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Updated: Friday, February 21, 2020

A Few Things to Know Before Building Your Dream Home

The following is some information that will make it helpful when making the decision to build a production house or to build a custom one. You will want to do your research and weigh the pros and cons on what type of house suits you. Either way, you want to hire a professional to walk you through the process. When choosing the professional ask others whom they worked with and how they felt about the experience. Word of mouth is the best recommendation. You can also contact the better business bureau to get suggestions on whom you want to hire.

Choosing a Production or a Custom House

When building a custom home, you will need to hire an architect. They charge a percentage of the cost of the home. This fee is the base charge. They may be more fees for additional drawings or if you have the architect handle ordering materials and administering the contract. With an architect in charge your house can be designed the way you want it plus it easier to make changes as needed.

Hiring a Professional

You can also hire a designer builder. The design builder handles the entire process of building a custom home. In the construction industry this is a project delivery system. The designer built house has one person responsible for everything from the contract to the completion of the house. This minimizes risks for the owner of the house. In the past there was one person responsible for the design of the house and one person responsible for the building. Having more than one person in charge can cause things to slip through the cracks without realizing that it is happening.

The building of the house is led by a professional sometimes it is the general contractor. Other times it may be an architect or engineer. Some design builder firms use professionals from all aspects of the project. It can also be a team venture with both the general contractor and the designer working together on the project. Which one you choose should be the one you are comfortable with as you will be working closely with them as they build your dream house.

When using a general contractor as the lead on the building of the house they work with the owner. They also work with subcontractors. While they are working with others, they are solely responsible for all the work being done. The subcontractors are responsible to the general contractor and the general contractor is responsible to the owner of the house. The owner has to deal with only one person which makes building the home much easier. The architect would be considered an employee of the general contractor.

When the architect is the lead on the project they work with the owner and hires the other professionals as needed. But it is the architect who is responsible for all the work. The architect starts as the designer and ends as the site supervisor. They make sure they complete the house according to the wishes of the owner. Once again one person is responsible for the work being completed on the house. In this case it is the architect.

Understand the Construction Methods

Using a design build construction method, the owner develops a project design and encourages the joint venture to design, build, and sometimes finance projects by architects, engineers, and builders. This approach encourages teamwork between designers and entrepreneurs at all stages of the process and can lead to better integration and a more profitable project that is less prone to delays. The owner deals with the design and construction approach on a project-based basis, without worrying about which party is responsible.

There are pros and cons of using the design build approach. Those against it say that the contractors often decide on things outside of their area of expertise. Those who advocate the approach feel it saves the owner time and money. This approach brings all the people responsible for the building of the house together at the very beginning of the process. It is the beginning of the process where the savings are to be found.

Another place where the owner can save money on buying the land where the house is to be constructed. You can find a lot where utilities are already in place. You may have to pay a little extra, but it will give you peace of mind to know that the lot has already been approved for construction. If the lot does not have utilities, you will have to go through the approval process. The person you hire to build your house can help with this process. They know how to find all the information that you will need. They get all the permits needed prior to the building of the house.

One decision that you will have to make is how you want your house to sit on the land. The designer can help you with this. You want the windows to face the south. This is because they can receive the most sun in the cold weather. You want to have the correct size and type of windows that are suited to the climate where the house is located. You can add a floor that can store the thermal energy, so it radiates through the house during the night. Then in the summer you can place awnings over the windows to protect the hose from the sun.

Floor Plan

The floor plan of a production house is designed with growing families in mind. It is not designed where future changes can be made. They are also not designed with doors and hallways wide enough to allow wheelchairs or a walker. Designing you own home can allow you to make small changes that will create a house that you can live in forever. You will want to think about all the possibilities and design a house that suits you.

Production homes often have the same floor plan. The builder of production homes does not know what needs you have.

These houses are built with a flexible floor plan. They are cheaper than custom homes. In production homes you give up ease of living for the cheaper price. In these types of homes end up with a lot of wasted space.

Ventilation is another factor to take into consideration. You can decrease your utility bills with the proper ventilation. If you create a wind tunnel that lets cool air flow through the house it will lower your cooling bill. Another strategy is to use reflective surfaces near the windows. They let light bounce into the interior of the house. This eliminates having to turn on the lights more often. Many production houses are not designed with energy savings in mind. This could make it expensive to run in the long run. You may have to spend more money in the beginning, but it will save you money in the future.

The builders of a production house can save money on materials because they can get a discount by buying in bulk. You may have to pay more for materials on a custom home they can design it to be energy saving. While you are paying more for the materials, you will save money in the long run by paying lower utility bills. To increase the savings in utilities you can build a house with solar panels. It is possible to have a house with no utility bills when you add the solar panels.

Understand the Rules of Building

You will also need to know the local building codes. Building codes do not change fast enough to keep up with changes in technology or changes in the climate. It is possible to build a house in line with building codes yet not be energy efficient. Production houses do not exceed the building codes. A custom house can be designed to exceed the building codes by making it energy efficient. The custom house can be designed to withstand changes in the weather such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Additional shoring can be added to make the house stronger in the case of strong winds.

You may not build a custom home for the price of a production home, but you will have the house you desire. You can still economize by changing some rooms. What drives the cost of the house up is the kitchen and the bathroom. You can make some changes to these rooms therefore decreasing the cost of building the house.

While a custom house can be the house of your dreams, it is not for everyone. Custom homes are the normal in wealthy populous areas such as the Mid-Atlantic. In the mountain regions production houses are most common. The decision on whether to build a production house or a custom one depends on what you want. If you want a house that is cheap to build or one where you do not have to worry about designing, then a production house is the right one for you. If you want a house that will serve generations to come a custom house is the one you should build.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;


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Big Change for VA Loans in 2020

For 2019 the conforming limit was set at 484,350 for most parts of the country. Higher limits apply in areas where property values are much higher compared to other areas. These areas are labeled as high cost and can vary based upon location. In 2020, the conforming limit is set at 510,400. But thats where one of the biggest changes for VA loans in 2020 come into play.

First lets understand that the VA only issues lending guidelines and does not in any way approve a home loan. Instead, the VA approves lenders to underwrite and fund mortgages. As long as the lender approves the loan using VA standards, the VA loan is eligible for sale in the secondary market and the loan is guaranteed to the lender. Interestingly enough, even though there is no down payment needed for a VA loan meaning the buyer has no immediate equity in the property, VA loans ra>

Okay, lets jump back to the big change. The VA changed its policy stating there would be no loan limit for a VA loan in 2020, regardless of any Fannie or Freddie limits. This means a VA approved lender could fund a VA loan of 600,000 and still be able to sell the loan and retain the lender guarantee. How high could a VA loan actually be and still be VA-eligible? One might imagine the limit could be anything at all, and the VA would agree. A 1 million dollar VA loan?nbsp;

While the VA states there is no limit, mortgage lenders would likely balk at funding a million dollar loan without any down payment whatsoever. Yes, VA loans perform better than most programs, but still, thats a lot of risk. Instead, the individual lender will set its own internal policies regarding approving a VA loan. And when one lender sets a limit, others will likely follow. The point is that even though there is no set limit for 2020, doesnt mean a lender wont impose one. In fact, you can bank on it.

There are some other minor changes to VA loans going forward. The funding fee will increase slightly, for example. But other than that, nothing major. Instead, the loan limits will see no VA limits. If a lender likes a loan and the loan is a bit higher compared to conforming ones, the buyers and the lender both can make the case for an approval.nbsp;


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Could Your Garage Get Your Home Sold?

Youve made updates to your kitchen. Made sure your bathrooms look fresh and clean. Decluttered EVERYTHING. Even dropped your price. But your house still isnt selling. Could your garage make the difference?

It just might.nbsp;

When prospective buyers visit your for-sale home, theyre going to inspect every room in the houseeven the garage, said Sara Reese of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida on RISMedia. Its not exactly a glamorous space, but if your garage is a mess, its going to send a bad signal and turn off visitors. Therefore, its helpful to spend a little time in your garage and make it look its best.

Here are a few tips to get your garage in great shape.

Replacing your garage door

If your garage door works perfectly fine, replacing it may not be a high priority. But consider it curb appeal. Garage doors are large items, and they take up a lot of eye space. Especially if your garage faces the street, a dented, chipped, or dingy door could be stealing focus from the rest of your otherwise-put-together house.nbsp;

Remodeling Magazinenbsp;found in its 2019 Cost vs. Value study that an upscale garage door replacement can actually net you anbsp;return of 97.5, said HomeLight. A new garage door will run younbsp;between 300 to 1,500, depending upon the size and >

If the garage makes a loud or creaky sound when it opens, spending a few hundred dollars to replace the garage door opener is a no-brainer.

Finishing out the garage

Finishing out your garage isnt recommended if youre looking for the best return on investment ROI. While this type of upgrade may appeal to a niche buyer, most arent going to pay extra for it, and you likely wont recoup your costs.nbsp;

Just adding epoxy to the floor can cost between 1,400 and 3,000. You could do it yourself for about 100, but the process can be tricky and the results may reflect your novice status.nbsp;

If you dont want to go to the trouble and expense of epoxying the floors, make sure you get them nice and clean. If your garage floors are cracked and covered in oil stains from cars gone by, its a good idea to give the floor a good pressure washing and repair those cracks depending on how big or noticeable they are, said Nexx. According to homewyse, power washing the garage floor will cost around 200.nbsp;

Adding storage

After giving the garage a good cleaning, this is the No. 1 must-do to get the space in good shape. According to Kiplinger, 85 of buyers said they want garage storage.nbsp;

You can easily spend thousands on dedicated garage storage systems that make the space look pristine, but creating spaces to neatly stash your stuff doesnt have to be costly. A few large metal shelving units placed side by side will only cost you a few hundred dollars. These freestanding units are popular with buyers because the doors hide messes. And, when you put a few of them together, you can turn the top into a work surface.

Adding a garage

If you dont have a garage and youre in an area where most homes do, adding one might be on your mind. Your real estate agent should be able to advise you on whether or not this is a smart move, especially given the expense and expected ROI. At a national level, home sellers can expect to recover close to 64.8 of their initial garage addition costs, said Clever. Lets say that you invest 27,000 in adding a garage to your home, you may recover about 17,496 when you sell your home.

Doing a garage conversion

Perhaps youre thinking of converting your garage to living space. It is less expensive than adding on; According to Realtor.com, a garage renovation comes in atnbsp;11,000 on average.

While a conversion isnt necessarily a recommended strategy if youre looking to get your home sold right away because of the expense and the time involved, there are some instances where this might be a good move.nbsp;

Nearly 30 of shoppers rate a garage as one of the most important home features, just ahead of an updated kitchen and open floor plan. But a well-done garage conversion to living space can give you up to an 80 ROI.nbsp;

The decision of whether to go this route largely hinges on that expense, but also on the specific area in which your home is located. Its best to talk with your real estate agent before dropping the hammer on your garage conversion. It could be that homes without garage in your area just dont sell. Or, perhaps there is a growing trend toward multi-generational living locally that could inform your renovation and make your home especially desirable.nbsp;


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Ready for Essential Innovation?

When change is all around you, innovation becomes essential.

Successfully anticipating and adapting to change draws on creativity and innovation.

As we welcome 2020, are you ready to act on the opportunities to innovate that lie ahead?

Many real estate professionals feel that theyre at their best when under pressure. Thinking on your feet and pulling out a great idea or creative twist at the last minute are essential talents during the many high-pressure phases of serving buyers and sellers. However, these talents alone are not enough to ensure >

Can you call on fresh innovative thinking and out-of-the-box perspectives as standard practice when youre designing new real estate marketing campaigns, expanding into new markets, or carrying out the wide range of professional duties involved in real estate transactionsonline and off?
Remaining responsive and flexible for your buyers and sellers requires that you exceed their expectations, consistently and with > Branding, which provides a communication compass to steer by, requires ongoing innovation to remain engaging, > Ongoing requirements to blend the intensity of high-speed, ever-changing online communication and the intimacy of personal interaction with stressed-out buyers and sellers can make innovation an almost daily requirement for professionals.

To ramp up for 2020, consider how to use the following Five Innovation Realities to meet challenges ahead and achieve your goals:

1. Opportunity Is Everywhere: Innovation is not limited to something completely new.

Innovation involves something new to you or to your target customers, not necessarily something brand new to everyone. Some of the most clever innovations involve switching a product or service to a different context. This is at the heart of many industry-wide disruptions. When was the last time you applied a fresh point-of-view to an aspect of the buying or selling experience to provide a customized twist or digitally-astute time-saver for prospects or clients?

2. Incremental Improvement: Innovation does not require massive or dramatic change, or change for change sake, to significantly improve the bottom line.nbsp;

The majority of professionals who make subtle improvements to strategies, processes, practices, or technology experience positive impact on service delivery, client retention, negotiation, transaction results, and many important areas of excellence in client service. Adjustments and tweaks often excel over giant leaps.

3. Just Do It: Innovation requires commitment to improvement and to investing time for implementation.

If you work alone or adhere to a grueling, consuming schedule, you may adopt an if it isnt broken, dont fix it approach and feel there is no time for innovation. However, persist in doing the same things in a world that is continually changing and youll fall further and further behind, whether you realize it or not. Make time for small, steady improvement and youand your prospects and clientswill benefit in the long run.

4. A Must: Innovation is essential, not optional.

The accelerated information exchange driven by mobile computing and social media has made "keeping up" a required standard practice and "keeping ahead" essential for business survival. Everyones watching when a real estate professional or brokerage earns a solid reputation for innovation that benefits prospects and clients.

5. Simply Wonderful: Innovation is not hard.

Although many hands make light work still rings true, technology, including social media and digital transformation, has empowered and inspired individuals in often breath-taking ways. Few employees or none at all is no longer an excuse for reduced resilience and improvement in any market. Ideas, examples, and shared experiences abound to inspire us and drive us on. Where do you search out innovationbeyond Realty Times, that is?

Innovating in business enables a progressive, steady climb up the ladder of success. Moving purposefully in the direction of your goals and objectives is much easier and more effective than randomly jumping from the latest hot thing to the next hot thing.

Real estate professionals who genuinely understand and respect their target prospects and clients, thrive on anticipating and fulfilling targets real estate objectives while also achieving the professionals goals. This makes room for innovation on both sides.
Innovation also lies within effective communication. Progressive professionals are continually intrigued by finding ways to communicate more clearly and respond more empathetically with prospects, clients, and colleagues. Do you realize it may just take a word change or new phrasing to enhance engagement?
Obstacles, however small they may seem, between what clients expect from their buying or selling experience and what they experience in reality become inspirations to professionals on the lookout for practical, innovative solutions.
When real estate professionals take the time to ask prospects and clients, Is there room for improvement?, the professionals who listen carefully are on the way to standing out in the crowd. Start small. Better signage, cleaner premises, better coffee, different showing approaches, more digital alternatives, clarification of real estate terminology, or faster followupoften seemingly simple thingscan leave clients raving over improvements while the professional responsible may be surprised that innovation was so easy.

Suggestion: I find it helpful to select a project or business as an innovation icon that embodies what Id like to achieve as I innovate. One of my favorites is Fogo Island, a remote coastal place that I have yet to visit. Last fall, at The International Economic Forum of the Americas Global Foruma hot bed of international innovation that I often attendI met Zita Cobb, Founder and CEO of Fogo Islands Speedfast Foundation. I discovered everything Id been inspired by and admired about the revitalization of Fogo Islandto build cultural and economic resilienceto secure a resilient futurewas true and then some. More on Fogo Island and the Fogo Island Inn in another column.

Whats going to spur on your innovation this year?


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January Real Estate Roundup

Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that "This weeks mortgage rates were the second lowest in three years, supporting homebuyer demand and leading to higher refinancing activity. Borrowers who take advantage of these low rates can improve their cash flow by lowering their monthly mortgage payments, giving them more money to spend or save."

30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 3.51 percent with an average 0.7 points for the week ending January 30, 2020, down from last month when it averaged 3.74 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.46 percent.

15-year FRM this week averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.7 points, down from last month when it also averaged 3.19 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.89 percent.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.24 percent this week with an average 0.3 points, down from last month when it averaged 3.45 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.96 percent.


