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Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Identifying Dangerous Products in the Home

Last year, the Consumer Products Safety Program CPSP, part of Health Canada, received 2,355 reports about dangerous products, of which 22 involved a death and another 917 referred to a non-fatal injury. This list includes consumer products and cosmetics, but not vehicles, medical or food products, which are monitored by separate divisions of Health Canada.

Under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, companies that make consumer products must report any health or safety incidents to Health Canada. Consumers can also report unsafe products by filling out an online form.nbsp; In addition, the CPSP gathers information in Canada and internationally about any injuries and new science >

The top 10 consumer products reported to CPSP last year were, in order:

Toys: Reports of children getting cuts and bruises from toys and choking on small parts

Telephones or accessories: Burns, cuts and electric shocks

Diapers: Irritations and allergic reactions

Electric ranges or ovens: Burns, cuts, irritation or allergic reactions

Battery chargers and adaptors: Burns and electric shock

Laundry soaps and detergents: Irritations or allergic reactions and poisoning

Stroller/tricycle: No injuries reported

Light bulbs: Cuts, burns and electric shock

Thermostats: Fire, causing irritation or allergic reaction

Computers: Burns

Several household products were also blamed at least partially for a death. Five people died as a result of strangulation by cord entanglement from window shades, venetian blinds or indoor shutters. A floor lamp fire resulted in someone receiving extensive burns and dying as a result of complications. A heating system malfunctioned and killed a resident by carbon monoxide poisoning. There were 10 deaths from garden tractor and riding lawn mower accidents.

Recently Health Canada and the Ontario Fire Marshals office issued a warning about tabletop fire pots, also known as fireburners, patio burners, flamepots or tabletop fire pits. They are portable, decorative accents that support an open flame burning. They are generally made of ceramic and have an open fuel reservoir.

Ontario has recorded multiple fatalities and serious injuries >

In June, a Toronto doctor died after she was seriously burned while refueling one of the units.

Pegg says that a fire hazard called flame-jetting can happen if you try to pour fuel into one of these units before the flame has been fully extinguished. The flame is not always visible.

The Fire Marshals Office created a video to show how injuries can happen.

When using a firepot, make sure any flames are fully out and that its cold to the touch before refueling. Only refuel when there is nobody near the unit. Use a fuel container that has a flame arrestor, says the Fire Marshal.

Health Canada maintains a busy website that includes product recalls and warnings for all kinds of consumer products, as well as food, vehicles and health products. Here are a few household products that recently made the list that no manufacturer wants to be on.

Mid-Century three-drawer chests, imported by Home Meridian International: Some models of these chests are unstable if they are not anchored to the wall, posing serious tip-over and entrapment hazards that can result in death or injuries to children, says Health Canada. About 10 of the units were sold in Canada.

Carrier- and Bryant-branded 1.5-ton multi-zone, four-ton multi-zone and four-ton single-zone ductless heat pump outdoor units have been recalled due to a fire hazard. Health Canada says the fan motor can fail and catch fire. If the units are close to a building the flame could spread. As of August 2019, there had been five reports of fires in Canada and one in the United States. About 450 of the units have been sold in Canada. Consumers are advised to contact their installation servicer, dealer or contractor for a free repair.

DeWalt multi-functional 40-inch utility bars have been recalled because they may break while being used for prying. The bars are yellow at one end and black at the other. The model number DWHT55293 is printed in black on the yellow end. As of October of this year, the company has received no reports of the bar breaking in Canada.

ASKO dishwashers sold in stainless steel and custom panel-ready options have internal wiring that can overheat, melt or catch fire. There have been no reports of this happening in Canada as of September 2019, but 69 reports have been recorded in the United States. Health Canada says 4,324 of the units have been sold in Canada.

The Health Canada site includes dozens of warnings and recalls and outlines what consumers should do to dispose of the recalled products and get a refund.

Health Canada also works with international consumer production organizations. You can check out products that have been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or by other countries around the world.


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Is This the Future of Rent-To-Buy?

One of the main reasons why rent-to-own agreements are attractive to renters is because they can engage to a contract even though they have a bad credit status, said Passive Real Estate Investing.nbsp;He or she can improve their credit rating by renting the property and later on, they may be able to get a loan to purchase the property.

Another benefit of renting to own is that it allows buyers to lock in a purchase price, which can be especially beneficial in a time when home prices are on the rise, said Quicken Loans. If the option money or a percentage of the rent is applied to the homes purchase price, you can also begin to build equity in the home before you even purchase it.

Prospective buyers also get a test run of sorts to figure out if its the right house and the right area, or if they need to start their search over. If thats the case, they can walk away, said Passive Real Estate Investing. Of course, they lose whatever premium theyve been paying above and beyond what the regular rent one of been.

That premium is perhaps the biggest negative of entering into a rent-to-own arrangement. First, theres the upfront money. In a rent-to-own agreement, you as the buyer pay the seller a one-time, usually nonrefundable, upfront fee called the option fee, option money, or option consideration, said Investopedia. This fee is what gives you the option to buy the house by some date in the future. The option fee is often negotiable, as theres no standard rate. Still, the fee typically ranges between 2.5 and 7 of the purchase price.

You can expect to pay more per month, too. Typically, the rent is slightly higher than the going rate for the area to make up for the rent credit you receive, said Quicken Loans. But be sure you know what youre getting for paying that premium.

And thats not the only downside. In the end, when you decide not to buy the property, you will lose all the money you paid including the initial premium payment, said Passive Real Estate Investing. Also, in cases of missed or late payments, you may lose the option to buy the property.nbsp;

Youll also want to make sure you read the contract carefully so you know the terms. Some landlords include a lease-purchase in their rent-to-own agreement, which legally obligates the renter to purchase the home at the end of the lease, said Quicken Loans.nbsp;

A new way to rent-to-own

Divvy Homes is a new player on the rent-to-own scene that may be the answer for buyers looking to get into a home while mitigating some of the potential drawbacks to a more typical arrangement. Divvy works with buyers to figure out the budget that is comfortable for them and requires just 2 down while covering all fees, closing costs, taxes and insurance.nbsp;

You pick the house you want to buynot just any house, said Marketplace. Around 20 percent of your monthly rent goes toward what Divvy calls equity credits. After three years, renters own 10 percent, typically enough to qualify for a mortgage and buy Divvy out.

Divvy also refunds some of the money for those who opt not to purchase the home. If they leave or default before three years, theyll get back half of the equity theyve built.


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The Beginners Guide to House Hacking

In reality, house hacking helps you break into the real estate investment market while also covering your own housing expenses.nbsp;

That last part is huge. For most people, their biggest bill is their rent or mortgage, with the average rent in the United States hitting an all-time high of 1,405 last year. Theyre spending hundreds of dollars each month to keep a roof over their head, money that could otherwise be used to build wealth or achieve financial freedom. Home prices have skyrocketed in the last 30 years while household incomes have remained largely the same, so home buyers need to find creative ways to afford their monthly payments.

