Real Estate News

Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2020

How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt

nbsp;Now Is The Best Time To Pay Off Your Credit Card Bills

Getting out of credit card debt isnt an easy thing to do, especially if you dont have sufficient income to make progress on your debt obligations. Even though its not easy, it is still a feasible goal if you take the right steps and focus on the task at hand As long as you take the time to effectively plan and create a new budget, you cannbsp;get out of debtnbsp;and achieve financial freedom. However, you must understand, your credit card debt was not created overnight and odds are you will not get rid of it overnight either. Most people accumulate credit card debt due to life changing circumstances, like a change in income or increase in monthly expenses. Getting yourself out of debt especially high interest revolving lines of credit will allow you begin life your anew and help you establish a completely new financial future for yourself. Besides this, having less debt on your books will make you happier and less stressed all around.nbsp;

If you are tired of searching for uninformative articles regarding the absolute best way to become debt free, then look no further. This article will give you practical plans that really work

Below are the best strategies that will help you to get out of debt:nbsp;

Analyze How Much Debt You Have:

Before anything else, your very first step should be to accurately assess how much debt you have and create an income and expense report based on your personal finances. If you do not know exactly how much debt you are in, then you cannot properly assess the solution to your financial qualms. You must know the underlying problem before you begin to attempt to solve your financial issues. You can do an income and expense analysis on an excel sheet or an even in a notepad, both will get the job done. After you write everything done, make sure you double check all information pertaining to your finances. Make a list of every creditor and debt account and then jot down your monthly take home pay. Subtracting your monthly income from your monthly debt obligations will provide you with your monthly disposable income. Once that is accomplished, you will know just how much money you have to utilize towards debt repayment each month.

Start with a Change in Your Life>

If you really want to make a life change and aggressively pay down your credit card debt, you will need to change the way you handle your money and with it your life>

Considering Getting Professional Debt Help:

If you find managing your finances on your own a near impossible task you should very well consider debt >debt >nbsp;that can help you get out of debt and save money every month. Make sure to do your research and only go with debt >

Stop Impulsively Using All of Your Card Cards:

One of the practical steps you can take in order to achieve financial freedom is to stop utilizing all of your available credit cards and stop impulsive purchasing decisions. In this regard, if you stick to just one revolving line of credit you can better manage your finances without have to rob Peter to pay Paul every month. This tip is widely accepted by experts as one of the most crucial in helping you to become debt free. Things tend to get very messy when you charge and make purchases using multiple credit cards. Moreover, consider removing your saved credit card information from your computer and phone. If you do not have your credit card information saved on autofill you will be required to work harder in order to make a purchase and will therefore second guess it as being a necessity. Consequently, this will prevent you from getting deeper into debt and finding yourself helpless. This is an extra step that really works in preventing yourself from purchasing any product instantly.

Stop Inquiring About More Loans

If you stop making credit inquires and try to get rid of your debt without borrowing more to pay it off, you will undoubtedly be better off for it in the long run. If you focus on handling the issue on your own, this will not only help you to be debt-free but also stop your debt from increasing. When you keep on creating more debt while you are already repaying debt, it is nearly impossible to make progress on what you already owe. Although sometimes you can consolidate with one loan, qualifying for a decent interest is typically very rare. If need, lessen the temptation of creating more debt by even cutting up or freezing your credit cards.

Try to Increase Your Monthly Payments:

If you are paying off only small amounts of your debt, it would take much more time to completely get out of debt. If it is possible you should always try to be aggressive whenever you can. However, if you cannot afford to do so, the debt snowball method is probably advised, where you pay off smaller balance individually and move to the next. Moreover, by the time you finish repaying your balances with just the minimum payments, you will have already paid double, triple or quadruple of what you initially borrowed. It is fine to pay only the minimums if you are implementing one of the above strategies to pay off your debt, but you must remain prudent with your budget in order to do so.

Save For an Emergency Fund:

An emergency fund may seem out of reach if you are currently struggling to become debt free but once you do manage to pay down some debts it is essential you take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again. A rainy-day fund will allow you to feel more secure about your financial future and once your debt is paid off it is always advised you set one up. However, it is crucial to understand thenbsp;opportunity costnbsp;of your money, it is never advised to leave savings in the bank if you have debt that is currently accruing interest payments. All available funds should go towards paying off your debt and eliminating interest payments altogether.

Pick One Credit Card Account and Give It All Youve Got

It is always advised to do a debt snowball method and knock off each credit card balance one by one, as opposed to slightly paying above the minimums on each of your accounts. With this method you will make more progress on your debt quicker and be able to pay off each account one by one and have less to worry about. Many people increase all of their minimum payments just by a little, but in this way, your payments may only fall by a little amount every month and a large chunk of your payments is being absorbed by interest payments. Tackling each credit card account one by one is advised because psychologically it will also make you feel more accomplished. You will feel >
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Forbearance: Is It Just a Slow Slide Into Foreclosure?

The problem with forbearance is, in most cases, it only provides a short reprieve from paying your mortgageas short as three months, depending on the lender. Under a forbearance agreement, a borrower can pause payments enti>

And, if you dont get caught up on those missed payments at the end of your forbearance period, you could risk losing your home. If youre thinking about entering into a forbearance agreement with your lender, you need to read this.

Forbearance requests skyrocket

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, requests for forbearance are up 1,896. Thats A LOT of people looking for assistance in a trying time. And, a lot of people who could be in real trouble if they enter into a forbearance agreement and are then faced with a deadline to pay upand an inability to do so.nbsp;

The problem is that many lenders are asking for a balloon payment at the end of the forbearance period, which means the total amount of the skipped payments has to be paid or you could be in default. But keep in mind that this balloon payment is not a mandate, according to MarketWatch.nbsp;

Homeowners can and should aim to negotiate the best possible repayment options for them. All those terms are negotiable. Beyond a balloon payment, servicers may offer to extend the term of the mortgage and tack on the missed payments at the end, so a 30-year mortgage would be extended by 4 months if thats how much forbearance a borrower received.

What happens when your forbearance period is over?

Those who are still unable to make their payments, not to mention catch up with the missed payments, at the end of their forbearance period, may be able to negotiate a loan modification with their lender. It remains to be seen how responsive lenders are to the plight of homeowners once it becomes clear just how many of them are struggling/ More than likely, a wave of foreclosures is comingdespite the fact that many lenders have suspended proceedings for the time being.nbsp;

We may see an uptick in foreclosures as a result of dramatic economic impacts, such as more homeowners losing their jobs and falling behind on mortgage payments, said the Dallas Morning News. It will definitely happen, Frank Nothaft, chief economist with Co>

A new report from ATTOM Data Solutions showed that, New Jersey and Florida have the most counties at risk of a rise in foreclosures due to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, said On the other side of the ranking were the least vulnerable counties. Texas led the nation with 10 of the 50 least at-risk counties on the list. The Lone Star State was followed by Wisconsin, with seven of the least risky counties, and Colorado with five.

These findings were based on data that outlined the counties with the most foreclosure filings and underwater mortgagesin the last quarter of 2019, and the percentage of average local wages needed to afford the major expenses associated with owning a median-priced home, such as maintenance, in the first quarter of this year.

How to protect yourself

Even though your mortgage likely represents your largest ongoing financial obligation and the most tempting option when it comes to not paying if youre pressed for cash, your auto finance company, credit card companies, and other creditors may be better bets. If youre having trouble meeting your obligations right now, the most important thing to keep in mind is that help may be therebut only if you ask for it.

Contact your lenders, loan servicers, and other creditors. If youre not able to pay your bills on time check their websites, to see if they have information that can help you, said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB. Credit card companies and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overdrafts, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.

Remember that, Being behind on your payments can have a lasting impact on your credit, they said, but in a desperate situation, it would be understandable if you prioritized staying in your house over paying other bills.

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The Importance Of The HOA's Look And Feel

While most subdivisions have CCamp;Rs Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions which dictate what members can do with their property, when push comes to shove, a lawsuit is the only way to deal with someone that is bound and determined to violate them. Since most neighbors have neither desire or money to sue one another, subdivision CCamp;Rs are pretty much like a lock on a door only keeps your friends out.

Because of inability to control design standards, subdivision property often experiences declining market value as the original design character erodes. In HOAs, though, the board can enact an Architectural Design Policy and a process for reviewing and approving alteration or addition requests. In fact, the board has the duty to set clear design guidelines and be ready, willing and prepared to enforce them. The board is the Defender of Market Values, and like the Marines, must be faithful and prepared to do the dirty work.

In the case of Architectural Design Restrictions, forewarned is forearmed. If guidelines are not clearly defined already in the governing documents, the sooner they are, the better. To keep owners mindful of the issue, its good to have a statement that appears in all newsletters like:

"Good curb appeal and high quality of construction are fundamental to sustaining high market values in our community. The board is entrusted with maintaining design standards that address that very important goal. To that end, all exterior alterations or additions must be preapproved by the board. The Architectural Design Policy is available at the HOA website and explains the approval process as well as approved standards for paint colors, roofing color/type, fences and decks. If your request conforms to approved standards, it will be "fast tracked". If you have a request not covered by standard, it will take up to thirty days depending on the complexity of the installation to complete the review process. Please plan accordingly."

An important part of the Architectural Design process is helping owners to get the job done right. There is a tendency to >

Has past laxness allowed the design ship to meander? Whether your HOA is a single family planned community or a condominium, keeping a sharp eye on exterior design issues is critically important. Its ra>

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Value-Boosting Exterior Updates to Make to Your Home Now

Keep in mind that you might need to purchase the supplies for whatever work youre doing, and delivery times may be longer than you want. If you dont want to step into a big-box store, youll be happy to know that Lowes and Home Depot are both now offering curbside pickup.nbsp;nbsp;

Here are some top tips to get the outside of your home in great shape.

Paint the house

A fresh coat of paint can make a home look brand new, and also give potential buyers a great first impression. If youre planning to list sometime soon, think about the fact that your curb appeal is more important now than ever. In this time of quarantine, buyers definitely arent going to bother moving forward with a tour of the inside if the outside isnt exceptional.

If your whole house doesnt need painting, redoing or updating the trim can give it an updated look and a well-taken-care-of feel.

Clean it up

A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cementnbsp;siding, said houselogic. If you cant spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphateTSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centersdissolved in 1 gallon of water.nbsp;

Power wash the exterior

If even the TSP cant wipe away the years of grime, get your hands on a power washer.nbsp;

According to the National Association of Realtors, you can expect to add 10,000 to 15,000 to the sales price afternbsp;pressure washing exterior siding, said Painters in Philly. This is a significant number when you consider the averagenbsp;cost to pressure wash a housenbsp;runs between 100 and 300.nbsp;

Redo your front door

Maybe it just needs a good scrubbing, or maybe a new color would give the front of your home the pop it needs to stand out. If you do need a whole new door, youll appreciate knowing that front door replacement consistently has one of the highest returns on investment ROI.nbsp;

Check your eaves and downspouts

Cobwebs, wasps nests, and grime may have collected here.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Stain your fence

This is something you can do yourself if youre looking to pass the time, but do yourself a favor and rent or buy a sprayer for a professional look that will save you hoursand save your muscles from days of pain. According to HomeAdvisor, The price of having a professionalnbsp;paint or stain your fencenbsp;averagesnbsp;2,000. Homeowners could pay anywhere betweennbsp;750 to 4,250nbsp;depending on the condition, height and length of the fence. Costs averagenbsp;3 to 17 per linear footnbsp;ornbsp;1 to 2.50 per square foot. The cost of paint or stain, before labor, isnbsp;240 to 600.

Wash your windows

Having a professional come out to wash your windows is the best way to get them sparkling clean, but this is also a job you or your teenagers can tackle. Here are a few tips for getting them looking great: use dishwashing liquid and buy a squeegee. Learn more here.nbsp;

Attend to the landscaping

Anbsp;well-manicured lawn, fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal of any home, said houselogic. Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots. Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crab grass, and mow regularly. If youre selling anytime soon, any work you do now will reap benefits in your homes selling price, usually 100 or more according to the Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of REALTORS.

Have your roof checked

As you get closer to listing your home for sale, youll want to make sure your roof is in good shape. Getting it checked now during this slow time means you wont have to wait in line should there be a rush later on.nbsp;

Get permission

If you live in a neighborhood that has an HOA, be sure to take the proper steps to get any approvals needed for the work youre doing. The last thing you need right now are fines or work stoppages because you didnt go through the proper channels.

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Financial Aid: How To Maintain Healthy Finances When Moving House

Calculate Costs

The cost of moving can be expensive and planning could be the answer. All costs will vary depending on the day you decide to move, as some days are more popular than others and thus more expensive. Shopping around and being flexible on dates will help you to calculate the costs and ensure you can stick within your allocated budget.

If you are considering moving home and have not yet put your existing house on the market, it might benefit you to remember to compare all the costs of potential real estate agent fees; for example, there could be a sale fee or administration fees and evaluations for rented properties. Finding the best deals could help you to prepare for the unavoidable costs of moving home and manage your budgets accordingly.

Plan Ahead

It will be important to contact all of your home suppliers, such as energy companies, to try and minimize the risk of any crossover in which you may be responsible for the bills for two properties. If you fail to give the proper notice, you may incur an unexpected bill from your utility suppliers; with the addition of cancellation fees or set up costs for services like WiFi or TV, you could find yourself in a financial emergency. Moving home is a costly time, and these extras could risk your financial stability. To reduce the risk of this happening, you might consider the following tips:

Notifying energy suppliers as early as possible
Noting the meter reading the day you leave
Providing your new supplier with the reading when as soon as you have access to the property
Check you are getting the best deal with cost comparison services

Each of these steps will need to be followed to ensure that you are getting the best possible price for your energy bill before and after the move.

Cut Costs By Moving Yourself

Handling the move yourself can be the perfect option to save money. This will still not be totally cost-free, as you may need to hire appropriate vehicles, buy packing materials or take time off work to handle the logistics yourself.

It may seem like a cheaper option, but the costs of fuel and man-hours do rack up. Ensure you calculate these costs in any budgets you put together to be as accurate as possible with your finances when moving home.

Use A Personal Finance App

The final way that you can maintain healthy finances when moving to a new house is to use a personal finance app. With a number of these in the app store such as Money Dashboard, Bean and Wally, you can begin to track your spending and maintain a healthy level of finance when moving home. These financial apps are becoming highly popular recently withnbsp;four out of 10 people innbsp;the UK now using mobile banking apps to keep track of their finances. Whether this is paying for the removal company or hiring a storage unit for additional items, these financial apps are designed to help you out by showing your spending in clear graphs and charts.

Moving home is a stressful time simply because there is so much to organize. Ensuring you properly keep on top of your finances could help you to avoid any financial emergencies. It could also help you reduce stress as you know where your money is going


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Should You Buy a Short Sale Property?

One of them is a short sale home. This is a property that is for sale at a price lower than that which the current owner owes the lending institution.

How does a short sale work?

Homeowners who have run into problems paying off their mortgage loans can often take advantage of a short sale. When they get into a situation where they have no alternative but to contemplate a short sale, the houses worth is lower than that of the mortgage balance.

The only other option the homeowner might have is going into foreclosure. Its a win-win situation for the lending institution and the homeowner. The bank avoids having to repossess the house, which is a time-consuming and costly process. The seller can escape without having their credit too seve>

What are the conditions for a short sale?

The factor that precipitates a short sale is a drop in the house price by at least 20. The homeowner no longer has equity in the home. However, they have no choice but to continue paying the mortgage. When they can no longer do so, its time to get help.

Before the homeowner can contemplate a short sale, the lending institution must approve. The bank is likely going to lose money in the process, so it needs to weigh in on the decision. Documentation must be presented that shows a short sale as the best option for all parties involved.

Should you buy a short sale property?

It sounds like a no-brainer since youre going to get the house at a reduced price. However, the process is lengthy and requires much paperwork. A short sale can take between two and four months to complete.

As the buyer, youll need to have the approval of the owner and the bank. During their negotiations, the bank and the owner set a minimum price for which the property should be sold.

Getting the help you need

As soon as you see a short sale property youre interested in buying, contact the estate agent immediately. The agent will need to do some research on the property to make sure that all the paperwork is in order. The owner has to supply a lot of documentation to support the short sale.

Those with some experience in buying short sale properties suggest that you, as the buyer, make sure that the agent has some experience. Someone whos completing their first short sale might not be the best option for you if you want the transaction to proceed smoothly.

Youll need to make an offer on the property, much like you would at an auction. It is possible that another buyer could outbid you. Your estate agent might approach you to up your bid. You can do so if you have the finances and feel that you have a genuine interest in the property.

As much as a short sale property might seem like a bargain, weigh up the pros and cons carefully. Often, homeowners who have been struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments have not kept up with home maintenance either.

You might need to spend a lot of money on house repairs, wiping out any savings you might otherwise have made. It will also take a lot of time to complete the transaction, so it wont be an option if youre looking to move immediately.

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Four Ways to Raise Credit Scores by This Fall

Most conventional loans on the other hand, those underwritten to standards set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, ask for a minimum score of 620. If youre just starting out to establish your credit history or have a credit history but has a few blemishes on it, its possible your existing scores are too low at the present time for a loan youre looking for. But there are some things you can do right away to nudge those scores back up. Even for someone with a score near 700, these tips can help as well.

One, and this certainly makes sense, is to make your payments on time to existing creditors. While thats all too obvious theres a difference between making a payment on or before the due date compared to making the payment more than 30 days past the due date. Lets say an account has a due date on the 5th but you dont get paid until the 15th. If you pay it on the 15th it wont be counted as late as it >

Second, keep balances around one-third of credit lines. Many might at first think that carrying a zero balance is better for scores than actually having a balance due. Thats not the case. Scores can improve with a balance along with making timely payments. But if theres no balance, there are no payments being made. Timely payments account for 35 of the total score while proper balances make up 30. You can tell right away that concentrating on these two alone will have the greatest impact and sooner rather than later. For those with sterling credit, this category will carry the biggest punch.

Third, pay close attention to how many credit accounts you have. When first starting out with credit accounts, there will be credit inquiries made by the creditors youre applying with. Most mortgage programs ask there be at least three credit accounts appearing on a credit report. Once youve reached these numbers, sit tight. Dont apply for additional credit, at least not right away. A few initial inquiries for credit wont hurt your scores but multiple requests over an extended period of time will.

Next, and this is for those with damaged credit, seek out a secured credit card. There are credit card companies that cater to those with bad credit. Getting approved for one of these cards allows you to start rebuilding credit by paying on time and keeping balances in check. A secured card is one where the applicant submits a fee to the issuer as a security deposit. For example, a secured card with a 500 limit might ask for aa security deposit of 500. Over time, the credit limit can increase with timely payments. The accounts report to credit bureaus just like other accounts do. With timely payments, your scores will begin to rise to levels that work for most mortgage programs.

Make timely payments, keep balances around one-third of credit lines, keep credit inquiries to a minimum and for those needing to rebuild scores, seek out a secured card. Sometimes people who have poor credit dont know where or how to start rebuilding. These four tips will jump start that process.

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April Real Estate Roundup

Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that "Mortgage rates have stabilized over the last few weeks as the market searches for direction in the fog of economic data. While financial markets initially rallied on the news of Federal Reserve support and are improving due to the Senates passage of a new small business stimulus, we continue to see a deep economic contraction amidst uncertainty about the recovery formation."

30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 3.33 percent with an average 0.7 points for the week ending April 23, 2020, down from last month when it averaged 3.5 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.20 percent.

15-year FRM this week averaged 2.86 percent with an average 0.7 points, down from last month when it also averaged 2.92 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.64 percent.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.28 percent this week with an average 0.3 points, down from last month when it averaged 3.34 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.77 percent.

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6 Best Tutorials to Make DIY Upgrades to Your Home During the Quarantine

Turn that time into action by tackling some of those home improvement projects youve been thinking about. You might not have expert-level renovation skills now, but youd be amazed at what you can learn from the comfort of your couch. Weve rounded up some great tutorials to help turn you into a DIY master.nbsp;

Install a Ring Doorbell

Its a good time to focus on tech and security for your home. If youre afraid of launching into this type of project, you dont need to be. Installing a Ring doorbell is a >

Lay down luxury vinyl tile

Luxury vinyl >

Make a concrete countertopin less than an hour

If youve watched Fixer Upper and, like us, drooled at the custom concrete countertops Chip and Joanna love to put in clients homes, youre not alone. But this is typically a tricky and time-consuming project. This tutorial can show you how to create a concrete countertop in less than an hour. It might not be gourmet kitchen-worthy, but it could be the answer to your outdoor kitchen needs There have already been more than 3.6 million views of this video

Glam up your patio

Can you create your own herringbone paver patio? Be bet you can with this tutorial

Remove your popcorn ceiling

If you have an older home, youve probably looked up and sighed at your popcorn ceiling. This is a great time to get rid of that eyesore, and its easier than you think, with this Home Depot tutorial. Bonus: all that reaching and scraping will give your arms and shoulders a good workout Be sure to check for asbestos first using a kit you can also buy from a home improvement store.nbsp;

Build your own deck

There have been more than 6.5 million views of this tutorial that can teach you how to build your own 8x10 deck. And, its specifically for beginners, so the directions are easy to understand and follow.nbsp;

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Ask The HOA Expert: Policies To Exclude Certain Categories Of Dogs

Answer: The board has the authority to make rules but should not do so without feedback from the members. This is especially true of pet issues which are among the most sensitive HOA topics. However, the board does have a responsibility to establish reasonable rules to protect the residents while in the common area from dangerous animals.

