Museum Park Realty
About Museum Park Realty
Ten Museum Park
Luxury Condos
Property Search
Contact Us
Real Estate News

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2019

The Annual Percentage Rate Is Not As Confusing As It Sounds

When potential borrowers start making a few phone calls to different mortgage companies to compare rates, itrsquo;s fairly straightforward. The loan officer answers the phone, gets a little information and provides a rate quote. Once the borrower decides where to apply, the wheels begin to turn. Lenders are required by statute to provide certain loan disclosures within three days of receiving an application. The Loan Estimate will feature the estimated loan amount, current rate for the day the quote is prepared, and the APR, among other items. But herersquo;s where it can get tricky.

The rate quoted over the phone is the note rate. Thatrsquo;s the rate used to calculate the monthly payment. The monthly payment includes both the principal and interest. If the borrowers choose or are required to have impounds or escrow accounts, the monthly payment will also include an amount for taxes and insurance. But when consumers receive their estimate within that three day period, one of the things theyrsquo;ll notice is the APR, prominently displayed. However, the APR wonrsquo;t be the same as the note rate. Why? Because the APR takes into consideration not just the interest rate but also additional fees to pay for other services and documents. These additional services and documents include both lender and non-lender fees.

The APR was initially designed to help borrowers compare loan choices among different lenders. And while thatrsquo;s true in reality itrsquo;s not all that helpful. Why? Rates change daily, sometimes intraday. They proper way to use the APR is to compare the note rate with the APR. If there is a slight discrepancy, that means there are lower fees involved. The note rate might be 3.50 percent and the APR 3.52 percent. But if the note rate is 3.50 percent and the APR is 3.75 percent, there are a lot more fees at play here.

Thatrsquo;s the APR. Itrsquo;s the cost of money borrowed expressed as an annual rate. Itrsquo;s not something to be ignored, but understanding its purpose and how itrsquo;s calculated can help consumers better understand their initial loan disclosures.

Full Story >

Generation X Turns 55: How Are They Prepping for Retirement?

This generation, often typecast as angst-ridden and cynical, is in fact extremely driven and focused on their long-term goals. Theyrsquo;re always planning their next big move ndash; whether it be working longer or deciding where they want to live.

Del Webb, a leading builder of active adult home communities for those 55 and older, recently conducted a study of what Gen Xers really want for their future, and the results may surprise you.

3 Top Trends Among Gen Xers:

  • 1. Gen Xers consider the idea of retiring, but they enjoy workinghellip;and many feel they need to.

    While 72 percent of 50-year-olds surveyed said they look forward to retirement, 85 percent also reported that they enjoy their jobs. The amount of savings Gen Xers have set aside for retirement has increased as compared to those of the same age group a decade ago, with only 35 percent reporting having saved less than 50,000, as compared to 50 percent in a Del Webb survey conducted ten years ago. Despite this, most Gen Xers acknowledge that they may need to continue working longer. This has had a major impact on developers of adult home communities, and an increasing number of these communities are now popping up in large metropolitan areas and employment hubs.nbsp;

    2. Gen Xers plan to pack up and move.

    Despite the convenience of living closer to where they work, more than half of Gen Xers surveyed do not plan to reside in their current location in the future.nbsp; In fact, 60 percent stated they will move, with 58 percent of these people planning a significant move to a new city, state or country. In contrast, only 22 percent of those planning to move envision remaining in their current town.nbsp;

    3. Gen Xers wonrsquo;t compromise when it comes to living space.

    Previous research reported that Gen Xers help to drive the multi-generational housing trend, and this latest study by Del Webb suggests that trend will continue. Of the respondents, 71 percent preferred that their next home have three or more bedrooms, and 29 percent anticipated having to accommodate aging parents. With amenities such as dual master bedrooms, in-law suites and additional living space on their wish lists, Gen Xers are seeking homes designed specifically to accommodate their changing needs. In fact, among those who said they were looking to move, 43 percent expect their next home to be just as large as their current one, while 22 percent plan to go even larger.nbsp;

    Builders of active adult communities have reacted to this trend by introducing innovative new home designs with larger floor plans and work-convenient locations that offer Gen Xers the flexibility they want as their needs continue to change. To read more about the Del Webb study and the future of Generation X, visit the Del Webb Blog, The 55 Society.nbsp;


  • Full Story >

    Millennials Compete With Seniors for Prime Real Estate

    A recent report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC says that rising homeownership rates among seniors in the Toronto area is making it tougher for younger generations to get into the market.

    Author Inna Breidburg says that as Torontorsquo;s senior population grows at a faster pace during the next decade, ldquo;the conventional view is that this demographic shift will likely help to increase the supply of housing to younger homeowners, since seniors typically downsize or leave homeownership.rdquo;

    But she says baby boomers are working longer than previously and have more wealth, as well as community supports that will allow older seniors to stay in their homes longer. ldquo;Thus, over the next decade, seniors might not be freeing up the expected number of dwellings for younger households thus limiting supply. Furthermore, the share of seniors preferring to rent ground-oriented homes may increase further, thus contributing to tighter market conditions in this housing segment,rdquo; says Breidburg.

    In 2016, when the most recent census was conducted, seniors represented 14 per cent of the Toronto population, up from 11.3 per cent in 2006. That percentage is expected to grow to 18.2 per cent by 2026.

    Seniors owned 25 per cent of the homes in the Toronto area in 2016, up from 20.4 per cent a decade earlier. The homeownership rate among seniors was 75.1 per cent in 2016, up from 73.4 per cent in 2016.

    Breidburgrsquo;s report prompted a reaction from people who felt she was blaming boomers for the struggles that young people, particularly millennials, are facing in the real estate market.

    A popular millennial internet meme says, ldquo;If I had a dollar for every time a baby boomer complained about my generation, Irsquo;d have enough money to buy a house in the market they ruined.rdquo;

    A recent report by the Real Estate Intelligence Network REIN says millennials are the largest demographic in Canada, ldquo;which means their preferences will impact housing trends for years to come.rdquo;

    The report says so far, the Prairie provinces are the only place where there are more millennial homeowners than baby boomer owners.

    The report authors couldnrsquo;t resist adding a few jokes ldquo;Look at that millennial, walking around like he rents the place.rdquo;, but it says real estate investors must learn how to cater to this growing demographic. The homeownership rate for millennials in the GTA is expected to rise from 40 per cent in 2016 to 60 per cent in 2026.nbsp;

    ldquo;We know that millennials want to purchase a home, but that means getting rid of student debt, having stable employment that pays well and saving for a down payment,rdquo; says REIN. ldquo;This cohort is living at home longer, delaying marriage and having children, and delaying their own home purchase. Millennials are more likely to purchase a condo or townhome in an urban centre with good transit and amenities that supports their individual life>

    The report says as of June 2018, 35 per cent of Canadian millennials were living at home. The increase in the number of intergenerational homes shows that rather than hurting millennialsrsquo; real estate prospects, many baby boomers are helping them by allowing them to save money while living at home. Itrsquo;s a win-win. Seniors get to stay in their homes longer with live-in support, while young people have time to build a nest egg.

    This is also part of the reason why seniors are taking on more mortgage debt than they did a decade ago. The CMHC report says 26 per cent of all senior homeowner households in Toronto had a mortgage in 2016, up from 20.5 per cent in 2006.

    ldquo;The known reasons for having a mortgage at an older age was financing in-place retirement, renovations, investments, as well as helping other family members,rdquo; says Breidburg.

    The REIN report says millennials are ldquo;not necessarily looking for the same housing solutions as their parents or grandparents ndash; i.e. not the ranch bungalow in the suburbs.rdquo;

    The report says the average age of a first-time mother has been steadily increasing since the 1970s and is over 30 in many parts of the country. ldquo;On average, it is only the first wave of millennials that has started to have children in the last few years. For a real estate investor, this translates into millennials not yet desiring a three- or four-bedroom house in the suburbs, instead preferring condo living in the urban centres.rdquo;

    However, a shift may be in the works as affordable real estate becomes harder to find in the cities. ldquo;The number of millennials moving out of Toronto and Vancouver for less expensive areas of their province is trending upward,rdquo; says the report. ldquo;Family is important to this generation, despite their delay in marriage or having children, so theoretically, eventually millennials may shift to suburban living, or at minimum, larger dwellings with multiple bedrooms, in greater numbers.rdquo;

    Breidburgrsquo;s report says among renters, the income of seniors was less than younger generations.nbsp;

    ldquo;Historically, across all age groups, homeowner households tend to have higher incomes compared to renters,rdquo; she says. ldquo;However, over the past years more young professionals with high earnings have been renting in Toronto, thus contributing to a decrease in the income gap between renters and homeowners in the younger cohorts. For seniors though, the income difference between renters and homeowners widened further.rdquo;


    Full Story >

    Seven Next Steps to Becoming Favorably Known as a Trusted New Home Advisor With Credentials And a Marketing Plan

    Your New Home Co-Broker NHCB designation gives you professional credentials to separate your services from your competition, or can if you take the following steps to make it happen. Bookmark this page and refer to it often.

    Step 1. Announce your credentials in Realty Times. Free. See sample.

    Before you do anything else, announce to the world that you earned your designation. All you have. Send a high-resolution .jpg of your photo and your contact information to with "NHCB Press >

    Step 2. Market your credentials in social media and your contact list.

    Now that you have a professional announcement in a real estate new service that draws about 500,000 visitors a month, copy and paste the announcement web address into your email, and your social media announcements. Show your announcement to your broker, because it is good publicity for your broker, too

    Step 3 Make sure you can access new homes inventory on demand.

    Subscribe to This gives you access to the same new homes inventory and floor plans you will see on Never worry about finding new homes inventory on demand again. Free.

    Step 4. Enter the names and contact information for three internet advisors in your mobile phone contact system.

    Remember: they register your home shopper online, recommend specific products you should show, and many are now setting your appointments.

    Step 5. Download your logo your certification logo.

    If you wish to add your NHCB logo to your printed materials, website or blog, and need logo, download it here.nbsp;

    Step 6. Become your own publicist.

    It has been said that an expert is a person who has been quoted. There is a lot of truth to that. You can easily become favorably known as a trusted advisor by writing and publishing your own publicity right here in Realty Times for free. Click here to get started.

    Step 7. Implement a consistent, measurable and affordable social media and communications strategy that requires little or no thinking, writing, or planning on your part.

    Working closely with Realty Times, on your behalf, I am grateful and excited to strongly endorse a marketing package that makes more sense than anything I have researched over the years.

    Take a close look at the social media tools and newsletter combination with the understanding that your one monthly payment for less than a 100 a month takes all the marketing pressure off of you. Cancel any time.

    The task was to address these three issues:

    a. ldquo;I dont have the talent or the time to think about marketingrdquo;
    b. "I can never tell what I am getting for my money."
    c. "I cant afford it."

    The one thing none of us can say is, "I dont need to market my services."

    I looked long and hard for a long time and I have found nothing that better solves your marketing needs with as little demand and inconvenience to the agents as what is offered here. As is our policy we do not accept referral fees, because it would cloud our objectivity.

    Thank you for your business and thank you in advance for your referrals.


    David Fletcher
    Founder, Lic. Real Estate Broker
    New Home Co-Broker Academy LLC


    Full Story >

    Why You Should Replace Your Roof Before Selling Your Home

    New roof installation will help with the selling of your home for several reasons. You can increase the asking price, prevent potential buyers from trying to bargain with you, sell your home faster by improving the overall appearance, and avoid negotiation issues with lending companies.

    Increase Your Asking Price After a Roof Replacement

    You might have a price point in mind for your home based on what you paid for it, the work youve done already, and what its worth to you. That number can be increased significantly if you add a roof replacement to the work you do before you put a for sale sign out in front of your property.

    Even though youre going to be spending the money initially on what a complete residential roof replacement costs, you will get all of that back. You can even add on extra because you took the time to have it completed. As soon as you mention "new roof" on the features your home has in the realtor sales listing, people will automatically be more attracted to it. Its one of the top factors that potential home buyers look at when deciding what house they want to settle on as their permanent residence.nbsp;

    If you have ever looked at buying a new home yourself, you know that when you see houses that have roofs that are ten years or older, you arent going to be willing to pay top dollar. Anyone that has done their research knows that the age of the roof has a huge impact on the price a seller can put on their property. A new roof allows you to keep the price point a bit higher so you can get the most out of your investment.nbsp;

    Save Time on Dealing With Roof Repair Negotiations from Buyers

    Its human nature to try and get something for less than the asking price, especially when it comes time to purchase a new home. Its not just a couple of hundred dollars that buyers bid below what they see listed either.nbsp;

    They will often look for features of the home like the age of the roof and try to take thousands off the asking price.nbsp; You put the value on your home, taking into consideration the age of the roof, but thats not how outsiders view it. A new roof installation is a big job and a significant investment. Buyers know when they are looking at buying a home with a roof that is ten years or older, they have some work ahead of them. That additional effort they will have to put in allows for a bit of wiggle room. You put the value on your home, taking into consideration the age of the roof, but thats not how outsiders view it.

    Taking the time and spending the money to put a brand new roof on your home for sale is going to save a lot of time and headache.nbsp; The people looking at your home wont be able to use the age of the roof as a reason for you to lower what you want when the sale is final. If youre in a hurry to get your home sold as quickly as possible, asphalt roof installation will shave a decent amount of time off the whole process.

    Speed Up the Sale Process with a Beautiful New Roof

    There isnt much need to look at your roof on a routine basis and inspecting it for damages only happens a couple of times a year. However, when people are considering the purchase of their dream home, the roof is one of the first features that gets investigated. Nobody wants to move in and discover that there are holes or leaks in what they thought was their ideal forever home.

    If a person sees an older roof, they are more likely to skip over the house as an option. People dont want to have to put major improvements into a home theyre just moving into. For most, new homeowners want to be able to pull the moving truck up, unload their things, and sit and enjoy everything they just committed to with the purchase of a house.

    With a brand new residential roof installation in your area, the people that are simply driving by are going to see that you took the time to have the work done. They will slow down and want to take a closer look because youve taken care of the exterior. Inquiring minds will want to see the interior. The more that people are stopping to explore your property, the quicker youre going to get the final offer settled.

    Keep Lending Companies Satisfied with Adequate Roof Repairs

    You might not care about the age of your roof when you have your house up for sale. Youre ultimately not going to be living there anymore, so why worry about it. You may even get lucky and find a DIY buyer that has no issue with doing their own roof repairs. That all sounds great until you get to the point in the home buying process when the bank or mortgage company comes to do their own inspection of the property.nbsp; This is especially true in colder climates where often hail damage has a huge impact on roof degradation. For example, this last winter, there were record numbers of roof repair in Fort Collins due to consistent hail storms and the damage thereafter.nbsp;

    When they see that residential roof repairs are required, they might refuse to approve the loan enti>

    Instead of trying to sell your home as-is, consider the plethora of benefits that come along with doing a complete roof replacement or at least the necessary roof repairs before putting your "For Sale" sign out front. Youre chances of getting more money increase. You wont waste time dealing with negotiations from the buyers or requirements from the lending company. All in all, everything will go much more quickly because of the updated and gorgeous appearance a new roof gives your property.

    James Elliot and his team of expert roofing contractors at Fort Collins Roofing Company have been helping homeowners through the consistent hail damage plaguing the area for over 4 years. His expertise is in their streamlined process of helping homeowners through insurance claims processes so that they can get a new roof as soon as they need it.


    Full Story >

    Why This Might Be the Time to Buy a Condo

    New guidelines from the Federal Housing Administration FHA means more homebuyers may be eligible for a government-backed mortgage. That could mean a lower down payment and easier qualifying than what is required for conventional loans for condos.nbsp;

    ldquo;The federal agency >

    According to the National Association of Realtors NAR, ldquo;The changes, many of which NAR has championed for over a decade, should yield thousands of new homeownership opportunities and help alleviate affordability restraints impacting markets across the country.rdquo;

    Condos are often a more affordable option than single-family homes, which is what can make them so attractive to first-time buyers. The low-maintenance level is also an important factor. Because condos typically have homeownerrsquo;s associations HOA, front-yard maintenance is usually taken care of, and there are generally no yards to worry about.nbsp;

    Some homebuyers look at HOAs as a negative because of what they consider to be strict rules governing what they can and canrsquo;t do, and also because of the fees. But, the truth is that most master-planned communities today have HOAs, which means the same rules and fees will apply.nbsp;

    ldquo;HOA fees typically can range from about 200 to 300 a month; other factors may contribute to how much the fee will be, like your location, unit size and available amenities,rdquo; said Magnify Money. Monthly condo association fees can go as high as 700 or more, also depending on the amenities and services provided.rdquo;

    Yoursquo;ll definitely want to do a strict comparison between any condo yoursquo;re considering and a single-family home. It may turn out that you can get more for your money with a home thatrsquo;s not in a planned community and therefore doesnrsquo;t have fees. Or, the converse may be true. Even with HOA fees, a condo may be the better buy simply from an affordability standpoint, but also because its newer, has more space, or is in a better location.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    Startup Rent the Backyard Is Here to Make You Some Money and Solve the Affordability Issue

    Wouldnrsquo;t you love a backyard that actually did something? How about one that can make money for you? Thatrsquo;s the idea behind Rent the Backyard. Or, part of the idea anyway. The other, much more important part is how this new company can help address a lack of affordability in the real estate market, especially since the company is located in the Bay Area, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world.nbsp;

    Herersquo;s the deal.nbsp;

    Rent the Backyard partners with companies to build prefab studio homes for free on unused land. Specifically, your unused land. If you have at least a 30-by-30 space to spare and you live in the Bay Area, you could be a candidate.nbsp;

    ldquo;Theyrsquo;re partnering with companies likenbsp;NODE, who make sustainable, carbon-neutral homes that can be installed in just a few days,rdquo; said Dwell. ldquo;Utilities will hook up to the propertys principal dwelling, and theyll be metered and reimbursed. Participants can expect to add roughly 10k to their annual income dependent on the going rate for a studio apartment in your city, and cities will get new affordable housing in previously unused space.rdquo;nbsp;

    About that ldquo;for freerdquo; part

    Yes, therersquo;s no upfront cost to customers. No. Upfront. Cost.nbsp;

    And once the prefab studio apartment is built and rentedmdash;They also find tenant to rent the unitmdash;the company splits the profits with you. Sure, you could go out and build your own tiny house, but are you really game for that? Think of all the hassle. Just the thought of dealing with permits makes us want to run. Did we mention that Rent the Backyard takes care of all the permits, too?

    Rent the Backyard estimates that homeowners can make between 10,000ndash;20,000 in added income per year with a unit in their backyard, depending on the unit, the location of the home, and a few other factors.nbsp;

    The one downside: Itrsquo;s only happening in the Bay Area. Co-founder Spencer Burleigh told us they are ldquo;really focused on the Bay Area right now and have no immediate plans to expand beyond the Bay Area.rdquo;nbsp;


    Full Story >

    How Technology Can Give You the Edge in Real Estate amp; Mortgages

    However understanding how technology is used for mortgages and real estate on all sides can help individuals to better understand their options better and understand how technology is going to affect each and every decision we make in the future.

    The Changing Landscape of Getting a Realtor

    There are major corporations who specialize in connecting sellers with a realtor. One of the largest sites along this line is Redfin, but there are literally hundreds of companies who use a similar model of online setup. Most of these companies talk about setting up sellers with local realtors, but a lot of them are a commission based model that involves referrals.

    While this opens up the options, these companies online arent always completely transparent about how this works or that the realtors getting these leads often pay for them. While this can work out in some situations, really good realtors often dont need to pay for leads through a 3rd party company which means often times those buyers and sellers who are going through a company like that often get sub-par realtors who really arent the cream of the crop.

    There always are exceptions, but in general this is going to be true in most cases and when dealing with most transactions.

    Then theres the trust factor. Theres nothing like meeting with a person face to face to get a basic impression of them and a read in order to trust your gut instinct on whether you like the individual, trust them, or feel like they are trustworthy or not. That face to face meeting can tell a lot and visiting multiple potential realtors can feel intimidating but those meetings can give a lot of first hand information that simply isnt available from online interactions or transactions.

    Digital Mortgage Applications

    At the moment there is no online mortgage application that is 100 online but many banks and lending companies have started with pre-qualification options online to give potential buyers an idea of whether or not they will qualify, how much they are likely to qualify for, and what types of terms to expect.

    This can be a very useful tool to help individuals decide whether it is a good time to press forward, whether they need to spend more time fixing up their credit, and understanding what the viable price range is for them to look at. This is all important information that because of the way technology is being used, is much more available than it has been before.