Whether youre a real estate investor newbie or are a seasoned investor looking for a new way to build wealth, house hacking not only provides an attractive income, but can also allow you to live for free.

What is House Hacking?

By definition, house hacking is the act of turning your investment property into your primary residence. In some cases, you might convert a single-family home into a duplex or rent out a bedroom. But typically, the practice applies to multi-family residences, one of which is yours and others are rented out to other tenants.

As the landlord, you receive rent from the other units, which will ideally be more than enough to cover the mortgage and your own living expenses. When this is done correctly, you can use the leftover money to quickly increase your investment capital. This is different than the house flipping popularized by HGTV its not about a quick flip.nbsp;nbsp;

However, there is some risk involved. If you end up with a money pit, you could end up spending more than youre collecting in rent, which would essentially defeat the purpose of house hacking.nbsp;

House Hacking Benefits

Lets say your household brings in an average salary of 73,298 each year. In a recent report, Americans spent an average of 19,884 on housing, which is roughly 27 of your annual pre-tax salary. Imagine what you could do with an extra 19,884 ever yearnbsp;

Maybe youd want to put it toward more rental properties to grow your portfolio. Or, perhaps youd want to save it to pay for your kids college, their first car, or even retire early

Heres a quick example of what house hacking looks like in action, based on a property purchased last year using this exact strategy:

Four-plex property: 220,000 including closing costs and repair credits
Cash to close: 10,000 including the down payment, property inspection, and 3,000 in additional repairs
Monthly rent from 3 units: 2,000
Monthly mortgage payment: 1,400
Monthly cash flow: 600
Budgeted expenses: 600
Final Income: 0
Money saved from not paying rent: 8,400 per year

There wasnt money earned on this deal, but rent was free. Instead, there was enough money to cover expenses and repairs. As for the money saved on housing, it was now invested in building wealth 8,400 per year.

But aside from living essentially for free, house hacking provides so much more. For some investors who are doing this, its their ticket to early retirement. For others, its a long-term plan for making money and allowing you the financial independence you crave.nbsp;

What You Need

Successful house hacking >

A multi-unit investment property
Affordable down payment
Low fixed-rate mortgage

Ideally, you can find a below market value property that will help you build instant equity. We recommend only considering properties where the total rental income is at least 1 of the propertys purchase price.nbsp;

Heres another bit of good news: if you plan on using the property as a primary residence, you can usually find more favorable financing.nbsp;

Money is usually one of the biggest obstacles that prevents people from investing in real estate. But when you can get a mortgage with a low down payment and low interest rate, like a 3.5 FHA loan, the barrier to entry is much lower.nbsp;

The right real estate agent can make all the difference, especially when you can work with an investor-friendly one. Lean on your agent throughout the process, from finding investment properties to exploring financing options. Youll likely get a lot farther with an agent than you could going it alone or using an iBuyer like Offerpad, especially if youre new to house hacking.nbsp;

Where to Start

Weve found that the best way to implement this investment strategy is in the Midwest where property is affordable, but it can also work in other parts of the country e.g. renting out an Airbnb in Denver to cover your mortgage.nbsp;

Youll want to do some digging in your local market to find properties below market value or at least affordable. Much of the country right now is still experiencing a sellers market, but there have been several signs thats about to change. The market looks to be cooling, which is great news for investors who want to score a potentially good deal on a multifamily property.

Foreclosed homes, HUD properties, or fixer-uppers are good labels to start with. When looking at these homes, remember youll likely need to do a little work to get them move-in ready. Look at the roof, the plumbing, HVAC system, foundation, condition of the windows and doors, appliances, and the kitchen and bathroom.

Youre not likely to find a property thats in good condition, in a good neighborhood, AND priced affordably. Youll usually have to bend on something, and we recommend prioritizing the things you cant change.

Getting Financing

Getting a mortgage for a house hack is similar to getting a mortgage for any primary residence, but its a little harder. You may have certain requirements to meet that you otherwise wouldnt.

Youll need to know your low down payment mortgage options, which in this case would be a VA Loan, FHA Loan, FHA 203K, or Fannie Mae Home>

Look at the credit score requirements, down payment options, property eligibility requirements, if you need mortgage insurance, and whether you can wrap home improvement costs into the loan.nbsp;

Its a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage first to be ready when you find the right property.

After Closing

You close on the property, fix it up, start getting tenants, and BOOM now youre a landlord.nbsp; One upside to living on property is being able to manage it yourself rather than outsourcing to a property manager.nbsp;

First and foremost, remember this is a business, and youll need to learn quickly what to do and what not to do if you want your house hack to be profitable.


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Building New? Make Sure Your Preapproval is Ready for Your Permanent Mortgage

Funds for construction are provided to the builder in phases and not issued in one lump sum. For the first draw it might be to clear and prep the lot. The second might be to begin framing for the foundation and so on until the home is ultimately completed. During this time, the lender will send out an inspector who will verify the funded stage has been completed and ready for the next round.

The lender will also order an appraisal noting what the value will be as completed even though the home has yet to be started or in construction phase. Its this value where the lender establishes a minimum base loan amount. Depending upon the size of the job, a home can be built in as little as six months to a year or more. But once construction has been completed, the construction loan needs to be replaced. This replacement is referred to as the permanent mortgage and is nothing more than your traditional home loan.nbsp;

Your construction lender will want to see that youve already applied for a permanent mortgage and received a preapproval. To do this, you will need to provide your preapproval letter from your mortgage company.nbsp;

The permanent mortgage can be any available residential home loan. You will be expected to provide documentation verifying your income, employment and assets. Your credit report will also be pulled as well as credit scores. Upon the initial application, the lender can provide you with your preapproval letter. Yet as construction progresses and youre getting closer to completion, the lender will ask for updated credit documents, even though youve already provided them. This is due to the requirement that all credit documents, things such as your paycheck stubs, bank statements and credit report needs to be no more than 30 days old. When the lender is alerted that completion is nearing, the lender will need new documents from you.

Finally, there are loans sometimes referred to as one time close or construct to perm that combine funds for both the construction as well as a permanent mortgage. To find out which scenario is best for your situation, your loan officer can help find the financing for you.


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Troubleshooting Plumbing Issues

Broken pipes

Orange County, for example, is one of the most densely populated places in America, and it is facing an expensive problem. About a fifth of the areas water pipes are coming to the end of their useful lifespan. Not only are the pipes a bit old, but the soil is also corrosive. Of course, much of the pipe that needs to be replaced is the citys responsibility, but some of the financial burden will rest on the shoulders of local residents.nbsp;This is also an issue for plenty of other lcoations nation-wide. If youre experiencing any of the signs of a major leak, be it reduced water pressure, damp spots in your yard or driveway, or a smell of sewer in the house, be sure to contact a plumbernbsp;to get things working the right away.

