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Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tips for Selling Your Home in Autumn

Autumn traditionally sees a drop the number of homes available for purchase.

Less inventory means fewer properties to compete against and more chances for your home to catch a buyerrsquo;s eye. Of course, in even the tightest sellerrsquo;s market itrsquo;s important for sellers to price their home correctly. A home thatrsquo;s overpriced rather than listed at true market value can discourage buyers from even viewing the property, especially during the crucial two-week period following listing. Itrsquo;s important that sellers take the advice of their REALTORSreg;, who have reams of data and calculators at their fingertips to help them arrive an appropriate listing price.

Fall also historically sees a decline in buyer demand that can, in some markets, lead to an expectation for autumn sellers to negotiate more willingly. However, in sellerrsquo;s market conditions with limited inventory mdash; such as Orlando and the nation overall are currently experiencing mdash; sellers shouldnrsquo;t expect to see requests for big discounts to their initial asking price regardless of the season. On the contrary, with fewer homes on the market, sellers are likely to continue to see competition among buyers.

Autumn homebuyers are often highly motivated.

With the prospect of inclement weather coming up fast and the likelihood of a significant inventory jump on hold until late spring, autumn homebuyers are often a motivated bunch who anticipate:

bull; Less inventory of available homes;
bull; Less competition for REALTORSreg;rsquo; time and attention;
bull; Less competition for available financing;
bull; Less competition for >bull; Homeowner tax breaks such as

bull; Mortgage Interest Deduction
bull; PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Deduction
bull; Prepaid Interest Deduction
bull; Property Tax Deduction
bull; Energy-Efficiency Upgrade Deduction

By purchasing a home in autumn, homebuyers know they can be all settled into their new home in time for the holidays

Fall colors look great on everyone.

Therersquo;s hardly a more beautiful time of year than autumn, so take advantage of it to ramp up curb appeal. Attending to your homersquo;s landscaping is crucial for making that all-important first impression. Rake up the leaves, clean gutters of debris, and make sure flowering ornamental grasses are tidy. And who doesnrsquo;t love a pumpkin and pot of mums on the swept front porch? Nobody Keep it simple, though, and donrsquo;t overdo it with fall deacute;cor inside or out.


nbsp;Jeffrey M. Fagan is the president of the Orlando Regional REALTORreg; Association and is regional vicenbsp;president of Watson Realty Corp.

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New Appraisal Rule: What Does It Mean for You?

So how will this affect home buyers and sellers? First, it should be noted that those homes that do receive the exemption still have to be evaluated ldquo;to provide an estimate of the market value of real estate collateral,rdquo; said Housingwire. ldquo;The agencies state that the evaluation must be lsquo;consistent with safe and sound banking practices.rsquo; To that point, the rule establishes that an evaluation ldquo;should contain sufficient information and analysis to support the regulated institutionrsquo;s decision to engage in the transaction.rdquo;

Also, the new exemption is not applicable for homes using FHA, HUD, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac financing, which eliminates a huge percentage of homes right off the top.nbsp;

If you are in a position to buy or sell a home that no longer needs an appraisal, should you still proceed with one? Herersquo;s why you may want to consider it.

What is an appraisal?

ldquo;A home appraisal is an unbiased determination of the fair market value of the home by a professionally-trained third party,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;While that may sound complicated, all it means is that its a chance for someone whos not personally involved in the sale of the home to give a true representation of the homes worth. Its worth noting that an appraisal is enti>

There are a number of factors that contribute to that fair market value. ldquo;In a purchase-and-sale transaction, an appraisal is used to determine whether the homersquo;s contract price is appropriate given the homersquo;s condition, location, and features,rdquo; said Investopedia. While the evaluation process is intended to provide guidance when it comes to pricing, it is unknown at this point how those evaluations will compare to appraisals, if they will carry the same weight in terms of establishing home value, if they will disproportionately favor the lender, etc.nbsp;

Value protection

Buyers and sellers each have a vested interest literally in knowing how much the home they are buying or selling is worth. For sellers, an appraisal can help inform the listing price, and may also be able to help a seller justify a higher listing price because of improvements they have made to the home.nbsp;

On the other hand, if a home appraises for less than the sales price, buyers have a negotiating tool. ldquo;An appraisal is important because it protectsnbsp;your investment,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;Its there to ensure that, as the buyer, you dont pay more than the home is actually worth. Its also important for securing financing. In todays mortgage industry a bank will only give you a loan up to the fair market value of the home. Therefore, if an appraisal comes back lower than the purchase price, the lender may only issue you a loan for the appraised amount.rdquo;


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Trend Alert: Socially Conscious Real Estate on the Rise

The pull is stronger among some demographic groups than others, with millennials largely driving the trend. Chief Learning Officer stated that, ldquo;By and large, baby boomers sought workplaces that offered stability and high pay. Millennials, however, have different priorities. Millennials have high expectations for the actions of business when it comes to social purpose and accountability; and they want to work for companies that uphold these values.rdquo;

According to a report titled ldquo;Millennials at work ndash; Reshaping the workplace,rdquo; corporate social values ldquo;become more important to millennials when choosing an employer once their basic needs, like adequate pay and working conditions, are met,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The report states that lsquo;millennials want their work to have a purpose, to contribute something to the world and they want to be proud of their employer.rsquo;rdquo;

ldquo;Social purposerdquo; goes beyond philanthropy and charity and ldquo;encompasses much more than the terms lsquo;corporate social responsibilityrsquo; and lsquo;community investmentrsquo; evoke.rdquo; But when it comes to real estate, many of todayrsquo;s buyers and sellers are seeking out agents and companies whose beliefs track with their own. If yoursquo;re looking for a socially conscious company when buying or selling a home, here are a few to consider:

Give Realty, Austin, TX

ldquo;Give Realty is a full service real estate brokerage with two passions: Real estate and the community,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We donate 25 of our commission to the 501c3 nonprofit of the clientrsquo;s choice.rdquo; So far, they have donated almost 900,000 to various charities.nbsp;

Giving Tree Realty, North and South Carolina

ldquo;Giving Tree Realty is built upon a foundation of giving back,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Our unique charity platform was designed to ensure that a portion of every sales commission our Realtors earn is donated to the charity of their choice. When a Realtor joins Giving Tree Realty, they chose a charity that is near and dear to their heart.rdquo; The company has donated more than 500,000 to local charities since 2010.

The Conscious Group, Denver

ldquo;Our Colorado real estate agents donate 10 to the nonprofit of our clientrsquo;s choice,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We are Denver and the Front Rangersquo;s only residential real estate agency social enterprise. Our real estate agents contribute 10 percent of agent commissions to the nonprofit of your choice.rdquo; The company also specializes in ldquo;eco-friendly homes and business practices.rdquo;

Windermere, Western United States/Mexiconbsp;

ldquo;For the past 30 years, the Windermere Foundation has donated a portion of the proceeds from every home purchased or sold using a Windermere agent towards supporting low-income and homeless families in our communities,rdquo; they said. ldquo;What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need innbsp;Washington State, has grown to encompass ten states and has raised over 38 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, food, childrenrsquo;s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help most.rdquo;

There are also a number of individual real estate agents who make it a point to give back to charity, and programs like PinRaise help support those efforts. PinRaisersquo;s Agent with Hearttrade; program ldquo;is a platform designed to support local nonprofits and recognize the generosity of real estate agents and brokers who give back to the community they serve,rdquo; they said.nbsp;

Agents in the program donate to the nonprofit of theirnbsp;clientrsquo;snbsp;choosing when their home closes escrow. You can find a participating agent here.

