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Updated: Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Ready to Talk About Real Estate?

Just the other day, it happened again.

I ended up face to face with a real estate myth I thought had been debunked out of existence in the last century.

And yet, there I was in a popular "resto," waiting for my lunch companion and half listening to the two articulate couples chatting at the table behind me, when I heard it.

Like so many of us today, the two couples were raising lots of questions about what was up in the real estate market and concerns they had regarding what to do next with their homes. Then, one of them said: "Id love to get the low-down on all of this from a realtor, but Im afraid theyd end up selling me something."

Mumbled agreement from the others ended their discussion.

Is that how you feel?

Do you shy away from asking a real estate professional about real estate because you think they may talk you into something you do not want to do?

If you dont ask real estate professionals about real estate, who are you going to ask? Your best friend? Your grocer? Google? Siri?

Ask anyone or any digital thing about real estate and youll get an answer.

Everyone has opinions. Every digital resource from search engines to artificial intelligence technology can always spit out links to matching keywords.

But the real question is, "Are you receiving answers you can >

Real estate professionals are among the few professionals who do not usually charge for answering questions or explaining real estate issues or terminology. Why not take advantage of this opportunity to enlighten yourself and verify the >

In the process of chatting with professionals, youll probably meet a few you trust to understand your situation. When youre ready to buy or sell, you will probably choose one of them to help.

When preparing to talk real estate, clarify exactly what you want to know and why you want to know it. Here are Six Conversation Starting Points to adapt to your situation and the real estate conversations youd like to have:

1. Do you want to know specific facts about real estate?

If its factual information, like how listings or mortgages work, ask away and take notes. There is too much false or out-dated information online. Before savvy buyers and sellers act, they verify, with an experienced real estate expert or two, the accuracy of what has been discovered online.

2. Are you after details on your choices if you decide to sell or buy in the next six months versus next year?

Answers to queries like these would blend fact and opinion. Not even real estate professionals know exactly what will happen in six months, never mind next year. They can tell you what appears to lie ahead in the short term and what real estate forecasters project ahead. The key to understanding real estate is exploring how real estate market values are locally influenced >

3. Do you want to know whats going to happen with interest rates?

Amazingly, real estate professionals do not know exactly what is going to happen to interest rates over the months and years ahead. They do understand the financial services industries and monitor economic patterns, so some may feel confident offering educated guesses in the short term. Many will explain what the current situation is, what the implications are for possible changes, and include other details which would provide you with background to form your own opinion >

4. If youre not social media or tech savvy, dont shy away from talking to real estate professionals who are both.

They may be very useful in helping you understand the advantages and disadvantages of online real estate sources and using calculators and other digital tools, >

5. If you dont know whether you can afford the next real estate step youd like to take, dont shy away from talking to real estate professionals.

Real estate professionals are not debt counselors, investment advisors, or estate planners, but they do understand how real estate and money fit together. Most are very good problem solvers and creative thinkers, whonbsp;have well-developed resource networks to call on. They will each have had different experiences with income-generation, co-ownership, and other real estate options. All this adds up to a lot of possibilities, so your persistence pays off.

6. If dont know exactly what you want to do next, dont shy away from talking to real estate professionals.

Most of them concentrate on specific neighborhoods and consumer life>Look for those who feed your curiosity with their own.

The vast majority of real estate professionals are honest, hardworking people who are eager to assist you. That said, and in view of the encouragement above, I add a note of caution: In every profession, there are wide ranges of professionalism, ethics, commitment to developing expertise, focus on staying current, and honesty. The real estate industry is no different.

Always act in your own best interest. Take notes or record conversations for future reference. Meet in the real estate brokerage, so you gain first-hand experience with the business supporting the real estate professional. Protect your personal information and privacy. When in doubt or if you feel uncomfortable, leave. These usually-short conversations should be enlightening and enjoyable.

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Ask the HOA Expert: What Is An Executive Session

Question: What is the definition of an "executive session"? Can a meeting begin as an executive session, and end as an open session, or vice versa?

Answer: There may be a state statute that defines "executive session". If so, you need to follow it. If there is not a statute, the board generally is permitted to hold an executive session to discuss litigation, employee or contractor issues, or collection matters involving specific individuals. The board should not abuse this by using it to discuss controversial topics normally discussed in regular board meetings. As a rule, executive sessions should be rare.

Executive sessions can be announced at a regular board meeting when a topic arises that warrants it. The board then goes into private chambers to discuss the matter and then returns to the public meeting. An executive session can also be scheduled in advance but should disclose the general nature of the meeting so the members understand why the meeting is not public.

Question: What can the homeowner association do with bank owned properties that go delinquent or let their tenants break the rules?

Answer: Bank owned properties can become common in HOAs when the real estate market is not moving homes quickly enough. Foreclosed homes can remain vacant for long periods, may have yards full of weeds, maintenance issues and HOA fees may go unpaid for months.

If your HOA is having such problems with bank owned properties, here are several good options for solving these problems:

  • Treat the bank like any other owner -- dont wait for a sale to get paid.
  • Use liens to ensure payment of assessments and correction of rule violations.
  • Aggressively pursue foreclosure if the bank refuses to pay. Since there is no longer a mortgage against a bank-owned property, any HOA lien will be in first position. This means it is extremely likely the HOA will be paid quickly after a foreclosure action begins. If the owner-bank does not pay in full and a foreclosure sale is completed, the HOA would end up owning the property free and clear

Question: Our HOA prohibits guests from using the pool unless accompanied by a resident. We have a resident who is challenging this rule because of an injury which prevents him from doing so.

Answer: Having residents accompany their guests is a standard that should be upheld. If its not in place, whats to stop a resident from inviting their friends over to swim any time they want? Hold the line on this one.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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There are Different Kinds of Community Associations

A large number of American homeowners now live in a community association. But do you know that there are several different kinds of community organizations, and each has a different set of laws, and different legal structures.

Oversimplified, the three main types of community associations are condominiums, cooperatives and homeowner associations. Although all three types may appear to be the same, in reality they are quite different. Before you buy into any association, you must read the operational documents carefully and ask your financial and legal advisors for guidance if you do not completely understand what you are buying.

Condominiums: most states have specific condominium legislation which spells out basic concepts. However, these laws generally do not get into the operations of the association -- the nitty-gritty of daily life. In a condominium, there are three operational documents which are probably as important -- if not more so -- than the state law. These are the Declaration, the Bylaws and the Rules and Regulations which are adopted by the Board of Directors of the Association. This Board is elected by the members, and has fairly broad authority to run and manage the day-to-day activities of the association. The Board also sets the budget of the Association, and has the authority to bring legal action against unit owners who do not pay their condominium fees.

In a condominium, there are three basic elements: 1 the unit, which is owned by the individual owner; 2 common elements -- which are the parts of the building not owned by individuals. Common elements include such areas as the elevators, the roof, the lobby and any laundry room or swimming pool in the complex; 3 limited common elements -- these are common elements which are accessible to less than the entire membership, such as patios or parking spaces -- and in some projects even mailboxes.

Cooperative Housing: Coops are a different breed of legal entity. The entire complex is owned by the Cooperative Housing Corporation; individual cooperative owners in reality do not own anything. Rather, they have a written documents -- called a "proprietary lease" or an "occupancy agreement" giving them the right to live in and use a particular apartment within the building. Real estate taxes are paid by the entire cooperative, and in most cases, each coop owner has the right to deduct his or her proportionate share of these taxes on their own individual tax return. Generally speaking, the Board of Directors in a cooperative have more authority -- and more flexibility -- than the Board of a Condominium.

However, cooperatives have legal documents, including Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and if enough members get together, these documents can be amended.

Homeowner Associations: the main difference between a condo and a homeowner association HOA is that the HOA owner owns his/her house -- including the front and back lawn -- but there are covenants rules recorded in the land records which must be followed by each owner. Generally, condominiums are found in high-rise buildings, while HOAs are single family units or townhouses.

The covenants include such matters as architectural controls. This has been a hotly debated -- and often litigated -- topic. Some Boards of Directors insist on strict compliance with these covenants, and will take legal action to enforce the covenants, even when there are minor variations from the covenants. For example, some communities have stringent controls on the size of fences, the color of the windows, or the number of trees which can be planted in the front yard.

Books have been written about community associations, and it is not possible to give a full explanation in this short column. However, if you are interested in purchasing in a community association, there are two things you must do:

1. before you buy, read all of the legal documents. Make sure you fully understand the nature of community living, especially within the particular association you may want to live in. Talk to current residents and the managing agent before you sign a legal purchase contract.

2. if you become an owner in a community association, you must get involved. Ideally, you may want to consider running for a position on the Board of Directors. Short of this, however, you should attend as many Board meeting as possible, especially the annual meeting. Get on a committee and be active. Read your legal documents periodically, and review the written minutes for each Board meeting.

After all, this is your investment and you should be monitoring all of your investments carefully.
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Mortgage Broker Qamp;A

1. What does a mortgage broker do?

A professional mortgage broker originates, negotiates, and processes residential mortgage loans on behalf of their clients.

2. What are the benefits of using a mortgage broker?

A mortgage broker represents your interests rather than the interests of a lending institution. They act not only as your loan officer, but as a knowledgeable consultant and problem solver. Mortgage brokers have access to a wide range of mortgage products, a broker is able to offer you the greatest value in terms of interest rate, repayment amounts, and loan products. Mortgage brokers will interview you to identify your needs and your short and long term goals. Many situations demand more than the simple use of a 30 year, 15 year, or adjustable rate mortgage ARM, so innovative mortgage strategies and sophisticated solutions are the advantage of working with an experienced mortgage broker.

3. How do I ensure that Ive chosen the right mortgage broker?

The greater the brokers experience and lender network, the better your opportunity to obtain the loan product and the interest rate that best suits your needs. Be sure to read their reviews online and see how long they have been in the business before selecting your broker.

4. What documents should I be prepared with when meeting with a mortgage broker?

A mortgage broker will need to review all your financial information, such as: w2s, tax returns, paystubs, bank statements, as well as various other documents that pertain to your individual circumstances.

5. What kinds of loans are available?

A mortgage broker most likely has access to every product the market has to offer. Most mortgage brokers are approved with multiple lenders to ensure they can offer every product available.

a. What are major differences to be aware of?

With a mortgage broker, you only need one application, rather than completing forms for each individual lender. Your mortgage broker can provide a formal comparison of any loans recommended, guiding you to the information that accurately portrays cost differences, with current rates, points, and closing costs for each loan reflected

6. Costs associated with working with a mortgage broker over a bank?

A mortgage broker is offered loans on a wholesale basis from lenders, and therefore can offer the best rates available in the market, typically making the total loan cost lower for the client.

7. How long does the process take from start to closing on a home?

An "A paper" borrower with good credit can close as fast at 15-21 days.

8. What setbacks should I be aware of?

The market is hot right now so be prepared to compete with other buyers in the marketplace and come in with a strong offer.

9. Are there any incentives for first time buyers? Lower down payment percentage, etc.

Yes, there are several down payment assistance programs available for first time home buyers. Some programs will cover your down payment and closing costs.

10. Is there anything else I should be considering when choosing a broker and committing to a loan?

My honest advice would be to get more than one quote. More often than not, borrowers are not shopping around, they are going with the lender that their realtor refers to them and not shopping at all. Get two or three quotes before making a decision.

Shelby Elias, Founding Partner of United
Wholesale Lending - Sacramento, CA

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6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

Were coming to the end of summer, and that means that families seeking to buy a new home before school starts have likely already done their thing. But that doesnt mean youre out of luck if youre looking to sell. Whether youre just getting ready to list your home or havent had any bites on your existing home for sale, these tips will get it - and you - moving.

Price it right

This is the most obvious, but also the most contentious, tip when it comes to selling a home. Everyone wants top dollar. But rule No. 1 about a house that isnt selling is to lower the price. Likewise, listing a house now at an unreasonable price likely wont get you the sale youre looking for, especially when kids go back to school and sales naturally slow down. ABC News has a good piece on how to tell if your home is overpriced, butif its not selling, and your showings are limited, and your real estate agent has already talked to you about this maybe more than once, including when you first discussed the list price, you probably already know why its not selling.

Heres how to get past the disappointment of having to list your home at a lower price than you want or lower it when its sitting on the market: Your ultimate goal is to get the home sold and get on with your life, right? Maybe that means buying a larger home. Perhaps youre looking to downsize or even move out of state. Whatever your plans, youre delaying them by letting your home stay on the market.

Every month it doesnt sell is another month youre in a holding pattern. And, it means youre spending more money on carrying costs if youve already moved to a new home before your old one has sold. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what your happiness or peace of mind is worth. Chances are its more than the money youll miss out on if you sell for less. Once youve come to that realization, it should be easier to make a price adjustment.

Choose the right REALTORreg;

Another "Duh" statement here. But the reality is that the right agent can make or break your sale. You may be inclined to list your home with a friend whos just getting into the business or a cousin twice removed due to family pressure, but consider this move carefully. When youre dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner who has the knowledge and experience to navigate professionally and successfully through every step of what can be a very complicated process. While your pal or >Paint your front door

We all know the value of curb appeal, so getting your front yard in order is a must-do when listing your home. If its not selling, perhaps a little more sprucing up out front is in order. But dont skip your front door while youre trimming bushes and laying down new mulch. A refreshed or new, if needed front door regularly tops the list of improvements providing a good return on investment on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. Its an easy DIY update, too.