    These are still estimates, but especially if a potential buyer is working in person with the same bank or lender whose tools they are using online then this can help to expedite the process for both sides.


    Current amp; Future Benefits to Mortgage Brokers amp; Realtors

    One of the major benefits that technology is giving both sides is to make the process easier. Instead of having to make multiple hard copies of documents like employment history, credit scores, recommendations, the ability to have all of these in file form that then can be uploaded online where they can be grabbed over and over to put on an online application makes it easier to always have those available so a few clicks attaches the document and the online portion can be sent in.

    There is no question that drastically cuts down on time and expense of the process. Making things easier is never a bad thing, and considering it is the same documents needed for each potential lender, it only makes sense to have a setup like this which makes things run more smoothly and makes those documents easily available for the multiple potential applications.

    While its hard to say where technology will take the mortgage market in the future, it is definitely reasonable to assume that as more things become streamlined and more services continue to be offered online that even more of the process will be made available online and more of it will be automated.

    While this can seem scary in some ways, it also has the potential to make sure that buyers have more of a handle than ever on how the process works, what their options are, and they can leverage that information to get a better deal with making the process easier on a realtor to get a property bought or sold. That is the ideal win-win situation for all involved.


    This article was submittied by Eitan Pinsky of Pinsky Mortgages in Vancouver, BC. Check out his original article here.


    Full Story >

    Developing Real Estate by Realizing Health and Wellness

    A man of resilience, a woman of courage, a real estate developer sees opportunities. He or she seizes the opportunity to personalize the skylinemdash;to beautify the coastline, toomdash;through construction.

    Nowhere is this rule more obvious than in the world of health and wellness. Nowhere is the choice more clear, the cause more critical, the concern more comprehensive than the one real estate agents and developers face right now.

    To build centers for recovery, to emulate the example of the best buildings on behalf of recovery, to inspire patients by drawing inspiration from buildings that further recovery, all of these things depend on real estate developers who invest in recovery.

    Thanks to my conversations with developers and doctors, in addition to my correspondence with the experts at Clear Sky Recovery, I have a better understanding of how one industry can better another. Or: Wellness is as much a state of mind as it is a statement of fact about how to live, during and after recovery.

    The benefits of recovery are both fiscal and physical, and metaphysical too. That is to say, the benefits reveal themselves in every city and hamlet, in every state and every city.

    The benefits also reveal themselves in a rise in jobs, and a raise for all through razing the landscapemdash;by ridding the landmdash;of buildings too dangerous to enter, too costly to maintain, and too wasteful to ignore. The benefits reflect a happier and more productive workforce, of workers producing goods and services that serve the greater good of forming a more perfect Union, to promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty.

    Development is, then, impossible without recovery.nbsp;

    In this context, the real estate developer is an icon. He represents, she symbolizes what is iconic. The library, the museum, the schoolhouse, the park, the playground, the church, the temple, the center, the sanctuarymdash;icons, all of them.

    In the words of another icon, Winston Churchill: ldquo;We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.rdquo;

    The developer has the power to shape the health of much more than the real estate market. He has the ability to shape the future. She has the means to ensure the future looks like what it should be, better.

    The future of recovery begins with seeking a lasting recovery. A recovery among the states. A national recovery.

    Achieving this recovery is an act of discipline.nbsp;

    To discipline ourselves for the good of one industry, the real estate industry, is to be more industrious in general. To see the results of recovery is to know what recovery can be; what it must be, so the best within us may endure.

    Full Story >

    How to Calculate Your Average Moving Costs

    Location ndash; Local

    Research conducted by Zillow states that about 57 of those who sell their house to move are moving locally. And an estimated 86 of movers >

    bull;nbsp;A one bedroom apartment will take about 3 to 5 hours to move and cost 200-500
    bull;nbsp;A two bedroom apartment will take about 5 to 7 hours to move and cost 400-700
    bull;nbsp;A three bedroom house will take about 7 to 10 hours to move and cost 560-1,000
    bull;nbsp;A four bedroom house will take over ten hours to move and cost 800-2,000

    When we calculate these prices, we are talking about hiring movers to assist you in your move, because, honestly; doing it on your own is a virtually impossible feat.

    Location ndash; Long Distance

    When yoursquo;re packing up for a long distance move, pricing will be on the higher side of the equation. If you need to cross state lines, for example, itrsquo;s essential to factor in that you will accumulate costs for gas and labor. When working with a professional and reputable moving company, they will devise an agreement that outlines the cost, breaking down all the essentials, so you can get a full picture of where your dollars are being used.

    Do It Yourself

    You might be thinking that you donrsquo;t want to hire a moving company, as yoursquo;re tight on cash; so yoursquo;ve elected to make a move yourself. You could ask all of your friends with big cars to help, but keep in mind if a moving truck is something that you want to invest in, itrsquo;s about 20 a day.

    Minimum Options

    You can ask for just a loading and transportation service, where you pack everything up and pu>


    What if you need to move out by a specific date, but your new home wonrsquo;t be available right away? This means you will have to factor in a storage unit, which could range anywhere from 50 to 400 a month.

    Moving is certainly not the most blissful activity, but you are hopefully moving because you are upgrading your living situation. So, be sure to factor everything in beforehand

    Full Story >

    Why Some Sellers are Offering Concessions to Push Sales

    Sellers that are trying to compete with higher inventory levels will need to be able to compete with other sellers.

    One way of doing this is by offering seller concessions rather than lowering the price of the property. Home sales remain strong in many markets, but in others, increased inventory may require concessions to ldquo;sweeten the deal.rdquo;

    Seller concessions offer, oftentimes, contributions to the costs of purchasing the home. For example, the closing costs, loan processing fees, title insurance and other costs may be holding many would-be homeowners from buying a home.

    The seller may offer to pay part or all of these costs.

    And when they do, it will be an added benefit for the buyer. The buyer may have 1,200 or their 2,400 in closing costs covered. Its an advantage to the buyer who now doesnrsquo;t have to come up with more money to close on their home.

    Concession Limits to Understand

    There are limits to the amount of concessions that can be paid by the seller. Concessions vary from state-to-state, but the total amount of the concession will often fall between 2 and 9 of the homersquo;s appraised value.

    The type of mortgage that the buyer obtains will also dictate how much in concessions that you can offer.

    Mortgage brokers will be able to tell the seller what limit in concessions that they can offer. Some brokers may even offer seller commission rebates, and this is a rebate from the broker to get the deal done.

    This would alleviate some of the financial burden that the seller has made to make the sale.

    As a seller, you may be able to offer:

    bull; Closing cost assistance
    bull; Payment of condo fees
    bull; Down payment assistance
    bull; Interest rate buy downs
    bull; Loan origination fee

    Sellers may also offer personal property as a seller concession, and if a buyer is concerned about a concession, they should discuss the matter with their loan provider.

    Disadvantages When Offering Concessions

    As a seller, there is a disadvantage when offering concessions. More money comes out of the sellerrsquo;s pocket, and this means that the house price may have to be raised, or the seller may have to suffer from a slightly lower profit off of the sale of the home.

    Buyers should not >

    As a buyer, you should talk to the mortgage broker or a qualified real estate agent to see if any seller concessions are available. Concessions will allow the seller to sell a home faster, or at the very least, offer a slight advantage compared to other sellers in the market.

    When a home is having difficulty selling, concessions can often speed up the sales process.

    Full Story >

    Whats More Important: A Large Floor Plan or the Right Layout?

    Yes, Price-per-square-foot is an important factor in determining the value of a home. But itrsquo;s not the only one.nbsp;

    ldquo;The reason why the price per square foot method is a poor method to determine market value is because every home is different,rdquo; said Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty.nbsp;ldquo;While homes are similar in terms of square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and location, there are so many factors that arenrsquo;t taken into consideration when using the price per square foot valuation method. Condition, upgrades, is there a garage, screen porch, elevator, etc.rdquo;

    These tips will help you see past the square footage to find the home that works best for your needs and your budget.

    Donrsquo;t get hung up on a number

    Unless your real estate agent has been specific about a certain size homemdash;perhaps homes under 2,500 square feet take three times longer to sell than larger homes in your market, for instancemdash;getting a number stuck in your head may not make sense. An 1,800-square-foot new construction home may feel larger than a 2,300-square-foot home that was built 50 years ago because the floor plan is open and airy, and it might end up being the better buy.nbsp;

    But make sure therersquo;s room to grow

    You do want to look carefully at the space the home offers, however. Itrsquo;s easy to get seduced by a well-staged home, and, especially by a model thatrsquo;s been all decked out. If you have young kids or are growing your family, yoursquo;ll want to make sure yoursquo;re not already maxing out the space.nbsp;

    Itrsquo;s also important, especially in model homes, to take a good look at the furniture they have used. It may seem like living spaces or bedrooms are larger than they actually are because the furniture is sparse or undersized. Donrsquo;t be afraid to get out that measuring tape.

    Does the floor plan work for your life>

    There may be lots of space to work with, but is it usable? A formal living room and dining room can add significant square footage, but if your family is more likely to gather around the kitchen island or breakfast nook for meals, and in the family room to watch movies, these spaces may just be wasted. A smaller floor plan that is more open may end up working better for you.nbsp;

    Pay close attention, also, to things like master bedroom retreats. Spaces like these do add square footage, obviously. And, they can also appeal to that part of you that dreams of >

    Carefully examine floor plan configurations when looking at new construction; Some builder options are better than others. One particular floor plan in a new community in Texas has had people talking. The builder of the 2,250-square-foot model offered a split garage, with two garage bays on one side and a one-car garage on the other. Buyers could then option the one-car garage as a bonus space.nbsp;

    Most of the buyers of this particular model chose the bonus space. However, because of the configuration of the home, this space can only be accessed through the master and master bathroom. It might work as a nursery, but when the child is older, itrsquo;s not all that convenient to have their bedroom in a location that can only be reached if you walk through the master and the master bath. Some owners have turned the space into a home office space or a retreat, and many have, again, a big, expensive space to fold their laundry.nbsp;

    Most important: Despite the fact that the homes with the bonus space have more square footage, sales prices have been comparable to the same model that has the third garage bay. In this case, having a three car garage is often preferable to a weird bonus space with limited usage.


    Full Story >

    Tips on Designing Your Own Floor Plan

    Keep Things Easy

    While simple living is all the rage, you may not be interested in minimalist design. However, it is important for busy adults to design their homes in a way that keeps things easy.

    Do you enjoy outdoor activities such as working on your own lawn or in your own garden? Make sure the entrance youll use the most after these activities is easy to access and that you have a place to dump your muddy shoes. If you have or are planning to have young children, make sure that the first stop in from the garage or the bus has a durable floor thats easy to clean.

    Focus on Flow

    As soon as you step into your very own home, youll likely start shedding things. It may be a briefcase or work boots. Youll also want to de-stress as you move into your home.

    Design choices may include an easy-to-access closet with cubbies and chargers for electronics. If youre planning a custom home sound or lighting system, create a spot for those controllers.

    For those who like to entertain, its critical to have plenty of kitchen space for people to gather. An open floor plan is a wonderful way to invite guests into the heart of your home. Plan for an island or a peninsula if youd like your guests to gather in this crucial workspace.

    A Word on Security

    Security cameras arent just for your front door anymore. If youre away from home for long periods of time, or will have children home alone before you get home from work, the ability to check in on your kids and make sure the interior of your home is secure and safe is crucial. Plans for these tools will need to be made before the walls go up.

    Natural Light for a Healthy Brain

    The placement of windows and skylights can go a long way to making your home both happy and healthy. Natural light is critical to good brain health and quality sleep.

    If nearby houses are closer than you would like, consider putting in frosted or textured windows to allow for natural light without the view. Also, skylights that allow venting are a great way to bring in both sunshine and fresh air.

    Not a morning person? Plan your sleeping space away from the rising sun, or avoid a lot of east facing windows. You can enjoy plenty of light with south-facing windows and still sleep in

    Build In Some Decadence

    Everyone needs a little pampering. As with keeping things easy, its different for every one of us. If you need surround sound in the laundry room, plan this while the walls are open. For those whove always wanted a giant tub, now is the time to treat yourself.

    Let this spill into your yard. If your spouse loves to grill, consider building a deck with plenty of space and wiring for a smoker or pellet grill. Few of us can get every luxury weve ever wanted in our homes, but with proper planning you can get at least one feature youve always wanted.

    Home design is a lot of fun but also puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the buyer. Work with a designer or architect that is willing to put in the time discussing the things you need and the items you really want.

    Full Story >

    Buying a New Home? 5 Things to Consider Before the Purchase

    The Type of Mortgage

    A common mortgage lasts for 30 years, but that isnrsquo;t the only option you have. Depending on your budget, you may choose among varying policies that differ by length, down payment, or government assistance. For instance, the Veterans Affairs Benefits Administration and Federal Housing Administration offer loans that come with as little as zero to three percent down payment for qualifiers. Itrsquo;s also possible to get shorter mortgages, usually around fifteen to twenty years. Even if you go with the standard length, though, you can make a difference on your own by making a higher down payment and reducing the overall price from the start. Yoursquo;ll have to consider your budget and other long-term goals, as well as local programs for home buyers, before deciding.


    Though yoursquo;ve probably already checked and double-checked your savings before committing to making a purchase, your credit will also need to be secure. A good score can be the difference between the home of your dreams and no home at all, as well as whether you have access to a mortgage loan and its rates. Check your credit before you get too far into the process, and handle any errors or disputes on your account. Yoursquo;ll also not want any surprises, so avoid opening new accounts until yoursquo;re secure in your finances.

    Good Home Warranties

    A home warranty might seem like an unnecessary added cost, but the right one can save you a great deal of trouble. Home warranties are not the same as home insurance, which covers just the physical structure of the house, so your appliances and major systems might need the extra protection. While they arenrsquo;t required, home warranties tend to be inexpensive and come in handy when you arenrsquo;t sure you can cover repair or losses for those fixtures. Not all warranty plans are the same, though, so shop around as you deliberate.

    Post-Purchase Fees

    Once yoursquo;re in your home, will you have enough to cover closing costs? What about needing to furnish the place? The former can run between two and five percent of the loan, and whether you plan to live in this house for the length of the mortgage and beyond or not, the full cost can vary. Some fees are negotiable, if not defrayable by the lender. As for furnishing costs, donrsquo;t forget that the home might need fixes, improvements, or simply new pieces of furniture for your comfort. Be sure to budget carefully for these in the event the prices fluctuate.

    The Neighborhood

    Where the house is can matter a lot more than you might expect. Besides the common concerns over crime and safety rates, yoursquo;ll want to know about the traffic, nearby amenities, and helpful business to determine if the arearsquo;s a good fit. You should also check out the schools and exact neighborhood itself, as these can have an impact not only on price but on later home value. Depending on what your needs and future plans are, yoursquo;ll want to mind your options.

    No matter where your chosen home is, this purchase is no small deal. Itll affect your life for years to come, so picking well matters. Make a more informed decision with the tips above, and youll be closer to having the right place at the right price.

    Full Story >

    Which Type of Loan Is Best? Were Doing an Apples-To-Apples Comparison.

    30-year fixed-rate conventional

    This is a 30-year loan with rates that are fixed every month. These loans follow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines and are not backed by the government like FHA loans.

    Pro: With set payments, therersquo;s no need to worry about rising rates. Loans are available for a range of buyers, with options like HomeReady andnbsp;Conventional 97nbsp;that offer as little as 3 down. Also, there is no upfront mortgage insurance fee like you have on FHA loans.nbsp;nbsp;

    Con: You have to pay PMI if you put less than 20 down. There also may be higher credit score requirements than FHA loans.nbsp;nbsp;

    15-year fixed-ratenbsp;

    A 15-year fixed-rate option also has fixed rates for the life of the loan. If yoursquo;re the type who wants to pay your home off more quickly, this could be a good choice.

    Pro: You pay far less interest over the life of the loan and pay off your home in half the time.nbsp;

    Con: Monthly payments are higher.


    FHA loans are federally insured, which is why down payment and credit score requirements are more >

    Pro: FHA loans require as little as 3.5 down. Credit score requirements are also lower than conventional loans. You can typically qualify for a loan with a 3.5 down payment at a 580 score, and may be able to get a loan with a score as low as 500 if you have 10 down.nbsp;

    Con: Yoursquo;ll have to pay mortgage interest, which you canrsquo;t get rid of unless you refinance. FHA loans also come with an upfront mortgage insurance fee.

    Adjustable rate

    ldquo;An adjustable-rate mortgage ARM is a type of mortgage in which the interest rate applied on the outstanding balance varies throughout the life of the loan,rdquo; said Investopedia. ldquo;Normally, the initial interest rate is fixed for a period of time, after which it resets periodically, often every year or even monthly. The interest rate resets based on anbsp;benchmarknbsp;or index plus an additional spread, called annbsp;ARM margin.rdquo;

    Pro: Rates are often lower during the introductory or fixed period than what a borrower can get with a fixed-rate loan, making homeownership more affordable initially.nbsp;

    Con: Once the ARM gets past the fixed period, monthly payments can skyrocket, leaving owners unprepared and possibly in danger of defaulting.nbsp;

    USDA loansnbsp;

    Looking to buy in a rural area? You may qualify for a USDA loan. USDA-eligible homes may also be located in some suburban areas. You can check eligibility on their website.nbsp;nbsp;

    nbsp;Pros: USDA loans offer low or even no down payments and low interest rates. Rates can be as low as 1 with subsidies on direct loans.

    Cons: Household income is capped and anbsp;mortgage insurancenbsp;premium is required for down payments under 20.

    VA loans

    Veterans Administration VA loansnbsp;help military members and veterans purchase homes.

    Pro: VA loans tend to have the lowest average interest rates, and loans are available with no down payment. In addition, there is ldquo;no monthly mortgage insurance premiums or PMI to pay,rdquo; according to

    Con: Theyrsquo;re not available to the general public, and veterans must meet a list of conditions.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    FHA Curbs Cash-Out Refi Limits

    ldquo;Refinancing your mortgage to take cash out using your homersquo;s equity may not be as easy to do under new limitations on cash-out refinances >

    The previous loan-to-value LTV limit on cash-out refinances was 85; effective for loans on or after September 1, 2019, HUD is lowering the requirement to 80. This change ldquo;seeks to mitigate riskshellip;associated with increasing levels of insured loan balances on cash-out refinance mortgages,rdquo; said HUD in a Mortgagee Letter announcing the change. ldquo;This new requirement is a prudent safeguard that permits FHA to ensure it stays ahead of any shift in housing stability.rdquo;

    The last time HUD adjusted the max LTV for cash-out refinances was back in 2009, when they set the current benchmark of 85 ldquo;in response to the weakening housing marketrdquo; and in recognition of a rapid increase in ldquo;the share of cash-out refinanceshellip;as housing prices increased through the mid-2000s. Subsequent studies have shown that a significant increase in foreclosures may have been the result of a high number of cash-out refinances completed prior to the collapse of the housing market,rdquo; they said. Prior to that shift, homeowners could tap up to 95 of their home equity.nbsp;

    The letter also noted that FHA cash-out refinances have swelled by more than 250 from 2013 to 2018, HUD reported. There were more than 150,000 of these transactions last year. ldquo;Cash-out refinances comprised 64 of all FHA-insured refinance transactions, up nearly 39 from the year prior,rdquo; said Realtor Magazine. ldquo;The increase in home prices has prompted more cash-out refis, according to the annual Report to Congress issued last fall.rdquo;

    Cash-out refinances are a popular option among homeowners whose houses have appreciated because, while rates vary depending on many factors including the strength of the borrowerrsquo;s credit, the money is often less expensive than in other types of lending. And, if the money is used for smart updates or improvements, it can increase the homersquo;s value and provide some safeguards should there be market adjustments.

    ldquo;This option can be beneficial to consumers who have seen the value of their home rise in recent years,rdquo; said Bankrate. While many financial experts caution against taking too much money out of your homemdash;and this move by the FHA is intended to help keep owners from ending up under watermdash;ldquo;Taking the money from the cash-out refi and putting it towards paying down high-interest debt or home repairs can be a financially sound decision.rdquo;


    Full Story >

    Comparing Investing in Individual Deeds of Trusts with Investing in Funds

    More often than not, individual deeds of trust [DOTs] provide a higher coupon than mortgage pool funds [Funds], but there are some specific downsides to choosing individual DOTs instead of Funds. First, choosing the right DOT takes due diligence and a certain amount of expertise in many cases. Investing in extremely conservative DOTs that have LTVs at lower than 25 may not need a PhD in economics, but the yields on these types of DOTs are usually much lower than one can earn in a Fund; thus, one has to start looking at less conservative assets in order to produce the desired yield.