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The Basics of Mortgage Fraud

In the interest of protecting the typical consumer, we put together a brief post about the basics of mortgage fraud. If you are buying or selling property, be sure to educate and defend yourself starting with this basic knowledge.

What Is Mortgage Fraud?

Fraud is deliberate misrepresentation and deception using false facts, information, and figures. Mortgage fraud, then, is deceptive lending, buying, and selling practices in real estate. Itrsquo;s more than predatory lending; mortgage fraud includes an array of misdeeds that can hurt lenders and consumers alike.

Industry bad actors see mortgage fraud as the path to a huge payday. Most cases involve millions of dollars. For borrowers, the goal is real estate ownership, and if a legitimate loan is out of reach, some individuals with the help of an insider leave out or misrepresent details about employment, debt, income, and other metrics used in loan applications to secure mortgages.

The list of individuals who commit fraud is a long one. It includes everyone involved in the sale of a property, from the builder, realtor, and insurance agent to the title company and escrow agent. Occasionally, a complete shadow network of professionals conspire to commit mortgage fraud, and the one that takes the blame is often the buyer or seller of the property. He or she may not realize fraud was committed in their name.

Common Types of Mortgage Fraud

Fraud can be carried out by various methods. Here are four common types:

bull; Occupancy fraud - a borrower misrepresents how the property purchased will be occupied. Loan rules differ depending on whether the property is a primary home, second home, or investment property. Mortgage and interest rates vary as well.nbsp;

bull; Income fraud - the borrower misrepresents the amount, source, or continuance of income. Lenders fail to verify false employment documents and pay stubs from non-existent employers.

bull; Transaction fraud - the nature of the transaction itself is misrepresented. The down payment is falsified, or there is a secret agreement between a buyer and a seller. The straw buyer is a common trope, sometimes coupled with identity theft. The identity of someone with good credit is used to hide the real buyer with bad credit. Then, when the title is transferred to the bad creditor, the lender is left holding the bag, and the straw buyer may get blamed.

bull; Appraisal fraud - Usually in cahoots with the appraiser, the seller inflates the appraisal value of a property to set a higher price. House-flipping may involve both appraisal fraud and income fraud with inflated numbers for both.

Other ways fraudsters profit off real estate transactions is through foreclosure rescue schemes, loan modification schemes, and equity skimming or stripping. Air loans, according to the FBI, involve victims who fund a non-existent property loan where there is no collateral. Reverse mortgages are a popular way to trick senior citizens so that a scammer gets most of the money.

How to Protect Yourself from Mortgage Fraud

Obviously, donrsquo;t falsify documents, donrsquo;t lie on the mortgage application, and avoid aggressive lenders. If a lender is hounding you for your business, stay away.nbsp;

Always read and understand every document you sign. If you dont understand something, ask, and if you dont like the answer, stop the transaction until you are satisfied.

Get the property inspected by a third party you can trust and check out the title history. Most lenders require a title report, so keep an eye out for it among the many documents you have to sign. If not, get it done before finalizing the purchase.

Be thorough and cautious when buying or selling a property. A major purchase like this deserves your time and attention. Dont let anyone railroad you. Educate yourself about loan and property practices. Use reputable lenders. And look out for red flags that indicate potential trouble.

Referencing Co>


nbsp;Paul Cones is the President of CourthouseDirect.com, a technology company that provides legal record search products and services. Since 1982, their online repository of courthouse documents has helped real estate agents and other professionals find the documents they need.


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Improved Canadian Housing Data Helps With Real Estate Decisions

Yoursquo;ve probably heard this one before: ldquo;There are three types of lies ndash; lies, damn lies and statistics.rdquo; ndash; attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. Or how about this one: ldquo;Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.rdquo; ndash; Mark Twain.

You would think that compiling housing data would be a fairly straightforward process, but in Canada itrsquo;s been anything but. Through the years, housing stats have been called incomplete, inadequate and part of a plot by organized real estate designed to hide agentsrsquo; commissions.

When it comes to real estate statistics, for years consumers and the government have >

But ldquo;average or median prices can change a lot from one month to the next and paint an inaccurate or even unhelpful picture of price values and trends,rdquo; says CREA. Thatrsquo;s why in 2009, CREA and five of the countryrsquo;s largest real estate boards hired Altus Group to develop the MLS Home Price Index.

Altus says the index ldquo;analyzes all of the sales data from a board or associationrsquo;s MLS system, applies a value to the lsquo;typicalrsquo; home for various types of dwellings for each submarket, and tracks the >

The index has grown to include 18 boards across the country. Recently CREA and Altus Group announced an agreement that will expand the index to include all of CREArsquo;s 90 real estate boards and associations. However, the news media still prefers to report average prices, likely because itrsquo;s easier to understand than the index.

Another popular statistic is days on market DOM, which is used to track how long it took an average home to sell via the MLS system. One would assume that the shorter the DOM, the hotter the listing or the local market.

But in Toronto, it became common practice for Realtors to >

The Toronto Real Estate Board says that in February 2019, 20 per cent of sold listings had been listed, terminated and then >

The board is now providing members with a new statistic, average property days on marketAve. PDOM, which includes the time a property has been on the market, regardless of the list-terminate->

CREA has been criticized for double-counting some sales in their national numbers when the same sale was reported by two different boards. However, the association says that impacted a very small percentage of transactions.

Statistics provided by the real estate boards are based on sales via the MLS system, and do not include private sales, transfers to family or corporations and sales of new homes and condos where the builders marketed directly to consumers. New home sales have traditionally been provided by local branches of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

A few years ago, when various governments started looking at the issue of foreign buyers and how they could be taxed, there was little data about just how many foreign owners there were in the marketplace. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. was tasked with coming up with some hard numbers to support government housing policies.

In 2017, Statistics Canada also upped its game with the introduction of the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, with a mandate to gather information about residential property ownership. In June, it >

For example, it found that 95.5 per cent of residential property owners in Ontario were individuals and residents of Canada. The same goes for 92.7 per cent of owners in B.C. and 92.1 per cent in Nova Scotia.

Statistics Canada says 6.8 per cent of Nova Scotia owners had two or more properties, and that Nova Scotia owners were about one-third more likely to own a second property than those in Ontario and B.C.

There were slightly more female owners than males: 51.9 per cent in B.C., 51.9 per cent in Ontario and 51 per cent in Nova Scotia.

The largest share of owners in B.C. and Nova Scotia was born from 1950 to 1959, while in Ontario, those born from 1960 to 1969 held the largest share. Millennial owners, which Statistics Canada says were born from 1980 to 1999, accounted for one in eight owners in Nova Scotia and one in seven in Ontario and B.C.

As more information is collected about homeownership and real estate, governments should be better able to form housing policies, and home buyers and sellers will become more equipped to negotiate the real estate market.

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How to Find a Real Estate Agent: A Few Things You Might Not Have Thought Of

Their reviews

We live in an era where you can find as much information as you want about just about anyone, with just a few clicks. Itrsquo;s imperative these days to read reviews, whether yoursquo;re looking for a good air conditioning technician or someone to help you buy or sell what is likely your largest asset. But donrsquo;t just depend on the reviews on the realtorrsquo;s website. Google any agent yoursquo;re considering, and check out whatrsquo;s being said about them on Yelp and on social media. Look to see if any complaints have been made about them. And keep in mind that every Realtormdash;even the best of the bestmdash;can have a negative review here and there from a disgruntled client. What yoursquo;re looking for is an overwhelmingly positive consensus.