But, before you run off to buy paint, carefully consider the color. Choose wrong and you could turn off buyers. Choose right and you could actually get more for your home.

"When it comes to paint color, homeowners may have reason to go back to black. Houses with front doors in shades of black - from charcoal to jet - fetched 6,271 more than expected when sold, said MarketWatch. "Pops of color are especially important for front doors. It often forms the first impression in a prospective home buyers mind and can determine how they will view the rest of the property when touring a home. A door paint in a popular color can help make buyers feel that the property is well cared for."

Take half the stuff out of your closets

Yes, your overstuffed closet can kill a sale. If a potential buyer feels like they wont have enough space for their stuff, they wont be a potential buyer for long.

Put your personal stuff - and your personal taste - away

"Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Youll have to do it eventually anyway when you move, and buyers tend to have a hard time seeing past personal effects. You dont want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they cant do that if yours are there," said The Balance. "This goes for furniture items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share your taste, so if you have your bright red sofascreams, "Im unique" you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to stick with your more understated pieces."

Keep your emotions out of it

Selling your home can be an emotional experience, especially if it was your first home or its otherwise filled with memories. But emotions can get in the way of a home sale, and waylay your objective, which is to move up or move on.

"Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the homes owner," said Investopedia. "By looking at the transaction from a pu
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Has Blue Become A Neutral? Heres How To Use It In Your Home

Feeling blue? Youre not alone. The color is hotter than ever - so much so that its being called a "neutral" by interior designers and color specialists. Move over, beige. Theres a new contender in town.

"They used to take a backseat, but todays neutrals are leading the way in unexpected directions," said House Beautiful. "Lilac, navy, and Etruscan red join the ranks of white, grey, and beige - and the result couldnt be more stunning.

Here are eight ways to use the color in your home.

Paint one room

While you may not want to paint an entire interior in navy, deep, rich blue looks great in a dining room, master bedroom, or home office. The bigger the room, the taller the ceilings, the more expansive the windows, the better.

Refurb a hand-me-down

That antique dresser or sideboard that once belonged to your great-grandmother doesnt have to sit in storage. Get out the paintbrush and transform it into something youre proud to show off.

Bring >

Drapes are a low-commitment item but one that can help bring a room together or provide a little punch of color and >Embolden your bathroom

White, shmite. If youre thinking of painting your cabinets, consider blue in just about any hue. It brings a freshness to the space and contrasts beautifully with the white youre probably looking at for the shower, bath, and countertops.

Go "ba>

While deeper shades bring the mood, just a whisper of the color allows you to go blue without veering too far from your comfort zone. "According to designerJonathan Rose, for a house in the country or by the sea, aqua is the new white and is the perfect complement to greenery or an ocean view," said House Beautiful. "The idea is for the wall color to be quiet so it can blend seamlessly with the outdoors. This blue-green is a pastel with personality. Keep the overall feeling serene with light floors, white trim, a touch of deeper aqua, and a few dark accents to anchor the room."

Think like a fashionista

Many home trends originate on the runway. If you take a look at how the fashion world thinks about the color blue, you can translate the idea to home. "Its one of thefashion neutral colors," said LiveAbout. "That means it can be worn with any other color, so its a very handy color for mix-and-match purposes. Navy blue jackets or trousers are good examples of wardrobe staples that mix well with other separates."

Make a statement with your sofa

Yes, conventional wisdom says you might be better off with a neutral sofa and color on the pillows, which can be more easily changed out. But if blue is actually considered a neutral now, why not just go big with your one of the main furniture pieces in your living space?

Express yourself with art

Again, if youre just not ready to make such a large color commitment, but you want to ease blue into your dcor, the walls are a great place to start. Go oversized with a floral or abstract for an attention-getting display.
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Go West...Err, Midwest, To The Hottest Housing Markets In The Country

Call it "The Heartland." Or "Americas Breadbasket." However you choose to refer to the area between the Rockies and the Appalachians, you can also assign an important new descriptor: Home to Americas hottest housing markets. In the latest market report from, California cities that once dominated the list have been replaced by several Midwestern cities, like Fort Wayne, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan.

"Fast-growing Midwest markets are overtaking pricy California cities on property search websiterealtor.coms hottest markets report, which looks at the areas of the country in which properties are selling at the fastest rates by days on market," said Inman. "The July listnamed seven midwest markets and five in California."

So whats responsible for the geographical shift? Blame or credit continually rising prices and inventory issues, which is driving homebuyers to less costly markets.

"With the median home list price hovering at a record level, affordable markets are very attractive for buyers, which is contributing to the popularity of many Midwestern markets," chief economist Danielle Hale said in a statement, per Inman. "Although construction is increasing in many regions, inventory remains scarce due to strong buyer demand and years of underbuilding. Even these affordable markets run the risk of what weve seen elsewhere if they arent able to keep pace with new construction."

Added Mansion Global: "The shift to the Midwest underscores the severity of the housing shortage in some areas, where developers have built very little besides high-end homes since the Great Recession."

The list is based on listing views and median days on market. "Properties in the 20 markets chosen moved 17 to 30 days more quickly than homes in the rest of the country," said Inman. "Homes in these 20 markets spent four days fewer on the market on average than this time a year ago. Listing views were 1.8 times higher than the national average and 16 percent higher than last year."

The No. 1 market on the list remainsWest Texas oil town Midland, Texas - the fourth month in a row the city has been at the top. "With rising fortunes in the West Texas oil patch, demand for homes is booming in Midland and houses sell in less than a month on average," said the Dallas Morning News.

At No. 2 is Fort Wayne, Indiana, followed by Boise City, Idaho; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California; Columbus, Ohio; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan; Racine, Wisconsin; Vallejo-Fairfield, California; and Rochester, New York. Janesville-Beloit, Wisconsin; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts; Pueblo, Colorado; and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan are also in the top 20.

"Formerly depressed areas of the country, particularly in the Midwest Rust Belt, have watched prices soar over the past year as more homebuyers are entering markets where theres been very little new home building since the housing bust of 2008-09," said Mansion Global. "The situation in Boise highlights the severity of Americas affordable housing shortage. Arecent studyby the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, found there are 10 times more buyers looking for a home in Boise than available homes for sale. Median days on market was down to only 34 days."
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Retirement Housing: Fixing Big Problems with Tiny Solutions

You go out and start searching for a home to last you through your golden years. Unfortunately, finding a place is much tougher than you expected. You look all over town only to discover that all the senior living options are either depressing or prohibitively expensive or both.

You agonize over the Sophiersquo;s choice of paying for housing or preserving your lifersquo;s savings for your family. When you finally move into your new senior living center, yoursquo;re treated like a child. You have to live under their rules. No pets. No alcohol. No overnight guests. No sweets. They decide when you wake up and go to sleep. In the final years of your life, yoursquo;ve lost your autonomy.

With such miserable alternatives, aging in place is surging in popularity. Perhaps for lack of other reasonable options, many seniors try to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Eleven million elderly Americans now live alone and those aging in place can suffer from social isolation. Lonely seniors are at increased risk for depression, dementia, and death. Since families are scattered far away, children worry whether grandma is lonely. Is she safe? Who will look after her if she falls ill?

Fortunately, hope is on the horizon: affordable tiny houses. Instead of a bleak retirement home or assisted living facility, now imagine living in your own, customized tiny house. Everything is ADA-compliant and designed for you. Doorways accommodate your walker, cabinets are a snap to open, and everything is within reach.

The commode, kitchen, and shower are fully accessible. Upper-level storage is automated and springs to life at the touch of a button. Pets, chocolate cookies, and overnight guests are allowed. It is your home, after all

You make the rules and preserve your dignity. Herersquo;s how it works. Geriatric specialists partner with builders to create a fleet of tiny homes tailored for seniors. They are designed from the ground up for folks with physical limitations. Then, each buyer is individually evaluated and the unit is further customized to his or her particular needs.

Finally, the houses are outfitted with easy to use sensors and voice assistants capable of calling family, monitoring the home, and contacting emergency services. Once the home is built, it can be transported to wherever yoursquo;d like to live. For instance, these homes can be installed in the yards of family members as a detached in-law unit.

Grandparents can live near grandkids, which is perfect for childcare or tea. Yet, everyone has their space and privacy. Alternatively, homes can be arranged as a senior living community complete with friends and activity centers. Senior loneliness can be a thing of the past Itrsquo;s time to think about customized and affordable tiny homes for our loved ones struggling with housing in their golden years.


Gregory Charlop is a technology pioneer, author, childrenrsquo;s physician, and social entrepreneur. He brings real estate and technology experts together to solve societys toughest problems. Greg is particularly focused on improving senior housing and is currently writing a book about technology and the future of the real estate industry.

Greg is the host of The Real Estate Flash, a free daily news and opinion flash briefing available on Amazon Alexa devices. Enable the Flash on your Alexa and check out the show

Greg is also CEO of Visionary Remodels. He is developing a real estate app that uses augmented reality to help real estate agents prepare homes for sale. You can check out Visionary Remodels anytime.

Greg is also a speaker at real estate and technology meetings. You can contact Greg on his LinkedIn page.

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Code Of Ethics: Its Not The Boy Scout Oath

Some years ago, I participated in a meeting of NAR National Association of REALTORSreg; directors from our state. To put it mildly, we -- a sizeable group -- were being admonished with respect to what had become a common problem. That is, too many directors were guilty of leaving meetings early, having made travel arrangements that were a convenient and b predictably incompatible with the likely time for adjournment. One of the directors there scolded the guilty ones because they, as REALTORSreg;, were supposedly committed to a Code of Ethics and, su>In previous writings we have tried to show that the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics is not simply an arbitrary set of rules, disconnected from everyday morals and ethics, meant to govern the behavior of REALTORSreg; as they pursue their profession. Rather, the Code, so to speak, grows out of our everyday ethical codes. It gives application of general ethical imperatives to the out-of-the-ordinary and specific situations found in the transaction of real estate business.

In that respect, the Realtorreg; Code is similar to other professional codes that are designed to give guidance to those who find themselves in ethically-charged situations not experienced in everyday life.

The Realtorreg; Code, like other professional codes, is intended to supplement general ethical principles, not to supplant them. It is not the Boy Scout Oath. It does not, like that oath, require that its adherents be "morally straight." Confounding as it may be, its conceivable that a person could be a Code-compliant, professionally-ethical Realtorreg;, while all the while being a bit of a scound>Some years ago, a California Realtorreg; was found by a Hearing Panel to have violated Article 1 of the Code of Ethics. A buyers agent, he stole a bottle of wine from a listing. The act was recorded by a security camera. When contacted, the agent acknowledged his guilt and returned the bottle of wine. An Ethics Hearing found that the agents act violated the Article 1 duty to treat all parties to the transaction honestly.

My reaction to this true story is that, to be sure, he did something both morally and legally wrong, but doing something wrong is not in and of itself a violation of the Code of Ethics. Moreover, I did not think that the act of stealing from someone is not, by itself, an act of dishonesty. Certainly, dishonesty may be involved in some thefts. Hence, I think that this is an example of trying to make the Code do too much. And I think we should avoid that.

My dear friend and colleague, Duane Gomer, disagrees with me. He thinks it was a case of dishonesty, and that the Hearing Panel got it right. Now, Duane is a real estate educator and something of a guru. I always pay attention to what he says; but I cant agree with him on this one. What say you?
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Boomers Still Drive Canadas Housing Market

Canadas baby boom generation isnt ready to stop buying and selling real estate, new data shows. In addition to purchasing their own primary and recreational homes, boomers are also helping millennials get into the market.

"Dont count them out yet -- baby boomers will impact Canadas housing market in a big way in the coming years, as another 1.4 million of this large demographic are expected to sell and buy real estate between now and 2023," says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. A survey by the company found that of those planning to buy a home within the next five years, 45 per cent will purchase a detached home, 32 per cent will most likely purchase a condo and 10 per cent are looking for a semi-detached home.

"Baby boomers affect the Canadian real estate market on multiple levels," says Brad Henderson, CEO of Sothebys Realty International of Canada. "As direct consumers who drive housing demand and product mix, as arbiters of market confidence and as indirect influencers through their financial support of the next generation of homebuyers."

A recent Re/Max study found that 91 per cent of popular Canadian recreational markets are being driven by retirees. "Combined with the fact that Canadas senior population is the largest it has ever been, and many of these retirees are using recreational properties as retirement properties, pricing has increased across the majority of markets," says Christopher Alexander, EVP and regional director at Re/Max Integra.

This is making it tougher for younger buyers. Re/Max says brokers in B.C. expect the market to shift from retirees to younger buyers within the next two to five years, while in Ontario the two age groups are competing for recreational properties.

Recently Point2 Homes conducted a study that found most millennials greatly underestimate the amount of money they will need for a down payment on a home. The national average down payment is about 25,000 but 30 per cent of millennials say they have less than 10,000 in savings and 10 per cent said they have no savings at all.

The survey says 66 per cent of millennials interested in buying a home want to do so within the next year, but 35 per cent say they are saving less than 10 per cent of their income each month and 30 per cent of respondents say they only save between 10 and 20 per cent.

The report concludes that even if they can save 20 per cent of their income each month, millennials starting from scratch would need between 14 and 35 years to save enough for a down payment in the countrys seven most expensive markets, including five Metro Vancouver communities and Oakville and Richmond Hill in Ontario.

