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Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Go Natural With Reclaimed Wood

You dont have to be a barefoot, vegan, environmentalist yoga teacher to want to invite some natural elements into your home. Regular old meat-eating, gluten-loving folks present can also invite some natural elements into the home. And the hottest way to do so: reclaimed wood.

Reclaimed wood can be used for everything from a fireplace mantel to a dining room table, creating an opportunity to reuse a natural resource and achieve a unique custom look.

"Creative green design ideas may inspire you to use salvaged wood in interior decorating, adding unique character and irresistible charm to your rooms and outdoor living spaces," said Lushome. "Using salvaged wood helps to design charming wall decor, lighting fixtures, furniture and decor accessories for indoor and outdoor living spaces."

Added This Old House: "If you own an old house, you already know the satisfaction of having something thats unique, and when you renovate, you look for one-of-a-kind materials. Unlike other materials whose appeal lie in their looks, reclaimed wood has beauty and history.

Not surprisingly, people are going to great lengths to find reclaimed wood that makes a stylistic statement about themselves and their homes."

Some reclaimed wood is exceedingly rare, especially when used in high-end estates. But if you dont have the means or the resources to source, purchase, and fly in 18th century reclaimed wood from an Irish church, you can still find what youre looking for - if you know where to look:

Old barns

"Old barns and mills are a great source for high quality virgin timber read: no off-gassing. So how do you get a barn owner to give you their barn? It is really quite easy," said Tiny Revolution. "Most barn owners will happily give you there old dilapidated barn just to get it out of the way and cleaned up.

Pallets

"Pallets are one of the hottest materials used right nowand you can find a myriad of projects all over the web to make from them," said Old World Cottage Gardens. "The key in making great projects is finding nice, clean and damage free pallets. The best places? Small Garden and Hardware Stores, Motorcycle Shops, Lawnmower and Power Equipment stores. These stores seem to get inundated with pallets and shipping cratesand in many cases struggle to get rid of them."

Your or someone elses dilapidated fence

The guys tearing down the fence down the street have to dispose of the boards anyway. So you might actually be doing them a favor.

Boatyards

That boatyard may just have abandoned materials theyd be willing to sell inexpensive, or even give away. Never hurts to ask.

Contractors

"Get in contact with some remodeling contractors in your area. Let them know that you will haul away any wood that they tear out of a house," said Tiny Revolution. "Contractors will be happy to give the antique building materials to you, it will save them a bunch of money on disposal costs."

Architectural Salvage Store

"These folks specialize in dismantling old buildings and recycling any usable materials," said Apartment Therapy. "Habitat for Humanitys ReStores are a terrific resource and Redo.org offers a directory of similar suppliers. Or, "Start with Woodfinder.com or the BMRAs Building Materials Reuse Association handy online directory."

See Shelterness, Houzz, or 1001 Pallets for more ideas.


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Clearance Sales Are In Full Bloom

If you havent been getting bombarded by Back to School BTS sales ads, mailers, and emails - you might be the only one. But, hey, its still July, and the sale season for back to school is in its infancy. So were going to table to BTS talk for a week and instead concentrate on one of our most favorite words ever of all time: clearance.

Many retailers list their clearance items on their website but dont go out of their way to call attention to them. Especially when there is a new sale every week to promote. If youre signed up to receive regular emails from Target and the like, you may receive notice when new items go on clearance. At a store like Best Buy, you can see a limited selection of their clearance items in various categories, but a lot of the good stuff will only be available in store. They may make it easy, but that doesnt mean there arent deals to be had.

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite clearance deals in this weeks edition of Steals amp; Deals.

Check out Pier Ones website for great prices on clearance items ranging form dcor to furniture This embossed lantern is right on trend and now just 19, regularly priced at 45.

With Walmarts rollbacks and regular sales, it may surprise some to see the great prices on their wide array of clearance items. One of the best deals we found was on the Dyson Animal Upright Ball Bagless Vacuum Cleaner, down from 599 to 399.

Targets clearance also has a wide selection spanning nearly every category, but one of the great offers this week is in furniture. Many items are 50 percent off, with some offering discounts of 60 percent. This Candace Upholstered Arm Chair in Gray Circle Lattice is clearance priced at 134.98, 50 percent off the regular price of 270.

Many of Best Buys large clearance items are not available on their website, but this one is: This Samsung 40" LED Smart HDTV is clearance priced at 399, down from 579 for a savings of 180.

Sears Outlet is a great place to go for clearance prices on housewares, outdoor, furniture, mattresses, and appliances. This Maytag 25 cubic foot four-door refrigerator with easy-access drawer in stainless steel is now just 1599. Thats 1,000 savings from its regular price of 2599.

