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Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Maximize Your Listing Price While Minimizing Your Expense

Its almost spring and in many parts of the country the housing market is already starting to thaw. Some markets like Denver, Seattle, and Portland are red hot. According to the S amp; P Co>

The Price is Right

Theres generally two schools of thought in regard to listing price. One philosophy is to list at top price and lower the price progressively until it sells. Sellers who choose this strategy are usually in less of a hurry and more risk averse. A second strategy is to list slightly under expected sales price. These sellers are usually trying to sell faster and hope to bring multiple offers, boosting the final selling price. The latter is, counterintuitively, the better strategy for getting the most money for your home. Heres how to do it:

Price Under a Typical Search Limit

If you home is worth 400,000, set your listing price at 399,000. This way, you capture everyone who might be setting their search ranges at 400,000 or less. Like how products are priced at retail stores, psychologically, a price that ends with 99 appears to be a better value. Better yet, such that it deviates from both, such as 397,400 which studies have shown also increase the perception of value.

Create Demand

It might seem risky to underprice your home what if your home is worth 400,000, you list for 375,000, and the offers all come in at only 375,000? First, thats your homes actual market worth. Two, if you receive offers you dont like, you can counteroffer or decline them. Listing your home under value creates a psychological sense of urgency. You want buyers to visit your home and become attached enough to put in an offer. If enough people do this at once, you have created a buyer frenzy and increased your chance for multiple offers and escalated prices.

Use Comprehensive Comparables

Your agent should create a comparative market analysis of recently sold homes but also those currently active, expired and off-market. What is selling is as important as what is not. According to Zillow, ensure your home is priced within 10 percent of the average home price in your area. If there are few sold comparables nearby, price your home 10 percent under any currently active or expired listings.

Home Improvements Before Listing

There are many home improvements that might enhance your homes value, such as putting in an expensive new kitchen or bath, but stick to the lowest cost for the highest possible value. Your goal is to make a positive first impression and sell your home quickly.

Replace Tired Flooring

If your carpet is more than five years old, has unsightly stains or is starting to buckle, its time to replace it. You can replace carpet with carpet but todays buyers see more value in hard floors. Buyers with kids or pets tend to prefer engineered floors, bamboo, or cork for their sustainability. One continuous floor of the same material also creates the appearance that the home is bigger, creating an impression your home is worth more.

Paint, Paint, Paint

A coat of paint can cover scuff marks and dirt and brighten a room. Did you love flamingo pink for your hallway and forest green in your kitchen? Thats great But chances are buyers wont have your tastes so instead opt for neutral colors such as grays and earth tones when readying your home to sell.

Revitalize Your Kitchen

Fully remodeled kitchens are a great return on investment but dont spend the money if you are looking to sell. Instead, paint them with Annie Sloan chalk paint. Chalk paint looks so good the buyers will ba>
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Can You Trust Zillows Home Price Zestimate? In a Word: No.

I got an email from Zillow last week. Seems my house has gone up in value another 2,000 dollars in the past 30 days. And its going to rise another 3.5 in the next year, according to their Zestimate. Fab

Except that its just speculation. When it comes to Zillows Zestimates, you have to take the numbers with a grain of salt. Make that a big shake of salt, right over your shoulder. And maybe a stiff drink. And a frank conversation with your real estate agent.

"Shoppers, sellers and buyers routinely quote Zestimates to realty agents - and to one another - as gauges of market value," said the Los Angeles Times. "If a house for sale has a Zestimate of 350,000, a buyer might challenge the sellers list price of 425,000. Or a seller might demand to know from potential listing brokers why they say a property should sell for just 595,000 when Zillow has it at 685,000. Disparities like these are daily occurrences and, in the words of one realty agent who posted on the industry blog ActiveRain, they are the bane of my existence."

Are faulty Zillow estimatesirritating, dangerous, somewhere in the middle? It all depends on your personal situation. A real estate investor, a seller in a high-end neighborhood, or an obsessive real estate watcher ahem may be able to brush off a 15,000 error. But for many people across the country, the word of Zillow might as well be the word of God. So, yeah, dangerous.

Price errors

Errors in sales prices are one of the issues Investopedia pointed out in its look at Zillows Zestimates.


"Zillow factors the date and price of the last sale into its estimate, and in some areas, these data make up a big part of the figure. If this information is inaccurate, it can throw off the Zestimate," they said. "And since comparable sales also affect a homes Zestimate, a mistake in one homes sales price record can affect the Zestimates of other homes in the area. The Zestimate also takes into account actualproperty taxespaid, exceptions to taxassessmentsand other publicly available property tax data. Tax assessors property values can be inaccurate, though. The tax assessors database might have a mistake >

In June, Zillows much-maligned by industry experts, anyway Zestimates got an upgrade with a new algorithm. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff has famously called his companys price estimates, "a good starting point" and copped to a median error rate of approximately 8. With their new algorithm, they say its dropped to 6.1.


John Wake, an economist and real estate agent from Real Estate Decoded, applied Zillows updated 6.1 margin of error to "Zillows own estimate of the median sale price in the U.S. in May 2016 of229,737and got atypical error of 14,000. He then took a sample city, Denver - a city in which estimates areactually more accuratethan average" - and found "the error spread in 2016 is a lot tighter and more focused on the bullseye of the actual sales price," but that "their Zestimates are scattershot."

In his example, "aDenver home has a fair market value of 300,000.According to ZillowsZestimate Accuracy Table,10 of their Zestimate priceswere off by more than 20 from the actual sale prices. Half of that 10 are Zestimates that are too high by 20 or more, and half are Zestimates that are too low by 20 or more. That means you have a 5 chance Zillow will give you a Zestimate of 360,000 OR MORE, and a 5 chance Zillow will give you a Zestimate of 240,00 OR LESS.Yikes"

Missing data

It gets even more complicated without all the data that gets fed into Zillows algorithm. Limit the available info and the margin for error grows.

That same email I received included a couple of new listings and info on recent sold homes in the area. Notice anything interesting about these recent sales?

Yep, no sales prices. Texas is one of about a dozen states without a mandatory price disclosure law, which makes property appraisals challenging and which makes it even more difficult for Zillow to come up with an accurate Zestimate since it eliminates one of their key data points.

In the case of my home, theyre a good 11,00015,000 high on their sales price estimate. And thats based on my direct knowledge of sales prices in my neighborhoodnot list prices, not tax assessments, and not assumed sales prices based on trends.

Which brings up another issue that leads to inaccurate estimates. In many neighborhoods, sales trends and prices vary street to street. But Zillows estimates are a one-size-fits-all program. In my masterplan, the building of high-density units on the southern edge of the community a few years back took a bite out of the value of homes on the perimeter streets. Sales of homes with a first-floor master also get a bump here.

And then theres the fact that this community is also split between two elementary schools. Zillow wouldnt know which one buyers prefer and wouldnt account for a difference in sales price between two otherwise comparable homes. But, people who live here would, and so would the local real estate agents.

Which only reinforces the importance of working with one, BTW.

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Light Up Your Home Movie Room by Creating a Star-filled Ceiling

Can you imagine the look on the faces of friends and family when they walk into your home theater room, look up at the ceiling and discover that its covered with twinkling stars from wall to wall?

If youre not afraid of DIY projects involving power tools and if you have the patience it takes to wire up a large ceiling to make this dramatic focal point, youre ready to begin a project that adds a perfect finishing touch to a room youve already fitted with a sound system, flat screen TV, theater seating and creature comforts.

Where to begin? By recruiting an equally-handy friend whos willing to help you get this surprisingly easy-to-accomplish project off the ground, both literally and figuratively. Its going to take time to do this job right, but once youre done, expect to be thrilled every time you walk into your four-star theater.

8 Decisions to make before you begin:

1. Will you cover the entire ceiling with stars, just the center or the periphery?
2. Do you prefer twinkling stars, static ones or will you be just as happy with either?
3. Are you more comfortable using cable or do you prefer to use fiber optic filament?
4. Would you like a sky thats densely crowded with stars or just sprinkled across the ceiling?
5. Will you have to install a dropped ceiling over the current one or do you have access to an attic?
6. Will the illuminator you install to power the stars require a dedicated outlet?
7. Is your ceiling area so large, youll need more than one illuminator to handle your field of stars?
8. Do you have the time and patience to undertake an installation that could run 30 to 40 hours in total?

Finances, kits and options

Your ceiling size determines the amount of money youll spend on your project, but if youre looking for a ballpark figure to decide if its worth your while to undertake this challenge, expect to achieve a 4-to-1-star ratio on the ceiling of a small theater room using 1000-feet of .50mm fiber optic filament and an illuminator this unit provides the light, with or without a twinkle wheel, for about 500.

Make life simple by purchasing a kit that includes the items you need as well as instructions for undertaking this ceiling remodel. Alternatively, hire a contractor to do the job for you using the following suggestions, but this is a time-intensive job, so keep the checkbook near.

Basic instructions

While you can tackle this job on your own, things could get tedious as you methodically drill into your room ceiling from your attic access to thread filament into holes, so a helper can save you time and frustration. Using single strand filament costs less money and theres less waste, too. Follow these steps to do the job:

  • Mark ceiling joist locations with a pencil so you avoid cutting into them when you drill your holes.
  • Use a bright room light to illuminate the ceiling from the floor so those pencil marks are visible.
  • Drill each hole "up" from the theater room rather than down from the attic to avoid ragged holes.
  • Thread a length of continuous thread optical fiber into each hole.
  • Secure each "star" in pace with a drop of epoxy to keep it stationary.
  • Once all fibers are installed and sealed, collect them and attach them to the illuminator.
  • Plug or wire the illuminator to your electrical system, adding a dedicated switch.
  • Make your theater room a "one of a kind" creation

    Finish your home theater room by adding drama worthy of any blockbuster. Assuming youve money left in your movie room budget, go further with your design scheme by adding touches of authenticity. For example, "Architectural Digest" magazine featured an over-the-top movie room design sure to be coveted by movie fans everywhere.

    Designers started with a ceiling filled with twinkling stars and then installed the trappings of a drive-in movie theater, complete with refreshment stand, theater seating that mimics vintage cars and cut-out palm trees that bring Hollywood to mind.

    You may not wish to go to this extreme or plunder your childs college savings to replicate this ultra-cool environment, but you should be prepared for guests who drop by and refuse to leave, even if you cut off their popcorn supply

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    How To Add Moroccan Flair To Your Home

    Its vibrant. Its exotic. And its one of the hottest design >

    "Throughout history, the North African nation of Morocco has played host to a wide range of cultures, civilizations and even >

    If you have the opportunity to travel to Marrakech, Casablanca, or another Moroccan city that offers an impossibly rich landscape steeped in history and culture, its easy to pick up some fabric or a few accessories at one of the souks open markets. But with Moroccan dcor continuing to grow in popularity, finding a great piece can be as easy as hitting one of your favorite stores, like Home Goods and World Market.

    This Moroccan->

    A pouf can serve as extra seating and also adds a little flair, as you can see in this eclectic living room, where it serves as a focal point that adds texture and interest.

    One of the hallmarks of Moroccan design is the variety of unique shapes found in the architecture and dcor. This is often exhibited in mirrors and tables, both of which are used here. The vibrant pink and red colors and unique shapes on the tables are unexpected and beautiful. The graphic patterns on the pillows are also reminiscent of Moroccan >


    Want to go full-blown Morocco in the bathroom? Think color, texture, tile, and architectural detail.

    "Moroccan furnishings often draw from the countrys captivating architecture," said HGTV. "In this dramatic powder room, the hand-painted porcelain Marrakesh sink by Kohler was inspired by mosaics found in a quaint Moroccan courtyard. The arches and double doors on the mirror above evoke an entrance to an ornate Moroccan palace."


    Rug-making in Moroccan has been a tradition for centuries, and one that has inspired homeowners and interior designers for nearly as long. Today, you can find thousands of rugs from authentic pieces hand-woven by Berber women to inexpensive reproductions.


    A Moroccan->


    Moroccan tile is one of todays top interior design trends for floors and backsplashes. With abundant colors and shapes, its possible to bring a truly unique look to your space, like in this gourmet kitchen.

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    6 Show-Stopping Ways To Use Blue In Your Home

    Color trends may come and go, but primary colors like blue never really go out of >

    "Bluerepresents both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity," said Bourn Creative. "The color bluehas positive effects on the mind and the body. As the color of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming and exude feelings of tranquility. However, not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic, an engaging color that expresses exhilaration."

    If youre looking to incorporate the color into your home, you cant go wrong with any or all of these tips.

    Bring it into your kitchen

    Blue is a great option for kitchen cabinets if you want something other than white. A powdery blue allows you to stay neutral-ish, and easily accommodate adventurous finishes like patterned floor tiles and black counters, if you so wish.