It would take about 4.6 years to save enough in Toronto. But on the bright side, there are 40 Canadian cities where millennials could save for a down payment in less than a year, led by Timmins, Ont. Other cities in this group include Quebec City, Edmonton, Halifax, Gatineau, Que., Regina and Saskatoon, Sask.

However, the Point2 report says the majority of millennials do not yet meet the minimum requirements to qualify for a down payment on a home. Thats where their boomer >A Sothebys report from data gathered last year says one-third of boomers in Canadas four major metropolitan centres plan to, or have already, given a living inheritance to help >Calgary boomers are apparently the most generous, with 41 per cent of boomers planning to help >The median amount gifted for real estate is between 25,000 and 50,000. The median age of those receiving the gift is 30 to 34. Forty-four per cent of those receiving the gifts would not have been able to make their home purchase without the help, and one-third of givers say that without the gift, the beneficiary would not have been able to secure a conventional mortgage.

Royal LePages 2017 research "into the largest group of first-time home buyers in Canada, which we call the peak millennials, showed many were roosting in the family nest well beyond the traditional age of exit," says Soper. He says the new boomer survey confirmed that boomers are allowing their children to stay at home well into adulthood, but "they wont stay forever, and when they go, the folks are going to go condo shopping."

Royal LePage says that the boomers who are buying homes for themselves are interested in smaller cities and recreational areas. "This large segment of our population views our big cities as generally unaffordable for retirement purposes," says Soper.

The survey found that 77 per cent of boomer homeowners have paid off more than 50 per cent of their mortgage and 61 per cent have paid off more than 90 per cent.

"This is a generation that deeply values home ownership and very much wants their children to have the same opportunity," says Soper.
Full Story >

Easy Ways To Jazz Up Your Dorm On A Budget

Getting ready to move your college student into the dorm? Prepare yourself for the old and the ugly. Unless your child has the good fortune of moving into a brand-new dorm, you can expect their space to be seriously lacking in >Seating

The floor space will likely be limited in the dorm, but that doesnt mean you cant integrate some guest seating for your kids new friends. These saucer chairs are cute, comfy, and, the best part: Theyre foldable so your college student can slide them under or behind the bed, or in the closet if its not packed with clothes and shoes, when not in use. If your child is REALLY popular, they might want this larger foldable chair for two instead.


Speaking of closets, your child may be shocked to see how little space the dorm room offers for clothing and other storage. Some choose to loft the bed, which allows them to create a living area underneath. For others, raising it only high enough to accommodate storage underneath is more important. That way, they can store extra clothes and shoes, bedding, or any other items that cant fit behind a closet or cabinet door. The good news is that storage options are cute enough to actually pass as dcor today. This metal cart brings in a bit of an industrial look.

A storage ottoman or two is another great addition to a dorm room because it serves several purposes: As a place to hide socks, underwear, or items that just dont have a place to go; as a nightstand or side table; and as a footstool. And, it can add a bit of >Floors

"Since most dorm floors are linoleum or really thin carpet, a dorm rug is the perfect way to make your floor a little more comfortable," said Heavy. "Dorm rugs are also ideal for pulling all of your dorm decor together, as they can make a fun accent piece.

Our two cents: Go for darker colors and textures that resist stains becausecome on, do you really think your child is going to wash the rug?


Use them to create separation around the "living area" under the bed. Hang them in front of your the closet doors or create a makeshift closet door in front of old shelving.


Ugly cabinetry. Its the reality of many a dorm room. Think mid-tone faux oak, and wood "look" stickers that are peeling off of MDF surfaces. This will be your childs space for at least the next nine months or so, and that cringy cabinetry just cant remain as is. Peel-and-stick wallpaper is your answer. Lay it down over the surfaces of the dresser, desk, and wall cabinetry to totally change a space, easily and affordably. You can reposition until you get it perfect, and simply pull it off when its time for your child to move out.

Of course, peel-and-stick wallpaper is a natural answer for the dorm room walls. See how a couple of strips helped transform this bland and blah dorm, and dont miss their other 15 dorm room transformations.

Other wall dcor

There are some great ideas for DIY wall dcor here, but keep in mind that different dorms have different rules for what you can put on the walls; most insist you make no holes, which eliminates nails, screws, and even pushpins from the equation. Command Strips are your friend

Some dorms also restrict how high you can hang anything on the walls and wont allow anything to be hung from the ceiling. Twinkle lights may be allowed in some dorms, but, in some, theyre a no-no. Be sure to check first so you dont waste money on items that arent allowed.

Chair covers

If the school provides your child with a desk chair, you can bet on two things: Its going to be uncomfortable. And its going to be ugly. Old chairs arent going to provide tons of support, but, who, are we kidding? Theyre going to be sitting on their bed with their laptop or in Starbucks or a study lounge, so theres little need to concentrate on comfort at this point. What you can do is give the chair a little pizzazz with this DIY chair cover.


A headboard dresses up any bedroom, but incorporating one into a dorm can be challenging because of the limitations on attaching it to the wall. This no-nail headboard offers an easy answer, as well as a tech-friendly bonus, for your student. "Featuring two three-prong plugs and a USB port, this clever headboard has room for all your devices and makes searching for the wall plug a thing of the past," said PB Teen."Plus, its super easy to hang with 3M adhesive tape."
Full Story >

Trend Alert: Punch Up Your Home With Painted Doors And Trim

Your kitchen: White. Your walls: White. Your doors and trim: Hmm. Maybe its time for something a little different. We think nothing about painting our exterior door a standout color, but what about the interior doors? And then theres the trim, which often gets no love at all.

"Whether simple or ornate, interior trim is a finishing touch that often doesnt get much thought, frequently being left the color its always been without consideration of the multitude of beautiful alternatives," said Houzz.

Maybe its time to change that. A little attention to your interior doors and trim can freshen up your home, help individual spaces stand out, and create interest where there wasnt much.

Bold colors

Royal blue may not be on your mind when it comes to your homes interior, but look how it creates both drama and warmth on this Swedish homes pocket door and surrounding trim.

A bright pop of color in this home almost acts like art. "Since the door is a fairly small area, you can get away with a much bolder color than you could on a wall," said Apartment Therapy. "The fluorescent yellow door in this interior fromnbsp;Hernandez Greenenbsp;adds cheerful color without overwhelming the space."


You can stay in the neutral zone and still get a punch from painted doors and trim. "Neutral" can mean anything from beige or cream, to olive green, to gray.

"When trim is dressed in a midtone neutral shade, it immediately gives it a certain sophisticated, stately appeal," said Houzz. "The trim becomes a feature, for sure, but in an understated way. Choose neutral if: You love a transitional look one that balances traditional and modern elements; You want an authentic heritage feel in an older home; or you want to highlight doors or windows for an architectural look without touching fresh white walls."


Black definitely brings the drama while creating contrast. But because its a timeless color, you can trust you wont have to redo it when other bold color choices start to feel dated.

"A trend that has grown in popularity of late is selecting dark colors for trim -- even black," said Sherwin-Williams. Dark trim gives a room more depth than white or light trim does, and very effectively frames views when used on window casings. In addition, dark trim contrasts nicely with some of todays trendiest room colors: soft aquas, powder blues, greens -- from lime to celadon -- and the gamut of grays."

Black beautifully frames windows and doors - a good reason to use it if you have windows and doors to show off, and perhaps a call to action if you dont.


"Over the last couple of years, veering off the traditional all white track and painting interior doors a non-white color has really surged," said The Creativity Exchange.nbsp;"If youre not quite ready to do a bold color or a dark black, a nice and safe compromise is gray."

A light gray can bring in a subtle look that creates dimension, while darker gray shades help to highlight architectural details.

Tone on tone

We tend to think of doors and trim as offering a contrast to the wall color, but painting everything the same color creates a unique lookmdash;and serves an important function. "Painting interior doors and trim in white or a contrastingnbsp;colornbsp;from the walls will make them stand out. However, painting them the same color as the walls will help them to blend in and almost disappear," said The Casa Collective. "This is a trick decorators and designers use in small rooms, narrow halls with lots of doors, and rooms with low ceilings. Anbsp;small roomnbsp;will visually seem more spacious because the white trim or doors arent there to stop your eye as you look around the room. As you look down a hallway with several doors, all the doors wont jump out at you if they blend in with the walls. And if you have a room with low ceilings, painting baseboards and crown molding will make the room seem taller."

Creating contrast

We may be somewhat conditioned to think that all the doors and trim need to be the same color, whether thats white, black, or something in between. But using an accent color, like Kylie M. Interiors yellowy-green door contrasted with the deep gray wall shows how you can use color to in new and exciting ways.

Full Story >

No Such Thing As Real Estate Ethics?

A delightful little book by John Maxwell is provocatively titled, Theres No Such Thing as Business Ethics.Now some might simply think, "no kidding." But for the curious, or those inclined to disagree, Maxwells book makes an interesting argument. His point is not that all of business is unethical. Rather, he disagrees with the point of view that the operative ethical principles of business are somehow specialized and different from occasionally, contrary to the ethical principles that govern our everyday lives.

According to Maxwell, the test of what is ethically acceptable or unacceptable in the business context is exactly the same as that which applies in our everyday, non-work circumstances. For him, it is all summed up in one principle, The Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you follow that, your behavior will be ethical; if you depart from it, it wont be. At work or at home, in the office or in the neighborhood.

I believe that Maxwell is correct that ethics in the context of business is simply an extension of ethics in general. There arent special exceptions for business. Its as wrong to lie to your competitor as it is to lie to your neighbor. All of us, of course, have encountered different attitudes. We have heard "But this is business" said as if it meant "Anything goes". Certainly, some people feel that way. People who would never cheat in a neighborhood card game can be perfectly content to deceive their customers or rip off their suppliers. But this doesnt show that such people are operating according to a special "business ethic"; rather, it simply reveals that, in the context of business, they have made the decision to be unethical.

If it is true that ethics in business and ethics in everyday life are the same, it is legitimate to ask, why are codes of professional ethics sometimes so complicated?

The National Association of REALTORSreg; is rightfully proud of its Code of Ethics, a document first formulated in 1913, and amended at more that 30 different national conventions since then. With 17 articles, supplemented by over 88 Standards of Practice and more than 154 official Case Interpretations, it presents a complex set of documents.

Nor is the NARreg; Code of Ethics a unique phenomenon. There are hundreds of professional and trade group codes of ethics. Physicians, lawyers, funeral directors, and wedding planners -- to name just a few -- all have professional codes of ethics. So also do many individual companies and corporations. They vary, of course, in range and complexity. How is it that professional codes can become so complicated? People need to understand that there are various purposes served by professional codes, although not every code serves them all.

They bring to our attention and provide direction with respect to issues that might not otherwise even have been identified as matters for an ethical concern. While ethical principles may remain the same, frequently the circumstances encountered in business are quite different than anything we experience in the non-business world. Most REALTORSreg;, for example, have probably never had to confront issues >1 In many situations they provide us with the wisdom and insight of those who have preceded us.Quite simply, they save us the trouble of reinventing the wheel.

2 Professional ethics codes sometimes also cover matters that are not so much ethical as they are issues of professional etiquette or proper procedure. They help to keep professionals "on the same page" when they are interacting with each other.

3 Professional ethical codes are also sometimes used for the purposes of "drawing lines" in order to remove any unclarity about what may be considered acceptable or unacceptable.They help to remove the "shades of grey" that can be found in so many situations.

Professional codes, such as that of the REALTORSreg;, are based on everyday ethical principles. Their value resides in the fact that they show us how those principles apply to specific business contexts that well may not be "everyday".
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How To Get The Most Out Of Small Kitchens

Many people complain about small kitchens but tiny spaces arent always to be dreaded. If youre selling your home and your kitchen is, well, compact, know that you can find ways to achieve big appeal with a little creativity.

Bring in the light. Sometimes small kitchens can be dark, making them feel even smaller. But if you remove the curtains from any windows in your small kitchen, itll let light in and open up the area. Instead of curtains, you can use small blinds that are recessed inside the frame of the window. These are easy to clean and still provide some privacy even when the blinds are open.

De-Clutter the counter tops and the walls. Most people have a tendency to let kitchen clutter build up on the counter tops and walls. Removing items from the counters, kitchen table, and even off the walls will make the space feel bigger. Yes, I know these items on the counters are useful but when youre selling your home, a little inconvenience may help you receive a higher offer and youll probably agree, thats worth it Take the appliances and either store them in the kitchen cabinets or, if there isnt enough room, pack them up. Youre moving soon, anyway.

Clearing off photos and miscellaneous papers that are stuck on your refrigerator door or kitchen walls will also help make your kitchen look bigger. If youre tight for space, mounted storage units can be added to your kitchen walls to free up limited counter-top space. But again, too many storage units, even the decorative kind, will give people a feeling like the walls are closing in on them. The same goes for hanging pot racks from the ceiling. Be sure to leave some open wall space and to use storage units that arent completely solid. The open units, if the shelves arent stuffed, will give a less closed-in feeling.

Opt for lighter and brighter wall color. Going with lighter colors tends to open up a room. Light and bright colors are also very inviting and friendly, making them a perfect choice for the kitchen. You can use a darker accent trim to create some contrast. You can also use decorations including floral arrangements or even some colorful kitchen appliances to add spice to the kitchen.