Their listings

If yoursquo;re selling your home, you want your agent to be active, and that means having listings. But the number of listings can be telling. If they just go on and on and on, it could be an indication that the agent doesnt have the time to give you the level of service yoursquo;re looking for.nbsp;

Their affiliation

Is the Realtor yoursquo;re considering affiliated with a real estate company yoursquo;ve never heard of? This may or may not be of importance to you, depending on their qualifications. But you will want to make sure you do your due diligence to make sure the company is legit.

Their experience

Are you thinking of using a real estate agent who is newly licensed and has never helped anyone buy or sell a house before? Everyone has to start somewhere, but you might not want to be the guinea pig. You may have pressure from family or friends to use their daughter/cousin/uncle/next door neighbor, but itrsquo;s OK to politely tell them that yoursquo;re going with someone elsemdash;someone with many years of experience.nbsp;

Their area of expertise

Just because a Realtor has tons of experience doesnrsquo;t mean they have experience thatrsquo;s >

Their attitude

Even if the real estate agent in question checks all the other boxes, there may still be something off. Maybe they come off as aloof. Maybe theyrsquo;re so serious yoursquo;re afraid to ask questions. Maybe theyrsquo;re not serious enough. You donrsquo;t have to gel with your Realtor. Itrsquo;s perfectly finemdash;and perfectly normalmdash;to get through your transaction and never do business with that agent again. But an agent you really mesh with could end up becoming your agent for life, and maybe also become a friend.nbsp;


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Effective Social Media Strategies for Realtors

The results are conclusive: social media is a great tool for real estate agents. However, first agents must understand the ways in which this medium should be harnessed for this particular industry. Herersquo;s all you need to know:

Utilize social media demographics

Platforms such as Facebook have detailed targeting tools which can really help you hit that required demographic, so if you are listing a property which is great for a first home for those looking to climb onto the property ladder, or alternatively a perfect downsize for an older couple whose kids have left home, then you can reach out specifically to these age ranges by using targeted demographic campaigns. Understand your audience first, and then utilize the tools which can help you reach out.

Use images and video

Instagram is obviously a great platform for marketing properties with its focus on pictures, but donrsquo;t forget video too. In fact, all popular social media channels, as well as LinkedIn, allow the opportunity to share video content, and when selling or renting properties itrsquo;s a perfect opportunity to show people around both inside and outside.nbsp;

ldquo;You can even save yourself considerable time and effort in terms of physically showing people around, so put the resources into making great videos and this tactic really pays off,rdquo; says Tanya Maher, a real estate SMM manager atnbsp;Writinitynbsp;andnbsp;LastMinuteWriting.

Use hashtags

See whatrsquo;s trending in terms of real estate circles and follow popular hashtags online yourself to make sure you are on the ball in terms of the topics that people look out for when searching for properties online. For example , JustListed and DreamHome are two such popular options.nbsp;

ldquo;Hashtags are part of the bigger social media picture for a real estate agent which means conducting thorough social media research and having active accounts where you follow other real estate agents in order to stay up-to-date,rdquo; suggests Kirk Forrester, a tech journalist atnbsp;DraftBeyondnbsp;andnbsp;ResearchPapersUK.

Promote the area too

As any real estate agent worth his salt knows, promoting a property is as much about promoting the neighborhood and town/area in general as it is about promoting a physical building. As part of that bigger social media picture, utilize links to events, local promotions and any other activity in the place the property is situated to show off a vibrant community or peaceful oasis of calm, or whatever it is about the area that you believe complements the property itself. For example, if the property works as a family home, include links to popular family events which really showcase how family-friendly the location is.

You can also flip this around by actively posting on online community pages that you know attract the types of users who would be interested in the property. Donrsquo;t just wait for the audience to come to you, but actively go out and seek that audience by ascertaining the best places to find them. Local community online noticeboards are a great example.

Include reviews

In fact, you shouldnrsquo;t just include reviews, but build your who advertisement around the reviews themselves, as these really help convince viewers that the property and area is right for them. Use the reviews coming from and directed at your target audience, and be sure that the review includes key words and key topics that you know >

And make sure your profile is optimized

This is a simple point but often overlooked. Make sure that with any posts your contact details are overtly clear so users can quickly engage you about the property. In the world of real estate, things can move quickly, so ensure efficiency of communication with optimized profiles.


nbsp;Professional writer and real estate agent Ashley Halsey can be found contributing her insights at LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, where she has established her reputation as an erudite and intelligent observer of real estate marketing trends.


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4 Ways to Save When Selling Your Home

Selling your home can be a thrilling and very lucrative experience. But for the first-time home seller, it can also be nerve-wracking and deflating.nbsp;

Thatrsquo;s because selling the largest investment of your life can be counterintuitively expensive. Getting your home ready to be scrutinized by strangers takes a lot of cash and elbow grease.

As the saying goes, it takes money to make money.

However, there are some easy ways to cut down on your front-end expenses to make your home sale more profitable. Letrsquo;s look at five of the best.

Stage Your House Yourself

Professional home staging is expensive. The average cost of staging a home is just over 1,000, and renting furniture can add more. Thatrsquo;s the bad news. The good news is, you can do a lot of home staging yourself.

At base, the art of home staging is simply making a home as appealing as possible to prospective buyers; therersquo;s a reason that real estate agents say that people ldquo;buy with their eyes.rdquo; You want to show your home in the best possible light, and help buyers envision the potential of your living space. Thatrsquo;s easier for a trained, objective expert to do, but you can get a great result if you follow a few general rules.

If you hired a professional stager, theyrsquo;d likely deep clean your home before they staged it, so start with that. Clean the floors, walls, windows, appliances and trim; if your home needs a lot of work, hiring a professional cleaning crew might be a good investment.

Next, consider that the key to a beautiful photo or film is the lighting. Remove all window coverings, like blinds or drapes, to admit natural light.nbsp;

Now consider your furniture. If itrsquo;s out-of-date or in poor condition, put it in storage or throw it out. Even if your furniture is up-to-date and in great condition, keep in mind that having too much furniture crammed into a space is just as bad as not having any at all. You want to have enough furniture in your home to make it warm and inviting, but keep enough open space so that prospective buyers can project their own tastes onto the home.

The ldquo;less is morerdquo; rule definitely applies here; above all, make sure your home doesnrsquo;t look cluttered.

Pre-Sale Inspection

A pre-sale inspection can save you money and a lot of potential stress. If you wait until the buyerrsquo;s inspection to discover problems with the house, that could mean choosing between a price reduction, or paying for a list of repairs on the buyerrsquo;s timeline.nbsp;

The average cost of a pre-sale inspection is just over 300, and covers everything from the roof, foundation, plumbing, HVAC systems, the chimney and fireplace, and exterior features of the home like sidewalks.nbsp;

Discovering problems with your home ahead of time allows you to perform repairs at your own pace, shopping around for the best contractor rates, instead of having them done in a panic.nbsp;

Itrsquo;s also a great marketing advantage. Telling prospective buyers that your home has undergone a pre-sale inspection, followed by repairs and remediation, encourages them to bid with confidence.

Low Cost Repairs

Even if your home doesnrsquo;t require any major repairs, freshening it up a little can pay huge benefits when it hits the market. And wersquo;re not talking about a new roof or an in-ground pool; some of the most effective repairs are also some of the cheapest.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A new paint job can make a home look warmer, cleaner, and brighter; itrsquo;s also a job that can be done in a weekend, for the cost of paint, some drop cloths, and a few rollers.

