Real Estate News Articles Real Estate News Articles


Updated: Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Escaping Condo Jail

Question: The president of our condominium association acts alone and has previous members of the board on the bank account of the Association. He has been on the board for over 3 years. He harassed all the secretaries and treasurers that had been elected by the unit owners.

The President doesnt have meetings with the board or include them in any decisions for different projects, nor does he let the treasurer handle the money. He decides what projects he wants to do and he works on the projects than he pays himself. He also is a custodian/ janitor and he pays himself a 800 per month.

Please we need help. Where should we report, without hiring an Attorney. I am the current secretary for the association but the President doesnt even talk to us. He buys apartments from owners that are behind with the Association dues, he owns 5 apartments in a 20 unit building and he comes at the meetings with his votes plus with proxy votes from the unit owners that are renting their units. Ana.

Answer:Dear Ana. My first reaction was "you gotta be kidding; this was a false news email. But then I remembered reading "Escaping Condo Jail", by Sara Benson and Don DeBat, so my next reaction was "welcome to the wonderful world of condo living".

Are you the only one concerned about this? Have you talked with other owners to see if you could mobilize a group that would start to challenge the President? Have you advised the absentee owners of these problems so they would no longer give the President their proxy?

The best approach, in my opinion, is to try to "throw the rascal" out of office. Your Bylaws contains the procedure for recalling an elected board member. Keep in mind that the board can terminate an officer but only the unit owners -- in the percentage of vote required by your legal documents -- can remove a director.

If you can prove even only half of the facts in your question, there is a strong case that the President is breaching his fiduciary duty to the association.

So why dont you want to get an attorney? A lawyer can help, and I suspect that most lawyers would >Contact the Community Association Institute caionline.org. Thats a national association that represents community associations all over the country. There are local chapters, and you will get some names of local attorneys who practice community association law. I strongly recommend you talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

You are the secretary of the board. You also have a fiduciary duty to the association, and in my opinion, that duty requires you to take immediate appropriate action to remove the President -- either by vote of the membership or by court order.

Question: A contiguous owner in a three level apartment->How can a condo board deter or prevent such behavior that presents grave safety risks to all condo residents? Is it possible to declare the condo a "non-smoking" condo. Al.

Answer: Al, smoking -- which now includes marijuana -- is the hot-button issue today in almost every community association throughout the country.

You cant stop stupid people from doing stupid things. I hope the smoker if she survived -- has learned an important lesson, But the association cannot be the hand-holder of each and every unit owner.

However, you can restrict smoking -- of any kind -- in the common elements as well as in the units. While some of my lawyer friends believe the association can enact a rule prohibiting smoking in the common areas, I believe that the safe harbor is to get a ByLaw amendment on this issue. I recognize that it often is very difficult to enact Bylaw amendments.

To restrict smoking in units, you have to amend not only the Bylaws but also the Declaration. Such a restriction will be controversial, which is why the Declaration should be amended. Now would be a good time to present such a proposal, because owners may be concerned there may be yet another fire due to smoking.

Case law around the country is very clear: community association owners are legally bound not only by the legal documents in effect when the owner took title but also as to any properly enacted amendments to the legal documents in the future.


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4 Tips for Keeping Your Rental Property Secure

Burglaries are a concern for all home owners, but for landlords, they are an even bigger risk. Households living in rental properties experience burglaries at a higher rate than other households, Department of Justice statistics show. Households living in rental properties are more likely to be burglarized both when no one is home and when the property is occupied. This holds true across all categories of properties, regardless of income level, race or whether the household is composed of single or married persons.

This higher risk makes security an even more urgent priority for landlords than it does for typical homeowners. A high rate of burglary can make your property harder to rent and less valuable, while strong security features can be a strong selling point. Here are four tips to keep your rental properties secure.

Make It Look Like Someone Is Home

Burglars prefer to break into a property when no one is home. Almost all burglars will avoid breaking into a property when there are signs of someone home, such as a car in the driveway or a loud TV or radio, a survey of 86 convicted burglars found.

You can help protect your properties by taking steps to make it appear as if your tenants are home. This is especially important during holiday seasons when many tenants are away on vacation. If tenants will be away for a prolonged period, coordinate with them to arrange to have mail and newspapers picked up and snow shoveled while theyrsquo;re away. Encourage them to leave a radio or TV on loudly while theyrsquo;re out.

Deny Opportunities for Concealment

Burglars seek concealment and hate to be seen, so taking away opportunities for concealment can serve as an effective deterrent. One way to do this is by maintaining landscaping so that there are no bushes or trees burglars can use to hide behind as they approach properties. Landscaping can actually have a bigger deterrent effect on burglars than doors, locks and windows, police officers interviewed by the Sun-Sentinel advise. Keep all bushes and hedges trimmed to no higher than three feet so that they are not tall enough to provide concealment. Plant low, thorny bushes beneath windows, and make sure there are no tree branches near windows that can assist burglars trying to scale properties. Add loud gravel to make it hard to conceal the sound of footsteps.

Another way to deny concealment at night is to install motion sensors that trigger lights. Adding a visible camera will let burglars know their actions are being seen.

Use Locks Effectively

Locks are a crucial part of any security approach, but in order for locks to be effective, they need to be used correctly. For properties with many renters, commercial-grade mortise locks will stand up to frequent use better than other types of locks, advises Lock Blog locksmith expert Ralph Goodman. Anti-drill plates and security pins will reinforce basic locks.

At a minimum, locks should be rekeyed after each new tenant. However, some locks that are designed to be easy to rekey, such as the Kwikset SmartKey cylinder and the U-Change Lock, are also less secure, warns Goodman. For this reason, it is often better to change locks than to rekey them. Using a patented key will prevent a locksmith from making a duplicate key without your permission.

Install Secure Barriers

In addition to locks, itrsquo;s also important to install other strong barriers. Seventy percent of break-ins are done through the front door, FBI data shows. In 80 percent of these cases, the door frame fails when it is kicked or battered in. Strong doors and doorjambs will prevent doors from being kicked or rammed in. Security screen doors provide the strongest door defense. Window bars and reinforced glass or plexiglas will help buttress window security.

Itrsquo;s also important to use strong barriers for outdoor areas of properties. Security gates and fences from a fully-licensed and insured provider such as Tampa fencing supplier Florida State Fence can help protect the perimeter of your properties. Make sure that garage doors and windows are also secure. For automatic garage door openers, use a zip-tie to secure the safety >


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Savvy Buyers Search Out Visual Disasters

Instead of shopping for your dream home, why not search out your dream discount?

First-time buyers can be distracted by the superficial. They can be enticed to pay for dream-home fantasies or, alternatively, encouraged to walk away from a hidden gemmdash;a visual disaster.

  • Buy a home which was cleverly staged and marketed to make buyers rush to put in an offer, and you may be paying for more for hype and distracting "veneer."
  • Dismiss a property because its a visual disaster, without assessing its true value to you, and you may lose a lot more.

