Real Estate News

Updated: Sunday, October 21, 2018


California Adopts Changes to Landlord-Tenant Notice Periods

Specifically, those notices are the ones known as i a three-day notice to pay or quit, ii a three-day notice to perform a covenant duty under the lease, and iii a five-day notice to file an answer to an unlawful detainer eviction suit. Crucial to such notices, as is the case with performance clauses in contracts, is defining how days are to be counted.

Under current California law, for the notices in question, the days to be counted begin with the first day after the notice is served. However, if the last day for performance is a weekend or holiday, it is excluded from the counting. California Code of Procedure sect;12.

Some examples:

1. If, on Monday, I am given a three-day notice to pay, then I must pay within the days Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
2. If I received the three-day notice on Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday are counted, but Saturday and Sunday are excluded from being performance days. The final day for performance would be Monday, provided it is not a holiday.
3. If I receive the notice on Friday, and Monday is a holiday, then my last day for performance would be Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, as well as the Monday holiday, are included in the counting, they just canrsquo;t be required as a performance day.

AB 2343 changes current law with respect to which days can be counted when a tenant is given notice. Now, not only are weekends and holidays not days when performance can be required, but also, they are not days to be included in the counting. The only days to be counted are so-called court days, i.e. Monday through Friday, provided that none is a holiday.

When the new law becomes effective, if I am served with a three-day notice on Friday, counting will not begin until Monday. My last day for performance, presuming no holidays are involved, would be Wednesday.

Does this make a big difference? It probably would if you only had Monday to deal with paperwork, perhaps secure a loan, or any of a number of easily-imagined scenarios. Proponents of the bill had stated ldquo;Legal services programs throughout the state report that they are visited by frustrated tenants every day who are able to resolve the situations leading to their eviction, but not within the extremely narrow time provided by California law.rdquo; This was a particular concern with the five-day notice to respond to an eviction filing.

As it is, the original version of AB 2343 sought considerably more than what survived through the amendment process. The original version had proposed that the three-day notice periods be extended to ten days, and that the five-day notice period be extended to fourteen.

The bill was co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the California Rural Legal Foundation. It also had the support of a variety of tenantsrsquo;-rights groups. The bill was opposed by, among others, the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtorsreg; CAR. After the amendments, CAR withdrew its opposition.


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How Conforming Loan Limits Are Set Each Year

Here in just a couple of weeks, some important economic data will be reviewed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA. This new data will then impact the new conforming loan limits for 2019. Mortgages are considered either a ldquo;conformingrdquo; or ldquo;jumbordquo; based upon the amount borrowed. Conforming loans that are underwritten to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards are at or below 424,100 for 2018. Anything above that amount is considered a jumbo loan. One short caveat however, in areas deemed ldquo;high costrdquo; there is another category called high balance conforming but in most parts of the country, a loan is either conforming or jumbo.

Historically, conforming loans have slightly lower interest rates compared to a jumbo loan. Conforming loans also ask for a lower down payment. Jumbo loans typically ask for a down payment of anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of the sales price. So, who sets these limits and how? Each October, FHFA reviews the median home values for the United States, more specifically the Housing Price Index, or HPI, and compares that number with the previous yearrsquo;s data. If there is an increase in median home value from one year to the next, the conforming loan limit will be increased accordingly. For instance, if values increase by 5.0, the conforming loan limits will be increased by 5.0 for the following year. The new limits are announced in November of each year. If values fall, the previous yearrsquo;s loan limit will remain the same until the next evaluation.

Conventional conforming loans are by far the most popular choice among home owners and practically every single mortgage lender offers either a Fannie or Freddie loan. With such a large market share that also means more places to get a conforming loan which leads to more competition among mortgage companies. Lenders compete based upon service and rates and more competition keeps mortgage rates in check. Thatrsquo;s one of the reasons why interest rates from one lender to the next are very near one another.

We can anticipate higher conforming loan limits for 2019 as home values over much of the country have appreciated in value, we just donrsquo;t yet know by how much. But we will soon know once the HPI for 2018 is reviewed and >
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Ask the HOA Expert: Dryer Vents, Noisy Neighbors and Yard Sales

Question: How frequently should dryer vents in common wall HOAs be cleaned and repaired?

Answer: Dryer vents are the source of fires and water damage leaks in the ceiling so should be checked and cleaned at least once a year or when alerted by residents. Surveying the exterior vent openings determines the scope of work since its easy to see evidence of lint buildup. Removing selected vent covers and using a shop vac with extended hose attachment to remove the lint usually does the trick although a snake with pipe brush attachment may be needed to remove heavy buildup. Be careful to use appropriate equipment based on whether you are cleaning solid metal or plastic pipe versus the more flimsy flexible plastic pipe. The wrong kind of snake will easily damage the flexible pipe.

Clean only those vent pipes that have an obvious need except in the cases where there is documented interior water damage. In those cases, cleaning is necessary to remove water from the vent pipe. It may also be necessary to open the ceiling to correct the vent pipe orientation since water leaks from laundry vents are usually caused by a flexible pipe that has bellied out.

Vents with broken exterior flappers should be replaced to prevent bird nesting. This should be done as necessary when alerted by residents, management or maintenance.

Question: We have had repeated noise problems from a neighboring resident. We have endured everything from the radio blaring first thing in the morning, to parties with his drinking buddies late at night, to being awakened in the middle of the night by his vacuuming and furniture assembly. Honestly, who needs to be hammering at 1:40 am? We have tried every nice way we can think of including notes and phone calls. What can we do?

Answer: Disturbing the peace is against the law. Youve done what any reasonable person could do. Remind your neighbor in writing one more time how many times you have requested his cooperation and inform him that the next time it happens, you will call the police. And DO it. If he insists on being inconsiderate, he should reap the consequences.

Question: I asked permission from the board for a yard sale. The board responded that yard sales were not permitted due to Aliability issues.

Answer: Life is fraught with risk but yard sales don=t generally come to mind as high risk activities. It sounds like the board has been terrorized by an attorney or insurance agent. Usually, the issue in HOA garage/yard sales is the additional traffic and parking they generate. Some HOAs have almost no extra parking or narrow streets so sales create a real problem. In those situations, sales are not appropriate. If this isnt the case, the board is overreacting.

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


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Is There Anything Left to Flip?

And therein lies the problem. With so many homes flipping and home flippers competing for the same properties, how does one even go about finding a place to buy these days?

We have some ideas.

Work with a savvy real estate agent

This is key because your exposure to distressed properties will be limited. Also, a savvy real estate agent may have connectionsmdash;the kind of connections that could find you a flip before it hits the market.

Keep your eye on really distressed properties

Pass by an eyesore on your way to work every day? Is there a house down the street with an unkempt lawn and noticeable deferred maintenance? You never know whatrsquo;s going on inside, but your Realtor may be able to find out. You could be in the right place at the right time to get a great deal and even help out someone who needs a hand by getting them out from under the home before itrsquo;s taken by the bank.

Go where the projected growth is

It may already be too late to score in a place thatrsquo;s on one of those fastest-growing cities lists. Prices may have appreciated past the point of potential profit on a flip, and inventory is likely low. Instead, pay attention to cities that are projected to be on the rise so you can get in before everyone else does.

Look for estate sales

"What they could do to make it easier is combine the two. You know, Mr. Kline died yesterday, leaving behind a wife, two children, and a spacious three-bedroom apartment with a wood-burning fireplace." mdash; Billy Crystalrsquo;s Harry on the difficulty of finding a place in NYC in When Harry Met Sally

Turns out Harry was on to something. If yoursquo;re looking for a house to flip, you have to get creative. Poring through the MLS for a house may yield a winner here and there, but the competition from other would-be flippers is gonna be fierce. That probably means that if you do find something flip-worthy, you may end up paying more because yoursquo;re bidding against other people, and that will reduce your potential profit. Does that mean checking the obits? Probably not. But estate saleshellip;now thatrsquo;s another story.

Check in with landlords

Are there any rentals in your neighborhood? Maybe one of the owners would be willing to unload an underperforming home. Maybe that same individual doesnrsquo;t want the hassle of getting it ready for sale.

Donrsquo;t be afraid of the city

Dingy downtown areas in many cities across the country have turned many a would-be real estate investor into a flipping pro. In many cases, these buyers took a chance on an area that many would have described as ldquo;iffy.rdquo; Investors often call these ldquo;transitioning areasrdquo; and some pros, like Christina El Moussa from Flip or Flop, go right ahead and call them bad neighborhoods. These areas can provide great bang for the buck if you choose right.

ldquo;It seems like one year a particular neighborhood will be really lsquo;badrsquo; with a lot of vacancies and a high crime rate,rdquo; said El Moussa on Real Estate Elevated. ldquo;The next year the crime rate will be a little lower, and therersquo;ll be fewer vacancies. The year after that, itrsquo;ll be an affordable neighborhood, and before you know it, people are paying a lot of money to get houses in the area.rdquo;
Donrsquo;t be afraid of the suburbs
Have you heard? The lsquo;burbs are hot, even with millennials, who many thought would always embrace the city life>

Watch for moving trucks

Therersquo;s a scene in the Sex and the City movie where Miranda, in searching of a new apartment in New York, runs into a building to inquire about a vacant apartment because she saw men loading up a moving truck out front Apparently, all of our best ideas for finding a flip should come from movies filmed in New York. While no one is recommending you go running into a home as someone is moving out, the moving truck is something to look out for in target neighborhoods. Someone whorsquo;s moving out under curious circumstancesmdash;no one in the neighborhood knew the home was for sale, itrsquo;s late at night, etc.mdash;is someone you may want to pay attention to. It could be a foreclosure situation or some other opportunity you want to take advantage of before someone else does.

Look at auctions and foreclosure listings

ldquo;The first step in successful fix-and-flipping is finding the profitable property in the first place. You can call it investorrsquo;s common sense to look for properties in the best areas selling at low prices,rdquo; said Do Hard Money. ldquo;However, many new real estate investors come up empty-handed month after month until they finally give up in frustration. This is because theyrsquo;re all doing the same thing: theyrsquo;re looking in the same place. Most of the new flippers look on the MLS for potential properties. Dare to do differently. Look for properties by lesser-known means, such as foreclosure listings, estate sales, short sales and real estate auctions.rdquo;

Check the schools

Donrsquo;t have kids? Doesnrsquo;t matter. Your buyer may, and that means the schools are important. And, in truth, even buyers who donrsquo;t now or may never have kids still seek out good schools because of their positive impact on home values. ldquo;If yoursquo;ve found an affordable home in a neighborhood thatrsquo;s on its way up, your next step is to research the local schools,rdquo; said Money Crashers. ldquo;Homes in good school systems sell faster, and command higher prices, than homes in mediocre or poor school systems. Use websites like GreatSchools, SchoolDigger, and Niche to see rankings and reviews of local schools.rdquo;


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Layering on the Luxe: Jewel Tones for Fall and Winter

ldquo;After years of taking our collective home decor in a more neutral direction were looking at you, inoffensive beige, gray, and granite color schemes, were finally branching out and allowing some color back into our homes,rdquo; said Realtor.com. ldquo;These bold huesmdash;deep sapphire blues, vibrant emerald greens, and intense, regal purplesmdash;can transform a room from a boring, vanilla box into a lusciously rich and cozy space you never want to leave.rdquo;

Here are five ways to incorporate jewel tones into your deacute;cor.

Pay attention to the details

You donrsquo;t have to be so bold as to layer an entire room in jewel tones But wersquo;d love it if you did. With jewel tones, the right placement is everything. ldquo;When applied to everything from paint to upholstery, jewel tones can transform any room into a sumptuous refuge or a light-filled bijou box depending on the shade,rdquo; said Architectural Digest. We love how the sapphire blue stands out against the muted walls in this Manhattan living room, where ldquo;walls and shelves brim with beloved art, books, and objects. The artist worked with designer Fernando Santangelo to create rooms that call to mind a timeless New York >

Create the right combinations

Creating harmony in your interior isnrsquo;t about choosing the right color. Itrsquo;s about choosing the right color story. That means all the colors in your space need to work together. When it comes to developing that story, you can easily use a few pops of jewel tone boldness in a neutral palette, which will allow your space to blend in this fall and winter home trend without going too far over the edge. Feeling a little braver? Good. ldquo;Pair bold with bold: Jewel-tone colors work best when they have the ability to play off another bold color,rdquo; said Freshome. ldquo;Rather than only using one shade in a room, choose two or three to create a strong sense of contrast. Just check the color wheel first to make sure that the colors you choose go together well enough.rdquo;

Go metallic

Jewel tones create a luxe look, and thats especially true when you add in a little metallic. ldquo;Yoursquo;ve no doubt noticed how good gold bracelets or silver necklaces look when combined with jewel tones,rdquo; said DreamCasa. "Metallics are the perfect complement to saturated ruby, sapphire, and emerald-colored hues if you want a space thatrsquo;s cozy yet fancy. Nothing grounds a space better than a richly colored rug. Finding one with jewel tone colors and a gorgeous design you love is the perfect place to start when redecorating a room. By using the rugrsquo;s color palette, yoursquo;ll have an easier time figuring out which items and colors will work best when introduced to the space.rdquo;

The power of paint

Jewel tones donrsquo;t have to be >

One of our favorite ways to use paint, especially in the beautiful shades of the moment, is on cabinetry and built-ins. You may not be ready to paint your kitchen cabinets fuchsia, but how much do you love these vivid built-ins?

Tempt with textiles

Silk and velvet take jewel tones to another level, providing a plush feel that suits the rich hues. Velvet is the textile of the moment, so the choices are vast. You can create a luxurious and >
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Are You Torturing Your Trees?

Whether you inherited trees when you bought your current real estate or yoursquo;ve planted trees yourself, their value to your property, your life>

Yet in spite of loving your greenery, are you unknowingly torturing your trees?

ldquo;What me?rdquo; you say in shock. Do you recognize yourself or your neighbors in the behaviors listed below?

Compaction Suffocates Trees

Is the soil around your trees so compact, that adequate oxygen and water do not reach tree roots? No, you say, but did you recently have landscaping equipment or construction vehicles on or near your property? Even many people walking around a tree can compress soil when moisture levels are high and soil is soft. Soil compression by machinery or foot traffic reduces soil pore size and restricts oxygen and water availability for tree roots. If the surrounding soilmdash;up to three times the diameter of the leaf canopymdash;is significantly covered with patio stones or pavement right up to the tree trunk, the tree may be suffering. This hard surface results in reduction of available oxygen and water for tree roots which can restrict tree growth or eventually kill the tree.

Remedies: Enlarge Tree Protection Zones, which should be set-up before construction begins, to reduce compaction. Do not park cars or other vehicles under a tree canopy or on the root zone of a tree. Depaving projectsnbsp;to free hard-surface-bound sidewalk and playground trees remove suffocating pavement and let soil and tree roots breath again. Contact a professional arborist before working under a tree or when compaction may have occurred.

Not Heal, But Seal

Have you weed-whacked or mowed around a tree trunk and scratched the bark or taken a chunk out of the trunk in the process? Broken a branch off lately? Dug through a root or two? Fastened anbsp;slacklinenbsp;to a tree and damagednbsp;the bark or strained the tree with your weight? ldquo;No problem, the tree will healrdquo; may have been your reaction, but yoursquo;re dead wrong. Trees do not heal. No bandaids for them. Trees can only compartmentalize or ldquo;wall-offrdquo; an injurymdash;that is, slowly grow a ldquo;boxrdquo; around the damage and seal if off. Because this is not a quick reaction, bacteria, fungi, or pests may invade the weakened area and make matters worse before the tree can complete the seal. Your quick, perhaps thoughtless, actions may cause damage that the tree can not seal itself off from leading to its death.

Remedies: Be cautious when you weed-whack, mow, play, construct, or dig near trees. Warn others to do the same. Consult an arborist beforehand. Prevention of damage is the only effective remedy when it comes to trees.

Mulch May Cause Problems

Which works? Donts L or Volcanos R? Donuts, not volcanosmdash;thatrsquo;s the correct application of mulch that will not damage tree trunks. Mulch, or organic material like wood chips or straw, improves moisture levels and suppresses weeds. However, pile mulch up against a tree trunk and moisture will build up and make it easier for pests, bacteria, and fungi to damage the trunk and undermine the treersquo;s health.

Remedies: Mulch in a donut shape that is away from the trunk like the attached photo. Avoid dyed varieties of wood chips and stick to natural.

Wrong Tree or Wrong Place

Planting the right tree in the right place sounds like an obvious decision, but enthusiastic gardeners donrsquo;t always search out the professional input they need to successfully make this choice. Whatrsquo;s best for the tree is best for the property owner. The wrong location for a particular species will weaken the tree making it more susceptible to disease or pest attacks. The tree suffers unnecessarily and the owner stares at an expensive, unsightly dying tree. Growing healthy, beautiful trees, in the right type of soil and at the right moisture level, avoids problems, reduces maintenance, and celebrates the beauty of nature.

Remedies: Ask an arborist or professionals at nurseries, tree maintenance companies, or tree-planting nonprofits which tree species works best for your soil type, moisture levels, light conditions, and general location. Theyrsquo;ll also help you avoid local invasive trees. Take a look at whatrsquo;s thriving near your property and ask about those species. Native trees will do best.

Trees Wrongly Take The Rap

Trees provide benefits, therersquo;s no doubt about that, but they get blamed for two misunderstood headaches that property owners often complain about:

1. Leave Leaves Raking leaves can be a backbreaking task for property owners. The current intelligence on this issue tells us to leave leaves on the garden. Leave them on over winter to protect plants and to provide habitat fornbsp;local ground-dwelling bee species, which are usually more important pollinators than imported honey-bees. The leaves will breakdown over winter. Even oak leaves are easier to handle in the spring. Lawn-lovers are encouraged to mulch leaves or go over them with a mower.

2. Roots Donrsquo;t Deserve The Blame Most tree roots are contained in the top two feet of soil. They radiate out from the trunk, largely in search of water, nutrients, and oxygen, extending as much as three times the width of the leaf canopy. If there is a crackmdash;tiny or otherwisemdash;in a pipe, drain, foundation wall, patio, or driveway within this root zone, the tiny fibrous root tips will be attracted to leaking or accumulated water and to higher oxygen levels. Over time, theyrsquo;ll work their way into the drain, pipe, foundation wall, or driveway cracks and grow larger. Tree roots do not cause the initial problem, but they are attracted to the accumulation of water and oxygen that may result from it and wrongly end up with the blame.