If you decide to paint the interior of your home before you put it on the market, choose your colors carefully. Though white may seem like the obvious choice, it can seem harsh and institutional, and shows dirt easily. Opt for a softer, off-white tone for more aesthetically pleasing walls.nbsp;

White does work for ceilings, though. Painting the ceiling a lighter color than the walls makes the ceilings seem higher, which makes the entire room seem larger. Just remember to invest in high-quality paint; the smoother, more uniform texture makes a big difference.

Clean Carpets

Carpets can take a beating in a busy, family home, and worn or stained carpets can make a hugely negative impression on prospective buyers. But a lot of staining, matting, and apparent wear can be cured by a thorough cleaning.

Even if your carpet still looks good, it might have a faint odor that yoursquo;ve become nose-blind to, so a deep cleaning is always a good idea.

The easiest way to thoroughly clean your carpets is to rent a steam cleaner. Make sure you follow the directions, and donrsquo;t use too much cleaning solution, which can leave unsightly residue. Afterwards, opening windows and using fans can speed up the drying process.nbsp;

Fixing the Roof

A new roof isnrsquo;t exactly ldquo;low cost,rdquo; considering it can be the single most expensive home repair of all, but if you do have roof problems, itrsquo;s better to deal with it before you put your home on the market, rather than let it become an issue down the road.

In 2017, the U.S. Census found that Americans spent an average of 6,800 to replace their roofs. Considering that 50 of that cost is labor, you could assume that the materials for replacing your roof cost about 3,400.nbsp;

If itrsquo;s a >

List with a Flat Rate Agent via Referral Network

One of the biggest single expenses of selling your home is the commission, which traditionally comes to 6 of the final sale price, split between the listing agent and the buyerrsquo;s agent. For the median American home valued at just under 230,000, that comes to about 13,800.nbsp;

Selling with a flat fee agent from a referral network ensures that yoursquo;re working with a pre-vetted, top agent, unlike if you worked with an in-house agent from a discount brokerage, and gets you a full-service experience for a low, flat fee, instead of a big chunk of your profits. That can save you thousands of dollars in commission, and yoursquo;ll be sacrificing nothing on the service end.


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5 Questions You Should Ask About Senior Apartments

Moving to a retirement residence could be the answer to senior housing thata yoursquo;re looking for. Older seniors who are considering the next stage of their retirement have a lot of reasons to downsize into a retirement residence. Today, housing options like these offer benefits such as:

gt;gt; Active living amp; social life>

gt;gt; More convenience and greater affordability

gt;gt; Flexible care options that help seniors age in place

gt;gt; Accessibility without costly renovationsnbsp;

Finding senior apartments that will fit your needs and expectations will take research. You may want to get family members involved or make the decision independently. Whatever you do, make sure to ask lots about the facilities and get your questions answered while you take the tour. Making an informed decision will help you stay where you are years down the road. These are just some of the questions everyone should remember to ask the residence, their family, and themselves.

1. How much will it cost to live there?

Understanding the full costs of moving to and living in a retirement residence will help you put together your complete financial picture. Find out about the cost differences of different suites, as well as the cost of more intensive future care. You can also ask residences how they raise the rent; costs will have to go up to keep up with inflation.

Look beyond your immediate expenses and try to see how much it may cost years down the road.

You should also ask about how the residence might terminate a lease, or what kind of financial penalties might apply if you terminate your lease.

2. What kind of activities does the facility offer?

Find out about what kind of activities, >

3. Are the suites right for you?

Are you looking for a 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, or studio apartment? Find a residence that offers all the space you want and might need. If yoursquo;re looking for something budget-friendly, studio apartments are an affordable option. Many seniors would rather downsize their space for more convenience to walkable neighborhoods or for a more vibrant social life.

4. Are the care options you need available to you?

As you get older, the possibility that you may require care increases. Donrsquo;t neglect this fact when you are looking for a senior apartment. Make sure the place you live offers the kind of care you may need later, allowing you to age in place and remain where you are.

5. What are housekeeping services like?

One of the perks of moving into a retirement residence is shedding some of the chores yoursquo;ve been doing your whole life, including home maintenance and housekeeping. Find out if the residence offers housekeeping services to your liking.

As you prepare for this next stage in your life, you need all the information. Donrsquo;t be afraid to ask questions and get answers.


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How to Solve an Ant Problem

If you are interested to know about how you can get rid of ants naturally, then you are at the right place. Ants can be found anywhere and everywhere. You can see a trail of ant army in your kitchen. To successfully get rid of these ants, you need to try some of the best and most effective methods.

Tips to Get Rid of House Ants:

  • Homemade Ant Bait

  • Borax can be an excellent compound for killing house ants, and at the same time powdered sugar will attract them. To make a homemade ant bait, you need to mix one part of the borax thoroughly with 3 parts of powdered sugar. You can fill the bottle caps with this homemade ant bait and place these at the places where you suspect the invasion of ants.

  • Spraying Vinegar

  • You can take a little bit of white vinegar and spray it in the cracks and on the kitchen countertops. These are the places where the ants mainly travel through or walk around for the search of food. You need to allow the vinegar to dry on the surfaces or you can also wipe it with a clean cloth. This can eliminate any chemical trail.nbsp;

  • Keep the Place Sanitized

  • One of the best ways to keep ants out of your house or kitchen is by practicing good sanitation practices. Do not let the bread crumbs and food spills to stay in the kitchen. Clean them immediately. Make sure to clean the garbage too on a regular basis. Keep the sweets in zip-lock bags or in air-tight containers so that the ants cannot get into them.nbsp;

  • Peppermint Essential Oil

  • Another great method that can deter the ants from entering into your house is the peppermint essential oil. You can either spray it all over the places where it is infested by the ants including the cracks from where they enter. You can also put some drops of peppermint essential oil in a cotton ball and place them near the areas where ants move or crawl through. Make sure to find 100 pure essential oils.


    So, these are some of the best prevention methods on how to solve an ant problem. You can try all these ways to effectively eliminate the ants from your house. All these steps can be effective, but if you still see ants in your house, it is better to call for professional help.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    Now That Its Fall, Did You Miss the Home Selling Boat?

    But that doesnrsquo;t mean you canrsquo;t offload your home now, or that you wonrsquo;t get a good price if you do. If you have to list now and you want to get your home in the best position to sell quickly and for a good number, heed these tips.nbsp;

    Make sure your home is market ready

    Buyers at this time of year tend to be serious. They may not be any more excited about buying right now than you are about selling, but theyrsquo;re in the market because of a >

    A home thatrsquo;s not in great shape is typically going to take longer to sell at any time of yearmdash;unless itrsquo;s a super bargain. When there are limited buyers out there and yoursquo;ve got competition from other area homes, your place has to show well.nbsp;

    That doesnrsquo;t necessarily mean you need expensive or extensive renovations. But a >

    bull;nbsp;Scour and tidy up

    Your real estate agent may have some other suggestions to make your home more sellable.

