Noticias Inmobiliarias

Actualizado al: Friday, April 27, 2018

Should You Fix Up Your House Before Listing Or Sell It As A Fixer Upper?

If youre thinking of selling your home, this is probably a question youve been asking yourself - and your real estate agent. There is no hard and fast answer; the route you go will depend on numerous factors, the most important of which are: the condition of your home, the strength of the market in your area, and the potential profit to be made both with and without updates. These tips will help you decide whether to sell now or later.

Consider your buyer

The words "fixer upper" might actually be a selling point for some buyers who perceive theyre getting a deal, who are specifically looking for something they can put their stamp on, or who just cant afford to buy something turnkey. The marketing your agent does is key here so you dont end up with nothing but unacceptable offers.

"In any marketing communications surrounding a fixer-upper, its important to remain focused on value," said ExtraSpace. "Prospective homebuyers know that a fixer-upper will sell at a lower price point than newer or more modern homes on the market. But that doesnt mean you need to accept a lowball offer. Instead, emphasize the homes investment potential by reminding buyers of the future sale opportunities after the home has been remodeled."

If your home needs A LOT of work and you cant, or dont want to, put the time, money, and effort into getting it in top condition, targeting investors could get it sold quickly. "A few years ago, a past client called to say her next-door neighbors needed to immediately sell their home. To say it needed work was an understatement," said Sacramento-based real estate broker Elizabeth Weintraub on The Balance. "The home appeared inhabitable. It had holes in the walls all the way to the exterior and urine-soaked wood floors; most of the electrical didnt work and the bathroom tub had fallen through the joists. All the faucets leaked and, in one bedroom, I found a pile of dead rats swept into a pile in the center of the floor. This was not a home that could be easily fixed up. Not even a coat of paint would have helped sell this place. We priced it low enough that it attractednbsp;multiple offers and sold with zero days on market. Only contractors and flippers made offers on this home."

Since flipping is more popular than ever, a home that needs work - especially certain kinds of work - may be attractive enough to investors that you dont have to do any work at all. "A good rule of thumb: If your home needs kitchen or bath remodels, a new roof, or foundation repairs, theres an 80-plus chance your buyer is going to be an investor," Bruce Ailion, a broker and REALTORreg; in Atlanta, said on

Get an honest assessment - and be able to hear it

If youve lived in your home for quite some time and/or havent kept up with updates and repairs, your real estate agents assessment of its condition and the recommendations he or she makes to get it market-ready may be eye-opening. They may also make you angry. Try to listen and keep an open mind, even if you feel offended. In the end, you share the same goal, which is to get your home sold for the best possible price.

Be realistic on pricing

"Finding out your homes value isnt as simple as subtracting the costnbsp;of repairs from your home. You also need to factor in lsquo;aggravation costs, said Ailion. "In other words, turnkey homes often sell at a premium to traditional buyers because they dont have to do any work. If your home needs some sprucing up, youre likely going to have to incentivize buyers to dig in and get their hands dirty."

It may be that fixing your home up makes the most sense because of the financial upside. In presenting you with comparables, your real estate agent should be able to show you other properties in your area in varying conditions depending on the number of active listings or recently sold homes near you. This will help inform the pricing for your home and also give you some idea of how much youd have to put into it to get top dollar. Now all you have to do is come up with the money

Choose your updates wisely

A 30,000 kitchen renovation may not be in the budget and may not give you the return on investment youre looking for, but there are smaller updates you can do to your kitchen to make it look fresh and, you can use the same principles in other important areas, like bathrooms. Better Homes and Gardens has a great list of updates you can make for under 2,000, including hanging a pendant that "illuminates the sink area" and swapping out a tired sink for a "farmhouse sink that adds character to the space." Also think about painting cabinets and installing new hardware, and, if youre up to the task, adding an eye-catching backsplash.

Make necessary repairs

Investors arent expecting perfection, and their offers will be based on the condition of your home and the potential profit they can make once its fixed up. Non-investor types looking for a deal may not necessarily be scared off by a few cosmetic issues, but major repairs that are needed are another story. If youre looking for the smartest place to put your pre-sale renovation dollars, this may be it.

"It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking atnbsp;big-ticket itemsnbsp;like the age and condition of the roof,nbsp;air conditioning and heating systems, water heater, electrical panel and pipes," said Inman. "If any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well asnbsp;insurability of the property."

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White And Grey Kitchens Dallas Style

White kitchens never seem to go out of >Often called the New Chicago, Dallas is coming into its own as an interior design capital thanks to nationally recognized names such as Charlotte Comer, ASID RID.

"White and grey are eternal," said Comer. "You never get tired of the combination, but there are ways of using them that make the look successful."

Comer believes a monochromatic color palette works best if the client wants their interiors to stand the test of time, but monochromatic doesnt mean all the same hue. For this contemporary kitchen, Comer used Decorators White and Ozark Shadows by Benjamin Moore cut by 75. palest grey anchored by whispered natural hardwoods to achieve a pristine harmony. The waterfall island countertop in Bianca Quartzite by Aria Stone Gallery is the only pattern.

The picture window was greatly enlarged to bring the outdoors into the kitchen. "With white and grey, suggests Comer, "edited use of color becomes more important. So choose statement paintings, accessories and sculptures wisely. And a beautiful view can be all the vibrant color you need."

Kitchen planner Helene Terry accented the purity factor with hidden appliances and touch cabinetry. "The reason discerning clients love white is that its clean," said Terry, "but white can be as challenging as any other color. Thats why its important that everyone on the team works well together, so we all know what we mean by BM Ozark Shadows 25."

Terry worked with General Contractor Ronny Henderson on the contemporary kitchen pictured below which features bookmatched Crema Calacutta marble as the main focal point. The colors in the countertop, cabinetry and floors pick up the tranquil veins of sandy beige in the statement piece stone. "You want the whites and greys to appear curated because they are when you factor in everything else besides wall color," advises Terry.

A final way to do white and grey well is by pairing them with a little color, as this transitional Dallas high-rise kitchen demonstrates. Interior Designer Dona Rosene used this beachy palette of whites, driftwood and blue to remind her clients of their East Coast seaside home. She used Benjamin Moores Cotton Balls on the ceiling, and used Sherwin Williams Creamy on the molding to transition to Benjamin Moores Beachglass. The color choices complement the sunny suburban Dallas skyline.

"White makes everything else pop," says Rosene. "In this home, the ceiling looks crisp against the light warm gray on the cabinets and the Beachglass on the walls. The effect is cheerful and calming, like a vacation by the sea."

Whites and greys have to be chosen in the home and the home has to have good light. "That way, you can see the undertones," advises Rosene. "Do the whites and greys go too pink, too yellow or too blue? The right tone makes a room appear warm while the wrong tone makes it feel cold and drab."

Remember what you want from white. Look for colors that are calming, clean as opposed to muddy, and use paint with a matte finish or soft eggshell finish to avoid hot spots and reduce glare.

