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Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2018

9 Killer Ways To Transform Your Kids Room When They Leave For College

Schools out for summer Although, this one may be slightly different if its your childs last summer before going off to college. Youre probably feeling wistful and sad in preparation for the pending empty nest. But if youre feeling a little bit of "woohoo" along with your "waaaaahhhh," dont feel bad. This rite of passage for your child is also a rite of passage for you. And while some choose to keep their childs room intact for their occasional visits and/or as some kind of shrine to their formative years, others have that measuring tape all ready to go the minute their kid walks out the door.

Yes, its time to reclaim that space and make it your own Channel that sorrow into productivity while turning your kids room into your own private haven. Sure, he or she will be returning home on holidays and summers, but who cares? Youve earned it, right?

Home office

If youve been working from the kitchen table or the couch, perhaps its time you had a space of your own. You could bring your laptop into your kids room and use their deskbut is that really going to inspire your productivity and creativity? Perhaps this type of thing would give you the motivation you need to succeed.


Game room

Celebrate getting your kid through high school and off to college with a game of pool or foosball or air hockey. Or all three Maybe think about adding a dart board with a picture of your childs least favorite teacher from high school in the middle, just to let them know youre thinking of them.

Art studio/craft space

Now that you dont have to supervise homework and spend the equivalent of at least a significant part-time job driving to and from and attending kid->Man cave

Your child wont be upset AT ALL when he comes home for Thanksgiving only to find your poker table and home brewery where the bed and dresser used to be. If youre going to splurge on a space like this, make sure you do it right. Obscenely large TV, check. Comfortable seating, check. Man cave sign, check. That last one is part of Buzzfeeds 32 Things You Need In Your Man Cave list. Read, digest, go forth.

Home theater

Nothing says, "Were so proud of you" like stripping away your childs memories and furnishing and replacing them with a ridiculously huge screen and a sound system that makes the walls shake. And the bonus: Home theaters are a coveted space for buyers should you decide to list your home down the line.

Guest room

If youre lacking a proper guest space, nows the time to create one. Sure, you could leave your kids walls full of cheerleading pictures and pom-poms and banners, but perhaps some dcor thats a little more guest-friendly is in order. If you are transforming the room into something a tad more neutral and you dont want to get rid of or store your childs memorabilia, you can always turn the closet into their own personal sanctuary.

Wine room

Keep in mind that 55 degrees is the sweet spot when it comes to the perfect temperature for storing wine, so you may need to invest in a separate air conditioning system if youre serious about this wine room thing. Here are a few more climate control tips from Sebring Design Build:

  • Youll need "full room insulation to keep temperatures at a steady range. Make sure the insulation is also a good vapor barrier."
  • For large wine cellars, "a wine cooling system may be necessary. This will also require an adequately sized exhaust room to absorb expelled heat."
  • Does the room stay really dry? "A humidifier will be required."

Master bath

Most of the other spaces mentioned keep the walls in place so the space could conceivably be turned back into your grown childs room. This one is a little more indulgent. And permanent. If your home has a shared wall with your college-bound childs room, its practically begging to be turned into a spa bath. You know that soaker tub and walk-in shower are calling your name.

Master closet

Does your childs bedroom share a wall with your master? Painful Now is time for a little payback for all those late nights with the TV blaring next door. Knock down those walls and create the master closet of your dreams. She can always camp out on the floor next to your dresses when shes home on break.

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Unmarried Couples Need To Use Protection When Getting A Mortgage

"First comes love, then comes marriage?" Not always. There has been an increasing trend of young couples flipping the order around and going straight to buying a home together before getting married. This is perfectly fine -- theres nothing wrong with unmarried couples buying a home together -- but I would like to offer a few things to consider before they jump in feet first.

Just like marriage, buying a home is a big decision. Unmarried couples need to protect themselves and their investment since they have fewer legal protections compared to married homebuyers. Before you and your significant other commit to a 30-year mortgage, you should prepare. Heres what you should do:

Talk to a Mortgage Broker

For prospective buyers - regardless of marital status - the first step to buying a home should always be to speak to an independent mortgage broker. With more than 16,000 mortgage lenders in the U.S., mortgage brokers are local experts and can shop on the borrowers behalf to find the best loan terms that match each individual situation. Theyll get you pre-approved so you know how much you can afford, and then advocate on your behalf.

Brokers will also educate you regarding anything that might be complex with your situation, like having the option to purchase a home jointly or list one of you as a sole owner. This matters because after the initial purchase has closed you cannot just add someone to the mortgage without refinancing. Thats a different arrangement than married couples have because only one of you is required to sign -- but you have the option for both. For married couples, in a majority of the country, the spouse is required to sign, even if the home is only under one name.

Seek Legal Advice

Ask your mortgage broker to refer you to an experienced real estate attorney who can help you plan for taking care of all financial aspects >Speak Openly About Finances

Money is one of the leading causes of divorce -- and youre not even married yet. Talk freely about financial problems that could affect your loan, issues like poor credit history, bankruptcy and existing debt. Keep in mind that unmarried couples are assessed as singles, so if theres a problem with one persons financial history, it could significantly complicate matters.

Open a Joint Account

While you dont have to merge all of your finances, you may want to consider opening a secondary checking account to cover the mortgage, insurance, tax payments and home repairs. Set it up so a certain amount of money is automatically deposited every month that will cover the mortgage, plus a little more to cover any unexpected expenses that might come up.

Marriage and family has changed a lot in the past 25 years. So has home buying. Leave it to the experts - independent mortgage brokers - to help you through the buying process and, ultimately, put you on your path to happily ever after.

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The Right Questions to Ask the Broker

Stephanie M. Rhodes, MBA, GRI

ldquo;Irsquo;m so passionate about this subject,rdquo; says Rhodes. ldquo;We donrsquo;t hire everyone, so Irsquo;m willing to share what is important for provisional brokers to ask and understand.rdquo;

Rhodes is the first hurdle in the interview process. Like a sports agent, she is a recruiter, visiting schools and interviewing brokers-to-be before, during and after the licensing process. She looks for rapport-building skills, people skills, self-motivation and drive to succeed.

ldquo;We put >

Most people come into real estate from another industry like teaching, nursing or retail sales, so the broker or recruitment specialist will look at your education, work history, attitude and expectations, and of course, whether yoursquo;re licensed and when you can start.

North Carolina is a state that only licenses brokers. Following an approximately eight-week course, yoursquo;ll have to choose a broker to work under for two years, and complete three additional 30-hour courses before you can become a full-fledged broker. Until then, yoursquo;re known as a provisional broker.