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6 Best Real Estate Investing Strategies for Beginners

1. Investing in Long Term Rental Properties

Buying an investment property to rent out on a long term basis has been and remains one of the best ways to make money in real estate. The most important benefit of traditional rentals is that an investor gets to make money both in the short run through rental income and in the long haul through real estate appreciation. Moreover, long term rentals provide a more stable source of income in addition to a lower turnover rate and require less management and maintenance than short term rental properties.

If you think that this might be the right strategy for you to get started in real estate investing, youd be interested in knowing the top locations for this rental strategy in 2020. According to data from Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Palm Springs, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati will offer the highest cash on cash return on the city level in 2020.

2. Investing in Short Term Rental Properties

Another real estate strategy which new investors love is investing in short term rentals, also known as Airbnb rentals or vacation rentals. The basic idea is similar to investing in traditional rentals, but this time you rent out your property on a short term basis usually per night rather than on a monthly or even annual basis. Short term rental properties offer a few major advantages compared to their long term counterparts. First of all, in order to make money from Airbnb, you dont need to actually buy an investment property. You can start by renting out a room or two in your primary home or renting it out when traveling. This will allow you to get a flavor of real estate investing without committing to owning a property in the long term and will let you decide if thats the right business for you. Second, nationwide real estate market analysis conducted by Mashvisor shows that in the vast majority of US cities and towns Airbnb rentals generate a significantly higher rental income and return on investment than traditional ones.

Once again, to help out beginner investors considering short term rentals in 2020, Mashvisors Airbnb data highlights these places as the most profitable ones: Tuscaloosa, Trenton, South Bend, Paducah, Abilene, and Newburgh.

Note: Please keep in mind that some of these locations might face certain short term rental regulations which you should check out before deciding to invest in them.

3. Buy and Hold

One of the most popular real estate investment strategies which is appropriate for beginners is buy and hold. This strategy entails buying a real estate property and holding on to it in the long term, until natural appreciation has pushed its value sufficiently to make sense to sell it. The key to success with this real estate strategy is to buy a property below market value and/or in a cold buyers market which is expected to heat up in the coming years. This will help accelerate appreciation and allow you to make money sooner rather than later.

As you can already guess, buy and hold real estate is a way to make money in the long term and not in the short run. This is a major disadvantage compared to the previous two strategies. Nonetheless, you can combine buy and hold with renting out on a short or long term basis for maximum return.

4. Fix and Flip

While the first three strategies were not necessarily passive, number four on the list of the best real estate investment strategies for beginners is a really active one. Fix and flip comprises of buying a property in a poor condition, performing the necessary fixes and repairs on it, and selling it to another real estate investor or homebuyer. The profit which you make is the difference between the sale price and the purchase price in addition to the fixes and repairs.

The most significant advantage of flipping houses is that you get to make money fast and that you dont have to own an investment property in the long run. This makes this strategy an ideal choice for those you want to taste the real estate business and learn more about it before deciding whether to commit to it in the long term or not.

The main drawback which beginner investors need to consider is the fact that this strategy requires a very involved and active engagement on their behalf. You need to be able to find a distressed property for sale below market value; hire and manage the necessary handymen to repair the house; market the property to potential buyers; and close a good deal quickly. This is the only way to make money with this strategy.

5. REITs

On the other hand, if youd rather start out slowly without being directly involved in the real estate deals and decisions, you can invest in a Real Estate Investment Trust REIT. Investing in REITs is very similar to investing in stocks. All you have to do as an investor is to conduct some research on the top REITs and choose the best one for your budget and other criteria. Then you start receiving dividends, provided that your selected trust performs well. The downside is that you dont really get a flavor of the real estate investing world. Moreover, most REITs have strict requirements about the minimum amount of capital which you have to invest, which makes them an unaffordable option for some beginners.

6. Real Estate Crowdfunding

The last strategy on this list of the best ways to start investing in real estate is a modern adjustment of investing in REITs. The advancement of digital marketing and social media brought about the emergence of real estate crowdfunding. Real estate crowdfunding platforms are frequently called eREITs because they work in a similar way. They bring the funds of dozens or even hundreds of >

Once again, this is a passive real estate investment strategy as you are not responsible for the choice of specific properties and their management. However, crowdfunding has one important advantage over REITs namely, that some platforms allow you to start with as little as 500. This makes real estate crowdfunding one of the most affordable options for beginner investors.

The best thing about real estate investing is that it provides a myriad of strategies, which allows it to meet the needs and preferences of just about any investor. Whether you prefer an active or passive engagement and regardless of the size of your savings, you can start making money with real estate in 2020 with one of the top strategies for newcomers discussed above.

Daniela Andreevska is Marketing Director at Mashvisor, a real estate analytics tool which helps real estate investors quickly find traditional and Airbnb investment properties. A research process thats usually 3 months now can take 15 minutes. We provide all the real estate information in easy to understand visualizations.


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VA Eliminates Max Loan Limits for Veterans

As of January 1, 2020, the VA has removed the maximum limit on home prices as part of The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Previously, the limit, which was set by the Federal Housing Administration FHA and which was subject to an annual adjustment, was 484,350 for most of the country. That meant that if a home was over the limit, the buyer was subject to a down payment. That cash down payment had to be enoughnbsp;to cover 25 of the difference betweennbsp;the purchase price and the FHA limit, said Military.com.nbsp;

With the limit removed, military buyers can now purchase a home at any price without having to come up with a down payment. This is good news for borrowers in high-priced metros, said The Mortgage Reports. Previously, veterans buying in areas like New York, Los Angeles, D.C., and Seattle, were at risk of exceeding zero-down VA loan limits.

However, because the VA doesnt lend the funds itself, there still may be a limit imposed by the lending institution. The lender may still issue a cap and deny a large loan. But the denial wont be due to VA home loan rules.

While traditional FHA loans require a minimum of 3.5 down and some other loans for first-time buyers are as low as 3, VA loans require no down payment for veterans and active duty military. There were 624,544 VA guaranteed loans in fiscal 2019, which was up 2 over 2018.

Another aspect of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act deals with the required up-frontnbsp;funding fee for VA loans. The VA charges most veterans a funding fee when a VA loan is issued, said Military.com.nbsp;In 2021, The funding fee for an active-duty veteran using a VA home loan for the first timenbsp;will increase from 2.15 of the purchase price to 2.35 of the price.

Veterans who receive VA disability benefits dont pay the funding fee, and the fee will also be eliminated for Purple Heart recipients still on active duty.


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Controlling The Look And Feel In Your HOA

Maintaining high quality designs and materials improves maintenance by reducing repairs and frequency of replacement. Uniformity standards does not mean that changes cant be made. For commonly requested modifications, the board should establish standards and specifications that include cost, durability, color, >

Establishing architectural policies goes a long way in preventing future problems. A well-crafted architectural policy will assist the members in designing their project, guide them through the architectural review process, and provide guidance for consistent review by the board or committee.

The policy should detail:

  • Sections of the governing documents referencing the architectural design policy and the boards authority to control it
  • Objectives of architectural review
  • Projects that require architectural review and approval
  • How the Architectural Review Committee is created, empowered, and staffed
  • What are the architectural review procedures
  • Specific criteria and standards needed for design approval
  • List of specifications and design practices that will assist those applying for project approval

Some owner requests like installation of heat pumps have the potential to cause heat, noise and leaking. So approval of all requests should consider ramifications besides just curb appeal.

The governing documents generally describe the authority of the board of directors to adopt rules and policies to control modifications. However, the authority seldom includes the specifics like the what, how and who. That is the hard part. See www.Regenesis.net in the Policy Samples section which can be used as a template. Make sure any such policy is reviewed by a knowledgeable attorney to ensure it complies with governing documents and statutes.

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


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8 Tips to Make Your Home a Pet Haven

1. Invest in pet-friendly furniture

Buying stain-resistant fabric for your upholstery and slip-covered furniture is recommended for pet owners. If you share your chairs or couches with your pets, the chances are that they will mess it up once in a while. There is more to pet hair and dander, such as unwelcome stains and stinky odors. Avoid silk, tweed, and velvet when purchasing pet-friendly furniture because they are vulnerable to scratches and stains. It is also advisable to avoid light-colored furniture.

2. Choose durable floors

Forget the expensive wall-to-wall carpeting. Forget the softwood floors too, even though they are a beauty to behold. Such floors will quickly show the effects of living with pets because they wear out pretty fast. Go for ceramic tiles especially in high traffic parts of the house like the main rooms and entryways. You can have sealed terrazzo and hardwood floors in other low traffic rooms. As for rugs, it is okay to have them as long as you do not purchase the expensive ones. Regardless of how good you are at cleaning the carpets, living with a pet means that they might be degraded.

3. Create a separate sleeping area

Before arriving home with your furry friend, ensure you have put together a separate sleeping area. Dogs and cats love a plump sleeping place, and your bed might be the most viable candidate if you do not provide an alternative. The ideal bed would be filled with cedar chips and have a washable cover. The cedar smells excellent and repels flies.

4. Move vitamins and medications to a safe location

The last thing you are looking forward to is watching your pet waste away because it took your medicine. Most of these pills are fatal to animals. That is why you should build a lockable cupboard for placing vitamins and medications. Apply the same rules to foods that may cause harm to your pets.

5. Use trash cans with lids

Does your beloved pet tend to dig into the trash? Unless you want to step on kitchen waste frequently on the corridors, you should consider buying trash cans with lids. Avoid low-lying trash cans for your bathrooms, kitchen, and pantry. Ensure you go for durable and secure bins.

6. Build a pet area close to an entry

If your dog or cat likes staying in the outdoors, you should deal with the goings and comings. Remember that when they come from outside, they will bring in debris, dirt and other stuff. The pet area next to the door should have a hanging place for putting your leashes and other accessories. Consider half-tiling the walls to catch the stains from the inevitable shake off.

7. Keep breakables out of site

One swipe with their fluffy tail and your collection of decorative glass items will be in pieces. Protect both your pet and your valuables by placing them at a high place that your furry friend cannot reach. If you have a cat, you may have to put them in a room that the pet doesnt access because cats are notorious for climbing high places.

8. Install screens on your windows

If you are planning on opening your windows for fresh air during summertime, consider installing window screens. In the past, pets have fallen victims to high-rise syndrome where they jump from a high-rise building. If this happens, the pet will be hurt.

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Is a Survey Necessary When Buying a Home?

Is a Survey Necessary When Buying a Home - Reasons to Have one Done

In this article, well consider whether a survey is necessary when buying a home. well look at some of the benefits of getting a property survey before purchasing property. Something you should not do when buying a house, is skip out on a step that can potentially cost you more money later on.

nbsp;Its important to note that the protection and benefits a property survey offers a home buyer far outweigh the cost. As such, property surveys are critical to the home buying process. They provide a detailed description of the property, the lot size and the boundaries. If youre planning to buy a plot of land or home, a home buying tip is to have property survey done, as it offers a wide range of benefits.

To Ensure Youre Paying for The Right Property

Buying a home is a big financial move, which is why youve likely been preparing to buy a house for some time. You want to be sure that the property described in the contract is the same one youre paying for. A survey helps you to determine whether youre purchasing the right home. Both the land and property are mapped out and assessed to eliminate any discrepancies.

Eliminate Disputes Over Boundary Lines and Corners

If you own property, its important to have accurate information about the boundaries and demarcations. This information is critical, especially before paving your driveway, add an extra room or build a fence. In cases where disputes may arise regarding boundary lines, a survey can help to provide details of the exact property dimensions.

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Whether You Can Subdivide

If you have future plans to subdivide the property, its important to familiarize yourself with the regulations first. Its not uncommon for owners to invest in a property and later subdivide it to be sold for a profit or for family. Different jurisdictions have their own set of rules when it comes to subdividing restrictions. By investing in a property survey, youll be able to determine the existence of any of these regulations and their potential to affect your dividing plans.

Report on Underground Cables and Drains

Without a detailed property report, you probably wont have a clue whats underneath your property. Knowing what cables, wires, drains, telephone lines, gas and electricity are under your property is crucial for various reasons. For instance, you need to know the location of underground utilities before beginning any construction.

Bottom Line

As you start researching and prepare for home ownership, its important to make all boxes are checked before the house is officially yours. So, is a survey necessary when buying a house? The short answer is yes. The biggest benefit of a property survey is that it protects your investment. Ask your realtor about how to get a survey done. Without a qualified and extensive examination of your property, you could easily run into disputes and costly issues down the road.


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Preparing Yourself to Buy a New Home

1. Plan Out What Youre Looking for in a Home

The first best thing that you can do, before you even start house shopping, is figure out what youre looking for in the first place. Doing this is pretty simple. Get a piece of paper or open up a word document and write down the things that you absolutely must have. The list shouldnt be super long, and you should keep in mind that you can change certain things about the house. For example, you shouldnt have purple paint on the list because you can easily repaint the walls of the home. Your list should have the location of where you want to live and the size of the home. Once you move into the home, you cant change the location so make sure that you know the type of neighborhood that you want to live in and whether you want it to be in a suburb or out in the country. Location is vital since once you buy the house, youre stuck with the location. The size of the home is also important since its easier to buy the right size then to build onto a house. Make sure that youre buying a home that has enough space for your family and maybe even a little room to spare for guests.

2. Set a Budget

The next best thing that you should do is to set a budget. You dont have unlimited money when it comes to buying a house, and the last thing that you would want to do is put stress on your family because of the finances that come with buying a home. To avoid that, set a strict budget. Set out your finances with your spouse or companion and figure out what is realistic for you. You dont have to spend the next 50 years paying off the mortgage; you want your budget to sit comfortably with your expenses so that you wont be pushing the limits. To do this, start by adding up your income and then list your average household expenses. Dont hold anything back. Include anything from pest-control to replacing appliances. Then make the adjustments that you need to make. When youre planning your budget, you need to make sure that youre keeping all of the usual expenses in mind, so youre not pushing yourself too hard.

3. Contact a Real-Estate Agent Well Before Your Deadline

The last thing that you should do to prepare is contact a real-estate agent. Most people do this with only a few months before they want to move out of the house. When you get in contact with the real estate agent that close to your deadline, it creates massive amounts of stress on both you and the agent. Instead, give yourself the breathing room that you need. Talk with your agent and explain our plan and tell them your budget and the things that you absolutely need in the home. Your agent will then be able to spend the time looking for the perfect home for you. Neither you nor the agent will feel stressed and pressed for time. You can sit back and work with each other with a cushion before the deadline. Your home-buying experience should be less stressful than people assume it to be. Make sure that you have enough time and that youve made the necessary plans before you start.


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5 Tips for Gen X and Gen Y Homebuyers

But did you also know that the housing market has changed a lot since your parents bought a home so its important to go into it with a plan.Using the internet and apps to do research and price homes is important, but you dont want to get overloaded on information. But remember you dont have to go it alone; when you choose the Goodale Miller Team you get all the tools you need to buy the right home at the right time.

Whats Your Five Year and Ten Year Plan?

Before you evennbsp;start looking at luxury homes for sale in Oakvillenbsp;youre going to need to have your five year and ten year plan ready. Did you know that the average Canadian pays off their mortgage 5 years early, and usually by the 12thnbsp;year? Its important to really look at how long the mortgage youre getting will take you to pay off with the minimum payment. What if you paid double that, could you afford to? Are younbsp;planning on getting a second mortgagenbsp;down the line to improve the home? Is this your starter home or are you going to live here for a while? The better a plan you have the better off youll be.

Use Apps to Do Research

Using apps and the internet to do some research before you start looking at luxury homes for sale in Oakville is going to really help you form the best plan of action. Youll need to know what kind of home you want to buy, how much you want to spend and what you can expect to get in a certain area. You can even find an app that will help you negotiate, but when you want to price a home dont leave it to chance, work with us as your Oakville luxury realtor.

Dont Get Overloaded

Information overload happens Maybe youve been doing so much research that you cant figure out where to start, maybe youve looked at so many homes online that theyre all starting to run together. Whatever it is, the more information you pour into your brain in a short amount of time the worse it can get. You dont have to do it all right now, take your time and really find out what matters to you before you buy a home.