    Celebrate the season

    A few pumpkins, a fall wreath, a couple of candles with an autumnal scent or a simmering pot of cinnamon sticksmdash;theyrsquo;re little touches that can help your home feel more inviting and more fall-like for showings, without going overboard. Your Halloween deacute;cor may be stellar, but real estate agents steer sellers away from over-decorating so buyers arenrsquo;t distracted or turned off.nbsp;

    Put in a little extra effort for great photos

    "According to one study done by a real estate photography company, top-notch photos cannbsp;make your house sell 32 fasternbsp;than a house with low quality or average pictures,rdquo; said Homelight. ldquo;Thatrsquo;s not just for million-dollar mansions, either. The study, conducted by VHT Studios, took houses of all values into account.rdquo;

    It might be a little more challenging to get those photos in fall, however; Natural light is preferable for listing photos. ldquo;Fall and winter photos run the risk of looking drab, but well-timed summer photos are bright, clean, warmmdash;really everything you need to stand out to serious buyers. So take advantage of the seasonrsquo;s best days and include those photos in the listing when you go to sell in the fall,rdquo; said Owners.com.

    If good natural light is hard to come by at this time of year in your area, using a professional photographer is even more important. They will have tricks to help overcome the challenges.

    Let There Be Light

    Emphasizing the natural light in photos is one thing. You also want you home to look as light and bright as possible for showings and tours. ldquo;Retract blinds, and widen curtains, so therersquo;s minimal window coverage,rdquo; said HGTV.nbsp;

    ldquo;The windows will look bigger, and itrsquo;ll encourage daylight to flow into your space. Experiment with your lightbulbs to find the most flattering hues for your space. A bathroom looks great with daylight bulbs 5,000-6,500K and living spaces, such as bedrooms and living rooms, look best with soft white bulbs 2,700K. In general, your homersquo;s design and color palette will play a part in what looks most appealing. Go for cozy and bright. If yoursquo;re upgrading bulbs in hard-wired fixtures, consider going all LED. Let the buyers know yoursquo;re leaving the bulbs for them.rdquo;

    Be mindful of your curb appeal

    Falling leaves are inevitable in autumn. You may not be able to rake or remove every single one of them in time for a surprise or last-minute showing, but making sure you take a walk around your house every day to address any areas that need clean-up can help you from having to make a big effort when an agent calls with an interested client.

    You know what they say: You only get one chance to make a first impression. ldquo;Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn,rdquo; said The Balance. ldquo;Dont let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cutaway summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.rdquo;nbsp;

    Adding a few fall flowers is another good idea that will up your curb appeal. ldquo;The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums or mums, and they bloom for a long time. Marigolds are another idea for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk.rdquo;

    Key in on your target market

    Your agent should be able to help you pinpoint who the most likely buyers are. Armed with that info, you can tailor your home to specific target markets.nbsp;

    ldquo;If you have a hunch your house may appeal to empty-nesters, herersquo;s how to play up that attraction: Emphasize multipurpose spacemdash;for instance, stage one bedroom as a home office-cum-hobby roommdash;because empty-nesters crave flexibility for the future,rdquo; said Bob Vila. ldquo;Provide a map to points of interest within walking distance. To the extent possible, aging baby boomers wish to integrate exercise into their daily habits.nbsp;Showcase quality. Without teenagers around, empty-nesters can enjoy more delicate finishes and fine details, so give them something to brag about. They want to upgrade as they downsize.rdquo;


    Full Story >

    A Guide for San Diego Seniors Planning to Downsize During Retirement

    Costs to Include When Planning Out Your Downsizing Budget

    Remodeling Expenses

    When looking for a new home, yoursquo;re not likely to find one with all of the aging-in-place features to make your golden years safe and comfortable. So factor the costs of making those home changes on your own into your budget. You can use online tools to quickly find out how much home projects cost in your area. For instance, an average bathroom remodel runs 10,332 to 24,516 in San Diego, but project specifics can drive those costs up or down.nbsp;

    Costs of Selling a Homenbsp;

    You may have already thought about local home prices when planning your downsizing move, but many seniors are surprised by the costs of selling a home. Two of these costs that tend to take homeowners by surprise are the expenses of preparing a home for sale and the fees involved with selling a home. Closing costs can vary according to your location, but seniors should be prepared to pay for at least a portion of closing costs when selling a home. Plus, you may need to cover closing costs on your new home. The best way to prepare for these transaction expenses is to consult your real estate agent when buying or selling a home.nbsp;

    Moving Expensesnbsp;

    To help your downsizing move go smoothly, you need to anticipate all potential moving costs. A local San Diego move can cost you anywhere from about 365 to 1,255 depending on your homersquo;s size, but you may also need to factor storage costs and professional moving fees into your budget. Hiring professional movers may be an added moving expense, but having that extra help can help you avoid the headache of packing and moving heavy boxes on your ownmdash;especially since it can take time just to declutter and downsize your home before you even think about packing.nbsp;

    Things to Consider When Searching for Your Perfect Golden Years Home

    Location and Sizenbsp;

    If yoursquo;re not sure which San Diego neighborhood is best for your retirement, you could always rent a vacation home to test out different neighborhoods and home types. Per Turnkey, San Diegorsquo;s 70 miles of gorgeous coastline and mild average temperatures make it a perfect retirement spot, and test-driving homes in areas like La Jolla and Torrey Pines can help you find your perfect retirement neighborhood. There are also quite a few San Diego County cities, such as La Mesa and El Cajon, where you may be able to stretch those retirement dollars further without sacrificing access to all of the perks that San Diego has to offer.nbsp;

    Floorplan and Featuresnbsp;

    Aging-in-place modifications can make any home safer for your retirement years. These modifications are specifically tailored to prevent falls and home accidents that can reduce senior independence, all while adding comfort to your golden years home. While you may not be able to find a San Diego home with all of the aging-in-place features you need, you can look for senior-friendly design elements, such as no-step entries and slip-resistant flooring. Also, pay attention to the floorplans of potential homes, since open floor plans may make it easier to move around and provide enhanced lighting throughout all of the living areas in a home.nbsp;

    The whole point of downsizing is to simplify your golden years. So donrsquo;t let the process of downsizing and moving to a new home cause you more stress than it needs to. Keep this guide handy every step of the way, and be sure to get the help you need with downsizing tasks. These are some of the best years of your life, and you deserve to enjoy them


    Full Story >

    Why Maintenance Tracking is Beneficial to HOAs

    Schedule Preventative Maintenance Easier

    Preventative maintenance is a key component of ensuring the proper working order of all your systems and equipment. This includes things like pest control, pools, filter changes, water pipes, and monthly landscaping tasks to ensure the continual beauty of the community for your homeowners. When people are part of an HOA, they long for beautiful and serene common areas and do not like to see signs of wear and tear on their community.

    When you add a maintenance tracking program to your HOA, it makes preventative maintenance, like monthly lawn care, easier to schedule. Maintenance tracking software, like a CMMS, allows HOA property management teams to have the ability to schedule maintenance on an easier timeline. These programs allow you to input manufacturer maintenance schedule information and will automate scheduling for the team allowing management to focus on the many other important tasks.