You probably want to know how much money you can make, known as the split - how much goes to the broker and how much goes to you when you sell a home. While the split is important, that shouldnrsquo;t be the first question you ask, advises Rhodes.

ldquo;If a recruit leads with commission splits,rdquo; she says, ldquo;I respond that we make great neighbors. You donrsquo;t think about what yoursquo;re going to get, and Irsquo;m already thinking you donrsquo;t have the right mentality. If your lead question is ldquo;What leads are you going to give me?rdquo; I think yoursquo;re expecting handouts and you wonrsquo;t be able to build a long-lasting career. It gives me the wrong idea.rdquo;

Rhodes tells potential recruits that the brokerage can give you fish, or teach you how to fish so you can build a good career. ldquo;We do give leads, but we offer them their own personal coach. ldquo;Our managing broker is non-competing, so they focus on the new brokers. We help them with sales skills and how to build their sphere of influence.rdquo;

Then there are fees, which vary widely from broker to broker. ldquo;I do a lot of coaching; I just love to get people into the industry and I do tell them commission is good,rdquo; explains Rhodes. ldquo;You need to understand the fees - marketing, listing syndication to or Zillow, technology, franchise branding fees, errors and omissions insurance, MLS, etc. Most of these, yoursquo;ll pay no matter what firm you go to. You donrsquo;t know what you donrsquo;t know, so you might ask to see what a monthly invoice looks like or ask to see a commission check.rdquo;

For those reasons, Rhodes coaches recruits that theyrsquo;ll need to have six to nine months of savings and about 2000 in start-up costs to cover school, licensing, MLS, errors and omissions. The franchise branding fee isnrsquo;t paid until a transaction closes.

While splits and fees are important, 100 percent of nothing is nothing, which makes training among the first questions to ask. ldquo;If they donrsquo;t get good training, they wonrsquo;t have any business.rdquo;

The culture of the brokerage is also worth exploring. ldquo;You will work there every day, and if the fit isnrsquo;t right, you wonrsquo;t want to go to the office. You really need to interview at different firms and attend company events.rdquo;

You might ask, ldquo;What makes you different?rdquo; ldquo;What kind of support do you have?rdquo; ldquo;Tell me about your culture.rdquo; ldquo;We have an in-house mortgage company, attorney, IT staff, social media director, and sales director,rdquo; offers Rhodes. ldquo;You have to talk about it up front. Itrsquo;s all about the fit.rdquo;

Useful links and information:nbsp;

North Carolina real estate requirements
Interview questions all new agents should ask

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About That American Dream And Homeownership

Any REALTORreg; will tell you: home ownership is an integral part -- maybe the most important part -- of the American Dream. Hence, any threat to home ownership -- whether it be high interest rates or, as is the case today, a lack of inventory -- is a threat to the American Dream.

Recently, Joel Singer, CEO of the California Association of REALTORS CAR, and one of the sharper tools in the real estate shed, delivered a talk to CAR directors entitled, "The American Dream Up in Flames?: Why Homeownership Really Matters." He offered up a plethora of studies and statistics that showed how individuals and families who own homes fare better in life than do those who do not own homes. Moreover, he shared survey results showing that 53 of those sampled thought that owning a home is a very important part of the American Dream. 18 thought it was the most important part.

I beg to differ. But, please, dont get me wrong. My wife and I are residential REALTORSreg;. We have been in this marvelous business for more than 40 years. The psychic and emotional rewards for helping people obtain a home are rich and appropriate. Moreover, it is certainly not my place to dismiss anyones dreams.

But The American Dream is a phrase with a history and a meaning that we do well to keep in mind. It is about much more than home ownership; indeed, home ownership may not even be a central part of that dream.

Historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase The American Dream in his 1931 book, Epic of America. He said, "The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability and achievement." It was not, he wrote, "a dream of motor cars and high wages me>The essence of the American Dream was, and I think still is, the idea that America is a land where by effort one could better ones condition and ones children could live lives better than their parents. Moreover, the potential for doing so was not to be restrained by government or ones >To put it in more modern, and certainly less emotional, terms, the American Dream is the possibility of social mobility. When we ask how the American Dream is faring, we are asking about social mobility. And the answer is, "It depends on who you ask." Try googling social mobility in America.

There are articles upon articles that will tell you it has become significantly less likely that a wage-earner can move up the income ladder. A July, 2016 Atlantic article cites a study that "measured a given workers chances of moving between deciles [groupings of 10] during two periods, one from 1981 to 1996 and another from 1993 to 2008. They found quite a disparity. The probability of moving up from where you start has gone down [the author] said." No one seems quite sure what caused this, but increasing inequality is often cited. "In the presence of increasing inequality," [the authors] conclude, "falling mobility implies that as the rungs of the ladder have moved farther apart, moving between them has become more difficult."

On the other hand, there are plenty of those who see the Dream alive and well. Writing in National Review May, 2017 Scott Winship claims, "it seems likely that when all is said and done, 70 percent or more of todays 30-year-olds are better off than their parents were at the same age."

The state of the American Dream is important and we do well to pay attention to it. But home ownership is nowhere near being its central component. For many, owning a home may be a consequence of having lived the Dream; but it certainly doesnt define it.

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Ask the HOA Expert

Question: The board wants to have a special meeting with the owners to update them on what it has been doing, however, we assume that an owner who has filed a lawsuit against the board will be present. Should we let the unit owners know that there has been a lawsuit filed and that we have legal representation? If so, how much information should we offer or limit ourselves to?

Answer: How much you divulge about litigation depends on the subject matter. Your attorney should be helpful in giving you direction. Some highly sensitive issues should be kept confidential. But generally, the owners should be made aware of any litigation that is headed to court and when substantial legal costs are possible. The general nature of the litigation, the boards position on the issues and current status without

naming names is a reasonable approach.

Can the developer make exceptions to certain architectural restrictions? Our developer allowed some owners to enclose their decks and since turnover, the new board says it wont be permitted by others.

Answer: The developer has no special right to violate architectural restrictions established in the governing documents. However, it is commonly done because the developer wants to sell homes. If the developer has allowed certain exceptions, the board needs to decide if this is something which should be allowed by other owners. To avoid a double standard, the Answer is usually "yes" and the board should develop and approve the standard so all are done the same way with quality design and materials.

Question: We recently had the unit chimneys inspected for fire safety reasons. This required access to the units which was facilitated by the manager. One of the units was filled with garbage, furniture blocking hallways, piles of clothing, cases of empty cans etc. The manager informed the board since there was a potential fire hazard. Should the board get involved in this situation? No neighbors have complained. The area outside the condo is tidy, the resident keeps to herself, is pleasant and not a smoker.

Answer: There are several issues here. As a general rule, the board or management should not hold keys to units unless there is an emergency or a rental management contract in place. Otherwise, either the unit owner or their representative should be present to allow access.

However, assuming that the unit owner gave permission to enter, if there is a real fire hazard or sanitation problem, the manager should inform that unit owner in writing with specifics. That said, it is up to the unit owner to respond. In other words, the board and HOA do not have the authority to dictate resident life>In every HOA, there are certain individuals that are pack rats or live like slobs. That is their right as long as their life>For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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A Call To ARMs: Should You Get An Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

Question: We are first time homebuyers, and have just signed a contract to purchase a new home in Virginia. Interest rates appear to be reasonable, and the builder has given us a sizable credit to be used for closing costs. The builder has recommended we use a particular lender, and has strongly suggested we get an adjustable rate mortgage ARM. We are interested in this kind of mortgage, but do not really understand how it works. What exactly

is an ARM, and is this something we should consider?

Answer: Mortgage lenders are creative. When interest rates skyrocketed in the early l980s, the mortgage financing industry began developing new and imaginative loans to meet everyones needs. Many of these mortgages have acronyms, and over the years there were such mortgages as GEMS Growing Equity Mortgages, RAMS Reverse Annuity Mortgages, SAMS Shared Appreciation Mortgages and of course ARMS Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

Let us look carefully at the adjustable rate mortgage.

This was created in the early 1980s when lenders were affected financially because homeowners were repaying their mortgage loans at 8, 9 or 10, while the cost of borrowing that money was more than 15.