    House And Home

    Or, take it deeper - waaaaaaay deeper - to create a space that will wow. Cobalt or navy can make a kitchen look incredible, regardless of the size. But if you want to make sure it keeps an airy feel instead of feeling closed in, go for marble slabs and forgo the upper cabinets, like in this gorgeous room.


    Use its peaceful quality to your advantage in the bathroom

    Because blue is known to be a calming color, its a smart choice for a bathroom if your goal is to impart a spa feel. But that doesnt mean your choices have to be sedate. Here, a standout tile brings the wow factor to an otherwise neutral bathroom.

    Theres nothing boring about this bathroom, where the deep hue and ultra-glam finishes create a knockout space.

    Swap out your furniture

    Because blue is a hot color right now, there are numerous options if you want to bring the color into your furniture or furnishings - and you dont have to look too hard to find something great. We love Rooms To Goss Monaco Court Indigo series, with its saturated color, tufting, and naiheads. The set is surprisingly inexpensive 1,655 for five pieces, or you can split it up, and its part of the stores Sofia Vergara Collection, which probably explains why its so chic.

    Rooms To Go

    Hang it on the wall

    Art can move us in so many ways, and a piece that allows you to sink into it, like this Shawn McNulty piece, does more than just look pretty on a wall.


    Go blue on blue on blue

    Who says you need to add contrast to achieve design greatness? This bedroom with varying shades of blue manages to be dramatic and serene at the same time.

    Add a bright pop

    As vibrant as it is, a bright pop of turquoise can fit in almost anywhere, no matter the >

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    California Broker-Owned Escrows Need To Submit Activity Reports

    There is still time left -- but not much -- for affected California brokers to submit their annual Escrow Activity Report to the Bureau of Real Estate BRE. This applies to firms that operate a "broker-controlled escrow" that engaged in five or more transactions or whose escrow activities exceeded 1 million in the past calendar year.

    Not every California Broker has an escrow division. Many own escrow companies that operate under the Department of Business Oversight DBO. Many others simply have no ownership interest in any escrow operation. Then, there are those who operate a "broker controlled escrow", pursuant to their real estate brokers license. These escrows are restricted to transactions in which the >

    Broker-controlled escrows are, then, significantly restricted as to their potential market when compared to the more common escrow company operating under the DBO. Nonetheless, broker escrows require less capitalization and can still bring a decent profit into a brokerage.

    In October of 2011, Senate Bill 53 Calderon was signed into law adding section 10141.6 to the Business and Professions Code. It set forth filing requirements for broker-controlled escrows. If such operations conduct escrow activities for five or more transactions in a calendar year, or whose activities equal or exceed one million dollars in a calendar year, it is required that a report be filed within sixty days following the completion of the calendar year. Except for leap years, the deadline is March 1. As I said, theres not much time left.

    The report is submitted on the Bureaus form RE 890. It is neither particularly burdensome nor time-consuming to complete. In addition to asking about the number and dollar volume of escrow transactions, it requests the location of escrow offices and basic information regarding the escrow officers and escrow trust accounts. If anyone has difficulty with the form, they may contact the CalBRE Mortgage Loan Activities section at 916 263-8941.

    It has been a source of particular annoyance to the Bureau and its Commissioner that, so far, there appears to be a serious lack of compliance with Business and Professions Code 10141.6.

    In the first year the requirement went into effect, for calendar year 2013, 206 real estate brokers reported broker escrow activities totaling 8.63 billion. In the next year, for calendar year 2014, 161 real estate brokers reported broker escrow activities totaling 5.52 billion. For calendar year 2015, 143 brokers reported broker escrow activities totaling 8.45 billion. That is, in the first three years the number of brokerages reporting actually declined.

    At the Commissioners recent forum in Indian Wells, it was reported that, last year, 170 brokers submitted reports showing total activity of 10.3 billion. While 170 reports is an improvement over the initial response to the reporting requirements, it still remains woefully inadequate. The Bureau estimates that more than 700 brokerages should be submitting reports.

    Fines for failing to submit a timely report can run up to 10,000. There can also be non-monetary penalties as well as the often-substantial cost of a BRE audit. The Bureaus Audit section is actively pursuing brokers to determine if they have met their reporting requirements, if any. Brokers who have escrows that meet the >

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

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    Clean Out Your Closet And Help A Charity

    When you clean out your closet or your whole house, the "donate" pile can get pretty big. But theres no need to worry about lugging everything to a donation centre. Clothesline will send a truck right to your door to pick up your gently used clothing, electronics and small household items for free. The proceeds will go to the Canadian Diabetes Association CDA to support its research, education and advocacy programs.

    Each year, Clothesline, a national Canadian program, raises more than 10 million and diverts more than 100 million pounds of clothing and household items from landfill sites across the nation, something else donors feel good about.

    The CDA started the program in 1985 as an innovative way to raise funds while making a positive impact on the community, says Janelle Robertson, general manager of Clothesline, one of the longest running programs of its type in North America.

    In addition to clothing, the donations accepted for pick-up include towels, draperies, shoes, dishes, cloth items, post secondary textbooks, kitchenware and toys. The not-accepted list includes large appliances, sofa beds, newspapers and food.

    Clothesline has more than 110 trucks that pick up at 1.7 million households each year across Canada, Robertson says.

    The organization also has more than 3,000 clothing donation boxes, as well as 30 offices or donation centres where items can be dropped off.

    Clothesline solicits donations, picks them up and delivers them to Value Village stores. Value Village pays for the volume of goods delivered. The two organizations have enjoyed an exclusive mutually beneficial partnership since Clotheslines inception. By having a business arrangement with Value Village, the CDA receives much-needed funds to support its programs and supplement the monetary donations it receives directly from the public.

    "Our >

    Donors can drop off reusable items at a Clothesline Donation centre or donations box, or by scheduling a free household pickup online or by calling toll free at 1-800-505-5525.

    "By donating directly to Clothesline, CDA receives proceeds from Value Village. It does not benefit from items dropped off directly at Value Village," says Robertson.

    In addition to support from individuals, the Clothesline program needs help from corporations, local businesses, schools and communities.

    "You can help by becoming a drop box host, sponsoring a community clothing drive, becoming an apartment/condominium building pickup co-ordinator or arranging for your business or school to conduct a clothing drive on our behalf," CDA says.

    Through the In The Bag program, schools, clubs and communities across Canada can raise funds for trips, equipment or other projects. Clothesline pays for each garbage bag 67L of clothing collected.

    Clothesline will provide step-by-step guidelines, a list of acceptable items, a checklist and tips to make your In The Bag event a success.

    Furniture is accepted at only specific locations, so if it is not collected in your area, there are other options. Furniture can be donated to other charities, such as the national organization, Furniture Bank.

    Another option is the Salvation Army Thrift Store. It accepts "gently used" clothing and household items and in some locations it offers a pick up service for larger items. The organization says that for sanitary, health and safety concerns, it is unable to accept donations of used mattresses and box springs, used carpets, hazardous materials such as paints, propane tanks, barbecues, infant equipment such as car seats, cribs and strollers, tires and auto parts.

    The Salvation Army supports many programs and services including food banks, shelters, childrens camps, addiction treatment facilities and other community programs. It says it is Canadas largest non-governmental provider of social programs.Visit for the closest location.

    Some Canadian cities, such as Calgary, offer a municipal textile recycling service. City landfill facilities there have Throw N and Go areas where residents can dispose of used clothing and textiles, even if they are damaged.

    "If the item isnt reusable, it can still be recycled," says the City of Calgary website. "Textile recyclers turn old clothing, shoes and fabrics into new products. Materials are sorted, cleaned and can be turned into wiping rags or shredded down for upholstery stuffing or fibre recycling."

    All proceeds from the revenue of the recycled textiles support the charity Haiti Arise.

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    How to Update Your Home on a Dime

    Updates and home renovations are frightening to many homeowners. But improving your home doesnt have to be a daunting task. Here are a few simple projects that will boost the value and looks of your home:

    Try a Fresh Coat of Paint

    Applying a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in the looks of your home. If you have children or rambunctious pets, consider a quick touch-up of nicked or damaged areas.

    Update Your Hardware

    Quality hardware can cost anywhere from 5 to 25 per piece. But, considering the cost of most home improvements, even more expensive hardware can be a bargain. You can update your hardware with >

    Improve Lighting

    Lighting changes the way a room looks and feels. When you want to improve the lighting in your home, focus on adding accent lighting overhead. Lamps, floor lights and even spots on your art and other collectibles can greatly improve a space. Ambient lighting like sconces can add a decorative and useful touch. Task lighting will also improve the usability of your home.

    Go Vintage

    Vintage items, particularly those with a more rustic or lived-in feel, can make a sterile space feel more exciting. Also, many vintage pieces wont cost as much as new or designer lighting options.

    Clear Clutter

    Extra items cluttering your home will detract from its charm and make it difficult to clean. Move excess items to a storage space in the garage or have a yard sale. You might even make money improving your home


    Updating your home can be a costly project. Use these tips to help you improve your home without breaking the bank. Youll be surprised how much better your home can look and feel for just a few bucks.

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

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    Condo Renters: A Potential Asset

    Question: We have been renting a condominium unit in a fairly large complex for the last several years, and our current plans are to stay here for several more years. For financial and other personal reasons, we do not want to buy. However, quite frankly we feel that we are second >

    Answer: This is a very touchy and sensitive issue in the condominium community. Many condominium boards of directors have the attitude that owners are good and tenants are bad.

    But people are people.

    I have known many owners who not only do not cooperate with their Association, but indeed are downright destructive. I have known many tenants who take better care of their property than do their counterpart owners.

    Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to a tenant. The general philosophy is that "I bought into this complex, and accordingly I have a greater involvement in protecting my investment."

    However, getting these people to serve on boards of directors, or to participate in the numerous condominium activities is often quite difficult. Apathy is rampant in most condominium associations. There have been many occasions where boards of directors have pleaded with owners to attend an Annual Meeting -- or at least give a proxy -- so that a quorum could be reached.

    Many years ago, there were secondary mortgage market restrictions on the number of tenants that could be living in any condominium community. Generally speaking, if the level of tenants reached 30-40 of the entire membership, lenders would be >

    While these restrictions still apply for newly constructed or newly converted condominiums, for all practical purposes most condominium associations do not have to worry about these rental restrictions, unless the ratio starts to come close to 50 percent.

    Indeed, I believe that even the financial community is beginning to understand that sometimes a tenant can be a better asset to a condominium than an apathetic occupant-owner.

    Any legal question involving condominiums requires an evaluation of the "power source." The highest authority in any jurisdiction is the applicable state condominium law. The condominium laws throughout the country are different, and everyone has to understand the law in which your condominium is located.

    The second level of authority is the Declaration, which is recorded among the Land Records in the city or the county where the property is located. This, in effect, is a document that declares that there is a condominium created, and outlines certain important aspects, including a legal description of the complex. In any condominium, there are three components: general common elements, limited common elements, and individual units. The Declaration attempts to define each of these components.

    The third power source is the Bylaws of the Condominium. In some states these Bylaws are recorded among the Land Records, and in other states they are not. But whether or not they are recorded, the Bylaws spell out the basic operating guidelines under which the Association is to function. Bylaws always provide the requirements for the Board of Directors, and will spell out who can serve on the Board. Here is where the legal authority can be found as to whether or not you can serve on the Board if you are not an owner.

    The Bylaws will also establish the types of committees that are to function in the Condominium Association. For example, one important committee is the architectural control committee. This committee determines whether a unit owner can make improvements or alterations to the exterior of their unit.

    This architectural control committee serves an important function in a condominium. Often, however, it becomes a bottleneck to legitimate and needed improvements within the complex. Indeed, the architectural control committee of many associations has been referred to as the "local KGB."

    Here is a suggestion. If the Bylaws do not require owners to serve on the architectural control committee, this might be a very good place for you to get involved. Because you are not an owner, you do not have any vested interests, nor do you have any ax to grind. The architectural control committee members should be objective and impartial, and it sounds to me as if you meet these tests.

    Additionally, if you have any writing skills, you may be able to assist or edit the community association newsletter. Or if you have any accounting background, you should be able to serve on the finance committee.

    Ask for a meeting with your Board of Directors. Convince them that you are sincere, and truly want to participate in the affairs of the Association. Directors should be able to tap all the resources within the community -- whether they are owners or tenants.

    I cannot promise instant success, but a competent Board of Directors should be willing to jump at this opportunity to get able and interested volunteers.

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    Summary Of Multiple Offers Will Also Be Useful

    Last weeks column discussed Californias new Summary of Offer form that was designed for listing agents to present to their clients who were likely to be a bit overwhelmed by the standard eight-page offer to purchase. Judging by the emails I received, California is certainly not the only state where such a form would be a useful tool for listing agents and their clients.

    If a single offer to purchase can be difficult for typical sellers to digest, what happens when they receive multiple offers? "Confusion" would be one correct answer to that question. And, by all accounts, theres probably a lot of confusion at play these days, as low-inventory markets continue to generate more than a typical amount of multiple offers.