Leaking faucets

Leaking faucets are a pain. They can run up your water bill and even cause damage if the pooling leaks in a place you cant see. You might not believe it, but even a slow drip, if it is steady, can be costing you 20 dollars in water a week. In most cases, a dripping faucet is caused by a faulty seal on the valve that holds back the water supply coming into your home. Your water supply is under pressure, which is why water spurts out when you turn on the tap, and the seal holds this pressure back. To fix it, turn off the water supply and then remove the faucet assembly. Check that the screw and stem are not damaged. In most cases, the problem is the washer. Replace the washer with one of exactly the same size and be sure to wrap it in plumbers tape.

Slow drains

If only one drain has slowed, its likely to be a localized clog. In that case, your first step should be to look down the drain and see if anything obvious is clogging it. If not, try using a plunger to clear it. You can use a toilet plunger or buy one specifically for sinks: it is the same shape but has a shorter handle. If this doesnt work, try putting a half cup of baking soda down the drain and chase it with a half cup of vinegar. Let it sit for a couple hours and then send down some boiling water. If youre completely sure that grease is the problem, use a half cup of salt and a half cup of baking soda and a pot of hot water. Let it sit overnight. If you experience constant drain problems, see about having the pipes inspected and replaced. You have great roofing, perhaps even an Everdrain roof, to protect your home from seepage and wet from above: make sure its not being eroded from below by faulty old pipes.

Toilet problems

If youre not getting enough water in the tank to fully flush the bowl, try bending the float arm up just a bit. This will allow the tank to fill higher before the water turns off. If theres plenty of water in the tank but not enough makes it into the bowl, check the tank ball on the flush valve and consider resetting the guide. If neither of these issues fixes the problem, there could be buildup from hard water in the small holes that sit under the rim of the inside seat. These small holes are where the water comes out, and buildup can block the water. Trying using a mirror to inspect them and a wire coat hanger to unclog them. These are just a few of the problems you can face when it comes to your home plumbing. If you get in over your head, dont hesitate to call for professional help.


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5 Surprising Ways to Invest in Your House

Expanded Driveway

One area that many people never think about changing is their driveway. Over the years, a lot of people have learned that they can expand their driveway to hold more cars. This is especially useful if you have multiple vehicles that members of your family drive.

In the average neighborhood, there is simply not enough space for more than a few cars. It is a small investment to expand the driveway of your home, and the potential future buyers will love this feature.

New Cabinets

The kitchen is one of the most important areas of the home when it comes to selling. Cabinets are a central point of any kitchen. If you want to improve or replace your cabinets, it is vital to work with a company that has experience in the field. Look for cabinet refinishing companies near you through online sources.

The cabinets in your kitchen should flow with the rest of your home. With such a large investment of both time and money, make sure that you have conducted research on the best cabinets for your current home.

Tile in Bathroom

Another vital room in your home is the master bathroom. You will spend a lot of your time in this room, so it is important to make it as inviting as possible.

Upgrading the floors in your bathroom is a great choice. Tile is the most common piece of material to use. Not only does it last longer, but it looks much better than other options as well.

Heated tile is another feature that many people enjoy. In the cold mornings of the winter, heated tile can be a nice luxury. As soon as you walk on the tile, your feet will be heated and you will enjoy the bathroom experience much more. This is new technology that a lot of people are upgrading to.

Smart HVAC System

Everyone knows that a new HVAC system is not cheap. However, there are new HVAC systems that focus on reducing your total energy consumption. Although these units are still expensive, you will save some money every month on lower electricity bills.

With so many options on the market today, it is vital to spend some time finding the right model for your home. If you live in a cold area, make sure the heating unit is large enough to heat your entire home. In many areas, the upstairs part of the home is difficult to heat in the winter without a large unit.

New Paint

Perhaps the easiest way to improve the value of your home is to simply paint the walls. New paint on the walls can really improve the look and feel of your home. Although you can do the painting yourself, it makes sense to hire someone who has experience painting.

Painting an entire house is a long process. Although it will not be cheap, it will improve the value of your home greatly. This is one of the best things to do right before you list a home on the market.

Investing in your home is one of the best financial decisions that you can make. As the housing market continues to improve in value, investing in your home will help you financially. You can even use the equity in your home to pay for the new upgrades that you want.


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The VA Funding Fee Explained

VA loans are reserved for a select set of borrowers. These include veterans of the armed forces, active duty personnel with at least 181 days of service, National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve members with at least six years of service and unremarried, surviving spouses of those who have died while serving or as a result of a service->

Closing costs for VA loans are restricted for eligible borrowers. Borrowers can only pay for an appraisal and credit report, title insurance, origination fees and recording fees. In areas where surveys are required, borrowers are eligible to pay for a survey. One of these costs, the largest one as a matter of fact, is the VA funding fee.nbsp;

The funding fee is in essence an insurance policy the borrowers pay for in favor of the lender. This fee can vary based upon the term of the loan, re-use and any down payment. Its important to note here however that VA loans do not require a down payment, but borrowers may choose to provide one voluntarily. For first time buyers taking out a standard 30 year fixed rate term, the funding fee is currently 2.15 percent of the sales price of the home. For a 300,000 mortgage, thats 6,450.nbsp;

Thats quite a bit but remember the lender is approving a mortgage without any down payment. Should the loan soon go into default, there wont be any equity. There are also legal fees involved in such an instance so typically the lender is automatically upside down if the lender is forced to foreclose. However, this is rare as VA loans are some of the highest performing financing products in the industry.

The guarantee to the lender is 25 percent of the loss. Again, with an outstanding mortgage balance of 300,000, the lender is paid 75,000. This guarantee can also allow a lender to approve a zero down loan that it may not have approved with a low down payment conventional loan. Its the funding fee that finances this guarantee to the lender.


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Can Regular Maintenance Save You Money On AC Repairs

How Often Should Maintenance Be Done to Avoid AC Repairs?

Depending on the expert company for AC repairsnbsp; you talk to, you should get regular maintenance done at least once a year. Some professionals say that twice is better. Ideally, the service should happen every six months, once in the Spring and again in the Fall. If you can only afford to do it once, or if you decide once is enough, Spring is the best time.

As the weather starts to get warmer, you dont want to be stuck with a necessary AC repairnbsp; because you failed to get the routine maintenance suggested. Thats what makes the Spring season the best time. Over the next few months, your air conditioning unit will be used more often, and you have to be prepared for whats to come. As the frequency of use increases, so does the potential for things to go wrong. After any HVAC company comes in and does their job, you can have peace of mind that your home will be properly cooled. Thats what you need when youre under the scorching summer Texas sun

What AC Repairsnbsp; Could Emerge from Skipping Air Conditioning Maintenance?

Theres a lot that could go wrong that would lead to you needing AC repairs. Your unit, regardless if its a central air system, ductless unit, or even a window air conditioner, is a complex piece of machinery. There is an abundance of interworking components that must all be fully-functional to get the most energy efficiency and performance.nbsp;

Explore some of the ways your cooling system could be affected:

Filters - Every air conditioning system has a filter. Some are good for a month. Others last up to three. Some filters are disposable, while others are reusable. Failing to take care of the screen can cause your air conditioner to require more energy, and you can end up with a frozen unit that requires AC repair .