    Another advantage to investing in individual DOTs is that the investor can pick and choose which DOT to in invest in compared to having the manager of a Fund choose which mortgage fits the desired yield. This is really not much different than an investor choosing to invest in specific stocks instead of investing in a mutual fund; for some reason, however, the public seems to be more at ease in trusting a mutual fund manager than a Fund manager. Could this be because mutual funds are regulated under the Investment Act of 1940? Could it be the >

    There are some advantages for investing in a Fund [as compared to an individual DOT] that may outweigh the negatives. For one, there is diversification in a Fund, so the risk is spread amongst many DOTs. Unless the Fund experiences a major disaster, distributions to the investor should be uninterrupted. With an individual DOT, a default usually means months or possibly a year or longer [as in the case of a bankruptcy by a borrower]. If foreclosure proceedings are necessary, the Fund will usually handle them without the need for the investor to get involved or have to come up with money to pay the trustee or other costs, such as an attorney. In the case of an individual DOT, the investor/lender has to front these costs. If regular distributions are a must, a Fund is a more conservative route.

    Although individual DOTs usually earn a higher interest rate than a Fund [about 1-1.5 on average], Funds may offer the advantage of offering a reinvestment program whereby the interest can compound, usually adding about 35 basis points, whereas an individual DOT has to take the monthly distribution with no ability to reinvest. The gap between interest rates of Funds and DOTs gets even narrower [for most investors] when considering the income tax issue because of the new QBID [Qualified Business Income Tax Deduction] introduced in 2018. Congress decided to allow Funds the benefit of reducing the income that has to be reported on an investorrsquo;s tax return [subject to certain income limits]. Investing in individual DOTs does not allow for this tax benefit. This 20 reduction in reporting can have a significant impact on the after tax rate of return of a Fund compared to an individual DOT. For example, if a Fund is paying 7, and an individual DOT is paying 8.5, the after tax return [presuming a 40 tax bracket] of the Fund is 4.76 whereas the DOTrsquo;s after tax return is 4.80. This 4 basis point difference is not significant, especially if one were to reinvest the distributions in a Fund.

    The most important factor nowadays [at least in California] is the continuity of a investing in a Fund compared to investing in individual DOTs due to the downtime experienced in many investorrsquo;s portfolio when a loan gets paid off. In these circumstances, the investor usually calls his broker for another DOT to invest in and may be told that there are no good loans to look at for the moment. The investor is asked to be patient or may be forced to look at less quality DOTs. There is tremendous pressure in the market right now for loans to fund, as there is significant capital looking for a home. This competition for loans has driven down interest rates that an investor can earn on a DOT as well as adding to the length of time to reinvest capital that has been returned due to payoffs from borrowers. When one looks at the time value of money, this delay in redeploying capital can significantly lower the net, after tax, rate of return desired by investors. Money that is not deployed in new DOTs sitting idle in low earning bank accounts bring the net yield down for the investor. For example, if an investor desires an 8 return on an individual DOT, having money sit idle for three months at 1 produces a pre-tax return for the year of 6.25. Money sitting idle for four months lowers the net yield to 5.67. In addition, in many cases, Funds snap up the better quality DOTs, leaving the less quality loans available for individual investors. The main reason for this is that Funds want to produce steady, uninterrupted returns for their investors. They usually desire to avoid loans that have a more likely default rate, even if the yield could be higher by taking on a bit more risk. Some investors lower their quality investing standards in order to keep their money working; thus, investors have to carefully consider whether the benefits of investing in individual DOTs outweighs the benefits of investing in a Fund.

    nbsp;Edward Brown is an investment expert and host of the radio show, ldquo;The Best of Investing.rdquo; He is in the Investor >
    Full Story >

    Seller Intent: Inertia vs Action

    You have not listed your house or condominium unit for sale. Why?

    Is the decision not to sell and move the result of your active exploration of housing and life>

    Inertia, or the trend toward passiveness or inactivity, describes, in physics, the tendency of a body at rest to stay at rest unless external energy is applied.

    In real estate terms, this means yoursquo;ll stay where you are unless an external force or changendash;positive or negativendash;catalyzes you into action and makes moving the right thing to do:

    bull; Itrsquo;s inertia if you wait to see what happens and take no action yourself. If you stay in your home or recreational property for another year without researching your other options and making anbsp;conscious decision to stay, inertia has set in. Yoursquo;re not in control of your future with this passive wait-and-see approach.

    bull; When you actively explore your housing and life>

    Should you stick with inertia and wait until something happens to trigger or force a move or should you be more proactive about your real estate options?

    bull; When selling and moving is triggered by an external force or a circumstance forced on you, like unemployment, you may have to act quickly and make snap judgements about what to do next. ldquo;Wait-and-seerdquo; thinking may leave you unprepared to take advantage of available opportunities until itrsquo;s too late. For instance, once a ldquo;hot marketrdquo; peaks and disappears, high selling prices disappear, too. If you waited to see what happened before acting, you may have missed out.

    bull; If you maintain awareness of what is going on in the real estate market, what your housing and life>

    Inertia is fed by assumptionsndash;things we assume will continue, things we assume will never happen, and things we assume we can control when we canrsquo;t. The list differs with individuals and families.

    This might not be the best time for you to list your home. To make the most of real estate ownership, that should be an active decision based on knowledge of the current real estate market and many other factors >

    Staying and letting another year speed by without making sure you are really in the right place may cost you in the long run:

    bull; Time speeds up and suddenly that full renovation you struggled through is 10 years old and already showing its age. That means, therersquo;s work ahead to keep your home modernized. Is this the best property to invest more time and money in?

    bull; What attracted you to the house or neighborhood when you first bought? Is that still why you love it or have your tastes and life>

    bull; Do you have little in common with neighbors, so you spend more time alone or have to travel to spend time with friends or those with similar interests?

    bull; Do you have more fun on vacation, especially on over-winter extended stays, than during most of the year at home?

    These are a few inertia-busting ideas to start you thinking about what more you could have. Search out a real estate professional who respects your wish to stay and your intent to keep exploring options associated with a move. Say a firm ldquo;goodbyerdquo; to anyone aggressive or who pressures you to list.

    Yoursquo;ll appreciate help, beginning with answers to questions like, ldquo;If I didnrsquo;t live here, where could I afford to move tondash;near or far?rdquo;

    Personal introspection will enable you to further assess your situation:

    bull; What or whom do I/we need to be near?

    bull; What or whom do I/we want to be near?

    bull; What do I/we love about the home that we would want to duplicate in our next property?

    bull; What do we want to do differently?

    As a real estate owner, you have the right to continually explore the potential of your investment and to decide to do nothing and stay where you are.

    Thatrsquo;s not inertia. Once you understand your options, that ldquo;stay hererdquo; decision may represent good business sense and solid property management to protect and improve on your investment and chosen life>

    All it takes is a little asking, answering, ldquo;what ifrdquo;-ing, and day dreaming with your family and a real estate professional or two who respect your curiosity about what could be next.

    Full Story >

    Why an Investment Property Should Be Your First Real Estate Purchase

    1. Rates are crazy low.

    Lower rates mean more affordable lending, or more for your money if you choose to reach higher.nbsp;

    2. Because it will appreciate.

    According to Co>

    3. Because passive income is good.nbsp;

    Yes, itrsquo;s nice to know there will likely be appreciation over time, but the real key to success with investment properties is passive income.nbsp;

    ldquo;The best part about rental properties is that they provide a stable income,rdquo; said Mashvisor. ldquo;What would be better than having a check sent to you every month? In order to have positive cash flow, you have to make sure you invest in a profitable rental property.rdquo;

    Many real estate investors use the one percent rule when looking for a cash flow-positive property. ldquo;Monthly rental incomenbsp;ge; one percent of purchase price,rdquo; said Norada Real Estate Investments. ldquo;So according to the rule, a property with a total investment price upfront repairs of 200,000 should rent for 2,000/month or more in order to be a good investment. If the rent is only 1,500/month, the 200,000 price would not meet the rule. Or if you had to pay 250,000 for a property that rents for 2,000, it would not meet the rule either.rdquo;nbsp;

    4. To turn it into a short-term rental.

    The short-term rental market has opened up a new world of opportunity for investors.nbsp;By buying in the right locationmdash;by the beach, bear a ski resort, or in close proximity to a popular annual event like Coachella, you have the potential of making six figures in a short period of time.
    If yoursquo;re considering purchasing a home to turn into a short-term rental, be sure to check the local laws. Lots of cities have been cracking down on Airbnb and other services, stripping away some of the income potential for property owners.nbsp;

    5. Because you can be a homeowner without living in the home.

    What you can afford to buy may not match up with your expectations. Perhaps you donrsquo;t want to live in an attached residence or move to the suburbs, or even out of your current neighborhood. If yoursquo;ve been priced out of what you want to buy for yourself right now, you can still make a smart investment in the type of property other people are looking to rent.

    6. Because it can help you buy the home of your dreams down the line.

    ldquo;Buying an investment property before your first home does not imply that you wonrsquo;t have the funds to purchase your actual home at some point,rdquo; said Mashvisor. ldquo;In fact, investment properties that have been purchased wisely and have grown in value can offer you a sizeable amount of wealth and equity.rdquo;

    7. Because there are tax benefits.

    ldquo;Rental real estate has more tax benefits than almost any other investment out there,rdquo; said Real Wealth Network. ldquo;Failure to take advantage of rental property tax deductions, can cost landlords thousands of dollars a year. So why are rental property owners paying more in taxes than they have to? Simply, because they have no idea there are multiple tax deductions they could be taking advantage of. Tax deductions include:

    Interest savingsmdash;ldquo;Interest on rental property is typically the biggest tax deductible expense for owners. This includes, interest on your mortgage loan, or other loans used to improve the property, and if you use a credit card for anything >

    Depreciation of Rental Propertymdash;Depreciation or wear and tear on the property is not tax deductible in the first year, but, after that, ldquo;Rental property owners can deduct depreciation in smaller amounts, over a longer period of time.rdquo;

    Claim All Property Expensesmdash;Certain repair costs, furnishings, and insurance including ldquo;fire, flood, theft, and landlord liability insurancerdquo; can be deducted.

    Pass-Through Tax Deductionmdash;ldquo;This is an income tax, not a rental tax deduction, made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Depending on your income, landlords can deduct 1 up to 20 of net rental income, or 2 2.5 of initial cost of rental property, plus 25 of cost for any employees or independent contractors used if applicable. This deduction is scheduled to end in 2025.rdquo;

    Full Story >

    Using Solar Panels for a Sustainable Home

    What is Solar Power? How is it Used?

    In using sustainable solar power, solar panels use photons, or light energy from the sun to create electricity. Crystalline silicon or thin-film cells collect the energy. A junction box connects the solar panel and its output interface. MC4 connectors or USB power interfaces provide weatherproof connections to the system and are weatherproof, too. Not only does a solar panel provide electricity, but the parts of the panel itself are even recyclable when the unit wears out.

    Is Solar Energy Sustainable?

    In actuality, solar energy is much more sustainable in the long run than are fossil fuels. The sunrsquo;s light continues to be much more sustainable than do most types of energy producing fuels, such as coal.

    According to the United Nations, sustainability is explained as the ability to meet the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations of people to meet their needs. Solar energy greatly resembles this definition because using solar power doesnrsquo;t diminish the sunrsquo;s future ability to shine. Many experts believe that solar power remains the most critical source of sustainable energy.

    Solar Energy VS. Fossil Fuel Effects on the Earthrsquo;s Ecosystem

    Energy from fossil fuels began to be used during the Industrial Revolution. Fossil fuels became used as the primary source of the worldrsquo;s energy supply. Natural sources of fossil fuels include:

    nbsp;bull; Coal.

    bull; Natural gas.

    bull; Crude oil.nbsp;

    These sources continue to provide us with the energy we need to get around, to have electricity, and to heat our homes. But sources of fossil fuels will come to an end eventually, because the earth isnt continually creating them. Plus, using fossil fuels pollute the world because their use creates >

    Compare fossil fuels to using the renewable resource of solar panels. Solar power provides constant sources of energy. Solar power is non-polluting, and can also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the world. Solar power collects the energy from the sun and converts it into electricity without harmful pollution. And there is enough renewable solar energy to use to power the earth as long as the sun exists.nbsp;

    Implementing Solar

    The addition of solar panels to your home will reduce your >
    Full Story >

    How Consumers Achieve High Credit Scores

    You must first understand how these three digit scores are calculated. Scores range from as low as 300 to as high as 850. Although Irsquo;ve never seen any score as low as 300 or as high as the perfect 850. Personally, I think either is impossible to achieve. That said, those with excellent credit didnrsquo;t get those scores by accident. Credit scores assign values to five different credit patterns. Those are:

    bull; Payment History
    bull; Utilization
    bull; Length of Credit History
    bull; Types of Credit Used
    bull; Credit Inquiries

    Payment History is listed first because it has the greatest impact on a score. This one category alone makes up 35 of your total score. This makes sense because this is the one single measure of someone uses and manages credit. A consumer credit report wonrsquo;t list when account payments were made but will list when a payment is made more than 30, 60 and 90 days past the due date. As long as a credit account payment was made before 30 days, the score wonrsquo;t be negatively impacted, and scores will gradually improve. Note, if someone makes a monthly payment say 20 days past the due date, while it wonrsquo;t impact the score the consumer will likely pay some sort of late payment fee to the creditor. If a payment is made more than 30 days past the due date, scores will begin to falter. More so if a payment is made more than 60 and then 90 days past the due date.

    The second most important category is credit utilization. Some may think that carrying a zero balance and leaving the account alone that way is a good way to increase credit scores. Thatrsquo;s not the case at all. And if you think about it, how would any algorithm calculate a credit score if there is no activity, right? Utilization accounts for 30 of the total score. There should also be a running balance instead of paying off the credit account to zero each month. Most creditors report payments at different times so carrying a balance is typically an automatic. However, scores do improve is the running balance is approximately one-third of the total credit line.

    How long someone has used credit also contributes to the total score. If someone has used credit for a long time, that counts more toward a score compared to someone brand new to the credit world. Even if someone with a history and a credit newbie have perfect credit histories, the person who has used credit responsibly over a longer period of time will be rewarded. This category represents 15 of the total score.

    Finally, using different types of credit accounts helps out. A car loan, credit card and installment accounts are a good mix and accounts for 10 of the total score. Recent credit inquiries also make up the final 10 of the score. Credit inquiries are those when an individual makes multiple requests for new credit accounts within a >

    How consumers achieve high credit scores means concentrating on the first two, payment history and utilization. These two alone make up nearly two-thirds of the total score. By paying attention to payment history and keeping a running balance near the magic mark, scores can and will begin to rise from any level.

    Full Story >

    How to Do DIY Work on Your Property Safely

    Even the simplest jobs come with their safety risks. Understanding these risks and what measures you need to take to protect yourself can save you from some nasty injuries. In this post, wersquo;ll take a look at the proper safety procedures that come with using tools and clothing while doing DIY work at home.


    Protective clothing for homeowners has come a long way since the early days of DIY. These days you can pick up anything that you see in a construction site, from glasses and gloves to hardhats and safety harnesses. Assess the risks involved in your job and determine which clothing will be needed.

    Gloves are a staple that should be worn at all times as your hands are always vulnerable. Itrsquo;s also great to have the added strength and grip that comes with wearing the right safety gloves. Other clothing needs to be tight-fitting with no hanging jewelry or other articles that could get snatched.

    Clothing tends to be flammable, especially if yoursquo;ve drenched your shirt in deodorant. Keep this in mind when working with fire. If there are chemicals being used, ensure that there arenrsquo;t any holes in your clothing where the chemicals can get to your skin.

    Hand Tools

    Screwdriver, hammer, pliers, utility knife - these are some of the carpenterrsquo;s essentials that always come in handy - especially when the power is out. Be sure to equip yourself with basic alternatives to your power tools for areas where only hand tools will fit or where the use of gas tools is prohibited due to the lack of ventilation.

    Inspect these tools before each use and repair or replace any defective parts before they cause an accident. When it comes to hand tools, safety procedures are pretty basic and we donrsquo;t need to go much further into detail here. Simply stay vigilant and keep your equipment in order.

    Power Tools

    Here, the risk factor goes up quite significantly. Power tools derive their energy from a variety of sources, with the main one being electricity. This is where most accidents happen. Electric tools draw their power from high voltage outlets, making them highly dangerous around water.

    Be sure to check up on your battery-powered tools as well. The cells can leak battery acid, and if the casing isnrsquo;t properly closed, contact with water can be a shocking experience. Modern power tools have a number of different systems built-in to make them safer. Familiarize yourself with these safety mechanisms - theyrsquo;re there for a reason.

    Once you have the right equipment, it all comes down to knowing the basic principles of safety when doing DIY work. Keep your body safe and ensure that anyone yoursquo;re working with does the same.

    Full Story >

    5 Things You Can Do If You Cant Sell Your Property

    Change Real Estate Agents

    Sometimes the problem with selling your home isnrsquo;t the house but the selling agent. The worst performers are ldquo;post and prayrdquo; agents who assume that listing your home on the MLS is all they need to do. The solution is to change your real estate agent. Switching to a high volume real estate agent or someone who specializes in your neighborhood could be all you need to do.

    Ask about a Guaranteed Purchase Program

    If yoursquo;re moving for work, ask your company or new employer if they have a guaranteed purchase program. These programs will buy your home if you canrsquo;t sell it yourself and then sell it on. Fewer businesses offer programs like these, but you may still get money toward your real estate agentrsquo;s commission.

    Make Your Home Look Like What Buyers Want

    The problem may not be a bad picture of the front of the house, but that it looks bad no matter how you frame it. Your home may need a facelift. Cut back the shrubbery, clean up the yard, and give it a new coat of paint. Clean up the interior, too, so that it looks like it is well kept. Once this is done, take new pictures if the old ones showed a home everyone else would consider a fixer-upper. In some cases, home staging is necessary so that potential buyers can imagine themselves living in the property.

    If your home requires more work than you can handle to attract buyers, then you could sell the property to the real estate investment firm. They visit properties, appraise their condition, and offer a competitive price for them. This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to move a property, especially if you need the money to move into the home you truly want. Theyrsquo;ll even clean up the items you leave behind, so this is the best choice for those who need to close quickly.

    Rent It Out

    Renting a property out could generate cash flow now while allowing you to wait for the real estate market to improve. Becoming a landlord is a lot of work, though you can hire a property management company to handle that for you. You could also offer the property as ldquo;rent to ownrdquo;, allowing renters the option to buy the property over time. You might be able to find renters who will maintain the property as if it were their own because they hope to buy it one day.

    Full Story >

    Problem Area: What Do You Do With a Glass Block Window?

    The window, as you can see, is directly over the bathtub and also right in the line of sight if you happen to be: in a towel, changing your clothes, or in the commode with the door open It happens. No one wants to meet eyes with a stranger while theyrsquo;re on the toilet.nbsp;

    We also dont want to completely cover over the window because, despite the ugliness of the glass bricks, the natural light is lovely.nbsp;So, that also knocks out dark drapes; no one is going to be climbing in and out of the tub to open and close them, plus, wersquo;d still see the glass brick when they were drawn.nbsp;

    There are a few ways we can go to fix this problem, and wersquo;re going through them below. Thoughts? Opinions? Alternate choices? Wersquo;re all ears.nbsp;

    Sheer drapes

    Yes, heavy drapes are out because we donrsquo;t want to block the light, but sheer drapes could work. Hanging the curtain rod at the same height as the shower tile would also give the space some much-needed symmetry.nbsp;


    Pretty but expensive. Thatrsquo;s how we feel about shutters in general. According to, you can ldquo;expect to spend 20 to 45 per square foot. Wood shuttersnbsp;will run you 200 to 350 pernbsp;window, while compositenbsp;shutters costnbsp;80 to 200.rdquo;

    The per-window cost isnt so bad, but who are we kidding? We know if we start down this road with one window, wersquo;re going to have to do them all. People with shuttersmdash;is it worth it?


    Frankly, wersquo;re not fans. We have a feeling that if we covered the glass blocks with blinds, the only thing that would change is that there would be two unsightly things on the wall.

    Window films

    You know wersquo;re up for anything when wersquo;re considering something that is also referred to as a ldquo;decal.rdquo; But, seriously, these are pretty interestingmdash;especially Rhombus, whose grid pattern might? work with the blocks. And then therersquo;s Waves of Sun. It wouldnrsquo;t suck to take a bath with a view of the fake ocean. Right?