Lenders made a basic economic decision many years ago. The shorter the term of the loan, the lower the interest rate would be. Thus, today you can still obtain a fixed rate, 30-year mortgage, meaning that your monthly payment principal and interest is guaranteed to be the same each and every month. But the fixed rate, 30-year mortgage, although reasonably low today, still carries about the highest interest rate going.

Most adjustable rate mortgages are guaranteed to stay on the books for 30 years, but the interest rate is adjusted periodically. There are many variations on this adjustable rate theme. There is a 7-23, where the rate is fixed for the first 7 years, and then adjusts annually thereafter for 23 more years. If the rate is adjusted for 5 or 7 years, the initial rate will be lower than for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, but higher than an adjustable rate mortgage that is adjusted every year.

Today, the most common ARMS are the 1 year, or the 5 year. But even with these common ARMS, prospective home buyers must shop around for the best deal. Consumers must also carefully inquire as to all of the terms and conditions before they commit themselves to any kind of mortgage financing. And in addition to asking questions, you should insist on getting a written statement from the prospective lender reflecting all that you have been told-- and promised.

Here is what you should do:

Determine the initial interest rate. It is defined as the rate on which your loan will be based during the initial period - - whether it is 1, 3, 7 or 10 years.

Find out how many points the lender is charging. Each point equals one percent of the loan. Thus, if you are obtaining a 1 year adjustable rate at 6.5 percent, and the lender is going to be charging you 2-1/4 points, a loan of 150,000.00 will require you to pay 3,375.00 in points -- up front -- when you settle on your house. Points are not as common in todays marketplace, but some lenders are still requiring that points be paid. And if you want to reduce the interest even lower, you can volunteer to pay a point or two; but please do your homework and your math. You dont want to be throwing good money after bad. A good ballpark is that each point will reduce your rate by one-eighth of a percent. The ideal solution is to convince your seller to pay a point or two; you reduce your interest rate, and can deduct those seller-paid points on your income tax return.

Ask if the ARM is based on a negative amortization schedule. Although my experience is that most ARMS currently are not amortized on such a negative basis, I still have seen some loans with a negative factor built in. This means that although you may be paying a lower interest rate, perhaps 3 1/2 or 4 for the first few years, the interest still is being charged on your loan at a higher rate -- for example 5 or even 7percent. If this is the case,

the extra interest, which is the difference between what you are paying and what is being charged you, is added to your mortgage balance. I cannot recommend the negative amortization mortgage under any circumstances.

Determine what the rate adjustment will be. Find out if there is a cap on the periodic increases and determine what index the lender uses as a base for calculating changes in the adjustable rate.

Generally, lenders look at the Federal Funds Rate, which is published by the Federal Reserve Board. Some lenders use an index known as LIBOR London Interbank Offered Rate while others may use such rates as 1 the current prime rate, 2 10 year Treasury, or even Fannie Mae 30/60 . Ask your lender to provide youwith historical data comparing these various indices. Alternatively, you can find this information on the internet.

The lender then adds to that index number a rate adjustment, called a margin. If the adjusted rate is higher than the old one when your adjustment period comes due, your interest will be modified accordingly for the next set of payments.

For example, the current Treasury bill index for one year is 2.25. The rate adjustment offered by the lender the margin is 3 points. Even if the Treasury bill index stays at the same next year, if you have a 1 year ARM, and your current rate is 3.25, your new payment for the next year could be increased to 6.25 3.25 plus 3.

However, if there is an annual rate cap, all yearly adjustments on your mortgage payments cannot exceed that cap. Thus, even if the index increases substantially, your new interest rate can only rise the first year not to exceed the cap. Clearly, you should insist on having your loan documents include a yearly cap.

Another point to consider is whether there is a ceiling on the overall amount that your rate can increase. Lenders realize that an ARM without such a ceiling is a potential disaster for consumers -- and potentially bankruptcy and foreclosure for lenders. If you start with a 3.25 loan, for example, and there is a 2 point cap in the annual increases, it is conceivable that at the end of the 5th year, you would be facing a mortgage rate of 13.25.

Most lenders, therefore, impose an overall ceiling on the amount that your interest rate can rise. However, make sure you fully understand what these ceilings are, and get them in writing before you commit yourself to an ARM or to a particular lender.

You should also make sure that your loan is, in fact, based on a 30-year amortization schedule. You also want written assurances that so long as you are current in your monthly mortgage payments, your loan will continue for a 30-year period. Some lenders have created adjustable rate mortgages that balloon at the end of a particular period of time -- for example, ten years. This means that while the lender will probably renew your loan, it reserves

the right to call it due at the end of the 10th year, depending on many circumstances, all of which must be outlined in writing to you before you commit yourself to that particular kind of loan.

There are also serious problems with interpreting how the rate adjustments work after you get the loan. Anyone with an ARM is advised to carefully review their original loan documents, to determine whether the lender has properly and correctly assessed the new adjustable rate, when the adjustment period comes due.

There have been a number of economic analysis studies throughout the United States, which have concluded that lenders have made a number of mistakes. Ironically, not all of the mistakes were in the lenders favor.

You also indicated that your seller was recommending a lender. Make sure you shop around before you commit yourself to any loan.

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The High Cost Of Canadian Development Charges

Measures to cool Canadas housing market and curb the rapid increase in house prices are working, but industry groups say housing will not get more affordable until governments find a way to help builders increase the supply of homes available.

"It is obvious that government action is having an impact on demand in the new home market," says David Wilkes, president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association in Toronto. "We have 115,000 new residents coming to the Greater Toronto Area every year and we need to be building 55,000 new homes annually to meet their housing needs. Government policy needs to recognize the need to increase housing supply as part of a long-term solution for our region."

In the next decade, pent-up demand from millennials will put much more stress on housing prices, says a recent study by The Centre for Urban Research Land Development at Ryerson University, funded by the Ontario Real Estate Association.

"Those waiting for baby boomers to downsize may be holding their breath for some time," says the report. "Boomers are not expected to downsize in a meaningful way until mid-2040."

In addition to higher house prices, the shortage will force millennials to take on higher debt loads to get into the market, it says. More millennials will "abandon the urban core for the suburbs in search of affordable housing. This will lead to longer commutes and more traffic congestion." The report says the combination of high housing costs and reduced income prospects "could make it difficult for the region to retain this highly talented and educated workforce."

Benjamin Dachis, who along with Vincent Thivierge recently wrote a study about barriers to housing supply for the C.D. Howe Institute, says, "Recent policies -- such as taxes on foreign buyers or new federal mortgage rules -- have focused on curtailing the demand for housing, instead of taking meaningful steps to increase the supply."

Their study says that excessive government regulation pushed up the cost of new single-family homes by an average of 230,000 in the eight most restrictive cities between 2007 and 2016. In Vancouver, it increased the cost by 600,000 on average, which the authors say is by far the highest in Canada and among the largest internationally.

These "barriers to housing supply" include zoning rules, restrictions on developing agricultural land and development charges, the authors say.

"Our evidence shows that policies that restrict the supply of these kinds of houses are a major cause of their high price, much more so than low interest rates and household growth have been," they say. "Across Canada, the current owners of single-detached homes enjoy higher prices for their homes at the expense of people looking to buy homes, such as young and growing families, people looking to move to another part of Canada and new immigrants."