Wall-mounted appliances and reduced counter-top depth. Wall-mounted or under-the-cabinets-mounted appliances can save valuable kitchen counter-top space. You might even have a way to wall-mount your kitchen faucet. In one small home design, the faucet was mounted to the wall, creating a very distinctive look. The counter-top was a standard 24 inches deep but elsewhere the counter-top was reduced just slightly down to 21 inchesndash;very subtle and hardly noticeable but it allowed more floor space in a tiny kitchen.

Small kitchens dont have to be an eyesore. Some even prefer less space because theres less to clean. If you know the audience youre marketing your home to, you can play up the homes best featuresndash;including, perhaps, a small, quaint, and simple kitchen.

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The Logic Behind an Effective Logo: A Real Estate Professionals Greatest Asset

Competition within the real industry is keen. The contest to build awarenessto develop it with the same care as the construction of a residential building or a commercial propertyis essential. Nowhere is this effort more visible, and nowhere is what we see more impressionable, than it is within the world of marketing.

The vision before us is neither a billboard nor a barrage of TV and print advertisements, nor is it a collection of handbills and handouts. It is instead a real estate logo of memorable design, whose effect is to satisfy our desire to work with a specific professional. For that is what a logo should do: connect with the heart through the eyes.

Having reviewed a collection of real estate logo templates, I can attest to that assertion.

It should create an emotional connection, which encapsulates a series of valuesa set of feelings, from warmth and confidence to contentment and a wellspring of affectionfor a person or product to whom you are loyal and for whom your testimonials are grand.

The right logo can do that and more, provided you go beyond the generic and embrace greatness. Put another way, how can you stand apart from the competition when you do not stand out from any of your competitors? To ask the question is to answer it, because identity is the foundation of any successful brand; because an icona logois the expression of ones identity; because a logo is a property unto itself, whose worth increases with attention to detail and continual maintenance; because a logo is the most affordable means to affect positive change.

The more real estate agents adopt this strategy, the better we will all be. I say that because we often have to make quick decisions; and what we doin an emergency or in the course of our everyday livesis inseparable from what we see, be it something as simple as spotting the white-on-blue H symbol for a nearby hospital so doctors can help us, or passing a signpost that bears a real estate agents name and logo.

That logo should not be a passing memory. It should remind us to act or act as reminder that there is a professional who can represent us. There is an expert who can ease our sale or purchase of a house. There is someone of experience eager to assist us, period.

A logo that conveys those principles is powerful, indeed. It is, at a minimum, what any good communicator should have. It is also what transforms the good into something great.

I exaggerate not in the slightest. Not when so many spend so much time and money on marketing that yields so little benefit. Not when the best visual tool can verbalize more ideas than we can articulate. Not when the right logo has the right logic.

How real estate agents use this tool is up to them. That they have itthat they have no choice not to use itis up to us.

Let us ensure they use it well.

Lewis Fein: A writer and branding consultant, Lewis Fein covers the real estate industry, technology, and marketing, among other issues. A graduate of The Emory University School of Law, Lewis resides in Southern California. You may reach him at .
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Understanding Your Appraisal

What did you just pay for your new house? 250,000? That should be the value of the home, right? Thatrsquo;s what the lender will say your home is worth as your loan moves through the approval process, correct? Not really, no. While your sales contract states 250,000 it is generally considered to be the current market value of your property. Your real estate agent put together an offer with a combination of reviewing the prices of similar homes in the area along with the highest price you should pay. Thatrsquo;s market value. But a lender takes a slightly different approach. The lender uses the value of an appraisal, not your sales contract.

When you visit a neighborhood yoursquo;ll see that while the homes there are similar, theyrsquo;re not all exactly alike. Some may have matured trees. The home next to it does not, but is two stories instead of one. The next home has a swimming pool, while the next has four bedrooms instead of three. These homes are similar, but not the same. Itrsquo;s the appraiserrsquo;s job to pore through recent sales data of homes in this neighborhood to arrive at a final market value.

The appraiser will take a copy of your sales contract and do some homework, looking for recent sales. Most loan programs ask that all properties used to compare your property be within a one-mile radius. Such sales, called ldquo;comps,rdquo; should also be within a certain time frame, typically within 90 days but if there are no such sales, the timeline can be extended up to six months. There should be at least three such sales listed in the appraisal.

The appraiser will note the sales price of the comps and make note of any measurable differences between those properties and yours. If, for example, you have a fireplace and the others do not, then the value of your property can be adjusted upward. A newly remodeled kitchen can also affect value. Of course, square footage of the property is a factor and so is the size of the lot. There are other adjustments that can be made and those adjustments will be listed in your appraisal.

One final note, you pay for the appraisal but itrsquo;s the lenderrsquo;s name that will appear on the front of the appraisal, not yours. However, you have a right to receive a copy of that appraisal within three business days of completion, whether or not the sale ultimately closes.

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Dont Let Your Home Search Break Your Heart

For those who are house-hunting, it can be a whirlwind romance thats hot from the minute you see the homes curb appeal. But dont let the seduction of a good-looking landscape make you want to tie the knot without a bit of courtship.

House-hunting for the "perfect" home in many ways is like looking for that perfect romance - very seldom does everything about your proposed mate match your desires. Things you love at first may later get on your nerves and become what you dont like so much later on. Does that mean the house is wrong for you? Not necessarily. It could be, but if you understand your tolerance levelndash;whats most important to you in a home, and what you cant deal with at all - you are less likely to want to buy the wrong home.

Keeping these terms clearly defined and always on your mind will help you make smart choices even when some areas of the home tug at your heartstrings and say "buy me".

House-hunting should be like dating. Take your time. Understand the critical must-haves, the not-so-important-but-I-kind-of-want-it, and the no-way, not-going-to-happen-in-this-lifetime.

One thing you can do to help streamline the process is to start making a list about the things you like about your current home. If youre renting, there may be features about the home, apartment, or planned-living development that you want to find again in the neighborhood where youre going to buy your home.

For instance, you might want a gated community or a townhouse that has certain luxury amenities. Moving to an isolated home that doesnt have the same type of amenities could be a real turn-off. Also, it might mean you have to pay more to get those same amenities that used to come with your rent. While this might not be a deal-breaker, it can certainly change the way youre used to living your life.

So, be sure to take it into consideration. Walking a short distance down the street to go to the gym, the pool, the steam room will be different from having to drive 20 minutes or more to go to a gym/spa that you also have to first pay an extra monthly membership.

Another thing to consider is how many times youve seen the home. Just like dating, you might have an instant attraction, but the more times you see your date, the more you discover. With a home, just like with a prospective mate you need to see it a few times and at different times of the day.

This way youll discover which rooms are dark and when or how loud the traffic is during rush hour. You might notice that theres a lot of commotion around the neighborhood because of nearby schools. Does this work with your life>

Just as you wrote down the things you like in your present residence, you should also make lists of things you want to avoid in the future and new things you hope to gain.

Remember, courtship doesnt have to last forever. Just as with romance, "the good ones will be gone if you wait too long" So put a ring on... or rather, put an offer on that house

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Defining Who Owns What Is Critical

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

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

Lets take a minute to define these three concepts:

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

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

2. Units are the apartments or houses that are owned in fee simple by the members of your association. Your documents -- and the recorded plats and plans -- will define these units. Generally speaking, maintenance, repair and replacement of units is in the exclusive control of the unit home owner. In addition, with homeowner associations, the owner is responsible for his or her "Lot," which is shown on the subdivision plats.

A limited common element LCE is defined by law as "those common elements identified in the declaration or on the condominium plan as reserved for the exclusive use of one or more but not less than all of the unit owners." A balcony or a patio is often an LCE since not all members of the association have access to those areas.

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

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

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

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

What should you do? Your management company should be instructed to obtain -- either from the County or from private organizations such as Community Paperworks -- a complete set of the actual recorded association documents, including the plats and plans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Wish List Now That HGTV Has Bought The Brady Bunch House

In a move perhaps few predicted but nearly everyone seems to love, the "Brady Bunch" house has been purchased by HGTV, who plans to restore the Studio City, CA residence "to its 1970s glory as only HGTV can." Commence giddiness.

"One of our projects for HGTV will speak to those Brady Bunch fans," said Discovery CEO David Zaslav during a second-quarter earnings call this week," per CNBC. Discovery Communications Inc. acquirednbsp;Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., owner of HGTV, Animal Planet, TLC, and the Discovery Channel, earlier this year. "You may have heard that the house from the iconic series was recently on the market in California. Im excited to share that HGTV is the winning bidder. More detail to come over the next few months but well bring all the resources to bear to tell safe, fun stories about this beloved piece of American TV history."

As expected, the house received multiple offers, most notably from a "heartbroken" Lance Bass. The famed member of N Sync expressed his sorrow at missing out on the house, having believed he made the winning offer reported to be just under 3 million, well above the sub-2 million asking price and even remarking that he felt he was "used" to drive up the price; Zaslav did not reveal the value of the accepted offer. Bass stance softened, however, once he learned who the buyer was.

"HGTV?? Aw man. Id be pretty upset if it were anyone else, but how can you be mad at HGTV?? My television is stuck on that channel," said Bass in a Twitter post. "Kudos HGTV, I know you will do the right thing with the house. That was always my biggest worry. I can smile again."

Photo courtesy of Anthony Barcelo via Ernie Carswell amp; Partners

More specifics about what HGTV has in mind for the restoration have not been >

Excellent. We cant wait. But, also, we have ideas. On behalf of Brady Bunch and HGTV fans everywhere, here are 10 things we hope to see from this match made in TV heaven.

1. A multi-part show. Please, PLEASE, HGTV, let this be a series. We would gladly watch a one-off, but showing a seasons worth of design meetings and exhaustive searches for just the right color stain for the panels high up on the living room wall and watching the reno itself as a home that is, admittedly, somewhat stuck in the 70s already transforms into Brady World would be even better.

2. A rotating crew of HGTV designers. Why have one when you can have a dozen? Maybe they each do a room. Perhaps they go the cross-pollination, collaborative route. Either way, seeing the channels famous faces dive in to such a significant project would be spectacular. Side Note: How much do you want to see Drew and Jonathan Scott on a field trip in search of avocado green appliances or overseeing the production of orange laminate countertops?

3. Astroturf. While the actual home features "lush backyard gardens," the TV show backyard featured a faux grass yard. What better way to say, "Were eco-friendly" in 2018

Photo courtesy of Anthony Barcelo via Ernie Carswell amp; Partners

4. Brady guest stars. Sadly, the actors playing Carol, Mike, and Alice, plus Tiger the family dog, didnt live long enough to see this day. However, Cindy, Bobby, Jan, Peter, Marsha and Gregs real-life counterparts are all still alive. Are you not picturing Maureen McCormicks Marsha giving us a tour of the girls bedroom, complete with first-person accounts and intimate backstory?

5. Real Bradys. We wouldnt mind seeing Wayne Brady show up just for yuks, or Tom Brady making a guest appearance. Were picturing him diagramming the scene in which Peter overthrows Bobby in the backyard and hits Marcia in the nose with a football

6. Paneling. The boys bedroom was famously covered in dark brown vertical planks, a clear precursor to todays shiplap obsession. Paging Joanna Gaines The designers will get a head start in the paneled living room of the existing home, which also features a stone fireplace reminiscent of the one in the TV home.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Barcelo via Ernie Carswell amp; Partners

7. Gregs teenage attic room. When HGTV says theyre going to renovate the home back to its lsquo;70s splendor, does it include this space that appeared via the magic of TV? "Greg wanted to move to the attic in Season 2, but Mike said the ceilings were only 3prime; high," said Hooked on Houses. "A couple seasons later, the ceilings had magically grown. So Greg got his own teen hang-out space after all."

8. That wall mounted phone.nbsp;Its worth it just for the funny factor. See what we mean here with this video of millennials trying to use a rotary phone.

9. Some bunk beds. Theyre a given, right? I mean, how else do you get three boys into one bedroom? There are much more modern options for both beds and bedding, but we love the boys blue bunks and coverlets. The nautical wallpaperhellip;not so much, but were still on board for authenticitys sake.

And speaking of authenticity, were guessing the pink toile in the existing master bedroom may be replaced with something a bit more muted to match Mike and Carols master.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Barcelo via Ernie Carswell amp; Partners

10. That iconic open staircase. Its one of few items in the home that would still look somewhat current and also be a standout today.

And one bonus that tops our wish list: Lance bass as host. I mean, how can you not?

Full Story >

Be Careful What You Wish For: Did Canadas Housing Policies Go Too Far?

After years of low interest rates that led to record home buying and price appreciation in Toronto and Vancouver, new mortgage qualification rules were introduced this year to slow down the market and rein in consumer debt. But with interest rates on the rise and high prices creating affordability issues for buyers, critics in the mortgage and real estate industries say the measures have gone too far.

A new report by economist Will Dunning for Mortgage Professionals Canada says "100,000 Canadians have actually been prevented from buying a home as a result of stress testing now required by the federal government even though they could have afforded to buy based on their actual circumstances."

He says while higher interest rates have contributed to a slowdown in the housing market, it "has been more severe than we should have expected. The primary cause is government policies that are making it much more difficult for Canadians to achieve their reasonable housing goals."

