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Updated: Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Move-up Mania

Youve got equity to spare. Your 2,000 square feet is starting to feel more like 200. All the neighbors are doing it. Its time to play a game of Move-up Mania

Homeownership isnt the American dream - moving up and up to get to the home you really want is, right? Is it time for you to play the game? Answer the following questions and find out.

1. How close are you to being free and clear?

Depending on how long you have been in your house and whether or not you have been overpaying your mortgage, you might be closer to paying off your house than you thought. If its a dream of yours to own a home outright, well, maybe you want to rethink the move-up thing. Or, you could look into renting your existing home. If rental rates in your area are strong, you may be able to rent it for more than your house payment and use the money youll make to cover the difference in your new house payment.

2. Is staying in your existing neighborhood important?

Your kids may not appreciate the extra bedrooms or the pool out back if they have to move our of their schools and leave their friends behind. Make sure if youre making a move for the good of your family that you are in touch with what your family really wants.

3. Do you really need more space?

If you answered yes, do you need more space more than you need a college fund or a nest egg? It all comes down to priorities.

Yes, space is important. If you have more children than bedrooms, more stuff than you can store, or are in an older home that would be impossible and/or price prohibitive to enlarge and/or update, thats one thing. If its just a "Keeping up with the Joneses" thing, well, then there are a few other questions youll want to ask yourself, like whether or not the Joneses will make your house payment if you get yourself in trouble by biting off more house than you can chew.

4. Do you want to do your part for the economy?

By most accounts, move-up buyers help move the economy along by stimulating the real estate cycle. More first-time buyer homes on the market means more first-time buyers. "The return of move-up buyers is good for the market as a whole," said MSN. "It brings more homes to the market, particularly much-needed starter homes, as these buyers trade up. Its also a good sign for the broader economy. An important sign of a healthy and sustainable recovery is increased housing turnover driven by trade-up buying, which is more or less discretionary spending. These buyers are typically more responsive to market conditions and financial incentives."

5. How much can you reasonably afford to increase your payment?

Even with equity in your existing home, you may still have increased costs once you move.

"Often times, we eyeball these things: rates are still good, you just got a raise, you can well afford your current payment, looks like your home is worth more now and those houses up the hill dont cost that much more," said Forbes. "Theres a lot more to account for in this equation. You need to factor in what the actual increase in your mortgage payment will be, but also how much youll net on your home, how much cash youll need to close on your next one, and how much your utilities, property taxes, insurance and other home->

6. In many areas, ample equity makes the move up possible. But is a big step up doable in your desired neighborhood?

In some markets, the disparity between your starter home and the one you want to move up to is vast, and some move-up buyers simply cant make the leap.

"Move-up buyers may not have enough equity in their home or liquid cash to purchase another home," said CNBC. Fast-appreciating markets throughout the U.S. and even in Canada may be feeling the pinch.

"Its not just first-time buyers who are finding themselves priced out of fast-appreciating housing markets the high price tag of properties is also starting to paralyze the move-up market," said The Star.

7. Should you stay put and renovate?

Whether to move or improve is always a difficult question, but "a few cost-benefit calculations can help you make the right decision," said Houselogic.

"As a general rule, improving costs less than trading up. But it depends on what kind of improvements youre doing," they said. "Figure paying somewhere between 100-200/square foot for new construction or a major remodel, depending on the scope of the project and labor costs in your area."

If your move-up plan was predicated on not having enough space for family, it might be a smart decision to add on. Not only will you get the space you need, with a design created to your specifications and >
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Real Estate Marketing Strategies - Are You Making This Big Mistake?

In todays economy your success depends on your ability to prospect and generate leads. However, if you are like most people you probably suffer from "Call >

Are you waiting for your fear subside before you get on the phone and prospect?

If so, youre not alone. 99 of all real estate agents and business owners feel the same way. They love the work that they do they hate the idea of picking the phone and calling someone they dont know.