Dachis and Thivierge acknowledge that land-use regulations have some benefits, such as separating housing from industrial uses that so that residents have a cleaner environment for their neighbourhoods. And "land-use regulations such as greenbelts can maintain local amenities, including views of natural landscapes. These regulations generate social benefits that might be more important for certain localities than the costs of building regulations."

But they say research has generally shown that "the cost imposed by housing regulations in many cities largely outweighs the benefits provided by land-use regulation. Our analysis >The restrictions now account for about half of the cost of housing in Vancouver and more than 20 per cent in Toronto. In those cities along with Kelowna, B.C., Abbotsford, B.C., Victoria, Regina, Calgary and Ottawa-Gatineau, the regulations pushed up prices by an average of 230,000, the study says.

Reducing zoning and approval barriers would go a long way to help create new housing, they say. The City of Toronto, for example, has not updated some of its zoning regulations since the 1950s, which means that most new development proposals must go through a long and expensive zoning review. Municipalities should also modernize their review and approval practices, says the report.

Cities like Toronto and Vancouver use the planning reviews to squeeze developers for more local amenities, such as providing more parkland or public art, in exchange for allowing zoning variances. Dachis and Thivierge say there may be an incentive for municipalities to keep their zoning bylaws out of date, to give them more leverage in negotiations with developers. But while the amenities increase the value of the housing, the developers simply pass this cost along to homebuyers.

"Development fees are politically popular because they are portrayed as money paid by profitable developers rather than by homeowners, who have little appetite for increased property taxes," says the report. The largest component of these charges is for water and wastewater construction, which accounts for more than half of the cost in some municipalities. The report authors argue that instead of development fees, it would be better to charge for these services based on end use, as electricity and natural gas is charged.

"When customers pay the full cost of using an asset on a life-cycle basis, they are making the choice of consuming the right amount of water every time they turn on the taps or flush the toilets. Water prices on end use are too low in many places, partly because of municipal

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10 Tips For A Pain-Free Renovation

Whether youre painting your kitchen cabinets or ripping the whole kitchen out, renovating is exciting. Not as exciting is the mess thats created, the potential issues with contractors, and the mad scramble to come up with more money when something goes awry. While you cant avoid every unpleasantry associated with home renovations, you can prepare well to keep yours as pain-free as possible.

Move out

Depending on how extensive your renovation is, staying in the home while its going on can be horrible. And, trust us when we say that this is one of those things you only think you can get through easily if youve never been through it before. A little time at a friends house or in a hotel instead of cramming your family into a bedroom or basement with one bathroom to share and a makeshift kitchen will make your world so much better.

Dont hover...but dont fail to check the work from time to time

True story: We had our floors redone last month Goodbye, ugly tile and concrete where where foundation work had been completed, Hello luxury vinyl plank and we had to face this reality head on. While we didnt want to be in their face all day, paying attention at key points uncovered areas that needed to be addressed. What we learned is this:

Finding that perfect balance is key to establishing trust with your contractor while also making sure the work is up to your standards.nbsp;And, in the end, having cookies and other treats in the house makes everything better.

Concentrate on safety

If you are staying in the home and you have kids or pets or both, youll want to make sure your contractors leave their work area as clean as possible and dont create hazards with their equipment. On the first night of our flooring installation, our contractor left his tools - including two saws - in an open area, which our dog quickly discovered Everyone is fine, but he got to spend the rest of the night in the bedroom.

"While working in your home contractors should be willing to remove all tools at the end of each day. At the least, equipment should be stacked out of the way and out of the reach of young kids," Art Donnelly, former chairman of the board of thenbsp;National Association of the Remodeling Industry, told Parents. "You can even request that your contractor set up temporary walls to shield your kids from the work site and reduce the amount of dust filtering into your living quarters."nbsp;

Budget more than you think youll need

Its always going to cost more than you think. Setting aside an extra 10 percent - at least - will help you avoid a freak out and a panicked search for more money in the middle of your reno.

Invest in a good vacuum

And a carload of Swiffer dusters. Whether youre having your floors done, adding a room, or redoing your kitchen, its gonna get dusty. And it doesnt matter how well your contractor cleans up after the job is donemdash;it still wont be up to your expectations.

Dont pay upfrontnbsp;

A contractor who asks for payment before work has begun could be a red flag. You dont want to get duped, nor do you want to work with someone whose cash flow problem becomes your problem. Paying for materials as they are purchased is common and payment arrangements that include paying for a portion of the work at certain completion markers are sometimes worked out, but if it feels off, dont be afraid to stand your ground.

Do your research

Even the most trusted referrals require further research. Perhaps the company is under new management since your friend used them or standards have dropped over time. Google the company and check reviews online before you move forward.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Our project was almost derailed by a simple miscommunication that was, thankfully, discovered and worked through but that could have derailed the entire flooring installation.

"Ninety-Nine percent of problems are caused by breakdowns in communication," said CAVDESIGN. "Dont overwhelm your contractor with bits of paper and random suggestions. Instead, organize your thoughts, schedule a time, and go over any questions point by point. Then send a line-item list of what was decided upon so there is a clear paper trail."nbsp;

Pack up your valuables ahead of time

Yes, you want to protect yourself from theft. But you also want the things that are important to you to be safe from getting bruised or broken. If your contractor is moving furniture for you, it behooves you to take care of anything thats an heirloom or that would devastate you if it was damaged during the renovation.

Check outside when the renovation is done

Some contractors clean up the work area better than others. There might be an errant piece of tile or a few wood pieces youre not aware of on your front lawn because you typically come and go through the garage. But you can be sure your neighbors will be aware If youve already pushed the limits of their patience with the constant sound of power tools, nows the time to make sure your front yard isnt an eyesore.

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6 Easy Steps For Integrating A Dog Into Your Home... Without Chaos Or Clutter

So youre finally adding a dog to your household. Congratulations Youre about to bring so much joy to your world. But also hair and dirt and slobber. You can easily integrate a new dog into your home and still keep it clean and >Protect your floors

Your pups hairy chin probably means theres going to be water dribble. One of the best ways to handle this is with a tray under the food and water bowl. We love this Easyology Premium Pet Food Tray, which has a graphic design, comes in four colors, and has a lip that helps keep the food and water contained.

Get a crate

Youve probably heard that dogs love to be in a den-like area like a crate, but does it feel cruel to you? We get it And, truth be told, you wont find a crate in our house.. But, that doesnt mean we dont wonder if our free-range dogging was the right choice. The truth is that puppies are easily trained to sleep in their crates and hang out in them while youre gone, which makes potty training easier and also gives you the confidence of knowing they - and your home - are safe and secure while youre gone.

Heres what the professionals have to say: "Prison or cozy retreat? It all depends on perspective and on how you use the crate. Dogs have a natural denning instinct, normally preferring safe, enclosed quarters for their naps," said Modern Dog Magazine. "In the wild, a den is a secure place to get some shut-eye without becoming someone elses meal. If a dog is properly introduced to a crate as a young pup he will view it as a safe refuge from the hustle and bustle of the house and away from any pesky children - a place for peace and quiet and serious snoozing. Most domestic dog owners are surprised to learn that wild dogs spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping

Rest periods in snug quarters are a natural part of caring for our dogs needs. But... dogs have many other needs that crates interfere with. Dogs are social animals; they require interaction with other dogs or people. They also need exercise, mental stimulation, and appropriate potty opportunities. So, while some time spent in a crate is usually a positive element of dog rearing, too much time spent in a crate can have disastrous consequences."

