Real Estate News

Updated: Monday, June 26, 2017

Are You Prepared for Coaching Success?

Two demanding forces may be holding real estate professionals back by creating gaps that need attention:

  • If you invest most of each day concentrating on what your clients want, need, and aim to achieve, you can shortchange yourself by overlooking these same gaps in your own lifemdash;professionally and personally.
  • Technology enables you to pack more and more into a day, but this does not automatically make you more productive or successful. Professionals now >the desired charge to productivity and thinking.

Interactionmdash;the correct human interactionmdash;can be a phenomenal accelerator to overcome the above two challenges. In this column, were explored many ways that professional communication is a "brain-to-brain dynamic" that can clarify thinking, enrich engagement, and enhance productivity. With coaching, your brain is in for a leap forward that it may not achieve alone. The coaching brain belongs to an experienced and highly-trained professional communicatormdash;a coach not to be confused with traditional sales trainers.

Growing numbers of professionals in many industries >Thats where the right coach comes in.

Todays professional coaches are intent on advancing their profession and the skills they bring to client engagements, as coaching sessions are called. Coaching industry events like the World Business and Executive Coaches Summit WBECS, which provides high-quality educational programming for its more than 20,000 attendees, is the largest online coaching event and community. Local chapters of coaching organizations are a good place to begin your search for the right coaching match.

Are You Prepared For A Successful Coaching Experience?

If you hire a coach or are considering this step, you know that the right match will help you charge ahead. One of the most overlooked aspects of hiring a coach is first deciding what you will contribute to ensure a successful coaching experience.

Coaches are trained to help their clients overcome obstacles and roadblocks. However, clients can save themselves a lot of wasted time by committing to overcome three bad habits that do neither the coach or themselves any good:

1. Not doing the learning exercises or "homework"

Experiential learning, or completing seemingly-simple exercises to reveal the complexity behind ending negative behavior and embracing positive reactions, is essential to coaching. Talking is not enough. Coaches help clients find practical ways to incorporate these exercises into a packed schedule, but ultimately progress is ruled by client intent.

2. Not listening to and absorbing the importance of coaching questions

This shortcoming arises from the misconception that the coach is responsible for making the difference. In fact, the coach is trained to help the clientmdash;thats youmdash;take responsibility for making the difference. Coaches hone questions to address specific client needs, gaps in understanding, and goals. Thinking about what each question evokes is as important as honestly answering it.

3. Not valuing what the coach does because you do not understand the significance of each thing the coach does to help you

  • During a recent WBECS webinar, Dr. Brian Underhill of Coach Source reviewed methods for client measurement of the effectiveness of coaching sessions. His research revealed that executive and CEO clients often subjectively undervalued coaches in clear contrast to measured return-on-investment coaching results. Underhill attributed this difference to executive coaching clients not completely understanding the coachs skills and impact because coaching finesse is not specifically pointed out to clients by coaches. Much the way, buyers and sellers undervalue real estate and > Make the effort to understand why your coach asks you specific questions, selects details to share, and provides specific exercises, and youll enhance resulting benefits and outcomes many fold.
  • In a different WBECS webinar, Senior Executive Coach Mark C. Thompson, quoting another well-known coach, explained that there is "deep frustration in getting our clients to really embrace what we have to offer." To illustrate coach frustration, he repeated familiar laments "Why wont they listen to us and our questions?" and "Why wont they pay attention in a way that could really benefit them?" Any of this sound familiar?

Thompsons WBECS webinar dealt with "Super Powers of Highest-Paid Coaches." He explained that this title referred to the reactions of executive- coaching clients from The Incredibles-creator Pixar. They described the best coaches as "quick to serve, fast to adapt, drivers of change... like superheros."

Thompson, known for his actionable, practical coaching on business essentials from leadership to sales growth, dissected one super power he called FUEL, as in "FUEL the power to deliver results," to demonstrate how subtle and effective coaching communication techniques can be. Heres a summary of his FUEL acronym points, which, with respect and in the spirit of our shared economy, I have extrapolated so real estate professionals can >

  • FOCUS mdash; Focus on what matters most to clients. Focus on a few things with the highest impact instead of trying to do it all at once.
  • URGENCY CARING mdash; Urgency about the clients priorities is essential. The context that dictates client priorities is the one that coaches must respond to first.
  • ENGAGEMENT mdash; Helping the client engage in terms of managing "up and down" with those who matter to the client. That is, assist the client to >LENGTH of time mdash; Think longer term from the first moment to create sustainable context for the client-coach >

    Real estate and >For more on coaching, WBECS, and
    Full Story >

  • When Is A Listing Commission Earned?

    Of course, different listing contracts may contain unique or unusual conditions, but, for many years in many parts of the country, listing agreements have held that a commission had been earned if a buyer was procured who made an offer that matched the price and terms specified in the listing agreement, or on other price and terms the seller might find acceptable. A completed transaction was not a required condition for a commission to have been earned.

    But a 2012 California Appellate Court ruling RealPro, Inc. v. Smith Residual Company, Fourth Appellate District Court changed that understanding in the Golden State. In the RealPro situation, a buyer had made a full-price, per the listing, 17 million offer on terms that the seller found acceptable. However, the seller then increased the listing price to 19.5 million. The buyer declined the price increase; but, subsequently, the buyers broker, as a third-party beneficiary, sued for his commission.

    The trial court focused on the portion of the listing that set forth price and terms, which said "17,000,000 cash or such other price and terms acceptable to Sellers..." The courts view was that it would be a mistake to say that the listing was for 17 million. Rather, it "was for 17 million cash or such other price, plus terms acceptable to Sellers."

    The Appellate Court said, "we, like the trial court, conclude that the 17 million price was me>

    You cant fight them; so you might as well join them. The California Association of Realtors CAR changed its Residential Listing Agreement RLA the next year. It currently reads that a commission is due if anyone "hellip;procures a ready, willing, and able buyers whose offer to purchase the Property on any price and terms is accepted by Seller, provided the Buyer completes the transaction or is prevented from doing so by the Seller." [my emphasis]

    But wait Now a different California Appellate Court has come forth with an opinion Carol Gilbert, Inc. v. City of San Francisco Ellis-OFar>

    Carol Gilbert, Inc. CGI entered into a listing agreement with Ellis Parking to find a tenant for restaurant space in a parking garage that has retail space on the ground floor. The City of San Francisco owns the building and Ellis Parking has a master lease. The listing agreement said that "If a lease is entered into during the Term of this Agreement, or any extensions hereof, [Ellis Parking] will pay [CGI] a sum based on [a complex schedule in the agreement]... When Commission Due: Commissions shall be deemed one half due and payable upon the later Lease Execution or Removal of Contingencies, and one half on the earlier of Tenants Opening for Business or Commencement of Rent..."

    CGI procured an offer on behalf of Loris Diner, and in October of 2012, Ellis Parking signed a lease agreement with Loris Diner for a twenty-year sublease of the space. The sublease contained language saying that it was subject to the master lease which, among other things, required that the city of San Francisco would not unreasonably withhold consent.

    Whether reasonable or not, the city did withhold consent. Instead it renewed a lease with the existing tenant. Ellis parking declined to pay CGI any commission, so CGI sued for breach of contract. The frac12; commission owed, by the way, was 245,717.38

    The trial court held that "Because there was nothing in the Exclusive Listing and Sale Agreement which mentioned or referenced the Citys approval as being a contingency that needed to be removed in order for CGI to receive the commission, [CGI] is entitled to one half the commission."

    The Appellate Court agreed. Quoting an earlier case, they wrote "The brokers right to compensation lsquo;must be found within the four corners of the listing agreement, which will be lsquo;strictly enforced according to the lawful terms." The court acknowledged that, of course, some condition or contingency could limit or void the brokers right to a commission. But such language would have to be clearly stated within the listing agreement. In this case, it was not.

    The court wrote, "The only condition precedent to CGIs right to a commission under the listing agreement was that a lease be lsquo;entered into. A lease was lsquo;entered into when Ellis Parking and Loris Diner signed the sublease..."

    This case, and much of the reasoning in the opinion, could lend weight to the idea that maybe the "old way" -- in which a sale did not have to be completed for a commission to be earned -- could be revived. Right now, though, that would be premature. CGI v. Ellis Parking has not been published, and cannot be cited as law. That would have to be changed. There is a time period during which the court can be asked to publish its opinion. You can bet that there are interested parties working on such requests.

    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 .

    Full Story >

    Real Estate Professional Dertrez Pressley Makes Third Generous Donation on Behalf of His Client with the Agent with Heart Program

    Las Vegas, NV June 20th, 2017 -- 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 Beyond the Dream Foundation on behalf of his client, Adrienne Richmond.

    "This is Dertrezs third donation with our Agent with Heart Program and we are very grateful for his impeccable kindness and generous spirit," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. "Our program was created to help assist nonprofits within the community by connecting them with local realtors and their clients, and Dertrez is a shining of example of our goal at work," continues Mr. Giaimo.

    "We look forward to seeing how Dertrezs generosity will continue to assist his community, and thank him for being a partner in our Agent with Heart Program," 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 To connect with Dertrez Pressley, please call 702-963-6424.
    Full Story >

    Tenants Rights During a Foreclosure

    Question: My wife and I and our two teen-age children have rented a nice house near the high-school for many years. We have >

    Answer: Pete, this unfortunately has become a common problem in the past few years. There is always the possibility that you will be asked to leave, but there are some things you should do -- and do immediately.

    You received a letter from the lenders attorney advising you about the pending foreclosure. You should call that lawyer, and ask several questions:

    1. when and where will the foreclosure sale take place?

    2. can you start making your rent payments to the lender, or putting it in escrow? I suspect your landlord has been collecting your monthly rent, but not paying the mortgage with those funds.

    3. if the lender purchases the property at the foreclosure sale, will they allow you to stay in the property? If so, for how long? At a foreclosure sale, it often happens that no one will purchase the property. Thus, the lender actually buys back the property and will own it. However, most lenders do not want to be in the real estate ownership business and will want to get rid of the property as soon as possible.

    Additionally, are you interested in purchasing the property? At foreclosure sales, it is possible to get a good deal if you are the successful bidder. However, before you go down this path, talk with your own attorney. You want to have a title search performed -- before the sale takes place. You want to know all about foreclosure sales, and what your rights and obligations will be. Too many people mistakenly believe they can get a super deal by buying properties at foreclosure sales. This "aint necessarily so".

    Finally, you should find out what your state law provides in these circumstances. In some jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia, if a lender forecloses on property, the owner must vacate the property. However, tenants have or may have stronger rights, and will be permitted to stay in the property for a period of time. Additionally, in most states in the United States, a tenant just cannot be thrown out on the street without a Court Order. This means that the new landlord -- the successful purchaser at the foreclosure sale -- will have to go to Court to seek an eviction Order. This will give you some more time before you have to move.

    As an ounce of precaution, however, you may want to start looking for another rental property. And I do not recommend you pay any more rent to your landlord. You should put your rent in escrow with your attorney. I strongly suspect that if your landlord is having financial problems, you probably will not get your security deposit back when you vacate. Thus, you want to protect yourself as soon as possible.

    Question: Regarding your column on deed in lieu being faster than a foreclosure in the case of a reverse mortgage. You dodged the implied issue of the owner no longer wanting to handle the cost of ownership for a property that is "underwater" while not opining on the moral implications of defaulting and walking away. I can assure you from my observation of the last financial crisis that the bank is in no rush to assume ownership and the >

    Answer: Howard, point well taken. You are absolutely correct that banks are not in a hurry to take over any property -- especially those under water. Yes, I did dodge the moral and ethical implications of just walking away.

    I know it happens all the time; we read about "zombie houses" all over the country. Many states are now enacting legislation putting the requirement on lenders to maintain those properties where the owner has just locked the door and walked away. In fact, in many cases, they dont even lock the door.

    I cannot recommend anyone to walk way. My concern has nothing to do with the lenders; I have no compassion for lenders that refuse to foreclose on a timely basis. My concern is for the neighborhood and the neighbors who are faced with decaying homes next door, grass not being cut, vagrants camping out, etc, etc. One neglected home in a community drags down the property values of surrounding homes, and unfortunately a downward spiral occurs.


    Full Story >

    Enforcing Long Unenforced Rules In Your HOA

    It may come as little surprise that quite a few homeowner association boards fail miserably in rule enforcement, especially in self managed HOAs. Lets face it, confrontation with neighbors is not something most people look forward to. So when certain members play fast and loose with the rules, these boards turn a blind eye or run for cover. If this failure to enforce goes long enough, a reform group often appears to run for election and make a change. Once elected, Big Questions arise like "How do we go about enforcing long unenforced rules?" and "How aggressive should we get?" Good questions.

    All rules are not created equal. Some are much more important than others. The board should focus on those that degrade curb appeal, market values and livability. In the case of planned communities, for example, a homeowners failure to maintain his roofing, paint, fences and landscaping has a direct impact on the market values of neighboring properties. So, issues that impact curb appeal and market value should be a high priority.

    Livability issues are important as well. Does the HOA have a problem with, say, uncontrolled pets or loud and rowdy residents? While the police are the answer to extreme behaviors, the HOA can control the less extreme through warnings, and if necessary, fines.

    To get a handle on the scope of rule issues, the board should make a list of violations by type and address and then prioritize by blatancy. While all violations should be addressed, focus attention on the big ones with a goal of getting compliance or compromise on all within a reasonable period of time.

    To establish the boards position and intent, a written notification should be sent to all members. Heres a suggested format which can be adapted to your use:

    Dear Members of Nottacare Condominium,

    The board of directors discussed Nottacare rules compliance at the last board meeting. In particular, there has been ongoing issues with parking, pets and architectural design issues. In years past, prior to the current board taking office, rule enforcement has been inconsistent. The board is charged with and given authority in the governing documents to enforce rules, regulations and policies for the benefit of all Nottacare members. These rules, regulations and policies are design to enhance the livability of Nottacare and help sustain all member home values.

    To that end, please be advised that the board will begin regular and consistent enforcement of rules, regulations and policies effective date. Written violation notices will be directed to the violator or landlord if the violation was done by a renter, a description of violation, the corrective action required, the penalty for failure to comply and a right of appeal.

    Deadlines for compliance are based on the type of violation. The deadline may be immediate as in the case of illegal parking or days as in the case of correcting an Architectural violation. See a copy of the rules, regulations and policies attached for the specifics.

    The board appreciates your understanding and attention to this matter. Our goal is to facilitate the best possible living conditions for all Nottacare residents by establishing reasonable standards. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated. Please dont hesitate to direct your written comments and questions to email address or mail address. All feedback will be reviewed by and responded to by the board within 30 days. We also invite you to attend the next board meeting time on date at location to express your views on this communication.

    Since>I.M. Incharge
    Board President - Nottacare Condominium

    Rules in homeowner associations should be few and necessary. When reviving rule enforcement, focus on the ones that truly make a positive impact on value and livability. Treat your members with respect and understanding. Be prepared for compromise if its in the best interest of the HOA. Rule on

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
    Full Story >

    The Top-Three Considerations When Starting a Home-Based Business

    If yoursquo;re considering starting a home-based business, youre in good company. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of all businesses are run out of the ownerrsquo;s home.

    If yoursquo;ve already weighed the pros flexible life>

    1. Setting Up Your Workspace

    Setting up your home office is priority No. 1 for your home-based business. Without a doubt, having a dedicated office space equipped with everything you need to run your company efficiently and professionally will be key to your success.

    Now, you donrsquo;t have to necessarily create a new office, but rather a workspace thats set up solely for business purposes, a setting where you feel comfortable working mdash; and thats >

    Keep in mind you can deduct any expenses >

  • Office supplies. Setting up a home business from scratch can be a daunting task, and you dont want to spend several days or weeks buying supplies you didnt realize you would need. No one wants to bite more than they can chew, so visit the home office of a colleague or friend and make a list of supplies they use. Your best bet is to stock up on supplies like envelopes and stamps, printer paper, pens and file folders.
  • Appropriate technology. At a minimum, yoursquo;ll need a laptop or desktop computer for you and any employees as well as a printer/scanner and high-speed Internet connection. Think about other devices and software that would make your workday easier. This might include a headset and video camera for video conferencing or project management software to keep you and any employees or contractors on track.
  • Phone system. If you have customers or vendors who need to reach you by phone, you should invest in an office-only phone system. Consider the nature of your business and volume of incoming calls you expect. For many small businesses, investing in an interactive voice response system, which allows you to create automated prompts to more easily field customer calls and route calls to different departments, will save you time and money, while increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Backup plans. At some point, something will go wrong in your office mdash; your Internet or phone connection will go down or your computer will crash mdash; and youll need to have a contingency plan in place. Do you know of a nearby co-working space? Is your work backed up in cloud-based storage? Do you have a local IT professional on speed-dial? Think through the worst-case scenarios and plan how to keep your business running smoothly.
  • 2. Establishing Sound Budgeting Principles

    Developing a realistic budget for starting and running your home-based business is essential to its success. While youll no doubt save money on renting office space, youre still bound to incur a wealth of one-time and recurring expenses.

    With that in mind, research how much money yoursquo;ll need to set up your home office, market your business, secure licenses and permits, and pay any employees or contractors. Find accounting software you feel comfortable using. For small businesses, Business News Daily recommends QuickBooks Online and Zoho Books.

    3. Developing a Proper Marketing Strategy

    One of the biggest challenges for home-based businesses is marketing a product or service. This is one area where you dont want to cut corners, especially if you have plans for growth. By working from your home, yoursquo;ll need to work harder to market yourself as a professional and reputable business.

    At minimum, yoursquo;ll need a website, cohesive social media presence and professional business collateral business cards, brochures, fliers to get your name out there. Ideally, yoursquo;ll work with a marketing expert to create a comprehensive marketing plan mdash; an expense that will pay big dividends down the road.

    Full Story >

    How Green Can You Go? Eco-friendly Solutions For Every Commitment Level

    Its hard to ignore the influence of big oil in Texas. Thirty-five miles to the Southwest of Frisco, TX, this years second-fastest-growing city in the nation and home to thousands of suburban families like my own, whose electric bills climb up into the 300-plus range while cooling their 3,000-square-foot house, Irving-based Exxon is the biggest oil producer in the world - and thats just the tip of the oil well. Frisco is also among the Texas cities where deregulation among power options is still not a thing, BTW. Oh and theres also a fun Texas law that "allows builders to restrict solar-energy devices while a housing development is under construction," said the Dallas Morning News, and when they would be most convenient, and most cost-effective to install, in most cases.

    This is not the place youd expect to see, oh, I dont know, a luxury community of eco-friendly homes with features including grass rooftops.

    But thats precisely what is being proposed by architecture and design firms Stantec and Total Environment, who presented the concept "for anbsp;57-acre, single-family home development" with luxury homes featuringnbsp;low-energy, environmentally friendly products" to the Planning and Zoning Commission this week, said Frisco Community Impact. "These types of homes are popular in other countries such as India and Dubai, and, if approved, would be the first in the U.S., according to developers."

    It begs the question: Did green living just move from the fringe to the forefront? If eco-friendly homes can come to oil-rich, fracking-loving Texas, are we talking game-changer? Could be.

    Were still a long way from hiring landscapers to manage our rooftops en masse. But, in the meantime, its easier and more rewarding than ever to live a leaner, greener life. So it might be time to ask yourself: How green can you go?

    Heres our breakdown of some of the best ways to incorporate a more eco-friendly way of life into your world, no matter your commitment level.

    Green "lite"

    You may already have thought of some of the easiest ways to go green, like recycling at home, watering plants early or late in the day when the sun is not at full strength, and doing laundry and dishes during the coolest part of the day to save your air conditioning from working overtime.

    Compact fluorescent lightbulbs CFL are probably already on your radar, which is a great thing, since, according to thenbsp;Environmental Protection Agency EPA, CFLs use as much as 75 less energy than those old incandescent bulbs and can also last up to 10x longer.

    Here are a few easy changes you can make that you may not have considered:

    Replace nonstick pans with cast-iron. "To create the slick surface of nonstick cookware, manufacturers apply chemicals callednbsp;fluoropolymers, which are >

    Do your wash in cold water. Energy Star says that close to 90 percent of the energy used for laundry goes to water heating. Buy some cold-water detergent and youre good to go.

    Set your TV picture to "normal" instead of the manufacturer setting. "Many flat screens are shipped from the manufacturer with a picture setting that makes it stand out in retail displays, but are brighter than you need at home and consume 10 to 20 more energy and cash at this setting, reports the NRDC," said Prevention.