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4 Tips to Give Your Home a Fresh, Exciting Feel

After a few years of ordinary living, it might be time to give your house a facelift. Were not talking about a full makeover that will set you back thousands of dollars. These tips are simple, yet effective when it comes to freshening up the space where you spend so many hours of your life.nbsp;

Lets dive in.

1. Brighten Up Your Wall Colorsnbsp;

Natural light is essential if you want to feel calm and refreshed in your own home. If there are certain parts of your house that seem a little dark, it might be that the wall paint isnt reflecting light enough.nbsp;

Additionally, rooms with fewer windows require paint colors that are bright and add a bit of light to the space. Hallways, bathrooms, and closed-in spaces all require a little extra thought when it comes to paint jobs if you want to give your home an invigorating feel.nbsp;

If youre looking for some colors that are known for brightening things up, consider:nbsp;

Lavender matched with white and gray accents
Yellow for bedrooms or bathroomsnbsp;
Light, soft gray for calm spaces
Bright white for areas you want to open up

2. Do Away with the Clutternbsp;

Clutter doesnt just make your home feel depressing and old - it affects your brain.nbsp;

According to psychologist Sherri Bourg Carter in Psychology Today, clutter bombards your brain with excessive stimuli. This causes your brain to process too much at once, leading to fatigue and stress.nbsp;

In order for your home to feel like a place where you can recharge and enjoy yourself, youll need to clear out some of that junk. It doesnt matter if you use Marie Kondos famous spark joy method or something different - just eliminate the clutter thats keeping you from loving your home.nbsp;

The top places to start clearing out today:nbsp;

Your messy entrywaynbsp;
Kitchen countersnbsp;
Closets that are jam packednbsp;
Your eyesore of a garagenbsp;
Disorganized workspaces and desks
That one junk drawernbsp;

Remember: you dont have to declutter your home all at once. Take the process step-by-step and youll find that its not as overwhelming as it seems.nbsp;

3. Embrace More Hobbies and Fun at Homenbsp;

A mistake many of us make is creating a practical environment in our home - without the fun. Its hard to be thrilled with a house that doesnt invite guests or align with hobbies you find exciting.nbsp;

Consider transforming one of your less-used spaces into a versatile recreation room. Look over a pool table buying guide to find just the right accent for the space or research foosball tables for when your friends come over. If youre not into games, consider installing a home theater or something else that can entertain you and your guests.nbsp;

The key is to welcome fun into your home with open arms. Yes, your home is for cooking, eating, sleeping, and general living, but that doesnt mean it cant have an exciting element of entertainment, too.nbsp;

4. Dont Shy Away from Personalizationnbsp;

Many homeowners spend so much time thinking about what will make their home look good that they forget to think about what will make their home theirs.nbsp;

What makes you feel refreshed and excited?

If youre an extrovert, maybe you want an environment that charges your senses with photos, decorations, and rich patterns. If youre more introverted, maybe you want something a little more muted and comforting.nbsp;

Look at spaces in your home where you could add a splash of personality. Choose accents that are meaningful, not just aesthetically pleasing.nbsp;

Some simple, easy ways to bring a touch of personality into your home:nbsp;

Display accomplishments that bring your pride
Add artwork thats special, not just generic
Put up some memorabilia from past experiencesnbsp;

To Sum It All Upnbsp;

Your home should be a safe place where you enjoy spending time and recharging your batteries. If youre no longer excited by what it holds - or even worse - if you feel anxious when youre in your own home, then its certainly time to make some changes.nbsp;



Riley Swanson is a life>
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How to Sleep at Night After Applying For Your First Mortgage

Your loan officer will ask a series of questions primarily about your job, income, credit and how much money you have available to close on a home. How much is needed adds up a down payment if needed, closing costs and cash reserves.nbsp;

Cash reserves is simply how much money you have left over after the loan has completely closed.nbsp; This amount is calculated as how many months of house payments are left over in your bank account when all is said and done. If the total amount for principal and interest, taxes and insurance add up to 2,000 and the loan requirement is for six months of cash reserves left over in the bank common then there needs to be at least 12,000 of available funds left over in a bank account you own. Most first time homebuyer mortgages ask for three months of reserves.

Okay, now lets say youve just submitted your loan application and provided your loan officer with the requested documentation. You can expect to provide your most recent paycheck stubs covering a 30 day period, bank statements showing sufficient funds to close the transaction and the last two years of W2 forms. If youre self-employed, youll need to provide two years worth of personal and business income tax returns. Your loan officer has reviewed your credit as well as your documentation and issued your preapproval letter.nbsp; This letter is key. This letter will state that your application has been reviewed along with your credit report and required documentation. This letter helps you sleep at night. Unless something changes from the time you receive this letter to your closing date, all should be fine. Youve already done the heavy lifting and your loan officer is tying up loose ends and ordering various third party documents such as title insurance and a property appraisal.

After the loan has been fully documented it is then sent over to the lenders underwriter. The underwrite makes sure the loan complies with the requested loan program. Underwriting a loan doesnt really take very long, but it may take time for the underwriter to get to your file. Your loan officer can update you on current underwriting times. Its during this period that things get a little quiet on your end. Youre just waiting. And you might still be second-guessing yourself and wondering if the underwriter will want still more information. Guess what? The underwriter probably will. But not for anything major. Instead, the underwriter will want some updated information from you. For example, loan files should have all credit documents less than 30 days old. That means youll be asked for an updated paycheck stub or bank statement. Once your loan is signed off, your papers are drawn and youre almost there.nbsp;

You attend your closing, sign where needed and either bring a cashiers check or wire the necessary funds to the settlement agent. Once complete, the signed documents are returned to the lender for one final review. This review simply makes sure the settlement agent followed the lenders instructions. The settlement agent typically does so, and the lender then >

Remember, once you receive your preapproval letter youre halfway there. All you need to do next is find that perfect home


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What We Can Learn About Selling Unsellable Homes From New HGTV Program

In HGTVsnbsp;Unsellable Houses, sisters Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Daviswho are among the top-selling real estate agents in the Pacific Northwesthelp struggling homeowners sell their seemingly unsellable homes in record time, said HGTV. Lyndsay, an expert in home renovation, design and staging, and Leslie, an expert in budget and negotiations, are so confident they can sellnbsp;anynbsp;home that theyre willing to invest their own money to make the sale.

HGTV is presenting eight new series in 2020, Unsellable Homes will be the first to premier during the first week of February. According to House Beautiful, the twin sisters will be challenged to sell 10 homes in the Seattle area that have been deemed unsellable by marketplace standards. The sisters, confident in their ability to sell even the most unwanted of properties, will be investing their own money to make the necessary renovations. Their end goal each episode will be to sell the home at a higher price, allowing them to break even, and the family to profit.

The homes Lamb and Davis will be showcasing on the program have been for sale for as long as 120 daysfar beyond the 30 days it typically takes to sell a home in hot Seattle. In line with the launch of this intriguing new show, were presenting a few top tips for getting your own unsellable home sold.

Get smart about the listing price

Your home isnt worth what you think it is or even what youve put into it. Its worth what people will pay for it. And if theyre not paying for it, its overpriced.

Make sure youre not the problem

Its tough to hear that you may be the reason your home isnt selling, butnbsp;it is the easiest problem to fix, said Dave Ramsey. Be honest and ask yourself if youre doing anything that could potentially drive buyers away. Are you: At home during showings; Stretching the truth about your homes features; Restricting the times that buyers can view your home?

Stage it to sell

According to Davis, one of the top reasons a home doesnt sell quickly in a booming market like Seattle is because [these homes] are not presented right when put out for buyers to see, said House Beautiful. This encompasses everything from the pictures included in the listing, to how the home is staged.

Concentrate on curb appeal

Dont underestimate the impact curb appeal can make. If you spend all your time and effort, not to mention money, on the inside and neglect things like an unkempt front yard and a ratty front door, potential buyers may not even get out of the car. For a few hundred dollars, you can layer in some fresh mulch, plant a few seasonal flowers, paint your door, and lay down a welcome mat, giving your home a whole new look.

Take professional pictures

For one reason or another, sellers sometimes insist on taking their own listing photos. This doesnt typically pay off. Just how important are those photos? According to the Center for REALTOR Development CRD, Homes with high quality photographynbsp;sell 32 percent faster; Homes withnbsp;more photosnbsp;sell faster, too. A home with one photo spends an average 70 days on the market, but a home with 20 photos spends 32 days on the market; For homes in the 200,000 to 1 million range, those that include high-quality photography in their listingsnbsp;sell for 3,000-11,000 more.

Tend to the smell

You might not be able to detect a smell in your home because youre used to it. But that doesnt mean it isnt there.nbsp;

Several agents cited bad odors as a common reason a home wont sell, said Business Insider. Three agents said that odors from cats in particular are bad news. Residual scents from smoking can also pose a problem, said Jose Laya, who sells homes in Miami for between 800,000 and 2 million.

Taking steps to remove cat litter boxes or at least keep them really clean and a good cleaning of the carpet and soft surfaces like drapes and couches are good places to start. Investing in some Febreze and air fresheners can help cover up any lingering smells. And, if all else fails, embrace the trick real estate agents have been using for years: Bake some cookies before a showing. That way youre creating a sense memory for all the RIGHT reasons.nbsp;

Listen to your agent

Really, this is a repeat of everything above. If youre working with an experienced, knowledgeable agent And if youre not, you should be and he or she tells you to lower your price, its because you need to lower your price. If he or she recommends you declutter your house, give it a good scrubbing, or air it out, its because you need to declutter your house, give it a good scrubbing, or air it out. Maybe all three.


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5 Appliance Repairs That You Can Do Yourself (and 2 You Shouldn’t)

Replace the Thermostat in The Dryer

If the dryer isnt getting hot, it could be the thermostat. The thermostat often breaks and when it happens, the dryer wont heat up. You can purchase a new thermostat at most hardware stores for under 80, which is a pretty big savings on most dryer repairs, which cost around 180. Follow the manual for your specific brand of dryer to locate the thermostat and purchase the most >

Clear the Drain in the Dishwasher

If the dishwasher is no longer draining, it is most likely a clog in the drain. You can clear this yourself in just minutes with the use of a shop vac. Just disconnect the drain and insert the shop vacs hose. Run the hose for a few minutes, then try the dishwasher again. This method can save you on further dishwasher repairs.

Replace the Fan in the Freezer

If the freezer is no longer keeping things cold, its probably the freezer fan. The fan is what circulates the cold air through the freezer, and if it shorts out, the cold air wont reach to all areas. A new fan is around 85 at your local hardware store, and you can replace it in a few minutes with a screwdriver. Just remove the cover, unscrew and disconnect the fan, and put in the new one.nbsp;

Clean Coils in the Refrigerator

If the fridge is not staying as cool as it should, its probably because the coils are dirty. These are located under or behind the fridge, and are a collection place for a lot of debris, dust, and pet hair. When the dirt builds up, the coils end up freezing, rather than cooling whats inside. To clean them, just unplug the fridge, slide it out and go around the back to where you can see the coils. You can use a vacuum, a duster, or a cloth and get them clean. Then just put your fridge back in place, plug it back in, and give it an hour to get back down to its normal temperature.nbsp;

Unclog the Burner in the Gas Stove

Gas stoves that arent lighting and arent giving off a smell of gas may seem to be a big problem, but its usually a small issue thats easily fixed. First just make sure that the electricity and gas lines to the stove are working properly. If the electricity and gas lines are in good order, the burner is probably clogged. Shut off the gas to the stove, then grab a small brush and some cleanser. Clean the burner head well, scrubbing it out. When you turn on the gas and turn the burner, it should light right up.nbsp;

When to Call a Pro

While the above fixes can be done yourself with little to no problem, there are definitely fixes that you should call in the professionals for.nbsp;

Repair the Icemaker Broken on the Fridge

If your icemaker suddenly dies, and its still connected to the water supply, the problem is most likely the compressor. The cost to repair the icemaker can get up to 300 depending on the brand, which is the costliest part of repairing a refrigerator and necessitates some major work on the refrigerator itself. For this one, you need to call in a professional repairman to take a look and do the work. Its too easy to make things worse in this area, which can lead to a full replacement, so if your icemaker seems to be on the fritz, call in the pros.

Repair the Microwave

There are many things that can fail with a microwave, and all of them require professional assistance. Even if you think that the repair is a quick or easy one, microwaves can be dangerous both to work on and to have working when not in proper repair. They can leak microwave radiation into the rest of your home if not properly sealed when working, so before you start poking around in there, call a professional for help.nbsp;

Take Care of Your Appliances

Simple fixes are often all thats necessary to avoid a big repair bill. Know when you can DIY and when you need to call a pro to keep things running smoothly.nbsp;


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How to Save Money on Closing Costs

Additionally, buyers may not understand that some of the fees under the closing costs umb>

What are closing costs?

First, its important to understand the role closing costs play in your mortgageespecially because were not talking about a measly amount. Closing costs can range from 26 of the total cost of your loan. So, on a 250,000 loan, thats 5,00015,000. Having to come up with that amount of money after scrimping and saving for a down payment can be a crushing blow.

The term closing costs includes a variety of expenses above the purchase price of your property, such as fees for an attorney, a title search, title insurance, taxes, lender costs and some upfront housing expenses such as homeowners insurance, said U.S. News amp; World Report.nbsp;

Shop around

There are a number of items on a loan estimate that can vary in cost depending on the lender. It behooves you to reach out to more than one to find the best option. And remember this: You may think the winner is the one who is offering the lowest rate, but thats not always the case. It could be that some of the fees are higher with another lender, making the loan less attractive.

Compare your loan estimates

Lenders are required to provide you with an itemized loan estimate within three business days from the date you apply for a mortgage. So now its time to compare and contrast your estimates.nbsp;

The Loan Estimate lets you comparison shop between companies total costs and also dig into specific fees once youve chosen a lender, said NerdWallet. You need the legally binding Loan Estimate to compare costs, not the closing costs worksheet or a fee itemization that some lenders offer, Erik Martin, president of Total Mortgage, a national mortgage company based in Milford, Connecticut, told them.

Know what you can negotiate

Page 2 of the loan estimate has a section called services you can shop for, said Bankrate. It includes the pest inspection, survey, and title fees, like title search, insurance binder, and settlement agent. These are services you can find on your own or use what the lender provides. If you shop around, you might be able to find something cheaper.

And then there are the lender fees. Lender feesnbsp;arenbsp;feesnbsp;charged by banks and other financial institutions for processing and funding a loan, said LendingTree. They can include applicationnbsp;fees, attorneynbsp;fees, recordingnbsp;fees, underwritingnbsp;feesnbsp;and more. While you may not be able to eliminate these fees, you may be able to negotiate with the lender to lower them.nbsp;

Close late in the month

Can you control the date of your closing? This is something to discuss with your lender, because there are potential savings for a late-in-the-month closing. Prepaid interest is one of the fees that come into play when buying or refinancing a home, said HSH. Closing toward thenbsp;end of the monthnbsp;can save on prepaid interest. For example, if you close on July 11, youll have to pay for 20 days of interest. On a 200,000 loan with a 4.5 mortgage rate, thats almost 500. By closing on July 30, youll only pay interest for July 30 and 31. Using the same loan amount and interest rate, two days of interest is only 49.

Ask for the seller to pay your closing costs

There is no requirement that states that the buyer has to be the one who pays the closing costs. It may be possible, depending on the type of market youre in, to get the seller to pay at least part of the costs.nbsp;

Some loans also allow you to roll part or all of the closing costs into your mortgage, which will raise your monthly payment some, but save you from having to come out of pocket.nbsp;

Other things to look out for

Certain type of loans will have separate costs involved like an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1.75 for FHA loans or a VA funding fee as high as 3.6. These are not negotiable fees, but they may help you determine which loan is right for you and how much of a down payment you want to come up with. Remember that, for FHA and most conventional loans, you will also pay a monthly mortgage insurance premium.nbsp;

All told, you can save hundreds of dollars, even thousands, by understanding how you to save on closing costs, said HSH. That money could be better spent going into your home, as opposed to on your home loan.