His report concludes that "by about the end of 2021, employment in Canada will be about 200,000 lower than it would otherwise have been, as the result of the mortgage stress tests. The economic impacts will differ across the country."

The stress test requires buyers to qualify for a mortgage at federally regulated financial institutions at two percentage points more than contracted rate. The rule was introduced by Jeremy Rudin, head of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions OSFI, and was instituted on Jan. 1, 2018.

"We clearly see the potential risks caused by high household indebtedness across Canada, and by high real estate prices in some markets," said Rudin before the regulations were finalized. "We are not waiting to see those risks crystallize in rising arrears and defaults. Rather, we are adapting our standards to new developments."

Sherry Cooper, chief economist for Dominion Lending Centres, says the Canadian economys mix of growth "has shifted from housing and consumption to exports and business investment -- the desired result of the many tightening moves introduced by the government, the central bank and the regulators to slow the rise in household debt."

Even before the stress test rules came into effect, home sales were dropping. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC says there were 234,000 new mortgage loans opened in the fourth quarter of 2017, a drop of 7.7 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2016.

"Rising interest rates coupled with decreasing home sales contributed to the decline in new mortgage originations, slowing the growth of total mortgage debt in Canada," says Maxim Armstrong, CMHCs manager, socio-economic analysis. Mortgage delinquencies have been falling for several years, and this trend continued. Maxim says, "Overall, given the lower delinquency rates and the falling share of consumers having experienced a credit degrade, vulnerabilities >

Not surprisingly, Dunning and Mortgage Professionals Canada were unhappy when the stress test regulations were introduced.

Dunning says in Toronto and Vancouver, the weakened real estate market "has been seen as a welcome change, though elsewhere in the country it has proven to be more unstable, where conditions were already soft and price stability is being replaced by price erosion.

"The effect of these policies is especially concerning in areas that are already dealing with economic instability, notably Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, which are struggling to recover from the oil price shock," he says. "The worsening divide between housing supply and housing demand is further degrading the confidence consumers have in the economy and in housing."

Dunning says, "In a modern economy, one of the most dangerous incidents that can happen is falling house prices."

This is because the loss of home equity will prompt consumers to stop spending in other sectors and will cause slower economic growth and job creation.

"There is an important way in which housing markets appear to behave contrary to theory: while we normally expect falling prices will cause demand to increase, a drop for house prices is more likely to cause reduced demand, because potential buyers will hesitate to buy if they fear prices will fall further. This set of factors can result in a downward spiral, in which soft conditions in the housing market can turn into an economic crisis," Dunning says.

Gregory Klump, chief economist for the Canadian Real Estate Association, says the OSFIs mandate is to protect Canadas financial system from risk. "It pays absolutely no mind to how tighter mortgage regulations may affect home sales activity or prices," he says.

Home buyers can avoid the stress test by using lenders that are not federally regulated, such as credit unions or private lenders, but they will be charged higher lending rates, Klump says.

He adds that although the idea behind the stress test is to reduce the likelihood of a credit crunch if Canada is subjected to an economic shock, "Its well understood that international financial markets are highly integrated. An unexpected jump in Canadian interest rates due to an increase in international interest rates would spell bad economic times for Canada. The inability of more prospective mortgage applicants to qualify for financing due to the stress test would make a bad economic time that much worse."

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High Balance Conforming Explained

There are two basic loan types, conforming and jumbo, and are labeled as such based upon loan limits. Conforming loans, those underwritten to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines, follow certain specifications both lay out in order to qualify for sale in the secondary market. Today, the conforming loan limit is 453,100 in most parts of the country. Each fall, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, reviews the national median home values and compares that amount to the previous year. If therersquo;s an increase, conforming loan limits will be adjusted accordingly for the following year. This review repeats itself in October and new limits are >

Any loan above the conforming limit is then considered a jumbo. Jumbo loans are processed and approved in much the same manner as conforming loans as it >

But therersquo;s a third category that falls in between a conforming and jumbo amount, and itrsquo;s referred to as a ldquo;high balance conforming.rdquo; Such loans are offered in areas that are deemed ldquo;high costrdquo; as home values are much higher than in most other parts of the country. High balance conforming loans can then be sold in the secondary market just like a conforming loan. This loan limit will vary based upon location, but the maximum high balance loan limit currently is 679,650. All such limits are for single family homes; 2-4 units will have higher conforming loan limits. High balance loan guidelines are similar to conforming guidelines with the exception of the loan amount.

If you expect your ultimate loan amount will be slightly higher than the conforming limit and you want to avoid getting jumbo rates, there are other options such as an 80-10-10 loan. This structure keeps the first mortgage at 80 percent of the sales price, thus avoiding PMI, and a second mortgage at 10 percent of the sales price. At the same time, the first mortgage then dips below the conforming loan limit. If yoursquo;re not in a high cost area and the high balance conforming loan isnrsquo;t available, work with your loan officer to see if there are other options that might work.

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Keep Rodents Away In Your HOA

Few pests evoke stronger revulsion than rodents. While the manager of an industrial facility may tolerate an occasional rat, not so with homeowner associations. The demand for action is immediate...Get rid of them and I mean Now

Most people believe that rodents have limited value. Norway rats, roof rats and common house mice live off humans and offer the potential for spreading serious diseases like The Plague by way of fleas and ticks. They consume or contaminate about 20 of the worlds food supply. They also like to gnaw on things, causing expensive structural damage and electrical fires.

Rodents are predictable so a control expert can detect clues pointing to suitable control techniques and when to use them. A successful rodent control program features four key elements:

1 Inspection. This determines the cause of the problem, the species and conditions contributing to the infestation.

2 Proper Sanitation. Trash should be kept in tightly closed containers. Debris and possible nesting materials should be swept up and food items stored in rodent proof containers. Weeds and brush should be trimmed back from buildings.

3 Rodent Proofing The best way to keep buildings rodent free is to prevent them from getting inside. Rodents fit through tiny openings and gnaw through wood, lead, aluminum, copper, cinder block and even concrete. Broken screens around foundation walls are common entry sites as well as damaged siding, chimney caps, open fireplace flues and broken windows.

4 Population Reduction. Where allowed, rodenticides provide the most cost effective rodent control. Modern applications provide a lethal dose in a single days feeding. Correct bait placement is key to protection for children, pets and non-target animals.

Effective rodent control should be part of an integrated pest management program. Maintaining high sanitation and an exclusion program are the keys to success.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
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7 Paint Colors, 7 Reasons To Redo Your Front Door

We all know the importance of curb appeal, and while that may make you think exclusively about your yard, it can be a mistake to ignore your front door. "If youre looking to add some interest to yourcurb-appeal, changing your front door color is an easy update," said Southern Living."Front doorcolors can say a lot about your personality as well as your personal >Theres more to choosing a color than liking the way it looks. Certain colors can help create the right feng shui, and some may even be able to boost your home value and make it easier to sell.

Here are five to consider.


No, black doesnt give off a "Go away" vibe. On the contrary, "It may soundemo, but painting your front door black is actually a tried-and-true way of increasing home value," said TIME: Money."According to, a black door gives buyers the impression that your house is a serious, stately and safe choice. Its so popular that two of Sherwin-Williamstop 50 paint colorsfit the bill: Peppercorn and Tricorn Black." That can translate to as much as 6,271 more for your house, according to an analysis of more than 135,000 houses for sale.

Soft yellow

A soft yellow door "welcomes guests in a cheery fashion," said HomeBNC. "When you choose a yellow door, you are letting guests and passersby know that you have a sense of fun and a lively decorating >Royal blue

There are countless shades of blue you can choose to freshen up your home, but we love a midrange, super vivid royal blue. "Looking forvisitors? Try painting your front door abright blue, which is linked to calmness and trust," said

Stone Gray

Gray may have been the hot color for everything from living room walls to kitchen cabinets for the last several years, but, on your front door, "This timeless shade not only softens the intensity of an exclusively contemporary design aesthetic, it also extends a hint of modern elegance to the front door," said Domino.

All-American Red

"A shot of this happy hue brings to mind: Coca-Cola the original, not the diet version, the American Flag, a great picnic-table gingham, and other All-American notions," said Exit Home Key Realty. "If you want to be known as the house with the best barbecues - this is your best bet. It looks best against a crisp white and avoid pairing with bits of navy - lest you want to be known as the flag house."

Metallic Gold

If you havent thought about painting your front door metallic gold, you will after seeing this exquisite option. "This metallic gold door shines bright to welcome guests to L.A.s Hotel Covell," said Dwell. "Against a backdrop of more textural, aged elements like brick walls, its a chic, smooth, glam touch."


We know what youre thinking. Purple? Its so... purple. And so bold. And different. And rich. All of which are great reasons to slather this unconventional shade on your front door.

"After the announcement ofPantones Color of the Year - Ultra Violet - front doors are all about being bold and making a statement in 2018, according to composite door company,Truedor, said Country Living. Joining forces with their ambassador, property expert and TV presenterGeorge Clarke, the door specialists have
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Federal Sentencing Guidelines Contain Insights For Broker Ethics Programs

Chapter 8 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual deals with the sentencing of organizations. Its discussion of potentially mitigating factors contains useful food for thought for real estate brokerages. This is not because brokerages are particularly liable to be facing federal sentencing. Rather, it is because the Guidelines provide a structural outline for "the existence of an effective compliance and ethics program". This is of interest to anyone who wishes to promote, in the words of the Guidelines, "an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct."

We note here some of the features of an ethics program, as described in the Guidelines.

  • The governing authority of the organization shall be knowledgeable about the content and operation of the program, and shall exercise reasonable oversight with respect to its implementation.
  • High-level personnel of the organization shall ensure that the organization has an effective program, and specific high-level personnel shall be assigned overall responsibility for the program.
  • Specific individuals within the organization shall be delegated day-to-day operational responsibility for the program.

The Guidelines recognizes that not every organization is so large as to have the layers of management personnel implied by these provisions. Small organizations may meet the requirements "with less formality and

fewer resources than would be expected of large organizations." Small organizations might use "available personnel, rather than employing separate staff" to carry out the ethics program.

Further provisions stipulate that:

  • The organization shall conduct training programs and otherwise "take reasonable steps to communicate periodically and in a practical manner its standards and procedures."
  • The organization will take steps to monitor and evaluate its programs.
  • The organization will have and publicize a system "which may include mechanisms that allow for anonymity or confidentiality, whereby employees and agents may report or seek guidance without fear of retaliation."

Its hard to find a real estate firm that does not claim that ethics is its highest priority. Major firms in all regions of the country proclaim their commitment to ethical conduct. And yet none -- that I know of, at least -- have any sort of program like the one described in the Guidelines. Why?

A number of possible answers present themselves, but there is one that deserves special consideration. That is, real estate firms dont conduct their own ethics programs because they believe it is the job of the Realtorreg; organizations to teach and promote ethical conduct.

This is understandable. For years the national, state, and local Realtorreg; organizations have represented themselves both to their members and to the public as, so to speak, the guardians of professional morality for the real estate industry. They have, with great sincerity, taken on the tasks of defining, teaching, and enforcing rules of professional ethics for real estate practitioners.

Perhaps this worked once. But it doesnt work now. For one thing, it is a plain, albeit regrettable, fact that the activities and priorities of the Realtorreg; organizations are far removed from the consciousness of most agents. Second, the mandatory ethical training required by the National Association of REALTORSreg; is simply too infrequent an occurrence to have a real impact on most members. Currently, it calls for two and one-half hours of training every two years. Finally, and of the greatest importance, questions of ethics are widely perceived to be "the Realtorreg; Boards issues", not those of the agents firm.

The lesson is clear, and the federal guidelines are right on target. If a company really wants to promote "an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct", it needs to institute and implement its own ethics program. Certainly, the Realtorreg; associations may be able to help in this regard. Chapter 8 of the sentencing guidelines provides some excellent structural suggestions for an ethics program, but it does not deal with content. That is where the national, state, and local Realtorreg; associations could provide useful resources.

The Realtorreg; organizations can help individual firms to institute ethics programs that will have an impact on their agents; but they cant do it for them.
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Moving? Avoid Making These Mistakes

Whether moving across town or across the country, packing up and moving can be stressful, costly and full of surprises. From shady movers and inaccurate price quotes, to overpacking or not allowing enough time to get the move set up, every step of a move has the potential for mistakes that can make a move a nightmare.

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.

Weve all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe youve been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angies List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation -- and even your >If youve done your research and still arent confident in the movers youve come across, you always can go the DIY route -- just be sure youre up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.

If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company wont do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.

Along those lines, dont >3. Packing too much stuff.

Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you havent laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to "edit" your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and >4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.

During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks -- or, better yet, months -- in advance. You dont want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before youre supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.

Youll find very few people wholl say that packing is fun. In fact, a survey commissioned by SpareFoot found that people whod moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.

You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you wont need right away -- for instance, if youre moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that theyre out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, >Need help finding that perfect storage unit? Click Here
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Dont Be Afraid Of The Sellers Disclosure

State and federal laws are strict in requiring sellers to tell what they know about the condition of their homes that isnt obvious or discernable to potential buyers. Buyers cant see behind walls or under houses, so they >When you sell your home, your real estate agent will present you with a federal and/or state-mandated disclosure form called a Real Estate Disclosure Statement, Property Condition Disclosure, or Condition Report. Youre required to disclose the presence of lead paint, radon, asbestos and other toxic products if you know your home has them.