    Ditch your regular house cleaners. Many of them can include toxic ingredients that can harm the environment and are also potentially dangerous to members of your household. The only things you really need to clean just about everything in your house: baking soda, white vinegar, and lemon.

    Trade your regular mulch for rubber. Mulch is great for your yard because it keeps moisture in and also makes it look nice and tidy. But rubber is a step up from the bark-like texture youre probably used to seeing. "Made from 100-percent recycled tires, rubber mulch is suitable to use on most landscapes," said HGTV. "It has several benefits: a safe play surface for children, prevents weeds, does not attract insects and water and air can easily flow through it."

    Green medium

    Looking to make a larger commitment to green living? There are changes you can make outside of daily efforts like watching your water and electricity usage and choosing products with a more eco-friendly profile for everyday use.

    Seal it up. Sealing up any leaks can make a big difference in the heating and cooling loss thats driving up your bills - as much as a 20 percent difference, according to Energy Star. Its also a pretty DIY-friendly task, but to get the best results, you may want to hire a professionalnbsp;Home Energy Auditornbsp;who can give you the lowdown on where your home is deficient and recommend changes.

    Start composting. "Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead," said the EPA. "Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and >

    Replace your appliances. That old fridge is working hard to cool whats inside, and thats costing you - literally. It, and its friends the old dishwasher and washer and dryer, are sucking up energy and dollars. Swapping them out for newer, Energy Star versions, is good for the environment, and your bank account. Whether you get a new refrigerator or not, these tips from Prevention will help you save even more: "Keeping your fridge pushed tight up against the wall limits circulation and makes the unit work harder, increasing your energy use and costs. Keep it a few inches away from the wall, and follow the manufacturers instructions to safely keep the fridges coils clean. If youre one of the 25 of U.S. households using a second, older fridge, considering recycling it. Running an older - model fridge - ones commonly used in basements or garages - could cost your family up to 300 a year. Temperature makes a difference, too. Proper fridge temp should fall anywhere from 35 to 38 degrees - anything lower wastes energy."

    Hardcore green

    Window replacement falls here because it can be a big dollar commitment. "All-new vinyl windows for an average 2,450-square-foot house run about 15,000, according to the lsquo;Remodeling Impact Report from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSreg;," said Houselogic. But, the good news is that youll save "126ndash;465 a year when replacing single-pane windows, according to Energy Star. And, "For average-quality vinyl windows, you can recoup 80 of the project cost in added home value, according to the lsquo;Remodeling Impact Report," said Houselogic. Based on the vinyl window replacement projects in the report, thats a value add of about 12,000 if you should decide to sell your house."

    Other "major commitments" include:

    Use spray foam insulation. Give that old pink stuff the heave-ho. "An alternative to traditional fiberglass and cellulose insulation, spray foam traps more conditioned air within the home, allowing for significantly less leakage and consequently, reduced energy use year round," said CBS. "Containing rapidly renewable material, spray foam insulation does not produce harmful emissions and is also water and shrink proof, which translates into zero framing distortion over time -- a hugenbsp;constructionnbsp;plus. A study done on side-by-side homes, one with traditional insuation, and one with spray foam, "found that the use of spray foam to create an unvented attic Home CP2a lowers the HERS the industry standard by which a homes energy efficiency is measured score from 84 to 79, and results in a net annual energy savings of 16. When spray foam is used to provide an unvented attic and insulate the exterior walls Home CP3a, the HERS score is reduced from 84 to 78, and the annual energy savings increases to 22."

    If youre building from scratch, consider the material. You already know that bamboo is a top choice because it is renewable. But have you thought about recycled steel? "Two out of every three tons of new steel are recycled fromnbsp;oldnbsp;steel, making it the most recycled material on the planet," said CBS. "According to thenbsp;Steel Recycling Institute, steel also uses lessnbsp;energynbsp;and emits fewer harmful CO2 emissions than many other building materials, making it an optimum green choice. You also cant beat steel for durability."

    Choose sustainably harvested materials. You can get a natural wood look without the guilt by looking for eco-friendly options. "Put in formaldehyde-free cabinetry to avoid >

    Go solar. Forget those ugly solar panels. Elon Musk and Tesla are in the process of upending the roofing industry with their Solar Roof glass tiles, which are "offered innbsp;four >

    Reclaim your water. Water reclamation is an easy enough undertaking that it could go in the medium category above. But, for many, people, the idea of recycling water is slightly traumatizing, so its going here instead. The thing is, you dont have to recycle all the water in the home to reap the benefits from an eco-friendly perspective. If the idea of blackwater, which includes wastewater from toilets as well as dishwashers and garbage disposals,gives you the shivers, youre not alone. Companies are busy working on black water recycling systems, but, for now, you only need to concentrate on gray water, "which is tap water soiled by use in washing machines, tubs, showers and bathroom sinks," said How Stuff Works. "Gray water reclamation is the process by which households make use of gray waters potential instead of simply piping it into overburdened sewage systems with all the black water.

    The advantages of gray water reclamation for your wallet include lower water and sewage bills. Additionally, reusing gray waters otherwise wasted nutrients from soap nitrogennbsp;and phosphorousnbsp;and food potassium can sustain plant life and recharge topsoil."nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Relaxing Designs For Your Lakefront Backyard

    According to Wallace J. Nichols, in his book "Blue Mind," our brains are hardwired to react positively to water. Our predisposition to embrace water might be the reason being near it can actually calm us.

    But water lovers probably donrsquo;t need to be told how >

    Create a Waterside Sitting Area

    To maximize your time outdoors, create a waterside sitting area to >

    Add an Oversized Hammock

    No lakefront property is complete without an oversized hammock. You might even get inspired by the trends in cities like Minneapolis where locals are setting up hammocks in public parks and campuses for a short rest and >

    Install a grand trunk double travel hammock for outdoor roughing it and camping right in your own backyard alongside the lake. A Folding Camp Hammock is also a great choice for something more temporary that you can take up and down and move around your yard as needed. Or curl up with your loved ones in a two-person DuraCord Cameo Rope Hammock for a more traditional look.

    Include a Cozy Fire Pit

    Embrace the evening moonlight and light up a fire pit with friends and family to roast marshmallows. Its also the perfect spot to warm up after a day of canoeing or waterskiing. Look for all shapes and sizes from small, round portable pits to grand monoliths that anchor your overall design. Keep in mind the fire pit you choose may require placing it on flat stone to prevent embers from getting out of control. In addition, disclosing a fire pit may be a requirement for your homeowners insurance policy or could be against your lakefront neighborhood rules.

    Create an Outdoor Entertaining Space

    If your lakefront backyard is large enough for a deck or large patio, considering turning it into an entertaining space. Set up a Tiki bar and outdoor furniture resembling a living room set to bring the comforts of home outside. An outdoor kitchen is perfect for lakefront cooking and dining with countertop space, grill and kitchen sink along with a wine fridge to serve guests. To give your outdoor space even more dimension, create fences and garden walls for extra privacy. A pergola with a string of lights intertwined overhead turns your lakefront backyard into a festive evening.

    Indulge in a Vanishing Edge Pool

    There may be nothing more indulgent than a swimming pool overlooking your lake property. Choose a vanishing edge pool that makes it look as if your pool drops right into the lake. Place it on a hill to overlook your lakefront backyard or add to a patio area for a heated dip on a cool night. Add floating candles and outdoor speakers for a >
    Full Story >

    How To Spice Up Your Bedroom

    Ever notice how you feel especially amorous when youre in a nice hotel with your honey? Everything from the luxury bedding to the clean and orderly nature of the space can add to your desire to get close. You can use some of those ideas as a starting point when creating a sexy bedroom in your own home.


    The seduction is on. Youre moving toward the bed, locked in an embrace, and thenyou hit the side table and that stack of books and papers tumbles to the ground. Hello, mood killer Decluttering is a recommended strategy throughout the home - one that can lower stress and also keep your home looking neater and cleanerbut it has obvious benefits in the bedroom, like eliminating the possibility that your piles of stuff will interrupt your romantic moment.

    Choose the right lighting

    Bright lights overhead probably wont make you feel like undressing. Theyre more likely to make you feel like youre being interrogated definitely not sexy. Soft lighting can set the mood, and, even better, install dimmers so you can control the amount of light in the room at all times.

    "A lot of men and women grapple with lighting," Ian Kerner, PhD, told Womens Health. "Either its too light or its not enough light for visual stimulation. And according to a recentWomens Healthsurvey, 74 percent of men and 72 percent of women want those lights dimmed during intimate times - but not totally off. The easy solution: a simple dimmer switch."

    Be careful with your color choices

    "While cool colors are actually better for supporting a good nights sleep, they are are not hot, stimulating colors," said Apartment Therapy. "Aim somewhere in the middle. AVOID red-light district red and go for warm greys, lavender, warm greens, browns, tans, rose if you really want it feminine. Neutral colors rock. Think "spa chic" and raw linen, which is so popular right now. China White is a lovely not too warm white, which goes really well with little warm pops of color in bedding, pillows, rugs, curtains or lampshades."

    Make it comfortable

    A lumpy bed wont serve anyone well, especially if you have sex on the mind. For the best results, get a mattress that isnt too soft and isnt too firm. A sore back may put an end to your romantic thoughts for the evening, or longer. And dont forget the headboard - for obvious reasons.

    Its all about the fabric

    "You want to consider all the senses when in the bedroom and softness of touch is a big one," said Apartment Therapy. Think super soft, high-quality bedding, a rug with a soft texture, cushy pillows. Scratchy surfaces are a turnoff in any setting.

    Follow the principles of Feng Shui

    "Feng shui, often called the art of placement, is an ancient oriental science incorporating astronomy, geography, environment, magnetic fields, physics and natural elements. The Chinese have been using it four thousand years to optimize living and working environments, with an amazing track record of benefits in health, happiness, prosperity and >"The bedroom is especially important in this system, since its the key area of the house where love, intimacy,
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    The First-Time Homebuyers Guide To Grown-Up Furniture

    You just bought your first home. Congratulations: Youre an adult Now its time to fill it up. But if you were planning to pack up those ratty old beanbag chairs and the bed that awakens you with a morning backache and move them to your new place, we have a few suggestions. Its time for a grown-up upgrade. Heres where to start.

    Invest in the important staples

    You can scrimp on your mattress because its not something that guests will see, right? Not so fast. A good mattress should be at the top of your list because it affects something more important than the opinions of friends and family: Your health.

    "You wouldnt run a marathon or hike a mountain without the right gear. And yet, despite spending a third of our lives sleeping, many of us havent adequately prepared in the bedroom - when it comes to mattresses, that is," said Huffington Post. "You might be tempted to blame your budget for continuing to doze on a less-than-ideal mattress, but considering justa little bit more shut-eyecan help you lose weight, improve your memory and live longer, can you really put a price tag on good sleep? But the wrong mattress - or the mattress thats simply too old - can be the cause of more than that crick in your neck or yourlower back pain. Here are five sneakier ways your mattress affects your sleep -andyour health.

    If you just cant bring yourself to spring for that kind of big-ticket item right now, look for opportunities to spread out payments with a zero percent interest deal, which more and more retailers are offering. Go to a place like Rooms to Go and you might be able to get your mattress and a living room set with monthly payments that are right around what you and your honey would pay for a nice lunch.

    Measure, measure, measure

    Having furniture thats too small or too large for a room can make it function poorly and look "off." Measure ahead of time so you know what to look for. Stores like HomeGoods have stacks of paper measuring sticks laying arouond, but you wont always be that lucky. Measure your space and input everything in your phone, stash a measuring tape in your bag, and you wont have to guess if something will work when youre out shopping.

    Dress up the bed

    One of the best ways to make a bedroom look pulled together is with a headboard. But many people dont even take a look at options because they assume they will be too expensive. You can get a super chic headboard for a minimal spend if you know where to go. This tufted headboard from Overstock looks like it would cost you about as much as a monthly mortgage payment, but its just 137.


    Buy a decent couch

    The couch falls squa>Youll hate yourself - and your couch - if you buy super cheap just to get something in the room. And were speaking from experience. Our first cheapie couch purchased online, BTW started falling apart after about a month. Contrast that against what Sothebys-trained home shopping expert Jennifer Litwin, author of Best Furniture Buying Tips Ever, says should be the lifespan of the couch: "The general prognosis isabout 10 to 15 years, she told The Nest. You can scrimp on other, easily replaceable items like side tables and chairs that wont be used often, but when it comes to that couch: Go ahead and splurge a little.

    Like and follow influential sites

    Speaking of chairs

    Just today we learned about this great-looking 43 chair on Amazon that we never would have known about if we werent fans of MyDomaine. And, by fans, we mean we follow them on Facebook. "The midcentury-modern chairs feature velvet upholstering, steel legs, and are available in dusty rose, moss green, gray-green, and teal, to name a few," they said. Theyre sold in a set of two, starting at 85."

    Sites like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge are great places to get interior design ideas, and liking and following a few favorite stores like World Market and HomeGoods and online sites like Wayfair and One Kings Lane is a great way to keep up to date on sales and trends.

    Be careful about buying online

    When comfort and quality are key, you want to be careful about buying without being able to see, touch, and sit. If you just have to have it, at least you can read what others have to say before producing your credit card. Back to that 43 chair from Amazon: "How do you know if chairs sold on Amazon look and feel as luxe in real life," asked MyDomaine. "Members of the Facebook group purchased the chairs and posted images of the items IRL, confirming that they live up to the hype.Yes, if the long chain of comments, likes, and photos are any indication, this might be one of Amazons best-kept secrets."

    Buy some art

    Real art, from real actual artists. You can find some surprisingly affordable pieces that will give your home a personal touch. "Collecting art can be an expensive habit, but these days there are plenty of places to get amazing original art for a great price," said POPSUGAR. Like Minted, one of our favorite spots for original art that "discovers talent through ongoing design competitions. Designers submit, the Minted community votes to tell them what to sell, and we end up with seemingly limitless options at super affordable prices," they said.

    That doesnt mean you need to give up all your posters although, we adults call them "art prints." Just get them framed nicely. "Luckily, framing has never been easier, now that there are online services like Framebridge," said Refinery29. "And when all else fails, you cant go wrong with the basicIkea RIBBA framesjust make sure the art fits and doesnt slip and slide around when its hanging on the wall."

    Dont be afraid to go to IKEA

    IKEA is good for more than frames, even though you probably equate grown-up furniture with stuff you dont have to put together yourself. But not everything has to be a permanent fixture when youre just starting out. Concentrating on the big-ticket items may leave limited fuds for available to fill in the rest of your place. Many a new homeowner has hit the big blue-and-yellow warehouse and headed straight for the MALM dresser. Its cheap starting at 54 for a two-drawer version, its functional, and if you have a little bit of creativityor the ability to do some basic research and follow directionsyou can turn it into something that looks far more expensive.

    Were also loving this South Shore Cookie 6-Drawer Double Dresser in gray and white from Walmart, which could give you the function in you need in an extra bedroom or guest room with a sleek, modern look. We guarantee your guests will never know where it came fromunless they were savvy enough to purchase on for their own home.

    Get a few key housewares

    Living like an adult isnt just about what you put stuff on. Its also about the stuff you put on you. Still using the same stiff sheets you bought for your first apartment or ratty towels youd be embarrassed for company to see? "Youll feel more grown-up the second you stop drying off your body with a towel that has a fish in sunglasses on it," said Refinery29."
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    What To Expect When Visiting Chip And Joanna Gaines Magnolia Market

    Chip and Joanna Gaines havent just taken over the airwaves on their uber-popular HGTV program, Fixer Upper. Theyre taken over the city of Waco with their Magnolia Market at the Silos. Those of us who live in Texas within a few hours drive of Waco can get in the car and be at Magnolia easily to shop and soak in a little of that Gaines magic. But if youre planning a trip from farther away - and so many are - preparation is key. Knowing what to expect and heeding a few tips can help ensure your trip is a good one.

    Bring your patience

    Youre going to wait in line. Just accept it on arrival so youre not disappointed to see that you might have to wait awhile to get inside the store, or the super-busy Silos Baking Co, for that matter. But, there are some ways around it. According to the stores helpdesk, Magnolia "is busiest during the hoursnbsp;around lunch; particularlynbsp;on Saturdays, when we see thousands of people come through our doors. We suggest coming near opening or closingnbsp;hoursnbsp;to have the most peaceful shopping experience."

    We got lucky on our visit, arriving in mid-afternoon and strolling right in, but these people did not.

    Bring your wallet

    If youre a fan of Chip and Joannas French country >

    At the very least, youll probably have orders from friends and family to buy a bunch of Magnolia t-shirts and sweatshirts. If youre thinking you can just buy everything you like online, Popsugar cleared up that, "About 40 percent of the goods in their Magnolia Market store are available in their online shop, the other 60 percent can only be purchased at the physical location."

    Bring your appetite, too

    In addition to the Silos Baking Co, there is a rotating drove of food trucks lining the lawn where you can grab everything from mac lsquo;n cheese to hot dogs to crepes to cold-pressed juice. After all that shopping, youll definitely want a snack. Bonus tip: Stake your claim on one of the covered tables for some shelter from the sun. Waco is HOT in the summer. Were not above a little table stalking when necessary.

    Its ok to bring the kids

    In fact, theyll probably have a blast, playing cornhole, kicking a ball around, and swinging on the swings. In the back of the property, where Magnolia Seed Supply, the Gaines outdoor mecca, is located, theres even a teepee.

    Keep in mind, though, that the breakability factor inside the store is high.

    Check the calendar ahead of time

    Many disappointed families have arrived in Waco all set to shop, eat, and play, only to find out that Magnolia Market and the Silos Baking Co. are closed on Sunday. This may affect your trip. Youll also want to pay attention to their Facebook page, which lists upcoming events like ongoing Movie Nights at The Silos and the Silobration in October.

    Make "just in case" plans for the rest of the day

    One of the things that stood out to us is how different our expectations were from the reality of Magnolia in terms of the time we would spend there. We were done in a couple of hours, and that was with some food truck and lawn-lounging time. If you want to continue along the Fixer Upper Tour, head to Harp and Co Design. This is woodworking master Clint Harps nearby shop, where you can browse and buy before heading to JDH Iron Designs, Fixer Upper metal art designer Jimmy Dons shop, which is about a 25-minute drive through the countryside.

    Stay in a Fixer Upper House

    The Harps home that was fixed up on the show is right next door to their shop, and is now available for rent through Airbnb - and its not the only one. The historic Magnolia House is also on Airbnb, although its so popular, even at 695 a night, that its booked through 2017. Do a search for "Fixer Upper Airbnb" for more options.

    Get there in >

    While parking is easy and free at Magnolia, you can add to the fun especially for the kids by taking the Silos District Trolley, which runs runs every 15ndash;20nbsp;minutes throughout the day and will stop anywhere along the route so you can hop on or off to browse the downtown area.

    Document your trip

    Youll undoubtedly go to great lengths to do so, because social media and friends demand it Your family may look mostly ridiculous, but you wont care because you got a picture in front of the Magnolia sign. The strong sun can wreak havoc with your outdoor photos, but dont leave without snapping a pic under the MilestoMagnolia sign and uploading it to Instagram.

    Full Story >

    7 Top Design Tips for a Small Backyard

    Long to be a land baron, with acres of lush grounds to create the ultimate outdoor paradise? That may be a dream for another time. For now, a smaller space is your reality, but that doesnt mean it cant be amazing. These 7 tricks will help your small yard live large.

    Dont be scared of trees

    While a towering live oak may not be the right choice for your smaller yard, you dont have to give up on trees altogether just because you dont have acreage. Japanese maple and ornamental crabapple are just a few great options that will bring some color to your outdoor space. Our favorite: the crape myrtle, which maintains a manageable size and, "Its hard to beat the showy summer flowers, beautiful bark, and brilliant fall color," said Sunset.

    Consider the scale

    That patio set at Costco might be great deal, but how are that huge glass-topped table and eight rocker chairs going to look on your mini deck? There are plenty of options for small-space patio sets, and if youre looking to create an outdoor living room, building in the seating in this yard creates a welcoming seating area and keeps the rest of the space open.


    Go diagonal

    Finding the right hardscape material is only the beginning. How you lay it can make a big difference in the overall impact in your yard. "Creating a view along the diagonal of the property creates the illusion that the space is bigger than it looks," said HGTV. "Here, the diagonal path with steps traces a zigzag line through the garden, providing areas to linger and enjoy the wide beds and colorful plantings."