    It is a good thing, then, that the Standard Forms Advisory Committee of the California Association of REALTORS CAR has also produced a Summary of Multiple Offers form C.A.R. Form SUM-MO.

    The multiple-offer summary is in many respects similar to the single-offer summary. It presents in an easy-to-read table form a side-by-side comparison for up to five different offers. It covers the same eleven terms as the single-offer summary. They are: 1 purchase price, 2 initial deposit, 3 increased deposit, if any, 4 loan amount, 5 close of escrow date, 6 possession date, 7 removal date for loan contingency, 8 for appraisal contingency, and 9 for buyers inspection contingency, 10 sale of buyers property contingency, if any, and 11 whether certain items are included in the sale.

    There is also a place in each offer column to identify the name and firm of the buyers agent.

    Unlike the single-offer summary, the multiple offer comparison is generated enti>

    A listing agent who uses the multiple-offer summary will still need to address some items that, as with the single-offer summary, are not covered in the form. The form does not, for example, address the question of who is to pay for HOA documents and/or transfer fees. Nor does it show if a home warranty policy is being requested.

    The multiple-offer summary form provides a great and convenient start for agents to make comparisons with their clients. But for the comparisons to be complete, they will need to bring some more information to the table.

    California REALTORS can access the Summary of Multiple Offers on Zipforms. Anyone from another state is welcome to contact me for a pdf. sample.

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

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    To Buy Or Not To Buy: Is Now The Time?

    The US Census Bureau recently revealed that the US homeownership rate declined to 62.9, the lowest level reported in 51 years of Census tracking.

    This statistic does not signal impending doom. Since 2006, there has been a decline from peak ownership rates which is attributed in part to responsible lending practices and shifting demographic patterns. What is significant about this statistic is that it can give those intent on homeownership the false impression that they are fighting a losing battle.

    If youre on the non-homeowner side of this statistic, does this spell opportunity for you? With the economy and employment gaining strength, and predicted home-buying demographic shifts, homeownership may start an upward swing.

    If you dont own your own home, you know there are reasons why not. Since my work dictates I challenge the best to become better, I ask you, "How sure are you that those reasons are still valid or insurmountable?"

    Repeatedly, when I speak to audiences about becoming their own futurist and creating strategies to achieve the future of their choice, I frequently meet people - individuals, couples, families, groups - who did not realize that their future could include homeownership.

    Because they did not consider ownership a possibility, they gave up investigating, learning, strategizing, acting, and dreaming to make it happen. So it did not.

    Ask any real estate or financial professional, and they wont hesitate to tell you that home ownership is, ra>

    Any "short cuts" lie in understanding exactly what effort and action are required for the most direct path to ownership success. Thats what real estate professionals are trained to know all about. They understand how to >

    Interview real estate professionals until you find one with the right mix of experience and determination to assist you with your ownership goals.

    Listen and take notes or record when this professional explains your options and how to achieve your ownership goals. If you ask questions, you will also receive details about various ownership options, including cooperatives, condominiums, and other alternatives available in your area and price range. More questions and youll discover how the purchasing process works.

    Consider the full range of neighborhoods and communities within your area. Prices tend to go down the further out you go from city center. With good public transit, moving to the suburbs may not require as many sacrifices as you might think.

    If youd like to own your own home, this may be the right time for action.

    There are a number of ways to increase your purchasing power and bring real estate ownership within reach. The important thing is not to give up on making an effort before you have explored opportunities available to you in this real estate market:

    Interest rates have not risen as dramatically as they are predicted to do in the future. Waiting until rates rise will limit the size of mortgage you qualify for. Mortgage brokers can explain how much youll qualify for and how you may be able to improve that level of financing. When you purchase, aim for the longest term you qualify for without seriously compromising purchasing power. That way youll have years at a rate you can afford while the mortgage debt is declining.

    Debts can reduce the size of mortgage you qualify for, but financial professional advisers can suggest do-able debt-reduction strategies to improve borrowing power.The first step may be reducing the accumulation of new debt by ending discretionary spending like impulse shopping, eating out, and holiday travel.

    The real estate you purchase may become a "financial partner" in achieving ownership. For instance, buying a one or two-unit rental income property may raise your qualifying income by some or all of the rent the rental unit or units would bring in. This financial leverage may also be possible in a non-rental property if you can prove you have boarders who will move in with you, pay rent, and share expenses.

    Uncertainty abounds, but the economy continues to build momentum and job prospects continue to improve. Untapped income opportunities may exist. When was the last time you explored new employment and education opportunities with your current employer or within your community? Having a job that is "just enough" to keep you going can create inertia that defeats your belief that theres more out there for you if you persist. contains a rich library of articles to answer your questions and help you explore alternatives. Below are a few from my ongoing column "Decisions amp; Communities" that reveal the range of opportunities available to those on the path to homeownership:

    • "Five Core Matching Questions For Buyers"
    • "Home Buyers: Seven Insights Into Confident Decision Making"
    • "Joint Ownership: Proceed with Equal Parts of Creativity and Caution"
    • "New Online Education Empowers Home Buyers"

    As you research ownership ideas and opportunities, stay skeptical. Ask for details and persist until you understand exactly what you and others involved will be responsible for. Beware of anyone promising overnight success or cheaper-than-believable housing. Stick with professionals who have verifiable credentials and proven expertise.

    Since the downturn, youve had years to consider homeownership. Is it time for action before rising interest rates and increasing demographic demand move real estate ownership further out of reach?

    Full Story >

    A Marketing Program With Heart: A Revolution For Real Estate Agents

    Become a Certified Agent with HeartTM and set yourself apart

    Looking to differentiate yourself from the real estate competition? Who isnt There are thousands upon thousands of marketing ideas that exist for that very purpose. But what if your next great idea had a little more substance to it? Thats the concept behind PinRaises new charitable program for real estate agents, Certified Agent with HeartTM.

    What is PinRaise and how does the program work?

    PinRaise, the company that connects consumers with local businesses and nonprofits, announced its new Agent with HeartTM initiative.

    Now, PinRaise is having an impact on real estate agents, turning them into rock stars in their local community. And all they have to do is donate a small portion of their commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice. Better yet, the real estate agent sets the amount they wish to give and has access the complete Agent with Heart marketing kit, including trademarked logos, digital assets, listing presentation inserts, social media materials, a press >

    The benefits of giving back for real estate agents

    The personal satisfaction of giving back is obviously the most important factor in any charitable exercise - especially considering the number of worthwhile charities and the fact that fundraising is typically the biggest challenge for organizations. But for real estate agents who want to give back, there are some important added benefits, like increased business opportunities, more and repeat clients, and enhanced name recognition and visibility with exposure through enhanced SEO on highly rated websites like Realty Times and PinRaise.

    More Info

    Agents who join the movement are also included in an exclusive agent "wall of fame on and for enhanced search engine optimization. It also provides homebuyers and sellers yet another way to find an Agent with Heart.

    "Real estate professionals always want to be doing more selling and prospecting, but many dont realize they can do both of those things while giving back to the community," Robert Rosenthal, a spokesperson for VolunteerMatch, a San Francisco nonprofit that matches volunteers with charitable groups, said on

    For those who want to volunteer in person for an organization, VolunteerMatch is a great resource. One of the main advantages to a program like PinRaises Certified Agent with Heart is that it is a zero-time-commitment method of giving back.

    For more information about how to give back with PinRaise, please visit the website, or search for partner merchants on the Merchants List page. You can also learn more about becoming a PinRaise Business with Heart here. If youre a nonprofit who would like to be involved with PinRaise, please visit the "For Nonprofits" page.

    For more information about how to give back with PinRaise, please visit the website or apply to be a Business with Heart at Visit the "For Nonprofits" page for more information about charities.

    Full Story >

    8 Things You Should Do Before Moving Into A New House

    Moving into a new house? Your task list doesnt end once you pack up your old place - and were not just talking about all the fun unpacking you have ahead of you. Theres a few more things youre going to want to do before you get in and start living it up.

    Change the locks

    It doesnt make you paranoid to want new locks on the doors to your home. It makes you smart. "Who knows how many people have keys to whats now your home? The fix is easy: Its usually a minimum charge for a locksmith to come to the house," said Ron Phipps, principal with Warwick, Rhode Island-based Phipps Realty and past president of the National Association of Realtors, on Bankrate. Phipps advice: Dont just re-key the locks - replace the hardware, too. You get a nice update, plus peace of mind."

    Dont forget to change your garage door opener code, too.

    Do an in-depth tour of the house

    Do you know where the water and gas shut-off valves are? How about the electrical box and water heater? Any idea how to use your sprinkler system? Familiarizing yourself with all the ins and outs of the house and making sure key members of the household are also aware can help avoid disasters.

    Seal off rooms you dont use - or wont be using right away

    The first few months in a new home might be a revelation financially - and not in a good way. Between moving costs, new furniture, any renovations that need to be done, and the cost of turning on all your utilities, youre probably going to want to save a few dollars where you can. Sealing off rooms you wont be using for a while can help lower your heating and cooling costs.

    Meet your neighbors

    Your neighbors may be planning to come by once they see that youve moved in, but think about beating them to it. You never know where you might make a new best friend or find one for your kids, and being friendly and outgoing from the get-go establishes good will.

    Mindful CommUNITY

    At the very least, being able to see a friendly face or two in the neighborhood will help you acclimate - and it wont hurt to have someone point out the neighborhood gossip, tell you which Starbucks makes the best lattes, and help you find the most traffic-free route to the elementary school.

    Join Nextdoor

    Need a babysitter, a dog walker, a handyman, or a recommendation for the best Chinese restaurant in your new neighborhood? Nextdoor will help you find it.

    Clean your carpets

    A thorough cleaning of the home should have been done when the sellers were moving out. In some cases, its stipulated in the contract, and a seller who fails to live up to that aspect is "at risk for a lawsuit," said But unless specific cleaning tasks are called out, the house may not be as spic-n-span as you want.

    Even if the house looks clean and tidy when you move in, they may have skipped the carpets. A good cleaning can extend their life, improve air quality, and remove allergens.

    Mallary Carpets

    "Little do most of us realize that what we are seeing is only a tiny fraction of the soil that a carpet contains," said the National Carpet Cleaners Association NCCA. "The visible grime we notice is only the tip of the iceberg; up to 85 per cent of the dirt the carpet holds is buried deep within the pile. And when you consider that a carpet can eventually trap its own weight or more in soil - as much as 150 pounds for an average-sized living-room - youll agree its no trivial matter."

    Wipe out drawers and cabinets

    This is another oft-ignored task, and one that could be responsible for leaving germs, or at least crumbs, behind.

    Change your fire alarm batteries

    The U.S.FireAdministration USFA recommends that fire alarm batteries get changed twice a year. Since you probably wont know when the last time this was done, its best to change them when you move in. That way you wont be awakened at 3am by a blaring alarm your third day in the house.

    Full Story >

    Top Home Security Tips You Need To Make Your Home Safer Now

    No matter where you live, your age, life stage, the square footage of your floorplan, or type of neighborhood, staying safe at home is a priority for all of us. And you can go out and spend thousands of dollars on security measures or DIY it at all, but the goal is the same: to protect your home, your things, and the people you love.

    Home security is not a one-size-fits-all enterprise, nor is it typically a one-purchase-and-youre-done experience.

    "Think of home security as though youre putting on layers of clothing to protect your body from harsh weather," Jordan Frankel, executive vice president ofGlobal Security Expertssaid on Tech Hive. "Protecting your home from burglary is all about the layers. Because burglars determine their targets through risk vs. reward scenarios, the more security measures you put in place to increase the risk and lessen the reward for would-be intruders, the less likely your home will be viewed as an easy target."

    Whether youre starting from scratch or looking to upgrade or enhance your security measures, here are eight places to start.

    1. Secure the front door

    It seems like a no-brainer to lock your front door and make sure its secure, but, "Roughly33 percent of burglars enter through the front door," said Safewise. Inspect it to make sure the frame is "strong, the hinges are protected, the wood is not hollow, and, if your door has a mail slot, that someone cant reach through it to unlock the door. If your door doesnt have a peephole or a deadbolt, you should install those immediately to help make the door even more secure."


    And if youve just moved in to the house, dont forget to change the locks. Extra keys that may have been floating around prior to you moving in could compromise your safety.

    2. Check the windows, too

    This is another easy-access spot. Safewise notes that, "As many as 23 percent of home burglaries occur through first-story windows." Check the latches, which can degrade over time and fail to protect the windows from opening.

    3. Light it up

    A home thats dark will be more inviting to a potential thief than one that is lit up. We love the BeON Home Protection system, which can be used both inside and out.