While the forms may ask you to disclose whether or not you know there is lead paint or radon present, you arent required to do tests to determine the presence of toxic chemicals. But your buyers lender can always require proof of tests and/or remediation for any problem that has been disclosed, such as fire and water damage.

Its important to answer every question as truthfully as you can. You must answer the questions yourself - your real estate professional can not fill out the disclosure for you, but he or she can help you understand whats being asked of you. If youre in doubt about what to disclose, such as a repair, its best to err on the side of too much information than not enough.

While disclosure forms allow you to check the "I dont know" box, you should only do so if you truly dont know the condition of that item. If you answer that you dont know the condition of an appliance you use daily, such as a sink or bathtub, you might raise suspicions in the buyer.

The best way to feel confident about the condition of your home is to have it inspected by a licensed professional home inspector. Your real estate professional can recommend someone or provide you with a list. For a few hundred dollars and a few hours of your time, youll either find that your home is market-ready, or the inspector will bring a problem to your attention that you can fix.

When you disclose a problem to the buyer that has previously been fixed, be sure to provide a copy of work orders, receipts and invoices. If the problem hasnt been fixed, expect the buyer to either ask you to fix it, or to offer a little less for the home.

Remember, the more thats left unrepaired, the more the buyer will discount the offer, if he makes one at all. Homes in the best condition sell the best.

The sellers disclosure is designed to do one thing -- hold you and your real estate agent harmless if youve disclosed the truth about your property. You dont want to give the buyer any room for complaint or litigation after the closing.

To get an idea of the types of questions youll be asked in a disclosure, you can find legal forms at

Dont be afraid of the sellers disclosure. Its not meant to be a deal-killer, but a deal-maker. Many agents provide a copy of the disclosure to interested buyers, so they can get an idea of the homes condition before they make an offer or have an inspection.
Full Story >

Summer Heats Up with Nation-Wide Giving Thanks to the Agent with Heart Program

Dawn Veronica Curry of Keller Williams in Fredericksburg, VA has made a generous donation to PetConnect Rescue Inc. on behalf of her clients, the Wilhelms. The Wilhelms wanted to donate to PetConnect so that they could assist an abandoned black lab named Maya and her eleven puppies.

Brittany Howe of Realty One Group in Goodyear, AZ has made a generous donation to the Folds of Honor Foundation on behalf of her clients, Kyle and Leah Ashworth.

Craig Carr of Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made three donations. One to SimpleChurch Inc. on behalf of his client Dana Musgrove, another to Imran Khan cancer Appeal Inc. on behalf of his clients Rahim Khan and Armeen Basheer, and a final donation to Five Acres Animal Shelter on behalf of his client Michelle James,

James Connor of Quinlan Realty in Creve Couer, MO has generously donated to Imran Khan Cancer Appeal Inc. on behalf of his clients, Rahim Khan and Armeen Basheer.

Michelle Ratajczak of James amp; Lee Realty in Virginia Beach, VA has made a generous donation to Girls on the Run Hampton Roads on behalf of her clients, RJ and Jen Ratajczak.

Kellie Bradt of RG Realty Group in Coon Rapids, MN has generously donated to Safe Homes MN on behalf of her clients, Ongath and Nikkie Chanthanogsy.

ldquo;Summer has proven to be an incredibly successful season for Agent with Heart donationsrdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Of course, none of that would be possible without our incredibly generous real estate agents who are actively donating on behalf of their clients. Irsquo;d like to thank Dawn, Brittany, Craig, James, Michelle, and Kellie for their dedication to paying it forward in their communities, and for continuously upholding what it means to be an Agent with Heart.rdquo; Through the Agent with Heart program, real estate agents make a donation to their clientrsquo;s nonprofit of choice at the close of escrow.

ldquo;Our goal for Agent with Heart is to assist as many nonprofits as possible across the country, and incredible agents like Dawn, Brittany, Craig, James, Michelle and Kellie each help to make that goal a reality with every donation they make. All of us at PinRaise are deeply appreciative of agents like them who help our program shine,rdquo; concludes Mr. Giaimo.

About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local nonprofits who agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit

To contact Dawn Veronica Curry, please call 571-436-8321 or visit

To contact Brittany Howe, please call 623-302-4542 or visit

To contact Craig Carr, please call 314-401-9286 or visit

To contact James Connor, please call 314-583-4594 or visit

To contact Michelle Ratajczak, please call 757-472-0944 or visit

To contact Kellie Bradt, please call 651-269-8435 or visit

Full Story >

Everything You Need To Know About Headboards

Did you make your bed today? Do you have a headboard? Then your bed isnt really made. A headboard is the finishing touch on any bed, and there are numerous ways to go that can increase your >Go Upholstered

For that plush, pulled-together look, you cant go wrong with an upholstered headboard. Let your bed wall dictate the shape, and, when youre choosing your textile, keep this in mind: "Luxury is back in a big way," said designerMark Cutler on "Think: fabricssuch as mohair, velvet, cashmere, and faux fur, and color palettes of rich, saturatedjewel tones."

Upholstered headboards are >Size matters

You always want to scale your furniture to the size of the room to create the best balance, but dont be afraid to make a bold statement by concentrating on a larger size headboard. An oversized headboard allows your bed to be the true star of the room. "On a modern bed, the headboard is not so much a part of the beds construction as a statement that introduces the bed to the world," said Apartment Therapy. "It anchors the bed in the room, gives it prominence, makes it a comforting feature. So it is, perhaps, unsurprising that theres a recent trend towards making headboards bigger and bigger."

Going deep

When it comes to color, go deep and rich to create a sumptuous space. "To set the scene, think less Duck Egg and more Emerald Green, and youll nail the bedroom color palette," said Ideal Home. "Our color choices are becoming bolder in our homes - first came living rooms, followed by kitchens and now its bedrooms. For bedrooms, these braver color choices feature on both walls and bedding. Brooding violet, night-sky navy and striking emerald green are all key colors."

Rustic charm

The rustic look is certainly in >A little something different

Theres rustic, and then theres RUSTIC. If you really want to go there, "Look no further than this DIY headboard," said House Beautiful. "The unique viewpoint and use of the wood adds texture to the room, while the dark colors pop against the white wall."

Temporary solutions

There are multiple options for temporary headboards for those who are staging a room or who simply change their minds a lot. This looks like wood, but its actually a decal made from wallpaper, and its removable and repositional. Its also available in a tufted look and a cool floral pattern.
Full Story >

The 6 Most Important Things Every Senior Should Ask Their Real Estate Agent

Seniors who are looking to buy a new house, apartment or condominium can often have great luck by working with a real estate agent. A professional real estate agent can not only help seniors find the properties they are looking for but close the deal on the home of their dreams. According to the AARP, there are many seniors who purchase homes even after they have retired.

However, there are so many different factors that go into finding the right senior living arrangement. This is why any elderly adult looking to buy a new home needs to be prepared and know some of the most important questions to ask their real estate agent. The following six questions are essential to helping any elderly adult find the home that fits their needs now and into the future.

  • 1. ldquo;What is the turnover like in the area Irsquo;m looking in?rdquo; For most seniors looking to buy a home, they are considering purchasing a property that is going to be more of a short-term home. This likely wonrsquo;t be the ldquo;forever homerdquo; they bought when their children were growing up. Anyone looking to buy during their retirement years should make sure they talk to their real estate agent about the neighborhood they are looking in and how that neighborhood is performing. It should be a place where they feel confident they can quickly sell again if they need to.
  • 2. rdquo;What is the demographic of the area?rdquo; Most seniors are going to want to be in a neighborhood where they can enjoy being around their peers. Chances are, you wonrsquo;t want to be surrounded by young people who will be up all night or families with lots of young kids running around. A real estate agent should be able to provide this type of information for anyone looking to buy a home.
  • 3. ldquo;How safe is the area surrounding this home?rdquo; While looking at a home, it is important that you ask the real estate agent for more information on the neighborhood or area you are consideringmdash;especially when it comes to safety. Many seniors who buy after retirement are living alone and it is important to make sure that the home they will be living in is safe.
  • 4. ldquo;Are there any additional fees?rdquo; Fees such as HOA costs can make up a majority of a monthly mortgage payment and seniors need to be fully aware of what these fees are before they get too set on a home. For example, seniors looking to buy into a retirement community, need to be clear on the additional costs and HOA fees that go into this purchase. Speaking of HOAs, seniors who are buying in a HOA community should be clear on what things are and are not covered with the association including shoveling the sidewalks or any exterior maintenance.
  • 5. ldquo;How much are the property taxes and utility bills?rdquo; For seniors who are happily retired and no longer working, it is important to make sure that any home they buy is well within their budgetmdash;so they donrsquo;t have to worry. While a home may seem affordable on paper, it is important to be clear on the cost of property taxes and what the current owner is paying for their utilities. An agent should be able to secure this information for any prospective buyer.
  • 6. ldquo;Are there any warranties on the property?rdquo; Before buying a home, seniors should make sure they have as much information as possible on the property, including what appliances are new and if they have any warranties as well as structural improvements or big-ticket items like the roof. It is important for most seniors to be able to find a home that will require very little work and upkeep. While older homes do have a lot of charm, they are also going to require a lot of workmdash;especially when compared to newer properties that are still covered by certain warranties.
  • Buying a home as a senior can be a rather complex undertaking. Seniors have a great deal to think about when buying a new home as they need to make sure it not only meets their needs now, but that it is a place they can comfortably age in place in well into their future. Any older adult buying a home not only needs to keep these questions in mind, but make sure that they are partnering with an established real estate agent that has worked with seniors in the past.

    Full Story >

    4 Mobile Apps for On-the-Go Homeowners

    The sheer volume of apps on the market has the ability to make our lives easier, but is also overwhelming. After all, do we really need an app for everything from combating boredom to simulating the look of a beer being drunk when we tip it back? Instead of downloading every app that looks mildly appealing, letrsquo;s focus on the ones that make the biggest impact on our lives. From monitoring your homersquo;s safety to getting alerts for water leaks, here are five mobile apps for homeowners on the go.

    Lorex Secure

    Security and safety are usually on the top of any homeowners mind, whether theyrsquo;re at an office across town or around the world. When it comes to a security system, opt for a security camera system with smartphone app compatibility, that way you can set it up easily and monitor your home right from your phone. Itrsquo;s also a game changer to set up customized motion detection alert zones so your outdoor security system can tell the difference between a passing car and one thatrsquo;s pulling into your driveway. You can also monitor your home from wherever you are and check on whatrsquo;s going on around your home. But at the end of the day, what yoursquo;re really getting is peace of mind.


    If youre a busy homeowner and love to travel or are just so busy you feel like youre never home, you need an identity theft detection service to stay safe. Lifelockrsquo;s mobile app can alert you if a loan or credit card was opened in your name and help stay on top of your identity, right from the palm of your hand. It even has an option for you to respond to alerts immediately so agents can intervene without losing valuable time. Bonus points are that it also offers access to credit information so you can see inquiries opened on your account, suspicious activity or any delinquent payments.


    Its a homeowners worst nightmare: They come home and find their home has been damaged by water leaks. Thatrsquo;s why you need an app to tell you exactly whatrsquo;s going on with your home before water damage spirals out of control. Flo and its app feature a remote and automatic water shutoff option and gives proactive maintenance alerts before a leak ever starts. It can also perform daily tests to make sure your home isnt just currently leak free, but stays that way.


    Itrsquo;s easy to get carried away with spending on a good day, let alone when yoursquo;re rushing around or on vacation. A budgeting app like Mint serves as a money manager to take control of your finances in one place. Connect your bills, checking account and retirement savings to Mint so you can see whatrsquo;s going on in one place. Mint can also help see where yoursquo;re overspending in your budget and where to make adjustments while yoursquo;re on the go.

    Remember the apps you use should always improve your life and productivity, not just add more to the mix for you to manage. Choose the apps that best protect your home and simplify your life.

    Full Story >

    All The Single Ladies: Why Are So Many Older Single Women Buying Homes?

    Millennials, millennials, millennials. Its all weve heard about in the real estate market for the last several years, with a sprinkle of Baby Boomers thrown in. But heres who we should be talking about: Women. Older women, to be exact.

    New data from the U.S. Census that was analyzed by economist Ralph McLaughlin "suggests single woman over 55 are the fastest-growing demographic of home buyers," said Builder Magazine. That doesnt mean they comprise the predominant buyer group; that goes to married couples, at 65 percent. But the numbers are interesting, nonetheless, especially when you consider that home purchases by single women last year measured 18 percent compared to only seven percent by their single male counterparts.

    Weve famously written about female homebuyers before, back in 2015. Back then, Our Living Single: Buying a House Without a Spouse article focused on this growing niche of homebuyers regardless of age, noting that "the National Association of Realtors reports that since the mid-1990s, single women have purchased homes at nearly twice the rate of single men. Last year, single female homeowners made up 18 percent of household composition in the associations Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, compared to 10 percent for single men."

    The new U.S. Census Current Population Survey, which covered 60,000 households, showed that "the share of home purchases by single women in 2017 - including never - married individuals, widows and divorceacute;es mdash; hit 22.8 percent, the highest on record," said the Washington Post.

    Perhaps most surprising is who comprises the largest percentage of single female buyers according to the National Association of Realtors NAR Generational Trends Report: 72 and older.