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Committees Are A Untapped Treasure Available To The HOA Board

Besides benefitting the board by spreading the work around, committees are an excellent training ground for future board members. Folks that may be >Committees come in all shapes, sizes and functions and may be temporary or long term, as the need dictates. They are only limited by the boards imagination. A committee can assume a variety of roles, such as:

Research Development. Complex tasks can be assigned to a special committee which can research the task and advise various courses of action to the board. This includes large renovation projects, proposed amendments to the governing documents and local zoning or crime issues.

Task Execution. Committees like Rules Enforcement and Architectural Restriction can hand out citations and review appeals.

Maintenance Oversight. Committees like Landscape/Grounds and Pool oversee the contractors performance and improve the quality of service.

Cost Control. A Maintenance Committee can prescreen requests from owners to ensure they are indeed the HOAs responsibility and, if so, prioritize them and group them for better cost efficiency. The Budget Committee refines costs based on study of the past and anticipated future expenses.

Socialization. An oft overlooked function is planning social events to help neighbors meet neighbors. The events dont necessarily need to be party oriented. The Annual Meeting can become the Social Event of the Year with food and entertainment. Spring Planting Parties dont have to be all work. Reward the volunteers with catered food, beverages and T-shirts. The Social Committee can help build real community and lasting friendships.

Security. Turn that nosey neighbor into the Neighborhood Watch Chair who can monitor suspicious activity or recommend better security techniques.

To facilitate committees, the board should provide the proper resources. Some need funding but most just need clear marching orders and limits of authority. The board should never abrogate its final authority over HOA matters to a committee. That means committee power should always be limited and if a committee is making judgment calls, like Rules Enforcement, there should always be the right of appeal to the board.

All committees need a plan of action and goals. Part of the plan should include reporting to the board at regularly scheduled meetings. That report should include recommendations for board approval. These reports provide a good way for the board to assess the ongoing need or effectiveness of a committee. If little is being done, it might be time to retire a committee or find a new chair.

Some committees need to meet regularly, some sporadically and others ra>Heres a novel idea: Allow renters to join committees. Many want to be good neighbors and to serve. At least ask. You might be surprised at the response and it might encourage owners to step up as well.

One of the best ways to promote committees is by praise and recognition. It is the currency of care in HOAs which brings a huge return. Recognizing effort and superior performance is 1 on every Job Satisfaction Survey. It works the same way in an HOA. Thank you notes, accolades in the newsletter, plaques and Certificates of Merit go a long way.

Mining your committee options will produce a wealth of treasure for the HOA. Committees lead to better information, greater harmony, new friendships, enhanced trust, involved neighbors and less work for the board...all good and no bad. There be gold in them thar hills. Grab your picks and shovels and start digging

For more on this topic, see

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Problem In Your Condo Unit? You May Have To Pay The Deductible

Many condominium projects in the Washington metropolitan are old, having been converted from previous rental apartment buildings. Pipes periodically break or leak, often causing thousands of dollars of damage. Who pays? The unit owner or the association?

Every condominium association has insurance coverage, typically called the "master policy". This is contrasted to the policy every owner in this area must carry for their own unit, called an HO-6 policy.

When damage occurs, the Master is usually obligated to cover certain repair costs. But every insurance policy has a deductible -- an amount that must be paid up front or deducted from the insurance proceeds. This can range from as low as 5000 to a high of 25,000 or more. And until recently, the bylaws of many associations stated that the deductible is a "common expense": in other words it has to be paid by the association.

Association Boards of Directors do not like to pay the deductible every time there is a problem; such expenditures are typically not plugged into the annual budget and often at the end of the year, an association may have to significantly increase the monthly assessments to make up for any shortfall.

A few years ago, the Maryland legislature gave every association a significant break. It enacted what is called "strict liability". If the cause of any damage to the condominium started from within a unit, regardless of whether there was negligence, that owner must pay the deductible up to 5000. And the law is not limited to plumbing problems; any incident that occurs in the unit that triggers payment by the Master policy is covered under that law.

The Maryland law makers then did something highly unusual. Almost all bylaws then in existence me>Condominiums in the District of Columbia were facing the same problem: pipes were breaking and leaking all over, especially when temperatures dropped below the freezing mark. The District 0 condominiums -- acting through the Community Association Institute -- supported an amendment to the DC condo act that basically is identical to that in Maryland. It reads: "if the Bylaws do not indicate the entity responsible for payment of a deductible amount if the cause of damage to or destruction of a portion of a condominium originates from a unit, the owner of the unit where the damage... originated shall be responsible for the associations property insurance deductible in an amount not to exceed 5,000."

In Maryland, in order for the association to legally collect the 5,000, the board must -- on an annual basis -- inform all owners of the amount of the deductible and their obligation under the law should a problem occur within their unit.

In Washington, in order to be obligated to pay the deductible, unit owners must be advised before any damage occurs. Best practice: the Board, through its management company, should advise all owners of this law annually.

Accordingly, deductibles remain a common expense except when there is a problem in a specific unit.

However, nothing in law is simple. Most Bylaws were written before 2010, state that all deductibles are common expenses, and thus must be paid by the association. In order to collect the up-to 5,000 from the unit owner where the damage occurred, the Bylaws should be amended to reflect the new law. And in the District, this will take a super-majority vote from all owners. Interestingly, although the law limits the payment to 5,000, if the amended Bylaws do not limit this amount, a District association may actually recover the entire deductible it has to pay when the insurance claim is filed. Careful drafting of the Bylaws will allow a condo with a larger deductible to collect the full amount from the owner in the unit where the problem occurred.

Amending Bylaws is not an easy task. In many associations, its hard enough to get a quorum for the annual meeting, let alone get a super-majority vote to make changes to their legal documents. But all is not lost. When unit owners recognize that such a proposed amendment may significantly curb operating expenses -- and thus either lower condo assessments or at least keep them stable -- most financially thinking owners will support such an amendment.

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New Bluehammer Empowers Agents in the Renovation Boom

When touring a home with a client, how often do they mention interest in making renovations of any size, and then ask you for cost estimates and advice? In the midst of a ldquo;renovation boom,rdquo; home buyers are actively seeking to either make repairs on their home for resale, or to make adjustments on a recently purchased home and itrsquo;s important for real estate agents to be prepared. In fact, first time homebuyers especially, including millennials, seek out homes that will require repairs or some kind of remodel.

Now, agents have a brand new resource they can use to be able to provide an estimated cost of any home repair, big or small, based on the specific location of a clientrsquo;s home. This recently launched service, bluehammertrade;, makes it easy for real estate agents to quickly provide accurate information directly to their clients using their home improvement calculator.

An agent will simply look up a home in their profile and select the anticipated repairs to provide an estimated quote. Whether a client wants to repaint a room or replace a roof, no task is too small or too large for bluehammertrade;. The home improvement calculator can also be used as a listing presentation tool to impress potential clients with the additional service agents can provide.

bluehammertrade; also acts as a personal advertisement for an agentrsquo;s real estate services in a number of ways. Firstly, with each home estimation an agent provides for a client, their agent ad and contact information will be displayed each time that client logs in to their bluehammertrade; profile to view or use their estimation tools. The client will also receive digital home improvement articles branded with their agentrsquo;s ad. Best of all, agents are able to select zip codes theyrsquo;d like to be promoted in and bluehammertrade; will display an agentrsquo;s advertisement to other users in those areas.

