30 of their monthly incomes on rentrdquo; last year, said ApartmentList.com, according to Pierce. Their data from 2017 shows 49.5 million renters in this precarious financial position, accounting ldquo;for nearly half of all renter households in the country.rdquo;

For many renters, especially in popular cities and nice places, itrsquo;s just not possible to live within those means. Another survey, this one from Rent.com, focused on 1,000 millennial renters between the ages of 18 and 34, and found that more than half are overspending and ldquo;nearly 1 out of 5 of the renters surveyed said that over half of their income went to paying rent each month,rdquo; said Forbes.

The immediate issue here is the fact that spending all that money on rent leaves many people feeling stressed and pressured just to make enough to pay the landlord every month. Staying in a rental situation and paying someone elsersquo;s mortgage every month when they could be earning equity on their own home stifles personal economic growth, not to mention creating a glaring lack of savings, funds for emergencies and retirement, or any ability to change their circumstance.

This revelation is often the catalyst for renters to first look into buying a home, and that is often followed by the shock of finding out that buying may not be out of reach, like they may have thought. Yes, when it comes to renting vs. buying, what consumers donrsquo;t know could hurt them. Finding out that buying a home in a particular area could actually cost around the same as renting, and that down payment and closing cost help may also be available, is a life-changer.

ldquo;Bottom line: you have nothing to lose by talking with a lender and seeing if you can qualify for a loan, how much home, if any, you can buy, and how the payments compare to what you are currently paying in rent,rdquo; said Pierce. ldquo;It may inspire a home purchase right now, or one you can work toward in the future.rdquo;


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Earning Client Trust: The 3 Rs of Respect

A buyer or seller benefits from quickly bonding with their chosen real estate professional, so they can all get to work on the tasks associated with buying or selling a property. How does a professional make it easy for buyers or sellers to believe their trust will be well placed when invested in someone they have only just met?

bull; Confident, articulate, respectful professionals are aware of the impression they make and how to earn trust from first contact, online or off. Less polished professionals often undermine opportunity by concentrating on what they want to have happen rather than on what the prospect is attempting to achieve.
bull; Referrals from friends or family can help get the >bull; Professionals with a strong ethical and results-oriented reputation in the community may more easily earn trust in those they just meet. Once again, itrsquo;s how they perform that really earns trust, not just their reputation.

How do you make it easy for prospects to quickly give you their trust? How do you make it easy for clients to sustain trust in you?

RESPECT is a vital element in earning trust. This materializes as consideration for feelings and beliefs, paying attention to questions and responses, treating others with courtesy and kindness, and maintaining an attitude of deference or admiration for the knowledge and goals of prospects and clients.

The three ldquo;Rsrdquo; are key elements of Respect that professionals should keep in mind when determined to earn trust:

1: Recognition
When a real estate professional doesnrsquo;t recognize the value in prospects and clients, they probably wonrsquo;t see value in the professional either. Take people for granted or adopt condescending airs and yoursquo;ll receive the same reaction, or no reaction, in return. For buyers or sellers to recognize your value to them, it must be clearly evident to themmdash;in terms they >viewing your property.rdquo;

2: >
To earn trust, stop believing that your stand-by excuses carry any value at all. Simply and consistentlymdash;>

3: Resourcefulness
Prospects and clients want to find professionals to work with who can be trusted to put client interests first, whatever happens. A solid and creative commitment to problem solving and troubleshootingmdash;ldquo;What I get you into, Irsquo;ll get you out of if necessaryrdquo;mdash;to help clients secure the property of their dreams, is essential to earn respect and trust. Your physical and mental stamina, as well as a hunger for up-to-date strategic information from the latest listings to the hottest trends, will keep you steps ahead of your and your clientsrsquo; competition. A reputation for creating financial and negotiation pathways around offer-stalling situations is a major trust-earning element since it demonstrates respect for client needs and goals. When clients enter into transactions, the respect they receive will build trust to levels that mean they cannot resist telling everyone about youmdash;the amazing real estate professional who had their back during the often-confusing, stressful transaction.

Respect for clients and for yourself is expressed in the many ways clients find you and your expertise valuable. To earn trust from prospects and clients, concentrate on recognition of their efforts and concerns, on your consistent >

Accomplish the above and yoursquo;ll know the answers to the following two questions and how to use the answers to your advantage and your clientsrsquo;:

bull; Why are you valuable?
bull; How are you valuable?


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Housing Counsel: The Future of Community Associations

Letrsquo;s analyze each one.

DRONES are flying all over, and according to USI, if this is not currently an issue in your community, it will be. Marvin Nodiff, a community association attorney in St. Louis and a fellow member of the College of Community Associations, has written a number of entertaining fiction books about community living. In Dark Condo, he tells of a property manager who uses drones to inspect the entire property. Unfortunately, the drone took a picture of a unit owner that was embarrassing to her, and she sued the association. Accordingly to Marvin, ldquo;community associations should consider this new drone technology to take advantage of its many beneficial applications, such as providing images depicting conditions of roofs and common grounds. Further, associations should protect against potential impacts as drones become more popular for commercial and other uses.rdquo;

Safety and privacy are ndash; or should be ndash; the concerns of all communities. Boards of directors should adopt rules regulating, controlling and monitoring who and when a drone can be used. Fines should be spelled out in the rules for any violations. And association boards ndash; and their property managers ndash; should consult their insurance agent to make sure there is adequate coverage should a drone fall and damage property or injure a person..

MOLD has always been a concern, but with the massive rainfalls in recent years, flooding homes has made the problem even worse. According to USI, ldquo;damage from mold is specifically excluded in most standard property insurance policies. Such policies provide coverage for damages that are sudden and accidental. They are not designed to cover the cost of cleaning and maintaining a home.rdquo;

Accordingly, associations must address their water problems. Cleaning up the mold but not remedying the cause is not acceptable. And even if the mold is in just one unit, does not mean the rest of the association is immune from a subsequent occurance.

It is important to know if mold is caused as a direct result of an insurance covered peril, such as a burst pipe; then insurance should cover it. But in every association master insurance policy, there is a deductible ndash; an amount the association has to pay. Typically, this ranges from 5-20,000, and must be paid every time insurance is involved.

This obviously can be expensive, especially for older buildings. However, state and DC law gives guidance as to who is obligated to pay this deductable. For example, under the laws of the District of Columbia and Maryland, if a pipe breaks in a unit, depending on what the associationrsquo;s Bylaws state, that owner is responsible for paying the associations deductible, regardless of fault. In that case, the ownerrsquo;s personal insurance policy called HO-6 should cover that cost. And in both Maryland and the District, the laws mandate that every condominium owner have such a policy.

COPYRIGHT. More and more communities, in order to foster a spirit of friendship and an opportunity to get to know your neighbor, are offering free movies. According to USI, this is a ldquo;potential for copyright infringement issues and huge fines.rdquo;

The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to distribute the movie, and if you infringe on the copyright, you may have to pay a fine ranging from 200 to 150,000 for each violation. Additionally, you may have to pay for the copyright ownerrsquo;s attorneyrsquo;s fees and court costs. And the copyright is not limited to movies; it also includes music.

The Community Association Institute CAI, a national organization representing the interests of community associations all over the United States, has developed a guidance document to assist communities on how to deal with copyright issues, particularly music and movie licensing. If your community plans to show a movie ndash; free or otherwise ndash; you must obtain a license from a performance rights organization. And even if a resident rents your clubhouse and hires a disc jockey or a band that plays or broadcasts copyright music, the association is ultimately responsible to make sure all appropriate licenses are obtained.

The CAI publication is available at advocacy.caionline.org/mmlicensing.

Every community association ndash; its board of directors and its property manager ndash; must ensure your insurance is up-to-date and complies with the minimum dollar requirements spelled out in the law and your legal documents. In my experience, I have seen policies that do not comply.

When there are legal questions, the association consults with legal counsel. When there are insurance questions, the association must consult with its insurance agent.


Full Story >


October Generates Donations to 18 Nonprofits Thanks to Generous Real Estate Agents

Peter Lunde of Coach Realtors in Stony Brook, NY has generously donated to Prevent Child Abuse America on behalf of his clients, Brian Hillman and Stefanie Valsamopolous.

Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Irvine, CA has generously made three donations this month. One to Folds of Honor on behalf of clients Matt and Erica McGinley, a second to Susan G. Komen of Orange County on behalf of clients Rob and Deidre Moffat, and a third donation to Acres of Love, made on behalf of her client, Brian Konoske.

Brittany Howe of Realty One Group in Goodyear, AZ has made a generous donation to St. Vincent De Paul Diocese of Phoenix on behalf of her client, Cindy Frami.

Michelle Ratajczak of James amp; Less Realty in Virginia Beach, VA has made three generous donations this month. One to Girls on the Run Hampton Roads on behalf of her clients RJ and Jennifer Ratajczak, a second to the Alzheimerrsquo;s Association of Southeastern Virginia on behalf of her client, Linda Bing, and a third donation to the American Red Cross Hurricane Florence >

Kellie Bradt of RG Realty Group in Coon Rapids, MN has made a generous donation to the Bhutanese Community Organization of Minnesota on behalf of her clients, Sagar and Sostika Katel.

Jennifer DaPonte of Berkshire Hathaway in Wesport, MA has made two generous donations in her debut as an Agent with Heart. The first to the Fall River Historical Society, made on behalf of her clients, Bill and Carroll Brown, and the second to the Wes-Mac Parent Teachers Organization, made on behalf of Stacy and Brian Silva-Boutwell.

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 7 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program. Read more about their donations and generosity here.

ldquo;Thanks to our incredible Agents with Heart, we have achieved another record month of donation dollars generated to nonprofits nation-widerdquo; said Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;I would like to personally thank Peter, Dana, Brittany, Michelle, Kellie, Jennifer and Quinlan Realty for being so incredibly driven to make a difference in their communities. It is because of real estate agents like them, who have a true dedication to paying it forward, that we created our program, and why we are able to assist nonprofits everywhere.rdquo;

ldquo;It is a true honor to include agents like Peter, Dana, Brittany, Michelle, Kellie, Jennifer and everyone at Quinlan Realty within our program because they are truly aligned with our vision, and all of us at PinRaise are grateful to be partnered with such kind, caring agents. We look forward to all of the wonderful good their generous donations will generate to these nonprofits, and to many others in the future,rdquo; concludes Mr. John Giaimo.

About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the Agent with Heart program, real estate agents agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their commission from a home sale or purchase to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit www.PinRaise.com.

To contact Peter Lunde, please call 631-601-7906 or visit www.PeterLundeNorthShoreHomes.com.

To contact Dana Roberts, please call 949-433-6694 or visit www.DanaRobertsRealEstate.com.

To contact Brittany Howe, please call 623-302-4542nbsp;or visit www.Facebook.com/BrittanyHowe.RealtyONEGroup.

To contact Michelle Ratajczak, please call 757-472-0944nbsp;or visit www.ahomeforgood.com.

To contact Kellie Bradt, please call 651-269-8435nbsp;or visit www.kelliebradt.realtygroupmn.com.

To contact Jennifer DaPonte, please call 774-526-0984.

To contact Quinlan Realty, please call 314-401-9286 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.


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How Will the TCJA of 2018 Affect Your Taxes?

Mortgage interest has been a standard deduction for most homeowners for years and is certainly one of the more popular. The biggest change reduced the loan limit on which mortgage interest can be deducted from 1 million dollar mortgage to a 750,000 mortgage. When you compare the national median home value today somewhere near 240,000, these new limits wonrsquo;t affect that many home owners. But for those living in higher cost areas and fall into the upper tier tax brackets, they will indeed see some changes.

Another change >

In addition, the deductions for state, local and property taxes, sometimes referred to as SALT, have limits. The new limits for SALT deductions is now 10,000 but again primarily affect higher income earners.

Other changes implemented in 2018 affect:

bull; Higher standard deduction to 12,000 for single filers and 24,000 for joint filers
bull; Personal exemption eliminated enti>bull; Income tax rates reduced for most filers
bull; Child tax credit boosted
bull; More medical expenses allowed

There are many other changes but these are the ones most commonly addressed when filing income taxes. Finally, this information is not considered tax advice. For information on how these changes affect your personal situation, you need to speak with your tax professional.


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Quinlan Realty Goes the Extra Mile with Another Month of Generous Donations

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 7 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program.

Agent with Heart Tayler Stanowski has generously donated to Partners 4 Pets on behalf of her clients, Dan and Crystal Lindow.

Agent with Heart Kevin Robben has generous donated to Tenth Life Cat Rescue on behalf of his clients, David Robben and John Davis.

Quinlan Realtyrsquo;s distinguished Broker with Heart, Craig Carr, generously matched Taylerrsquo;s donation to Partners 4 Pets, and also made four individual donations One to Sunshine Ministries of Saint Louis on behalf of his client, Sherrie Gross, a second to the Buddy Fund on behalf of clients Rebecca and Andy Yonaka, another to SimpleChurch Inc. on behalf of his clients Jason and Chrissy Hagan, and a final donation to Shelter Friends, made on behalf of Dawn Dulle and Dulany Harms.

ldquo;Quinlan Realty is a shining example of what it means to pay it forward to the community,rdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Craig and his team of agents donate after each and every transaction they close, which is truly remarkable and appreciated not only by all of us at PinRaise, but by each and every one of the local nonprofits they are assisting each month.rdquo;

ldquo;We are incredibly proud to be partnered with such an incredible brokerage who is completely aligned with our mission of giving back, and I would like to personally thank Craig, Tayler and Kevin for assisting us in accomplishing that goal each month through their wonderful generosity. We applaud and appreciate their kindness, and look forward to seeing the good they will continue to bring in the future,rdquo; concludes Mr. John Giaimo.

About the Broker with Heart Program: Through the Broker with Heart program, brokerages agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their commission from a home sale or purchase to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit www.PinRaise.com.

To contact Craig Carr, please call 314-401-9286 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.

To contact Tayler Stanowski, please call 314-401-9889 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.

To contact Kevin Robben, please call 314-922-8819nbsp;or visit www.QuinlanRealtySells.com.


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The Inside Scoop on HOAs

ldquo;If you are considering purchasing a property that is governed by an HOA, you should thoroughly understand how these associations work before you buy,rdquo; said Investopedia. ldquo;HOAs can affect not just your finances, but also your quality of life.rdquo;

To put it in the most general terms, ldquo;If youre buying a condo, townhouse, or freestanding home in a neighborhood with shared common areasmdash;such as a swimming pool, parking garage, or even just the security gates and sidewalks in front of each residencemdash;odds are these areas are maintained by a homeowners association, or HOA,rdquo; said Realtor.com. That means you pay a fee every month for the HOA to maintain those common areas.

Thatrsquo;s a big downside for many people, as is the idea that an association can mandate what a homeownerrsquo;s yard can look like, how loud they can be, or even how many guests they can have. The average person may excuse what seems like an intrusion or an overstep by their HOA if it means their home values are protected. But, for some people, being told what to do with their home is just too much to bear.

Once you know the broad ideas, digging in to the details can further inform your choices. A new survey from insurancequotes.com that ldquo;set out to gauge how much homeowners associations help or hinder neighborhood residentsrdquo; and which elicited 649 responses can help.

ldquo;Homeowners associations or HOAs are supposed to exist to make our lives easier. Donrsquo;t want to mow your lawn or deal with noisy neighbors? Typically for a monthly fee, HOAs provide property maintenance and a code of rules meant to provide a uniform look and feel to a community,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Sometimes, though, these codes can cause controversy and frustration, such as when an HOA fined a military veteran for displaying an American flag or told a family to take down their daughterrsquo;s playground.

Recent studies show Americans still believe homeownership is the key to the American Dream, but even more Americans say the American Dream is tied to freedom of choice in how they live. It can, therefore, feel personal when an HOA says your cherished lawn gnome or jam-packed flower bed is against the rules. But beyond the rules and regulations, how do homeowners really feel about their HOAs? We Surveying over 600 people from various demographics, we asked about the value of HOA fees, the most annoying HOA policies, and the craziest stories from HOA meetings.rdquo;

Who likes HOAs and who doesnrsquo;t

The way people feel about their HOA largely depends on what generation they belong to. ldquo;Overwhelmingly, baby boomers were the most likely to say they loved their HOA. As baby boomers reach retirement age, they might be more interested in housing communities that create a peaceful, well-maintained environment. Conversely, Gen Xers were the most likely to hate their HOA.