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Trend Alert: Grandmillennial Design

Over the last year some millennials have become disenchanted with the somewhat generic, impersonal aesthetic that dominates so many influencer feeds, said MyDomaine. A new wave of design-savvy, nostalgic-natured, and traditionalist-inspired influencers is on the rise. Pleated lampshades, ruffled linens, needlepoint pillows, blue and white ceramics, and chintz-everything are a few of the items these young traditionalists gravitate towards.nbsp;

As House Beautiful puts it, grandmillennials, ranging in age from mid-20s to late-30s,nbsp; have an affinity for design trends considered by mainstream culture to be stuffy or outdatedLaura Ashley prints, ruffles, embroidered linens. Unlike that of the late-aughts hipster, their taste for the antiquated isnt ironic; its less twee than timeless.

Want to embrace the Grandmillennial >

Hit the antique stores

If youre not lucky enough to inherit a few great antiques, maybe youll be lucky enough to find a couple while out shopping. You can get furniture of greater quality for the same price you might pay at CB2 or West Elm, Robert Khederian said in the New York Post about the >

Cheer on the chintz

After a long history filled with many ups and downs, its become clear of late that chintzthat oversize floral symbol of both Granny Chic and 1980s excessis having a major renaissance, said Elle Decor. Whether its the recent rise of grandmillennial >

Add skirts and ruffles

Flounces like these help create warmth.

Swap the geometric prints for brocade, chintz, or florals

But, be careful not to overdo it. The judicious use of prints and colors is extremely important, said One Kings Lane. One step too far and you can end up with a room thats more granny than grandmillennial.

Take up a new hobby

Needlepointone of the granniest of all hobbies, said House Beautifulhas become huge. When youre done with your masterpiece, you have another item to add to your dcor.nbsp;


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HOA Can't Prohibit Water-Efficiency Measures

But what happens when the drought is over? We trust that someday it will be over. Will HOAs then be able to revert to the rules they had back in the day when we all thought there was plenty of water? Will they be able, as some had done, to require green lawns and lush, well-watered landscaping?

This is not a small issue, confined only to those occasional condominium units that may have a small yard where grass and some flowers can be grown. In California, there are more than 50,000 common interest developments [CIDs], comprising over 4.8 million housing units -- all subject to recorded regulations [CCamp;Rs] and HOA oversight. They are not all no-yard condominiums. Many are free-standing homes, some with very large yards, within an association.

As a result of AB 349 Gonzalez, which was signed into law by the Governor on Sept. 4, 2015, the answer to the question above is "no". AB 349 prohibits "a requirement that an owner of a separate interest remove or reverse water-efficient landscaping measures, installed in response to a declaration of a state of emergency, upon the conclusion of the state of emergency." If you pulled out your lawn and planted cactus because of the drought, then when the drought is over you can leave it that way. If you want to.

AB 349 does something else as well. It "voids or makes unenforceable, any provision of a CID governing document or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibit the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass."

The latter provision was the cause of some controversy, as was expressed in the opposition of ECHO Educational Community for Homeowners. The opposition was two-fold: 1 "environmental and public health concerns >

As the Senate Legislative Analysis pointed out, two previous Governors had vetoed similar legislation. "In 2010, the Legislature passed AB 1793 Saldaa, 2010, a bill that would have rendered void and unenforceable any provision of the governing documents or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies of a homeowner association that prohibited the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass." Governor Schwarzeneggers veto message said that such decisions should be left to the associations.

"A year later the Legislature passed SB 759 Lieu, 2011 which was substantially similar to AB 1793 and this bill AB 349. Governor Brown vetoed that bill on essentially the same grounds."

Be all that as it may, this year the provision -- mandating the approval of synthetic turf -- received gubernatorial approval. An association may be allowed to adopt reasonable restrictions -- for example, as to color -- but it may not prohibit the material outright.

AB 349 was considered "an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety", so it became effective immediately. It is the law.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .


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Credit Inquiries: When They Really Matter and When They Really Don’t

For most mortgage loan programs, a minimum credit score is required. There are five factors that go into calculating these three digit FICO scores and they are someones payment history, account balances, types of credit, how long someone has used credit and requests for new credit, referred to as an inquiry.

There are two primary types of inquiries, a hard and a soft inquiry. A hard inquiry will have a direct and almost immediate impact on credit scores whereas a soft inquiry will not. A hard inquiry is one where the individual has made a direct request for new credit. The request can be for a new automobile loan, installment loan or a credit card. A single, somewhat isolated request for new credit will have a marginal impact on credit scores.nbsp;

However, multiple requests for credit during a compressed period of time will eventually harm scores. The thinking is that immediate and several requests for new credit could indicate the individual is currently or soon will be in some sort of financial straits and the new credit accounts could act as a cushion until the financial issues are resolved. These varied, multiple requests can keep companies from issuing new credit.

A soft inquiry is >

Lets take a look at someone whos applied for a new home loan. The application is submitted but after a few days the applicant gets a little worried. Theres been no documentation sent, no phone calls returned and a vacant loan officer. After two weeks the applicant thinks it might be a good idea to apply for a mortgage at another lender but decides not to because an additional inquiry will drive scores down even further. But that thinking is wrong, especially for something as important as a mortgage.

The guidelines set forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, have ruled that multiple requests for the same type of account within a 45 day period count as just one inquiry. Thats the key phrase here, same type of account. The applicant with the non-responsive loan officer makes another application with a new company after two weeks and there is no effect on scores. Remember, same type of account and 45 days.


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5 Ways that Drain Cleaning is Crucial for Your Home’s Routine Maintenance

Were very fortunate to have teamed up with a drain cleaning services team to help us compile this list of 5 reasons why your regular home maintenance should include drain cleaning, so here they are

1.nbsp;Lesser likelihood of blockages

Even the smallest types of clogs like in your sink or shower can slowly become serious home maintenance issues if they arent handled thoroughly with professional-grade cleaning solutions. Theres no denying that serious clogs require professional drain cleaning as quickly as possible, but for the regular homeowner its the buildup of blockages that they need to look out for on a regular basis.

Letting basic buildup issues persist can sometimes even lead to catastrophic issues like sewer line bursts and leaks, which is always really expensive. Thats why a consistent monitoring of your drains is crucial when it comes to ensuring the overall sanctity of your homes behind the scenes structure.

2.nbsp;Less Odor Issues

Clogged drains can many times lead to really foul smells because it essentially can open up the airways from the depths of your homes plumbing system into your bathroom or kitchen. A lot of homeowners have issues when it comes to fully eliminating these smells once they are created, so it makes more sense to always do your due diligence in terms of not letting these smells occur at all.

One of the best ways to avoid these smelly issues is to regularly clean out your drains to ensure that any chances of bad odors are swept away and are kept where they are supposed to be

3.nbsp;Maintaining a cleaner home

There is always a lot of bad bacteria, bugs and other chemicals that you dont want seeping into your home from your sewer lines, which is why clogged drains and any type of overflow is dangerous to your health. When you clean your drains on a consistent basis youll end up preventing these bad particles from entering your home, and subsequently putting your familys overall health at risk.

4.nbsp;Less Spending

One of the perks of having your drains professionally cleaned is that you can also ask your technician to take a look at your sewer lines for any type of potential damages or maintenance needs. Sometimes homeowners go through drain issues when their pipes are leaking, rusting or when a tree root has penetrated the line.

This is why its always good to have a pro come to your home and inspect these potentially costly problems before they get out of hand and cause all sorts of expensive water damages. So in the end, regular drain maintenance can help save you a ton of money if youre taking it seriously and ensuring that your pipes are in good standing.

5.nbsp;Safer Outdoor Areas

A bad drainage system is also very detrimental to your front and back yards, including issues like standing water on your lawn, soil erosion, mold, mosquito breeding, and decaying gardens. If you do end up noticing a standing puddle of water in your yard, then this could be the result of a blocked drain or cracked sewer line.

There is always going to be an entire array of issues that drain cleaning can help resolve, and it is always best to have a professional come do these types of plumbing services instead of making it a DIY project. Professionals will always have the necessary equipment to get the job done right the first time, which can help you out in the long run for all of the above reasons


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5 Home Decor Projects That Incorporate Nature Indoors

Add Plants to Your Home

You can add beautiful planters to your home for a variety of lush and green houseplants, but today, some homeowners are creating hanging moss walls that create a natural appearance in a room. Instead of hanging paintings or photographs on a wall, you will have a special material where moss or other types of plants can grow.

Beautiful Water Features

You can bring artificial water features into your home to create a natural ambience. There are large or small water features available that you can fill with water. These devices may resemble waterfalls or fountains. Some of these water features cover an entire wall while others are easy to place on a tabletop. These water features have pumps that require electricity to help the water flow.

Natural Window Coverings

Rather than using flimsy fabric curtains on your homes windows, choose woodennbsp;window blinds instead. You can find blinds that are made from light or dark colors of wood that will match your homes baseboards, doors or furniture. It is possible to select a variety of sizes of blinds for different types of windows. The natural color and grain of these blinds is beautiful, giving each room a special ambience.

Stone Countertops

If your home has an ugly old-fashioned vinyl countertop in the kitchen, then have it replaced with stone. Each piece of stone countertop is unique, but you can find different colors to create a special ambience in a room. There are granite, slate and quartz countertop materials available, and a technician can cut the materials to fit precisely in your homes kitchen.

Skylight Windows

You can hire a contractor to add skylights to your home in strategic locations. This will give you additional natural sunlight that will help you to feel better. Instead of installing one huge skylight, you can have multiple small skylights installed. These are especially attractive in homes that have vaulted ceilings to add lighting to spaces that include kitchens or living rooms.

Professional Installation or Do-it-yourself

In some cases, you can add natural home decor on your own, but there are also professional technicians who you can hire for these installations.If you buy remodeling material from a big hardware store you may qualify for free or discounted installation pricing than finding your own contract worker. However, if you know how to do these installations safely you can save money by using your own time and talent.nbsp;


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Top 3 Tips for Selling Luxury Real Estate

Check out these three hot tips for selling luxury real estate so you can sell your gorgeous home for top dollar.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Hire for Professional Home Photography and Staging

According to data from the National Association of Realtors, nearly half of buyers begin their home search online. This means that if you dont have a proper online listing, youre missing out on almost half of your potential buyers. Of those that search online, 89 say that photos are very useful and 50 say that virtual tours are very useful.

And thats talking about all real estate.

The key to selling luxury real estate is to take things one step further. Pictures really are worth a thousand words and most people will just scroll on by a listing that has no photos. A listing with a photo of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous entrance to your home, on the other hand, is sure to grab someones attention.nbsp;

To do that, you need to hire a professional photographer to photograph it. Smartphone photos wont cut it in this case. Your phone may take stunning photos, but professionals know how to use things like angles and lighting to their advantage to showcase the loveliest features of the home.nbsp;

Before the photographer arrives, its a good idea to hire a home stager. After all, you want to give the photographer the best possible canvas to work with.

Properly staging a home with neutral furnishings and decor allows buyers to envision themselves living in the home. This is important for the emotional component of buying a home.nbsp;

When selling luxury real estate you should strongly consider making the extra investment and taking a video as well. The luxury market is smaller and there is a bigger chance that your buyer will be coming from far away. Videos can help them get a better feel for your home and encourage them to come and view it in person. Aerial drone photography is an impressive touch that you should consider for the exterior.

Hire the Right Agent

Hiring the right agent is a crucial step to selling luxury real estate. Be extra picky when choosing your agent. Look for one with extensive experience in the luxury market as things work a little differently.nbsp;

Everything is bigger and bolder in this arena and your agent should understand that. For example, their full-service marketing plan should include a custom website just for your listing. This is where the professional photos and videos will be showcased, showing off the beauty of your home without fighting for attention on the regular MLS.

Plus, luxury buyers are used to a more...luxurious buying experience. A good luxury real estate agent will know that. Theyre going to have to spend money to close this deal and wining and dining potential buyers within reason should be in their plan.nbsp;

Luxury real estate agents know theyre not just selling a house, theyre selling a life>

Agents are also vital to one of the most crucial steps of the sale process determining the list price. Set your list price too high and your home could sit on the market too long. Buyers will become wary, assuming there is something wrong with the home and your listing could expire without an offer.nbsp;

With normal real estate, you could wait a few months and list again at a lower price and perhaps have better luck. Unfortunately, luxury real estate for its uniqueness often sticks out. A few months may not be long enough for people to forget that no one wanted to buy it the first time.nbsp;

Obviously, pricing it too low means you wont get the return you deserve on your investment.nbsp;

An agent will lend their expertise to the process by performing a comparative market analysis to determine the fair market value of your home.nbsp;

Comparative Market Analysis

However, comparative market analyses are difficult enough as it is. Agents look at various factors including features of the home, its condition, the neighborhood, and more to determine the list price they think they can sell it for.nbsp;

The current state of the market also has an effect but remember the luxury niche may not be following the same trend as regular residential real estate. This is another reason that an agent fluent in luxury real estate sales is an invaluable asset.nbsp;

A big part of this analysis is comparing the home to recent sales of similar properties in the area. As you can imagine, this becomes more complicated with luxury real estate. It is much harder to find comparable properties as luxury homes tend to have unique features that set them apart.nbsp;

Selling Your Luxury Home

As you can see, selling luxury real estate is a little different than selling regular real estate. By following the three tips weve outlined here, you can drastically boost your chances of selling your home for the price you deserve.nbsp;

So, dont skimp on the photography, hire a knowledgeable luxury real estate agent, and price it right for a fast, profitable sale.nbsp;nbsp;


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FHA Cash Out Refinancing in 2020

At some point however, homeowners could consider refinancing an existing mortgage. Maybe rates have fallen lower than the rate currently on the note. Thats typically the most common reason refinancing can make sense but there are other reasons. Changing loan terms can also be a valid reason to refinance. Different loan terms simply means shortening or lengthening the life of the loan. A 30 year term will have lower payments than say a 10 year loan, for example.nbsp;

On the flip side, a longer loan term means more interest is paid over the life of the loan. A shorter loan term will mean higher monthly payments over the course of the loan, but the amount of interest paid is significantly less. But once a decision has been made to refinance, there may also be an option to pull out cash as part of the transaction. This is an FHA cash out refinance.

There have been some changes to the FHA refinance program when pulling out cash occurs. These changes implemented late last year changed the limit on how high the new cash out loan can be compared to the current market of the property. The maximum cash out limit is now 80 percent of the value of the property compared to 85 percent previously.nbsp;

Other FHA guidelines for a cash out loan include a minimum credit score of 580 when the loan amount is less than 90 percent of the value of the property but can go as low as 500 when there is more equity in the home. With a cash out refinance, there will be a limit at 80 percent. An FHA cash out loan is also fully documented, just as it was when using an FHA loan to purchase and finance a home.nbsp;nbsp;

Existing FHA loans may also be eligible for a streamline refinance which simply means less documentation is required for an approval. With a cash out FHA loan, there is no such option. Other requirements include verifying there have been zero payments made within the last 12 months more than 30 days past the due date. Owner occupancy is also still required. This requirement can be fulfilled by providing a copy of utility bills going back at least 12 months. Youll need to speak with your individual lender how to comply with this FHA guideline.

Finally, remember that pulling cash out of a property reduces the amount of equity in your home. With an FHA cash out loan, this is partially addressed by limiting how high the loan can be compared to the current market value of the property. Pulling cash out during an FHA refinance should only be a secondary consideration, not a primary one. If converting equity into cash is the primary focus, a home equity loan is probably the better answer.nbsp;


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Real Estate to LOVE?

Sellers who are considering a move from a home they small-L love to somewhere new theyll big L Love and buyers intent on purchasing a home to Love, can all benefit from asking themselves the same question and taking time to answer it.

What do I want to LOVE about the real estate in my near future? is a great starting question for buyers and sellers.

1. The answer is not me>2. The answer should go beyond the trite I love it expression applied liberally, and often with little thought, to everything from mid-century-modern decor to a stainless steel or marble finish. This over-used phrase is so much part of everyday speech that it has lost its deeper, discerning meaning.
3. The answerto be genuinely valuable in your real estate searchshould include deep feelings about how you want to feel while living in your new home and how this emotional state will enhance valued aspects of your life. The answer lies, not in physical features, but in life>

In short, why have you decided that spending all this money and investing all this time buying real estate is going to be well worth it?