The value proposition: one year of advertising to targeted zip codes, consistent branded communication and an awesome tool that provides pre-sale as well as well post-sale service.

Be an early adapter, stand out from the competition and use bluehammertrade; to better provide for your clients. The annual subscription is 99; however, subscribe through Realty Times and receive a 20 discount using our special link or using promo code rtagent.

For more information, email .

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Saying I Do To Your House Before Your Spouse: Heres What You Need to Know

A home of your own complete with a white picket fence, the realization of the "American Dream." If youre unmarried, though, you might feel this dream is out of your reach. After all, arent wedding bells supposed to proceed house hunting? Well, according to recent stats, there are many couples who are reversing the order of things and opting for home ownership before marriage.

Stats on Home Ownership Before Marriage

According to a study by Coldwell Banker, one in four couples, between the ages of 18 and 34 years-of-age bought a house together prior to marriage. Another poll performed byMONEYdiscovered that40 of millennialsfeel it is a good idea to put home ownership before marriage. Perhaps, you agree and would like to realize the American dream of homeownership before saying "I Do." Read the helpful tips listed below for turning your dream of home ownership into a reality:

Learn Your Credit Scores:

While married couples are often viewed as a single unit, you have the advantage as an unmarried couple to decide which person best fits the home buyer profile. This of course means, which of you has the best credit score and the most assets. You can choose to cosign or own your home jointly if you prefer. Keep in mind, though, that if one of you has a less than stellar credit rating, it could reduce the amount of money you qualify to borrow.

Title Your Home Properly:

There arethree main optionsyou can use to title your home as an unmarried couple. They are as follows:

1.Sole Owner:This means one of you is the sole owner, 100 responsible for the debt. The other is not listed on the title at all, thus they have no rights or responsibly regarding the property.

2.Tenants in Common:This means that both of youown the property but in differing amounts. For examples, one partner might own 60, while the other has 40 ownership. Keep in mind this will prevent your home from transferring in its entirety to a surviving partner should one of you pass away. Instead, the living partner will simply retain their percentage of ownership. To get around this, partners can "Will" their percentage to the other partner to transfer upon their death.

3.Joint Tenant:This gives you equal ownership of the property. If one of you should die, the property will automatically be awarded to the living partner.

Understand That the Debt is Permanent:

If you choose to enter into a joint tenancy arrangement and your >Create a Legal Agreement:

Yes, technically, if you own the property jointly you are already both legally bound to the property. However, this agreement is slightly different. Seek out the help of a lawyer to create a binding agreement that outlines who will be responsible for what aspects of the property. For example, figure out and specify who pays the rent, the taxes, repairs on the home, etc. This will prevent a lot of heartache down the road by getting expectations out in the open from the beginning.

Understand Buying a Home Isnt Easy:

This article onAngies Listis super helpful as it talks about everything you have to do before buying a home. It examines the importance of loan qualification, home inspections,and timing when it comes to buying a home for the first time. Read it over if this happens to be your first time entering the home buying process.

Know the Expenses Doesnt Stop at The Purchase Price:

Home ownership is a grand adventure. One that also comes with many unexpected expenses. Just take a look at the true cost of repairs onHome Advisorfor an idea of what you could be facing. However, by in large, the benefits of homeownership far outweigh the problems.

We wish you and your partner happy house hunting as you face this new adventure of home ownership head on

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Rent Burden On The Rise

The world has changed and renting has changed right along with it.

Renting has long been the traditional first-step toward home ownership and, in later life, a life>

  • The latest Report by The Pew Charitable Trusts reveals that the lingering legacy of the 2007-09 Great Recession is more households making a slower transition to homeownership because they are "rent burdened."
  • This research also showed that senior-headed households were more likely to be rent burdened than households headed by people in other age groups.

In the Pew Report, "American Families Face a Growing Rent Burden: High

Housing Costs Threaten Financial Security and Put Homeownership Out of Reach for Many," authors define "rent burdened" households as those spending more than 30 percent of their pretax income on housing. Such

families are usually "more financially fragile" than those spending a lower percentage of their income on rent and than those who own their own homes. "Seve>

  • Rent Burdened: The Report examined how, between 2001 and 2015, increasing rent cost affected the ability of American households to use financial services, accumulate savings, and transition to homeownership. In 2015, 38 percent of the more than 40 million U.S. renter households were rent burdened, an increase of about 19 percent from 2001.
  • Seve> In the same period, the share of renter households that were seve>
  • Data Source: Pew research was based on the University of Michigans Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the longest running since 1968 longitudinal household survey in the world. This survey of 18,000 in 5,000 American families has generated data about household finances that is free and broadly accessible.
  • 55 Renters: Pew Project Director Erin Currier said she was most surprised to learn that, although the share of renter households has increased by 10 percent for all age groups, the current rental spike is propelled by renters 55 and older. In 2015, about half of senior-renter families were rent burdened with more than one-fifth seve>

Whats the eviction picture in your community?

The Eviction Lab The Eviction Lab at Princeton University explains rent-burden patterns this way: "Today, the majority of poor renting families in America spend over half of their income on housing costs rent plus utilities, and eviction is transforming their lives. Yet little is known about the prevalence, causes, and consequences of housing insecurity."

Sociologist Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, discovered that eviction, incredibly prevalent in low-income communities, functioned as "a cause, not just a condition, of poverty."

In 2017, Desmond established The Eviction Lab with the shared conviction that "a stable, affordable home is central to human flourishing and economic mobility." The Labs nation-wide data bank ] of more than 80 million eviction records going back to 2000 is accessible to the public and researchers at no charge.

The Labs open invitation to policymakers, community organizers, professionals, and anyone interested in real estate encourages the use of online tools like The Map to understand how eviction, and the associated traumatic and financial loss, are shaping individual communities. The intent is that this participation will contribute to laws, policies, and programs that are effective locally in reducing poverty and eviction and fostering residential security.

How are evictions affecting value in your community?

Researchers believe that sharing data about local housing, eviction, and poverty patterns will raise awareness of local issues and stimulate development of new solutions. This in turn should improve understanding of what drives poverty in America and what can be done to strengthen housing stability for low-income families and communities.

Two Faces of Rentalhellip;

Real estate investors, property owners, and >

  • At its best, this investment drive will lead to the construction of more rental units which may stabilize demand and pricing.
  • At its worst, this could result in evictions mdash; already considered at crisis levels by many mdash; rising above the almost 1 million evictions annually.

As research raises awareness of the social impact of rent burden is there room for both sides mdash; landlords and tenants mdash; to benefit from decreasing eviction and creating healthy stable rental markets?

After more than 40 years in property management, Jeff Cronrod developed LeaseGuarantee, a cosigner product that guarantees tenant performance to protect landlords from financial loss through eviction. This product helps landlords, but I asked Cronrod whether tenants may benefit, too.

Cronrod responded by email: "As for tenants, LeaseGuarantee may be used to offset all or part of the required move-in money, thus significantly reducing the cash required to secure a new rental. Additionally, a tenant who has had some credit challenges in the past can use LeaseGuarantee to help them qualify for a unit without seeking a cosigner. A tenant who successfully completes their tenancy without delinquency may also have their credit bolstered if reported to the credit bureaus."