Whatrsquo;s the problem?

Would you be surprised to hear that loud music is the top complaint made to HOAs? Probably not. How about if we told you that itrsquo;s millennials who are most likely to complain about said loud music. ldquo;This jives with recent data that show millennials make the most sensitive neighbors,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Gen Xers were much more concerned with the appearance of landscaping on their neighborsrsquo; properties. Baby boomers, however, seemed to be on poop patrol, as they were overwhelmingly most likely to call their HOA if they found their neighborsrsquo; pet waste in their yards.rdquo;

The rest of the top complaints are below, separated by generational group.

Why arenrsquo;t you attending meetings?

While we can certainly understand why people opt not to go to meetings, we suspect some may reconsider after hearing some of the things that go on there. ldquo;The majority of homeowners, no matter their property type, reported witnessing arguments at an HOA board meeting,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Seventy-three percent of condo owners reported seeing an argument at their meetings. Among town house owners, 12 percent said they saw someone get physically aggressive at an HOA meeting. While throwing a punch is a rarity, itrsquo;s interesting to see just how often a meeting ends in argument.rdquo;

Want even more drama? Check out a few of these crazy HOA stories:


Full Story >


Ask the HOA Expert: Hiring an HOA Member to Do HOA Work and Public Delinquencies

Answer: It is bad business to hire an HOA member to do HOA work because there is a clear conflict of interest even if the member is competent to do the work. And if the member turns out to be incompetent, the board will end up firing him and likely create a long term enemy. Unless this person provides a service that is unavailable elsewhere, stick with outside professionals.

Question: What approaches have you seen boards take to inform their members about other members who are in arrears? Our board likes to post names and amounts in arrears as well as put the information in the minutes.

Answer: Do not post delinquent member names And get rid of that stock and pillary The board should refer to a collection only by the amount owed, time past due and status of the collection process. Naming names is a sure way to alienate neighbors and trigger litigation for defamation of character. Besides, all collections are not created equal. Some may have a legitimate reason for not paying disabled, unemployed, others donrsquo;t pay because of a matter of principle: ldquo;Irsquo;m not paying until the board fill in the blank and some may simply be jerks.

To avoid favoritism, the board should institute and use a Collection Policy which is uniformly applied to all members, including themselves. Even better, that Collection Policy should be enforced by a hired professional manager since no board member should be put in the position of personally enforcing collections on other members. There is a sample in the Policy Samples section of www.Regenesis.net

Question: Our board asked our current management company to get competitive quotes from other management companies. Somehow this seems ill advised.

Answer: There is an obvious conflict of interest in what the board proposes. Instead, the board should appoint a committee to develop a Request for Proposal RFP which is given to at least three qualified companies, which may include the current management company, depending on what the board is trying to achieve. There is a sample RFP in the Manager Issues section of www.Regenesis.net

Question: The board is proposing that, since some people are not comfortable addressing others in person at the annual meeting, that they can submit questions or comments in writing for a board member to read. Is it appropriate?

Answer: The board is not given some special authority to speak for other members. If certain members are too timid to speak for themselves, they are entitled to appoint a proxy legal representative to speak or act on their behalf. That representative, of course, could be one of the board members.

Question: Our annual meeting proxy form has an option that reads: ldquo;This proxy is valid for quorum purposes onlyrdquo;.

Answer: This is a common proxy option. It means that the proxy is not valid for voting purposes but can be counted toward achieving a legal quorum as defined by the governing documents so that the meeting can be held.

Question: Our board president does not like one of the members and will not recognize her when she wants to speak. Does the president have the power not to recognize someone?

Answer: If a general member is speaking out of turn or otherwise acting disrespectfully or rudely, yes, the president can refuse to acknowledge her. However, not liking someone is not a valid reason. If this president cannot overcome this self-serving and immature tendency, the board should remove and replace her with another director who can.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


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9 Ways To Transform Your Trashy Old Furniture Into Standout Pieces

Dont trash it or stash it. Beautify it with a coat or paint or some fresh new upholstery. You just might end up with a killer item that becomes the centerpiece of your space.

Here are 10 ways to transform those old pieces into something amazing:

1. Paint it black

A sad finish on a great, solid piece of furniture can bring it down. A coat of black paint can transform a dowdy old garage dweller into a showstopper youll want to feature prominently in your home.

2. Paint it white

White can transform a piece of furniture in multiple ways. Choose a chalky paint for a French country finish or gloss to make it modern. It can even turn an old Indonesian bench into a beachy spot for lounging.


Lilyfield Life

3. Paint it your favorite color

This antique blanket chest might not have stood out for the right reasons with its old mid-tone wood finish. But in dusty blue, its getting attention for all the right reasons.


Apartments I Like

4. Upholster it

Dated, dreary, torn, or worn fabric can hide the beauty of an antique piece. A curvy chair gets new life with a bright pop of floral upholstery and a surprising striped arm.


1700 Louisiana

5. Paint it a color you never considered

Give something old a new splash of color to make any piece of furniture the centerpiece of any room.nbsp;

6. Stripe it in something other than black and white

A bold color choice, some horizontal stripes, and a little antiquing create a one-of-a-kind piece.


WANELO

7. Antique it even further

Take a piece thats a little beat up, and then take it a step further. A little sandpaper, a little wax, and you have a masterpiece.


Shizzle Design

8. Have a little fun with it

Who says your dining room chairs have to be stodgy?


Paula Gold

9. Add an unexpected pattern to your unexpected color choices

What could be more fun than painting the Union Jack on your old dresser? Painting it in pink and orange


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The Nightmare Next Door: What To Do When Your Neighbor Is a Nuisance

So how do you know how to handle a nuisance neighbor, and what should you do when the situation gets out of control? Knowing who youre dealing with is step one.

Annoying but probably not dangerous

The situation: Your neighbor is a busybody, always in everyones business and clearly enjoys spreading it around. The animosity she creates is making it hard to enjoy social outings in the neighborhood.

The strategy: Have a talk with her. Perhaps the simple act of honest discourse is enough to get her to curtail her behavior. After all, no one wants a "Desperate Housewives" scenario.

Multiple people may need to be in on this act to get the point across that her behavior wont be tolerated. As a worst case scenario, disinviting her from social events may be necessary. Uncomfortable, but necessary.

Could go off the rails if provoked

The situation: Your neighbor complains about EVERYTHING. The way your kids friends park on the street in front of your house. Your dog that barks exactly one time a day, for a 30-second period, when the mail is delivered. Even the way your trashcan faces on trash pickup day.

And its not just you. Hes been terrorizing the neighborhood since the day he moved in, and everyones too scared to confront him.


A PLUS

The solution: Kill him with kindness - but only if it seems safe. Could be the neighbor is a lonely man who doesnt know how to reach out and is channeling his sadness/lack of social interaction in a negative manner. Taking over some cookies, bringing in his newspaper, or offering to water his flowers might be the icebreaker you need to start breaking down those walls.

But, being able to judge a situation is key to knowing how to handle it. If youre not sure if your neighbor is just sad and lonely or if hes going to turn into a psychopath and burn your bunny, you probably want to keep your distance.

You should definitely watch your back

The situation: There has been a rash of vandalism in the neighborhood, with cars being keyed and landscaping being ruined. Or perhaps youve experienced hostile behavior from a neighbor yelling profanity at you or your kids.

The solution: There are some situations that cant be resolved any other way but getting the police involved. If you feel unsafe or if anybody is being threatened, dont be afraid to get the police involved. It could be that the scare is enough to alleviate the situation.

Involving the police could also be necessary if a neighbor is breaking the law.

"When only one person or a small number of people are disturbed by a nuisance, it is a private nuisance," said the Chicago Tribune. "Examples include a noisy neighbor, a barking dog, a trash-filled vacant lot and trespassers attracted to a vacant building. If a state or federal law or a local ordinance is being violated, the police or other officials should be notified to abate the nuisance."

Sometimes, a neighbors antics affect more than your daily enjoyment of your home. If money or land are involved, things can get beyond testy. If keeping things calm and out of the hands of professionals isnt working, it may be time to take legal action.

"Consider having the property surveyed, which should resolve any questions about property lines. And a survey could nip the problem in the bud, since the person who wants something to happen usually pays, said Emily Doskow, an attorney in Berkeley, California, and the editor of Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries amp; Noise on CNN. "The cost can vary anywhere from 300 to 1,500, depending on where you live and how complicated the survey is."

Be aware that there are several defenses that could derail your plight knowing about the private nuisance when you moved to the neighborhood or tolerating it over a period of time are a few of them. Your attorney should be able to advise you of whether or not you have a legitimate case.


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Housing Affordability is Canadas Hottest Issue

Municipal elections have just concluded across Canada, and the hottest topic on the campaign trail was housing affordability.

Kennedy Stewart is the new mayor in Vancouver, the countryrsquo;s most expensive housing market. He campaigned on the promise that ldquo;housing affordability will be my number one priority.rdquo; He says his plan is ldquo;to prioritize non-profit housing solutions that are affordable to people with low-to-medium incomes, while at the same time encouraging the for-profit housing industry to provide homes within reach of first-time, local homebuyers.rdquo;

Stewart promises to speed up the permitting process by increasing city staff and reducing red tape ldquo;with special emphasis on reducing wait times for small- and medium-sized developers and homeowners.rdquo; He also promises to allow more opportunities for homeowners to build triplexes and fourplexes on standard lots ldquo;and remove barriers to converting large homes into multi-family residences.rdquo;

Other measures that Stewart plans to introduce are tripling the empty homes tax and protecting between one-third and one-half of all new homes from foreign speculation.

All that densification in existing neighbourhoods may be a challenge in Vancouver. It certainly would be in Toronto, where a recent survey by the Toronto Real Estate Board and the Building Industry and Land Development Association found that residents are not shy about admitting they are NIMBYs, ldquo;not in my back yardrdquo; opponents to development.

The survey said that 87 per cent of respondents agree that itrsquo;s important to build new homes in the Greater Toronto Area as a means toward addressing the issue of housing affordability, and almost 90 per cent agree that zoning bylaws should be reviewed, and changes considered to allow for middle-density housing types.

But 37 per cent of respondents oppose the building of a new townhouse development within a half kilometer of their home, 44 per cent oppose the building of a stacked townhouse development with a half kilometer, and 52 per cent oppose the building of a mid-rise condo apartment within half a kilometer of their home. Almost 60 per cent oppose the building of a high-rise condo building within that half kilometer.

Toronto re-elected John Tory for a second term as mayor. His housing plan is to build 40,000 affordable rental units over 12 years. The Open Door program uses city-owned land and provides property tax deferrals, development charge waivers and fast-tracked approvals to build affordable housing.

Recently three housing industry groups got together to urge the Ontario government to outline five ways the new provincial government can become ldquo;the millennialrsquo;s best friendrdquo; by making housing more attainable.

The Ontario Real Estate Association, the Ontario Home Builders Association and the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario suggest speeding up the planning approvals process, which they say can take up to 10 years in some parts of the province.

The groups would also like to see more homes built around and above transit stations, and more tax >

They are also calling for the Ontario Municipal Board, which was scrapped by the previous provincial government, to be reinstated. Although critics claimed the board generally sided with developers, the housing groups say it would ldquo;take the NIMBY out of housing decisionsrdquo; and provide ldquo;more evidence-based planning decisions, which will create more housing supply and choice.rdquo;

The groups also would like to see reduced barriers and red tape for new rental housing stock.

Back in B.C., the Urban Development Institute Pacific Region has similar suggestions, including encouraging transit-oriented development, building more ldquo;missing middlerdquo; homes such as townhouses, speeding up the building approvals process and ldquo;fair and predictablerdquo; development fees and charges.

The ldquo;stress testrdquo; rules introduced by the federal government to ensure that those getting a mortgage could afford them has come under fire from Mortgage Professionals Canada, the group that represents mortgage brokers.

ldquo;Fewer Canadians are now able to obtain the mortgage they need to acquire a home, and many sellers now find fewer buyers to sell their home too,rdquo; says Paul Taylor, president and CEO of the organization. ldquo;As we first outlined at the time of the mortgage rule changes, itrsquo;s now clear that our concerns regarding the cumulative impact of said changes are decreasing competition and increasing costs for consumers.rdquo;

The group is asking that the test be uncoupled from the Bank of Canada five-year benchmark rate and instead set at 0.75 per cent above the contract rate set by the lender.

However, another industry group, the Appraisal Institute of Canada, supports the current mortgage lending guidelines. ldquo;The regulatory oversightOuml;has allowed Canadians to benefit from stable markets; we have not seen some of the fluctuations and volatility that have plagued other countries,rdquo; says Keith Lancastle, CEO of the institute. The group says it supports plans to further tighten mortgage approvals, so they are based less on the equity of the property and more on the individualrsquo;s ability to repay the loan.

The 2019 PwC Canada Emerging Trends in Real Estate report says the federal mortgage guidelines are flawed because Canada doesnrsquo;t have just one national housing market and trying to apply one solution to affordability to all markets will fall short.

The report warns that ldquo;millennials may abandon the urban core for the suburbs in search of more affordable housing, and high housing costs in cities like Vancouver and Toronto could make it difficult to retain skilled workers. In a survey of young professionals by the Toronto Region Board of Trade, 42 per cent indicated that they were likely to leave the GTA because of high housing costs.

ldquo;Over the next five years, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are forecast to see a loss of people to other areas of their province,rdquo; says the report. ldquo;While forecast immigration rates will help make up these numbers, it is a consistent trend.rdquo;


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HOA Rules Rule

Part of the challenge is that HOA rules can differ significantly from one HOA to another. They can also be more restrictive than rules imposed by local governments. In addition, because the policies can be changed at any time by an appropriate vote of the board or members, itrsquo;s often difficult to be certain that the rules a buyer receives at closing are the definitive ones.

Here are some strategies for getting to the bottom of the HOArsquo;s rules:

1. Are all rules in writing?

While HOAs generally have a set of written rules, some also have unwritten rules that offenders donrsquo;t discover until they break them. Although the courts usually wonrsquo;t enforce unwritten rules, taking a dispute to that level is costly and aggravating. Buyers should ask if there are any unwritten rules. If the answer is ldquo;nordquo;, get it in writing.

2. Are the rules specific?

A vague rule thatrsquo;s open to interpretation is an invitation to disputes. One particular area of rules where this is common is architectural design control. For example, the HOA rules may state that ldquo;the board must approve owner remodeling and landscaping projectsrdquo; but not have any specific criteria for what is acceptable. As worded, this board could reject virtually any request for approval for any reason. If architectural design control is important, the HOA should have a specific policy so those that want to make changes have clear guidance.

Another area where vagueness abounds is in parking rules that state something like ldquo;no commercial or recreational vehicles may be parked within the homeowner associationrdquo;. These kinds of vehicles come in many sizes and types so the parking rules should be very specific about which constitutes ldquo;commercial or recreational vehiclesrdquo;. This often means large commercial trucks and vans, RVs and boats but it could mean much more. Get the board to approve in writing whatever commercial or recreational vehicles your client has before closing to avoid this potential problem.

Pets are another volatile area of HOA rules. Some HOAs restrict the number, weight, size, type and breed. More HOAs are prohibiting aggressive dogs like Pitbulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans. It pays to ask.

3. Are all rules consistently enforced?

If a rule is important, it should apply to everyone, including the board members and their friends. A buyer can inquire with several neighbors about how aggressively rules are enforced and if particular rules are stressed more than others.

4. Do some rules seem unnecessary or arbitrary?

If there is a city ordinance to control wandering pets, for example, the HOA doesnrsquo;t need the same rule. If an HOA has enacted many rules, this could indicate a legalistic and confrontational board, which should be avoided unless the buyer is of the same mind.

5. Are penalties for infractions reasonable?

If a rule is necessary, it needs to have a reasonable penalty for breaking it. Some boards think the way to control folks is to invoke huge fines for violations. When challenged, courts routinely throw out such fines as ldquo;unreasonablerdquo;. A review of the rules will reveal whether penalties are unreasonable. The only thing worse than an unreasonable penalty is no penalty at all. If a rule has no penalty for violating it, it is no more than a suggestion.