    Go vertical

    Vertical gardens have been one of the top trends for outdoor spaces for a few years and are perfect for smaller spaces or yards where the floor space is limited. There are all kinds of fun planters you can use for a mix of greenery and flowers, or choose a climbing variety. "Liven up a plain patio wall with a sun-seeking climber, like bougainvillea," said Good Housekeeping. "A simple stake in the dirt is all the t>

    Divide it up

    You may think that the less you place in the yard, the larger it will seem. But think about how a house looks with no furniture; that emptiness doesnt always translate to roominess. Placing things randomly throughout the yard might not create the feel you want, so think strategically. "It may seem counterintuitive, but by dividing your yard into zones using garden beds and landscaping, you actually give the illusion of space," said Aussie Green Thumb. "Consider creating areas that are essentially a series of rooms, such as an outdoor paved area, a lawn section and then gardens of varying heights. This means when you look at the yard from any angle, you dont know what is around the corner and it could go on forever. Its about creating mystery and allure."

    Play with varying heights throughout

    The gardens are a great place to start, but you dont have to stop there. This multi-level deck creates so much interest that the size of the space becomes an afterthought.

    Create a container garden

    Container gardening makes even the smallest outdoor space game for some greenery. "No space? No problem You can grow flowers, herbs, and even vegetables in pots," said Rodales Organic Life. "Container gardening is ideal for those with little or no garden space. In addition to growing flowers, gardeners limited to a balcony,nbsp;small yard, or only a patch of sun on their driveway can produce a wide variety of vegetable crops in containers containers.nbsp;Basil,nbsp;chives,nbsp;thyme, and othernbsp;herbsnbsp;also are quite happy growing in pots, which can be set in a convenient spot right outside the kitchen door."

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    9 Dishwasher Placement Solutions for Your New Kitchen

    Although every kitchen layout is different, there are >

    Place it next to the sink. As a kitchen designer, I usually recommend that a dishwasher be positioned next to the sink. There are two reasons for this: The first is that it will make plumbing much easier and less costly, and the second is behavioral. People generally use a "scrape, rinse, load" method to load their dishwasher. This involves scraping leftovers from dishes into the trash located to one side of, or under, your sink, then giving dishes a quick rinse before loading them into the dishwasher. Consequently, the best placement is on the opposite side of the sink from the scraping area.

    There are many dishwashers on the market that dont require dishes to be rinsed before theyre loaded.

    Choose a side. If you decide to position your dishwasher next to your sink, the next consideration should be whether to put it on the left or right. There is no correct answer; a right-handed person typically will hold a dish in the left hand and use the right hand to scrape or wash the dish, therefore making it easier to load dishes into a dishwasher positioned to the left of the sink. The opposite applies to a left-handed person.

    Photo by Carnells Design - More modern kitchen photos

    Having said that, people are often creatures of habit, so I sometimes find clients prefer to put the dishwasher on the same side of the sink that it was on in their old kitchen, regardless of whether they are left- or right-handed. The overall layout of the rest of the kitchen and the location of other appliances is also important to consider, so try not to become wedded to left or right at the expense of creating a poor layout in other respects.

    Photo by Designs Australia - Browse contemporary kitchen photos

    Ensure the dishwasher is close to drawers. Always make sure the drawers or cabinets where flatware, glasses and dishes are stored are close to your dishwasher. This kind of functionality and practicality is essential to any kitchen design. The location of all kitchen appliances in >

    Note the distance to nearby cabinets. Aim to have a maximum of one steps distance between your dishwasher and the storage areas where you are placing dishes and utensils. Your dishwasher can be adjacent to these cabinets and drawers or opposite them; it doesnt matter as long as you dont need to move far between them.

    Check movability within your space. Freedom of movement is an important consideration when designing a layout. This is especially >

    Photo by Art of Kitchens Pty Ltd - Search contemporary kitchen pictures

    When planning your kitchen, visualize yourself carrying out daily tasks such as loading and unloading your dishwasher. Try not to position your dishwasher in a location that will block off a main walkway when its open. It is also important to consider the location of other appliances, such as a cooktop, in >

    Having appliance or cabinet doors clash when they are opened is often unavoidable, particularly in an L- or U-shaped kitchen. However, its worth ensuring that your dish, cutlery and glassware drawers and doors can be fully opened at the same time as your dishwasher door is open to make unloading easy.

    If your dishwasher is beneath an island counter. In a kitchen with an island, you will probably find the island becomes the spot where dirty dishes are dropped as they are cleared away from outdoor entertaining areas, the dining table or the breakfast bar.

    Photo by Kitchen Capital WA - Look for traditional kitchen design inspiration

    For this reason, locating your dishwasher here is a good idea. Dishes can be quickly cleared from the island countertop, rinsed in the sink if preferred and then loaded into the dishwasher without having to move to another area of the kitchen.

    However, it may not always be possible to locate a dishwasher in the center of a room due to plumbing restrictions, particularly if a home is built on a concrete slab. It is worth speaking with your designer and plumber about this at the planning stage because it may be prohibitively expensive.

    Photo by ANA Building Group - Search contemporary kitchen design ideas

    Consider integrating your dishwasher. If you have an open-plan kitchen, you may want to think about concealing your dishwasher, particularly if it could be visible from your living area. In this instance, consider an integrated dishwasher - that is, one specially designed to sit behind a panel that matches the rest of your kitchen cabinetry.

    There are two main types of integrated dishwashers. One is a semi-integrated, as pictured here, where just the top control panel is visible, with the lower part covered by a cabinetry panel.

    The other option is a fully integrated dishwasher, as pictured here, giving the illusion that a cabinet or bank of drawers lies behind the cabinet front. In this case, the controls of the dishwasher are located along the top edge of the door and are only visible when its open.

    Or hide it away in a walk-in pantry. Walk-in and butlers, or working, pantries are becoming more popular in kitchens, particularly in new homes. As a kitchen designer, I get regular requests from clients that their dishwasher and a second sink be located in their pantry. This is so that all dirty dishes can be taken straight there after a meal, and all large pots and pans can be washed there, leaving the main kitchen neat and tidy and the sink empty to rinse glasses or wash hands.

    Photo by kitchens by peter gill - More contemporary kitchen ideas

    Busy families and larger households might consider having two dishwashers, one in the kitchen for everyday use, and one in the butlers pantry for extra dishes or on those occasions when guests come over.

    Think about elevating it. If you dislike bending down to load and unload your dishwasher, this may be the solution for you. Building your dishwasher into a taller cabinet mdash; similar to how you would with an eye-level oven mdash; will be easier on your back.

    Photo by Seacute;verine Kalensky Architecte d Inteacute;rieur - Discover modern kitchen design ideas

    Incorporate a drawer that can be used to store anything from dishwasher tablets to plates or chopping boards below the dishwasher, to make use of the extra space. You can finish the height of the cabinet at the top of the dishwasher or continue it to a higher level with additional storage mdash; or even a microwave space mdash; above the dishwasher. Ensure that the dishwasher is installed correctly and fixed into place to avoid any movement.

    Also See:

    • Kitchen Sinks That Match Your Dishwasher
    • Create Your Own Dishwasher Strategy Here
    • Contact Kitchen and Bath Remodelers Near You

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    Real Estate Professional Jason Isley Makes His Agent with Heart Donation Debut with Two Very Generous Donations on Behalf of His Clients

    Las Vegas, NV June 14th, 2017 -- PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that Jason Isley of Seven Gables Real Estate in Tustin, California recently closed two transactions and made special donations to the Assistance League of Santa Ana on behalf of his clients, Jane Martinez, Judy Fine and Steve Tancredi.

    "This is Jasons first set of donations with the Agent with Heart Program and we couldnt be more grateful for his generosity," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. The Agent with Heart Program was created with the goal of assisting in the growth of local communities nation-wide by connecting local realtors to nonprofits within the community.

    "As members of the Assistance League of Santa Ana themselves, Jasons clients chose their organization because it is one that is clearly near to their hearts. Knowing that our program is helping to grow theirs thanks to Jasons incredibly generous donations brings a smile to all of our faces here at PinRaise. Jasons dedication to giving back to his community is inspiring to all of us, and we look forward to seeing how he will further impact his community, and the communities of his clients, in the future," 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 Dana Roberts 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 To connect with Jason Isley, please call 714-478-6750 or visit his website at

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    5 Tips to Clean and Prepare Your Air Conditioner for Summer

    Making it through the summer without a working air conditioning system isnt feasible in some parts of the country. Even if you live in a temperate climate, your AC system will make you and your family much more comfortable at home.

    So before the weather really gets hot, take the time to clean and prepare your air conditioner. Use these 5 tips for getting your air conditioner ready for its busy season.

    1. Perform a Visual Inspection

    As a homeowner, you wont know everything there is to know about your air conditioning system. That doesnt mean you cant spot something thats obviously wrong or out of place.

    Before summer begins, take the time to visually inspect your outdoor air conditioning unit. Look for signs of physical damage to the unit that may have occurred during the winter months like missing or poorly aligned panels. If the panel that covers the electrical system is out of place this is a fix that you should leave to the pros for safety reasons.

    You should also take the time to check that your refrigerant lines have proper insulation that hasnt been damaged over the winter.

    2. Check Your Electrical

    Before you turn your air conditioner on you should inspect any power and electrical cords around your outdoor unit. If these are frayed or damaged, getting a service professional to make the necessary repairs is essential.

    Youll also want to check your circuit breaker to make sure the proper electrical connections are powered on. Breakers may have flipped during the winter without you knowing it.

    3. Clear Debris

    Its common to find debris covering your outdoor air conditioning units housing and around the condenser coil that makes the unit work. Using a cover for your air conditioner in the fall and winter can help with this in the future, but if debris is a concern now, it should be cleared before you turn the unit on.

    Removing debris is a simple job - just avoid damaging your unit with gardening tools like rakes and shovels. Heavy gloves are your best bet for clearing debris around your condenser coil.

    4. Change Your Air Filter

    Changing the air filter that makes sure you get clean air inside your home might seem obvious, but many people forget to do it around this time of year. Even if your air filter hasnt been in use for the allotted time recommended by the manufacturer, a change is a smart idea between seasons.

    If there are any issues with your air conditioning unit that youre not aware of a dirty air filter will only exacerbate the problem.

    5. Call the Professionals

    Taking the time to clean and prepare your air conditioner on your own is a wise move, but not every problem is one that can be spotted by the average homeowner. Even if youre diligent in your efforts, youre not a professional who deals with air conditioner systems every single day.

    When the seasons change, getting a quick inspection from a professional service provider you trust is a wise choice. They can provide a deeper inspection and let you know if there are any concerns with your air conditioning unit. Your air conditioner might also get a clean bill of health, giving you a little peace of mind for the summer season.

    Following these tips to get your air conditioner ready for use. Basic maintenance tasks shouldnt take you more than a few hours and performing them could save you hundereds in repairs.


    How to Prep Your A/C for Spring and Summer

    Clean Your Air Conditioner Condenser Unit

    11 Steps to Follow Before You Turn On Your AC

    5 Secrets for Getting Your A/C Ready for Summer
    Full Story >

    Losing Your Earnest Money
    Question: The contract I just signed to purchaser a house contained the following language: "If the buyer defaults, the earnest money will be forfeited to the seller. This is to be considered liquidated damages and not as a penalty". Can you please explain what this means? Beth.

    Answer: Shame on you, Beth, for signing a contract without fully understanding what it means. It could have required that your car and your current pension plans be given to the seller if you did not go to closing escrow. Just kidding, but stranger things have happened when people sign something they dont understand.

    In your case, should you not be able to finalize the deal, you will have to forfeit ie lose the earnest money you posted when you initially signed the sales contract. But the law is clear that if the amount you are forfeiting is not consistent with what the seller may have lost because you did not go to closing -- but instead is really a penalty -- the law will not allow you to lose your deposit.

    So lawyers put in the language you question about to protect the sellers.

    However, that does not mean you will lose your deposit, if you can prove that the money is disproportionate to the actual loss that your seller may face.

    Oversimplified, the damages will be accepted as "liquidated" if the seller cannot really anticipate what the losses will be should you default. Accordingly, it is typical for that language to appear in real estate contracts.

    So, for my buyer readers, try to post as little of a deposit as possible; and for my seller clients, try to get as large a deposit as possible.

    Hopefully, you will eventually split the difference. And of course, this is completely academic if the buyer closes the deal.

    Question: I am a teacher and I live in a co-op. I paid 200,000 cash for my apartment in 2003. In 2008, I took out a HELOC loan on my equity. I now owe 75, 000 on it. When I signed the papers, I was told that if I did not sell my home before principal and interest payment kick in March 2017 I would just need to apply for refinancing. I did that a few months ago while rates were low and everything was set within a week. My FICO score hovers at 800 and I only owe a monthly plan for a new air conditioner on which I pay more each month than the monthly requirement. At the last minute I was called by the bank to say "sorry, we no longer finance co-ops as we did when you got yours." My payment will go up about 450 for an grand total of 640 a month. As a teacher who has not had a raise in a long time, I can not afford this payment. I have never been late on any payment for anything and dont live beyond my means. I can not find an instance where my co-op had a problem with a bank. In checking around, I have not been able to find any local banks who finance co-ops, especially for such a low amount.

    Any suggestions? I do not want to sell my house and renting is astronomical. Kim.

    Answer: Dear Kim: Assuming your cooperative apartment did not dramatically go down in value since you bought it some 14 years ago, you clearly have considerable equity. I know that not every lender is prepared -- or even understands -- how cooperative funding works, but clearly there are lenders out there that can assist.

    First, is there a teachers credit union near you? From my experience, many credit unions will make you a loan based primarily on your credit standing. They need to take the ownership certificate often called "sha>Another source of lending is the National Cooperative Bank. Although its main office is in Arlington, Virginia, they make loans all over the United States.

    Question: My husband and I plan to buy an investment property, and want to make sure our other assets are protected. What is the best way for us to take title? Emily.

    Answer: Dear Emily: as I just wrote to another reader, I cannot provide specific legal advice. However, in general, there are three ways in which title can be held.

    First, individually, in the names of you and your husband. That provides the least protection. Even if you have more than adequate insurance -- including umb>Next, you can take title in the name of a corporation. Talk with your financial advisors about this approach; from my experience, there is too much paper work and corporate filings required to make this a favorable option.

    Next, you can take title in the name of a limited liability company LLC. Although I dont normally make recommendations, this is what I generally suggest to my investor clients. The LLC provides the same protection as if it were a corporation but with less complications and less paperwork. Oversimplified, it is called a "pass through" entity; the LLC files an information tax return but the profits or losses are "passed through" and you include those numbers on your individual tax returns.

    Every project is different; review these alternative but discuss with your financial and legal advisors. And the recent tax proposals submitted to Congress by the President seem to favor "pass-through legal entities, as we all know, Congress has the final say.
    Full Story >

    The Homeowners Summer Maintenance Checklist

    New season. New tasks. As summer approaches, make sure your home is set with this home maintenance checklist.

    Inspect Your Air Conditioner

    As temperatures warm, yoursquo;ll want to stay cool. And in order to enjoy the benefits of cooled-air yoursquo;ll need to make sure that your air conditioner is running properly. Throughout the winter and spring months it is common for your air conditionerrsquo;s condensing coils to get filled up with dust, lint, grass clippings and other debris. This can impair the units function. If you have debris, itrsquo;s an easy fix. In most cases the debris can be cleared with a high-pressure spray down from a water house. Itrsquo;s also important to clear the area around your air conditioner unit. This means no overgrowing vines or shrubbery that can hamper its ability to operate.

    Clean Up Your Grill

    Thinking about hosting a few cookouts this season? Not before you clean the grill. If you donrsquo;t already have a grill cover, invest in one to keep it protected from the elements throughout the other seasons. Your first task includes scrubbing your grill grate with a wire brush. This should also be done every time you grill, but letrsquo;s face it, sometimes itrsquo;s overlooked. Next, remove and wash your burner protectors. These can be removed easily. Toss them in a soap-filled five-gallon bucket and get to scrubbing. After that, wipe up the grime from your burners and clean the plates underneath with a wire brush. The plates are also removable. Finally, remove the bottom tray that serves as a collect-all, give it a wash and put all of your pieces back in order. Then, yoursquo;ll be ready to throw some steaks on the fire.

    Check for Pests

    Many types of pests thrive in the summer months. Due to summer temperatures, which affects behavior and development of common pests, ample food sources and increased daylight, many house and yard pests thrive throughout these months. But homeowners can prevent pests. First, check moist areas around your home and yard, like the gutters, for example, as these moist areas are hotspots for pest activity. Take a hard look at your home and inspect the outside of your house for cracks, crevices and holes, as these can be used as access points for unwanted pests, large and small. While you may be able to treat and prevent a number of pests, some pests, including wildlife, require special removal. If you suspect an infestation it is wise to contact a specialist or professional, as these trained experts have the skills necessary to properly remove wildlife nuisances.

    Wash Your Windows

    Take advantage of the warm weather, get outside and wash the windows. Ideally, your homersquo;s windows should be washed twice per year. This task can be simplified and expedited with a squeegee. Instead of rubbing the dust and dirt around in a circular motion, opt for a strip applicator and use a solution of warm water and dishwashing soap. Next, wipe the window clean with a squeegee and clean up your window corners with a dry rag. For multi-pane windows you can customize a squeegee to fit the area by trimming it down with a hacksaw. Itrsquo;s a simple solution for clean, streak-free windows.

    Full Story >

    The Dos And Donts Of Tapping Your Rising Home Equity

    If you bought a home recently, it may already have increased in value. Equity growth goes hand-in-hand with pride of ownership and fun stuff like tax breaks when it comes to homebuyer goals, so say a big, "Yay"

    "Nearly 91,000 homeowners regained equity in the first quarter of 2017, according to real estate data firm Co>But, before you go making plans for all that equity, either by doing a cash-out refinance if possible and prudent or getting a home equity loan, take a pause. That money may be best left right where it is. If you still want to tap that equity, here are some of best - and worst - ways to use it.

    Home renovations

    When your home has equity, it can be tempting to use it for home renovations, which, presumably, will further raise your home value - or at least make your home prettier or more functional. Knowing which renovations pay you back is key to making smart choices. Review Remodeling magazines Cost vs. Value Report, which "compares average cost for 29 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 99 U.S. markets." You can then take your research further, viewing data for your regional area. This will help you decide if that 50,000 kitchen is a good investment, or if that attic renovation you were considering will be a bust from an ROI standpoint.


    A new car

    That fancy new car is calling your name, right? Does it make sense to use some of your home equity to finance or buy it outright? Ask yourself this: Is this a car you cant afford without using your home equity? Can you afford to pay the difference in your current monthly payment and what will be your new payment - plus the monthly cost of the car?

    "During the housing bubble, consumers used home equity borrowing to pay for everything from boats and gambling junkets clearly bad to cars and kitchen renovations not so bad, said "The problems these homeowners experienced during the financial crisis and recession taught us that even some not so bad spending should be scratched from our list of acceptable uses. So, while we used to say that financing a car with a HELOC was OK, we no longer believe that. Besides,auto loansare now one of the few types of consumer loans that are cheaper than home equity loans or lines of credit."



    Adding on to a home can be a great way to make it more livable, especially if the space is inadequate for your family. The Cost vs. Value Report can be useful here, too. You might be surprised to learn that a midrange bathroom addition typically only pays back an average of 53.9. But, if you bought an older home that only has one bathroom, adding another could have a much higher ROI that makes the addition worth it.

    When it comes to larger undertakings, "Studies show thatnearly all of the cost of a mid-range two-story addition may be recoveredat thetime of sale," said The Spruce. "The key here is may be recovered, as there is no predicting the real estate market years in advance. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it needs to be mentioned. More space means higherheating and cooling costs, more windows to wash and gutters to clean, increasedproperty taxes, and more house to clean. Even though additions offer the potential for higher cost-value ratios than other renovation projects, you still may not recover the full cost of the addition when you actually sell."


    That European cruise or trip to Machu Picchu sounds like a great idea, especially because youve got some cash to pay for it with the rising equity in your home. But consider this: You may be paying back the money you spend on that vacation long after you return home.

    "The first mistake is using your home equity line of credit to live above your means," said Fidelity. "That can be paying for a vacation, using it to support going out to eat, buying luxury goods, or more generally, spending what you dont have. This risk is very similar to the risk of running up too much credit card debt, except that making this mistake with your home equity line of credit affects more than just your credit rating: It puts your home at risk."

    More real estate

    Leveraging one property for another is a tricky proposition. Whether youre thinking about flipping a house for the first time or already have some experience under your belt, youll want to weigh the pros and cons - and costs - involved in buying and owning two properties.

