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Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Sunday, August 1, 2021

Clever Ways To Give Your Small Bathroom Some Pop And Make It Look Larger

Cover those walls

The old-school wallcovering is back in a big way, and you dont need a big space to make it work. In fact, the right print and some complementary details can make a small bathroom the most impactful room in the home.

Consider the vanity

The floating vanity trend looks great in any type of space, but it was tailor-made for a small bathroom. Because it doesnt extend all the way to the floor, there is an airiness you wouldnt get with a traditional vanity. You can find versions with built-in storage, because who doesnt need a place to put a hair dryer?


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Or, go for the vintage look one of the hottest trends in bathrooms today. This version mounts to the wall, taking up the least amount of space possible, but still offers a clean and crisp look.


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Keep the color consistent

And, keep it light and bright. This bathroom packs a lot into a compact space, but the color palette keeps it feeling airy. And the upscale materials, with marble tiles used in contrasting shapes, add a glam feel.


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Get artsy

Who says you can only display "bathroom->


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Focus on the details

Keeping the palette bright white makes this space feel breezy and allows the snazzy details to stand out. A herringbone shape on the floor adds interest, and the modern brass fixtures would look amazing in any size bathroom.


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Dont forget about storage

Creating a sleek and stylish bathroom in a small space is enough of a challenge without having to think about where youre going to put everything. But, if your bathroom isnt just a space for occasional guests or even if you just need a place to store the extra toilet paper, storage has to be a consideration. Whether its a vanity with drawers, baskets you put on open shelving, or a custom cabinet, there are a lot of options. Apartment Therapy has some great ideas here.

Make tile your friend

There are a number of tricks you can use with tile to make your bathroom feel more expansive. "Set floor tiles diagonally to increase the perceived size of the floor," said SF Gate. "Choose rectangular wall tiles and set them horizontally on the walls to increase the perceived width of the space. Use the same color of tiles on the floor and walls to reduce the difference between wall and floor. If possible, carry the floor tile up the wall behind the fixtures, right to the ceiling. This visually expands the wall height."

In thisnbsp;New York City bathroom, zig-zag tile runs "straight into the shower stall," said House Beautiful. The lack of interruption creates a larger feel.


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The horizontal bands of mosaic tile in this shower dont only add interest, but also elongate the back wall, making the space look larger. The glass surround also creates a more open feel and unique touches like the countertop sink, distinctive mirror, and light fixtures add more jewelry to the room.


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The Nightmare Next Door: What To Do When Your Neighbor Is a Nuisance

So how do you know how to handle a nuisance neighbor, and what should you do when the situation gets out of control? Knowing who youre dealing with is step one.

Annoying but probably not dangerous

The situation: Your neighbor is a busybody, always in everyones business and clearly enjoys spreading it around. The animosity she creates is making it hard to enjoy social outings in the neighborhood.

The strategy: Have a talk with her. Perhaps the simple act of honest discourse is enough to get her to curtail her behavior. After all, no one wants a "Desperate Housewives" scenario.

Multiple people may need to be in on this act to get the point across that her behavior wont be tolerated. As a worst case scenario, disinviting her from social events may be necessary. Uncomfortable, but necessary.

Could go off the rails if provoked

The situation: Your neighbor complains about EVERYTHING. The way your kids friends park on the street in front of your house. Your dog that barks exactly one time a day, for a 30-second period, when the mail is delivered. Even the way your trashcan faces on trash pickup day.

And its not just you. Hes been terrorizing the neighborhood since the day he moved in, and everyones too scared to confront him.


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The solution: Kill him with kindness - but only if it seems safe. Could be the neighbor is a lonely man who doesnt know how to reach out and is channeling his sadness/lack of social interaction in a negative manner. Taking over some cookies, bringing in his newspaper, or offering to water his flowers might be the icebreaker you need to start breaking down those walls.

But, being able to judge a situation is key to knowing how to handle it. If youre not sure if your neighbor is just sad and lonely or if hes going to turn into a psychopath and burn your bunny, you probably want to keep your distance.

You should definitely watch your back

The situation: There has been a rash of vandalism in the neighborhood, with cars being keyed and landscaping being ruined. Or perhaps youve experienced hostile behavior from a neighbor yelling profanity at you or your kids.

The solution: There are some situations that cant be resolved any other way but getting the police involved. If you feel unsafe or if anybody is being threatened, dont be afraid to get the police involved. It could be that the scare is enough to alleviate the situation.

Involving the police could also be necessary if a neighbor is breaking the law.

"When only one person or a small number of people are disturbed by a nuisance, it is a private nuisance," said the Chicago Tribune. "Examples include a noisy neighbor, a barking dog, a trash-filled vacant lot and trespassers attracted to a vacant building. If a state or federal law or a local ordinance is being violated, the police or other officials should be notified to abate the nuisance."

Sometimes, a neighbors antics affect more than your daily enjoyment of your home. If money or land are involved, things can get beyond testy. If keeping things calm and out of the hands of professionals isnt working, it may be time to take legal action.

"Consider having the property surveyed, which should resolve any questions about property lines. And a survey could nip the problem in the bud, since the person who wants something to happen usually pays, said Emily Doskow, an attorney in Berkeley, California, and the editor of Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries amp; Noise on CNN. "The cost can vary anywhere from 300 to 1,500, depending on where you live and how complicated the survey is."

Be aware that there are several defenses that could derail your plight knowing about the private nuisance when you moved to the neighborhood or tolerating it over a period of time are a few of them. Your attorney should be able to advise you of whether or not you have a legitimate case.


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Are There Situations Where Renting Makes More Sense Than Buying?