Want to easily learn more about your trees and the tree canopy?nbsp;

bull; Is your town a Tree City USA Community? Find out now. The Tree City USA program has ldquo;greened uprdquo; more than 3,400 communities across America since 1976.
bull; Whatrsquo;s your carbon footprint? If everyone lived like you, how many planets would we need? Try the Carbon Dioxide and Planetary Footprint Calculator to learn where you stand for trees.
bull; Volunteernbsp;as a tree tender or in many other ways to enhance and protect your forests. I just completed a Tree Tender course where I learned all the above and more. Amazing experience. The US Forest Servicenbsp;provides details for managing trees, evaluating worth, and selecting species to grow. For an insider look at the world of trees, check out the Forest Servicersquo;s free 128-page PDF ldquo;Landscape Stewardship Guide.rdquo;
bull; Start celebrating Arbor Day now, so yoursquo;ll be more than ready whennbsp;nbsp;April 26, 2019nbsp;arrives.nbsp;

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Eye on Nashville: Why Music City is Now a Top Five Real Estate Spot

ldquo;Nashvilles real-estate market bounded ahead of Seattle, Los Angeles, and other major markets as the nations fifth-surest investment bet for 2019, according to one of the industrys most comprehensive and influential reports,rdquo; said The Tennessean. ldquo;In the study, Nashville rose from 9th to 5th place this year.rdquo;

Nashvillersquo;s reputation as a top music city may be largely responsible for its growth over the last few years, but, thatrsquo;s only the beginning of the draw today. "Its really a story about affordability, employment growth, population growth and employment stability," Mitch Roschelle, a PwC partner, said in The Tennessean. "One thing thats really important now is no state income taxes. Thats becoming a bigger and bigger factor when people start making choices about where they want to live."

If yoursquo;re considering a move to Nashville, or simply looking for a place to put down roots, this top five real estate market may be for you.

The music

Whether yoursquo;re an aspiring musician or simply love the idea of being in a musical city, Nashville could be for you. The Bluebird Cafe is ldquo;where greats such as Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift played before making it big,rdquo; said Bellhops. ldquo;You should also check out South Broadway Avenue, the veritable heart of country music. While Tootsiersquo;s Orchid Lounge is the most famous venue on this strip, you can walk into any honky-tonk at any time of day and hear live music. The Ryman Auditorium was originally a church built in the late 19th century. Now it is well-known as an historic, beautiful, and popular music venue that hosts shows of all genres.rdquo;

The affordability

Nashvillersquo;s home prices seem like a dream for those coming from pricier markets, although the reality is a little murkier for those coming from lower-cost areas, and, especially, long-time residents who have watched home prices rise steadily. ldquo;Nashvilles housing costs have jumped more than 70 percent in the past six years, as new residents flooded the city at a rate of about 100 people per day,rdquo; said the Tennessean. ldquo;The surging prices have shocked residents and rapidly displaced lower-income people outside the city center, creating an affordable-housing crisis. But the 250,000 median cost of a single-family home in the greater metropolitan area is still just below that of the overall U.S. market.rdquo;

To put that in perspective, SpareFoot notes that a 2017 study >

A bright spot for buyers: the new-home market, which led to Nashvillersquo;s No. 1 ranking for home-building markets in the ULI report.

Vibrant neighborhoods

Downtown Nashville is a dynamic spot within walking distance of Bridgestone Arena, Nissan Stadium, and Broadway Ave. the main strip in Nashville, while Bellhops calls The Gulch ldquo;the fastest-growing neighborhood in Nashville. Located just a few blocks from downtown, this area boasts easy access to the interstate and some of the best new restaurants and bars in town. A word of caution: the cost of living continues to rise as The Gulch becomes more popular. For reference, though, it remains somewhat cheaper than downtown at the moment.rdquo;

Music Row is ultra-convenient to numerous recording studios, if thatrsquo;s your thing, but is also heavy on the rentals and college students. East Nashville ldquo;includes popular neighborhoods such as McFerrin Park, Greenwood, Lockeland Springs, Maxwell, and Eastwood. Through neighborhood revitalization, the focus of East Nashville has become more community-centered. Musicians, artists, and creatives have flocked to this neighborhood, which is now a haven for arts and culture.rdquo; Brentwood is 15ndash;20 minutes from downtown, meaning itrsquo;s still convenient for those who work in the city center but offers a more suburban-type environment with larger, single-family homes with yardsmdash;popular with young families and professionals.

The economy

According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nashville ldquo;had the lowest unemployment ratemdash;2.7mdash;of any metropolitan area in the US with over one million people as of February 2018. Nashville even beats out the metropolitan area of San Francisco, the US mecca of economic vitality,rdquo; said Quartz.

Bridgestone Tires and Vanguard Industries both have their headquarters in Nashville, and startups and tech companies like Emma and Cicayda are also abundant.

So much other stuff to do

ldquo;If theres one thing that Nashville, Tennessee is known for, its probably the country music. But yoursquo;d be pleasantly surprised to learn how much music city has to offer even if you donrsquo;t have a single country bone in your body,rdquo; said Bellhops. Have a picnic or watch a concert in Centennial Park, or stroll along the Cumberland River walkway, working up an appetite for the famous hot chicken. The cityrsquo;s abundant restaurants and breweries cater to just about anything you have a craving for. ldquo;Nashville cements its lsquo;It Cityrsquo; status with eclectic and fine dining establishments, such as City House and the Catbird Seat,rdquo; said Livability in its look at ldquo;8 Reasons to move to Tennessee."

The sports

Whether or not a city has its own professional sports teams can and does drive migration to the area. So many of those who are moving to Nashville love the fact that they can support the local NFL team, the Tennessee Titans, and the NHLrsquo;s 2017 Stanley Cup finalists, the Nashville Predators.


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Architectural Control Committees Serve a Need

Our declaration of covenants requires advance approval before any such changes or additions can be made. Many people do not understand the concept of belonging to an association and when we try to explain, they become hostile.

How do we get homeowners to understand that this is not unique to our development?

A. Most community associations throughout the country have some form of architectural review committee. Although the scope of these committees varies, the general theme is that in order to keep some semblance of uniformity and balance within the association, unit owners must receive advance approval from a committee before any exterior work is done.

However, many owners -- whether in a condominium, planned unit development or homeowners association -- believe this requirement creates an unnecessary, time-consuming -- and often expensive -- burden. Many homeowners have also had negative experiences with their architectural control committees; we have all read of the cases where these committees acted arbitrarily and without any common sense.

However, design review within an association has at least two purposes: to establish and preserve a harmonious design for a community and to protect the value of the property.

When one buys into a community association, one must understand that it is community living. Decisions cannot be unilaterally made, nor can the rules and regulations of the association be unilaterally ignored.

One might disagree with the need for external uniformity, for example, but the fact remains that if the association documents require external uniformity, that is the law of the association and is binding on its members. You should read your association documents carefully ndash; preferably before you buy -- to learn the scope and purpose of the architectural review committee.

Having discussed the function and purpose of architectural controls, however, the architectural control committee must recognize that it cannot be a dictator, arbitrarily rendering decisions.

Courts that have addressed architectural review cases have made it clear that covenants are valid and enforceable so long as there are clear, written guidelines spelling out the overall standards. For example, it is not enough to say that owners may not make changes to the exterior without first obtaining the written approval of the architectural control committee.

If specific guidelines have not been developed, nor circulated to all homeowners, neither the unit owner nor the review board will have any objective standards by which to judge the proposed external change. And without such standards, even the most well-intentioned committee can be accused of being arbitrary.

Boards of directors or the committee itself must establish fairly specific guidelines, and if those rules are not already in your association documents, they should be drafted and approved by a majority of the homeowners.

You should also be aware that the following will be valid defenses by a unit owner when the committee tries to seek enforcement of the architectural standards:

bull; Arbitrary and capricious actions have been taken. The architectural standards must be applied fairly and consistently, and in good faith.and if something occurs in a unit such as a pipe bursts that only serves that unit the owner is obligated to pay the condo deductible, regardless of fault. Section 5

It is improper for the architectural review committee to pick and choose the enforcement of the covenants.

bull; Delays, or "laches," have occurred. This means that the committee has permitted a lengthy period of time to elapse before taking action against a unit owner. For example, one court ruled that a boards six-month delay in filing suit against an unauthorized fence barred the board from enforcing the covenants.
If a unit owner is in violation of the architectural standards, or at least the committee believes there is a violation, prompt action must be taken to assure compliance with the standards.
bull; A waiver has been granted. Basically, if the committee fails to enforce a covenant in the case of one homeowner in similar situations, it may be prohibited from enforcing those same standards against another homeowner.
bull; Often, the association documents require that the committee make a decision within a specified period of time for example 60 days from receiving the request or the request "will be deemed to have been approved." Since you are on the committee, make sure you read your documents and follow the language carefully. If you must act on an owners request within 60 days, it is not acceptable to reject the owner on the 62nd day.

All too often, architectural control committees have been accused of asserting dictatorial powers. Indeed, in one large local community, the architectural control committee has been referred to as the "KGB." According to one report, committee members were often seen "prowling around the neighborhood with their clipboards, looking for violations."

Often, architectural control committees become obsessed with minor, petty violations and lose sight of reality and common sense.

A considerable amount of money has been spent by both homeowners and boards of directors in litigation that should never have been brought.

Your committee must sit down with any homeowner who is alleged to have violated the architectural standards and try to work out an amicable resolution of the problem.

In the final analysis, architectural control committees must be firm -- but must also be reasonable and flexible.


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The Race to Build Canadas Best Real Estate Website

The race to build the best real estate listing website in Canada is now entering the final laps. Prompted by the end of a long legal battle between the federal governmentrsquo;s Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board TREB over what data could be displayed on the boardrsquo;s member websites, now the market is wide open for whoever can produce the best consumer experience.

ldquo;Change is bubbling beneath the surface of Canadarsquo;s real estate industry, and big data is the catalyst,rdquo; wrote Christopher Alexander, EVP of Re/Max Integra, Ontario-Atlantic Region, in a recent op-ed in REM magazine.

ldquo;With the arrival of Zillow and Purplebricks in Canada, and most recently the public >

Many real estate sites in Canada, including those owned by brokerages and third-party companies, have access to the data feed of homes for sale on the countyrsquo;s MLS systems. But itrsquo;s how the data is packaged and what other features and information is offered that will determine which sites are used the most. The most popular site in Canada is currently Realtor.ca, which is owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association CREA. The association is putting many resources into improving and upgrading the site.

Recently CREA announced that it would soon provide sold data on its site. This is significant because for several years, CREA fought alongside TREB to keep sold and other disputed data off the public websites of its members.

A Competition Tribunal decision in 2016 found that by not including sold and other data in the listing feed to its member websites, TREB had engaged in anti-competitive acts. An appeal court upheld the decision and earlier this year the Supreme Court of Canada announced that it would not hear TREBrsquo;s appeal.

The board is now supplying its members with all of the disputed data in its data feed.

ldquo;Change is often accompanied by fear, and in this case, the fear is that publicly available sold data will spell the end of the real estate industry as we know it,rdquo; says Alexander. ldquo;Instead of fighting the inevitable, I encourage agents and brokers to see this as an opportunity.rdquo;

TREB CEO John DiMichele says the complex case is not well understood by the public and that many people have contacted the real estate board in the belief that they can now have access to the entire MLS system.

In fact, clients must get the information by working with a Realtor and accessing the data on password-protected sites. The information must be displayed only ldquo;in the context of helping the client buy or sell the home,rdquo; says TREB, and the data cannot be provided or sold to a third party.

However, CREA announced that it would not require a password once the sold information is available on Realtor.ca. It will work with real estate boards and regulators across the country to ensure it complies with local laws and regulations.

DiMichele says TREBrsquo;s motivation in fighting the Competition Bureau was protecting clientsrsquo; privacy.

The Competition Tribunal order also requires TREB to make pending sold information available, which is a particularly sensitive issue for Realtors and clients, says DiMichele. ldquo;They are saying they donrsquo;t want that information out there, particularly when the transaction has not been completed,rdquo; he says. ldquo;Consumers have concerns about their privacy and confidential information.rdquo; Pending sold information will not be displayed on Realtor.ca.

Sold information has been available on websites in the United States for several years.

DiMichele says that providing the data on member websites ldquo;is a whole shift in the paradigmrdquo; for brokerages, so they will have to rethink their website and decide how to use the information going forward.

Recently Seattle-based Zillow announced that it would soon begin placing Canadian listings on its site. The company has signed agreements to receive direct listing feeds from several Canadian companies and brokerages, including Century 21 Canada and Exit Realty Corp. International.

Zillow says it operates more than two dozen real estate apps across all major platforms, and that it receives more than 100 million visits from non-U.S. users per year, with most coming from Canada, U.K., India, Germany, Mexico and China.

ldquo;The websites that offer more information will get more traffic and generate more leads,rdquo; says Alexander. ldquo;The real estate businesses that donrsquo;t give consumers what they want convenient, user-friendly and easy access will fall off the radar.rdquo;


Full Story >


Renovating With Your Kids: Projects You Can Do Together

But there are several tasks they can do with supervision, and a few they might be able to handle on their own, depending on their age and maturity level.

The first step is to properly explain the tasks at hand and identify any risks.

"Parents really need to talk to their kids who are old enough to understand and lay down ground rules for the renovation," says Eric Phillips, vice president and general manager at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen of the Triangle in Apex, NC on Bob Vila.

"And once the rules are there, parents really have to have the discipline to enforce those rules with their kids."

Feeling good about their ability to help? Go renovate something together

Cleaning and chucking

Before any renovation can start, youll probably have some cleaning out to do. The traditional three-pile method of "keep, sell, donate" can work well for kids. Telling them they can keep whatever they make on the sale of their old things usually inspires a job well done.

Painting the walls

Your kids have probably been painting since before they could speak. With their fingers, anyway. They probably havent lost the love of covering surfaces in pretty colors, so set them up with a paintbrush and let them go Youll want to give them a basic tutorial that illustrates how to best get paint on the desired surface without dribbles. And dont forget to prepare the area with heavy-duty dropcloths, tape up baseboards, and move furniture and furnishings out of the way so they dont accidentally get splattered.

Sanding

Use caution with electric sanders, or any power tool for that matter, when your kids are involved. But sandpaper or sanding sticks and a surface that needs to be stripped down could be a good way to bring some kids in on a renovation. Youll need to make sure they have a dust mask, eye protection, and a well-ventilated area. Sandpaper in tender hands might cause abrasions, so make sure there are gloves as well.

Creating new art

You probably already have a stack of your kids art showcased or stashed in your home. But directing them to create something new specifically for a showcase wall or tabletop is a great way to involve them in your renovation without worrying about them getting hurt. Choosing colors and materials together at an art store and show them ahead of time where their art is going to be displayed can get them excited about this new projectmdash;and maybe make them feel better about the fact that they dont get to handle the nail gun.

Backsplash

Doing your own kitchen backsplash is a >

Pulling up carpet

Kids who love to dismantle stuff read: all kids will love being able to help roll up carpet for removal. The box knife needed to slice it up is probably not the best tool to put in a kids hands, but taking up the tack strip? A handy child can use a pry bar and rubber mallet to handle this task. Just take proper precautions with gloves, eye protectors and the like. Those nails can be nasty.

Laying wood floors

Kids can be helpful gluing and placing wood planks and might even enjoy the process. Can you leave your five-year-old alone to handle the job? Probably not. But working side-by-side with your children laying out the wood pieces will make you all feel good every time you take a step.

Wallpaper removal

The tedious peeling away of old wallpaper might be the perfect task for your kids. Even if they dont finish the job, any wallpaper you dont have to peel off yourself is a bonus. Trust us.

Other demolition

An invitation to break stuff? Oh yeah Just remember to take all safety precautions goggles, closed-toe shoes, and gloves if needed and make sure the demo is appropriate for the age group i.e. you might not want to leave your five-year-old alone with a power saw..

Gardening

If your renovation includes an outdoor element, youre in luck Kids love to get dirty. Depending on the age and inclination of your children, a bag of soil and a shovel might be considered a good time


Full Story >


Condo Renovations: Making The Most Of Your Space

Many buyers are now families or young couples with a baby on the way. They dont want to rent but cant afford to buy a house. Or some, regardless of age, dont have the time or inclination to maintain a home.

Condo suites are smaller than they used to be, so it pays to renovate to make the most of every inch and to make the space functional for everyday living and entertaining.

Designer Sabrina Bitton, an expert in all things space saving and clever, recently transformed her 825-square-foot suite into a showpiece of good, functional, flexible and space-efficient design. Her suite offers the clean-lined and less-is-more sensibilities todays buyers want.

She embraces European design, with a dash of Frank Lloyd Wright bringing the outdoors in while ensuring no space is wasted, she says.

Her original two-bedroom suite had large windows in the living room and master bedroom, the rooms side by side at the end of the suite. Bitton removed the master bedroom wall and incorporated the square footage and windows into the living space.

She sealed up the doors to the walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom and lined the walls with floor-to-ceiling custom millwork. Instead of extending the built-ins to the end of the living room wall, she added open solid walnut shelving to provide an airy feeling and to offer a place to display treasured items.

Walnut is used for several features throughout the suite, bringing a touch of nature and creating a sense of flow between rooms.

The kitchen includes walnut shelving and a walnut island. To create maximum storage space, Bitton took advantage of the nine-foot-high ceilings and extended the built-ins to the ceiling. The high space is ideal for storing large boxes of out-of-season clothing and seasonal items that dont need to be accessed on a regular basis.

Vents for heating and cooling are hidden behind cupboard doors and kick plates, with slits to keep the air circulating.

Storage space is always a challenge in condos, so finding creative ways of adding more makes the unit more functional. "I have so much storage space that some cupboards are actually empty," she says.

A clever "Bitton trick" is a bar-height island on wheels that fits over the existing kitchen island so it doesnt take up additional floor space.

When entertaining be it for a sit-down dinner for eight, a buffet or a large cocktail party, the bar-height island can be wheeled out to provide a separate table. Or it can be used as buffet space, a place to enjoy cocktails or additional work space.

Downsizers who arent ready to give up their sit-down eating space find this a particularly welcome idea, Bitton says.

She chose bar stools with lower backs so when theyre tucked under the bar, they dont obstruct the view from the kitchen. Bitton added a clear rectangular blown glass chandelier over the island to add drama without distracting from the view.

Seamless, clean-lined built-ins on another wall in the living/dining space include a fold-up desk, and a surprise. Instead of hard-to-reach cupboards at ceiling height, Bitton added pull-down rods so hanging clothes are easily accessible.