While rottweilers and pit bulls have a potential for aggressive behavior, there are other breeds and breed mixes that have the same potential. So, policies targeting dangerous pets need to focus on behavior, not breed. Here is an excerpt from a pet policy designed to address this issue:

A dog shall be deemed "dangerous" if when unprovoked:

1. Demonstrates aggressive behavior toward a person in the common area that requires defensive action to prevent bodily injury; or

2. Bites a person in the common area; or

3. Kills or causes serious injury to another domestic animal in the common area.

For more about this topic, go to

Question: Is there a survey form or checklist we could distribute to the members to evaluate the effectiveness of our professional management company?

Answer: The problem with such a form or checklist is that HOA managers do many things that the members have little involvement in or knowledge about. When a member does express an opinion on management, its often a negative one based on a particular incident in which they were personally involved such as rule enforcement or money collection. Because of this, polling the membership isnt of much value. However, the board should have a mechanism for evaluating management performance since the directors presumably know what the manager is hired to do if not, reread the management agreement. There is a Manager Screening Checklist in the Manager Issues section of which can be used to develop a scorecard.

Question: While I understand that the board should deal only with a unit owner when a tenant breaks the HOA rules, wouldnt it make sense to provide the tenant a copy of the correspondence with the unit owner?

Answer: The homeowner association only has direct authority to enforce rules, fines and penalties on unit owners so that is where notices of tenant rule violations should be directed. However, it makes good sense to copy both the tenant and the rental manager if someone other than the unit owner on the correspondence. That way, all are informed of the issue simultaneously and quicker resolution is more likely.

Question: Our board gives permission to unit owners from time to time to extend their decks into the common area or to fence in a section behind their unit. Is this kosher?

Answer: No, the board should not be doing this since it gives a particular owner exclusive use of common area which belongs to all members. Only the members have this kind of authority and it can only be accomplished by amending the governing documents. Approving this kind of amendment may require a significant percentage of the members to pass and should never be done without consulting with an attorney that is knowledgeable about both your applicable state laws and your governing documents.

Question: Our annual meeting is coming up soon. Is it appropriate for the management company to count the ballots in a board election?

Answer: The management company should steer clear of counting votes since there is a conflict of interest. Instead, the board should appoint an Election Committee of two or more members who are not running for office to tally the votes. The votes and the tally sheet should be kept on file until the next election.

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Is It Time to Buy a Bidet?

If youve been grocery shopping or have tried to order goods since the quarantine began, you know that TP is todays hot commodity. When youre down to your last roll and you manage to find a package of Charmin in the store, it feels like youve won the lottery. Despite this, weve been assured over and over that there is no REAL toilet paper shortage.nbsp;

But it all begs the question: Is it time for Americans to embrace the idea of the bidet?

The toilet paper shortage is a myth, but its as good a time as ever to reduce your TP usage, said GQ.

What is a bidet?

In brief, a bidet is a fixture equipped with anbsp;water stream meant for post-toilet personal hygiene, said The Spruce. Its a common sight in bathroomsnbsp;throughout Europe and Asia. Innbsp;Japan, where bathing is a revered ritual,nbsp;nearly every home boasts a toilet with a built-in bidet, anbsp;modern hybrid thats become a must-have amenitynbsp;in manynbsp;luxury hotel bathrooms.

How much do they cost?

The price for a bidet can be a little or a lot, depending on which features you want.

If youre on more of a Toyota budget, you can start with cheaper options that cost around 200, said POPSUGAR. If you really want to spring for your throne, you could pay up to 1,000 for a bidet that will have extra features such as an automatic lid that opens and closes with the touch of a button, an LED nightlight, stainless steel nozzles that look prettier than plastic ones, and a heated seat.

Of course, thats for a self-contained bidet, which would have to be installed as a separate unit. Another, quicker, more economical, and increasingly popular option is to add a bidet attachment to your existing toilet.nbsp;

For a long time, a bidet was something only encountered in fancy hotel bathrooms or Japan, said GQ. But at its most basic, its just a little hose inside your toilet that shoots water up right where you need it. In recent years, tons of companies have started bringing bidet attachments, which can easily be installed onto an existing toilet without the help of a professional plumber, to the United States.nbsp;

The unfortunately named Tushy is one of them, and the company has seen sales increase tenfold since word began to spread about toilet paper shortages. This bidet attachment can be installed in minutes using only a screwdriver.nbsp;

If you cant get your handsor your tushon this one, there are several other bidet attachments to consider. Or, you can get:

A toilet with an integrated bidet, like Totos compact Washletnbsp;G500, which comes with a built-in deodorizer, sensor-activated lid opener, andnbsp;hands-free automatic flusher, said The Spruce.
A bidet seat, whichnbsp;instantly converts your toilet into a high-tech throne. With electronic models, the touch of a button extendsnbsp;a small nozzle beneath you that sprays a comfortable stream of warm, aerated water. When youre done, the nozzle automatically cleans itself before retracting back into its sleeve.nbsp;

Why are they so popular around the world?

Because this country doesnt have much of an established history with bidets, the idea of installing one or adding one to an existing toilet may seem odd. But there are so many benefits to making the changebesides the obvious toilet-paper avoidance.

You save moneyOn average, Americans use about 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper a year, according to bioBidet. That costs families real moneyAs GQ notes, American households spend about 120 on this item each year. Thats currently the list price of Tushys top-of-the-line model, thenbsp;Tushy Spa, which allows you to control the temperature of the water it shoots. So theres a legitimate financial case to be made for investing in a bidet attachment. Sure, youre still using toilet paper with a bidet, but me>

Its more environmentally friendlyThat paper and water savings translates to a greener way of life. That 36.5 billion rolls of toilet per year equals 473 billion gallons. 36.8 billion rolls of toilet paper is roughly 15 million trees. Imagine if half of the American population started using bidets, that number would drop significantly. Water wouldnt be wasted, forests would thrive once again. The amount of toilet paper used by people who have bidets is a fraction of the amount that people without bidets use.

Its more hygienic"Think about it: most toilet paper is BLEACHED, which means youre rubbing chlorine amp; chemicals all over your bum, said Girl Who Travels The World. Water is more hygienic than toilet paper and does a more thorough job of cleaning.

Its better for your plumbing and septic systemNo clogging up your system herenbsp;

It can reduce health problemsToilet paper can aggravate constipation or hemorrhoids. And people with limited mobility may struggle on the toilet. A bidet with a built-in blow dryer may seem like a luxury, but may actually be a necessity for some.

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Porters Neck Plantation Homes Lag Wilmington NC Real Estate Market 2020

Porters Neck Plantation Homes Lag with 8 Appreciation

Jay Seville of discusses Porters Neck Plantation. Since 2012 a lot has happened in Wilmington NC. Not only has the "boom" continued without stopping for past 7 years, but many 1000s of new homes have been built including perhaps the granddaddy of them all that is underway: River Lights.nbsp; But 2 of the most prominent and esteemed neighborhoods have always been Porters Neck Planation Homes and Landfall. Both have country clubs and waterfront property along Howe Creek or the ICW -- aka intracoastal waterway.

What is interesting is that demand and market apprecation has really dropped for Porters Neck Planation.nbsp; Its values are up 8 from 2017-2020 per graph below.nbsp; Whereas homes values for Landfall are up 18 and 16 for Wilmington NC respectively.

I desired to go over some market information today for porters neck ranch residences. In porters neck plantion club you have the Fazio golf courses and also landfall you have of the Dye and Jack Nicklaus of golf courses. It deserves nothing that the Porters Neck Country Club--after a number of extreme weather occasions such as Hurricae Florence--has actually declared bankruptcy as of September 2019 although they are open for service.

Just how has the neighborood done this year? Just how have sales been? Exactly how are the rates doing and days on market? Lets assess every one of those. Landfall has always been the rival of Porters Neck yet both neighborhoods are remarkable I do not want to recommend another than the other. Allow me show you a common listing Porters Neck Plantation. This listing here at Futch Creek backs to the marsh area with a wonderful sight from the back side of your home. And also its for sale today for 600,000. Now thats an impressive residence 5 bed rooms fourth bathrooms and also on the backside you have forgive me, this sort of view and wild animals that you can pay attention to as you kick back at night. Simply a wonderful waynbsp;to live.

Lets just go over some of the difficult data for Porters Neck Plantation as well as see what kind of year they are having. Those of you that have actually followed this blog site understand that Wilmington North Carolina realty experienced rather of a boom this year since 2012, and also you have sales up dramatically. I call it a mini-boom; thats exactly what happened in Wilmington. As well as how does that compare to particular neighborhoods so were mosting likely to take a look at that today. Firstly right here let me push this to the middle the page. You have the 28411 zip code. This is the zip code for Porters Neck. And you can see that the upper quartile price bracket has actually gone that much given that January. It is a substantial boost. And then the extremely following rate quartile actually is an entire various range like 350,000 whichs since Porters Neck Plantation along with figure 8 Island have considerably higher-priced buildings. Much of them t back to the intracoastal waterway called the ICW or back to marshes and creeks. My point is that Porters Neck Plantation is component of that higher cost bracket with listings inside the community that can be in the one and 2 million dollar range. The fact that you have the top quartile going up in value Doorpersons Neck Ranch is part of that pattern.

Next lets take a look at the days on market. Returning to August, September, October in the ordinary days on market was 281 days to sell a house. What is that uh 10 uh 9 months. You go to August, September amp; October in which went down 54 to 128 days. So as opposed to 10 months to offer it was only taking 4 months to offer a house. Every one of that occurred within a 15 month block. The market turned an edge here. I tell individuals now do not wait 3 years to acquire a house. If you are considering retiring her buy the home currently, if you can pull it off, purchase a home now in Porters Neck Plantation and rent it out. Frequently the lease completely covers the mortgage or you can even have favorable capital, as well as your tax obligation deduction. On the other hand the value of the residence is going up so you are acquiring equity. Its a fantastic mix for those who are not quite ready to >

Following lets look at the number of residences under contract. I such as to make use of 3 months of data against 3 months of data that way theres not a distortion if one of those homes offers on the intracoastal waterway was 2 million Dollars distorting the normal numbers.

As well as lastly allows look at the inventory for the community. Previously your inventory was hanging around there around 35 months of inventory, and currently its to 14 months of stock. So this is I will certainly call it a boom, not a mini boom, yet a large boom for Porters Neck Plantation homes. One of the factors since I function a lot of individuals from New york city and also New Jersey. Among the reasons individuals are >
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3 Tips For Cleaning Out Your Garage

1. Storage Space

For many, thenbsp;garage turns into a "throw it anywhere" place, and this problem usually occurs due to a lack of storage space. Step one to start the tidying process is to make space. Whether that means adding shelving units to your garage or utilizing color-coded bins, the important part is that everything has a space. Having a storage spot for everything makes organizing less stressful. Next time you will need to store a random object you will know exactly where it goes.nbsp;

2. Organize and Prioritize

After you have cleared space in your garage to store all of your items, the next step is to organize and prioritize. Everything will need its own spot or the system will fail. Carefully go through and organize a section for each the diffent item categories you use. How you organize the categories is enti>

3. Sell, donate, trash

If that previous step leaves you with a mountain of items to offload, it might be time to hold a garage sale. After all, one mans trash can often be another mans treasure. After the garage sale, consider donating whatever items are left, or checking if a local thrift shop may be interested in buying anything from you. Of course, it goes without saying that anything that is broken, too rusty, or simply too old might be best left for the trash.nbsp;

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Can Home Flippers Still Make Money on Their Investment?

Buy on a Budget

Any builder can give you an estimate of what it will cost to make the necessary renovations to a property. But they are only estimating what they can see. Within the budget, you must include the marketing costs, repair expenses, standing costs while you repair it, insurance prices, and selling commissions. On top of that, dont forget to add a buffer for the unseen and unforeseeable, such as discovering mold or bringing wires and pipes up to standard building code.

Buying Without Borrowing

For those investors that can purchase a property without thenbsp;extra pressure that a mortgage paymentnbsp;can bring, success is much easier. Although your hard-money lender may present you with a short-term loan, it can be a costly partnership often more than 10 percent. Investors can also find themselves in a bind when a property tear-out discovers costly needed repairs, and an acquisition and repair loan is required. The extra 30,000 to 100,000 in repairs can easily put the investor into the red.

Buying the Right Property

When you purchase a home that is run down, and you expect to put 3,000 into the renovations with just two weeks turn-around time, it probably wont happen that way. The problem is you never know what the foundation is hiding, what is behind the walls, and if there is hidden water damage.

Buying at the Right Price

One of the long-time experts in the field of real estate,nbsp;Steven Taylor landlordnbsp;was asked, What are the most important factors that need to be assessed when becoming a real estate investor? After a thoughtful pause, he replied, There are several, but I would say access to deals is critical and access to capital of course, but understanding your market and recognizing opportunities are factors that create successful real estate investors.

Buying in a Good Neighborhood

Its no secret thatnbsp;homes in some neighborhoods are highly prizednbsp;and can sell for thousands of dollars over asking price. Sometimes there may even be a bidding war in a selected neighborhood that brings in 25,000 to 50,000 over market price. If you are lucky enough to locate a home in one of those prized neighborhoods, your chances of having a successful flip are high. Knowing the area is safe, schools are excellent, and values are rising can mean the home is a great deal and will be an easy flip.

Buying When You Have a Great Contractor

It may sound trite, but your contractor can make or break your project. Finding a professional that has a crew of his or her own, takes responsibility for crew >

Getting the money you put into the home back out of it quickly is always the main goal of a flipper. Doing so with an eye on quality can give you a reputation that excels. So, do a quality job, get it done quickly, and sell it for a reasonable price. That is the secret to flipping homes and making money in a nutshell.

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The Things That Matter The Most In Your Credit Report

But its really not the fault of these repositories because they only report what is sent to them by merchants and businesses who issue credit. When data is forwarded to them, they include it. Theyre not going to verify data on their own each time someones payment history is sent to them. Theyll review it when a consumer sees a mistake and informs them of the offending line item.nbsp;

For example, someone with a similar name might show up on your report and show some late payments which dont belong to you. Thats the sort of thing to look out for. Youd be surprised about what all is included in your report. The property addresses where youve lived over the years will appear. So will any other names youve gone by. John Smith, J. Smith, John D. Smith, John David Smithyou get the idea.nbsp;

When consumers do view their report, they should look for mistakes, but they also want some assurances whats being put out there is accurate. For those building a strong credit history, its important to make sure these credit agencies are reporting your timely payments.nbsp; Some of the data bits being reported are more important than others. What are they?


Paying on time is the most important factor in your credit report. So too are account balances. Someone who regularly keeps a balance at or near the allowable limit will see their scores fall. On the other hand, keeping a >

A late payment on a credit card youve had for a while wont hit your scores very hard as long as the late payment more than 30 days past the due date is >

When applying for new credit, an inquiry will be entered into your record. An occasional inquiry for new credit wont affect your credit but if there are multiple inquiries for new credit within a specific period, that will harm your credit. Not as much as a late payment or high balance accounts, but an impact, nonetheless. Multiple inquiries will carry more weight when there are other negative marks appearing.

In general, it all goes back to making sure payments arent made more than 30 days past the due date and keeping balances somewhere around one-third of credit lines. These two are the biggies. When a mortgage company reviews a credit report and credit scores, if payment history and balances are kept in check, your credit will be just fine.

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5 Outdoor Projects for a Beautiful and Fun Homecation Space

There are numerous projects that you can do to add some fun and recreation to your yard. The following 5 projects can help you maximize your space, improve your property, and increase your enjoyment of your space with the good weather.

Patio: Affordable and Versatile

When you think about your outdoor living area, your patio should be home base. Patios are one of the most versatile things to add to your yard in terms of enjoyment and use, as well as >

Your patio can be covered or open, have a fire pit or fireplace for gathering around in the evenings, host a grill and table, or be the base for a pool deck. You can even add bigger projects to the patio itself, like a hot tub, pergola, or outdoor kitchen. Basically, adding a patio adds a blank slate to your yard that can give you endless ways to customize it to your needs. Start with leveling and adding some pavers, then add furniture, lights, and a gathering place such as a fire pit or picnic table to start using the area right away.nbsp;

Project cost: Most homeowners spend around 4,000 for a living room-sized patio of 12 x 18 feet made of stamped pavers.

Pool: Perfect for Kids and Hot Climates

If youre planning on staying home all summer, a swimming pool may be a good investment. Pools can be tricky, as a large, inground pool needs a lot of space while an above ground pool doesnt add a lot to your homes value.nbsp;

However, any pool can add a great way to cool off on a hot summers day, and can give you a way to >

Project cost: The cost of building a pool varies greatly depending on the type of pool you choose. Above-ground inflatable pools start at 200, while you would pay around 20,000 for a plunge pool and 29,000 for an endless pool.nbsp;nbsp;

Court: for Sports Lovers

If youre a sports-minded family and you want to use your yard to play regularly, consider adding a sports court to your yard. Many basketball court materials can be used to create a more generic sports court - you can install hoops for a true basketball court, or put up a volleyball net or other game materials to get more use out of the space.nbsp;

Sports courts dont require landscaping or a lot of maintenance, which can be attractive for homeowners that want to use their space, but dont want to spend a lot of time watering, fertilizing, and caring for it in the long term.nbsp;

Project cost: Installing a full-sized basketball court costs around 30,000. For a more affordable option, you can have a half-court over concrete for 15,000.

Deck: for Enjoyment and Increased Home Value

Decks are a great addition to any home. Decks give you a place to >

Think about what things you would do on the deck before building to get the most out of the project. A deck built for entertaining might include a gas fire pit, built in benches, and a bar, while a deck made for the family might include a table, shade, and some built in swings underneath.nbsp;

Project cost: Homeowners usually spend 17,200 to 19,000 for a 16 x 20 composite deck.

Front Porch: for Trendy Curb Appealnbsp;

One of the biggest trends of the last few years has been the farmhouse. The modern farmhouse has commanded great prices at time of resale and has everyone clamoring for one. One of the things that every farmhouse needs and that helps make the >

Project cost: Homeowners spend around 21,440 to build a porch.

Enhance Your Home and Your Enjoyment this Season

These outdoor projects will not only increase your propertys appearance and value, theyll also increase your enjoyment in being at home. Whatever your familys idea of a good time is, its possible to add things to your home that can help you achieve your goals. Consider tackling one of these 5 projects and get more from your homecation.nbsp;

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Should I Sell Now?

This article reaches a sizable online audience, so theres not just one answer to this question. In direct conversation with youone-on-onethis question could be answered with specific reference to your location, property, finances, and desired outcomes, but there would still not only be one answer to this question.

Real estate, by its nature and its tremendous location-driven diversity, makes that question open-ended, with many possible answers:

Each option has many perspectives.
Each property is unique.
The reasons homeowners love, or are ready to leave, their real estate are unique, too.

The greatest challenge can be uncovering and understanding the full range of options open to homeowners, not just during these bizarre times, but in any marketbefore making the decision to sell or not.

The seemingly-simple sell or not question can only be answered after tackling a series of other questions. Even without the pandemic, making the decision to sell your home is complex and usually involves significant emotional elements:

If you had planned to list your property this spring, before you abandon that project, take a fresh look at that decision to sell. Identify your crucial criteria and how they may have changed during the pandemic.
If you are now asking yourself whether you should sell because of the pandemic, the first step is deciding which are the crucial criteria involved in making a good decision to sell now or not to.

Dont just let conflicting thoughts rattle around in your head. Jot down ideas to get your brain going. Identify issues and goals. Mind mapping may be helpful here. Keep track of what you discover.

Whats driving you?

1. The Heart: Why do you want to move from this home right now?

Is the motivation based on location, family changes, finances, work, or other issues important to you and your family? Prioritize these criteria. For instance, do record-low interest rates provide an exciting opportunity to buy your dream home? Has your work shifted permanently online, so where you live is no longer a work->

2. The Head: Why do you consider this the right time to cash in your main financial asset?

Pre-pandemic real estate values made many homeowners feel house rich. The pandemic has created stock market volatility and unexpected financial pressures that have devastated savings, investments, business assets, job security, financial prospects, and lives. Will real estate values in your area remain at, or return to, pre-pandemic levels? This financial pressure or its >

No one knows the future, but a lot of people talk like they do. Be skeptical.

Real estate professionals are excellent resources and are experts at decision making. Real estate markets are local. Locate knowledgeable local professionals who understand the type of real estate you are interested in. Ask them what all your options are since their broad experience has taught them a degree of creativity that will amaze you.

Stick to the original sell decision?

Once youve re-examined your original decision to sell this spring, talk to at least one or two local experienced professionals to add a broader real estate perspective. Ask a lot of questions to understand exactly what has changed or improved in your local real estate market:

Are current buyers intent on significant price declines which may conflict with your selling goals?
How much could selling in this market net you?
Are lenders receptive to mortgage lending in your area? Will deals close?
In uncertain times, planning to close the deal months down the road can be risky. Would it be possible for you to close >

Real estate professionals can help you separate fact from fiction.

Cash-in in the current market?

If you hadnt planned to sell this spring, but now feel you should, whats behind this dramatic change? With so much rumor, unsubstantiated opinion, and fraud out there, take care you dont fall prey to flawed thinking or fraudulent scams that can take your property from you. Real estate decisions are not easily reversed.