The traditional advice that youllnbsp; often hear as far as renting versus buying is that its always better to buy a house when you can. Otherwise, as youve probably heard, its like youre throwing money away by giving it to your landlord rather than building equity in your own home.

Of course, this is true. Buying a home can be a smart long-term investment and your main asset.

With that being said, not everyone or every situation is the same. There can be specific scenarios where continuing to rent makes more sense than buying a home.

Do You Have Any Savings?

A lot of times, when you want to buy a house, youll set aside the down payment. Thatll be all you save for though, and then youll have a monthly mortgage payment to cover. This might be all you budget for.

Owning a home is probably going to mean you have to spend more than that, though.

Before youre ready to buy a house, you should ideally have savings that can cover three to six months of all your expenses.

Can You Put 20 Down?

No, you dont automatically have to put 20 down when you buy a house, but you should aim to have at least that much for a down payment. If you cant put 20 down, then you need to plan on paying private mortgage insurance every month.

This, much like renting, means youre throwing money away. No, you arent really but its not a great financial idea to pay for PMI.

Avoid it if you can.

PMI can end up costing around 2 of your total loan amount every year.

Did You Just >

If you just moved to a new city, give yourself some time to get adjusted before you buy a home. Its okay to rent if youve just moved somewhere new. You might figure out you dont like the new area. While youre renting, even if you do think youll stay, it gives you time to feel out the different neighborhoods and learn more before you actually jump into homeownership.

Do You Have a Lot of Debt?

Unfortunately, theres somewhat of a student loan debt crisis in the United States right now, and its affecting peoples ability to buy homes. Before you take on the debt of a home loan, you should have tackled your high-interest debt first. This includes not only student loan debt but also credit card debt.

Youre financially going to be better off paying those things down before you put your money toward a down payment to buy a house.

If you dont prioritize that expensive, high-interest debt, youre going to pay a lot more over time than you needed to.

Are You Sure About Your Career?

If youre just starting out in your career, you frequently change jobs, or youre thinking about changing your career, hold off on buying a house. You dont know what your financial situation will be like, or even if youre going to be living in the same city. You might find a job opportunity elsewhere.

Is it a Sellers Market?

Its a sellers market in much of the country right now. You need to be aware of what the real estate market looks like where you plan to buy. If the home prices are too high and inventory is low, it can end up being a better financial decision for you to hang back and keep renting until things settle down. If you dont, you might buy a home and pay too much for it, meaning youre underwater when you want to sell it.

Yes, owning a home is an important part of overall financial stability, but contrary to popular belief, its not always inherently better to buy compared to continuing to rent.


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Tips to Deal with Difficult Clients as a Real Estate Agent

When youre a real estate agent, its not uncommon to deal with difficult clients, but some might be more so than others.

Some clients may be very particular about what they want, while others might not seem to trust your advice. There can also be those clients who seem to want all of your time and attention, making you unsure if youre ever going to close a deal.

The following are tips and things to know if youre a real estate agent when it comes to difficult clients.

Pre-Screen Your Clients

One of the best things you can do to avoid having to deal with clients that are overly difficult at all is to pre-screen them and dont take them on. You should aim to meet in person with every potential client before you work with them.

Itll help you and the client see if youre a good fit.

You can also provide information about how you work and what you need from them in order to work effectively. It may that when you disclose things about your personal >

Educate Your Clients Early-On

Sometimes clients are difficult not because theyre demanding but because theyre overwhelmed. This is especially true with first-time homebuyers. You can help them and yourself by preparing for this and educating your clients early on about what they can expect.

Work to help them stay organized and prepare them for each step of the process proactively well before it actually happens.

You might even want to create to-do lists for them and outlines of how the process will go. By alleviating some of their uncertainty and anxiety, youre probably going to find would-be challenging clients are much easier to deal with.

Be Empathetic

There are very few clients who are actually difficult just for the sake of being a problem. Instead, as was mentioned above, theyre dealing with a lot of stress, and theyre probably feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Having empathy can help you better connect with your clients, smooth out possible bumps in the road and create a more productive experience for all of you.

Have Clear Communication Expectations

There are some clients who are hard to deal with because they want to be in constant communication with you, and they demand a lot of your attention.

Let new clients know upfront how you operate as far as what your hours for communication are, when they can expect you to respond, and how youll respond. You should be honest about your schedule and managing communication expectations can help reduce a lot of issues.

If you have a client who does seem to want to stay in nearly constant communication, one strategy you can use aside from managing expectations is to respond to their messages in a timely way, just letting them know you got it, and youll get back with them more in-depth when youre able to.

Stay Calm

Buying or selling a home can be highly emotional for some people. There may be emotional roller coasters, so along with being empathetic and working to see things from the perspective of your client, you should also stay calm. Dont let yourself get swept up in your own strong emotions or react in a way thats going to heighten what theyre already feeling.

At the end of the day, a good real estate agent is there to serve the needs of their clients and help them through each step of the process, but you still have to set boundaries. A lot of setting boundaries occurs from the first meeting you have with a prospective client. The more you can be transparent early on, the fewer problems youre likely to run into later.


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“Where Do I Go From Here?”

Buyers and sellers asking themselves, Where do I go from here may be as puzzled as the rest of us about what is coming next.

Scrolling through headlines and feeds for answers can make you very anxious. You dont gain any depth of insight or inspiration there.

Marketing intensity can taint decision making. For instance, theres been a barrage of work-from-home marketing: rural communities hyping their affordability; media and pundits hyping new trends like the migration from cities and the end of traditional offices. This and more may prove to be pandemic reactions, not lasting societal change.nbsp;

Theres a lot of hollow talk about I just want to go back to normal. That strategy may fail since a lot of the normal that was there before the pandemic was not that good to begin with. Beyond that, much of what was desirable has been irreversibly changed or just deleted.