    Then there are the window films that give you some opacity without a pattern, like this Sand Privacy Film.nbsp;

    Decision, decisionshellip;.

    Full Story >

    Understanding Seasonal Income

    Regular income is verified by paycheck stubs and W2 forms. Income must be documented to have at least a two year history. This timeline is valid for all sources of income. If someone has only worked for one and a half-years, that individual will have to wait until the two year period has passed. Documentation of the two year period means providing the last two years of W2 forms. The income reported on the forms must somewhat match up with the amounts reported on the paycheck stubs. The paycheck stubs will have both regular pay listed for that pay period as well as a year-to-date amount.

    For those that are self-employed, itrsquo;s a bit more difficult to calculate qualifying income if someone doesnrsquo;trsquo; receive a regular paycheck on the first of every month. Self-employed borrowers receive income when their clients pay them for work done. Some clients might pay on the spot while others might need 30 days to get the invoice paid by corporate. For these folks, there wonrsquo;t be two years of W2s but there will be two years of 1099 forms. 1099s are forms issued to self-employed borrowers which shows how much was paid to the applicant in the previous calendar year. And just as employed applicants need to have two years of employment verified, so too do self-employed borrowers. This is validated with the last two years of personal and business income tax returns.

    Seasonal income is much like bonus income. Bonus income might be a performance bonus based upon reaching certain goals each quarter or surpassing sales numbers for a particular month. Such income needs to be verified by the employer as having a two year history and is expected to continue into the future. The employerrsquo;s bonus guidelines may need to be provided for the lender to review. If the bonus is a one-off, it wonrsquo;t be counted. The income needs not only to be counted on but be regular enough that it can be used to service current and future debt.

    Seasonal income must also come from the applicantrsquo;s regular line of work. The lender must determine if not only there is there a minimal two-year history but also the income will likely to continue. Someone who takes on a second job with the intentions of bringing home more money to help qualify for a mortgage will find out that without that two year history, the funds canrsquo;t be counted, even though itrsquo;s evident by looking at the bank statements that the funds exist and the applicant has access to them. However, someone who teaches summer school would certainly be able to use that income to help qualify, again, with at least a two year history of employment.

    If yoursquo;re unsure about using your seasonal income, itrsquo;s important to speak with your loan officer as different loan programs can have different requirements. If there is a history and there is a likelihood of continuance, the lender will probably count it. But you have to ask.


    Full Story >

    5 Basic Tips to Make Small Bedroom Look and Feel Amazing

    However, to create a small bedroom which looks admirable and feel comfortable is not that easy. You have to deal with the limited space in placing the furniture, deacute;cor items, and accessories inside. Moreover, choosing the colors, patterns, and texture to decorate a small bedroom is not as easy as when you have a huge space.

    Some simple basic tips to decorate a small bedroom below will totally open your mind.

    Choosing the Colors

    The very first thing to keep in mind is how the overall look of your bedroom will look like which strongly >

    The most popular option to colorize a small bedroom is the neutral shades like white and grey. Those kinds of color will give a bright and calming impression which will not make a small bedroom look too intimidating or stuffy.

    Light it Up

    When you have a small bedroom, light becomes an essential key to make it look and feel inviting. Beside those lighting fixtures, installing a huge window can add another lighting source which let the sunlight in. Moreover, a window also creates an airy atmosphere by letting the air circulate properly.

    If itrsquo;s not possible for you to install a window, you can use the glass ceiling which can light up the room when the sun shines so bright. In addition, a mirror will also reflect the light and create a wider impression.

    Adding the Furniture

    Nowadays, you can easily find some bedroom furniture which are specifically designed for a small bedroom. They can fit a small bedroom very well and provide great comfort for you. Moreover, you can also find such furniture with very low price tags. Check out this Cheap Bedroom Furniture Sets Under 500 article to find some tempting products to buy

    Providing the Storage

    You canrsquo;t really place a big closet or wardrobe inside a small bedroom. Therefore, you have to trick it by using multifunction furniture. Pick a bed frame which comes with built-in drawers or a headboard which also works as the shelves.

    Make a Statement

    Choose one element of the room to become the main focal point which grabs most attention. For instance, you can hang a big wall art with vibrant color on one side of the walls. A single focal point is enough to enhance the attractiveness of a small bedroom.

    Well, those are some tips that you can keep in mind when you are about to decorate your small bedroom. Though itrsquo;s not really easy to decorate, a small bedroom is definitely a good option for you who love minimalist concept and simplicity.

    Full Story >

    Things to Consider When Moving to A New Neighborhood


    You may have purchased a home with an affordable mortgage interest rate, however property taxes can become a significant part of your expenses. If you moved from another state or even county, its a good idea to find out about potential taxes or local special assessments that will affect your budget. A good way is to confirm the amount with your realtor and title company.


    Some of the best places to find >

    Access to Care

    On the subject of safety, is the neighborhood close to a police and fire stations, emergency rooms and other pertinent services in the event of an emergency? We all know too well of a hurricanes affect on residents in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, and fires in California. You want to have emergency personnel or shelters nearby.


    Important deal breakers for some people are how close it will be to their favorite eateries, grocery stores, gym, bank, shopping and volunteering opportunities. If youre used to a 1-2 mile convenient and the new home is 5-to-10 miles away, that could be a big problem. Are you a person who needs a Trader Joes, WholeFoods or Sprouts Market nearby? If you are person that actively participates in volunteering in your community, make sure you still have that opportunity where youre moving to, especially if its one of your passions. Did you know that a neighborhood located near numerous retail stores, helps maintain or increases home value if you choose to sell later on.


    Schools are a very important element as a home buyer. The quality of schools in the neighborhood can influence the future value of the home. By a wide margin, families prefer a highly rated school district. To determine the schools rating GreatSchools is a great source.nbsp;


    Dont be nervous to be the one who starts a conversation with people you may find yourself becoming next door neighbors. To be honest, theyll be very interested in meeting their prospective neighbors. Find out if there are block parties, how many young families are here, any people with aggressive dogs, best hangouts, their favorite local places, parks, how many years theyve lived in the area, and more about the community. Some research should be done yourself but it never hurts for a neighbor to confirm what you researched. The better you know your neighbors, the easier it is to ask them to watch your home while youre away on a trip.

    Sights, Sounds and Smells

    Identify warning signs in the neighborhood. Are homeowners maintaining their yards, does one neighbor have 10 or more unsightly cars parked outside, are there college-aged kids stationed on the street all day? Is there a cow slaughter house within 5 miles away? The stench can travel your way depending on the time of day.

    Find out Opinions of Former Residents

    People love sharing their opinion on places theyve lived. Online discussion forums like Reddit and City-Data are good places to inquire about your new neighborhood for >

    Bonus Tip

    There are a few tax breaks for someone moving due to a new job or >
    Full Story >

    Crime in Canada: Fewer Break-Ins, More Fraud Cases

    The good news is that Canadarsquo;s crime rate is 17 per cent lower than it was 10 years ago. The bad news is that it crept up by two per cent compared to the year before.

    Statistics Canadarsquo;s Crime Severity Index CSI counts the number of police-reported offences and assigns a weight to each crime, based on the violationrsquo;s incarceration rate. The weighted offences are then divided by the population to determine crime rates for the countryrsquo;s 35 census metropolitan areas CMAs.

    In 2018, Canada recorded 651 homicides, which was 15 fewer than 2017. The biggest decreases were in Alberta and B.C., while the largest increase was in Ontario with 69 more homicides than in 2017.

    Violent crimes were up by one per cent over 2017, led by a 15 per cent increase in the police-reported rate of sexual assault and a 44 per cent increase in extortion. But violent crimes were down 13 per cent from 2008.

    Non-violent crimes were down 19 per cent from 10 years ago but up two per cent from 2017. Fraud, including identity theft and identity fraud, increased for the seventh year in a row and was up 12 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

    Because of the number of crimes that take place in Canadarsquo;s largest cities, many people assume that they have the worst crimes rates. Toronto had a particularly bad year in 2018 with three major events impacting the cityrsquo;s reputation as a safe city. Early in the year, the bodies of eight murder victims, who were killed between 2010 and 2017, were discovered and a serial killer was arrested. Later, a van attack in North York killed 10 pedestrians and injured 13. And a year ago, a shooting on Danforth Avenue killed two and injured 13. All of these events drove up Torontorsquo;s crime rate.

    Yet, on the Police-reported Crime Severity Index, Toronto had the fifth lowest score out of 35 CMAs.

    Quebec City had the lowest score, followed by Saguenay, Que., Peterborough, Ont. and Barrie, Ont. Of the major cities, Ottawa and St. John, N.B. had low rates close to Torontorsquo;s, followed by Montreal, Victoria, Halifax, St. Johnrsquo;s, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

    The highest rate was recorded in Lethbridge, Alta., followed by Regina, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton.

    The largest drops in CSI were reported in Belleville, Ont., Saguenay and Peterborough. The latter two cities had big decreases in the number of break and enter offences, which helped bring the rate down.

    ldquo;According to some police services, part of the increase in fraud was attributable to increased access for reporting fraud online,rdquo; says Greg Moreau of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics in a report on the findings. ldquo;Additionally, certain types of scams have drawn the attention of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the news media, particularly general online or telephone scams, such as the Canada Revenue Agency scam and pre-paid gift card scams.rdquo;

    The biggest increases in police-reported fraud took place in the Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. Since 2012, the rate of fraud has increased almost every year in most provinces and territories, says Moreau.

    The report says that in 28 of 35 CMAs, fraud rates increased. The largest increases were recorded in Moncton, Windsor, Ont., Peterborough, Ont., Trois-Rivieres, Que., St. Johnrsquo;s and Victoria.

    The good news for homeowners is that seven provinces and territories reported decreases in the rates of breaking and entering. Perhaps partly because of the increased use of home security systems, the rate has been dropping steadily since the early 1990s. But in 2018, most of the decrease took place outside of the cities, where the rate increased by one per cent. Prince Edward Island saw a 21 per cent increase in the rate of breaking and entering and a 17 per cent increase in theft of 5,000 or under, which does not include shoplifting.nbsp;

    Identity theft defined by the RCMP as the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone elsersquo;s personal information for criminal purposes and identity fraud the actual deceptive use of the identity information of another person, living or dead, in connection with various frauds continues to be a concern. The Statistics Canada report says incidents of identity theft and identity fraud increased from 17,639 in 2017 to 19,584 in 2018.nbsp;

    The RCMP says homeowners should always be wary of calls or emails that demand personal or financial information and should make sure the person who is calling is really who they say they are.

    ldquo;Be particularly wary of unsolicited emails, telephone calls or mail attempting to extract personal information from you,rdquo; advises the RCMP.nbsp;

    Identity thieves are looking for your full name, date of birth, social insurance number, full address, motherrsquo;s maiden name, passwords for online services, driverrsquo;s license number and your PIN numbers.nbsp;

    Shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage and clean out your mailbox promptly after the mail has arrived. Keep on top of your credit card and debit charges and periodically check your credit reports to make sure you donrsquo;t become a victim of identity theft.


    Full Story >

    10 Easy Solutions for Creating More Storage at Home

    Take a new look at your house

    Donrsquo;t have enough linen space? Maybe therersquo;s a corner or niche that could be turned into a closet. It might just take an open mind and a fresh outlook to reimagine a space.nbsp;

    Pick the right furniture

    ldquo;A hardworking family needs a hardworking living area, one that uses every inch of space available,rdquo; said Better Homes and Gardens. ldquo;Built-in cabinets stash books and media and provide a bonus display surface. Find or design and build furniture that serves more than one purpose.rdquo;

    Ottomans are a great option for living spaces because: Theyrsquo;re small, easily movable, can act as a coffee table or an extra seat, and can hide remotes, blankets, and a bunch of other stuff that could otherwise be cluttering up your space.nbsp; nbsp;

    Spin the bookcase

    IKEArsquo;s KALLAX is one of our favorite finds because it has tons of storage space and you dont need a ton of wall space to use it. Itrsquo;s finished on both sides, so you can also use it as a wall divider. If KALLAX isnrsquo;t your thing but you want to crib this idea, find two bookcases and use them back to back.

    Grab some Space Saver Bags

    Not everything you see on a late-night infomercial is a waste of money. Space bags are great for off-season clothes, jackets, and bedding because you can compress them to a fraction of the size. According to Amazon, the jumbo sixe is ldquo;More than Big enough to fit bulky bed linens with Pillows, Favorite big winter jacket, entire wardrobes of a season.rdquo;

    Roll it out

    Therersquo;s a better use for the space under your bed than dust bunnies. All you need are a few rolling storage tubs to reclaim this square footage for your stuff.

    Recycle your coat closetnbsp;

    Unless you live in a cold climate where lots of jackets, coats, scarves, and boos are needed, your coat closet may be able to serve better uses. Add some basic wire shelving, which you can find in tons of sizes and configurations, and now yoursquo;ve got a place to store linens, Costco goods, or anything that doesnrsquo;t currently have a place to go.

    Go above and beyond

    Closets typically have a shelf above the hanging rod, but that space above the shelf may go quite high. Make it easier to store items up there by installing another shelf at the top. That way you donrsquo;t have to worry about your stuff teetering or toppling, and you can use all the space available, all the way up to the ceiling.

    Hang from the ceiling

    Like Forbes said, garage storage is critical. But if your garage doesnrsquo;t have muchmdash;or much room in which to fit itmdash;you can still make it happen. SafeRacks are hanging garage storage shelves you can buy online or at Costco. They get your stuff up off the floor so you can reclaim the space for your cars.nbsp;

    Organize your pots and pansnbsp;

    Maybe it isnrsquo;t that you donrsquo;t have the space, but itrsquo;s just not well-organizedmdash;especially in the kitchen if you have giant, shelf-less boxes for cabinets or a small pantry with shelves that donrsquo;t allow you to see clearly to the back. The right organizer can change your life. Check out this and this, and your kitchen will never be the same.nbsp;

    DIY yourself a solution

    If yoursquo;ve got a good imagination and a few good tools, you can make something that will help meet your storage needs. Yoursquo;re going to want to put Bob Vilarsquo;s secret compartments in the fireplace trim, pull-out drawers in the banquette, and definitely the under-the-stairs trick on your to-do list.

    Full Story >

    Finding Down Payment Money

    The Bank.

    Okay, this is the obvious source. From a checking or a savings account, accessing readily available cash from a bank account is the most common. Consumers can save up a little each month until the minimum amount of funds needed have accrued. The lender will ask for copies of the most recent bank statements showing available funds as well as documenting the source of those funds. Most often the deposits are from an employer via direct deposit. Self-employed borrowers who do not receive a regular paycheck on the 1st and 15th will be asked to provide business bank statements as well.

    A Gift.

    There are those fortunate few who do receive a financial gift from a family member. Gift funds must also be tracked to make sure the funds are coming from an acceptable source. Gift funds can come from a family member, >

    A Retirement Account.

    If someone has a retirement account with an employer such as a 401k, that person can take out a loan against the fund. This is allowable per lending guidelines but is also subject to the employerrsquo;s approval. Most retirement funds allow for someone to borrow up to one-half of the employeersquo;s vested balance in the account. With an IRA, first time buyers can withdraw up to 10,000 without penalty. The withdrawal will still be subject to any income tax due.

    An Appraisable Asset.

    If someone owns something that can be appraised by an independent third party, the proceeds when selling that asset are an acceptable source. Selling an automobile is acceptable, for instance because it has an appraised value. Even a highly prized baseball card is an appraisable asset. Itrsquo;s important to document the transaction from the initial sale to the deposit in the account.

    A Down Payment Assistance Program.

    Down payment assistance programs are typically overseen and/or issued by a county or state agency. Such programs typically require the borrowersrsquo; gross monthly income to not exceed certain limits and are often available to first time buyers. These programs can also be geographically targeted to help low to moderate income communities flourish. Down payment assistance can come in the form of a grant, which means there is no repayment required, or a loan which can be forgiven after living in the property for a certain period of time, typically three years or more.

    Full Story >

    Fed Cuts Interest Rate for First Time in 11 Years. What Does It Mean to You?

    The Federal Reserve just cut interest rates for the first time in 11 years. So what does that mean for consumers, especially those who are looking to buy a home? Wersquo;re breaking it down.nbsp;


    Itrsquo;s important to remember that mortgage rates arenrsquo;t set by The Fed. And, as Bankrate puts it. ldquo;The Fedrsquo;s influence over mortgage rates is complicated.rdquo;nbsp;

    Mortgage rates are already below 4 as we write this, and they ldquo;arenrsquo;t likely going to respond quickly to a Fed rate adjustment,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Any further movement in mortgage rates will be tied to the outlook ahead. Thatrsquo;s because mortgage rates are more more closely follow long-term yield, like the ldquo;10-year Treasury yield, which serves as a benchmark to the 30-year fixed mortgage rate.rdquo;

    Credit Cards

    If you have a lot of credit card debt, you may see a little >

    When you look at the potential savings in one big lump spread among households across the country, the number looks substantialmdash;ldquo;Considering that thenbsp;average household currently owes 8,390, credit card users would save roughly 1.5 billion in interest as a result of a quarter-point rate cut,rdquo; said CNBC. ldquo;However, that may result in little benefit per cardholder with APRrsquo;s still near record highs. For example, a customer with a credit card balance of 1,400 at a 14.4 rate would only see their financing charge decrease by about 30 cents each month.rdquo;

    Savings Accounts

    You may see the yield on your savings account drop. ldquo;Prior to the Fed cutting rates on Wednesday, the average interest rate among online banks was 1.69, as opposed to an average of 0.28 offered by brick-and-mortar banks,rdquo; said CNBC. Thatrsquo;s according to annbsp;analysis of savings accounts conducted by in June.rdquo;

    Interest on online-only savings accounts could drop as much as 0.11, according to WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou. But these still may be your best bet for a high yield. ldquo;Savers looking for a higher return might consider online savings accounts, which,nbsp;in many cases, are still paying yields of 2 to 2.5 percent,rdquo; said the New York Times.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    Moving Strategies for Clients

    Do Repairs and Painting at the New Place First

    Beforenbsp;move-in day, go through the new place and jot down areas that need improvement. Is the wood flooring scuffed, or does the hallway need a coat of paint?
    Come back and take care of it prior to lugging in your boxes and furniture. Youll be too busy unpacking to do once you move.

    Get a Mobile Storage Unit

    Get organized well in advance of selling your current home.nbsp;Asnbsp;part of anbsp;declutteringnbsp;campaign, invest in a mobile storage unit, such asnbsp;BlueBox. They bring a pest-free, secure container to your home. This gives you plenty of space to store items for the move as you sift and sort through each room. The company can also pick up the full unit and deliver it to your new place. When youve unpacked, they come and get the emptynbsp;BlueBoxnbsp;container.

    Hire a Cleaner

    Hiring a cleaner is an extra expense, but moving into a clean home will be a welcome >

    Change the Locks

    Get a locksmith to change your locks, including the back door and side entrances. No matter how trustworthy a seller seems, other people may have copies shes completely forgotten about. Security is a top area you cant scrimp on.

    Put the Utilities in Your Name

    Sometime before the move, call the utility companies to put the bills in your name. You really dont want a power outage for nonpayment to mar this new beginning. Besides water, power and cable or internet, there may be unique services that you wouldnt have thought of. For instance, if you have an electric car, the new place needs to be set up with a charging station.

    Check in with the HOA

    Is there anbsp;homeownersnbsp;association? Contact them to make sure the previous owner is caught up on dues and fees. Theres usually quite a bit of paperwork to transfer ownership. Make sure you read the rules and regulations carefully to start out on the right foot.

    These rules are great information to pass on to clients before on closing date to help them get organized for the move.


    Full Story >

    5 Creative Ways to Add Value to your Property Via Your Driveway

    Upgrading your driveway offers an endless amount of possibilities and potential, and wersquo;re very lucky to have partnered up with a Annapolis Paving Prosnnapolis Paving Prosnbsp;to help us compile this list of ways to help give your driveway a makeover that can definitely lead to dramatic property increases and a simply fantastic external appearance


    Therersquo;s no denying the beauty of brick driveways, and this type of >

    Brick may be a more expensive material than most for driveways, but brick driveways are known to last for multiple decades at a time. They also dont require much maintenance at all and can withstand all types of weather conditions.

    Crushed Gravel and Stone

    We all know that gravel driveways donrsquo;t cost that much, and many people think these types of driveways are boring but there are plenty of ways in which you can up a gravel drivewayrsquo;s curb appeal and overall aesthetics. One of the best ways to do this is to add a little more texture and colors to the gravel and stones.