Visual disaster is my label for a solid, well-located home that is structurally-sound and in >Smart sellers and their real estate professionals know the magic of fresh paint, the allure of professionally-staged interiors, and the appeal of cosmetic make-overs.

  • They understand which current "hot" features local buyers are willing to pay more for.
  • Generating multiple offers has become commonplace, pitting buyer against buyer to drive purchase prices higher.

A few thousand dollars worth of touch-ups and problem solving by sellers, can convert into tens of thousands more paid by buyers. Great for sellers, but is this really how you want to spend your hard-earned dollars?

Buyers who would prefer to invest their money in the best possible location and a solid, sound structuremdash;not superficial trimmings and flash done to someone elses taste and standardsmdash;may benefit from shopping for a visual disaster.

Caution: Thorough home inspection, ideally by a structural engineer, is essential to verify the home is structurally sound without any super-expensive repair necessary. Search out a reputable, skilled inspection firm before you start looking at properties. Other experienced "eyes"mdesign;contractors, designers, renovation-experienced property owners, your real estate professionalmdash;will also be helpful when viewing visual disasters.

Tasteless decor, scary color schemes, extreme pet-smells, overwhelming clutter...these are just a few ugly turnoffs that discourage buyers. For savvy home buyers these negatives may signal hidden value and money-saving opportunity.

A house, townhome, or condominium unit that does not look like something out of a magazinemdash;has not had the benefit of professional repainting, staging, or cosmetic overhaulmdash;will sell for less...in some markets, considerably less. These properties may also take longer to sell, so there can be more room for negotiation.

Buyers who are ready to contribute "sweat equity" to their purchase can end up thousands and thousands of dollars ahead. "Sweat equity" involves getting your hands dirty to uncover "good bones" and hidden

value, paying a professional to do the necessary design or physical work, or a combination of both approaches.

Depending on what the superficial "disaster" problems are, buyers have choices once they become owners:

  • They can overhaul the "visual disaster" themselves before moving in or hire professionals to tackle the more difficult aspects and then take on the rest.
  • New owners can decide to live with some or all of the "visual disaster" for a while. Then, hire professionals to make the necessary changes. Having lived in the home a while, owners discover what will really work for them.
  • If new owners have friends or family with renovation skills and knowledge, learning how to cost-effectively uncover the value in their hidden gem can be less daunting.

Here are a few common visual disasters to keep an eye out for:

  • Color Me Crazy: Many listed homes are painted white or in pale neutrals to make it easier for buyers to visualize the property with their own furnishings. Loud, clashing, or just plain "wrong" color schemes can make rooms seem smaller, darker, and less appealing. Many buyers cant think past strong colors to consider the true potential of spaces. Learn to visualize beyond crazy decor to discover value.
  • Tired and Seve> If an older home is wall-to-wall "original everything," that may be a buyer turn-off. But scrape away the dust and grime, deal with wood paneling overkill, paint with your color choices, and refinish floors or add new carpeting, and the refreshed property will sparkle. Your cost should be significantly less than what youd pay for the sellers version of their "for sale" make over.
  • Stinky Premises Animal smells cat urine is a killer and discoloration from long-term smoking are two definite buyer turn offs. Many cant get past a dirty property. Remove the broadloom and have the building professionally sanitized or tackle some cleaning yourself. Theres value under all of that ugh.
  • "What Were You Thinking" Design: What odd personal improvement or layout change has the seller made that is a total turn off to everyone else? Badly-installed spiral staircase? Transformed the diningroom into a bedroom? If its one bad feature and the home is otherwise sound, get a couple of quotes on fixing this problem. Your real estate professional will understand how your offer to purchase can reflect this extra costmdash;either a lower offer price and you pay for it or ask the seller to make the repair or at least share the cost.
  • Street De-faced: If the yard is a mess and the property is unappealing from the curb, many buyers will stay in their cars. Concentrate on where value lies: location and structural soundness. Get a quote or two on improving landscaping or correcting the street face to back up your offer price. Later you can decide how much to do yourself.

Talk to your real estate professional, friends, family, and local contractors to get a feel for what may work in your area. Collect a few ballpark quotes for painting, cleaning, and other possible undertakings to get an accurate feel for costs before you start looking at properties. Pull together a team of experienced people you can call on for knowledgeable input, so youll be ready when a possible "visual disaster" appears.

Do your homework and you can turn a visual disaster into your dream home at a great price


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Seller Cancellation Must Be Done By The Book

Breaking up is hard to do. So is cancelling a California real estate purchase contract. Especially if you are the seller. That is why, a little over a year ago, the legal department of the California Association of Realtors CAR produced a memorandum titled, "How a Seller May Cancel a Purchase Agreement: Checklist and QA".

The need for such an advisory arises out of the fact that a non-performing buyer may still want to buy. Sometimes buyers miss performance deadlines due to nothing more than sheer inefficiency. Sometimes it is because things have not gone as planned e.g. they dont yet have the money for the increased deposit that is due. And, sometimes, they stall the closing in an attempt to squeeze the seller for a further concession. In each case, they still want to buy -- just not on exactly the terms that had been agreed to.

The CAR memo notes: "Many sellers and agents are impatient. They want the contract canceled yesterday. But rushing the process of cancellation will often lead to a defective or questionable cancellation. What good does it do to cancel a contract if the buyer can come back and possibly claim a right to buy?"

For what reasons may a seller cancel? In a typical situation, the standard purchase contract RPA provides exactly ten reasons. The CAR memo provides the following list: 1 buyer failure to remove an applicable contingency; 2 buyer failure to deposit the earnest money, or an increased deposit; 3 funds for money deposited are not good; 4 buyer fails to deliver prequalification letter; 5 buyer fails to deliver verification of down payment and closing costs; 6 seller has reasonably disapproved of the verification of funds; 7 buyer fails to return the Transfer Disclosure Statement, Natural Hazard Disclosure, lead disclosures or other disclosures if required; 8 buyer fails to sign a separate liquidated damages form for an increased deposit; 9 buyer fails to deliver notice of FHA or VA costs or terms if applicable; and, finally, 10 buyer does not close escrow on time.

The ten reasons listed are in a standard transaction. Other possibilities could be added, such as a contingency for short sale approval, or the purchase of another property. Also, there are common law legal reasons such as fraud or duress.

When a buyer has failed to comply with one of the conditions in 1 -- 9 above, the seller must, before canceling, first give the buyer a Notice to Buyer to Perform NBP. In such an instance, it is important that the seller and his agent are careful to calculate correctly what is the buyers deadline date for compliance. The NBP can be delivered no earlier than two days before that date.

If the buyer has failed to close escrow on time condition 10, then the seller should use the Demand to Close Escrow DCE, not a notice to perform.

It is also important that the seller has fulfilled all of his obligations with respect to the buyers contingencies. "The [Purchase Contract] specifies that where the seller has sent out disclosures, reports or other information late, then the buyer will have an additional 5 days after receipt to remove contingencies if those 5 days go beyond the [contractual] contingency period."