When renovating, figure out what you want, how to achieve and what you want to invest your money on. Bitton splurged on a comfortable sofa.

"Comfort is important. Also, since its a linear space, the curved couch adds a feeling of movement. You could also add an additional sleeping area by using a sofa bed."

In the second bedroom, which is beside the original master bedroom, a door was added to provide access to the walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom. More custom built-ins were added in the closet.

In the bedroom, the original closet doors were removed and the closet space was lined with walnut to create a headboard/nook for her bed. The window seat was extended from 18 to 24 inches to create a cosy sitting area. Custom built-ins were installed below the window seat and extended along the wall. An unused alcove space was filled with shelves and glass doors to create a fun display space for Bittons fancy shoes.

Light-coloured floors are used throughout, chosen over dark, which shows dust and visually closes in a space. Paint and window treatments are different tones of the same creamy neutral colour family. Doors are painted light grey to complete the Zen ambiance.

Before buying a new condo, Goodchild says its important to speak to the builder to find out what changes can be made. You may not want the kitchen thats there or would prefer to omit a wall, but the builder may not be able to accommodate your needs.

Few developers will allow preconstruction changes. In that case, choose the least expensive finishes for features you plan to remove, and then renovate with an eye to creating functional and multi-functional space, says Bitton, of Sabrina Bitton Interior Design. "Its all about creating smart condos."

Times have changed from 20 years ago, when condos were purchased primarily by retirees, Goodchild says. Now people in their 50s are buying too because they want less upkeep, more freedom and the ability to do more of what they want, including travel.

"Retirees still make up a large percentage of purchasers, but the under 35-year-olds find condo ownership appealing because they want to be downtown and be close to work. They want to have the ability to work, live and play in the same neighbourhood," Goodchild says. "Then they have children and sometimes stay."

Whoever the buyer, making the most of the space is key, says Bitton, who along with in-person service, offers Skype design consultation. A portion of her fee goes to charity.


Full Story >


Clever Ways To Give Your Small Bathroom Some Pop And Make It Look Larger

Cover those walls

The old-school wallcovering is back in a big way, and you dont need a big space to make it work. In fact, the right print and some complementary details can make a small bathroom the most impactful room in the home.

Consider the vanity

The floating vanity trend looks great in any type of space, but it was tailor-made for a small bathroom. Because it doesnt extend all the way to the floor, there is an airiness you wouldnt get with a traditional vanity. You can find versions with built-in storage, because who doesnt need a place to put a hair dryer?


pinterest.com

Or, go for the vintage look one of the hottest trends in bathrooms today. This version mounts to the wall, taking up the least amount of space possible, but still offers a clean and crisp look.


overstock.com

Keep the color consistent

And, keep it light and bright. This bathroom packs a lot into a compact space, but the color palette keeps it feeling airy. And the upscale materials, with marble tiles used in contrasting shapes, add a glam feel.


thespruce.com

Get artsy

Who says you can only display "bathroom->


elledecor.com

Focus on the details

Keeping the palette bright white makes this space feel breezy and allows the snazzy details to stand out. A herringbone shape on the floor adds interest, and the modern brass fixtures would look amazing in any size bathroom.


housebeautiful.com

Dont forget about storage

Creating a sleek and stylish bathroom in a small space is enough of a challenge without having to think about where youre going to put everything. But, if your bathroom isnt just a space for occasional guests or even if you just need a place to store the extra toilet paper, storage has to be a consideration. Whether its a vanity with drawers, baskets you put on open shelving, or a custom cabinet, there are a lot of options. Apartment Therapy has some great ideas here.

Make tile your friend

There are a number of tricks you can use with tile to make your bathroom feel more expansive. "Set floor tiles diagonally to increase the perceived size of the floor," said SF Gate. "Choose rectangular wall tiles and set them horizontally on the walls to increase the perceived width of the space. Use the same color of tiles on the floor and walls to reduce the difference between wall and floor. If possible, carry the floor tile up the wall behind the fixtures, right to the ceiling. This visually expands the wall height."

In thisnbsp;New York City bathroom, zig-zag tile runs "straight into the shower stall," said House Beautiful. The lack of interruption creates a larger feel.


housebeautiful.com

The horizontal bands of mosaic tile in this shower dont only add interest, but also elongate the back wall, making the space look larger. The glass surround also creates a more open feel and unique touches like the countertop sink, distinctive mirror, and light fixtures add more jewelry to the room.


hgtv.com

Full Story >


Are Extended Warranties Worth the Cost?

You can argue the benefits both ways.

In the fast paced world of home electronics, by the time the extended warranty expires, future technology will far out>

Consumerreports.com agrees. Their data concludes that the likelihood of most home appliances needing repairs in the first three years is less than one in five. And most defects will reveal themselves within the first year of use, while the manufacturers warranty is still good.

That said, extended warranties should be purchased for some items, including those that are difficult to repair or high-priced items that would be painful to replace. These include high ticket items like a 6000 Viking gas range or pricey hi-definition plasma TVs, suggests smartmoney.com

Since extended warranties do make so much profit for retailers, they are very aggressive about selling them to customers. If youre tempted, follow this rule -- the cost of the warranty should be no more than 10 of the purchase price.

And if you decide to skip the warranty, be prepared to shoulder the cost for assessment service calls, repair time in labor plus parts and shipping. Though its more of a hassle, this can be the most cost-effective measure. If you have a warranty option of 250 and you experience only one instance in the life of your appliance where it needs 100 of work, you could save 150, or 60.

Ultimately the choice and risk are yours to assume. Extended warranties can be worth the cost in terms of peace of mind, but only if its for a product you dont intend to change for a few years.


Full Story >


Easy Architectural Details You Can Add To Your Home

"Nothing jump-starts design envy more than walking into a home with stunning architectural details like interesting ceilings, textured walls, charming stained glass and more," said Apartment Therapy. "Dont despair if you dont have any built-in architectural details in your home; there are some ideas you can try that just might give your space a similar feel as those bursting with architectural character and charm."

Arches

If you have a Spanish or Mediterranean home, or just want to make your home look and feel like one, adding an archway can help.

"Here, we transformed an ordinary rectangular cased opening into a beautiful elliptical archway featuring fluted columns, and an arched header with keystone accents," said This Old House. "We used a prefabricated 4-foot Model B poplar elliptical-archway kit from CurveMakers. On day one, we prepped the existing opening. On day two, we completed the installation and painted."

Crown molding

Crown molding can transform the look of a space, taking it from blah to beautiful. And it doesnt have to be traditional.

"The three-piece crown molding on this upper kitchen cabinet matches the >

Ceiling Beams

"Ceiling beams can be added to any ceiling and come in a wide variety of >

You can also paint your beams for a different look.

"Wood beams can give a rustic or antique looks but painted beams bring a different type of warmth and character," said Better Homes and Gardens. "Dont forget to look up when designing your space. In this kitchen, the box beams on the ceiling are a sunny shade of yellow to match the cabinets. Exposed ceiling beams make a space with a high ceiling feel more welcoming."


Better Homes and Gardens

Another popular option is faux wood beams that give you the look you want without the weight of real wood. You can get a step-by-step guide to installing beams yourself here. Keep in mind if youre doing it yourself, higher ceilings may require stilts or scaffolding. If you have an issue with heights or are a klutz, you may want to consider hiring a pro.

Panel moldings

Plain walls can easily be dressed up by creating panels with strips of molding. If you can miter a corner and use a paintbrush, you can create standout room like this one.


Better Homes and Gardens

Accentuating the architectural details you do have

"Think you dont have any architectural details at all? Well thats just not true Youve got windows...consider painting the window frame a bold, contrasting color," said Apartment Therapy.

Or, paint your doors or your ceiling, like this one. Who wouldve thought this emerald green would be so inviting.

Tin ceilings

Another way to accentuate the ceiling is by applying tin tiles. Tin ceilings date back to the "1880s as an affordable way for people to dress up a rooms fifth wall," said This Old House. "Tin was not only an aesthetic upgrade, meant to emulate high-end decorative plaster, it also offered a measure of fire protectionmdash;a big concern at a time when home cooking, lighting, and heating were largely done with open flames."

Today, theyre used in modern spaces as well, to add interest up top with linear metal looks, corrugated metal, and an array of stamped tiles.


Reclaimed Home

Full Story >


Halloween Decorating and Marketing Tips For Selling Your House

There are mixed opinions on how much to decorate for Halloweenmdash;or if you should at allmdash;when selling your home. Can it actually help you sell a home if you turn the holiday into a marketing opportunity? Possibly. We took the temperate of the industry for some guidance.

When should you put up your decorations?

You may want to keep an eye on your neighbors for this one. If yoursquo;re the first house on the block to decorate, your home may stand out for the wrong reasons. If yoursquo;re still worried that your Halloween deacute;cor may distract from the home, follow Mass Realtyrsquo;s advice. ldquo;Overall, you wont want to put up spooky Halloween decorations until the night of Halloween and make sure to take them down the next morning,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Instead, its alright to put up seasonal decorations, such as pumpkins, bright leaves, or colorful corn cobs. That way, no one gets offended and you can keep them up for weeks to feel the spirit of the season.rdquo;

Should you continue your annual spooky theme?

You may be known for your elaborate displays that have a different theme Friday the 13th, Carrie each year, but perhaps itrsquo;s best to forgo that when trying to sell your home. ldquo;If Halloween is your holiday, it is best to take a break this year,rdquo; said Shorewest Realtors. ldquo;Over decorating will hide your home and turn off potential buyers. Instead think of how you will decorate your new homerdquo;

If you do want to add some Halloween-specific decorations, use common sense. ldquo;Experts say keep Halloween decorations neutral,rdquo; said Lyst House. ldquo;So what Halloween decorations should you avoid? Well for startershellip;clowns, dead children, blood and gore, and rotten pumpkins.rdquo;

Time your listing photos right

Be careful with your listing photos if you do decorate for Halloween. If your home is still for sale come Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Yearrsquo;s and even Valentinersquo;s Day, your photos will look extremely dated. This will likely turn off buyers, who may wonder whatrsquo;s wrong with you home because itrsquo;s been on the market a while. A good tip is to use spring photos, if possible, said Fortune Builders. ldquo;If you can, try to take property photos when the sun is shining and you can take advantage of all the great natural light that spring has to offer. It will help your property stand out in a cold and gloomy market.rdquo;

Dont miss a marketing opportunity

ldquo;If you must decorate for the holiday, hold a Halloween open house to attract buyers with children or those young at heart,rdquo; said Mass Realty. ldquo;Set the date for the weekend before the spooky holiday to bring in more potential buyers. Offer homemade cookies and a 10 gift certificate to an ice cream shop for the adult with the best costume who registers at the door. Take photos to compare costumes after the open house. Have your real estate agent contact the winner to pick up the prize, giving the agent time to discuss the home with all who registered.rdquo;

Turn it into a party

We love this idea from Opendoor, who threw Halloween Open Houses in three Arizona cities on Halloween night last year. ldquo;We greeted trick-or-treaters at three Opendoor houses in Glendale, Gilbert, and in North Central Phoenix,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We gave out more than 1,000 candy barshellip;as well as other tasty treats. We had games and activities for the whole family, including a fun real estate trivia game. The big hit, though, was the haunted GIF photo booth to capture the fabulous costumes of our visitorsmdash;we had lines at every house The event was a huge success. We saw more than 1,200 guests across all three homes and, more importantly, we brought our neighbors across the valley together on Halloween night.rdquo;


Full Story >


3 Tips for Getting Started with Your Smart Home

These simple steps will help you get up to speed, choose the basics for your smart home, and start enjoying the benefits ASAP.

1. Make Sure Your Internet Connection Is Up to Speed

Before diving into the deep end with smart home gear, check your internet and make sure itrsquo;s up to the task of powering a smart home. Yoursquo;re going to want a >

While a single smart device isnrsquo;t likely to require much bandwidth, as you add more, the total can add upmdash;especially if you stream video or do other intensive tasks at the same time.

2. Choose Your Voice Assistant

Before you start buying a bunch of gear for your house, decide whether you want a smart assistant to help control it all. Amazonrsquo;s Alexa, Applersquo;s Siri, and Googlersquo;s Assistant are all great in their own ways, but the smart devices they integrate with for voice control vary quite a bit. That means you may need to select your devices based on which assistant theyrsquo;re compatible with.

Alexa

Alexa offers by far the most integrations of any of the assistants. So if voice control of your smart home is important, itrsquo;s probably your best bet. You can get Alexa on smartphones and the Amazon Echo line of devices.

Siri

Of the three voice assistants, Siri has the fewest integrations, is available on the lowest number of supported devices Apple only, and is generally considered the worst of the three as a voice assistant. Siri is best if yoursquo;re heavily invested in Applersquo;s systems already. Siri comes on iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and HomePod speakers.

Assistant

Google Assistant sits at a middle ground between Alexa and Siri. It offers fewer integrations than Alexa, but itrsquo;s by far the best as a digital assistant for questions, thanks to Googlersquo;s amazing machine learning abilities. Assistant can be found on pretty much any platform, including the Google Home smart speakers.

3. Start Adding Your Devices

Once yoursquo;ve decided which assistant is right for you, start looking for compatible devices. Some of the most common devices for smart home beginners include smart thermostats, video doorbells, and smart lighting.

Smart Thermostats

Thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat provide several benefits:

They learn your preferences, so you donrsquo;t have to adjust them much.
They are very energy efficient. Typically, the Nest will pay for itself in energy savings after about two years. Beyond that itrsquo;s all extra money in your pocket.
You can control them from your smartphone and adjust the temperature before you get home.

Nest isnrsquo;t the only maker on the market, but itrsquo;s probably the most talked about. It looks great, and it works great. What more can you ask for?

Video Doorbells

Video doorbells are becoming quite popular. You can see whorsquo;s there without having to get up, and even talk to them directlymdash;even if yoursquo;re not home. Theyrsquo;re also a nice deterrent to package theft, which is becoming more and more common. Ring makes a great video doorbell.

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting is another popular choice. Besides the usual smartphone control and automation, smart lighting like the Philips Hue comes in an array of colors. You can set the color and color temperature to pretty much anything you can imagine, which is amazing for setting the mood. The bulbs also last for years and use very little power, which is great for both your wallet and the environment.

There are many more smart home options to explore, and more are getting added all the time. But this list should get you off to a >


nbsp;Victoria Schmid enjoys writing about technology for the ldquo;everydayrdquo; person. She is a specialist in online business marketing and consumer technology. She has a background in broadcast journalism.


Full Story >


Defining Who Owns What is Critical

Q. I am on the Board of Directors of our homeowner association, and as winter is around the corner, we know we will start getting calls from owners to make repairs to such things as the streets, our tot lot, and the community recreational facility. However, we often get requests to repair or replace such other areas as roofs, ice-damaged bushes, and the like. How do we know what is in our area of responsibility and what areas are under the control of the homeowners?

A. In every community association -- whether a condominium or a homeowner association HOA -- there are two basic elements of ownership: common elements called "common areas" in an HOA, and units referred to as "lots" in an HOA. Additionally, in a condominium association, there are limited common elements LCE.

Lets take a minute to define these three concepts:

1. Common elements areas are those areas which are under the control of the association. In reality, the association does not own the condominium common elements, but rather each owner owns his/her percentage interest in those elements.

Only the Board of Directors can make the decision as to whether to repair or replace common elements; however, some association documents put restrictions on the amount of money that a Board can spend to replace -- not repair -- and you must look at your documents each and every time you are planning to spend association funds.

2. Units lots are the apartments or houses that are owned in fee simple by the members of your association. Your documents -- and the recorded plats and plans -- will define these units.

Generally speaking, maintenance, repair and replacement of units is in the exclusive control of the unit home owner. In addition, with homeowner associations, the owner is responsible for his or her "Lot," which is shown on the subdivision plats.

3. A limited common element LCE is defined as "those common elements identified in the declaration or on the condominium plan as reserved for the exclusive use of one or more but not less than all of the unit owners."

A balcony or a patio and even a mailbox is often an LCE since not all members of the association have access to those areas.

Whenever you have a question as to who owns what, you must refer to your association legal documents and the plats. And that leads to a very important question: do you have a current set of the actual recorded documents and plats?

In our practice of law, we have encountered too many situations where the Board of Directors is functioning without the correct documents. Indeed, on a couple of occasions, I have witnessed Board members having different sets of materials.

How does this happen? Very simply: the developer hands out the required disclosure documents to prospective purchasers, including the then-current set of documents. However, before the first unit is sold, the developer makes changes to these documents -- either because a lender or a governmental authority insists on such change, or because the developer wants to improve sales within the complex.

However, all too often these changes amendments are not furnished to all unit owners. They then become Board members, and begin to function with the wrong set of legal documents.

What should you do? Your management company should be instructed to obtain -- either from the online recorder of deeds in the jurisdiction where the property is located or from associationrsquo;s legal counsel -- a complete set of the actual recorded association documents, including the plats and plans.

Each Board member must have complete copy for his/her use. Keep it handy and read it thoroughly at least once a year while you are on the Board.

These documents should give you the answer as to who owns what. Unfortunately, all too often the language is written in legalese, and you may have to ask the association attorney for guidance.

Thus, when a unit or homeowner ask the Board to make certain repairs, check your documents and plats first. Is this really within your responsibility? Is the homeowner trying to pass the cost of the repairs onto the association? Or is the area in question owned by the association or the County -- such as the streets or the storm water management systems.

Speaking of streets, I have just read a case which will be of interest to our readers. A Missouri homeowner association consisting of 44 homes had a provision covenant in its legal documents prohibiting pick-up trucks weighing more than one-half ton from parking on association parking spaces or streets. The association brought legal action against a homeowner who admitted violating the covenants. The homeowners sole defense was that the association lacked authority to enforce the covenants, because the streets had been dedicated to the city in which the association was located.

The Missouri Court of Appeals dismissed the homeowners arguments, and upheld the authority of the Board. According to the Court, the covenant was a contract between the owner and the association; when the homeowner purchased a house in that association, he became a party to that contract. Accordingly, the Court upheld the authority of the association to obtain an injunction against the owner.

Who owns what is perhaps the most asked question. The answer will be found in your own documents and plats. Read them carefully -- and often.