If you suffer from this paralyzing fear, what should you do? The biggest mistake you could make is just wait for this fear to go away on its own because it wont.

The best thing you can do is to get rid of the fear. But how do you do that?

The first step is AWARENESS: you need to be aware that the fear is there and is costing you big time in your business. After all, how can you grow a business when you cant take the actions that bring in leads?

The next step is to do your best to UNDERSTAND the fear.

The origin always goes back to self-limiting beliefs. For most people the self-limiting belief that stops them is on a subconscious level and it is "if you call people I am bothering them".

Remember, this is not a fact, it is only a belief. You need to question whether that belief is true. Is it really true that every time, you pick up the phone and call someone that youre bothering them?

What if the opposite were true? What if every time you picked up the phone you were actually offering a gift? This gift is a gift of your knowledge ,experience and expertise. Instead of someone feeling bothered, what if you could imagine that they felt happy to hear from you?

Start turning your mindset around and realize that when you pick up the phone you are always the GIVER.

Dr. Maya Bailey, Multiple 6 Figure Income Business Coach for Real Estate Professionals, integrates her 20 years of experience as a psychologist with 15 years of expertise in marketing. Her powerful transformational work creates a Success Formula for Real Estate Professionals ready to create a Multiple 6 Figure Income. To get your free report: "7 Simple Strategies to More Clients in 90 Days" and to apply for an Initial Complimentary Consultation, go to:

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This Years Fall Design Trends For Your Home

If youre anything like us, you were done with summer three weeks ago, and the only thing keeping you going is the fact that youll soon be able to replace sweat with sweaters and flip-flops with fireplaces. Hallelujah, its almost fall In honor of the coming season, some more temperate weather, and all the goodies this time of year brings, weve compiled a few fall >

"This fall, its all about cozy decorating ideas," said HGTV. So ready, set, cozy throw draped across your couch

Color Scheme

Gray continues to be the hottest color around for home and fashion layer various shades of gray for a modern look, but if youre worried about it being too drabespecially during the months when the sun is hidden behind more gray, bring out the heavy metal. Metallics are an easy way to bring in some depth, warmth, and interest to the walls and throughout your home, and because they are so on trend right now, they are everywhere.

"As we usher in autumn, it is the perfect time to add some beautiful, warm metallics to your home," said Cindy Ambuehl. "Warm metallic colors are much more of the gold and bronzes than the silvers. These shades look good on almost any decorating >


If youre looking to bring in a few new pieces, keep with the metallic theme and bring in some leather. "This new glimmering leather treatment put a shine on >


Throw pillows for fall are also a great way to inject color, as well as pattern and texture. Your summer citruses or flirty fabrics can take a hiatus after Labor Day. Instead, think deeper colors and more substantial fabrics, like faux fur.

Lest you think your color scheme has to match up with a shade of squash or gourd, youll be happy to see jewel tones being used as accents this season.

"Colors always shift with the seasons, but this year there is a more saturated palette," said HGTV. "The colors are juicier than in previous years. Add pops of rich hues like indigo, fuchsia, peacock blue and emerald green to instantly refresh your space.


The aforementioned throw is a must have year round, and a go-get-it-right-now-item when seasons change. For fall and winter, you want to make sure you have something with textureruddy, tweedy, sweatery. If youre going for a more traditional look, think plaid. Want something more transitional leading to contemporary? Stripes or a graphic pattern can help create an easy, inexpensive focal point, all while keeping you toasty and covering that annoying stain on your couch.

Other Accessories

If you adopted the beach chic trend for the summer, youre not out of luck. Now is a good time to swap out some of the more pastel accessories, but you can autumn up your beach theme, with a more rugged twist, for fall. Driftwood is a huge trend, and is being shown in everything from sculpture to lamp bases to tables.

You can also use found items to create your own unique accessories. If you have sand and shells in your accessory mix, try introducing some more fall-like texture and colors deeper, darker shells, beach glass in richer hues, black sand, and layer in a hurricane. Driftwood stacked in a firewood holder is another way to stay seasonal and on trend without losing your beach theme.