Leaking coolant - The temperature can vary, and your air conditioner wont work correctly if there are refrigerant leaks inside. Leakage can be prevented with regular inspections by a professional.

Fuses and breakers - When an AC repairnbsp; is required because the device overheated, many times, its because of a fuse or breaker. The motor could potentially quit altogether if these arent checked.

Drainage - If dirt or debris is blocking the drain lines for your air conditioner, it can leak out of the pan and require AC repair .

Compressor - The compressor must be functioning correctly so that your ac system can cool your home. Its what gives energy to the coils and carries out the heat exchange. A unit without enough refrigerant will seize if it gets too hot. When theres too much refrigerant, you could also be dealing with a busted system.

Capacitors - The fans and compressor work because of the capacitors. If it burns out, you will lose efficiency.

Contactors - Inside your air conditioner, several different contactors are necessary for the operations of the fan motor, blower motor, and compressor. Over time, pitting and arcing can happen. That makes it difficult for the engines to start if they can start at all.

These are just a few of the things that could go wrong without regular maintenance. A qualified HVAC contractor knows what to look for.

What Happens During an AC Maintenance Service?

When you hire professionals to come in and do your ac maintenance service, you can expect them to start at the thermostat. They will ensure that its level, clean, not being affected by sunlight, and otherwise operating properly. Then they will move their attention to the air conditioning system.

To keep from having unnecessary ac repairsnbsp; come up, the technician will thoroughly clean all parts of the equipment with their professional tools, chemicals, and processes. They will check all your refrigerant and coolant levels to make sure they are correct. A thorough inspection for leaks of any type will take place along with measuring the airflow. During the examination, he or she will also explore your ductwork to confirm there are no clogs or other damages. Your HVAC technician will explore all of the electrical components and clean away any dirt, debris, or leaves that might hinder the performance.

Why Would I Need AC Repairsnbsp; During a Maintenance Service?

Sometimes, during maintenance, your technician may be required to do an ac repair . This is a good thing, though. Frequently, they will find something small that needs to be fixed, and they can do it right there on the spot. The positive is that if it were left alone, it could lead to a bigger, more expensive problem. You could potentially require a complete replacement in just a short time of use without the quick fix.

Some of the minor things your repair technician can do while completing maintenance are:

Combing aluminum fins back into place
Replacing coolant or refrigerant
Sealing up leaks
Removing clogs
Replacing filters
Repairing coils

How Long Does AC Maintenance Take?

You might be hesitant to hire someone to do your ac maintenance because you cant find the time in your busy schedule. Now that you know that its necessary to keep your system running at peak performance levels and with energy efficiency, you have to make the time.

It all depends on who you hire, how complex your system is, and what kinds of ac repairsnbsp; they have to do. While some can complete it in a few hours, others might require a day or more. Its something you can ask your contractor when you call to schedule the service.

How Much Does AC Maintenance Cost?

The national average for ac maintenance is between 70 and 100. Call around to a few different companies until you find someone that is in line with industry standards. Someone that offers a rate much lower than that isnt going to give you the complete quality service you expect. A contractor that asks a lot more is likely price gouging. Its better to pay the rate for maintenance than what an AC repair nbsp;could be. At a minimum, charges are 75, with a maximum of around 2,000.

nbsp;


Andrew Young is the owner of Superior HVAC, the Houston areas 1 provider of commercial and residential AC repairs and installation, furnace repairs, and air filtration systems. Andrew and his team have decades of experience in the Texas HVAC industry and specialize in virtually every make and model of AC and heating system in use today. Whether its a full-scale commercial HVAC system or a central residential AC, Andrew and his crew know how to keep that system operating at peak efficiency and the value of regular maintenance.


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Holiday First Look: 2019 Color Trends

While early November might be a tad too early to actually start putting up lights and changing out pumpkins for Santa, were definitely not above planning and shopping right now. And this year, were all about getting creative with the color story. These are the color trends were seeing for this year.

Blue and green

Pinterest searches for blue and green holiday decor are up, and we can see why. Swapping the >

Here are a few items we love:

Glitter starbust ornament set
Personalized Christmas stockings
>

Metallics

This is a design >

If youre looking for a good accent color that plays nicely with metallic finishes, think about this pairing. Step aside silvergold has a new Christmas companion, said Hayneedle. Dark neutrals have been trending all year long, so were not surprised to see an increased interest in black this season. Black and gold holiday decor is perfect for non-traditional themes and creates a sophisticated look thats super festive when paired with glittering metallics. Try a black and goldnbsp;Christmas wreathnbsp;on your front door for a look that will welcome your guests well into the new year.

Here are a few items we love:

Frontgates 60-pieced Precious Metals Ornament Collectionnbsp;
Mercury orb
Pineapple ornaments

Rose gold

Rose gold ornaments and decorations are a new spin on the traditional silver and gold approach, said Good Housekeeping. Something about the warm metallic color is timeless and inviting, which is why were starting to see rose gold decor pop up everywhere. Below youll find the most gorgeous rose goldnbsp;holiday decorationsnbsp; like rose gold trees, garland, tree toppers, and wreaths and unique rose gold ornaments a few of whichnbsp;can be personalizednbsp;to your liking.

Here are a few items we love:

Pottery Barns pre-lit, four-foot rose gold Christmas tree
Rose gold string lights
Mercury glass tabletop tree

Plaid

If theres one holiday pattern that will never go out of >

Here are a few items we love:

Glen plaid ornament set
Merry everything welcome mat
Holiday plaid Christmas stocking


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Insulated Concrete Forms Growing in Popularity as Safeguard From Natural Disasters

Dallas-based builder Hoffmann Homes is putting that assertion to the test, building several homes in the city using ICFs, which he says can safeguard them from storms far greater than what just rumbled through.

One North Texas builder says homes he builds can withstand wind from an EF-5 tornado, said NBCDFW From the road, youd never know one of his homes being built in northeast Dallas is any different than a traditional wood-frame house. But, the walls are made of concrete sandwiched between two layers of foam.

Six solid inches of concrete, to be exact, which creates a nearly impenetrable surface. "It stops a 2x4 at 100mph, it just shatters a 2x4 when it hits a wall," Hoffmann told NBC.

Hoffmann uses this material in each of the homes he builds. Picture a foam Lego that is hollow in the middle, he told Voyage Dallas. These are stacked onto re-barb to wall height and then concrete is pumped down into the center of the form system. This wall then is comprised of three layers, two outer expanded polystyrene foam layers 2 1/2 thick with 6 of steel reinforced concrete in the middle. These are high performance, comfortable, weather resistant, and low-maintenance homes.

Just how strong is this material, and can it really protect a home from natural disasters? Up to 85 percent of homes currently destroyed by tornados can be spared, according to experts at the University of Alabama, said Insulated Concrete Forms amp; More. According to Andrew Graettinger, Civil Engineer at the University of Alabama,nbsp;"If you are above ground and you get hit in a storm like that, the one in Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013 no matter the type of construction unless it is a concrete-reinforced structure, you are probably not going to have anything left.