If you do opt to get a crate, youll be happy to know you can find stylish options today that actually add to your homes dcor instead of the standard cage look.


The doggy dcor world is more varied and interesting than ever, and the options for your pup go far beyond crates. Just in the dog bed category alone, you can find everything from crushed velvet options to graphic patterns to match your >

Set some boundaries

"The big day comes when you pick up the dog. Everybody is excited and happy as you drive home, and you all come bounding up the walk, throw open the front door and let the dog off-leash and insideAnd youve just planted the seed for a lot of future issues. In human terms, youve unleashed a juvenile delinquent," said Cesar Milan. "In order to have a well-balanced dog, we have to teach her the house rules, and set boundaries and limitations from the get-go. The message you send your dog the moment she enters your home for the first time is critical, because it immediately establishes the ground rules in your dogs mind. If you just let her run in the door, the message is, Here Everything is yours, and you can do whatever you want."

Milan has eight essential steps for setting rules for a new pup. A good training program can help reinforce them.

Be consistent

Your four-year-old may think its adorable to invite the dog up onto the couch, but if you have established a no-dog-on-the-couch policy, this can be confusing. Consistency is key, and that means you probably have to spend at least as much time training your human family members as you do the dog.

Get a good vacuum

Unless you get a Chinese Crested hairless dog or a breed that genuinely does not shed, you can expect to have at least some dog hair collecting in the corners of your home. If you just have a simple broom and vacuum, it may be time for an upgrade.

Keep that dog hair in check with a vacuum that is built to suck it up. Experts like the Hoover REACT Professional Pet Plus and the Dyson DC39 Animal Canister Vacuum Cleaner. Also consider getting a microfiber dry mop. Hair loves to stick to microfiber, which can make quick cleanups easy.

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Five Steps To Furnishing Your New Home

Congratulations on your new home This is an opportunity to think holistically about the interior design and decoration of your home. Have you ever been in a house where nothing seems to go with anything else? A house with stylistic clashes in its furniture and decor can feel like a conversation in which no one is listening to anyone else. Follow these steps for a smooth decorating transition to your new home.

1. Planning

The first step is to survey the territory. Start by listing any furniture or decorative element a rug or framed art you are keeping from your prior home. Also consider design aspects such as wall color, textures and lighting. Some of these you can choose and others you will need to take into consideration as you plan.

Do you have a family heirloom piece of furniture that is coming with you to the new house? Your subsequent purchases will need to work well with the heirloom. Always take a moment and ask yourself why you are keeping a piece. If you dont love it, theres no shame in letting it go to a home where it will be loved.

2. Preparing

The perfect time to paint is before the furniture goes in. Dont make your paint purchases without thinking about the rest of the interior. For example, have you always wanted a bright red sofa? If you are going to pick a bold color for a major item of furniture, think neutral for the walls.

Another common preparation is refinishing wood floors. Take into consideration the color of the floors and moldings and how they will interact visually with the rest of your interior.

3. Prioritizing

You may be able to acquire all of your furniture before you move in. But that isnt always possible. Prioritize your furniture purchases around your familys needs. Especially if you have children, your first wish may be a dining or kitchen table and chairs. The table is a gathering place for the whole family, and being able to eat together will make the house feel like home quickly. Make sure the kids have a say in what their rooms will look like mdash; seeking their input can help ease their moving blues.

If you are a couple without children, you might find it an adventure to picnic on the floor for the first few weeks, and the bedroom might be the first room you want to furnish.

4. Purchasing

Consider buying all the major pieces in each room from one furniture line. These pieces are designed to go together, and once you find a piece you really love, see what else is available from that designer.

Celebrity brand lines of furniture are not mere gimmicks to capitalize on the stars name recognition. Rather, such brands are designed to evoke the mood and emotion most associated with that celebrity. A lot of work goes into the line to create a cohesive and evocative >

5. Getting Help

You dont need to hire an interior decorator. However, if you need some help, you can find many online tutorials on interior decorating and design, some of which are free.

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Home Inspections Can Save You Money In The Long-Run

If youre hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or youre a seller trying to find out if there are any hidden problems that need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know:

1. You can choose your home inspector.

Your real estate professional can recommend an inspector, or you can find one on your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. NAHI, must complete an approved home inspector training program, demonstrate experience and competence as a home inspector, complete a written exam, and adhere to the NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

2. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions, not cosmetic flaws.

You should attend the inspection and follow the inspector throughout the inspection so you can learn whats important and whats not. No house is perfect and an inspection on any home is bound to uncover faults. A home inspector will point out conditions that need repair and/or potential safety->3. Home inspection reports include only the basics.

A home inspector considers hundreds of items during an average inspection. The home inspection should include the homes exterior, steps, porches, decks, chimneys, roof, windows, and doors. Inside, they will look at attics, electrical components, plumbing, central heating and air conditioning, basement/crawlspaces, and garages.

They report on the working order of items such as faucets to see if they leak, or garage doors to see if they close properly. Inspectors may point out termite damage and suggest that you get a separate pest inspection. The final written report should be concise and easy to understand.

4. Home inspectors work for the party who is paying the fee.

The NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics clearly state that members act as an unbiased third party to the real estate transaction and "will discharge the Inspectors duties with integrity and fidelity to the client." A reputable home inspector will not conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report if his or her fee is contingent on untruthful conclusions.

The inspector should maintain client confidentiality and keep all report findings private, unless required by court order. That means it is your choice whether or not to share the report with others. If youre a seller, you dont have to disclose the report to buyers, but you must disclose any failure in the systems or integrity of your home.

5. Inspectors are not responsible for the condition of the home.

Inspectors dont go behind walls or under flooring, so its possible that a serious problem can be overlooked. Keep in mind that inspectors are not party to the sales transaction, so if you buy a home where an expensive problem surfaces after the sale, you wont be able to make the inspector liable or get the inspector to pay for the damage. In fact, you may not be entitled to any compensation beyond the cost of the inspection.

As a buyer, you need the home inspection to decide if the home is in condition that you can tolerate. You can use the report to show the seller the need for a certain repair or negotiate a better price. You can also take the report to a contractor and use it to make repairs or to remodel a section of the home.

One thing you should not do when buying a home is skip having the home inspected because of cost or undue pressure by the seller. A home inspection is reasonable, it can save you money in the long run, and its required by many lenders, particularly for FHA loans. Theres a reason why buyers should beware, and a home inspection gives you the information you need to make a sound buying decision.

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For Sale By Owner Dot Com...

This is Breaking News...wonder what the plan is? Media Company, Brokerage, and FSBO site combo..., LLC, a Delaware limited liability company the "Seller", an indirectly, wholly-owned subsidiary of tronc, Inc. the "Company", completed a disposition of substantially all of its assets used in its business of operating a for-sale-by-owner real estate market place, pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement, entered into on March 13, 2018 the "Purchase Agreement", among the Seller,, LLC, a Michigan limited liability company the "Buyer", Tribune Publishing Company, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company "Tribune" and In-House Realty LLC "IHR". The closing purchase price consisted of 2.5 million in cash, subject to a post-closing working capital adjustment, of which 700,000 is being held in escrow as security for specified indemnity obligations.