    The installation process is always rather simple with this kind of driveway, and these driveways tend to be really durable no matter what weather patterns persist in your local area. But when you start to include some unique color designs and >

    Most people who have this type of driveway do live in rural areas, so by adding this type of landscaping technique to your driveway you can end up having one of the coolest driveways in your neighborhood.

    Staining, Etching and Stamping

    This type of process is usually known to enhance concrete, and the overall look of this type of driveway can go a really long way in terms of providing a great look that is unique and beautiful.

    Acid staining and etching is a great way to give concrete a really creative look, and it also is going to last a really long time. Maintenance is definitely an issue with some driveway upgrades, but not this one, and you can be rest assured that this type of creative outlet on your concrete will leave you with endless possibilities and a really unique looking driveway

    Cobblestone Pavers

    We all know cobblestone to be very >

    When you work with professional pavers yoursquo;ll be able to get a whole bunch of different designs and patterns into your driveway, and this is can a long way in terms of building the overall property without really costing you anything extra.

    Pavers and Grass

    There are also some more modern, eco-friendly ways to go about updating your driveway, and we know that grass driveways may not seem like the best but they definitely are building in overall trendiness.

    But having a paved driveway with some exposed grass is usually a really great look that just makes your home seem a little bit different than the mundane norms that we see constantly everywhere else. So this is a great way to increase your homersquo;s value and just allow your property to stand out

    Full Story >

    Define Your World with Color

    Color 101

    Any discussion of color must include the effects of both warm and cool colors as well as the so-called ldquo;neutralsrdquo; colors that do not appear on the color wheel. The >

    All colors can lean toward warm or cool, depending on the addition of another color. In that way, red can be even warmer if it leans toward the orange-yellow area of the color wheel. Blue, although seen almost exclusively as ldquo;coolrdquo; can lean toward warm with the addition of a warming color as in plum or the deepest eggplant, both achieved by the addition of red.

    As a rule, warm colors contain pure red or yellow. Some contain additions of red or yellow in various shades to create orange or brown colors from pastel to vibrant to deeply saturated.

    Cool colors occupy the opposite side of the color wheel and most contain blue or green in some form, while primary blue is most definitely a pure cool color. Adding blue to almost any other shade or color can transform that first color into a cool-leaning color, while adding a warm color like yellow to green can make that cool green into a warmer version of green.

    Black, white, gray and brown and their various shades are all considered neutral colors. But even neutral colors can lean toward warm or cool, depending on the undertones achieved by adding either a warm or cool hue. Although brown is definitely a neutral that leans toward the warm end of the color spectrum, adding cool pink can turn that brown into ldquo;rose-brownrdquo; which definitely comes across as cool-leaning.

    Add a tiny amount of yellow to white and you have a warm white. Add a tiny amount of blue to white and you have a cool white. This is most evident in strings of holiday lights. The warm ones glow yellowish in the dark and the cool ones glow bluish in the dark. Adding a tiny amount of the lightest brown usually called tan will turn pure white into almond, another warm version of white.

    Black is sometimes seen as the absence of color, but thats just because it absorbs all the light and does not reflect any back. But add white to black and you get gray. If you then add blue to the gray, it becomes a cool gray. Add very light brown or yellow to gray and that gray will come across as warm.

    Emotional Effects of Color

    Colors evoke an emotional response in almost everyone, although everyone has a response to color that is immensely personal. Color also sets the mood of the space, be it >

    Red is used to decorate restaurants because it is known to increase both your appetite, strong emotions and physical desires. It is the color of power and strength, energy and love. Red stimulates and excites you but also exudes warmth. Use red judiciously because too much red can be overstimulating in your home.

    Pink is a nurturing color, evoking compassion, love and happiness. It is also a highly feminine color and when not used with restraint can evoke immaturity and weakness. To decorate a room in pink that does not look sappy and too girly-girly, use simple, clean lines and sophisticated fabrics such as velvet, toile and/or raw silk. A combination of these fabrics, carefully chosen, will create a variety of textures that keep the eye moving beyond the ldquo;pinknessrdquo; of it all.

    Orange represents joy, enthusiasm, sunshine and the tropics. Used to stimulate creativity, encouragement and success, orange is widely used in spaces housing creative minds, such as advertising, marketing, fine arts and the craft trades. Because of its stimulating effects, orange is ideal for an exercise room or a kitchen. If red seems like too aggressive of a color for you, orange is a viable replacement because it too can stimulate you and make you feel more energetic.

    Yellow is a welcoming color and is an excellent choice for an entryway. Bright yellow makes you feel optimistic and light yellow makes you feel joyful. Because it is the color of sunshine, it also makes you feel happy. Try to use yellow sparingly, because too much of it in a room can feel overstimulating. Also, choose a bright yellow, whether you use a light or deep hue because dingy yellows can evoke sickness or decay.

    Blue is the most-used color in user interfaces of computer programs and also hugely popular in home interior decoration. It has a calming effect and is known to slow down your metabolism and even lower your blood pressure. Blue works well paired with yellow, white or in concert with multiple shades of blue.

    Green is all around us in nature and has the same calming effect when used in interior decorating. It symbolizes hope and security and feels fresh and safe. Green can be used as the basis for decorating an entire house. It will pair well with most other colors so each room has its own color identity with green as the common denominator, pulling everything all together.

    Purple is one of the most sophisticated colors used in interior decorating. It creates formality and richness while adding a sense of luxury. The darkest purples are the most dramatic and sophisticated, while lighter shades such as lilac or lavender are calming and restful.

    Black is the ultimate in sophistication in interior design. It evokes luxury, elegance and prestige. Although most commonly used as an accent color, it can be used as the main color by carefully balancing it with bright accent colors. It is used most successfully in this way by a professional interior designer.

    White evokes innocence, goodness, purity and cleanliness, not to mention faithfulness. It is also calming and >

    Brown gives us a feeling of security and stability. A color everywhere in nature, brown is not on the color wheel and is considered a neutral in terms of interior design. A good way to add the calming effect brown brings as a color found in nature is to use it by adding hardwood moulding in a shade of brown that is complementary to your overall color scheme.

    Gray is our last neutral color and is elegant in a subtle way but not overly conservative. A yellow-gray can be depressing in a brown room, but gray combined with yellow accents is ultra-sophisticated. Combine gray with white and you create a clean, refreshing feeling.

    Using Color to Make your Rooms Cozy with Natural Daylight

    North-facing rooms naturally receive bluish, cool light all day long. It is best to use bold colors in these rooms. If the room is small and you want to make it look larger, a cool color will make the walls appear to recede giving the impression that it is larger than it actually is. However, because the room faces north, make that cool color bold and bright for maximum effect in the softness of the north-facing light.

    Another trick is to paint the ceiling a shade or two lighter than the walls to add a feeling of spaciousness. A good trick is to add one to two cups of your wall color to a gallon of white paint for the ceiling color. It will be lighter than the walls and will not clash.

    To make a north-facing room appear smaller, paint the walls a bold, dark shade. This has the effect of making the walls appear closer, which makes the room feel smaller. Another way to make a large room feel smaller and cozier is to paint the ceiling a darker shade than the walls. Choose a color on the same paint sample strip as your wall color that is at least two shades lighter than the one you chose for the walls.

    South-facing rooms are bathed in sunlight virtually all day long. This has the effect of bringing out the best in virtually all colors, whether they are warm or cool. The darker shades will look richer and brighter but not overpowering. Lighter shades of colors will glow as they bask in the sunshine of a southern exposure.

    Use the same tricks to fool the eye in a south-facing room that you would use in a north-facing room >

    West-facing rooms have little light during the morning and early afternoon hours which tends to make colors look dull. However, once the sun moves to the western sky, the light changes, becoming warm and welcoming. If you use a west-facing room only in the evening, any color will work for you. If you use it during other parts of the day, choose lighter colors with a glossy finish. The gloss reflects light and appears to minimize shadows.

    A room that faces east will experience warm, yellow light in the morning and bluish light as the day wears on. Rooms with eastern exposure look stellar with warm colors such as red, yellow or orange.

    To make a room that faces sunrise or sunset look smaller or larger, use the same tricks for north-facing or south-facing rooms. Warm colors will make a too-large room smaller. Lighter colors will make a too-small room look larger. Just remember to use a glossy finish in rooms with western exposure to avoid shadows if you use the room all day long.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Floor Cleaning Tips and Tricks

    Floor Cleaning Tips and Tricks - Preventing a Messy Home

    No matter what type of flooring you have, itrsquo;s important to routinely clean them to ensure they can handle the foot traffic. Often times, keeping your floors clean will prevent a messy house. Below are various tricks you can use based on the flooring in your home:

    Natural Stone Floors

    One of the most important factors to bear in mind when it comes to cleaning natural stone is to steer clear of acidic products. So that means you shouldnrsquo;t use vinegar, ammonia or bleach will as they can ruin natural stone. Your best bet, therefore, is to use a pH-neutral cleaner that wonrsquo;t react with the minerals in your stone floor. For unsealed stone, avoid chemicals and simply use a microfiber mop and hot water.

    Tile Floors

    Tile is easy to clean. Simply mix a frac14; cup of vinegar, one drop of dish soap and water into a spray bottle. Spritz the mixture onto your tile surface and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth or mop. Steaming the tiles and grout will work well for deep cleaning.


    Unlike other flooring surfaces, carpets have their own set of rules. Because carpeting is popular in living rooms, they get a lot of foot traffic. For a deep clean, itrsquo;s best to steam clean your carpets. For regular cleaning, using a vacuum should suffice. When dealing with stains, a mixture of equal parts baking soda and vinegar, mixed with warm water should do the trick.

    Hardwood Floors

    Wood floors need lots of attention. Start by determining whether your floor is sealed or not. If itrsquo;s unsealed, avoid using water to clean it because that can cause the wood to warp or swell. if the floor is sealed, then itrsquo;s okay to use some water for cleaning. First, sweep, dry mop or vacuum with a soft nozzle to rid the floor of dust, debris and pet hair. If your floor is sealed, wet clean using a recommended cleaner. If yoursquo;re unsure, a simple mix of hot water and soap is a safe bet. For unsealed floors, use a specialized unsealed floor cleaner.


    Start by sweeping or vacuuming the floor to get rid of dust, hair and dirt. Then add about six drops of mild detergent or dish soap to a gallon of warm or hot water. Dampen a mop with the mixture and use it to clean the floor in sections. Avoid getting the mop too wet since standing water can damage linoleum. Once yoursquo;re done mopping, get some cool water, rinse the mop with it and give the floor a thorough wipe to remove any soapy residue. Finally, use a cleaning cloth or towel to dry your clean floors.

    Bottom Line

    With a broad range of both natural and synthetic floors, you need to know how best to clean your type of flooring. While it can seem daunting to clean a home while working full time, the right floor cleaning tips and tricks will make things much easier.


    Full Story >

    5 Questions to Ponder If Youre Thinking of Buying Your Very First Home

    How much money do I need?

    Yoursquo;ll need money for a down payment, closing costs and cash reserves. There are a couple of loans that donrsquo;t require a down payment, VA and USDA loans, but those are either reserved for certain buyers or the property is located in a rural area. Otherwise, yoursquo;ll need a down payment. There are some conventional loans that ask for a down payment of as low as 3.0 percent and FHA loans only need a 3.5 percent down payment. All loans need closing costs to pay for various services from third party vendors. From an appraisal to title insurance, there are fees. Your loan officer can provide a loan cost estimate based upon request. Cash reserves are identified as the number of monthsrsquo; worth of house payments are left over in the bank after the loan has closed.

    How much can I borrow?

    Thatrsquo;s a combination of current market rates, the term of your loan, your gross monthly income and current monthly credit obligations. A good estimate can be had by taking about one-third of your gross monthly income. That gives your lender an idea of what you can qualify for as it >

    Am I ready for household maintenance costs?

    This is something that many first time buyers donrsquo;t take into consideration. When you rent and the hot water heater goes out, itrsquo;s a call to the property manager or landlord who comes and fixes it for you. You donrsquo;t have to pay for it, itrsquo;s part of your lease agreement. The hot water heater belongs to the owner of the property who is responsible for keeping it in shape. When you own a home and the hot water heater goes out, itrsquo;s you that has to come up with the funds to fix it. Your agent will also recommend that you have the property inspected by a licensed home inspector. Yoursquo;ll get a report on the overall condition of your property as well as the condition of appliances.

    Where do I want to live?

    This is largely based upon how much you can qualify for. When your loan officer provides you with a preapproval and telling you how much you can finance, your agent then locates different areas of town that fits into your budget. Professional agents know the demographics and home values in all areas of town, some you may not even know about. Most buyers want to buy in an area that is close to work with an easy commute. Still others like the urban life>

    Do I really need an agent?

    Yes, you really need an agent. Donrsquo;t try to find a home and negotiate a price on your own. Yoursquo;ll be dealing with another agent who excels at negotiations. You need someone with the same skills on your side. And one other thing, you wonrsquo;t need to pay for your agentrsquo;s services, the sellers take care of that.

    Full Story >

    How To Create Your Dream Garden

    Review amp; Plan

    Before you can create your dream garden, you have to know what youre working with first; after all, you can make loads of plans, but if they wont fit within your garden then its a wasted effort. Because of that, seeing your garden when its as bare as possible can help you plan out what you can do with it. After you know the physical limitations as well as any budgetary ones then youll be able to plan out what you want to do with the space.

    Get Rid Of Any Eyesores

    Not every garden is made the same, and as such there may be some eyesores around your garden. This can be the likes of an old shed, or even a terrible view on one side of the garden. In your planning stages, you may be able to come up with ways to make these look nicer. For example, a shed can be improved upon to look like a garden pavilion, while you can plant tall trees or hedges to take attention away from a bad view. You could also frame your garden in such a way that you shouldnt see any eyesores too often. Fences can always be improved upon, and even the likes of a new paint job can go a long way to improving your gardens looks.

    Consider Adding Curves

    If youre like the vast majority of us, then theres a significant chance that your garden is either square or rectangular. Because of that, you might want to consider adding some curves around your garden; a circular area to sit and a curving path can go a long way to improving the overall shape of your garden. It could also help to make your garden feel bigger and help to maximize the amount of usable space.

    Put In An Entertainment Space

    If your garden is going to look amazing, then youre not going to want to enjoy it just from the windows. With that in mind, you might want to consider installing some kind of space in your garden for entertaining. This can be as big or as small as needed, but you could always put a table and chairs somewhere in your garden for dinners in the summer or parties. Theres also the likes of patio furniture so that you can >

    Automate Your Gardening

    Everyone wants their garden to look amazing, but nobody wants to put in a lot of time every week into maintaining it. However, there have been a variety of products >

    There are a variety of other things that you can do to spice up your garden; this can include the likes of a small vegetable garden or even a water feature. That being said, your dream garden is something thats driven by your imagination. With that in mind, whats stopping you from going wild when it comes to designing the garden of your dreams.

    Full Story >

    Now You Can Buy a Home in the Same Place You Buy Your Socks

    The online retailer just announced a new partnership with Realogy Holdings, umb>

    ldquo;Realogy Holdings Corp. NYSE: RLGY, the largest full-service residential real estate services company in the United States, today announced in collaboration with Amazon the launch of TurnKey, a new homebuying program that simplifies the process of finding and settling into a new home,rdquo; the company said in a >

    To be specific, ldquo;Amazon is not getting into real estatemdash;we are leaving that up tonbsp;Realogynbsp;,rsquo;rsquo; an Amazon spokeswoman said on Barrons. ldquo;We simply work with industry leaders, including Realogy, to help customers enjoy all the benefits smart home products and home services provide.rsquo;rsquo;nbsp;

    The program will operate according to a three-step process, said Amazon:

    bull;nbsp;ldquo;Get matched with a hand-selected, local real estate agent
    bull;nbsp;Find and purchase your new dream home with your agentrsquo;s help
    bull;nbsp;Get thousands back in Amazon move-in benefitsrdquo;

    Its that third bullet that has homebuyers really excited. How it works is this: Once the home closes escrow, buyers will receive between 1,000ndash;5,000 in fully installed Amazon smart home products and Amazon home services. The amount is determined by the purchase price of the home.nbsp;

    ldquo;The benefits could include deep cleaning or a handyman who will install shelving or mount a TV, for instance, as well as a lsquo;curated suite of smart home productsrsquo; installed by a professional vetted by Amazon,rdquo; said CBS News. ldquo;Not everyone will receive the 5,000 in Amazon devices and services,rdquo; ldquo;The top amount will only be given to buyers who purchase a home that costs at least 700,000.rdquo;

    TurnKey has kicked off in 15 major U.S. markets: Los Angeles; San Francisco; Sacramento; Seattle; Phoenix; Dallas/Fort Worth; Charlotte, NC; Chicago; Atlanta; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Denver; Tampa., FL.; Orlando, FL; and Washington D.C.


    Full Story >

    Before Photos Can Save You

    Real estate owners have hundreds more photos on their phones than they need, but often theyrsquo;re missing videos and pictures of things that could save them time, aggravation, and money.

    Wersquo;d love to hear your ldquo;thank goodness I had a before photordquo; story or your ldquo;if only Irsquo;d had a before photordquo; regrets.

    Do your experiences match any of my five ldquo;glad I had a time-dated before photordquo; stories?

    Time-Dated Before Photosnbsp;

    1. Construction Damage

    Glad I had time-dated photos and videos of my house, from top to bottom, from ceilings and walls to windows and floors before construction began on the house across the shared driveway from mine. Among the contractorrsquo;s many disastrous post-excavation choices, was the decision, after a massive rain storm, to drive heavy equipment up the already excavation-compromised driveway. The heavy backhoe put pressure on my foundation wall. The resulting crack led to water in my finished basement. My ldquo;before photordquo; proof meant the contractor did not dispute the problem or his cause of it. The wall and my homersquo;s interior were promptly repaired at the contractorrsquo;s expense thanks to my video proof of solid foundation walls and a moisture-free interior in excellent condition.

    BEFORE anyone starts building, renovating, or demolishing anything near your house, cottage, or property line, take videos and photos of everything to protect your interests. Large transit or condominium projects a block or more away may also cause damage when heavy, deep excavation continues for weeks.

    2. Renovation Damage

    Glad I had time-labeled photos and videos of my existing front and side exterior doors since side-door framing was damaged during the attempt to install the new exterior door which proved to be wrong in many ways. The new front door did not arrive which photos confirmed. Visual evidence helped significantly in my dealings with the international door company. The company did eventually refund all my money and repairs were made, so that I was free to find an alternate door manufacturer that could deliver on what they advertised.

    BEFORE you have any part of your house or recreational property repaired, replaced, or modernized, take videos and photos of every detail of that target area and of any part of the property workers could damage while they are there. If legal action is required, your visual evidence may prove invaluable.

    3. Interior Miscalculations

    Glad I had taken photos of every foot of the bare interior walls of my new media room before sheet rock was installed. My intent was to establish where all the studs and wires were for future reference as I added shelving and other wall-mounted features. Turned out the contractorrsquo;s sheet rock guy covered all the electrical outlets, media jacks, and ceiling light terminal boxes without referencing their locations. Then, he did not know where to cut access holes in the sheet rock. My photos made it possible to estimate locations instead of damaging the new sheet rock, increasing costs, and delaying the project.

    BEFORE new wiring, studs, HVAC equipment, plumbing, or other materials are enclosed in walls, floors, or ceilings, take photos for reference. They can save a lot of headaches later.

    4. Exterior Damage

    Glad I had video of the back yard and the 80-foot oak tree in the middle of it. When the tree pruners started work, the resulting huge felled branches damaged my garagersquo;s weather vane and roof. The photos made it clear that all was in good shape before the arborists arrived. The tree pruning company paid for repairs without dispute.

    BEFORE maintenance work or a big storm damages trees or buildings on your property, take photos and video to establish the condition of everything beforehand. If an insurance claim is necessary, your photo record can speed up payment and make it easier to prove loss.

    5. Boundary Issues

    Glad I had photos of the wooden backyard perimeter fence when it was replaced and then more shots over the years to establish the fencersquo;s location >

    BEFORE repairing or replacing fencing or adding a major feature like a swimming pool, making a photo record of the existing structure and back yard is prudent. Photos taken before storm damage or before a neighborrsquo;s tree branch falls will help you prove your case with neighbors, insurance adjusters, and anyone else.

    Yoursquo;ll benefit from expanding your photo and video record to include jewelry, art, expensive clothing, stellar shoe collections, and other items you insure. Fire, flooding, robbery, or other damage may make it necessary for you to provide proof-of details to recover or replace items.