Seasonal Dcor

Once fall arrives, the desire to carve pumpkins and create festive vignettes showcasing natures bounty hits. But you dont have to turn your front porch into pumpkin city. Continue the metallic trend with a gathering of gilded pumpkins. Leave behind the sprigs of wheat and put up a unique fall wreath that is welcoming and stylish. Or better yetmake your own. You can celebrate the season without looking like the festival came to town and set up in front of your house.

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All About Animal Prints In Your Home

Whether your hunter-gatherer spirit embraces the idea of authentic animal hides or you simply like the patterning of exotic animals, its easy to bring a little wild kingdom into your home and create a snazzy >


If you like animal hides, youll really like the upcoming seasons. Theyre on ottomans. Theyre on seating. Theyre on the floor in front of a crackling fire, although thats nothing new. What is new is how hide can be woven into nearly any type of dcor, bringing in a natural element without going full-blown log cabin.

Animal print rugs

There was a time that an animal print rug indicated you had a wild side. Today it just means you have good taste. It also no longer pigeonholes you to a certain type of rug or color scheme. Zebra print rugs and hides may be the most popular or expected options for an animal print rug, but today they come in every shape, size, and animal type.

"Animal print will always inject a graphic element and the recognizable patterns make for fabulous area rugs in leopard, zebra, and giraffe skin prints," said HGTV.

An animal print rug can be used as a foundational piece, to set a color story, or as a neutral. Or, all three, like this cheetah print rug in Southern Living.

Modern trends take the prints and pump them up even further. "Add a wild fall fashion trend under your feet" with "new carpet designs inspired by the animal kingdom," said House Beautiful.

Animal print everywhere else

On bedding, on rugs, on walls, on lampshades - you could put animal print just about everywhere if you wanted to. Although we dont recommend it. The trick to a well-designed space is the same as a well-designed diet: everything in moderation.

"Graphic animal prints add a dose of exotic chic to any room," said Elle Dcor. But, added Better Homes and Gardens, "Weve all seen those exaggerated rooms filled with animal print thats way overdone and the crime that occurs from overuse. Animal print is best used in small doses and smaller pieces of furniture or accents, or to make a dramatic impact with a rug or fun upholstered piece. Its a bold move to upholster a sofa in an animal print, but its graphic nature makes a stunning statement."

To incorporate an animal print into a space without "overpowering a room," use it subtly, said HGTV.

See some more chic examples of interiors featuring animal print here.

And thats not all

Horns, antlers, and animal skulls take the design one step further, and options for working this into your space are ample. Displaying animal parts not your thing? Go faux.

Either way, your space will be unique, interesting, and on trend.

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The Top 8 Ways To Save a Buck When Adding Granite Countertops

When it comes to redoing a kitchen, most people think theres not a steal or deal to be found. But, alas, there are ways to cut corners and take advantage of sales and promotions to redo, upgrade, update, or overhaul your kitchen. In this weeks special edition of Steals amp; Deals, we run down the top 8 ways to save a buck when adding granite countertops.

1. Make friends with your salesperson

No matter where you are buying your granite, your salesperson should be your ally. They have insight into the best options for materials, turnaround times, and vendors for choosing your slab. Plus, if youre nice, they may also tell you when sales are scheduled this paid off personally for us at Home Depot with a 10 discount because we waited two weeks to sign our contract on the advice of our salesperson..

2. Go to the Big Box Store

The advantage of working with a store like Home Depot for granite is that, unlike many other countertop providers, you are only required to pay for what you need. So if you have 63 square feet of countertop and the slab you are looking at typically only has 50 square feet of stone, you would have to select and pay for two full slabs from most countertop providers. At Home Depot, you only pay for the 63 square feet.