Local real estate professionals can bring you up-to-date with whats really going on in your area. They can share analysis of local sales and listings to provide solid information on what you could expect from the sale of your home and how quickly. They can explain the nuts and bolts of safely showing and selling in this altered social-distance market. Theyll also reveal risks that should be considered, including:

What benefits to selling now do you want to cash-in on? Perhaps, you are concerned real estate values will drop and youll lose out on pre-pandemic values. Or, do you see advantages in what you could buy as your next home because of price depression in other markets?
If you havent had time to renovate or modernize the most dated areas of your home, would low listing inventories cause buyers to overlook these failings just so they can now buy a home in their price range?

Real estate professionals can help you separate fact from fiction.

Whats the next step?

Before you get too involved in selling, take time to evaluate what your choices will be once your home is sold and you must move:

Are you intent on taking cash out of the sale to invest or save? Is this the right time to take advantage of these financial strategies? Be cautious of a financial advisor who encourages the sale or mortgaging of your home to make a killing from stock market volatility. Be skeptical. If you lose everything, that advisor would still have made commission on the trades. What will you be left with?
If you intend to rent once you sell, investigate your preferred rental market to be sure you can find what you want at the price you can afford. The pandemic has had devastating impact on many communities with no end in sight.
Investigate the market you intend to buy into. What if inventories are so low that your choices are limited? This scarcity may inflate prices. On the other hand, low interest rates should enhance your purchasing power. Less competition from other buyers may give you a chance at property that might otherwise have been out of reach.

Should you sell now? Your decision should be based on research and thoughtful consideration, not fear. >

More of PJs articles on making successful real estate decisions:

1.nbsp;Selling: Half The Winning Real Estate Strategy
2.nbsp;Five No Regrets Real Estate Buying Strategies to Avoid Missing-Outnbsp;
3.nbsp;When Youre Forced to Move...nbsp;
4.nbsp;Seller Intent: Inertia vs Action
5.nbsp;What You Dont Know About Real Estate Could Cost You

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Are Coronavirus Fears Spurring a New Construction Frenzy?

In the initial four weeks of the national shutdown, sales of newly built homes began falling precipitously, down 85 from normal spring activity by the fourth week, said CNBC. In the past two weeks, however, the numbers have started to climb, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which tracks hundreds of builders nationwide.

Interestingly, that growing demand for new construction is being driven by a wave of rentersleaving their apartments and eyeing new homes, Devyn Bachman, manager of research at JBRC, told them. In her research, Bachman found demand for new construction heavily skewed toward renters, especially young couples with two incomes who feel secure in their employment.

The push for new construction is largely location-motivated; many of these renters who currently live in cramped confines in packed urban areas are, perhaps not surprisingly, seeking more space in the suburbsright in the new construction sweet spot. Theyre also looking homes that are already being built or standing inventory that they can move into quickly.nbsp;nbsp;

Mid-Atlantic Builders, a builder in Maryland and Northern Virginia, just sold three spec homes, with plans to build more for buyers who would rather just walk through a new home and buy it, Stephen Paul, the companys executive vice president, told them.

But vacant homes are not just limited to new construction. Many resale buyers are specifically focusing on homes that are not currently occupied.nbsp;

Vacant homes are still being listed and shown, according to realtor Lyssa Seward, president of the Seward Group at TTR Sothebys International in Washington D.C. and Alexandria, VA. Brittanie DeChino, vice president of the Seward Group, told CITYLAB that, In D.C., the supply of vacant homes for sale could carry the market.

Team Diva Real Estate at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle has gone so far as to limit their listings to vacant homes. Were not listing any homes that someone is living in, said Managing broker Kim V. Colaprete. Ive been very hardcore about if you are living in a home its really not safe for you to do that.

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HOA Appealing Paint

One of the most vexing paint failure issues in HOAs involves new construction. New construction can, and often does, suffer from the consequences of "low bidder syndrome". Painting contractors that specialize in new construction often have extremely low profit margins which encourages cutting corners like:

1. Failure to Prime.

Unpainted trim and siding requires primer so that the finish coat will adhere properly. While many sidings come pre-primed from the factory, wood trim almost always comes without it so needs to be field primed. Since the finish paint looks the same with or without a primer undercoat, this critical step is often skipped.

2. Application Temperature.

50 F is the minimum temperature that latex paint should be applied. Winter temperatures in many locations can fall below way below 50F. Even if this happens only at night and the temperature rises during the day, the surface temperature of siding can take hours to rise above 50 F. If latex is applied to a surface below 50F, it will not bond properly and fail prematu>

3. Using Oil vs. Latex Paint.

Latex paint is recommended for most exterior siding applications because it remains flexible longer and resists solar, wind and temperature degradation better than oil base paint. But when colder application temperature is an issue, many paint contractors will use oil base paint which can be applied at lower temperature. While oil looks as good as latex, it fails much sooner.

4. Effects of Heat, Wind amp; Humidity.

Hot, windy or low humidity conditions force paint to dry too fast. High humidity can cause paint to sag and run.

5. Painting Wet Surfaces.

In wet climates, its common for framing, sheathing, siding and trim to be applied in the rain and be thoroughly saturated with moisture. Applying paint to such wet surfaces creates a barrier that evaporating moisture will eventually cause the paint to fail.

So, as a rule, any new construction to completed in the cold, wet weather is likely to suffer from premature paint failure. What this means to a new homeowner association is that the next repaint should be planned in half the normal time. Since the HOA will usually be paying for the repaint, it is important to prepare proper specifications to correct the problems of the past.

The good news is that paint supply companies will inspect the property and prepare those specifications to ensure their product will perform properly. Many offer a paint contractor inspection surface to ensure that the contractor is following the specifications. Both of these services are free of charge.

If your HOA suffers from poor paint application, consult with painting professionals to correct the sins of the past. Its also wise to pay more for the application contractor so the job can be done correctly.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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Phew! No Lump Sum at the End of Forbearance for Fannie and Freddie Loans

According to a new report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the percentage of ofnbsp;Fannie Maenbsp;andnbsp;Freddie Macnbsp;loans in forbearance has risen to 5.46, while approximately 10 of borrowers whose mortgages are backed by thenbsp;Federal Housing Administrationnbsp;or thenbsp;Department of Veterans Affairsnbsp;are in forbearance, according to HousingWire."

The FHFAs news >

During this national health emergency, no one should be worried about losing their home," Director Mark Calabria said in the statement. No lump sum is required at the end of a borrowers forbearance plan for Enterprise-backed mortgages. The FHFA also noted that, while the announcement only applies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, they encourage all mortgage lenders to adopt a similar approach."nbsp;

The FHFA rolled out three potential alternatives to pay back missed payments for mortgages in forbearance:

A repayment plan
A loan modification that moves the delayed payments to the end of the mortgage
A loan modification that lowers the mortgage paymentnbsp;

For those borrowers who opt for forbearance, their mortgage servicer will contact them about 30-days before the end of the forbearance plan to see if the temporary hardship has been resolved and discuss a variety of repayment options, they said. If the hardship has not been resolved, the forbearance plan can be extended. If the hardship has been resolved, the servicer will work with the borrower on an alternative solution.

The latest information from the Fed outlines their post-forbearance repayment guidance. Information about lump sum payments was recently added to their Qamp;A to answer pressing questions about regarding FHA loans.

A lump sum repayment for the total missed payments is not required immediately at the end of the COVID-19 Forbearance period, they said. However, your lender will then evaluate you to see what loss mitigation options may be available. If you are an owner-occupant borrower who indicates they have the ability to resume making on-time mortgage payments, and were current or less than 30 Days past due as of March 1, 2020, you may be eligible for a COVID19 Standalone Partial Claim. A partial claim is a no interest, junior loan secured by your property. No payments are due on the COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim until the payoff, maturity or acceleration of your insured mortgage, including for the sale of your Property or a refinancing, or the termination of FHA insurance on your mortgage. If you are not eligible for the COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim, your servicer will evaluate you with FHAs other loss mitigation tools to help you repay the balance owed over time.nbsp;


A homeowner with an FHA-insured mortgage who receives a COVID-19 National Emergency Forbearance is responsible for repaying the suspended mortgage payments or the balance of reduced mortgage payments, they continued. Your mortgage servicer can help you determine your options for eventually repaying any suspended mortgage payments or the balance due as a result of reduced mortgage payments. Your servicer will not charge you late fees and penalties while you are on a COVID-19 National Emergency Forbearance plan.nbsp;

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Credit and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Government safeguarding credit?

There have already been steps taken to safeguard credit for those who enter into a forbearance program. Typically, Payments that are skipped or only partially paid during a mortgage forbearance period technically violate the original terms of your mortgage loan agreement, so even though your lender agrees to the forbearance plan, they may report your payments as delinquent to the national credit bureaus, said Experian. However, the Coronavirus Aid, >

Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren D-MA and Brian Schatz D-HI are attempting to take this safeguard even further, asking for protection to Americans credit outside of mortgages. They sent a letter to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, inquiring about the actions they are taking to make sure Americans credit isnt damaged permanently if they have trouble paying their bills on time during the crisis, said Yahoo Money.

They wrote: If American families and consumers are piled under a mountain of debt during this pandemic and once it ends, the country will struggle to emerge from a deep recession. This means that when the crisis is over, months of late or missed payments could add up to not just a mountain of debt, but a cratering credit score that takes away the shovel they might use to dig themselves out.

So far, the progress consists of a letter from the trade group representing the three credit bureaus, which read: The companies just received the letter from the Senators and are reviewing it now.nbsp;We share the Senators concerns about how the crisis will impact consumers and we have taken actions to help, including providing increased free access to credit reports.

Francis Creighton, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, added, We have also increased our training of banks and other creditors to help them understand their obligations under the law and to make sure they have tools to help consumers, said Yahoo Money.

Assistance from the credit bureaus this far includes:

Free weekly credit reports for all Americans for the next year to help them protect their financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19, said Experian. The free reports will be available via starting on April 20, 2020.

nbsp;Equifax has eliminated the need for hard credit inquiries when opening phone service, wi>

What to do if youre falling behind

If you are struggling and are at risk of falling behind on bills, you may just want to run from the problem. Facing up to this kind of financial difficulty can be demoralizing. But, the head-in-the-sand approach doesnt typically end well.nbsp;

If there is a silver lining to this pandemic as far as personal finances are concerned, its that creditors seem to be more willing than ever to work with customers.nbsp;

Given the broad and unprecedented nature of this pandemic, financial service providers may update or revise their policies and practices depending on how the situation evolves, said FICO. Its in your best interest to stay informed as you manage your credit health through this coronavirus outbreak.nbsp;Before bill payments are due, you should contact your bank and other creditors as soon as possible to make them aware of your situation. Your lender will likely have procedures in place to work with customers impacted by this unique health emergency.nbsp;In fact, several federal and state regulators have already issued guidance to lenders encouraging financial institutions to work constructively with affected consumers, small business owners and communities.

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Mortgage Rates: Prudence vs. Patience

Loan officers, good ones, might close 20-30-40 loans per month, some even more. Theres literally not enough time for a loan officer to inform each and every applicant about rates on a daily basis. Even if the loan officer could, there are so many variables when quoting rates from credit scores to loan amounts to equity to occupancyits a Herculean task. Again, the timing for a rate lock is up to you. Should you lock in now while you know exactly where rates are or should you exercise a little patience and wait to see where rates will move over the next few days or weeks?

That timetable of course must adhere to your sales contract. You dont really have much of an option when buying a home as you must close on the specified date. Lenders need some time to prepare closing papers as well as get your final numbers in front of you three days before you sign. Refinancing on the other hand provides a little more flexibility. If youre refinancing because of a balloon note coming due, again, time isnt on your side. But if youre wanting to get a lower rate or switch loan terms, the decision is enti>

The prudent decision would be to lock in a rate now if the numbers make sense. Loan officers will tell you that it takes a long time to move downward on the heels of negative economic data or Fed intervention. But it can take just a sneeze by some obscure economic report or offhand comment from a Fed Board Governor to make rates jump. The prudent approach might be something like asking yourself that if you made the decision to lock, you made the wrong one. If rates stay where they are or start moving back up, you decided well. If on the other hand if you locked in your rate and in the future rates continued to move down, you can always consider refinancing. Okay, which of these two would you rather be on the wrong end?

Thats where patience comes into play. But with interest rates, patience really means trying to time the markets. Even the best of economic wizards cant do that. Whats that old saying, Two economists can come up with a different projection using the very same data? Trying to time the markets by being glued to business sites, hoping to glean some tidbit that provides some insight on where rates are headed, the odds are against you.

Prudence or patience? Ill take prudence. But again, the final decision is in your hands.

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DIY Garage Cabinet Ideas

In this post, well discuss a few garage cabinet ideas you can do to make the most of your garage storage and give your garage a facelift.

Some Paint Can Go a Long Way

Paint is a low-cost upgrade that can instantly renew and transform any room. This is a great way to revive a garage on a tight budget. Consider using chalkboard paint and a versatile labeling system. Chalkboard paint is cheap to buy. It can be tinted any color, which allows you to use multiple shades or colors for a custom look or brighten up a dark garage with bright paint.

The Hidden Fold-Down Table

There are many reasons to organize a garage, such as maximizing space. A hidden table can help with this. This type of table can provide a gift-wrapping station, workbench, craft table or gardening bench. You can either build one yourself with some pegboard panels and a shelving unit or buy one at a wholesale store. This is a great way to store supplies and incomplete projects while also having a convenient workspace available whenever you need one.nbsp;

Wall to Wall Cabinets

If you have a crowded or small garage and dont want cabinet doors that swing outwards, sliding doors can come in quite handy. You can use basic closet sliders that will conceal the items in your storage shelves. This is a great way to store tools in your garage. It keeps the area neat and tidy while also giving the garage a modern look.

Upscale Garage Cabinet

If youre working on a tight budget but want your garage to have a more contemporary look, consider a wholesale store. They do have plenty of great cabinets at affordable prices. You can even purchase some of them piece by piece and create your own custom cabinets. This is a great way to improve the look of your garage without spending too much or putting in too much effort.

Trim Work

Who said garage cabinets need to be dull and boring? Add visual interest to your cabinets by parading some pretty trim work around the doors perimeter. Start by measuring the cabinet door to determine how much molding youll need. You can also add a personal touch to your cabinets using a monogram sticker against contrasting background paint.nbsp;

Bottom Line

When your garage is your homes main storage space, you need to incorporate different storage combinations to achieve different kinds of storage needs. Drawers and cabinets are great but dont limit yourself to them. With the DIY garage cabinet ideas mentioned, you can make the most of your garage storage. When it comes to quick organizing tips, try hanging storage for garden tools and bikes. Dont forget to add a rack for your work shoes as well.

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Refinishing Stairs: The Best Types of Paint for Indoor and Outdoor Stairs

Refinishing stairs doesnt have to be a daunting project. Whether you want to give your interior stairs a makeover or just fix the peeling paint on the back deck, theres a perfect paint for the job.

Read on to learn what types of paint are best for freshening up your interior and exterior stairs.nbsp;

The Best Paint for Outdoor Stairs

Outdoor stairs undergo a lot of wear and tear. Not only do they have to stand up to frequent foot traffic, but theyre exposed to all kinds of weather, too.nbsp;

For that reason, youll need to use a highly durable paint. For wood stairs in particular, your best bet is 100 acrylic exterior paint. There are types of acrylic paint specifically for use on porches, floors, and exterior stairs.nbsp;

Youll want to avoid paints with a very glossy finish. Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints can be slippery, especially when wet.

For the safest results, stick to a satin or eggshell finish. These finishes are glossy enough to resist stains and are easily cleaned, but theyre not so glossy as to be a slipping hazard. For extra safety, you can add a non-slip additive to your paint for extra texture andnbsp;slip resistance.nbsp;

The Best Paint for Indoor Stairs

Although indoor stairs are more protected than outdoor stairs, they still need to withstand a lot of use. For that reason, 100 acrylic paint is also a good choice for indoor stairs.nbsp;

As for the best finishes, satin and eggshell are good choices. Indoor stairs can also benefit from semi-gloss paint, as it is easy to clean and wont be as much of a slipping hazard.nbsp;

If youre planning on painting your indoor stairs in different colors, you might consider different paint finishes, too. For example, you could paint the risers and spindles in a semi-gloss paint and use a lower luster paint for the railings and treads for increased safety.nbsp;nbsp;

Paint Designnbsp;Ideas for Refinishing Stairs

Once youve got the right paint for the job, its time to unleash your creativity. There are many interestingnbsp;ways to paint your stairsnbsp;to turn them from me>

A >

Like the look of a >

Think outside the box in terms of color. You can also usenbsp;creative methodsnbsp;like stencils and wallpaper.nbsp;

Refinishing Stairs for a Fresh, New Look

A fresh coat of paint is a simple way to instantly transform the look of your stairs and brighten the entire area around them. If youre considering refinishing stairs in your home, its important to have all the right paints and tools for the job. That way, youre sure to make your vision a reality.nbsp;

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Why Do Some Loan Programs Allow for Higher Debt Ratios for Higher Income Borrowers?

Debt ratios over time have been used to determine affordability and are crucial pieces of information when evaluating a loan application. If a loan program asks for a front ratio of 28, that means the PITI represents 28 percent of gross monthly income. Over time, collective data indicates that when someone is making a housing payment, the suggested debt ratio implies the borrower can afford the payment and is unlikely to default due to an affordability issue. But there are different debt ratio requirements for different loan types.nbsp;

When someone has a >

Now lets look at someone with a gross monthly income of 3,500 and someone with 12,000. Lenders might review the 3,500 borrower with a program needing a 28 but the ratio for the amount the borrower wants is closer to 38. That might give some lenders pause. After the house payment, very little is left for other things. Especially if the new house payment is much higher than current rent. On the other hand, a lender might give the thumbs up on the higher income borrower. Why? Residual income.

Okay, a lender decides to make an exception with the 28 ratio guideline and approve a loan application pushing 35. The leftover income for the first individual would be somewhere near 1,100 or so. That might at first sound like a lot but 260 per week doesnt last very long. On the other hand, 35 percent of 12,000 is 4,200. The residual income available for everything else beyond the PITI is way much more. 1,500 to 2,000 is fairly realistic. Yes, higher income borrowers will also have higher expenses beyond a mortgage and car payments, but still, the amount left over each month will let a lender breathe a little easier.

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How to Tell If an Apartment Listing Is Too Good to Be True Or a Hidden Gem

So, with these factors in mind, how can you really tell if an apartment is all its cracked up to be?nbsp;

How do you know when youve stumbled across a hidden gem - or when the shades are being pulled over your eyes due to strange social circumstances?nbsp;

Weve got a few tips that will help you unearth the truth about the apartment youre investigating. These tidbits of advice will reveal whether the apartment is truly great or just seems great.nbsp;

Be Diligent about Checking the Neighborhoods Crime Rate

One of the first things you should find out is what the local crime rates are. If your apartment seems to be listed at a too-good-to-be-true price, it could be because the landlord seve>

Pay close attention to crimes that could specifically affect you - including car thefts, break-ins, assaults, etc. You can find all of this information online, and what you discover might reveal just why the apartment is priced too low for its appearance.nbsp;

According to Travis Goodreau, a former burglary detective who now advises for as a Safety and Security Advisor, Apartments tend to be at high risk of break-ins because they often dont have a lot of security, especially in comparison to well-protected homes.

Dont just assume that the apartment is in an okay area just because you looked at it on Google Maps. Diligently research crime rates and break-in reports until you feel confident that its truly safe.nbsp;

Pay Close Attention to Structural Detailsnbsp;

Sometimes, apartments are bought for low prices despite a fancy appearance because the construction is poor. Maybe the construction team cut corners with shoddy workmanship, thin walls, cheap cabinetry, and other structural problems.nbsp;

Perhaps this isnt a big deal to you because you only plan to rent the apartment for a short while. However, if you hope to buy this place and make it your home for a year or more, you might want to pay attention to the structural details listed about the building or complex.nbsp;

Research the HOA and Its Policiesnbsp;

A great apartment can quickly be ruined by an annoying, hard-to-work-with homeowners association.nbsp;

Before you commit to any apartment, read up on the complexs policies and see what people have to say about it. Is it likable? Annoying? Too strict or too loose?nbsp;

An HOA with overly restrictive rules or super-high fees can easily make an affordable apartment less than perfect. Dont just consider how much youll pay for the apartment upfront. Question all of the fees in >

If you repeatedly hear complaints about the HOA, or if you feel like the fees are too high, you might be better off looking for a different apartment listing.nbsp;

Check Out the Development in the Area

What does the surrounding area look like?nbsp;

Does it have lots of plans for the future, or is it pretty stagnant?

If you think the location is up-and-coming, now might be a great opportunity to lock in a low price before things get more expensive. However, there are downsides that come with expansion: more traffic, lots of construction, busy stores.nbsp;

Its up to you to determine if its worth it to lock in a great rate when the area is a work-in-progress. Resources like CrimeReports, FamilyWatchdog, and AreaVibes make this process super easy.nbsp;

Keep in mind that statistics have shown that rent growth has flattened amid the effects of COVID-19. This is a time in which many selling prices levels are leveling off due to uncertainty, so you have more of a chance of snagging a great apartment that would usually be rapidly appreciating in value.nbsp;

Ask Aroundnbsp;

One of the best ways to determine if an apartment listing is too good to be true is to speak to people who live next door or have lived there in the past. Question them about their experience in the area, including the pros and the cons.nbsp;

Chances are, a fellow apartment owner wont sugarcoat things. Theyll give you the facts straight - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Use this information to make a smart buying decision.nbsp;

In Closingnbsp;

No one wants to wind up purchasing a bad egg of an apartment, especially during a pandemic and economic recession when switching homes can be a real challenge.nbsp;

Take your time as you examine apartment listings. Do quality research to see if theyre as good as they seem, and when you find a diamond in the rough, make sure you feel 100 percent confident in your decision.nbsp;

Rileynbsp;is a life>
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Ideas for designing a modern luxury dining room

Any dining space design decision is vital for your home. The dining area is possibly the most significant meeting point. It will be the location for several memorable moments such as meaningful chats with your loved ones. If your dining area reflects your interests and you really enjoy it, youre going to want to be there for dinner or simply sharing time with your loved ones.