6. What is the appeals process for rule violations?

An important part of HOA rules is the ability to appeal. If none is provided, yoursquo;re left with possibly having to hire a lawyer to defend your interests. Look for language in the rules that allows an appeal to the board.

At the end of the day, HOA rules can have a big impact on an buyerrsquo;s future enjoyment of the property. A buyer should always make their offer to purchase subject to review of key documents and the HOA rules.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net.


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Why Reserves? If We Have a Surplus, What Then?

A: The answer will be "Condo l01"; but it is worth repeating as often as possible. There are too many associations that do not have sufficient reserves, and when an emergency occurs, they literally scramble for assistance. And unfortunately, in a few instances ndash; such as when utility are not being paid and the association is threatened that services will be turned off ndash;bankruptcy is the only answer.

Reserves are a critical component of every community association budget, whether a condominium, cooperative or a home owners association.

Reserves are to be used for emergencies to the common elements, such as roof leaks, elevator breakdowns or repairing pot-holes on privately owned roads. Reserves are also to be used for long-range repair or replacement projects, such as replacing carpets, painting common elements and fixing swimming pools and tot-lots.

Lenders who make mortgage loans on homes within a community association look carefully at reserves. For example, FannieMae requires a minimum reserve of 10 percent of the associationrsquo;s annual budgeted assessment income.

Boards of Directors must exercise good business judgment as they pursue their functions on behalf of their community associations. It is good business judgment to have a reserve account; in my opinion, it is not good business judgment if the Board does not address reserve issues in their annual budget.

How does one determine how much is necessary for reserves? The simplest method is to obtain an Architectural amp; Engineering Aamp;E study at least once every 4-5 years. Such a study should include a "reserve analysis", which the Board and management can >

Generally, the reserve analysis portion of an Aamp;E study will look like this:

ComponentCostUseful LifeYearly for Reserves
nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;
Roof replacement15,0005 years3,000
Painting3,5007 years500
Elevator29,0008 years3,625
Tot-Lot8,5002 years4,250
Trash Compactor7,8005 years1,560
nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;
nbsp;nbsp;Total:12,935

Thus, in our example, the Board -- at the very least -- should include a line item of 12,935 in the annual budget to properly fund reserves. Each unit owner will be assessed -- as a part of his/her association fees -- a portion of the replacement reserves.

Where can the Board invest these funds? We all know that interest rates are still quite low, while the stock market has until recently been booming.

If the Board wants to invest reserves in the stock market, and if one hundred percent of the unit owners and mortgagees give their written approval and the legal documents do not prohibit it, the Board can so invest those funds. Indeed, if everyone in the Association authorized the Board to invest the money in a lottery ticket, while this would be highly unusual, it would be an acceptable investment.

Obviously, the Board will not get this 100 percent. The Board has a responsibility to reasonably -- and prudently -- invest association funds, while at the same time obtaining a decent rate of return. The Board must invest such funds in a secure investment; the most secure are investments which are insured -- or guaranteed -- by the Federal government. Such funds would include treasury bills and notes, certificates of deposit up to 100,000, or other similar government-backed securities.

The Board must review the governing documents of the Association first, to determine if there are any limitations on their investment rights. The Board should then consult with both its management agent and a financial consultant to get various options. Then, of course, the "buck stops with the Board", and only the Board can make the final investment decision.

Lets look at your second question, namely what can the Board do if they successfully have a budget surplus at the end of a fiscal year. Again, it is important to look first at the governing documents of the association.

Your statersquo;s association law also must be addressed. For example, the Maryland Condominium Act does give us some guidance.

Unless the documents of an association spell out a different process, the Maryland Condominium Act gives the Board three specific choices:

1. disbursed directly to the owners;
2. credited to the owners for future assessments, or
3. used for any other purpose as the council not the Board of unit owners decides.

This means that the Board should make a recommendation, e.g., the surplus goes into reserves, and have the recommendation voted upon at an annual or special meeting by all owners.

Reserves are a very important aspect of community association living, and Board of Directors must make sure that they are available, secure and adequate.


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Construction Nightmare?

If a massive renovation or a new-home build is in your immediate future, how will you guarantee therersquo;ll be no ldquo;if only wersquo;dhellip;rdquo; or ldquo;in hindsight, I wish we hadhellip;rdquo; recriminations once the project is well underway or ready for move-in?

When yoursquo;re undertaking a revolutionary project based on brand-new technology and new techniques, there may be surprises ahead. However, most of us are working within the range of the practical experience and tested expertise of the professionals hired to construct a dream home. This knowledge foundation makes anticipation the essential construction strategy for heading off expensive surprises:

bull;nbsp;Anticipation in renovation involves starting with a thorough inspection of the existing structure, including evaluation by a structural engineer. An expert who knows the work of the original home builder could anticipate possible challenges or expenses with renovation. An experienced local contractor will have seen the problems typical of area homes: aluminum wiring, knob-and-tube wiring, cut joists, asbestos insulation, water damage, unstable foundationshellip;. The resulting contingency budget will cover appropriate possible ldquo;surprisesrdquo; like these.

bull; Anticipation in new builds includes learning about past projects undertaken by the construction team, which may include an architect, interior designer, and a project manager along with the contractor team. Their combined ability to anticipate problems and opportunities will be visible in deadlines met, budgets held, design flow achieved, durability ensured, and very short ldquo;if only wersquo;dhellip;rdquo; lists from homeowners. The construction teamrsquo;s track record will be reflected in your project, so choose wisely: what they did before, theyrsquo;ll do again, good or bad. [end of bullet list]

Five Key Construction Myths undermine anticipation. Learn how to avoid them. Then, you and your construction team will be on the way to anticipating and achieving success for your dream home:

Myth 1: The biggest decision for you is deciding to go ahead with a renovation or a new buildmdash;after that itrsquo;s clear sailing. Homeowners are often overwhelmed by the range and number of decisions involved. Big decisions about foundation walls, window design, and type of heating/cooling system often pale beside the thousands of small and significant decisions that go into finishing every square inch of the interior. Which floor materials, which wall coverings, which light fixtures, which cabinetry, which kitchen hardware, which door hardwarehellip;. All of these elements and more must be integrated for overall functionality and that ldquo;lookrdquo; you want. If these decisions are not made in advance or at least narrowed down, ordering and delivery dates may snarl up work schedules.

Myth 2: No one can accurately project how much it will all cost because therersquo;ll be surprises along the way. Anticipating problems typical for the house type and construction plans will result in a realistic contingency budget to head off the unexpected need for additional financing. Commitment to a realistic overall budget and solid project management means that if expenses arise, savings will be found elsewhere to keep the project on track financially. Donrsquo;t underestimate the value of an excellent, experienced project manager.

Myth 3:nbsp;No need to worry; things can always be changed. Often the biggest expense is change. Making changes on the go can also undermine timelines, budgets, design functionality, and >

Myth 4: You can trust contractors and workers to do their jobs without the need for you to get involved. Striking a balance between interfering and being vigilant, so things happen as expected and to agreed standards, is essential. Miscommunication is as disruptive during a renovation or a new build as it is in any other setting. If you donrsquo;t keep an eye on whatrsquo;s going on, walls can end up in the wrong place, wrongly ordered materials will be installed, finishing standards may be ignored, deadlines will be missed, and many other annoying and costly slips and errors may occur. During a personal friendrsquo;s renovation, he allowed the crew to install the kitchen according to detailed plansmdash;without getting involved. Unfortunately, they managed to get everything in place except the pantry which disappearedmdash; a source of continuing irritation for the family.

Myth 5: Big box stores are the only place to get things at good prices. Itrsquo;s not just about paying less. Functionality and durability matter a lot for long-term enjoyment and ease of maintenance. A few years in the future, will you easily find parts for taps, door hardware, or other items with moving parts? If you go to the expense of creating a unique dwelling, does it make sense to exclusively use mass-market fixtures and finishes? Online shoppingnbsp;and buying local will reveal a wide range of clever options. For insight into the range of ideas, products, and issues involved in designing for a major renovation or a new build, check out resources like Metropolis Magazine,nbsp;Interior Design Magazine,nbsp; and The Architectrsquo;s Newspaper.


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Submitted to Underwriting: What Does That Mean?

When you first submit an application to a lender, your loan file is digitized and then submitted to an automated underwriting system, or an AUS. The AUS will then return a list of items that need to be included in the loan package and verified. You will provide your loan officer with an initial collection of documentation such as pay check stubs and bank statements and the like but your loan will soon be transferred to the loan processor who will prepare your file for submission to underwriting.

Before doing so however, the processor will review what you have provided while also ordering various third party services and reports needed to complete the file. The processor will order an appraisal and title work, for example. The processorrsquo;s duty is to make sure that everything the underwriter will need is included in the package. Once the processor has made that determination, the loan is then submitted to underwriting.

It is the underwriterrsquo;s job to compare what the AUS is requesting with what is included in the file. If the underwriter has a question or something in the file doesnrsquo;t quite match up to what is requested, the underwriter will contact the processor for more information.

When the loan is submitted to underwriting, itrsquo;s the last step before your closing papers are ordered. How long does it take to make such a review? Technically it doesnrsquo;t take that long for an underwriter to review a loan submission, it can be done within a couple of hours to review the entire package. However, the underwriter will have several applications to approve so while the specific approval doesnrsquo;t take all that long it may take some time for the underwriter to approve other applications submitted prior to yours.

Once your loan is ultimately approved, the underwriter clears the package for loan documents and your file is electronically delivered to your settlement agent to schedule a closing.


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Moving Abroad: Is It for You?

The first gentleman fell in love with the country while on vacation. The second fell in love with a native. The last followed a friend who fell in love with, ldquo;Pura Vida,rdquo; the unofficial slogan of the Costa Rica that loosely translates to ldquo;the simple life.rdquo;

Having experienced Costa Rica for the first time last summer, itrsquo;s not hard to see why people would choose to stay here forever. But, itrsquo;s only one of many countries around the world that are increasingly turning Americans into expats. According to USA Today, ldquo;There are an estimated 56 or 57 million expats worldwide.rdquo;

Last yearrsquo;s ldquo;Top 10 Countries for Expatsrdquo; from HSBC is led by a somewhat surprising choice. ldquo;Singapore landed the top spot for the third year running in 2017, thanks to its strong performance across the full range of economic, experience and family criteria,rdquo; said CNBC. ldquo;The city scored especially highly with regards to improving earnings and job prospects. The average annual salary comes in at 117,904. This is 18,000 higher than the average expat income globally. However, this higher earning potential also reflects a higher cost of living. Just 31 percent of expats own homes in Singapore.rdquo; Also in the top five: Norway, New Zealand, Germany, and Canada.

But higher earning potential isnrsquo;t the only driver for those choosing to leave the country. Some have been driven out by a Trump presidency, making good on their promise to bolt if he were elected. This New York Times story details the path of several families who left the U.S., traveling the world by backpack, earning money through remote work and renting out/Airbnb-ing their stateside home. For the curious: ldquo;Paul Kortman, who, with his wife, Becky Kortman, wrote ldquo;Family Freedom: A Guide to Becoming a Location Independent Family,rdquo; estimates that a family could travel indefinitely on 60,000 a year, a salary he says could be earned with a little ingenuity.rdquo;

Many others have chosen to leave for affordable retirement options or simply for the adventure of it all. Another recent ldquo;best ofrdquo; list, Expat Insider 2018 from InterNations, which surveyed 18,135 expats living in 187 countries or territories, had a top three of: Bahrain for the second year in a row; Taiwan, which ldquo;keeps impressing with quality of life;rdquo; and Ecuador, which ldquo;has recovered from its 25th position in 2017.rdquo; Mexico and Costa Rica are also in the top 10, as well as Spain, Portugal, and, again, Singapore.

This Thrillist list has another mix of ldquo;best ofrdquo; countries for expats, with some familiar names like Germany, Costa Rica, and Canada. Their list is based on ldquo;the price index from the website Expatistan to quantify costs of living in each countrys major city,rdquo; so itrsquo;s great for those who are seduced by affordability.

When yoursquo;re weighing prices and life>

Where will you live?

We may all have dreams of a pad on the sand or with a panoramic view of rolling hills and tile rooftops, but thatrsquo;s not always the reality when moving overseas. For more proof of this, catch House Hunters International sometime, and watch a young couplersquo;s dreams get crushed when they see that their 1,200/month rental budget can only afford them a two-bedroom apartment far from the beach instead of the four-bedroom villa on the sand they were envisioning.

Itrsquo;s also a good idea to make temporary living arrangements until you arrive in your chosen city. ldquo;Saying that there are lsquo;so many bad storiesrsquo; around renting apartments before arrival, Liz Carlson, travel blogger behind Young Adventuress, recommends staying at a hotel or even a short-term airbnb while scouring the local real estate market,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;Youll have a better idea of what neighborhood youre interested in and will avoid possibly being overcharged.rdquo;

Where will you work?

Many people who move abroad intend to work, at least part time, while others take their savings and move to a place where they can stretch their dollar. And, interestingly, ldquo;People who live abroad make more money on average than their domestic counterparts, according to a survey >

If you do plan to work in your adopted country, itrsquo;s best to learn about work permits abroad ahead of time.

Where are the best schools?

A growing trend as reported by the New York Times article is homeschooling or world schooling, as they call it, rendering the search for local schools unnecessary. But, for many, the idea of immersing their children in local schools and in the native language of their chosen country is part of the appeal of moving abroad. Keep in mind that there may not be buses or other transportation provided by foreign schools.

Access

A few things to ask yourself:

bull; How easy is it to get to your new country, and get back presuming yoursquo;ll want people to visit you and yoursquo;ll want to visit the States. If travel there and back is difficult and/or expensive, that could be an issue.
bull; What about access within the country? Do you intend to travel within your new home or to other nearby countries? This will be a consideration of budget but also transportation. In countries like Costa Rica, which donrsquo;t manufacture cars, importing can be expensive. Also, because many of the roads were built for oxcarts, not automobiles, there is no room for expansion, which means traveling from one city to another can be painful.

Can you really afford it?

Back to Costa Rica for a minute. That expat working at the tourist-driven t-shirt shop who up and moved to Costa Ricamdash;hersquo;s not exactly living the dream, at least not by conventional American standards.

The apartments are expensive, even for older ones that donrsquo;t have a view. The local jobs donrsquo;t pay much and are dependent on year-round tourism. Food is costlier than hersquo;d imagined. And if he ever needs a dishwasher, a washing machine, or anything else that has to be imported, he knows hersquo;ll need to pay big. But, hersquo;s made lifelong friends who want nothing more than to spend the day on the sand. The restaurant next door has a killer burger special. And he gets to see the sunset every day from work. Would he move back: ldquo;No. Not a chance.rdquo;


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Did My Offer Get Presented?

Beginning next year, for the majority of agents doing business out there, such a scenario should occur much less frequently. That is because an amendment to the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics was approved by the directors of the National Association of Realtors NAR on May 19, 2018. It will become effective January 1, 2019. The amendment, Standard of Practice 1-7, is as follows:

Upon the written request of a cooperating broker who submits an offer to the listing broker, the listing broker shall provide a written affirmation to the cooperating broker stating that the offer has been submitted to the seller/landlord, or a written notification that the seller/landlord has waived the obligation to have the offer presented.

For some time the Code has obligated Realtorsreg; to submit offers and counter offers ldquo;hellip;objectively and as quickly as possible.rdquo; They have even had an ethical duty to submit offers after a property has gone into contract or escrow. The duty could be overridden by a sellerrsquo;s instructions not to do so. But, until now, there has been no duty to confirm to a buyerrsquo;s agent that their offer has been submitted to the seller.

Why would a listing agent not present an offer that had been submitted by another agent? The most nefarious reason ndash; and therefore the one that is immediately suspected ndash; is that the listing agent has already presented an offer from a buyer that he or she also represents [dual agent] and doesnrsquo;t want any competing offer to get in the way.