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Six Surprising Retirement Trends You Need To Know

Tiny homes. Rockin communities where Jimmy Buffet is your spirit animal. Rockin a strenuous hike minutes from home. Yeah, this is not your Grandfathers retirement.

Long gone are the days when people packed it in and moved to a nice, calm little home for the aging in Florida the day they turn 65. Not only are people working longer today, but they are looking for more out of their retirement - more fun and excitement, more job opportunities, and more opportunity to hang out with family. If youre getting ready to retire, these are the trends youll want to know about.


And were not just talking about weekly bingo. There is a wave of new retirement communities, most notably Jimmy Buffets foray into a new career path, that cater to a much more active life>

Other developments, like the new 100 million-plusnbsp;Rancho Mission Viejonbsp;in Orange County, CA is being developed "as annbsp;upscale mixed-generation development, with housing catering to older adults integrated into clusters of neighborhoods," they said. "Developments like New Yorks new community center for thenbsp;Morningside Retirement amp; Health Servicesnbsp;MRHS showcase anbsp;renewed focus on active, communal space. A cohousing development for seniors on Oaklands waterfront called Phoenix Commons has been compared to a lsquo;dorm for grownups."

Retiringhellip;but not all the way

Mid-size and larger cities are becoming havens for retirees because, among other positive attributes, they offer thriving job markets. So why would that be important to someone who is getting ready to stop working? Because, increasingly, retirees arent retiring all the way. Or, theyre embarking on secondary careers, often part-time, post retirement. "74 of working Americans plan to work past retirementnbsp;age, with 11 expecting to work full time and 63 expecting to work part-time," said The Street.

Chasing happiness

U.S. New amp; World Reports 2018 list of the Best Places to Retire compared the top 100 metros for their potential as retirement spots, using data including housing affordability, taxes, and access to healthcare facilities. Their overall desirability and average levels of happiness were also key to the rankings. "Several cities in Texas made the top 10," while "three cities in the mid-Atlantic region are highly rated." You can see the entire list here.

Multi-generational living

Multi-generational living is on one of real estates fastest-growing trend. "In 1940, about one-quarter of the U.S. population lived with three or morenbsp;generations in one home. After WWII, American families largely became two-generational, with parents and minor-age children under one roof," said Forbes. "The percentage of households with multiple generations started declining to 21, reaching a low of 12nbsp;by 1980." According to Pew Research Center data, 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived in multigenerational homes, including 26.9 million three-generation households."

In fact, the trend is so pervasive today that builders are increasingly creating highly livable granny flats and tiny homes that can live on family land or in backyards. Theyre also building new construction homes like Lennars Next Gen, which is billed as a "home within a home" and includes "all the features youd expect in a separate unit a kitchenette, single car garage and full bathroom while giving you the freedom to pop in whenever youd like," they said.

Increasing the activity level

"The choice of recreational activities is gradually shifting as the baby boomer generation heads into retirement," said U.S. News amp; World Report. "A recent study by the Physical Activity Council revealed some interesting findings. Activities that are increasing in popularity include camping, bicycling, hiking and canoeing. Activities that are decreasing in popularity include golf, swimming for fitness and working out using machines or weights."

The AARP found that boomers are increasingly migrating to states "with mild climates and recreational options. "A newly >

Following family

Another of todays top trends has retirees moving closer to family. For many grandparents, moving toward their children and grandchildren is "the last chance to focus on family and to leave a legacy of special memories," says Christine Crosby, editorial director ofnbsp;Grandmagazine," to Kiplinger.

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Remodeling Your Home Office To Increase Productivity

Working from home is both a luxury and a curse. Sure, you dont have to fight with traffic or even get dressed in the morning, but the line between home and work can begin to blur to the point where youre not sure if youre working from home or living at work. Additionally, it is much easier to get distracted when your office is part of your house. Kids, pets, phone, doorbell mdash; these distractions can add up to sensory overload and prevent you from working productively.

The key to overcoming this problem is to redesign and remodel your home workspace. With a few tips, you can have all the advantages of working at home and still achieve the level of productivity that comes with working in an office.

Create a Reasonably Comfortable Workspace

You want your home office to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you are inclined to take a nap. You want it to be welcoming, but not so welcoming that your kids set up camp in there with you. The design of the space should be infused with elements of your personality, including paintings, furniture and decor, but these elements should not detract from the functionality of the space. These elements should take up as little floor and leg space as possible. Keep items like floating shelves, fold away desks and chairs, and wall-mounted cabinets in mind when considering how to best use your limited space.

You also want to make sure that your designated office or workspace is in an airy, well-lit domain in your home. An area with an existing heating and ventilation unit is ideal. However, if the only space available to you is in the basement, stock up on fans, an air purifier and a humidifier to counter the stagnant air.

Use Lighting Appropriately

In an ideal home office, three kinds of light should be available: task lighting, ambient lighting and natural daylight. Task lighting is light you can shine directly on your work, so a desk lamp or flexible floor lamp is a good option. Use compact fluorescent, energy-efficient bulbs for your task lighting because they stay cool, last longer and are available in different watts and color variants to best suit your individual needs.

For natural lighting, try to set up your workspace near a window. Natural lighting is the most effective and the cheapest of the recommended lighting types. Plus, being able to gaze out the window every so often as you work is good for the soul. Be sure to invest in some quality window treatments, though, to block out the distractions that the window might bring and also to monitor the temperature in the office area. A sheer curtain can also be implemented to create ambient lighting for performing tasks that do not require direct or natural light.

Control the Stimulation Level

When considering colors for your workspace, remember that some colors stimulate the brain more than others. Colors that are too dark or too vibrant may prove distracting or can even elicit anxiety. For the walls, choose a neutral color that is soothing in the warm months of the year and also warming in the cooler months. Shades like cream, lemon and pastel blue are smart choices.

Too much noise can also be a stimulant and a distraction when trying to work from home. The kids yell, the dog barks, the television blares. Your workspace needs to block out these noises while still allowing you to hear whats important. A good rug or carpet can absorb some of the noise; however, you can also install panels on the wall or add sound-proofing mats for added absorption. Simply upgrading the insulation in the room and the air sealing can cut back on noise pollution significantly.

So, if home is where the heart and the office is, a few remodeling and designing tips can help you boost your productivity and better enjoy your home office.

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The Legal Ties That Bind With Your Down Payment

Question: We are both in our upper sixties and retired. Last October, we put money down on a condominium apartment that is to be completed around September of this year. We put down ten percent of the price in cash and the money is earning a modest amount of interest until settlement. We have some savings, but the balance would be paid in cash from the proceeds of the sale of our present home.

Although we believe the price of the condominium has gone up slightly since we signed the contract, we now have serious thoughts about apartment living and about putting most of our resources into this transaction because of some new and serious health concerns.

Is there any way we can cancel our agreement and not lose the down payment?

Answer: The lawyer in me says that a contract is a legally binding document that must be upheld. The humanitarian in me suggests that, at the very least, you should try to get out of the contract, especially with the facts you have described.

First, review the terms of the contract very carefully to determine your rights and responsibilities. Are there any contingencies in that contract, such as your ability to obtain financing or the necessity to sell your house? If any of these contingencies legitimately cannot be met, it is possible you have the legal right to declare the contract null and void.