Research and projections from proven and reputable organizations may be useful resources. This input can provide you and your family with fresh perspectives on what may be happening out there and what that could mean for your future.

Is your pre-Covid normal all you want from life?nbsp;

Why not revise and ramp-up your views of the future? Dont move backward, but Onward amp; Upwardthe only two directions that I believe are worth taking

As a starting point, heres a few inspiration nuggets from my inbox:

What Have You Got To Worry About?

A recent Gallup poll announced Sharply Fewer in U.S. Cite COVID-19 as Nations Top Problem."

According to Gallup researchers, Americans feel increasingly optimistic about the Corona Virus Pandemic, because only 8 identified it as the most important problem in the U.S. This drop of seven percentage points since May 2021 and 12 points since April marks the lowest ranking since the pandemic began. Gallup reports the highest ever-recorded rate for any issue was the April 2020 ranking of 45 for the pandemic.

Now, the government is back in the number one worry spot.

What is distracting you and your family from the many opportunities in life? If you share this Gallup-reported dramatic shift in confidence over the future, perhaps its time to review and refresh your goals and dreams.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Is Quitting On The Road To Improvement?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS, in April 2021, the quitsas BLS refers to the number of jobs quit in an entire study month as a percentage of total employmentincreased to a level high of 4.0 million representing an increased rate of 2.7 percent.

nbsp;The largest increases in quits were in retail and professional and business services. Geographically, quitting increased in the South, Midwest, and West regions.

Before you leap in to follow this quits pattern, consider how easily youll replace your current income level or move to a higher one. Where will you live? What employment and retraining programs would you qualify for? Or, will you launch an entrepreneurial venture?

Ready To Go Solo amp; Join The 17 Of Single Female Homebuyers?

The National Association of Realtors, which continually tracks home buyers, reports that single female homebuyers have historically been second only to married couples since 1981" and remain a celebrated force in the home buying market.

NAR describes the single female buyer as in the Baby Boomer or Silent Generation age category with the median age at 54. More than one in five buyers over 55 is a single female buyer.

If youd like to buy solo at any age or stage, but are intimidated at the prospect of working alone, dont be shy. Real estate professionals, who often target specific buyer groups like solo buyers, are intent on enriching your homebuying experience. Youll probably find a committed professional with this expertise where youd like to buy.

Excited About Increasing Your Purchasing Power?

According to the recent McKinsey Global Institute report entitled, The future of work after COVID-19: Given the expected concentration of job growth in high-wage occupations and declines in low-wage occupations, the scale and nature of workforce transitions required in the years ahead will be challenging. Across the eight focus countries [including the US], more than 100 million workers, or 1 in 16, will need to find a different occupation by 2030 in our post-COVID-19 scenario.

The report states that the pandemic accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, with up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations. This is 12 percent more than they estimated before the pandemic and up to 25 percent more in advanced economies. For instance, in the US, 17.1 million job transitions should occur post Covid-19.

Are you prepared to make the changes necessary to participate in this wave of earning improvements? Many will transition out of the two bottom wage brackets. You may find yourself acquiring more advanced skills that could move you one, two, or more wage brackets higher. Is it time to let go of the past and reach out to the future where youll enjoy a higher standard of living?

Tip: Learn from experts: Where the jobs are: An inside look at our new Future of Work research.

The list of reports and ideas above is just the beginning of an amazing wealth of information available to help you increase your practical knowledge and your future purchasing power.

Following others back to normal without thinking beyond the associated hype and false truths, as well as shallow or familiar tweets and posts, may short change you.

Team up with family and friends to sample the rich content and choices available. Youll find you dont have to go far to really get turned on by the possibilities and opportunities that exist for your future.


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Ask the HOA Expert: Solicitation And Trespassing

Question: Our HOA entrance is posted with signs that prohibit both solicitation and trespassing. However, we frequently have people wandering through the community leaving coupons and flyers on the doors. This prompts owner complaints why this is "allowed". The greatest concern is security because many units are second homes and vacant much of the year.

Answer: Solicitation is usually construed to be door to door person to person selling, not leaving advertising material on the door. The advertising is hand delivered, of course, because its much cheaper than mailing it. Usually a phone call to frequent offenders stops it. But it is an ongoing process since anyone that wants to sell something can use this technique. This is just another form of junk mail and one of lifes little irritations. It sounds like the HOA has done what is reasonable to stop it by posting signs. Periodic calls to the worst offenders may lessen the frequency but until the HOA has controlled access to the grounds, stopping it altogether will be next to impossible.

Question: Do you have any information about "Victory Gardens"? Our HOA pays over 100K in water bills for unit, pool and landscaping needs. I would like to turn some of the vast lawn areas we have into gardens.

Answer: Victory gardens were also called "war gardens" or "food gardens for defense". They were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia during World Wars I and II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.

Victory gardens are a historical fact but what you are suggesting is a mechanism for converting unproductive and costly to maintain common area into productive crop gardens. This concept is particularly >

"Xeriscaping" xeros is Greek for dry is a word coined to describe a form of landscaping featuring drought tolerant native species that require little water, pest control or maintenance. With proper plant selection, an HOA can convert a resource hogging lawn to a resource miserly oasis.

The downside of your garden proposal is curb appeal. HOA landscaping is typically maintained by professional landscape contractors. Your proposal to turn maintained common area over to individual owners assumes that each owner will adequately and consistently maintain their garden plot. Such experiments are usually hit and miss at best with many plots turning into unsightly weed patches.

However, if the garden plots are properly screened or in areas that would not detract from curb appeal, it could work. And if it doesnt, the area could be converted to a xeriscape design which the landscape contractor could reasonably maintain. The idea has merit in the right setting.