Of course, there may be non-sinister reasons as well. In some hot markets the number of offers may be in double digits. Even if they have all been presented, the listing agent just doesnrsquo;t want to spend the time responding to the many that might not have even merited a counter. And, of course, the seller may have instructed the listing agent not to present offers below a certain price, or that contained objectionable terms such as seller financing, lengthy escrow, etc.. Buyersrsquo; agents should have been informed of such limitations, but it may be that neither they nor their clients felt deterred by these pronouncements.

Whatever reasons might have been given, now they will not excuse a Realtorreg; listing agent for being silent. The agent must either affirm that the offer was presented or that the seller has ldquo;hellip;waived the obligation to have the offer presented.rdquo;

It should be noted that the broker requesting the response must do so in writing. Sometimes agents are >

For California Realtorsreg; there is a letter, Demand that Offer be Presented to Seller, Letter DPO in the CAR Sample Letters library that is available in zipForms.

One last thought: Did I mention whether all this also applies to offers/applications to rent? Apparently it does. Note the ldquo;seller/landlordrdquo; language.


Full Story >


To PMI or Not to PMI

So, what is PMI anyway?

Call it an insurance policy that protects your lender against the possibility that you could default on your loan. ldquo;One of the risk measures that lenders use in underwriting a mortgage is the mortgages loan-to-value LTV ratio,rdquo; said Investopedia. ldquo;This is a simple calculation made by dividing the amount of the loan by the value of the home. The higher the LTV ratio, the higher the risk profile of the mortgage. Most mortgages with an LTV ratio greater than 80 require that private mortgage insurance PMI be paid by the borrower. Thats because a borrower who owns less than 20 of the propertys value is considered to be more likely to default on a loan.rdquo;

Why do I need it?

Coming up with 20 for a down payment obviously isnrsquo;t easy. ldquo;Many first-time homebuyers dont have that kind of money sitting around,rdquo; Randall Yates, founder and president of The Lenders Network, told us. So, PMI can spell the difference between being able to buy a home, and notmdash;even if it costs you a couple hundred dollars a month.

How much will it cost me?

You can expect to pay between 30ndash;70 for every 100,000 that you borrowed to purchase your home every month. Unisonrsquo;s estimated monthly payments based on the example of a ldquo;30-year loan for 250,000 with an interest rate of 4 percentrdquo; breaks down as:

bull; Principal and interest: 1,194
bull; Property taxes: 100
bull; Homeowners insurance: 80
bull; PMI: 125

Do I have to pay PMI no matter what?

Not necessarily. ldquo;There are a couple alternatives that may work for some buyers,rdquo; said Yates. ldquo;If youre a veteran, youre in luck because VA loans are the only type of home loan that doesnt require PMI. A piggy-back mortgage or 80/10/10 is another option some buyers use if they do not have the full 20 down payment. The borrower puts 10 down and gets a second loan for the other half of the down payment. In this scenario, you would have two loans to repay, but you avoid paying PMI. If youre in a rural area, you could qualify for a USDA loan. USDA loans are a type of government-backed mortgage that does not require a down payment and has a very low PMI rate of just 0.35 of the loan amount.rdquo;

Can I ever get rid of PMI?

You can, but itrsquo;s not easy. ldquo;To remove PMI, or private mortgage insurance, you must have at least 20 percent equity in the home. You may ask the lender to cancel PMI when you have paid down the mortgage balance to 80 percent of the homersquo;s original appraised value,rdquo; said Bankrate. ldquo;When the balance drops to 78 percent, the mortgage servicer is required to eliminate PMI. Although you can cancel private mortgage insurance, you cannot cancel Federal Housing Administration insurance. You can get rid of FHA insurance by refinancing into a non-FHA-insured loan.rdquo;


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7 Scary Things to Avoid If Youre Trying to Sell Your Home at Halloween

It may sound surprising, but doing Halloween deacute;cor right may actually help you sell your home. Doing it wrongmdash;well, wersquo;re terrified just thinking about it. Herersquo;s what not to do when decking out your house for the spooky holiday.

Donrsquo;t overdo the exterior

ldquo;Your home is strung with witch lights, gravestone markers dot your front yard and Casper the Ghost greets visitors at the door,rdquo; said MassRealty. ldquo;How will potential buyers take your home seriously when your kids insisted on decorating for the holiday.rdquo;

Dont go crazy with blood and gore

You may pride yourself on your intricate displays of horror and mayhem, but itrsquo;s best to save that for your new place. ldquo;Sure, your very realistic zombie playground may be a hit with the neighbors every year, but selling your home will require you to keep your professionalismmdash;after all, yoursquo;re trying to sell your house, not spook people away from your front lawn,rdquo; said DreamCasa. ldquo;Avoid any cringe-worthy Halloween deacute;cor like bloody handprints, tombstones, or morbid scenes.rdquo;

Donrsquo;t lack self-control with the pumpkins

You dont need your front porch to look like a grocery store display. A tasteful mix of pumpkins and gourds can be inviting. Keep the ldquo;tastefulrdquo; thing in mind when yoursquo;re carving, as well. The last thing you want is to attract attention to your Richard Nixon pumpkin instead of your newly painted front door.

Keep an eye on the kidsrsquo; carved pumpkins, too. If you donrsquo;t want to offend them by hiding the less-than-perfect pumpkins during an open house, you can simply turn the faces toward the wall for showings.

Donrsquo;t pack every inch of your interior with Halloween-themed deacute;cor

If buyers canrsquo;t take their eyes off your admittedly impressive skeleton collection, theyrsquo;re not paying enough attention to your floorplan and features. You want buyers to notice the home, not whats in it.

Donrsquo;t fail to decorate

If youre in a neighborhood in which every home decorates for Halloween, you dont want to be the one party poopermdash;this could make your home stick out for the wrong reason. Save the hanging witches and inflatable Dracula for another time and go for something elegant that speaks to the design sense buyers might find inside. We love these luminary pumpkins that are carved with repeating geometric patterns.

Dont let your yard go

Itrsquo;s fall and, in many areas, lawns will be dormant soon and yards wonrsquo;t be in their best spring shape. But that doesnt mean you shouldnrsquo;t make an effort, especially if yoursquo;re trying to get your home sold. A simple clean up, new mulch, and a couple of baskets of fall flowers near the door can be all it takes to look fresh and new.

Donrsquo;t price your home too high

This is problematic regardless of the time of year, but fall can be eye-opening for buyers who incorrectly assume that they may be able to command spring or summer home prices without the same competitive conditions. Your agentrsquo;s competitive market analysis should serve as a guide.


Full Story >


HOA Plantscaping Done Right

Downsize Turf Area.

HOAs that were built with large turf areas require intensive mowing, fertilizing, edging and watering. Turf is a landscaping black hole. Converting turf to hardscape or planting beds will have a huge impact on water and maintenance bills.

Simplify.

When choosing plants and bushes, go for native species that are drought and pest resistant. Place them carefully according to sun, shade, space and pruning needs.

Turfscaping.

Avoid planting grass in areas that are shady, too dry or wet, or too steep to be mowed. Use a ground cover and other plants better suited to these areas.

Mulches.

Mulches around plants reduce weeds and conserve moisture. Gravel and bark mulches require little care beyond pulling or spraying the weeds that grow through.

Ferti-little.

Plants kept at minimum fertilization levels need less pruning, mowing and water.

Tree Beds.

Tree beds speed mowing and protect the trees from damage.

Edgify.

Use edging between the lawn and gravel walks, drives and tree beds to reduce trimming.

Paths.

Where foot traffic is heavy, pave areas with concrete or spread compacted crushed stone or gravel.

Fencing amp; Hedging.

Hide unsightly views or gain privacy with a fences or low-maintenance hedges.

Tree Pruning.

Selected pruning allows wind to pass through without causing damage. Prune lower limbs and thin branches to let more light reach the grass.

Quality Plants.

A cheap plant is not necessarily an inexpensive one. Treating sickly plants takes time and money. Shop at reputable nurseries and garden centers and dont buy plants without inspecting them first.

Step-by-Step Improvement:

1. Use a Professional Landscape Architect. There is much to consider in plant selection and lay-out. Professionals know the flowers, plants, tree and bushes that work best in your location. If the objective is to lower maintenance and water costs, the landscape architect will design it that way.

2. Clean up amp; Removal. Remove debris, old flower beds and other unsightly material. Prune trees and overgrowth from shrubs and trees.

3. Install Paths amp; Walkways. Straight walks make mowing easier. Keep the grass border trimmed straight along the edges. Walkways that are flush with the ground with no edging material are easier to maintain than those with flower borders or other low edging plants.

4. Install Turf First. If you are using seed, the turf needs to get started first. If you are using sod, it can wait.

5. Install Plants. Slow-growing plants and those needed to establish foundation plantings go in first.

6. Plant Trees. Trees, like lawns, are major landscape features and should be started early in landscape development. Plant trees to form a foreground and background.

Proper fertilizing, pruning, mulching, and caring for plants is very important from the beginning. Plantscaping involves a conscious plan to introduce draught tolerant native species, reduce turf areas and simplifying the design. Take advantage of reduced work, costs and increased beauty.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net.


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Is School Improvement Part of Your Ownership Strategy?

Improving the ranking or reputation of local schools involves community investments on many levels, and it generates benefits for everyone that extend well beyond real estate value. Obviously, "school improvement" is a larger undertaking than redoing a kitchen or adding a second floor to a home, but it may be more achievable than many realize.

How do home buyers, including millennials, prioritize in your area? Surveys have revealed nbsp;that top home-selection priorities include safe, affordable neighborhoods with good schools. School district quality has a significant influence on neighborhood choice and often home values when buyers focus on whats best for their children.

Jack and Alice Johnson name changed finally found a house they could afford, proudly moved in, and grew to love the area. Their plan was to renovate their home and gain from improving the real estate value. At no time in this process had they thought about local schools since children were not in their immediate plans. They soon discovered that a "value ceiling" existed. No matter how much renovation money they poured into their home, its value would not significantly increase beyond that price point.

The Johnsons researched the area to identify criteria which established the local value ceiling. Some they could do nothing about; others showed some potential. They zeroed in on what they could contribute to and what could increase buyer perceived value for the area[mdash;]the local elementary school was ripe for improvement.nbsp;

Neglect and apathy are among key factorsnbsp;nbsp;challenging schools and communities. These two negative factors can be minimized or canceled out by commitment from parents and non-parents alike. Your contribution, based on your skills, knowledge, and local connections, may become obvious to you and do-able for you when you read the following list of possible benefit strategies to supporting schools:

Back up parents

Schools benefit from parental contributions of time, skills, connections, money, and fundraising. Pitch-in to support parent efforts to improve buildings, textbook holdings, or facilities and benefits will abound.

Add your voice

Local politicians and school boards respond to numbers. Attend public meetings concerning the school to lend your support to parents and learning issues. Add your voice and presence[mdash;]encourage other neighbors to join inmdash;and the school may receive more attention and funding.

Strengthen teacher appreciation

Acknowledging teacher effort with recognition reinforces the type of >

Support student excellence

Coaching, tutoring, and other motivational and productivity-enhancing efforts raise student performance and school ranking. The more people who get excited about school improvement to reinforce student learning, the more noticeable the returns.

Spread the word

Local media, websites and real estate professionals want to praise neighborhood efforts. Make sure they know what benefits the school, its programs, and extracurricular activities offer its students.

FYI: The Fair Housing Act directs real estate professionals not to make value statements linked to local schools, but to provide interested consumers with school-evaluation resources so they may draw their own conclusions.

Bolster community choices

Sometimes effort spent improving community centers, arenas, playing fields, and other local assets can also benefit local schools. Your sports interests may lead to health and wellness contributions that provide benefits for teachers and students.

Harness expertise

Retired educators, business people, and professionals know the value of education for neighborhood students. Enlist these adults, even those without children or with grown children, to join your school improvement project.

Review >

TIP: If your home-buying search continues, adopt a long-term perspective and consider local schools whether or not you have or want children.


Full Story >


Choosing Window Treatments: Pros and Cons

"Of all the design decisions homeowners make when decorating a home - paint color, furniture, fabrics, rugs, lighting, accessories - window treatments often get overlooked or receive inadequate attention," said Karen Egly-Thompson on Houzz.

Perhaps its because choosing the right window treatment is just too overwhelming. These pros and cons will help.

Wood Blinds

These natural wood slats are either painted or stained and are a popular choice for todays homeowners.

Pros:

They come in a variety of stains and paint grades "from light pine to bamboo to richly stained ebony," so they complement "many decorative >


Blinds Mart

Cons:

Wood blinds can be pricy depending on the material, and can sometimes feel a little uninspired without being layered with another window treatment like drapes.

Faux wood blinds

Faux wood blinds are generally made of vinyl or a composite of vinyl and wood.

Pros:

These blinds offer a similar look and function to real wood, often at a lower cost. Theyre also super low maintenance, making them a favorite of designers and homeowners, and are great in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms where a high moisture content might warp real wood.

Cons:

They can look cheap depending on the material, and bargain-basement options have been known to have function issues with the cording, so be sure to check the quality before purchasing.

Panel Track Blinds

Panel track blinds are a modern, attractive alternative to vertical blinds and a great choice for sliding glass doors.

Pros:

Panel track blinds allow for light control and privacy without having to resort to vertical blinds.

Cons:

Not as sturdy as some other window treatments.

Plantation Shutters

Shutters are a homeowner favorite, offering an upscale look that can elevate the elegance of a space. They are also among the most expensive window treatments - but well worth it to fans of this >


AAA Blinds

"Shutters are dynamic as an architectural statement and are not only functional and beautiful window treatments, but they can also add value to your home," said Blinds Galore. "Shutters help to control incoming light, offer privacy when closed and help to insulate against heat, cold, and sound. Shutters add timeless, traditional sophistication to any room."

Pros:

Shutters offer great light control and insulation and are among a handful of items that can increase the value of a home - a homebuyer might not remember the color of your walls but she will remember if you have shutters.

Cons:

The expense is often beyond that of other window treatments.

Drapes

Hanging drapes can frame windows and bring life to a space - coordinating with furnishings or providing contrast. But color and pattern are just two of the important factors when choosing drapes. Consideration should be given to climate - are you in a warm climate where you need protection from the sun or a cold climate which calls for insulated drapes? Do you have a lot of morning or late afternoon sun, and how much do you want filtering into the room? Do you want a quality fabric that will last for years, or are you the type who wants to update on a regular basis?

"Set aside >

Pros:

Drapes are one of the few window coverings that almost anyone can DIY depending on how and where theyre being hung. Theyre also easy to change out seasonally or on a whim and are among the most affordable options for those on a budget.

Cons:

The sheer variety of drapes pun intended can also make it challenging to choose the right one, and drapes can sometimes feel not as finished as other options depending on the product chosen and the installation. Layering window coverings and using the drapes for framing instead of function can help.


Pinterest

Shades

A variety of shades provide coverage for windows in >

  • Cellular or honeycomb shades
  • Roller shades
  • Roman shades
  • Motorized shades

When installing shades, youll also want to consider corded or cordless versions, whether to mount them inside the window or out, and have them open from the top or bottom.


HarborView Blinds

Pros:

Offered in a variety of >

Cons:

Shades on the low end of the pricing spectrum can feel cheap with flimsy materials. Some shades can also have an institutional feel.


Full Story >


A Hot Bath Can Burn as Many Calories as a Run and Now We Need a New Tub

Woah.

Dr. Faulknerrsquo;s study involved a comparison between an hour-long hot bath and an hour of cycling. ldquo;The two tests were designed to raise core body temperature by just one degree so that the team could measure how many calories were burned in each session,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Though cycling did burn more calories, they found that a hot bath used up as many calories as a 30-minute walk.rdquo; Also, blood sugar comparisons found that ldquo;peak blood sugar after eating was about 10 lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised.rdquo;

Wersquo;re pretty sure thatrsquo;s excellent justification to upgrade our tub. You, too? Join us then, on a journey for the best bathtubs to buy right now.