    Store a set of your evidence ndash;and your priceless family photosndash;off site in case of fire, flood, or robbery. A safe box or cloud digital storage will ensure you can prove your case and protect memories of things that matter.

    After something happens or things go wrong, itrsquo;s too late to take a ldquo;beforerdquo; photo or video to prove what you had and what condition it was in.


    Full Story >

    Easy Ways to Bring Some Much-Needed Style to Your Kids College Dorm Room

    Dorm rooms are ugly and often old, which means that, while they may be built for function, theyrsquo;re definitely lacking in >


    There will likely be one window in your childrsquo;s dorm, and it will probably be covered in cheap blinds. You can give them an extra dose of privacy and also inject some >

    A nice rug

    If your child ends up with decent-looking/fairly new flooring in the dorm, consider yourself extremely lucky. You can counteract the ugly with a good rug.nbsp;

    Here are a few tips for choosing the right rug based on experience: 1 Be careful with color selection. Yes, that white rug would look greatmdash;for about 10 minutes; 2 Pay attention to the pilemdash;a thick rug with long fibers is stylish, but can be hard to keep clean and looking nice. Natural fibers are easier to take care of.

    Contact paper or peel-and-stick wallpaper

    There are so many ways you can use these fashionable and functional items in a dorm, like:

    bull; To dress up the expanse of white walls
    bull; To cover up the horrible plastic dresser drawers
    bull; To line the closet shelves
    bull;To bring a little interest to the back of bookcases
    bull;A long bedskirt

    Most dorms are small and devoid of extra living space, so many dorm dwellers loft their beds. This gives them room underneath for storage. Useful, yes. Attractive, not so much. A long bedskirt can hide the mess underneath, and theyrsquo;re available for as little as 15.nbsp;


    The lighting is harsh in a lot of dorm rooms, and insufficient in others. You can layer in lights in the form of a desk lamp or book lamp for function, but bring in some twinkle lights for a bit of whimsy. ldquo;Christmas lights can make your room cozy,rdquo; said Cappex. ldquo;String them along the wall to make your art pop, on the ceiling above your bed for stargazing or around your desk to make studying seem less arduous.rdquo;


    Yoursquo;ll want to make sure this type of lighting is allowed in the dorm before purchasing; some dorms limit electronic items, but will allow battery-operated or solar lighting.nbsp;




    You see a lot of tapestries in dorm rooms because theyrsquo;re large and lightweightmdash;two factors that allow them to be hung on the wall and cover a lot of space. Theyrsquo;re also available in just about every >


    Full Story >

    5 Signs That Your Home Needs a New Roof

    If yoursquo;re wondering when to call a professional and get a new roof, check out these five warning signs that itrsquo;s time to renovate.

    Your Roof Appears Saggy or Droopy

    A roof that dips or has sagging spots could have trapped moisture or rotting boards. The most obvious signs of decay will be at the lowest points, so you will most likely be able to spot it from the ground.

    Roof rot is hard to repair, especially if itrsquo;s gone undetected and untreated for years. In these cases, you may be better off replacing the roof altogether than spending thousands making costly repairs.

    Light Slips into Your Attic

    Check your homersquo;s attic for light slipping through the ceiling. If light makes its way inside through the eaves, then your roof is probably leaky and needs patch work. Old roofs are prone to developing this problem as they age, and many homeowners decide that itrsquo;s more effective to replace their dated roof than repair it.

    A leaky roof can also cause mold growth in your attic, which attracts pests and poses major health risks to you and your family. Contacting a roofing company if you suspect you have a leaky roof is imperative to preventing damages and health problems.

    Your Home is Drafty

    A roof that needs replaced will have plenty of cracks and openings that cause excessive heat loss. Your home may always have a draft, especially during the winter. You may also notice that you have to run your air conditioner or heater constantly to keep the temperature balanced.

    Drafts can also be caused by a faulty HVAC system or poor insulation, but many homes that need a new roof are prone to them as well.

    You Notice Cracked and Peeling Shingles

    Weather damage and age can cause parts of your roof to crack, peel and break. If you notice these, you should have a professional make repairs ASAP. In some cases, waiting too long can lead to permanent damage that requires a replacement.

    Your Roof is Over 20 Years Old

    Like most things, roofs wear out with time. Older homes are subject to more structural problems, especially if they have not been well-maintained. If your home is over 20 years old, chances are that you may be due for an upgrade.

    Make sure that you compare several local roofing companies and get a free estimate before you make any major decisions. A new roof is an expensive investment, so yoursquo;ll want to make sure that you can trust the people who are installing it. It never hurts to get a second opinion, and many roofing companies will send out a technician to check out your roof and fill you in on whatrsquo;s going on for free.

    Full Story >

    Easy Ways to Make Some Extra Cash for Your Down Payment

    Being able to buy a home now or having to hit pause often comes down to how much money you have saved for a down payment and closing costs. If your savings account is a little light, there are several easy ways you can pump it up to get you over the hump.

    Get a side hustle as a driver

    With companies like Lyft and Uber, itrsquo;s never been easier to make a little money on the side.nbsp;ldquo;Ubernbsp;claims that theirnbsp;driversnbsp;take home 25 per hour and Lyft claims thatnbsp;driversnbsp;can earn asnbsp;muchnbsp;as 35 per hour,rdquo; said Ridester.

    Sell some stuff

    You can always go the garage sale route, but beware that while you may make some decent money cumulatively, bargain-seekers will be looking for major deals, which can mean selling that 200 dress for a dollar. Put it on Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace instead for a better upside.nbsp;

    Have any designer bags, belts, or clothes you no longer need? There are several sites that can help you turn them into dollars.

    Play with doggies

    Sites like have made it easy to find a dog walker or dog sitter, or to BE a dog walker or dog sitter. Pet sitting is a huge growth industry, and that means there is a substantial need for this type of service.nbsp;

    The best part is you get to hang out with dogs, and get paid for it. ldquo;If younbsp;love animals and would likenbsp;a way to earn some extra money on the side, pet sitting might just be the perfect fit for you,rdquo; said The Simple Dollar. ldquo;After all, no extensive training or certifications are required. The main qualifications to be a pet sitter arenbsp;simply loving animals, being >

    According to the site, ldquo;Sitters that treat Rover like a part-time job and take two or threenbsp;dogs for two weeks out of the month earn an average of 1,000 per month. Meanwhile, those that treat Rover like a full-time job, working 4 weeks out of the month and taking 2-3 dogs at a time, earn an average of 3,300/month.rdquo;


    Maybe people are more your thing. Offer your babysitting services on Nextdoor or register on The average hourly rate across the country is 13.49 per hour; this may not be as much as you make at your full-time job, but, as supplemental income for a few hours here and there, it can add up.nbsp;

    Turn on the fan

    While a ceiling fan wonrsquo;t lower the temperature in your home, it circulates the air to make the space feel more comfortable. That means you can give your air conditioning a break to save a few bucks. Every little bit helps

    Comparison shop for car insurance

    Are you the type that sticks with the same company year after year and doesnrsquo;t think twice about looking around? Wersquo;re guilty of that over here, too. It could be costing you money.nbsp;

    ldquo;Insurance companies are always competing to win your business, but if you turn a blind eye and keep the same policy in place for a long period of time, your rates might have increased,rdquo; said Your PennySaver. ldquo;By checking rates, drivers saved an average ofnbsp;531 per yearnbsp;with a new policy.rdquo;

    You can load in some basic info here and get multiple quotes.nbsp;

    Go through your bank statements with a fine-tooth comb

    When you really look at your expenditures, yoursquo;re sure to find a bunch of ways to save money, like cutting back on eating out and limiting your Starbucks runs, for starters. You may also find some surprises in there, like gym memberships or subscriptions you thought you had cancelled but are being charged for every month.nbsp;



    nbsp;Down payment and closing cost funds need to be seasoned. Taking on a part time job cant be counted either as income nor available for cash as a down payment. There needs to be a two year history of Uber income. Bank statements will also show random deposits and the lender will want to know the source.nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Green Home Energy: How Can You Save on the Essentials?


    One of the best ways to reduce energy usage is through proper insulation of a home or building. Whenever you heat your home, approximately two-thirds of that heat will escape the home due to poor insulation, siding, and roofing. By improving insulation in a home, you can help reduce heat exchange between the interior and exterior of a home. In addition to lower heating bills during the winter, this can also help reduce cooling bills during the summer months.


    Itrsquo;s also a good idea to work on limiting the consumption of heated water. Many low water showerheads and sinks can be a great way to reduce your energy usage. A hot water heater is often one of the primary sources of high gas and electric bills. Installing a heat pump system yoursquo;ll have an alternative that uses heat from the air to heat your water. This uses less energy than traditional systems. In many cases, an efficient showerhead doesnrsquo;t mean that your shower experience will be bad. As long as you have decent water pressure in your house, an efficient showerhead can still deliver a comfortable, >


    In addition, homeowners should make sure that the heating systems theyrsquo;re using are efficient and appropriate for a home. For example, many homes have forced air heating and cooling. If you have a very large house, it may use a lot of energy to heat the entire thing. If you only use a few rooms in a very large house, it may be possible to reduce your heating bill by only heating a few rooms. Digital thermometers can also help reduce the cost of energy usage and only turn on when you are home. If you install them on different levels of your home they can also only work where you want them to turn on.

    If you have forced air heating, consider closing off the vents in rooms that arenrsquo;t used very often. If this isnrsquo;t possible, try turning the temperature on your heating system down to around 50 degrees. Once yoursquo;ve turned it down, you can use space heaters to warm the occupied areas of the home. Instead of having a massive heating bill for an entire home, you can minimize your bills by only heating the areas of the home where heat is needed.

    Embracing green energy doesnrsquo;t have to be expensive or fancy. By following the ideas in this guide, yoursquo;ll be able to significantly reduce your monthly bills and create a healthier environment for everyone.

    Full Story >

    How to Finance Home Improvements

    First, if yoursquo;ve been thinking about refinancing your current mortgage, you might want to add a little extra to your loan and take some cash out. Of course, taking out some cash to pay for home improvements while refinancing is a secondary consideration, not a primary one. If yoursquo;re going to lower your rate or switch loan terms or refinance for any reason, then think about taking out some cash during the process. Yes, yoursquo;re going to add to your loan amount, but yoursquo;ll be financing your project with very low rates compared to other types of credit. Note however that a new first mortgage will have typical closing costs.

    You have the option of simply taking out a personal loan but the rates for unsecured personal loans are going to be higher compared to a secured loan like your mortgage. Unsecured loans are a greater risk to lenders as there is no collateral on which to place a lien, such an automobile or mortgage.

    Next, you can take out a home improvement loan in the form of a second lien. Depending upon the size of the loan, you can simply take out an equity loan or a home equity line of credit HELOC. An equity loan will be one single amount subordinating to the first lien. The funds are disbursed to you at the closing table and transferred to your bank account. All you need to do is pull the funds out when needed. Interest will begin to accrue the day the loan is issued.

    With a HELOC, this loan type acts more like a checking account. It is indeed a line of credit that you can draw on at any time. You can also pay back some or all of the withdrawn amount whenever you want. Most HELOCs do ask for a minimum draw and establish when and how much payments are due. Interest is only applied upon withdrawn amounts, and not the credit line itself. With a HELOC, you can use the funds for any purpose, not just for a home improvement.

    Finally, you can use any of these options along with paying for some of the improvements with cash. You might want to pay cash for part of a project and finance the rest. Lowering your loan amount when contributing cash to the project means lower monthly payments and less interest paid over the life of the loan. Whatrsquo;s your ideal solution among these choices?

    Itrsquo;s best that you speak with your loan officer and discuss your plans. The first option explored will likely be a cash-out refinance. If yoursquo;re open to lowering your rate or shortening the term of your loan, pulling out a little extra cash might be your better choice. The next consideration might be a standalone home improvement loan. These loans will have minimal closing costs but slightly higher rates. There is a small tradeoff, but your loan officer can explain the details.

    Full Story >

    Coming to Terms

    Yoursquo;ll also need to decide when to lock in a rate and for how long. Rates can change on a daily basis and even though a lender is quoting a particular rate online, through an email or phone call, that same rate for the same cost might not be the same the following day. Itrsquo;s up to you to decide when you want to guarantee that rate with an interest rate lock.

    Your lender can provide you with its rate lock policy but just like choosing which rate is best for you, you also need to know how long you want that rate locked. If yoursquo;re closing in 30 days, you might want to lock the rate for 30 days. That way if rates go up, yoursquo;re protected. The longer the rate lock, the more itrsquo;s going to cost. Not a lot, but a little. You might be able to lock in a rate for as little as 10 days. You may also lock in a rate for 60 or 90 days, but again it will be a bit more expensive for long term locks.

    And speaking of terms, yoursquo;ll also need to decide the term of your loan. Most loans today or spread out, or amortized, over a 30 year period. Some even as long as 40 years but those programs are somewhat scarce. Because the loan is stretched out over 30 years the payments will be lower compared to a shorter term loan. And because itrsquo;s paid out over 30 years there is more long term interest paid to the lender. More interest paid over the life of the loan, but lower monthly payments is the tradeoff.

    The second most popular mortgage term is 15 years. In fact, when you peruse many mortgage sites that advertise rates, you might see rates for both a 30 and 15 year term. A 15 year term will have less interest paid over the life of the loan because itrsquo;s paid off sooner. For example, with a 200,000 loan amortized over 30 years at 4.25 percent, the principal and interest payment is 983. With a 15 year term using the very same rate the payment is 1,504. The total interest paid over a 30 year period is 354,196 but with a 15 year term the amount of interest paid 270,820.

    But there are still more choices. Sometimes borrowers take out a 30 year instead of a 15 year because the monthly payments are much lower. Even though there is more long term interest paid, the 30 year term is more affordable. However, someone might want a term somewhere in between. There are also 20 and 25 year terms, itrsquo;s just that you ra>

    Once yoursquo;ve decided on your loan program, loan term and rate, yoursquo;re pretty much good to go.

    Full Story >

    Make Your House Welcoming for Visitors with These Five Tips

    Front door curb appeal

    HGTV tells readers a few simple changes to the outside of the house are inexpensive and easy to do. Adding new hardware, fresh pots of flowers, and a good coat of paint can create a dramatic change. Trimming back the trees, bushes, and flowers give your home a manicured look. Visitors get their first impression as they walk up to the door. Wow them with bold, large house numbers or a pair of antique rocking chairs. Swings are also popular items for front porches. Remember to fix any driveway and sidewalk issues and ensure motion detectors and cameras are working properly for nighttime safety.

    Pillows, throws, and rugs help define spaces indoors and out

    As people enter your home, they will look for places to put coats, jackets, and bags. Rugs can direct people to the party area or the back door if you are hosting outside. New throw pillows and blankets add pops of color making your house feel vibrant and exciting. Upgrading the lighting indoors is an inexpensive way to create a new look if you need a change. Donate old decor items and replacing them with fresh, trendy pieces annually if possible. Using similar color patterns and making niches allows you to create necessary functional zones.

    Update indoor areas like the kitchen and bath for the most equity

    If your inside spaces need a little care and attention, then you should know most home loan companies offer up to 85 percent of the home value in equity says U.S. News. New appliances, islands, and bench seating draw guests into the space. You can get nearly all of your money back with a smart bathroom update. Using small bands of mosaic tile to create a border around or in the shower or tub is more affordable than re-tiling the entire room.

    Add a hot tub or other water feature

    The New York Times tells readers to send out invitations a couple of weeks before your outdoor event. If you need to update your backyard, then you may want to call pool buildersnbsp;at the beginning of spring to install your swimming pool or hot tub. When you already have a pool, then it only takes an hour or so to get a yearly check and inspection. You do not want to have the guest list finalized to find out your hot tub has a leak or the swimming pool needs repairs.

    Use lattice to create private areas

    Nothing ruins your outdoor fun than a nosy neighbor or a bunch of kids looking over the fence and commenting on your party. Make it easy to ignore intrusions by adding lattice to your back deck. You can also use a pergola or an arbor. Adding plants that spread and vine can create a screen for privacy and shade for hot days.

    Bonus tip: Carry the patio tile into the house for a seamless >

    When you have a new addition or pathway, it is important to make the new stuff merge well with the older material. One way to accomplish this task is to use some of the outdoor decking as a transition into the home. You can replace the hallway, bedroom, or great room floors with the same tile or stone flooring.


    Full Story >

    11 Improvements To Your Garage That Will Add Value To Your Home

    A Functional Garage Door

    Heavy garage doors that must be opened manually are not very appealing to potential homebuyers. Homeowners interested in maintaining the value of their home should install fully automatic garage doors if the garage does not already have one. At the very least, heavy garage doors that must be opened manually should be switched out in favor of lighter, aluminum doors.

    A new garage door can provide a significant increase to the bottom line of a home when it is time to sale. Homeowners should consider replacing a garage door with a color that goes well with the house.

    Improve Ventilation and Insulation

    If your garage is attached to your home and you live in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions, it is a good idea to insulate the ceilings and walls of the garage. This will help you better control the climate inside your garage and offer protection for you and your car against the weather.

    In addition to providing >

    nbsp;You should also take measures to assure proper ventilation in the garage. This will prevent carbon monoxide fumes from seeping into your home. You can purchase a carbon monoxide detector to alert you to any potentially dangerous situations regarding the toxic gas.

    Be Smart With Storage Space

    It is common practice to store objects that are out of season or not in use in garages. However, cluttering the garage spaces with boxes of old clothes, old bicycles, and broken appliances may send the wrong message to a buyer interested in your house. The buyer may feel there is insufficient storage space inside the home.

    It is suggested that homeowners use plastic bins to house these unused items. Once the bins are filled, they should be labeled and placed onto shelves. A little additional shelf space can do wonders for increasing the number of items that can be neatly stored so if there are not enough shelves present in the garage, you should add a few.

    One solution is to install wire shelves along the walls of the garage. You can also purchase shelves that stand on their own and are specifically designed to work with large plastic bins. You should always be careful that these freestanding shelves are attached to the wall secu>

    Make Sure Lighting Is Adequate

    Motion sensor lights are excellent selections for a garage. If your garage already has motion sensor lights but they are not bright enough, consider adding a few more lights to the space. Adequate lighting in a garage is not just a matter of aesthetics but also provides for better work efficiency and safety for your family.

    Traditional fluorescent lighting is more than adequate for most garage space. It is important to remember that some fluorescent lights will not function properly when the weather dips beneath a certain temperature. You should choose lights that are sufficient for the coldest temperatures expected in your garage. Temperature guidelines should be written on the ballast.

    Dont Overlook The Garage Floor

    There are a number of projects available to the homeowner that wants to upgrade their garage floor. Some possibilities are the addition of a floor cover that attaches itself to the garage floor, adding tiles to the floor, or choosing to apply epoxy shield paint.

    Painting your garage floor with an epoxy finish will cause it to become easier to keep clean. The finish will prevent any oil or other fluids that may leak from your car from staining the floor. Epoxy finish is also great for adding a shine to the floor that will attract the eye of potential buyers.

    Some homeowners also like the idea of making their garage floors slip-proof. There are two ways this objective can be obtained. The first way is to texture the concrete in a way that prevents slipping or sliding along the surface of the floor. The second method to slip-proof a garage is to add a gritty substance to the floors surface.

    Add A Lift

    Sometimes homeowners find functional space is sparse in their garage. One solution to this space is to add a car lift in your garage. A car lift will provide the means to basically store two cars with the same amount of space. No major renovation is needed and car lifts are excellent ways to store boats, hobby cars, and seasonal vehicles without the high cost of paying for storage elsewhere.

    A car lift is a novel addition to a garage that packs a great aesthetic punch. Potential buyers of your home will be impressed with the upgrade.

    Provide A Comfortable Work Environment

    If your garage is a place you like to work, there are a number of additions you can make to the garage to make so that you are more comfortable while you work. An anti-fatigue mat placed in front of the main area of work is a good first step. These mats are commonly used in industrial workplaces where workers spend a great deal of the day on their feet. A good anti-fatigue mat will decrease the amount of fatigue in your legs and preserve your ankles and feet while installing louvers, scoops, and othernbsp;accessories.

    A wall-mount fan is excellent for keeping the garage cool in the summer months. You can outfit these fans with motion sensors that will assure the fan comes on whenever you enter the garage. These upgrades will definitely catch the eye of potential homebuyers who also see the garage as a great place to perform work and indulge in their hobbies.