The other advantage of using a big box store is a huge one: paying over time. Most countertop providers will offer the option of financing, but if you qualify at Home depot or Lowes during one of their promotions, the financing is interest free. Youll want to check in advance for promotions and ask your salesperson for assistance in finding the one that works best for you. Getting in on one of Home Depots 24-month no-interest plans is the best deal weve seen and one we took advantage of. Just be sure to calculate your monthly payment properly and pay on time every month so you dont end up with a whole bunch of accrued interest.

What you will have to contend with at a big box store is a more limited selection of granite options, priced according to their grade "Granite price is determined by a number of factors, including supply and demand as well as color, movement, character, and how accessible the material is for quarrying and shipping," said Brother Stone. If you find something you like, and its priced according to your budget, this isnt an issue. If you dont want to be limited in your granite selection, a smaller store might be your best bet.

3. Go to a smaller countertop provider

Many of the smaller stores use the same slab yards and fabricators as the big box stores, however you can pick out any slab you want, as long as you can afford it. You may pay more depending on the slab you choose and the amount of square footage you need. Or, you may pay less because you have more options available to you. It all depends on the grade and the stone.

TIP: Be sure to ask your salesperson and, later, the person helping you at the stone yard, if they have any slabs in your desired color range that are larger than average. If your square footage puts you just over the max for one "typically sized" slab, finding one larger slab instead of two smaller ones could save you hundreds of dollars.

ANOTHER TIP: If you have a small serving area or a desk in your kitchen, ask about remnant pieces in the stone you want. By using remnants for the smaller areas, you could potentially get around having to buy a second slab.

4. Keep an Open Mind

If you dont have your heart set on a particular granite, you might be able to score a great deal on something that the stone yard has an overage of or that has been in the warehouse a while. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. And, again, be super nice. Nobodys going to go out of their way for a grouch.

Once youre at the granite yard, the folks in the warehouse may also be able to show you additional options that may be similar to what you want but be less expensive and more widely available. Remember that if you are working with Home Depot or Lowes you have to stay within their program to get their prices. Choose outside of their programeven if the granite supplier has the slab in their warehouseand you could double your materials cost.

5. Be Flexible

Choosing special edges and applications can greatly increase your cost. Many countertop providers give you several edges to choose from at no extra cost. The big box stores only offer a few options at no extra cost. By using the standard edges, you can keep your price down. Same goes for the finish. Anything honed or finished to resemble the appearance and feel of leather will cost you more.

6. Have Someone Else Do Your Demo

In our case, our handyman and his crew were more than capable of pulling up our nasty old counters and chipping off the dark slate tiles that made the windowless kitchen look like a cave. This saved us 400.

7. Have Someone Else Do Your Plumbing

Depending on your current sink situation, you may need to replace it. Some sinks can be either undermount or drop-in, and some sinks like ours cannot. You can purchase a new sink and a faucet if you need one from most countertop providers and set up the plumbing through them. You can do the same through one of the big box stores. Or, you can use your own plumber or handyman for the plumbing and potentially save yourself some cash. In our case, it was 300 less to use our handyman, who unhooked and removed our old sink and faucet and then came back and reconnected our plumbing to our new sink and faucet 24 hours after the countertops were installed.

8. DIY Where You Can

Looking for an opportunity to take out a little aggression? Swing that sledgehammer yourself. Just be aware of where the electrical lines and plumbing and all the other fun things that could cause floods and power outages before you go for it. Also be aware that tearing down a backsplash may seem like big fununtil the tile that seems to have been genetically modified to become one with the wall takes the wall down with it thankfully, our handyman also knew how to patch and drywall.

If youre not the wrecker type, maybe youre the make it pretty type. Putting up a backsplash can be an easy and fun experienceone the whole family can get in on ours dideven our eight year old. Especially if youre using something on a mesh backing, you should have little trouble doing a fairly good job. Set aside a weekend, watch a YouTube video or two, ask the advice of your friendly Lowes guy, whos happy to point out which trowel, float, and grout to use, and youre good to go.