    "At first glance, the BeON Home Protection system looks like a trio of odd-looking smart LED bulbs," said Techlicious. Its actually a "sophisticated early warning system for your home, disguised and doubling as smart bulbs. Once you insert the yellow BeON peg module through the bulb and screw them into a standard A21 Edison base lighting fixture, each BeON bulb becomes a listening post that can hear and react to your front door bell ringing or your smoke/CO alarm sounding. When the BeONs hears one of these, the bulbs light up in an automatic or programmed sequence to either make it appear as if youre home to scare off intruders, or light your way to escape potential danger."

    According to BeON, "The system picks up on your natural lighting habits so that theres seamlessly no noticeable difference between you being home and away. Since the goal of the system is preventative security, BeON wants the system to act as a deterrent days in advance, rather than as a reactive security system." You can also " train your BeON bulbs to hear your doorbell, and you can set a sequence of which BeON lights go on in reaction."

    Uplights can give the home some great curb appeal and make it more safe, and motion-activated floodlights are another great theft deterrent. The added advantage of Mpow Solar-Powered Outdoor Motion Sensing Light is that its solar powered, so it wont add to your electric bill or stop functioning in a power outage.


    Rings newFloodlight Cam is "the worlds first and only HD security camera with built-in floodlights, a siren alarm and two-way audio," they said. "Floodlight Cam streams 1080HD video and comes with two 3K lumens LED floodlights, and it starts recording and turns on the lights as soon as it detects motion."

    4. Get to know your neighbors

    Establishing friendships in your neighborhood isnt just great for your social life; it can also help keep you safe. Your neighbors may already know your daily habits what time you come and go, but alerting them to changes like a new job that means youll be leaving earlier and returning later, cleaning crews or landscapers that might have access to the home or yard, and, especially, vacation plans that will leave your home empty for a period of time, is important. That way they can help keep an eye out and be aware of anything that just seems "off."

    5. Get on Nextdoor

    Your local Nextdoor community is not only useful for finding a babysitter or a handyman, but its also a great place to share and learn about security issues like break-ins and car vandalism in your neighborhood. If you know whats going on, you have a better chance of banding together to come up with solutions to get it stopped.

    6. Get it on camera

    Having security cameras outside your front door may not stop a crime from happening although it could deter someone who noticed the camera, but it can help you catch them on the backend by providing footage to police or circulating in your neighborhood.

    Cnet recommends the SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell as one of the their best smart home devices. "With 1080p resolution, SkyBells video quality is terrific, and integrations with Alexa, Nest, and IFTTT help it stand out in an increasingly competitive category," they said. "Free online video storage is a major plus, too."

    7. Get a security system

    Homes without security systems are about three times more likely to be broken into.The Simple Dollar has a thorough list of the best security systems for 2017 broken down by categories like DIY installation, cost, and >


    8. Eliminate hiding spots

    It makes sense that burglars would target homes where they cant be easily seen. If you have tall shrubs or trees up close to the house, that might be you.

    Full Story >

    The Third Rule of Home Staging: Add a Splash Of Color

    When it comes to staging a home for sale, the >

    But many homeowners who already have colorful walls or furniture may wonder if its possible to keep some color in their staged home. The answer is absolutely yes. You can maintain - or even add - just a pop of color to create the right amount of personality and >

    Brighten the Living Room

    Throw pillows are easily found and often cost-efficient. On a sofa, theyre a terrific way to add a burst of color. Select throw pillows that complement the sofa and room. You might go for a bright contrast, like royal blue against white, or bright yellow on a beige sofa. Its all right to choose patterned, floral, solid or metallic versions. The key is to look for a color or combination of colors that will add visual interest without taking over the room.

    Photo by Specht Architects - Browse contemporary living room photos

    Color-coordinating your display shelves is another smart and budget-friendly way to infuse your living room with a little color. When editing your bookcase or shelves, try keeping books of the same color or combinations of colors together. You might be surprised how a simple stack of brightly colored red or blue books can transform a shelf or an accent table.

    Photo by Camber Construction - Look for contemporary living room design inspiration

    If the thought of parting with that pair of brightly colored armchairs gives you trouble, rest assured that you might not have to let them go. Once youve given the room a neutral and soothing palette overall, try reinstating that colorful furniture piece or accessory. Perhaps balance it out with a paler counterpart, as with a light-colored throw on a chair, or white books on a colorful table.

    Photo by Jeff Schlarb Design - More contemporary living room photos

    The rule of thumb is that if its a visual distraction, you should remove it. But if your punchy piece complements the space and adds just the right amount of personality, it can stay. A buyer might remember the cool house with the interesting blue velvet ottoman, especially among a sea of all-white homes with nothing memorable about them.

    Photo by TreHus ArchitectsInterior DesignersBuilders - Look for traditional kitchen design inspiration

    Bring a Splash of Color to Your Kitchen

    Look to surfaces such as a countertop, an open shelf or a stovetop as opportunities to add a pop of color here and there in the kitchen. You dont want to introduce clutter, but you could replace necessary items teakettle, dish towel, cookie jar that are neutral with colorful equivalents that tastefully brighten the space.

    Photo by KitchenLab Design
    Full Story >

    PinRaise Extends Nonprofit Movement To Include Real Estate Agents

    Unique program connects agents, local nonprofits and consumers

    PinRaise, the company that connects consumers with local businesses and nonprofits, announced its new Agent with Heart initiative.

    Connecting consumers with real estate agents and nonprofits, with the new Agent with Heartinitiative.

    Under the PinRaise program, local agents and brokers who join the Agent with Heart program agree to donate a portion of their commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing a transaction.

    "Many real estate professionals are passionate about making a difference in their community, and the Agent with Heart movement provides an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. "Our goal is to help agents make an impact with nonprofits in their neighborhood, so everyone benefits from the real estate transaction, including the buyer or seller, the local nonprofit and the agent."

    "Consumers like to do business with people who care," Mr. Giaimo continues. "Thats why you see so many national brands have affiliations with nonprofits. Were giving the same brand advantage to agents and brokers at the hyper-local level. Everyone wins," Mr. Giaimo concludes.

    The Agent with Heart movement provides agents and brokers with valuable marketing materials to differentiate themselves from others. Agents receive a complete marketing kit, including trademarked logos, digital assets, listing presentation inserts, social media materials, a press >

    More Info

    Agents who join the movement are also included in an exclusive agent "wall of fame on and for enhanced search engine optimization. It also provides homebuyers and sellers yet another way to find an Agent with Heart.

    About PinRaise: The PinRaise app connects consumers with local businesses who agree to donate a small percentage or fixed dollar amount to the nonprofit of the buyers choice, providing recurring revenue for the nonprofit, a differentiator for the local business or real estate professional, and a feel-good story for the consumer. PinRaise is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. You can download PinRaise at the App Store or Google play. For more information, please visit

    Full Story >

    The Dos and Donts Of Flipping Houses

    So you want to flip a house, do ya? Who doesnt? The real question is, can you hack it?

    Heres the thing. You can watch Flip or Flop and see that, despite all the drama in every episode disagreement about floors/kitchen/overall spend, unpermitted addition/scary mold situation/ridiculous electrical nightmare thats going to derail the whole thing they still pretty much always make money. And that money is enticing. Obviously.

    Thats why so many people want to do it. The most recent RealtyTrac analysis of this segment of the market shows that "6.6 of all single-family and condo sales in the first quarter of 2016 were flips. Thats up 20 from the previous quarter and 3 year over year. And the number of flippers grew by 8 from the first quarter of 2015," said Fortune.

    But, before you decide to forge ahead, you might want to give yourself a reality check. The Flip or Flop folks were BROKE for a long time after the last market crash before they started to make any money flipping. Like downsizing from a 6,000 per month mortgage to a 700 apartment broke. Weve all seen them maxing out credit cards, borrowing from family, and paying outrageous rates to hard money lenders to get their deals done.

    They make 10,000 per episode now, which is outside of any profit they make on the homes. They flip multiple properties at once, with the knowledge, experience, cash reserves, and network to pull it off successfully. Its their full-time gig, so theyre able to dedicate far more time to the effort than the average "After 6/weekend flipper."


    And then theres the fact that, sometime during all their success building, their marriage unraveled. If youre planning a family flip, keep in mind the stress involved. Thats "Do" number one. Here are several more, and an equal amount of "Donts" to keep you on track if youre still looking to go for it.

    Do: Hire good people - before you flip, not after, so you have your team in place and ready to go when you buy your house. And, also, to help you make smart choices about that purchase. "A smart way to go about your flip is by taking your contractors with you as you first tour the property so they can give you estimates on repairs immediately," said Flipping Virgins host Egypt Sherrod on HGTV. "This way, you are not fishing around for estimates AFTER youve already purchased the property. This cuts down on renovation surprises."

    Dont: Ignore red flags. Water damage, mold, asbestos, foundation issues - they may turn out to be small problems that are >

    Do: Secure your financing ahead of time. Winging it probably wont yield the best results, especially if you dont have a good handle on how much your flip will really cost.

    Dont: Go big the first time out of the gate. That mansion in the gated neighborhood that hasnt been updated since 1972 might seem like a moneymaker, but without a ton of experience, processes that work, and a trusted network, youll probably be in over your head.


    Do: Pay attention to the market. Knowing which cities are best for flipping and keeping up on real estate trends and interest rate news can help make you successful.

    Dont: Just do the bare minimum when more is clearly needed. Everyone whos ever bought a home to flip hopes and prays for one that just needs a fresh coat of paint and some new carpet. Get in, get out, get your money, right? But thats an unlikely reality in many cases. Ignoring really outdated kitchens and baths and obvious defects probably wont yield you the kind of return youre envisioning.

    Do: Pay attention to the neighborhood. That means taking a good look at whats going on there, who lives there, and what the real estate values are. If you cant identify growth potential, it might be best to walk away. Also, you dont want to go super modern in a home that caters to a mostly >

    Dont: Blow your budget on day one. If you get into a bidding war or are trying to buy your first flip at auction, chances are good youll get caught up in the excitement and go over what you planned to spend.

    Do: Price it right. Being too aggressive about pricing can be a downfall for any home for sale. But if you went over budget or over your time schedule and are eager to get your money out of your flip, you may be thinking that a higher sales price will even everything out. Youre spending money every day to carry that home, so it might be smarter to price it a little more competitively and get it sold. Then, you can be on to your next flip

    Dont: Blow your budget on day two, either. Once youve bought your first flip house, you might want to run right out and buy all the pretty materials youve been thinking about. And those can be budget-busters. Stick to the budget youve made by making savvy buys and swapping where necessary. If you see a great flooring deal that saves you 1,000, the best move is to bank that money in case of an emergency or to fatten your profit. But if you want to upgrade to the countertop thats going to be the best fit for the kitchen, you now have the money.

    Do: Know your limits. Planning to tile the whole house yourself? Have you ever tiled a whole house before? Or even a bathroom? No? Overvaluing your skill level and taking on projects youre not qualified for may just leave you frustrated, potentially injured, and probably in need of a professional to ultimately come and clean up your mess. Can you save money by DIYing? Sure. But making smart choices will help things progress smoothly instead of holding them up and costing you more money in the long run.

    Dont: Buy your first flip at auction. "Some auction companies haveopen housesso potential bidders can walk through the properties ahead of time," said Investopedia. But for many auction and foreclosure houses, this isnt true. Buying a property you havent been able to walk through or have an inspection of is always challenging, even for experienced flippers see almost every episode of Flip or Flop where an auction or "as is" foreclosure property is involved.

    Do: Be honest with yourself about costs. "If you calculate a potential flip this way: Buy a house for 100,000, spend 20,000 on improvements, sell it for 150,000 and earn 30,000 profit, you clearly havent done all the math thats needed," said US News. "What about the cost of borrowed money and thecost of selling the house? What if the contractor discovers, once he starts the work, that half the plumbing lines are rotted? What about the cost of insurance, utilities and property taxes while you own the house? You must dig below the surface-level figures to paint a complete and accurate picture of the flipping opportunity. Only then can you determine whether its a sound financial move for you."

    Dont: Get carried away with finishes. Not every house needs a commercial range and marble countertops. Refer back to: Know your neighborhood.

    Do: Be smart about your home criteria. If you know a one-bedroom condo is hard to sell now, itll still be hard to sell after being renovated.

    Full Story >

    Hot Bedroom Trends To Try For 2017

    The bedroom. Its the nest we retreat to at the end of the day. The place we >

    Look to these bedroom trends for 2017 to get you the sumptuous bedroom space you deserve.

    Patterned walls

    Patterns are everywhere today in a variety of applications, but few make the impact of wallpaper. "While 2016 was the year to add bright pastel colors to the walls of your bedroom, the upcoming year welcome backs the designer wallpapers, to adorn the walls of your bedroom with a modish touch, said interior designer and cofounder of Meraki on Design Genie.

    Bring in some needed color, add a graphic pattern for interest, or go all dreamy with something like this de Gournay plum blossom print. Itll definitely transport you to another place - even if only in your dreams.