Renting is no longer the cheap, easy-to-arrange housing alternative in many communities. Rents continue to steadily increase, demand is continually growing, homeownership is on the decline, incomes have not kept pace with rising real estate and rental costs, and short-term rental is monopolizing housing stock. Whats next?

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Freshen Up Your Home With Spring And Summer Updates

Updating your home can seem like a huge undertaking, especially if its been a while and it seems like everything needs an overhaul. But there are easy ways to freshen it up and make it look spring- and summer-ready that wont break the bank and wont create a long, drawn-out hassle. Each of these updates represents a >Take it to the floor

There was a time when the Persian rug dominated formal spaces. But take a look at this one from Wayfair. The somewhat worn look of the Aliyah rug brings in a vintage feel but the color palette is all new. This is an easy and affordable way to instantly update a living room with bold colors that will get your space noticed.

"If theres one piece to invest in this spring, its a rug," said The Glitter Guide. "Its a surefire way to bring interest and >Brighten up the bedroom

While youre thinking about patterns"Swap in a patterned headboard," said Elle Dcor. "You dont have to grab your paint rollers or ready the wallpaper to revamp a bedroom. Upgrade the centerpiece of your roomthe headboardto something bright and cheery."

Patterns, patterns, patterns

Mixed prints have been all over the runway, and you can create a similarly textured and stylish look at home. Mix it up, mash it up, and freshen it up with an assortment of printsflorals, houndstooth, stripes, graphic patterns. You can create a look that brings depth to your space by using one main color as your anchor and then creating a mix of patterns around it.

Coordinate your pet decor

Your basic scratching post or dog bed may fade into the background for you, but they can stand out like a sore thumb to visitors. Pet decor has come a long way, and no matter what >Spring for a new appliance

Lowes and Home Depot have both been running spring specials with appliances that are 3540 off. These discounted prices could easily lead you down a rabbit hole, and before you know it, youre wanting to redo your whole kitchen. But a new fridge all by itself sure would make your kitchen look pretty. If you really want to make the purchase painless, look into 0 financing that lets you spread the cost of the purchase over 24 or 36 months with no interestits an easy way to upgrade that appliance without the crunch of putting out a lot of money upfront.

Paint, paint, paint

There really are few places inside and out of your home where paint cant make a huge difference, and with such a low dollar commitment, you just have to pick and choose your projects. We love a good-ole fireplace makeover that can totally change the energy of your living space in one weekend for almost no money.

Bring in the flowers

When spring flowers start blooming, we have a natural desire to bring them into the home. After all, just the smell of fresh flowers can lift our mood. "Flowers always brighten up a space, no matter what kind you use," said The Spruce. "You also dont need a lot of them. A small floral arrangement on a table, mantle or windowsill makes a big difference. Whats particularly great about flowers is that every color and combination works together, so its a great way to experiment with colors you wouldnt normally put together."

Big, bold floral patterns are also a huge trend this season, so, while youre thinking about how to display your cut roses, consider where you can also make a splash on the walls, on an upholstered piece, or on the bed.

Frame your windows

Another easy way to bring an additional layer of interest to your home is with modern window coverings. Already have blinds or shutters? Framing the windows out with drapes that can be changed seasonally is a great way to create an interior that always looks updated while calling attention to the outdoors and to your architecture or creating architecture where there isnt much.

Shop your home

You can give areas of your home a whole new look without spending a dime. "I love updating the look of our home by styling the coffee table, accent tables,shelves, countertops,and mantel," said Jane at Home. "One of the reasons I love styling is that I can use items I already have on hand. If I dont like how something looks, I can easily change it by moving things around or bringing in new items from another part of the house."

Some of her styling tips include: "Use stacks of books to raiseobjects off the surfaces; combine items in groups of threespreferably with a tall item, a shorter, more sculptural item, and a horizontal item; balance hard and soft objects, as well as things with different textures, colors, tones, and

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Dont Recarpet Your Home Before Reading This

Getting new carpet can be pricey, but it sure does look great when its done If youre getting ready to lay down some new stuff, or at least researching your options, you may have a bit of sticker shock. But, there are ways to save if youre willing to do a bit of looking around and possibly even do some of the work yourself. These tips will give you a head start.

Skip the middle man

"Find out if there is a carpet wholesaler in your area," said One Creative Mommy. "Can you skip the middle man? This might not be possible in all areas, but you might just get lucky. Check with any carpet installer, or contractor friends to see if they have connections. Do you know anyone who might lay your carpet as a side job to their regular job - instead of going through their more expensive company? It never hurts to ask"

Dont ignore the little guy

You may assume that large flooring stores and places like Home Depot and Lowes would have some of the best prices around because they deal in volume, but you might be surprised. Check out the small shops in your area. You just might end up with a better deal.

Dont go for the very best

We are conditioned to think that the more expensive something is, the higher the quality is, but thats not necessarily true in every case. "Along with being savvy about carpet quality, get to know your fibers - syntheticandnatural," said Pet My Carpet. "If you want a good synthetic fiber,nylonwill give you the greatest durability and resiliency. However, itll also cost you the most per square foot. If you dont need as much durability, consider alternatives likepolyester, which, aside from being cheaper, have other benefits, such as increasedstain resistanceand ecological friendliness."

Also, you want to take into consideration how long you plan to live in the home before you make a big purchase. "No sense spending 25 per square yard for carpet when you expect to move or build in two years," said Dalton Carpet.

Dont go for the cheapest option either

"On the other hand, spending too little may result in uncleanable, flat, dead carpet on the floor for many years to come," added Dalton Carpet. "Keep in mind that most carpet doesnt wear out as much as it uglies out."

Pitch in

You can save money by doing some of the prep work yourself. Moving your own furniture and removing and disposing of the existing carpet are just a few ways you may be able to chip away at the cost and make it more affordable.

Look for "seconds"

"Most of the time, retailers stock first-quality goods meaning there are no defects in the carpet, and full manufacturerswarrantiesare in effect," said The Spruce. "Sometimes, though, manufacturers will sell off secondscarpets that have a slight flawor are off-color the color doesnt match the carpet sample. Seconds can offer great savings opportunities, but the lack of warranty and the extent of the flaw may not be worth the cost savings. Be sure to confirm with the retailer that the carpet in stock is first-quality, and carries a full warranty. If not, be sure that you can accept the risk that comes with buying seconds."

Look at remnants

If you have a smallish space to carpet, a remnant can offer great savings. These are pieces of carpet that are leftover and often at the end of a roll. They are typically discounted beyond what you may be able to find in other carpet options.

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9 Home Improvements That Can Help and Hurt Value

Home improvement can be taken as very demanding action, but there are also some ways of home improvement you can do yourself. Therefore, before you start with any, see what improvements are the most needed in your home. Nowadays, a big attraction is an energy-efficient home which saves a lot of energy and reduces energy costs. On the other hand, maintenance problems and pest or bug infestations are a major turn off and should be looked into ASAP.

We bring you several great pieces of advice you can use to improve your homes value and feel more comfortable and cozy.