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Why Real Estate Agents Should Consider The New Home Market

Last year, about 5.6 million homes were sold in the resale market and close to a million were newly constructed homes. While there is no doubt that the used market has a higher volume, the competition among real estate agents to find resale buyers is unspeakable.

nbsp;New agents coming into real estate have no idea how difficult listing and selling used homes will be or how easy new homes sales are to make and close.

nbsp;Ask around your office. How many of you are actively seeking new home prospects and are trained to know what to do when you get one?nbsp;nbsp;

This, plus the following benefits below, are among the many reasons why you should consider the new home market if you are a real estate agent.

Make More Sales Per Home Shoppernbsp;

By getting into the new real estate game, REALTORS can increase their saleable inventory, increase their visibility and ultimately make more money by making more sales to fewer prospects. On average, when real estate agencies join the new homes market and incorporate it into their listings, they sell about 20 to 25 more.nbsp;

Realtor Mary Carposis, GRI and NHCB with Bershire Hathaway homesnbsp; had this experience.

For eight years I sold resales only. After learning how to find new home shoppers and find the right new homes inventory, I sold seven new homes within 10 months. Two of them were prebuilds, plus I got two listings from my home buyers,.nbsp;

Easier Than Selling Old Homes

Selling new homes is a lot easier than selling resales.nbsp;

Its not only the competition among their peers, but the competition to find saleable used home inventory is even worse. Too many used home showings leave shoppers confused not just about the price but the actual cost of owning older homes with a probability of deferred maintenance and renovation probability issues. nbsp;

Realtor Kelly Oxford, NHCB with Conway Real Estate said this;

After learning how to work with onsite agents, I sold two pre-construction homes. I had no idea how much easier it is. They even wrote the contract and managed the transaction. I am no longer intimidated by onsite sales consultants.

You Dont Need To Know Constructionnbsp;

There is no proof that one needs to know construction to sell it. It may have been true 30 years ago, but today builders who want to work with REALTORS, and many do, train their teams how to work with real estate agents. Onsite agents will sometimes make the statement Just introduce your prospects to me, and I will do the rest. And they mean it.nbsp;nbsp;

Not only that, but when you sell a resale your work has just begun with managing the transaction. When you sell a new home, the builder manages all the details through move in. Where does leave you? It leaves you able to focus on your next prospect, instead of being interrupted at home with closing issues.nbsp;nbsp;

Qualify Your Resale Shoppers For New Homesnbsp;nbsp;

According to Home Shopper Insights amp; Builder Brand Study Wave 5, by Builder Digital Experience BDX 38 percent of all shoppers are undecided meaning they will consider both resale and new homes.nbsp;nbsp;

nbsp;Are you qualifying your resale shoppers for new homes? Ask your broker what percentage of the brokers agents are qualifying resale shoppers for new construction.nbsp;

Here is the qualifying question:nbsp;nbsp;

During your online shopping did you consider new construction? The reason this question is so hard to ask is that agents are afraid the shopper will say yes and the agent does not have a clue what to do next. So many commissions are lost because resale agents do not show new homes.nbsp;nbsp;

Many people love the idea of moving to a new place, a home that has never been lived in and is waiting to be enjoyed. The fact that new homes are incorporating new technologies, greener materials to cut down on power consumption, and more robust constructing methods is also enticing to many buyers.nbsp;

New homesnbsp; offer the qualified shopper the possibility of personalizing the home by choosing finishing touches, appliances of their choice, and even the type of wiring to ensure high-speed connectivity. New homes offer many reasons for potential buyers to forget about the resale market.

Why then should general agents be encouraged to add new homes inventory to their residential sales credentials? Because if your mission is retention. Your goal must be commission, which means expanding your identity as a professional in residential real estate to include the easiest sell in real estate new homes.


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Don’t Get Paid Once Per Month? How Lenders Calculate Qualifying Income

Lenders want to make sure you can afford the new monthly payments that come with a new mortgage. Makes sense, right? Well, not only does it make sense but so-called Ability to Repay or ATR determinations are the requirement of most every residential mortgage made in todays environment. Lenders make that determination by comparing gross monthly income with the new mortgage payment, which includes taxes, insurance and private mortgage insurance when required. The key word here is monthly.

Lenders reviewing someone who gets paid on the 1st of each month have it pretty easy. Theres one paycheck issued each month, hence the monthly requirement is satisfied. So too are those who get paid on the 1st and 15th. The lender will ask for copies of recent paycheck stubs to third-party verify gross monthly income. The paycheck stub will clearly show the amount of gross monthly income along with year-to-date totals. The paycheck stub will also show various deductions, but those deductions have little to do with calculating qualifying income. Its income thats the concern, not deductions.

Bonus income may also be used but it too must follow certain rules. Bonus income must have at least a two-year history of being both consistent and disbursed. Theres a little twist here though. If there is only one bonus issued, such as an annual merit bonus, it wont be used to help calculate qualifying income. Why not? Because a bonus issued in December probably wont be around next August. Its been spent. Quarterly bonuses can work as long as theres the history of receiving it, but a one-time payment or occasional bonus probably cant be used.

For the self-employed borrower, its a bit more involved. Someone that is self-employed can withdraw funds on a particular day or days of the month. This consistency is important to a lender. If someone has been withdrawing a specific amount of funds from the business to be used as income, its >

But theres another kink for those who receive a paycheck from their employer. What happens when someone gets paid every other week? Getting paid every other Friday for example isnt the same as getting paid on the 1st and 15th. In this instance, a little more math is needed. Not much more but a couple of additional steps, anyway.