    Textured walls

    You dont have to have a big, bold pattern on your walls to bring your room into 2017. Texture is all the talk this year. But pass that rustic wood by - its soooo 2016. Instead, try some decorative molding painted in a dramatic hue. "The best way to kick traditional >

    Elle Decor

    Upholstered beds

    The trend thats been around for several years isnt going anywhere yet, although, for a modern look, go for a dramatic shape or size on your headboard. And, dont forget the embellishments. Its all about the tufting and covered buttons.


    Mixing patterns

    Its all about mixing and matching today, but doing so in a way that amps up the >


    Go tropical

    You dont have to live on the coast to push a coastal look at home. This trend has been percolating for a few years, and now there are some great choices to incorporate into your bedroom that can help you to "embrace your adventurous side," said Textile companyKip amp; Co.


    Cerused wood

    Need to pick up a few pieces of bedroom furniture? Look for this hot new finish. "A cerused finish refers to the technique that brings out the unique grain of wood," said House Beautiful. "This trend which has been around in the high end market for some time has finally trickled down and seems universally accepted," Laura Michaels of Get a Room Design told them. "Youll see it on cabinets, but also in bigger pieces like tables, chairs, and storage furniture."


    Full Story >

    Summary Of Offer Will Be A Useful Document To Have

    The standard residential real estate purchase contract in California Residential Purchase Agreement or RPA is eight pages long in a font size that most people would not consider large. It is not a document that is easily assimilated, and most principals, if not their agents, can be excused if their eyes glaze over. Thus it is that listing agents often find themselves called upon to summarize the purchase offers that their clients receive.

    A form that provided a summary of an offer would be a useful tool for an agent to have; and now, thanks to the California Association of REALTORS CAR Standard Forms Advisory Committee, such a form is available. The form -- Summary of Offer RPA, or SUM-RPA -- was >

    The SUM-RPA presents eleven of the central terms of an offer in an easy-to-read, three-column table format: column one -- name of term and paragraph reference; column two -- amount or description; and column three -- additional information. For example, the first row shows the purchase price, the RPA paragraph reference; and whether it is all cash.

    The terms covered in the table are: 1 Purchase Price, 2 initial deposit amount, 3 increased deposit, if any, 4 loan amount, 5 close of escrow, 6 possession date, 7 loan contingency removal date, 8 appraisal contingency removal date, 9 buyers investigation period, 10 buyers sale contingency, if any, and 11 whether certain items are included in the sale.

    Each of these items is automatically included in the SUM-RPA when the purchase agreement is constructed using the standard zipForms electronic platform. Additionally, there is also space for other items and terms to be manually added to the summary form.

    Of course

    some will opine that other items should have been included, and that perhaps some that were included need not be there. Such is life.

    As a matter of brokerage practice, it will no doubt take some time for the SUM-RPA to become widely used. It is a document that would appear to be primarily for the use of a prospective seller. It provides a summary of the offer that has been presented to him/her/them. To be sure, though, a copy for the buyer might also be beneficial. But the SUM-RPA is generated by the buyers agent. Its spaces are populated when the buyers agent fills out the RPA that is to be presented to the seller. How will this summary get into the sellers hands?

    Some buyers agents might just include the summary along with the full RPA that is presented. But they dont have to; and its hard to see for how long, or why, that might become a habit.

    Listing agents who want their sellers to have the summary form have two choices. They can stipulate that a summary must be included with an offer; or they can, upon review of the offer, manually fill one out themselves.

    In any case, listing agents who want their clients to have a SUM-RPA will need to review the document carefully before presenting it. The SUM-RPA does not, for example, provide for the automatic inclusion of terms calling for the seller to pay for such things as home warranty policies and/or HOA documents. Such items can be substantial, and it could be important that they be manually added to the summary. Also, many items that might be asked for in a sale e.g. the dog house, a chandelier, the giant TV, etc. would need to be manually added to the form.

    The new Summary of Offer form is a good idea and many will find it useful. No doubt it will be tweaked and modified as the years go by. Those who want to familiarize themselves with it now can find it on zipForms. Or just ask me to send a copy.

    Full Story >

    Create A Natural Habitat In Your Urban Garden

    When its cold and snowy outside in Canada, its nice to dream of spring. For gardeners, its the ideal time to sit back and plan the perfect outdoor space.

    For those who want to make their space wildlife friendly, nows the time to plan for that too. Homeowners dont need large properties in order to help wildlife. Urban gardens can provide the necessities -- elements such as food, water and shelter. Once your wildlife friendly garden is done, you can apply for a certificate to recognize your hard work.

    "By introducing native plants and some strategic design features to your garden, you can provide patches of natural habitat for many species," says Nature Conservancy Canada. "A well-designed backyard can offer birds and pollinators like butterflies more living space, feeding opportunities and the safety of cover from predators. By enhancing and restoring natural elements in your garden, youll make the urban landscape more wildlife friendly."

    Where to begin? The North American Native Plant Society suggests starting small, "maybe even with a single plant." The society recommends a native fern or hedge rather than a hosta for a shady spot. In the northeast, a Redbud or Pagoda Dogwood is an ideal small tree for a city garden. The society also says a native tall grass such as Indian Grass or Big Bluestern is ideal for the back of a sunny border.

    The society offers a list of native plants and a database of plants at

    For pollinators, the main thing you can do is to eliminate your use of pesticides, says Seeds of Diversity, which offers a variety of programs such as Pollinator Canada that encourages bee friendly gardening.

    "Secondly, because habitat loss is one of the largest stressors responsible for the decline of our bee-loved pollinators, the next best thing you can do is plant for them. Do what you can. Plant just one species or plant a field. Plant native species or plant species that you know are laden with pollen and nectar," Seeds of Diversity says.

    In order to qualify for certification by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, in addition to providing food, water and shelter, you also need to have at least one plant native to your area and use "earth-friendly gardening practices in maintaining it".

    The federations Backyard Habitat Certification Program "recognizes the amazing efforts Canadians are taking to meet the habitat needs of wildlife, and allows individuals to have their property certified by officially designating their gardens as wildlife friendly."

    Homeowners interested in having their homes certified must send a sketch of the property, at least five photos and a 10 application fee along with a completed application. Once their properties are certified, homeowners are able to purchase a sign to display on their property, the Wildlife Federation says. "Certified properties can raise awareness in their communities of the importance of gardening with wildlife in mind and that it can be done beautifully in any garden >

    Nature Conservancy Canada suggests homeowners consider the types of plants native to their garden, as well as to think about how the garden should look and feel. Other considerations include features such as small ponds with trickling water to attract birds and frogs and brush piles to provide shelter to migrating birds in the spring and fall. Bee, bat, squir>

    Check with your municipality to see if they offer programs. Richmond Hill, Ont. has a Healthy Yards Program that helps homeowners care for their lawn, trees and gardens. It also offers residents a chance to buy subsidized native plant kits and rain bar>

    "Native plant is a term used to describe plants that occur naturally and have existed for many years in a given area," the municipality says. "They are adapted to local climate and soil conditions and therefore require less water and maintenance. They improve local biodiversity by providing habitat and food for birds, mammals and insects."

    Nature Conservancy Canada says, "Contact your local gardening or nature club about plants and invasive species that are known to be of concern in your area and avoid buying them. If they are already present, remove them."

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    Home Looking Drab? Boosting Curb Appeal Is Easy And Worth It

    Improving the curb appeal of your home will not only bring a smile to your face when you pull up after a long day, but it will leave you smiling all the way to the closing table. Boosting the exterior aesthetic of your home adds to your enjoyment, but also can dramatically improve the value at resale. By focusing on the three main areas of your homes exterior, youll be proud no matter who is driving by.

    Improving the driveway, garage, and walkway

    In most homes, the driveway and the garage comprise a significant portion of the homes curb appeal, yet they are often overlooked by homeowners. Ensuring your driveway is in good condition and free of weeds will automatically freshen the exterior -- edging your driveway with coordinating stones or pavers can also enhance the appeal.

    Also, take some time to inspect your exterior walkway. Is it in good condition? Does it enhance the other exterior features? Upgrading a walkway with pavers or flagstones is >

    Garage doors can also set the tone for a homes appearance. Consider touching up garage door paint or replacing your door altogether. With a wide variety of materials to choose from, a new garage door can transform your homes exterior. Doors are available in wood, steel, and fiberglass with countless choices in design and color.

    Attending to your homes exterior

    A home with siding and paint in good condition that blends well with the neighborhood and surrounding landscape will offer a more serene experience. Even if your paint is in good condition, consider power washing the exterior to remove dirt and grime that can diminish its appeal. Renting a power washer for the weekend is inexpensive but can reap massive rewards in how your home looks and feels.

    Small changes to the entryway can have a dramatic impact on visitors. Replace broken or rusted lighting fixtures, update door hardware, and embrace symmetry at the entry point. Even the simple act of repainting your front door with a fresh shade can add tremendous appeal. Installing additional lighting along a walkway or dark areas can also enhance these exterior spaces.

    Luscious landscapes

    Landscaping is one of the primary ways to make a dramatic impact on how your home looks. Improvements in landscaping are thought to return about 4 to 5 times your investment when it comes to selling your home. To maximize your time and investment, first, assess what of your existing landscape can be used or improved. Trim overgrown bushes, prune trees and refresh mulch or other ground covering. Peeling back the overgrown exterior can attract some unwanted attention to your home -- consider purchasing home insurance riders to protect any belongings not covered in your policy.

    Adding plant beds to feature climate appropriate plants will help you maintain your landscape with less hassle and will enhance the natural beauty of your lot. Choose annuals to add bright pops of color, either in beds or matching planters at the front of your home.

    Lastly, attend to your lawn. Patch dead areas with sod or seed and ensure you are caring for your lawn using recommended methods -- mow regularly, use fertilizers and weedicides as needed, and make sure your clean up after any pets. Stubborn bare patches can be transformed into unique flower beds or improved with alternative ground cover, such as ivy, in areas where it is too shady for many types of grass.

    With some simple and inexpensive fixes, you can create an exterior that you are not only proud of but that you enjoy spending time in. Not only will this improve your happiness in your home, but it will also reap benefits when youre ready to move someplace new.

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    Do You Have What It Takes To Go Bold In The Kitchen?

    White kitchens. Theyre everywhere. And dont get us wrong. We looooove a good, crisp, white kitchen, especially when its slathered in marble. But all that white thats become so prevalent in kitchens across the country and around the world has also inspired a bit of a backlash. Or at least a slight rebellion.

    Yes, color is back, and its being showcased in some of todays most stylish kitchens. "Punch upcabinetrywith bright blues and reds, or ground a large space with a soothing gray or bay leaf green," said House Beautiful.

    Do you have the guts to go bold? You might once you see these beautiful options.

    Cobalt Blue

    The deep blue shade brings the drama, but the white Carrera marble counters, oversized subway tile backsplash, and large space keep it feeling airy.

    House Beautiful

    Emerald green

    Emerald green cabinets, a bold, graphic black-and-white tiled floor, and an eye-catching window shape may not be the safe choices, which is exactly why this combination is so outstanding. The lack of upper cabinets keeps the space from feeling closed-in, and the rustic finish on the cabinets brings in an old-world feel.


    Heres another look at emerald green, since its such a trending color. This kitchen uses flat-panel cabinets and complements them with lots of shiny jewelry, in the pendants, fixtures, and knobs. A black marble countertop, Moroccan backsplash tile, and turquoise-topped barstools finish off the chic space.



    Paprika? Yes, the color thats not really red or orange or even brick or terracotta makes a statement in this California home. Mission->

    House Beautiful


    Its a Mondrian painting come to life in this whimsical kitchen. "Bold contrasting colors or muted natural tones will give your kitchen a mid-century modern look and feel," said Riverbend Home.

    Riverbend Home


    This black kitchen is no wallflower. While the white outer countertop and ceiling bring in some contrast, everything else reads dramatic and daring. Shiny black appliances keep the eye moving, and the sexy backsplash provides just the right amount of pattern play.


    Bold backsplashes

    This kitchen is clean and serene, with white cabinets and counters, and a bolder hue on the backsplash subway tile.


    Cement tile is the hottest look in backsplashes today, allowing you to add color and pattern into an otherwise neutral space.

    Photo by Courtney Holland Interiors - Browse transitional kitchen ideas

    Outrageous appliances

    Another option if youre looking to create a killer kitchen without involving your cabinets is to go for a standout appliance. The cabinets here are a custom smoky light gray and the backsplash is something you wont see in everyones home, but its hard to notice anything else with that amazing yellow range in the space.


    Full Story >

    Buying While Divorced: What You Need To Know To Move Forward

    Ending your marriage introduces myriad changes to your life. And when it comes to buying a house, checking the "divorced" box could prove problematic. If youre newly single and looking to make a home purchase, a few tips can help you accomplish your goal as painlessly as possible.