Thus, the dining area has to be a cozy place to have a fantastic dinner and also to talk with our loved ones members and guests; however what exactly are the following components to be organized?

To start with, you must be more cautious about where you stand. How do you really feel about interior design? Are you a traditional enthusiast? Or you only need to combine a small amount of all? It is highly recommendable to collect some pictures of the type of spaces or space that you dig in.

Secondly: It is important to get appropriate furniture in the dining area, but it is equally important whether you and your loved ones can walk smoothly through this area. To assess the dimensions of the space lets you receive the most of it. Remember that space will be complete with individuals and that the>

Now that weve got a clearer idea of what were fond of, let us take a look at the critical elements we constantly will need to watch, when it has to do with a dining space, taking information from individuals like Interior design and Elle Decor.


There are a few traditional moves in the color that we have to always understand. Balance is the perfect word. Powerful, bold choices have to be dealt with caution. Generally, no color needs to overwhelm the dining space, and the vivid notes must be found in certain bits, like a set of seats, or even a sidewall.

Which components do you desire in a dining area? It is time to play with and have fun. Furnish your dining area believing from the individual element as the main element, but surround them with a gorgeous, elegant picture.

From the timeless, elegant dining area we find the criteria elements connected with >

Keep inside formal and refined, but in a more >

Let us go Modern:

Mid Century Modern >

A few candlesticks, several parts of contemporary art hanging on the walls along with a halogen pair of lamps, bring some formality to the total collection, without being overly inflexible. In the long run, its freshness and beauty encourage us to sit and talk, even after supper. In cases like this, the preeminence of white colors is balanced with golden brushstrokes, from the lamps and chairs.

Contemporary inspiration:

Let us take a peek at how strong and regal a contemporary >


A huge portion of the activity at a dining area occurs in the evenings, of course. So the ideal blend of natural and artificial light is vital. If or not a large, majestic chandelier or an ultramodern pair of halogen lamps, artificial lighting would be your 2nd most important focus of this dining collection. Obviously, the natural resources of lighting are crucial also, and their best use is supported. Use it in windows or skylights, and theyll do amazing things in our layout.

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Are You Ready to Divorce Your House After the Quarantine?

All that time together has not necessarily helped some >

But its our >

Its not something a renovation can fix

There are some floorplans that just cant get with the times. Not without a tremendous financial commitment, anyway. If fixing up your home to get it to modern standards or even make it more livable is impossible or unadvised, it may just be time to move on.nbsp;

You have no appetite for a renovation

Perhaps your home is a good candidate for a makeover but you just cant bear to live through it. If youve been stuck in a house you dont love or that no longer works for you, its OK to say goodbye and move on to something that better suits your familys needswithout the guilt.

Youre not crazy about your neighborhood either

You know what they say: location, location, location. Well put up with a lot in our home to be in the right spot, close to work and in a good school district, perhaps. But maybe that spot doesnt work for you anymore. Do schools still matter or are your kids older now? Is your commute no longer an issue? Or maybe the location has taken a turn in a direction you dont love. When youre no longer tied to a specific neighborhood, the possibilities are endless.nbsp;nbsp;

Its just too small

It can be easy to say that well return to normalcy at some point, but no one really knows what that will look like. If the quarantine has made your small space even more uncomfortable, and there isnt an easy/affordable way to add more space, you mnmight want to consider moving along.nbsp;

Its just too big

Have you been noticing that everyone is gravitating to the same few rooms during this time? One thing the quarantine is teaching us is just what we need in terms of space. Maybe that big, expensive house isnt what you needed after all. Time to downsize? Could be.

Its too old

We all love a heritage home. The architecture. The charm. The100-year-old everything. You may have had visions of making some modern edits to the home when you bought it, and you probably also underestimated just how many edits youd have to make or how many things would go wrongor how much it would costalong the way.nbsp;

If the emotional and financial toll of living in a home that is just too much of a project is getting to you, think new construction. Will you get the same character? Likely no. But you will get a house thats brand new in every way and a warranty to boot.

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3 Reasons You Should Buy a Vacation Rental Home Instead of a Home for Yourself

When I was looking to buy my first home, I was of course super excited to pick something out that I loved. To live in my own home and have a proper investment instead of throwing money away each month on rent.

But a funny thing happened. I said no to myself and what I wanted. In a way.

Nashville at that time was blowing up. Tourism was rising and the prices on real estate were rising at an unusually high rate

So, I realized I had a chance to do something different. Did I really want to just buy a home I could live in, or did I want to take advantage of the moment and buy something that would make me money?

So thats why I decided to buy a home that could be a short term rental property. If it didnt go well, and it didnt make money I could just move in

It was one of the best decisions Ive ever made I ended up making a ton of profit on the home and I was able to buy another home just a year later.

Here are 3 reasons you should buy your own vacation rental home

1. Its your chance to make money

Purchasing a home for yourself is the biggest investment you will ever make. So why not make it count? Buying a home for you means a big monthly payment you make with a small amount going to the principal and a large amount going to interest.

It is better than renting, but it doesnt net you a whole lot. Whereas, purchasing a vacation rental property in a booming tourist destination could actually make you money.

So, each month on top of the mortgage payment being covered by other people, meaning you are purchasing that home for free, you also should be making a profit.

Passive income for yourself, that you can use to save up for another home Which leads me to point 2.

2. You can buy second house

If you buy a house for yourself, thats it. Its done and you wont have the loan-to-debt ratio to purchase another one.

BUT, if you first purchase a rental property, in two tax return years you can show income from the property that can be used to get you another loan approval. A regular rental home that isnt AirBnb would require even less tax returns.

If the vacation rental property is bringing in twice the mortgage amount each month, then when you look to get a loan to purchase another home it is almost like that debt doesnt exist.

Because the home is bringing in extra income, it cancels out the debt, leaving you room in your debt-to-income ratio to get approved for another mortgage loan.

But if you had just purchased a home for yourself that wouldnt be an option.

3. It creates a passive income business

The best kind of business you could have for yourself is one that doesnt require a lot of work. One that creates passive income, meaning the income just keeps coming without a lot of activity from younbsp;

As long as you have a good cleaning crew in place and someone to work on maintenance, there isnt a lot of heavy lifting on a vacation rental home once furnish it and get it listed.

So, its the perfect business to create that still allows you to work a full-time job, or run another business

If you dont have enough saved up yet for the down payment, keep saving, I promise it will be worth it

Cara Berkeley is a blogger, investment property owner, and full-time marketing executive. She has learned that thinking outside the box can make all the difference and shares her tips and tricks on smart money management on her blog at; Find new ways to save money, make money and have fun doing it

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Committee Commitments In Your HOA

There are two types of committees, standing and ad hoc. Standing committees exist indefinitely or until the board decides their purpose is no longer needed. Examples include Landscape Committee, Social Committee and Pool Committee. Standing committees have ongoing and often repetitive tasks to accomplish. Ad hoc committees are formed for a specific purpose which, once accomplished, terminates the need for the committee. Examples include the Budget Committee and the Christmas Party Committee.

The beauty of committees is that they can draw on specific member expertise, like a CPA that serves on the Budget Committee or an architect that serves on the Architectural Design Committee. Ad hoc committees do the same thing with the added attraction that the commitment time is limited.

Committees are training ground for future board members. Since committees are called on to participate in board meetings to give reports, participation acquaints committee members with the board process. Proven and effective committee members are candidates groomed for board service.

Whether a committee is standing or ad hoc, both should have a similar framework including:

Purpose. The purpose of a committee is to assist and advise the board in a given area of responsibility.

Structure. A committee should consist of three or more members which may include a board member as a board liaison. The board president typically appoints the committee chairman. The chairman is the spokesperson for that committee.

Committee Authority. Each committee should be provided a clear job description by the board that outlines expectations. A committee must obtain specific authority from the board to deal with any matter outside its job description. A committee cannot make policies or rules. Only the board is granted that authority. A committee may recommend a policy or rule to the board. If the board agrees with the recommendation and formally enacts it, the committee may or may not be given authority by the board to enforce the policy or rule. Enforcement authority is also under the discretion of the board.

Recommendations. A committee should provide recommendations to the board at regularly scheduled board meetings so all directors can participate. Recommendations should be in writing and supported by credible research so that the board can make informed decisions.

Meetings. Committees meet monthly or as appropriate to their assignment. The meetings take place at a time, place and discretion of the committee. A designated person on the committee should take minutes so that the committee has a record of what was accomplished to date or planned for the future. Committee meetings do not need to be announced to or open to the members.

Vendor amp; Contractor Authority. Unless otherwise directed to by the board, committees should not give direction to or request bids from any HOA vendor or contractor. This process is handled through the board or management.

Concerning Property Management. Unless given specific authority by the board, no committee should give direction to or make requests of the management.

Expenditures. Committees are sometimes given a budget which should carefully be accounted for. All committee expenditures that fall outside the committee budget must be authorized by the board. All reimbursement requests should be accompanied by receipts.

Reporting. Committee reports should be prepared and delivered to the board at least one week prior to the board meeting. Committees should prepare their own reports unless the board has approved the management doing so. Each board meeting agenda should provide time for committee reports.

The board is elected to oversee HOA operations, not to do all the work. Committees offer the opportunity to spread the work around and to involve more members in the homeowner association operations. Cultivate committee opportunities when you can and harvest the rewards.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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Easy DIY Projects to up Your Curb Appeal

Bring in seasonal color

Lets be honest. Some of have a green thumb, and some of us dont. But adding a little bit of seasonal color is easy and can lift your spirits every time you look outside.nbsp;

If youre not sure you can pull off the steps needed to plant flowers in the actual yard, think potted. A planter placed near the door can add considerably to your curb appeal and only requires a small dollar commitment.nbsp;

Pull the weeds

Wow, your lawn If youve been in the house for a month or more, you may not have noticed whats going on out there. Grab the fam and head outside. Heed these tips to make it easier to get those weeds out.nbsp;

Depending on how bad the problem is, you may also want to consider a weed killer. Check out some good recommendations here.nbsp;

Add some mulch

Your yard may look nice and tidy but adding some fresh mulch around your trees and in your flowerbeds can take it up a notch. For about 3.50 a bag and a little elbow grease, you can make your front yard look like new.

Put in landscape lights

The right outdoor lights can enhance everything else youve got going on. We love this Hampton Bay eight-light set from Home Depot that offers the option of three light colorswarm white, soft white, or daylight. On any of the 3 light color settings, it consumes over 80 less energy than a typical halogen light and has a rated life of 50,000 hours. The LED system provides maintenance free operation and there are no bulbs to change.

Even better, The quick-install wire connector means easy do-it-yourself installation that is quick and safe.

Repaint your door

This is an easy task you can complete yourself, and one that will give your home a surprisingly potent refresh. Choose an unconventional color like yellow or teal for a splash of funbut be sure to check with your HOA first so you dont get in trouble.nbsp;

Repaint your house numbers

This is more than an aesthetic issue, said If your house is easy to find, help may arrive faster if theres ever an emergency.

Give your mailbox a facelift

Your mailbox probably isnt the type of thing you pay a ton of attention to unless youre focused on whats inside of it. Get some inspiration for your mailbox makeover here.

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Tele-Maintenance: The Newest Thing in Virtual Service

Using our free tele-maintenance service, you can talk directly with a Home Pro whenever you have questions or issues around your home, said Hippo. We can help. Schedule anbsp;complimentarynbsp;virtual house call with a Hippo Home Care Pro who can help you with home maintenance by phone or video.

The company has completely shifted to a virtual model for the time being as a service to customers who might not be comfortable having strangers in their house during the pandemic. Customers can schedule a Virtual House Call to troubleshoot specific issues and also use the tele-maintenance service for a complimentary guided Hippo Home Care Home Checkup. Think of it like getting a car tune-up or a physical, only this one is for your house, they said.nbsp;

The free service is available to anyone in the U.S. who needs help with home repair or maintenance. Homeowners can visit the companys website to schedule a time to talk to a certified professional. During the appointment, Hippos Home Pros can walk you through resolving issues yourself or recommend getting professional help. Calls are set in 30-minute increments, but, should the problem not be fixed, the call may be extended, or Hippo can arrange an in-home service from a local provider, if needed. Customers should be prepared with a general set of tools; screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, adjustable wrenches, and a cordless drill can typically do the trick.

The service was originally rolled out to a select group of customers, but the company expanded it once they gauged the need. You can visit Hippo to make an appointment.

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How to Properly Care for Your New Marvelous Marble Kitchen Countertops

Use Protective Devices on the Marble Countertops

Prevent scratches on the marble countertops by using protective devices for your small appliances, food canisters and pans. You can find washable platforms for the countertops, or alternatively, you can use absorbent kitchen towels or drying mats on the surfaces. By doing this, you can avoid having etching marks on the attractive marble countertop surfaces in your homes kitchen.

Buy the Proper Cleaning Products

Dont use abrasive cleaning products on the marble countertops in your homes kitchen because the substances will degrade the natural stone. Mix a mild dish detergent with warm water to sanitize the marble countertops. Experts recommend using a soft cloth or sponge rather than washing the countertop with a rough towel. In addition, rub gently on the marble countertops to avoid damaging the items.

Prevent Damage during Upgrades

During a kitchen remodeling process, you will want to protect the marble countertops from any damage. The technicians shouldnt place their tools on top of the marble countertops, and it is also essential to protect the sides or edges of the material. Cushioning the countertops with layers of paper, fabric and plastic is essential to avoid any damage to the marble surfaces.

Cornstarch for Absorbing Spilled Debris

If you spill beverage or food debris on the marble countertops, then you should sprinkle cornstarch on the substances to absorb it. This can prevent a larger stain on the countertop, but you must work quickly. For a deeper stain, you can create a paste of baking soda and water to place on the stain before rubbing it away softly.

Application of Sealants on Marble Countertops

You can buy sealant products that will protect the marble countertops, but you will need to reapply this substance at least once a year. The application of liquid sealants is a difficult process, so you may want to hire an expert for this job.

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How Do I Choose the Right Property?

1. Make a List of Your Needs and Wants

Before you start your search, make a list of everything you need in a property. This should include your maximum budget for a home, the number of bedrooms it must have, and the size of the yard. If there are other details that matter, like a pool or a fenced-in yard, include those on your list.

Then, make a list of your wants. Although you would settle for three bedrooms, you may prefer four. On this list, include everything thats not a necessity but would be icing on the cake.

2. Pinpoint Your Ideal Location

Youve heard it before - location matters. As you begin your search for homes, consider which areas you would like to move to. Is the location dependent on the commute time? Do you want to be in a certain school district?

While its great to pinpoint a few neighborhoods, you should also keep an open mind. There may be other areas of which you are unfamiliar. A real estate agent could help you find the best location for your life>

3. Ask Questions

As you search for a home, youll probably go to many showings. When you arrive at a new property, come prepared. Have a list of questions you want to ask the real estate agent. While the listing should give you some information, not everything will be included in the property description.

Some important questions to ask include:

When was the roof installed or redone?
Is the HVAC system new?
Is everything up to code?

While walking around the property, have an eye for detail. If anything looks unfinished or in disrepair, make a note of it. Although it might not be significant enough to keep you from buying the home, it could be enough for you to request a lower price. Keep a list of all of your concerns. After the showing, express your concerns to your realtor.

4. Be Open-Minded

Your dream home could be hiding under your nose. But to find it, you need to be open-minded. For instance, you might see a picture of a home that doesnt visually appeal to you.

After reading the description, you could find that it meets all of your desires. If you choose to buy the home, you could make a few changes to the home to make it more your >

5. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent

Unless you are a real estate professional, you probably dont have the resources and tools needed to find the right property. Looking online will only get you so far. A real estate broker has insider knowledge of the local market. They know where to look for the latest listings and can help you pinpoint the ideal neighborhood.

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How Lenders View Installment vs. Revolving Debt

The mortgage payment used for this calculation includes not just the principal and interest payment to the lender but also a monthly amount for property taxes, homeowners insurance and mortgage insurance when needed. This monthly total is compared to gross monthly income to arrive at the front or housing ratio. In addition, other monthly credit obligations are added to that amount to arrive at the back or total ratio. Yet some types of credit payments are viewed differently.

Payments such as credit card debt, student loans and car loans and others either fall into the installment category or revolving. When calculating the back ratio, both can be treated differently. Installment debt is like an auto loan. Installment debt means monthly payments are fixed over a predetermined period of time. For instance, an auto loan might be 500 over 60 months. Thats easy enough to figure when calculating debt ratios. Further, when there are less than 10 months remaining, lenders ignore the payment knowing it will soon vanish.

Revolving debt can be a credit card or a line of credit. Revolving debt considers the interest rate on the loan and the outstanding balance. If theres a credit card payment listed on a credit report, there will be a minimum payment amount. Borrowers can pay that minimum payment, a little more or pay off the balance altogether. The minimum monthly payment will vary based upon the current loan balance when the credit report was pulled. The monthly payments will then rise and fall over time. Lenders will use the minimum monthly payment that appears on a credit report.

Are these debt ratios firm? For most mortgage programs, theyre essentially guidelines, not hard and fast rules. When a lender runs an application through an automated underwriting system for a selected loan, ratios are reviewed as part of the approval process. If a loan program requires debt ratios not exceed 50, an approval wont be issued. A 50 debt ratio means monthly payments add up to half of the applicants gross monthly income. Higher allowable debt ratios are the product of other positive aspects in the loan file such as higher credit scores or a larger down payment.

Finally, we should take a quick look at lease payments. Again, lets look at a car payment. Instead of an outright purchase, the consumer opts for a lease. When leasing, the borrower doesnt own the car, but makes regular monthly payments to the lender for a specified period of time. These payments are typically fixed, like an installment loan, but at the end of the lease period the car is returned. An auto lease might be for 48 months, for example. But unlike an installment loan when there are 10 months remaining, lenders still count this debt knowing the borrower will have to either purchase the car outright or return the vehicle and buy or lease another one.

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Exciting News: New Quarantine Content Coming To HGTV!

HGTV is about to launch a new show inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. With a stay-at-home state of mind redefining our lives at this moment in history, HGTV is bringing design home literallynbsp;nbsp;in a groundbreaking self-shot TV series, Design at Your Door, said the network. Casting starts now.

The crux of the show is this: Homeowners will present their home improvement needs, and HGTV designers will address them. Just like so many current shows. But this one has a twist.nbsp;

Working completely remotely, our design pros will guide participants on how to make a huge improvement in one room, in just a few days with some satisfying surprises along the way, they said.

Said Jane Latman, president of HGTV: Were all looking for ways to stay happy and connected, and a series like this feels right, right now. Were spending a lot of time at home and all around us are those to-dos that we can no longer ignore. The great news is that if you want help, HGTV is ready with the trusted experts who can guide you from start to finish. Through technology, you can invite them into your home, show them your challenge, and we will send the solution to your front door.

How it works

The network is looking to cast individuals who are comfortable with working remotely and are tech-savvy, as they will have to communicate via video chats with the HGTV expert, said House Beautiful. This person must be willing to share their journey on video, too. HGTV will provide the homeowner with a device to record as well as a surprise package of personalized design elements to help them on their journey. Lastly, this person has to be motivated, as they will only have a few days to tackle this project.

Possible projects could include everything from overhauling a boring kids bedroom to transforming an unused screened porch into a functional homework space, according to The Futon Critic. Throughout the season, eager homeowners will follow the experts advice to make over their spaces one step at a time. The families include a firefighter, an ER nurse, a cafeteria worker and several parents who are simultaneously remote working and homeschooling their children. Now the families must navigate the added challenges of spouses working together on home projects, kids acting as camera operators and pets vying for attention.

Participating designers include:

David Bromstad My Lottery Dream Home and the first Deign Star winner
Tiffany Brooks HGTV Smart Home 2020
Tamara Day Bargain Mansions
Dave and Jenny Marrs Fixer to Fabulous
Alison Victoria Windy City Rehab
Grace Mitchell One of a Kind
Orlando Soria Build Me Up

In addition, Maureen McCormick and Eve Plumb from The Brady Bunch and A Very Brady Renovation will participate.nbsp;

How to get on the show

Sound like something youd like to be a part of? If youve got a room in your home that just isnt working for your family and needs a little love, we want to hear about it, they said. Interested homeowners can send an email with their story and photos of the room they wish to transform tonbsp;nbsp;or visitnbsp;;for more info.

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Confident Decisions in Uncertain Times

Home buyers intent on purchasing real estate now can benefit from three significant advantages:

1. Less Competition: The pandemic continues to keep people home and job loss is at record highs. For these and other reasons, the 2020 spring real estate market is not the mass buying frenzy of past years. Home sales are down significantly in most markets.
2. Low Interest Rates: Interest rates are at historic lows which means buyer purchasing power is strong. Mortgage pre-approval will assure each buyerand the respective sellerof exactly how much the buyer has to spend.
3. Homebuyer Education Courses: Established to prevent a repetition of the 2008-9 housing disaster, most courses are available online. The wide range of topics is designed to help buyers achieve short- and long-term real estate goals and plans.