Anbsp;study published by the Portland Cement Association PCAnbsp;found that concrete walls have more structural capacity and stiffness to withstand the in-plane shear forces of high winds than wood or steel framed walls, said Fox Blocks. And another study, this one bynbsp;Texas Tech University,nbsp;found that ICF wallsnbsp;resist damage from flying debris traveling over 100 mphnbsp;while conventionally framed walls failed to stop the penetration of airborne hazards. Insulated concrete form walls are the best protection from windblown debris to a home and its occupants during a tornado event.

Pictures of a home built with ICFs in Mexico went viral last year after surviving Hurricane Michael, which decimated nearly all the homes around it. This construction method was one major factor that allowed it to survive the hurricane while the rest of the neighborhood was destroyed, said ICF Builder.

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The Attica, Kan. Homes of Randy and Linda Robbins was saved from a devastating EF-3 tornado in 2004 thanks to ICF walls. Powerful winds leveled all the surrounding buildings, and tore the roof from the Robbins home, said ICF Homes. But the walls stood strong. Another EF-3, this one with 200-mile-per-hour winds, caused mass destruction in Iowa in 1998; Monte Asburys home was savedas were his kids, who rode out the storm in the basement.

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The bonus to using ICF is that it is also energy-efficient. In fact, Linda Robbins noted that was initially their main motivation in using the material. Houses built with ICF exterior walls require an estimatednbsp;32 less energy to cool and 44 less energy to heatnbsp;than comparable wood-framed houses, said Home Energy.


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6 Essential Things to Consider While Buying Property Overseas

However, with international real estate, you have to factor in every issue >

How to Ease the Process of Investing in Real Estate Overseas?

The first two things that come to mind when purchasing an international property are travel and legal issues. If you are going to buy an overseas real estate, you will have to deal with both these problems at once.

Nevertheless, you can ease the process by seeking out some advice and tips. When you have a streamlined resource coupled with some basic guidelines to remember and consider before purchasing real estate abroad, it becomes much easier for you to make the right investment.

And thats precisely what we will be helping you with today. In this article, we will provide some tips for purchasing a property abroad.

6 Things to Remember Before Making Your International Real Estate Purchase

1. Seek the help of local professionals

You need to get help from two local professionals. First, when buying properties overseas using digital media, always get yourself a local lawyer to help you deal with the legal matters. Secondly,nbsp;contact real estate brokersnbsp;of the area to help you become aware of the market, to stay organized, and most importantly, to help you find the best deal.

2. Consider your tax liabilities as investors

Everyone has different circumstances when it comes to taxes, especially in the volatile and diverse real estate market. Every country has its own legislation and tax laws, which may ask you to repay the inheritance tax, title transfer tax, and even the stamp duty at the time of purchase. Aside from these, some countries ask for land tax to property owners, and its usually in the form of the annual cost. These potential costs need to be added to your budget, or you might face legal penalties.

3. The need for funding and finance

Once you know your motivation behind the purchase, selecting viable properties that are in conjunction with your needs is quite simple. The challenging part, however, is securing finance, especially when itll be liable to international laws, which are generally in terms of local currencies. To get started, make sure you obtain your "Agreement in principle" before making the purchase as it will safeguard you when you do not get a loan or are not able to get your initial deposit back.

4. Confirming title amp; ownership

As investing in international real estate is remote in nature, it can be quite challenging to build trust with the agents and vendors. As such, one has to be extremely careful when discussing title and ownership issues. This is crucial because you will be liable to pay any debt that may exist on a property once you have made the transaction.

5. Bridge the language barrier

Whether you intend to >

6. Have an exit strategy

No matter what your intentions are for purchasing property overseas, its crucial to keep in mind that even the most well-articulated plans can, sometimes go awry. It is, therefore, essential for you to have a contingency plan or an exit strategy ready. In doing so, itll help in curbing any inconvenience that may arise in the event of a potential financial loss.nbsp;

Purchasing properties overseas doesnt have to be that complicated. If you keep yourself aware of the laws and legislation of the country youre >

Also, following and keeping some essential tips and advice in mind can go a long way. That said, consider the above factors before making your international real estate purchase.nbsp;

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Hidden Commission amp; Emerging Transparency

Disruption and transparency are driving forces in many industries, but not when it comes to learning the cost of selling your home or the possibility of negotiating real estate commission, which is based on a percentage of the sale price.nbsp;
Disclosure of fees has become the norm online and off, but not in real estate.nbsp;
Consumers expect to easily, quickly receive personalized online quotes for home and auto insurance and a range of home services, but real estate websites still do not openly post real estate commission percentages or offer self-initiated quotes.

According to the Consumer Federation of America CFA; consumerfed.org, real estate fees are hidden and poorly understood by consumers. CFA is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups, founded in 1968 to advance consumers interests through research, advocacy, and education.

CFA recently >

The secretive nature associated with the annual collection of an estimated more than 100 Billion in commission is compounded in the following ways:

Real estate advice is common on broker and individual real estate sites, but this does not include discussion of brokerage fees, the most significant expense faced by sellers.
Phoning or emailing a brokerage to learn what commission percentage or range they charge, will not automatically result in discovering the cost of doing business with that brokerage.nbsp;
Even though claims of commissions are negotiable are common in the industry, 73 percent of the 200 agents interviewed said they would not negotiate down the commission level they quote.
An online national survey of 2000 representative adult Americans revealed only 32 percent of all respondents and 44 percent of recent home sellers and buyers knew that commissions quoted are almost always 5 or 6 percent.nbsp; On a 400,000 sale that would be a commission of 20,000 or 24,000, respectively.
Sellers typically pay the commission out of the proceeds of the sale. The total commission is split between the listing and selling brokerages, however, details regarding the buyer-side of the commission split is not shared with buyers.nbsp;

Research methodology included the national consumer survey, role-playing interviews with real estate professionals, a review of 263 real estate Google-listed websites, and an in-depth review of existing research on real estate commissions.

CFA attributes consumers lack of commission knowledge with elevated costs for sellers and home buyers, individually and collectively:

Without knowledge of typical commissions in the area, commission splits, and the uniform standard fees, a seller may be charged a higher than necessary commission. Sellers may not investigate area brokerages to locate those offering lower fees because the information is hard to find. Sellers may miss opportunities to negotiate the real estate commission split paid the listing brokerage or the buyer brokerage.

CFA research supports earlier research which revealed buyers can be disadvantaged when some real estate professionals place their commission ahead of the buyers interests. Buyers have been steered away from listed properties offered at lower commission splits.

Price competition is discouraged by the lack of information about commissions, apparently-hidden commission splits, and the charging of uniform real estate fees across large areas. In five of the areas researched, agents quoted the same rates; over the total 20 areas studied, 70 percent of the agents quoted 6 percent rates while 19 quoted 5 percent.