Sellers will often want to retain some or all of a buyers earnest money deposit. In cases where an NBP has been used, this is not possible. The purchase contract gives the seller the right to cancel if the buyer has not performed after receiving an NBP, but it also provides that the seller will >If the buyer has not conformed with a Notice to Perform, or has not closed after receiving a Demand to Close Escrow, the seller may then deliver a Cancellation of Contract CC to the buyer. This form comes in two parts: one cancels the contract, the other cancels escrow and provides for disposition of the deposit money. It is important to note that the first part, unlike the second, does not require the signatures of both parties. It is >"Cancellation is a unilateral act regardless of whether there is an open escrow. The ten reasons for cancellation as outlined confer upon the seller a right to cancel unilaterally. It is ir>It goes on to say, "Escrow may require signatures from both parties to cancel the escrow, but the fact of an escrow being open does not affect the validity of the sellers cancellation." And further, "The fact that there is an open escrow does not by itself mean that the initial buyer retains a right to buy. If the contract was properly cancelled, then a seller may sell the property to a subsequent buyer."

Of course, there are still issues to be discussed. What happens to deposit money if the buyer balks? Can the property be put on the market if escrow isnt cancelled? What is the prudent thing to do? etc. But those are all for discussion some other day.

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


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Clever Ways To Create More Storage In Your Kitchen

Who doesnt need more storage in the kitchen? You may not have a massive space with dozens of cabinets and yards of countertops, but that doesnt mean you dont have the space you need to store all your stuff. Use a few of these clever tricks and you might be surprised how much extra room you can create.

Dining table storage

Getting creative with your dining space doesnt have to mean adding another piece of furniture. In a smaller space that cant accommodate a server or sideboard, how about a table with hidden storage under the eating surface?

Spice it up

Limited cabinet or countertop space can make it hard to store and view your spices, but a simple drawer hack can change that.

"Storing spices in a drawer rather than a wall-mounted rack ensures seasonings are handy for cooking while preserving their delicate flavors by protecting them from sunlight, moisture and heat," said HGTV. Use the 3.99 VARIERA spice insert from IKEA for an inexpensive solution.


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Build in a wine rack

Dont have space for the wine cellar you want? Build a cool wine rack right into your island.


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Transform your pantry

A small pantry space can be difficult not just from a space perspective but also because a narrow but deep space can make it hard to see whats there and access all of your goods. For as little as a couple hundred dollars, you can transform your pantry into a pull-out, which maximizes your space and gives you easy access to everything inside.


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Add a retractable pot rack

Perhaps the issue isnt so much about lack of space but lack of usable space when it comes to your pots and pans. Oftentimes, the cabinet intended for these items is one large box that makes it hard to keep the area neat and be able to easily find what you need without making a bigger mess. This DIY rack solves that problem and frees up space at the bottom of the cabinet for other items.


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Creative pot racks

Dont have the space for all your pots and pans in a cabinet? Many homeowners choose to go the overhead pot rack route, but, if you dont have the headroom for that or just dont care for that solution, how about this one: "A floating shelf that can also double as a floating pan rack," said Architecture Art Designs. Not only does this allow

you to display your nice cookware prominently and keep it within easy reach while bringing in a natural element, its perfect for a space in need of a focal point.


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Banquette storage

If youre doing a custom banquette, its easy enough to incorporate drawers underneath - the perfect place to keep all those things you dont need every day but dont want to store in the garage, like fancy dinnerware and silverware, tablecloths, and holiday serving pieces.


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Easily accessible drawers that slide out from the end also make a great place to keep kids art supplies.


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You can also buy ready-made pieces for your dining room or breakfast nook, like this bench with a seat that lifts up to accommodate your storage needs.


Home Depot


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Introducing Your New Color Obsession

Is it gray? Blue? Green? Its all of them wrapped up in your new color obsession, and its going to have you running to Home Depot for a can or 10 in 3hellip;2hellip;1. Behrs first-ever Color of the Year, dubbed "In the Moment," isnt just a great option for refreshing your interior or exterior, its also an invitation to bring a little calm to your place.

"In the Moment" is a "restorative blue-green hue meant to soothe and >

House Beautiful describes the color as, "spruce blue, soft gray and lush green that coalesce to evoke a sense of sanctuary and >

To that end, Behr provided a "palette of 20 trend colors for 2018"nbsp;to help with pairing, alongside the announcement of the Color of the Year. All colors are available exclusively at The Home Depot.

"This lsquo;neutral blue, as Woelfel describes it, takes on a very different tone depending on the colors with which you pair it. When used as a bright pop in a mostly dark room, it feels calm and formal," said House Beautiful. However, when paired with white and light natural wood, the color comes off as energetic and vibrant, which makes for a welcoming statement on the exterior of a home."

In this dining room, the color reads blue and green and gray, changing with the light and complementing the mid-century modern deacute;cor.


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Against the creamy white of the countertops in this kitchen and with the light streaming through the window and French door, the hue goes green.


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Ditto for this front door frame, which looks amazing against all that luscious stone.


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A subtle pop of color that brings in depth while introducing an overall sense of calm is a perfect choice for a window seat.


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Have an ocean or at least a pool outside? Youll love how the water affects the wall color, bringing in more of a sea-blue effect.


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Thats it. Weve found the perfect exterior color. We especially love how it deepens against the white trim.


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What to Do With That Spare Wall In The Kitchen

Does your kitchen have a wall or a nook thats too far away from the action to be part of the work zones but could be perfect for something? The question always is what. These designers have made the most of that extra wall, outfitting it with all kinds of useful and well-organized elements. See if any of these ideas provide inspiration for your kitchen.

1. A hardworking hutch. With a small bar sink, a coffee maker and extra countertop space, this piece has a free-standing furniture look and is versatile. It can be set up for morning beverages and pastries, as a buffet or as a wet bar. It also has plenty of storage space for glassware and serving pieces.

2. A wine bar. Side-by-side wine refrigerators topped by a counter provide a great place to uncork a bottle and let it breathe. Open shelves for glassware overhead make pouring and serving easy.

3. A streamlined built-in espresso bar. The big pantry barn doors dominate this wall but leave enough space for a built-in espresso machine and cabinets. The clever pullout shelf makes it easy to pour a cup, then tucks away. Cabinets in the same area provide space for beans and other java supplies.

Photo by Von Fitz Design - Browse kitchen ideas

4. A china cabinet. These lovely floor-to-ceiling cabinets recall a traditional china cabinet. The clear glass allows the homeowners to display their favorite things, bringing blues and greens into the white kitchen. This is a great way to provide display space for your favorite serving pieces, china and glassware.

Photo by LINCOLN BARBOUR PHOTO - Search kitchen pictures

5. A complete beverage center. A beverage refrigerator and pullout liquor cabinet make mixing up drinks easy along this home bar. Also worth noting are the wine racks overhead and the lighting that highlights the glass cabinets. Low beverage fridges are good for making items such as juice boxes easy for little ones to reach. But lock up that liquor cabinet Other elements to consider for this kind of home bar are a small sink and an ice maker.