    "Unlocking some of your homes value to pay for a second home has its advantages - but it has some big drawbacks too," Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst for, told CNN Money. "Lenders tend to give more favorable terms to those who tap their homes equity to pay for a second home because they have more skin in the game. Buyers who take out a separate mortgage on a second home are more likely to stop making payments if they run into financial trouble and default. To offset the increased risk, banks charge higher rates and require larger down payments of these borrowers. The costs of borrowing, especially on home equity loans, can be lower as well, since these loans dont involve paying for title searches or insurance and other transactional costs of new mortgages."

    Now for the negatives: "By tapping your homes equityyoull be increasing your monthly mortgage payments and increasing the risk of losing your primary home to foreclosure.

    Also, by buying another home youre tying up a lot of your money into one type of asset. Youre putting a lot of eggs in the real estate basket."


    With the cost of college continuing to rise and mortgage rates reaming near historic lows, homeowners are increasingly looking to their home equity to offset some of the costs of education. Heres why it may be a good idea: "With a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit, the two biggest positives are that home equity loans may be cheaper than other loans, plus the interest paid on a home equity loan is tax deductible," said The most important downside: Youre using your home as collateral. And then theres this: "These loans dont typically offer flexibility during periods of financial hardship," they said. "But those who borrow with federal student loans can readily obtain loan deferments, forbearance, and sometimes even loan forgiveness."
    Full Story >

    Designing Condos For Kids

    The idea that cities are no place to bring up children -- that somehow every kid should grow up on a farm or in a suburban home with a huge backyard -- has always been challenged by City of Toronto planners. More than 100 years ago, the city developed the Playground Movement to build inner-city playgrounds for children.

    By 2011, 30 per cent of families with children lived in mid and highrise buildings.

    But in recent years the explosion of condos hasnt been so friendly to children. From 2006 to 2015, more than 80 per cent of the new dwelling units in the city were in buildings higher than five storeys, but 50 to 70 per cent of them were bachelor or one-bedroom units. Many of the two- and three-bedroom units were considered too small for a family to live in.

    A City of Toronto staff report, which will go before City Council in July, says, "This trend towards highrise accommodation of housing need will continue. Given that 39 per cent of households in the City of Toronto include three or more people, it is important to ensure our future housing stock accommodates a variety of household types at different life stages."

    The city has developed a study, Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities that includes draft guidelines for developing highrise communities that are family friendly.

    "In vertical communities, planning for children is predicated on the understanding that the public realm and community amenities become extensions of the home," says the study. "Families >The study guidelines cover neighbourhoods, buildings and individual highrise units.

    "The guidelines reflect what we heard during the consultation process and recognize that in many cases families living in vertical communities >Developers should be encouraged to provide flexible and diverse retail space on the ground floor of buildings, along with "a sense of joy and playfulness by incorporating whimsy in public art, building design, streetscapes, street furniture and open space features."

    The study recommends that each building provide a minimum of 25 per cent of large units in buildings that have 20 units or more 15 per cent two bedrooms and 10 per cent three bedrooms and that these units be located in the lower portions of the building. Being on the lower floor reduces dependence on the elevator and provides easier access to the outdoors. It also could allow units to overlook outdoor playgrounds or public spaces to allow informal supervision, as well as "take advantage of deeper floor plates to provide wider common corridor space, enable layout flexibility and maximize unit size for laundry rooms, entrances and storage areas."

    Some current condo buildings reportedly dont allow strollers to enter via the front lobby -- they must come in the building through a service entrance.

    Buildings should also provide indoor and outdoor amenity spaces that are flexible and support a variety of activities and age groups, say the guidelines.

    A few Toronto condo buildings have already introduced day care spaces in their buildings, as well as amenities such as games and crafts rooms, indoor and outdoor playgrounds and splash pools.

    "While these projects do not meet the proposed Growing Up guidelines >Buildings should "become future-proof and allow for alterations, such as adding or removing partitions," says the study. The guidelines call for flexible building designs that use columns rather than shear walls and provide a 3m to 5m "demisable" partition near the corridor if shear walls are unavoidable. "Alternative construction systems are encouraged as they can easily be repurposed, such as wood-frame construction up to six storeys," say the guidelines.

    Hallways could be designed like indoor streets with natural light, encouraging people to stop and chat. Where possible, doorways to units should be staggered to maximize privacy and "indented within hallways to create more space, like a front porch."

    The guidelines say the ideal two-bedroom unit is 969 square feet and the ideal three bedroom is 1,140 square feet.

    "While overall unit sizes are recommended to ensure that a familys needs are met comfortably and efficiently, there is flexibility in how designers can arrange unit elements, resulting in a variety of unit sizes, depending on the layout and the efficiency of the connecting spaces such as corridors," says the study.

    "Appropriately sized bedrooms can adapt to various configurations and can comfortably accommodate two people."

    City staff recommend that the guidelines be considered when development proposals are evaluated and that feedback from a voluntary online survey of developers and architects will be evaluated. Modifications will be presented in 2018, with a goal of implementing the final guidelines for a two-year period starting in 2019.
    Full Story >

    Ask the HOA Expert: HOA Volunteers

    Question: Volunteers are an important part of HOA living. But how does a board deal with owners who are totally negative, derail attempts to reach agreement, disrupt meetings and yet want to serve on committees?

    Answer: HOAs are designed to work like a representative democracy. That means that the board is elected and given authority to make decisions. The fact that some members dont like how the board runs things is no surprise. Welcome to America. The board should respond to their challenges within reason but not waste time trying to placate them. That can be a full time job and waste of time considering they are ra>

    The board is under no obligation to appoint anyone that wants to serve to a committee. Committee appointments should make sense and the board typically wants members that will help, not hinder, the boards work. For more on this topic, see in the Committees section.

    The board does not need to tolerate disruptions at meetings. Meetings should be structured so that members have a right to speak during a member forum but not otherwise unless the board president asks for their opinion. If they disrupt a board meeting, they should be asked to leave. If they refuse, the president should adjourn the meeting and refuse to admit them at future board meetings until they promise to behave. For more on this topic, see in the Meetings section.

    If these folks are going door to door trying to stir discontent, the board should do periodic informational newsletters and flyers to set the record straight. There are some irritating aspects about free speech but truth is truth and lies are lies and most people can tell the difference. Take heart.

    Question: Our HOA recently established a reserve account which is earning interest income. The board doesnt want the HOA to pay tax on the interest income, so each owner was issued a Form 1099 for a portion of the interest income with instructions to report the interest on their individual returns. The actual interest remains in the reserve account in the HOAs name. Is this proper?

    Answer: If the reserve funds belong to the HOA usually the case, taxes on interest income cannot be passed through to individual members. The HOA is responsible for recognizing and paying the resulting tax.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
    Full Story >

    Smart Home Improvement Tips To Save You Time, Money, And Aggravation

    Fixing up your house can bring great joy, and also personal satisfaction when you pitch in and DIY some of the tasks. But proper preparation is key to getting things done right. Take a short cut and youll likely end up with a project that that takes longer, costs more, looks like it was DIYd and hurts more than your bank balance along the way.

    Measure thrice, cut once

    Its the oldest tip in the book when it comes to renovation and its every bit as important as you think it is to make sure you have the right measurements before you start up that power saw. In fairness, the rule is typically, "Measure twice." But lets face it: Some of us need a little more assurance. If youre not super skilled at using power tools, if you have tricky cuts to make, or if youre doing anything with mitered corners or involving angles, do yourself a favor and take one more look before you slice away.

    Buy more materials than you actually need

    It can be incredibly tempting to buy only what you think you need when it comes to flooring materials, backsplash tile, or wall coverings, in an effort to save money. But problems can arise for a variety of reasons - some of the tiles are cracked, you cut some of the wallpaper incorrectly, some of the wood for the floors is warped, you didnt account for all the cuts you have to make when measuring the space - and soon you dont have enough materials to finish the job.

    You can always order more, but now youre behind schedule. And, you may run into additional problems with your flooring if the new pieces dont precisely match the existing ones because theyre not from the same batch. Thats why experts recommend that when you purchase your materials, you add 20 to the actual measurements. It may add a few bucks to your bottom line, but it will save your butt in the long run.

    Invest in some quality tools

    Youre an adult now. You can have a real hammer and a drill and a pair of needle nose pliers. If youre just setting out on your own or its time to do a little tool upgrade, This Old House has some good tips for what tools to buy.

    Try it before you install it

    The well-meaning contractor who installed this faucet forgot about one thing: The space needed to actually wash your hands. Installing the faucet too close to the sink left insufficient space, so hand-washing is reduced to an awkward placement and cupping/pouring exercise. Before you drill those holes, give it a test run

    Buy the right ladder, and use it properly

    According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors InterNACHI, there are "more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. that are caused by falls from ladders." In addition, "Falls from laddersnbsp;are the leading cause of deaths on construction sites, and, "The number of people who have died from fallsnbsp;from ladders has tripled" over the last decade.

    If youre thinking those falls must have been from a roof or tall commercial building site, heres more sobering news: "Most ladder deaths are from falls of 10 feet or less."

    You can check the InterNACHI site for basic ladder safety tips, but the most important thing to remember is this: Use your common sense. Use the ladder properly, dont balance on the paint tray, dont overextend the weight limit, make sure its in proper working order - you know, the basics.

    Glove up, glasses on

    While were talking safety, there are other measures youll want to take to protect yourself. The last thing you need is a nail through your hand or your eye or anywhere else, for that matter. Gloves and goggles are basic go-tos. And if youre doing your floors, think like a soccer player and get out those knee pads.

    Hanging art

    Between picture hangers and specialty nails and screws and laser levels, there are so many tools available to help you hang art that we should all have it nailed pun intended, right? Yet picture hanging remains one of the most frustrating tasks.

    There are numerous tricks and tips that aim to help, but these are a few of our faves:

    • "Use a little bit of toothpaste yes, toothpaste," said Quick and Dirty Tips. "Place a dab of toothpaste on the back of the frame on the hook or string whatever will touch the nail. Then hold the frame up to the wall, position it carefully, and press it against the wall. The toothpaste will leave a mark that you can hammer a nail through, then wipe away."
    • "Instead of moving the photos up and down, place the photos on the floor and line up some tape from hanging point to hanging point," said "Then mark each point with a dot. Next, put the tape on the wall and use a level to make sure its straight. Then use those dots to put in your screws, and hang"nbsp;

    Keep the mess away

    We love this easy tip for keeping the site clean when hanging photos or drilling/hammering into walls for any other reason. If you hate having to clean up afterwardshellip;dont. A sticky note is all you need.

    Full Story >

    California Court Allows Weekend Open Houses For Tenant-Occupied Properties

    Section 1954 of the California Civil Code provides that a landlord may enter a leased or rented dwelling to "exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers." Such entry may not be made "during other than normal business hours" unless the tenant consents to entry at some other time. Provided that the tenant has previously been given notice within the past 120 days that the property is for sale, 24 hours is presumed to be reasonable notice, and notice may be given orally. 1954 d2

    While that civil code section clarifies a number of issues, some questions have remained. What, for example, are "normal business hours"? Also, might exhibiting the dwelling to prospective or actual purchasers include holding open houses?

    A California Appellate Court decision Dromy v. Lukovsky, Second Appellate District, August 30, 2013 provides some answers. To some they may be surprising.

    Landlord Dromy leased a Santa Monica condominium to Lukovsky Tenant in 1994. In approximately 2010, Dromy entered into a listing agreement to sell the property. The Tenant allowed the agent to conduct individual showings, but she refused to permit open houses on the weekends.

    Dromy filed a motion in Superior Court based on Civil Code 1954 and sought declaratory >The Superior Court ruled in favor of the landlord; but it did not grant an unrestricted right to hold open houses. Indicating a desire to fashion an order that was fair and reasonable to both sides, it came up with the following:

    1. The agent could hold two open houses per month.
    2. They could be on weekend days between 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
    3. The agent must be present, and the tenant may be present, during any open house.
    4. The agent must give 10 days advance email notice to the tenant of proposed open house dates, and the tenant has 48 hours to acknowledge or to propose an alternative weekend date.

    The tenant appealed.

    The Appellate Court noted that the phrase normal business hours, though not defined in the statute, was meant to strike a balance between two competing policies: 1 the tenants right of quiet enjoyment of the property, and 2 the landlords right and ability to sell his property. The Court noted that, at the time the legislation was enacted, the current edition of Blacks Law Dictionary defined "business hours" as meaning: "In general those hours during which persons in the community generally keep their places open for the transaction of business." The Court then went on to say, "For our purposes, the >Thus, the Appellate Court held that the judgment of the Superior Court was "reasonable under the facts and circumstances and that it complies with the requirements of section 1954, subdivision b."

    California real estate agents will no doubt wonder how this decision applies to their business. The legal department of the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR had this to say in its realegal publication. "landlords and their listing agents who want to arrange weekend open houses should obtain the tenants consent or comply with the reasonableness standard required by the Dromy court." To help insure that what they schedule is reasonable, landlords and agents "are strongly encouraged to, depending on the circumstances, pattern your weekend open house arrangements in a similar fashion to what the trial court ordered in Dromy" See the 4-point requirement that was stated above.
    Full Story >

    8 Reasons Why Cottage Living Benefits You And The Environment

    In 1950 the average American home measured just 983 square feet. By 2004 that average had grown to 2,340 square feet. But is bigger really better?

    There seems to be a growing interest in smaller homes fueled, in part, by the success of Sarah Susankas The Not So Big House books. Sure, you have less space. But you gain in other ways. Lets look at some of the advantages.

    First, cottages simply cost less. And we are talking about more than their purchase price. A smaller home will cost less to heat, cool, furnish and decorate.

    Note: Although we are talking about the adorable structures commonly referred to as cottages, these benefits apply to any small home - in my definition, a single-family residence around 1,200 square feet.

    Generally, your smaller home will come with lower property taxes, lower insurance costs and a lower mortgage, which means less money flowing from your wallet.

    Exterior maintenance will also cost less. Big-ticket items like roofs, siding - even exterior painting - will take a much smaller bite out of your paycheck.

    All of which allows for splurges. Because a cottages small size requires fewer materials, you may be able to indulge your hearts desire and upgrade from what your larger home might have allowed. Perhaps you could invest in a tile roof like this one...

    Photo by Chioco Design - Look for traditional exterior home design inspiration

    ...or add stone to your exterior...

    Photo by Ben Gebo Photography - Discover contemporary kitchen design inspiration

    ... or get the kitchen countertop youve always yearned for, and better appliances than you otherwise might have been able to afford.

    Or you could use your lower costs to focus on saving - or reducing - debt. That might also lower stress, which will enhance your quality of life.

    Photo by Koch Architects, Inc. Joanne Koch - Look for traditional landscape pictures

    Improved quality of life, however, is about way more than the money you save. All those home maintenance tasks, like cleaning and scrubbing and mowing and weeding, take far less time to accomplish in a smaller home, leaving you more time to do the things you really love.

    Like spending time with your friends and family Small homes encourage togetherness. By necessity, they create intimate spaces. And if the space is cozy and well thought out, "humans gravitate toward them," says eminent Pacific Northwest architect and cottage specialist Ross Chapin. Whereas large homes have multiple rooms where families can scatter and hide, the cottage demands that everyone remain in pretty close proximity. Even if everyones nose is buried in a cell phone, they are still together, and there is something basically wonderful about that.

    Photo by Gallery Interiors and Rockford Kitchen Design - Discover traditional dining room design ideas

    Benjamin Franklin apparently embraced the togetherness concept. He is said to have asserted that conversation around the dining table is much livelier when knees touch.

    Photo by Louise Lakier - Browse eclectic exterior home ideas

    The front porch that almost always graces a cottage extends that welcome and intimacy to neighbors and passersby. Sitting on your porch in the cool of the evening with a glass of wine or lemonade nourishes your soul and makes you more available.

    Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design - Discover shabby-chic >

    Owning a cottage-size home can simplify your life. Cottages call us back to our past, where almost every home had a small vegetable garden and a few chickens, and there were no shopping malls luring us away from hearth and family.

    After all, if you live in 1,200 square feet and less, you wont spend a lot of time shopping. There is simply not enough room for stuff. Small-home living causes you to make choices about what is important enough to make room for, and what you can happily live without.

    Photo by Brian Gille Architects, Ltd. - Look for traditional exterior home pictures

    Lower your environmental impact. In 2010 the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, in collaboration with the Oregon Home Builders Association and Earth Advantage Institute, concluded that constructing smaller homes is among the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation from the residential construction sector. The report concluded that of 30 different material reduction and reuse practices evaluated, reducing home size was the most beneficial - not just because of reduced electricity and fuel consumption, but also because of the material production avoided.

    Wow Who knew that choosing to live in a cottage-size home made you so environmentally righteous?

    Photo by Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc. - Browse craftsman exterior home photos

    Cottages make you feel good. Apart from all the financial, social and ecological benefits, cottages simply emanate warmth, comfort and welcome. Maybe its because they tend to be unique rather than cookie cutter, and compact rather than vast.

    Whatever the reason, the cottage-size home offers enough benefits to make it a move worth considering.

    Also See:

    • Purchase Your Dream Kitchen Countertop
    • Living Room Furniture Layouts for Small Cottage >
    • Find the Best Decorating Ideas for a Small Bedroom

    Full Story >

    A Regional Guide to Staging Your Outdoor Space

    Indoor-outdoor living is a concept thats becoming ever more important to homebuyers. And no matter where in the US you live or when you want to sell, you can stage your outdoor space to show buyers how they can make the most of it year-round.


    With so many gorgeous days on the calendar, a great outdoor space is a must on most homebuyers wish lists in this part of the country. But the region - which ranges from Arizona to parts of Louisiana - is challenged by extreme heat. To help buyers imagine how to beat that heat, be sure your outdoor space includes umb>


    Hot summers and mild winters make this region - roughly from Virginia on down - a great place for outdoor living almost year-round. Capitalize on this by creating different settings to show how the homes space can be used in a variety of ways. Almost every room inside your home can have an outdoor twin. To help buyers envision al fresco family meals, set up a "dining room" on the patio or porch complete with a table, chairs, and even simple place settings with melamine dinnerware and vases of fresh flowers. In another area, arrange a few lounge chairs around a low table or fire pit to bring to mind leisu>

    Northeast and Midwest

    Four distinct seasons - including very cold winters that necessitate a break from outdoor living--make this region an interesting place to take in what nature has to offer, from lush green springs to warm summers and brilliant, crisp falls. If youre selling during winter, bring your outdoor furniture out of storage to show buyers how they can set up when its warm. Cheer up the vibe with string lights and fill planters with wintertime greenery, grasses and berries. Unused outdoor spaces can get grimy and drab in wintertime, so be sure to sweep stairs, patios and porches, dust exterior windowsills and touch up peeling fences or railings. The other three seasons allow you to show your space at its best. To prep for photos and showings, refresh your patio furniture with new cushions or outdoor throw pillows, fill your planters with blooming flowers, set up a bright, cheery umb>

    Pacific Mid/South

    This part of the country encompasses two totally different sides of the weather spectrum, from nearly year-round perfection in California to high snowfall and frigid winters in Montana and Colorado. In the former, appeal to buyers of all ages by making your outdoor space look breezy, modern and clean in keeping with West Coast culture. Opt for streamlined furnishings and architectural planters over anything too traditional. Drape chaises with chunky blankets in natural hues to show how the space can be used on chilly nights after the sun goes down. And in states that get winter weather, be sure to include a fire pit as part of your outdoor setup. If its cold when you list the home, stage outdoor furniture minus the cushions to show how the space can be used in milder seasons, and fill planters with winter greenery for a lush look.

    Pacific Northwest

    Yes, its the wettest part of the country, but the region that includes Oregon and Washington lures nature lovers who dream of living among lush forests and stunning coastlines. Outdoor staging should include seating areas under umb>

    Stage your homes outdoor space with the same care you use inside, and buyers will have double the reason to consider making the property their own.

    Amalienbsp;Drury is an expert on home design andnbsp;furniture trends, writing on behalf of Crate and Bar>
    Full Story >

    5 Hot New Parent Products For The Design And Tech Connoisseur

    If youre about to be a parent, you obviously already know about car seats and strollers and bottles and onesies. But these new products might become some of your favorites. From sleek nursery furniture to top tech to keep you connected to baby, these are the things youll definitely want to have when your new addition comes home.

    A crib thats cool to look at

    Nurseries are some of the chicest rooms in the house these days, which is great for parents who dont want to sacrifice >Its "modern yet timeless," they said. And, affordable, at 341.

    A crib that acts like a car

    If youve never had to grab the baby and the car keys and go for a ride to get your sweet little thing from screaming her sweet little head off, its probably only a matter of time. Many babies are soothed by the movement of the car, which is the idea behind Fords new "smart" crib.

