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Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014

Homeowner Associations Restrictions on Signage

In election years, political debates are not just limited to the candidates. Debates often arise within homeowner associations over restrictions on signage that may limit an owners ability to place signs within the community.

An HOA can prohibit signs of any kind, including political signs, in the common area. The sign policy should include:

Unauthorized signs posted on the common areas are subject to immediate removal without notice

Removed signs will be stored for 30 days, prior to permanent disposal of the sign

Reasonable efforts will be made to notify the sign owner concerning its removal and where it may be retrieved.

Removal of an unauthorized sign is a separate remedy from imposing a fine for posting a sign in the common areas

Fine schedule for posting unauthorized signs

Its not uncommon for owners to complain that the HOA is infringing on their free speech rights. However, since homeowner associations are private entities, they may impose more stringent regulations than those found in public forums. If the HOA wants to control the type and kind of sign on the property, its important to have a clear policy that includes:

ype of allowable signs For Sale, For Rent, Garage Sale

Size limit no bigger than 18" x 24"

Number of signs allowed per home/unit

How long the sign can be posted prior to and after the election like, "Signs may be posted 60 days prior to an election and must be removed within 7 days after the election."

Location of signs like, "Signs may only be placed in a window or may be allowed in the front yard of a lot, or signs must be setback a certain distance from the street or the lot line."

Sign Material like, hardboard on metal post

Safety considerations for example, signs cannot block the view of drivers approaching an intersection

Consequences for violating the rule fines, removal of sign, etc

Appeal process

Curb appeal is a major consideration in market value and communities festooned with signs look cluttered and shabby. Drawing the line on signs is a reasonable course of action for homeowner associations. Line out a good policy on signs today.

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When It Comes To Residential Care Facilities, Agents Need To Be Careful About What They Say

The topic of residential care facilities also known as community care facilities is a touchy one. Right now, in the city where I live -- as well as in some near-by towns -- there is a bit of a community uproar over the increased presence of such facilities in so-called "traditional" neighborhoods.

The term residential care facility covers a variety of uses, ranging from foster family homes to adult care to facilities providing rehabilitative services to those recovering from mental illness. Regrettably, there is frequently a great deal of "not in my back yard" sentiment expressed when the issue of residential care facilities arises.

The California Association of REALTORS CAR has produced a memorandum Residential Care Facilities that covers a wide variety of such facilities, and it makes clear that there are often subtle differences in the law with respect to the individual types. Nonetheless, the similarities -- especially with respect to real estate disclosure issues -- greatly outweigh the differences.

Probably the most significant common element among the various types of facilities is that most of the >

Having noted that there are occasional variations in the law with respect to different types of facilities, for purposes of our discussion we will focus on the issues as they >

First, we note that, under California law, these properties "must not be subject to any business taxes, local registration fees, use permit fees, or other fees to which other single-family dwellings are not likewise subject... Furthermore, whether or not un>

So, what does all this mean with respect to disclosure duties? Suppose there is an alcoholism or drug abuse recovery facility next door. Is there an obligation upon either the real estate agent or the seller to disclose that fact to a potential buyer? No.

The analysis is two-fold.

1. There is an affirmative duty to disclose the existence of a nuisance affecting the property. However, the existence of such a facility cannot in and of itself be considered a nuisance. By law, anything which is done or maintained under the express authority of a statute -- as a recovery facility would be -- cannot be considered a nuisance. Of course, if there were constant loud noises or traffic problems, those could be considered nuisances.

2. There is an affirmative duty to disclose material facts that might affect the value or desirability of a property. However, the California attorney generals office has already issued an opinion that the location of a licensed care facility cannot be a material fact. After all, the Health and Safety Code has determined that "a residential facility which serves six or fewer persons shall be considered a residential use of property and a use of property by a single family." A residential use of property by a single family cannot be considered a material fact adversely impacting a neighboring property.

Well, ok, there may not be a duty to disclose the existence of such a facility; but what about volunteering the information? The CAR memorandum counsels caution in this regard. It points out that both alcoholism and drug addictions are considered to be handicaps under the law. "Therefore, volunteering information concerning the presence of an alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility may violate state and federal law prohibiting discrimination based upon a person being handicapped."

And what if an agent were asked about the presence of a care facility? Can they answer? Yes, providing that the response is "factual, not intended to aid discrimination against or segregation of licensed care facilities within the community, and in fact does not have that effect."