Homethods crowned the Woodbridge 67" Acrylic Freestanding Tub the best of the bunch. ldquo;This tub is double-walled, to provide superior insulation for the water contained within. Thatrsquo;s great, since itrsquo;s primarily designed as a soaking tub, and itrsquo;ll let you enjoy a long hot soak after work. It also has hidden, adjustable legs which will let you level it out no matter how bad your bathroom floor is. Add in a full year of warranty for any defects, and wersquo;ve got a contender for the best freestanding bathtub around.rdquo; The acrylic material also makes it affordable for a freestanding tub. Itrsquo;s priced at 749.

The Chariton, a 61" Cast Iron Slipper Tub, is one of the best-selling tubs on Amazon and is also the No. 1 seller in clawfoot tubs, owing to its gorgeous design and large size. With a porcelain interior, the tub has a vintage look and oil-rubbed bronze feet The claw feet are also available in chrome, white, black, and brushed nickel.. Itrsquo;s priced at 1,099.

Bathing Guidersquo;s choice is the American Standard Cadet Freestanding Tub. ldquo;If you can find the time in your busy schedule, there is nothing quite like spending 30 minutes soaking in a spacious, deep bathtub like this one from American Standard,rdquo; they said. ldquo;This is a >

The American Standard Evolution Deep Soak Bathing Pool was named ldquo;Most Comfortable Bathtubrdquo; by Thoroughly Reviewed and has a 5/5 product rating. This tub is not freestanding; If yoursquo;re looking to replace your existing ldquo;drop-in or alcove installedrdquo; tub, this is a great choice thanks to its stylish look, large size itrsquo;s five-feet long, and affordable price at just over 500. ldquo;The Evolution Deep Soaking Bathing Pool by American Standard has many features that provide loads of comfort for the user,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Itrsquo;s constructed from fiberglass-reinforced acrylic that provides extra strength. It also offers a backrest, dual armrests and much more.rdquo;

The Palermo Solid Surface Freestanding Soaking Bathtub brings a more streamlined approach to the >

Houzzrsquo;s look at the most popular bathtubs yielded a great option for those who want both a distinctive shape, and a pop of color. This Europe >
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Which is Best: Freezer on the Side, Top, or Bottom?

Most homes dont come with a refrigerator-freezer, so that may be the first item you purchase for delivery after buying your home. But where do you start?

Measure carefully and take the dimensions with you when you shop for a unit. With about a half-inch of clearance on either side, youll know if its worth it to you to do some remodeling. What you dont want is a unit that sticks out far beyond the cabinetry, or encroaches on the doorway. The refrigerator should look organic to the kitchen. Here are three types of refrigerator freezers to consider.

1. French door, bottom freezer. The elegant French door >

Overall, cubit foot storage capacity is slightly less than other models, but the convenience of the short door swings and wider shallower storage shelves make this >

2. Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers. The side-by-sides are still popular but they tend to be deeper so its easy to lose sight of items and forget theyre there. But, they have some advantages over other models -- theyre less expensive than the French door models, and they offer nearly equal freezer capacity to the refrigerator side. This can work for users who cook more frozen dinners than fresh foods.

Side-by-sides are also convenient for users who dont want to do a lot of bending over to find items. Many models will offer pull out shelves, but usually not all the shelves pull out, except in more expensive models. From a kitchen design standpoint, side-by-sides have less of a door swing radius than other models, and can easily fit in spaces that other refrigerators cant.

3. Freezer on top. Remember how often you used to have fill up plastic ice trays? The freezer on top >

Features such as ice/water dispensers on the door are not usually found on freezer on top units, which is one reason they rate so high in >

If youre trying to fit a small space in an older home, small home or apartment, the freezer-top >

Visit your local appliance dealer and practice opening the doors of display refrigerators. Bend down and pretend to take foods out of the bottom drawers. Youll quickly learn which configuration is right for you and your budget.


Full Story >


California Adopts Change to Landlord-Tenant Notice Periods

Specifically, those notices are the ones known as i a three-day notice to pay or quit, ii a three-day notice to perform a covenant duty under the lease, and iii a five-day notice to file an answer to an unlawful detainer eviction suit. Crucial to such notices, as is the case with performance clauses in contracts, is defining how days are to be counted.

Under current California law, for the notices in question, the days to be counted begin with the first day after the notice is served. However, if the last day for performance is a weekend or holiday, it is excluded from the counting. California Code of Procedure sect;12.

Some examples:

1. If, on Monday, I am given a three-day notice to pay, then I must pay within the days Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

2. If I received the three-day notice on Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday are counted, but Saturday and Sunday are excluded from being performance days. The final day fornbsp;performance would be Monday, provided it is not a holiday.

3. If I receive the notice on Friday, and Monday is a holiday, then my last day for performance would be Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, as well as the Monday holiday, are included in the counting, they just canrsquo;t be required as a performance day.

AB 2343 changes current law with respect to which days can be counted when a tenant is given notice. Now, not only are weekends and holidays not days when performance can be required, but also, they are not days to be included in the counting. The only days to be counted are so-called court days, i.e. Monday through Friday, provided that none is a holiday.

When the new law becomes effective, if I am served with a three-day notice on Friday, counting will not begin until Monday. My last day for performance, presuming no holidays are involved, would be Wednesday.

Does this make a big difference? It probably would if you only had Monday to deal with paperwork, perhaps secure a loan, or any of a number of easily-imagined scenarios. Proponents of the bill had stated ldquo;Legal services programs throughout the state report that they are visited by frustrated tenants every day who are able to resolve the situations leading to their eviction, but not within the extremely narrow time provided by California law.rdquo; This was a particular concern with the five-day notice to respond to an eviction filing.

As it is, the original version of AB 2343 sought considerably more than what survived through the amendment process. The original version had proposed that the three-day notice periods be extended to ten days, and that the five-day notice period be extended to fourteen.

The bill was co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the California Rural Legal Foundation. It also had the support of a variety of tenantsrsquo;-rights groups. The bill was opposed by, among others, the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtorsreg; CAR. After the amendments, CAR withdrew its opposition.


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The quot;Psquot; of Community Living Rules Enforcement

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

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

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

1. Owner: Here, the situation is >

Make sure the alleged conduct does in fact violate your rules or your associations documents. If you have any uncertainty, discuss the matter with your association attorney.

Once you are satisfied you have a strong case, advise the owner that the Board or an authorized committee will hold a hearing, for the purpose of giving the owner an opportunity to defend his or her position. The owner can be represented by counsel at the hearing if he or she so desires. The hearing is informal and can be held before a panel of board members or other owners selected and approved by the board. If the Board or the committee determines the owner has violated the governing rules, the Board has a number of options at its disposal. It is important to note that these comments are general in nature; some association documents may not permit some of these options or may even have others:

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

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

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

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


Full Story >


How to Attract Renters Using Smart Tech

If you own or manage a rental property, you probably know how hard finding the perfect tenants can be. Attracting the right people to your space is key, and smart tech can help you grab their interest and show yourself to be a prepared and mindful landlord.

Make your space feel modern and updated

Fully updating older rentals is expensive and time-consuming, and it may not be a possibility for you based on your personal budget and time constraints. However, many prospective renters want to see a space that is updated and fresh, even if the building itself is a little older. One way to bring a modern edge to your space is adding in a dose of smart tech with a few well-integrated items.

Smart lightbulbs allow users to adjust lighting conditions to their own preferences. Some come with customizable colors, while others can be dimmed and have their light warmth fine-tuned using a mobile app. There are even smart bulbs which can be voice-controlled. Showing these features to prospective renters can be an impressive touch.

You can also show off things like smart thermostats, which allow for remote control and scheduling, and smart switches, which can help add even more control to existing devices and lights. Plugging items like lamps into smart outlets adds some smarts to even the most mundane appliances, and will create a cutting-edge feel in even a dated home. Best of all, these can save both you and your renters money over time.

Help prospective renters see the possibilities

Especially in short-term rental situations, it can be hard for prospective tenants to picture their lives in a rental space. As a property owner, you can use smart tech to help them get a clearer view of how personalized their stay in your space can be.

Smart speakers with virtual assistants bring some intelligence and control into a space in one compact package. Renters can voice-control other smart tech using the smart speaker as a hub, and they can ask for music, weather, search results, shopping, games, and a whole lot more. These virtual assistants, such as Alexa and Google Assistant, can help renters feel more at-home and control more of the space.

Create a secure environment

When moving to a new place, many renters may feel some anxiety about unfamiliar living situations and neighborhoods. Using tech like smart smoke alarms, leak sensors, and home security systems, you can create an environment that keeps you and the renters in the loop about any potential threats and get ahead of potential dangers with remote warnings. Itrsquo;s important for potential renters to feel secure, and you can provide that by showing yoursquo;ve put time and effort into creating a safe place for your tenants.

The key to using smart tech to attract renters is to make sure yoursquo;re in-tune with potential tenantsrsquo; needs. Making a space feel up-to-dated, personal, and safe will attract high-quality renters to your property, and can be the beginning of a strong rental >
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Ask the HOA Expert: Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Conflict caused by concealing the truth, bending others to your will, or seeking revenge is clearly counter productive. But conflict can also be fueled by good intentions in a desire to be understood, loved, respected, or vindicated.

Conflict can arouse different kinds of responses. One response is to run, hide or deny the problem exists. Another response is to attack either verbally, physically or legally. Neither of these responses diminishes the conflict and usually has quite the opposite effect. The only real long term solutions to conflict are peacemaking responses like:

1. Overlook the Conflict. Just because we get slapped doesn=t mean we have to get even. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves only the blind and toothless.

2. Reconciliation. Making amends is not only the right thing to do, it >

3. Mediation. Pride is a high mountain to climb. Sometimes, a little help from a friend is needed to build a bridge of reconciliation.

4. Accountability. Rather than stand idly by while a neighbor engages in self destructive or harmful behavior, intercede in a caring way.

Peacemakers do not avoid conflict but confront it directly with the goal of reconciliation. Reconciliation is not always easy to achieve because the human heart can be hard. But blessed are the peacemakers who point the way.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.netnbsp;


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How to Deal with Cranky Toddlers During the Move

Moving is an overwhelming experience. It is difficult to say whether you are excited about the new place or melancholic about the one you are leaving behind. You are trying hard to handle all those jumbled up emotions, along with the stress of getting everything done on time. The last thing you need is the background score of a wailing child.


Moving can get messy if you have a toddler in the house. Parents often complain that their kids get extra cranky during the move. While some of them will just cry and whine a lot, others might act out and throw tantrums. With everything lying around in boxes, your precious bundle of joy becomes an irritable bundle of distractions.

It may be difficult to deal with a cranky kid during the move but not impossible. Like a good parent, you need to investigate the cause behind this behavior first.

So, Why Do Kids Hate Moving?

According to various studies, moving can have anbsp;psychological impactnbsp;on kids of all ages. While school going kids are sad about leaving their friends behind, toddlers can feel the lack of attention. When parents are too busy with packing and moving->

Another reason toddlers become so difficult during a move is that this is the age when kids recognize change around them, and they are usually not thrilled about it. When you are moving things around and packing them in boxes, a toddler cannot tell what is going on but they can sense that something is definitely happening. Their minds are not ready to deal with the confusion and it stressed them out. Yes, toddlersrsquo; stress is real and kids act out in response to that stress.
Now that you know that your childrsquo;s behavior is but a natural response to the change happening around, letrsquo;s see how you can deal with it in the most effective manner.

Stick to a Checklist

We will not mislead you into thinking that you can eliminate the possibility of your toddler creating a fuss. In fact, it is a possibility you will have to stay prepared for. Make sure you have a propernbsp;new apartment checklistnbsp;to keep things organized. This way no matter how much fuss your toddler creates during the move, you can make sure that every box is checked at the end of the day. No amount of distraction will keep you from getting things done.

Seek Help

There is nothing wrong in asking for help from friends and family. You can always ask your kidrsquo;s favorite aunt or uncle to pay a visit or even stay a day to keep your child distracted from whatever is going on around them. If that is not possible, hire the nanny or babysitter who looks after your child when you are absent, If you take turns with whoever is looking after the toddler, they wonrsquo;t feel deprived of the much needed parental attention. Avoiding help during this critical period will help neither you nor your child.

Manage Your Emotions

There is a high chance that your kid is unhappy because you donrsquo;t seem too happy either. Toddlerrsquo;s age is one of learning and observation. They can feel the emotional energy around them. They can tell a frown from a smile. They can read the sign of stress on your face. More importantly, they look at how you deal with stress. As a parent, you can try to conceal signs of stress and frustration on your face or in your attitude. See if you are agitated. Try to display a positive behavior and attitude and your kid will walk to walk.

Donrsquo;t Disrupt the Routine

Moving doesnrsquo;t happen in a day. It is days and weeks of preparation and packaging. It can throw your entire routine upside down. While you may be big enough to deal with the disruption, your kid might not like it. Kids become difficult to deal with when things arenrsquo;t the way they are used to. Toddlers need sleep and meals as per their regular schedule. They also get used to things like family game time or TV time. Try to keep things as normal for them as possible. Naptime, especially, should remain undisturbed because a sleep-deprived toddler can wreak havoc around the house.

Give them Control

Toddler loves control. They love it when you let them be a part of what you are doing. You can use this fact to your advantage. Think of smaller tasks that your toddler can perform. You can start with their own stuff, like toys. Give them a box and tell them to safely put their toys in that box. You can make things even more interesting for them by letting them draw on the boxes. That will keep them busy and distracted, and they will take part in the process. However, for the sake of maintaining the routine, make sure your babyrsquo;s room is the last one you pack.

The Final Piece of Advice

While we talk about keeping the child distracted and routine undisturbed, it doesnrsquo;t imply that your child should be kept in darkness about the move. It is important to prepare them for the change, and more importantly, get them excited about it. A sudden change isnbsp;not at all healthy for your toddler. It might disturb their sleeping and eating patterns and result in bad behavior. Try to ease them into the idea by paying a few visits to the new place before moving. Also, let them say goodbye to their old room so that they are more aware of the situation.nbsp;Remember, your child is not being unreasonable. The crankiness is just a natural response to the change and lack of attention. Tend to them wisely and they will be as calm as a clam.


nbsp;Jenny Harrison is a passionate home and life>
Full Story >


New Chinese Tariffs to Raise Renovation Costs. Should You Postpone your Reno?

Renovation demand has been growing as homeowners tap their home equity to make updates and improvements. ldquo;This year, the National Association of Home Buildersrsquo; Remodeling Market Index RMI revealed that in the fourth quarter of 2017, the RMI reached 60 for the second time since 2001,rdquo; said HousingWire. ldquo;Although the demand for home renovation has continued to increase in 2018, recently imposed tariffs are expected to reduce affordability for homeowners seeking renovations.rdquo;

So, could the higher costs associated with renos be enough to slow their roll? To be clear, the first round of new Chinese tariffs took effect on September 24, hitting ldquo;about 10 billion worth of Chinese products exclusive to homebuilding and remodeling, according to the National Association of Home Builders,rdquo; said CNBC. The tariff is expected to rise ldquo;to 25 percent by the end of the year. That would be equivalent to a 2.5 billion tax increase on the industry.rdquo;

Thatrsquo;s putting pressure on an industry that has been thriving even under a labor shortage, and that could bend to uncomfortable levels under higher materials costs. In addition, "Clients and contractors are having to set contracts with escalation clauses for projects that are being scheduled for six months from now, largely because were not sure how far prices are going to go north," Washington, D.C.-based contractor Justin Sullivan told CNBC.

So, if you were getting ready to add a bathroom, redo your kitchen, or create a killer outdoor area, should you proceed? That all depends.

ldquo;Trumprsquo;s trade tariffs will drive up the cost of some home renovations, so you might need to speed up your plans to finish a remodel before the supply chain impact hits you directly,rdquo; said GOBankingRates. ldquo;On the other hand, some costs are already up, so it might be worth postponing your renovation until prices stabilize.rdquo;

Specifically, they recommend moving forward with new kitchens and bathrooms. ldquo;If yoursquo;ve got a new kitchen or bathroom in mind, donrsquo;t wait. The new tariffs aimed at Chinese imports will raise the prices for tile used in bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes, cabinets, wallboards and floorboards, light fixtures, and heating and cooling equipment.rdquo;

Popular countertop materials like quartz are especially tenuous, facing a ldquo;double whammy,rdquo; with the U.S. ldquo;imposing import duties on quartz, which an investigation found was being illegally lsquo;dumpedrsquo; into the U.S. by Chinese exporters, capitalizing on subsidies from the Chinese government. Quartz prices are already rising and will likely continue to do so,rdquo; they said.