Qualifying income for someone getting paid every other week means 26 paychecks. Since there are 52 weeks in the year and getting paid every other week means 26, right? The paychecks are then reviewed and the total gross income appearing is added up. Then, the total is divided by 12 months. If each paycheck stubs show gross disbursement of say 3,000, the lender multiplies that amount by 26 weeks to arrive at a figure of 78,000. Finally, that amount is divided by 12. The result is 6,500 per month.

Your loan officer will help you calculate qualifying income if you get paid every other week, its really not hard. But for those trying to calculate their income on their own and they use 6,000 for qualifying income two checks per month theyll be short-changing themselves.


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How to Keep For-Sale Properties Safe

Congratulations, youve put your property on the market Thats a huge step toward the next phase of your life, whether thats buying a new house or just selling off a rental property.

But for potential intruders, that for-sale sign means something else enti>

How do you keep your property safe while its on the market? A fewnbsp;smart home security measures can help.

1. Smart lights and floodlights

Lights are your first defense against intruders. Burglars look for easy marksproperties where nobodys around and it doesnt look like anyones home. Thats why for-sale properties are targets attractive in the first place.

A few well-placed smart lights will let you control both inside and outside lighting remotely from your phone.

With smart lights, you can also set lighting schedules or even randomize on-and-off patterns, so it looks like there are people inside the house no matter where you are. Plus, you can set up smart lights to work in tandem other security devices, like security cameras.

What kind of smart lights should you install?

Get outdoor smart lights that work with other home security devices, like Arlo Security Lights and Ring Floodlights.
Choose smart groundlights like Ring Pathlights or Calla Outdoor Pathway Lights. These are especially useful if your property has a big yard.
Set up indoor smart lightslike Philips Hue or Lifxthat let you control timers, schedules, and triggers through your phone. These are easy to install and replace your regular lightbulbs.

2. Outdoor security cameras

Security cameras go hand in hand with smart lights. If you get lights and cameras that work together, then you can have all your lights turn on when your cameras spot an intruder. Or you can even have the cameras start recording when the lights detect motion.

Choose weatherproof outdoor cameras that record in high-definition preferably 1080p, so you can zoom in and still see clearly. Its also nice to have cameras with two-way audio, so if you get an alert about a potential intruder, you can hear and speak to them through the camera itself.

What are some HD outdoor camera options?

Rugged wi> Cameras that combine a camera with a smart light, like the Ring Spotlight Cam, give you the benefits of lights and cameras in one package.
Solar-powered cameras like the Reolink Argus 2 nbsp;stay fully charged with minimal human effort.

3. A professionally monitored security system

DIY home security systems are becoming increasingly popular. But if no ones living in your for-sale property, it might be best to let the professionals keep an eye on your security system 24/7.

Professional monitoring means that if someone triggers your security system, the security company will call you to make sure its not a false alarm, and then call the police for you.

Be warned: some security companies require multi-year contracts. Stick with a self-installed system that still offers professional monitoring.

What are some no-contract security systems with professional monitoring?

Scout Alarm integrates with both Z-Wave and Zigbee-based smart devices, so you can add in smart lights and cameras from other brands and use them all together.
Low-cost systems like SimpliSafe give you > Nest Secure can be used as a self-monitored system but has the option to add in professional monitoring if you want it.
Abode offers temporary professional monitoring if you only need someone to watch your system for a short period of time, like a week.

Smart security devices like lights, cameras, and alarm systems can help you keep an eye on your for-sale property even when youre far away. Deter potential burglars, secure your property, and keep your peace of mind with smart tools like these.


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Must-Know Real Estate Photography Tips

When youre trying to sell a home, whether youre an owner, or youre a Realtor, the imagery you convey is one of the most important aspects of marketing. People are inherently visual, and if your photos online arent high-quality and visually appealing, youre not likely to garner interest in your property.

Even if youre a photographer who wants to branch into real estate photos, there can be a learning curve, and its different from some other genres.

The following are specific, must-known photography tips to get beautiful pictures of a home.

Use a Wide-Angle Lens

Choose a high-quality and versatile wide-angle lens for real estate photography. It will provide you with focus and sharpness.

A wide-angle lens is meant to take pictures of large areas or objects, so when you use one in real estate photography, it helps you get the entire structure in your shot.

It can also help make a space look larger or even more luxurious.

You can use a wide-angle lens for both interior and exterior real estate photography.

A wide-angle lens can also help you best capture tighter spaces.

Take Pictures with a Tripod

You can buy an inexpensive tripod, and it can make a world of difference in the quality of your real estate photos.

A tripod helps with shooting long exposures because it provides stability and reduces any blurriness.

Tripods are also good for perspective so you can set it at the same height throughout a home, then youll have images that are the same height. Consistency is important in real estate photography.

Know the Pivotal Shots

Of course, every real estate photo shoot is going to be unique, but there are some standard shots you should plan on taking.

You should have two wide-angle shots of each bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen.

Make sure you have at least one photo of the bathroom, and anywhere from one to three photos of the backyard at a minimum.

Youll need one or two front-of-the-home shots, and one shot of all the other features like the pantry and the closets, if theyre compelling and organized.

If youre a real estate agent doing your own photography, youre likely going to have a better idea of whats most important and what to prioritize in your photos.

Declutter

Before taking a real estate photo, decluttering is important. Small pieces of clutter that you might not even otherwise notice are going to appear prominent in photos.

All surfaces need to be clean, and if there are any decorative accessories, keep them to a minimum.

Aside from generally clearing clutter from a shot, remember to wipe off the counters, so they look polished, and add something like a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter.

In bathrooms, put the seats down and clear off surfaces.