Scientist Louis Pasteur reaches out with a clear view of possible 21st-Century futures that explains why the Love question above is a great place to start for buyers and sellers contemplating their future home.

Pasteurs belief that "Chance favors the prepared mind" can be a rock-solid guide for confident real estate decision making:

Be prepared to act when luck strikes:

Youll find luck appears more often and is easier to act on when you are prepared with >

One source of all this be prepared knowledge and more will be the highly-competent, locally-knowledgeable real estate professionalthe matchmakeryou select to help you act in your own best interest regarding every detail of the search, decision making, and the resulting transaction.

Or, plunge in and tackle the research yourself. Either way, understanding what you are buying and how the >

Be ready to respond quickly when opportunity knocks:

This is not encouragement to act in haste or to jump in before you understand what the property or the transaction involves. Respond quickly means having the confidence not to second-guess yourself after each decision. Buying real estate involves a lot of time-pressured decisions, so getting out of your own way by ending second guessing is an important, solid step forward.

Clarify exactly what life>

Be decisive when fortune calls:

Once youve learned how to quickly and thoroughly research essential elements of a property or have engaged with a real estate professional who can help you achieve this, youre on solid ground. Youll be confident you understand what you are getting intogood, bad, and indifferentbefore you act. This represents a productive mix of practical knowledge like window placement and interior traffic flow and acknowledgment of long-term benefits that matter to you and those youll share the home with.

We are what we think, what we believe. Thats "the box" that can limit our view of what the future might hold. A committed professional can expand your horizon of possibilities. This confidence may lead you to consider a different >

Because each piece of real estate is unique, separating your deep buying intentions from your must-have shopping list will enable you to fully evaluate the potential of a property that may vary from the usual cookie-cutter offering.

Is your buying vision based on trending Instagram photos and videos or current superficial Keeping up with the Jones demands? Or, are you guided by Lovehow you feel about home as a place to belong, share experiences, and gain courage to face the outside world?

The apparent simplicity of using your Love of what the new home will contribute to your life does not mean that identifying emotional connections is necessarily easy for everyone. The level of personal commitment involved in applying the Love criteria to hopes and dreams may require efforts like discussions with family members or some soul searching. Are you prepared to make personal investments like these in your future?

Doing nothing is a decision, too, perhaps not the best one, but a decision to be lived with none the less. Concentrate buying decisions on features like stainless-steel appliances, kitchen islands, and master bedroom ensuites and the result may not be the long-term Love many want and expect when buying a home.

Theres more to consider in PJs articles

Are You Buying For The Right Reasons?

Move-In: Will I Like What I Bought?nbsp;

Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensivenbsp;


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How Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Can Help You Achieve Your Goals and Prioritize Your Life

The emotions raw. And the Mamba Mentality, a persona he created for himself that epitomized his killer instinct on the court, has been brought into fresh focus.nbsp;nbsp;

Kobes un>

But you dont have to be a fan of Kobe or basketball or even sports to appreciate the Mamba Mentality. As ESPN sports personality, Stephen. A Smith, noted during NBA Countdown, it isnt something thats reserved for just basketball players. Or athletes. Its for any human being out there who has a dream.nbsp;

Kobes off-the-court pursuitsin particular his dedication to his four daughters and his many philanthropic efforts that have come to light since his passing, like granting more than 200 Make a Wish requests and making countless unscheduled and unpublicized visits to sick childrenhave resonated with people all over the world. Weve seen a terrific display of anguish and mourning even among those who never knew him and who cant comprehend the audacity of an 81-point game or the willfulness to insist on always being the one to take the last shot, and always assume hed make it. And not because he had the skillwhich he obviously didbut because he had >

If his shocking and untimely death along with eight othersKobes 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; Sarah and Payton Chester; Christina Mauser; and Ara Zobayanhas made you personally reflect on your own life and reevaluate or reprioritize your goals, youre not alone. While the loss is profound, it can inspire change. The Mamba Mentality is something we can all apply to our lives, whether youre looking to become a real estate tycoon, want to safe place for your kids to play and good schools to learn in, are ready to commit to saving more money so you can meet those financial goals, want to climb the ladder in your career or perhaps change careers altogether to something that provides you with more fulfillment, or simply desire to be more present for your family.nbsp;

Put in the work

You dont have to be an elite athlete to bring the Mamba Mentality into your world. Want to buy your first home but dont have the down payment? Work your butt off to get there. Get a second job or a side gig, or stop eating lunch out every day.nbsp;

Not getting your offers accepted? What more could you be doing? Is your agent searching for off-market properties? Have you thought about writing a heartfelt letter to the seller of a home you really want? Do you need to refocus your goals on earning more money or tightening your belt to buy a bigger house? Maybe you need to lower your expectations and buy something smaller.nbsp;

Brett Hagler, the CEO and co-founder of New Story, a San Francisco-based non-profit seeking to end global homelessness, recently re-sharednbsp;a piece he wrote on LinkedIn in 2016 about Kobe, which he titled, Because of 4AM.

The crux of the piece was that Kobe famously made sacrifices for his craft, getting to the gym at an ungodly hour to work on his game while others were sleeping. Because of 4AM came from Kobe when he was on stage accepting the Icon Award at the ESPYS, he wrote. He was addressing fellow athletes:nbsp;Were not on this stage just because of talent or ability, Bryant said. Were up herenbsp;because of 4 a.m. Were up here because of two-a-days or five-a-days. Were up here because we had a dream and let nothing stand in our way. If anything tried to bring us down, we used it to make us stronger.

There are thousands of athletes that had similar or even better talent than Kobe, Hagler continued. Just like there are thousands of executives, leaders, sales managers, artists, musicians, writers, etc. that have the same and more talent than you and me.nbsp;But at the end of the day, it doesnt come down to who has the most talent or intelligence. It comes down to who is willing to make the choices that others are not willing to make.nbsp;Who is willing to shoot baskets in the dark when everyone else is sleeping? Who is willing to prepare more for an interview? Who is willing to practice their speech 10X more than anyone else? All are choices we make. The 4AMs and two-a-days become intentional choices. The hard things over the easy, uncomfortable things become routine. The discipline to put off instant gratification is the standard process.

That was the core of the Mamba Mentality: Simply work harder than everyone else. As Kobe once said, When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure.

Ask yourself what youre willing to sacrifice to get there

How long of a drive to and from work we can endure is often a question we ask ourselves when we are buying a home. In some areas, a commute is inevitable simply because more affordable homes are sparse closer to work centers. But how much is too much?nbsp;

A big home with a yard in the suburbs that comes with a three-hour daily commute may not be preferable to a smaller place closer in that allows you to be home for dinner and tuck-ins every night in light of Kobes death. Its hard not to see the sad irony in the fact that Kobe had made the choice to ride by helicopter to maximize the time he could spend with his family, recounting a time when he had missed a school play because he was stuck in notoriously bad L.A traffic.nbsp;

Focus on small goals

When you have the impetus to make a life change, you can feel compelled to change everything at once. If youre newly focused on saving money for a down payment, perhaps, you can set yourself up for failure by setting an unreasonable goal. Want to be the CEO of your company instead of an assistant? Expecting that to happen in six months can ultimately create disappointment and frustration. Instead, set smaller goals and work hard to meet them.nbsp;

Kobe once said about his return to the game after an injury, Its a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things thatwere taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it.nbsp;

Dont be afraid of missteps

Whatever it is were pursuing, whether were spotlighting our objectives at work, our financial independence, or raising kids, the goal isnt perfection. Its making choices, pivoting when necessary, refining our processes, and always keeping the end goal in mind.nbsp;

If I wanted to implement something new into my game, Id see it and try incorporating it immediately, Kobe said in The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. I wasnt scared of missing, looking bad, or being embarrassed. Thats because I always kept the end result, the long game, in my mind. I always focused on the fact that I had to try something to get it, and once I got it, Id have another tool in my arsenal. If the price was a lot of work and a few missed shots, I was OK with that.

Keep learning

Kobe was notoriously curious and a voracious learner. On his first show back after Kobes death, Jimmy Kimmel told a story about having gifted Kobe with a book; Kobe contacted Jimmy after finishing the book, and had so many questions that Jimmy ended up putting him in touch with the author. Kobe also taught himself how to play Beethovens Moonlight Sonata by ear because he thought it would be nice for his wife. Already fluent in three languages, he was also in the process of learning Cantonese.nbsp;

You dont have to go out and learn a new language, or perfect a masterpiece on the piano. But what can you add to your life, or what can help reach your goals, by employing a learning mentality? Would picking up a new skill make you a more valuable employee at your current job or open you up to more lucrative opportunities elsewhere? Would learning to paint or garden or tile your kitchen backsplash add enjoyment to your life or value to your home? Would learning about different types of loans and programs for things like down payment assistance make it more likely that you could buy your first home? The more you know, the more you can advocate for yourself, the more prepared you are to meet your goals. The more Mamba your Mentality, the more likely your success.

Be a leader

Even those of us who love basketball and are lifetime Laker fans underestimated the impact Kobe had on the game and on other players. The outpouring of grief has been tangible. Turns out that perhaps his greatest legacy is not what he did on the court, but how he inspired others to do and be their best through his example.

Since Kobes retirement, he was fulfilling that role for others, mentoring and acting as a support system to a wide range of people, including the children of his former teammates; Shaquille ONeals son, Shareef, called Kobe Unc and received a text from Kobe the morning of his death. Kobe was also notably promoting womens and girls basketball to the extent that many felt this would be his most important legacy, surpassing even his unbelievable exploits on the court.nbsp;nbsp;

"The most important thing is to try andnbsp;inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do," he said.nbsp;

With your coworkers, your friends, your family, being more and doing more is a choice.nbsp;

Give back

If Kobes untimely death has made you think about what you were putting back into the world, youre not alone. That seems to be a common response, especially in light of all the information coming out about the selfless deeds that he did. If youre looking for a way to channel your grief, or simply achieve more personal fulfillment, think about how to give back.nbsp;

What is it in life that drives you? Are you motivated by making lots of money at your job? Do you enjoy being recognized for your accomplishments? Thats a good start, but think deeper, said author and self-help guru Tony Robbins. Why do you enjoy making money? Is it so you can provide for your family and feel secure? Perhaps you >

A loss can be a turning point, if you channel that grief properly. And it doesnt have to be the loss of someone you knew personally.

Theres a huge sense of loss when people who are young and really excelling in life are stripped away from us out of the blue, Lauren Cook, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Pepperdine University, told NBC News. Its really triggering as its a stark reminder of lifes unpredictability. We tend to go through our days with a sense of normalcy that we can take it for granted. A loss like this is something that humans, who crave homeostasis, find tragically alarming.

The sites recommendation, which is widely shared by experts in grief and loss: The next best thing you can do to cope with this loss once you have fully processed it, is to use it to make you a better person.

Figure out your priorities and make your time count

Kobes dedication to his four daughters and his pride in being a girl dad was increasingly on display after his retirement from the NBA in 2016. Few of us have the financial wherewithal to retire at age 34, but his post-NBA life is a good reminder to focus on whats important.

Kobe was once asked how he wanted to be remembered. His answer: "Ive always said that I wanted to be remembered as a player that didnt waste a moment...didnt waste a day. I felt extremely blessed by the God-given talent but, at the same time, I didnt take it for granted. So if I could be remembered as a person who was born with a lot of talent but did everything he could to try to overachieve and lived every day as if he was the 12th guy on the benchthats a very powerful message to have.

But, he also knew that his time as a player was limited, and that his life goals were much larger than what he could do with a ball. If basketball is the best thing Ive done in my life, then Ive failed, he said.

Thats a lesson for us all.


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Looking to Buy a Home This Year? Credit Score Changes Could Make It More Challenging.

What is the new scoring system?

Fair Isaac Corp., commonly known as FICO, has built anbsp;new suitenbsp;of scoring models that will be available from all three credit reporting agencies Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to lenders by the end of 2020, said Experian. The new models will treat late payments and debt more seve>

Just how could this impact borrowers? Consumers with high FICO scores who continue to manage their finances well may actually see an increase in their scores. This change will create greater separation in the 600s, said Forbes. If you are in the lower 600s and struggling to make payments on time, there is a chance your score can go down further. If you are in the high 600s and making payments on time and trending toward lower debt levels, your score could actually increase.

Joanne Gaskin, vice president of scores and analytics at FICO, told NPR that, About 40 million Americans are likely to see their credit scores drop by 20 points or more, and an equal number should go up by as much.

Whats NOT changing

The fivenbsp;main factorsnbsp;that FICO has long used in its scoring models will remain. They are: payment history, dollar amount owed, age of credit history, credit mix and new credit accounts. However, the new FICO scoring systemnbsp;expands into new territory, with the goal of giving lenders a more precise assessment of your credit risk, said Experian. It considers your trended data.

What is trended data?

Trended data offers a closer look at your financial picture over the last 24 months, specifically focusing on how you have managed your existing accounts. Trended data has not typically been shown to lenders for the purpose of qualifying home buyersuntil now.nbsp;

How will this change impact your score

Those with scores below 600 who continue to miss payments or have blemishes on their credit will see even larger declines in their scores, said REALTOR Magazine. FICOwill soon start more harshly penalizing the scores of consumers who have rising debt levels or who fall behind on loan payments. The company will also flag certain consumers who sign up for personal loans, which is a growing area of debt.

With these new changes, its more important than ever to be diligent about protecting your credit. Would-be homebuyers will want to:

Pay your bills on timeThis has always been important but is even more critical now. Late payments have always been a red flag for lenders, but they may be even more harshly penalized once the new program is in place. Delinquencies will hurt scores more now, said Experian. The impact of late payments is more pronounced than with prior FICOnbsp;Score versions. This means consumers who miss payments are likely to experience a more severe drop in their credit scores under this new model.nbsp;

Pay down credit card balancesAccording to FICO, borrowers should keep revolving debt below 30 of their available credit so that they dont see a larger impact to their credit score, said REALTOR.nbsp;

Get currentPull yournbsp;credit reports and make sure that nothing has fallen through the cracks like a small medical bill, said Forbes.nbsp;Catching up on those payments may show a positive trend.

Avoid personal loans"The scores will weigh personal loans more heavily, the Wall Street Journal reported, in order to penalize borrowers whonbsp;consolidate debt with personal loansnbsp;and then go on to rack up more debt, said MarketWatch.

Dont cancel your credit cards. Closing accounts can actually hurt your score. When it comes to credit cards, it can help to hold on to older accounts for a long time, said NPR. Doing that gives consumers a more established credit history.


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Is It a Trend or a Fad? How to Know the Difference When Updating Your Home

In a macro sense, Anbsp;fadnbsp;is a short-lived phenomenon, fading in a >

As it >

How can you tell between a fad and a trend?

Take the barn door. It started out looking like a fad, merged into a trend, and then became so oversaturated Try finding a flip or renovation on HGTV that didnt have one over the last couple of years that people became tired of them.nbsp;

If youre making changes to your home with the intent of selling, knowing the difference between fads and trends can help inform your design choices.

Paint color

Gray has been the color dujour for, well, more than a jour. If your home needs a fresh coat before you list it, a neutral is the way to go. You just want to make sure you dont go overboard.nbsp;nbsp;

Gray floors, gray walls, gray kitchen cabinets Treating gray as a neutral is something thats starting to feel predictable, Samira Tapia, a Los Angeles-based Realtor with Compass, told Apartment Therapy.nbsp; I specifically have buyers asking me not to send them any all-gray listings.

You also want to be careful about going too bold. You may love blood red or a shade of yellow thats brighter than the sun, but unusual or unpredictable shades may make your home memorable for the wrong reason.nbsp;

Wallpaper

Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, busy, bold wallpaper is back in a big way, said HomeLight. Online searches for bold print wallpaper have increased bynbsp;401 in the past year. But heres the thing about wallpaper, dont add it to your home. It can add visual clutter, Janice Rosenberg, anbsp;top performing real estate agent in Raleigh, NC, told them. Buyers are doing their searches on the Internet, and theyre looking at the photos and when they see wallpaper that they dont like in their minds, theyre thinking its going to cost a lot of money and time to get rid of it.