Nonetheless, updated kitchens and bathrooms are among the most-wanted features in a new home, so if yoursquo;re renovating to sell now or even a few years into the future, by all means, donrsquo;t change those plans. GOBankingRates also recommends moving quickly if you want to ldquo;convert a basement or mudroom into a laundry room.rdquo;

As for what projects to skip until costs head back down? Adding a room or garage can wait. ldquo;Some of the first tariffs President Trump imposed were on Canadian lumber, charging that Canadian companies were being unfairly subsidized by their government,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Canadian lumber prices have also risen in response to a supply decline due to tree disease and slower transportation. Wait for lumber prices to stabilize before you build a new home, add a room, add a garage, convert a basement into an in-law unit.rdquo;


Full Story >


House Still Standing on Hard-Hit Mexico Beach After Hurricane Michael

ldquo;Hurricane Michael tossed cars into the canal, snapped trees in half and carved massive craters into U.S. Route 98rdquo; while killing 16 at last count, said NBC News. The hurricanes winds lifted another beach house ldquo;off its stilts and blew it 160 yards across the main road, where it landed on a grassy area next to a parking lot.rdquo;

Yet the Category 4 hurricane couldnt take down the house built by Dr. Lebron Lackey, a radiologist from Cleveland, TN, and his uncle, Russell King, an attorney from Chattanooga. There was, not surprisingly, some damage to the home, courtesy of 144-mile-per-hour winds and high water that had to go somewhere. ldquo;In a Facebook post, it was reported that the ground floor and the stairs up to the middle floor are gone, along with windows in one of the bedrooms,rdquo; said Q13 FOX. ldquo;All the utilities have to be redone, and one of the heating and air units is gone, too. Still, thatrsquo;s a far cry from the destruction of much of the neighborhood.rdquo;

So how did The Sand Palace stay standing while other homes were torn apart? ldquo;The house stayed upright because it was built last year to codes that were even more strict than laws required,rdquo; said Weather.com. ldquo;It took reinforced concrete walls, 40-foot pilings driven deep into the ground and other factors to keep the house safe in the storm.rdquo; The Sand Palace ldquo;was designed to survive a monster hurricane, and the reinforced concrete structure was meant to be the last home standing in the event of the unthinkable.rdquo;

The home, which is used for vacation rentals, lists many of its features on its Facebook page: ldquo;four-bedroom ocean front home with beautiful views, two fully stocked kitchens, inside and outside dining options, an elevator, plenty of living space, plus four and a half bathrooms.rdquo;
The post thatrsquo;s been pinned to the top of the page mentions that the home sleeps 10, has ocean views from the living rooms, master bedrooms, and decks, plus an outside shower, picnic table, porch swings, and a grill. If you scroll down a little further, there is some info about the products used in the home impact-resistant windows and doors from Custom Window Systems in Ocala, FL and the companies Southeastern Consulting Engineers behind the construction.

And while the home reportedly cost up to 20 percent more than it would have simply to meet existing building codes in Florida, the upside is obviousmdash;not just for this property, but also for the future of homebuilding in areas prone to extreme weather.


Full Story >


What the Fed Does and Doesnt Do With Mortgage Rates

nbsp;

The Federal Funds rate is the rate banks can charge one another for short term lending. Short term as in overnight. Why does a bank need to borrow money on such a short notice? Banks are required to keep a certain amount of liquid capital, in other words ldquo;cash,rdquo; at the end of each business day. These funds are essentially demand funds. When a consumer wants to withdraw some cash either at the bank or at any automated teller, there needs to be cash available to meet those withdrawal requests. If the bank sees their reserves to meet these requests do not meet the reserve requirements, banks seek out a short term loan from another depository institution to meet the reserve requirements. This is what the Fed adjusts, the overnight lending rate. But the Fed doesnrsquo;t directly impact the everyday 30 year conforming fixed rate mortgage.

When lenders set their rates each day, they refer to a specific mortgage bond. For example, with a 30 year fixed conforming loan underwritten to Fannie Mae standards, the lender will review the current yield on the FNMA 30-yr 3.0 mortgage bond.nbsp;Just like any bond, with the price of the bond goes up, the yield will fall. And when the price goes down, the yield will rise. Investors buy bonds, all types of bonds, as a safe place to park cash. When the economy appears to falter, investors can get a little skittish and pull some funds from the stock market and transfer those funds into bonds, including mortgage bonds. If on the other hand the economy is healthy and improving, the opposite will occur.

When the Fed makes an announcement at the end of their two-day meetings, investors are anxious to hear if the Fed raised, lowered or kept rates the same. If the Fed announces they decided to raise the cost of funds by 0.25, it can tell investors the FOMC decided the economy is doing rather well but to hold of any potential inflation, it will raise the cost of funds that banks will pay for short term lending. Itrsquo;s not a direct affect on mortgage rates, but definitely an indirect one.


Full Story >


Stylish Bath Storage Solutions: Ways to Complement Your Bathroom Vanity

Finding adequate storage is a particularly challenging problem in bathrooms, and not just because they are usually the smallest rooms in the house. Bathrooms have increasingly become the place to store a large and diverse number of items, including bath towels, beauty supplies, toiletries, hair care products, medications, soaps, shampoo, and assorted cleansers. And if the primary inhabitants of the bathroom happen to be teenagers, then the demand for storage space increases exponentially.

Fortunately theres a very easy and space-efficient way to gain storage in a bathroom: install a bath-vanity cabinet. Fully assembled, easy-to-install vanity cabinets are readily available in several sizes and designs, but they all serve two primary functions. First, a bath vanity has a countertop that supports the sink and faucet. And just as important, it provides plenty of storage space right where you need it.

Depending on the size of the bathroom, you can install either a single-sink or double-sink vanity. The double vanity will obviously provide more storage and counter space than a single vanity, but both options typically have under-sink storage and may have a bank of drawers on one or both sides of the doors.

If you need more space than a vanity can provide, consider installing an auxiliary cabinet. Most major cabinet manufacturers offer a line of auxiliary bath cabinets that provide an easy, cost-effective way to add storage to any bathroom. Below is a detailed look at the five most popular auxiliary cabinets. They can be used alone or in conjunction with other units to transform even the most compact, cluttered bath into a clean, well-organized space.

1. Linen Cabinets

Freestanding linen cabinets are available in dozens of sizes, >

  • Linen cabinets can be divided into two basic shapes: tall and narrow, and low and wide.
  • Taller cabinets are ideal for squeezing storage alongside the sink, next to a window or in a corner. Theyre often as narrow as 15 in. wide.
  • Low, wide linen cabinets range in width from 26 in. to 36 in., so they require a bit more wall space. However, their low tops can be used for placing everyday items or storage baskets.

Depending on the cabinet manufacturer, some assembly may be required. Linen cabinets come with all the necessary hardware and fasteners, and most can be assembled in less than 30 minutes using basic hand tools.

Safety note: To prevent freestanding cabinets from toppling over, be sure to secu>

2. Wall Cabinets

When floor space is limited, consider installing a wall-mounted bath cabinet. These space-saving storage units come in a variety of >

The most popular >

3. Medicine Cabinet

Gain a little extra storage space plus a mirror with a wall-mounted medicine cabinet. This type of cabinet is typically installed over the sink and features a hinged mirror door that opens to reveal a shallow cabinet lined with shelves. While the shelves are seldom more than 3 in. deep, they can hold a surprising number of small bottles, jars, tubes and boxesmdash;items that gets lost if tossed into a drawer or vanity cabinet.

Medicine cabinets are commonly available with one, two or three mirrored doors. Note that most medicine cabinets can be installed one of two ways: recessed or flush-mounted.

Recessed installation requires cutting a hole in the wall and setting the cabinet between two wall studs. This type of installation requires more work, but looks much neater. Flush-mounted cabinets are simply screwed to the wall, which is quick and easy, but doesnt look as integrated.

4. Freestanding Shelves

Freestanding shelves take up very little floor space, install in minutes, can easily be moved around and repositioned, and provide ample storage space for both bath linens and toiletries. Bathroom-shelving units come in a dizzying array of sizes, colors, >

Space-saving models are available for use in corners, taking advantage of floor space that typically goes unused.

5. Wall-Mounted Shelves

Wall-mounted shelves provide a quick, easy way to add storage to any bathroom, no matter how small and crowded it is. You can stack the shelves, spacing them 10 to 12 in. apart, to increase storage, without sacrificing floor space.

Bath shelves are typically made of glass or chrome-plated metal; both >

Its best to fasten the shelves to wall studs, but if theyll be used to store small, lightweight bottles and jars, then hollow-wall anchors will suffice.

If youre looking to add storage to your bathroom, start with an updated vanity that can provide plenty of room to tuck away towels, toiletries and cleaning and beauty products. Then, look for space where you can complement that storage with one of these shelving or cabinet ideas.

Joe Truini is a home-improvement expert who writes extensively about do-it-yourself home remodeling and repair. He has authored six books, including his latest, "Build Like a Pro: Installing Floors." You can research Home Depots full line of bathroom vanities, including >

Full Story >


Renovating With Your Kids: Projects You Can Do Together

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

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

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

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

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

Cleaning and chucking

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

Painting the walls

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

Sanding

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

Creating new art

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

Backsplash

Doing your own kitchen backsplash is a >

Pulling up carpet

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

Laying wood floors

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

Wallpaper removal

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

Other demolition

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

Gardening

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


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Architectural Control Committees Serve a Need

Our declaration of covenants requires advance approval before any such changes or additions can be made. Many people do not understand the concept of belonging to an association and when we try to explain, they become hostile.

How do we get homeowners to understand that this is not unique to our development?

A. Most community associations throughout the country have some form of architectural review committee. Although the scope of these committees varies, the general theme is that in order to keep some semblance of uniformity and balance within the association, unit owners must receive advance approval from a committee before any exterior work is done.

However, many owners -- whether in a condominium, planned unit development or homeowners association -- believe this requirement creates an unnecessary, time-consuming -- and often expensive -- burden. Many homeowners have also had negative experiences with their architectural control committees; we have all read of the cases where these committees acted arbitrarily and without any common sense.

However, design review within an association has at least two purposes: to establish and preserve a harmonious design for a community and to protect the value of the property.

When one buys into a community association, one must understand that it is community living. Decisions cannot be unilaterally made, nor can the rules and regulations of the association be unilaterally ignored.

One might disagree with the need for external uniformity, for example, but the fact remains that if the association documents require external uniformity, that is the law of the association and is binding on its members. You should read your association documents carefully ndash; preferably before you buy -- to learn the scope and purpose of the architectural review committee.

Having discussed the function and purpose of architectural controls, however, the architectural control committee must recognize that it cannot be a dictator, arbitrarily rendering decisions.

Courts that have addressed architectural review cases have made it clear that covenants are valid and enforceable so long as there are clear, written guidelines spelling out the overall standards. For example, it is not enough to say that owners may not make changes to the exterior without first obtaining the written approval of the architectural control committee.

If specific guidelines have not been developed, nor circulated to all homeowners, neither the unit owner nor the review board will have any objective standards by which to judge the proposed external change. And without such standards, even the most well-intentioned committee can be accused of being arbitrary.

Boards of directors or the committee itself must establish fairly specific guidelines, and if those rules are not already in your association documents, they should be drafted and approved by a majority of the homeowners.

You should also be aware that the following will be valid defenses by a unit owner when the committee tries to seek enforcement of the architectural standards:

bull; Arbitrary and capricious actions have been taken. The architectural standards must be applied fairly and consistently, and in good faith.and if something occurs in a unit such as a pipe bursts that only serves that unit the owner is obligated to pay the condo deductible, regardless of fault. Section 5

It is improper for the architectural review committee to pick and choose the enforcement of the covenants.

bull; Delays, or "laches," have occurred. This means that the committee has permitted a lengthy period of time to elapse before taking action against a unit owner. For example, one court ruled that a boards six-month delay in filing suit against an unauthorized fence barred the board from enforcing the covenants.
If a unit owner is in violation of the architectural standards, or at least the committee believes there is a violation, prompt action must be taken to assure compliance with the standards.
bull; A waiver has been granted. Basically, if the committee fails to enforce a covenant in the case of one homeowner in similar situations, it may be prohibited from enforcing those same standards against another homeowner.
bull; Often, the association documents require that the committee make a decision within a specified period of time for example 60 days from receiving the request or the request "will be deemed to have been approved." Since you are on the committee, make sure you read your documents and follow the language carefully. If you must act on an owners request within 60 days, it is not acceptable to reject the owner on the 62nd day.

All too often, architectural control committees have been accused of asserting dictatorial powers. Indeed, in one large local community, the architectural control committee has been referred to as the "KGB." According to one report, committee members were often seen "prowling around the neighborhood with their clipboards, looking for violations."

Often, architectural control committees become obsessed with minor, petty violations and lose sight of reality and common sense.

A considerable amount of money has been spent by both homeowners and boards of directors in litigation that should never have been brought.

Your committee must sit down with any homeowner who is alleged to have violated the architectural standards and try to work out an amicable resolution of the problem.

In the final analysis, architectural control committees must be firm -- but must also be reasonable and flexible.


Full Story >


The Race to Build Canadas Best Real Estate Website

The race to build the best real estate listing website in Canada is now entering the final laps. Prompted by the end of a long legal battle between the federal governmentrsquo;s Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board TREB over what data could be displayed on the boardrsquo;s member websites, now the market is wide open for whoever can produce the best consumer experience.

ldquo;Change is bubbling beneath the surface of Canadarsquo;s real estate industry, and big data is the catalyst,rdquo; wrote Christopher Alexander, EVP of Re/Max Integra, Ontario-Atlantic Region, in a recent op-ed in REM magazine.

ldquo;With the arrival of Zillow and Purplebricks in Canada, and most recently the public >

Many real estate sites in Canada, including those owned by brokerages and third-party companies, have access to the data feed of homes for sale on the countyrsquo;s MLS systems. But itrsquo;s how the data is packaged and what other features and information is offered that will determine which sites are used the most. The most popular site in Canada is currently Realtor.ca, which is owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association CREA. The association is putting many resources into improving and upgrading the site.

Recently CREA announced that it would soon provide sold data on its site. This is significant because for several years, CREA fought alongside TREB to keep sold and other disputed data off the public websites of its members.

A Competition Tribunal decision in 2016 found that by not including sold and other data in the listing feed to its member websites, TREB had engaged in anti-competitive acts. An appeal court upheld the decision and earlier this year the Supreme Court of Canada announced that it would not hear TREBrsquo;s appeal.

The board is now supplying its members with all of the disputed data in its data feed.

ldquo;Change is often accompanied by fear, and in this case, the fear is that publicly available sold data will spell the end of the real estate industry as we know it,rdquo; says Alexander. ldquo;Instead of fighting the inevitable, I encourage agents and brokers to see this as an opportunity.rdquo;

TREB CEO John DiMichele says the complex case is not well understood by the public and that many people have contacted the real estate board in the belief that they can now have access to the entire MLS system.

In fact, clients must get the information by working with a Realtor and accessing the data on password-protected sites. The information must be displayed only ldquo;in the context of helping the client buy or sell the home,rdquo; says TREB, and the data cannot be provided or sold to a third party.

However, CREA announced that it would not require a password once the sold information is available on Realtor.ca. It will work with real estate boards and regulators across the country to ensure it complies with local laws and regulations.

DiMichele says TREBrsquo;s motivation in fighting the Competition Bureau was protecting clientsrsquo; privacy.

The Competition Tribunal order also requires TREB to make pending sold information available, which is a particularly sensitive issue for Realtors and clients, says DiMichele. ldquo;They are saying they donrsquo;t want that information out there, particularly when the transaction has not been completed,rdquo; he says. ldquo;Consumers have concerns about their privacy and confidential information.rdquo; Pending sold information will not be displayed on Realtor.ca.

Sold information has been available on websites in the United States for several years.