Report author and CFA Senior Fellow Stephen Brobeck offers these Report takeaways: In todays marketplace, we recommend that:

1. Sellers interview several agents making certain to discuss compensation, including whether the rate is negotiable and whether it will be reduced if the listing agent ends up working with both seller and buyer.
2. Buyers discuss compensation with their agents and also independently search portals such as Zillow for properties they might be interested in purchasing. That will minimize the chances for agents steering away from low-commission properties.

Lets take a closer look at a real estate transaction:

The seller is intent on at least netting the price they consider right for their property. That means the significant cost of real estate commission is added to that figure to create the sale price.nbsp;
In actual fact, buyers pay the commission because the sale price they pay for the property includes the real estate commission of 5 or 6 percent. The buyer then finances the sale price through cash down-payment and mortgage. Lower commission would mean less financing for the buyer.nbsp;

According to the Report, lower commission can be achieved by hiring brokers that charge less than area rates or by negotiating commission percentage at the time of listing or before signing the final contract:

Nationally and locally, commission rates tended to be uniform or near-uniform at 5 or 6 percent, although Portland and Baltimore were exceptions. Quoted rates varied somewhat, though buyer-side rates varied less than seller-side rates.
Reportedly, negotiation for lower rates is more successful for high-priced homes.
Sellers may negotiate a 1 or 2 percent drop in commission rate if the listing agent brings the buyer and will also be paid the selling commission. However, seven states have banned this practice of serving two masters or dual agency. Brobeck described dual agency as an oxymoron because you cannot equally represent two people with competing interests. If a real estate professional takes on both sides of a transaction, Brobeck suggests they must become a transactional agent or side with one or the other to the disadvantage of the other.

The Report also revealed that fifteen of the agents surveyed disclosed an application or listing fee that typically was several hundred dollars. Four Baltimore agents charged a fee ranging from 250 to 450; in seven other cities, one or two agents disclosed a fee ranging from 125 to 490. The Report stated it is unclear there is need for this fee in addition to a five to six per cent commission. Always ask if there are additional fees or charges beyond the listing commission percentage and typical closing costs.

With current home prices at historic highs in many areas, sellers and buyers can be so overwhelmed by the amounts involved they lose focus of the true commission cost. Do the math to learn dollar values involved.nbsp;

Keep in mind that uniform real estate commission rates do not reflect differences in the quality of professional services, which include depth of experience, range of services, consistency of results, customization of follow-through, and the unique talents of those delivering listing or buyer services.

Transparency is emerging

On August 29, 2019, technology-based Redfin announced it would be the first brokerage to publish the commission percentage offered to the buyers agent for homes listed with a Redfin agent on Redfin.com. This is intended to help buyers understand costs and incentives in the real estate transaction. A Redfin survey had revealed that 51 percent of recent homebuyers didnt fully understand how the real estate professional they worked with was paid.

As of October 1, 2019, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service NWMLS, which operates across Washingtons Seattle-Tacoma area, added transparency to selling office commissionsthe part of the split that sellers pay to the brokerage representing the buyer. Listings now include the commission percentage that goes to the buyer side of the transaction with the added change that sellers have the choice of how much to pay buyers agents. This is the first of the 600 Multiple Listing Services across the country to allow brokers to publish selling office commissions to support buyers.

Earlier this year, a >

It would help encourage price competition if the commission splits were clearly disclosed to consumers on the property listing. But the real solution would be to decouple commissions, so that sellers were able to price and negotiate the listing agents commission, and buyers were able to price and negotiate the buyers agent commission.

Some have argued that buyers will balk at paying a commission, but that is unlikely to happen if this commission is added to the mortgage, which effectively it currently is. And when both sellers and buyers have greater opportunity to negotiate commissions, these are likely to decline to the benefit of both.

Additional resources:

  • CFAs first report, January 2019:nbsp; The Agency Mess: Home Buyer and Seller Confusion and Costs >
  • PJ Wades Decisions amp; Communities article Agency Mess Report: Are You Doing Enough?

  • Full Story >


    Is New Construction for You? Weve Got the Pros and Cons to Buying New

    Con: No haggling allowed

    Negotiating is a key part of buying a resale home. But if youre looking to negotiate the price on something new, you may be disappointed. Builders and developers dont generally like to lower the price of homes since it tends to aggravate those who purchased previously and didnt get the benefit of a discount.nbsp;

    Pro: But there may be different perks

    That doesnt mean there isnt room for negotiation. Working with real estate agents who have experience with new construction is key here because they can negotiate things like closing cost help and upgrades.nbsp;

    Con: Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance arent everything.

    New-home communities typically have homeowners associations HOA, which means youll have to tack another payment onto your monthly tally. In return, you get some built-in protections for your home value, but if your budget is unforgiving, youll want to factor this in.nbsp;

    Pro: You can personalize your floorplan.

    Depending on the home and community, you might be able to make some changes to the floorplan to make it work better for your household. Perhaps you want to turn a den into a bedroom or vice versa or add a loft or extra garage bays. The floorplans online or in the community brochure will display the available options, but if theres something specific youre looking for that isnt offered, be sure to ask. There may be more available than what you can see.

    Con: Every change you make will cost you.nbsp;

    If youre planning to make floorplan changes, you can throw out that home price they gave you.nbsp;

    Pro: You can upgrade pretty much everything.

    One of the huge perks of buying new construction is being able to customize it to your liking. Want a fancy backsplash? Go for it. Hand-scraped wood floors? Yes, please. You want it, you got itas long as the sales agent and design center says you can have it. And, you can pay for it, of course.nbsp;

    Con: There goes your budget, and your cushion.

    You may be surprised how much some of this stuff costs. That 350,000 house you thought you could afford? Its now 100,000 more.

    Pro: You can roll the extra costs into your mortgage.nbsp;

    Even though the number might sound exorbitant, its not so bad when you consider the monthly difference it makes in your mortgage payment.nbsp;

    Con: Itll take a while to build.

    The advantage to buying resale is that you get to move in as soon as you close escrow. Buy new and it can be many months before you get your keys.nbsp;

    Pro: But youll be the first to live there

    That makes it worth the wait, right?

    Con: The neighborhood will be a mess for a while.

    Unless youre purchasing when few homes are left to build, expect to be living with construction trucks and construction dirt for a period of time. While this will likely be a blip compared to how long youll live in the home, it can feel interminable when trucks are making noise and kicking up dust.nbsp;

    Pro: It can be easy to meet people when youre all moving in at or around the same time.nbsp;

    This is great for families with young kids or those >

    Con: Higher cost

    Most homebuyers wont be surprised to learn that brand-new homes almost always cost more than resale ones, said NewHomeSource. Historically, newly built homes cost about 17 percent more than resale ones, based on national median price data that date back to the 1960s.

    Pro: There may be amenities

    Having a community pool and maybe a park or other amenities can make it even more rewarding to live in a new-home community.

    Con: Nothing comes for free.nbsp;

    Youll pay for those amenities through the HOA.