    Reveals Drains on the Maintenance Funds

    It may not seem like it is worth the expense, but preventative maintenance is very valuable to a controlled maintenance budget. With maintenance tracking, your HOA can easily see the time and expense used on each preventative maintenance task, like servicing the water pipes or pumps on a regular basis. While it might seem like a drain on expenses to keep maintaining the pool in cooler months, it can be a task that saves money. This is especially true when you can see the cost in a maintenance tracking form that identifies that information for you easily.nbsp;

    In addition to tracking the cost and hours spent on preventative maintenance tasks like checking and changing pool filters, you can also track the hours and cost of things like repairing broken water pumps due to neglected preventative pool maintenance. This in-depth tracking allows homeowners associations, to easily give examples of why preventative maintenance is a key component of keeping track of the budget to all members of the HOA and maintenance workers.nbsp; This way you can show how monthly maintenance has saved thousands of dollars compared to the cost of having a plumber repair burst water pipes.nbsp;

    Helps Reduce Maintenance Costs

    In addition, to helping to reveal drains on your maintenance budget and remove them, you can help to reduce costs. If you have the groundskeeping crew and another separate crew checking on the various maintenance needs of your grounds, like the storm drains, you may find that two different people are being paid to inspect the same items. This will inflate costs significantly over time. To reduce this, you need to schedule maintenance tasks better based upon who is more likely to be better at doing the task.nbsp;

    With the example of storm drains, rather than send out an enti>

    Improves Efficiency of Maintenance Team

    With the addition of maintenance tracking, especially the type of software programs that allow for team collaboration and review, you can allow the team to see what places are needing more care than others. Some places will need more care and others will have fallen behind in care because of lack of oversight. However, with the addition of maintenance tracking, each team will have the opportunity to see where they have spent more time than others.nbsp;

    This additional layer of oversight takes pressure off of management and allows the teams to see how to better serve the community in their efforts. For example, a maintenance team might spend a lot of time ensuring the pristine beauty of community gazebos while only thinking of the roofing of community property on occasion. After a while, the gazebos will still look amazing while the community property roofs sit in disrepair. With proper maintenance tracking, you can see the amount of hours spent on a particular problem and adjust levels of care to ensure that all problems get the level of care they need to be perfect for your community.nbsp;

    By adding maintenance tracking you are able to change your community for the positive. It can make problems easier to see with the constant stream of trackable data. It alleviates pressure from management and allows teams to coordinate easily. Overall, if you arenrsquo;t tracking your maintenance, you arenrsquo;t being as efficient as possible.


    Warren Wu leads growth atnbsp;UpKeep, a CMMS software company that was designed to empower empower maintenance teams to make better decisions from data-driven insights.

    Full Story >

    Rules for Halloween Dcor When Selling Your House

    After a long, hot summer, the arrival of fall and everyonersquo;s favorite candy-hoarding holiday is a welcome gift.

    But if yoursquo;re getting ready to sell your home, all that deacute;cor could get in the way, and be a distraction for buyers instead of a delight. Taking a more measured approach is key; These tips will help.

    Dont overdo it

    Yoursquo;re excited about Halloween. We get it. And yoursquo;re not alone. Last year, Americans spent 9 billion on Halloween, of which 2.7 billion was spent on decorations. This year, you donrsquo;t have to put out every one of your Halloween-themed items. ldquo;You donrsquo;t want the decorations to detract from features of the house,rdquo; Kevin Lawton, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Schiavone amp; Associates in Bordentown, New Jersey, told Homelight.

    Consider your existing deacute;cor >

    If yoursquo;re planning to extend your Halloween deacute;cor into the interior of your home, be mindful of the colors you bring in. Yes, you could load up on orange pumpkins, or you can purchase faux pumpkins in navy blue and emerald green velvet to match what you already have going on.nbsp;

    Keep safety in mind

    If people are going to be walking from the street to your home, you want to make sure itrsquo;s clear of hazards. ldquo;Safety first. Always,rdquo; said Revival Property Group. ldquo;Keep the walk in front of and to your home clean and debris-free. Make sure the walkway is well lighted to avoid accidents.rdquo;

    Limit the inflatables

    Yes, your giant Halloween-themed Snoopy inflatable is adorable. But it might be best to keep it packed away in the garage this year. Unless you live in a neighborhood where most or all of the houses go all out for Halloween and your place will stand out for all the wrong reasons if you DONrsquo;T cover the lawn with blow-up stuff, itrsquo;s probably best to go a little tamer this year. And if you do happen to live in that exuberant neighborhood that warrants a parade of inflatables, be sure to keep them inflated all day. You dont want people driving by or coming for showings with a limp Snoopy spread out on the lawn. You also want to make sure that your ldquo;For Salerdquo; sign is still easily visible no matter what kind of decorations you use.nbsp;

    Do a day-after check

    That perfect curb appeal may take a hit on Halloween, so be sure to take a few minutes to look around the perimeter of your home before you leave for work on November 1.nbsp;

    ldquo;The day after the decorations go down, check your property for trash, trampled flowers and stray candy,rdquo; said Revival Property Group. ldquo;Freshen your landscape again by trimming bushes, raking leaves, washing the driveway and adding a beautiful autumn wreath on your front door.rdquo;

    Keep an eye on those pumpkins

    Like we said, there are so many ways to decorate with faux pumpkins these days. But if you insist on the real deal, make sure you check them every couple of days to make sure they arenrsquo;t going bad and havenrsquo;t turned into critter food.nbsp;


    Full Story >

    Scary Issues That Can Kill Your New Home Joy

    Buying a home is full of challenges, and the one that might be the most frustrating of all is finding out therersquo;s something wrong after yoursquo;ve already closed escrow. In many cases, you may have recourse against the seller if there is an issue that wasnrsquo;t disclosed, or against the home inspector if he or she missed something serious. But even recompense, yoursquo;re still left with a problem you have to deal with when all you want is to be enjoying your new home.nbsp;nbsp;

    Here are eight things to look for before signing on the dotted line.

    It smells moist

    If you tour a home on a rainy day, donrsquo;t automatically think that the moist smell is because of the weather. If it smells moist inside, yoursquo;ll definitely want to make a return trip when the rain has passed to make sure therersquo;s no moisture issue in the house.nbsp;

    Therersquo;s a telltale pet odor

    That could mean damage to carpet or floors. It might be something you can work out while negotiating, but you definitely want to be aware of what yoursquo;re dealing with so that there are no surprises later on, like pet urine that has seeped down through the wood floors into your sub floor, costing you thousands.

    The neighborhood is iffy

    Maybe therersquo;s more crime than yoursquo;re comfortable with or too much of a commercial presence. Itrsquo;s all about whatrsquo;s acceptable to you.

    Neighborsrsquo; homes are unkempt

    If yoursquo;re not looking in an area that has a homeownersrsquo; association, pay special attention to what the neighborsrsquo; homes look like. If yoursquo;re seeing curious paint choices, cars on the lawn, and grass thatrsquo;s waist-high, you might want to think hard about whether this is the neighborhood for you. Some buyers appreciate the character of a neighborhood but doesnrsquo;t have the strict rules governing what they can and canrsquo;t do. But a neighborhood without an HOA can also have issues when neighbors donrsquo;t take care of their homes, and this can affect your property values.

    It took you a long time to get there

    Have a serious conversation with yourself about how much is too much when it comes to the commute. If it took you an hour and a half to get there from work, is this something you can live with every day?

    Itrsquo;s dirty

    There are times when a home goes in the market and itrsquo;s clear the seller didnrsquo;t make the effort to get it in shape prior to listing. Itrsquo;s not just about a lack of updates but a lack of upkeep, as well. While you may not know the circumstances behind the home, and while it may seem like a great deal if you can get it for a good price, be cautious. A home that is in bad shape on the surface may have a bunch of issues you canrsquo;t see.