One more thing: If you really, absolutely have to start your back to school shopping this weekend, hit Target for 25 percent off of backpacks.


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How To Do Transparent At Home

Being transparent is good when it means acting with honesty, and not keeping secrets. But when it comes to home dcor, being transparent takes on a whole new beautiful meaning.

Were talking about transparent dcor - see-through surfaces that add a modern edge to a space while helping to visually expand it. "Adding transparent glass and acrylic pieces as accents can really do wonders for a spaceespecially if youre living in tight quarters," said Huffington Post. "The best part is that these clear furnishings can be incorporated in any room because they dont dictate or change a color palette or >

Transparent decor is nothing new; Architectural Digest showcased the look dating back to the early 2000s with polycarbonate Philippe Starck chairs as the visual centerpiece of an Arizona dining area, a lucite bed that seems to float in a Miami high rise and acrylic side tables in an art deco-inspired Park Avenue apartment. But, the trend has gained steam recently. Elle Dcor showcased "clear colorsin glass, acrylic and sheer fabrics" in their July/August 2014 Trend Alert.

Transparent furniture creates a similar effect to reflective surfaces like mirror except that instead of bouncing light around the room, it allows the eye a seamless passage from one side of the piece to another. It can work in any type of space and with any type of dcor, and is an especially good trick in rooms that are small or oddly shaped not to mention how popular easy-care acrylic pieces are with parents and dog owners.

"They can make a small room feel bigger because they take up practically no visual space," said Huffington Post.

Here are a few of our fave see-through pieces:


Grenio coffee table, Wayfair
A cavalcade of Louis Ghost Chairs, Allmodern.com
Ikea TOBIAS chair, a more affordable alternative to the designer version.
Acrylic desk, decoist.com

Check out more ideas on Houzz.


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How To Deal With The Neighbor From Hell

You spent months finding the perfect little home, you have just moved from Los Angeles and the moving company recently finished delivering your worldly possessions and youre finally starting to settle in. Then a chainsaw hacking carving through a tree shreds your peaceful bliss. Oh, didnt you know? You made the mistake of moving next to the neighbors from hell. These folks are awful. They let their lawn fester with junk, play obnoxiously loud music at random times in the night, never close their blinds while walking around nude, rake leaves into your once-pristine yard and give you a death glare if you mention these problems. But, dont fear. Selling your new home and removing isnt necessary, just follow these tips on how to deal with these hellish people who dare call themselves your neighbors.

Dont Get Angry

If you feel like ferociously taking out your lack of sleep on the neighbor because they were blaring K-Pop all night through an open window, here is a tip: dont. Reacting hastily to any situation, especially tension filled ones, can simply make the problem worse. Do your best to approach your neighbor in a friendly manner. Maybe bring over a case of beer or bottle of wine to break the ice. Let them know in a non-confrontational manner that these issues are bothering you, and give them ideas on how to fix the issue. The second thing is to mention how their behavior negatively affects you, instead of attacking them for sloppy behavior.

If theyre not willing to talk with you, then try to find a neutral mediator to oversee the discussion.

Help Them

Maybe your neighbor isnt a bad person, but theyre super swamped with a hectic life>

Document Everything

If the neighbor simply refuses to stop the de>
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Decrease In Break-ins Lowers Canadas Crime Rate

Wheres the worst place in Canada to be a home alarm salesperson? Perhaps surprisingly, if you said Toronto, youd be right. Statistics Canada reports that break-ins in Toronto dropped by 20 per cent in 2013 compared to the year before, to a rate of 227 per 100,000 population. Thats the best rate in the country and well below the national average of 445 per 100,000 population. Barrie, Ont. tied with Toronto for the best rate.

Vancouver has the worst break-in rate, at 689. However, the city improved by three per cent compared to a year ago.

There were about 156,000 break-ins recorded by police in Canada in 2013, which was about 20,000 fewer than 2012. During the past decade, Statistics Canada says the breaking and entering rate has decreased by 51 per cent.

After Toronto and Barrie, the cities with the lowest break-in rates were Ottawa, Guelph, Ont. and Saint John, N.B. The city with the biggest decrease was Moncton, N.B., which saw its rate go down by 29 per cent.

Like Vancouver, even the cities with the worst break-in numbers had some reason for optimism as their rates declined. Regina had the second-worst break-in rate but it was six per cent better than the year before. Kelowna, B.C. was third-worst but improved by 12 per cent. The worst Ontario city, Brantford, saw an 18-per-cent improvement.