Flooring

If you are replacing your flooring prior to listing your home, think carefully about what to use. Hardwood can actually help you sell your home, and for a higher price than other materials, but you still wont get every dollar you spend back in most cases. Before you commit to spending thousands of dollars, its a good idea to consult your real estate agent. An experienced agent should be able to guide you to the best options for your flooring and then counsel you on the best colors, plank width, and brands of you do choose to add hardwood.nbsp;

Kitchen finishes

Watch HGTV for more than a few minutes these days and youre probably going to see some fancy gold or brass finishes in the kitchen, and possibly the bathrooms as well. Were filing this under fad, because, even though this type of finish has grown in popularity, youre still unlikely to find them in the majority of homesespecially in more suburban areas. If you live in a hip city with a large, design-savvy millennial buyer base, going with the latest finishes could be a good move. For everyone else, sticking to finishes with more widespread appeal is smart.nbsp;

Kitchen shelving is another important feature to consider. In recent years, open shelving has become quite popular on design shows. But, in real life, it can lack function and create clutterespecially when there is too much of it. Open shelving looks great when done right, but too many open shelves can look unorganized, said Family Handyman.nbsp;Stick to a couple well-organized open shelves mixed in with cabinets.

Bathrooms

Outside of finishes, its important to consider the main features of your bathroom. Are you fixing up an outdated space? You might be seeing a number of owners renovating their master bathrooms to include a large walk-in shower, which requires them to ditch the bath. Is this a fad or a trend? Either way, it can be a move that hurts the homes value.nbsp;

Consider your potential buyer before making such a drastic change. If there are a lot of young families in the neighborhood and thats your target buyer, removing the tub in the master bath may end up costing you a sale.


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DIY Management In A Homeowner Association

According to The Owners and Managers Guide to Condominium Management: "For self-management to be successful, unit owners must have plenty of time and experience, and a professional attitude toward their work for the association. For example, the treasurer must understand accounting and be willing to devote a significant amount of time to the maintenance of proper financial records and timely collections. The chair of the landscape committee should have gardening experience so that either a landscape contractor or a gardener can be properly supervised. If the association is fortunate enough to have members who have the three main attributes--talent, time and concern--self-management may be the best choice."

Size of the development is an important factor. Although it should not be the ultimate factor in deciding to self-manage, a sound case can be made for limiting self-management to HOAs of fewer than 10 units with limited common area space and no recreational facilities.

The main advantage of self-management is cost. However, if the motivation for adopting self-management is pu>

From a volunteers point of few, the cost savings only comes because volunteers are doing the work for free. Volunteerism often has a problem with continuity. Todays "house-afire" is tomorrows "burn-out".

The board must consider the legal implications of self-management, since the board itself is liable for its decisions or indecision. The boards responsibility is to both fellow unit owners and the general public. Although many governing documents contain a hold harmless clause that seeks to protect board members from legal repercussions for their actions, this does not prevent their being sued for mismanagement.

Member enthusiasm may be high enough to make self management successful. However, that enthusiasm usually decreases as the demands on volunteers increase. A breakdown in the system can spell disaster for the entire community. Consider the nasty aspects like having to enforce rules or collection on your neighbors. This situation will happen in every HOA at some point. No volunteer should be put in the position of lording over neighbors.

Self managing a homeowner association can work under the right set of circumstances as long as the approach is professional. If it isnt clicking, consider the alternatives that professionals can offer.

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


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Easy Curb Appeal Updates For 2020

Tidy Up The Yard

You may not have the time or the money to invest in brand new landscaping, but that doesnt mean that you cant make the yard look clean. You can buy mulch in bulk at Home Depot for cheap. Having mulch is the easiest way to transform your yard and make it look neat and fresh. Plant some new flowers in pots placed near your front door, and add a new welcome mat. Finally, Mow the lawn and trim branches.

Clear The Pathways

Its simple enough to get out the hose and spray away all leaves from sidewalks and walkways. Large piles of leaves in the backyard and front can be a turnoff to potential homebuyers because it may make them think that the yard is hard to take care of or that the home is unkempt.

Paint or Power Wash?

Take a walk around your home and inspect the exterior. Do you notice any peeling or chipped paint? It may be time to consider repainting the exterior. Check the walkways, windows, and smaller details that are looking drab. A fast power wash can help transform these areas without costing a fortune. You can easilynbsp;rent a power washernbsp;if you dont have one.

Add Color

Consider updating your front door for a fresh, new look. Add a pop of color by painting your front door if you dont have the funds to update the whole house with a fresh paint. A new entry can return between 75100 of your investment. Follow the above tips for some easy curb appeal fixes tonbsp;sell your home quicklynbsp;in 2020. Good luck


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Save Big by Going Green With These Sustainability Tips

Practicing Sustainable Laundry Habits

When it comes to trimming the electric bills or finding more effective ways to minimize the utility costs, the laundry room is the perfect place to start. Washing with cold water, hanging clothes up to dry rather than using a dryer and making other small changes can often make a big difference. Households that are constantly doing laundry have much to gain by adjusting their habits and finding more sustainable ways to wash their next load.

Upgrading Older Appliances

Curbing utility costs is all about finding devices that are using more power than may be needed in order to get the job done. Outdated appliances are frequently some of the biggest sources of wasted electricity. Swapping out existing appliances for high-efficiency models or replacing older equipment that may be suffering from impaired performance can be well worth the time, effort or cost involved. The installation of roof solar panels or a rainwater collection system may also be beneficial and is an option that those planning an energy audit or home renovation would be wise to consider.

Tracking Down Water Leaks

Tracking down and fixing any leaks within the homes plumbing system is another way that homeowners may be able to reduce their bills. The slow drip of a facet, toilet tanks that constantly refill themselves and other minor issues could all result in water bills that are placing undue stress on the household budget. While extensive repairs and costly installation purchases and installation services may be required to deal with major problems, many minor issues can be resolved using nothing more complicated than a simple screwdriver and a wrench.

Gardening and Growing Fresh Produce

A backyard great way to save on grocery costs while ensuring that fresh produce is never in short supply. Lessening the environmental impact caused by industrial agricultural operations or the emissions created when bringing fresh foods to market may be as simple as setting up an area to garden within the backyard. In addition to being thrifty, gardening can be an enjoyable hobby in its own right, one that can make it much easier for households to enjoy fresh foods without having to worry about the use of pesticides or other chemicals that might otherwise be used during the growing process. Other landscaping additions that may produce some much-needed savings may include xeriscaping to help minimize irrigation or using shrubs and trees to shade the home in order to reduce cooling costs.

Creating a More Sustainable and Cost-effective Home

Unlike other home upgrades that may require no more than an installation, sustainability is an ongoing effort. Homeowners should keep an eye out for any new resources that may allow them to curb their water and energy usage as well as the new technologies and products that can be used to create a more sustainable home without requiring major changes to an established life>
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Home Restoration vs Home Renovation: Their Stark Differences and Their Best Uses

Well, the words home restoration and home renovation are kind of like that in terms of how easy it is to mistake one for the other and even worse, interchange them when you really mean the other word.

In the real estate sector, its common knowledge that different homes require different types of work. There are many aspects that work encompasses. Age, the type of materials to be used, the colors of the house, and even the personal preferences of whomever is getting work done on the house are all factors to consider.

But, as part of common sense, you need to know what you want, and you need to know how to communicate what you want as accurately as possible. Now, when should you ask for a home restoration and when should you ask for a home renovation? Here are some of the key differences:

Home Restoration

To restore a home means to return it to its original state or condition at a particular time period. This is often preferred by homeowners who have a love for the houses history and who seek to retain the original design as much as possible, whether its to pay homage to a time long past, or out of respect for traditions. This is strict in the sense that whichever materials, paints and designs were incorporated in the original structure are going to be used.

Some examples of home restoration projects include, but are not limited to:

Door and window repair

Cabinet restoration

Floor refinishing

Repainting with original color

Home Renovation

On the other hand, a home renovation is performed with the purpose of making the home feel like new. This often means that the existing materials and fixtures are often replaced with new ones, without the restriction that they stick to the houses original design. One may even have a home updated to modern trends if one so chooses.

Some examples of home renovation projects include:

Door and window replacement

Floor redesign or refinishing with different color or texture

Updating or even replacing old rooms

Repainting with a different color

When A Dilemma Isnt Even a Dilemma

Now, you may be wondering which between these two options suits your needs better. Well, Im glad to tell you that theres no dilemma to be had here. It really depends on what you or your house, rather needs. Old houses often need renovations to keep up-to-date with modern trends, while houses that arent exactly in bad shape may only need a restoration. The point here is that it all depends on what the house really needs.


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3 Tips for Buying a House That Will Support Your Lifestyle

You need a home that will conveniently fit your routines, hobbies, and expectations. Whether thats a ranch in the country or a small city townhouse, its up to you to decide if the home will support your life>

Here are three important aspects to consider when determining if a house is a good fit for the life you and your loved ones lead.nbsp;

1. Consider How Your Daily Routine Will Worknbsp;

When you first tour a house thats for sale, what are you thinking about? Are you dreaming of the house parties you could throw and the furniture that would fit perfectly, even if you cant afford it?nbsp;

Try flipping your mindset to a more realistic setting. The majority of the time youre in that house, youll be going about life normally: getting up for work, taking care of kids or pets, cooking, cleaning, and just living.nbsp;

Therefore, the visions you have when preparing to buy a new home should really be about how your average routine will function inside this particular house.nbsp;

Is the house close to the businesses, doctors, offices, and schools youll frequently be visiting? Research has shown that people with short-distance commutes are more >

Do you hate getting up at the crack of dawn to take your lovable pup outside? Make sure your dream house has a fence and perhaps a doggy door - this will make an impact on your everyday life and enjoyment.nbsp;

What about the kids? What do they do on an average day, and how will their activities and necessities be met in the house youre considering? Will they be closed to the things that they do every day, like parks, schools, and friends houses?nbsp;

A house can be beautiful, spacious, and a good price, but if it doesnt have features that will contribute to the ease of your everyday life, it might not be a good overall fit for your family.nbsp;

2. Think About Incorporating Your Hobbiesnbsp;

Speaking of daily activities, it never hurts to think about how your most important hobbies will fit into a new house. Many hobbies take up space, so before you make any commitments, think about where your workshop, exercise room, or arts and crafts area could fit.nbsp;

If youre into woodworking, youll need a safe area with great ventilation and lockable doors if you plan on using sharp tools for your projects. Consult a woodworking guide to get all the details on the tools, process and safety practices you need to know before starting with woodworking.nbsp;

Similarly, if you like to paint, work on cars, or create a real mess, where will your hobby fit into this new house? These arent hobbies you can do just anywhere.nbsp;

Maybe youll decide you need a separate room or shed for your hobby, or perhaps you want to convert half of the garage into a workshop. Regardless, these are things you need to think about while home shopping - not after youve already made the move.nbsp;

Hobbies should be just as much of a priority as the number of bathrooms or the color of the carpet.nbsp;

In the rise of workaholism in America, its more important than ever to actively search for ways to keep hobbies involved in your home life. Hobbies exercise a part of our brain we dont typically use and improve our cognitive functions - dont brush them off when thinking about how a house fits your life>

3. Remember: Your Happiness Doesnt Come from a Homenbsp;

The American Dream would often have us believe that a good job, a content family, and a house with a white picket fence are the necessary ingredients for a happy life - but thats not always true. Owning a McMansion you cant really afford or living in a cramped space to be in a cool city isnt always the right path to a happy life>

Know what the real ingredients to a happy life>

A sense of community and frequent community celebrations
Close friends and family, especially for children
Access and commitment to frequent exercise
Less emphasis on consumerism a big happiness suppressant
The chance to actively help people for about 100 hours a yearnbsp;

Notice that none of those ingredients have anything to do with the size of the house. However, many of them do influence where you live and how you can access support groups, community, activity, and charity.nbsp;

Want to know what actually detracts from your happiness?nbsp;

Paying too much for your living accommodations
Isolation from friends and family
Feeling out of control when it comes to your life> Making choices to impress others, not yourselfnbsp;

As you shop for your dream house, think about aesthetics and design. Consider what you feel about the actual building. Then, before you pull any triggers, ask yourself:

Will this house bring me happiness?
Does it pair well with the real ingredients that will make me and my family feel satisfied?

To Wrap It Upnbsp;

Many Americans about 40 percent say that buying a new home is THE most stressful event in modern life. There are so many aspects to consider - the entire process can be overwhelming and confusing.nbsp;

To make the process easier, focus less on the specifics of the houses youre evaluating and more on the life youll be able to lead once you move into the home you choose. Everything from your commute to your space for hobbies and proximity to friends, family, and community can seriously impact your happiness - dont let those factors be overshadowed by a pretty exterior or five awesome bedrooms.nbsp;

nbsp;


Riley Swanson is a life>
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Divorce, Separation and Home Loans

When two or more people apply for a mortgage to buy a home, each person who will live in the home and on the application agree to be responsible for the mortgage payments. The legal documents signed at the closing table have language that obligates each individual and what can happen if they stop paying. Essentially, non-payment means the lender has the right to take back the home via foreclosure and sell the property to settle the outstanding balance.

Lets look at a scenario where a couple gets married, applies for a mortgage and takes title as joint tenants. They live there, happily, for a few years and then later on the marriage begins to crumble. There are two types of crumbling, a separation and a divorce. There are also two types of separation, a legal and a verbal agreement. Lets consider the verbal agreement first.

As it >

In the meantime, the husband wants to buy another home and get financing on his own. Yet because theres an outstanding mortgage on the first home, his debt ratios are too high to qualify. He explains to the lender that he and his wife are separated and have agreed to split the mortgage payment. Unfortunately for him, that doesnt matter. The mortgage appears on his credit report and he originally agreed to pay it. There are also other debts jointly owned such as a car loan and some credit card debt. Those debts are also legally his. Not just half of them, but all of them.

Now lets look at a legal separation. This is a legal document signed by a judge that lays out who pays for what. Within the document, it clearly states that the wife is responsible for the entire mortgage payment while they will split the additional consumer debt. The husband applies for a mortgage and is told there are some other debts on the credit report that push his debt ratios too high. He provides a copy of his legal separation agreement that states the wife is responsible for the mortgage, not him. But the lender wasnt consulted about such an arrangement and wont let him off the note.nbsp;

A divorce runs much the same manner in most cases. The lender doesnt have any control about someones love life but does have some interest in getting paid each month. The divorce decree clearly states the wife is solely responsible for the mortgage payment, even though the mortgage still appears on his credit report. He is still not >

The wife agrees to pay the entire mortgage each month, but after a while shes having trouble keeping up with the payments. Soon, one of the payments is listed as more than 30 days past the due date. This late payment will also appear on the husbands credit report, even though their agreement states hes not responsible for the mortgage. Again, the lender isnt concerned about the marriage, just getting paid back. The only way to remove the husband from this responsibility is to get him off the note enti>

With real estate and marriage troubles, obviously legal counsel is involved. Just know that unless one party is completely removed from the existing note via a sale or refinance, theres still an obligation to pay.


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How Much Will New Home Upgrades Cost?

If youre thinking of buying a new home, understanding and considering these extra costs is important. Many buyers fall in love with a model home and are disappointed to see that the real home they are buying is full of builder basics, like unimpressive flooring and countertops, and no fancy backsplash or tiled shower. There may not be any grass or landscaping in the backyard or window coverings at all either.nbsp;

Heres what you need to know.

What is included in the base price?

Whats the first thing you do when you get to a new-home community? You tour the model homes, right? And now youre all in love and imagining your furniture sitting atop the wide-plank wood floors in the living room and your kids cozying up to the quartz-covered breakfast bar. Thats when you get hit with a big shock of reality: The model costs 200,000 more than the base price of the house.nbsp;

Can you upgrade for less?

Of course. You may want to replicate that model down to the very last knob and pull, but picking and choosing where to put your money can help you stay within a reasonable budget.

So how much are we talking?

Could be a little, could be a lot. It enti>

In general, everything you add or change will cost you. Individual prices will vary depending on the builder, the home, and the specific finishes they offer, but here are some examples of what to expect:

Wood flooring throughout the entire house could cost between 20,000 and 40,000, depending on the brand and quality.
Upgrading a kitchen could bust your budget. Depending on the builder and community, you could add better appliances, more expensive countertops, a fancy backsplash, and a nicer grade of cabinets. Before you know it, youre looking at the cost of a luxury car.
Adding another bedroom could cost 15,000.
Raising the ceilings? This could be a 10,000 upgrade.
Bathroom upgrades can get also get costly quickly. Want an expanded shower, freestanding tub, and upgraded flooring? Youre likely well over five figures.