TIP: If your tile is offset, meaning it is not a straight edge down the side, youre going to have to cut down the pieces that stick out to use along your outside border. If youre not adept at using a wet saw or just deathly afraid of losing a finger guilty, ask in your Lowes tile department our Home Depot didnt have a wet saw in use if they can make any cuts for you in the store. Ours did, and it cost us nothing.

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Truth And Beauty In A Real Estate Office?

Some years ago the National Association of REALTORS NAR engaged Tom Morris, Ph.D., to be a speaker at NARs national convention. His talks -- tucked in among sessions dealing with marketing, sales techniques, and listing presentations -- were out of the ordinary, to say the least. But they were >

Morris is, of all things, a philosopher, and a respected one at that. He taught fifteen years at Notre Dame, where he was widely-acknowledged to be the most popular teacher on campus. Now, as head of the Morris Institute for Human Values, he is a much sought-after speaker and consultant for businesses and corporations throughout the country. The title of his talk to the REALTORS, reflecting his grounding in the >

In a nutshell, Morris thesis is this: Human beings seek fulfillment, and an activity or >

"Well, OK," a sincere and attentive broker-owner might say, "but just what does all this stuff mean in the everyday world of my office? Exactly what might I do to apply these lessons from the ancients?" A fair enough question. In the space remaining, well consider some concrete applications with respect to the first two dimensions. In the next column well look at the remaining two.

As Morris would put it, the intellectual dimension of human experience aims at the truth. People have a natural desire to know and to understand. To satisfy this desire, they need the truth. And, while no particular environment can supply them with all the truth there is, every environment can provide an atmosphere of respect for the truth. People -- yes, even real estate agents -- have a deep-seated need for this, and they will not be able to find real satisfaction in an enterprise where the truth is held in low regard.

Real estate companies, as well as other organizations, can apply this in at least two ways. Internally, they must speak the truth to their employees and agents. At a minimum, this means no dishonesty. Taken more actively, it means openness. It means sharing with employees the truth about company plans and goals, and, especially, problems. It means not making secret deals with some agents, while deceiving the rest.

Truth must also be spoken outwardly. A company that fudges, "puffs", and otherwise makes less than honest claims about itself to the public does no service to itself or its agents. How many Number Ones can there be? The effect of exaggeration and deception which doesnt always require outright falsification is that, soon, no one listens. Worse, if an employee or agent perceives that his company does not treat the external public with a respect for truth, than he will certainly doubt that such respect would be shown to him.

The second dimension of human experience, the aesthetic, aims at beauty. Few of us would need to be convinced that some of our greatest experiences of satisfaction and deep peace occur in settings of beauty. The workplace that ignores this aspect of human experience commits serious error.

Morris approvingly quotes Victor Hugo, "The beautiful is as useful as the useful. Perhaps more so." He points out that better work is done in settings that attend to the aesthetic. Beauty brings out the best in people. For the real estate office this may mean something as simple as art work on the walls and fresh flowers in the foyer; but an attention to beauty, color, and harmony in an office shows an attention to, and respect for, the humanness of those who work there.

Moreover, Morris points out that we not only need beauty in our surroundings, but also that we need to experience performance beauty, to know that there is, or can be, beauty in what we do. In real estate? Yes, even in real estate. In one of his books, Morris quotes Confucius as saying, "Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it." Real estate companies would do well to remind their agents that there is, or can be, beauty in what they do -- that they dont just do deals and collect commissions.

Some years ago NAR encouraged its members with the slogan, "I sell the American Dream." That was a good campaign, and one that companies would do well to emulate.

It is common for real estate agents to tell "horror stories" and to jokingly compete with each other as to who has the worst escrow story, etc. Real estate brokerages would do well to turn that around a bit, to provide a venue for agents to compare their good stories and to be reinforced by the beauty that can be found in what they do.

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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Avoid 6 Common Condo Pitfalls With 21st-Century Thinking

Too often, housing that targets "empty nest" and "life after work" buyers is still set up for "drop out of the mainstream" and "end of purposeful life" living that can dead-end people financially and socially in the future.