Photo by Evalia Design, LLC. - More home bar ideas

6. Extra pantry storage. This nook was too far from the appliances to serve them. So the architect outfitted it with racks for hanging stemware, shelves for staples, and drawers and cabinets for extra storage. The countertop here is mostly used for display and allowed for a beadboard backing that harks back to the homes original architecture.

Photo by JWT Associates - Look for kitchen pictures

7. Multifunctioning space. This kitchen renovation >

Photo by New England Design Elements - Look for kitchen design inspiration

8. Bay window. This beautiful window lets so much natural light into the kitchen that its hard to imagine the room without it. A floating countertop transforms it into a work area-breakfast bar with a lovely view.

Photo by Joseph Fowler Homes - Browse kitchen ideas

9. A well-organized wall with a little bit of everything. This custom wall combines pantry cabinets, a wine rack, glassware storage, a work station and even the dogs bed. The balance between light and dark stains and strong vertical and horizontal lines creates a pleasing composition.

Photo by McKinney Photography - Look for kitchen pictures

Photo by Joseph Fowler Homes - Look for home bar pictures

Also See:

  • Wine and Bar Cabinets Perfect for Happy Hour
  • Display Glassware in a Floor-to-Ceiling China Cabinet
  • Kitchen Decorating Ideas to Fill Empty Spaces


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Three Percent Or 20 Percent - Which Is The Smarter Down Payment Strategy?

The minimum down payment on an FHA loan is 3.5 percent, which makes it a popular choice among those who dont have the funds for a large down payment and also those who dont meet the higher credit score requirements for other types of loans. And thats not even the lowest you can go. Loans like this one require only three percent down, and if youre a veteran or are buying a home in a rural area, you may be able to buy a home for nothing down. But should you go that low just because you can, or are you better off making a larger down payment? Were breaking it down.

The case for 20 percent

There are several advantages to putting down 20 percent when buying a home, like:

  • Since the bank will generally consider you a lower risk because you have "more skin in the game," you may be able to get a lower interest rate than you would with other types of loansas long as you have the credit score to support it.
  • Youll have built-in equity as soon as you move in.

    You can avoid paying private mortgage insurance PMI.

  • Its that last part that drives a number of people to strive for that 20 percent down payment since PMI can add several hundred dollars to a new homeowners monthly payment, and it can be hard to get rid of it. "If you can put 20 down and avoid PMI, that is ideal, said certified financial plannerSophia Bera on Business Insider.

The case for as little down as possible

The biggest roadblock to homeownership for many people is coming up with the down payment, so minimizing that expense sounds great, right? "The good news is a first-time buyer can purchase a home for a little as three percent down - and even no money down in some cases," said U.S. News.

But is that a smart move?

"The less you put down, the higher the mortgage insurance is," Casey Fleming, author of "The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage" and a mortgage professional in the San Francisco Bay Area, told them. "With five percent down, the mortgage insurance is quite high."

Yep, theres that pesky PMI again, which, for many first-time buyers, pushes their monthly payment to a level theyre not comfortable with. Another bummer about PMI: "If you need to pay PMI, the size loan you can get will be slightly smaller, to allow for the bigger payment," they said.

You may also have trouble qualifying for a loan even if you have a high enough credit score because you dont have enough cash reserves; if you are using all your savings for the down payment and the lender questions where the funds for your closing costs, taxes and insurance, and any needed repairs are coming from, you could have a problem.

But, on the flip side, a smaller down payment will up your rate of return, said The Mortgage Reports. "Consider a home which appreciates at the national average of near five percent. Today, your home is worth 400,000. In a year, its worth 420,000.

Irrespective of your down payment, the home is worth twenty-thousand dollars more. That down payment affected your rate of return. With 20 percent down on the home - 80,000 - your rate of return is 25 percent. With three percent down on the home - 12,000 - your rate of return is 167 percent."

Even when you add in the PMI and a higher interest rate, the equation comes out in favor of the lower down payment. "With three percent down, and making adjustments for rate and PMI, the rate of return on a low-down-payment loan isstill 106 percent - much higher than if you made a large down payment. The less you put down, then, the larger your potential return on investment."

The case for somewhere in between

Finding that balance between down payment and savings is a challenge for many homebuyers, and the sweet spot will be different for everyone depending on their unique circumstances and financial situation. Most financial experts will say that saving and scrounging to get together 20 percent at the risk of depleted savings and zero emergency funds is a shaky strategy, at best.

"If putting 20 percent down means that you use all of your savings, then dont do it I would much rather see people put five percent down, wipe out all their other debt with cash, and still have three months of emergency savings versus putting 20 percent down on a house," said Bera.

Especially when you consider all the added costs you may be facing once you buy: "yard work, home repairs, renovation costs, property taxes, insurance, etc. Its important to consider all of the costs and not just compare the monthly mortgage payment to your current rent amount," she said.

Another thing to consider when evaluating how much you should put down is what would happen if you had an emergency. Its easy to lose sight of real-life issues that can arise when you are so driven to buy a home and focused on saving the money to get there.

"Afinancial eventcan leave you wishing you had access to the money without selling," said The Mortgage Reports. "Say you lose a job for three months. An extra 20,000 would be a nice safety cushion. And, if you lose your source of income, you cant take home equity out via acash-out refinanceorhome equity line of creditHELOC. Lenders wont approve a new loan to someone between jobs. In short,the more you need to get at the money, the less access you have to it."


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Childrens Heart Foundation Receives Generous Donation From Realtor Dertrez Pressley

PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that Dertrez Pressley of Simply Vegas Real Estate in Las Vegas, Nevada recently closed a transaction and made a special donation to the Childrens Heart Foundation on behalf of his client, Francis Engel.

"We are very appreciative of Dertrezs dedication to giving back to his community through our Agent with Heart Program," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. The Agent with Heart Program was created to assist in the growth of communities nation-wide by connecting local realtors to nonprofits within the community.

"I would personally like to thank Dertrez for his involvement in our Agent with Heart Program. Agents like Dertrez are the reason our program was created, and we are honored to have a partner like him in our agent community," concludes Mr. Giaimo.

About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local agents like Dertrez Pressley who agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit http://www.PinRaise.com/agents. To connect with Dertrez Pressley, please call 702-963-6424.


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What You Should Know Before Buying A Condominium

Condos were once thought of as homes that attracted singles or couples, often without children. But today, condos are growing in popularity and attracting families of all sizes.

Condos can be an excellent choice for the right buyers. Here are a few things that should considered before purchasing a condo. Most buyers start with the condo itself. That may be a good place to begin but, before they buy, buyers should also consider other factors outside of the condo.

Some developers are building condos that have a look and feel like single-family homes. These modern condos have great rooms and open, flowing floor plans that look and feel like a single-family home rather than an apartment or condo.