Full Story >


Scary New Trend: Lying About Income on a Mortgage Application

With high home prices and rents, rising mortgage rates, and heavy competition for available properties, potential buyers are feeling more pressure to own a place than ever. ldquo;As a result, an increasing number of buyers are lying and cheating,rdquo; they said. Co>

The property data and analysis company found that fraud >

Theyrsquo;re accomplishing this through Internet sites that help borrowers fudge their income and even provide a confirmation service on cross-check. ldquo;A casual search will result in any number of online services that will not only generate fake pay stubs, but will also answer phone calls and lsquo;confirmrsquo; income verbally, all for a fee,rdquo; said CNBC. Another scam involves borrowers who claim to have received an interest-free down payment gift from a >

The Washington Post also noted that, ldquo;Fannie Mae recently warned lenders via several alerts about a loan-fraud technique in which applicants claim to work for specific companies and provide income and employment information that appears to be bulletproof but turns out to be totally bogus. Applicants frequently claim to have been students immediately before their current employment. This makes it difficult or impossible for lenders to pull tax transcripts from the Internal Revenue Service for the year spent as a lsquo;student.rsquo;rdquo;

The risk is high all around

Borrowers may think of padding their income as a harmless white lie that has little downside if theyrsquo;re able to meet their goal of buying a home, however mortgage fraud carries with it some serious risks. ldquo;What are the possible consequences? Getting turned down for the mortgage is the least of them,rdquo; said Credit.com. ldquo;If your falsehood is discovered after you get the loan, your lender could boost your interest rate or even demand immediate repayment in full. Tax->

And then therersquo;s the risk to the housing industry if this current fraud trend is at all responsible for causing another crash; Co>
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Buy Real Estate Now

I will have an entire series on this subject soon if there is an interest. We call it "Syndication" and it may be your key to financial freedom and a successful real estate business.

Considerations When Purchasing Property With Others

Whenever you consider owning property jointly, there are long-term considerations to bear in mind. We have highlighted a few important points to clarify before going to contract:

1. Look at the >

2. Provisions on an agreement might need to address additional persons one or the other of the owners may want to bring into the jointly owned property. If buyer 1 brings in another person to live with, that makes buyer 2 crazy, then it is better to have some kind of provision for settlement prearranged for possible problems or complications.

3. Decide how the title will be held prior to purchase. As joint tenants, if one party dies, the other party enjoys the right of survivorship. However, if the title is held in a tenancy in common, one party can dispose of their share to whomever they choose, leaving the other divisional owner at a possible disadvantage depending on the circumstances.

4. Outline a set of guidelines for repairs in advance. If one party wants to put on a new roof, and the other party doesnt want to invest the money, what happens? Delineating specific points of repair or replacement can make improvements an easier subject to deal with. Keeping track of which owner has contributed the investment/improvement dollars can make reimbursement at the time of sale easier and clearer.

These are just a handful of the questions you may want to ask yourself before investing with others in the homeownership/real estate investment game.


Full Story >


How to Choose a Roofer

ldquo;Installing a new roof is one of the most important, and expensive, home improvement projects yoursquo;ll run into as a homeowner,rdquo; said HomeAdvisor. ldquo;Considering this, and since your roof is the first line of defense for your home against the elements, itrsquo;s important that you hire the best roofing company possible. Roofing contractors are a dime a dozen, so itrsquo;s important to follow a few basic rules when finding, choosing, and hiring a roofing contractor.rdquo;

These tips will help you make the best decision.

Donrsquo;t go with the first offer you get

ldquo;You should talk to several roofing companies so you can gauge an honest and reasonable price range. You probably donrsquo;t want to make your final hiring decision on a couple hundred dollars for a project that costs several thousand dollars, but you should be wary of any remarkably low or excessively high bids,rdquo; said HomeAdvisor. ldquo;Of course, this will also help give you plenty of opportunity to build rapport and trust and to adhere to the other rules for hiring a roof contractor.rdquo;

Donrsquo;t go with the lowballer

Yeah, that low bid sounds too good to be true, right? It probably is. ldquo;The cheapest bid probably isnrsquo;t your best bet,rdquo; said Bob Vila. ldquo;Of course, the estimates issued are a factor to consider. But more important is your level of confidence in a given rooferrsquo;s ability to do an outstanding job. If yoursquo;re impressed by a company that isnrsquo;t the cheapest, ask yourself, lsquo;How much is peace of mind worth to me?rsquo; For many homeowners, itrsquo;s worth quite a lot.rdquo;

Check their credentials

Yoursquo;ll want to see a rooferrsquo;s BBB rating, read any online reviews, and also ask how long they have been in business. Longevity is important ldquo;If a roofing company has been around for a while, it is a good sign they will provide quality service,rdquo; said Mr. Roof. ldquo;That kind of commitment shows the company is dedicated to their work and respects the people for whom they work. Substandard contractors have a hard time keeping business going for a long time.rdquo;

Go with a local company

ldquo;Use a roofing company thatrsquo;s lsquo;local,rsquo; especially after a bad storm. A quality roofer thatrsquo;s familiar with your area will get the right permits,rdquo; said Ernie Smith amp; Sons. ldquo;Theyrsquo;ll be familiar with local roofing installation codes and procedures. And theyrsquo;ll also know about local trends in roof >

Make sure theyrsquo;ll work within your homeownerrsquo;s association rules HOA

You may encounter a roofer who insists that therersquo;s no need to get signoff from your HOA because the color of the new roof matches whatrsquo;s already in the neighborhood. Thatrsquo;s a good way to anger your HOA to the point of getting fined and maybe even receiving a demand that you remove the roof and start over with approved materials. In many neighborhoods that have HOAs, you need official permission before you begin, even if yoursquo;re putting up the exact same roof that you already have. Waiting for the thumbs up may delay the installation a bit, but its better than the alternative. Unless your roof situation is emergent and your HOA is not acting expediently, this is generally not an ldquo;ask for forgiveness, not permissionrdquo; situation.

Be wary of storm chasers

Stories abound of people door-knocking in neighborhoods that have been impacted by storms, trying to drum up business. ldquo;Also known as roofing gypsies, these roofers travel around the country following the paths of storms, looking for homeowners to exploit,rdquo; said Angiersquo;s List. The chasers ldquo;know how the insurance companies work, and based on the square footage of the roof, they can figure out how much it will cost to put on a cheap new roof. The homeowner gets burned because the storm chaser only does the bare minimum to replace the roof, but doesnrsquo;t address any other problems, or restore the roof to its original condition. The homeowner is then left with a poorly constructed roof, and the fraudulent company that was once so ready to help has vanished.rdquo;

Donrsquo;t work with someone who demand the entire balance upfront

This is a red flag, and may well end up in you getting ripped off. ldquo;You donrsquo;t get your paycheck until after yoursquo;ve punched the clock, so why pay a roofer before any work gets done? A roofer has no incentive to follow through with the work once the cash is already in his pocket,rdquo; said Absolute Roofers. ldquo;Make sure you sign a contract first, stating that hersquo;ll get paid once the work is done. If he still tries to get you to pay up front, itrsquo;s time to tell him to hit the highway.rdquo;


Full Story >


New and Revised California Forms are in the Works

In the scheduled >

1. Pre-Occupancy Storage Addendum. This form addresses a situation that has been around for years. The house in escrow may be substantially or completely vacant. The buyer is already or about to be out of his previous accommodation. Comes the request: ldquo;May we store an amount of our belongings in your now-empty garage or some other parts of the property? If the answer is lsquo;yesrsquo;, the new form provides a way of spelling it out.

bull; It lists a period of time for the storage, and provides for a time extension if there is mutual agreement.
bull; It provides for monetary consideration.
bull; It specifies the areas where items may be stored.
bull; It specifies that the buyerrsquo;s property is not insured by the seller.
bull; And, perhaps most importantly, it spells out in bold print that the brokers do not recommend this, and that the parties should seek advice from legal counsel.

2. Summary of Offer This form borrows from the well-received recent form that allows for comparisons of offers. On one page, in a simple and clear format, the salient terms of an offer may be conveniently summarized. It is clear on the form that this is a summary; it is not the offer itself.

3. Seller Common Interest and Homeowners Association HOA Questionnaire. This is something like the now-familiar Seller Property Questionnaire, except that its questions are confined to items >In its current draft form, this questionnaire is four pages in length. It will not be something that most sellers could just breeze through. And itrsquo;s certainly not something that the agent should volunteer to do.

California Realtorsreg; can take a look at these draft forms on the CAR website. Comments and suggestions will be taken until 12 pm, Thursday, October 11. Questions may be directed to Cecilia Matias, REBS Real Estate Business Services Coordinator, at .


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Buying a Rental Property? Heres What You Can Expect

Real estate investors can often find themselves quitting their current job and buying and renting real estate full time. Real estate is an asset that can both appreciate in value while at the same time providing a monthly cash flow. Yoursquo;d be hard pressed to think of any other physical asset that can do that. So why is not uncommon to meet someone who owns several rentals? It might very well be due to qualifying for a mortgage to buy and finance an investment property.

Conventional financing will ask for a down payment of at least 20 percent of the sales price and with a 25 percent down payment the terms get a little better. Interest rates for rentals are slightly higher compared to an owner occupied property. Investors have the choice of both fixed and adjustable rate mortgages ranging in terms from 10 to 30 years. But with the first rental being purchased, the buyers donrsquo;t benefit from the income derived from the rental when qualifying. Instead, the buyers must qualify based upon the new mortgage payment, including property taxes and insurance, without adding rental income into the mix. This is in addition to any current mortgage payment. But all that changes with the next property.

Subsequent purchases of investment real estate do in fact use the income from the rental to help qualify. Investors want to cash flow on their investments each month and if the rents received from a potential investment arenrsquo;t enough to cover the new mortgage payment, the investor will likely pass. This means the next rental property is no longer an expense but instead generates monthly income. Who wouldnrsquo;t want that type of investment? Yes, property values rise and fall but in time values do rise, contributing to the ownerrsquo;s equity position. One caveat, yoursquo;ll need to own the first rental for at least two years showing you can both manage the property and the unit provided regular income.

Speaking of managing the property, when you become a landlord, yoursquo;ll have the occasional tenant issue. Remember when you first rented and the sink disposal went out? Did you go to the appliance store and buy a new one? No. You called the landlord. You can expect the same when you buy your first rental. But when you buy your next one and the next one you might want to think about hiring a property manager to take care of these issues for you.

You can think of your first rental as a learning experience. But once yoursquo;ve owned that first rental for a couple of years, donrsquo;t be surprised if you start shopping for your second.


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Double up Stylish Solutions For Shared Bedroom Spaces

The obvious choice with multiple kids and beds is often a traditional side-by-side approach. But if youre looking for a more interesting or unique layout that has all the function with a little more flair, thats only the beginning.

Adjacent

How about putting the beds next to each other? Head to head probably wont foster an easy sleeping environment, but foot to foot might. This layout is also great for a smaller space because the placement of the beds along the wall leaves the rest of the room open.

"Gaining in popularity, this layout allows for more open space in the room for playing," said Apartment Therapy.

If the idea of bunk beds brings to mind ugly framing with zero flair, you havent seen some of todays more modern options. This room with four built-in bunks can work as a full-time solution or a vacation home, giving each sleeper a private space with their own light control and storage.


Freshome

Beachy-chic >


Elle Deacute;cor

Building in two bunks on either side of the room allows the area in the middle to become a chic, shared gathering space. The fir-paneled walls, custom built-ins, chandeliers, and luxe fabrics amp up the >


Freshome

Dont want to build in your bunks? This bunk bed improves on the typical store version with a modern and minimalist look.

Its Murphy bed meets European train car with this smart solution.


Decoholic

Cool and compact but still with a bit of whimsy, this built-in maximizes space and gives kids their own fun little nook to love.nbsp;Dont have the space to spread them out? Stack lsquo;em up.

Housing two kids of the opposite gender can prove difficult if you want to give them their own space and still maintain some >

You can achieve a similar idea by splitting the room in half and using a bookcase as a separator.


Theme Rooms

If the rooms size or layout makes it difficult to avoid side-by-side beds, placing a softer barrier in between them and adding in color and texture can help make the space feel luxurious and more private.

"This shared kids room design begins with a black and white base in the form of a huge geometric rug and forest themed wallpaper," said Home Designing. "On top of the monochromatic base scheme, small bursts of glorious color cover the two kids beds and matching desk chairs. The twin beds are connected by a shared couch that provides a perfect perching place for the siblings soft toy collection."


Home Designing

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Achieving an HOA Meeting Quorum

This is an all too frequent scenario for HOA annual meetings. Many members simply aren=t interested or available to attend. Its like pulling teeth to get them to respond at all. Yet, annual meetings are required at every HOA so those in charge of organizing them must do their best to compile the necessary quorum.

Here are the basic things that can be done by making a to do list and becoming pro active:

1. If the governing documents require the notice to be mailed out at least 21 days but no more than 30 days prior to the date of the meeting, send out Notice of Meeting 30 days in advance.

2. From this point on, always ask every homeowner that calls the office "Have you turned in your proxy yet?" If they have not, offer to email them a new one so they can send it right back.

3. Fifteen days prior - send an email to all owners with a copy of the notice and proxy form attached, encouraging owners to print the proxy, sign and return ASAP. Make them as comfortable replying as possible. To alleviate any fears that they are giving away their vote, provide an option to check that states that the proxy is to be used for quorum purposes only.

4. During the last two weeks prior to the meeting, dont pass up a face to face opportunity to collect a proxy. If your property has a facility that owners frequent throughout the day, you should too.

5. Six working days prior - Begin making phone calls to all homeowners that have not yet returned a proxy. This is where the rubber meets the road If you can catch them at the office, you can suggest sending them a proxy form via email. This is good for two reasons: First, about one in-five that say that they will actually do. Secondly, it gives you license to call back those that have not done so within 24 hours. Continue to make phone calls as needed for the next few days.

6. Enlist the help of several members that are not running for election who can go door to door. Even better, create an elections committee charged with the responsibility of doing everything on this list

Now for the fun stuff:

bull; Door prizes in the form of fast food restaurant or coffee shop gift cards work well. A 10 value will do. Some of these sources may even donate some cards to promote their business. Winners need not be present to win. The prizes can be used as an incentive to return their proxy toward making quorum. In this case, you can offer an entry for the drawing to the first so many owners to return a valid proxy. The number of owners would be based on whatever represents quorum. For example if 25 of 400 units was needed the first one hundred to return a valid proxy would be eligible for the drawings. If you use this option, make sure that you present it as a marketing campaign. Include the details about the prizes in the meeting notice, newsletter, emails and signage.

bull; Logo wear with the community logo for coffee mugs, tee shirts, grocery bags and baseball caps work well. This can provide for the awarding of prizes to 10-15 of those in attendance for only 100-150.

bull; Provide food and non-alcoholic drinks. Its easier to achieve a quorum when there will be tasty morsels waiting.

bull; Invite an interesting or controversial person to speak at the meeting. Possibilities range from local, state or federal government officials and elected representatives to attorneys, general contractors and engineers who can focus on a maintenance or construction issues.

bull; Make the event a celebration of the HOAs birthday, with the annual meeting a brief but necessary digression.

Achieving quorum can be fun Try it

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


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How to Finance a Mixed-Use Property

Conventional loans underwritten to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines are an option as long as the loan amount meets conventional limits. There are a few things that are different about financing a mixed-use unit but one of the more important is how much space is dedicated to commercial and how much to residential. Remember, Fannie and Freddie primarily buy residential loans and leave commercial financing to others. That said, there is a limit on how much space can be dedicated to commercial. These guidelines require that no more than 25 of the livable space be dedicated to commercial. For instance, if the building is say 15,000 square feet of livable space, then commercial occupancy is limited to 25 of 15,000, or 3,750 square feet. These loans also ask the borrowers both occupy the building as a primary residence and own and operate the business or businesses located in the building.

FHA loans can also be an option. As with any government-backed loan, FHA also requires the borrowers to occupy the property. But FHA allows for more space to be labeled as commercial. Up to 49 of the livable area can be commercial. Note, the square footage assessment does not apply to parking garages or similar areas.

In addition, the property must also be approved much like any other with a property appraisal. This can sometimes be an issue if the building is rather unique to the area and there are no other mixed-use buildings nearby. It can be the lenderrsquo;s call to make sure there are recent sales of similar properties in the area and how far away they can be, but in general, if the only comparable sales are miles away, conventional and FHA financing might be out of the question.

In this instance, itrsquo;s time for a commercial loan. Local banks are the primary resource for a commercial loan and underwrite the project a bit differently. With a commercial loan, the income generated from the building can be used for qualifying purposes and the buyers arenrsquo;t required to live in the property. A common commercial loan might be an adjustable rate loan with a balloon payment at say seven or ten years down the road at which point the loan must be refinanced or otherwise retired.


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Are You Relocating and Need to Find a Great Agent?

What to Look For

You will need to do some research to find a REALTORreg; who matches your needs. Keep in mind what is happening here, you are making a major move from one part of the country to another unfamiliar area. So having someone you can trust and >

In your research, I recommend looking at the individual agents websites to get a feel for their experience and how they conduct their business. What credentials do they have? What do their sites tell you about them? What services do they offer? What neighborhoods/cities do they work in?

Look to see if they author a blog. This may be the best way to get to "know" an agent more personally. In fact, since youre here on RealTown, why not check out agents in your new location at RealTown Blogs.

After you find one or more agents that really interest you, give them a call. Conduct an interview hint: make up a list of standard questions beforehand and ask each one the same questions. And guess what? If you leave a message about why you are calling and it takes forever to get a return call say, a few hours, Id write THAT person off the list right away, NEXT You need someone you can >

You need an individual who knows the housing market you are moving too well. I think this is even more important than when working with someone in your local area. If they dont, how can they really advise you, or help you get the information you need about an area you dont know? Do they know their market conditions buyer vs. sellers market and how things are selling? Do they know about the homes for sale? And have they worked with folks who have >

You will want to feel a certain level of comfort, and a personal chemistry. But you will also want to feel that the person you are talking about REALLY wants to help you and is committed to doing so. They need to have YOUR interests are the heart and to work on YOUR behalf. After all, YOU are the client. And if you are a first-time buyer, this is even more important.

What information does this person offer e.g., a customized >

How responsive are they, and can they assist you late at night and on the weekends? How are they with technology phone, fax, email, text messaging. This is especially important when you are working at a distance, and from a different time zone, and on-going communication will be essential to ensure a smooth transaction.