    Check your budget and check it again

    Once you involve a lender in your homebuying plan, youll get a preapproval assuming you qualify that provides you with the maximum amount you can spend on your home. But that doesnt mean you have to spend the maximum. You dont want to be house poor, and end up with a home of your own but no money left over after your monthly expenses to actually enjoy your life.

    Take your pre-approval from your lender and do some serious math. Can you really afford that payment? Did you factor in the mortgage insurance and the HOA and the home warranty and the landscaping?

    Now think about all the other expenses. Like when your kid needs new shoes and uniforms and private lessons for soccer. Or your air conditioner breaks. Or a storm wrecks your roof.

    Have you also accounted for monthly savings? Youll still need a "rainy day" fund not to mention college funds for your children, and dont forget about retirement. Advice varies about how much a person should be able to put away, "But Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren recommends that you reserve 30 percent of your after-tax income for discretionary - or non-fixed - expenses and 20 percent for savings," said The Nest. "That leaves 50 percent of your after-tax income for fixed expenses."

    Huffington Post

    Consider whats really important

    Moving down, if its necessary because of changing financial realities, may not sound like a picnic, but overextending to stay in a certain neighborhood or buy a similarly sized house wont be either.

    You have less purchasing power on one income, which can lower your options. Being realistic about what you can buy is important, but it may require you to have a serious talk with yourself. Making a list of must-haves, whether that means being in a certain school district, or within a certain distance from work, is a good first step.

    Talk to multiple lenders

    Connecting with a lender who understands both your life stage and financial outlook can help streamline the process and uncover loans and programs that are geared toward single buyers.

    Single moms traditionally have a "harder time qualifying after the housingdownturn," said My Mortgage Insider. Much off this has to do with the discrepancy in income, although women have largely been able to overcome that obstacle to more than double the number of single men buying homes this year, according to the National Association of Realtors NAR in its 2016 Buyer and Seller Survey. After dropping for several years, the number of single women buying homes rose to 17 percent last year, up from 15 percent in 2015.

    Home Free USA

    "Despite having a much lower income 55,300 than single male buyers 69,600, female buyers made up over double the amount of men 7 percent," they said. "Single women for years have indicated a strong desire to own a home of their own, as well as an inclination to live closer to friends and family. With job growth holding steady and credit conditions becoming somewhat less stringent than in past years, the willingness and opportunity to buy is becoming more feasible for many single women."

    Contacting your local housing authority can help determine if there are specific homeownership programs, grants and loans that are right for you. Down payment assistance programs in individual states, like Welcome Home Illinois, Maines First Home Loan program, and Pinellas County, Floridas First-Time Homebuyer program are just a sliver of the available programs that could help give a single buyer the help they need.

    Consider taking your name off the marital homes mortgage

    This can work toward improving your credit worthiness because, "In the eyes of the mortgage lender, you remain married and liable for the mortgage unless you sell the house or refinance," said Bankrate.

    It should be noted that how to deal with the marital home will undoubtedly be spelled out in your divorce decree, but if youve decided your ex will remain in the house and he or she has not yet refinanced to remove your name, that should be done before you apply for your loan. "A divorced persons credit rating is also highly impacted by still being part owner of the marital home and can lead to a divorced person not being able to qualify for a new mortgage loan for their own place due to the high level of overall debt load still showing up on their credit report," said Huffington Post.

    Take your time

    A newly divorced person might not be financially ready from a savings standpoint and may also still have other intermingled obligations like credit cards, investments, and even old debts that are hurting your credit score. "Besides, you may not be able to rush, even if you want to," said Katie Connell, a family law attorney with Boyd Collar Nolen amp; Tuggle in Atlanta on US News. "Some lenders wont even consider letting a divorced person who receives alimony use that alimony as evidence of income until theres a six-month history of alimony payments being paid on time."

    If you were thinking about buying a house before the divorce is final, you might want to wait a bit. "Even if you can afford it, trying to buy a new home before a divorce is finalized can mean a red flag for lenders," said US News.

    Check your emotional state

    Buying a home is a huge undertaking, not just from a financial standpoint, but also from the perspective of maintenance, upkeep, and being the only owner, which means youre responsible should something go wrong.

    While it can feel like the need to move and to have something of your own is urgent, youll want to make sure youre not biting off more than you can chew - especially after the emotional turmoil youve probably just gone through in ending your marriage.

    Full Story >

    Use Technology For Attracting Serious Home Buyers

    ERA Real Estate and HGTV reported 46 percent of consumers see smart-home technology as important for their current and future residences. But luxury homebuyers are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. According to Digital Interiors, 94 percent of buyers surveyed would sacrifice 1,000 square feet of living space for more technology in their new home. Oversized houses are no longer the driving trend in the luxury real estate market and agents are under pressure to respond to the demand. Heres what affluent homebuyers are looking for and which gadgets are must-haves.

    Get a Smart Thermostat

    Outfit your listings for luxury with smart-home additions like a smart thermostat . The Nest programs itself based on your preferences and can adjust whenever you leave to conserve energy. Your clients can control the system right from their smartphones. Owners can warm up the living room before an evening entertaining clients. Talk about how they can jet set to their vacation home and simply check-in on their property as needed. The idea behind a smart thermostat is really about controlling the overall climate of the home as opposed to an exact temperature.

    Enhance your Home Surveillance

    Home security systems have always dabbled in the high-tech world of smart automation. In the past, most alarms simply triggered an annoying sound and contacted the police at signs of danger.

    Today, home security cameras keep an eye on the inside and outside of the home with wi>

    New owners can keep an eye on their home from vacation, at work or on a spontaneous outing without worry.

    Go High-Tech Culinary

    Updating a kitchen has always been a recommended way to raise a homes price tag and attract buyers. But affluent home shoppers are looking for more than just new appliances and chefs kitchens. The latest technology trends include no-touch faucets and smart refrigerators that can alert you when youre running low on groceries. The LG model features an internal camera to check on its contents, built-in Wi-Fi to connect to your mobile device and offers available accessories that can be 3-D printed. Other high-tech touches like Bluetooth smart cooking thermometers tell your mobile device when your food is ready to create perfect dishes every time.

    Upgrade your Luxury Entertainment

    Just about every home has a flat-screen television; some piped for surround sound and home theaters. Let your clients take entertaining to a new level by controlling everything from one device like Savant. Your clients can adjust the lighting, change the channel on your smart TV and turn on music. A system like Savant can also help monitor your homes security and adjust the climate as needed. While clients are getting ready upstairs for an evening with friends, they can adjust the entertainment area and living room downstairs to create a luxurious atmosphere.

    Full Story >

    Home Renovations On A Budget

    If youre looking to get the best return on your investment or just improve your property to attract high quality tenants, a kitchen remodel is one of the highest value projects. The most recent cost vs. value report, >

    The good news is that high value renovations like these dont have to break the bank. There are a number of options for making improvements to your property that can significantly better its appearance without spending an arm and a leg.


    The first thing people look at when buying a house is the kitchen and bathrooms, according to the director of the remodeling futures program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Its no different for potential renters, and reports these two rooms are considered the best investments for property owners.

    Minor improvements such as replacing the kitchen faucet and adding new cabinet door handles can make a big difference in the look of your kitchen. Consider switching out old fluorescent lights for new track lighting or adding a new countertop; laminate isnt too expensive and can really help update the room. If the appliances dont match and you cant afford to replace them with new ones, a less pricey option is to replace their doors or face panels with matching colors which can generally be ordered direct from the manufacturer.


    As bathrooms are also a high priority for home buyers and renters, dont leave them out when sprucing up your property. Consider changing out old towel bars, toilet seats and sink faucets. If your tiling is old and outdated, it should also be replaced. Re-grouting the tile around the shower and bath is also an easy and inexpensive update.


    Floors are another important factor that can make or break a homes appearance. If you can afford it, consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with wood laminate flooring. It is cheaper than other hardwoods but can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the years in maintenance costs. For landlords, this makes a lot of sense as its much easier to clean between tenants. At a minimum, you should have the carpets professionally cleaned.

    The Front Door

    Entry door replacement was on the top of the list when it comes to high value renovations, according to the 2014 cost vs. value report. This is one of the first things potential renters and buyers will notice. If replacing the door is not in your budget, consider repainting it to add curb appeal and changing out the handle-and-lock to help suggest that its a solid, sturdy home.

    The Exterior

    Of course, an attractive home exterior is a must, enticing prospective buyers or renters to want to take a closer look. If the outside looks shabby there is a good chance that it will be passed by.

    General cleaning and maintenance of the exterior can greatly improve curb appeal. Remove any items that are left sitting unused, including old, rusty patio furniture or broken garden tools and equipment. These things generally cant be picked up by your local garbage company and you may need to find a rental dumpster service so that you can tidy up your yard and easily dispose of those unwanted items. Additionally, make sure that walkways are swept and the lawn is well-manicured.

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    5 Home Improvements That Pay Off

    There are several improvements that offer a high return on investment ROI for homeowners looking to sell. Per the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, some investments are still worthwhile, while there are others you might reconsider. Keep reading to learn about five cheap home improvements that are worth the investment.

    Update Your Entry Door

    A new entry door is a cost-effective improvement that will offer substantial returns during a sale. To get the most from your investment, look for a steel entry door. Steel doors have the most safety features and highest ROI of all entry door options.

    Install Insulation

    Adding Insulation isnt a flashy renovation, but it will improve the value of your home. In fact, due to low installation costs, many homeowners get a 100 percent return on their investment. Youll also be saving money while youre in your home since you wont have to use the heat or air conditioning quite as much.

    Replace Your Garage Door

    Old garage doors, even if theyre hidden from street view, dont do much for a homes visual appeal. They also create an ideal entry point for intruders. Updating your garage door isnt particularly costly. In fact, most installations recoup 75 percent of the cost.

    Install New Siding

    Replacing your siding will improve the look of your home and prevent any water- or weather->

    Improve Your Kitchen

    Upgrading the dated features in your kitchen is a great way to bring extra value to your home. Flooring, countertop and fixture updates provide a reasonable ROI. Adding treatments to your kitchen windows is another way to modernize the look of your home without breaking the bank.

    Always avoid over investing in your kitchen. Embarking on a 40,000 remodel could price you out of your neighborhood and hurt your chances of selling.


    Improving your home can be a little scary. But with the right planning, you can improve the looks and functionality of your home without overspending. Smart investments also mean youll see a greater return when you decide to sell.

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

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    Adding Storage and Removing Clutter Turns Your Rental Into A Home

    If youve ever wondered why your rental doesnt quite look like home, then youre on to something.

    Apartment life comes with stuff - it just might not come with storage. No matter how you arrange your furniture, it just doesnt seem to look quite like you want it to. This may be because a lot of the "stuff" you would have had tucked away in a large home doesnt have a home anymore. You have things here and there and well, everywhere.

    Theres a cure for the lack of built-in storage. Adding storage and removing clutter will really change the look of your rental. The best part is that portable storage can move with you to your next home.

    Tips for Gaining Storage Space

    In the Bath

    Dont let the single bathroom cabinet in your apartment stress you out. You can conquer countertop clutter with these tips.

    Consider a freestanding over-the-toilet storage unit. These are also sometimes called a spacesaver or an tagre. These typically give you a combination of a cabinet and shelves or all shelves. Use them to hold baskets of toiletries and stacks of folded towels. There are also rolling shelves that glide in between the fixtures and pull out as needed.

    Take advantage of every inch of space in your vanity by adding cabinet organizers. Pull-out baskets will help you reach supplies deep in the back of the cabinet. You can even hook an organizer on the inside of your cabinet door to hold bulky items like hairdryers. If you need inspiration for sprucing up your vanity, take a look at how one vanity can be >

    Dont forget the back of your bathroom door. Use this spot for an over-the-door rack of shelves for products or a towel rack for extra towels.

    In the Living Room

    Its really important to create storage where there is none in this room so it doesnt look cluttered.

    If you are still shopping for furniture, choose options that offer some storage. Get an ottoman with a lift-off lid and use it to hold board games or extra linens. Pick an entertainment center that has additional cabinets or shelves you can use for books and other items.

    Create an attractive home for coats by adding a coat and hat rack to the wall. Below it, tuck a decorative piece, like a wooden box or wicker basket, to hold boots and shoes.

    Use baskets to keep things tidy. A seagrass basket makes a nice display for magazines and another one makes a great way to tuck video games and controllers out of sight by the TV.

    In the Kitchen

    If you love to cook, you might find placing all your kitchen gadgets in an apartment a puzzle. If you use some organizing tricks, you should not have a problem.

    Free up drawer space by placing a crock of cooking tools next to the stove.

    Place a large basket on top of the fridge that you can lift down as you need it. Put things in it that you need and use, but not on a daily basis, such as baking supplies or serving dishes.