    Itrsquo;s dark in the house

    Sellers will typically open up all shades and blinds and turn on all the lights for showings, but nothing is stopping you from flipping those light switches off to see what the natural light situation is really like. If the place is dark even with all the blinds open and lights on and natural light is really important to you, it might not be the house for you.nbsp;

    Itrsquo;s too perfect

    A home thatrsquo;s really well staged can look super appealing. But buyers have to train themselves to look at the home, not the furniture and furnishings. What will the house look like without that staged furniture? Does the floorplan work for you? Are the pieces scaled for the room or for real families? Are there any curious configurations like a chair blocking access to a fireplace. Getting past the stagerrsquo;s tricks to see the house for what it is will help you to decide if itrsquo;s really for you.

    Full Story >

    Home Builders: Do They Get Buyers?

    ldquo;There is no mystery to what consumers want,rdquo; said Tim Costello, President and CEO of BDX, Inc., a provider of digital marketing and sales solutions for the home building industry. ldquo;The mystery is why our [home building] industry has been so slow in adopting this.ldquo;

    bull;nbsp;Do you want to buy a brand-new homemdash;one that nobody has ever lived in before you?nbsp;
    bull;nbsp;Are you excited about experiencing the step-by-step thrill of the build and the delight in selecting each tiny thing personally to put your stamp on the home?nbsp;

    Buying a brand-new home can be an exhilarating experience, but donrsquo;t be surprised or put-off if your contact with home buildersmdash;at least initially and digitallymdash;does not meet your expectations and draw you into this world of wonder.

    Costello went on to contrast the quality and quantity of online content that savvy buyers now take for granted when shopping online, with an admittedly-extreme but not uncommon version of home builder online offerings. To demonstrate differences in what home buyers expect from home builders versus what they find, Costello compared the depth of interactivity and >

    The difference was visually dramatic and unnervingly disorienting. The point was made, at least for this attendee. The Mixerrsquo;s multi-dimensional, engaging online profile met and probably exceeded todayrsquo;s buyer-content expectations. The barebones home-builder offering was neither dazzlingly inviting, nor did it stimulate curiosity to learn more.

    Arenrsquo;t new houses worthy of having their unique excellence celebrated to buyers at least to the degree that appliancesrsquo; receive marketing attention?

    Costello, who stressed that there are ldquo;2.5 million permutations that we actually build to create something that is uniquely [the buyerrsquo;s],rdquo; also shared BDX home-building-industry research which revealed ldquo;19 friction points.rdquo; Any one of these frictions may cause buyers frustration that can result in themmdash;thatrsquo;s you toomdash;being turned-off a builder or turning to resale homes. Common deflectors are:

    bull;nbsp;Not knowing who to trust when print and digital information do not create clarity
    bull;nbsp;Finding the new-home buying process harder than expected, and
    bull;nbsp;Not being able to visualize their desired kitchen when faced with a contrasting color and >

    When buyers hit at least one friction point, then:

    bull;nbsp;Ten percent of buyers switch home buildersnbsp;
    bull;nbsp;Buyers are twice as likely to engage a real estate professional and then 35 of those buyers will ldquo;never see a new home againrdquo;
    bull;nbsp;Buyers are four times more likely to buy resale Which helps explain why 90 of home purchases are resale homes.

    If you let go of long-held dreams of a new-build home because builder online postings arenrsquo;t interactive phone-friendly resources, model homes donrsquo;t say it all, or you have to push to be heard, you may be doing yourself and your family a disservice by giving into frustration:nbsp;

    bull;nbsp;You expect to find all you need online and to have 24/7 access to ask questions and discuss details.nbsp;

    The Fix: Ask who does know whatrsquo;s going on. Go up the management chain if necessary. Persist until you discover a >

    bull;nbsp;You expect home-building companies and builders to be authentic.

    The Fix: The problem is many home builders are being authentic, just not in the online way yoursquo;re used to. Decide what this means to you and what would resolve the quandary.

    bull;nbsp;Home builders are in the business of building homes, not in the business of building parallel online experiences of what a home will be like to design, have built, and to live in.

    The Fix: Ask how can you acquire the degree of detail you require to proceed. Who ldquo;getsrdquo; what you want to know or see?

    bull;nbsp;You live in a ldquo;digital-firstrdquo; world, phone at the ready.

    The Fix: Not all homebuilders understand the significance of this fact. What do you want from home builders so you can trust them and make confident decisions throughout the buying process?

    Two Sides to Home Buying

    The two home-selling industriesmdash;resale and new homesmdash;are two very different real estate industries, with two very different histories, and two very different buyer journeys:

    bull;nbsp;How Does It Work? The resale industry appears to listen to buyers. Resale real estate professionals strive to meet and exceed communication expectations, online and off. Have resalersquo;s digital efforts spoiled buyers for less interactive, less phone-friendly new-home purchasing?

    bull;nbsp;Who Is Selling What? Resale professionals do not sell productmdash;itrsquo;s homeowners who are selling their home. Home builders sell their own new-home product, no one elsersquo;smdash;they are sellers.

    bull;nbsp;Digital Transformation: Resale professionals succeed by mastering communication, online and off. They are trained to convey the delights of home ownership to buyers who have never owned that particular listed house. The resale goal is to remove friction points and make the buying journey a positive, engaging experience.nbsp;

    Some experienced home builders, who have constructed homes for years or decades, may not have taken their company through digital transformation or internalized the speed at which online shopping has changed and will continue to transform real estate buying. Builders who concentrate on construction may miss opportunities to communicate in the manner buyers prefer to receive and deliver informationmdash;online and through their phones.nbsp;

    bull;nbsp;Managing Expectations: You have expectations of and experience with what your phone can connect you to. If home builders are on a ldquo;build it and they will comerdquo; track, perhaps they may not feel obligated to invest significant effort into digitally communicating what they offer and what they can do for a buyer.

    The obstacle for buyers is communication, not new home quality, nor diversity of design. New homes can be customized to deliver what you want and need. When new-build ownership or working with a particular builder matters, you may have to use different approaches to gather the new-build information you require and to accurately >

    bull;nbsp;Yes, home builders need to understand how todayrsquo;s shoppers shop online or buyers will not buy.
    bull;nbsp;Yes, home builders will benefit from meeting online-shopping expectations or theyrsquo;ll lose business.nbsp;

    But here my focus is younbsp;

    What does your dream home mean to you?nbsp;

    Do you really want to compromise your ldquo;forever homerdquo; because communicating with you, digitally and otherwise, is a challenge for some home builders?

    Shouldnrsquo;t this selling-communication gap spell opportunity for savvy home buyers?

    If you want a new build, but change your mind and search out resales that are a close match for your dream, donrsquo;t you want to be sure you are responding to what is genuinely better for you and your family, not simply reacting impatiently to having to adapt your shopping >

    Absolutely move on if your new-home research reveals that the house which can be newly built for you will not meet or exceed expectations, stay within your budget, and fit your timeline.

    Either waymdash;new build or resalemdash;what you learn in the process will turn you into a buyer to be reckoned with.