Our key question remains: Is now the right time?

Whether you must or want to buy now or youre determined to be ready when the time is right, theres less room for error in these uncertain times. The more you learn about the buying process and homeownership in advance, the better prepared youll be to improve your current situation through a real estate purchase.

To avoid second guessing yourself about the decision to buy now, commit, in advance, tonbsp; making a confident decision that you can live with during this economic upheaval and beyond. That does not mean making a quick buying decision nor over-researching your choices. What works here is improving your real estate confidence, so that you understand exactly how to buy and how to protect yourself and your home at the same time.

Make FIVE confident decisions from the start, so you end up with confident decision making you can live with:

1. Set practical expectations


Spending all that money on a property you have only visited for an hour or two is bound to make you nervous. Worry if it doesnt. What you want is confidence that the property meets your criteria and budget and that it is as presented a clause in the offer calling for a home inspection will determine the homes condition.

Let go of searching for a dream home or forever home

Attempting to decide today what youll want or need two, three, or more decades in the future puts undue pressure on you. The pandemic has taught us how unpredictable tomorrow is. Search in the very best location you can afford for what you need now and in the foreseeable future.

2. Plan the work and work the plan

Focus your search instead of trying to view a huge number of homes.

1 Who is the buyer?

Who is or are making decisions?

If youre buying solo, who will act as a sounding board, problem-solver, and property detectivealong with your real estate professionalto help you take a long hard look at each potential home?
Too often couples view properties before they decide what they are looking for. Squabbling, fighting, or competing during the buying process distracts both buyers from assessing the true value of each property.

If you love modern and your partner loves traditional, investigate the two >

2 Where is your best location?

Location is what you are really buying. Oh, there may be a lovely house or condominium unit included, but its location that cannot be changed and that will determine future value. Buy the best location you can afford, even if the property needs some TLC or cosmetic changes, since a great location will usually translate into steadily-increasing value.

Saying no to a great location because of someone elses bad decor is a rookie or a pretentious mistake. Your real estate professional can help with your search by explaining the location-based value of each property. That is, within your budget, value is tied to which end of which street, proximity to what, which school etc.?

3 How secure is purchasing power?

At the top of the list of your strengths is your purchasing power. Whats the source of the money to purchase, maintain the home, and pay off the mortgage? Many buyers are hesitant to take on a home purchase now when employment, income, and savings circumstances are very unsettled and becoming more so. Why are you confident you can provide the down payment, qualify for financing, make monthly mortgage payments, and meet closing and moving costs without compromises? Hope and wish are not realistic real estate strategies.

4 What will be improved by the move?

If you must move now, this will be an easy question to answer. Just be sure you havent overlooked other solutions or new housing issues in the chaos that passes for everyday life right now. If you aim at improvements to your quality of living, that should also improve your standard of living. The reverse is not equally true.

3. Build your confidence with real real estate knowledge

Explore whats important in your next home: Research substance, not me>

Investigate the costs of homeownership and maintenance. Learn about cutting costs to prevent becoming house rich and cash poor. Get the facts For instance:

Heating and cooling costs can take a big chunk out of your paycheck, so consider an energy efficient, cost-effective home. Youll find information galore online. Take care you are not reading marketing pitches, but scientific information like A Consumers Guide to Energy-Efficient and Healthy Homesnbsp;

If life>

4. Discover what you dont know you dont know

If you pay attention, you can learn a lot from real estate professionals, but their job is not to teach you what to buy. They answer questions and follow your instructions. Its up to you to decide which property to buy. Your professional will help you make the purchase successfully.

The last real estate crisis led to Homebuyer Education Courses and Counseling Services designed to help prospective homebuyers think critically about the benefits and risks of homeownership, understand how to choose affordable homes and appropriate mortgage products, and build the financial knowledge, resources, and behaviors needed for sustainable homeownership and long-term financial health.

Homebuying Courses are intended to provide assistance navigating the homebuying process and to help owners keep their homes over the long run. The directory of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies at US Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD, will introduce you to local housing counselors and to specialty counselors like those for reverse mortgages or for foreclosure avoidance.

Since each Homebuyer Education Course is different, determine the sponsoring organization and what each covers before you sign up. Most programs are available online, like these popular versions:

1 Framework Online Homebuyer Coursenbsp;is provided by Framework Homeownership LLC, a partnership of two housing nonprofits.

2 e Home America Online Homebuyer Educationnbsp;is provided by nonprofit Community Ventures.

3 HomeTrek Online Homebuyer Educationnbsp;is a service of nonprofit InCharge Debt Solutions Inc.

5. Interview Real Estate Professionals

Once you have a clear idea of your needs and wants, interview local experienced real estate professionals to match your criteria against available listings. Professionals are not limited to selling off MLS. They can contact suitable unlisted property owners to discover who is ready to sell now.nbsp;

If what you want is not currently available, dont abandon your plans or goals without re-examination. If you have to change direction or priorities to achieve what you decided on, stop and verify that now is still the right time.

COVID amp; Housing UPDATE: To provide the most up-to-date and accurate housing assistance information during the COVID-19 national emergency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB,, Federal Housing Finance Agency FHFA,, and HUD recently launched the new mortgage and housing assistance website: The site consolidates the CARES Act mortgage >

For additional forward-thinking articles by PJ Wade, visit PJs RT column Decisions amp; Communitiesnbsp;

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5 Tips to Save in Your Kitchen Remodel

Historically, the kitchen was once hidden away from the main house for several reasons, such as to reduce excessive heat and to control smells. Nowadays that is no longer the case. The kitchen has made its debut as an integral part of the home and perhaps the most important room, which is why many homeowners are looking to upgrade the space. In this article, we will explore tips to save in your kitchen remodel.nbsp;

Top Ways to Save in Your Kitchen Remodelnbsp;

The average cost of a kitchen remodel in the United States is between 8,500 to 25,000. The figure might seem a bit wide-ranging, but if you are looking for ways to pinch your pennies, then rest-assured that with frugal decisions, you can cut costs to keep the total amount in the lower end of the spectrum.nbsp;

Choose mid-range efficient appliancesnbsp;

Sure, it is tempting to pick only high-end appliances for your kitchen, but such high-dollar items are usually unnecessary. You can choose practical, energy-efficient appliances that boast acceptable warranties and look fabulous.nbsp;

A factor to consider when picking appliances is longevity. Refrigerators usually last only 15 years or less but a cooktop and range function last considerably longer. Also, if you have a large family then you are constantly washing dishes, so a large, efficient dishwasher becomes a mandatory investment.nbsp;nbsp;

Whichever appliances you choose, try to stick with one brand and appearance. Stainless steel remains the most popular finish choice. If you want your home to appear modern, then you will want to pay close attention to design and appearance while still trying to avoid paying premium prices. Instead, settle for moderate workhorse appliances that provide you with looks, function, energy-efficiency, and longevity.nbsp;

Opt for affordable yet durable counter materialsnbsp;

When you walk into a kitchen, you might believe your focal point is the cabinets but most people zero in on the countertops first. Perhaps it is the clean, sleek design or the sparkle of the surface. A showpiece countertop dictates the cabinetry, room furnishings, and color scheme.nbsp;

When picking countertop materials, remember you can pick granite with a rating of a level 2 grade mid-grade versus a level 3 premium grade. The differences are subtle and usually missed by a novice who does not work in the granite business. Choosing a lovely, mid-grade granite countertop offers a greater return-on-investment. The cost of granite countertops runs from 35 to 500/sq. ft.nbsp;

Laminate countertops are another option. They mimic the appearance of granite without the high cost. Historically, you could not install an under-mount sink in a laminate countertop, but designs have changed and now you can. Laminate hovers at an affordable 5 to 30/sq. ft.

Quartz an engineered stone and concrete countertops are other cost-saving options. The average cost of quartz is 55 to 200/sq. ft. and concrete runs 75 to 200/sq. ft.nbsp;

Resurfacing an older countertop with tile is another option. This project typically costs around 10 to 70/sq. ft.nbsp;

Go for a cosmetic upgrade instead of a whole cabinet replacement

Its tempting to purchase all new cabinets for the kitchen but that can become expensive with 30 linear feet of average cabinets costing from 6,412 to 11,400 for installation. However, resurfacing the existing cabinets is a great way to provide an instant facelift to the room. Many opt to carry out refinishing cabinets as a DIY project to save even more.nbsp;

You can also replace kitchen cabinets with veneer models instead of real wood. Budget cabinets range from 70 to 100 per linear foot.nbsp;Handles, knobs, and pull are the crowning glory on your kitchen cabinets. However, that does not mean that you must spend a fortune on the hardware. Knobs can range from 1 to 100 and hinges from 1 to 15.nbsp; There is a huge range of prices so you can find your comfort zone within your budget.nbsp;

Install a backsplash with attractive, long-lasting materialsnbsp;

Backsplashes look good and showcase not only the kitchen cabinets but also the countertops. There are a lot of different backsplash materials you can choose to create your perfect backsplash, but they arent all created equally. Depending on how much cooking you do, youll want to find a material thats durable, stylish, and long-lasting.

Ceramic tile is very popular but its also costly, with the average price hovering at 5 to 100/sq. ft. However, you can pick a porcelain tile for 5 to 20/sq. ft. Also, why not cut costs by using large tiles that would usually be laid on floors as a backsplash? The bigger tiles require less grout and costly cutting. Deco-pieces like glass tiles are easy to fashion into eye-catching mosaics.nbsp;

Plan ahead by shopping around and doing some work yourself

Feel out your contractors schedule and get him at a slower time of year. Typically the middle of summer and the middle of winter are a little slower and could get you a better rate.

Next, check your local tile, stone, flooring, and bathroom fitting showrooms for odd lots. Odd lots are often left over or returned items. Theyre just as good quality, but they go for rock bottom prices. The only catch is that what you see is what you get, so if you need 150 square feet of something, and they have 140, it wont work. But, many times you can get lucky and find a thousand feet of something discontinued that you can get for pennies. This also goes for sinks and faucets - it really pays to check around, especially if you arent picky.nbsp;

If you need a small piece of stone for a vanity top, bar top, or table, also be sure to ask about remnants at the stone yard.nbsp;

Final thoughts

Yes, you can create the kitchen of your dreams on a shoestring budget with just a few of the ideas above. These tips to save in your kitchen remodel help you create an upscale remodel without spending an excessive amount of money. You can enjoy your beautiful kitchen while feeling good about the fact that you have potentially increased the value of your home, which is a great return on your real estate investment.

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Forbearance News: Borrowers Can Now Defer Payments Until The End Of Their Loan

The >

Previously, there was some question as to whether borrowers would have to make a lump sum payment at the end of their forbearance period or enter into some other type of agreement that would potentially increase their monthly payments.nbsp;nbsp;

Payment deferral is one of the repayment options, they said. Servicers will begin offering the payment deferral repayment option starting July 1, 2020. In addition to the new payment deferral option, borrowers with COVID-19 >

Up to 12 months of deferred payments can be added to the end of the loan term. The deferred sums to be repaid include principal, interest and escrow advances, said National Mortgage News. Borrowers will not have to make the missed payments in a lump sum.

And now for the bad news

There is one piece of not-so-good news >

The stimulus bill contained language that was meant to protect borrowers from credit issues >
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Millie's Motion At The Annual HOA Meeting

But wait Millie, a longtime resident, rises to her feet and says "Madam President, Id like to propose a motion to amend the governing documents to eliminate renters. Im sick and tired of all the coming and going and lack of regard for us owners."

The president responds, "Millie, Ive had the same concerns. Do I hear a second?" A second comes from the back of the room and soon a lively discussion ensues about the pros and cons of renters.

Bill comments "This all seems a bit hasty and arent there federal Fair Housing regulations to consider?"

Mary, who rents her unit out, says "I just signed a one year lease with my tenant. What do you expect me do now? Besides, I bought the unit so I could rent it out. There were no restrictions against it."

Joe jumps to his feet, "Who cares? We need to get rid of those people. Lets change the rules and moveem out"

After much haranguing and gnashing of teeth, a vote is called for and a majority of 10 of the 19 present plus another 40 proxies held by the board president vote to eliminate rentals.

Many believe that the Annual Meeting is a place that the members can be heard and the system changed. While thats true to an extent, certain aspects of it must be handled properly to protect the rights of all members, particularly the ones that arent present. For that reason, no motions should be entertained that are not on the Agenda which has been distributed with the Annual Meeting Notice to all members. If HOA amendments or policy is to be voted on, all members must be informed ahead of time so they can participate in the discussion. Allowing someone to make spontaneous motions disenfranchises members that arent at the meeting. Its up to the board president to call such motions "out of order".

The easiest way to head off such spontaneity is to advise all members prior to the meeting when the Annual Meeting Agenda is being compiled and ask for any proposed amendments or policy changes by such and such a deadline. Add further that no motions can be entertained at the meeting itself unless they are on the Agenda and explained in enough detail so that all members understand what they are and the implications. Proposed amendments should always be reviewed by the attorney prior to voting.

Restricting motions does not mean that members are not allowed to speak their mind. Free speech helps the members to winnow through issues Encouraging this kind of discussion is good.

However, the proper response to Millies Motion should have been "Thank you for your suggestion Millie. Why dont you circulate a petition to all the members to see if there is strong support for restricting rentals? If there is, we can either hold a special meeting or vote on it at the next Annual Meeting. Does anyone else have anything they want to discuss before we move on to elections?"

Amending the governing documents or policy should never be done on the spur of the moment. There are few issues that are so urgent that cant wait for proper review and feedback by all members. If confronted by a Millies Motion situation, help guide the process to a thoughtful conclusion.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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Barn Doors Aren’t Just Here To Stay. They’re Here To Slay!

And now were looking around our house trying to come up with the perfect spot to add another one.nbsp;

Barn doors.

Given the name and the fact that their initial popularity was propelled by the rustic doors on Fixer Upper, it would be easy to write them off as a fad. But the truth is you just never know when a trend will fizzle out or transform itself into something more.nbsp;

Barn doors are not just for farmhouses. Today youll find them acting as space-savers in sleek apartments and as dazzling details in mega-manses. You might think that barn doors are strictly fornbsp;farmhousesnbsp;hello,nbsp;Joanna Gaines, but believe it or not, this design element works beautifully in a variety of other spaces, said Elle Decor. Whether youre seeking to add anbsp;rusticnbsp;touch to anbsp;modern kitchennbsp;or need a tasteful way to divide areas in a room, sliding barn doors are a versatile design solution.


Creating privacy, adding a decorative accent, acting as a room separator, or allowing for better flow between spaces where a traditional door with a swing may not worka barn door can function in a number of ways.nbsp;

In a small space where every single inch counts, sliding barn doors come in handy, said Sebring Design Build. A well installed sliding barn door offers great space economy for whatever room you use it in. Of course, you need to have enough adjacent wall space for the barn door to slide over when it is opened. But this is often preferable to similarly space-saving pocket doors that require much more work to install or remove.

So many options

We love how these dual sliding doors were used in place of a more traditional solution to hide a pantry.nbsp;

These antique barn doors feature a varietynbsp;of mid to late 1800 French Colonial doors from Egypt. Theyre available in Mont Blanc, Notre Dame, and Versailles >

Who says you have to use natural wood tones for your barn door? We love the deep blue hue and immense stature of this door, which adds a sense of privacy to a sitting room in a modern farmhouse, said Elle Dcor.nbsp;

The skys the limit when it comes to materials. Clad in iron, this barn door looks right at home in this modern living room. And check out this leather door

This glass barn door is great for any place you need to create a separation without losing the light. Or go decorative with your glass, like in the master bedroom of this San Francisco home.nbsp;

You can also apply the barn door idea to your shower. This frameless shower door uses RollerDisk Technology with one fixed glass panel and another that slides over it on a top rail.nbsp;


Barn doors can range wildly in price. You can pay several thousand dollars for a custom job or a couple hundred dollars for a more budget version. You can also DIY a door from scratcha great solution when you have reclaimed wood you want to feature. We also love this DIY option that comes with the frame and all the hardware for just 98. Just add your slats

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Smart Ways to Save During the Quarantine

Renegotiate Internet and phone service

You never know when theres a better program out there for you that could save you some money. Certain companies may also be willing to give you a break on your current service, or even upgrade you for the same or a lower cost. Dont be afraid to askthe worst you can hear is, No.

Look at your cable or satellite TV options

This may be a good time to cut the cord if you need to save a few bucks. You may also want to consider downgrading your serviceperhaps cutting out movie channels or service to rooms that arent being used.

Consider different energy providers

If you live in an area that allows you to switch freely between energy providers, you may be surprised how much money you can save by making a few calls.nbsp;

Check with your insurance company

Many car insurance companies have announced they are refunding or crediting their customers because the quarantine is keeping so many drivers off the road. If you havent been notified by your carrier, reach out. You may be able to save even more than the announced discount if you were previously driving a lot for your commute and or now working from home or by tinkering with your coverage.nbsp;

Cancel subscriptions and memberships you cant use

Nows the time to figure out which of your monthly subscriptions are useless right now, said c
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You, Covid, and Real Estate

For too many, the realization that COVID-19 represents considerably more than a short-term inconvenience has slowly set in. The weight of this realization colors all that we do while in isolation. The resulting fear, anger, and disillusionment contribute to mental fuzziness that makes even the simplest decisions stressful.

This Decisions amp; Communities column concentrates, bi-weekly, on real estate and the many ways it influences and is influenced by our lives, businesses, and communities. My articles are intended as places to think and triggers for inspiration, practical and otherwise. about more topics which would help.

Based on what Ive already heard from readers and gleaned from the bombardment of news, social media, and statistics floating about, Im offering simple, well-meaning suggestions for clearing your head to tackle real estate decisions or to comfortably live with deferred decisionsfor now.

During this time of dramatic contrasts, there is not just one point of view on real estate ownership:

Some individuals and families have lost their jobs or been laid off, so they are struggling to make mortgage payments and maintain their homes.

In contrast, others are still workingoften from homeand are wary of whats ahead, but are not currently in financial trouble.

Some homeowners, now on hold, were ready to sell their home and move up or cash in their real estate before the pandemic hit.

In contrast, many buyers, who had given up on their dream of homeownership since real estate prices continued to climb beyond their means, now wonder if theres hope.

Some property owners resigned themselves to managing with housing that was too small for their needs or lacked essential functionality.nbsp;

In contrast, as homeowners live through extended and unpredictable isolationwhich often includes working from home and home schooling childrendesign and functionality issues that could be tolerated before have driven some homeowners to realize that this is not the right home.

Vacation home owners, Airbnb hosts, and income property investors can suffer financially if rental income decreases, especially if theres a mortgage to service.

In contrast, tenants expecting to realize dreams of homeownership in 2020 may see their plans dashed if virus-driven job-loss unexpectedly makes even paying the rent a challenge.nbsp;nbsp;

This pent-up realization that there are real estate decisions to make is thwarted by a truncated real estate industry, unapproachable traditional lenders, and an uncertain, precarious job market.

Preparing for confident decision making:

1. Security and control:

These two often-taken-for-granted basics are what is missing in your life and work now. Search out ways to establish as much physical and mental security for those you love and for yourself to achieve some sense of control, including:

Securing food and participating in reasonable exercise will feed wellness and calm you. Let go of thoughts concerning what you should do, being productive, and keeping up with what others are doing or not doing. This type of thinking revolves around now-ir> Face financial shortcomings by opening discussion with lenders and finding viable financial solutions to keep a roof over your head. You may call on mortgage brokers, local representatives, > Action or inaction? Once immediate security demands are met, take a long look at what you feel you must do now compared to what you would have done now if the virus had not appeared. Is that really still the best plan? It may be too early to tell. Dont rush into real estate decisions that may be difficult to reverse. The world has changed. Your world has changed. Right now we dont know exactly how those changes will play out in the real estate market or anywhere else. Pace yourself.

2. Selective listening:

Some days you can shake off the weight of this situation to concentrate and some days you cant. Listen to yourself. Deliberately select times when you feel stronger and clearer to tackle decisions of consequence. On the days that its wiser to ignore yourself, load up on mood-lifting activities that give you peace, pleasure, or both, like favorite movies, books, meditations, exercises, hobbies. This too will pass may become your mantra.

3. Today is not tomorrow:

As you adapt to the loss of freedom and variety and ease out of denial toward acceptance, youll discover ways to cope with these and other restrictions and to rise above them. New interests, ideas, and distractions will appear, especially if you let go of whats lost and remain curious. People whove lived through disaster and crisis often report a lessening of oppressive feelings long before things start to improve and especially when they make an effort to improve things.

4. Use the time you have:

Overnight solutions and quick fixes can be counterproductive when adapting to an ever-changing crisis. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Truths are still unfolding in this pandemic. Yes, it may leave permanent scars on society, but dont get ahead of todays issues. This is not a rerun experience for anyone. No one knows the best next step, the time frame, or the outcomes. Beware of sales pitches from experts claiming they do know or have all the answers.

nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;Solutions lie in a combination of the best immediate actions, observe and think strategizing, and staying flexible to live with uncertainty.nbsp;

Free time was a luxury, a scarce commodity, before the virus hit. Slow down. Stop trying to do it all. Let family members, including the children, contribute in their own way. Encourage family participation in chores, home maintenance, and the fun stuff.
You have more to process than ever before so doing nothing is actually letting your brain do its thing. Preoccupation with keeping yourself and your family safe leaves your brain continually multi-tasking. This distracted state dictates that you may not be thinking as clearly as usual and so work tasks are not as satisfying nor as easy to complete. Instead of fixating on intensifying productivity and piling on goals, consider lightening your workload to give your brain a break while it processes COVID distractions. Begin with whats necessary. Progress to whats possible. Then, you may discover that the impossible becomes doable.
Adapt. Let go of the way Ive always done things and explore alternatives, even silly ones. Laughter is the best medicine, so use if often. Slow down and enjoy the silence, the lack of trafficeverything that youre happy has changed. Encourage others to let go. Theres no failure in this brand-new world. Were all experimenting, exploring, discoveringwithout having had the luxury of preparation or early-warning. Embrace possibilities.