    TheMAXMotor Dreamscot is a "genius crib was designed for a Ford of Spain campaign by WPPsGTBagency in collaboration withOgilvy and Mather," said Forbes. "The smart crib simulates the best parts of a nighttime drive that induce sleep like clockwork. It mimics the engines rumble, the cars movement and the streetlights passing by the window. Parents can even replicate a specific car ride that is tried and true, using their smartphone application to record familiar sounds, movement and lights."

    Unfortunately, its only a prototype - for now. In the meantime, you can try the Snoo smart cradle. "This gorgeous, high-end cradle was designed by industrial designer Yves Bhar, so it looks like a work of art," said Digital Trends. "The minimalist design includes lovely wood paneling along the bottom of the cradle, slip-resistant metal legs, and a gorgeous white mesh enclosure thats soft on the inside for the babys comfort. You strap your baby in a cute, little swaddling suit to make them feel happy and cozy, just like they were in the womb, and it buckles into the crib itself. The crib rocks at a variety of speeds and emits white noise to mimic the sounds a baby hears in the womb. The Snoo smart cradle is based on hard science, thanks to its creator, pediatrician and author Harvey Karp, and a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers. Itll help your baby - and you - get back to sleep in peace, but the ultimate aim is to reduce sudden infant death syndrome SIDS by ensuring your baby sleeps safely."

    Self-warming bottle

    Its not something thats necessarily for use in the house, but this self-warming bottle will make your life outside the house as a new parent much easier. "You can warm up your babys bottle on the go using the iiamo Go self-warming bottle," said Business Insider. "The bottle is warmed up by heating cartridges that are environmentally friendly, disposable, and filled withonly salt and water. You simply put the heating cartridge into the bottles heating chamber, turn it on, and shake the bottle. Four minutes later and the bottle is ready to go"

    A swing that wont clash with your decor

    A baby swing is a must-have, and, pretty much since they were invented, parents have had to overlook or endure design issues that didnt exactly complement their dcor. We personally love that the mamaRoo isnt covered in storybook farm animals, and, more importantly, it gets high marks for its function.

    "Anybody whos ever stuck their baby in the car and drove around in hopes that she would fall asleep say, I," said Parenting. "Enter the4moms mamaRoo. Its a swing Its a bouncy chair Its...the thing that will help get your baby to sleep. With five different movement settings - yes, "car ride" being one of them - this thing is sure tosoothe your little one."

    A newfangled baby monitor

    All new parents need a baby monitor, and theyve changed a lot over the years. It used to be that just audio was OK, but in the time of daily tech advancements, thats obviously not going to do. And neither will a "normal" video feed, either. Gadget website T3 likes the Motorola MBP853 Video Monitor, which goes beyond the typical offering with some state-of-the-art features, including "streaming HD footage from a neat camera, which can be mounted to a wall or any flat surface, to a wi
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    Speed Along the Real Estate Transaction with a Pre-Listing Home Inspection

    Arguably one of the more significant steps of the home-buying process is the home inspection.

    Done properly, the home inspection allows buyers to gain a clear understanding of the property they are about to purchase as well as provide sellers the knowledge of what can or should be improved at their home.

    As the real estate market becomes increasingly competitive and consumer confidence rises, buyers and sellers are more motivated to seek opportunities to close deals efficiently. Thats why real estate professionals often suggest a pre-listing home inspection -- an inspection prior to putting the home on the market. Pre-listing inspections provide an added benefit for the buyer, seller and real estate agent, and often allows sales transaction to be completed more quickly.

    Here are some key points to remember for your pre-listing inspection:

    Involve your Real Estate Agent

    When it comes to real estate, agents are pros and they play a key role in moving the home buying transaction along. During a pre-listing inspection, agents know what questions to ask the inspector to be sure they fully understand any issues, and to alleviate client concerns. Good real estate agents take the time to work with their clients post-inspection to go over the inspection report. Their goal is to make sure buyers and sellers fully understand the findings of the inspection report.

    Build Trust with the Buyer

    For homebuyers, a pre-listing inspection builds confidence. It allows buyers to immediately know all the under-the-surface details within the home. If there are parts of the home that need fixing, the sellers repairs can increase the asking price or be touted in the listing description to help a home stand out. Where repair issues are identified but not repaired, credibility through disclosure is gained and the issue is factored into the pricing upfront. In each case, sellers who disclose the condition of a home upfront gain the trust and faith in a buyer during the initial stages of their purchasing decision.

    Spotlight Your Home

    A pre-listing home inspection report is a great marketing tool for sellers and agents because it clearly points out the best features of the property. Any recent home renovations will be noted and stand out to buyers. These updates can offer both aesthetic and mechanical value with items such as new flooring, new appliances or a new furnace or air conditioning unit. A home buyer likes to see updates have been made to the home as they are often costly -- and it reassures them the home is properly maintained. This assurance will help to accelerate the transaction.

    Planning Can Save Time and Money

    For the seller, a pre-listing home inspection allows for time to make repairs before putting the house on the market. They can then make these repairs on their own budget and timeline rather than having to pay for a buyers contractor to quickly complete the work.

    Remember, the goal of a home inspection is to provide a true reflection of the issues concerning the home and offer a non-alarmist, practical solution. Leveraging the knowledge and experience of professionals like WIN Home Inspection ensures important things arent missed, reports are received in a timely fashion and all parties are enabled to move the home smoothly and successfully through the real estate transaction.

    AUTHOR: Steve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection, one of the fastest growing franchised home inspection companies in the United States with more than 150 operators in more than 185 locations in 32 states.

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    Passive Income Is Great, But Are You Really Cut Out To Be A Landlord?

    The idea of buying an investment property to rent out and collect some passive income sounds good, does it not? After all, being a landlord is one of the greatest and most time-tested ways to build long-term wealth. Especially when rents just keep on rising, which means more money for rental owners. According to Apartment Lists National Rent Report, they "are up by 2.1 compared to their December 2016 level" and have risen each month of 2017. "In addition to the growth the national level, rents are increasing in most of the nations biggest markets," they said, with "some individual markets seeing substantial increases."

    But, you have to do it right. And doing it right may not be as easy as it seems. The rental reality check includes:

    Your tenants might be turn out to be lunatics. They may refuse to pay their rent or even leave your property.

    Those are obviously worst-case scenarios, but that doesnt mean you dont have to prepare for them. Expecting the best and not preparing for the worst is a recipe for rental distaster. Doing a thorough background check and collecting a sufficient security deposit are key protections. Bigger Pockets has a few more suggestions to "protect newbie landlords against bad tenant situations."

    Youll have to collect rent

    Your tenants late rent check isnt just an inconvenience. For some property owners, it can mean not paying the mortgage on time, which will mean incurring late fees and dinging your credit. Having several months of reserves in the bank to cover anything that might come up with your rental or renter is key, but, for those owners who are cutting it close, including an iron-clad late-fee policy for renters should help to ensure its paid on time.

    They may be slobs or they may be destructive... but are they worth it?

    Yes, youve collected that security deposit, but it might not cover the damage left behind when tenants move out. Many landlords dont like to rent to college students for this reason Hello, nightly parties. Another downside is that there is often a higher turnover because students may not stay in the same place for more than one year and they may also be looking for a shorter lease if theyre planning to return home for the summer.


    The potential upsides:

    Increased rent potential. "Off-campus housing is often paid for by the students parents, or even by the college itself, so you may be able to get anbsp;higher rental pricenbsp;for the property," said The Balance. Investors look for rental property in college towns often key in on homes that have multiple bedrooms, which can further increase the price.

    A >, said Rentec Direct. "With some student populations ranging fromnbsp;20,000-50,000 and accounting for as much as 25 percent of a towns total population, there is high demand for rentals for co-eds who want to live off-campus and are not in the market for purchasing their own home." You can protect your bottom line by requiring a co-signor, especially for students who have no previous rental history and may also have no credit history.

    You may get calls in the middle of the night.

    The toilet overflowed and flooded the bedroom, and now youre double-fisting a plunger and toolbox at 3am. If that sounds as painful as it is, or if you have minimal or zero home maintenance skills, youll probably want to read the next entry.

    You may have to hire a property manager.

    If your investment property is out of your local area, you may not have a choice when it comes to hiring a property manager. But if youre looking to do as little as possible - or if you simply arent qualified - and dont mind paying out a little of your potential profits, property management might be for you. "A typical property managernbsp;will interact directly, on your behalf, with applicants and tenants.nbsp;Managers will usually market and advertise your rentals, meet with prospects to host showings, collecting rent, deposit money to your bank account, and coordinate repair issues," said Landlordology. "They are also the first line of defense when responding to tenant complaints and will even stand by your side when you have to pursue an eviction or get sued."

    Still interested? Heed these tips:

    Make sure you have enough money to put down. You already know that the more you put down, the less youll have to finance. But financing for rental homes may also require a larger down payment than you were planning. "If youre borrowing money for your first rental house, youre going to need at least a 20 down payment," said "And if its your first rental property, your current income is going to have to be enough to handle the mortgages for both your residence and your new property."

    Dont buy more home than you can afford. Yes, a higher-priced home may increase the potential profit every month, but it can also increase your potential loss. What if you cant rent the home right away? What if theres a lapse between renters? Keep in mind how much your carrying costs are so you can determine how much house you can really afford without counting on max rent every single month.

    Dont take a chance on an unfamiliar neighborhood. Your best bet when youre just getting started is staying local, where you know the home values, the rental trends, the crime rates, and maybe also have some local resources that can help with renovation, maintenance, and yard work.

    Dont be greedy. This may sound like an odd tip if the idea behind owning rental property is to make as much money as possible, but if your asking price isnt getting applicants in the door, you need to rethink your strategy. Consider this: "Every month of vacancy costs you 8.3 of your potential yearly revenue, so you would be better off renting every property one month faster for 5 less rent, two months faster for 10 less rent, and so on," said TIME. In the end, it may make better financial sense to lower the price of your rental if youre having trouble finding tenants.

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    Covering The Question Of Condominium Insurance

    Question: I am the President of a medium-sized condominium association. I would like to learn more about condominium insurance, and have had some difficulty in getting information. Do you have any comments about such insurance?

    Answer: Unless your associations insurance package was put together carefully -- and is monitored periodically -- you and the other unit owners may find yourselves with a serious problem in the event of an accident, lawsuit or even a natural catastrophe.

    Here are some common situations in which condominium unit owners often mistakenly assume their insurance coverage is applicable:

    • If your association and its Board members are sued, attorneys fees and court costs will be provided by the associations insurance policy. In most cases, the policy also will pay all judgment costs or out-of-court settlements brought on by any lawsuit.
    • If a guest is injured while visiting your associations swimming pool, the associations insurance policy will protect you from all personal liability and out-of-pocket expenses.

  • When hurricane-force winds uproot your condominiums trees, break its windows and splinter its ornate gatepost sign, the associations policy will cover the damage.

    In all of these common incidents, the associations insurance policy may not be adequate. And in some cases, there may not be any coverage at all. According to condominium insurance experts, some condominium associations "are pitifully under insured and represent a significant risk to association members."

    Insurance is a very complex area that most lawyers and many property managers do not fully comprehend. Often, the manager of a condominium association uses his or her own policy or brings the friendly insurance agent into the picture, and a "bare-bones" policy is issued. Often, the desire to keep costs down outweighs the need for adequate insurance coverage.

    Here are some items to look for when considering the kind of insurance policy your association needs. The list is far from exhaustive.

    • Full repair and replacement of damaged property. Some policies cover the depreciated value of the damaged property. Lets take the following example: Your clubhouse roof is six years old and has a 10-year life expectancy. A fire damages the roof. Under a depreciated value policy, the insurance may cover only 4,000 on a roof that cost 10,000 six years ago. The association would end up footing the rest of the bill.
    • Full comprehensive general liability coverage. You should have at least 1 million worth of insurance, but, depending on the size of your association, 2 million may be more adequate. Look at your associations legal documents. In my experience, they all spell out the minimum coverage that you must have. Of course, if you, your board, and your attorney believe you need more coverage, you always have that option to increase the policy limits.
    • Liability insurance covering the associations directors and officers. Because more and more lawsuits are being filed, you should discuss this with your insurance agent and attorney to determine the coverage needed.
    • Coverage for business->

      Contact a number of insurance carriers that specialize in condominium insurance. I also recommend the Community Association Institute in Virginia 703 548-8600, which has developed a number of excellent publications on the issue.

      One very important caveat: every policy I have ever seen requires the association to promptly advise the carrier if the association is put on notice of a potential lawsuit or is actually sued. "Promptly" us usually no more than 30 days. The carrier wants an opportunity to review the facts and possible help to resolve the issue short of court. If you delay notifying your insurance agent of an issue, you may lose all coverage.
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  • How To Handle HOA Board Meeting Attacks

    Out of the blue, an irate homeowner launches a smear campaign aimed directly at the board. Its >

    Board meeting terrorism is designed to hold the board hostage to >How should the board deal with this kind of attack? When presented a list of demands, should the items be discussed point by point? Should they be recorded in the minutes? What should be done?

    Rule 1: Never negotiate with terrorists. The board is not obligated to discuss anything off the agenda. And its unreasonable to expect informed answers to firing line questions. The response should be, "Thanks for making your points. Well review them and give you a response in writing or consider them at the next board meeting."

    Rule 2: Dont record a list of demands. Minutes are intended to discuss in broad terms the business accomplished by the board. Specific motions should have enough detail to describe them and the outcome of the vote. It is not a forum for soap boxing, editorializing or where items are entered into "evidence". Its enough for the minutes to state, "Mr. Sniper asked that the board consider issues >Rule 3: Control the Owner Forum. To encourage owner input, an Owner Forum before the meeting should give each speaker owner up to, say, 5 minutes to speak, so the board can get on with its business. Letting someone hold the board hostage should never be allowed and its up to the president to control such actions. An abusive person should not be allowed to continue for any length of time.

    Rule 4: When attacked, respond quickly and firmly. When the attack becomes apparent, its the presidents job to interrupt and, if necessary, ask the attacker to leave the meeting. If the attacker refuses to comply, the president should adjourn the meeting and advise that such conduct will not be allowed at future meetings.

    HOA terrorist attacks are designed to fan the flames of emotion and to promote rash response. The board needs to walk the high road and refuse to "dance". While this isnt easy when the attack is intense, the directors outnumber the attacker and with a unified response, should be able to defeat the challenge and even help point the terrorist toward a better way.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
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    What Happens To The Listing When The Agent Changes Offices?

    Recently, the legal department of the California Association of Realtors produced a question-and-answer QA format memo that addresses a variety of issues that arise when agents leave one office for another at a time when they the agent may currently be involved with a listing or sales transaction. The title of the QA is Changing Offices: Transfer of Listings, Buyers, and Procedures. The situation itself is not unusual. It happens all the time. But that doesnt mean that there are well-established good practices for dealing with it.

    First of all, the general question arises Question 11 in the memo:

    Question: Does a listing agent have the right to transfer the listing to a new broker after the brokerage >Answer: Generally, no, absent the current brokers permission. The listing is a contract between the broker and the seller. It is not between the sales agent and the seller. Therefore, it is the broker that retains the listing. Inducing the seller to cancel one listing and sign another even if done by the agent that obtained the listing originally, is likely to be an intentional interference with contractual >Furthermore, NAR code of ethics 16-20 states that prior to or after their >Lastly, in most cases the independent contractor agreement will prohibit the agent from soliciting sellers with current listing agreements. See paragraph 9 of the [California Independent Contractor Agreement].

    Suppose, though, as is often the case, that the first broker is agreeable to letting the listing go with the agent to the new broker. Typically, the first broker receives a fee or a portion of the ultimate compensation. How is this to be accomplished?

    While there is no "one way" to do it, one thing is for sure: it is not simply a matter of switching the listing in MLS with an instruction from both brokers. For one thing, you wouldnt want to try it without the written consent of the seller.

    The CAR memo notes this: "There is no single way to accomplish this. But no matter how it is done, it is important to realize that first and foremost the agreement to transfer the listing is primarily between the current broker and the new broker. And secondly, there is presently no form on zipFormreg; designed for this purpose."

    Having noted that, the memo does suggest a list of terms that ought to be covered in whatever agreement is reached between the brokers:

    1. That it is subject to seller consent to employ the new broker

    2. That it is subject to seller signing a cancellation of listing COL with the former broker

    3. That it is subject to the agent being employed with the new broker

    4. That the current broker assigns all rights to the listing representation and commission to the new broker

    5. That the new broker will fully compensate the listing agent at closing

    6. That the new broker promises to pay any cooperating broker the full commission offered

    7. That each broker agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the other

    8. That it specifies the amount of commission, if any, the new broker agrees to pay the former broker

    To be sure, a less complicated agreement could be memorialized between the two brokers; but why? If anything, there might be more terms to add. Although the sales agent may not be a party to the agreement, some of the terms may reflect the terms of his Independent Contractor Agreement with the first broker. That is also discussed in the CAR memo.

    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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    Your Resistance to Change When Buying or Selling Your Home

    Resistance to change is common for buyers and sellers. This may seem surprising since both buying and selling mean seeking out a move with many >

    Buying and selling real estate involve many complex decisions packed full of real estate terminology, all of which are new territory for most buyers and sellers.

    Add the pressure of time-sensitive decisions and the stress of dealing with huge amounts of money much of it borrowed and most buyers and sellers are way out of their comfort zones.

    Does resistance in buyers and sellers make more sense now?

    Too often, making no decision or a "no" decision may seem less stressful for buyers or sellers than agreeing to the significant changes >

    • Sellers who receive their first offer mdash; especially very soon after the house is listed mdash; may worry they are selling too cheaply. Resistance can lead to the seller wanting "to wait and see" if a higher offer will appear. Sellers may second guess their decision to sell. Resulting stubbornness can materialize as illogical resistance to offer price, move-in date, or to giving up light fixtures or other items a buyer includes in their offer to purchase.
    • Buyers who have seen a property which meets their wish list must-haves, may still be resistant to making an offer, especially if its their first offer or one of the first houses they view. Resistance leads to wanting "to see more houses" as if theres a magic number of viewings before a dream house appears. Resistance may also materialize as stubborn refusal to increase their offered purchase price for a seemingly-ideal property a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to meet the sellers half way. Buyers have been know to walk away from deals if the appliances, lighting fixtures, or other "must haves" they ask for in the offer are denied them by the seller. Ask your real estate professional about their experience with deal-breaking battles over furnishings and details.

    Resistance is common under stress, even the best stress.

    Real estate professionals will do their best to help buyers and sellers face their fears and overcome their resistance. Closing or decision-making techniques can help buyers or sellers realize where true value lies for them. In the hands of trained, ethical professionals, closing techniques can be communication and decision-making aids. Caution: Unscrupulous individuals can use these simple exercises to manipulate or mislead mdash; care is essential

    For instance, one closing technique involves reducing a small disputed difference in purchase price like 1500 to its cost per day over a year. In this case, 1500 is 4.11 a day. Compare that amount to common purchases like a cup of coffee to put the financial decision in perspective. Or, >

    Resistance leads individuals to "Id like to sleep on it" reactions. Its not that they expect to win the Lottery overnight. This stress->

    Unfortunately, in real estate, delays can cost buyers a "dream" property or sellers a dream offer. Decisive buyers and sellers will snap up opportunities while others hesitate.

    When experiencing resistance, ask yourself why youre having this reaction to put these feelings in perspective. Often the bigger the decision or resulting change, the greater the resistance:

    • What are you being asked to let go of or to >
    • What must you face in its place?
    • How real are >
    • How real are perceived benefits of proceeding with the transaction?

    Enlist the expertise of your real estate professional in assessing the true benefits and weaknesses of the decision to buy or sell a specific property. Question their responses. Ask for market statistics and analysis of area trends.

    • Spend equal time and energy analyzing what is gained by not buying or selling the real estate in question. How special is this property anyway?
    • How much of the hesitation is >

    Usually, this deep, clear thinking reveals the true value of benefits and gains in taking the plunge to buy or sell.

    More than one experienced real estate professional has suggested the 51 rule can make sense when homes are involved. That is, "more sure" than "not sure," with slight but exhilarating uncertainty regarding the adventure ahead. Thats real estate ownership.

    For more on overcoming resistance to change mdash; in yourself and others mdash; check out "Overcome Mediocrity Resistance" on PJ Wades blog:
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    Temporary Wall Solutions That Dont Scrimp On Style

    Taking the plunge with hard-to-remove wallpaper or expensive tile can be daunting. If youre one of those who like to change up your homes look often, or youre just having a hard time committing to one application, a temporary solution may be the answer for you. Thankfully, the choices are vaster than ever, and theyre often significantly more affordable than the "real thing."