One of the major attractions of condos is the low maintenance. The community area is maintained by an association funded by the dues that homeowners pay into it.

Thats why buyers first consideration should be to explore the development and make sure they like the look and feel of the complex and surrounding community. There are codes and restrictions, often referred to as CCRs covenants, codes, and restrictions that buyers will have to abide by once they purchase a condo. Buyers should ask to review them before making an offer to purchase a condo. These regulations help ensure that the community maintains its general appearance and any necessary repairs of the external areas.

Review the associations budget. It may be necessary to get the seller to provide this information because it may not be >Find out how many owners in the development are delinquent on their dues. A condo complex that has a high level of delinquencies can cause problems for buyers when it comes time to get a loan or sell the condo. Some loans are not approved if delinquency rates are higher than 15 percent.

Review the minutes from the associations board meetings. They will reveal the day-to-day issues that occur each month and give an indication of how the development is run. For instance, lots of complaints and filings about noisy residents, loud parties, or dog droppings on the lawn reveal potential problems with neighbors. The minutes will also reveal if the development is engaged in any lawsuits.

Understand what your responsibilities are for the upkeep of the condo. Find out what the association takes care of and what the homeowners have to maintain. Look at the associations property management team and see how many times the association has changed management companies. Find out why. This will may reveal how responsive the association will be should residents need its assistance.

Ultimately, buyers need to ensure that when they purchase a condo theyre not buying into any legal battles the association is in the middle of and that they will be able to live in their condo the way they want. Study the CCRs and do due diligence before buying.


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How To Tune Up Your Media Room

Most households have a room where the main activity is watching television. Were well beyond needing simply an electrical outlet and a pair of rabbit ears to entertain ourselves at home -- now, game consoles, cables, satellites, computer networks, streaming systems and stereo components can all communicate with your television. Be prepared for new devices incorporating cable management and methods of communication that will become "standard" in the future. Whether youre renovating your media space, building a new one or considering a quick upgrade, here are the elements to consider so you can make the most of your media.

Screen Space

The more invisible the technology, the more able you are to immerse yourself in the media experience, but the beauty of a media room is that you dont have to hide the TV. So, splurge on the screen that suits your fancy and feel free to make it the centerpiece of the room in this case. On the other hand, if you would like to create a space thats a little more understated, yet visually dramatic when viewing media, consider a projector with a retractable screen. The screen hardware mounts to the ceiling, and the screen rolls up when youre not watching. Be sure to get a TV system that will handle all your media interests--Internet access, gaming, DVD or Blu-ray, and the components of your particular home theater set-up.

Sounding It Out

Most of our clients who build media rooms enjoy their screen time so much that we recommend they invest in audio equipment thats on par with their video equipment. Technology has thankfully advanced enough that you dont have to fill the room with tiny speakers for a surround sound effect. Install them flush to the ceiling or walls so you can keep your attention focused where you want it. If you want speakers to be truly invisible, you can go wi>

Command Center

Finally, you need to create a space where you can house all of the electronic components of your new media center. Hard drives, DVR and cable equipment, gaming consoles and stereo equipment need a space to live that wont clutter up the room. The best solution for cable management is to have a small cabinet installed in the most convenient space to your equipment, yet is easily accessible. Youll need ventilation, but can easily install a media cabinet with a panel door thats ventilated.

Bringing It All Together

Now that youve got all your technology worked out, its time to bring in your people Consider the other functions the room will serve. If the room will function as more than a media room, break up the space to accommodate your other pastimes. Will you need a simple game table with seating for four, or a pool table that converts to a ping pong table and crafting station? Create those spaces behind the seating in your home theater so the whole family can spend time together without everyone having to watch "Rambo" again or rock out to some "Guitar Hero."

Seating

A sectional sofa is a versatile choice for a multipurpose space. They seat a lot of people comfortably, or just a few when folks want to sack out or snuggle up. If, however, your home theater is going to be dedicated solely to showing your favorite films, individual seating can really up the experience. Consider something that reclines -- recliners have come a long way in terms of attractive design. You can even get them with wi>

Color and Texture

For designers, this really is a case of saving the best for last. This space is your retreat from the world, and an indulgence youve earned. Make sure you love the way it looks. In terms of color, go deep and bold for the best cinematic effect. If you cant handle deep navy on all four walls, consider adding it as an accent color on the wall behind the screen for maximum viewing effect. Add some texture and theatrical flair with draperies that block the light and add to that sense of indulgence. If soundproofing is an issue, make those draperies wall to wall, and have some fun with the fabric. Remember, more than any other room in the house, this is room where you should feel free to make it your own.

Now, hit the lights and pass that popcorn

As a talented interior designer, Kerrie Kelly is always coming up with new ideas to fit home electronics into the design of a room. She likes to share her expertise for The Home Depot on topics like managing your cable clutter and making speakers inconspicuous. Visit homedepot.com for a full line of cable management products.


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37 Ways To Make Your Home Safe And Healthy

Tips from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Safety Council, Health Canada and more for how to keep your home safe and healthy.

1. Open some windows and let the fresh air into your home, especially if you are painting or installing new carpets or building products.

2. Use exhaust fans that vent to the outside when cooking, frying, sauteacute;ing or boiling water. Use the fan in the bathroom when having a shower. Removing the moisture will help prevent mould and exhaust pollutants.

3. Use low-emission products and building materials in your home.

4. Dont allow smoking in your home.

5. To prevent scalding, set your water heater to below 50 C.

6. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and that its easy to reach.

7. If you have a woodstove, make sure the doors close tightly and its the proper size for the space. Clean the chimney every year, to ensure that particulate matter isnt escaping into the home. Clean fireplace chimneys yearly as well.

8. Keep your furnace and ventilation systems properly maintained and change filters regularly. Furnaces should be inspected by a professional once a year.

9. How can you prevent a bedbug infestation? Check anything new that you are bringing into your home, particularly used books, antiques or used furniture or a new mattress that may have been transported in the same truck as used mattresses. Make sure new mattresses are sealed. Get rid of clutter in the home and vacuum often. Remove peeling wallpaper and seal cracks on walls that you share with neighbours or where pipes or wires enter your home.

10. Ask everyone to remove their shoes when entering your house.

11. Keep all household chemical products out of the reach of children and away from pets. Make sure medications are secured where children cant reach them.

12. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, near sleeping areas. Test them regularly and replace weak or dead batteries. If you have hardwired smoke detectors, consider installing back-up battery operated units.

13. Install a carbon monoxide detector next to every sleeping room, especially if the home has a working fireplace or fuel-burning appliance, or if theres an attached garage.

14. Make sure there is no snow or ice blocking the vents to dryers, fireplaces or stoves.

15. Plan and practice a fire escape plan with everyone who lives in the home.

16. If an appliance smells like its burning, unplug it and get it repaired or replaced.

17. Dont overload electrical outlets or run extension cords under rugs or carpets. Dont use fuses that are the incorrect size. Keep electrical cords away from heat and water. Replace cords that have cut, broken or cracked insulation. Put safety caps on unused plugs.