DiMichele says that providing the data on member websites ldquo;is a whole shift in the paradigmrdquo; for brokerages, so they will have to rethink their website and decide how to use the information going forward.

Recently Seattle-based Zillow announced that it would soon begin placing Canadian listings on its site. The company has signed agreements to receive direct listing feeds from several Canadian companies and brokerages, including Century 21 Canada and Exit Realty Corp. International.

Zillow says it operates more than two dozen real estate apps across all major platforms, and that it receives more than 100 million visits from non-U.S. users per year, with most coming from Canada, U.K., India, Germany, Mexico and China.

ldquo;The websites that offer more information will get more traffic and generate more leads,rdquo; says Alexander. ldquo;The real estate businesses that donrsquo;t give consumers what they want convenient, user-friendly and easy access will fall off the radar.rdquo;


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Are You Torturing Your Trees?

Whether you inherited trees when you bought your current real estate or yoursquo;ve planted trees yourself, their value to your property, your life>

Yet in spite of loving your greenery, are you unknowingly torturing your trees?

ldquo;What me?rdquo; you say in shock. Do you recognize yourself or your neighbors in the behaviors listed below?

Compaction Suffocates Trees

Is the soil around your trees so compact, that adequate oxygen and water do not reach tree roots? No, you say, but did you recently have landscaping equipment or construction vehicles on or near your property? Even many people walking around a tree can compress soil when moisture levels are high and soil is soft. Soil compression by machinery or foot traffic reduces soil pore size and restricts oxygen and water availability for tree roots. If the surrounding soilmdash;up to three times the diameter of the leaf canopymdash;is significantly covered with patio stones or pavement right up to the tree trunk, the tree may be suffering. This hard surface results in reduction of available oxygen and water for tree roots which can restrict tree growth or eventually kill the tree.

Remedies: Enlarge Tree Protection Zones, which should be set-up before construction begins, to reduce compaction. Do not park cars or other vehicles under a tree canopy or on the root zone of a tree. Depaving projectsnbsp;to free hard-surface-bound sidewalk and playground trees remove suffocating pavement and let soil and tree roots breath again. Contact a professional arborist before working under a tree or when compaction may have occurred.

Not Heal, But Seal

Have you weed-whacked or mowed around a tree trunk and scratched the bark or taken a chunk out of the trunk in the process? Broken a branch off lately? Dug through a root or two? Fastened anbsp;slacklinenbsp;to a tree and damagednbsp;the bark or strained the tree with your weight? ldquo;No problem, the tree will healrdquo; may have been your reaction, but yoursquo;re dead wrong. Trees do not heal. No bandaids for them. Trees can only compartmentalize or ldquo;wall-offrdquo; an injurymdash;that is, slowly grow a ldquo;boxrdquo; around the damage and seal if off. Because this is not a quick reaction, bacteria, fungi, or pests may invade the weakened area and make matters worse before the tree can complete the seal. Your quick, perhaps thoughtless, actions may cause damage that the tree can not seal itself off from leading to its death.

Remedies: Be cautious when you weed-whack, mow, play, construct, or dig near trees. Warn others to do the same. Consult an arborist beforehand. Prevention of damage is the only effective remedy when it comes to trees.

Mulch May Cause Problems

Which works? Donts L or Volcanos R? Donuts, not volcanosmdash;thatrsquo;s the correct application of mulch that will not damage tree trunks. Mulch, or organic material like wood chips or straw, improves moisture levels and suppresses weeds. However, pile mulch up against a tree trunk and moisture will build up and make it easier for pests, bacteria, and fungi to damage the trunk and undermine the treersquo;s health.

Remedies: Mulch in a donut shape that is away from the trunk like the attached photo. Avoid dyed varieties of wood chips and stick to natural.

Wrong Tree or Wrong Place

Planting the right tree in the right place sounds like an obvious decision, but enthusiastic gardeners donrsquo;t always search out the professional input they need to successfully make this choice. Whatrsquo;s best for the tree is best for the property owner. The wrong location for a particular species will weaken the tree making it more susceptible to disease or pest attacks. The tree suffers unnecessarily and the owner stares at an expensive, unsightly dying tree. Growing healthy, beautiful trees, in the right type of soil and at the right moisture level, avoids problems, reduces maintenance, and celebrates the beauty of nature.

Remedies: Ask an arborist or professionals at nurseries, tree maintenance companies, or tree-planting nonprofits which tree species works best for your soil type, moisture levels, light conditions, and general location. Theyrsquo;ll also help you avoid local invasive trees. Take a look at whatrsquo;s thriving near your property and ask about those species. Native trees will do best.

Trees Wrongly Take The Rap

Trees provide benefits, therersquo;s no doubt about that, but they get blamed for two misunderstood headaches that property owners often complain about:

1. Leave Leaves Raking leaves can be a backbreaking task for property owners. The current intelligence on this issue tells us to leave leaves on the garden. Leave them on over winter to protect plants and to provide habitat fornbsp;local ground-dwelling bee species, which are usually more important pollinators than imported honey-bees. The leaves will breakdown over winter. Even oak leaves are easier to handle in the spring. Lawn-lovers are encouraged to mulch leaves or go over them with a mower.

2. Roots Donrsquo;t Deserve The Blame Most tree roots are contained in the top two feet of soil. They radiate out from the trunk, largely in search of water, nutrients, and oxygen, extending as much as three times the width of the leaf canopy. If there is a crackmdash;tiny or otherwisemdash;in a pipe, drain, foundation wall, patio, or driveway within this root zone, the tiny fibrous root tips will be attracted to leaking or accumulated water and to higher oxygen levels. Over time, theyrsquo;ll work their way into the drain, pipe, foundation wall, or driveway cracks and grow larger. Tree roots do not cause the initial problem, but they are attracted to the accumulation of water and oxygen that may result from it and wrongly end up with the blame.

Want to easily learn more about your trees and the tree canopy?nbsp;

bull; Is your town a Tree City USA Community? Find out now. The Tree City USA program has ldquo;greened uprdquo; more than 3,400 communities across America since 1976.
bull; Whatrsquo;s your carbon footprint? If everyone lived like you, how many planets would we need? Try the Carbon Dioxide and Planetary Footprint Calculator to learn where you stand for trees.
bull; Volunteernbsp;as a tree tender or in many other ways to enhance and protect your forests. I just completed a Tree Tender course where I learned all the above and more. Amazing experience. The US Forest Servicenbsp;provides details for managing trees, evaluating worth, and selecting species to grow. For an insider look at the world of trees, check out the Forest Servicersquo;s free 128-page PDF ldquo;Landscape Stewardship Guide.rdquo;
bull; Start celebrating Arbor Day now, so yoursquo;ll be more than ready whennbsp;nbsp;April 26, 2019nbsp;arrives.nbsp;

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Eye on Nashville: Why Music City is Now a Top Five Real Estate Spot

ldquo;Nashvilles real-estate market bounded ahead of Seattle, Los Angeles, and other major markets as the nations fifth-surest investment bet for 2019, according to one of the industrys most comprehensive and influential reports,rdquo; said The Tennessean. ldquo;In the study, Nashville rose from 9th to 5th place this year.rdquo;

Nashvillersquo;s reputation as a top music city may be largely responsible for its growth over the last few years, but, thatrsquo;s only the beginning of the draw today. "Its really a story about affordability, employment growth, population growth and employment stability," Mitch Roschelle, a PwC partner, said in The Tennessean. "One thing thats really important now is no state income taxes. Thats becoming a bigger and bigger factor when people start making choices about where they want to live."

If yoursquo;re considering a move to Nashville, or simply looking for a place to put down roots, this top five real estate market may be for you.

The music

Whether yoursquo;re an aspiring musician or simply love the idea of being in a musical city, Nashville could be for you. The Bluebird Cafe is ldquo;where greats such as Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift played before making it big,rdquo; said Bellhops. ldquo;You should also check out South Broadway Avenue, the veritable heart of country music. While Tootsiersquo;s Orchid Lounge is the most famous venue on this strip, you can walk into any honky-tonk at any time of day and hear live music. The Ryman Auditorium was originally a church built in the late 19th century. Now it is well-known as an historic, beautiful, and popular music venue that hosts shows of all genres.rdquo;

The affordability

Nashvillersquo;s home prices seem like a dream for those coming from pricier markets, although the reality is a little murkier for those coming from lower-cost areas, and, especially, long-time residents who have watched home prices rise steadily. ldquo;Nashvilles housing costs have jumped more than 70 percent in the past six years, as new residents flooded the city at a rate of about 100 people per day,rdquo; said the Tennessean. ldquo;The surging prices have shocked residents and rapidly displaced lower-income people outside the city center, creating an affordable-housing crisis. But the 250,000 median cost of a single-family home in the greater metropolitan area is still just below that of the overall U.S. market.rdquo;

To put that in perspective, SpareFoot notes that a 2017 study >

A bright spot for buyers: the new-home market, which led to Nashvillersquo;s No. 1 ranking for home-building markets in the ULI report.

Vibrant neighborhoods

Downtown Nashville is a dynamic spot within walking distance of Bridgestone Arena, Nissan Stadium, and Broadway Ave. the main strip in Nashville, while Bellhops calls The Gulch ldquo;the fastest-growing neighborhood in Nashville. Located just a few blocks from downtown, this area boasts easy access to the interstate and some of the best new restaurants and bars in town. A word of caution: the cost of living continues to rise as The Gulch becomes more popular. For reference, though, it remains somewhat cheaper than downtown at the moment.rdquo;

Music Row is ultra-convenient to numerous recording studios, if thatrsquo;s your thing, but is also heavy on the rentals and college students. East Nashville ldquo;includes popular neighborhoods such as McFerrin Park, Greenwood, Lockeland Springs, Maxwell, and Eastwood. Through neighborhood revitalization, the focus of East Nashville has become more community-centered. Musicians, artists, and creatives have flocked to this neighborhood, which is now a haven for arts and culture.rdquo; Brentwood is 15ndash;20 minutes from downtown, meaning itrsquo;s still convenient for those who work in the city center but offers a more suburban-type environment with larger, single-family homes with yardsmdash;popular with young families and professionals.

The economy

According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nashville ldquo;had the lowest unemployment ratemdash;2.7mdash;of any metropolitan area in the US with over one million people as of February 2018. Nashville even beats out the metropolitan area of San Francisco, the US mecca of economic vitality,rdquo; said Quartz.

Bridgestone Tires and Vanguard Industries both have their headquarters in Nashville, and startups and tech companies like Emma and Cicayda are also abundant.

So much other stuff to do

ldquo;If theres one thing that Nashville, Tennessee is known for, its probably the country music. But yoursquo;d be pleasantly surprised to learn how much music city has to offer even if you donrsquo;t have a single country bone in your body,rdquo; said Bellhops. Have a picnic or watch a concert in Centennial Park, or stroll along the Cumberland River walkway, working up an appetite for the famous hot chicken. The cityrsquo;s abundant restaurants and breweries cater to just about anything you have a craving for. ldquo;Nashville cements its lsquo;It Cityrsquo; status with eclectic and fine dining establishments, such as City House and the Catbird Seat,rdquo; said Livability in its look at ldquo;8 Reasons to move to Tennessee."

The sports

Whether or not a city has its own professional sports teams can and does drive migration to the area. So many of those who are moving to Nashville love the fact that they can support the local NFL team, the Tennessee Titans, and the NHLrsquo;s 2017 Stanley Cup finalists, the Nashville Predators.


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Is There Anything Left to Flip?

And therein lies the problem. With so many homes flipping and home flippers competing for the same properties, how does one even go about finding a place to buy these days?

We have some ideas.

Work with a savvy real estate agent

This is key because your exposure to distressed properties will be limited. Also, a savvy real estate agent may have connectionsmdash;the kind of connections that could find you a flip before it hits the market.

Keep your eye on really distressed properties

Pass by an eyesore on your way to work every day? Is there a house down the street with an unkempt lawn and noticeable deferred maintenance? You never know whatrsquo;s going on inside, but your Realtor may be able to find out. You could be in the right place at the right time to get a great deal and even help out someone who needs a hand by getting them out from under the home before itrsquo;s taken by the bank.

Go where the projected growth is

It may already be too late to score in a place thatrsquo;s on one of those fastest-growing cities lists. Prices may have appreciated past the point of potential profit on a flip, and inventory is likely low. Instead, pay attention to cities that are projected to be on the rise so you can get in before everyone else does.

Look for estate sales

"What they could do to make it easier is combine the two. You know, Mr. Kline died yesterday, leaving behind a wife, two children, and a spacious three-bedroom apartment with a wood-burning fireplace." mdash; Billy Crystalrsquo;s Harry on the difficulty of finding a place in NYC in When Harry Met Sally

Turns out Harry was on to something. If yoursquo;re looking for a house to flip, you have to get creative. Poring through the MLS for a house may yield a winner here and there, but the competition from other would-be flippers is gonna be fierce. That probably means that if you do find something flip-worthy, you may end up paying more because yoursquo;re bidding against other people, and that will reduce your potential profit. Does that mean checking the obits? Probably not. But estate saleshellip;now thatrsquo;s another story.

Check in with landlords

Are there any rentals in your neighborhood? Maybe one of the owners would be willing to unload an underperforming home. Maybe that same individual doesnrsquo;t want the hassle of getting it ready for sale.

Donrsquo;t be afraid of the city

Dingy downtown areas in many cities across the country have turned many a would-be real estate investor into a flipping pro. In many cases, these buyers took a chance on an area that many would have described as ldquo;iffy.rdquo; Investors often call these ldquo;transitioning areasrdquo; and some pros, like Christina El Moussa from Flip or Flop, go right ahead and call them bad neighborhoods. These areas can provide great bang for the buck if you choose right.

ldquo;It seems like one year a particular neighborhood will be really lsquo;badrsquo; with a lot of vacancies and a high crime rate,rdquo; said El Moussa on Real Estate Elevated. ldquo;The next year the crime rate will be a little lower, and therersquo;ll be fewer vacancies. The year after that, itrsquo;ll be an affordable neighborhood, and before you know it, people are paying a lot of money to get houses in the area.rdquo;
Donrsquo;t be afraid of the suburbs
Have you heard? The lsquo;burbs are hot, even with millennials, who many thought would always embrace the city life>

Watch for moving trucks

Therersquo;s a scene in the Sex and the City movie where Miranda, in searching of a new apartment in New York, runs into a building to inquire about a vacant apartment because she saw men loading up a moving truck out front Apparently, all of our best ideas for finding a flip should come from movies filmed in New York. While no one is recommending you go running into a home as someone is moving out, the moving truck is something to look out for in target neighborhoods. Someone whorsquo;s moving out under curious circumstancesmdash;no one in the neighborhood knew the home was for sale, itrsquo;s late at night, etc.mdash;is someone you may want to pay attention to. It could be a foreclosure situation or some other opportunity you want to take advantage of before someone else does.

Look at auctions and foreclosure listings

ldquo;The first step in successful fix-and-flipping is finding the profitable property in the first place. You can call it investorrsquo;s common sense to look for properties in the best areas selling at low prices,rdquo; said Do Hard Money. ldquo;However, many new real estate investors come up empty-handed month after month until they finally give up in frustration. This is because theyrsquo;re all doing the same thing: theyrsquo;re looking in the same place. Most of the new flippers look on the MLS for potential properties. Dare to do differently. Look for properties by lesser-known means, such as foreclosure listings, estate sales, short sales and real estate auctions.rdquo;

Check the schools

Donrsquo;t have kids? Doesnrsquo;t matter. Your buyer may, and that means the schools are important. And, in truth, even buyers who donrsquo;t now or may never have kids still seek out good schools because of their positive impact on home values. ldquo;If yoursquo;ve found an affordable home in a neighborhood thatrsquo;s on its way up, your next step is to research the local schools,rdquo; said Money Crashers. ldquo;Homes in good school systems sell faster, and command higher prices, than homes in mediocre or poor school systems. Use websites like GreatSchools, SchoolDigger, and Niche to see rankings and reviews of local schools.rdquo;


Full Story >


Layering on the Luxe: Jewel Tones for Fall and Winter

ldquo;After years of taking our collective home decor in a more neutral direction were looking at you, inoffensive beige, gray, and granite color schemes, were finally branching out and allowing some color back into our homes,rdquo; said Realtor.com. ldquo;These bold huesmdash;deep sapphire blues, vibrant emerald greens, and intense, regal purplesmdash;can transform a room from a boring, vanilla box into a lusciously rich and cozy space you never want to leave.rdquo;

Here are five ways to incorporate jewel tones into your deacute;cor.