    Get a bakers rack or shelf to set in your dining area, but use it as kitchen storage. By arranging items on it that are decorative and attractive, but still useful in the kitchen, you free up valuable cabinet space. Try displaying serving trays, pretty bowls, pitchers, cookbooks, coffee mugs and stemmed glassware.

    Use cabinet organizers to maximize space. Small shelves that go inside your cabinet will allow you to double up on things like plates, glasses or canned goods and fit more in one cabinet.

    In the Bedroom

    The best rest is found in a bedroom that is peaceful and >

    Use your under-the-bed space for storage with some under-the-bed boxes. This is the perfect spot for extra shoes, off season clothing, sports equipment and luggage. Add a bed skirt to your box spring and it will hide all your stored items.

    If you are shopping for nightstands, choose some that offer drawers or shelves for extra storage.

    A bench with a lift-up lid is pretty and useful at the end of the bed. Inside it, store extra bedding and blankets or sweaters and purses.

    Maximize closet space by using the inside of your closet door for a shoe rack. Add a step stool so you can use all of the shelves easily.

    As youre setting up your apartment, youll find the more you focus on creating spots to stow away your belongings, the more it looks like a home.

    Home organization expert Lea Schneider has a special interest in combining strong interior design ideas with sensible storage and organization planning. Lea writes her advice online for The Home Depot. To review bathroom vanity options for your apartment, you can view some Home Depot ideas here.

    Full Story >

    When A Lease Option Comes To An End

    Question: Two years ago, when we were having difficulty selling our house, we entered into a lease option. Our prospective purchaser agreed to move in, pay rent for two years, and then have the right to buy the property at the end of that term. It now appears our buyer will be unable to carry through with his option. What happens if the buyer is unable to buy? Does he lose the deposit and the lease payments?

    Answer: That is a very good question. It highlights some of the most important elements in all real estate transactions -- that all terms should be negotiated in advance, and then reduced to writing.

    You have entered into a lease with an option to purchase and your purchaser is to exercise that option within two years of the date of the transaction. If you -- or your lawyer -- were on the ball when you first entered into the transaction, you would have covered these points in the contract lease. I assume you have a written lease with an option, and that all of the important terms were spelled out in that document.

    If I am a seller who enters into a lease option, I would want a sizeable down-payment, and a monthly rental income which would not be credited for the purchase price. In the event my tenant did not go to final settlement, my preference would be to declare the entire deposit to be forfeited in my favor. The theory behind this strategy is that I am taking my house off the market for a period of time, and I am contracting to sell my house in the future at todays prices.

    On the other hand, if I were the tenant who enters into such a lease option, I would, of course, want different terms. I would attempt to negotiate that all or part of the monthly rental payments would be credited toward the purchase price. Also, if I were unable to go final settlement at the expiration of the lease, I would not want to lose any of my deposit.

    Needless to say, you will need good negotiating skills, and the final agreement should be spelled out in writing, and signed by all parties. This is a legal document, and since your tenant will be living in the house for a period of time in accordance with the terms of this document, it should be carefully considered before you enter into the arrangement.

    In the absence of language covering the situation you have raised, I suspect that unless you can reach an amicable resolution, you both may end up in court. The seller will take the position that the deposit is forfeited; the tenant will no doubt take the position that the deposit was me>

    I suspect, however, that if the transaction is in fact a lease with an option to purchase, the court will side with the seller.

    You may also want to consider adding the following language to any such lease\option arrangement:

    "Any dispute arising out of this agreement will be decided by an arbitrator, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association."

    If a dispute does arise, and if you have an arbitration clause, the matter will probably be resolved more quickly -- and less costly -- than if you have to go to court. However, I want to make it clear that this is not a blanket endorsement of arbitration. There are many situation where, in my opinion, litigation is in the best interests of at least one of the parties.

    Full Story >

    Why Many Americans Are Opting For Manufactured Homes

    "The wave of the future is manufactured or modular homes to answer Americas affordable housing problem" - These are the words of Paul Comino, than founder of Home Nation, a family owned business thats pushing the manufactured housing industry forward. Remember these words, as we go further to explain the reason behind the main fact of this article - Americans are more and more opting for manufactured homes.

    Many people do not believe that such modular homes are "real" homes, and they usually give no reason for this assertion, they simply stand firm behind their words because they are human beings, and as we all know, we humans are never easily convinced that something new or unfamiliar is actually better than something to which we have grown accustomed, even if the "unfamiliar thing" really is better than the old one.

    First of all, for the average citizen, when it comes to building a home, the two most important things are the cost and the longevity, i.e. the life span of the home. Many other things should also be considered, of course, but many of them can also be included into the factors just mentioned.

    Now, when talking about modular homes, the most important thing to mention is that they are made for up to 30 less money than it takes to make traditional homes, and they offer the same quality and the same comfort that your average, traditionally built home does. Sometimes the savings can be even larger, as Comino has said "Housing development with modular homes holds its value in Florida and they are very nice homes at half the cost of standard-built homes."

    When realizing that one can save such large amounts of money in the production process, its no surprise that Americans who are familiar enough with manufactured homes, choose them over traditional ones. But even though with all this mentioned, a >

    Thankfully, many home builders are changing their minds and realizing the potential of modular homes, partly due to the fact than many countries around the world have long been using this method of creating houses, and a much larger number of homes are modular there already. In some European countries, a third of houses built in the near past are modular, and in Japan, more than three quarters of houses are modular.

    Another thing that is changing peoples minds are the changes in policies concerning manufactured homes and Government programs that are being made to incite people to opt for manufactured homes. For example, in Ohio, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently added a provision to the Single Family Housing Direct loan program, that will help finance many of the already existing manufactured homes with long-term, fixed rate financing. And in addition to Ohio, several other states are going to include this provision in the near future; All of which means that a bright future is coming for new home buyers who are interested in manufactured homes.

    Many companies in the US have also seen the benefits and have turned to modular homes. They solve the problem of the shortage in skilled labor that has existed as early as 2006, since manufactured homes do not require many workers on the job site. Moreover, they dont require many workers at all. Besides the money, they save time as well, since modular homes can be mostly assembled beforehand and brought to the job site in several parts, where the workers build it all up, which takes them only a few days. The time saving is not only good for the workers and their companies, but for the clients as well as they dont have to wait too long to get settled into their new home after purchase.

    Another good thing here is that many advanced technological features which are in high demand today for houses are better to be built in controlled environments, where, for example, the weather cant do any damage. "Automobiles, airplanes and others have been able to utilize these same techniques" - a valid point raised by Dan Bridleman, senior vice president for sustainability, technology and strategic sourcing at KB Home. Weve been using these production processes in other areas of modern life, so why not take bring it into housing?

    Many professionals believe that this rising demand for advanced technologies and the labor shortages will make the builders who are using the traditional methods of building houses to opt for building manufactured homes. It stands to reason that they will, since as you can see, the process for making manufactured homes is much simpler, easier, requires less time, and saves money.

    Expect to see the demand for manufactured homes among Americans grow bigger and bigger, and we can expect that in a decade or so, the US will be counted among the nations that already use modular homes as their preferred method for home building.

    Full Story >

    The Second Rule of Home Staging: Keep It Fresh

    The overall goal of home staging is to make your home shine. After paring down to just the essentials, the next staging step is to give your home a light makeover to make it look - and feel - neat, fresh and pleasant.

    Buyers dont expect everything to be new, but they dont want to be turned off by worn items or unpleasant odors. A good rule of thumb to go by: If it looks old, worn or dirty, then clean or replace it. A clean, fresh-smelling, attractive home tends to sell. Read on for some budget-friendly ways to refresh each room in your home.

    Start With the Living Room

    As one of the most frequently used rooms, the living room can get a worn, lived-in look pretty fast. Fortunately, its also one of the simplest rooms to improve.

    First, give your living room a fresh coat of paint - and while youre at it, paint every room in the home. In the living room, go for a color that is somewhat neutral, like a gray or a bone, that works with your pared-down decor.

    Second, consider buying new throw pillows to jazz up that worn sofa. Go for a refreshing, trendy color or something with texture, such as a metallic linen, to bring subtle >

    Next, turn a critical eye to your rug. If it looks dirty or faded, think about replacing it with an inexpensive and neutral jute or sisal rug. The simplicity and texture of these natural fibers always make a room feel cleaner and more serene. Jute and sisal are go-tos for most home stagers because they dont cost a fortune and do hold up well under heavy foot traffic from an open house.

    Photo by The Cross Interior Design - Look for eclectic living room design inspiration

    Also, see if you can find a spot for a mirror, a >

    Another rule that applies to almost every room is replacing any outdated light fixtures. Look to swap them with simple, neutral and stylish options that can handle high-wattage bulbs.

    Finally, replace your knickknacks and accessories with a vase of fresh flowers. Use a medium or small vase so as not to distract from the rest of the room. Simple arrangements like a vase of white tulips or a cluster of peonies make a room fresh and lovely.

    Move On to the Kitchen

    Kitchens and bathrooms are crucial to the sale - specifically, the sale price - of a home. The more buyers feel they will need to spend on a kitchen renovation, the less they will want to offer for your house. That equation doesnt mean that you should renovate your entire kitchen. You can make updates that cost far less than a total overhaul.

    First, scrutinize your kitchen cabinets. Do they seem dirty or shabby? If so, instead of replacing them, consider the less expensive alternative of painting them. Whether you have them painted white, gray or navy, the new look can give your kitchen renewed life.

    Photo by Elizabeth Lawson Design - Discover transitional kitchen design ideas

    Next, whether or not you repaint your cabinets, inspect their hardware. You may want to replace these pieces with more modern or on-trend alternatives. Polished chrome, industrial iron and brushed brass are just some of the stylish options available today. As in the other rooms of the house, give walls a fresh coat of paint and replace any dirty, broken or dated light fixtures with clean, updated versions.

    Photo by Huestis Tucker Architects, LLC - Search traditional kitchen pictures

    Freshen Up the Bathroom

    As in the kitchen, you may want to replace any dated or worn fixtures in your bathroom whether faucets or drawer pulls. Polished chrome is a good choice because it always looks sparkling and new. Brushed brass brings a trendy, elegant look.

    Next, go shopping for fluffy white towels to put on your shiny new towel bar. Even if your existing towels are nice and white, purchase new ones for staging. Your towels, though probably lovely, are nonetheless used, and will continue to be used as your house is shown. Buyers dont want to see anything personal.

    Photo by Holst Brothers General Contractors - Look for beach >

    Also look to replace a chipped mirror or older medicine cabinet. A newer option will go a long way to giving your bathroom a fresh clean look.

    Just as in the rest of the house, give any painted walls a fresh coat. If your bathroom cabinets are a bit shabby, consider painting those as well. A dark navy, for example, could look stellar next to the crisp whites of your towels and tub.

    Photo by Tim Ditchfield Architects - More contemporary bathroom photos

    Speaking of the tub and shower, instead of replacing the tub, go for the much more cost-efficient option of having it professionally reglazed. This is essentially repainting the tub, making it look and feel new. Similarly, have the tile regrouted or pressure-washed. Your bathtub and shower will shine.

    Finally, place something in your bathroom that smells fresh. Whether its a new bar of soap, a vase of fresh flowers or a reed diffuser, use something that will have a lingering pleasant scent.

    Photo by Jennifer Backstein Interiors - Browse contemporary bedroom ideas

    Make Your Bedroom Oh So Calm

    The bedroom is one of the most personal spaces in the house. But for selling, we dont want it to feel so personal. An overall guide to staging your bedroom is to think of it as a stylish and serene hotel room that anyone would feel comfortable in. When your potential buyers walk into your bedroom, you dont want them to think of you, smell anything personal about you or see your personal items left behind.

    A good first step in depersonalizing your room is to replace your bedding with crisp white linens. If all white isnt possible, look for neutrals that give the same effect. You want your bed to look inviting, fresh and comfortable. Opt for a decorative throw pillow to give a hint of color.

    Photo by Jeanette Lunde - More shabby-chic >

    If you have outdated furniture, just as in the kitchen and bathroom, try replacing the drawer pulls with something more modern and with simple lines. Similarly, if you have lampshades that are worn, yellowed or broken, replace them too.

    When possible, hang a mirror above the bed or at some other focal point of the room, such as the wall facing the bed. This can help open up the room and reflect whatever natural light you have.

    Follow the same steps in the bedroom as in the living room when it comes to the rug: If your bedroom rug looks worn or dated, replace it with sisal or jute. If your bedroom carpeting needs covering up, try placing a thin dhurrie or knit rug atop it. A rug pad can help these types of rugs stay put on top of carpet.

    Finally, add a small vase of flowers to a bedside table. This little touch will contribute a pleasant detail to your hotel-like oasis.