While the CAR memorandum particularly addresses California law, it also makes it quite clear that this state law often mirrors, or is superseded by, federal law.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way.

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The Designers Guide For Your New Bathroom

The bathroom is likely the smallest room in your house, yet it requires the most plumbing, fixtures, and lights per square foot. Bathroom remodels can be expensive, so you dont want to make any mistakes.

One of the most exciting resources for kitchen remodeling ideas is the National Kitchen and Bath Association. The NKBAs Kitchen and Bath Planning Guidelines with Access Standards ANSI is a terrific checklist to make sure you get the safest, most attractive, and most accessible new bath possible.

Naturally, youll have limitations in what you can do -- space, budget, and other priorities, but with the NKBAs guidelines, you can easily prioritize whats most important to you and your family.


If you dont have a disability or injury, you may not be familiar with the concept of universal design. It simply ensures easy access for all, but that doesnt mean your new bathroom should look like it belongs in a hospital. You can include wider doorways, roll-in showers, or door handles instead of knobs on the cabinets.

The doorway into a bath is recommended to be at least 32", depending on local codes. But if you have older household members, or if you entertain >

Because a bathroom space is typically tight, pay careful attention to all clearances. Could the door bang into an open cabinet door or drawer? Is there plenty of room to exit the tub without getting bruised by a cabinet edge or another fixture? Also, make sure lavatory, shower and tub handles can be easily turned without twisting the wrist or getting pinched.


One of the reasons tile is so popular for baths is that its easy to clean. Flooring with textured or uneven surfaces such as slate also work well. Shower floors should slope toward the drain so water doesnt accumulate underfoot.

Many older baths only come with one outlet, while newer building codes may require one GFCI receptacle outlet for every six or eight feet. Consider rewiring the bath and putting outlets on every corner where you use an electric appliance, but away from showers and tubs for grooming appliances such as hairdryers, curling irons, shavers, and nail dryers.

Grab bars can be placed in water closets and above tubs for greater ease in getting up and down. Try to design the bath with no steps if possible, particularly none around the tub.


Covering the shower walls with a waterproof material such as tile or glass is recommended, but you can also take the covering all the way to the ceiling for a luxurious look.

A bath is the most important area of the house to keep clean and tidy, so include as much space as possible for storage. Youll need space for towels, linens, grooming tools and cleaning supplies. If storage is at a premium, think creatively. For example the space above the tank of the commode is a perfect place to build or install shelves. Just be sure to allow enough clearance for maintenance.

Vessel sinks and pedestal sinks have been around a few years, but they add more drama and individuality than utility. Continuous granite or undermount porcelain sinks can be beautiful, as well as practical. The farmhouse sink is also attractive in a high-traffic bathroom.

Sometimes new lighting fixtures can update a bath with very little investment. Think in terms of task lighting -- lights by the vanity mirror, for example. Overhead light fixtures and ventilation fans are also useful.

No matter what you choose for your new bath, if you combine utility with comfort, you cant go wrong. Dont try to make the bath do more than the space allows. If all you have room for is a shower, and not a tub, create a shower with a small built-in seat. Where theres a will, theres a solution.

See more ideas at

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Go Green With The Wink Home Automation Ecosystem

Did you know that an automatic dishwasher uses less hot water than doing dishes by hand, which equals an average of six gallons less per cycle, or more than 2,000 gallons per year? Considering that an individual American uses about 2,000 gallons of water per month, thats a pretty significant number.

The idea of "going green" has come a long way in recent decades. In the 1950s, some kinds of energy efficiency werent really a choice. From drying your clothes on a clothesline, to cutting your grass with a mechanical push mower, people often lived green without ever consciously considering their carbon footprint. These days, the story is a little different; you cant turn a corner or pick something up without seeing some kind of "save the earth" signage or packaging.

Reasons to Go Green

There are a plethora of reasons to go green, most falling into either the money-saving or the earth-saving categories. On one hand, you could seriously put some green back into your wallet with things like energy-efficient appliances, and green building tax credits and rebates. Also, simple things like carpooling, limiting eating out, and starting your own vegetable garden are great ways to save money and help the environment.