Where should I start with my upgrades?

In the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home, the spot where you will spend the majority of your time and make the most memories, said New Home Source. It can never be overly well equipped. Pay special attention to cabinets and appliances, as this is what future buyers will focus on, as well as the tools you will use every day.

Do any builders include upgrades in the base price?

Some do. For example, Lennars Everythings Included EI program includes some of the most popular amenities, such as GE or Electrolux stainless steel, energy-efficient appliances, upgraded polished granite or quartz countertops, and upgraded cabinets and flooring, in the price of the home.nbsp;

Other things you need to know about new-home upgrades:

Youre going to have decisions to make.

Many, many, MANY decisions. Youll need to choose products and colors and finishes for every room and nearly every surface. Sometimes, there will be multiple decisions that need to be made at once. Just selecting your cabinets from among the standard options and colors can be an adventure.nbsp;

Thankfully, many new-home builders today have design centers that are staffed with professionals who can provide guidance.

Upgrades can often be rolled into your mortgage.nbsp;

This makes them seem painless since you dont have to come out of pocket for those wood floors. But it will raise your monthly payment. And, if youre already at the limit of what youre qualified for, or what you feel you can afford, that increase may be problematic.

Its important to consider the value.nbsp;

Are you making smart upgrades that will add value to your home? Obviously, you have to weigh the importance of your personal wants and needs against what the general public might want when its time to sell. Your real estate agent should be able to provide important insight into items that willor will notmake the home attractive to future buyers.

You also want to think about whether you are over-improving for the neighborhood. If you put 100,000 in upgrades into the home, will you ever be able to get that money back out of the home? If your improvements make the home more expensive than any of the other homes in the neighborhood, you may end up losing money down the line.nbsp;


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Promoting Safety and Preventing Property Damage

Regardless of what the law requires, the real estate industry needs to be at the forefront of safety.

Regardless of what the law says about assumption of risk, real estate agents owe it to themselves to do what is right.

They owe it to themselves to maintain the trust they enjoy, the honor they possess, and the referrals they continue to receive. Because all of these things can collapse, because all of these things will collapsewith the speed and finality of a controlled demolitionunless real estate agents and property owners make safety their top priority.

According to Howard P. Lesnik, an injury law expert and member of the New Jersey Association of Justice, the real estate industry can set an example or be an example.nbsp;

That is to say, the industry can lead a campaign for safety or isolate itself as a holdout amidst a campaign to improve safety.

That the choice is obvious does not mean every industry will choose wisely. But I know and work with enough real estate professionals to know this: Real estate agents and developers and property owners are too smart not to take Mr. Lesniks advice. They are too savvy not to listen to a lawyer whose counsel is sound, whose reputation is strong, whose record is solid.

I write these words with the benefit of personal experience, as I also have a law degree.

I write these words with the hope that the real estate industry will advance the cause of safety.

The rewards of this effort would exceed the cost of retrofitting this building or renovating that property, because an industry that protects its clients is an industry that attracts more clients.

People value businesses that defend certain values, despite the lowering of expectations, the erosion of expectations, or a lack of expectations on behalf of the pubic.

If cynicism plagues the public, if the public is cynical about how businesses behave, if businesses do nothing to change the publics attitude toward business in general, safety will worsen and distrust will harden into bedrock.

Such will be the foundation that governs society.

The real estate industry cannot afford to do business in such a society. No business can survive in such a society, where accidents are commonplace and leadership is so uncommon as to seem accidental; an aberration rather than an act of assurance.

Let the real estate industry do the right thing.nbsp;

Let it embrace safety, thereby proving that common sense has more currency than dollars and cents.

Let it put morals ahead of money, and succeed beyond what any accountant can calculate or any chief financial officer can tabulate.


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The Sneaky, Costly Little Secret of FHA Loans

First, a little primer on mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance protects lenders from losing money if you default on the loan, said NerdWallet. Most lenders require private mortgage insurance PMI for conventional loansnbsp;when the home buyer makes a down payment of less than 20. All FHA loans have mortgage insurance, regardless of down payment amount.

Mortgage insurance can cost homebuyers hundreds of dollars per month. The average annual PMI premium typically ranges from .55 percent to 2.25 percent of the original loan amount each year, according to data from Ginnie Mae and the Urban Institute, said Bankrate. With these rates, it means that for a 200,000 mortgage, your PMI can cost between 1,100 and 4,500 each year, or around 91.66 to 375 per month.

In addition, PMI can be cancelled once the home appreciates to a certain level. But FHA mortgage insurance usually remains for the life of the loan.

Getting rid of PMI

So, here youve been paying down your mortgage every month, and you also happen to live in an area where homes are appreciating nicely. Sure would be nice if you could get rid of that PMI. But, short of refinancing to another loan, thats not going to happen.nbsp;

Alternative loans

There are a number of different ways to borrow money without mortgage insurance. The first and most obvious answer is to make a 20 down payment on whatever loan you get. Many loans allow you to use gift or grant funds for your down payment, which could be a solution to getting that 20 together if need be.

Short of a generous benefactor, look into these other loans, which allow you to make a small down payment without paying monthly mortgage insurance.

Bank of Americas Affordable Loan Solution mortgage

This home loan requires just a 3 down payment with no mortgage insurance. Other features include:

Income and loan amount limits, which vary depending on the location of the home
Up to 97 loan-to-value
Loan amounts capped at 510,400 with 3 down payment; You can also make a 5 down payment for a loan amount up to 765,600 with 5 in high-cost areas
Homebuyer education may be required

Flagstar Banks Professional Loan

These loans are for individuals who are very likely to have high earning potential, but have just started in their careers, said The Mortgage Reports. Think doctors, dentists, and lawyers with their own practices. The loan requires no PMI, and very low down payments. As a bonus, student loans could be excluded from debt ratios.nbsp;

In addition to low down payments and no mortgage insurance, details include:

Loan amounts up to 1.5 million
Fixed and adjustable rate options

Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America NACA Best in America Mortgage

The NACA loan is for low-to-moderate income individuals or buyers in underserved communities. In addition to no mortgage interest, this loan offers:

No down payment
No closing costs
Below-market rates
Flexible credit score requirement
Homeownership program required

SoFi 10 down loan

Dont have 20 for a down payment but think you might be able to cobble together 10? This loan might be the answer. SoFis 10 down loan offers:

Loan amounts up to 3 million
PMI required on conforming home loans with a loan-to-value LTV greater than 80, but not on any jumbo home loans
Great credit required

Citis HomeRun Mortgage

This mortgage requires just 3 down and no mortgage insurance, with flexible credit guidelines. In addition, loans are available up to 510,400, and 765,600 in high-cost areas.

Other features of these loans include:

Fixed rates
Interest rates comparable to conventional loan rates
Homeownership education and counseling required


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Jeff Bezos Didn’t Use an Agent to Buy His $165 Million Estate. Here’s Eight Reasons Not to Be Like Jeff

The property is, admittedly, stunning. Geffen reportedly auctioned off about 11 million worth of original furnishings, which he deemed too musty and museum-like, after he purchased the property, said The Los Angeles Times. But he did keep an imported wood floor"said to be the one upon which Napoleon proposed to Josephineas well as the paneled walls supposedly carved by a Chippendale.

Other impressive features, according to Architectural Digest, include a George III>

But 165 million isA LOT. Some real estate leaders have wondered aloud whether he overpaid. Others have mused that you cant put a price on a veritable museum. But what stands out for us is that Bezos and Geffen made the deal without involving real estate agents on either side. Before you start thinking, Well if its good enough for one of the worlds richest men, its good enough for me, check out these xx reasons you should definitely use an agent on your next purchase.

Because you dont have Bezos money

Part of what a good buyers agent does in advising clients is: Find you a home you love, but also one you can comfortably live in and afford. No one wants to be house poor.nbsp;

Theres no worry of that with Bezos, despite the exorbitant price tag. The 165 million is approximately one-eighth of one percent of his 130 billion net worth. A measly little 165 million isnt going to break him. Asnbsp;The Vergenbsp;pointed out, If you make 60,000 a year, thats like spending 75 on a house.

Also, its not the only property he has purchased recently. In addition to the Warner Estate, Bezos recently purchased a 90 million plot of undeveloped Los Angeles land, which he is considering an investment, a source told thenbsp;Wall Street Journal. And last summer, the Amazon chief made headlines when henbsp;purchasednbsp;not one but three Manhattan apartments overlooking Madison Square Park for some 80 million.

Bezos also reportedly owns several condos that overlook NYCs Madison Square Park, a 30,000-acre estate in Medina, WA, a huge ranch in west Texas, and two additional properties in Washington, D.C.

But what happens if you buy too much house? When you dont have billions of dollars as a safety net, you need to know youre in good hands with a professional who has your best interest at heart.

Because you dont have that 165 million in cash

There hasnt been any word on whether Bezos intends to mortgage his new manse, but we doubt it. Not surprisingly, his past purchases have been rumored to be all-cash deals.nbsp;

But it reminds us of a story we love. After L.A.s 924 Bel Air Road sold for 94 million in October 2019a huge cut from the original 250 millionnbsp;list pricethe anonymous buyer turned around and took out anbsp;58.2 million, 10-year loan from HSBC Bank USA, according to property records, said The Business Times. That would make the monthly mortgage payment about 650,000

Carry the nine, multiply that by xand, yeah, the possible mortgage payment on a 165 million home makes our collective heads hurt.

All-cash deals are on the rise among luxury homes, which is hard to comprehend for us regular folks who are just doing the best we can to cobble together a minimum down payment. When your money is on the line, you want to do everything you can to protect yourself. A real estate agent acts as a fiduciary of sorts, with training and expertise that can help give you peace of mind, whether youre spending 165,000 or 165 million.nbsp;

Because you dont have a yacht

I mean, arent all real estate deals made on a 590 million superyacht? Jeff Bezos and David Geffen hammered out the Amazon chiefs record-setting 165 million purchase of Geffens Beverly Hills estate while socializing on the former music moguls famous yacht, the Rising Sun, said The Real Deal.nbsp;

Because you dont want to do your own negotiating

Really, you dont. Check out this article from Inc. that called Bezos and Amazons search for its new HQ2 a master >

Bezos competitiveness and business savvy are legendary. Not that were saying yours dont comparebut, lets be honest. Unless youre a real estate agent or an attorneyor some other type of professional who gets paid to negotiate and/or argue for a living, its just best to leave this to the professionals.nbsp;

Because you dont know what you dont know

You might be far out of your element when it comes to reviewing and understanding the multiple documents involved in a real estate deal, and you should have a thorough understanding of what youre getting into regardless of whether youre buying or selling, said The Balance. Purchase agreements alone can top 10 pages in 2019, not to mention federal, state, and local document requirements.nbsp;

Home buyers may be tempted to purchase without using their own agent in certain circumstances, like if they happen into an open house and talk to the sellers agent or if they are buying new construction. But there are important reasons to work with your own agent in either case.nbsp;

Yes, a sellers agent might be able to work both sides of a deal, but having your own agent better ensures that you have someone in your corner whose priority is getting you the deal you want.nbsp;

Buyers are sometimes unaware that they can work with their own real estate agent when buying a new home. Each development has its own rules, but, in general, the agent must accompany you on your first visit to the community or they will forfeit any available commission. That commission may also be lower than what the agent is accustomed to; this will generally be advertised as a broker co-op or broker participation, with a percentage set by the builder or development.nbsp;

Working with a real estate agent on a new construction home may not yield you a better price; builders are typically >

Because thats just too much house

Seriously, who needs 13,600 square feet on nine acres, with expansive terraces and gardens, two guesthouses, nursery and three hothouses, tennis court, swimming pool, nine-hole golf course and motor court complete with its own service garage and gas pumps, as Architectural Digest puts it. No one. No one NEEDS this. But, clearly, this purchase wasnt about need.

A good real estate agent will su>
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Ask The HOA Expert: Can The Board Modify Architectural Design Policy?

Answer: This kind of policy is generally amendable by the board when its in resolution form a separate document outside the recorded governing documents. If the policy is part of the governing documents, a vote of the members is needed. But even if the board has the authority to amend, it is strongly recommended that proposed amendments be circulated to the members for comment prior to voting to enact them. A 30 day review is not going to make much difference in the long run and members will be more likely to comply when theyve had a chance to be heard.

Question: Does a director of the board have the authority to give a power of attorney to another person to act on his/her behalf?

Answer: No. Directors are elected by the members and cannot give that authority to another person.

Question: We have a board member who argues that damage done to the interior of a condo unit from a roof leak is the responsibility of the homeowner association. I have been telling the board that the HOA is not responsible for the interior damage unless the board does not address the roof leak in a timely manner. Whos right?

Answer: Technically, this board member is correct. When HOAs purchase insurance for the structures, that insurance extends to the units themselves. However, the governing documents often has or the board can establish a requirement for unit owners to carry insurance for their individual units and be the primary insurance in the event of a claim, regardless of the source of the problem kitchen fire, toilet overflowing, flooding from the upstairs unit, sprinkler system leaks leaks through foundation, etc..

This kind of policy is necessary to protect the HOAs insurability. If every unit owner was allowed to file claims against the HOAs insurance, it would not be long before the HOAs insurance would be cancelled due to excessive claims or the premium increased beyond affordability. Spreading the risk out to unit owners keeps the HOAs insurability viable.

Question: What can be done about a board member that slanders another board member? He not only does it at meetings but spreads his accusations around the neighborhood.

Answer: It is inappropriate and divisive for a board member to engage in character assassination. The remaining directors should take action to rein him in in a diplomatic but firm way. The director with the best rapport with him should have a heart to heart with him and explain the damage that is being done. Insist that he keep such personal opinions to himself.

While the board doesnt have the authority to remove a rogue director from the board only the members do, the board can remove a director from his office President, Treasurer, Secretary if he has one. That may be necessary to make the point.

Question: Our HOA has many residents that leave trash receptacles out long after trash pick-up day. It makes the HOA look shoddy. What can we do?

Answer: Most HOAs have a requirement that trash receptacles are only allowed out on pick up day and need to be stored out of sight within 24 hours. This is both reasonable and desirable from a curb appeal standpoint.

Question: Our HOA has a member that is a chronic offender of rules. How should the board deal with this?

Answer: Three special "scofflaw" penalties come to mind: caning, tarring and feathering, and the stock and pillary. But seriously, rules that carry no penalties are useless. If you need a rule, it needs an effective enforcement mechanism in the form of a fine significant enough to get noticed. Scofflaws often refuse to pay fines so failure to pay them must be treated the same way as failure to pay regular HOA fees. Process them through the normal collection process. Eventually, even the most persistent scofflaw will come to understand the price of being a jerk.

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


Full Story >


4 Home Security Features to Increase Safety and Peace of Mind

There are a million scenarios like this each year--in fact, 3.7 million of them. Of these 3.7 million homes with break-ins in the United States, only 17 had some sort of security system in place. How safe are you in your home? Do you have any security features in place to protect you and your family in case of a break-in or other emergency?

If you dont feel safe, and if you dont have any security features in your home, these are some features you might want to consider:

1. A security system.

Its been shown that as the number of home security systems increase in an area, the number of home invasions decrease--and not just for homes with systems, but for the whole neighborhood.

When you choose your security system, there are several types to choose from. But its best to purchase a state-of-the-art home security system service where the latest technology is used to allow you to monitor and control your home security from the convenience of your smartphone. A security system not only protects you when there are break-ins, but it also protects your family if there is a fire or medical emergency.

2. Smart locks.

Smart locks allow you keyless entry into your home, allowing you, your family members, and guests easy access when needed. With a phone or other authorized device such as a key fob, smart locks can be unlocked or locked remotely; and using smart home technology, access can be granted or denied for specific time periods.

This is a great security feature since smart locks take away the need to hide spare keys outside or leave a key with a neighbor. You can always look for a home security service that comes with a smart lock option and wholl install it for you. Youll love the convenience and added security of smart locks.