    When it comes to real estate, Grammas got it going on.

    So whats behind the trend? A number of things.

    Theyre downsizing. Women live longer than men, statistically, so many of these home purchases could be driven by the death of a spouse and/or the desire to trade a pricey and/or too large place for something better suited for one person. The study did not take into account how many of these buyers were already homeowners with a residence to sell.

    Investment potential. "Primarily, older women are choosing to invest in real estate," said CNBC.

    Longer lifespans mean more confidence in longevity. A couple of generations back, it would have been unheard of for a single woman to buy a home by herself, let alone at the age of 72. The dream of so many of our grandparents was to pay off their home and be free and clear. Entering into a 15- or 30-year mortgage at an age when many are already retired is no longer a deterrent for these trailblazing women.

    "They want stability. They want to have control over their monthly expenses," said CNBC. "Theyre going to be where their children or friends are. Theyre not whimsical at that age."

    Theyre looking for a multi-generational living situation. This is a trend thats been on the rise for many years, and the numbers dont lie. According to the Census, one in five home buyers between the ages of 53 and 62 purchased a multi-generational home.

    Rents are pricey...and still rising in many areas. The data shows that 23 percent "of single women cited rising rents as a lsquo;trigger motivation behind a home purchase,"nbsp; said the Washington Post. This is far beyond the average for all buyer groups, which is 16 percent.

    Full Story >

    Ask the HOA Expert: Dissenting Board Member

    Question: Our six member board voted 5-0 to pursue one course of action and a dissenting board member who was not in attendance at the meeting is now undermining that decision with the membership. What can be done?

    Answer: The board president should speak to this board member reminding him that hes entitled to his personal opinion but should not misrepresent the board. What does that mean? Its fine for him to state that he did not agree with the vote, but the board is ruled by majority vote. If he continues to undermine that vote, he will find himself marginalized by the rest of the board.

    Question: Is it permitted for a property manager or board member to go door to door to try to collect past due assessments?

    Answer: Sure, but why do it? The HOA has extraordinary collection powers. Ask nicely. If no response, then swing the collection hammer using a qualified attorney.

    Question: Our board enacted a security policy that requires guests to show identification to entry gate guards. Do they have the authority to deny my invited guest onto the property? The board never provided notice that they would be enacting this policy.

    Answer: Yes, the board has the authority to enact and enforce this policy. Requiring identification is not the same as denying entry. You live in a gated community for a restrict access to all but invited guests and vendors. This requires certain protocol. While this policy is certainly more restrictive than some, it does deter those with bad intent.

    Question: Have you ever heard of a board doing a straw poll to see where majority of members sit on a touchy issue?

    Answer: Straw polls are not very effective, particularly for sensitive issues, since the poll does not allow discussion of deeply held feelings and beliefs. Sensitive issues are bound to set somebody off and create a public >If there is an sensitive issue, the board should hold a special meeting to discuss it. Rather than have some rambling discussion, there should be a specific proposal to do such and such. Those that like or oppose it will then have something specific to bounce their ideas off of.

    Question: We have a member who likes to tell the board how to do business. She wants one of the directors to read her messages advice at the meeting and have them incorporated into the minutes if she is unable to attend the meeting. Is this something we should do?

    Answer: No. If she has something to say, she should attend the meetings. And even if she did, what she has to say is not appropriate for the meeting minutes. Minutes should reflect board business decisions, not visitor discussions or opinions.

    Question: We have a homeowner who purchased a property and did not receive a copy of the governing documents prior to or after closing. He says that it is managements responsibility to provide these.

    Answer: It is not managements responsibility. It is the unit sellers responsibility. The fact that this new owner did not receive them does not >For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
    Full Story >

    Is Blockchain In The Future Of Real Estate?

    Bitcoin is one of our new moneys. Thousands of merchants now accept Bitcoin payments. A Miami penthouse was listed for 33 Bitcoins valued at time of listing at 544,500 and the seller refused to take any other currency. Probably trying to avoid paying anything to the IRS.

    What is Bitcoin? It is such a new concept, that it wasnt until earlier this year that Websters Dictionary added a definition: "a digital currency created for use in peer-to-peer online transaction."

    How does it work? Compare it to the operating systems for our Iphones, Blockchain is the operating system that makes Bitcoin work. This column will attempt to explain Blockchain.

    Lets go back to Websters: Blockchain is "a digital database containing information such as records of financial transactions that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network."

    Perhaps a more understandable definition can be found in an IBM report entitled "Blockchain for Dummies":"Blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible -- a house, a car, cash, land -- or intangible like intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, or branding. Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a Blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved." Published by IBM.

    For example, just a couple of months ago, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a law allowing the creation of "blockchain-based limited liability companies".That law also requires a study on the use of Blockchain in insurance and banking. And the city of South Burlington, Vermont, has started a pilot project to record title and ownership. According to that citys clerk, " we are always interested in taking advantage of technology that enhances its delivery of services to residents."

    Why is it called "Blockchain"? Because it literally involves computerized "blocks". Unlike paper ledgers that are typically pages long, when someone adds new information, a new "block" is created that links itself to previous ones. Since these "blocks" form a continuous chain, thus the name.

    The best way to explain this complicated process is with a simple example, courtesy of Joseph Murray of the public accounting firm of Withum:

    "Company A wants to purchase 500 worth of goods from Company B; this purchase would be included in one block on the Blockchain. The vendor, and other parties within the Blockchain, would then be notified of a payment of 500 in return for goods. This transaction is then confirmed by nodes within the Blockchain, and once the pre-required number of parties confirm the accuracy of the transaction, the 500 is moved from the customers bank account to the vendor. If there are not enough confirmations, meaning parties cannot agree that these transactions are accurate, the block is not validated and the transaction is not executed."

    Without Blockchain, there would be numerous emails, phone calls, and lots of paper work for this simple transaction.

    And unless carefully encripted, this 500 transaction may be available for everyone -- including scammers -- to see and act upon. In our example, both A and B hold what is known as a "wallet"; this is a private key that only you have. You can, of course, give me a public key to expedite the transaction, but you can limit the availability.

    There is much more to Blockchain than can be presented in a short column. You have to learn about miners who create blocks for a fee; you have to understand "nodes" and "masternodes" to better understand how this operating system really works.

    What does it have to do with real estate? A 2016 Goldman-Sachs projected an annual 2-4 billion dollar savings in the title insurance industry as a result of applying Blockchain to title examination. As discussed earlier, Vermont is in the forefront of trying to put title documents routinely in Blockchain and the Swedish government recently started using Blockchain to register land and properties. According to Lantmateriet -- the Swedish land-ownership authority -- land titles are already highly digitized and on a paperless system. However, despite the system, it still takes several months between signing a contract and finally registering a sale. With Blockchain, Swedish officials suggest, it could be just hours.

    What are the potential real estate applications here in the United States? Clearly, buying and selling both commercial and residential. Registration of ownership as is being developed in Sweden and Vermont. But any aspect of real estate which requires ledgers -- such as property management -- is also a prime candidate for Blockchain.

    The title insurance industry is raising concerns that Blockchain alone is not an absolute panacea. According to Steven Day, President of the American Land Title Association ALTA, "there is more to title than just the effective recording of documents. There are covenants, easements, mortgages, leases, legal descriptions, on and on and on, that impact the title of a property. And many of these rights that impact the title are recorded within documents several steps back in the chain, and are not always adequately reflected in current recorded documents."

    The title insurance industry makes the point that a digital ledger will not detect a forgery; nor can it identify a foreclosure defect -- a defect which can make title unmarketable. Their position: even though the Blockchain technology has a promising future to make current systems more productive, it can never provide a home buyer the protection offered with a title insurance policy.

    Blockchain is transparent; transactions are visible by everyone who has an interest. Blockchain is secure, because every transaction requires a key. And Blockchain will reduce costs for all transactions. However, the jury is still a long way from rendering a verdict.

    Full Story >

    Federal Sentencing Guidelines Have Relevance To Real Estate Brokers

    Recently we wrote of the fact that many real estate companies who proclaim that ethics is highly important to them, do not actually show that to be the case. Few companies have a program that seeks to reinforce the values that they proclaim. More than a few REALTORSreg; -- both brokers and agents -- have expressed to me that the whole notion of having such a program is completely foreign to them. Hence, over the next few weeks, we will review some thoughts about how a company might put together such a program. We begin with a look at how this issue is important for other industries as well.

    The United States Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations contains valuable lessons for real estate brokers. This is not because real estate brokers are especially liable to be candidates for federal sentencing. Rather, it is because the Guidelines lay out procedures that are >Chapter VIII of the Guidelines manual enumerates factors that might mitigate the punishment imposed on an offender of corporate federal regulations. It spells out certain organizational programs and procedures that, if present, would be >In a word, the guidelines say this: "If you do these things, then that shows that you have been trying to prevent illegal and/or unethical behavior by your employees and/or agents. Your efforts in this regard cannot completely excuse you for such behavior by your employees or agents, but they will count as mitigating factors in determining your punishment."

    The aim of the Guidelines is to provide organizations with, "a structural foundation from which an organization may self-police its own conduct through an effective compliance and ethics program." The idea behind this is pretty simple. It is this: If an organization wishes its agents and employees to be ethical and compliant with both moral norms and civil regulations, then that organization needs to adopt a set of procedures that shows its employees and agents how to behave in such a manner.

    Why/how is this of >Secondly, but I truly believe of considerably lower priority overall, is that brokerages are in fact more and more at risk of facing federal sentencing situations. We have spoken here before of the many ways in which virtually "standard" real estate practices with respect to title, mortgage, and escrow companies may be violative of federal law under the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act RESPA. Moreover, it is not idle to note that the Consumer Financial and Protection Bureau is still in business when it comes to pursuing real estate companies and affiliates who are violating these regulations.

    Any broker who is concerned that his or her organization, or its agents and/or employees, might be inclined to violate federal regulations covering "kickbacks" and illegal incentives would do well to consider instituting organizational programs, consistent with the sentencing guidelines, that aim to educate agents as to the "dos" and "donts" of these matters.

    The Guidelines offer some straightforward and practical suggestions that any organization -- including real estate brokerages -- might employ in order both to minimize their risk and also to put into practice their claims that they intend to be ethical and honorable companies. We will look at specific suggestions of the Guidelines in the next column.
    Full Story >

    Reading Is The Easy Way In

    Reading is a popular past-time on hot summer days, whether lazing on the beach or chilling in the backyard. Reading - online or off - can also unearth great opportunities to easily move real estate goals ahead without doing any "heavy lifting."

    Along with mind-candy reads like the latest mystery or the hot best seller, consider dabbling in a real estate subject or two - online or off - to improve your ability to easily make confident decisions about your real estate and >

    Reading provides opportunities to evaluate your potential to achieve real estate goals and overcome threats to your financial well-being.

    To you, the term "real estate" may only refer to your home, recreational property, or future dream home. In reality, "real estate," as an industry, is one of the most diverse and wide-ranging in the world. No surprise that the diversity of real estate books, websites, and good reads in any format is a mind-blowing banquet.

    Remember, the main aim is not to become an expert, but to gain new perspectives on your real estate or to discover a money-saving or profit-making tip or two. Its summer after all. Libraries are great resources for reading adventures like this, because librarians are ready to help you jump into new topics and sample new ideas. No cost here provided you return borrowed items on time. Instead of cover-to-cover slogging, skim through a book, click around an ebook, or sample audiosmdash;this may be all thats necessary to enlighten your thinking and discover insider insights:

    • Sellers can benefit from discovering how investors approach owning real estate, what they do to improve property value on a tight budget, and how they decide when its time to cash-in for profit. Poke around in a real estate investment book or two to discover how investors decide which criteria to emphasize in a real estate search and how to evaluate individual properties for potential gain. Youll also learn how the new or unfamiliar subjects you read about carry benefits when owning or selling.
    • Buyers can discover where real estate value lies by reading about flipping, staging, renovating, and marketing. Insight into how clever interior design can lull buyers into paying more will help buyers avoid cosmetic distractions. Finding out what can be done with properties that do not show well, can help buyers understand how to see beyond other peoples decor to appreciate location and available space. Buyers will also learn that the greatest return may lie with properties that do not show well. First-time buyers, who are squeezed by rising real estate prices, will appreciate how upgrading their way from one property to the next will eventually take them to their million-dollar dream home.

    If raw realism is your genre, AARP.ORG might carry the read or listen for you. This organization, along with its website, is an example of many valuable and often-overlooked resources that may not be considered mainstream because of ageism. The American Association of Retired Persons AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with 38 million members, is living proof that "aging" is out and "living" is in. This organization is not about old people being stereotypically old, but about exposing ageism and sharing experienced pioneering efforts to live life as it has never been tackled before. The earlier in life you discover how things work, especially regarding real estate, the longer you have to take advantage of this insight. Through its website, magazine, podcasts, videos, events, and much more, AARP offers a wealth of good reading and listening about lessons learned from real people meeting and overcoming challenges. Heres a sampling for your summer exploration:

    If you are diagnosed with cancer, which expert should you see first?

  • A medical specialist
  • A money manager
  • Surprisingly, option two might give you the best hope for surviving the disease with your healthmdash;and your wealth mdash; intact. Not only are cancer patients 2 1/2 times as likely to declare bankruptcy as healthy people, but those patients who go bankrupt are 80 percent more likely to die from the disease than other cancer patients, according to studies from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. "For many patients, when they get the bills, it can be as bad as some of the side effects of the disease or the treatment," says the Centers Gary Lyman, M.D.