Next, determine whether the contract can be assigned. Although most developer contracts are not assignable, it may very well be that you have the right to sell your contract to someone else. And even if you do not have that right, it never hurts to ask the developer.

For example, if the contract is for 100,000 and the market value now is 110,000, if you have the right to assign that contract, you may find someone who would purchase your contract for the contract price -- or even a few thousand dollars above the contract price.

The person who buys your contract would be obligated to follow through on all of the terms of your contract. In effect, the buyer would be stepping into your shoes, assuming all the rights and responsibilities you presently have.

As I have indicated, although most developer contracts do not permit such assignment, it is worth looking at this aspect of your contract.

Next, do not hesitate to discuss this matter with both the real estate firm representing the seller and try to speak directly with the seller. Explain your situation. They may be sympathetic. If the market for your condominium is anticipated to be strong, the seller-developer may be able to make more money by reselling the property to someone else.

Finally, you may want to consider buying the property and then trying to sell it yourself. Unfortunately, this is risky because there never is any guarantee you will find a buyer quickly and the duplicate settlement costs, financing charges and other settlement->You may also have to pay a real estate commission for that second sale. Realize that until the developer has sold most, if not all of the condominium units, you are competing against the house. And as we know, the dealer always wins.

You indicated you have put down a deposit of ten percent and you do not want to lose the money. However, there are times when a buyer would prefer to walk away from a transaction, lose the money and avoid subsequent aggravation.

Peace of mind sometimes cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents. Although I cannot recommend forfeiting your deposit, if this is an option you are willing to consider, make sure you discuss the situation with the seller before deciding. Sign a >Basically, if a buyer defaults on a real estate contract, the seller has three options available:

  • Suing for specific performance, in effect, asking the court to require you go ahead with the transaction.
  • Suing for damages if there are substantial monetary damages involved as a result of your failure to live up to your part of the contract. For example, if the seller has to resell the property at a lower price than your contract price, this would be the measure of damages.
  • Electing to retain the deposit as the only remedy. Remember, if you decide to forfeit, make sure the seller agrees, in writing, that the only remedy will be the forfeiture of the deposit. This may also be spelled out in the form contract you signed.

Although I recognize that conditions often change and new circumstances often arise after a contract is entered into, it must be pointed out that, in most cases, the time to decide whether you want to purchase property is before you sign a contract.

After your signature is on the contract and you have given some money down as a deposit, you are legally bound to comply with all the terms and conditions of that document. Your fate basically depends on how the developer reacts to your situation.

Full Story >

Ask the HOA Expert: Restricted Activities

Question: One of our homeowners kids would like to raise chickens in the backyard. Our governing documents restrict this activity. Any advice to head off this public >Answer: Most HOA governing documents restrict raising poultry and other farm animals or local laws may do so. If this is something like a short term 4-H project, its probably no big deal. If it is an ongoing production facility for eggs and meat, not a good idea. The main issues are sanitation and noise particularly from roosters.

Question: I recently had a leak in my unit that damaged wall and flooring and I am in a battle with the HOA regarding who is responsible for the repair charges. My unit is in a mid-rise condominium. The leak was coming from a rooftop chiller pipe that feeds the air conditioning units for me and several neighbors. The plumber determined that the pipe was leaking because of improper soldering. The board says neither the plumbing repair or damage to my unit is the HOAs responsibility.

Answer: This is a >

Typically, the HOA is responsible for repairing common plumbing lines. Since the plumbing line in question serves multiple units, it is considered common. Damage repair to units caused by the leaking pipe, however, is usually the unit owners responsibility unless the HOA neglects to perform plumbing repairs in a timely manner when informed by a unit owner. For a sample Areas of Responsibility Policy, see

Question: A homeowner is requesting a copy of a violation letter that was sent to another homeowner. Are we required to provide that?

Answer: Unless state law requires sharing this kind of information, a violation issue is a private matter between the board, management and offender. Such information should not be shared with other owners.

Question: What is the proper protocol for a special assessment? Should the board hold a special meeting to announce it with the homeowners, then follow up with a letter to all of them?

Answer: If the board has decided to move forward with a special assessment, it should definitely hold an informational meeting to discuss the reasons and to answer questions. It is possible that there will be people that take exception to the special assessment and want to express that opinion. They have a right to do that as long as they are civil.

The board should attempt to respond to all questions and concerns if possible. Trying to respond to "I dont have the money" is a waste of time even if true. Special assessments are never pleasant and there will always be some that have a problem paying them due to disability, unemployment, divorce, too cheap, etc. Going forward, the board should have a long range plan to avoid them in the future by setting aside adequate reserve funds to avoid special assessments. It would a good thing to point this out to the members now.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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Builder/Realtor Relationships Poised For Long-Term Win-Win

ldquo;I feel about as comfortable as a condemned man, lecturing the firing squad on marksmanship because everything I say can be held against me.rdquo;

Who would have the nerve to think what anyone had to say mattered to 1.3 million Realtors, most of whom are not encouraged or trained to work with homebuilders?

After thanking home builders for providing much-needed inventory, I can only think of two things to say to this hardworking, risk-taking group:

One, stop telling Realtors they wonrsquo;t get paid if they donrsquo;t bring the prospect to your sales office first. This 40-year policy became outdated about a generation ago the first time a home shopper completed a builders internet registration form. We both know you make exceptions on a regular basis. Why not say so up front?

Two, stop telling Realtors they need to learn construction because nothing could be further from the money ndash; or the truth. There no evidence to support this assumption. Case studies do, as we shall see.

What caused builder/Realtor >

The most important event by far happened in August of 2012, when and Builder Digital Index BDX announced a partnership whereby BDX would feed its national inventory of new homes to

Homebuilders now had what they had long lacked, access to the Realtors Multiple Listing System MLS. And Realtors had access to inventory of new homes in a format they are trained to use. Realtors can find inventory of new homes, floor plans, prices, amenities, and more side by side with resales.

The increased demand by new home shoppers forced Realtors to start showing new homes, whether they were trained to or not. It seems to be working big time.

ldquo;Millions of new home shoppers were drawn to this new service,rdquo; according to Senior Vice President of Channel Sales and Operation, Tricia Smith, speaking at the 2018 National Association of Home Builders International Builders Show in January.

In December 2013 the headline below appeared in Realty Times:

Bank of America Urging Home Builders and Realtors to Work Together.

ldquo;If you are a REALTORreg; looking for some unusual but timely business advice from a banker, E.J. Achtner, Senior Vice President of Bank of America, has some for you.

"Education, training and >

Why is a banker suggesting new home training to Realtors?

According to Achtner, "many builders, regardless of their size, are taking a much more collaborative view of partnering with Realtors than in the past and we encourage our builders to work with Realtors.rdquo;

It would be safe to assume that other lenders started encouraging their builders to do the same thing,

Then less than two years later, more than 25 MLS Partners were offering inventory of new homes from their local source.

BDX Announces 25 MLS Partners Providing Access To New Construction Inventory For 400,000 Realtors.

"With our partners in this effort, nearly 400,000 REALTORSreg; have direct access to New Home Source Professional through their MLS today," said Tim Costello, President and CEO of BDX.

"More than half of all home shoppers consider new construction, so its imperative that we continue this industry collaboration to help agents and brokers serve their clients.

ldquo;Today builders and Realtors are working closer together than ever,rdquo; Costello said.