3. Smart lights.

Smart lights, same as with smart locks, can be managed virtually using similar smart home technology. There are several ways you can use your smart lights. One of the most important ways is to take advantage of the feature allowing lights to be turned on or off even when youre away, giving you added security when you cant be there.

Most break-ins occur when youre away from home, so being able to trick would-be-burglars into believing youre home by randomly turning on different lights and turning off others via your phone is a great way to keep your home safer. Its great when you can piggyback smart lights in with a security system that has this feature.

4. Security cameras.

Security cameras are important for several reasons: they help police solve crimes, they actually deter crimes, and they give you peace of mind.

Through smart home technology, you can strategically place security cameras to remotely view areas in and around your home and make sure everything is as it should be; you can even review old video footage when needed.

Security cameras are great features to add to any home, and security system services often have cameras available as part of their home security packages.

You probably know at least one person who has experienced a home invasion of some sort. It may have even been you. When these traumas hit close to home, we realize how important it is to make sure our homes are as secure and protected as they can be. Its better not to wait until something happens to our home, or worse, someone we know and love, before we take precautions. By getting a home security system, smart locks, smart lights, and security cameras, youll have that added peace of mind that youre doing all you can do to ensure the safety of your household.


Full Story >


Growing Wealth in the Vacation Rental Market: Advice for First-Time Investors

The Right Spot

First, think like a vacationer. You want a place in a beautiful and easily accessible natural setting, with lots to do and see. For many people, that means the beach. For others, it could be a mountainside cabin. Remember, people are looking for an unforgettable experience, a vacation theyll reminisce about for years. That makes the location an important factor.nbsp;

Do your research, as buying in an area where demand is low could leave you with high vacancy rates, which will certainly cut into your profits. When you find a place you like, consider spending a few days there to assess what the place has to offer. Youll want to be able to tell potential guests that theres lots to do and plenty of good places to eat.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

If youre located far away from your vacation home, you may not be able to handle routine maintenance and guest support. In this case, youll likely need to hire a property manager. Many property management companies offer online booking, hire maid services to clean your home in between guests, and provide 24/7 support.nbsp;

Assess Your Financial Situationnbsp;nbsp;

Review your financial picture, paying special attention to your income, debt-to-income DTI ratio, and credit score. Youre basically taking on a second mortgage, and that can be an overwhelming prospect for someone whos not well-positioned financially. Your credit and debt picture will have a lot to do with the kind of loan youre able to secure. A disadvantageous loan will ultimately work against your profit potential. And youll need an adequate cash reserve on hand in case you lose income due to job loss, illness or injury.

Best Loan Options

Conventional loans are often the best option for an investment property because theyre >

Show Lenders an Appealing Financial Picture

Having a plentiful supply of cash is one of the best ways to show lenders youre a good candidate for a loan. As with any real estate purchase, the more you can put down up front, the better the terms you can expect on your loan. An investment property mortgage will require at least a 20 percent down payment approximately half of all vacation property buyers made a down payment of at least 30 percent in 2017. Its an option well worth considering because paying at least 20 percent up front means youll avoid paying private mortgage insurance.nbsp;nbsp;

The Tax Factor

Even an inexperienced investor understands about property taxes and knows to factor it into expenses. However, if youre a first-timer, you may not be familiar with lodging taxes, which are required in many places. In such locations, its the landlords responsibility to collect lodging taxes on the rents they charge. As a landlord, you dont pay lodging tax yourself, but you do have to account for taxes from your guests, so be sure youre charging enough to account for it. A busy landlord may find it difficult to monitor and account for lodging taxes from each guest. Fortunately, there are tax management services that can help.nbsp;

A vacation rental property can be an excellent investment for a novice looking for ways to generate wealth. Growth in the short-term rental market and the desirability of a temporary vacation home rather than a hotel room make it a profitable investment.


Full Story >


Financing Investment Properties

But while the conversation centers around stocks or bonds or keeping the money in a bank account, whats not mentioned as often is another investment- real estate. Real estate is typically a long-term hold strategy although there are those who look for undervalued properties, buy and repair them and flip for a profit. But over time, real estate can provide stability and long-term wealth accumulation that other investments cannot while at the same time providing a monthly cash flow. Stocks and bonds can increase over time but wont be able to send a monthly check each month as profit.

Buying a rental property is much like buying a primary residence. Most of the rental investment financing options centers around residential conforming loans of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac variety. These options provide perhaps the most competitive in terms of interest rates and fees. Note here however that government-backed mortgage programs such as VA, FHA and USDA loans are only for primary properties, not investments. Rates and fees will be a bit higher compared to financing a primary a residence, but not by very much.

In general, a 30 year fixed rate program to finance a rental might be 0.50 to 1.00 percent higher than an owner-occupied property. That can translate to a higher interest rate in the 0.25 percent range. When doing that math, thats really not all that much difference. Higher rates apply because lenders consider an investment property a greater level of risk compared to someones own home. The thinking is that should someone find themselves in some degree of financial straits, a rental property will be let go before someones owner-occupied property.nbsp;

In addition to changes in an interest rate, borrowers can expect to bring a little bit more money to the closing table. Most conventional loan programs for rentals ask for a down payment of at least 20 percent of the sales price. You may recall that private mortgage insurance, or PMI, is required for most conventional loans if the amount financed is greater than 80 percent of the value of the property.nbsp; However, PMI is not available for rentals, just owner-occupied units. Thats the reason for the 20 percent down payment. Borrowers can also get a slightly better rate with a down payment of 25 percent or more.

How do investors evaluate a particular property? The bottom line is cash flow while the secondary reason would be wealth accumulation. Few investors will buy a rental property and hold for the long term if the property doesnt cash flow. The market rent for a specific property must exceed the financing costs including principal and interest, taxes, insurance and maintenance.nbsp; If the cash flow is negative, the investor is likely to pass.nbsp;

One final note, and an important one for would-be real estate investors. When buying and financing the first property, the rental income from the unit cannot be used to help qualify for a new mortgage. Instead, the buyers must be able to qualify without the benefit of rent and do so for at least two years. with any subsequent rental property purchase, income can be used to offset financing costs.


Full Story >


Successful Real Estate Investing Tips

Establish the Correct Business Structure

As you begin your journey into real estate investing, it is crucial that you establish the proper business structure. In most cases, this will be a limited liability company LLC. An LLC will give you the flexibility you need to operate your company, plus it will shield you from most personal liability. Additionally, an LLC may have tax advantages over other business structures.

Make Wise Real Estate Choices

One of the things that will control how successful you are as a real estate investor is the type of property you choose. Most investors are more comfortable operating in specific niches, such as flipping homes or buying properties with low down payments. By focusing your energies on a market segment that you are familiar with, you are more likely to succeed.

However, it is vital to make sure that you understand the investment that is required. For instance, if you plan to flip homes, how much of your time will be consumed? It is also essential to choose your locations wisely.nbsp;

Avoid Risky Markets

Be careful investing in the property if the deal seems too good to be true. While it may be tempting to snap up what appears to be a good deal before anyone else gets it, you will not know its value until you have performed your due diligence. For instance, the property may be priced low because it is subject to vandalism or located in an area that would make it difficult to sell.

One way to learn more about a particular location is to ask companies that manage rental property in that area. They can provide some insight into property values because they screen renters and handle repairs. On the flip side of that coin, you need to be prepared to act when your due diligence determines that a piece of property would make an excellent investment.

Proceed Slowly at First

When you first begin investing in real estate, you should proceed slowly. Never totally leverage yourself to land a big deal because you may be hit with unexpected expenses. Also, realize that your investments will be affected by the economy. If unemployment rates are low and well-paying jobs are available, property prices are likely to appreciate. Otherwise, they may remain low.

Another thing to consider is that you dont want your investments to consume all your time. For that reason, it might be better to avoid a rental property with high turnover rates. It also might be advisable to start with a single piece of property. This will allow you to keep your risks low and learn as you go. If the property you purchase is a rental, be sure to screen tenants thoroughly, and make sure you can meet the monthly mortgage payments even if you have no tenants.

It is certainly possible to make a significant amount of money investing in real estate. If you want to try your hand at it, the time to get started is now. Just remember to heed the advice contained within this article.


Full Story >




Copyright© 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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Updated: Friday, February 21, 2020


4 Home Security Features to Increase Safety and Peace of Mind

There are a million scenarios like this each year--in fact, 3.7 million of them. Of these 3.7 million homes with break-ins in the United States, only 17 had some sort of security system in place. How safe are you in your home? Do you have any security features in place to protect you and your family in case of a break-in or other emergency?

If you dont feel safe, and if you dont have any security features in your home, these are some features you might want to consider:

1. A security system.

Its been shown that as the number of home security systems increase in an area, the number of home invasions decrease--and not just for homes with systems, but for the whole neighborhood.

When you choose your security system, there are several types to choose from. But its best to purchase a state-of-the-art home security system service where the latest technology is used to allow you to monitor and control your home security from the convenience of your smartphone. A security system not only protects you when there are break-ins, but it also protects your family if there is a fire or medical emergency.

2. Smart locks.

Smart locks allow you keyless entry into your home, allowing you, your family members, and guests easy access when needed. With a phone or other authorized device such as a key fob, smart locks can be unlocked or locked remotely; and using smart home technology, access can be granted or denied for specific time periods.

This is a great security feature since smart locks take away the need to hide spare keys outside or leave a key with a neighbor. You can always look for a home security service that comes with a smart lock option and wholl install it for you. Youll love the convenience and added security of smart locks.

3. Smart lights.

Smart lights, same as with smart locks, can be managed virtually using similar smart home technology. There are several ways you can use your smart lights. One of the most important ways is to take advantage of the feature allowing lights to be turned on or off even when youre away, giving you added security when you cant be there.

Most break-ins occur when youre away from home, so being able to trick would-be-burglars into believing youre home by randomly turning on different lights and turning off others via your phone is a great way to keep your home safer. Its great when you can piggyback smart lights in with a security system that has this feature.

4. Security cameras.

Security cameras are important for several reasons: they help police solve crimes, they actually deter crimes, and they give you peace of mind.

Through smart home technology, you can strategically place security cameras to remotely view areas in and around your home and make sure everything is as it should be; you can even review old video footage when needed.

Security cameras are great features to add to any home, and security system services often have cameras available as part of their home security packages.

You probably know at least one person who has experienced a home invasion of some sort. It may have even been you. When these traumas hit close to home, we realize how important it is to make sure our homes are as secure and protected as they can be. Its better not to wait until something happens to our home, or worse, someone we know and love, before we take precautions. By getting a home security system, smart locks, smart lights, and security cameras, youll have that added peace of mind that youre doing all you can do to ensure the safety of your household.


> Full Story

Growing Wealth in the Vacation Rental Market: Advice for First-Time Investors

The Right Spot

First, think like a vacationer. You want a place in a beautiful and easily accessible natural setting, with lots to do and see. For many people, that means the beach. For others, it could be a mountainside cabin. Remember, people are looking for an unforgettable experience, a vacation theyll reminisce about for years. That makes the location an important factor.nbsp;

Do your research, as buying in an area where demand is low could leave you with high vacancy rates, which will certainly cut into your profits. When you find a place you like, consider spending a few days there to assess what the place has to offer. Youll want to be able to tell potential guests that theres lots to do and plenty of good places to eat.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

If youre located far away from your vacation home, you may not be able to handle routine maintenance and guest support. In this case, youll likely need to hire a property manager. Many property management companies offer online booking, hire maid services to clean your home in between guests, and provide 24/7 support.nbsp;

Assess Your Financial Situationnbsp;nbsp;

Review your financial picture, paying special attention to your income, debt-to-income DTI ratio, and credit score. Youre basically taking on a second mortgage, and that can be an overwhelming prospect for someone whos not well-positioned financially. Your credit and debt picture will have a lot to do with the kind of loan youre able to secure. A disadvantageous loan will ultimately work against your profit potential. And youll need an adequate cash reserve on hand in case you lose income due to job loss, illness or injury.

Best Loan Options

Conventional loans are often the best option for an investment property because theyre >

Show Lenders an Appealing Financial Picture

Having a plentiful supply of cash is one of the best ways to show lenders youre a good candidate for a loan. As with any real estate purchase, the more you can put down up front, the better the terms you can expect on your loan. An investment property mortgage will require at least a 20 percent down payment approximately half of all vacation property buyers made a down payment of at least 30 percent in 2017. Its an option well worth considering because paying at least 20 percent up front means youll avoid paying private mortgage insurance.nbsp;nbsp;

The Tax Factor

Even an inexperienced investor understands about property taxes and knows to factor it into expenses. However, if youre a first-timer, you may not be familiar with lodging taxes, which are required in many places. In such locations, its the landlords responsibility to collect lodging taxes on the rents they charge. As a landlord, you dont pay lodging tax yourself, but you do have to account for taxes from your guests, so be sure youre charging enough to account for it. A busy landlord may find it difficult to monitor and account for lodging taxes from each guest. Fortunately, there are tax management services that can help.nbsp;

A vacation rental property can be an excellent investment for a novice looking for ways to generate wealth. Growth in the short-term rental market and the desirability of a temporary vacation home rather than a hotel room make it a profitable investment.


> Full Story

Ask The HOA Expert: Can The Board Modify Architectural Design Policy?

Answer: This kind of policy is generally amendable by the board when its in resolution form a separate document outside the recorded governing documents. If the policy is part of the governing documents, a vote of the members is needed. But even if the board has the authority to amend, it is strongly recommended that proposed amendments be circulated to the members for comment prior to voting to enact them. A 30 day review is not going to make much difference in the long run and members will be more likely to comply when theyve had a chance to be heard.

Question: Does a director of the board have the authority to give a power of attorney to another person to act on his/her behalf?

Answer: No. Directors are elected by the members and cannot give that authority to another person.

Question: We have a board member who argues that damage done to the interior of a condo unit from a roof leak is the responsibility of the homeowner association. I have been telling the board that the HOA is not responsible for the interior damage unless the board does not address the roof leak in a timely manner. Whos right?

Answer: Technically, this board member is correct. When HOAs purchase insurance for the structures, that insurance extends to the units themselves. However, the governing documents often has or the board can establish a requirement for unit owners to carry insurance for their individual units and be the primary insurance in the event of a claim, regardless of the source of the problem kitchen fire, toilet overflowing, flooding from the upstairs unit, sprinkler system leaks leaks through foundation, etc..

This kind of policy is necessary to protect the HOAs insurability. If every unit owner was allowed to file claims against the HOAs insurance, it would not be long before the HOAs insurance would be cancelled due to excessive claims or the premium increased beyond affordability. Spreading the risk out to unit owners keeps the HOAs insurability viable.

Question: What can be done about a board member that slanders another board member? He not only does it at meetings but spreads his accusations around the neighborhood.

Answer: It is inappropriate and divisive for a board member to engage in character assassination. The remaining directors should take action to rein him in in a diplomatic but firm way. The director with the best rapport with him should have a heart to heart with him and explain the damage that is being done. Insist that he keep such personal opinions to himself.

While the board doesnt have the authority to remove a rogue director from the board only the members do, the board can remove a director from his office President, Treasurer, Secretary if he has one. That may be necessary to make the point.

Question: Our HOA has many residents that leave trash receptacles out long after trash pick-up day. It makes the HOA look shoddy. What can we do?

Answer: Most HOAs have a requirement that trash receptacles are only allowed out on pick up day and need to be stored out of sight within 24 hours. This is both reasonable and desirable from a curb appeal standpoint.

Question: Our HOA has a member that is a chronic offender of rules. How should the board deal with this?

Answer: Three special "scofflaw" penalties come to mind: caning, tarring and feathering, and the stock and pillary. But seriously, rules that carry no penalties are useless. If you need a rule, it needs an effective enforcement mechanism in the form of a fine significant enough to get noticed. Scofflaws often refuse to pay fines so failure to pay them must be treated the same way as failure to pay regular HOA fees. Process them through the normal collection process. Eventually, even the most persistent scofflaw will come to understand the price of being a jerk.

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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Tel: (305) 753-4154 | Fax: (305) 960-2008 | shelly@museumparkrealty.net
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