1. Water Filtration System

A water filtration system in your kitchen is a small addition that will appeal to many home buyers and is used for purifying the water. When you have a water filtration system installed in your house, you dont have to buy bottled water anymore. The best thing is that its not expensive at all, and everyone can afford it.

2. Removing Old Carpets

Besides looking old, old carpets might also be hiding contaminants and allergens which means you have bad air quality in your home. Sometimes the best option for testing an indoor air quality is to call a professional company because they will su>Wooden floors are an excellent way to bring the touch of outdoors in your home. Great examples of environmentally friendly natural products are tile or laminated floors. By replacing your old carpets with a hard surface floor, your house will be easier to clean, and youll have more time to do things you like.

3. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling

It is no secret that homes with popcorn ceilings are outdated so get rid of this popcorn ceiling fast. To be sure that it does not contain asbestos, it would be best to hire professionals to test it. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling is as simple as buying a solution to soften the texture from the hardware store and scraping the popcorn away.

4. Bathroom Remodeling

Remodeling bathrooms is a great way to add more value to your home. If a full rebuild is not in your budget, you can invest in many small changes that will freshen up your bathroom. Replace the dated wallpaper, old lighting, add some fancy cupboard knobs or change the faucet and shower heads.

5. Kitchen Remodeling

Just like the bathroom, a big kitchen update can do wonders. Stained sinks and old appliances are all things to look at. If replacing the kitchen cabinets is too much for you, you can always give them a new look by adding a new varnish or paint layer and swap those old doorknobs with modern ones.

6. Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance is an ongoing process, no matter if you plan to live in your house for a long time or move soon. Repairing or replacing broken appliances or fixtures will avoid further damage. Certain things are not to be left, and for example, leak spots on the ceiling can cause great damage to your roof if not taken care of immediately. If your home is up for sale, a sign of poor maintenance will make the home seekers wonder what else is wrong with the house.

7. Water Heater Upgrade

An old water heater can be a turn off for some home buyers, but you can find water heaters that come with a tankless model. This kind of water heaters are more efficient as they only heat up the water that you need.

8. Appliance Updates

Nowadays, energy-efficiency is becoming trendy. Appliances with an energy star label use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than other conventional appliances. New models look great, and many are stainless steel which is a bonus. If you do not have the money for buying modern devices, upgrade the lighting to energy star.

9. Update Fixtures

Fixtures in your home include curtain rods, light fixtures, doorknobs, switch plates, outlet covers, etc. Make sure that these are updated because sometimes its the small detail that counts. For example, outlet covers and switch plates look more attractive when made of metal. These changes are easy to do yourself and arent so expensive, just be sure you choose the right color which looks great combined with other furniture in your home.

Matt James is a freelance writer specialized in home improvement, smart technology, architecture design. He has a love of outdoors and spending time with his dog Cooper. You can reach him on Facebook and Instagram.

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Inside Tips On Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens make dining al fresco at home more appealing than ever. A rebounding trend in outdoor living reveals more and more properties feature outdoor kitchens that once were the province of only the very wealthy.

Today, moving the homes indoor central meeting place outdoors creates an open-air living space thats both accessible and inviting as any indoor room. Great for gatherings and socializing, having a kitchen and dining area outdoors also eliminates some of the indoor mess and hassle of food preparation and makes for a more inclusive cooking experience.

You can create outdoor living space that is an organic part of your yard or a discrete, open-air self-standing room or suite for your home. With features ranging from simple and functional to more extravagant, an outdoor kitchen investment comes with a return thats at least equal to a major kitchen remodel - 80 percent or more.

Talk to your real estate agent about the return on your investment in an outdoor kitchen in your specific neighborhood. If you are enterprising, hands-on and have budget constraints, you can put ideas into play yourself. If you need a truly professional look, hire a contractor to design and build the area.

Here are a few elements to keep in mind when crafting your outdoor living space:

Outdoor kitchen appliances

Durability is paramount for any outdoor appliance and should be a primary concern, especially if you live in a harsh climate cold, wet, dry or hot, even if you cover your appliances in inclement weather.Cooking fuels are commonly gas or charcoal, but outdoor kitchens can incorporate a wood-burning oven, outdoor fireplace, or a fire pit.

Barbecue fans might opt to include a smoker or mesquite grill. Higher end outdoor kitchens often include ample counter top space, drawers and cabinets for storage, as well as a sink, and refrigeration. Existing utility connections could narrow your choices, but you can run a natural gas line to the outdoor kitchen. Adequate plumbing pressure is a must in order to accommodate hot and cold running water.

Outdoor kitchen living space

The living space that frames your appliances helps set the tone for outdoor living.

If you have an existing deck or patio, you could develop that space into a living area. If you install an island and bar area with stools or opt for a simple outdoor dining set, consider protecting your space from the elements, just as you would your appliances.

Some kitchens incorporate a roof, covered archway or pergola; others could need only an ample patio umb>Outdoor kitchen flow

To build functionality into your outdoor kitchen, consider the flow of space just as you would your indoor entertaining areas. Keep your cooking area accessible to your indoor kitchen, when possible, to experience less running around with dishes and ingredients you keep inside the home.

Put seating near your cooking area, but not so near as to interrupt the flow of the chef.

Outdoor kitchen ambiance

Keep lighting in mind when it comes to evenings. Its a lovely time to >Overall, the design of your outdoor kitchen should compliment your home, especially adjacent areas.

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Whats Wrong With Oklahoma?

As the two-week Oklahoma teachers strike ended last week, its clear that the rabidly red state has some serious problems, namely that oil money doesnt trickle down like economics are supposed to. Ignoring the benefits of its central location, >

Take the wind industry, for example. Once on track to be the number one source of wind-generated energy by 2030, according to the Department of Commerce, Oklahoma decided instead to cut the industrys last tax incentive in 2017 in House Bill 2298. Meanwhile, oil and gas production tax rates have plummeted, from an average seven percent to two percent for new wells for the first three years, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

At 7 percent, Oklahomas tax rate is well below that of other major energy states, says the OPI, compared to 8.3 percent in Texas and North Dakota, 13.3 percent in Louisiana, and 13.4 percent in Wyoming, according to a 2017 report by the Covenant Group.

According to forecasts from the Oklahoma Tax Commission the new subsidy will cost Oklahoma 333 million in lost gross production tax revenue, says the OPI. Are oil companies going to refuse to drill if they have to pay 7 percent? And if its causing such a shortfall that teachers have to march to get lawmakers attention, isnt that a good enough reason to review the governors budget?

And that brings us back to the teachers. According to The Guardian, Oklahoma ranks 49th in state teacher pay. The state offered teachers a raise just in time to stop the strike, but the teachers soldiered on because they are striking for the children. State spending per pupil has dropped by 26.9 percent since 2008 and is also the last time teachers got a raise. Students are making do in many areas with outdated and duct-taped schoolbooks, four-day school weeks and school closings.

Legislaters fight back with a Catch-22 - the budget shortfall doesnt allow the state to meet the teachers demands. What the lawmakers fail to realize is that catering to the oil and gas industry is preventing other jobs from coming to Oklahoma, which is starving the mostly rural state.