5. Network while physical distancing:

Virtually assemble a support groupreach beyond your usual circle of friendsto reduce frustration with isolation and to expand your horizons.
Build a network of professionals to help you and your group understand what is really going on beyond your front doors. For example, local real estate professionals are investing time and effort to make the process of buying and selling real estate safe for all concerned. What have they achieved in your neighborhood?nbsp; nbsp; nbsp;

Answers to real estate questions specific to this complex time with its uncertain real estate markets can be elusive for wanna-be real estate buyers and sellers. The progression of the pandemic varies greatly across the country and promises to remain an unpredictable factor for a significant time in the future.

In the meantime, what can be done locally, property by property, falls to local real estate professionals and brokerages along with their local financial services counterparts. Could you confidently buy a home when youve only visited the property virtually or watched video walk-throughs? nbsp;nbsp;

Contact local, experienced real estate professionals who are actively involved in exploring how best to conduct safe showings and transactions under specific conditions imposed by physical distancing requirements and contamination dynamics. Ask what restrictions, like lack of available appraisal or inspection services, may limit real estate choices and compromise purchasing or selling. Be aware that an accepted offer does not remove risk in this unprecedented time. Will the transaction close? may remain the big question for a while.

If acting now is the only option, ask real estate professionals a lot of questions. Before you act, first investigate every detail including preparation of your home for listing or, if youre buying, the home selection process, offer presentation, and closing. This research will enable you to fully understand which compromises may affect your outcome. The more flexible your timing, the more adaptable your real estate professional, and the more aware you are of how real estate works, the better the outcome may be.

Be realistic. Hoping and wishing are not viable real estate strategies.

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How Potential Home Buyers Can Assess the Health of an HOA

This may be a >

Who Lives There

Have an idea of who is living in the HOA before making an offer. Are the units owner-occupied? What is the percentage? In addition, are there obvious signs of disrepair or neglect? What is overall the condition of buildings, fences, siding and gutters? Rusting fences and peeling paint on a number of buildings may be indicative that management is not taking care of the property or may lack funds in their reserve.

Basic Financial Status

Check the reserve study to find out how much money is set aside to fund required maintenance. Potential buyers should be wary of a percentage between zero and 30 as this range occurs with those properties that are at a high risk of issuing a special assessment. The low risk HOA range is between 71 and 100 percent. Look to see whether or not the study is being followed and if capital improvements are being made on a scheduled basis.

Community members need to pay dues on time to ensure that funds are available for future needs and that there exists an effective assessment collection process. A community with a small cash reserve that experiences collection times of over thirty days may not be able to cover current or future expenses. Find out the percentage of owners who are over 60 days delinquent in payments. It is important to be aware of the days receivable in any HOA community. Use the average days member assessments in the budget and annual assessment to determine days receivable. Agents should be able to help a buyer determine whether or not to buy into an HOA based on the collection of assessments.

Reserves for the Future

An HOA should have a reserve plan to cover future maintenance and other expenses. Information should be available on a HOAs budget and balance sheet. Those looking to buy into an HOA should take into account the communitys ability to receive the funds they need to operate as well as set aside a healthy percentage for future community needs. Too many HOAs are poorly managed and issues, such as neglected foundation problems on buildings, can seve>

Management Issues

Has the management of the company changed hands frequently and are there any behaviors that indicate problems with those who should be caring for the property? These may serve as red flags for those who want to buy into an HOA community. Law suits and bad debts can impact the health of an HOA. It is important to review the financial statements and learn whether or not such issues are plaguing a specific HOA.

Agents Can Help Homebuyers

Understand the options to learn more about an HOA and perform some due diligence before purchasing a property managed by an association. Homebuyers with little experience in living in such communities may want to turn to an experienced local agent to find out more about red flags and what questions they should be asking when communicating with a seller. Get the financials and more on an HOA before buying in.nbsp;

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The Mortgage Business Is Alive, Well, and Online

Over the years, the mortgage business has become digitized. Yes, most loan officers still like to meet their clients in person, either at the loan officers place or at the clients. Yet there are those who meet with their loan officers virtually and communicate by phone, text, email or video conference. Loan officers really dont have a 9 to 5 job but rather work around their clients schedules. You can contact your loan officer on a Sunday afternoon with questions. Wednesday evening. Pretty much anytime, within reason of course. Loan officers know this because many borrowers cant take off work during the day in order to meet with a loan officer.

The mortgage industry is not dependent upon face to face transactions. More and more clients apply directly online at the loan officers web page. The loan application is electronically submitted then subsequently reviewed at the mortgage office. This review prepares the loan application to be submitted to an online automated underwriting system, or AUS. Once this submission takes place, a response from the AUS is provided, listing all the items needed for a final approval.

Loan officers get their rates online. They order third party services online. Credit reports or appraisals, for example among many others. This is the world loan officers have lived in for years so the question of whether or not a loan officer needs to be in the office in order to complete your loan application has been answered long ago. And the other question of whether or not a mortgage company is essential or non-essential is moot. It doesnt matter because the loan officer doesnt have to be in the office but can really be anywhere as long as theres an online connection.

This is important to note in light of todays economic activity. Rates are at or near historic lows on a daily basis. Mortgage companies are extremely busy right now and loan officers are taking loan applications every single day. When a loan officer has a question or needs more documentation, the request can be made via email or text. In turn, the applicant provides the requested documentation via email. This back and forth has been the norm for years.nbsp;

If for example, youre thinking of refinancing, just pick up the phone and make a call. Your loan officer can provide you with current rates, terms and estimated closing costs over the phone. If you want to meet your loan officer, you can do so via a video conference. And with apps the way they are today, you can schedule a meeting with your loan officer and have your entire family and friends Zoom in at the same time.

For those currently in the market for a mortgage, theres no need to wait. In fact, it might be the best time ever. The mortgage industry is alive and well. And online.

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Sinking or Swimming During the Quarantine: Is Your Communication Strategy Positioning You for Success?

Want to know how to increase customer satisfaction? Want to know how to get more referrals? Want to know how to get more five-star reviews? The answer is to communicate, Kevin Markarian, founder of northern California-basednbsp;Marker Real Estate, said to Forbes.

Communication has always been important in real estate, both during a transaction and as an ongoing strategy for retaining clients, building referrals, and generating new clients. But its more crucial now than ever. Were in uncharted territory, and clients and would-be clients are looking for information and leadership.

If youre wondering how to navigate your communications strategy in these curious times, weve got tips.nbsp;

Dont be afraid to reach out to clients

This might be obvious if youre in the middle of a transaction or are currently working with a buyer to find property. As Markarian says, The good news is that, like a smile, communication has the potential to make all the difference. As a real estate agent, you simply cannot overdo it. Plus, with todays technological advantages of course, theres a phone in everybodys pocket communication is essentially free. So why be stingy about communicating? Your clients and potential clients expectations are high. Before, during and after a transaction, theres no one thing more critical than communication. Frankly, its impossible to overdo it.

But this is also a critical time to be in touch with past clients and prospects on a regular basis. They want to know whats happening in the market, whats going on with rates, how market conditions will personally impact themnow and in the future. This is the time to show your leadership and position yourself as an authority with the knowledge and expertise they seek. Then, when its time for them to buy or sell, theyll look to you.

An ongoing communications plan helps you to focus on retention, reassure buyers and sellers, and stay front of mind so that you can continue to grow your business during this transitional period and ensure future and referral business.

Be smart about your communications strategy

The problem is that an ongoing communications program is time-consuming and can be challenging to prioritize among the many other daily responsibilities you face. Not to mention the fact that generating that content takes an enti>

This is why so many real estate agents and companies use outside resources for their communications program. Chances are good that when you see great content coming from an agent or company, its being generated from a source like the Realty Times newsletter. Top real estate agents see the value in using proven marketing tools like these personalized newsletters that are created and sent out monthly, are completely branded to, and all about, them, include >

Think social

This is also the ideal time to start, add to, or overhaul your social media plan. We all know that social media marketing is integral today for any type of business, and real estate is no different. You may already have a strategy down and have the time, skill, and creativity to do your own outreach with dynamic, >

You can spend some money on a >

Or, you can use a programs like the RT Social Marketing Platform, which give agents an easy way to get in front of clients and prospects without having to become marketing or content experts. The basic program offers >

This is a challenging time for all of us, and, at least for the time being, business as usual has been removed from our vocabulary. When the economy tightens up for any reason, our marketing dollars are often the first cut. But just as real estate has been deemed an essential business, marketing is an essential cost. The trick to sticking with it right now is to be smarter about your marketing dollars and to choose the tools that can deliver big-time results with a small financial commitment.nbsp;nbsp;

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6 Ways You Can Protect Your New Home

Insure It Fully

Your insurance is an important tool for ensuring that your home is protected against the unforeseen. It is a way to protect yourself against the costs of damages and personal liabilities. However, not all homeowners insurance is equal. Understanding home insurance will help you make better decisions for your home.

While not everyone needs every form of insurance, being prepared for the unforeseen is important. For example, if you live in Arizona, you likely dont need flood insurance, but you probably do in Florida.

Get a Warranty

Homeowners insurance wont cover all the possible expenses you experience. For example, it wont cover damage to major appliances and systems due to wear and tear. Anbsp; home warranty, on the other hand, will help with these costs.

It is a simple way to extend your protection, so you arent caught unprepared. Your home needs to be maintained and repaired from time to time. A warranty and insurance will help you do that.

Buy a Security System

Of course, damage and wear and tear arent the only issues you need to contend with. Finding the rightnbsp;nbsp;home security system will help you protect against unwanted entrants. Even a basic system can make a huge difference in your security. Burglars and other unauthorized people generally target homes that are easy to access.

Many systems also monitor for smoke and other hazards. The right monitoring subscription can protect you against many threats.

Trim Back Vegetation

Vegetation growing up against your house can be a risk for two reasons. First, it is a way for burglars to get close to your home without being easily seen. Second, branches and debris can damage your home.

Keeping your vegetation well-trimmed and maintained can help keep your home safe. Better yet, it is easy to do and will make your home look a lot nicer. It is a smart practice and much easier if you keep up with regular groundskeeping.

Keep Up With Maintenance

Similarly, regular maintenance will help protect your home against minor issues causing bigger ones. A little cracking paint may not seem like a big issue. However, paint protects the structure underneath it. Fixing the issue early involves a little sanding and painting. Waiting may mean mold, rot or other issues.

Again, it is significantly cheaper and easier to address problems promptly. This is one area that the right warranty and insurance can come in handy. For example, if your air conditioning is making a strange sound, you can use your warranty to get it checked and fixed rather than just waiting. That could save you from having to replace the whole system in the near future.

Meet Your Neighbors

Your neighbors are one of your best protections against issues such as unwanted entrants, fire and other similar problems. The people who live around you can e your eyes and ears when you arent home. While not every neighbor is interested in looking out for you, getting to know the people around you can never hurt.

Plus, this has the added benefit of enjoying your local community. It is often nicer to live in a neighborhood when you are friends with those around you. So, get out there and get to know people, at least the ones on either side of your house.

These tips will help you protect your new home. They can give you peace of mind when you are out. Your home is a major investment and keeping it safe both physically and financially is worth the effort. Give these ideas a try in your new home.

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The Best Ways to Improve Your Air Quality and Ward off the Coronavirus

Here are several things you can do to improve the air quality in your home now.

Change your air filters

Do you change the air filters in your home every 30 days? Thats what many filter companies recommend. If its been a while, go ahead and order yourself some filters. And get the good ones.nbsp;

Quality air filters improve your indoor air by eliminating more contaminant particles like pollutants and allergens, as well as keeping dust build-up down; more than standard filters can, said A good quality air filter can also improve the efficiency of your HVAC equipment through contaminant reduction.

Get an air purifier

Air purifiers usually consist of a filter, or multiple filters, and a fan that sucks in and circulates air, said Good Housekeeping.nbsp;As air moves through the filter, pollutants and particles are captured and the clean air is pushed back out into the living space.

There are other reasons to consider air purifiers. Beyond respiratory concerns, theres also growing evidence that simple in-room purifiers can clean air enough to boost cognitive development and academic performance, said Curbed. Anbsp;remarkable studynbsp;was conducted in LA after thenbsp;Aliso Canyon methane gas leak, where plug-in air purifiers were installed in businesses and schools within a five-mile radius of the gas facility as part of the mitigation process. These were larger, industrial-sized units that run about 700, but just adding them to school >

Get some plants

Certain kinds of plants can help you purify the air and lower your stress level. According to NASAsnbsp;Clean Air Study, which was designed to find ways to clean the air in sealed space stations, plants can be effective to absorb carbon dioxide, >

NASA picked several plants for their detoxification qualities, including: The snake plant, which can >

Get a salt lamp

Not only do they bring a bit of sparkle and nature into your space, but Himalayan salt lamps are also thought to potentially have healing properties. Combined with a light source inside the lamps, the chunks of salt produce negative ions, which yield positive effects on indoor air, said The Jerusalem Post. Placing a Himalayan salt lamp in every room of the home can reap several health and environmental benefits.

Keep the house clean

Vacuuming and dusting and cleaning surfaces more regularly to remove dust, particulates and other lung irritants, as well as prevent the spread of coronavirus, said

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Can't Top That! Tree Topping In HOAs

Topping is the indiscriminate cutting back of tree branches. Other names for topping include "heading," "tipping," "hat-racking," and "rounding over." Topping often removes 50-100 of the leaf-bearing crown of a tree. Since the leaves are the "food factory" of a tree, removing large sections can starve a tree. The severity of the pruning triggers a survival mechanism. The tree activates latent buds, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree needs to put out a new crop of leaves as soon as possible. If a tree does not have the stored energy reserves to do this, it will be seriously weakened and may die.

A stressed tree is more vulnerable to insect and disease infestations. Large, open pruning wounds expose the sapwood and heartwood to attack. The tree may lack sufficient energy to chemically "defend" the wounds against invasion. Some insects are actually attracted to stressed trees by chemical signals.

Topping Can Lead to Sunburn.

Branches within a trees crown produce thousands of leaves to absorb sunlight. When the leaves are removed, the remaining branches and trunk are suddenly exposed to high levels of light and heat. The result may be sunburn of the tissues beneath the bark. This can lead to cankers, bark splitting and death of some branches.

Topping Creates Hazards.

The survival mechanism that causes a tree to produce multiple shoots below each topping cut comes at great expense to the tree. These shoots develop from buds near the surface of the old branches. Unlike normal branches that develop in a "socket" of overlapping wood tissues, these new shoots are only anchored in the outermost layers of the parent branches. The new shoots grow very quickly, as much as 20 feet in one year, in some species. Unfortunately, the shoots are very prone to breaking, especially during windy conditions.

Topping Makes Trees Ugly.

The natural branching structure of a tree is a biological wonder. Trees form a variety of shapes and growth habits, all with the same goal of presenting their leaves to the sun. Topping removes the ends of the branches, often leaving ugly stubs. Topping destroys the natural form of a tree. Without the leaves up to six months of the year in temperate climates a topped tree appears disfigured and mutilated. With the leaves, it is a dense ball of foliage, lacking its simple grace. A tree that has been topped can never regain its natural form.

Topping is Expensive.

The cost of topping a tree is not limited to what the perpetrator is paid. If the tree survives, it will require pruning again within a few years. It will either need to be reduced again, or storm damage will have to be cleaned up. If the tree dies it will have to be removed.

Alternatives to Topping.

There are times when a tree must be reduced in height or spread. Providing clearance for utility lines is an example. There are recommended techniques for doing this. If practical, branches should be removed back to their point of origin. If a branch must be shortened, it should be cut back to a lateral that is large enough to assume the terminal role. A rule of thumb for this is to cut back to a lateral that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the limb being removed. This method of branch reduction helps to preserve the natural form of the tree. Sometimes the best solution is to remove the tree and replace it with a species that is more appropriate for the site.

If pruning involves working above the ground, or using power equipment, it is best to hire a professional arborist. An arborist can determine what type of pruning is necessary to improve the health, appearance and safety of your trees. A professional arborist can provide the services of a trained crew, with all of the required safety equipment and liability insurance.

A couple of closing caveats. Avoid using any tree company that advertises topping as a service provided. Hire only a trained arborist. Arborists know that topping is not an accepted practice. Pruning work should be accomplished by free climbing, ladders or lift equipment. Climbing spikes can damage trees, and their use should be limited to trees that are being removed. And never, never, never top your trees.

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The VA Cash Out Refinance Loan Explained

VA loans come with some very competitive interest rates. In addition, there is no monthly mortgage insurance premium, unlike other no/low down payment programs. FHA and USDA loans, the remaining two of the three government-backed programs, don require a hefty down payment but both have two different types of mortgage insurance. An upfront premium rolled into the loan amount and an annual premium paid in monthly installments. These premiums go to finance the loan guarantee lenders receive when issuing these loans. Conventional loans also can carry a monthly mortgage insurance payment if the loan balance exceeds 80 of the current appraised value of the property. VA loans also have a form of mortgage insurance called the Funding Fee, which is a one-time fee rolled into the final loan amount.nbsp; Competitive mortgage rates and no monthly mortgage insurance makes for a very competitive loan.

Okay, now lets say youve decided to refinance. You can refinance an existing loan into a VA loan even if the existing loan is not VA. Youve gone over the numbers with your loan officer, compared rates and reviewed different loan options. Youve made your choice and move forward with your application. But did you also want to pull some cash out while doing so? Given sufficient equity, you certainly can. Instead of just refinancing an existing loan, you can also tap into the remaining equity in your home. Pulling out cash during this transaction means tapping into the equity in your home at some very affordable rates.nbsp;

Its important to note however, that with a VA cash out loan, closing costs may not be rolled into the mortgage. Instead, theyll need to be paid for out of pocket, by the lender or with an adjustment to the interest rate. A cash out refinance rate is going to be cheaper even then a home equity line of credit or other equity loan. An equity loan is a separate lien, subordinated to the first mortgage and due to its position will carry a slightly higher rate.nbsp;

There really are not restrictions with regard to the use of the proceeds. With a home improvement loan for example, the proceeds must be used to finance both hard and soft costs associated with the improvement. A straight cash out loan doesnt place any restrictions on what the funds may be used for. You can upgrade the kitchen or take the family to Disneyland. Or both. It doesnt matter. All that matters is the funds are wired directly into your bank account.

One final word, while the VA doesnt place restrictions on the loan amount compared to the current value of the property, individual lenders typically do. While the VA will guarantee a 100 cash out refinance, most lenders cap the loan amount to 90. If youve been playing around with the idea of refinancing and youre VA eligible, call your loan officer and discuss your options.

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What to Look for When Signing Your First Lease

1. Do Your Research

Treat your commitment to renting a property in the same way you would carefully consider buying an expensive appliance or a new car: do your research. Look for online reviews from previous renters attached to the property profile in Google or on other social media platforms like Facebook. Search under either the landlords name or the name of the property company or apartment complex to find reviews in Yelp. You can even dig up complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

2. Read the Lease

This seems like an obvious piece of advice, but its worth repeating. Read the lease and then read it again. Ask for advice from someone you trust who has the >

Length of the lease
When rent is due and how to pay it
Security deposit rules and refunds
Lease termination and penalties
Rules about roommates or subletting
Whether pets are allowed or prohibited

3. Get It in Writing

If you dont see a topic or rule specified in writing, request to get it added to the lease. Even if it seems minor, it should be clearly outlined in the legal agreement between you and the landlord. Look for language about who handles the utilities and rules for personalizing your space. Fleshing out the details in the lease protects both you and the landlord from future misunderstandings and financial headaches.

4. Be Clear about Maintenance Responsibilities

Understand and document what your responsibilities are in terms of maintenance and who you should call in case of an emergency. When you move in, the landlord should document the condition of the propertyif there is preexisting damage, insist that its recorded accurately before you accept the keys. Check all the appliances, door locks, and plumbing, and if anything needs attention, require that it be addressed now so you dont end up paying for it later.

If your landlord doesnt supply a checklist to verify the current condition of the property when you sign the lease, supply one yourself. There are several free templates online that you can use to document the condition of the property and ask your landlord to co-sign.

5. Check Out the Security

Check with the landlord or property manager to determine the security measures in place for your rental. If you are moving into a complex, make sure all areas are well lit and measures like security cameras are in place. If the apartment or home isnt outfitted with security safeguards, ask the landlord if they allow tenants to install their own security systems. Some DIY systems cater to rentals for 1525 a month, meaning you still have security options if the property doesnt have them already.

You can also research the surrounding area to see if they have a Neighborhood Watch program in place, and you can ask local law enforcement if the area has any crime trends.

6. Dont Forget about Parking

This may be one of the last things on your mind when youre signing the actual lease, but its crucial that you understand where you can and cannot park. Whether its off-street or on-street parking, covered or out in the open, the parking arrangement may end up being a pretty large hassle depending on the weather and the safety of the neighborhood. Request clarification about the parking situation if it isnt clearly outlined in the lease.