    Electrical Outlets

    It is suggested that two wall outlets per wall should be present in your garage up to a total of six for a one car garage. If your garage does not possess this number of outlets it is a good idea to hire an electrician to make this upgrade. The cost of adding these outlets is >

    Keep The Space For The Car

    Many home experts believe that garages which are partially outfitted to double as things like painting rooms or craft shops not only fail to add value to the price of the home but may actually decrease the sale price of your home. This fact is especially true if the buyer considering the home does not agree with the vision you possess for the garage.

    When considering the sale of your home, it is probably best if the main use for your garage is storing cars that are not being used by you or a family member. The prospective buyer can provide his own vision for the space if necessary after the home is purchased.

    Build Additional Bedroom Above Garage

    Space in a house is always at a premium. One way to gain extra living space in your home is to build an additional bedroom above the garage. Bedrooms built over a garage add significant value to the home because they offer great curb appeal and are often large bedroom spaces. These bedrooms add even more value when they contain a full bathroom.

    You might need a professional to take a look to determine if the structure and framing of the garage can bear the weight of the new bedroom before construction begins. Other factors to consider when building a bedroom above a garage is fire safety, insulation, and plumbing.

    Keep Area Outside Garage Clean

    All the interior changes in the world will not add value to a home whose garage looks old, junky, or dilapidated outside. Most buyers form their impression of a house before they ever step through the front door. A failure on your part to tidy up around the outside of a home can discourage them before they fully consider all the great features your home has to offer them.

    Final Thoughts

    Your garage can play many more roles than a simple storage space for a car that is not in use. These uses can add functional improvements to your home as well as provide the home with improved aesthetics. However, if planned correctly, all of these upgrades are capable of adding significant value to the price your home can command if you later choose to offer it for sale.

    Full Story >

    Surge of International Students to Canada Puts Focus on Housing

    ldquo;For some time, Canada has been a destination of choice for international students for reasons such as the favourable mix of quality and affordability of post-secondary education,rdquo; says a report by Sri Thanabalasingam and Yasmine El Baba at TD Economics. They say a growing share of these students is choosing to permanently settle in Canada following graduation, which ldquo;could contribute to easing the pressures of an aging population, help address labour shortages, boost sagging productivity and increase diversity in Canada,rdquo; say the authors.

    ldquo;Canada grants a longer work permit to graduates than the U.S. or U.K. offers, thus providing international students enough time to find a job in their field of interest. By gaining Canadian work experience, international students are then eligible to apply for permanent residency.rdquo;

    Canadarsquo;s population growth rate was 1.4 per cent in 2108. Among G10 nations, growth averaged 0.5 per cent.

    The TD report says that during the last three years, the number of international students coming to Canada has surged from about 250,000 to 350,000. They contributed about 21.5 billion to the Canadian economy in 2018.

    All of those international students, as well as domestic students who move to a different city to attend college or university, need a place a live. But Benjamin Tal, an economist with CIBC Economics, says students housing isnrsquo;t being counted by official figures compiled by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC. Thatrsquo;s because the official census says that ldquo;students who return to live with their parents during the year should be included at their parentsrsquo; address, even if they live elsewhere while attending school or working at a summer job.rdquo;

    Tal says, ldquo;excluding these students is problematic. Yes, they are planning to return to their parentsrsquo; house, but during the academic year many of them perhaps the majority live elsewhere, and therefore represent demand for housing, which is then missing from CMHC figures. Accordingly, from a housing demand perspective, the widely quoted increase in the number of adult kids still living with their parents may be exaggerated.rdquo;

    Tal says a rough estimate ndash; ldquo;and we will not take it to the bankrdquo; ndash; is that ldquo;we undercount the total stock of housing demand in Canada by 300,000 units. Whatrsquo;s more, given that almost all the undercounting is among young students, and that their number has been rising much faster than the overall population, the >

    The TD report says in 2017, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver hosted more than half of Canadarsquo;s international students. The students come from all over the world, with China, India, South Korea, France and Vietnam leading the way.

    ldquo;Outside of a handful of small institutions, almost no Canadian university campus offers enough on-campus student housing to house all of its full-time students coming from outside the host city,rdquo; says a white paper by SVN Rock Advisors in Burlington, Ont.

    ldquo;Purpose-built rental student housing is a growing market that has seen steadily rising demand over the last 20 years, and a supply that has only just started to rise to meet it.rdquo;

    The company says real estate investors must understand that renting to students is much different than a traditional rental. For example, most conventional rental buildings lease apartments for a year, but students usually only go to school for eight months of the year. This means they must try to sublet the apartment for the other four months.

    Many students also try to partner with other students to save living costs. ldquo;In conventional rentals, it means leasing a unit and then subleasing to roommates who share the rent. This practise places a number of burdens on the student and raises uncertainties for the landlord. If one of the roommates moves out, the other tenants have to cover that share of the rent. Purpose-built student housing rents units by the bed, rather than by the door. Students are responsible for their own rents, and all tenants within a unit are covered by the protections and obligations of the lease,rdquo; says the SVN Rock Advisors white paper.

    But it says the only region addressing the demand for purpose-built student housing is Waterloo, Ont., which has 23,387 beds in off-campus developments, although this is still below the estimated population of the arearsquo;s two major universities. Toronto is the next largest market with 4,681 units, followed by London, Ont. and Vancouver.

    ldquo;Privately operated, purpose-built off-campus student residences are the most attractive type of off-campus housing for students,rdquo; says SVN Rock Advisors. ldquo;In Canada, however, this market is only just maturing and so not all student housing markets offer private student residences.rdquo;

    As of January 2019, SVN says an estimated 51,747 purpose-built off-campus student beds were available or being built across Canada.

    Full Story >

    Smart Tips to Pay Your Mortgage off Early

    When many a real estate dream is focused on the idea of buying a home and staying just long enough to earn enough equity to move up to something bigger and better, this may come as somewhat of a surprise. If you have considered the idea of buying a forever home or if yoursquo;re already there and want to be amongst the almost 40 percent of owners living mortgage free, there are some tips that can help you move toward that zero balance.

    Switch to biweekly payments

    Say your mortgage payment is 2,000. Pay it once per month, and yoursquo;re paying 24,000 per year. Switch to biweekly payments of 1,000 every two weeks, and you end up paying 26,000 for the year. That adds up.

    ldquo;This will have the nearly the same impact on your budget as one monthly payment, but because there are 52 weeks in a year, a biweekly payment schedule will result in 13 full-sized payments a year instead of the normal 12,rdquo; said The Motley Fool. Youll be making an entire extra payment every year without having to scrounge around for the extra money. To look at some real-life numbers, if you have a 30-year 200,000 mortgage at an interest rate of 5, making biweekly instead of monthly payments would save you 34,328 in interest and allow you to pay off the loan almost five years early.rdquo;

    Make extra principal payments

    Especially in the early years of your mortgage, your payments are likely to be mostly interest. But you can eat away at your principal by making an extra "principal only" payment. ldquo;The benefit of paying additional principal on a mortgage isnrsquo;t just in reducing the monthly interest expense a tiny bit at a time,rdquo; said Bankrate. ldquo;It comes from paying down your outstanding loan balance with additional mortgage principal payments, which slashes the total interest yoursquo;ll owe over the life of the loan.rdquo;

    Letrsquo;s use their example of a 120,000 mortgage at a 4.5 percent interest rate, with monthly principal and interest of 608.02. Pay an extra 25 principal payment every month and you can save more than 9,000 in interest over the life of the loan.

    Yoursquo;ll want to make sure yoursquo;re allowed to make these extra principal payments per the terms of your loan, however. ldquo;Check with yournbsp;mortgage companynbsp;first,rdquo; said Dave Ramsey. ldquo;Some companies only accept extra payments at specific times or may charge prepayment penalties.rdquo;

    Refinance into a shorter-term loan

    Can you swing a higher monthly payment? Refinancing out of a 30-year mortgage to a 15-term can save you an enormous amount of money. ldquo;A mortgage amount of 250,000 over 30 years at a rate of 4 would cost 429,674 in principal and interest payments by the end of the term,rdquo; said Investopedia. ldquo;The total interest would be 179,674 for borrowing for 30 years. The same loan amount and interest rate over 15 years would cost 332,860 by the end of the term. Total interest would be 82,860 for borrowing for 15 years. At 4, youd pay only about 46 of the total interest for a 15-year than youd pay for the 30-year.rdquo;

    There is a secondary benefit to refinancing to a shorter term; these rates are typically lower. At press time, Wells Fargorsquo;s 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.875, while the 15-year fixed rate was 3.125.

    Make small sacrifices

    ldquo;Other small sacrifices can go a long way to help pay off your mortgage early,rdquo; said Dave Ramsey.nbsp;ldquo;How much could you save if you took your Starbucks money and added it to your mortgage payment each month? According to the Acorns Money Matters Report, the average American spends 3 per day on their coffee. Thatrsquo;s around 90 a month added to your mortgage paymentsmdash;which will save you 25,000 in interest and four years on the life of your loanrdquo;

    Be careful about refinancing

    The idea of a lower interest rate is what largely drives refinances. But refinancing to a lower rate may not be the best move if it means yoursquo;re paying a bunch of fees and/or taking out cash that eats away at your available equity. If your goal is to get your mortgage paid off as quickly as possible, you may want to just leave your loan alone.

    Full Story >

    Where Are the Best Cities for First-Time Buyers?

    WalletHubrsquo;s new 2019s Best amp; Worst Cities for First-Time Home Buyers report should help. The financial website studied ldquo;300 cities of varying sizes across 27 key indicators of market attractiveness, affordability and quality of liferdquo; to determine the best places for first-time buyers across the country. Their three key dimensions were: Affordability, Real-Estate Market, and Quality of Life, which were then evaluated using 27 >

    Wersquo;ve taken their top threemdash;Tampa, FL, Overland Park, KS, and Thornton, COmdash;and dug in a little further.

    No. 1: Tampa, FL

    Tampa achieved WalletHubrsquo;s No. 1 ranking despite an ldquo;affordabilityrdquo; rank of No. 147. It enjoyed a No. 2 rank in ldquo;real estate marketrdquo; and No. 13 for ldquo;quality of life.rdquo;

    U.S. amp; World Reportrsquo;s list of the Best Places to Live has Tampa in the No. 56 spot nationally. Among their reasons to put down roots in the city: The ldquo;laid-back beach life>

    Livability adds some important background on the city and its growth: ldquo;Some may have counted Tampa out after the city was hit hard by the Great Recession. But over the last eight years, Tampa hasnrsquo;t just managed to get back up, itrsquo;s been completely transformed into a desirable and competitive city. In fact, Tampa is now one of the fastest growing citiesnbsp;in the nation,nbsp;with nearly 300,000 new residents migrating to the city between 2010 and 2017.rdquo;

    Of particular interest to millennial buyers is Water Street Tampa, a 3 billion mixed-use urban waterfront development that is ldquo;helping transform the city into a vibrant, diverse and attractive option for young people looking for a new place to call home.rdquo;

    What to watch out for: Hope yoursquo;re a fan of high humidity. Summers can be brutal here, with ldquo;intense humidity, daily rain showers, high temperatures and occasional hurricanes,rdquo; said U.S. News amp; World Report. Also, the average age in Tampa is 40mdash;the oldest among WalletHubrsquo;s top three.

    No. 2: Overland Park, KS

    Overland Park was 104th in affordability, 24th in real estate market, and ninth for quality of life in WalletHubrsquo;s study for an overall No. 2 rank. The city was also named MONEYrsquo;s No. 15 best place to live.

    ldquo;The second-largest city in Kansas, Overland Park continues to attract newcomers with the resources and appeal of a big city,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Its public schools are famed for their high graduation rate, while the bustling business communitymdash;Overland Park is home to telecom giant Sprintrsquo;s world headquarters, among other employersmdash;helps keep unemployment low.rdquo;

    Livability notes the ldquo;balance of business and quality of liferdquo; and also points out the ldquo;large assortment of indoor and outdoor recreation options,rdquo; which span 72 parks and more than 1,800 acres of open space, plus ldquo;good restaurants and shopping areas. The cityrsquo;s low crime rate and stable economy attracts many couples with children.rdquo;

    What to watch out for: The slower pace of life is lauded in Overland Park, but if yoursquo;re used to city living, you might be bored. The median age is 38, which tracks higher than many other cities that cater to first-time buyers, and only 36 of homes in the city are owned. Also: tornados.

    No. 3: Thornton, CO

    Thornton was 138th in affordability, 28th in real estate market, and fourth for quality of life in the WalletHub report. Just eight miles from Denver, Thornton is a bustling suburb that offers family-friendly living within in the shadow of a major metropolitan area. As such, the city is thriving.

    ldquo;Economic diversity and easy access to the great outdoors make these cities among the most attractive places to live in Colorado,rdquo; said Livability. ldquo;Since 2010, the city has had a population growth of almost 18 percent. That growth largely caters to younger buyers seeking out an ideal place to purchase their first home. The cityrsquo;s median age is just 33.

    Peak Property Group points out the ldquo;views of the Rockies to the west, and the towering Denver skyline to the south,rdquo; as well as the ldquo;fabulous sense of community, the strong economy, and the plentiful recreational opportunities that are easily accessible from this Denver suburb.rdquo; In addition, the key location on the north end of Denver just 20 minutes from the airport ldquo;make it an attractive place to build strong companies without incurring the costs associated with a downtown location.nbsp;Allegro Coffeenbsp;built their headquarters in Thornton in 1977 and they arenbsp;still brewing up some of Americarsquo;s best breakfast beverages. The city is also home tonbsp;Regis University, Google,nbsp;Intrex Aerospace,nbsp;Ascent Solar, andnbsp;Sungard Data Systems.rdquo;nbsp;

    What to watch out for: Winters are cold. Really cold. An average low of 19 in January cold.



    Full Story >

    Comparing Rentals in Different Markets and the Risks of Low Rent/High Cap Rate Investments

    There is so much money in California looking for an investment home that prices of real estate, be it apartments, houses, or even commercial, have skyrocketed to the point where CAP rates have plummeted. In premier locations within luxury areas in the Bay Area, CAP rates have been known to drop below 2. With interest rates at 4 or more, Negative cash flow is a certainty unless the buyer is putting down a tremendous amount of cash or the rents are unreasonably low to where the buyer can raise them to market levels.

    Foreign buyers were one of the reasons that prices increased at a rapid pace; however, many of those buyers are faced with their own countryrsquo;s financial restrictions on investments outside of their home country; thus, the multiple offers previously seen over the past few years have diminished to where they are few and far between. However, the real estate market is still strong, especially in those desirable locations, and there does not appear to be a recession in the immediate future, or so say the experts.

    Most investors choose to put as little down as possible, or do not have the wherewithal to put large down payments on investment real estate. Many banks will lend up to 70 - 75 for the right property and a solid borrower. With borrowing rates still sub 5 in many circumstances, the buyers of real estate must seek out property producing CAP rates above 5 in order to make a prudent investment. In addition, the debt service coverage ratios imposed by most banks have crept upwards of 1.35. This, in turn, forces the investor to either put a much larger down payment or look for property with a higher CAP rate. Since most investors do not have the extra cash to put down, they have looked to other, less historically stable rental markets such as Indiana, Georgia, Kansas City, and Tennessee. Promoters of rental real estate in these states boast of CAP rates exceeding 8. Some have even suggested that properties producing 10 CAP rates exist.

    For those California investors [or investors far from the real estate they are purchasing], they need to be very careful and analyze all aspects of owning real estate, including, but not limited to: weather, real estate taxes, turnover costs, and management. A CAP rate of 10 can be very enticing, especially if the promoter claims to also take the management headache out of the equation. Many promoters will often sell the real estate to the investor [either from their own inventory or ldquo;double escrowrdquo; a sale]. Or, the promoter may just act as a broker and charge a commission for the purchase of the property by the investor. The promoter also may act as the management company attempting to alleviate the investor of the worry of finding a tenant to rent the property. Although their intentions may be honorable, the investor needs to consider a few things; will the management company try and get a tenant for your property as compared to others they may also be managing? How are repairs and maintenance issues handled? Will the management company have some discretion as to what is needed and when? If the unit is vacant, is a fee still owed to the manager?

    One of the biggest expenses most overlooked is the cost of turnover. This is where a lower CAP rate property in an expensive area may be more prudent than a low rent, high CAP rate location. The reason is that many expenses are not too far different from state to state, particularly, materials. Carpet is the easiest one to see to make this point. Say, for example, a 1,500 square foot house unit in a good area of San Francisco rents for 3,500 per month. This similar unit in Memphis, Tennessee might rent for 1,200. However, once the tenant moves out, the unit may need certain items fixed/replaced. Large deposits are usually required by tenants, so one could make the argument that the San Francisco house is more conservative for the investor, as the larger deposit should cover a significant portion of what may need to be replaced or repaired. Just because the tenant is paying 3,500 in San Francisco compared to the other paying 1,200, does not mean that the appliances or carpet are necessarily much different. Most landlords are not going to put high end furniture, appliances, etc. in any rental.

    Looking at carpet from Home Depot, for example, costs 60 cents per square foot for a specific TrafficMASTER Dockside pattern. This same carpet costs 62 cents per square foot in the San Francisco Bay Area. A washer and dryer set from Home Depot costs exactly the same in Tennessee as it does in California. Thus, the rate of return from an expense side of replacement favors the California landlord. Other issues to consider include the distance of owning property far from where the investor lives. Competent management is very important, as the investor will not want to spend a lot of money in travel chasing the rent [or eviction if necessary]. Owning property within 90 minutes of where the investor lives can be advantageous if problems arise.

    Another aspect to think about is the perceived tenant profile of a higher paying renter. One might presume that a tenant paying 3,500 per month is more likely to be more careful within the unit than a tenant paying 1,200. This is not always the case, of course, but more likely than not, tenants willing to pay a significant amount of rent [as compared to their wages as well as pure dollar amounts] are usually aware of the consequences of not respecting the landlordrsquo;s property. In our example above, on average, rent in San Francisco compared to rent in Memphis is significantly more as a percentage of wages; as high as 48 in San Francisco versus 35 in Memphis.

    Also, looking at the increase in real estate values, the California market has increased much more than the rest of the nation. If one has used leverage, this increase rises exponentially. Could it be that many of the buyers of low CAP rate California real estate have bet on this fact? Are they willing to forgo current cash flow for the expectation of the increase in the market value of the real estate which would dwarf the cash flow they did not get on a monthly basis?

    In summary, out of state real estate investments may potentially give a good current rate of return, if no significant problems arise; however, should the unforeseen happen and expenses become a major factor, or if the economy starts to slow down or go into a recession, stable markets [many inexpensive areas are the first to see large decreases in real estate] would most likely outperform, in the long run; thus, there is a reason why many savvy investors tout the motto, location, location, location.

    Edward Brown is an investment expert and host of the radio show, ldquo;The Best of Investing.rdquo; He is in the Investor >
    Full Story >

    July Real Estate Roundup

    Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Surveyreg; shows that "Mortgage rates continued to hover near three-year lows and purchase application demand has responded, rising steadily over the last two months to the highest year-over-year change since the fall of 2017. While the improvement has yet to impact home sales, therersquo;s a clear firming of purchase demand that should translate into higher home sales in the second half of this year."

    bull; 30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 3.75 percent with an average 0.5 points for the week ending July 25, 2019, up from last month when it averaged 3.73 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.54 percent.

    bull; 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.18 percent with an average 0.5 points, up from last month when it also averaged 3.16 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.02 percent.

    bull; 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.47 percent this week with an average 0.4 points, up from last month when it averaged 3.39 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.87 percent.

    Full Story >

    8 New Tricks for Keeping Mosquitos Away

    So, behold the latest list tricks and tools to keep them at bay.

    Repel them

    This Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller is said to provide 12 Hours of DEET-free repellent and is also scent-free and cordless. Reviews are mixed on Amazon, but, at under 25, wersquo;re willing to give it a shot

    Wipe them away

    Actually, these Repel Insect Repellent Mosquito Wipes with 30 DEET keeps them away, and, theyre much easier to use and less messy than bug spray. If yoursquo;d prefer DEET-free wipes, you can find them, too.

    Dab on the essential oils

    This was the winning strategy during a recent trip to a very humid, very mosquito-prone land. Liberal amounts of peppermint and rosemary with reapplication about every 30 minutes did the trick.

    Burn your coffee grounds

    ldquo;Reusing coffee grounds offers benefits from fertilizing plants to repelling mosquitoes,rdquo; said Hunker. ldquo;Coffee grounds have a smoldering effect after you light them that keeps insects at bay. Mosquitoes, like other insects, are repelled by the odor created from the coffee grounds burning.rdquo;

    Plant some lavender

    It smells lovely to humans and is beautiful to look at, too, but mosquitos hate it. Lemongrass, lemon balm, and marigolds are a few more plants you can add to your garden to keep the mosquitos out.