Agents Years vs. Experience

The agents experience is important, but dont get hung up on actual years. Some newer agents are highly motivated, energetic, great with technology and willing to do whatever it takes. That can be true of those with many years of business as well, of course. I would not recommend someone who is really new, since you need to >You will need to plan some house hunting trips to find your new home. Will this agent help you with that? What will they actually do for you? Set up tours? Pre-screen homes? What can you expect when you get to your new location for your house hunting trip? Can they devote a day or two, or more, to your home search?

Finally, once you have identified the home, and perhaps made an offer, there is lots of work to be done. Do you feel you can trust this person to handle things in your absence, to keep you informed at all times, answer questions, and assist in problem-solving? Remember that paperwork needs to flow back and forth by fax, e-mail or snail mail -- is this person comfortable doing that? And keeping you aware of all needed disclosures and other documents unique to your new home state is just a part of the job.

Its a weighty task to find the right person, but there are some great agents out there. Keep these things in mind and you will do just fine. Good luck And enjoy that >


Jeff Dowler spent 15 years in corporate business in a variety of human resources management positions and got his real estate license in 2002. "I worked for RE/MAX in Cambridge, MA. We >
Full Story >


Lawn Care For The Fall: Essential Tips to Follow

Aeration and Overseeding

If you live in a climate with cool-season grass, fall is the perfect time to aerate your lawn because the air is cool and the soil is still warm from the heat of summer. The earlier you can do this, the better the results will be for your yard. Depending on where you live, September or early October is the best time to tackle this project. Youll pay around 120 for lawn aeration.

Aeration removes small plugs of soil from your lawn, allowing greater amounts of air, nutrients and water to reach the root system of your grass. It also reduces soil compaction in the process. Following aeration, you might want to overseed your yard. Overseeding makes it easier for seeds to germinate while the soil is loose.

Feed Your Yard

Fall is the prime season of the year to fertilize cool-season grasses. Unlike warm-season grasses, which often go dormant in the fall and winter, cool-season grasses can actually hit their peak growth rates during the fall. This means they need a full dosage of nitrogen to help boost the health of the soil and your grass. Most importantly, this will help prevent the growth of weeds, which choke out the grass over time.

Cut Down on Mowing

Throughout the summer, youve gotten into the habit of mowing weekly. But if you have cool-season grass, its time to start cutting back on the number of mowing events each month. Generally speaking, every other week should be your maximum. If you have too much leaf coverage on your yard, you can mulch those up, but remember to leave your cutting deck high so you arent cutting off too much of your grass in the process.

The professional recommendation is not to cut off more than one-third of the total blade of grass each time you mow. Doing so can result in scalping the lawn, which stunts the growth of your grass. If you live in a warmer climate with warm-season grass, you can likely skip mowing altogether because your grass is going into its dormancy cycle.

Leaf Removal

There are two approaches you can take when dealing with falling leaves. At a bare minimum, you should remove any fallen foliage within seven to 10 days because it blocks sunlight from reaching your grass. But, if you get a >

Sow and Reseed

Believe it or not, but fall is a great time to reseed the bare patches of your yard and sow new sections of lawn for cool-season grasses. Applying fresh soil and some new seed to barren patches of your yard can help prepare your lawn to bounce back in the fall. As mentioned earlier, this time of year is often the strongest for cool-season yard growth, so take advantage.

Winterize Your Sprinkler System

If you have an underground sprinkler system to help you keep your yard green all summer, it could be the biggest threat to your utility bill and soil during the winter months. If you fail to blow out your underground system, the water left in the pipes could freeze, expand and burst the pipes. This could lead to a water leak in your yard that could compromise the integrity of the soil and cause serious damage. If you live in a cooler climate, its important to winterize your sprinkler system immediately.

Conclusion

With one weekend of work, you can accomplish most of these tasks and have a yard that looks great for the coming fall months.

Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.


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More Nonprofits Receiving Generous Donations Thanks to Agent with Heart Program

Peter Lunde of Coach Realtors in Stony Brook, NY has generously donated to Autism Speaks on behalf of his clients, Gregory and Debra Giblin.

Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Irvine, CA has generously donated to the Halo Trust on behalf of her client, Jess Dyrenforth.

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 5 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program. Read more about their donations and generosity here.

ldquo;We are truly proud to be partnered with such incredible real estate agents who genuinely want to make a difference in their community,rdquo; said Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Peter, Dana and Quinlan Realty each demonstrate the true purpose of the Agent with Heart program in their businesses, and I would like to personally thank them for their continued dedication to giving back.rdquo;

Through Agent with Heart, we strive to assist as many nonprofits as possible by generating as many donations as we can, and thanks to real estate agents like Peter, Dana, and everyone at Quinlan Realty, we are able to achieve that,rdquo; concludes Mr. Giaimo.

To contact Peter Lunde, please call 631-601-7906 or visit www.PeterLundeNorthShoreHomes.com.

To contact Dana Roberts, please call 949-433-6694 or visit www.DanaRobertsRealEstate.com.

To contact Quinlan Realty, please call 314-401-9286 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.

About the Agent with Heart Program:nbsp;The Agent with Hearttrade; program is a platform designed to recognize the generosity of real estate agents who give back to their communities. For more information, please visit www.PinRaise.com

.

nbsp;


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The Essentials Checklist for Newly Married Homeowners

Drapes

Create a color scheme for your home by starting with your window treatments. The interior-design theme of your home can be a long-term project, and hanging curtains is a great starting point. Colorful curtains and stylish blinds can eliminate a rooms drab aura and create interior warmth, even without other complementary furnishings. Go for eye-catching, rich hues, such as emerald green, indigo blue, canary yellow, or even Pantones color of the year, ultra violet.

Bed Coverings

As a newlywed couple, your bedroom is your sacred sanctuary. The >

Cleaning Equipment

Cleaning a house is a monumentally more challenging and exhausting chore than cleaning an apartment. Although more space in a home is enjoyable, youve now got more ground to cover with a broom and mop. Invest in a Dyson vacuum that will help keep your floors clean and spotless. Not only will the superior-quality vacuum help give you flawless floors and carpeting, it can make cleaning a pleasant experience, rather than a dreaded household duty.

Toolkit

Since youre now responsible for your own home repairs and around-the-house tasks, youll want a well-stocked supply of tools. ToolGuyd.com provides a list of safety gear and 12 basic tools that every homeowner-turned handyman should own. For unexpected repairs and home DIY projects, youll need to start a tool collection that includes, for example, a utility knife, tape measure, a variety of screwdrivers, and adjustable and combination wrenches. Along with the Tool Guyd recommended list of tools, youll also want to stock up on paint supplies, sandpaper, an electrical outlet tester, nuts, screws, nails, and sandpaper.

Custom Accents

For most new homeowners, splurging on fancy decor isnt within the budget. Get creative with how you personalize your home and give it character. Shop at flea markets for photo frames, vases or a vintage piece of furniture that you can refurbish with a bright paint color and fun patterns. Decorate a plain white vase with orange washi tape. Frame an old map to cover bare wall space. Glue metallic buttons to a lamp for glammed-out lighting. DIY decor projects can also become a new hobby and creative outlet for a happy homemaker.

Entertaining Supplies

Enjoying a new home is the most exciting when you can share it with your friends and family. Stock up on party-hosting essentials such as wine and cocktail glasses, a cocktail shaker, a serving platter, place mats, a table runner, and basic dishes and cutlery. Dont forget to create a soothing playlist for your guests to enjoy during your dinner party. Plan an upcoming housewarming party and play host and hostess by inviting guests and cooking them a delectable dinner.


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5 Benefits of Hiring a Professional for Fridge Repair

A fridge repair is best undertaken by a professional in this line of work. Therersquo;s no denying that you have the option of fixing the fault in your refrigerator yourself, however, certain fridge repairs are beyond cleaning the grills or unblocking the defrost drain. Such works need a professional to be corrected.

Besides the severity of your appliance damage, there are multiple benefits of hiring an expert. Letrsquo;s dig deeper into the merits of phoning an expert when your fridge crashes:

1. Saves time

When a biologist tries to solve a complex mathematical equation, he only ends up wasting his time. This happens with you, too, when you try to simplify refrigerator problems and work on them yourself.

There are possibly two outcomes to such a scenario: Either you end up trying for hours with no progress, or you achieve success, only to find out that your fridge crashes again later on. Such short-lived progress only adds up the hours that you spend on finding and solving the problem.

Unless yoursquo;ve time at your disposal, you canrsquo;t be too happy to DIY repair your fridge, only to try again, and then another time. Besides, there is no denying that your food can easily become spoiled if its cool home isnrsquo;t repaired quickly. In this regard, a simple time-saving trick is to hire a professional.

2. Guarantees good repair work

Not only does a professional appliance repair service save you time, but it also solves the problem effectively. As your fridge ages, the likelihood of faults increases. The Huffington Post confirms that icemaker-bearing refrigerators, for example, tend to break within 3-4 years of their purchase.

Consequently, you will need an increasing number of repairs and proper maintenance to keep your fridge going. The odds of needing another fix up go down if a professional does the work. This is because experts ensure good quality work.

Furthermore, a DIY fridge repair can backfire by culminating in more damage to the appliance. Thatrsquo;s not the case with a trained service provider, though. Dial an Appliance Mannbsp;to lessen the risks of damage and extend the life of your refrigerator.

3. Protects your appliance warranty

If you have only just bought your refrigerator and it needs fixing, then your first move should be to call an authorized professional. This is crucial because your warranty will stand invalid if you attempt to repair the fridge yourself.

The warranty that comes with home appliances is applicable as long as a professional checks and works on your device. If you try to inspect the fault yourself, your efforts may lead to more damage, which ends your appliance warranty that covers matters such as manufacturer defects.

4. Maximizes safety

Another prominent benefit of hiring a professional entails your safety. Refrigerators are complicated appliances that include both electrical and plumbing components. Consequently, faults in a refrigerator can birth a fire.

Rita Dexter, the former LFB deputy commissioner, explains that it is no exaggeration in saying that refrigerators can cause a fire and are dangerous. Dexter highlights, ldquo;They contain large amounts of highly flammable foam insulation, often only protected by a thin plastic covering. This can be a recipe for disaster if a fault occurs or if a fire spreads from somewhere else to the fridge or freezer.rdquo;

5. Better for the environment

It is also possible that you end up concluding that yoursquo;ll simply just replace the appliance if you canrsquo;t seem to fix it. For one, it is a costly option. ImproveNet nbsp;outlines that a top-mounted freeze model of a refrigerator costs between 350 and 600.

Moreover, the cost of bottom-mounted freezer refrigerators lies between about 800 to 1,200. Secondly, this option can be harmful to the environment. Instead of disposing of appliances, consider hiring a professional to repair the damage.

In most cases, a professional appliance service provider can mend the issue. It is only in rare cases that they may not find a solution to your problem. Hence, it is best to cut the number of appliances in the waste landfills by working on repairing the fridge professionally.

Wrap up

Although you can save some dimes by repairing your refrigerator on your own, the fix-up can result in more damage. It is also vital to consider the safety concerns, time required for the work, and the effectiveness of the repair. On all these fronts, a professional repair is a bright idea.


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Quinlan Realty Pays it Forward with More Donations in September

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 5 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program.

Agent with Heart Kevin Robben has made two generous donations on behalf of clients Dan and Beth Lyons. First to Stray Rescue of Saint Louis, as well as another generous donation to the Humane Society of Missouri.

Quinlan Realtyrsquo;s distinguished Broker with Heart, Craig Carr, made three generous donations. First to Friends of Kids with Cancer on behalf of his client Donarita Vocca, next to Faith Church on behalf of client Derricus Woods, and finally to the Buddy Fund, made on behalf of his client, Shonetta King.

ldquo;Quinlan Realty is such an incredible partner in our Broker with Heart Program and we are truly thankful for their efforts,rdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Craig and his team are the epitome of what it means to pay it forward, and we are honored that they have chosen our program to facilitate their kindheartedness.rdquo;

ldquo;Irsquo;d like to personally thank Kevin and Craig for their donations this past month. Thanks to them, we were able to assist five different nonprofits in the Missouri area. Kevin and Craig are shining examples of what it means to be an Agent with Heart, and we look forward to seeing their continued success in the future,rdquo; concludes Mr. Giaimo.

About the Broker with Heart Program: Through the Broker with Heart program, brokerages agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their commission from a home sale or purchase to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit www.PinRaise.com.

To contact Craig Carr, please call 314-401-9286 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.

To contact Kevin Robben, please call 314-922-8819 or visit www.QuinlanRealtySells.com.


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Ask the HOA Expert: Can a New Board Overrule a Previous Boards Decision?

Answer: No, the board 10 years ago approved the installation and the current board cannot reverse that decision. But try to maintain the high road on the matter. Offer a compromise: The next time the fence needs to be replaced, agree that it will be done with a conforming design. Offer to sign a recordable document that discloses this requirement to future owners.

Question: Please explain the difference between the three types of CPA services known as compilation, review and audit.

Answer: An audit involves examination of financial statements, on a test basis, evidence supporting amounts and disclosures in financial statements. It also includes assessing the accounting principles used as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. In conducting an audit, CPAs are required to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material errors or irregularities. An audit offers assurance that the statements present a homeowner association=s financial position, results of operations and cash flows in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles GAAP.

CPAs also offer two other types of services: review and compilation. In performing a review, the CPA applies analytical procedures to financial statements and makes certain inquiries of the bookkeeper. Review procedures are substantially less comprehensive than those performed in an audit. They allow CPAs to express limited assurance on conformity of the financial statements with generally accepted accounting principles.

In compilations, CPAs put financial information supplied by the clients into the form of financial statements, but do not express any assurance on the statements.

Question: Do you have any information or data on what formats Aprogressive HOAs are using at their board meetings? For example, do they permit some discussion from the audience rather than require any discussion to be among board members only?

In our HOA, only board members can engage in discussion at these meetings. The rest of us are limited to one timed statement each at the beginning of the meeting. This means we can not respond to anything board members may say in response to our comments even if their remarks indicate they have misunderstood our comments.

And this also means we can not comment on anything that a board member or another commentator may say during that meeting.

Answer: The format you describe is the recommended way of holding board meetings. If non directors are allowed to interject, the meetings would invariably be overly long or degrade into shouting matches. You do have the right to speak or ask questions during the board meeting if the Chair allows it.

Directors are elected to serve without interruption to accomplish business in an orderly way. If you disagree with how the board handles business, you should run for the board, get elected and start making a change. You also have the right to speak your mind at the annual homeowner meeting or call a special meeting if supported by an appropriate percentage of owners as defined in the governing documents requests one.

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


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How to Avoid Disaster on Moving Day

Earlier this year a family that was moving from Calgary to Kingston, Ont. found out what can happen when you hire a rogue moving company.

As recounted by The Canadian Association of Movers CAM, the familyrsquo;s belongings were picked up by a guy with a F350 truck and a 37-foot enclosed cargo trailer. Somewhere around Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., the tires on the trailer blew out because the load was overweight. The driver dumped part of the load into a storage unit and continued toward Kingston, but along the way the truck had another breakdown.

The driver then phoned the family and demanded more money to pay for his expenses. When they refused, the driver threatened to find them and kill them. The family called police and the driver was charged with two counts of uttering threats to cause death.

The family then contacted CAM for help. Although the rogue mover was not a member of the association, one of its members arranged to collect the items left in Sault Ste. Marie. The rest of the shipment, with help from police, was found in Port Hope, Ont. and it was brought to Kingston by another CAM member.

The association has no power to discipline the rogue mover under the provisions of its Code of Ethics, since the driver is not a member.

This story, though extreme, is not an isolated case. Complaints against moving companies are common and have been happening for years. The Better Business Bureau says it had more than 100 complaints and 75,500 inquiries about movers and storage->

Most consumers hire shady movers because they offer a great price. ldquo;We hear from far too many people that price was the deciding factor, especially when the operator talked a good game, only to have the whole move end disastrously,rdquo; says Nancy Irvine, president of CAM. ldquo;Remember, if itrsquo;s too good to be true, it usually is.rdquo;

Canadarsquo;s Competition Bureau also hears its share of horror stories about rogue movers. It says the movers usually advertise on sites such as Kijiji or Craigslist, offering low fees and ldquo;no surprisesrdquo;. They speak to customers on the phone and assure them that a verbal agreement is adequate, and a paper copy of the contract can be signed on the day of the move.

But on moving day, they add unexpected charges for ldquo;warehousingrdquo; or ldquo;pickup feesrdquo; and threaten to leave the customer without a mover unless they pay up.

ldquo;In some instances, the fraudsters will hold your possessions hostage until you pay another amount for their delivery. You are left scrambling to find the money, hoping that you will get everything back in one piece,rdquo; warns the Competition Bureau.

ldquo;Fly-by-night and no-name truck for hire types can take advantage of the fact yoursquo;re under emotional, financial and time pressures when moving,rdquo; said Mary Orsquo;Sullivan-Anderson, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. In a news >

With suggestions from CAM, the Better Business Bureau and the Competition Bureau, here are some ways to ensure a smooth move:

- Get at least three quotes. Research the companies online but beware of fake testimonials and by getting recommendations from friends or your real estate salesperson. Your provincial consumer affairs ministry and local BBB may have information on specific companies to avoid. Look for BBB and CAM logos on the companyrsquo;s sales materials.

- Some provinces require movers to have specific permits or registrations. Check to see if they are registered.

- Get written estimates. A reputable mover will come to your home and inspect the house and the items to be moved. The estimate should be on company letterhead and include the firmrsquo;s address and contact information. It should also include the number of items and boxes to be moved, the size and value of the items, the cost per hour or flat rate, terms of payment and timing for the move.

- Find out what your household insurance will cover and what your moverrsquo;s insurance will cover if any of your items are lost or damaged. Generally, insurance does not cover things like jewelry, currency or hazardous materials. You may want to move the most valuable or fragile items yourself.

- Trust your own instincts. If the mover doesnrsquo;t want to meet with you, or is much cheaper than other movers, therersquo;s a reason for that.

- If the mover tries something sleazy, such as holding your items hostage for more money, call the police. If you donrsquo;t think itrsquo;s a police matter but you still feel that you were unfairly treated, lodge a complaint with CAM and the BBB.

Industry Canada worked with moving-industry professionals, consumer groups and government officials to develop the Good Practice Guidelines for Canadian Movers, along with a Consumer Checklist to help consumers select reputable and ethical movers.


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Are Prefab Homes About to Have Their Day? Amazon Thinks So.