7. Consider Renters Insurance

Insurance probably isnt a priority when youre still apartment or house hunting, but it should be something you consider getting before moving in. In addition to protecting you from property loss, renters insurance can sometimes help with damage caused by poor maintenance that wouldnt be covered by your landlords insurance policy.

Once youve thoroughly reviewed the lease and checked off all these boxes, you can feel more confident about signing on the dotted line.

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

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How to Sell Your Home Now

If youre one of them, youre probably wondering what to do right nowespecially since in-person home tours arent happening. These tips will help you get your home to stand out and get it sold even when others arent moving.

Spring for enhanced virtual tools

It might cost you a little more, but creating a virtual experience for your home is as close as you can get right now to showing buyers what it would be like to walk through the place in person.nbsp;

"As weve suddenly found ourselves adapting to a new normal, the meaning of home has never meant so much to each and every of us, Robin Brown of the Brown Home Team at Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors in North Texas, told us. Our clients >

Browns newest listing in McKinney, TX is a 4,903-square-foot former model home on a corner greenbelt lot, and the residences ample proportions, open floorplan, and designer touches come to life on the video tour and 3D walk through.

Paint a picture

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes its the words that move you. Browns McKinney listing also includes a detailed note from the sellers of the home in the listing. This gave the sellers an opportunity to talk at length about the features of the home and the memories they made there, and speak to details that buyers might not know about, even if they did an in-person tour.nbsp;

Take great photos

Having great listing photos pre-quarantine was important. Now its even more so. If youre willing to have a photographer in your home at this time, your agent should be able to recommend someone who will not only take great shots, but also practice enhanced safety measures in your home. If youd rather take your own photos, heed these tips to get the best shots you can.

Choose a great agent

This is a challenging time for real estate, but great agents rise to the top. Those who have been in the business a while have weathered cyclical markets. Even though this current situation is new to all of us, its more important than ever to work with an agent who is able to adjust to market conditions and find new ways to market property.nbsp;

Its great that your brothers girlfriends next-door neighbors cousin twice removed just got his real estate license right before we started the quarantine, but, frankly, this is no time to go with someone brand new. If youre selling now, you need to be able to depend on the experience, expertise, and network of your agent.nbsp;

Listen to your real estate agent

This is no time to go rogue. Your agent has your best interest at heart, and they want to get your house sold just like you do. You may not love the idea of packing up your basement full of Hulk Hogan memorabilia, decluttering your crowded kitchen, or repainting the blood-red walls of your master bedroom, but if your agent tells you to do so, listen. Every tip your agent bestows is intended to make your home more saleable. Keep that in mind when youre doubting the effort you have to put in or worrying that the paint color your agent recommended isnt exactly your taste.

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Family Home Improvement Projects You Can Do During the Quarantine

The good news is, you can order just about anything you need, and with all that family togetherness, youve got the manpower to get some stuff done. Here are some great projects to take on while the family is hunkering down together.nbsp;

Do your backsplash

Tiling a backsplash seems like it would be a complicated project, but its actually >

If more involved renovations are on your to-do list, let the adults handle the removal of the old unit first, said Home Jobs By Mom. Then allow the kids to get creative with the new backsplash. If youve decided on a multi-colored mosaic backsplash, for example, the kids can work together to assemble the tiles on a sheet. This DIY home improvement project is not only replete with artistic flair but can be completed by one child or through family teamwork. If you think they are up for it, they can even assist in tile placement and grouting.


Painting is one of the easiest and most affordable updates you can make to your home and its perfect as a family project. Be sure to lay down a drop cloth if youre letting your kids paint with you, and take a little time first to show them some basic pointers so you dont end up with drips.nbsp;

Paint the fencenbsp;

If your fence has seen better days, gather the fam and get some sun while you perk it up. Have kids grab a brush and paint that picket fence white again, or update privacy fences with a color that matches or compliments your home, said Quicken Loans.

Bring a piece of furniture to life

Have a tired old table, sideboard, or bookcase? Order some paint and splash on a pop of color to bring it to life. You can make an old piece feel brand new, and youll have the added benefit of feeling proud every time you walk past it.

Redo your kitchen cabinets

Were not gonna lie. This is a doozy of a project to take on without professional training and extreme patience and diligence. But, youve definitely got the time on your hands now, so why not give those dingy cabinets a makeover.nbsp;

Its not easy to get a smooth finish, even with a professional sprayer, so its probably best to keep the paintbrushes out of the little ones hands unless theyre painting an area that is not going to be easily seenlike the back of the cabinet boxes or underside of shelves. Theyll probably have fun with the sanding block, though, or can be assigned the job of wiping down the finishes after theyve been sanded. They dont need to know what a tedious job this is; if you package it right, theyll think its a privilege

Once you figured out whos doing what, use some professional tips to get a pro quality look. You dont need to spray to get a smooth finish," painting contractor John Dee told This Old House. He often brush-paints cabinets anyway because it gives him more control and avoids the risk of paint spray ending up where its not wanted. Surface prep is the same whether you spray or brush. Brushing is time-consuming, he warns, and could take up to a couple of weeks to complete. But the result is a durable, glass-smooth finish thats the equal of anything from a spray gun. You just need to use the best materials and take the time to sand and do the brushwork right, he said.

Create a garden

Creating a garden is a low-key renovation project for the whole family. Its also combining science and art for a great learning experience, said Isleys Home Service. Starting a garden helps your kids develop an appreciation and understanding of nature. And in this age of video games and smartphones, thats a good thing. Find some decorative plants or even plant seeds for the front and/or backyards. Being able to eat what you grow always has an impact so go ahead, work together and have some fun.

Build a playhouse

This is obviously a more involved DIY project, so maybe you dont tackle this one unless someone in the family has some carpentry skills. If you do move forward, however, you can create something special that will hold lifelong memories for the kids.nbsp;

Theyll have so much fun building something that is specifically for them to play in and theyll learn a lot about carpentry along the way, said Italian cabinet manufacturer, Aran Cucine. Young children are obviouslynbsp;not be suited for dangerous tasks such as sawing lumber, but theyll be able to help with measuring, painting and hammering with supervision.

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How to Find an Awesome Loan Officer

You do some shopping on your own for a while, comparing prices and options and even do some online calculations about what your car payment might be. You narrow your choices down to the type of vehicle, year and how much youre willing to pay and then contact a few dealers or sellers. You find your car, make an offer, haggle a little bit and come to a deal. Next, you come up with the money, transfer it to the seller and the car is yours. Fairly straightforward. It also helps to know the process is simple enough that you really dont need much outside advice. Mortgages though are a bit more complex. Thats why you need to find an awesome loan officer.

Your loan officer will provide ideal financing options that meet your wants and needs. Youll be provided with a list of closing costs you can expect to pay at the settlement table. Your loan officer will issue a preapproval letter to take with you as you begin looking at homes. Youll know what interest rates are. If you have a question about financing, even on the weekends or evenings, your loan officer will be available. But how do you find this awesome loan officer?nbsp;

Banks and mortgage companies can spend a ton on fancy marketing and promotions but it really all boils down to the expertise of the loan officer you end up with. A bank can put together a great advertising campaign but if you end up with a loan officer that really doesnt live up to the hype, all those advertising dollars go down the drain.

To find an awesome loan officer, ask around. For certain, ask your real estate agent for some financing referrals. You can bet your agent has a few favorite loan officers for a referral. Note here, real estate agents dont get referral fees from loan officers but what they do get is something much more valuable- peace of mind. A real estate agent knows that when a buyer is preapproved by a trusted loan officer, the agent can spend more time buying and selling homes and less time tracking down a marginal loan officer for loan status.

From your list of loan officers, pay less attention to who they work for. Instead, ask for a few referrals of clients theyve arranged financing for. Quality loan officers will be able to rattle off several recent satisfied clients and it only takes a few quick phone calls for a reference check. Second, ask how long the loan officer has been in the mortgage business. A loan officer with years of experience is valuable. How many years? I dont know exactly, 10 maybe?nbsp;

But certainly not someone right out of the gate. It might seem a bit unfair to those new to the industry to say that, but you need experience. You need someone who has the tenacity to stay in business for an extended period of time. Some say that loan officers get good at spinning plates because there is so much going on behind the scenes. Top loan officers who have been in business for several years have proven their performance. For loan officers who cant develop a market and extensive client base wont be around for very long. Loan officers, like real estate agents, get paid on performance.

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3 Signs Your Crawlspace Needs Professional Attention

1 - Moisture:

Moisture is bad enough on its own since it can seep into the foundation of the house and cause damage over time. However, dark and moist environments also offer an excellent breeding ground for mold.

There may be no worse place to get mold than in your crawlspace. Not only is it bad for the structure of the entire house, but due to the way air currents work, most of the air in your house goes through your crawlspace at some point.

Air will carry mold spores into your home. Meaning that crawlspace mold will reduce the air quality of the entire house and may have severe effects on people who suffer from asthma or allergies in general, especially children.

Keep an eye out for moisture in your crawlspace, especially after it rains. You can detect it in the air if you have a good nose, you can also touch the ground and the walls looking for wet spots.

2 - Rats, insects, and other pests:

Rats are always bad news. If you find them in your crawlspace it may be worse, since they may be getting in through a gap underneath the foundation of your home. If left unchecked they can become an infestation down there.

The same goes for spiders, cockroaches, and even raccoons in some areas. They are all liable to make your home into their home if left unattended. Keep an eye out for those plagues, as well as signs of their presence, such as animal feces, holes on the ground or walls of the crawlspace, etc.

3 - Wood rot:

Rot can be a very costly problem. This form of fungus grows inside the wood, weakening it as it spreads. The good news is that there are lots of chemical products on the market that can kill and remove rot from wood.

The bad news is that these methods dont work when rot damage is too extensive. Detecting the early signs of wood rot can save you the expense of having to replace huge chunks of a houses foundation.

There are two types of rot that may affect your crawlspace: wet rot and dry hot. Signs of wet rot include the wood becoming darker, feeling soft or spongy when pressed, and the appearance of cracks in the affected area, as well as localized fungus growth, which may lead to the appearance of a mushroom-looking body.

Dry rot will also cause wood to feel weak and spongy. This tends to be a more destructive variety of rot, but its also easier to spot due to the growth of the mycelium a white substance that looks a bit like cotton or wool and clings to the affected wood. If you spot that, or any other sort of fungal growth, get a professional involved.

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Should You Ask for a Forbearance?

Were breaking down the details.nbsp;

What is a forbearance?nbsp;

Forbearance is a temporary postponement of mortgage payments, said Investopedia. It is a form of repayment >

The key words here are temporary and postponement. Forbearance is a way to delay your mortgage payments for a period of time with the knowledge and permission of your lender. That way, you can skip a number of payments without putting your home at risk like you would if you just stopped paying; eventually, your home would go into foreclosure.nbsp;

The CARES Act, otherwise known as the coronavirus >

You can also ask for an additional extension for up to six months if needed. Younbsp;must contact your loan servicernbsp;to request this forbearance, said the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. You do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim to have a pandemic->

Here are a few more things to consider.

Those skipped payments arent freebies

Some homeowners have been disappointed to find out that forbearance doesnt mean forgiveness. Youre not excused from making those payments; youre just not making them NOW.nbsp;

One of the most important things to remember, and the source of a lot of confusion, is that forbearance is not forgiveness, said Karan Kaul, a research associate in the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute, on CNBC.nbsp;Its just putting a pause on your mortgage payments for a few months. And depending on the loan servicer, interest can continue to accrue during the forbearance period, which may increase the overall cost of the mortgage.nbsp;

In addition, homeowners are still going to be paying interest on the balance of their loan, there are taxes and insurance that are not into escrow, that will have to be paid out, said Jennifer Micklos, with Movement Mortgage out of Clermont, NY on WFTV.

Those skipped payments will likely be due sooner than you think

There has been some talk about mortgage payments being tacked on to the end of the loan term, which would be more of a mortgage holiday for those who are having a hard time paying. But, by and large, this is not what lenders are offering.nbsp;

When Morgan Davis, a furloughed clothing designer, called Wells Fargo to ask for help with her FHA loan about two weeks ago, she was offered to suspend three payments without penalty three months of forbearance, said Forbes. But at the end of those three months, all my mortgage payments would be due at once, Davis said. I told [the bank representative] that didnt sound very helpful. I explained I had only called to see if there was a way for me to hold onto more of my cash while I wasnt getting paid.

Flagstar Banks forbearance program has similar stipulations, although they initially offer a six-month suspension period. The forbearance letter they are sending out to customers states, that A forbearance plan is a temporary solution, and the suspension of your payments during the Forbearance Period will make your loans past due.nbsp;

Borrowers are expected to bring their loan current at the end of the six months by paying all past due amounts including those not paid during the Forbearance Period; setting up a repayment plan that adds a portion of your past due amounts to your regular monthly payment until your account is current; or applying for a more permanent loss mitigation solution.

You wont be reported as late

Lenders are not to report forborne payments to the credit bureaus, which means that borrowers who request forbearance will not see their credit scores suffer, said Forbes. However, if they do not contact their loan servicer to start a forbearance plan and miss a payment, the lender is to report that lapse to the credit bureaus.

Additionally, Loan servicers are barred from addingnbsp;any fees, penalties or interest charges beyond the amounts scheduled or would be calculated if the borrower made timely payments, said CNBC.

You might not be able to get through to your lender

CNBC reported that homeowners have spent hours on the phone waiting for help from their lender, so be patient if youre making that call. Or, check out your bank or lenders website to see if they have added forbearance information. You might find what you need and be able to submit your request without having to speak to someone.nbsp;

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How to Be a Successful and Persuasive Communicator While Working Remotely

Remote work was a rising trend before the COVID-19 pandemic, with regular work-at-home growing 173 percent since 2005. With so many additional businesses moving to a work-at-home structure for the time being, its safe to assume that broader long-term adoption will become even more prevalent over the coming years. Its a good idea for professionals to start learning now how to connect remotely to staynbsp; ahead of the curve. Here are a few tools and tactics that will help you become a successful and persuasive communicator via a remote connection.nbsp;

Stick to the basics

Even through a remote connection, the basics of persuasion apply. Its vital that you do your homework and learn about the decision maker. Just because you arent meeting face-to-face doesnt mean that you can skip the groundwork you would regularly complete. What are your targets demographics? Do they have any special interests? Youll need to establish an even stronger bond to persuade via remote means, so flex your research talents and learn about your target.

You should also continue to find their needs and pain points. Learning this information will help you demonstrate to your decision maker that you understand their goals, even if you cant see them in person. Establishing a strong sense of understanding will help you build trust and allow you to position yourself as an advisor. This trust will be critical for remote persuasion.nbsp;nbsp;

Leverage technology

Although working from home can create another level of separation from your target, technology has progressed leaps and bounds when it comes to interpersonal communication. Tools such as Zoom and Skype for Business allow your audience to see your face. You should leverage your entire technology suite to help you persuade remotely.nbsp;

Visuals must lead your decision maker to your desired conclusion. Create polished presentations to either show via conference call or email ahead of your meeting. When you might not regularly do this when meeting face-to-face, you may consider incorporating a video presentation as well. Video can be a terrific way to establish an emotional connection with your decision maker, providing for a unique story telling opportunity complete with visual and musical cues. Nearly 90 percent of professionals indicated that a strong narrative was critical in maintaining their attention. Engagement with your story is more important than ever, as youll be competing with additional distractions including family and pets.nbsp;

Practice and develop a >

Personal energy exchange is very difficult via a computer screen. You must determine who you are as a presenter in this new medium. How can you be more dynamic through remote connection? Before jumping on a conference call, practice on your computer by recording yourself and playing it back to see how you present on camera. Think this is taking it too far? Consider the first time you had to leave a professional voicemail and were put on the spot to communicate your needs in a brief message. It took time to sharpen those skills and youre probably a pro now The same is true for online presentations. It might take a few rounds to get comfortable, but at this point in your career theres no time to fumble. Practice makes perfect

Be memorable

Would you do a face-to-face meeting and not follow up? Absolutely not You would always follow up with your decision maker and you need to continue that with a remote connection. Think about ways you can stand out in the crowd. How about an old school, handwritten thank you note sent to their home? During a time when personal connection is minimized, it might be an opportunity to brighten your customers day and build trust. Just make sure you send to the correct address. If theyre also working from home, a note to the office will get lost in the shuffle.nbsp;

Persuade from a distance

While many professionals are used to persuading through face-to-face interactions, the current climate calls for a new tactic. Just because you cant meet in person with your decision makers doesnt mean that you cant still do your job. Learning to effectively persuade via remote connection is possible, and by following the basic principles of persuasion, leveraging your technology suite, setting time to practice and developing ways to be memorable, you still have a strong chance at leading your decision maker to the desired outcome. While remote persuasion may take a bit more effort and preparation, you can get the results you seek if you take the time and keep these guidelines in mind.nbsp;

About Juliet Huck: Author of The Equation of Persuasion, and founder of the Academy of Persuasion e-learning series, Huck has blazed a trail in the uncharted territory of Persuasive Communications for 25 years. She has been retained by some of the nations most prestigious organizations, corporations and law firms and has assisted in moving billion-dollar projects forward, securing billions of dollars in decisions through her proven process. From the Enron Litigation to a billion-dollar Exxon project, she has been involved in the strategic development and visual communications for some of the corporate worlds largest projects to date as well as the nations top high profile and high-dollar exposure litigation.

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Your Essential Spring Lawn Care Guide


First, rake leaves twigs and dead grass and remove snow mold if you live in colder climates. This allows air and sunlight to reach down to the grass roots. Avoid power-raking; go for a gentler approach, using a light rake rather than a heavy one. Hacking away at the ground can damage shallow grasses and remove the layer of soil holding seeds that need the sun to germinate.


You know spring is here when the weeds come out. Dandelions are among the first to rise up in the dormant grass. The yellow flowers, followed by the puffballs, pop up almost faster than you can keep up with them. Hairy bittercress, common chickweed, and henbit are also common winter annual weeds. They spend winter in a dormant state and sprout in the spring. For best results, pull as many as possible by hand or use a hoe. Be sure to get the entire plant, roots and all. Mow before and during flowering to stop seed production. If you use a pre-emergent weed killer before the weeds wake up, make sure its a calm day.nbsp; Wind can spread the chemicals onto plants you dont want to kill and into waterways you dont want to pollute.nbsp; If youd prefer to avoid chemical and hand-pulling, there are a number of natural weed killers, but dont expect them to work quite as well.


Aerating making small holes in your soil lets air, water and nutrients reach the roots of your lawn, encouraging healthy growth. Your best bet is a power plug aerator, but you can also use a manual spike aerator. On newer lawns 1-3 years old, aeration is encouraged twice a year, in the spring and fall. After that, you can switch to once a year in the spring. Dont rake the plugs; leave them on the lawn as topsoil. Mow over them and they will decompose naturally.


Overseeding is the practice of spreading grass seed over your existing lawn. Cover bare and thinning patches of turf using a mix of seed that includes slow-growing and low-growing grasses fine fescue or centipede grass, for example. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass and annual ryegrass benefit the most from overseeding. The process ensures your lawn will stay young, healthy, and thick.


Maybe getting up early isnt your thing, but you need to water the lawn early in the morning before the sun gets too strong. This prevents water evaporation waste and lets the grass blades dry off before evening, which helps prevent insect and disease issues. Watering deeply and less frequently makes the roots stronger and deeper. But dont overwater Perpetually soggy roots cant breathe and rot, attracting disease and insects. Soil should be moistened to a depth of about 6 inches a couple of times a week. Not sure if your lawn needs watering? Try the screwdriver test. Take an 8-inch screwdriver and push it into the lawn. If it goes in easily, your lawn is moist enough.


Fertilizer is food for the soil. It helps keep your lawn healthy so it can resist disease and weeds. Fertilizing also plays a role in lawn color and helps the grass recover from stress. Grass often needs more nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than the soil provides. Thats where fertilizing comes in. Wait until the soil reaches a temperature of 55 degrees. Fertilizer is useless on frozen ground. Use either slow or quick->


When the grass is growing well, its time to mow. The proper mowing height will depend on your type of grass, but for good lawn health, follow the one-third rule: Never cut off more than one-third of the length of the grass. Cool-climate grasses have two peak growing periods, in the spring and fall. Warm-climate grasses grow fastest in the summer heat. Mow more often when growth is peaking and back off when slower grass growth tells you to. Its also best to let the clippings fall back into the lawn. They recycle nutrients so youll need less fertilizer.

The yard is the first thing people notice about your home and the cornerstone for curb appeal. Make sure the grass is thick and healthy with these essential spring lawn care tips.

Amy Okafor loves a good landscape, and seeks inspiration for the one in her backyard by visiting every one she can in her travels. She writes about gardening and landscaping for a variety of local and national publications.

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Developing a Successful Homeowner Association

The growth of HOAs has been nothing short of phenomenal in the last decade. In many urban areas, upwards of 75 of all new residential housing is in the form of a homeowner association. Mixed used HOAs combine residential and commercial together. For instance, retail and office units often occupy street level space while residential units occupy upper floors.

HOAs are essentially governmental corporations controlled by the members through an elected board of directors. The HOA has authority to make and enforce rules and regulations and to collect HOA fees from the members to support the HOA operation and maintenance responsibilities. Like the IRS, the HOA has significant power to enforce its will through liens and, in extreme cases, foreclosure.

When homeowner associations are properly conceived and constructed, they work very well. When they are haphazardly implemented, trouble and discontent follows. The success or failure of an HOA begins at the beginning...with the developer.