One of the three busiest trucking highways in the nation goes smack through the middle of the state, I-40, coming east from Memphis, Federal Expresss hub, and west from Barstow, California, outside of Los Angeles and a major highway intersection of I-15, California State Route 58, U.S. Route 66 and I-40. Intersecting with I-75 at Henryetta, Oklahoma, and I-35 in Oklahoma City, 1-40 creates a nice triangle to and from Dallas, home to DFW international airport. Yet, when one drives through Henryetta, theres little commerce, just fast food restaurants and a duck decoy manufacturer. Nearly equidistant to Tulsa and Oklahoma City, it just doesnt make sense why Henryetta isnt a huge town, teeming with manufacturing, packaging and shipping jobs, but to date, its only claim to fame is as the birthplace of Troy Aikman.

The trickle down of poo continues with the housing industry. According to Zillow, the median home value in Oklahoma is 116,900, less than half the national median and the median list price per square foot in Oklahoma is 99. And yet, nearly 12 percent of OK homeowners are underwater on their mortgages.

Californians, foreign investors and retirees smell the blood in the water. You can buy property cheaply, pay almost nothing in property taxes another problem and live like its 1970. Just dont expect any updates.

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Get The Home You Want, Millennials: Smart Strategies For First-Time Homebuyers

Hey, Millennials. Come on into the real estate market We really need you to buy some homes so we can keep chugging along. Oh, wait. Prices are rising and so are interest rates, plus inventory is scary low. Hmmm. Well, come on in anyway, wontcha?

Its not easy to buy a home in a hot market where inventory remains at historic lows - and that covers a lot of areas across the country at a wide range of different price points. But its especially hard right now for Millennials, who arent exactly getting a warm welcome from the market that has been begging them to participate.

"I think its fair to say this is the most competitive housing market weve seen in recorded history," Danielle Hale, chief economist for, told Curbed. "Theresrecord low inventoryand strong interest from buyers in getting into the housing market. Millennials are reaching prime homebuying age - in 2020, the greatest proportion of that generation will be turn 30 - just as baby boomers are looking todownsize. This has created especially fierce competition for smaller homes, the type of starter homes that mostfirst-time buyersdesire. This dynamic can be especially frustrating for young adults because they may be bidding for the same smaller home as someone from an older generation who can lean on the accumulated wealth of decades of homeownership."

But that doesnt make buying impossible - just a bit more challenging. Get a leg up by following a few smart strategies.

Work with the right REALTORreg;

This is not the right time to give your brother-in-laws cousins neighbor who just got his license a shot. Having a competitive edge is more important than ever, and you need a savvy, experienced, and well-connected real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Work on your down payment

You may be competing against buyers who are coming in with an all-cash offer, which youre going to have a hard time standing up to. But, there are ways you can make your offer look better. Remember that if it comes down to a multiple-offer situation for your home, sellers wont just compare the offer prices. Theyll look at your down payment and the terms, and you need to have better terms than the next guy. You may only have 3.5 down, and that may be all you need to qualify for your FHA loan, but that doesnt mean the seller will embrace you.

"Your down payment is a key part ofthe offer you present to the seller," said Money Crashers."The general rule of thumb is simple: the larger the down payment, the stronger the offer. More precisely: the greater the down payments share of the total purchase price, the more likely the seller is to accept."

If youre ready to buy and theres no time to get a second job or go into hyper-savings mode, you can always take advantage of down payment assistance programs like the National Homebuyers Fundor hit up a >Be flexible on the closing

If another potential buyer is insistent on a 30-day close, but you could close earlier, later, and even rent back to the seller if need be, you just might end up with the house you want. Flexibility is key to submitting a winning offer, so make sure you have a Plan B - a place to stay for a few days or longer if youre going to be between houses, and a mover/storage option squared away.

Look in adjacent neighborhoods

Yeah, you have your heart set on a specific neighborhood. But if its just not happening, consider the next neighborhood over. Experts say they have great potential upside.

Consider the worst house on the block

Buying the ugly duckling is a top strategy for investors, and one that can get buyers in the door literally if theyre having trouble purchasing move-in-ready homes. "When your budget as a first-time buyer doesnt stretch to a house in perfect condition in a neighborhood you adore, you might consider buying a home that needs work. Or maybe youve watched fixer-upper TV shows and think you could handle sweat equity. Either way, real estate experts say buying a house that needs renovating can make sense as long as you are realistic about the process," said the Washington Post. "A fixer-upper can be a smart investment, particularly if you can buy a property under market value and then increase its value with the right projects. While some home buyers prefer move-in-ready homes, they are stuck with the choices the previous homeowner or builder picked for their countertops, fixtures and floors. Not only do buyers of fixer-uppers get to select their finishes, they also can make sure the work is done the way they want."

If youre worried about how youre going to pay for all those renovations, ask your real estate agent or lender about a 203k loan, which rolls renovation funds into your mortgage. "An FHA 203k loan, sometimes called a Rehab Loan or FHA Construction loanallows you to finance not one, but two major items 1 the house itself, and; 2 needed/wanted repairs," said The Mortgage Reports. "Because the lender tracks and verifies repairs, it is willing to approve a loan on a home it wouldnt otherwise consider."

The loan addresses a common problem when buying a fixer home: lenders often dont approve loans for homes in need of major repairs."

Waive contingencies before you submit your offer?

Note the question mark. Your real estate professional may caution you against this strategy. But, lenders like Better Mortgage are making it work with a program that "allows buyers in select markets to not only underwrite their finances, but also get the appraised value of their home before they submit an offer. That means they have the option to waive both financing and appraisal contingencies to make their offer as competitive as cash."

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Property Survey Always Wise, Often Required

Question: At our settlement recently, a lawyer charged us 150 for a survey. When we questioned this charge, we were told it was a lenders requirement and we could do nothing about it. Just what is a survey?

Answer: I hope the lawyer at least gave you a copy of the survey and fully explained it to you.

It is important to distinguish between a survey and an appraisal -- both of which are usually charged to the buyer. An appraisal assists the mortgage lender in assessing the value of the house so as to determine whether a mortgage should be made and in what amount. Generally, the appraisal will analyze the condition of the house, its location, structural soundness and comparable sales in the area.

A survey, on the other hand, goes to the question of the marketability of the house. There are, however, several kinds of surveys: 1 location, 2 boundary, 3 if involving a commercial property, an American Land Title Survey, commonly referred to as an ALTA survey.

The typical survey that the homebuyer gets at the settlement escrow is the location survey. Oversimplified, all it does it show where the improvements the house, fence, shed are located as they >It does not, however, show you where the actual boundaries are. To do this, you will need to order the Boundary Survey. Here, the survey will -- in addition to showing the location of improvements -- determine where the property corners are, and then prepare a more detailed presentation. Often, however, it is very difficult to locate the corners of a piece of property. Years ago, great-grandma Smith told her attorney "the end of my property is where the oak tree stands." And thats what her deed -- and all successor deeds read. However, the old oak tree was demolished years ago. To be precise, the survey will have to do a lot of research, legwork and measurements. So such a survey will be more expensive.

The location surveyor determines whether the house is within the property borders, whether there are any encroachments on the property by neighbors and the extent to which any easements on the property may affect legal title.