The only city in the country where the break-in rate went up was Sherbrooke, Que., which saw a five-per-cent increase.

The big drop in break-ins across the country helped bring down Canadas overall crime rate, reports Statistics Canada. Its Crime Severity Index CSI measures the volume and severity of crime. Each offence is assigned a weight based on the average sentence handed down by criminal courts for the offence. Data comes from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, as reported by the police across the country. The survey does not include crimes that are not reported to police.

In 2013, the CSI declined by nine per cent compared to 2012. The index has gone down every year for the last decade. In 2013 it was 36 per cent lower than 2003.

"The decline in the CSI was specifically attributable to declines in breaking and entering and robbery," says the Statistics Canada report. "Decreases in some of the less serious but very frequent offences, such as theft of 5,000 or under and mischief, also contributed to the drop in the CSI."

However, police reported that there were more crimes of extortion, child pornography, aggravated sexual assault level 3, sexual violations against children and identity fraud than in 2012.

Canadas traditional crime rate, which is simply a total of all crimes committed regardless of severity, dropped to its lowest level since 1969. It fell by eight per cent compared to the year before.

When all crimes are taken into consideration, Toronto is still near the top of the list of safest cities. Guelph and Barrie take top spot, followed by Quebec and then Toronto.

The highest CSI rate is in Regina, followed by Saskatoon, Kelowna and Vancouver.

"For the first time since 1998, the first year for which the CSA was calculated, none of Canadas census metropolitan areas recorded an increase," says Statistics Canada. It says the CSI was unchanged in Edmonton, while it declined in all other cities. The largest decrease compared to 2012 was Victoria, which was down 17 per cent.

Canada had 505 homicides in 2013, down 38 from 2012. The homicide rate of 1.44 victims per 100,000 population was the lowest since 1966. There were also 642 attempted murders in 2013, down 23 from 2012.

Violent incidents dropped by 10 per cent in 2013.

Four out of five crimes reported in Canada are non-violent. Of the 1.4 million non-violent crimes reported, 1.1 million were property crimes, including breaking and entering, possessing stolen property, theft of a motor vehicle, theft over 5,000, fraud, identity theft, mischief and arson. The non-violent CSI decreased by eight per cent.

Theres also a Youth CSI, which measures the volume and severity of crimes where the accused is 12- to 17-years-old. This index fell by 16 per cent in 2013 -- the fourth year in a row that it has declined. The decline was mostly because fewer youths were charged with robbery, breaking and entering or theft of 5,000 or under.


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California Agents Need Not Keep Ephemeral Documents. WOW

Both the law and good risk management practices require that real estate brokerages maintain records of contracts, documents, inspections, reports, requests, demands, etc. that are generated during the course of a real estate transaction. While there may be a core list of items that just about every company requires, organizations will differ with respect to various particulars.

Not long ago the California Bureau of Real Estate introduced a generally unwelcome concept into the mix. As we have noted before Record Keeping In The Digital Age Is Not Just A Technological Issue, the Bureau put forward an interpretation that the law Business and Professions Code 10148 which requires retention of all documents obtained by an agent "in connection with" a real estate transaction includes all electronic documents. Not just emails; but texts, tweets, and probably even posts.

This interpretation did not sit well with members of the California Association of REALTORSCAR. If implemented, it would have required a good deal more time and effort to compile a compliant file. Hence, the CAR Board of Directors authorized a motion that CAR "sponsor legislation to prohibit short-lived communication like tweets or text messages from being considered transactional documents that must be retained in a brokers file."

That legislative effort has been successful. Assembly Bill 2136 Daly passed both houses and was signed into law by the Governor on July 9, 2014. AB 2136 amends both Business and Professions Code 10148 and also Civil Code 1624 Statute of Frauds, which controls which contracts must be in writing. It adds to 10148 that "this subdivision shall not be construed to require a licensed real estate broker to retain electronic messages of an ephemeral nature"as described in 1624.

This piece of legislation had no registered opposition. It sailed through both houses without a single no vote in either committee or on the floor. Tellingly, the authors of the legislative bill analyses found it necessary to explain that ephemeral means "short-lived", and/or they put the word in scare quotes throughout their analyses. One just has to wonder how many legislators who voted for this bill know what "ephemeral" means. But I digress.

The legislation unfortunately focuses on the form of a communication rather than its content. Moreover, the legislations sponsors, as did the analysts, seem to take for granted that text messages are unlikely ever to be the vehicles of serious conversations about serious topics.

Yes, it is unreasonable to say that all text messages should be retained. But, it is equally unreasonable to suggest that none of them should be.