The company has made its first investment in a homebuilder, partially funding startup Plant Prefab through its Alexa Fundmdash;which has typically been used for injecting money into voice techmdash;in a move that Architectural Digest called ldquo;game-changing.rdquo;

Indeed, Business Insider, among others, mused that this is the latest step in Amazonrsquo;s plan to ldquo;integrate Alexa into a home before it is even built and delivered to customers.rdquo; In a statement made by Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, he said, "Were thrilled to support [Plant Prefab] as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customers and developers."

Its a new market ldquo;for Amazon and the Alexa Fund,rdquo; said CNBC. ldquo;The investment comes less than a week after Amazon launched more than a dozen Alexa-powered smart home devices, including a microwave oven and an amplifier that can be controlled by the Alexa voice assistant.rdquo;

So who is Plant Prefab?

Based in the Southern California city of Rialto, the company is known for its sustainable construction processes and materials, which they say have allowed them to build prefabricated homes in both their home state and in Utah 50 percent faster and with a savings of up to 25 percent.

ldquo;Plant Prefab has been designing prefab homes since 2016, when it was spun off of architectural and property development firm Living Homes,rdquo; said Fast Company. ldquo;It offers a series of lsquo;standardrsquo; designs developed by big design names like Ray Kappe and Yves Beacute;har, as well as custom builds.

As for what the Amazon-funded homes may look like, wellhellip;wersquo;ll have to refer back to the Plant Prefab site, where you can check out both their standard homes and custom designs, for now.

If you want to get a look at what some other modern prefab homes looks likemdash;especially those that are helping revolutionize the genre and provide homebuyers with a viable, stylish, more affordable, and oftentimes more sustainable alternative to traditional homebuilding techniques, you can see some great examples here and here.


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Renovations to Make Aging at Home Easier

Grab Bars

Installing grab bars can significantly decrease falls and injuries. They should be installed where the floor may get wet or transition to a different level. Grab bars should be installed by a professional contractor because they require special reinforcement. If a grab bar is improperly installed it can be pulled from the wall causing injury.

Places grab bars should be installed:

  • showers
  • near toilets
  • stairs
  • room transitions

Home Entry

Access to the main level without the use of stairs is a change you can make to your home without changing the overall curb appeal. This requires planning ahead. A ramp can be designed with wood or concrete that provides a gradual incline to the front door. By planning ahead, you can have a contractor design a ramp that fits the aesthetic of your home without reducing its value. This provides accessibility for wheelchairs, walkers and those who cannot use stairs.

Making Doorways Wider

Increasing the width of doorways is a simple way to make living at home easier with walkers or wheelchairs. Widening a doorway is a project that should only take a contractor about a day. Making a door 36 inches wide as opposed to the normal 24" or 32" allows for easier access, especially in tight spaces.

Floorplan Alterations

Creating room for maneuvering is important. There may be times that you need space to use a wheelchair. A wheelchair requires a square five feet to move freely. Creating an open floor plan is a good way to open space to move around. This can be done by removing full and pony walls, creating cased openings, and >

When aging in your home you may need to restrict living to a single floor to accommodate for the difficulty of climbing and descending stairs. It is important to ensure that there is a kitchen, bathroom and a space for a bedroom on the main level of your home. If there is not a full bathroom on the ground floor, a contractor can create a full bathroom by adding a shower to an existing half bath or creating a new bathroom enti>

Removing Thresholds

Removing floor thresholds between rooms can prevent tripping, which is the number one cause of injury for aging individuals. Many homes have a threshold between rooms where flooring changes. This can be alleviated by removing the threshold or installing a ramp that lets them move easily.

Shower Conversion

The bathroom can be a dangerous place due to slippery floors and tripping hazards. Even with the help of grab bars and grippy bath mats, it is important to remove tripping hazards. A popular option is to convert a bathtub into a shower without a threshold. This renovation can allow for ease of access especially for those in a wheelchair.


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Setting Up Your New Patio, One Step at a Time

1. Visualize the End Result

When you think about the activities on your porch or patio, what do you imagine? Will you be hosting alfresco brunches with friends? Cocktail parties under the stars? Maybe you see yourself lounging poolside with a good book or grilling for a neighborhood cookout. Keep your life>

Another consideration is square footage. If you have a modest yard, a sprawling outdoor sectional might not be the best fit. Conversely, a large patio will dwarf small furniture pieces. Just like the interior rooms of your home, your outdoor furniture should fill your space without dominating it. Get the dimensions of your patio and the furniture youve been eyeing, and use a floor planner to confirm everything will fit nicely.

Think about the climate where you live as well to help you decide the colors and materials for furniture. Lighter colors reflect heat, so theyre a great choice for hot areas. Select an umb>

2. Start with the Staples

Furnishing a new home can be daunting, so start with just the basics for your patio. For frequent entertainers, ample seating is a must. Place a coffee table in front of a spacious sectional to give the area a >

If you plan on enjoying meals alfresco, youll also want to configure an area for eating. An outdoor dining table, chairs and benches are great for large dinner parties, and a bistro table is ideal during meals for two. Prepare the food outside by cooking burgers, steaks or veggies on the grill. To make dining outdoors easier, bring a cart outside, and stock it with bar tools, acrylic barware and melamine dinnerware.

When your events extend into the night, its essential to have good lighting. Outdoor string lights are a great way to add a warm glow with >

3. Personalize the Patio

This is where the fun begins. After youve made the finishing touches to your homes interior, its time to bring your >

Tie the look of the patio together with pillows, blankets and outdoor rugs. Create a cohesive color scheme by matching the textiles with the flowers. Bright shades of blues and greens establish a refreshing aesthetic, while pinks, oranges and reds create a tropical vibe. If you prefer neutrals, opt for taupe or grey textiles mdash; theyre sure to keep the focus on the flowers. Another color option is to extend your interiors look outdoors by using similar throws, decorative pillows and rugs indoors and out.

Its easy to refresh the look of your patio when you need to. Hosting a barbecue for Independence Day? Swap out your pillows for red, white and blue ones to instantly make the space on-theme. As the summer fades into fall, embrace autumn with seasonal decor. Replace your summery centerpiece with an arrangement of fall leaves, pinecones and acorns, and layer the lounge furniture with knit blankets. When winter arrives, remember to bring out the furniture covers and store pillows and blankets inside.

Moving into a new home is a busy time, so take things slow as you perfect your outdoor spaces. When all is done, unwind on the patio or host a backyard party to celebrate your hard work.


Angie Erickson writes inspirational content for Crate and Bar>
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Trend Alert: Monochromatic Rooms

An easy way to achieve a great look with very little effortmdash;or design knowhowmdash;is to go monochromatic. ldquo;Monochromatic color schemes work because they streamline your design,rdquo; said Freshome. ldquo;Typically, yoursquo;d have to put effort into purposefully including a few common threads throughout your design to ensure that the entire look ties together. In this case, as long as you work within the color scheme, unity and harmony are already taken care of. We suggest starting with your base shade, the one that will define your design. Then, round out your color scheme by choosing one color thatrsquo;s lighter than your base shade and one color thatrsquo;s darker.rdquo;

The paint store is a great place to get inspiration for your main color, if you donrsquo;t already have one, and to round out the other colors to use. The secret: paint chips. All the colors you need are right there on the chip

ldquo;When applying the monochromatic look to fashion, itrsquo;s all about using varying hues of the same color to achieve a look that is cohesive, but not repetitivemdash;the same applies to interiors Instead of using one color, think of using one color palette,rdquo; said Gray Malin. ldquo;This will ensure that you still achieve the monochromatic look yoursquo;re going for, without overdoing it and accidentally making your room look like one color spilled all over it. For instance, if your main color them is lsquo;blush,rsquo; employ colors all throughout the spectrum of pinksmdash;rose, deep red, ba>

If you just donrsquo;t know where to start, focusing on one key piece you love can be a great jumping off point.

"I like to set the tone of the color palette for a room with the carpet," designer Sasha Bikoff told Elle Deacute;cor. "You can deconstruct the colors in the carpet and spread them around the room." Placement is also key to creating a great-looking space, so consider this: ldquo;Bikoff suggests using the more calming, softer shades on large surfaces like the walls and the ceiling, and saving the brighter hues for smaller, more whimsical pieces that you want to stand out.rdquo;

Here are a few favorite colors to consider.

Gray

Gray has gone from being the ldquo;itrdquo; color to being considered a neutral without an expiration date, and although the color can read soothing, a monochromatic gray space doesnrsquo;t have to be sedate. We love how the deep gray walls in this San Francisco living room bring out the architectural detail. This turn-of-the-century home from Coco Lapine Design shows how to do gray monochrome with neutral beige woven in. The result is a stylish look with a >

Blue

Behrrsquo;s 2019 Color of the Year is Blueprint, a ldquo;a mid-tone blue that charts a course for people to reimagine the colors and design of their home,rdquo; said Behr. If yoursquo;re inspired to do the same, you can keep the space monochromatic by also using their Watery, Antigua, Dark Navy, and Blue Metal colors.

White

You might think an all-white room would lack personality, but look at how luxurious this space is. The secret: layering in texture and pattern.

ldquo;The most attractive and enjoyable way to complete your color scheme is with texture and print,rdquo; said The Spruce. ldquo;Texture adds interest to the room through the uneven surface that varies how light hits the surface. A texture can appear light and dark, even when created with the same color. Throw pillows, rugs, and window treatments, are beautiful ways to create texture.rdquo;

Green

It may take a bit more of a commitment to color to go monochromatic green, but just look at the luscious results when you do.


Full Story >


Private Lending: Why Its So Important

Most residential loans today are issued following guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. When a lender approves a loan using these standards the loan is then eligible for sale in the secondary market. Selling a loan means freeing up more capital for the lender in order to make more loans. With a private loan, the goal isnrsquo;t selling the loan, itrsquo;s getting the loan paid back. Private loans will carry higher interest rates and are only available for a short period of time, time enough to buy and rehab a property. Once the property is rehabilitated it can then be in a condition where traditional financing can be used.

For example, consider a fourplex unit that is vacant and needs more than a little TLC. The property is in such a condition that a traditional loan canrsquo;t be placed. An investor sees the potential in the property and with a little due diligence comes to the conclusion the property would show some serious cash flow once stabilized and sell for a tidy profit once the repairs have been made. The investor then contacts a private lender and makes the proposal for a private loan.

Private lenders look primarily at the ldquo;exit strategyrdquo; which means telling the story how the private loan would be paid off. Typically, the exit means the property will be sold once repaired. The private lender agrees and issues the needed funds to buy and rehab the property. After a few months, the property is completely rehabilitated and ready for conventional financing.

If private lending didnrsquo;t exist, this same fourplex could fall into such a state of disrepair the only option is a complete demolition and building brand new from the ground up, a costly proposition compared to a private loan. When you hear the term ldquo;hard moneyrdquo; itrsquo;s far from a bad thing. For many projects, itrsquo;s the initial seed capital needed to turn a dilapidated property into a money maker.


Full Story >


What Not to Leave in Your Garage During Extreme Weather

Any kind of extreme weather could bring potential damage to your garage. Fortunately, a lot of the risks they present are preventable mdash; although a recent Esurance survey found that only 25 percent of homeowners proactively prepare for damaging weather events. Donrsquo;t get caught unprepared. Whether itrsquo;s triple-digit heat, below freezing cold, hurricane seasons or drought-induced wildfires, itrsquo;s best to prep your garage ahead of time to minimize your safety risks.

From fire hazards to burst pipes, herersquo;s how to prepare your garage for extreme weather.

Extreme Heat and Wildfires

Propane tanks
Propane tanks should never be stored indoors in the first place, but they are a particularly big risk in extreme temperatures as they begin >

Do this instead: Store propane tanks outdoors, about 10 feet away from the house and out of the sun. Make sure theyrsquo;re painted in a color that reflects light. If theyrsquo;ve been left in the sun and you worry that theyrsquo;ve gotten too hot, hose them down.

Oil-stained rags
It might seem obvious, but oil-stained rags have been known to cause house fires mdash; even if theyrsquo;ve been through the wash. When the temperature in your garage rises to extremes, they can spontaneously combust. If a wildfire breaks out, they pose a substantial risk for fueling the flames and even causing small explosions.

Do this instead: Dispose of heavily used oil-soaked rags and replace them. Wash gently used rags a few times before storing them in a covered metal can.

Aerosol cans
Eighty percent of aerosol cans mdash; even ones filled with hairspray and the like mdash; contain 3 to 5 ounces of butane or propane. When temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, they can explode, sending bits of metal shrapnel through the air, or they can become propelled like rockets, capable of causing serious injury or damage.

Do this instead: Store aerosol cans in the garage only if the temperature is between 55 and 80 degrees.

Snow/Ice Storms and Extreme Cold

Aluminum cans
Carbonated beverages are temperamental, and they can be dangerous at freezing temps. Beverages like soda and beer freeze at around 15-20 degrees. Once frozen, the carbon dioxide separates from the water and pressurizes, becoming especially dangerous if handled or opened, potentially bursting and sending the top of the can flying.

Do this instead: Keep your canned, carbonated beverages in a refrigerator or cabinet in the house, where they wonrsquo;t freeze.

Glass bottles
Similar to aluminum cans, water-filled glass bottles can shatter in the cold, regardless of whether or not the liquid is carbonated. Thatrsquo;s because water expands as it begins to freeze. It can wreak similar havoc on your pipes.

Do this instead: Store your glass beverage containers in the house along with the aluminum cans.

Exposed pipes
As water gets colder and colder, it begins to expand, putting extra pressure on pipes. Regardless of the strength and material of the pipes, they will eventually burst under the pressure.

Do this instead: Let water drip from your faucets. Moving water helps prevent freezing. You can also insulate your exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing. Conventional foam insulation is easy to slip over existing pipes with a bit of tape. You can also go with the self-sealing variety, but you may want to leave the spray foam insulation to the pros.

Hurricanes and Windstorms

Generators
Anticipating the power going out? Make sure yoursquo;re not running your generator inside mdash; even in your garage. Generators produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in contained, unventilated spaces.

Do this instead: Set your generator up outside mdash; at least 10 feet from your house mdash; to ensure proper ventilation.

Open doors and windows
It might go without saying, but open windows or doors in your garage invite tons of messy debris during a hurricane mdash; not to mention the potential damage to your car and other belongings.

Do this instead: Double-check that your garage door is closed and any and all windows are shut and locked before the storm makes its way in. Consider installing storm windows or shutters to the exterior of the garage to add extra protection against high winds and heavy rains.

Important Documents and Sentimental Items
With an increased risk for flooding and water damage, make sure you remove any important files or boxes with sentimental items before the storm hits.

Do this instead: Move any at-risk items safely indoors and store them in an interior room for the duration of the storm.

Are you prepared for extreme weather? Protect your family and your home by inspecting your garage to prevent unsafely storing potentially dangerous items in a weather emergency.


Eric Brandt has more than 25 years experience in the insurance industry. Eric currently serves as Chief Customer Advocate for Esurance, where he leads the customer experience, including claims fulfillment. Prior to joining Esurance, Eric led customer-centered transformations in the areas of claims, risk management and >
Full Story >


Pros and Cons of Buying a Tiny Home

What was once written off as a short-term trend has proven to have staying power. And, tiny homes are no longer being associated primarily with millennials, either. There are plenty of stories of families choosing to live leaner. Tiny homes are now increasingly the choice of seniors, as well.

Tiny houses ldquo;can be an attractive option for retirees who want to downsize after the kids leave the nest,rdquo; said TODAY. ldquo;For one thing, they can come with major financial advantages. One retired woman TODAY profiled ldquo;paid 65,000 for her tiny house, an incredible bargain compared to Portlandrsquo;s median home sale price of 394,100."

But that doesnrsquo;t make tiny living a breezemdash;especially for those who are used to more space. Here wersquo;re breaking down the pros and cons.

Pro: Yes, theyrsquo;re affordable

The price is right for tiny homes regardless of location.

ldquo;A tiny house costs a lot less to build than a full-sized one. According to The Tiny Life, itrsquo;s possible to build a tiny house for 23,000 on average. The average price for a full-sized house, by contrast, is 272,000mdash;more than 10 times as much,rdquo; said Money Crashers. ldquo;Cutting back on housing expenses enables tiny house owners to put more money toward luxuries such as travel, save for retirement, or simply work less.rdquo;

A tiny home also often means no mortgage, which, if the buyer can swing it, means they donrsquo;t have to pay interest and can own their home outright. ldquo;The Tiny Life reports that 68 of tiny house owners own their homes free and clear, as compared to just 29 of all homeowners.rdquo;

Con: Yes, theyrsquo;re small

Technically, this could also be a ldquo;prordquo; for those keen on tightening up their footprint, but, for most people, the idea of living in 100 to 400 square feet the average size of a tiny home, is a deal-breaker.

ldquo;Living in a tiny home means youll have to do a lot of sacrificing in order to downsize,rdquo; said Little House of Four. ldquo;More often than not youll have to give up your private office, art studio or home gym. Your washer and dryer will more than likely end up in your bathroom or kitchen and youll have to do some serious compromising when it comes to what you bring into the home. There are ways to remedy these lsquo;sacrifices,rsquo; but youll still be giving up your privacy and downsizing no matter how creative you get with storage.rdquo;

Pro: Theyrsquo;re portable

If you buy a traditional house, yoursquo;re not likely going to load it up on a truck and move it somewhere else when you desire a change of scenery. But, with a tiny home, thatrsquo;s part of the allure. ldquo;A tiny house can easily be fitted on a flatbed truck, which makes delivering them to buyers, as well as future resettling really easy,rdquo; said Millennial Magazine. ldquo;Whether they are stuck with a bout of wanderlust, seeking new job opportunities, or just want to spend a season living close to a beachhellip;millennials are sure to appreciate the fact that they can simply pack-up their house and go on their way.rdquo;

Con: Lack of personal space

Forget about that man cave or even a she shed. If you need a little space to yourself, thatrsquo;s going to be hard to achieve in a tiny home. ldquo;Living in a tiny home by yourself might be easy, but sharing a small space with one or more people can be a challenge,rdquo; said Little House of Four. ldquo;Theres no personal space to spend time alone or even roll out an exercise mat and get in a workout. Those of you that are extroverts may have no problem being in tight quarters with others, but introvertshellip;may miss the alone time that a larger house can offer.rdquo;

Pro: Theyrsquo;re clever

You think you have some smart storage solutions in your home? Imagine what yoursquo;d need to fashion if you lived in 200 square feet There are tons of great ideas out there. Wersquo;re digging the smart storage under the stairs here nbsp;and the cabinet walls here.