Pay attention to the details

You donrsquo;t have to be so bold as to layer an entire room in jewel tones But wersquo;d love it if you did. With jewel tones, the right placement is everything. ldquo;When applied to everything from paint to upholstery, jewel tones can transform any room into a sumptuous refuge or a light-filled bijou box depending on the shade,rdquo; said Architectural Digest. We love how the sapphire blue stands out against the muted walls in this Manhattan living room, where ldquo;walls and shelves brim with beloved art, books, and objects. The artist worked with designer Fernando Santangelo to create rooms that call to mind a timeless New York >

Create the right combinations

Creating harmony in your interior isnrsquo;t about choosing the right color. Itrsquo;s about choosing the right color story. That means all the colors in your space need to work together. When it comes to developing that story, you can easily use a few pops of jewel tone boldness in a neutral palette, which will allow your space to blend in this fall and winter home trend without going too far over the edge. Feeling a little braver? Good. ldquo;Pair bold with bold: Jewel-tone colors work best when they have the ability to play off another bold color,rdquo; said Freshome. ldquo;Rather than only using one shade in a room, choose two or three to create a strong sense of contrast. Just check the color wheel first to make sure that the colors you choose go together well enough.rdquo;

Go metallic

Jewel tones create a luxe look, and thats especially true when you add in a little metallic. ldquo;Yoursquo;ve no doubt noticed how good gold bracelets or silver necklaces look when combined with jewel tones,rdquo; said DreamCasa. "Metallics are the perfect complement to saturated ruby, sapphire, and emerald-colored hues if you want a space thatrsquo;s cozy yet fancy. Nothing grounds a space better than a richly colored rug. Finding one with jewel tone colors and a gorgeous design you love is the perfect place to start when redecorating a room. By using the rugrsquo;s color palette, yoursquo;ll have an easier time figuring out which items and colors will work best when introduced to the space.rdquo;

The power of paint

Jewel tones donrsquo;t have to be >

One of our favorite ways to use paint, especially in the beautiful shades of the moment, is on cabinetry and built-ins. You may not be ready to paint your kitchen cabinets fuchsia, but how much do you love these vivid built-ins?

Tempt with textiles

Silk and velvet take jewel tones to another level, providing a plush feel that suits the rich hues. Velvet is the textile of the moment, so the choices are vast. You can create a luxurious and >
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How Conforming Loan Limits Are Set Each Year

Here in just a couple of weeks, some important economic data will be reviewed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA. This new data will then impact the new conforming loan limits for 2019. Mortgages are considered either a ldquo;conformingrdquo; or ldquo;jumbordquo; based upon the amount borrowed. Conforming loans that are underwritten to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards are at or below 424,100 for 2018. Anything above that amount is considered a jumbo loan. One short caveat however, in areas deemed ldquo;high costrdquo; there is another category called high balance conforming but in most parts of the country, a loan is either conforming or jumbo.

Historically, conforming loans have slightly lower interest rates compared to a jumbo loan. Conforming loans also ask for a lower down payment. Jumbo loans typically ask for a down payment of anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of the sales price. So, who sets these limits and how? Each October, FHFA reviews the median home values for the United States, more specifically the Housing Price Index, or HPI, and compares that number with the previous yearrsquo;s data. If there is an increase in median home value from one year to the next, the conforming loan limit will be increased accordingly. For instance, if values increase by 5.0, the conforming loan limits will be increased by 5.0 for the following year. The new limits are announced in November of each year. If values fall, the previous yearrsquo;s loan limit will remain the same until the next evaluation.

Conventional conforming loans are by far the most popular choice among home owners and practically every single mortgage lender offers either a Fannie or Freddie loan. With such a large market share that also means more places to get a conforming loan which leads to more competition among mortgage companies. Lenders compete based upon service and rates and more competition keeps mortgage rates in check. Thatrsquo;s one of the reasons why interest rates from one lender to the next are very near one another.

We can anticipate higher conforming loan limits for 2019 as home values over much of the country have appreciated in value, we just donrsquo;t yet know by how much. But we will soon know once the HPI for 2018 is reviewed and >
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Ask the HOA Expert: Dryer Vents, Noisy Neighbors and Yard Sales

Question: How frequently should dryer vents in common wall HOAs be cleaned and repaired?

Answer: Dryer vents are the source of fires and water damage leaks in the ceiling so should be checked and cleaned at least once a year or when alerted by residents. Surveying the exterior vent openings determines the scope of work since its easy to see evidence of lint buildup. Removing selected vent covers and using a shop vac with extended hose attachment to remove the lint usually does the trick although a snake with pipe brush attachment may be needed to remove heavy buildup. Be careful to use appropriate equipment based on whether you are cleaning solid metal or plastic pipe versus the more flimsy flexible plastic pipe. The wrong kind of snake will easily damage the flexible pipe.

Clean only those vent pipes that have an obvious need except in the cases where there is documented interior water damage. In those cases, cleaning is necessary to remove water from the vent pipe. It may also be necessary to open the ceiling to correct the vent pipe orientation since water leaks from laundry vents are usually caused by a flexible pipe that has bellied out.

Vents with broken exterior flappers should be replaced to prevent bird nesting. This should be done as necessary when alerted by residents, management or maintenance.

Question: We have had repeated noise problems from a neighboring resident. We have endured everything from the radio blaring first thing in the morning, to parties with his drinking buddies late at night, to being awakened in the middle of the night by his vacuuming and furniture assembly. Honestly, who needs to be hammering at 1:40 am? We have tried every nice way we can think of including notes and phone calls. What can we do?

Answer: Disturbing the peace is against the law. Youve done what any reasonable person could do. Remind your neighbor in writing one more time how many times you have requested his cooperation and inform him that the next time it happens, you will call the police. And DO it. If he insists on being inconsiderate, he should reap the consequences.

Question: I asked permission from the board for a yard sale. The board responded that yard sales were not permitted due to Aliability issues.

Answer: Life is fraught with risk but yard sales don=t generally come to mind as high risk activities. It sounds like the board has been terrorized by an attorney or insurance agent. Usually, the issue in HOA garage/yard sales is the additional traffic and parking they generate. Some HOAs have almost no extra parking or narrow streets so sales create a real problem. In those situations, sales are not appropriate. If this isnt the case, the board is overreacting.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


Full Story >


California Adopts Changes to Landlord-Tenant Notice Periods

Specifically, those notices are the ones known as i a three-day notice to pay or quit, ii a three-day notice to perform a covenant duty under the lease, and iii a five-day notice to file an answer to an unlawful detainer eviction suit. Crucial to such notices, as is the case with performance clauses in contracts, is defining how days are to be counted.

Under current California law, for the notices in question, the days to be counted begin with the first day after the notice is served. However, if the last day for performance is a weekend or holiday, it is excluded from the counting. California Code of Procedure sect;12.

Some examples:

1. If, on Monday, I am given a three-day notice to pay, then I must pay within the days Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
2. If I received the three-day notice on Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday are counted, but Saturday and Sunday are excluded from being performance days. The final day for performance would be Monday, provided it is not a holiday.
3. If I receive the notice on Friday, and Monday is a holiday, then my last day for performance would be Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, as well as the Monday holiday, are included in the counting, they just canrsquo;t be required as a performance day.

AB 2343 changes current law with respect to which days can be counted when a tenant is given notice. Now, not only are weekends and holidays not days when performance can be required, but also, they are not days to be included in the counting. The only days to be counted are so-called court days, i.e. Monday through Friday, provided that none is a holiday.

When the new law becomes effective, if I am served with a three-day notice on Friday, counting will not begin until Monday. My last day for performance, presuming no holidays are involved, would be Wednesday.

Does this make a big difference? It probably would if you only had Monday to deal with paperwork, perhaps secure a loan, or any of a number of easily-imagined scenarios. Proponents of the bill had stated ldquo;Legal services programs throughout the state report that they are visited by frustrated tenants every day who are able to resolve the situations leading to their eviction, but not within the extremely narrow time provided by California law.rdquo; This was a particular concern with the five-day notice to respond to an eviction filing.

As it is, the original version of AB 2343 sought considerably more than what survived through the amendment process. The original version had proposed that the three-day notice periods be extended to ten days, and that the five-day notice period be extended to fourteen.

The bill was co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the California Rural Legal Foundation. It also had the support of a variety of tenantsrsquo;-rights groups. The bill was opposed by, among others, the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtorsreg; CAR. After the amendments, CAR withdrew its opposition.


Full Story >




Copyright© 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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Real Estate News
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2018


Dos And Donts For Painting Your Bathroom Cabinets

Do: Get a paint sprayer: A paint sprayer will give you the cleanest, most professional look. You can buy a pretty basic unit for under 100, but for about the same cost, you can rent one for the day and get a much better version.

Dont: Fret if a paint sprayer isnt going to work out. A foam roller and brush can give you a pretty clean finish.

Do: Buy several of them in different sizes and shapes. Theyre cheap, so stocking up wont cost much, and having a variety will help you to easily get into corners, nooks, and crannies.

Dont: Use a crappy product. The last thing you want is to walk into your bathroom every day and scowl at the poorly done bathroom cabinets - kind of the way you do now. One of our favorite DIYers from The Turquoise Home found a great product that we cant wait to try: "Aces amazing Cabinet, Door and Trim Paint. You can brush it on and it will level and not leave any brush strokes"

Behr Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel is another favorite for painting bathroom cabinets. "It basically performs like an oil-based paint but without the horrible smell and difficult clean up," said Provident Home Design.

Do: Take the time to sand. Weve tried the lazy girls version of painting right over other paint and it just doesnt work out well. Admittedly, sanding is a terrible, tedious process, especially if you have detailed panels that require you to get into lots of little corners, but its well worth it in the end.

Dont: Sand inside. Take it outside and put a mask on while youre at it. The dust you kick up is unkind, especially if anyone in the house has asthma.

Do: Clean the surfaces thoroughly. Youll want to use a degreasing product like "trisodium phosphate TSP cleaner and a scrubbing pad or sponge to thoroughly wash all surfaces to be painted," said Lowes. "Then rinse at least twice with fresh water and a sponge." And after sanding, youll also want to make sure you vacuum up all the dust and wipe down all the surfaces thoroughly so you dont get little pieces stuck in the paint.

Dont: Leave the doors and hardware on when you paint. You cant easily get every part of the door if you dont take everything off, and the paint you inevitably get on the hardware will make it look like a DIY job.

Dont: Forget to number your cabinet doors so you know how to put them back on when youre done. This is not a fun thing to figure out after the fact.

Do: Label the hardware, too. See above.

Dont: Paint with your animals in the room. Just trust on this one.

Do: "Let the paint settle for a couple of minutes and then look back over it for paint pooled in the corners or drips underneath the edges," said The Turquoise Home. "The paint will still be wet enough to clean up those areas and will still level and dry flat.

Dont: Quit after one coat. Youll probably be dying to be done after one, but remember: A little more effort here goes a long way.

Do: Prep, prep, prep. Tape stuff. Use dropcloths. Make sure everything you dont want covered in paint is nicely protected, or youll be scraping paint off of it FOR LIFE.

Dont: Use flat paint. Because its not washable, it wont hold up as well as another finish.


> Full Story

How To Choose The Right Vanity To Kick Off Your Bathroom Remodel

"Its not always the most glamorous part of a bathroom remodel, but choosing the right vanity can make or break your bathrooms design," said Houzz. "If its placed awkwardly in a traffic route, uses poor or mismatched materials, or doesnt have enough storage, the rest of your bathroom will suffer."

The right >

Choosing a vanity can speak volumes about your design aesthetic. Lean toward traditional >

Maybe you love antiques. Finding an old sideboard or dresser and fashioning it into a vanity can bring interest and distinction to the space. Just remember to treat the wood properly to keep water away.


HGTV

Modern lines have been the trend for several years, and there is no shortage of vanities that bring some panache to the bathroom.


ALL MODERN

The right size

Having dual sinks is generally preferred in bathrooms, except for powder roomsmdash;in this space, using a decorative vanity thats not dependent on extensive storage space can give this room a lift. But a tight space may make it difficult to accommodate two sinks and any semblance of counter space in a bathroom that needs to function for family.

As HGTV says, "Often its the size of the room that dictates the size of the vanity." If youre redoing a bathroom, you might want to ask your real estate agent if installing a small dual-sink vanity like this one from IKEA is a better option than a one-sink vanity with more counter space.

One of the newest trends is floating vanities, which can give a bathroom some modern flair while also functioning well in a smaller space. This wall-mounted option creates an airy feel because of the open space below.

Modern Bathroom by Palo Alto Architects amp; Building Designers Maydan Architects, Inc.

Sometimes a custom vanity is whats needed. Choose one with open space like this option to create a stylish look; you can increase the storage space with baskets.


Housely

The right material

Traditionally, vanities are made of some kind of wood or wood product, whether theyre painted, lacquered, or kept in their natural state. But they dont have to be.

They also dont need to be a traditional shape or >

This vanity reflects its abode in a unique way. "When New York design firm Carrier and Company converted an old dairy barn into a guest cottage for a client, they saw big possibilities in this soapstone cow trough salvaged from the property," said DIY Network. "Owner Jesse Carrier and his team added custom hinged wood tops to create one of the most unusual and beautiful bathroom vanities youll ever see."


DIY Network

This upcycled bicycle vanity from artist Benjamin Bullins made him "a Pinterest phenomenon," said DIY Network.


DIY Network

If you really want to use wood for your vanity, REALLY use wood. This live edge vanity will su>


HOME DESIGNING

> Full Story

Lifting the HOA Veil

Anything that could negatively impact the value or marketability of the property needs to be divulged before closing. While there are usually statutory disclosure requirements of single family house sellers, these same disclosures are generally not required of homeowner association home sellers. This is a huge problem and herersquo;s why:

Homeowner associations HOA impose substantial financial obligations to the members. So, while a buyer may purchase a condo in great condition and needing no repairs, that same buyer is also obligated to share the cost of certain repairs to all the condos, which may be in very bad condition. Since there is no specific legal requirements in most states to disclose these obligations, the buyer often finds out after closing when presented with a special assessment that can amount to many thousands of dollars.

Herersquo;s the key to uncloaking this problem: The board of directors controls the quality and quantity of disclosure information. The responsible board treats the HOA like the business that it is and keeps certain basic information available such as:

Governing Documents. Includes the Declaration, Bylaws, Rules amp; Regulations, Resolutions which are the specific obligations each member has.

Newsletters. Reveal events renovation, litigation, etc that could indicate a possible special assessment.

Meeting Minutes. Same as newsletter but with more specifics.

Annual Budgets for Last 3 Years. Could reveal expense trends and failure to adjust for inflation.

Financial Reports. Monthly reports comparing actual expenses to budget should be available to track income and expenses.

Collection Activity. How much of the assessments are overdue 30, 60 or 90 days? If some donrsquo;t pay, guess who gets to?

Litigation Activity. Are there any pending lawsuits that could trigger a special assessment?

Reserve Study. A 30 year plan to maintain components like roofs, painting, paving, etc. This is the biggest time bomb in the many homeowner associations that lack one. Failure to plan for predictable long range expenses often mirrors a lack of ongoing maintenance which causes spiraling property values.

Percentage of Rental Units. More than 50 rentals could directly affect financing options and saleability.

Key Contact Information. How to contact the board and manager.

This list of items is the same information that any informed buyer would want. Itrsquo;s the boardrsquo;s responsibility to make it available to owners so they, in turn, can provide proper disclosure to their buyers. If buyers are informed of their responsibilities, they will make better neighbors. Does the HOA really want members that donrsquo;t care how business is handled? Is your board prepared to lift the veil of on disclosure?

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


> Full Story



Copyright © 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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1040 Biscayne Blvd Miami, FL 33132
Tel: (305) 753-4154 | Fax: (305) 960-2008 | shelly@museumparkrealty.net
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