18. Dont leave cooking unattended. Be alert when cooking and keep children away. Keep handles turned inward. If a pot catches fire, cover it with a lid and turn off the burner.

19. Keep portable space heaters at least one metre away from anything that could burn.

20. Never use a charcoal or propane barbecue indoors.

21. If using candles in the home, make sure they are far from anything that could catch fire. Dont leave burning candles unattended when children are around. Make sure candles are out before you leave the room or go to bed.

22. Make sure your house number is visible both day and night, so emergency teams can find you if necessary.

23. Dont store ladders or tools on the outside of your home -- its too tempting for would-be thieves.

24. If you just bought a new TV or computer, dont advertise the fact by leaving the boxes outside in plain view.

25. Always lock your car, even when its in your own driveway or garage. Close and lock all the windows and doors of the house when you are not home.

26. Dont talk about vacation plans on social media. While you are away, have someone collect the mail, shovel the driveway or mow the lawn and park in your driveway.

27. The police say lighting is the most effective crime prevention tool. Use timers on indoor lights and motion sensor lights outside your home.

28. If you live in a condo building or apartment, dont let strangers in. Check your storage locker frequently to make sure nothing has been stolen or tampered with. Install a door viewer so you know who is knocking.

29. Get to know your neighbours.

30. Do a home inventory of all your items. Take photos of the most valuable pieces and record serial numbers of electronics.

31. Consider installing a home monitoring system.

32. Have a first-aid kit handy.

33. Keep electrical cords out of walking pathways. Check your home for tripping hazards. Dont pile things on the stairs. Avoid using scatter rugs. Use night lights.

34. Make sure indoor and outdoor stairs are in good repair and have handrails.

35. Consider adding grab bars beside toilets and in the bathtub or shower. Use a rubber mat in the bathtub and a non-skid mat beside it.

36. Keep curtains away from fireplaces, lamps and space heaters.

37. Every home should have a kit prepared in case of a prolonged power failure. It should include a flashlight, batteries, a three-day supply of water, canned food, a manual can opener, candles, waterproof matches, a battery-operated radio, an extra set of keys for the car and house and money. For a more extensive list, visit GetPrepared.ca.

For more safety tips, visit:

  • Canada Safety Council
  • Health Canada
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health
  • Toronto Fire Services
  • Hydro One
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police


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Some Dangerous Conditions Are Just Plain Obvious

The good news is that a California Appellate Court has upheld a grant of summary judgment essentially, a dismissal in favor of a real estate company that was being sued for negligence. Jacques Jacobs et al. v. Coldwell Banker, Second Appellate District Court of Appeal, July 25, 2017.

The not-so-good news is that the opinion has not been certified for publication.

Well discuss both.

Coldwell Banker had listed a vacant, bank-owned property. The backyard had an empty swimming pool with a diving board. According to the court record, Dianne Garnett, the agent, conducted a visual inspection of the property.

"After examining each room in the house, Garnett spent 20 to 30 minutes inspecting the backyard, including the diving board. She did not observe any breaks, cracks or other visible damage in the diving board. The only dangerous condition she observed was the empty swimming pool.

"Garnett retained Clearflo Pools Clearflo to inspect the swimming pool and >"Before the property was viewed by any potential buyers, Garnett prepared an MLS listing for the property. The listing stated: Please use CAUTION around the empty pool."

The record goes on to say that Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs were interested in purchasing the property. On August 30, 2014, they met with their agent to view the property. "Jacques [Mr. Jacobs], a licensed contractor who regularly performs tile work in and around swimming pools, noticed that the backyard swimming pool was empty. Jacques knew he should stay away from the edge of the empty pool because it would hurt if [he] fell in.

"Jacques wanted to see over the fence to assess whether someone from the adjacent road could jump over the fence into the backyard. To get a better view, he stood on the base of the diving board. After standing on the diving board for 10 to 30 seconds, Jacques felt the board break loose from its base. The board slid forward and Jacques fell into the empty swimming pool, sustaining serious injuries."

Naturally, the Jacobs sued Coldwell Banker. They alleged negligence and argued, among other things, that Coldwell Banker had failed in its duty to warn Mr. Jacobs that the empty pool was a dangerous condition.

The trial court granted Coldwell Banker its motion for summary judgment, and the case was appealed. The Appellate Court spent some time discussing the issue of Coldwell Bankers duty, or the lack thereof, to protect Mr. Jacobs from "the open and obvious danger of the empty pool"

The court noted that whether or not a duty exists is determined by a variety of factors, among them "... the foreseeability of harm to the plaintiff, the burden to the defendant and the consequences to the community of imposing the duty."

The court then turned to a variety of earlier cases. It noted this: "Foreseeability of harm is typically absent when a dangerous condition is open and obvious... Generally, if a danger is so obvious that a person could reasonably be expected to see it, the condition itself serves as a warning, and the landowner is under no further duty to remedy or warn of the condition In that situation, owners and possessors of land are entitled to assume others will perceive the obvious and take action to avoid the dangerous condition." [my emphasis]

Next, it pointed out an exception to that rule: "... obviousness will not negate a duty of care when it is foreseeable that because of necessity or other circumstances, a person may choose to encounter the condition." Examples were given, such as a case where walking across a narrow plank was necessitated by a job requirement that a person had to access a faucet on the other side.

In this case, though, there was no such necessity. "Although [Mr. Jacobs] wished to look over the fence, he was not compelled to do so It was not reasonably foreseeable that he or anyone else would use the diving board for that purpose." "Accordingly," the Appellate Court said, "we agree with the trial courts conclusion that the undisputed facts indicate that it was not reasonably foreseeable that [Mr. Jacobs] would expose himself to the risks associated with the empty pool, as he was neither required nor invited to do so."

That this opinion was not certified for publication means that it cannot be cited or >Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .


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6 Important Things To Know About New-Home Upgrades

Getting ready to buy a brand-new house? Moving into a home that no one has ever lived in before is incredibly exciting. So is picking out all your finishes so everything really suits you. But there are several important factors to keep in mind when it comes to the upgrades and options that are offered by the builder, starting with the fact that anything you choose beyond what is considered "standard" will raise the price of the home.

The home price is just the starting point

Have you fallen in love with a model home thats all decked out with sleek countertops and fancy appliances and hand-scraped floors and elaborate window coverings? Depending on where youre buying, you may have to pay more for some - or all - of what you see in the models. The "standard" home is typically a much more stripped-down version than what youre shown in the model complex.

Want to make changes to the floorplan or select higher-end finishes? Be prepared to pay for them. "A surprisingly large amount of the money you spend on your new home will be determined by thenbsp;options and choicesnbsp;you make," said NewHomeSource.

You may be limited in the options you can choose

If you have something specific in mind and you dont see it offered by the builder, always ask your real estate agent or the sales professional in the new-home community. Depending on how flexible they are, you might be able to negotiate custom-ordered items into your home. Or, it may turn out youll have to compromise, or add in the items after the home is finished... which isnt always such a bad thing.