    Also See:

    • Spruce Up an Old Sofa With New Throw Pillows
    • Update Cabinet Hardware and Drawer Pulls
    • See More Beautiful Bedroom Ideas

    Full Story >

    8 Easy And Cheap Ways To Make Your Kitchen Look And Work Better

    You can go ahead and gut your kitchen to make it all fancy and new. But if you want upgrade the form and function without all the effort and expense, its easier than you think. These eight tips can make a real difference in how much you enjoy your space.

    1. Get a new silverware tray

    Seriously, how long has it been since you changed that thing? With so many options today, you dont have to settle for that cheap, plastic tray thats too small for all your silverware. Were partial to expandable trays that can fit just about any drawer. While youre at it, pick up one of these cool knife mats. Its an easy way to keep your knives organized without having a huge block taking up your valuable counter space.

    2. Organize your cabinets

    If you have those big, open cabinets in your kitchen, you probably have an unkempt pile of pots and pans and lids and Tupperware and serving pieces. Adding some hardware, like this 2-Tier Pull-Out Wire Basket Base Cabinet, 66 from Home Depot, will organize your cabinet while increasing your available storage space.

    Home Depot

    3. Buy a gel mat

    Boring purchase? Maybe. But a gel mat can help your back and legs from getting fatigued. If you spend a good amount of time in the kitchen, an addition like this is probably way overdue.

    4. Add knobs and pulls

    Its like jewelry for your kitchen, but its surprising how many homeowners fail to incorporate this bit of sparkle, despite how easy and inexpensive it can be to make this update. These GlideRite 5-inch Solid Stainless Steel Finish 2.5-inch CC Cabinet Bar Pulls come in pack of 10 for just 19.99 on Overstock. If its your first time visiting the site, you should see a pop-up for a 10 percent coupon as soon as you log on.


    5. Add glass panel inserts

    Itll take a little skill to DIY, but you can transform any of your upper kitchen cabinets with glass panels for a modern look that also brings in light. If youre going to give it a go, follow these tips from Family Handyman: "Most hardware stores carry clear glass 3 per sq. ft. and will cut it for free or a small fee. Ask for 3/16-in.-thick double strength glass. Order glass panels 1/8 in. smaller than the recess in the frame."

    This Old House

    6. Add a tile "runner"

    You dont have to tile your whole kitchen to get some impact. In this space, a strip of colorful subway tile above the stove creates a focal point.

    7. Add some lighting

    "Installing lighting on cabinets isnt just a practical improvement. It can make the whole room glow, especially if you take a multi-directional approach, said HGTV. Adding "uplighting from energy-efficient LED tape on the top cabinets, and task lighting from LED under-cabinet fixtures on the bottom cabinet" can give your kitchen a new glow, help "set a mood," and also provide a practical alternative to having your overhead lights on.

    8. Get a toaster oven

    But not your moms toaster oven. Todays versions, like this one from Hamilton Beach, can do so much more. It fits on your countertop but can hold two 12" pizzas, two 9" x 13" casseroles, or two cake pans, has a revolving rotisserie, and a convention oven. In other words, it does everything - and maybe more - that your oven can do, in less space and using less energy, and costs just 86.


    Full Story >

    Countertop Pros And Cons: What To Choose And Why

    Wondering how to choose a countertop for your kitchen? With so much to pick from, it can be challenging - especially with changing trends and so many options that are at similar price points. This pro and con list should help.


    Quartz is the most popular choice in countertops today because of its easy maintenance and seemingly unending array of looks, from sleek and modern to options that mimic the appearance of exotic stone and >

    Pros: It wont stain, so go ahead and drink that red wine. Let your kids have at it with the markers and paint. Go crazy and chop those veggies right on the surface since its pretty hard to scratch. Quartz also requires no sealing, unlike granite and other countertop materials.


    Cons: High-end quartz can be pricier than real stone like granite, and while its much easier to care for, its not indestructible. Hot pots should still be placed on a trivet to avoid burning the surface.


    While granite has been replaced by quartz as the countertop of choice today, it remains a popular option for homeowners.

    Pros: The natural stone comes in a variety of colors and >

    Angies List

    Cons: Its that "properly sealed" part that can make people shy away from granite. Improper maintenance can leave you with a stained, scratched counter. And dont place a hot pot directly on it or you run the risk of it an ugly burn.


    Its gorgeous, its >

    Pros: "Is there anything that looks and feels more glamorous than a marble countertop?," asks Houzz."Nothing beats marble for sheer elegance. It stands up to heat well, and because it remains perennially cool, its a traditional choice for pastry and baking stations."

    Stone Source

    Cons:Its going to stain, no matter how hard you try to keep it clean, and even if you seal it responsibly. Its also a softer material, which makes it more likely to scratch and chip.

    Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel countertops are most commonly found in commercial kitchens but have become more popular as home kitchens have transformed into chef-worthy spaces.

    Pros: "Professional chefs love stainless steel because its non-staining, heat-resistant and easy to clean," said Houzz. "While it certainly makes fingerprints and scratches stand out, its a great choice for hardworking kitchens that dont need a perfect look." It can also be more affordable than stone.


    Cons: About those fingerprintsthats a deterrent for many people. If you cant stand little marks on your stainless steel fridge, you probably wont enjoy them on your counters, either. Stainless steel can also look a little cold, and may not be embraced by the masses - something to think about for when its time to sell your home.


    Concrete countertops have gained in popularity over the past few years as industrial looks have become more trendy, and are also a favorite of HGTV personality Joanna Gaines, one of todays most influential tastemakers.

    Pros: Because concrete is poured and not quarried, it can look like almost anything you want, with custom shapes, sizes, and colors. Its also durable, "and both scratch and heat resistant," said Angies List. "Because each countertop is individually handmade, there are endless ways to customize them."

    Concrete Network

    Cons: Concrete is porous, shows errors and imperfections, and can easily stain. Some people like that because the changes over time are organic; those who want their countertop looking pristine may want to opt for a product other than concrete. Even with diligent sealing, itll never be "perfect."

    Another consideration for people looking to use concrete on their counters is how, or rather, where, it is poured. "Concrete countertops that are poured in place not precast may develop a hairline crack," said Angies List. "The cracks arent necessarily the result of poor workmanship, rather perhaps a new house settling or tension caused by a faucet screwed in too tightly. Hairline cracks can be tricky to fix - ironically the larger the crack, the easier it is to fill and repair - so you might chalk up any such flaw to being a part of concretes natural patina."

    Full Story >

    Dont Let The Bed Bugs Bite

    Californias state legislators have a lot on their plates. They have before them the business of the state that is not only the nations largest, but also, arguably, its most diverse. We should appreciate the fact that, with so much to do, our legislators still have the time and energy to focus on matters of importance to the real estate business and to the concerns of those who both need and provide housing.

    Thus it is today that we acknowledge and celebrate the passage into law of Assembly Bill 551 Nazarian, signed into law by the Governor on September 25, 2016.

    As described by the Assembly Legislative Analyst, "This bill seeks for the first time to establish the duties of landlords and tenants with regard to the treatment and control of bed bugs in rental housing. According to the author, bed bugs are a major problem in residential multifamily housing, and several California cities rank in the top 50 in the nation in terms of bed bug infestations, with Los Angeles now ranking at number two. The author states: Cooperation between landlords and tenants is essential to effectively treat bed bugs The absence of bed bug protocols and management laws leave landlords and tenants without clear direction on how to approach bed bug situations. The bill ensures landlords and tenants alike work together to resolve the issue in an equitable manner."

    Assembly Bill 551 amends sections 1942.5 and 1954.1 of the California Civil Code. It adds section 1954.600 and following. Among other things, it requires:"On and after July 1, 2017, prior to creating a new tenancy for a dwelling unit, a landlord shall provide a written notice to the prospective tenant as provided in this section. This notice shall be provided to all other tenants by January 1, 2018. [my emphasis]

    The notice shall be in at least 10-point type and shall include, but is not limited to the following:

    General information about bed bug identification, behavior and biology, the importance of cooperation for prevention and treatment, and the importance of and for prompt written reporting of suspected infestations to the landlord."

    The notice then goes on to describe what bed bugs look like, their life cycle, eating habits, etc. For details, I refer the reader to Civil Code section 1954.603

    Importantly, the bill protects tenants from retaliation for reporting bed bug problems. It also spells out that "any entry to inspect the tenants unit for bed bugs must still comply with the 24-hour advance notice required under Civil Code Section 1954, whether the entry is sought by the landlord or by the PCO [Pest Control Operator], or is for an initial inspection, or a follow-up inspection."

    The landlord is then required to notify the tenants of the PCOs findings. "The notification shall be in writing and made within two business days of receipt of the pest control operators findings. For confirmed infestations in common areas, all tenants shall be provided notice of the pest control operators findings."

    Two other important points result from the bill at section 1954.602 of the Civil Code:

    "a A landlord shall not show, rent, or lease to a prospective tenant any vacant dwelling unit that the landlord knows has a current bed bug infestation." and

    "b This section does not impose a duty on a landlord to inspect a dwelling unit or the common areas of the premises for bed bugs if the landlord has no notice of a suspected or actual bed bug infestation. If a bed bug infestation is evident on visual inspection, the landlord shall be considered to have notice pursuant to this section."

    Be careful out there. Dont let them bite you.

    Full Story >

    Comparing New Interior Design Standards

    Buyers willing to pay top dollar for "the latest thing" may consider rooms featuring last years - or older - design details less valuable, even ready for a "total gut job."

    Technology has sped everything up, so its not surprising that interior design is also on fast-forward. >

    Celebrating change-makers, innovators, and disruptors of interior design, 4-day IDS17 recently kicked-off its 19th consecutive year with its annual Opening Night Party. Along with 300 media, more than 5,500 attendees, including influencers like international design stars Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon and "punk elegance" Nika Zupanc demonstrated that interior design is popular entertainment. HGTV, countless magazines, photo sites like Pinterest, and a host of You Tube videos have proven how much millennials and other home buyers value cool decor. Check out a few condominium or subdivision presentation suites and model homes if you want to see what engages buyers in your location.

    Home buyers, inspired by the search for their dream home, represent a major force in this pursuit of interior design inspiration. When they discover it while viewing a sellers house or condominium unit, an offer often results.

    Thats why smart sellers take advantage of public design events to keep at least one step ahead of buyers. What would you have noticed if you attended IDS17? Or, what will you observe at an up-coming design event in your area?

    Designers who manufacture furnishings, finishes, and decorative art in small to medium numbers offer unique, customized products at affordable pricing. Add a few stand-out features which enhance less expensive items to create overall design wow.

    Living spaces no longer stop at door thresholds and window sills. Living extends out into gardens and patios to include outdoor kitchens, garden art, luxurious seating zones, exercise areas, and year-round views. The result? Beauty and multi-functional settings for all seasons.

    Bathrooms are now established as spas and retreats and must look the part: glass shower zones have replaced shower stalls and strip drains are the new practical shape for zero-clearance showers.

    Lighting goes beyond illumination to add functional art into living spaces. In main rooms, Big-Box fixtures are a turn off to many buyers. Unique or antique fixtures make the statement that inspires buyers. Heres what set new design standards at IDS:

    • Award-winning Architect Jacob Antonis Transforma is a cleverly-expandable modern chandelier that easily shifts into a variety of shapes "creating an innovative play of light and shadow."
    • Another show-stopper was Gweilo, the new custom architectural lights by Partisans ] that were manufactured on site. An artisan explained, "Each light is hand-sculpted using thermoforming, a technique that allows us to shape individual optical grade acrylic LED sheets while they are still hot plastic. The result is an infinite set of silhouettes and sizes that emulate the vital movement of light as a physical sculpture."

    Functionality is a vital aspect of excellence in interior design.Your appliances may be only a few years old, but they may not be up to current buyer standards. Smart technology is integrated into many kitchen appliances and home systems; eventually it will be everywhere. The internet of everything - thats everything connecting to the net - is well underway and introducing this revolutionary integration is a main function of interior design events. Expect increasing numbers of furniture, appliances, lighting, systems, and fixtures to use wi>

    Check out Instagram IDS] for more visual inspiration.

    Even if renovation or redecorating is the furthest thing from your mind, keep in touch with interior design trends. They will determine how buyers value your home thanks to its decor. Small ongoing design up-dates are much less expensive and time consuming than leaving everything until youre faced with an expensive mind-blowing renovation.

    Ready for some winter-busting inspiration? Check out local upcoming design events or take a mini-break and explore events like these:

  • The 2nd annual Design on a Dime Miami on February 4 amp; 5 features 25 top interior designers who will each create one-of-a-kind room vignettes from donated merchandise. That donated furniture, art, and home decor is then sold during the two-day sale at 50-80 off to benefit Housing Works efforts to end AIDS in the US by 2025.
  • NY NOW , held twice a year, is a leading market for home and life>
  • Architectural Digest Design Show runs from March 16th to March 19th at Pier 92 in New York City. This event showcases an amazing array of interior design products, trends, and much more.

  • Full Story >



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    Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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