Knowing the huge potential in HOA development, what should the savvy HOA developer do to maximize sales and profits? I will explain several steps to being a successful homeowner association developer.

1. Choose the HOAs design and material carefully. Homeowner associations often have significant maintenance, repair and replacement responsibilities. This is particularly true of condominiums where the structures and grounds are the maintenance responsibility of the HOA. This responsibility falls on the shoulders of a volunteer board of directors which is usually composed of well meaning but inexperienced people. So, when it comes to designing the structure and grounds, ease of maintenance and cost of repairs are extremely important.

Steer clear of unproven architectural designs and materials. The odds are high that such an experiment will fail and problems come back to haunt the developer. The more complex and expensive it is for the HOA to maintain, the more likely it will not be done properly.

2. Carefully craft the governing documents. Also called CCamp;Rs Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, rules, regulations, declaration and bylaws, these documents form what is the HOA governmental structure. State laws vary on the requirements so its imperative that these documents be crafted by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney in the state where the development is going to be. There is no such thing as "boilerplate" governing documents. Each HOA is unique and state laws change frequently. Never try to save money on legal costs, because poorly written governing documents can make it next to impossible for the board to administer HOA business, enforce reasonable rules or raise the money needed to maintain the assets.

3. Budget the HOA adequately. In an attempt to be competitive in selling their HOA units, some developers set the HOA fees unrealistically low. If the competition is charging, say, 300 a month, they might charge 250. Thats a better deal right? Hardly. If it takes 300 per month per unit to support the HOA budget, it wont take long for the new board of directors to figure that out and then Mr. Developer receives a strongly worded letter from an attorney that has ugly words like misrepresentation and fraud sprinkled here and there. Whether the developer has intentionally or unintentionally underestimated the HOA budget, he will be held accountable. Moreover, if the HOA doesnt have enough money to maintain the assets, it will fail sooner and the developer usually gets blamed for construction defects.

Its best to use third-party consultants, including professional HOA managers and management consultants that specialize in homeowner associations to determine the HOAs operating and reserve budgets. The developer should get as arms length as possible from the budget numbers.

4. Provide a reserve study. A reserve study forecasts the repair and replacement events that the HOA will encounter over the next thirty years. It identifies the common elements by component roof, paint, siding, etc., assigns a repair or replacement cost to each, a schedule for each like roof, thirty years; paint, ten years., and a funding plan that guides the board of directors on how much money to reserve each year for these future events.

Since these costs can easily add up into the millions of dollars, its critical that they be included into the HOA budget from the beginning. Then, its a >

5. Provide a maintenance plan. While adequate budgets can pay for adequate maintenance, how the money is spent is very important. Remember, the board is made up of amateurs that often dont have the knowledge or experience to maintain the millions of dollars in assets with which they are entrusted. A maintenance plan written by the developer gets into the specifics of what should be done, who should do it, and when. The plan should be written in laymans terms because thats what the board members are. They need to understand what needs to be done but will not actually do it themselves. A maintenance plan that ties directly to the operating budget and reserve study will give the board the guidance it needs to spend the HOAs money properly.

6. Honor warranty obligations. Developers generally have a statutory warranty period on HOA property sold. Handling warranty claims properly and quickly yields big dividends in the public >

7. Stay in the mix. Just because the project is sold out and turned over to the homeowners doesnt mean the developers job is over. Beyond warranty issues, there is always a potential that some legal claim may raise its ugly head.

To help fend off these dragons, the developer should retain the right in the governing documents to attend future board meetings and receive copies of board meeting minutes. Proactive developers take those rights seriously and attend all meetings for years. The result is that small problems are nipped in the bud before they become subjects of litigation.

Being an HOA developer can be highly rewarding and profitable when the plan includes these insider principles. Take this advice to heart and enjoy hearty results.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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Trying to Refinance? May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor.

Heres what you need to know if youre looking to lower your rate right now.

Rates may be higher than you thought

That 3.5 rate you saw last week might be up over 4 now. No, the coronavirus crisis isnt over, and the Fed hasnt raised the benchmark rate. So whats going on here?

A big reason may be a resurgence in new applications for mortgages and especially refinances, said The Mortgage Reports. Investors hate refinances, especially if theyre for mortgages that are recent. So the last thing they want is to replace lost mortgages with ones at an even lower rate. And, understandably, they shy away from mortgage-backed securities MBSs. But supply and demand mean that inevitably pushes up mortgage rates.

So the Fed is having to resist the market forces that arise when investors vote so decisively with their feet. We still think it likely that it will get its way in the end and push mortgage rates lower. But dont expect a smooth ride.

But they also may dip back down

When they do, call your loan professional. Quickly. And hope you make it through to the end. By some accounts, its like the Hunger Games out there.nbsp;

All lending institutions are not equalnbsp;

If youre working with a mortgage broker, youll have access to a number of refinancing options and programs. If youre working with just one lender, you only have access to their programs. It behooves you to get quotes from more than one person.

It may be harder to get approvedand stay that waynbsp;

The credit score that was good enough to qualify last yearor even last monthmay not be good enough anymore. Thats because the COVID-19 pandemic has forced lenders hands when it comes to FICO score minimums, said Forbes. As more and more Americans lose their jobs or see reduced wages because of the virus, the risk of foreclosure goes up. Investors who buy mortgage loans will lose out when that happensand taking on more risk by lending to lower-credit borrowers? Thats just not something investors or the lenders who sell to them are interested in.

That FHA minimum of 580 that many first-time buyers with sub-par credit used to qualifyits probably going to be awhile before that type of score is acceptable again. Lenders set their own credit score requirements based on how much risk theyre willing to take on, they said. One lender told a borrower the new minimum for FHA was 680.

A look at rate sheets from lenders across the country reveals a similar theme. Credit score requirements are either much higher than the official FHA minimum one lenders floor was 740, or tiered interest rates make the loans virtually unaffordable for lower-credit borrowers another lender added 15 for scores between 600 and 619. The result is a mortgage market that essentially shuts out buyers and existing homeowners who dont have sterling credit.

Your appraisal may come via an algorithm

Increasingly, appraisers are using computer algorithms instead of an-person inspections to determine the value of a home. Thats partly because Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage giants, recently directed mortgage lenders to reduce the need for appraisers to inspect the interior of a home for eligible mortgages, said Money. The caveat? For non-conforming mortgages, such as FHA loans, an in-home appraisal is still required.

Your inspection may be virtual

In many areas, this is the new normal. The Erie Building Division has begun offering a virtual option so homeowners can have their projects inspected without staff members coming entering homes during the novel coronavirus pandemic, said Colorado Hometown Weekly. Erie staff is still conducting inspections on new home construction and commercial construction.

Money adds that a number of home inspectors are now using live video chatting apps like FaceTime or Zoom to let home buyers tag along remotely.

There may be other barriers to closing

Closing on a real estate transaction is hard enough without the extra obstacles erected by social distancing and lockdowns. So some are trying to dismantle the biggest barrier, said The Mortgage Reports. Legislators are currently working on a law that could further facilitate remote, electronic signing of closing documents. Thats generally already legal under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act E-Sign and various state laws. But a new bipartisan bill is intended to make it easier and more commonplace. And Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and probably others are being less strict about some aspects of verification. So, perhaps, your employer, working from home without access to paper files, may be able to certify your employment by email rather than provide documentary evidence.

However, that doesnt mean there arent barriers to closing right now, outside of any difficulty associated with loan approval. For one, the closing of government offices in some areas is proving to be a challenge.nbsp;


May the odds be ever in your favor.

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NOW: BV (Before Virus) & AV (After Virus)

Times have changed dramatically.

The strategic frontline for the war against the COVID-19 virus and for the fight to keep people healthy is our homes. We are all living on this frontline, therefore we can all make a significant difference in determining how this war plays out and ends.


Thats how the war will be wonfirst in your home, then around the country, then globally. By staying home to curb virus spread, youll remain healthy and out of the overburdened healthcare system. Through this civic service, you are buying time for the hard-working global medical community to save the infected, discover drugs which will increase their survival, and create vaccines to protect against the virus and, therefore, to end this.

Personal 6-foot distancing and staying physically separate, especially when combined with frequent, effective handwashing andif you must go outwearing a mask, reduce the risk of catching the virus through inhaling an infected persons air-born respiratory droplets and, if you have the virus or carry it, of spreading the virus.

Whether home is a house, a high-rise unit, or something in between, home may never have played a more important role in your life and in society. Staying home is at the top of the We must win out over this virus list, therefore make a difference and shelter in place.

At the same time, reach out online or by phone to help:

those who are isolated, under-housed, or in abusive > those whose work is directed at helping these people as well as recently laid-off or homeless individuals and families.

Uncertainty Is Certain

So many thought they had job security, but it turns out that was false security. Now you see why. Hopefully, your learning curve will be flattened by support from your employer, community, the government, and from yourself.

Discovering how to live comfortably with uncertaintythats living with constructive uncertaintymay be your greatest challenge and, eventually, your most powerful super power:

Start by acknowledging that youve always lived with uncertainty, you just ra> Then, invest your energy and creativity in action and learning opportunities that build your resilience and flexibility on all levels. Apply the resulting resourcefulness to empower you into creating and moulding the future of your choice, not settling by default.
Cope with continued change by repeatedly practicing constructive uncertainty until it is a new habit. Life may never be the same again, but what if that becomes a good thing? How can you contribute to a better outcome?

NOW thinking starts NOW

1. No going back, only forward
2. Only you stop you
3. Why not take action while the world is on pause?

Shift your perspective to make a painless, quick transition to NOW Thinking:

1. No going back, only forward

Theres no BACK and theres certainly no NORMAL

Before Virus BV: With all the talk of returning to normal or going back to normal living, few people are willing to acknowledge there is no going back. There never was a going back nor a normal. We were just programmed to believe there was.

After Virus AV: Life is like a river. In a river, its impossible to step into the water and then return later and step in exactly the same spot in that river. The same is true in life. If you revisit a person, place, or memory, you have changed and so have they or it. The unobservant and distracted dont see these differences. They also miss the subtlety of opportunity. Accept the fact that there is no going back and that we are all moving forward whether we acknowledge this or not. Then AV, youll see previously-missed opportunities.

2. Only you stop younbsp; nbsp;

You dont need enemies or barriers to stop you. Weve each had a lifetime to become good at self-sabotage.

BV: Each of us is the real obstacle we face. We limit our own goal achievement and future. For instance, are you letting fear steer your course now even though youre not exactly sure what youre afraid of and how realistic this is?

AV: Awareness of how you undermine yourself can help you change patterns in the future. Adopt a positive perspective on every set-back to regain ground and move forward quickly. To empower yourself, replace fear of what you might lose with gratitude for what you have and who you share your life with. Are you here to follow someone else or to be yourself AV?

3. Why not take action while the world is on pause?

BV: Did you feel you had not accomplished all you expected to in life and then the virus hit and now you have been thrown completely off track?

AV: Bad things are happening, but good will come of the worlds unprecedented banding together to conquer this common invisible enemy. Lean on the positive side of this global crisis and you may come out in a better place.

Not never, but when

If youre bored, its because youre boring. Youve not even engaged with yourself. Get curious. Be interested in more than virus statistics and streaming to kill time. Concentrate on helping, learning, being productive, contributingand suddenly you may find fulfilling hours have passed. Were living in a new world, so adopt a pioneers strength of will and resourcefulness. Eventually, this purposeful, self-directed approach will become your signature stance on lifes current and AV challenges.

The work day still ends when it ends. Employers who are driving remote-working employees to labor beyond their regular 8 hours are not improving productivity, making friends, or building credibility.

Home-based employees and entrepreneurs with stay-at-home children work two careers:nbsp;

1. Theirswithout many of the conveniences of the normal workplace, and

2. A new untutored, fill-in education role cobbled from the careers of missing nbsp; nbsp; teachers, principals, lunchroom people, recess monitors...the childrens nbsp; nbsp; entire school education team.

Working from home is not me>

Employers, independent contractors, and employees benefit from re-thinking how workers are expected to fit their job into often-complex home life while simultaneously achieving equivalent, if not higher, rates of productivity. Employers who pressure, threaten, or stress workers are using old-fashioned BV habits, not forward-thinking AV leadership.

Restorative sleep is the vital goal. Resilience is essential for homefront fighters in the war against COVID-19. That means restorative sleep is essential for good health, clear decision-making, and sharp thinking. Cut sugar, caffeine, and drugs to aim for calm and >

Or, turn to music. Participate. Dont just listen. Take up the anti-virus challenge Jon Bon Jovi has extended. Help him write a song of perseverance based on if you cant do what you want, you do what you can.nbsp;

The strategic frontline for staying healthy is home. If you go out and catch the virus, the healthcare system becomes the battleground where you fight for your life.nbsp;

Stay healthy to protect yourself and others

This too shall pass.

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Sellers: Adopting a “Buyer Frame of Mind”

Your real estate professional will help with this mental transition and ultimately youll benefit from embracing this shift. The sooner you let go of obsessing about your home and start concentrating on what buyers in this market and this price range will spend their money on, the easier and more lucrative selling your home will be.

Embrace The Buyer Perspective

You probably selected your listing professional and brokerage based on what you believe they know about getting you the best deal. During the listing presentation, they brought you up-to-date on current local buyer patterns. This was intended to demonstrate their understanding of local market trends and their knowledge of how to connect with qualified buyers.

Dont be shy about returning to that conversation. Learn more about those shopping in your neighborhood for homes like yours. What exactly do they want and what dont they want.

Whether your experts use the National Association of REALTORSNAR annual Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report to illustrate selling points or statistics provided by their brokerage or Real Estate Board, you will learn a lot when you are introduced to the substance behind their marketing plan.

For instance, millennials represent a significant segment of buyers in many markets. If your real estate is already a millennial magnet, you and your professional team have a good chance of reinforcing this hot vibe. This marketing activity may materialize as an even great selling price with seller-favoring terms.

What can you do to help with Step One, which is getting buyers inside your real estate, so they can fall in love with the property?

The majority of todays buyers shop the internet before they contact a real estate professional. This means a stellar online presencephotos, videos, accurate informationis essential to gaining buyer attention and enticing them inside your real estate:

Videos and photos are only as good as the subject, so your help preparing your real estate to shine is vital. Curb appeal has to be there for a photo to capture this allure. A must-get-inside street face has to exist to have buyers click or swipe for more details on your real estate treasure. Think ahead if possible since some curbside beautification takes time. For instance, if you expect to sell in the spring, planting a lot of spring bulbs during the previous fall will be a great investment.
No one knows your real estate as well as you do, so you may see linkages that wouldnt occur to someone looking on. Suggesting benefits evident in other seasons may be useful content in marketing literature or during home tours. For instance, as the summer sun shifts between buildings, I can watch the sunrise from my front deckone of my favorite ways to start the day. Whats special about living in your real estate?
Most buyers would like a brand-new home, but they can only afford or find a resale. How can you make your home seem brand-new to buyers? Thorough cleanups, freshening up with paint, and repair of the unsightly all add up to a good first impression, inside and out. Youve gotten used to building defects, but friends and your real estate team will help you see the flaws if you have an open mindbuyers mindset.
Most buyers are moving to get more space. Empty closets, storage areas, and the garage, so it is evident there is room to spare. Remove extra furniture and stuff so rooms are visibly larger. Listen to your real estate professional. Youre going to move anyway, so get an early start.
Staging of interiors translates interior potential into visual proof that this is exactly what buyers are looking for. Generating Thats our > Get used to the idea that you and your family will be inconvenienced. This starts before the house goes on the market and lasts until its sold. Everything is about selling the buyers new home to them.

Power-Up Negotiation

Sellers benefit from understanding that negotiations for the sale of their real estate begin as soon as the listing is signed, not when an offer to purchase is presented.

Your real estate professionalyour negotiatoris steadily working toward negotiations. Generating offers to purchase is an important step along the way. Ask about their strategies for doing this.

Because you are not a trained real estate professional, any conversation or email exchange you have directly with buyers could undermine your professionals selling strategies. Your casual oh, sure, no problem response to a buyers request for something or question concerning closing date or what youll include in the sale, may cut into your negotiating position on the big day. Usually, direct contact between buyers and sellers is kept to a minimum for that reason.

Remove any must keep items like dining room fixtures, family heirlooms, or big screen TVs before the home is shown. Help buyers concentrate on what theyll receive, not get fixated on what they wont.

During a showing or an open house, your attempts to sell a buyer on the attributes of your yard or living room may put-off the buyer. Since buying connections are emotional, it takes an expert at reading the signs to know what to say and how to say it. Get out of the houseyou, your family, and petswhen your property is shown to buyers. How can they feel free to voice their feelings and visualize this as their home when youre sitting right there? Or worse, if youre along for the house tour?

Prepare for offer presentation by working out what you could do to move quickly if the right price appeared. What dates, if any, are essential to you? Find out what moving after those deadlines would cost you. That knowledge may help keep closing date in perspective during negotiations.

If you are concerned that your real estate professional is not doing everything they said they would, when they said they would, call them on this. Time on market is a crucial factor for achieving the best sale price. Wasting time means wasting your money.

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Tips for Taking Your Own Listing Photos During the Quarantine

But, even in jurisdictions where real estate->

First, a disclaimer. Professional photos of your home are critical to showing it in its best light so it will sellespecially in a market that is suddenly facing some challenges. According to the Center for REALTOR Development CRD, It might seem obviousor go without sayingthat good photography and videography are critical for your success as a real estate professional, said RISMedia. But when you dig into the numbers, just how much of an impact good visuals make borders on shocking.

Heres just a taste of those stats: Homes with high quality photographynbsp;sell 32 percent faster. Homes withnbsp;more photosnbsp;sell faster, too. A home with one photo spends an average 70 days on the market, but a home with 20 photos spends 32 days on the market. For homes in the 200,000 to 1 million range, those that include high-quality photography in their listingsnbsp;sell for 3,000-11,000 more.

If youre ready to pick up that SmartPhone, here are a few tips to help you tske pro-quality photos.

1. Make a shot list.

Although your shot list may be slightly different, especially if there are other areas in your home like a basement, game room, or home theater, this is a good overview from Expert Photography:

2 wide angle shots of each bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room
1 photo of the bathroom, unless its particularly beautiful or spacious
1-3 photos of the backyard unless it has some unique features. And then
1-2 shots of the front of the home to show off the curb appeal
1 shot each of features such as laundry room, garage, and pantry

2. Check out other listings, especially in your area.nbsp;

This will help you see what works when the photos are done right, and what doesnt.

3. Think like a buyer.

Before grabbing your camera and tripod, walk around your house and imagine how it looks to people who dont live there, Buddy Mountcastle, a real estate photographer in Fort Lauderdale, FL, told;

4. Consider the time of day.nbsp;

Shoot when the sun is at its sunshiny-est to help your home look light and bright. If you must shoot your interior on a cloudy day, play with the flash and the exposure to see if you can approximate natural light.nbsp;

5. Turn on all the lights.

Youre not going to have the benefit of professional lighting, but making your home as light as possible is key to taking good listing photos. Images that are too dark are a waste of time and effort.

6. Capture that sunset.

If youre getting ready to sell your house, put the whole family on sunset watch. That way, you can get out and take some exterior shots with a pretty sky in the background. Butyoull want to make sure the exterior of your house is lit right and that you are including the right home-to-environment ratio, as well.nbsp;

Just as when youre shooting indoors, you want to create the perfect vignette of the outside of your home, said Forbes. Showing too much street can make the image feel cold, Carrie Wells, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse innbsp;Aspen, CO, told them, Preparation is the key element in achieving great listing photos. Determine the right time of day or evening for each shot. If you have beautiful outdoor lighting, dont skip taking images at dusk. This can give potential buyers a better picture of the property and landscaping.

7. Use a wide-angle lens.

Its hard to get the angles right without one. Thankfully, you dont have to buy a professional camera with an expensive lens. On iPhone, the Panorama 360 app can give you the tool you need to look like you brought in a professional.nbsp;

8. Use a tripod.nbsp;

Most homes look much more appealing when shot in natural light, said Home amp; DIY Blogger, Erin Spain, on FitSmallBusiness. If you dont have professional flash equipment or a very steady hand, pictures taken without a tripod in natural light can look dark and blurry. Tripods allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds to take advantage of natural light while still keeping images sharp.

Dont have a tripod? Use one of these clever tricks to DIY one.

9. Clean, clean, clean.nbsp;

Any area being shot for your listing photos needs to look as clean as it would be if people were physically touring your house. Dirty carpets and smudged mirrors will show up in photos.nbsp;

The exterior of your home likely also needs some work. If you plan to show the home from the outside And you should, dont forget to give the exterior a clean-up, too. You might not be able to add fresh flowers to the porch or have the trees trimmed like you would if you werent quarantined, but, if you can spend a little time outside, you can still make the area look nice. Rake the leaves, clean the windows, and pull the weeds so the front looks tidy and inviting in photos.nbsp;

10. Watch the reflections

You might have to alter your angle several times in order to avoid reflections from mirrors or shower doors.nbsp;

11. Pay attention to the details.

Did you put the toilet seats down before you shot pictures of your bathrooms? Are there light bulbs missing or out in any of the light fixtures? Did you overlook the overfilled laundry basket in the laundry room? The little things we miss every day in our home will stand out to someone seeing it for the first time.nbsp;

12. Make use of good photo editing tools.

Snapseed or Box Brownie can help you get the best out of your photos with features to lighten them up, enhance the images, and retouch where necessary.nbsp;

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Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2020

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