    Pro: Your home may appreciate faster

    Studies have shown that well-built homes in popular communities can earn equity faster than some homes in some older neighborhoods.nbsp;

    Con: This could also make your property taxes go up.nbsp;

    Property taxes can rise due to reassessment of value after a home is purchased, said Street Directory. Property taxes on new construction are based upon the assessed value of the land until a certificate of occupancy for the home has been issued by the local government. Once this occurs the property will be re-assessed as a home for the next complete property tax billing cycle.


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    Ghosted? 3 Reasons Why Youre Not Closing Millennial Buyers

    This behavior has become prevalent among millennials in their dating lives, social lives, and even their careers. But why do millennials do this? More importantly, how can we as realtors spend less of our precious time chasing down these ghost leads?nbsp;

    As a millennial agent in San Francisco, I understand the roots of why millennials behave this way. In short, its all about technology. Technology is both the reason for, and the solution to, being ghosted by millennial buyers. In this article Ill explain the reasons why millennials ghost, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.nbsp;

    Fear of confrontation

    Millennials grew up with the internet and texting. The ability to communicate with our peers digitally, and on-demand, has resulted in a generation with a deep social anxiety around in-person, face-to-face meetings. After all, its easier to escape an awkward text chat than a tedious meeting at a coffee shop. All you have to do is stop responding However, dealing with a realtor in-person when youre getting cold feet is a deeply uncomfortable experience.nbsp;

    Moreover, for in-person meetings, the stakes feel higher. Millennials are the busiest and most distracted generation in history, due to our smartphones making us available to everyone, on-demand. As such, at any given moment, our coworkers, friends, or family might ping us and let us know that were needed right away. In these situations, our network of close and intimate >

    Unfortunately, youll never really know what specific reason a millennial had for ghosting on your meeting, and its unlikely youll ever get the facts. However, if they go totally silent on you, theyre probably trying to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted about backing out on you.nbsp;

    Theyre worried that youll waste their time

    There exists a fundamental difference in how the millennial generation gathers information. Millennials grew up with Google and smartphones, and are thus accustomed to being able to quickly research any and all topics, on-demand. As such, millennials often feel that they can find information about a property and a market on their own. Whether or not this is true, it leads to millennials asking themselves, why should I take an hour out of my day to meet realtors in person when theyre just going to tell me info I can find online?nbsp;

    Thus, millennials are unconvinced that a followup meeting is worth their time. Theyre expecting to hear information that they think they already know. Theyre also expecting you to pressure them with a hard sale, which raises red flags for their anxiety around confrontation. Since they ba>

    You havent gained their trust

    Another reason why millennials are ghosting on you is because you havent built rapport with them in the way that they want to be engaged. This leads to a tricky catch-22, because you set up followup meetings with them to build rapport, yet you need rapport to get them to show up to the meetings. This begs the question: why did this millennial buyer not trust me enough to show up?nbsp;

    There are two main reasons for this. First, if a millennial is serious about working with you, its very likely that he or she has researched you on Google, social media, and Youtube. If you dont have a presence across these platforms, youve unintentionally blacklisted yourself to millennials.nbsp;

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    A post shared by Tim McMullen tmcmullen99 on

    Tech savvy millennials live their lives digitallynbsp;

    This generation is tech savvy and their lives are deeply linked to their online identities. Thus, at best, youll be seen as unsophisticated and behind the times. At worst, youll be seen as untrustworthy. After all, to millennials, a person who cant set up a YouTube channel is laughably incompetent, and a person without a social media presence is a stranger.nbsp;

    Instagram is the new coffee meeting

    Ultimately, the way to build trust with millennials is to leverage technology to scale your rapport building. Start by producing interesting and frequent property->

    nbsp;To get an idea of the type of content that feels authentic to millennial audiences, check out this Instagram video from San Francisco based real estate team Kinoko:

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    The VA Funding Fee Explained

    VA loans are reserved for a select set of borrowers. These include veterans of the armed forces, active duty personnel with at least 181 days of service, National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve members with at least six years of service and unremarried, surviving spouses of those who have died while serving or as a result of a service->

    Closing costs for VA loans are restricted for eligible borrowers. Borrowers can only pay for an appraisal and credit report, title insurance, origination fees and recording fees. In areas where surveys are required, borrowers are eligible to pay for a survey. One of these costs, the largest one as a matter of fact, is the VA funding fee.

    The funding fee is in essence an insurance policy the borrowers pay for in favor of the lender. This fee can vary based upon the term of the loan, re-use and any down payment. Its important to note here however that VA loans do not require a down payment, but borrowers may choose to provide one voluntarily. For first time buyers taking out a standard 30 year fixed rate term, the funding fee is currently 2.15 percent of the sales price of the home. For a 300,000 mortgage, thats 6,450.

    Thats quite a bit but remember the lender is approving a mortgage without any down payment. Should the loan soon go into default, there wont be any equity. There are also legal fees involved in such an instance so typically the lender is automatically

    upside down if the lender is forced to foreclose. However, this is rare as VA loans are some of the highest performing financing products in the industry.
    The guarantee to the lender is 25 percent of the loss. Again, with an outstanding mortgage balance of 300,000, the lender is paid 75,000. This guarantee can also allow a lender to approve a zero down loan that it may not have approved with a low down payment conventional loan. Its the funding fee that finances this guarantee to the lender.


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    Buying A Lot Vs. Buying A Home: The Differences You Need To Know

    What is the Zoning?

    When you purchase a home, you can typically take an educated guess that the zoning for the land is residential. On the other hand, when a lot is vacant, its imperative that you learn the usage it is zoned for.nbsp;

    From an investment perspective, the value of the land will be determined by how it can be used. For example, vacant land that can not be built on due to zoning issues is a lot less attractive from an investment standpoint than a piece of land that can be utilized.nbsp;

    Its also worth noting that even if you purchase a piece of land with an existing building on it, its still essential to find out whether the zoning has changed since the structure was built. This can sometimes happen due to soil contamination among other issues - and will be a determining factor in whether thenbsp; property is a good investment or not.

    Can the Land be Subdivided?

    Subdividing is the act of dividing a tract of land into several buildable parcels. Acquiring a piece of land that can be subdivided can be an excellent investment opportunity.nbsp;

    One of the main benefits of being able to subdivide land is that it may be more profitable to sell the property as several parcels, as opposed to one large piece. Another advantage is that it allows you to liquidate part of your real estate without having to sell the whole piece. Before you purchase land with the assumption that it can be subdivided, you must do your due diligence. Multiple factors can affect the ability to subdivide, from neighborhood covenants and ordinances to deed restrictions. It is imperative that you seek the advice of an experienced real estate professional before making any decisions.

    What Are The Tax Implications?

    Whether you purchase a tract of land or a property with a home on it, you are liable to pay property taxes.nbsp;

    Local taxing authorities periodically assess the value of all properties within their jurisdiction.nbsp; The taxable value of the land depends on the propertys assessment. While the method of assessment can differ between built-out and vacant land, the process still aims to determine the lots market value. Property taxes are ad valorem according to value, so the lower the assessed value, the lower the property tax will be.