Lenders always insist on obtaining a clear "lenders" title insurance policy covering the face value of the mortgage. Title companies will issue an exception to title unless a survey has been ordered, and thus surveys are usually required.

My own belief is that everyone buying a house should obtain a survey whether or not the lender requires it. You can at least start with the location type. It is a good idea to learn, for example, whether there are any building restrictions affecting your right to add a porch or a fence. Equally important, does the next door neighbor have any possible claims of adverse possession? If the survey shows an encroachment -- one way or the other -- on a next door property, a potential buyer must investigate very carefully before taking title.

But, here are some suggestions involving the survey process.

First, location survey prices vary considerably. Ive seen them as low as 130 and as high as 300, for the same single-family house. Ask your settlement attorney for an estimate. If it seems too high, arrange for your own survey and make sure a copy of the survey gets to your lender well in advance of settlement. It must be done by a qualified, licensed surveyor.

Next, ask your sellers who did their survey. Unfortunately, most lenders will not honor a survey if it is more than six months old. But inquire from the prior surveyor whether the old survey can be updated and whether this will save you some money. Some of the more reputable surveyors are happy to get your business and will give you a break in the price.

Additionally, if you are refinancing your existing home, some lenders and title insurance companies are willing to accept a survey affidavit instead of a new survey. You will have to sign an affidavit that no improvements have been made to the property since you originally purchased it. These affidavits are available at a minimum cost.

You should also go to the local government surveyor in the land records office where your property is located. They are quite helpful and may be able to assist you with boundary questions, easement issues and such.

If you are buying a condominium unit, you will not have to obtain -- or pay for -- a separate survey of your unit. That survey has already been done as part of the plans which were recorded with the condominium documents. But that does not excuse you from carefully reviewing the condo plats and plans. For example, are there limited common elements that impede your access to the roof? Do you have a limited common element?

Finally, if you are considering installing a fence -- or even a swimming pool -- in the future, you will want stakes posted, it will cost you additional dollars. You should make the necessary arrangements for stakes at the time you order the survey.

And dont forget to get a copy of the survey from your settlement attorney.

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Ask the HOA Expert: Admendments To Governing Documents

Question: Recently, our HOA members approved substantial amendments to the governing documents which include:

1. Sidewalks are now deemed common area even though the subdivision plat indicates that the sidewalks are located within a utility-and-sidewalk easement located on private lots.

2. An HOA landscape easement was created over the front yard of the privately owned lots.

3. The HOA claims authority to enter lots to inspect for compliance with architectural design restrictions.

Can the HOA legitimately claim these rights?

Answer: The HOA cannot vote itself ownership of property belonging to private owners without their consent. In this case, all lot owners would need to agree to >The third item is different. As long as the HOA has the right to dictate architectural design standards, it has the right to inspect for compliance.

Question: Ive heard that special assessments have to be kept in an escrow account and cannot be used until all owners have paid. Is this true?

Answer: It depends. Special assessments should be kept in a designated account if they are to be used for a specific purpose, like repairing roofs. If the special assessment is simply to build reserves, the funds can be put in the general reserve fund. There is no requirement that an entire special assessment has to be collected before its spent, however, if all the money is needed to pay for a specific project, the board needs to be careful about starting a project without the money to pay for it.

Question: One of our board member is pursuing a personal agenda. He performs unauthorized maintenance and pesters unit owner about minor rule infractions. What can we do?

Answer: Communicate with him directly, clearly and specifically. Explain that performing unauthorized maintenance undermines the budget and the system for addressing maintenance. Provide him details about specific complaints by owners. Explain that his independent actions undermine board authority.

For more Ask the HOA Expert, see

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Buyer Love Letters Often Work; But They Can Backfire Too

In many areas of the country, housing inventory is low and competition among buyers is intense. When that happens, many buyers agents will encourage their clients to submit a cover letter - frequently referred to as a "love letter" -- along with their offer to purchase. Sometimes such letters are submitted -- in any kind of market -- in order to take the "sting" out of a below-list-price offer. In the tight inventory market, their purpose generally is to induce the seller to find some reason to favor the offer of the letter-writer rather than that of some other buyer.

While such letters are not yet standard practice, they are certainly not uncommon. A recent Google inquiry for "letters from buyers to sellers" turned up more than 1.5 million hits in a matter of seconds. In 2015, a Redfin report revealed that 43 of successful offers had included a buyer-to-seller letter.

An internet search shows not only that such letters are popular, but also that there is no shortage of people and organizations who will show you how to write one. Templates for these letters abound. They range from a standard letter format to slick marketing pieces complete with graphics and places for pictures.

Advice as to the content and emphasis of buyer letters varies. Some focus on the characteristics of the property. They suggest that the buyer focus on aspects of the property that it is assumed the seller enjoyed as well. "I know that our collies will love romping in that backyard meadow just as your Labradors do." Others will call attention to aspects of the property to which it is assumed -- possibly known -- that the seller had an emotional attachment. "We will give that rose garden the same loving attention that you did."

Others advocate that the buyers letter should seek to highlight some personal similarities between the buyers and sellers. This is based on the premise that people like to interact and do business with people like themselves. So, if "our little Susie loves the Girl Scouts just as your daughter does" or "if we are both dyed-in -the -wool Raider fans, mention it. Call attention to your similarities and differentiate yourselves from your competition.

Of course, there can be downsides to buyer love letters as well. In 2016, attorney Jon Goodman caused a bit of a stir when he presented on the topic at the annual meeting of the National Association of REALTORSreg;. Goodman developed a scenario in which a buyers offer was rejected. The offer had been accompanied by a letter that contained a photograph of his family. The buyer was, as Andrea Brambila, writing in Inman News put it, "a visible member of a historically oppressed minority." Subsequently, the buyer who was rejected learned that the house had sold for a considerably lower price than his offer. Quoting Goldman, Brambila wrote, " If we had had his life experiences, we might have perceived what he perceived -- that his offer was rejected because he was a member of this minority, in violation of the Fair Housing Act"

Not in all, but certainly in some, buyer-to-seller letters there may lurk the potential for a Fair Housing Violation. This has led some attorneys to advise that sellers and their agents make it known that such letters will not be accepted. That is extreme caution. Others have simply suggested that, if they think there is a potential problem, sellers and their agents should be careful to document the business reasons for taking another offer.

A more likely reason for exercising caution with buyer letters is discussed in a 2015 Realtorreg; Magazine article, "Dont Write Me a Love Song", written by Christine Smith. Smith points out that buyers who reveal their emotional connections to the property are likely weakening their future negotiating positions. Their offer may be accepted, but there is almost always another negotiation or two down the road -- after the property inspections. If a seller believes the buyers have truly fallen in love with the property, he or she is less likely to give in when those future negotiations arise.

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Rising Land Values Threaten Viability Of Canadian Farms, Says Senate Report

Rising farmland prices are putting the family farm in Canada at risk, as good farmland is being converted for residential and commercial development. A report by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry says the purchase of farmland by non-agricultural interests, along with environmental issues and policies, demographic pressures and an aging population are combining to drive up farmland values to the point that the family farm is no longer viable.

"Economic conditions are conspiring against farmers, who already encounter more adversity than they need," says Diane Griffin, chair of the committee. "We need the government to help counter the market forces that are stacked against Canadian farmers, which make it harder for them to buy the land they need to run successful farming enterprises."