Consider the Weather

For real estate photos, natural light is a must-have, especially when youre shooting the homes exterior.

Aim for a clear, sunny day or a partly cloudy day.

When you take photos against daytime light, your colors are going to be bright and saturated.

If the weather is too cloudy, its best to reschedule and take your photos at a different time.

You also want the sun to be behind the house.

Since natural light is so important for real estate photography, the blinds and curtains should be open.

Consider Lightroom Presets

Finally, if youre new to real estate photography, or even if youre not, you can save yourself a lot of time in editing with Lightroom presets.

With Lightroom presets, youre using editing presets. You use Adobe Lightroom while editing your photos and then you use controls which are called sliders to change certain settings such as brightness and contrast.

Once you get a combination you like, you can save it, and that then becomes your preset.

You can apply that preset to all of your photos, and then all of your settings are automatically adjusted.

Along with making your own presets, you can also purchase them. When you purchase them, it gives your photos a certain look and sense of consistency.

Having Lightroom presets will speed-up your editing overall, and give you a more polished final product. Buying presets is especially useful if you dont have a lot of photography experience because they can help you with the editing learning curve.

Finally, if you have a large property or a particularly beautiful yard youre working with, think about using drone technology to add something unique to the listing photos.


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7 Benefits of Investing in Commercial Real Estate

For the longest time, Commercial Real Estate or CRE investing has been accessible only to more seasoned investorsthose who have larger portfolios. Beginner investors, though, would find this particular market difficult to crack...but that was before.nbsp;

Today, thanks to the internet and online marketplaces, anyone can be an investor in real estate, even in CRE. In this article, we are going to learn what CRE investment means and its benefits. Lets get started.

What Is CRE?

So, what is Commercial Real Estate Investing anyway? This is the procurement and management of commercial properties. These structures include but are not limited to retail buildings, office spaces, warehouses, and even apartments.nbsp;

The bigger question is why you should put your money there in the first place. Dont worry. Youll find the different benefits of investing in commercial real estate below.

The Benefits of CRE Investment

1. The Profitnbsp;

Of course, the first reason why anyone would want to invest in anything is the promise of profit, and for CRE, theres actually a lot of it. You can get your ROI faster due to the influx of rental income. And since these are businesses we are talking about, you can significantly raise the rent compared to a residential structure.nbsp;

We also suggest adding amenities to the property to further boost your ROI. You can get these last-moment renovations done by getting a direct deposit payday loan. You wont even have to leave your house to get your funds. They are quick and convenient.

2. Less Risk

Another reason why we love investing in CRE is that it is less volatile. You can secure long-term lease contracts from clients for as long as 3-5 years, sometimes even longer than that. By doing so, you are already ensuring your profit for the next half a decade or so, regardless of what economic swings the future might bring.

3. Tax Incentives

Maintaining a commercial property is a hard and sometimes expensive task. The Internal Revenue Service recognizes this so thats why they offer tax incentives to its owners especially on expenses >

4. Conscientious Clients

Speaking of upkeep and maintenance, you will be pleased to learn that these chores are significantly easier compared to residential properties for two reasons. First, your clients are business owners as well so you can expect more professionalism. Second, since most of them are establishments that offer products and services, theyll be concerned about maintaining their image as well and will su>

5. Realistic Responsibilities

As property investors ourselves, one of the things we absolutely hate is emergency calls in the wee hours of the morning. Those who have invested in residential properties are all too familiar with these calls as well.nbsp;

Youll be pleased to know that you will ra>

6. Less Competition

Another thing that we dont appreciate in residential property investment is the fact that it has a lot of competition Due to their bigger structures, expect your competitors to be less in CRE. Whats more, is that CRE offers a great variety of different establishments. Think of them as niches. The more specific your niche is fewer competition and more clients youll have.

7. Increased Value Over Time

Finally, one of the secrets of success in real estate is making sure that your property appreciates its value over time. That can be difficult to do with residences, especially if you dont have much space to work with.

CRES, though, well theyre another thing enti>

Investing in Commercial Real Estate is a huge undertaking, true, but it also offers a lot of benefits. Not only does it have a faster ROI rate, but it also has fewer risks. The best thing about it, though, is that its fairly easy to triple its value with just a few tweaks. We welcome you to the wonderful world of real estate investment and bid you good luck


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Can You Buy a House Without a Real Estate Agent?

If youre wondering whether or not you can buy a house without a real estate agent, the short answer is that yes, you can. Whether or not thats a good idea can be a different answer, though.

Why Would You Not Use a Real Estate Agent to Buy a Home?

The main reason you might be thinking about it is that when you dont use an agent, you dont want to pay realtor fees. However, buyers dont usually pay a real estate agents commission. Thats something the seller does.

Theres not much of a benefit of buying a house without a real estate agent, but you might not be aware of how the commission structure works.

A commission for an agent is usually anywhere from 5 to 6 of the purchase price of a home. The listing and buying agent split it. Sellers, since they cover this, will usually build the price of this fee into the home price.

You might not prefer to work with an agent for another reason. Maybe you know how the process works, and you think itll be simpler for you not to work with someone. You could also be working with a real estate attorney who will help you handle the paperwork.

Another reason you might be questioning whether or not you need a real estate agent as a buyer is because the seller wont pay the buyers agent commission.

What Are the Consequences of Not Working with a Real Estate Agent?

While there are few real benefits to not using a real estate agent as a buyer, there can be a lot of downsides to not using one.