For many years it has been and still is considered a good risk management practice to keep logs of telephone conversations. Nowadays, for a sizeable portion of the population, text messages have replaced phone conversations. Thus the advice of a CAR legal department recently up-dated Qamp;A is apt.

Q 4. Are there reasons a licensee might want to maintain "ephemeral" text or instant messages?

A. Yes. While not mandatory, a broker could decide that maintaining such communications could be useful to the transaction record. Similar to keeping a phone log of communications with a client, a broker may wish to keep a log of all texts to show the client was regularly communicated with regarding the transaction and to keep a record generally of the agents communications with other agents and third parties.

Be that as it may, it is nonetheless good news that there is not a requirement to keep all electronic communications. Moreover, it was a thoughtful gesture of the Real Estate Commissioner, Wayne Bell, to let it be known that, even though the law is not effective until January 1, 2015, as of now,the Bureau will not be requiring the retention of the ephemeral records referred to in the bill.

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


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Tax Returns Are Not Sacred

Question: Last week, I went to settlement on my first house The settlement clerk at the title company had me sign a number of papers -- most of which I did not understand. However, one document was an IRS Form that appeared to give carte blanche authority to the holder to access my income tax returns. When I questioned why I had to sign this form, I was told "the lender wants it". I was also told not to fill in the date after my signature.

Is it customary in real estate closings to require such a form, and if so, why does the lender want it?

Answer: When I first started practicing law, homebuyers only had to sign three legal documents when they went to settlement: a promissory note, the deed of trust the mortgage and a settlement statement now called a HUD-1.

Nowadays, every time there is a lawsuit involving mortgage lending, or whenever a regulatory body issues a new rule, lenders add new forms to their arsenal. And the new regulatory body that has issued a number of new rules requiring new documents is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB. So when buyers go to closing today, in addition to the note and deed of trust, here is a sample of the other documents they have to sign or already signed: loan application, authorization to obtain a credit report, drivers license information, certificate that they will personally reside in the house, power of attorney to lender to correct typographical mistakes, proof that they are American citizens, an affidavit that there are no liens or lawsuits pending against them, and an IRS form stating that they do not owe any back taxes and are not subject to "withholding" requirements.

In addition, lenders insist that borrowers sign IRS Form 4506, entitled "Request for Copy of Tax Return". In my opinion, this is the most objectionable documents required at settlement. By signing this form, you are giving a blank check to the holder of the document to have complete access to your Federal Income tax returns. It is a virtual invitation to pry into what you thought are your private tax returns.

Lenders claim they need this form in case they subsequently discover irregularities, fraud or misrepresentations on the part of their borrowers. If shortly after settlement the borrower stops making the mortgage payments, the lender wants the right to investigate whether the borrower was telling the truth when they applied for the loan. And according to the lending community, reviewing past and future income tax returns will assist them in this determination.

As we all know, mortgage lenders ra>

Why did your lender ask you not to date the form? According to the instructions that accompany Form 4506, the IRS advises they will reject the request unless it is received within 60 days of the date signed by the taxpayer. Since the lender does not know when it will ask the IRS for a copy of your tax return, they want you to leave the form undated. Presumably, the lender will fill in the date at a later time.

But this is contrary to the clear instructions provided by the IRS on the top of the form:

"Do not sign this form unless all applicable lines have been completed"

"Request may be rejected if the form is incomplete, illegible or any required line was blank at the time of signature."

A careful reading of the form indicates that the holder can request more than one tax year income tax return. If you review this form which is available on the IRS web site at www.irs.gov paragraph 7 is entitled "tax year requested", and has blanks for up to 8 tax years. In fact, the IRS specifically states on the form that "if you are requesting more than eight years or periods, you must attach another Form 4506."

The answer to your question is yes; it is customary in the industry that this form is required.

But the bottom line is that if you want that mortgage loan, you have to comply with all of the lenders requirements -- reasonable or not.

Conversely, how do you get your own information from the IRS. According to the IRS, in Summer Tax Tip 2014-11, if you cant find your copies, you can get a transcript of the information you need, free online. "A tax account transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income." Use the IRS "Get Transcript Tool".

And if you really need an earlier tax return, you can use Form 4506T-EZ.


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Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How To Deal With The Neighbor From Hell

You spent months finding the perfect little home, you have just moved from Los Angeles and t...
> Full Story

Decrease In Break-ins Lowers Canadas Crime Rate

Wheres the worst place in Canada to be a home alarm salesperson? Perhaps surprisingly, if yo...
> Full Story

California Agents Need Not Keep Ephemeral Documents. WOW

Both the law and good risk management practices require that real estate brokerages maintain...
> Full Story

Copyright © 2014 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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