    Temporary wallpaper

    There are so many places you can go today for temporary, easily movable and removable wallpaper, both online and in stores, with so many great options reflecting the newest trends in home deacute;cor that you can update as often as you want. Weve had this graphic print in our TV niche for the past two years, and it came from Target for just 29.99.

    Walls Need Love is our current obsession soon to be yours, too, and, truthfully, the company that inspired this entire post. We NEED this adhesive-backed Golden Geo pattern and also the Dimensional Retro and the White Brick and OH MY GOD the Vintage Fabric Wall Mural Hang onhellip;purchasing this right nowhellip;andhellip;done.. Clearly, what we really need is more walls.


    Fabric walls

    There are plenty of textures available in peel-and-stick wallpaper, but fabric introduces another layer of dimensionality. This burlap-wrapped wall creates a chic look thats temporary and easy to pull off. Some liquid starch and oversized brads tacked in around the perimeter keep everything in place. Apartment Therapy has a good tutorial for hanging fabric as wallpaper.


    Temporary tile

    Whether its your kitchen that needs some love, or a bathroom that really could use a focal point, temporary, peel-and-stick tile is a great addition to the home deacute;cor scene. It gives you great options to add some decorative flair with zero need for an installation demo, and its often so affordable you can fancy up multiple rooms and give them an update every season.

    "Self-adhesive backsplash tiles are available in a wide range of colors and >

    Want the look of Carrera marble but without the expense and permanence? These amazing gray-and-white, peel-and-stick subway tiles from Smart Tiles are just 6.13 from Wayfair for a 10x10 piece. At that price, you can do your whole kitchen backsplash and then head for the master bathroom and the laundry room and the...

    This peel-and-stick tile in a herringbone pattern looks like authentic but costs far less and doesnt need professional installation or grout.

    You can even get todays hottest tile look with graphic patterns reminiscent of what youd find in Spain or Morocco. Vintage Bilbao is a black-and-white application that will definitely bring the drama to your space and when youre tired of it, you just peel it off; Vintage Gallo gives you the same look in gray and white and Vintage Azur is a blue-and-white variation with accents of yellow.

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    11 Essential Summer Home Maintenance Tips

    Another summer is here, and if you endured a couple seasons of harsh weather conditions, or if you have some deferred maintenance to take care of, its time to get started. Rain, wind, and other weather fun may have wreaked havoc with your roof, your fence, or your yard, but the "obvious" fixes are only the beginning. Use this guide to help you address some common issues that can help you fix up your home this summer and help it run - and look - better all year long.

    Clean out your gutters

    Theres no telling what kind of crud has collected in there since the last time you cleaned them out. Bob Vila has some creative techniques for DIY gutter cleaning, including reversing the suction of a Shop Vac

    Do a deep fridge cleanout

    Have some unidentified leftovers in a Tupperware way in the back or a long-ago expired jar of pickles in the door? The first step is to chuck it all - but make sure to schedule your cleanout to coincide with the trash pickup for the week. The last thing you want is a jar of mayo siting out in the bin for five consecutive 100-degree days.

    While youre attacking the refrigerator, dont forget to address the coils. "The condenser coils on a refrigerator remove heat from inside the unit; and if they get dusty and dirty, it can cost up to 100 more a year to run your fridge," said Todays Homeowner. "The coil is located either on the bottom behind the kickplate, or on the back of the refrigerator. Tonbsp;clean refrigerator coils, turn off the power to the fridge, then vacuum the coils using a homemade wand from a cardboard gift wrap tube or a vacuum cleaner brush attachment."

    Change the batteries in your smoke detectors

    Per Consumer Reports, smoke alarm batteries should be changed out every six months. To make it easier to remember when its time, do what the upper-organized do: Put yourself on a twice-a year-schedule in summer and winter June 1 and December 1, for instance, and mark the dates in your phone so you dont forget.

    Change out your filters

    This is one of those areas where homebuyers dont tend to heed product manufacturers guidelines. The general recommendation is every 30ndash;60 days. Service Experts recommends:

    • "Average" suburban home without pets: every 90 days
    • Add a dog or cat: every 60 days
    • Add more than one pet or anyone has allergies: 20-45 days"

    Been a little longer than that for you? That means dust, dirt, and allergens could be invading your home.

    Deep clean your carpets

    You should be doing this at least once a year to protect your carpets and limit allergens. Summer is the perfect time in most climates because the rainy season has passed, which means theres less likelihood of kids and pets tracking in mud. If you want to save a little money, dont mind the elbow grease, and wont cringe at the site of the filth that gets sucked out of the carpet, you can easily DIY this task by renting a machine at the supermarket.

    Have your air conditioning unit serviced

    If youre the type who only makes a call about your air conditioning when its not working, consider this: Units that are serviced regularly tend to last longer and have a lower incidence of breaking down, which always seems to happen on the day when the heat index breaks a record.

    "Heating and cooling expertsnbsp;on Angies List say, "Its a good idea to have it inspected, servicednbsp;and cleaned once a year." This helps "ensure it operates at peak energynbsp;efficiency and is ready to cool your house during the months you need it most. As your HVAC system runs, it accumulates dust and dirt in key areas that affect its efficiency, like the condensing coils and air filters. Left unchecked, your A/C system can lose 5 percent of its operating efficiency each year because of this buildup, meaning it cant cool your house as capably as it could if it were clean."

    Check your deck

    "Look over your deck for signs of rotting and hammer in any nails that are poking up," said The Nest. "Then, determine if your deck needs sealing. Sprinkle water on the decks boards. If the water beads up, youre in good shape; but if it soaks right in, its time tonbsp;reseal that sucker.


    If you havent cleaned your showerhead in a year - or, ever - its well past time. This involves one of our favorite home maintenance tips of all time, because it takes almost zero effort You cant beat lazy cleaning tasks.

    "First slip a rubber band over the top of the showerhead. You may want to loop it around the shower arm once or twice so the plastic bag will stay in place," said Better Homes and Gardens. "Then fill a plastic bag with white vinegar. Attach the bag to the showerhead by slipping the top of it underneath the rubber band. Wait one hour, then remove the bag and turn on the water to flush. Polish with a soft cloth."

    Examine your clothes dryer vent

    This is a critically important maintenance issue and should be done regularly - about "once a year depending on the size of the household and dryer usage," said TODAY. Not only will a clean vent make your dryer run more efficiently and dry your clothes faster, but it will also help keep your home and family safe. "Dryer vents accumulate highly flammable lint, and failure to clean out lint is the leading cause of dryer fires. According to thenbsp;National Fire Protection Agency, over 15, 000 dryer fires occurred in the U.S. in 2010. A plugged dryer vent can also burn out the heating element."

    Check your roof

    A strong storm season may have left you with loose tiles or shingles. Now is the time to have your roof checked to make sure you wont end up with leaks when the rain comes again.

    Do a leak check

    Chances are, your utilities will cost more in the summer because of the expense of cooling your home, so every little bit of savings helps. Not to mention your commitment to saving natural resources "Check your hoses and exterior faucets for leaks -- even a tiny drip can add up to a big waste of water," said The Nest. "Pinhole leaks in hoses can be covered up by winding regular electrical tape around the dry hose in overlapping layers."

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    Easy Ways to Make Your Patio Look Great This Summer

    Summer is the perfect time of year to be outside with family and friends. The cold weather, snow and rain are gone, and you see bright, sunny days ahead of you. If youre getting ready for a season full of pool parties and barbecues, heres everything you need to make your patio look great:

    Update Your Furniture

    Its a new season with new trends, so you might be in the market for new patio furniture, or your old furniture just needs some updating. Chances are your cushions and pillows are looking faded, worn out and tattered from last year, so replace them with new cushions or fabric covers to match the rest of your decor. Dont be afraid to go with bold and bright colors or big designs because they wont dominate the area since its an open space.

    You also need enough furniture and seating to fit your family and friends. Get a large round table or a long rectangular table for your guests to eat, snack and set down their drinks. Add extra chairs or a love seat around your table so you can add more people than your immediate family when you host a party. Go for items that are easy to clean so dust, dirt and spills dont permanently ruin your furniture.

    Make Some Shade

    The summer sun can be intense, so you need shady areas to give yourself and your guests a break. Get a table with an umb>

    If you want a larger shady area, set up a pavilion with a canopy roof in a section of your yard. Add chairs, side tables and a reading area underneath. You also can build a pergola and cover the top and sides with growing vines or climbing plants. This will add some color and nature to your patio as well as provide you with shade.

    Light It Up

    Transform your patio into a summer wonderland by lighting it up at night. Once the sun goes down and the temperature drops, youll want to >

    Make It Party Ready

    Now that you have the necessities, its time to get to the fun part. You want people to see your beautiful summer patio, so give them an excuse to come over for a party. Set up a grill, cooler for drinks and counter space to prepare and display your summertime treats. If it tends to get cool at night, get a table with a fire pit in the middle or build your own fire pit where you can roast smores and tell ghost stories. You also should invest in some lawn games and board games that you can play well into the night.

    Full Story >

    How to Get Denied for a Mortgage After Preapproval

    Youve done the work to clean up your credit score, scrape together a down payment and pry a preapproval letter from your mortgage lender. Cheers

    Getting preapproved is a smart move, especially in a sellers market characterized by tight inventories and, in some regions, bidding wars. Having a lenders letter in hand signals to sellers that youre a legit buyer whose offer merits serious consideration.

    Even so, a preapproval letter is just a conditional commitment. It can be withdrawn if your financial situation changes in a way that makes your lender nervous.

    The best advice? "Maintain the status quo," says Scott Schang, branch manager at BuyWise Mortgage in Anaheim, California.

    There are a few surefire ways to get rejected after youve been preapproved. Among them:

    Quitting your job

    Theres nothing wrong with leaving a job to take a similar or better-paying position at another company, so long as you remain a full-time employee who gets a W-2 form at the end of the year.

    "If youre going from a W-2 job to a W-2 job, thats fine," Schang says. However, taking a significant pay cut will raise red flags. So will switching from a salaried job to a position where youre compensated mostly on commission. And quitting your job to launch a new venture is a no-no, at least when it comes to keeping your mortgage approval.

    Lending guidelines are much stricter for self-employed borrowers, and lenders typically want to see a two-year track record of self-employment income, says Mathew Carson, founder and broker at West County Mortgage in San Francisco.

    The best play: Wait until after youve closed on your house and started paying your mortgage to quit your job and pursue your entrepreneurial dream.

    Loading up on debt

    This is an obvious bit of advice, but one well worth heeding. In the weeks or months after you get preapproved and before you close on your home, keep your spending impulses on lockdown. That means no new credit cards, no car loans and no big-ticket purchases of any kind. Ignoring this rule of thumb is likely to bring scrutiny from your lender.

    Running up a balance on a new credit card will lead your lender to re-examine your debt-to-income ratios, Carson warns. If you were on the borderline before your shopping spree, the new bills could kill the deal.

    Paying down old debt

    Say you have a preapproval letter but realize you could get a better mortgage rate with a higher credit score. Dont make the mistake of trying to be a hero -- its likely to backfire, Carson and Schang say.

    Paying off delinquent debt, settling up with creditors who have charged off an old debt, canceling credit cards -- all might seem like responsible moves, but theyll hurt your credit score.

    "Thats one of the backwards things with the credit scoring system," Schang says. "If you cancel a card, that will drop your credit score significantly for 60 to 90 days before it starts to creep up."

    Its unclear exactly how much your score will fall if you cancel a card, but the hit could amount to as much as 40 points. Paying down an old balance presents a similar quandary. You think youre cleaning up your finances but your lender just sees more available credit, Carson says, and you could be jeopardizing your credit score.

    And when it comes to credit scores, not all debt is created equal. Before you close on a home -- and ideally before you seek preapproval -- youll need to pay off any liens, old tax bills or current debts in collection. However, if a debt has already been charged off -- that is, the creditor isnt expecting any more payments -- paying it will vault your old debt to a "current" status and actually lower your credit score.

    So the rule of thumb for retiring charged-off debt is the same as the guideline for taking on new debt: Wait until after youve closed on your home.

    Moving large sums of money

    Down payments are a challenge for first-time buyers, and many hit up >Banks want to make sure you arent laundering money. They also want to be certain any sudden windfalls are in fact gifts and not loans. "If money is moving around, thats going to be a red flag for an underwriter, and theyre going to pull out the magnifying glass," Schang says.

    The good news is that receiving a gift doesnt need to kill your preapproval. But your bank likely will require you to provide a paper trail that includes a letter stating the money is a gift and two months of bank statements from the gift giver. "It can be a little tedious," Carson says.

    The wiser move, Schang says, is to have your benefactor wire the down payment gift directly into your escrow account.

    The bottom line

    Keep in mind credit scores are based on complex calculations, and every borrowers situation is different. In general, though, your overall financial situation matters.

    If you have a gold-plated credit score and enough income to comfortably afford your loan, a new store credit card probably wont kill your deal. But if you have a borderline credit score and youre stretching to qualify, even a small hiccup could hurt your chances.

    Jeff Ostrowski is a veteran journalist who has covered real estate and personal finance for more than 20 years, and contributes articles about mortgages at
    Full Story >

    The Most Expensive and Most Affordable Maintenance Projects to Update Your Home

    A functional and beautiful home is important for you and your family. When it comes to home improvements and maintenance projects, your budget is likely a major deciding factor when it comes to upgrades.

    Some of the most expensive maintenance projects can dramatically alter your home, but there are affordable options out there that will make a difference as well. From expensive renovations that could take months, to cost-effective and affordable jobs you can do over a weekend, homeowners have a wealth of choices available to them.

    Use this guide to learn more about home maintenance projects to match any budget.

    The Most Expensive

    Major renovations and upgrades can cost a small fortune, but theyll make a big impact in your home. These three options can cost you a pretty penny, but youll love how your home looks and feels when youre done.

    Upgrading Your Kitchen

    If youre looking for a big change in your home and fresh paint just wont cut it, upgrading your kitchen might be more your speed. The fact is that kitchen upgrades are among the most expensive home projects out there.

    On average, a full kitchen makeover costs 21,700. If youre looking for high-end appliances and using costly materials like granite, you could be pushing the needle closer to 40,000 or 50,000.

    Some kitchen upgrades, like installing better cabinetry and countertops will boost your homes resale value, though you may not get a return on investment. Appliances are generally among the top losses when it comes to resale value, so if youre thinking of selling anytime soon, going all out with the best appliances on the market probably isnt a wise choice.

    Remodeling the Bathroom

    You spend a lot of time getting ready for the day in your bathroom. Thats why having an updated, comfortable bathroom is so important to many homeowners.

    The average cost of a bathroom remodeling job is about 10,000. For high-end jobs, you may be looking at costs well over 20,000.

    Despite the cost, having a bathroom you enjoy spending time is worth the expense.

    Replacing Your Roof

    When its time to replace your roof, theres usually no way to avoid it. You do have options when it comes to who will replace your roof and what materials you will use, though.

    On average it costs homeowners using professionals anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 or more for a roof replacement on a 2,200 square-foot home. For that reason, many people opt for repairs instead. In some cases, replacing large sections of your roof can be more cost-effective than just getting a new one completely.

    When shopping around for pros to handle the job, get estimates for repair work and a total replacement job.

    More Affordable Options

    Expensive home projects can make a dramatic difference, but more affordable upgrades do exist. These three options can help you spruce up your home without breaking the bank.

    Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

    Painting the inside of your home can be a big project if you do it all at once and hire professionals. The average room costs between 380 and 790 to paint when a hired crew is involved.

    If youre willing to do the work yourself though, you can save quite a bit of money. The average cost of a DIY paint job is between 200 and 300 per room.

    Painting a few rooms at a time can also improve your home and keep costs down.

    Update Toilet Fixtures

    Updating your toilet fixture around your house isnt exactly a glamorous home improvement project. However, it can make a huge difference in how your bathrooms looks and functions.

    On the low end, toilet fixtures can cost approximately 130 to 350. On the high end, fixtures can range from 500 to 1,000 or more for high-tech options. If youre handy, you can likely handle the installation on your own.

    Newer toilet fixtures can help you save quite a bit of money on water usage as well. Many use less than 1/5th the amount of water that older fixtures might.

    Improve Curb Appeal

    How your home looks from the outside might seem superficial, but it makes a difference when it comes to the value of your house. Even if youre not planning to sell anytime soon, improving curb appeal can make your home more pleasant to visit.

    Projects like pressure washing your driveway should cost under 200, even if you hire professionals. Updating your mailbox can make a big difference too for less than 500. Getting your hands dirty by trimming hedges, pulling weeds and putting in seasonal flowers or perennials is also quite cost effective.

    Home maintenance can take every penny out of your savings account, but not all projects cost as much as the down payment on your home. Make smart repairs and upgrades and the money you put into your home will pay off in the end, whether you spend 500 on paint or 50,000 on your dream master bathroom.
    Full Story >

    Not Your Fathers Retirement: Three Ideas That Are Reinvigorating The Next Stage

    That anemic, antiseptic-smelling place where you used to visit Grandpa in his final years? Thats a thing of the past. Same for the idea of the typical "retirement community," which was reimagined as the more evocative "active adult" many years ago, thanks to masterplanned developers like Del Webb and its Sun City brand. And now its going through another reincarnation, away from the typical and toward a more tailored, more exciting, more personally rewarding, and sometimes more exotic experience. One thing is for sure. This isnt your fathers retirement.

    Wastin away...

    Excuse the ironic lyrical intro, but theres just something about the idea of Jimmy Buffet, singer of "Margaritaville" and purveyor of perhaps the ultimate in >

    "If theres one person in the world who knows how to kick back and >

    The community is planned to have 6,900 homes designed in Old Florida and Key West architectural >

    Homes are expected to be finished in 2018, at which time a second location of the singers retirement communities, Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head in South Carolina, will also be underway. This newly announced location will include more than 3,000 homes in a >

    Coloring outside the lines

    If an endless vacation vibe isnt your thing, perhaps being part of an artists colony is. Thats the idea behind the NoHo Senior Arts Colony, a new community of one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments for those 62 and up that offers a "new way to enjoy your next chapter," they said. In the middle of the vibrant NOHO Arts District in Los Angeles, this retirement option offers "more than just the typical pool and fitness center, with "unique features including a visual arts studio, digital arts room, stadium->

    Senior Living notes that the "posh" NoHo Senior Arts Colony is "mostly Hollywood writers and actors, and anyone into the artsy business" and that the theater is "open to be used by retirement community residents whenever there are no shows scheduled."

    Tiny Homes

    One of the fastest-growing retirement trends today is tiny home living. This gives retirees the freedom of their own space in a smaller footprint with less maintenance and the camaraderie of others in a village environment, if they so choose, or privacy if they wish to be located on their own piece of land. Depending on zoning, tiny homes can be placed in an existing back yard - a choice many retirees are making so they can have their own space while being close to family.

    "The benefits of tiny homes are obvious," says George Chmael, the CEO ofnbsp;Council Fire, an Annapolis, Maryland-based consultancy that advises nonprofits, corporations, governments and communities on sustainable building practices, on AARP. "Theres reduced maintenance, a reduced financial burden and added movability and mobility for a change of circumstances." For seniors, that means: less home maintenance work, lower expenses, and "the flexibility to adapt to whatever the future brings."

    The popularity of this retirement option has given way to a new term: the "granny pod." The self-contained, 12-foot x 24-foot units, like those being sold as MedCottage, are being promoted as a potential option not just for retirees looking for an inexpensive option that allows them to be within arms reach of loved ones, but also as "the solution to nursing homes," said David Wolfe. "These lsquo;Granny Pods are specially built with the safety of a senior in mind. They include a small kitchen, bedroom, andnbsp;bathroomnbsp;all designed to safely house a senior. The bathrooms are handicap accessible with railing and safety features built in."

    Additional safety features include webcams so family and caretakers can monitor them, padded floors to protect against falls, and high-tech "robotic features that can monitor vital signs. In addition, they can filter the air for contaminants while sending alerts reminding when to take supplements, superfoods, and superherbs."

    Full Story >

    Ask the HOA Expert: Vacant Homes In Your HOA

    Question: We have a number of vacant homes in our homeowner association. Does the HOA have a responsibility to secure and protect them?

    Answer: This is more of an issue in HOAs that have attached or common wall housing like condominiums and townhomes. Most of the damage to vacant units is caused by rodents, freezing pipes that cause flooding and vandalism. An unheated unit could have pipes freeze which causes flooding to it and neighboring units. This could be disastrous in a high rise condominium.