These include:

A Realtor can advocate on your behalf in a variety of situations.
You might be able to find some homes you like online, but a Realtor is going to have a much better idea of not only whats available but also what its worth. Thats a big role of a real estate agentthey can come up with comparable home sales in the area to help make sure youre getting a good price. This is something thats hard to do on your own, without knowledge and experience.
Location is one of the biggest decision-making factors in a real estate transaction. In fact, you can do work on a home to improve it, but if the location isnt right for you, theres not a lot to be done. A Realtor will help you understand the neighborhood before you buy a home in a way that you might not be able to on your own.
Realtors handle negotiations, paperwork, and other technicalities of a transaction.

The big takeaway here is that there arent a lot of situations where it makes sense, as a buyer, to avoid using a real estate agent. Theyre a valuable resource, and usually, the seller pays their commission. On the other hand, there are a lot of potential problems that can occur if you try to buy a home on your own.


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Can Someone Really Steal Your Home All Online?

Ive been hearing the occasional advertisement about how easy it is to steal your home without you even knowing about it. Companies announce protection against title thieves as an insurance policy. The process they claim is >

Everything on the deed transfer is fake. The notion is that ownership is stolen from you, the new owner then proceeds to take out several loans against the property and not paying them. Soon, your mortgage company contacts you and says you havent made any new payments on the new equity loans and suddenly youre in foreclosure. Without you ever having known about any of this. Far-fetched?

I think so and let me tell you why. Yes, its >

And the insurance policy covering such theft is >

You likely have a title insurance policy on your home. And, unless you paid cash for it, mortgage companies wont issue funds without a title insurance policy in force. Even if you paid cash for the home, there is still a title policy the sellers provided. With this type of policy, the sellers are protected in the event of any ownership shenanigans up until the point of transfer. After, there is a buyers policy offering protection from the point of transfer moving forward. You will know about all of this. While one could possibly forge a notary seal, real property transfers must be witnessed by the notary.nbsp;

Next, taking out home loans on the property after the transfer doesnt really make sense when new lenders come knocking at your door letting you know youre being evicted due to non-payment of these new loans. Again, new liens against real property need to be witnessed. Have you ever taken out a mortgage or home equity loan and not have had to present photo IDs to prove who you are? Further, have you taken out a mortgage or equity loan and not have the transaction notarized? The notary verifies your identity with two separate forms of ID, witnesses your signature and asks that you sign your signature in the notarys notary book? No. You didnt.nbsp;

And one last thing, if someone else did in fact go through all this process, how could they take out a loan with your name on it? It doesnt make sense. The bad guys cant take out loans and have you forfeit the property due to nonpayment of loans that dont have your name on them? There are plenty of scams out there, just dont be fooled with this one.


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Tying Up HOA Loose Ends

As homeowner associations age, certain illegal "additions" to the common area tend to creep in like storage sheds, fences, patio roofs, awnings and gardens. These add-ons flourish when the Board is asleep at the wheel or disinclined to challenge the offenders. Eventually, a Board is elected that understands things have gotten out of hand and a campaign is begun to rein in the offenders. Most of the offenders will claim that a prior Board or the Developer gave them permission.

While the Board has a fair amount of power, it has no authority to allow individual owners exclusive use of the common area unless an appropriate majority of the members approve an amendment that allows it. So, to tie up these loose ends, a list of violations must be compiled. If the type of violation is widespread, its best to grandfather it rather than face an angry mob. If the violation is unique and glaring like that 8 pink flamingo, put it on the Its Gotta Go list.

All violators should be given written notice of their violation together with a request to remove it. All requests should be done with respect, cite the reasons it doesnt work and offer an opportunity to appeal. If the Board has a number of similar violations, it needs to be careful not to make radically different deals with different owners. In other words, be as consistent as possible to avoid the perception of playing favorites. While the Board may compromise, the burden of that compromise should be placed on the petitioner. That means, the owner needs to make an offer that removes the violation at the owners expense. The Board can compromise on the timetable but not whether it stays or not.

To avoid future misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the governing documents, it best to enact a Board Resolution. This should include these conditions:

nbsp;

The Board has no authority to grant an owners exclusive use of the common area. It may, however, grant permission to modify a limited common area which is used solely by one owner such as a deck or patio.

nbsp;

Prior written approval of the modification must be obtained.

nbsp;

The modification must receive regular and adequate maintenance, repairs and replacement by the owner. "Regular and adequate" is in the Boards sole discretion.

nbsp;

Cost of repair of damage to common area landscaping and structures caused by the modification is the sole responsibility of the owner.

nbsp;

If not properly maintained and the owner does not bring it up to standard within 30 days after written notice from the Board, the Board has the authority to have the addition removed and get reimbursement from the owner.

nbsp;

The HOA has no maintenance responsibility for the addition.

nbsp;

A description of the modification and the conditions of approval will be recorded against the unit title to give notice to future purchasers. Document preparation and recording fees are to be paid by the owner.

nbsp;

Having this kind of procedure in place protects the interests of all the members and gives clear guidance to the Board. Dont leave loose ends that will unravel the HOAs appearance standards. Tie them up with accord.


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What Does It Mean to Build Equity?

If you own a home, one of the benefits compared to renting is that each month youre making mortgage payments, so youre building an asset which is equity. Equity refers to the amount of your home that you truly own after you take into account the debt you owe.

To calculate your current equity, you should subtract your loan balance from your homes market value.nbsp;

If the number is negative, then your home is worth less than what you owe on it. That means you have upside-down equity.

This is obviously not the goal. The goal is to grow your equity over time as you pay your loan. Until you pay off your mortgage, even though youre considered a homeowner, your lender still has an interest in your property.

You own your home, but its collateral for your loan.

How Does Equity Work?

If you bought a home for 200,000 and you put down 40,000, which would be a 20 down payment, you would then have a home equity interest of 20 of your homes value. You own the 40,000 of your home right off the bat because of your down payment.