Con: They still lack storage because they lack space

No matter how many witty ideas you come up with, yoursquo;re never going to have an ample walk-in closet and tons of kitchen cabinetsmdash;both of which are ingrained in the ldquo;typicalrdquo; vision of the American dream.

Pro: Theyrsquo;re greener

Tiny homes are, by their very essence, more environmentally friendly simply because, ldquo;Their size means that they require substantially fewer building materials to construct, which makes it viable to use more expensive, eco-friendly components and still keep costs down overall,rdquo; said Millennial Magazine. Plus, ldquo;>

Con: Zoning Rules

ldquo;Although a tiny house doesnrsquo;t require much land, many towns make it difficult to build one,rdquo; said Money Crashers. ldquo;Zoning laws often include a minimum size for dwellings, and a 200-square-foot tiny house isnrsquo;t usually big enough to make the cut. To get around these rules, some tiny house owners buy a full-sized house, rent it out, and then park their tiny houses in the backyard as either lsquo;outbuildingsrsquo; or lsquo;vehicles.rsquo; Trailer parks can also provide a home for a tiny house.rdquo;


Full Story >


5 Tips for Economically Renovating Your Home

In 2017, homeowners spent an average of 15,000 on house renovations. However, you need to take each step carefully if yoursquo;re on a tight budget. Letrsquo;s walk you through some simple tips to remodel your home economically:

1. Begin by cleaning up

As soon as the idea of home renovation pops in your mind, you need to hold your horses. This is because any design pointers that come to your brain at this point will be hazy. Thanks to the clutter, you cannot develop a crystal clear idea of what you want.

If you canrsquo;t do that, you canrsquo;t budget realistically. It details the very purpose of renovating your home reasonably. Therefore, start by cleaning your place thoroughly. Declutter and clear out what you donrsquo;t need.

Chances are that cleaning your space and rearranging the furniture can help you redesign your entire house. If your house is in good shape, only cleaning and moving things around can work to give your house a new look. If not, then this DIY project will help you visualize the home remodel that you want.

2. Set a realistic home renovation budget

Business Insider revealed that 61 of us donrsquo;t have a budget, but that wonrsquo;t work if you aim to renovate your house on a shoestring budget. You need a budget, and while you are at it, you need a realistic budget.

This means that if you put yourself in utopia and estimate fairytale costs, you wonrsquo;t be able to get anywhere with your home renovation plans. Hence, you need a fair estimate of what renovations you want in your house.

For instance, if you plan to spruce up your existing backyard, then you need to research the rough estimate of getting done all that yoursquo;ve in your mind. On average, Landscaping Network reports that a budget of 25,000 is typically dedicated to backyard renovation. A good contractor such as Terra Nova Landscaping can help you figure out the costs as per the revamps you want.

3. Decide what you want in advance

Budgeting means there is no room for a change of heart at the last minute. You also donrsquo;t get to be picky, saying that a certain color doesnrsquo;t look the way you anticipated it to, because such double-mindedness quickly adds to the costs.

The simple way to nip this unwelcome evil in the bud is to plan beforehand. Browse through the internet or flip through interior design magazines to get an idea of what yoursquo;re looking for. Turn Pinterest upside down if you have to while rooting around renovation ideas and trends, but do it before you seal the deal with your contractor.

Once you have a blueprint of what you want in your mind, yoursquo;ll be better able to map out your budget. Plus, you can save your money from going down the drain by saving yourself from buying things on impulse.

4. Get a black and white paint palette

You know that you need your home remodeled when the color leaches from your walls. Since yoursquo;re on a mission to give your house a new look on a tight budget, consider a black and white color palette.

Getting different colored palettes can add to the total cost. To counter that, go for the >

Alternatively, choose a neutral color scheme for your rooms. It is a perfect pick because it offers you a lot of flexibility when it comes to decorating. This makes the neutral color scheme a budget-friendly choice because it allows you to add nearly any deacute;cor or accent color.

5. Think smaller home remodeling changes

Another smart tip to refurbish your house on a tight budget is to make small changes. While itrsquo;s nice to think of the big picture, it is useless to daydream about a new look for your house if you donrsquo;t have the cash to make the dream come true.

In such a case, making small changes can significantly change your housersquo;s look. One way to do this is to renovate your house in sections. For instance, get your kitchen renovated this year and then save up and revamp your bedroom sometime later.

Or, you can make minor changes that make a big impact. For instance, change the hardware on the kitchen cabinets for a refreshed look instead of getting the cabinets replaced altogether. Similarly, change the rugs or curtains in your house for a different look.

Wrap up

Budgeting can be tough but not impossible. You can always stay within the limitations of your wallet by planning, making small changes, spending thoughtfully instead of impulsively, and doing some work yourself.


Full Story >


Has Your Marketing Content Become Stale?

Does your marketing receive regular complete overhauls? Or, do time
pressures only allow for the periodic makeover of one or two content
sections? On the other hand, you may simply rearrange existing content
with little more than headline changes. Or, do your marketing efforts
fall somewhere in between? Regardless of the approach you take, why are
you confident your marketing content and strategies resonate with your
select target market?

Answer this on-point ldquo;YES or NOrdquo; Quick Quiz to clarify where you
stand regarding content creation:

1. Is there really anything new to say about buying and selling real estate?nbsp;YES/NO

2. Is there anything that buyers and sellers havenrsquo;t heard already?nbsp;YES/NO

3. Is there truly something different about the way you, as a real
estate professional, work with real estate prospects, buyers, and sellers?nbsp;YES/NO

Real estate professionals who want to create magnetic, engaging real
estate content for their target market must answer each of these three
key questions above with a resounding ldquo;YES.rdquo;

Professionals who answer one or all of the questions above with ldquo;NOrdquo;
will not only produce stale content, but they may also find other
aspects of their practice and their productivity lacking

1. If real estate professionals cannot continually see ldquo;newrdquo;
perspectives in buying and selling real estate, how can they stay fresh
and eager enough on a daily basis to attract prospects and retain clients?

2. Professionals who donrsquo;t believe there is a lot that buyers and
sellers will benefit from hearing about real estate, may not radiate
enthusiasm and, as a result, may not be as productive or resourceful as
necessary to build a sustainable practice and achieve long-term
financial goals for themselves and their clients.

3. A professional, who does not clearly see how to uniquely serve the
niche of buyers and/or sellers this professional wants to zero in on,
cannot expect target prospects and clients to see any difference between
this professional and the rest of the real estate ldquo;pack.rdquo;

Fresh, target->
deep, accurate knowledge on many levels, but always from the targetrsquo;s
point of view.

Are you in the right frame of mind to create great content for the
buyers and sellers you aim to serve? Professionals who decide to hire
custom content developers or to buy stock content, must also know
exactly what targets need and why.

bull; How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing
content? Buyers and sellers expect their selected real estate
professionals to continually prove and improve their value. Marketing
content, in any format or on any social media platform, must meet the
same target value demands. How do you measure ROI Return on
Investment on your marketing efforts, for you and your clients?

bull; How regularly do you update your Brand Profile? Fresh,
engaging language, concepts, and offers are essential to keep your brand
uppermost in the minds of target buyers and sellers. Donrsquo;t follow
your competition into trends-lead your targets.

bull; Have you recently updated the selected target buyer and
seller profiles or personas you concentrate your business efforts
on? Do your target profiles and content on each social media
platform synch up, but remain distinct and in keeping with each specific
platform? Is your content an engaging, thought-provoking mirror of
target issues?

bull; What process and systems do you use to efficiently recycle
and refresh content across selected social and traditional media? Do
you have a documented marketing strategy that transforms blog posts into
email newsletters, then into YouTube videos and interactive webinars, or
whatever media your targets prefer? What criteria do you use to
decide when to employ your own content creation skills and when to hire
proven expertise?

As well as consistently improving content development, professionals
benefit from becoming progressively more sophisticated, more refined,
more elegant in their communication techniques, approaches, and
outcomes.

Herersquo;s an example of clever email content that lets target clients
convince themselves of the value of the content developer, while quickly
and simply revealing what targets are doing right and what more they can
do for themselves. A lot is packed into one 7-page, graphic-rich
publication. Does it inspire you to tackle something similar to reveal
your value while giving your targets opportunities to measure their
ability to be excellent buyers or sellers working in their own best
interest?

New-York-based content developer, Contently, recently
produced ldquo;The Contently Content Maturity Modelrdquo; as email
marketing content.
Disclaimer: Although I have met some Contently staff, I do not have a
working >mine.

bull; The Model reveals how, as Strategy, Technology, and
Process improve, this leads to ldquo;significant improvements in efficiency,
data use, and collection, and alignment across teams.rdquo;
bull; The checklist of ldquo;major attributes that represent your maturity
at each [of four] phasesrdquo; reveals what you donrsquo;t do and should when it
comes to content development, and what Contently does for their
clients.
bull; The strong sales pitch is in plain sight. Does it seem balanced
by valuable content to you? If not, you may not be the selected target.

Resource:
For more, visit PJ Wadersquo;s ldquo;Whatrsquo;s Your Point?rdquo; blog.


Full Story >


6 Creative Things to do With Your Pumpkins This Year That Dont Involve Pie

Paint Them

You can find as many painted pumpkin tutorials as you can pumpkins in the patch. We love this ombre spiderweb pumpkin craft because of how easy it is to pull off. You can have a unique look in a matter of minutes Chalk paint in a variety of colors can help you create a homey lookmdash;especially useful if yoursquo;re not keen on orange.

Stripe Them

Talk about easy and high impact The copper tape on these white pumpkins transforms them into something designer-looking, and this craft only requires a few minutes of work. You can also choose silver tape or opt for something non-metallic if you want to bring in more color or match your interiors.

Amp up Your Carving

This isnrsquo;t your typical carving. All you need to do is cut out spaces for the eyes and make a squiggly mouth. The addition of heavenly-veined plastic eyeballs makes these undead pumpkins extra creepy.

Address the Situation

7 in stickers from Amazon and a can of spray paint can turn your pumpkin into something personal that will look great on your porch or front steps.

Make Them Fancy

Whatrsquo;s better than sequins to fancy up those pumpkins? ldquo;These might be the easiest, sparkly pumpkins yoursquo;ve ever made,rdquo; said Sugar and Cloth. ldquo;Apply the craft glue to the pumpkin in a circular motion, then pat a few sequins in place once the glue is tacky, being sure to cover the whole circle. Let them dry, and yoursquo;re all set.rdquo;

Revive Your Buffet Table

Throwing a Halloween party? Yoursquo;ll obviously want pumpkins as part of your buffet table, and you canrsquo;t go wrong with a little vomiting pumpkin. Especially when you add guacamole.

If your party is for a mixed crowd or adults-only, yoursquo;ll love this handy tutorial to turn your pumpkin into a keg. ldquo;Making a pumpkin keg is easy as pumpkin pie. All you need is a sharp knife, a tap, beer, and about 15 minutes of your time,rdquo; said No Spoon Necessary. ldquo;Utilizing a pumpkin as a keg and filling it with beer adds a touch of pumpkin flavor to your favorite brew. Plus, itrsquo;s a great conversation piece and it is festively funrdquo;


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How to Create Stairs That Get Stares

Paint Them

ldquo;Can you paint stairs?" The short answer: Yes Painted stairs are a budget-friendly way to replace the nasty carpet on your staircase,rdquo; said Knock It Off Kim. ldquo;Painting stairs with a faux stair runner will completely transform your staircase for just penniesrdquo;

These painted stairs give you the look of a runner but with vivid hues you can bring to life with a stop at Home Depot. ldquo;We cant think of a better way to return after a long, hard day at work than being greeted by these bright blue and yellow stairs from Pufik,rdquo; said The Spruce. ldquo;We love the faux carpet runner look created by the deep blue block coloring. Plus, the deep color is a great way to hide marks and dirt without a lot of elbow grease.rdquo;

If you donrsquo;t think painting the surfaces on which you step is the best option for you, you donrsquo;t have to ditch the paint brush. Painting just the risers, and not the treads, can bring in interest. We love this numbered look from The Vintage Round Top. There are several other options for using stencils to create a modern patterned look on the risers.

Adding Storage

The area under your stairs is just wasted space. Why not turn it into useful storage? These pull-out drawers offer a place to hang coats and place shoes. But theyrsquo;re just the start of what you can accomplish by reclaiming the space under the stairs. How about these bookshelves under the stairs that bring function and flair.

This lake house is gorgeous from top to bottom, but scroll down to photo 12 to see the charming reading nook that was created out of dead space. A dog house under the stairs is the ultimate space for your pooch. Or, turn it into a place for the kids to play.

Modernizing and Opening Up

Removing traditional stiar posts and adding glass panels can make a huge impact on your space, making it feel more contemporary. It can also make a small, closed-in space feel larger. ldquo;When space is at a premium, a single newel and cleverly angled diminishing glass allows the balustrade to finish against the ceiling allowing the full width of the stairway to be maintained to add sparkle and light into a small space,rdquo; said Abbott-Wade.

Get Crafty

This Stella McCartney store is full of beautiful ideas using wooden blocks, but theyrsquo;re especially chic on the staircase.

Go Temporary

You can get a stylish look without the permanence by going the peel-and-stick route. Lay on these Scandia decals and yoursquo;ll have a whole new look in minutes.


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The New District of Columbia TOPA Law

In July, the D.C. Council revised the law - exempting most single-family homes, including those with basement rentals also known as "accessory dwelling units." The council opted to exempt single-family homes based largely on a study showing that only 5 percent of renters ended up buying their homes under the previous law.

If youre a renter disappointed that you wont be able to buy the single-family house youre in, you might be interested to know that there are two exceptions - if the tenant is more than 62 or disabled and if they signed a lease before March 31 and moved in by April 15 they are entitled to a modified TOPA.

The law is a little complex, so lets take this example:

John owns a D.C. condo and Gale is his tenant. John has just listed the property for sale with a real estate company for 650,000. Gale does not qualify for the modified TOPA. Prior to July 3, John had to send a single-family TOPA form to his tenant. Now, he only has to send Gale a notice that he
intends to sell. A copy of the form referred to as "Form 1 must also be sent to the D.C. Office of Tenant Advocate as well as to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development DHCD. Since TOPA is not applicable in our example, John is free to sign a contract with anyone and ultimately go to closing. Of course, Gale still has all of the other rights available to tenants here in the District, and still has the right to buy if she submits an offer which is accepted.

But now lets change the facts: Gale is either over 62 or disabled and meets the calendar requirements spelled out above. She receives Form 1. By law, she must advise John within 20 days after receiving the form that she may be eligible for the new TOPA. Gale officially advises John by sending him Form 2 which explains her status. That form is called "Letter to Landlord."

Proving that Gale is over 62 is not difficult. All she needs is a passport, a drivers license or some other document reflecting her age. But proving disability is more difficult. Accordingly, Gale sends another form Form 4 called "Response Letter to DHCD" if claiming elderly or disabled status. To protect the privacy of the tenant, that form only goes to the District, which will determine if Gale qualifies.

If the city certifies her as eligible, John must then send her a form that either tells her he has or does not have a third party sales contract. Once Gale receives either form, she has 20 days to advise John of her interest in buying. She then has 25 days to negotiate a sale contract with John. If that is accomplished, Gale has an additional 45 days to go to settlement. That can be extended to 75 days if a lender indicates it needs a little more time.

The interesting question: Can Gale assign her TOPA rights to a third party? One of the main reasons TOPA was recently amende is that many tenants were assigning TOPA rights for lots of money, much to the disadvantage of the landlord. And often landlords were literally held hostage by tenants demanding money in order to >

Yes, Gale can assign her TOPA rights, but she cannot receive any financial payment for the assignment. The assignee can only give Gale is a 12-month extension of her lease after it expires and at the same rental rate.

Tenants living in houses with only two to four units or in buildings with five or more apartments remain under the old TOPA law.

The new law will clearly make it easier for single-family homeowners as well as owners of condos and co-ops to sell without having to go through a time-consuming process, and will discourage the efforts by tenants to stall the process in order to get more money. Since its inception many years ago, there have been numerous lawsuits in which plaintiffs often tenants were seeking guidance
on the impact of TOPA on a specific set of facts.

Only time will tell if the modified TOPA is judgment proof.

The new forms can be found here.nbsp;


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Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids Messes While Selling Your Home

Hide in Plain Sight

With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniturersquo;s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether itrsquo;s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your homersquo;s cleanliness and open floor space to think about whatrsquo;s inside.

Hide Within Reach

Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategymdash;underbed and attic storage. While the underside of your childrsquo;s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an oversized quilt that conceals whatrsquo;s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kidsrsquo; teepees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot whatrsquo;s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage

Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesnrsquo;t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks--kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some >

Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesnrsquo;t. Sort into ldquo;keep,rdquo; ldquo;donate,rdquo; and ldquo;throw away.rdquo; This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? Yoursquo;ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kidsrsquo; areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little >

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kidsrsquo; messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that theyrsquo;ll want to make their own.

nbsp;

Heather Cordonnier is a writer for Crate and Bar>
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Construction and Permanent Loans Explained

A construction loan is one where funds are issued to build a new home. Some construction loans provide financing to build on someonersquo;s lot they already own while some construction loans provide funds for both the lot and the construction. Construction includes funds for both soft and hard costs. Soft costs are those for things such as permits, zoning and legal compliance while hard costs are for materials and labor, for example.

When someone builds a new home, theyrsquo;ll work with an architect to design the home. Sometimes they can also pick from a builderrsquo;s list of plans and choose a set of blueprints previously completed. The next step is to get a bid from a contractor who will break down the cost to build the home and how long it will take to complete the project. Next, the plans are delivered to the bank who will review the project and if it complies with the bankrsquo;s construction guidelines, the loan is approved.

But the construction loan isnrsquo;t issued in one lump sum. Instead, funds are issued in stages of completion as the home is being built. The first issuance of funds might be to clear and prepare the lot. Once the bank is alerted the lot has been prepared, an inspector will arrive at the property and confirm its completion. Then, the next stage is funded and so on until the home is finally finished. The bank will order out one last inspection to confirm the property is ready for occupancy. Now, the bank wants its money back.

Construction loans are short term in nature, only long enough to finish the project. This is where a permanent loan comes into play. While the home is being built, the buyers also obtain approval from a mortgage company that will issue a traditional mortgage, paying off the construction loan completely. There are a few programs out there that combine both the construction and permanent financing with just one loan, referred to as a ldquo;one time closerdquo; loan or something similar.