It might make sense to hold back a little

Two more great benefits of adding upgrades from the builder:

  • The work is done before you move in.
  • The upgrades are included in the builders warranty.
  • However, you definitely pay for those conveniences. If you price compare some of the items youre looking at adding, like countertops or flooring, you might find that you can get them for much less elsewhere. Many of the upgrades offered by builders are huge profit centers for them. If youre willing to go through some renovations after you take possession of the home and either pay out of pocket or finance those options elsewhere, you could save some money.


    builddirect.com

    You can roll your upgrades into your mortgage

    But, having to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket for upgrades after youve just spent so much money on your new house may not seem ideal. An added benefit to handling your upgrades through the builder is that you can roll the added costs right into your mortgage instead of having to deal with a separate payment that might have a higher interest rate. The payment may be nominal - 10,000 in upgrades could cost you about 50 a month. But, youll have to make sure that the additional cost doesnt push you over your loan approval amount.

    You may have to go back to your lender for more money

    If the new home youre buying is already at the top of what youve qualified for and youre raising the overall price with thousands of dollars of upgrades, a conversation with your lender is in order. If you cant raise your qualification amount, youll have to whittle down those upgrades.

    Not all upgrades will bring you ROI

    Making smart choices is key when picking your upgrades, because not only do you want to create a home that suits your needs, >

    When considering where to spend, concentrate on the kitchen first. "The kitchen is the heart of the home, the spot where you will spend the majority of your time and make the most memories," said NewHomeSource. "It can never be overly well equipped. Pay special attention to cabinets and appliances, as this is what future buyers will focus on, as well as the tools you will use every day."nbsp;


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    10 Best Housewarming Gifts For New Homebuyers

    Yes, a plant is a considerate gift for a friend or family member who just moved into a new house. But you know whats better? A whole lot of stuff. If you want to come up with a thoughtful, useful, and memorable gift for a new homebuyer, weve got some ideas.

    1. Housecleaning services

    Presumably, the house your loved ones are moving into is nice and clean when the moving truck arrives. But what is it going to look like after theyve been emptying and breaking down boxes and walking in and out of every room multiple times? A certificate for housecleaning services a few days or a week out from their move-in will be a much-appreciated gift.

    2. A home-cooked meal

    In all the chaos of packing and moving and unpacking, it can be easy to forget to do "normal" daily things... like actually eat a meal. Show up with dinner and youll be a superstar. And dont forget to bring serving pieces, disposable dishes and silverware, and a package of napkins since the kitchen boxes may not be unpacked yet.


    care2.com

    3. Groceries

    Or, show up with groceries and stock the fridge right after everything is moved in and the electricity is turned on. Getting to the market may be a priority for them, but with so many other conflicting priorities, it may have fallen to the bottom of a long list.

    4. A meal kit delivery service

    If your new homebuyer friends or family members are busy professionals and/or parents, theyll undoubtedly appreciate being able to simplify dinner. Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Fresh all offer their own version of "a freshly prepped meal-in-a-box," as Forbes calls them, and many of them have introductory specials you can get in on.

    5. Help with unpacking

    Theres nothing like the gift of time when it feels like the moving-out and moving-in process is never-ending.

    6. Find landscapers

    Super organized people may have already taken care of finding a landscaper in their new neighborhood, but, for many others, this is one of those things that can fall through the cracks, and the next thing you know, the HOA is sending you notices about your overgrown lawn. You can be a great friend by helping to find a landscaping service in their new neighborhood and setting up an appointment for the lawn to be cut just before or after the move, as needed.

    7. Offer babysitting services

    Sometimes, just making sure the kids are taken care of and entertained is all someone needs to get through a stressful event like moving.


    5minutesformom.com

    8. A move-in care package

    Hit Target and put together an "essentials" bag full of things you know will come in handy the first few days/nights in the house. You can personalize to your friends and familys tastes and include things like: a bottle of wine and disposable glasses, high-protein snacks like nuts and bars, toilet paper, Ibuprofin, and light bulbs and batteries.

    9. A cleaning basket

    A package of Swiffer floor cleaners. A box of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. A new broom. Dish and laundry detergent. A toilet plunger. A couple of bottles of cleaning spray and a few rolls of paper towels. Theyre all the cleaning items your loved ones may not have thought to buy or bring with them or may not know which box theyre in, if they did.

    10. Gift cards

    Not sure if you should go this route because it might feel impersonal? A gift card to Target, Home Depot, the local supermarket, or a hot new restaurant in their new neighborhood will always be appreciated, especially when those unexpected costs of moving to a new place start to catch up with your friends.


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    Personalize Your Entryway With These 8 Budget-Friendly Ideas

    Its always tricky to prioritize decorating dollars, and I tend to funnel most of mine to interior improvements: furniture, fabric, tchotchkes. But lately Ive been thinking that the outside of the house - and especially my front entry - deserves its share of the love. The entry may be the first impression of a home, and my entry is best described as mousy.

    Fortunately, jazzing up a front entrance doesnt have to cost a fortune. Try these eight strategies to create a showstopper entryway without blowing your budget.

    1. Create a mini room. Here a bench with cheery outdoor pillows, a hanging paper lantern and a framed chalkboard combine to turn a plain entrance into a sitting space all its own - all without breaking the bank. Mix and match furniture to suit your homes architecture and >2. Spell out a welcome. A stencil, a can of spray paint and presto A plain concrete stoop turns into a hospitable howdy. If you cant or dont want to paint directly on the surface, try stenciling a plain cotton or sisal doormat instead.

    Photo by Wind and Willow Home - Look for entryway pictures

    3. Invest in showstopping hardware. Swap out bland doorknobs and knockers for instant pizzazz on the cheap. You can search flea markets and architectural salvage stores for one-of-a-kind vintage models, but even home centers carry eye-catching >

    Photo by Sterling Publishing - Look for porch design inspiration

    4. Pile up plantings. Plants are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to give your entrance a polished look, and they can enhance any effect youre going for. Mass tumbles of old-fashioned blooms in weathered tin or tole tubs for a cottage; stick with variegated greens and sleek containers in a modern setting. For a traditional house, create a symmetrical grouping of palms, ficus or roses in ceramic or terra-cotta planters.

    Photo by Glenna Partridge Garden Design - Search patio pictures

    5. Light the way. Why settle for a boring outdoor light fixture when you can hang a piece of eye candy? Outdoor chandeliers are delightfully unexpected. If you want to use it for illumination, look for a model thats designed for outdoor use, but if you just want the decorative effect, you can mount an indoor fixture without wiring it.

    Photo by Megan Buchanan - Discover porch design ideas

    6. Paint the door an unexpected color. It sounds obvious, and yet so many of us take the easy way out and go with brown, black or white. If the task of choosing a bolder hue throws you for a loop, try this trick: Snap a photo of your house, then take it to the paint store so you can see how different colors work with your exterior.