    This attention-grabbing excerpt from the June/July issue of AARP The Magazine print and online versions, makes us aware of how vulnerable our security and our homes are when illness strikes. Read onhellip;"The High Cost of Cancer Treatment[ The High Cost of Cancer"

    • The Perfect Scam: Try out a few 30-minute episodes of this podcast series and youll soon realize how easy it could be to be the next scam victim whatever your age or status. Listen to the "A Scammer Tells All" episode and learn first-hand about "the rise and fall of one call center employee who scammed victims daily." Do you understand why intimidation and urgency are red flags that someone is trying to scam you into giving them your money and more?
    • Credit Freezes Will Be Freeis one of many news stories covered by AARP that assist readers in keeping up with legal, financial, and social issues and that will help them avoid financial upheavals like identity theft that can put their real estate at risk. In May, Congress passed legislation that will allow people to freeze their credit lines for free. That way fraudsters cannot run up big bills, leaving innocent consumers to battle themselves out of a financial hole. And theres much more...

    Summer is an excellent time to begin understanding the many pressing issues that roll around in our heads all the rest of the year, but that we have been "too busy" to deal with. Your real estate professional may be a big help taking this casual reading a step further for you.

    Read mdash; online or of fmdash; your way out of a problem or into opportunity while the sun shines.

    Full Story >

    Hard Money Basics: What Everyone Should Know About These Loans

    These transactions are most commonly used in fix-and-flips, rent-stabilize-refinancing deals, cash-out refinancing, land scenarios, construction deals, bankruptcy or foreclosure payoffs or transactions when the deal is particularly time-sensitive. In fact, one of the biggest perks of using hard money loans is how quick they are when compared to traditional banks.

    So, What Exactly Are Hard Money Loans?

    Hard money loans are fastmdash;but there is more than that to these lending options. Simply put, hard money loans are an alternative to a mortgage and are designed for borrowers who need money quickly and who only wish to hold on to a property for a short period of time. Hard money loans can be used in a variety of settings, but are perhaps most common for those taking on fix and flip projects and who want to invest in real estate in an effort to make some quick cash.

    Typically, these loans are meant for short-term only most commonly 12 months, but that doesnrsquo;t always have to be the case.

    These loans are also becoming a popular option for borrowers who are unable to get a conventional real estate loan. Lenders do not use a traditional underwriting process, and instead look at every situation individually. For borrowers who have had foreclosures or issues in the past, this can be great news as many hard money lenders wonrsquo;t even look at the borrowerrsquo;s credit historymdash;they only concentrate on the property that is being invested in.

    Hard money loans are financed by private hard money lenders. Typically, they are private individuals or small groups that lend money to those who need it. Since these loans arenrsquo;t funded by a bank, they are typically much more flexible.

    The Loan-to-Value Ratio

    When you apply for a hard money loan, chances are you will hear a great deal about the loan-to-value ratio. Hard money lenders will lend money based on the property you are buying, instead of your credit score and background. Instead of looking at assets or equity alone, the primary thing the lender will look at is the property being purchased. This is the main collateral that the lenders will use. This does make it riskier for lenders so they will typically look for a loan-to-value ratio of around 50-75.

    The term ldquo;valuerdquo; in the loan-to-value amount is actually based on what the lender could expect to get for the property in a one to four month selling time. This is why these loans are so popular for fix and flip properties.

    Important Facts About Getting a Hard Money Loan

    If you think that a hard money loan may be the right option or you, there are a few things you should know about the application process and what goes into securing one of these loans.

    The first is that the applications are simpler. Everyone who has ever gotten a mortgage before knows how complex a mortgage application can be. The good news is, hard money loan applications are much simpler. This also means they can be approved much faster. In fact, many of them are approved in just 24 hours. Closing can typically happen within 10 days.

    However, while hard money loans are significantly easier to get than mortgages, lenders are still going to need some basic information. This includes:

    -nbsp; nbsp; The location of the property
    -nbsp; nbsp; Recent appraisals
    -nbsp; nbsp; Inspection data
    -nbsp; nbsp; Purchase price of the property
    -nbsp; nbsp; Planned resale price of the property
    -nbsp; nbsp; Estimated remodeling costsmdash;if applicable
    -nbsp; nbsp; Borrowerrsquo;s credit score
    -nbsp; nbsp; Total assets and income of the borrower
    -nbsp; nbsp; Level of real estate experience from the borrower

    Once you are fully aware of what goes into a hard money loan and how it may be able to help you secure the finances you needmdash;it is time to find a hard money lender. The good news is, there are many hard money lenders out there that are available to provide those who need it with the financing they are looking for.

    Hard money loans arenrsquo;t for every situation, but they are a very popular and very >
    Full Story >

    What Do New Home Buyers Want? The Surprising Results

    When it comes to new home design, are current floorplans and features meeting or anticipating buyers needs? A recent survey of future homebuyers - those who intend to purchase within 10 years - from Florida, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia builder Ashton Woods produced some interesting responses that could influence how new home builders approach home design and how buyers respond to them.

    While we can review the survey results with a liberal grain of salt, knowing that different buyer segments in different areas may have varying wants and needs - and also knowing that what people say they want prior to buying, and what they end up choosing when factors including budget and practicality are woven in at the time of purchase - the Ashton Woods survey is still useful in examining what may be shifting buyer preferences.

    Here are some of the, perhaps surprising, results of the survey.

    Buyers are over white kitchens. Or, at least, they dont top their must-have list. "All-white kitchens are now second choice," said the Washington Post. "The survey found an overwhelming majority of buyers prefer natural wood cabinets for their kitchen, pushing white cabinets to second place followed by distressed wood cabinets."

    Buyers would trade bedroom space for more living space. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed had this preference

    Bye bye, bonus rooms. Buyers still want bonus space, but they want it to match their life>

    Home offices remain a priority across all age groups. Almost 70 percent of those surveyed want a designated space, not just wi>

    Additionally, "Personalization is a priority. When choosing a builder, 75 percent of those surveyed said they are more likely to select a builder that offers design options, and 67 percent said they are willing to pay more for those options," said Professional Builder.

    Full Story >

    Evaluating the Self-Employed Borrower

    Lenders want to make sure the new monthly mortgage payments will be affordable. They do so by comparing gross monthly income with the new mortgage payment, including an amount for property taxes and insurance. The mortgage payment takes into consideration taxes and insurance along with an interest rate selected for the loan and the actual term of the loan.

    If this total monthly payment will be 2,000 and gross monthly income is 6,000, the debt ratio is then 33. 2,000 represents 33 percent of 6,000. A secondary ratio then adds other monthly credit obligations such as a car payment or student loan payments. Itrsquo;s >

    Self-employment income will vary from month to month. Someone might have a very good month and then the next month not so much. So, what does a lender do? To arrive at a gross monthly income amount for qualifying, lenders look at the last two years of tax returns, personal and business. Net business income, gross income less operating expenses, is added up over the last two years. In addition to income listed on the tax returns, lenders will also request a year-to-date profit and loss statement. This amount is added to the amounts gleaned from tax returns and averaged together to arrive at a qualifying amount. Lenders can also look at copies of bank statements which will reflect deposits resulting from business income.

    Lenders want to see year to year amount be >

    The self-employed borrower can expect to provide more paperwork to the lender compared to someone who is not self-employed and underwritten a bit differently. However, if yoursquo;re self-employed, your loan officer can provide you with a list of needed documentation upfront to make sure loan application sails through.

    Full Story >

    The Best Time to Sell Your House, Based on Real Estate Market Data

    If yoursquo;re wondering the best time to sell your house and want to take advantage of the current sellers market, then wersquo;ve got the answers for you below.

    When to List to Get the Best Price and Sell the Fastest

    Every day real estate surges forward with a new abundance of real estate tech tools. These tools are the building blocks of the future of real estate and help to predict the temperature of the market.

    Wersquo;ve used one of these tools to give you the best time to sell your house based on cold, hard numbers.

    If you need to put your home on the market now, yoursquo;re in luck. Nationwide housing market data shows August as the best time to list a house in order to get the highest sale price. August was the best time to list overall from 2014 - 2017. Real estate transactions often take a few months to close, which means that homes listed in August will most likely close in November. Homes that closed in November over 2014 - 2017 sold for 4.04 higher than the national average.

    If you want your home to sell quickly, aim for a close date this month or a close date in August. Overall from 2014 - 2017, homes that closed in July and August closed 7 days faster than the National average.

    You can also predict the best time to sell your house in your local market by searching your city and state in this tool and state in this tool. For example, the best time to sell a house in Las Vegas is the Summer, aiming for a Fall close date.

    Current State of the Market: Sellers Hold the Cards

    If getting out while it is good is your goal, then it may be in your best interest to sell your house now. Currently the nation is in a sellers market, which means that the demand for homes exceeds the number of homes on the market. Basically, there are more buyers in need of homes than there are people selling.

    The problem is that some people are predicting a cooling of the real estate market in 2018. According to USA Today, home buying may be less accessible in 2018 because of higher interest rates and rising home prices. The National Association of Realtors predicts interest rates around 4.5-4.6 for this year.

    If you need to sell, it might be best to list the home now for fear of the market leveling off and a big loss of buyers in 2018.

    Full Story >

    What To Expect When Getting A New Roof

    "You need a new roof." Those are five words no one ever wants to hear. Having to put many thousands of dollars into something you cant get daily enjoyment out of, like a new kitchen, is a huge drag. Of course, so is a flooded house

    If youve been told its time to replace your roof - or if that big, gaping hole over your living room is a dead giveaway - you may have misconceptions about the process or you may not have any idea how it works. Heres what to expect.

    Its going to be louder than you thought. Unless you want to make sure you can oversee the process from home - and you have a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones - youll want to plan to leave at least for day one if it takes more than one day. And, take your dogs with you. Theyre sensitive to noise and will likely bark all day.

    It may take more than one day. This depends on a number of factors, including how large your home is, and how many workers are assigned to the job. Make sure to ask upfront; you dont want to assume its a one-day job and end up having to make last-minute plans for family and pets for the remainder.

    It may cost more - or less - than you thought. The typical range for a new roof is 5,1139,763, with a national averagein 2018 of 6,600, according to Home Advisor.

    Prices will depend on geography; "Cities like Denver 7,500 being higher than average, and others being below average like Austin, TX 6,100," they said, as well as factors including:

    • "Roof size
    • Pitch steep roofs take a lot more time and materials to cover than a flat roof
    • Type of application how its installed on your roof deck
    • Materials used
    • Number of layers could involve taking off old layers, which takes more time
    • Where you live material prices and requirements by roofers vary by region
    • Code requirements for your roof
    • If you have a lot of skylights, chimneys, plumbing pipes or other adornments that need to be addressed during the installation"

    The lowest quote may not be the best. This is probably obvious to anyone whos ever been burned by a lowball offer, but it bears repeating. Especially with something as important as your roof, you want to make sure you get multiple bids and consider them carefully, checking out each company thoroughly and eliminating those with poor reviews or other red flags.

    "Some roofers dont worry much about customer satisfaction since replacing a roof is a once-every-few-decades job, which means they dont have to count on repeat business," said TIME: Money. "Plus, many homeowners mistakenly choose their roofer based largely on price, and many roofing contractors hire low-wage workers so they can deliver the lowest possible bids. All of which is to say: You need to be extremely careful whom you hire."

    You wont necessarily come out of pocket for the whole thing. Was your roof damaged by a tornado or a monsoon? Or did you recently buy a new home with a tattered roof from years of wear or improper maintenance? Those factors can help determine whether your homeowners insurance pays for the replacement or not.

    "Insurance policies differ when it comes torepairing or replacing damaged roofs," said Mr. Roof. "Severe damage that is out of the homeowners hands such as fire, vandalism, tornadoes and hurricanes is covered under most plans. General weather like wind, rain and hail may or may not be covered depending on the policys parameters and the roofs age. In the eyes of an insurance agency, damage caused by improper maintenance is the fault of the insured. Your policy will also determine if the damage will be partially or fully covered."

    You might want to spend a little more. "To make sure you dont have to worry about your roof again - and give you some selling points when youre ready to movego for top-quality products," said TIME: Money. "That means: 50-year-shingles shingles with the longest available warranty add just 300 to 500 to your total cost with an "architectural" look varying color and thickness that creates upscale character for just 250 to 750 extra. Youll also want to opt for copper flashing, the most durable metal for sealing the joints where a roof meets a wall or another roof, which might add 1,000 or more compared with aluminum."

    You might need HOA approvaleven for the exact same roof. If you have a serious roof leak, you obviously want to expedite the replacement, but cutting corners can prove unwise. Individual Homeowners Association rules may vary, but you can bet theyre going to require approval before you start. Even if you are using the exact same material and color as you previously had, theyll want to sign off. The last thing you need is your HOA threatening to make you rip everything out, wait for approval, and start again because you skipped a step.
    Full Story >



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    Updated: Tuesday, August 21, 2018

    Boomers Still Drive Canadas Housing Market

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    Code Of Ethics: Its Not The Boy Scout Oath

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    Retirement Housing: Fixing Big Problems with Tiny Solutions

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