    Additional Resources:

    For an insider view of the home building industry:nbsp;

    bull;nbsp;Herersquo;s the link to the 54 minute webcast referred to in PJrsquo;s article: ldquo;Technology in Homebuildingrdquo;nbsp; The segment featuring Tim Costello of BDX begins at 29:42 -25:11.
    bull;nbsp;BDX University mdash;ldquo;a resource for builders to explore the latest tips, trends and eventsrdquo;nbsp;
    bull;nbsp;BUILDER Online mdash;ldquo;provides home builders with home building news, home plans, home design ideas, and building product information, helping them manage their home building operations efficiently and profitably.rdquo;

    For professionals: ldquo;Get Out of Your Own Wayrdquo;hellip;visit PJrsquo;s blog: Whatrsquo;s Your Point?nbsp;

    For buyers: Visit PJrsquo;s ldquo;Decisions amp; Communitiesrdquo; Realty Times blog for more tips, suggestions, insightshellip;.For example:

    bull;nbsp;Construction Nightmare?nbsp;
    bull;nbsp;4 "Big Regrets" to Avoid When Buying a Home


    Full Story >

    The Basics of Down Payment Assistance Programs

    While that may not sound like very much, and itrsquo;s certainly a lot less than 20 percent down, 3.5 percent of 300,000 is still 10,500. This is on top of closing costs and cash reserves. First time buyers save money each month to go toward a down payment. But there are Down Payment Assistance Programs available in most areas. Where do you apply for down payment assistance and how do these programs work?

    Down payment assistance can come in the form of a grant. A grant is actually free money. It does not have to be paid back. Most such grant programs do ask the borrowers to own the home for at least three years after at which point the grant is forgiven. A grant is typically reserved for first time home buyers and lenders will independently verify first time status.

    Although the lender will ask if someone is a first time buyer, the existence of a mortgage showing up on a credit report will also be dated. However, if the mortgage is more than three years paid off, some grant programs consider the applicants to be first timers. Grants have no monthly payments during this period.

    Down payment assistance can also be in the form of a second mortgage. A second mortgage is a loan that is recorded and subordinated to an existing mortgage. The existing mortgage is the one that finances the home. A down payment assistance second lien can carry a very low rate or even no rate at all. At the end of a specified period, typically three years, interest can accrue, and payments are due. Like a grant, such programs also require the borrowers be first time buyers.

    Down payment help can come as a tax credit. A tax credit, commonly referred to as a mortgage credit certificate, or MCC, reduces the amount of income tax someone pays which in effect increases monthly income. Tax credits are typically issued through state and local governmental agencies. Itrsquo;s the mortgage company that can provide a list of providers. This is something you want your lender to help you with.

    How much money will you need? Your loan officer will provide you with an estimate regarding how much yoursquo;ll need to come to the closing table with. This is also depending upon the type of loan program you select, other financial resources and any assistance from the mortgage company. While the mortgage company wonrsquo;t typically offer the program and service the loan, the mortgage company can help out with closing costs which would then funnel more money toward a down payment.

    Full Story >

    Top Remodels and Renovations That Actually Pay Off

    People are fascinated with having nice homes.nbsp;What about when itrsquo;s time to sell? Is it worth remodeling or renovating your home before putting it on the market?nbsp;

    Letrsquo;s take a look at remodels and renovations that actually pay off when itrsquo;s time to sell your home.nbsp;

    Remodels vs Renovations

    First, you should understand the difference between remodeling and renovating.nbsp;

    Renovation is required when something is in disrepair. Replacing rusty pipes or a leaky toilet in the bathroom is a renovation.nbsp;

    When you remodel, things may still be in great shape, but you want them to look different. That toilet is working just fine but you decide to swap it out for a more modern >

    Pros of Remodeling

    Your home may be in great shape, but that orange shag carpet in the rec room will narrow your pool of interested buyers. Outdated or bold accent colors or >

    In a slow market, it can be even more challenging. Removing these elements and replacing them with something more neutral can improve your chances of a faster sale mdash; and for a higher price.nbsp;

    Cons of Remodeling

    Unfortunately, there are few remodeling projects for which yoursquo;ll recoup your entire investment. If your goal is to raise your asking price, remodeling is not the way to do it. You could end up spending more money than it raises the value.

    Plus, remodeling is a huge inconvenience. Your home could be torn apart for weeks and yoursquo;ll have workmen tromping through your house all day.nbsp;

    If yoursquo;re going the DIY route, be prepared to spend more weekends on the project than you think. Remodels are always more expensive and take longer than you think they will.nbsp;

    Pros of Renovation

    Many buyers donrsquo;t want to deal with repairs. By renovating the home beforehand, yoursquo;ll have a larger pool of buyers to work with. This can facilitate a faster sale.

    A newly renovated home can also fetch a higher price. Necessary repairs can substantially lower the price buyers are willing to pay for your home. Plus, homes that sit on the market for longer tend to sell for less.nbsp;

    Cons of Renovation

    There is a better ROI for renovations than for remodels. However, depending on what is necessary it can still get expensive.nbsp;

    Remember that selling a home can be expensive. If you donrsquo;t have the cash on hand for renovations, it may be better to take a lower sale price and skip the expense of renovating.

    As with remodeling, renovations require workmen tromping through your house for days on end or hours of your free time spent on DIY projects.

    Most Valuable Remodels amp; Renovations

    There are times when the effort put into updating your home pays off. So how do you choose projects that are worth it?nbsp;

    Look for projects that are inexpensive >

    Curb Appeal

    Within 30 seconds of seeing your property, buyers start forming their opinion of the home. Simple things like raking up leaves or cleaning Fidorsquo;s treasure off the lawn can have a big impact. Try adding window boxes full of flowers to liven up the space.

    If the siding or roofing is in disrepair, consider renovating the exterior. While these are big projects, they can have a significant impact on your ability to sell.nbsp;

    Unresolved problems like these can scare buyers away. If you do get an offer, they can slow down your home sale as the buyer may ask you to complete the repairs after seeing the inspection report.


    Painting projects, whether interior or exterior, are excellent ways to boost your homersquo;s appeal. Paint is inexpensive, especially when you do it yourself.nbsp;

    For the interior, choose light, neutral colors. This helps the space appear bigger and brighter as well as appeals to a variety of personal preferences. You want buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home. Your beloved bold purple accent wall in the den might look great but if your buyer hates purple with a passion it could cause you to lose the sale.

    Be sure to repair any dings in the walls and donrsquo;t forget the ceiling.


    The kitchen is an important room. Everyone loves to eat and this is where the deliciousness comes from.nbsp;

    However, an expensive kitchen remodel has a bad ROI. It adds value to the home, but not enough to warrant the cost. Plus, your idea of a designer kitchen may not match your buyerrsquo;s idea.nbsp;

    However, there are a few updates that are worth the trouble.nbsp;

    Reface dinged-up cabinet doors. This is a much cheaper option than replacing them.nbsp;

    Update old appliances with modern, energy-efficient models. Buyers love the prospect of saving on their monthly energy bills. However, stick with the low- to mid-range models. Fancy, high-end models likely wonrsquo;t fetch the same return.


    The bathroom is another spot that buyers will pay close attention to. Again, designer updates normally donrsquo;t bring a high return. However, a minor bathroom remodel is beneficial.nbsp;

    Update the tub and replace the fixtures to give the room some extra sparkle. Thoroughly clean up any moldy areas.nbsp;

    If your tile is still in good shape, consider replacing the grout. This will freshen the appearance of your tile without having to replace it. Most mildew and soap scum build up in the grout anyway.

    A Market-Ready Home

    When is your home ready for the market? It depends on the state of your home and the current market conditions. Talk to a local real estate expert to get an idea of what the market requires in your area. While most homes can benefit from a few renovations, most large remodels will not be worth the cost.nbsp;

    These remodels and renovations will actually pay off when yoursquo;re ready to list your home, but you should always figure out the cost before you take on any home improvement project.nbsp;

    Feel free to continue browsing our blog for more fantastic real estate tips and tricks


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    Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2019

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