    Photo by Garden Studio - Browse entryway photos

    Choose a shade that contrasts strongly with the primary paint color: bright pink paired with pale gray siding, turquoise against rusty red brick, plum on khaki stucco. Lipstick red in a field of crisp white is a >7. Decorate the doorway surround. Set off your front door and give it greater presence by adding a decorative frame. If the architecture will accommodate such a treatment, line it with decorative tiles or a mosaic. If not, you can achieve a similar effect with paint.

    Photo by Latin Accents, Inc. - Browse entryway photos

    8. Have fun with house numbers. Forget hardware-store numbers on the mailbox. Make yours pop: fun colors, funky fonts, creative placement. Just be sure that you dont sacrifice clear visibility and readability for the sake of visual interest.

    Photo by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture - Discover home design design inspiration

    Also See:

    • Colorful Outdoor Cushions For the Front Porch
    • Designer Doorknobs That Make a Statement
    • How Chartreuse Can Make Your Front Door Stand Out


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    Its A Dogs Life For Millennials: Whats Really Driving Their Desire To Buy A House

    Is the millennial homebuying surge about finally "growing up" and giving up moms home-cooked meals and laundry services? Is it about finally having student loans paid off and feeling secure enough to take on the financial burden? Perhaps its really about getting ready to marry and have kids. Nope. Turns out none of these things could convince millennials to buy homes like their little furry friend could.

    Yep, when it comes to millennial homeownership, these are the dog days.

    "A third of millennial-aged Americans ages 18 to 36 who purchased their first home 33 say the desire to have a better space or yard for a dog influenced their decision to purchase their first home, according to a new survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage. "Dogs ranked among the top three motivators for first-time home purchasers and were cited by more millennials than marriage/upcoming marriage, 25 percent, or the birth/expected birth of a child, 19 percent."

    There were only two factors that rated higher than dog ownership: 66 percent cited a desire for more living space, and 36 percent were interested in building equity through homeownership. Presumably, they want to do so with a pup by their side.

    "Millennials have strong bonds with their dogs, so it makes sense that their furry family members are driving home-buying decisions," saidDorinda Smith, SunTrust Mortgage President and CEO of the survey. "For those with dogs, renting can be more expensive and a hassle; home ownership takes some of the stress off by providing a better living situation."

    The survey also showed how strongly homebuyers that have not yet jumped into the market feel about this issue. Among millennials who have never purchased a home, "42 percent say that their dog - or the desire to have one - is a key factor in their desire to buy a home in the future, suggesting dogs will also influence purchase decisions of potential first-time homebuyers," they said.

    Those statistics could have a real impact on multiple aspects of the real estate industry, from the way sellers stage their home; to the types of homes that builders and developers concentrate on in pockets where millennials may be looking; to pet->


    petsafe.net

    Looking to sell your home and think you have a millennial target in your sights? Perhaps pointing out a good spot for a doggy door, if you dont already have one, and adding a picture of you and your dog fake it if you need to, a dog bed, and a basket with dog toys on the fireplace hearth before showings will help.

    Pets before kids

    Homeownership isnt the only thing millennials have delayed. Marriage and kids - if theyre in the cards at all for millennials - are waiting. Pet ownership is not.

    Millennials are in age brackets that are commonly associated with the idea of "settling down," said Pet Business. "But, rather than starting families with children, millennials are instead opting for buying or adopting pets to satisfy their caretaking needs."

    Pet ownership is up overall, led by millennials. The latestAmerican Pet Products Association APPA National Pet Owners Survey shows that, "Sixty-eight percent of American households now own a pet, accounting for 84.6 million pet-owning households, up from 79.7 million pet-owning households in 2015," said Pet Food Industry. "Gen Y/millennial pet ownershiphas officiallysurpassed baby boomer ownershipby three percentage points to now account for 35 percent of all pet owners."


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    Tax Free Exchange: A Valuable Alternative To A Home Sale

    Congress is currently talking tax reform. Two very important real estate benefits are on the so-called "chopping block", either to be completely eliminated or significantly curtailed.

    It is doubtful that the home owner exclusion of up to 500,000 or 250,000 if you file a single tax return of profit will be impacted; there are too many homeowner voters who will forcefully object. But investors do not have the same strong lobbyist who can make the case for preserving the "like kind" exchange. So if you have an investment property, now might be the time to consider doing an exchange.

    Residential homeowners have a number of tax benefits, the most important of which is the exclusion of up to 500,000 or 250,000 if you file a single tax return profit made on the sale of your principal residence. But real estate investors -- large and small -- still have to pay capital gains tax when they sell their investments. And since most investors depreciated their properties over a number of years, the capital gains tax can be quite large.

    There is a way of deferring payment of this tax, and it is known as a Like-Kind Exchange under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. In my opinion, these exchange provisions are still an important tool for any real estate investor.

    The exchange process is not a "tax free" device, although people refer to it as a "tax-free exchange." It is also called a "Starker exchange" or a "deferred exchange." It will not >The rules are complex, but here is a general overview of the process.

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

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

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

    Once you meet these tests, it is important that you determine the tax consequences. If you do a like-kind exchange, your profit will be deferred until you sell the replacement property. However, it must be noted that the cost basis of the new property in most cases will be the basis of the old property. Discuss this with your accountant to determine whether the savings by using the like-kind exchange will make up for the lower cost basis on your new property. And discuss also whether you might be better off selling the property, biting the bullet and paying the tax, but not have to be a landlord again.

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

    First, the replacement property must be identified before the 45th day after the day on which the original >Second, the replacement property must be purchased no later than 180 days after the taxpayer transfers his original property, or the due date with any extension of the taxpayers return of the tax imposed for the year in which the transfer is made. These are very important time limitations, which should be noted on your calendar when you first enter into a 1031 exchange.

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

    Second, if property received in a like-kind exchange between >In May of 1991, the Internal Revenue Service adopted final regulations which clarified many of the issues.

    This column cannot analyze all of these regulations. The following, however, will highlight some of the major issues:

    1. Identification of the replacement property within 45 days. According to the IRS, the taxpayer may identify more than one property as replacement property. However, the maximum number of replacement properties that the taxpayer may identify is either three properties of any fair market value, or any larger number as long as their aggregate fair market value does not exceed 200 of the aggregate fair market value of all of the >Furthermore, the replacement property or properties must be unambiguously described in a written document. According to the IRS, real property must be described by a legal description, street address or distinguishable name e.g., The Camelot Apartment Building."

    2. Who is the neutral party? Conceptually, the >3. Interest on the exchange proceeds. One of the underlying concepts of a successful 1031 exchange is the absolute requirement that not one penny of the sales proceeds be available to the seller of the >Generally, the sales proceeds are placed in escrow with a neutral third party. Since these proceeds may not be used for the purchase of the replacement property for up to 180 days, the amount of interest earned can be significant -- or at least it used to be until banks starting paying pennies on our savings accounts.

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

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


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