    Controlling the freezing issue is extremely important in units vacant for long periods of time. While most HOAs have the legal right to have access to vacant units for emergencies, the HOA needs to pre-plan by being aware of specific units which are vacant and know whether they are abandoned or me>If a unit has been abandoned due to foreclosure, the HOA should take proactive measures to ensure that the unit is winterized pipes, toilets and hot water heater drained. Beyond that, the HOA is not responsible to damage the unit interior may suffer due to extended vacancy.

    Abandoned units are usually in some stage of foreclosure, so at some point a lender will take measures to secure and protect their collateral. Until then, the HOA needs to do what is necessary to protect neighboring units.

    Question: Our governing documents are over 20 years old and outdated. What process should we use to bring them up to date?

    Answer: You should always use a knowledgeable HOA attorney when amending documents to ensure they comply with proper form, current statutes and get properly recorded. Amendments to the governing documents require an appropriate vote as defined by the governing documents of the members which varies sometimes depending on the type of amendment. In other words, some amendments may require a larger or smaller number of "yes" votes. If you plan many or some sweeping changes, break out the individual amendments and vote on them individually.

    Question: Do you have information regarding the Americans with Disability Act and its affect on HOAs?

    Answer: In general, HOAs are required to provide "reasonable accommodations" to persons with verified disabilities a doctors letter. That means the board needs to allow necessary installations like ramps to a unit or reassign HOA controlled parking spaces to disabled residents for easier access to their unit. The HOA is not required to pay for these installations and can require reasonable quality standards.

    That said, if a majority or sizeable number of members have disabilities like many senior residents who cant climb stairs, it is certainly permissible to have the HOA pay for and maintain commonly used ramps, handrails and other installations which many would use.

    Question: We recently received notice of a 1000 special assessment which is due in 30 days. This special assessment was necessary due to a number of foreclosures that made some past due accounts uncollectible. Why should the other members have to pay for this?

    Answer: You are describing a fundamental reality of HOA living: If all members dont pay their fair share, the rest have to fill the gap. That is why it is so critically important to have an aggressive collection policy that includes filing liens to protect the HOAs interests. "Aggressive" means that any amount that is at least 10 days past due should receive a late notice and late fee. Any 30 days past due, should receive a 10 day notice to pay or the matter will be turned over to an attorney for collection. All legal and collection costs should be charged to the delinquent owner. There are other important collection considerations. For a sample collection policy, see - Policy Samples section.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
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    Buy A Home With A Reverse Mortgage

    Do you know that by 2060, the number of Americans 65 years or older is projected to more than double from 46 million to more than 98 million? Currently, that age group represents 15 percent of Americans; in 2060 it will increase to almost 24 percent.

    These are statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging. As we grow older, we often feel the need to downsize; our kids have their own homes, and our present home is either just too large - or no longer adaptable to our physical needs, or both. Or we want to be closer to our grown children and our grandchildren.

    If youre in that category, you may have thought about a special kind of reverse mortgage - more officially known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase, HECM for Purchaser or simply H4P. The typical reverse mortgage allows homeowners over age 62 to tap into the equity on the present home and either get a line of credit or a lump some of money. The H4P allows you to actually buy a house getting a reverse mortgage loan. While an interesting concept, the program isnt for everyone. You should fully investigate the benefits and drawbacks before making a decision.

    Heres how it works: You have to be at least 62 years old. If your spouse is not that old, he/she cannot be on title.

    In general - and depending on your age at the time you make application - you will be able to get a reverse mortgage loan of between 47 and 52 percent of the purchase price of the new home. The older you are, the more money you are eligible to get. This means you have to come up with the balance. Typically, if you plan to sell your current home, you can use the sales proceeds to make up the difference. And if you have sufficient income from other sources, you can even keep your current home as an investment and still be eligible for the reverse mortgage.

    There are a few requirements: You and your spouse must live in the new property; it must be your principal residence. You must go through consumer counseling; the lender - and the government - want to make sure you fully understand what you are pursuing. And you must prove you are financially able to pay the real estate taxes, insurance, general maintenance and upkeep and any applicable community association dues.

    To be eligible for this kind of reverse mortgage, the property can be a single-family house, a two-four property so long as you reside in one of the units, or condominiums that have been approved by FHA.

    Currently, that is a problem because FHA has recently imposed requirements that to be eligible for an insured FHA loan, the associations financial reserves must equal at least 20 percent of their annual budget.

    Additionally, no more than 10 percent of all units can be delinquent in paying their assessments. Unfortunately, a large number of associations throughout the country cannot meet these requirements. Time will tell how this will play out under the new administration.

    There are significant benefits with a reverse mortgage for purchase, but there are also several down-sides. On the positive side, not only will you pocket some of the sale proceeds from your old house but you also do not have to make any mortgage payments. You can use the money you save for whatever you want.

    On the other hand, because there are no mortgage payments, the loan balance increases on a monthly basis. At some point, it can - and may - exceed the market value of the house. For those of us who want our children to inherit the house on our death, this may not be desirable. But the good news is that under no circumstance will you - or your estate - ever have to pay the lender any deficiency between the market value of the house and the then outstanding loan balance. It is completely insured by FHA.

    This is just one of a number of options seniors should consider. Talk with your children; discuss the pros and cons with your financial and legal advisers. And once you decide this is what you want, make sure you work with a certified reverse mortgage professional.

    Although this reverse mortgage process is just like any other loan closing, there are a few more conditions. As mentioned, the buyer must meet with a counselor. The closing must be completed within 60 days from contract signing. And if you are buying in a new development, you cannot even sign a contract until the property has been issued a certificate of occupancy.

    And finally, although the seller can pay those costs which are typically - by custom or law - imposed on the seller, the seller cannot give monetary concessions, such as paying some or all of the buyers closing costs. However, the parties can certainly incorporate any such concessions into the purchase price, so long, of course, it does not exceed the appraisal price.

    For more information, go to or the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association websites at
    Full Story >

    Want To Freshen Up A Piece Of Furniture? 6 Colors To Consider Painting Now

    You dont have to replace your old stuff. Just give it a new skin Not only can painting your furniture give it new life - especially if you have a well-worn dresser or a piece that was handed down to you sitting in the garage - but it can also freshen up your deacute;cor. With the right color and a deft DIY hand, you might be surprised how good a made-over piece can look, and how it can liven up a tired room.

    For the best results, youll need to prepare your surface well by sanding and removing any dirt or other residue, patching any areas where there are nicks or wood missing, priming, and making sure youre using the right products for your piece. You can get some good tips for painting furniture on DIY Network.

    Ready to get started? Here are 6 color options to consider.

    Royal blue

    Not dreamy like sky blue, not trendy like navy, royal blue gives you the punch you need to bring new life to an old piece, and to your space. Look how great it looks on this old chest, especially with the contrast of the brass hardware.


    Yellow brings the same kind of pop as royal blue but keeps it in the warm family, which may work better in certain decor schemes. Yellow has also been shown to improve your mood. The color is "Associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy," said Color Psychology. It "produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy. Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color." But, "when overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect" - which is what makes it perfect for one standout piece.


    Metallic paints are better than ever and can turn an eyesore into a showstopper. The best weve ever used? Modern Masters Warm Silver, which transforms old, ugly, or ordinary pieces into something stunning.


    Nothing brings the drama like the darkest of hues. If you have a piece thats in need of freshening up, black can do the trick without extending your color scheme or requiring you to go too far out of your comfort zone.

    For a truly "wow" look, go glossy, like on this French-inspired sideboard. "Glossy black paint always looks fantastic on curvy furniture such as Frenchnbsp;bombe chestsnbsp;or serpentine dressers," said French Provincial Furniture.nbsp;"Glossy finishes will pick up every imperfection which is even more magnified when you use any type of gloss finish, so finenbsp;sanding is imperative if you choose to go this route.nbsp;Spray paintingnbsp;could be the easiest option if younbsp;arenbsp;doing a small projectnbsp;like a chair. If you are planning on doing a larger piece such as a buffet or dresser, use a sponge brush, which evens out each stroke."

    Stripes or chevrons

    Who says you have to stick to one color? Add a little excitement to your decor by creating a focal piece with pattern. Some striped looks are perfect for a kids room...

    While sophisticated chevrons create a piece that cant wait to show off in your living or dining room.


    You can get a sleek look by painting white in a lacquer finish, or you can get the French country finish Joanna Gaines and her legion of fans is so fond of by distressing the piece. There are a number of different techniques, but this one using chalk paint, wax, and a couple of secondary colors to add depth and patina provides an authentic look.

    You can get some more inspiration for white-painted furniture on Pinterest.

    Full Story >

    Why Some Homes Survive Wildfires - And Others Dont

    Whether a home survives a wildfire "is not random, nor is it a function of luck," says a study of the impact of last years huge wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta. It says most homes that exhibited attributes promoted by the FireSmart program -- including keeping combustible vegetation away from the house, uncluttered yards and low-flammability roofs and surfaces -- survived the fires.

    More than 2,400 structures were destroyed in the fire and insured losses amounted to almost 4 billion, says report author Alan Westhaver, who was commissioned to do the study by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.

    "It seems clear that the survival of homes was a function of resistance to ignition and not a random event or a matter of luck," he says. "Beyond doubt, risk mitigation FireSmart guidelines demonstrated their effectiveness in mitigating risk under the harshest of wildfire conditions."

    Westhaver agreed with others who have studied wildfires elsewhere, asserting that most homes caught on fire as the result of embers from the forest fire landing on their property. "Based on site visits, no instances were observed where home ignition could confidently be attributed to direct contact by flames of the burning forest, and there were very few observations where home ignition was likely due only to radiant heat from the forest."

    He says other studies have shown that embers generated by burning vegetation are common at distances of 100 to 500m, can occur at distances as far away as five kilometres and have been recorded as far away as nine kilometres.

    A new FireSmart Home Development Guide was recently >"Canadians have seen the devastating personal, social and economic impact of wildfires," says Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators, which was also a partner in producing the guide. "Fortunately, we know that proactive mitigation efforts by individual property owners can significantly reduce wildfire risk."

    The guide recommends that homes in wildfire-prone areas should have a simple roof design, made of non-combustible materials such as clay tile, concrete tile, metal or asphalt shingles. It should have few places where embers or combustible materials can accumulate. Proper maintenance of dormers, skylights and solar panels is recommended. Roof vents should be screened. Soffit vents can pull embers into the home during a fire so they should be screened as well.

    It says some types of siding, such as vinyl, can melt when exposed to high temperatures, allowing the fire to reach the underlying wall components. Stucco, brick, fibre cement boards/panels and poured concrete offer better fire resistance. Multi-pane, tempered glass windows are recommended. Garage doors should fit properly with no gaps to allow for embers to enter.

    "Maintaining and removing combustible debris such as lumber, stored vehicles, branches, grass and leaves and firewood near the exterior walls will reduce a buildings vulnerability to ignition during a wildfire," says the guide. "It is important to inspect your vents and openings regularly to ensure the vents are in good repair and remove any combustible debris."

    Gutters and downspouts should be made of non-combustible material and should have a metal drip edge and a gutter guard.

    For decks and porches, "the materials used to build the deck, combustible materials you store under your deck and the vegetation around it all contribute to how vulnerable you deck will be," says the guide. It suggests sheathing the underside of the deck or balcony with fire-resistance sheathing. Surround it with materials such as rock mulch, gravel, brick, concrete pavers or stones to prevent vegetative growth.

    Landscaping is also an important part of making the home more fire resistant. The guide says there should be a 1.5 metre horizontal non-combustible surface perimeter along the outer walls of the house.

    Within 10 metres of the structures, avoid using any woody debris such as mulch. Plants to avoid are cedar, juniper, pine, spruce and tall grass.

    "A mowed lawn is a fire-resistant lawn. Grasses shorter than 10 cm in height are less likely to burn intensely," says the guide.

    Westhavers report recommends that new educational initiatives be adopted to raise awareness among homeowners and those in the landscaping business that "in urban neighbourhoods, the large majority of un-treated, hazardous vegetation/fuel consisted of planted landscaping materials, not native forest vegetation."

    "Any place where conditions allow for ignition and spread of fire between structures and vegetation -- the wildland-urban interface -- people are more exposed to the risk of wildfire and that needs to be considered and managed by all stakeholders," says Kelly Johnston, executive director of FireSmart Canada. "Preparing for the threat of a wildfire is a shared responsibility that will only grow in importance as climate change and other factors continue to increase the risk."
    Full Story >

    4 Common Homeowner Association Security Errors to Avoid

    Homeowners associations HOAs are more popular than ever. In 2015, 66.7 million Americans were members of a homeowners association, equivalent to 20 percent of the population, a Community Associations Institute study found. Unfortunately, the growth of homeowners associations has made them a more attractive target for burglars. Why? Seventy percent of HOAs are managed by elected volunteers, says, meaning that most HOA managers are amateurs at security. Here are four of the most common security mistakes homeowners associations make, and some tips on how to avoid them.

    Failing to Conduct a Security Review

    Many HOAs start off on the wrong foot by failing to conduct a security review, says Without taking this basic step, you donrsquo;t know what vulnerabilities you have, so itrsquo;s impossible to take adequate counter-measures.

    A thorough security review should begin with considering where you live mdash; different locations have different needs. For example, if your HOA occupies a high-rise or is spread out over a large area, you should probably have a professional conduct your review. A full review should be conducted at least every three years, but once a year is better. If you live in a high-crime area, you may need to do it as often as every six months, says Your HOArsquo;s security company will often give you a free review if theyrsquo;re your current provider.

    Taking the Wrong Measures

    Failing to conduct a security review can easily lead to taking the wrong security measures. After a high-profile crime incident, a common reaction is to panic and take measures that calm resident fears but donrsquo;t necessarily solve the problem. For instance, hiring a guard is a common response, but a guard only provides security in the particular area theyrsquo;re covering, which may leave other vulnerabilities unsecured.

    A good rule of thumb is to use guards for situations where a human response is required to solve a security issue and to deploy technology where a human response is not required. When deploying technology, make sure to choose equipment thatrsquo;s up to the task. For instance, a cheap security camera may not be effective at capturing suspectsrsquo; identifying features, such as hair and eye color in low lighting. Be sure to choose a high-tech HD security camera system that can capture high-resolution detail even in low lighting.

    Failing to Remove Landscaping Concealment Opportunities

    Burglars depend on concealment, and allowing them opportunities to hide is another common mistake. Most homeowners associations remember to provide lighting, which is an important deterrent, but they often forget to remove bushes, hedges and low-hanging foliage that criminals can use for concealment, says Spectrum Association Management.

    Make your landscaping less friendly to burglars by planting thorny shrub barriers at your HOArsquo;s main entrance and exit points, including the perimeters of parking lots and boundaries between neighboring communities. Keep shrubs narrow and low, and keep tree canopies trimmed. Flatten any vegetation that obstructs views of your HOArsquo;s parking lot.

    Forgetting to Conduct Periodic Maintenance Checks

    The best security equipment wonrsquo;t help you if itrsquo;s not working. Failing to establish a routine maintenance check procedure is another mistake HOAs often make. Assign responsibility for periodic maintenance checks to your HOA manager. Schedule regular checks of gates, lights, motion detectors, alarms, cameras, video recorders and any other security equipment. Lastly, its important to create an accountability mechanism to make sure these checks are conducted on schedule.

    Full Story >

    6 Ways To Easily Update And Upgrade Your Bedroom

    It happens. You look around one day and think, "When did my bedroom get so blah?" In the room that almost no one sees but close family, it can be easy to give all the attention to other, more public, spaces of the home.

    The good news is that you dont have to redo the entire bedroom to give it a fresh feel. Small changes can have big impact, and you can do them yourself in a weekend or less.


    You can completely change not just the look, but also the feel, of your bedroom with a coat of paint. But it has to be the right coat of paint. Some colors arent recommended for the bedroom because of the psychological affect they can have on people in the room.

    "When picking your bedroom decor, dont go off just looks - if you want to get more sleep or have more sex, that is. A survey conducted bynbsp;Travelodgenbsp;revealed that certain shades can stimulate or >

    The hotel chain, just one of many institutions that have weighed in on the psychology of color and how it affects bedroom habits, found that:
    • "People with blue bedrooms got more sleep than any other color."
    • Yellow "stimulates the nervous system, encouraging >
    • Green "was the third best color palette for sleep, and 22 percent of respondents who slept in a green bedroom reported waking up feeling upbeat and positive."
    • "People withnbsp;purplenbsp;bedrooms are the least rested of all, getting on average a measly five hours and 56 minutes sleep per night. The rich color is actually very mentally stimulating, making it difficult to switch off after a busy day and potentially causing vivid dreams or nightmares."
    • Light brown had a surprisingly sexy effect on respondents. "Romantics, take note. Couples who sleep in a bedroom with caramel deacute;cor have sex three times per week on average, more than any other color."

    Knobs and pulls

    You can change the whole personality of a piece, and the room, just by changing the hardware. This plain white dresser got an infusion of chic with brass rings.

    Of course, you dont have to stop at hardware. This dresser started out as a plain old IKEA Rast, and got quite the makeover.


    Hows that overhead light looking? Pretty dated, you say? Swap it out for something more modern and give yourself something pretty to look up to. If you are the type who needs a fan in your bedroom but dont want to sacrifice >

    While youre updating your lighting, think about your side tables, too. And while youre thinking about them, how about having a little fun with the process? Adding a little bit of whimsy, like with the Gold Geo Squir>


    A rug in the bedroom reads "comfort" while providing another layer of deacute;cor. Dont be afraid to lay it right down on top of your wall-to-wall carpet for a luxurious look.

    Duvet cover

    No need to change out all your bedding. A new duvet cover can give you a whole new look. Places like Bed Bath amp; Beyond and Tuesday Morning are great choices for linens. We also love the Nate Berkus Collection at Target. This Embroidered Diamond Duvet amp; Sham Set is super soft, super stylish, super affordable 72 for Queen, and brings a >

    Window coverings

    Nothing brings a room together quicker and easier than new drapes. Its also a great way to introduce pattern in a space that may be devoid of it or that needs a punch of interest. These drapes draw the eye toward the windows and greenery outside, and also liven up a chaise that could have gotten lost in a sea of neutrals without the framing of the outdoor space.

    Photo by Carolyn Woods Design Inc. - Browse traditional bedroom photos

    Full Story >

    Landscaping to Improve Resale: 9 Projects That Fit Within Your Desired Price Point

    As the weather starts to heat up each Spring, so too does the housing market. Spring is an optimal time to get your house ready to sell. The first thing that potential buyers will see of your home is the landscaping, so make a great first impression with beautiful outdoor spaces. An investment in landscaping can help sell your home faster and for more money. There are simple projects at every price point that can help you achieve great curb-appeal.


    1. Keep the Lawn Well-Manicured

    The easiest and most obvious landscape project when hoping to sell your home is to get your lawn looking its best. Spring is a great season to try to sell because your lawn is helped by Mother Nature. Wet, mild Spring weather will help the lawn stay green with less effort. To show off that green lawn, make sure to mow and edge it often.

    2. Keep Your Yard Weed Free

    It may not cost much, but it will require some time and effort to control the weeds around your property. Spray or pull weeds in flowerbeds, on property borders, and along the driveway. A weed-free yard will help potential buyers feel confident that the home is well cared for, which can create an overall positive impression of your home.

    3. Add Flower Pots Near Your Front Door

    A splash of color in the yard is a great way to highlight your home. If you are looking to sell quickly, it might be too late to do major yard improvements since new flowers and plants will not have adequate time to grow and mature, but a few beautiful pots of flowers strategically placed near your front door can have a similar effect without requiring a lot of time and maintenance.


    4. Add Outdoor lighting

    Outdoor lighting has become a trendy feature that buyers have embraced. Lighting can add interest to your yard, highlight areas of beautiful landscaping, and make your home stand out at all times of the day. Solar lights are particularly easy to use because they will recharge during the day and automatically come on in the evening to illuminate your home.

    5. Install Curbing/Edging

    If you have a little extra money to spend, consider adding curbing or edging around your yard. It helps the landscaping appear crisp and clean, and makes the lawn easier to mow and trim. Savvy buyers will appreciate the ease of maintenance and the defined spaces that curbing creates.

    6. Hire a Lawn or Pest Control Company

    It is important when selling a home to make sure that their arent any obvious problems. If your lawn is dead or patchy or you have pest problems like spiders, mice, etc, you will need to get those under control. Some of these projects are beyond the scope of what an individual without training can quickly achieve and should be left to professionals. Lawn care companies and exterminators can assess the issues you may have and recommend treatments. This may even be limited to a one time visit that can quickly improve the chances of selling your home.