Nearly seven per cent of Canadas total area -- about 65 million hectares -- is used for farming. The average price of an acre of farmland rose by 10 per cent in 2015, with Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec showing double-digit increases. The growth rate has slowed since then because of a decline in commodity prices, but the committee says this decline in the growth rate does not mean theres been a decline in value.

Several factors are contributing to the increase in values. Farmers told the committee that foreign investors have been competing with farmers for land, along with other non-agricultural interests including financial institutions, pension funds, private investment firms and private companies.

The average age of farmers was estimated to be 54 in 2011. Selling land is a way for farmers nearing retirement to create their own pension plan.

"If youre an entrant farmer, basically land rental is the only way to get in and actually start if you are going to crop farm," Paul Glenn, chair of Canadian Young Farmers Forum, told the committee. An increasing number of retired farmers are hanging on to their land and renting it to their neighbours or a young farmer. Total farmland area rented or leased by private interests increased from two per cent in 1986 to 27 per cent in 2011.

"Stakeholders are concerned about this increase since this type of ownership makes farmers employees rather than owners and exposes them to additional risks because of rising rents," the committee report says. "They are also concerned about potential changes to the production structure resulting from the loss of family farms and the shift to large-scale farms."

The committee says that farmers close to retirement sometimes divide their land to distribute various parcels to their children, reducing the cost of land ownership for the new farmers. "However, this requires good planning and a desire on the part of the younger generation to get into farming. Several witnesses said that this desire is tied to the sectors profitability."

Some organizations such as Ducks Unlimited Canada may also be driving up farmland values by acquiring land for conservation purposes.

The committee heard from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture that other environmental policies, such as provincial regulations on manure management, require farmers to acquire more land to comply with the regulations, putting more pressure on land values.

The provinces have jurisdiction over the ownership of farmland, but the committee says the federal government has a role to play in helping farmers. It is recommending that the lifetime capital gains exemption be increased for farmers to make it easier for new farmers to acquire land. Tax exemption and property tax deferral programs, which are offered in some provinces, should also be considered, it says.

Its also calling for common land-use planning policies to be established. In provinces like B.C., its up to the local municipalities to come up with these policies. Metro Vancouver, for example, is considering a proposal that would restrict house sizes and residential footprints on agricultural land. Both Ontario and British Columbia are currently studying land-use policies >Ontario loses 175 acres of farmland a day, according to the Ontario Farmland Trust OFT, citing Statistics Canada figures from 2016. The trust says, "There is increasing concern that productive agricultural land is being lost to land-grabbing, large-scale development and investor acquisition. These issues disrupt the integrity and viability of agricultural communities, the farm economy and agricultural ecosystems. Land-use planning can do more to protect this critical resource."

For owners who want to make sure their land remains a farm forever, the trust offers an easement agreement. It is a permanent legal contract between the property owner and the OFT. It is registered on the land title in perpetuity and can include provisions to protect the farmland and maintain uses on the property that are compatible with agriculture, says the OFT. Each agreement is tailored to the needs of the farmer and can be applied to the entire property or part of it. The OFT currently has about a dozen such agreements in place.

"The easement agreement ensures that the property owner maintains ownership and the right to sell the land," says the OFT. The easements can impact the property value, so an appraisal is conducted to measure any reduction in market value. If there is a negative impact on land value, the farm owner is compensated with a charitable tax receipt for the difference in value.

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Small Renovation, Big Hassle: How To Prepare For The Unknown When Buying A Home

"You never know whats behind the walls." This renovation mantra is so important and should be tattooed on the forearm of everyone about to embark on renovation or even small updates to their home.

The horrific discovery of knob-and-tube electrical wiring masquerading as updated electrical in a 100-year-old home is a great plot point on House Hunters Renovation - but a brutal, and not inexpensive, setback in real life. But, its hardly the only issue you can come across when doing renovations, and youre not immune because your home was built 20 or even 10 years ago or youre just doing a few little things here and there to freshen up the place. Before you get started on these renovations, protect yourself by taking a few key steps.

Load-bearing walls

Many a renovation has gone off the rails because a load-bearing wall made it difficult and expensive, or darn near impossible, to move. While you may not be able to eliminate every potential surprise, you can give yourself a leg up by hiring a professional to take a look before you buy, and certainly before you swing the hammer.

"An experienced general contractor can do an initial consultation and assess your wall for as little as 100," buildernbsp;Jeff Andreson told Houzz. Annbsp;architectnbsp;is another possibility because they may approach the situation differently, which could save you money. "A structural engineer may also be required," and is often your best bet for achieving peace of mind.


"Homebuyer inspections are the rule these days," said Angies List. "Sometimes plumbers are called in to do a more thorough follow up inspection. Unfortunately, this often happens after the home has already been purchased."

And the issues can be costly. Hiring a plumber to check everything out before you purchase could uncover problems throughout the house, from the main sewer line to water heaters that could cause extensive damage if they leak or burst, to leaky toilets. "One problem homeowners often neglect to have fixed is a leak at the base of anbsp;toilet," they said. "The leak often appears small or insignificant, but over time the water will begin to rot the subfloor and even get between the subfloor and the finished floor. Someone unaware of the damage this kind of problem can create, may try to seal this themselves, sometimes making it worse."


If you have a home inspection, which you obviously should ALWAYS do, your inspector will look for signs of foundation damage. But, there are things you can look for ahead of the inspection that may impact your decision to purchase, such as: cracks in exterior and interior walls, cracks in floors, gaps around windows and doors, and doors that stick. Foundation issues can arise regardless of the age of the home, and could be indicative of a serious problem in places that are prone to earthquakes. But you also want to take them seriously in areas with known soil issues, like Texas.

"All foundation problems are not equal," said RE/MAX real estate agent Bill Gasset. "A few settlement cracks may be normal and safe, but you need an inspector to tell you one way or the other. Foundation repair can be expensive, something to keep in mind when you consider the price of the home."


Back to the old knob-and-tube situation. If someone has deliberately tried to hide illegal or dangerous wiring, thats obviously a huge issue, both ethically and financially. And, its one you likely wont find out about until you get inside the walls. Also, you may or may not have recourse against the seller since it will be difficult to prove there was knowledge that necessitated disclosure.

Even in a newer home, issues with the way electrical fixtures were installed could make what you thought was a quick and easy update into a larger undertaking. This is what it looks like under the bathroom light fixture we just had removed. It lacks the support and structure to properly install the new fixture we purchased, so we would either need to spend a bunch of money to shore up the situation inside the wall or get a different fixture that can be installed directly into the studs We chose option B.. While not a huge problem, it was an unexpected one, and one that required us to spend more money, extend our installation timeline, and depend on our contractor to redo his schedule to accommodate us - not an easy feat. Ultimately, it was a good lesson for how to prepare for any type of renovation.

  • Add time to any job - You just never know whats going to come up
  • Research potential issues so youre better prepared to roll with whatever comes your way
  • Have a Plan B - See first bullet point
  • Set aside extra money - Ditto

Establish a good >

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Updated: Friday, April 27, 2018

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