Yoursquo;ll want to talk to your mortgage loan officer about permanent financing and the construction process in general and get your various financing options. But with many, getting a construction loan first and then replacing it with a permanent loan is the less expensive path.


Full Story >


HGTV Designer Leanne Ford Simplifies Finding the Perfect White Paint with PPG

ldquo;We all should feel empowered to create a space for ourselves that we love coming home to at the end of the day,rdquo; said Ford. ldquo;Color is such an impactful way to do this, so Irsquo;m thrilled to work with PPG, a leader in paint and color that is headquartered in my hometown of Pittsburgh, to bring the power of paint to life for homeowners. Itrsquo;s really about giving everyone the confidence to use paint and color fearlessly in their homes to create spaces that theyrsquo;re proud of. For me, this all starts with picking the perfect white paint.rdquo;

For Ford, the ldquo;perfect white paintrdquo; palette will be represented in three PPG tones: Pure White, a true white hue, Natural White with a warmer tone, and White On White as a cooler alternative.

Swatches of PPG Pure White, PPG Natural White, PPG White On White

How should homeowners choose the perfect white for their home? Ford simplifies the process by providing some design tips for each hue.

When using Pure White, Ford recommends pairing it with exposed brick, marble, or greenery to give spaces a more modern look, and also suggests Pure White in rooms that seek to enhance natural light.

Natural White is best matched for those homeowners seeking to create a ldquo;cozy retreat,rdquo; as this hue is the warmest of the bunch and is more likely to provide a sense of >

Finally, Ford suggests pairing PPGrsquo;s White On White with wood tones and mixed metals, and recommends using this hue in smaller rooms to make them feel more spacious.

The colors are available in the PPG Timelessreg; and PPG Diamondtrade; paint lines at The Home Depot locations across the U.S.

To read the full press >

Photos courtesy of PPG.


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Study Says Buying a Home is Cheaper Than Renting

"The report demonstrates that the money Canadians are spending on monthly rent, if used instead to finance a home, would be a very beneficial investment over time," says Will Dunning, author of the report. "The costs of owning and renting continue to rise across Canada. However, rents continue to rise over time whereas the largest cost of homeownership - the mortgage payment - typically maintains a fixed amount over a set period of time. The result is that the cost of renting will increase more rapidly than the cost of homeownership."

"Buying a home also has more long-term upside than renting," says Dunning. "Everyone wants to save for their future, but rising costs, including rent, are making that more difficult. The lower life-time costs of homeownership mean that owners have more ability to save for retirement than do renters. The financial benefits of homeownership go beyond equity accumulations."

The report comes as Canadas homeownership rate is dropping for the first time in 45 years. A report by Point2Homesnbsp;found that 11 of 13 provinces saw the share of homeownership drop in the 2016 Census, according to Statistics Canada.

Homeowners still outnumber renters by more than two-to-one. The homeownership rate hit a high of 69 per cent in 2011 but dropped to 67.8 per cent in 2016. The number of renters rose from 31 per cent in 2011 to 32.2 per cent in 2016.

Dunning acknowledges in the report that its not easy for first-time buyers to come up with a down payment, due to rising house prices and government housing policies such as the mortgage stress test. It requires borrowers to qualify for a mortgage at two percentage points higher than the posted mortgage rate.

The study determined that across the dataset of 266 locations and different dwelling types, the total cost of homeownership is an average of 3,052 per month, compared to 2,511 for renting the same property.

"However, the cost of ownership includes a substantial amount of principal repayment 990 in the first month. Since this results in a reduction in the amount of mortgage owing, it is a form of saving," says Dunning. "There is, therefore, a net cost of homeownership that excludes the repayment of the principal. This net cost of 2,062 per month is lower than the cost of renting by 449 per month. On this basis it is, on average across the dataset, currently cheaper to own than rent."

He says that since the homeowner is tying up a lot of capital with the down payment and closing costs, they should consider the rate of return on that investment.

"In this data set there is a negative rate of return -5.2 per cent per year when the total cost of homeownership is calculated," he says. But when calculating rate of return, "the repayment of principal must be taken into account since it is a legitimate component of the return on investment. On this basis, the rate of return at the beginning is an annualized rate of 4.3 per cent."

While some people might consider this "inadequate," Dunning says that since buying a house is a low-risk investment, a high return on investment shouldnt be expected. His calculations did not include any capital appreciation on the home, since there is no guarantee that house values will go up. "In most situations, homeownership is justified financially without any need to expect price appreciation," he says.

Another advantage is that homeownership in Canada has a tax-free rate of return, which other investments do not.

In Dunnings scenarios, if the mortgage interest rate does not change, in 10 years the cost of ownership will be lower than the cost of renting in 263 out of the 266 cases. If the rate rises a full percentage point after five years, owning will still be cheaper than renting in 92 per cent of the cases, and if the rate is up by two per cent after five years, 82 per cent of the homeowners in the scenarios still come out on top.

"Looking even farther ahead, by the time the mortgage is fully repaid in 25 years or less, the cost of owning will be vastly lower than the cost of renting in every one of the 266 cases," says Dunning.

He also looked at data from Statistics Canada to compare the wealth of homeowners versus renters and found that homeowners igrave;are distinctly better off financially compared to tenants who are similar in age and level of income. The difference is not just in terms of their home equity. Owners have more non-housing wealth than tenants. This may reflect that because owners have lower lifetime housing costs than tenants, they have more opportunity to accrue other savings.icirc;

Dunning adds: "In this light, is it any wonder that Canadians remain highly interested in homeownership? Contrary to what might be asserted by some housing bears, home buying is not the result of a cult, a mania or a delusion. It is the result of a reality that, even at much higher house prices, and even with the risk that interest rates may increase substantially, in most situations Canadians, over long periods of time, are still much better off as homeowners than as tenants."


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Chimney Liners: Does Your Home Have One - Do You Even Need One?

Chimney liners are a protective barrier usually made of metal or ceramic. Liners insulate heat moving through the chimney, protecting flammable areas of your homes structure. They also protect flue masonry from cracks or crumbling mortar due to repeated heating and cooling.

Why worry about your chimney liner?

Cracks or damage can lessen the effectiveness of the liner, which make burning anything in your fireplace or wood stove risky. Plus, if your liner is damaged, you may have a hard time passing a home inspection and selling your house until its repaired or replaced.

In the "olden days," chimneys were completely unlined or only lined with clay tiles, which could crack or break >

Do you burn wood in your fireplace regularly? You should definitely have your chimney liner inspected as part of an overall maintenance plan performed at least once a year. Cleaning is a good idea as well: The products of burning wood, called creosote, can build up in your unlined or improperly lined chimney, and may eventually cause a fire. Cleaning and inspection from a chimney professional, sometimes called a chimney sweep,nbsp;averages 298 in the US, according to HomeAdvisors surveys of homeowners.

How do you know if your liner needs to be repaired or replaced?

Because its hard to see into your chimney, you may be uncomfortable determining whether your chimney professional is accurately assessing your needs. There are two options for confirming a diagnosis of damaged chimney liner:

1. See for yourself. From inside the house, open the flue and look up as far as you can. Next, check the chimney from the roof by removing the cap and doing a visual inspection. Any signs of cracks or rough edges can signify an issue and confirm your chimney professionals assessment.

2. Hire a chimney professional with a camera. Most modern chimney companies run a scope with camera down the length of the chimney as part of their inspection. Upon request, theyll likely be willing to record the video and share it with you, detailing the issues they see.

What if you dont have a chimney liner at all?

If your home is older and youve determined that your home only has the stone or brick of the outer chimney, you need to decide whether a liner is necessary. First, check your citys fire code. This may mandate that you install a liner if youre making any changes to or installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace. If you burn wood in your fireplace or in a wood-burning stove, its recommended that you have a stainless-steel liner to prevent overheating your chimney and risking a fire. In some locations, your citys fire code may mandate that you install such a liner if youre making any changes to or installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace.

However, if youre not using your fireplace and your chimney acts solely as a vent for your furnace or water heater, you may not need to have a liner installed. Cracked masonry should be addressed from an energy-savings perspective -- a lot of air could be escaping from your home, depending on where the damage to the chimney is located -- but its not likely to be a fire hazard.

Homeowners with gas or electric inserts most likely do not need a new liner because those types of fuel dont produce enough heat to damage a masonry chimney.

Do you have questions about your chimney and whether it needs a new liner? A chimney professional can answer your questions and schedule an inspection for your home.


nbsp;

Sources:

  • HomeAdvisor: Chimney Maintenance Keeps Your Family Safe
  • Chimney Safety Institute of America: About Chimney Liners
  • Why Do I Need A Stainless Chimney Liner?

Full Story >


quot;Cite and Finequot; Policy is at Work in California

The departmentrsquo;s ldquo;cite and finerdquo; authority is found in California Business and Professions Code sect;10080.9 and Commissionerrsquo;s Regulations 2907.

A 2014 DRE Bulletin explains the workings of ldquo;cite and finerdquo; this way: ldquo;A citation or other formal action will be considered when a violation is found after an investigation, audit, or examination of a licenseersquo;s records by CalBRE [now, DRE] in response to a complaint, through random selection of a licensee for an office visit, or from completion of a routine audit. Depending upon the nature such as the level of seriousness and potential for harm and type of the violation, the appropriate action will be determined.rdquo;

The Department says that ldquo;a citation is likely the appropriate actionrdquo; in cases of ldquo;>

Suppose a citation has been received. ldquo;The citation will identify the violations you committed, provide information on how to pay the fine, describe any corrective action needed if necessary, and explain the process for contesting the citation, if you choose to.rdquo;

Offenders will appreciate the policy that ldquo;information regarding specific citations issued ndash; and any fines paid ndash; will not be posted on the DRE website, nor will such information be attached to onersquo;s individual public licensee website record.rdquo; Still, the information is public and can be obtained through a Public Records Act request.

There is a review process if an accused wants to contest the citation. The first level of review is a Citation Review Conference which is an informal review of the citation conducted by the DRE. If the citation and fines are upheld, the next level would be a formal administrative hearing before an administrative law judge. That can take both time and money. Clearly, it will often seem prudent simply to pay the fine.

Not much has been heard of ldquo;cite and finerdquo; until lately. Ms. Goralik pointed out that in the months from July 2017 until March 2018 most recent figures available, there have been 768 citations issued and 311,550 in fines collected. The money collected, by the way, goes to the Real Estate Recovery Fund ndash; for consumers ndash; not to the Departmentrsquo;s operational budget.

The emphasis of this activity has been on compliance issues with respect to the recently-issued advertising regulations. Real estate ads occur in a perfect venue for the application of ldquo;cite and finerdquo;. A department investigator could stay home in his or her pajamas and compile lists along with evidence of non-compliant ads in the Sunday newspaper. Not to mention all the non-compliant websites and postings of listings.

Some prominent companies and agents have already felt the sting of the increased ldquo;cite and finerdquo; activity. Others can expect to. Itrsquo;s a good time to get compliant.


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How to Stay Safeand Safeguard Your Homein a Flood

Many flood safety tips concentrate on what you can do to prevent one, but the most immediate concern for those who are in the path of rising waters is what to do to remain safe, protect others, and maybe even safeguard their cherished things at that very moment.

The most important tip

The single most important thing to do leading up to any storm in which flooding is a concern is to listen to officials. Heed warnings to evacuate; as we have seen in countless other storms and during the coverage of Hurricane Florence, those who stay behind put themselves, and those who then have to attempt rescues, in danger, and use up resources that are needed elsewhere.

Stock up on food and essential items

Let images of empty bread shelves in the days before a serious storm hits be a warning: The grocery store is going to be ravaged. Be the one to do the ravaging before everyone else gets there so yoursquo;re stocked up should roads be impassible and stores be inaccessible for a period of time.

ldquo;Once therersquo;s a hurricane warning, donrsquo;t wait until the last minute to buy groceries,rdquo; said National Flood Experts. ldquo;Stock up on non-perishables, water, and basic first aid items. Failing to do this will probably ensure that by the time you get to the store, yoursquo;ll be met with empty shelves. While yoursquo;re at it, also buy an external battery pack for your cell phone.rdquo;

Make your home as safe as possible

Hidden dangers in your house could prove disastrous during a flood. ldquo;If a flood is imminent, take the following steps as soon as itrsquo;s safe: Shut off electrical, furnace, gas and water, and disconnect appliances if safe,rdquo; said The Co-Operators. ldquo;Move valuables from the basement to upper floors. Raise large appliances up on wood or cement blocks. If items canrsquo;t be raised, consider anchoring them and protecting them with a floodwall or shield.rdquo;

Get to higher ground

If you happen to be out on the road when flooding occurs, ldquo;get to higher ground,rdquo; said Weather.gov. ldquo;Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, drainage ditches, canyons, washes etc.rdquo;

If yoursquo;re at home, go to a second or third story. In some cases, you may need to go even higher to escape the rising tide. During 2017rsquo;s historic flooding in Houston, officials made it a point to discourage anyone from entering the attic, and climbing onto the roof instead.

ldquo;Officials are advising people to get on the roof of their home to escape extreme flooding inside,rdquo; said WeatherNation. ldquo;Those trying to escape the floodwater in their homes are instructed not to stay in the attic, because you could become trapped.rdquo;

Take your emergency supplies

You donrsquo;t want to get stuck on the roof of your home with no emergency supplies and no way to communicate that yoursquo;re in danger. As you move to higher ground, bring your emergency stash with you, if you can do so safely. And remember: Donrsquo;t risk your life going back for things that can be replaced. According to Esurance, a flood kit should include: ldquo;three days worth of water one gallon of water per person, per day, three days worth of non-perishable food, a hand-crank radio, which also operates as a flashlight and cell phone charger these are manually powered and can be purchased at most electronic stores, a flashlight and extra batteries, and a first-aid kit.rdquo; You can see the rest of the list here.

Tread lightly

Once the waters recede, the danger isnrsquo;t over. In fact, the condition your home is in could be hazardous to your health. ldquo;The initial damage caused by a flood is not the only risk. Standing flood waters can also spread infectious diseases, bring chemical hazards, and cause injuries,rdquo; said the Centers for Disease Control CDC. ldquo;After you return home, if you find that your home was flooded, practice safe cleaning. Remove and throw out drywall and insulation that was contaminated with flood water or sewage. Throw out items that cannot be washed and cleaned with a bleach solution: mattresses, pillows, carpeting, carpet padding, and stuffed toys. Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. Walls, hard-surfaced floors, and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.rdquo;


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5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make

nbsp;

Wrong Price

The first misstep is to price the home wrong. Either too high or too low. Getting the price ldquo;just rightrdquo; means getting the most out of your home while at the same time not pricing it out of the market to the point where very few, if any, potential buyers reach out. If you have some time to sell, you could list your home on the higher side compared to recent sales in your area. If you need to sell quickly, the lower end can help. You should contact a couple of real estate agents and ask for a Comparative Market Analysis.

Flying Solo

Some home owners think they can save a few thousand dollars by selling a home without a real estate agent when in fact it can cost someone thousands of dollars by not using a real estate agent. You simply canrsquo;t provide the reach that a licensed real estate professional can. When a home is placed into the local Multiple Listing Service, the home is then available for potential home buyers all across the country and not just your neighborhood. A deeper buyer pool means more offers.

Show Ready

One thing yoursquo;ll need to keep on top of is the selling condition of your home. This means both inside your home and out. Howrsquo;s the curb appeal? When someone first pulls up to your home are they automatically drawn in? Or maybe the lawn needs some work and the shrubbery is a little ragged. Keep the lawn trimmed and free of clutter. Power wash the sidewalk, driveway and front porch. Inside, you also need to de-cluttter. Open up each room by placing bulky furniture into a storage unit. Take down family photos and portraits. When buyers walk into your home they want to be able to visualize it being theirs, and having an instant reminder that itrsquo;s not by having family photos all around detracts from that.
Inspection Home buyers are advised to have a potential property inspected to discover anything that needs to be fixed, updated or repaired. But you too should hire an inspector to perform a complete run-down from basement to attic looking for anything that needs your attention. The buyers will order an inspection so you want to know what theyrsquo;ll discover before they do with their own.

Getting Anxious

Donrsquo;t get too anxious and donrsquo;t jump at the very first offer. Your sales price will probably be much higher than what you originally paid for it, but take a deep breath when that first offer comes in. Give your agent plenty of time to list your home and hold open houses to gain a wider audience and have some patience. If you accept an offer very early on in the process, you might be costing yourself thousands of dollars and no more offers.


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Seize the Savings: What to Buy in September and October

Yoursquo;ve already done the back-to-school thing, Labor Day is over, and yoursquo;ve got a bit of time before those Black Friday sales kick in. Whatrsquo;s a mega-shopper to do? Donrsquo;t worry. There are plenty of deals to be had right now, if you know what to look for. Wersquo;re breaking down the best things to buy in the second half of September and during all of October.

Outdoor kitchen faves

You might be surprised that you can still find great deals on outdoor living essentials even though Labor Sales have ended and Columbus Day sales have yet to begin. Check out Lowersquo;s and Home Depot for sales on grills and smokers.

Plants and trees

Depending on your climate, fall planting may not be out of the question. Thatrsquo;s good news, since, in September, ldquo;Nurseries are eager to clear out their remaining inventory and fall is an ideal time to plant trees, perennials, and shrubs,rdquo; said Bradrsquo;s Deals. ldquo;And because the retailers are dealing with perishable items, they may be willing to negotiate the price.

Appliances

New appliance models are often >

Gardening tools

Itrsquo;s also a good time to stock up on items for your garden, even if you wonrsquo;t be needing them until next year. ldquo;As the seasons change and the temperatures plunge, all things garden-friendly start to drop in price, from lawn mowers and leaf blowers to hoses,rdquo; said Money Talk News.

Outdoor furniture

In most areas that have some semblance of a winter season, there are great deals to be had on outdoor furniture at this time of year. ldquo;Unless you live someplace like Florida, where it stays warm and sunny all year-round, you probably wonrsquo;t be spending much time on the patio or in the garden for the next few months,rdquo; said SmartAsset. ldquo;October is a great time to scoop up outdoor furniture and accessories.rdquo;

Bicycles

Clear some space in that garage, because your holiday shopping is officially about to start Bicycles tend to go on sale in September because ldquo;retailers wanting the bikes out of their stores to make room for winter sports gear,rdquo; said Bradrsquo;s Deals. ldquo;its an ideal time to grab new bikes for yourself. Itrsquo;s also a great way to get a jump start on some holiday shopping.rdquo;


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Updated: Sunday, October 21, 2018


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