    Grow some herbs

    Add basil, garlic, and rosemary to your garden for another potent anti-mosquito punch. One of the best is something you might want to grow for other, tastier, reasons as well.

    ldquo;Basil is so effective at repelling mosquitos and adding a delicious flavor to Italian fare that youll want to grow it all around your house,rdquo; said POPSUGAR. ldquo;Windowsills, porches, the gardenhellip;the possibilities are endlessrdquo;

    Plug in the fan

    In a Consumer Reports test, a standing fan proved more successful at keeping away mosquitos than several other ldquo;tried-and-truerdquo; methods. ldquo;CR has tested three methods for controlling mosquito activity in a large area: citronella candles, an oscillating pedestal fan, and a battery-powered area diffuser that emitted geraniol, a natural repellent derived from plants,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We found that the fan was far more effective than citronella candles or the geraniol diffuser. In fact, our tests showed that the fan reduced mosquito landings by 45 to 65 percent for folks sitting nearby.rdquo;

    Grab a dryer sheet

    These little wonders have more uses than eliminating static cling. ldquo;Turns out,nbsp;theres actually sciencenbsp;behind this age-old myth,rdquo; said Buzzfeed. ldquo;Dryer sheets contain two chemicals that keep gnats and mosquitoes away: linalool, which is toxic to some types of insects, and beta-citronellol, which is found in citronella, the ultimate mosquito repellent. So, yeah, keep one in your pocket, or if youre really committed, rub one on your arms and any other exposed skin.rdquo;

    Full Story >

    Marketing to Millennials: Advice for Real Estate Agents

    Many millennials are at the age where they want to buy their first homes. When marketing to millennials, itrsquo;s important to understand how they communicate, and their habits and interests. Herersquo;s how to market to them.

    Communicate in a >

    Millennials tend to want quick responses to their questions. Find out their communication preferences and use them. This may include emails, skype, text alerts etc.

    Your website should contain comprehensive information where they can learn more about the buying and selling process as well as the local market. An active blog gives the impression that you are on top of all the changes affecting local housing.

    Millennials will ask plenty of questions, especially if they are buying their first home. They love to research and have access to plenty of information. If they are looking for a home in a particular neighborhood, itrsquo;s not unusual for them to look at the crime rate, check demographics, and more.

    What you can do is demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of the local market to them. Start building up a >

    Use the latest technology

    Millennials are interested in high >

    When they find a home that interests them, they will use technology to find out as much as they can about it. They will look at the aerial and street view on Google Maps. They will also closely examine 3D virtual tours. You will need to keep up with the latest technology and use it if you want to appeal to them.

    Use social media platforms

    If yoursquo;re going to market to millennials, itrsquo;s essential to use social media. Using Facebook Live, Snapchat or Instagram Stories will help you to reach them, especially if you come across as genuine, honest and approachable.

    Instagram is particularly popular with millennials. Shoot short videos and publish them as is or add words or graphics to highlight certain points. Take a video and pin it to your profile so followers can see it every time they see your profile.

    Short videos can highlight a major selling point in a house, such as a beautiful fireplace. You can even create multiple short videos of the same house, showing different features and adding text.

    Millennials will connect with you if you have an interesting story to tell. Vivid, colorful, well-made videos are often the best way to tell the story about a home.

    Give them evidence

    Many millennials will research you online before they decide to use your services. Reviews and testimonials matter to them, as do referrals from their peers. You need to provide proof that you are worthy of their consideration.

    Once yoursquo;ve managed to get their attention, they will want to see evidence to support what yoursquo;re offering to them. They want you to backup your answers with resources, like housing price comparisons and particularly want resources they can access themselves.

    Like it or not, millennials are the dominating generational force in the housing market today. If you want to market to them successfully, you need to know how to appeal to them.

    Full Story >

    How to Handle Loan Conditions

    All loans will have loan conditions. But for those not familiar with the approval process, when the lender contacts the applicant after having reviewed the file it can cause some uneasiness. Why does the lender want to know this or that? Is there something wrong with my application? Am I going to be turned down? The fact is that most of these conditions are >

    There are two types of conditions lenders issue- Prior to Document and Prior to Fund. Prior to ldquo;docrdquo; conditions are those that command a little more attention because itrsquo;s holding up the loan approval. The lender canrsquo;t deliver closing papers to the settlement agent until these items are cleared. For instance, an applicant submits bank statements and paycheck stubs as part of the documentation process. The applicant gets paid on the 1st and the 15th. The paycheck stubs also reflect these dates and the bank statements also show direct deposits matching the pay on the 1st and the 15th. But there is also a deposit on the 10th that doesnrsquo;t match up with anything. The deposit is 6,000. If those funds are needed to close, there will be a prior to doc condition wanting verification for the source of funds. The approval process essentially stops until this explanation can be provided and approved.

    The more benign condition is the prior to fund condition. This condition is typical of most all loan approvals and not serious enough to hold up closing documents, but still needs to be addressed. A common prior to fund condition might be an updated paystub. Credit documents within a loan file need to be no more than 30 days old. If the most recent paystub covering a 30 day period is 45 days old, the lender will assume the next paystub is coming and move forward with the approval.

    The borrower will attend the settlement, sign the closing papers and send the most recent paystub to the lender, satisfying the condition. The lender will see the new paystub and >

    The main takeaway here is that when, not if, the lender asks for more information is to stay calm and provide the requested items as soon as able. Donrsquo;t delay answering the request. The sooner you provide whatrsquo;s needed, yoursquo;ll make your closing date on time.

    Full Story >

    How to Make your Home Smarter with these Smart Home Appliances

    A smart home is a place where appliances, lights, gadgets, security, - and pretty much whatever else you want - are all connected to one another. nbsp;You can also control them remotely using a simple app. This kind of a home gives owners comfort, security, and convenience. It may sound confusing. That is why you should read on to get the image of your ideal Smart Home.

    Getting a smart system for your home can save time, money, and energy. Most homes arenrsquo;t built with these appliances, though. The easiest thing to do is to introduce these appliances into an already made home. Letrsquo;s see which devices today have their lsquo;smartrsquo; counterparts.


    If you want your doors to unlock, your lights to turn on, and your kettle to start working the moment you approach your house, this is the device for you.

    A smart home hub is the first step towards a smart home and the heart of the network. It is a hardware or software that connects devices in a house and controls communication among them. Plus, it enables the user to control the entire place by a single app.

    Another useful feature is that you can control your devices while you are away from home via this device so, you can go out anytime you want.


    Imagine the world where you dont have to get up to play music, find the remote, and turn on the lights. Now you can say a command, and have it done in an instant.

    Smart speakers are wi>

    This gadget has many applications, playing music being just the tip of the iceberg. You may set alarms, and have your questions answered, for example. It is able to interact with other devices in the house, making the possibilities truly endless. So amazing


    Convenience, comfort, and looking cool are all connected by this device. Smart lighting consists of light bulbs, all connected to adjacent ones by a network, and controlled by a hub.

    You manage smart lighting with a simple app. It allows you to change the brightness of the bulbs, and even the color if your light bulbs have LED lights. Now you can have the perfect lighting for every situation and switching between them is a tap of your finger away.

    Some of these systems may also have useful features, such as dimming and motion detection.


    This is the perfect device to smartify your non-smart appliances. It is an excellent investment, and a significant first step towards a smart home.

    A smart plugrsquo;s function is to allow remote control over whichever appliance you have plugged into it. For instance, you may check on your oven from across town if you get anxious about leaving it on.

    Besides letting you manage your devices, you get the option of creating a schedule. Wave the worrying away and get one today


    Now you donrsquo;t have to peer through the spy hole to see who is ringing your doorbell. This devicersquo;s first concern is safety, and convenience comes as a strong second.

    You will get a notification to your smartphone when somebody is at your door. It has a camera and sends a live video recording of your visitor. Also, you can have a two-way conversation via a smart doorbell.


    Getting a smart sensor for your home means not getting up on every sound you hear at night. It also means not having to hire a house-sitter for your vacation. nbsp;Safety meets convenience with this handy new device.

    Smart sensors have systems which perform specific actions as a response to environmental input. nbsp;They can notify you about an uninvited intruder, about a window or a door that is accidentally open, and to turn on the lights when you enter the room.

    The main point of all these devices is to make your life easier. You can definitely live without them, but you dont have to anymore. There are more and more affordable options. You dont need to buy every single one, either - but it will be hard to choose with so many fantastic options

    Full Story >

    5 Very Important Checklist Items Before Selling Your Home

    First Step: Paint

    First, make sure that the paint is up to date. You may need to skim coat your walls. Skim coat, also called mud, is a thin layer of seam compound that can be used to repair or smooth damaged walls. You may need a skim jacket if you want to repair cracks, fill in joints, or flatten the area with an existing flat surface. Use a spatula or drywall knife to lay a layer of skim coat on rough walls or ceilings to form a flat surface for painting or wallpaper. Usually, two to four layers need to be applied before the surface is smooth. Examine the walls and ceiling for damage. If there is a lot of damage notches, cracks, large holes, you have to fix them first. You may only need to complete the connection between the new plasters, maybe you have to complete the broken plaster or plaster-gypsum board joints, or you have many years of settlement or vibration Plan to repair plaster that will begin to break down.

    Skim coating is a texturing technique used to smooth walls. Drywallers use this technique to hide imperfect taping work and give the wall only a plaster-like appearance and the smoothest surface. Non-oiling coatings are the only way to achieve >

    Second Step: Repairs

    Some of these tips are quite simple, while others may need more elbow grease. But once the buyers have begun to show up at your location, you will benefit. When you are ready to sell, check your home for damaged parts, broken equipment, and spaces that need cleaning or exhilaration. Our home maintenance checklist will guide you through common home repairs that may affect your familys value, especially when you are examining each area. Taking an assessment can also help you decide what needs to be corrected. The total cost of repair depends on the condition of your home. Once you have listed the repairs you need, decide for yourself what you can do and where you need expert help. Compare quotes from multiple contractors so that you can consider the price range. Look at the whole house and consider if you need to make some improvements.

    Third Step: Check the Foundation

    Concrete is essentially a very porous material. It absorbs moisture naturally. Cracks in the concrete floor are completely expected and not a structural problem, but be sure to check the foundation with a specialist.

    Fourth Step: Landscaping

    Be sure that your yard looks good. Hire a professional to keep everything neatly trimmed. This includes mowing the lawn and keeping shrubs and trees manageable. Also, be sure to clean off your patio.

    Fifth Step: Cleaning

    Finish by sweeping, mopping, and dusting the whole house clean. This includes making sure that there are no signs of dirt or stains. Countertops, sinks, showers and toilets are the main places to keep clean. Roll up your sleeves and go to work. Save some money by using homemade cleaning products.nbsp;

    Next, plant the ldquo;for salersquo; sign in your front yard and discuss with your realtor. Then, yoursquo;ll be all set to start showing your property.


    Full Story >

    The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your House Organized All the Time

    Store Things Where You Use Them

    If you have to go get an item, use it, and then walk a long distance to put it back in its place, you are likely to just give up and lay it down after using it. Instead, create organizational spaces right by items you commonly use. A few things to consider are cups for pens by your desk, a tray to hold your remote on the coffee table, and a shoe rack by your doornbsp;

    Look for Creative Ways to Simplify Your Life

    Each home is unique, so everyone has one or two things that always get in the way of being completely organized. Think carefully about major organization hassles that take up too much time in your life and then consider how you can cut back on the inconvenience. For example, if you spend hours every Christmas sorting out a garbage bag filled with tangled lights, consider switching to a pre-lit Christmas tree.

    Stock Up on Containers

    Storage bins, boxes, and baskets are the ultimate tip to making any room look organized. Containers are helpful because they ensure that every object has a specific place, and they clear up visual clutter in a room. To make things easy for everyone to find, consider using labels or putting things in clear bins so you can easily see them.

    Tidy Up During Wait Time

    Throughout our life, we end up using almost two years of our time waiting around. Those who feel like they cannot stay organized because they are always too busy can use this time to tidy up. For example, you can load a few dishes in the dishwasher while you wait on the microwave, or sort out a messy bathroom drawer as the shower heats up.

    Create a System for Paper

    One of the biggest culprits of mess in the modern home tends to be paper. It is far too easy to just toss a stack of mail in a letterbox and ignore it for weeks. The end result tends to be drawers, bulletin boards, and boxes that are just a mess of random pages no one needs. Creating a system for dealing with this ensures that you deal with the root of this problem. Make it a goal to open mail and discard of all unnecessary items as soon as you get it. Every week or so, sort through the pages you keep and file them away in a box.

    Organize for Five Minutes a Day

    The final key to avoiding hours spent organizing every few weeks is to break organizing down into tiny, manageable chunks of time. Professional organizer Heidi Goodwin recommends her clients aim to tidy up the house for five minutes every day. This should just be a quick walkthrough where you sort through a stack of bills, straighten throw pillows on the couch, or make your bed.

    These helpful tips keep you from having to spend major time completely organizing and tidying up your house regularly. If you want to live in an organized home everyday, all you need to do is keep on top of the mess. Once you get into the habit of being organized, it is far easier to keep it up.


    Full Story >

    Copyright© 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

    Featured Property Other Condos
    Museum Park Project
    Google Map Search
    Real Estate News
    Updated: Friday, August 23, 2019

    How to Calculate Your Average Moving Costs

    Location ndash; Local

    Research conducted by Zillow states that about 57 of those who sell their house to move are moving locally. And an estimated 86 of movers >

    bull;nbsp;A one bedroom apartment will take about 3 to 5 hours to move and cost 200-500
    bull;nbsp;A two bedroom apartment will take about 5 to 7 hours to move and cost 400-700
    bull;nbsp;A three bedroom house will take about 7 to 10 hours to move and cost 560-1,000
    bull;nbsp;A four bedroom house will take over ten hours to move and cost 800-2,000

    When we calculate these prices, we are talking about hiring movers to assist you in your move, because, honestly; doing it on your own is a virtually impossible feat.

    Location ndash; Long Distance

    When yoursquo;re packing up for a long distance move, pricing will be on the higher side of the equation. If you need to cross state lines, for example, itrsquo;s essential to factor in that you will accumulate costs for gas and labor. When working with a professional and reputable moving company, they will devise an agreement that outlines the cost, breaking down all the essentials, so you can get a full picture of where your dollars are being used.

    Do It Yourself

    You might be thinking that you donrsquo;t want to hire a moving company, as yoursquo;re tight on cash; so yoursquo;ve elected to make a move yourself. You could ask all of your friends with big cars to help, but keep in mind if a moving truck is something that you want to invest in, itrsquo;s about 20 a day.

    Minimum Options

    You can ask for just a loading and transportation service, where you pack everything up and pu>


    What if you need to move out by a specific date, but your new home wonrsquo;t be available right away? This means you will have to factor in a storage unit, which could range anywhere from 50 to 400 a month.

    Moving is certainly not the most blissful activity, but you are hopefully moving because you are upgrading your living situation. So, be sure to factor everything in beforehand

    > Full Story

    Developing Real Estate by Realizing Health and Wellness

    A man of resilience, a woman of courage, a real estate developer sees opportunities. He or she seizes the opportunity to personalize the skylinemdash;to beautify the coastline, toomdash;through construction.

    Nowhere is this rule more obvious than in the world of health and wellness. Nowhere is the choice more clear, the cause more critical, the concern more comprehensive than the one real estate agents and developers face right now.

    To build centers for recovery, to emulate the example of the best buildings on behalf of recovery, to inspire patients by drawing inspiration from buildings that further recovery, all of these things depend on real estate developers who invest in recovery.

    Thanks to my conversations with developers and doctors, in addition to my correspondence with the experts at Clear Sky Recovery, I have a better understanding of how one industry can better another. Or: Wellness is as much a state of mind as it is a statement of fact about how to live, during and after recovery.

    The benefits of recovery are both fiscal and physical, and metaphysical too. That is to say, the benefits reveal themselves in every city and hamlet, in every state and every city.

    The benefits also reveal themselves in a rise in jobs, and a raise for all through razing the landscapemdash;by ridding the landmdash;of buildings too dangerous to enter, too costly to maintain, and too wasteful to ignore. The benefits reflect a happier and more productive workforce, of workers producing goods and services that serve the greater good of forming a more perfect Union, to promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty.

    Development is, then, impossible without recovery.nbsp;

    In this context, the real estate developer is an icon. He represents, she symbolizes what is iconic. The library, the museum, the schoolhouse, the park, the playground, the church, the temple, the center, the sanctuarymdash;icons, all of them.

    In the words of another icon, Winston Churchill: ldquo;We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.rdquo;

    The developer has the power to shape the health of much more than the real estate market. He has the ability to shape the future. She has the means to ensure the future looks like what it should be, better.

    The future of recovery begins with seeking a lasting recovery. A recovery among the states. A national recovery.

    Achieving this recovery is an act of discipline.nbsp;

    To discipline ourselves for the good of one industry, the real estate industry, is to be more industrious in general. To see the results of recovery is to know what recovery can be; what it must be, so the best within us may endure.

    > Full Story

    How Technology Can Give You the Edge in Real Estate amp; Mortgages

    However understanding how technology is used for mortgages and real estate on all sides can help individuals to better understand their options better and understand how technology is going to affect each and every decision we make in the future.

    The Changing Landscape of Getting a Realtor

    There are major corporations who specialize in connecting sellers with a realtor. One of the largest sites along this line is Redfin, but there are literally hundreds of companies who use a similar model of online setup. Most of these companies talk about setting up sellers with local realtors, but a lot of them are a commission based model that involves referrals.

    While this opens up the options, these companies online arent always completely transparent about how this works or that the realtors getting these leads often pay for them. While this can work out in some situations, really good realtors often dont need to pay for leads through a 3rd party company which means often times those buyers and sellers who are going through a company like that often get sub-par realtors who really arent the cream of the crop.

    There always are exceptions, but in general this is going to be true in most cases and when dealing with most transactions.

    Then theres the trust factor. Theres nothing like meeting with a person face to face to get a basic impression of them and a read in order to trust your gut instinct on whether you like the individual, trust them, or feel like they are trustworthy or not. That face to face meeting can tell a lot and visiting multiple potential realtors can feel intimidating but those meetings can give a lot of first hand information that simply isnt available from online interactions or transactions.

    Digital Mortgage Applications

    At the moment there is no online mortgage application that is 100 online but many banks and lending companies have started with pre-qualification options online to give potential buyers an idea of whether or not they will qualify, how much they are likely to qualify for, and what types of terms to expect.

    This can be a very useful tool to help individuals decide whether it is a good time to press forward, whether they need to spend more time fixing up their credit, and understanding what the viable price range is for them to look at. This is all important information that because of the way technology is being used, is much more available than it has been before.

    These are still estimates, but especially if a potential buyer is working in person with the same bank or lender whose tools they are using online then this can help to expedite the process for both sides.


    Current amp; Future Benefits to Mortgage Brokers amp; Realtors

    One of the major benefits that technology is giving both sides is to make the process easier. Instead of having to make multiple hard copies of documents like employment history, credit scores, recommendations, the ability to have all of these in file form that then can be uploaded online where they can be grabbed over and over to put on an online application makes it easier to always have those available so a few clicks attaches the document and the online portion can be sent in.

    There is no question that drastically cuts down on time and expense of the process. Making things easier is never a bad thing, and considering it is the same documents needed for each potential lender, it only makes sense to have a setup like this which makes things run more smoothly and makes those documents easily available for the multiple potential applications.

    While its hard to say where technology will take the mortgage market in the future, it is definitely reasonable to assume that as more things become streamlined and more services continue to be offered online that even more of the process will be made available online and more of it will be automated.

    While this can seem scary in some ways, it also has the potential to make sure that buyers have more of a handle than ever on how the process works, what their options are, and they can leverage that information to get a better deal with making the process easier on a realtor to get a property bought or sold. That is the ideal win-win situation for all involved.


    This article was submittied by Eitan Pinsky of Pinsky Mortgages in Vancouver, BC. Check out his original article here.


    > Full Story

    Copyright © 2004 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

    Copyright © 2007 Museum Park Realty
    1040 Biscayne Blvd Miami, FL 33132
    Tel: (305) 753-4154 | Fax: (305) 960-2008 |
    Equal Housing | RealtorReal Estate Website Design By: Real Estate Systems Integrator - RESI