    Land tends to be valued according to its highest and best use. Its important to bear in mind that this may not be the lands current use. Depending on factors such as zoning, available amenities, and local laws,nbsp; there are several possibilities for what could be construed as the lands highest and best use.

    A final point to consider is that land is taxable - whether it is making a profit or not.nbsp;

    Maintenance Requirements

    Purchasing an investment property requires more maintenance than owning a piece of land. Buildings require upkeep and renovations to keep them usable or to improve resale value. Investment properties must be managed by the investor themselves, or a dedicated property manager. Tracts of land, on the other hand, do not require an investor to know anything about how to renovate or manage a property. The only important thing that you need to know about vacant land is: "Is it suitable for building?" If someone else can build on the land when you are ready to sell it, your investment should be secure.

    Its also prudent to note that the IRS does not allow you to depreciate land; however, a building can be depreciated for tax purposes. For example, if you make renovations to an investment property, it is possible to depreciate the cost for this, along with the home value.

    Cash Flow Potential

    Land has little cash flow potential compared to a house. Options are limited to land lease, agricultural usage or boat amp; trailer storage.nbsp;

    An investment home, on the other hand, can be rented out to generate a consistent income. Of course being a landlord comes with other responsibilities, but if you would like an income while also waiting for the property value to increase, renting would be the ideal solution.

    Resale Potential

    The resale potential of both raw land and developed real estate is dependent on several factors. Considerations such as, does the local area have a strong real estate market? and is there demand for this particular type of real estate? are important in determining how easy the sale of the property will be.

    Houses tend to sell more quickly than land alone. This is because there is a higher demand for homes that are already built and move in ready. Land, on the other hand, takes a particular type of buyer, who is willing to invest the time and money required to develop the land.nbsp;

    Whether selling land or a house, it pays to have a knowledgeable real estate agent on your side. There are many benefits to working with a professional, such as helping you understand the market and creating a strategic marketing plan to target the right buyers. Any investment should be treated like a business opportunity. Maximize your profit by doing your due diligence and seeking professional help when required.nbsp;

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    The Home Improvement Decisions that You will Never Regret

    What to Avoid

    While some home remodeling options may look trendy on the surface, they may not be ideal for a long term engagement.nbsp; For instance, one of the trends you would not want to get involved in is specialty finishes on hardware. While most homeowners find specialty finishes on the bathroom or kitchen trendy, their >

    In most cases, homeowners would try to do all they can to improve the overall outlook of their bathroom. However, some of these additions may be unnecessary. For instance, while adding a veined marble wall to your bathroom is a beautiful endeavor, going overboard can prove overwhelming since, in a few years, it will look outdated. The same applies to graphic tiling that seems trendy at the moment. At this age, Pinterest and Instagram, soon everybody will be going for it, and it will not be desirable in a few years to come.

    What to Focus on in Home Remodeling

    So you have everything figured out and are set up to make your investment in home renovation. Before starting your renovation project, make sure to budget all your expenses. With a detailed budget, you will know, whether is it better to consider a personal loan for home improvement or to use your savings and pay with cash.nbsp;

    Where do you start? With funds ready, you ought to go for priority aspects of your home remodeling. The following are some of the notable areas to lay your emphasis.

    Storage

    Come to think of it; a building is essentially meant for storage apart from being home. This fact explains why one will go to great lengths to create several rooms of various storage purposes.nbsp; Over time, we accumulate a lot of stuff, and it only makes sense to create enough space for the same. Consider both your current and future storage needs when creating these spaces. This applies to both the interior and exterior storage.

    Infrastructure

    Apart from location, the homes infrastructure can become a make or break point for your home remodeling design. By building a custom home, you have the autonomy to decide where each of the main features will be located. This is in addition to the assurance that whatever is used under the floor and behind the walls is high quality. Some of the notable infrastructural considerations in home remodeling include electrical systems, cooling systems, siding, plumbing, insulation, and windows. Work hand in hand with your architect or designer to ensure each of these works to improve the overall performance

    The Kitchen

    Kitchen remodeling is a worthy endeavor, but this comes at a price. However, there are changes you can make that will not only cost you less but also stand the test of time. For instance, you may see the need to stick to white in your kitchen. Apart from reflecting light, white makes small kitchen spaces seem larger. For flooring, hardwood takes the day. This is because hardwood can blend well with any kitchen >

    Lighting

    Lighting is often overlooked when it comes to home renovation in place of other design aspects. It shouldnt be the case as lighting makes a strong statement about the overall look of your property. This is especially so for interior design, as it affects every detail in the room. In this case, take your time to study each room in terms of its components and how best to accentuate them. Use accent lighting to highlight some of the aesthetically pleasing fixtures in the room. While at it, consider the need to have sufficient sources of natural light into space.

    Home remodeling doesnt have to be a complicated process; the simpler, the better. The rule of thumb, in this case, is to go for options that stand the test of time. You do not want to incorporate features that will lose value or appeal in a few years.

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    My name is Lidia Staron.nbsp;Im a passionate creative writer and marketing manager atnbsp;OpenLoans.com.nbsp;As a financial advisor and certified financial planner, I know that life is full of major events and crossroads. Im enjoying to help people navigate through important financial decisions while avoiding common mistakes.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;


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    From Seed to Suite: Real Estate Agents and the Cannabis Industry

    This opportunity comes during a time of rapid innovation: a time in which the face of the cannabis industry, or rather the popular impression of what the face of the industry looks like, of a stoner with his mouth open and his eyes shut, gives way to people who look and act like entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley.

    Such is the real face of the cannabis industry, of the faces of men and women who want to buy or lease space for their companies, storefronts, or dispensaries. Such is the nature of an industry whose most successful brands emulate the look and feel of the worlds top brands like Apple, Facebook, Instagram, and Nike.

    According to David Albanese, CEO of High Farms and WeeDeeLiver:

    The cannabis industry is as much about square footage as it is acreage. The latter influences the former, since so much of the industryfrom finance and consulting to marketing and technologyhappens inside a building rather than outside a barn. As a real estate investor, I have more than a passing interest involving these issues. If anything, my pastime is a full-time commitment to further developing this industry.

    I second that sentiment for two reasons, starting with the wisdom most real estate agents possess.

    To have the wisdom to know a clients needs. To know how to advise a client. To know when to tell a client what he needs to hear. To know why these things matter is to be a professional.

    And secondly, professionalism begets referrals.

    The power of word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable, exceeding whatever value a client may enjoy in dollars and cents, because no amount of money can buy what a professional must earn: trust. The trust a client has in a real estate agent. The confidence a client has in his agent. The duty an agent has to act as his clients counselor and confidant.

    These values represent the best of the real estate industry.

    These values find reciprocity among business owners in the cannabis industry. The >

    Safeguarding this >

    This >


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