    7. Create Outdoor Living Areas

    If you have money to invest in your home, high-end landscaping projects can increase your bottom-line and draw attention from buyers looking for upgrades. Extra living area outside of your home is a huge attention grabber that attracts buyers. This could range from simple patios staged with outdoor furniture, to screened in porches, to full outdoor kitchen areas. Depending on your location, these upgrades may or may not be worth the investment, so do your research before proceeding.

    8. Replace or Update Fencing

    Fences provide a safe place for children and pets and also give homeowners a feeling of privacy, so they are highly sought after. Fencing is also one of the first things people see when coming to your home. If your fence is an eyesore, it will be worth it to make the effort to have it replaced or fixed up. A new fence is quite an investment, so first determine if your fence can be spruced up with some nails and a new coat of paint.

    9. Hire a Professional Landscaper

    If you are serious about creating a stunning yard, a professional landscaper can add massive amounts of curb appeal to make your home one of a kind. A landscaper can help you add impressive things like paving stone walkways, decorative retaining walls, and water features. Outdoor improvements definitely increase house values, but it is always good to know what the market will support in your area before moving forward.

    No matter how much money you have to invest in your homes landscaping, there are projects you can do this Spring to improve your homes curb appeal and get it noticed by buyers.
    Full Story >

    How To Buy A House Without Going House Poor

    How much house can you really afford? Is it the amount the bank tells you when preapproving your loan? Thats what most people go by, oftentimes spending up to their max approval amount to get as much house as possible - or to be able to afford something at all in tight markets.

    The debt-to-income DTI ratio, along with your credit score, is what is used by lenders to determine your loan approval and amount. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus CFPB efforts to keep this number low notwithstanding, it has been rising to levels that are concerning to industry insiders who fear a widespread wave of homebuyers overextending themselves and becoming unable to support their mortgage payment and other obligations.

    The CFPBs Qualified Mortgage QM Rule went into effect in 2014, intended to curb overleveraging by capping a borrowers debt-to-income DTI ratio at 43 percent. "This means that a borrowers total debt expense including total mortgage payment does not exceed 43 of their gross income before taxes are withheld," said the National Association of REALTORS NAR. The rub: Many loans Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration FHA, are exempt from the 43 percent DTI limit.

    The impact higher DTIs are having on the market is clear; a new WalletHub report "analyzed data from 2,533 U.S. cities and ranked all of them on the basis of a lsquo;WalletHub Home Overleverage Score," said 24/7 Wall St, finding that, in many cities, overleveraging is becoming the norm. "The score was derived from a citys median mortgage debt, median house value, median income, mortgage debt-to-income ratio and mortgage debt-to-house value ratio." The top 10 are all well over the 43 percent threshold, with the top three - San Luis Obispo, California at 59.62; Williamsburg, Virginia at 58.76; and Brooksville, Florida at 57.44 pushing 60 percent.

    Getting in over your head with a house, either from the get-go when first purchasing, or later on with a home equity line that increases your monthly payments, is a dangerous scenario for homeowners and for the market in general. So how do you keep yourself in check to make sure the house youre buying is one you can actually afford and that youre not in danger of becoming house poor?

    Do your own calculations

    The bank may be telling you that a 350,000 house is within your means, but are you OK with the monthly payment attached to that price? No one is more familiar with your spending habits than you. Are you really going to be able to cut 500 a month in discretionary spending eating out, movies, clothes shopping, morning lattes to comfortably make your new house payment?

    Dont forget about the extra expenses

    If youre buying your first home, you may not be estimating your new monthly expenses accurately. Did you include the HOA fee, if the community in which youre looking to buy has one? What about any special assessments, if there are any? And private mortgage insurance PMI if you have an FHA loan and are putting less than 20 percent down on your home. That couple hundred dollars could put you over the top.

    Have you also considered your utilities? You may not be accustomed to paying gas and electricity and water and trash if youve been living in an apartment. There could also be an increase in the cost of electricity if you have more square footage to heat and cool.

    Watch out for HELOCS

    A home equity line of credit HELOC can seem harmless. I mean, its your money, right? And youre using it improve your home, which will only raise its value, right? But what seems like a great idea can also get you in trouble when you tap your home equity. You may be calculating the additional payment for now, but what happens later?

    Thats the conundrum thousands are facing right now, as "HELOCs are resetting higher rates and overleveraging homeowners," said Inman. "An analysis bynbsp;Black Knight Financialnbsp;shows that 1.5 million home equity lines of credit will see interest-only draw periods end this year with outstanding unpaid principal balances that average 62,500 per HELOC. The data reveals that average borrowers whose lines of credit reset will face an additional cost of 250 per month, more than double the current average payment."

    Keep an open mind

    Finding a house you can afford may be challenging - especially for first-time buyers and those in competitive markets that push the affordability index. If you have tight parameters for your house hunt that are making it hard to find something within your budget, consider:

    • Extending your area search. You may not be aware of but your Realtor probably is adjacent cities or communities that offer a similar life>
    • Buying a condo or townhome instead of a single-family home. Some buyers have an automatic aversion to condos and townhomes because they dont like the idea of living attached. But your real estate agent may know of properties that are end units, that have private yards, and that are two-story units with no one above or below you. It may be that this is your best bet for homeownership you can really afford at this point, and you may find you like it far more than you expected - especially because so many of these communities come with great amenities like a pool and gym, plus front-yard landscaping that is taken care of, saving you time and money.
    • Looking at fixer-uppers. A little-known loan called an FHA 203k mortgage may be your "in" to a home you can afford and make your own. The bonus is that its also great for borrowers who may not have the credit and/or down payment to qualify for conventional loans. "The FHA requires a credit score of at least 580 if you want to make the minimum down payment; if you have 10 down, your score can be as low as 500," said "You can borrow more than the home is worth, as long as the repairs will increase its appraised value. The most you can borrow is 110 of what an appraiser estimates it will be worth after renovations, or the cost of the home plus the estimated renovation cost, whichever is less, minus your down payment. The minimum down payment on an FHA loan is 3.5."

    Full Story >

    Ask the HOA Expert: Conflicts Of Interest On The Board

    Question: Concerning the possible conflict of interest that develops with managers who are hired by HOA developers: In our HOA, the manager is the developer. We now have a number of construction >

    Answer: This developer has an indisputable conflict of interest in serving as manager. The good news is the board has the authority to hire and fire management. Considering the likelihood of continued conflicts of interest, the sooner management is changed, the better. While its fairly common for developers to manage the HOA during the marketing phase of the development, once the authority is turned over to a board of homeowners, it is time to get an independent management company to do the work. Even a developer with the best of intentions cannot fairly serve two masters.

    Question: If the governing documents state that maintenance of the common area is the responsibility of the homeowner association, can the board enact a policy that allows homeowners to plant flowers around their unit and mandate that homeowners maintain that area?

    Answer: The board has no authority to enact a policy that contradicts the governing documents. Amending the governing documents requires an appropriate vote of the members "appropriate" means the percentage of members required in the governing documents.

    Question: What are my options as an owner if the board and management company refuse to enforce one of the rules. Ive filed an official complaint and they refuse to act. Its a board member in violation.

    Answer: "One of the rules" is a bit vague. Not all rules are created equal nor carry the same importance of enforcement. But assuming the rule in question is a flagrant violation like parking an illegal vehicle, harboring a killer pitbull or adding an unapproved addition to his house or condo, then you indeed have the right to question what is going on. A board member who thinks that rules only apply to others should not remain on the board for obvious reasons. Foxes guarding the henhouse seldom serve the chickens.

    Your next move might include a petition signed by a significant number of owners 5-10 who agree with you. The petition should describe the specific violation and the need to correct or cease and desist. If that does not have the desired effect, a letter from an attorney might do the trick. Board members have personal liability for their HOA actions and some have been subject to sizeable fines for failure to heed that fact. Lastly, you have the right to run for the board to start making a difference. Its often easier to make changes from within than without.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
    Full Story >

    Buyers Remourse: The Legal Ties That Bind

    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:

    o Suing for specific performance, in effect, asking the court to require you go ahead with the transaction.

    o 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.

    o 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 >

    Three Things Home Buyers Should Never Do

    Talk to a home buyer who just lost out in yet another bidding war and youll hear genuine disappointment and frustration.

    Listen to a buyer who found the perfect starter home, then asked probing questions only to discover undisclosed deal-breaker problems like UFFI, a significant foundation crack or both. Youll learn how anger and discouragement can go hand in hand.

    Youll never hear me respond to these buyers with platitudes like "It wasnt meant to be." I encourage buyers to understand exactly why things didnt work out in their favor. Buyers determined to act in their own best interest must understand whats going on so they can make confident decisions.

    Misunderstandings, problems, or shortcomings in the buying process many need correction to end negative results. This is not about blame, but learning how to proceed constructively:

    • Buyers who begin homeownership out of their financial depth are not on the path to success or happiness. Sticking to your budget is not losing out, but progressing sanely.
    • Research-savvy buyers, who ask questions and uncover deal-breaker property weaknesses will not end up as extremely-disappointed property owners faced with expensive problems to correct or law suits to fight.

    Home buyers will be rewarded by remembering that there are three things never to forget when buying real estate:

    1: Never quit: Real estate values continue to rise mdash; ra>

    • Most sellers care about who buys their home and will make new memories there. Personalize your offer with a video or unique offer. One enterprising chef offered to come and cook dinner for the owners once the offer was accepted. A couples short, punchy video showed what they had gone through to find that house and what they dreamed about doing there... all with magazine pictures cut out by their kids. You may not be creative, but be sincere with a letter or short video less than a minute or two that your real estate professional can use to introduce you and your offer to purchase.
    • The real estate market may change as you continue shopping. If prices rise, you may end up in the wrong price range. Explore other locations and types of housing. Buying a two- or three-unit income property may give you the financial leverage you need for the area you prefer.
    • Your >

    2: Never >: Verbal assurances from sellers, home inspectors, or real estate professionals are worth the paper they are printed on In real estate, its whats on paper that counts[amp;mdash]what you can rove indisputably in a disagreement or in court.

    • Sellers may say theyll leave all the appliances, playground equipment, or anything else. If you really want something, include it in the offer with a description that precludes substitution with lesser models.
    • The real estate professional may assure you about many things the sellers will do or not do before closing. If something matters to you, make sure it is written into the offer, so there is no doubt what will be done, to what standards, when, and at whos cost. Repairing the roof, finishing the bathroom renovation, cutting deadwood out of tall treeshellip;all in writing in the offer.
    • If theres something of specific value to you on the property, make sure it will remain intact. For instance, a stand of trees was assumed by one buyer to be a permanent fixture. The sellers thought that, since theyd grown the trees, they could harvest the trees as firewood as part of packing to move. What did the offer say on the subject?
    • The builders sales staff want to expedite your new home sale, but they may not have the power to make binding promises, warranties, or guarantees. Be sure you get the home you expect, by having details that matter to you written into the offer. Read the entire offer[mdash;]yes all the small print. If you cant follow the clauses, ask your real estate professional. Translating legalese for clients is a prime function for these professionals. Check important issues and clauses with your real estate lawyer. If you only want the house if it has a three-car garage, not a two-car, its vital to get that commitment from the builder into the offer in the correct way to overcome any sidestepping made allowable by the small print.

    3: Never think the work is over once the offer is accepted: Having your offer to purchase accepted is terrific Hurrah However, until closing, the house belongs to the seller and a lot can happen.

    • The seller is responsible for insuring the property and keeping it in good repair until closing.
    • Will the lender have all the mortgage funds ready for you on closing?
    • Both sides of the transaction need their lawyers tidying up loose ends. Youll be busy with movers and perhaps school transfers.

    Things can go wrong. Im not trying to stress you out, but keep in touch with your real estate professional to be sure they are in touch with those finalizing the many details that must be resolved before closing. Thats not calling everyday in a panic. Clarify what details must be taken care of before closing. Then check off that list with your real estate professional, so nothing is left to the last minute. Once you get the keys and move in there may be carryover issues. Remain calm. Document the issues. Never quit until issues are completely resolved. Never >
    Full Story >

    Real Estate Professional Dana Roberts Continues Giving Spirit with Another Generous Donation to the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital on Behalf of Her Client with the Agent with Heart Program

    Las Vegas, NV May 22th, 2017 PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential in Irvine, California recently closed a transaction and made a special donation to the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital on behalf of her client, Mikki Tran.

    "Dana is proving to be an incredible asset within her community as she makes her fifth donation with the Agent with Heart Program," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. The Agent with Heart Program is aimed to connect local realtors to nonprofits within the community with hopes of aiding in the growth of local communities nation-wide.

    "We are grateful for the continued giving spirit Dana Roberts demonstrates with each donation, and look forward to seeing how her incredible generosity will continue to assist her community going forward. I would personally like to thank Dana for being a valued member of our Agent with Heart Program and for exemplifying the spirit in which our program was created," 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 Dana Roberts 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 To connect with Dana Roberts, please call 949-433-6694 or visit her website
    Full Story >

    Arbitration Clause Removed From California Listing Agreement

    A few weeks from now the California Association of REALTORSreg; CAR will >

    Among those to be >Why would CAR remove the optional arbitration agreement? The official explanation is this: "The arbitration clause was removed from the listing agreements because some attorneys for sellers were using it to draw listing agents into contract disputes between buyers and sellers."

    To understand this explanation fully, we need to realize an important difference between the optional arbitration agreements in the CAR listing agreements and the ones in the CAR purchase contracts. The difference is this: the arbitration agreements in the purchase contracts are between the principals -- buyers and sellers -- whereas the agreement in the listing agreement is between the agent and the principal -- the listing office and the seller.

    If both principals buyer and seller have signed the optional arbitration agreement in the purchase contract, then, if a dispute arises between them and should mediation fail, they will be required to submit to arbitration. Going to court is not an option. Not being a party to the contract, neither broker would be required to join that arbitration proceeding; though either could if they so choose.

    One can see, then, why an attorney might want to use the listing arbitration agreement "to draw listing agents into contract disputes between buyers and sellers."

    There is, however, another reason that many listing brokers will be pleased to see the optional arbitration agreement removed from the listing agreement.

    When arbitration agreements were first introduced into the various CAR contracts, many -- probably most -- California brokers welcomed that as one of the greatest cultural improvements since the catchers mitt, or sliced bread. They welcomed the notion of having disputes settled outside of the judicial process with all of its time-consuming frustrations and expenses.

    But, over the years, brokers came to discover how badly they can fare in arbitration which can often be, well, arbitrary. Arbitrators do not have to follow the law. They can choose an outcome that they may perceive to be fair, even if it is not the one the law would provide. Many brokers have reached the conclusion that they are more likely to obtain a just decision in a court of law rather than in an arbitration. Moreover, an arbitrators decision is not subject to appeal, except in extreme cases of bias.

    In short, over the years, many brokers have come to the conclusion that, should they become involved in a dispute with a principal, they are far more likely to get a fair shake in court than at the hands of an arbitrator.

    But, some might ask, why remove the arbitration clause from the listing agreement? After all, its optional. Yes, it is optional; but, remember, the overwhelming majority of listing agreements are negotiated between sellers and individual agents who are representatives of the broker. Few agents have the faintest idea where their broker stands on arbitration and shame on the broker for that. Fewer still, even if they did know the broker doesnt want to commit to arbitration, would be comfortable telling their client that the broker doesnt want to sign the arbitration clause. Better to take it out, and leave that conversation for another day. Or no day at all.

    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 .
    Full Story >

    Five Have-To-Have-It Summer Home Decor Trends

    When summer rolls around, its not usual to walk into your favorite home goods store and be bombarded by beachy items. Its shells, and sand, and coral galore. But, this year, summer deacute;cor trends have veered in a few fun, new directions. If you havent yet started feeling like you HAVE TO HAVE PALM PRINT EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW, you will soon. Its just one of the hot trends that will turn your home into a summer showplace.

    Palm prints

    The aforementioned palm prints are everywhere right now, from clothes to walls to window deacute;cor - part of the overall tropical print trend that Vogue says were going to see more "in wallpaper and designer fabrics." These drapes make a serious impact, especially against the black-and-white-striped rug. If you like the look but not in such a bold placement, try scattering a few palm print throw pillows or hit Hamp;M for what is sure to be one of the hottest tropical collections of the summer.

    Or, you can go full "jungalow," embracing the trend that The Telegraph describes as, "exotic prints patterned with large-fronded ferns, and whimsical wallpapers bursting with big cats, crocodiles and mischievous monkeys, this season its all about Palm Springs-meets-Ibiza eclectism -- perfect for those looking for some exotic escapism."


    Also hot for spring: flamingos. But were not talking about the hot lawn ornaments. No, the wading bird is showing up this season in some other surprising places, like on the walls. "While flamingo-themednbsp;partiesnbsp;are technically what has Pinterest tickled pink, we also expect to see the unabashedly fun motif have legs in the coastal design world, like in this fabulous wallpaper," said Coastal Living.


    Rattan is, not surprisingly, part of the tropical trend, but the lsquo;70s throwback has a fresh new look. "Remember rattan? You saw it everywhere in the 70s: rattan chairs, rattan baskets, rattan patio furniture, and other wicker items," said Country Living. "Most often, rattan was confined to porches and the outdoors itnbsp;doesnbsp;make great weather-resistant furniture, but today, the trend is popping up inside, too. Also known as manila, manau, or malacca, the natural material and beautiful woven technique adds texture and richness to rooms and can suit many >


    Florals are nothing new, especially at this time of the year. But the way theyre being presented is. Two hot trends to follow include:
    • lsquo;60s throwback prints. "Along with midcentury furniture and >
    • Bold floral prints, taking cues from runway looks from Prada and Chloe, like on this 3,352 Marcel Wanders Nest sofa by Moooi.

    Paint colors

    Summer is the ideal time to introduce a new color or two to your home and freshen up your space. Two of the most popular options every year at this time are pastel hues and citrus infusions, and that holds true for this year as well. A few of HGTVs recommendations include exotic orange, seaworthy coral, refreshing lime, and waters edge blue, a favorite choice because, "Nothing is as inviting as a cool body of water on a summer day," they said. "Get the same feeling in your living areas by immersing the room in this cool shade. For a dramatic effect, use the color on upholstered pieces, drapery panels and accessories."

    Coastal Living

    But its not only about vibrant citrus colors and soft, beachy vibes this summer. One of the hottest colors out there right now is navy blue, and when it comes to summer deacute;cor, this dramatic hue provides a worthy pop. "Though black has long been a decorating darling, designers are now enlisting Navy blue for their go-to dramatic hue. "When paired with pops of white, red, or yellow it has an especially beachy vibe," said Coastal Living.

    Full Story >

    The End Of The All-White Kitchen? The Case For Natural Wood

    A funny thing happened while everyone was obsessing over white kitchens: Natural wood snuck back in, creating some of the chicest spaces around.

    For many, natural wood evokes a country feel. Or perhaps something ultra-traditional. But todays natural wood kitchens are modern showplaces that mimic the newest trends weve been seeing in wood floors.

    "We predicted that natural materials and warmer finishes would rule the kitchen in 2017. One way were seeing this natural-material trend play out, thanks in part to the popularity of minimalism, is with unpainted, unfinished wooden cabinets," said Apartment Therapy. "The casual look combines the sleek >

    Sound hard to pull off and still get the sleek look you desire? You might be surprised...

    You know when youre watching House Hunters Renovations and the couple looking for a home to buy and redo always has diametrically opposed >

    Is that... pine? With the right design, any type of natural wood cabinetry can look fresh and new.


    With the stone walls, this kitchen could go full Tuscan, or full country French. But, the use of materials, with the natural wood, quartz, and stainless steel, and the clean lines everywhere else, keeps the kitchen looking fresh.


    For a minimalist, modern look, why not run the wood right up the backsplash?


    Like the integrated look but want a splash of natural materials? The color palette and materials here look amazing with the indoor-outdoor appeal of this space, and wrapping the island with a waterfall edge provides some contrast so the kitchen doesnt read "all wood."


    The mismatched look has been hot for some time, and this kitchen shows you how to do it with natural wood. The texture on the bottom cabinets is the perfect way to show them off.

    Natural wood in a mid-tone brown is also a great counterpoint to an all-white kitchen if youre not ready to take the plunge all over. Notice how the island has more traditional lines, juxtaposed against the modern white cabinetry.

    Full Story >

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    Updated: Monday, June 26, 2017

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