These condominiums and developments seem set on housing residents for a handful of quiet retirement years after age 65, instead of the active, involved decades that stretch into continually-changing futures with age 100 no longer a big deal. Flexiblity of design, form, and function is essential when considering what "home" needs to be for those decades of change ahead.

The recent sudden death of actress, author, entrepreneur, and comedian Joan Rivers was a shock because she died too young. She was going strong on many frontstelevision, social media, stageand she obviously had many more years of insulting jokes and boundless energy to deliver. Rivers high-profile work kept her version of "growing old" a topic of discussion. The legacy she leaves includes the fact that at 81 she died too young and was still an income-earning force with much ahead of her. What Rivers did prove is that you can continue to do what you love, earn a living, influence thinking, have a voice, and much more throughout your entire life. She was also living proof that chronological age is now ir>

Even in her 80s, Rivers wasnt "old" in the 20th-Century "out of it" definition of the word that too many still dwell on. She was a living example of the 21st Century purposeful-longevity definition I have long stressed. Her world crossed generations and cultures. Rivers and other high-profile workers, like Betty White and increasing numbers of continuously-productive individuals in all walks of life, prove that dated concepts like "retirement," and all its ageist "golden years" stereotypes, have no place in todays thinkingespecially when it comes to housing.

For instance, many multi-unit retirement condominiums and life>

Mike and Joan Richards [privacy protected] are excellent examples of the dead-end life>

  • Were like the kidswe cannot afford to buy another home, so we cannot move. Our condominium unit has not increased in value as fast as real estate prices have risen in the past three years and we can no longer afford to move.
  • We sold our house too early and missed out on the extra 200,000 we would have earned if we sold today. Our children advised us to move into a condo "at our age" and we followed along doing what we thought was expected of us because of our age. [Then Mike was 86 and Joan 75]. Now, were stuck.
  • We are the only ones of our faith in the building and their holidays are not ours, so were not included in celebrations. With a house, you have a neighborhood and you can always keep walking to find a friend.
  • We renovated the unit when we moved in 3 years ago. With our 5-year plan, we did everything but replace the carpeting. Now, this big job seems too big but the carpet must be replaced.
  • We worry, because of insurance, about floods from above and we worry that our washing machine will cause a flood below. The condo manager keeps coming in to check on possible leaks, just walks right past us to go to the bathroom or laundry room like he owns the place.
  • The building is full of a lot of "old" people who do not want to go out or get involved. We hardly ever see anyone and feel like we live alone in the complex.
  • Each of these 6 very common condo observations should be read as issues to be incorporated into your forward-thinking strategies and avoid the shock of hindsight in your active, involved future, whatever happens. How can you be sure you wont face similar concerns a few years after a decision to leave your mainstream life>

    Since the Richards are both active and >

    The Richards are one example of a population that has never existed in society before. They are extraordinary people, like Rivers, and they are not the exception. People in their seventies and beyond do not automatically fit ageist stereotypes of frailty and senility. Growing numbers of active, engaged individuals turn up their noses at "retirement" like Rivers did, and are committed to what I call extended livingthriving in the mainstream and making a difference for themselves and others.

    Challenges arise for this growing slice of the population. We do not design and build housing, transportation, or anything else that is specifically-geared to enriching their lives, removing barriers physical and otherwise, and adding on-demand services. Every generation wants the same things in and from their homes and communities that you and others of your generation do, just in different ways and for different reasons.

    When you project into your future, identify how life>
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    Updated: Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    All About Animal Prints In Your Home

    Whether your hunter-gatherer spirit embraces the idea of authentic animal hides or you simpl...
    > Full Story

    The Top 8 Ways To Save a Buck When Adding Granite Countertops

    When it comes to redoing a kitchen, most people think theres not a steal or deal to be found...
    > Full Story

    Truth And Beauty In A Real Estate Office?

    Some years ago the National Association of REALTORS NAR engaged Tom Morris, Ph.D., to be a s...
    > Full Story

    Copyright © 2014 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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