On the other hand, eco-friendliness means making your community and the planet a better place to live not only for us, but also for future generations. Examples of things you can do in your home are unplugging unused electronics to prevent "phantom" energy consumption, switching to LED light bulbs, conserving water by taking shorter showers, and using reusable items like Tupperware and canvas shopping bags rather than plastic.

Home Automation Technology

New advances in technology are taking much of the guesswork out of going green. With home automation systems like the Wink Hub and free app, you can control the settings on many of your home devices with the push of a smartphone button or even just with your voice. The Wink ecosystem interconnects all of your smart home devices either first through the Hub, or directly to the app. Winks simplicity is one of its most attractive features: according to Home Depot technology professional and Wink test user, Ramesh Chaparala, "Its very, very simple and self-explanatory," continuing, "Installing the Hub is a no-brainer; in five steps youre connected."

What Can You Control?

With the Wink home automation ecosystem, you no longer have to "set it and forget it" when it comes to your home devices. You can control many of your smart devices from your couch, bed, work, or anywhere you are in the world. Here are just a handful of devices you can install in your home that will not only bring you into the 21st century, but also make your home a smoothly running, highly efficient machine.

Smart Thermostats

Thermostats are a great way to control your homes energy consumption, and when you apply smart technology, you can control it from anywhere. One Wink App Ready device is the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which not only adjusts to your schedule, uses automatic energy-saving settings, and Smart Response technology for precise temps, but also has a full-color, customizable screen to match your decorating scheme. You can be sure your home is aesthetically pleasing and at your exact desired temperature at all times.

Custom Window Shades

Motorized window shades allow for a clean, uncluttered look, are safer for pets and children with cordless technology, and help insulate your home with the setting of a timer or the push of a button. One quality option, Bali Custom Blinds and Shades with Somfy automation amp; controls, utilizes a single control, wall switch, remote or programmable timer to operate single or multiple window coverings. Keep the shades drawn during summer to keep your home naturally cool, or leave them open in cooler months to let the sunshine warm your space.

Remote-Access LED Lights

Huge energy and money savings start by simply swapping out incandescent and even compact fluorescent light bulbs in your home for LED bulbs. LED solutions outlast incandescent and halogen bulbs up to 35 to 1, consume 85 less energy than incandescent bulbs, and emit less heat, which altogether drastically reduces replacing costs and landfill waste. Once youve decided to install LEDs, take it to the next level by installing smart light bulbs, like the TCP Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Kit with 2 A19 LED light bulbs. With this kit, you can remotely control lighting, dimming and smart lighting features from anywhere in the world with any computer, tablet, smart phone, or connected remote control. They have an estimated yearly cost of 1.32 and a life expectancy of 22.8 years both figures based on three hours of use a day.

Home Automation Technology is an Environmental No-Brainer

When it comes to eco-friendly new gadgets, its clear that home automation takes the cake. Having nearly complete control of your energy-consuming home devices right at your fingertips is certainly a big step forward for earth-conscious homeowners. In addition to these devices, several other smart green products are energy sensors, HVAC systems, irrigation systems, and outlet controls.

Which environmentally friendly automated devices will you install in your home?

Sarah Kellner is a DIY home-improvement writer for Home Depot in Atlanta. Sarah writes for homeowners on topics ranging from appliances to kitchens to home automation. You can view many of Home Depots home automation products on the companys website.

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How To Punch Up Your Homes Personality

Your home is boring. Drab. Blah. Snoozeville. Which is weird, because youre bubbly, fun, and full of life. Right? Isnt it time your home matched your verve? Your vigor? Your joie de vivre? Lucky for you, there are some easy ways to punch up your homes personality. Follow the tips below and your house will soon be the life of the party.


White walls work well in 1920s Spanish architecture. And mental hospitals. For everyone else, come on - inject a little color. Painting is easy. Its cheap. And no matter what you do or do wrong, you can always paint over it.

If youre nervous about going too deep, bold, or bright, take it slowly. One room, or even wall at a time. If thats still too much, leave the walls the way they are and go for colorful accessories.


Yes, this is the place for those who are color averse when it comes to walls.

"One easy no painting way to spread some color around is to pile on some pretty pillows," said Better Homes and Gardens. "Mix dont match throw pillows in the same color story for a fresh and lively look that has a lot of impact without being expensive."