Systems are in place to communicate clearly and accurately. Commission issues are few and far between.

While builders are finally working within the MLS system, they still have a way to go with their Realtor training. A study said they need to do a better job of bringing Realtors into their process.

Two Out Of Three REALTORS Say Homebuilder New Homes Training Is Not Useful

According to a study commissioned by Builder Homesite Inc, "nearly two-thirds of Realtors believe that builders are not offering useful training about how to sell new homes."

Why? Because what they teach does not engage Realtors in the sales process. The Builder Homesite study nailed it with this statement:

ldquo;There is a sizeable portion of Realtors that would welcome an outreach effort to engage them in a sales process and increase the proportion of new homes that they sell."

A national position on a few key issues would be helpful. We will get to those issues in Part 4.


Summary: Except for a lingering lack of trust, there is no excuse for Realtors to ignore inventory of new homes.

Homebuilders, your training question is this:

lsquo;Is what I am saying, or about to say, building more trust in my product or me?rdquo;

If you struggle with the answer, you need to rethink your message, which we will address.


Next: Part 2 How Experienced New Home Co-Brokers Feel About Selling New Homes

Full Story >

Home Buying Checklist: What Else Does Location Mean?

"Location, location, location" are the cornerstones of property value and neighborhood popularity. Evaluating this seemingly-simple, triple-impact factor goes beyond me>

Yes, proximity to the places you and family members regularly must or want to visit is an important factor in identifying an ideal location. However, theres more to accessing location than an address.


Below is a comprehensive checklist of LOCATION FACTORS many of which may be overlooked by buyers until they move in and discover that their chosen and paid-for location is not all they expected it to be. Many of these factors also affect market value, now and in the future. All these factors will not be an issue for every property. Check off the factors are >

Walkability has many definitions which largely differ by walking purpose: destination-driven, exercising, socializing, exploring, enjoying the outdoorshellip;. Measures of walkability can be useful and may add to market value, but these scores are not absolute, so investigate the reference source and measurement approach. Experiment by walking where you and family members would walk and when. There may be obstacles, like very busy streets, that would affect whether walking would be the best transportation choice.

Nearby Shopping used to be a big location factor, but online shopping has taken the shine off this convenience for many buyers. In some areas, malls are falling into disrepair and closing. Would that be a concern for you? In other locations, new large-scale commercial ventures are underway in or closer to residential areas. How would you feel about having a big box store on your doorstep?

Developments especially large-scale projects, condominium towers, multiple-housing complexes, and commercial ventures, increase density, traffic, noise, andnbsp; pressure on schools and community services. Years of planning and arguing proceed ground breaking, so todays quiet streets may reveal little sign of what will begin once you move in. Ask a lot of questions about local development.

Street Status exists in most neighborhoods, which themselves each carry different status. Certain streets confer status on residents. Which street, side of the street, or end of the street carries greater real estate value or status? One end of the street may be closer to shopping and the other to parks. What do you value regarding physical location?

Sunshine is valued by most buyers, even though they may appreciate it for different reasons, ranging from gardening to solar energy. In some areas, south-facing backyards are more popular and, in others, its south-facing fronts. What is blocking sunlight to the property now and what might block it in the future?

Teardowns or properties more valued as building sites than homes, exist in most established neighborhoods. How many teardowns surround the real estate? Teardowns are not all dilapidated

structures. In many areas, attractive bungalows and two-storeys are demolished to build mega-homes, perhaps like the one you are interested in. During the demolition and build, neighbors are plagued by noise, dust, lack of parking, and inconsideration that can mean restricted use of their own properties for a year or two. Whats planned around the property?

nbsp; Neighbors may include Airbnb hosts and other home-based business owners, some of whom may conduct their ventures in ways that end up disturbing neighbors. Many municipalities and police receive complaints from homeowners concerned about what businesses are doing around their property.

nbsp; Schools particularly popular ones, can be a big influence on a location decision for those with children to educate.

nbsp; Transportation carries different importance for different buyers. Have public transit and road systems kept pace with rising population in the area? Are neighborhood-changing transportation projects like rapid transit scheduled to begin in the next year or so? Will the bulk of >

nbsp; Infrastructure is an often-overlooked factor. How recently have bridges and main roads, essential for access to the area and downtown, been up-dated and up-graded? Have water and sewage

services been upgraded to serve growing populations? Or, will you face months, if not years, of "under construction" streets around your home?

nbsp; Break-ins tend to be more common in some areas than others. Who keeps the neighborhood safe? Whats their track record? Do most neighbors have their own home security system? Are community safety groups active?

nbsp; Water Supply and shortages can be an issue. Droughts seem more common and last longer. How prepared is the community to handle water shortage? Do summer shortages affect lawn watering and landscaping, making local drought-resistant plants and no-grass front yards essential? Are bush fires a recurring threat?

nbsp; Flooding in low-lying areas and drainage basins can be a threat. Could rising water plague that real estate or the immediate area or access? How affordable and attainable is property

flood insurance in this area? When was the last time flooding was an issue and what happened during clean up? If the property is waterfront, is shore erosion or rising water an issue? Is the waterfront often fouled with dead algae or other smelly matter?

nbsp; Traffic is more of a concern in urban areas. Is the residential area under traffic calming and speed-management strategies to reduce rush-hour traffic through the area? If there are speed bumps, how are fire and emergency vehicles affected? Is there a plan to add or remove traffic calming and why?

nbsp; Airplanes can disrupt family life even if a property is not close to an airport. The increase in frequency of planes taking off and landing at all hours has many neighborhoods, even those distant from airports, plagued by airplane noise. Circling a city to land, means planes travel over many homes drowning out conversations and disrupting sleep. Just popping in for an open house or viewing may not make you aware of a noisy flight-path problem.

nbsp; Landscaping and mature trees enhance neighborhoods. Large trees can present hazards as they age. Are trees downed in storms replaced? What invader species are working their way through the area to undermine outdoor enjoyment?

nbsp; History of the home or location may be a concern in special cases. Has anything happened on the property or near it that has led locals to consider the real estate less favorably?

nbsp; Pollution mdash; air, noise, or water mdash;is a problem in some areas? What is being done to reduce the ill-effects for residents?

nbsp; Taxes are a key location-driven affordability factor. All of the above can impact how quickly property taxes and municipal fees go up. Whats the pattern of increase in the area? How does local government raise the funds it needs to maintain quality of life in the area?

Dont panic. All these factors will not affect every property.

Our point is that buyers should find out which, if any, of these issues could significantly affect their new home, its market value, and their life at that location before they buy.

  • Concentrating too heavily on interior decor and not on >
  • What could buyers do about surprises like those listed above after they move in?
  • Would issues like these affect what buyers are prepared to pay for that real estate in the first place?

Who can possibly know all these details about a property?

  • The property owner, or at least the smart ones, keep up on what is going on at or near their location because all of this affects property value and enjoyment.
  • Neighors know a lot mdash;maybe more than sellers realize.
  • Local real estate professionals know this and more because local knowledge and market value are what their work centers on. Listing professionals spend time with sellers to explore the history of the property and the area. Between them they know whats going on locally and how that property will be affected.
  • The local real estate professional or buyers agent who assists you in finding the right real estate for your needs and budget has access to the owners knowledge and that of the listing professional through the Multiple Listing Service. This plus their own local knowledge should help you understand the listed factors >

Full Story >

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Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2018

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