Look around. What does your art say about you? If it says "college student" when youve been in the working world for at least a decade, if its a mishmash of neutrals nothingness, or if you started to nod off before you got done scanning one wall, its time to pump it up.



Light - or lack of light - creates the mood in a room. If its dark in your space, chances are people wont want to spend much time there. Make sure you have ample light overhead, spread around the room with floor and table lamps, and in task->

"Strips of light-emitting diodes, known as LED lighting, let you decorate with colors of light. They can illuminate architectural details in a rainbow of colors, add special effects and provide a colorful kick to the base of a kitchen island or under cabinet lighting. Set to a single color or color changing patterns, eco-friendly and long lasting LED lighting can create a colorful glow under a sofa or bed, or, spaced around the base of a glass sink, make the vessel morph from blue to green or purple, depending on the water temperature. The light added to these unexpected places will create a dynamic space and lots of visual interest."

Next level

Now that youre a pro at picking colorful accessories and grown-up art, and lighting it all properly, go next level by creating layers. Throw rugs and throw blankets create layers with textiles. The same can be done with texture throughout the room. Are your accessories all the same material? Mix it up by bringing in something new. Metal, glass, wood - a mix can help create interest.

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How to Sell Your Home Without Dropping Your Price

When your home is marked down from its original price, its a sure sign that your marketing plan failed. Not only have you missed the critical first two weeks when buyers and real estate professionals are most interested, but theres no way for your home to compete with other homes that are better priced.

No one wants to waste time trying to deal with an unreasonable seller, so lowering the price may not help as much as you may think. Buyers may think something is wrong with the home, or they may decide that theres room for even more discounts. Real estate professionals wont get excited when your agent >

If youre really ready to sell your home, dont test the market. The best thing for you to do is to price it right in the first place and then sell as close to the original asking price as possible. For the best results, price your home at current fair market value -- not where prices were in 2005, or where they might be in 2015.

Current fair market value means your home favorably compares to recent listings and closed sales of homes most similar to yours in size, finishes, amenities and location. It also means your home is on target with price trending. If homes are dropping in price in your area, you may want to set your original price under current fair market values in order to generate more interest from buyers. If prices are trending upward, stay current - dont price ahead. That only works in the strongest sellers markets when banks are more comfortable about rising prices.

Next, make sure that buyers see your home in the best light. Among real estate professionals, the most important considerations is how your home looks from the curb and how it looks online. First impressions require that you spend particular time and attention on curb appeal, from keeping your walks and drives swept, to painting the front door a fresh new color, to putting out a new welcome mat.

Photography can be your homes best selling tool when its done correctly and professionally. Stage the rooms that will be photographed by removing clutter. Fluff the pillows, clear tabletops and countertops, and remove the dogs water bowl and your childrens toys out of the viewfinder. Take a few digital shots and look for flaws - the rumpled bed, the wastebasket full of paper, or the closet bulging with clothes. Once all the flaws are removed, youre home is ready for the professional photographer who has the right lighting and equipment to help you market your home.

In homeselling, less is more. You want the home to come forward and your belongings to fade to the background. If you have too much stuff, put the excess in storage. As little as 50 to 250 for short-term storage could make the difference in the buyers offer price.

When buyers come to your home, they will be looking for flaws, so make sure the little details are done, especially small repairs. The less that needs to be fixed or replaced, the better maintained and the more move-in ready the home appears to the buyer.

Buyer-friendliness is a factor that cant be underestimated. If you want a certain price for your home, make sure to give the buyer something extra to make it worth paying full price. Offer to pay closing costs up to a certain amount, or offer to leave the washer, dryer and refrigerator.

Its not just the home that needs to be attractive. As the seller, youre part of the whole package. You should appear buyer-friendly, just as your home should appear move-in friendly.

A home that is priced to reflect current market conditions and shows well in person and online will always sell for more than homes that arent maintained and marketed as well.

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Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014

The Designers Guide For Your New Bathroom

The bathroom is likely the smallest room in your house, yet it requires the most plumbing, f...
> Full Story

Go Green With The Wink Home Automation Ecosystem

Did you know that an automatic dishwasher uses less hot water than doing dishes by hand, whi...
> Full Story

How To Punch Up Your Homes Personality

Your home is boring. Drab. Blah. Snoozeville. Which is weird, because youre bubbly, fun, and...
> Full Story

Copyright © 2014 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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