If your home value goes up over time, then while your loan balance could stay the same, your equity could go up. If you bought your home and the market spiked, so your home was worth 400,000, youd still owe only 160,000, meaning youd have gone from owning 20 of the home to 60.

How Can You Build Equity?

The primary way you increase your equity is by paying off your loan.

If you have a standard amortizing loan, that means youre making equal monthly payments. Those payments in this scenario go toward the interest and principal. Over time the amount thats going toward your principal goes up. Each year that you own your home and pay your mortgage means youre gradually paying it off faster.

You can also grow your equity by working to increase the value of your home. Home prices do tend to rise in a healthy economy on their own as long as the real estate market is doing well, and you can speed that up based on the work you do to your home.

You can also make accelerated payments on your mortgage. Most of the time as a homeowner, youll make 12 payments a year. If you split a payment into two equal amounts and send it every two weeks, you end up making 26 payments a year. That ends up being the same as having paid 13 monthly payments, so youre taking some interest off the total life of your loan.

Youll be able to pay your mortgage faster and build equity more quickly too.

Using Home Equity

The equity you have in your home is an important asset, and its calculated as part of your net worth. You can use your equity in different ways.

If you sell your home, then youre taking the equity you have in your home from the sale.

You can also get a loan against your equity. This is known as a home equity loan or second mortgage.

Overall, having a mortgage is sometimes viewed as forced savings. Each month that youre making a payment or perhaps multiple payments, youre building equity or building the value of an asset. Its like adding money to a savings account but instead of your asset being cash, its your homes equity.


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How Does Inflation Affect Real Estate?

Were hearing a lot in the news about inflation right now.

The inflation rates have been going up at record-breaking paces. Some of that is to be expected during a period of economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are concerns being echoed by some financial analysts.

Inflation refers to the decline of purchasing power of a currency over time, to put it somewhat technically. Basically, what inflation means is that you have less purchasing power with the same amount of money.

So, how does this affect real estate?

Home Construction Costs

Right now, one of the most obvious and direct effects we see of inflation on the real estate market is in the rising cost of the items used to build a home.

For example, for the past year, lumber prices have been rising. Those prices have added a significant percentage to the cost of new homes. Thats just one example of an item thats used to build new homes. There are bricks, drywall, concrete and more that go into it. When the required items are more expensive for homebuilders because of inflation, those costs do ultimately get passed onto the buyer.

The fast rises in home prices have actually played a role in inflation being pushed to a 13-year high. Housing costs this year went up by 0.4 between just April and May. The rising home prices accounted for more than of the overall inflation increase in May.

Home Prices

As was mentioned above, if a home builder is paying more, then the buyer is going to be taking on the consequences of that inflation.

Thats not the only factor that means inflation is going to cause home prices to rise, though.

If the Central Bank increases the money supply in the economy, which is a big cause of inflation, then home prices go up as well.

Less Financing

Sometimes when theres inflation, then debt is affected. Specifically, if inflation goes up, its more expensive to borrow money. With rising interest rates, then people might not borrow money at all. Then, when there are fewer home purchases being financed with a mortgage, economic growth may be affected.

Rent Price Inflation

The price of rent tends to go up with inflation and higher home prices.

Unfortunately, its not like rent is a discretionary expense you can cut out if you have to.

More than nine million renters are considered extremely low-income right now and are burdened by their housing costs. That means they spend more than 1/3 of their income on expenses >

There may be more renters during times of high inflation, despite the increase in rental prices. This is because it can be harder to get a mortgage in high inflationary periods. An expensive mortgage also means less buying power, so its more likely that someone might continue to rent.

Existing Homeowners

What about housing inflations effects on current homeowners?

Well, if you already have a fixed mortgage on your home, your cost of living with regard to your home isnt going to change much. Your taxes and insurance might a bit, but still, not a huge impact.

You dont see the change unless youre moving. nbsp;

Theres a note of distinction to be made here, though. Inflation is not appreciation, which some homebuyers may confuse.

Appreciation refers to the increase of your property value over time. The values not increasing in >

Overall, what this means is that, yes, real estate is affected by inflation in both direct and indirect ways.


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The Best Appliance Trends of the Year

The last year-and-a-half has been focused on home design. The pandemic has led people to spend more time in their homes than maybe they ever envisioned, and thats meant a lot of home renovation projects.

Many people are focused on really making their homes completely their own, and that includes when it comes to their kitchen appliances.

With that in mind, the following are some of the appliance trends that are popular right now and can quickly turn your kitchen into your favorite room.

Customizable Refrigerator Doors

Samsung recently debuted a beautiful appliance in their 4-Door Flex Refrigerator. The refrigerator has customizable door panels. You can choose between >

In addition to being a chic, statement-making appliance, the refrigerator also has five cooling zones, an auto-filled water pitcher, and a complete beverage zone.

Theres another way you can customize your appliances too with BlueStar By Design. BlueStar has a reputation for color-matching appliance finishes, but now you can work with the company to fully customize your refrigerator and range with any graphic.

Hidden Appliances

While some people prefer that their appliances make a statement right now, for other people, they want them hidden altogether. Appliances are increasingly being included in kitchen designs in an integrated, hidden way.

There are a number of appliances being developed that are panel-ready.

Even in kitchens where appliances arent fully hidden, a lot of people are opting to put them under their counters to give them more countertop space and make them less prominent.

Professional-Grade Ranges

Since 2020 and into 2021 has given people a lot more opportunities to cook at home, whether they wanted to or not, it makes sense that theres a growing interest in professional-grade appliances and, in particular, ranges.

For example, Signature Kitchen Suite has a collection of new professional-grade ranges with modalities that include a steam oven, induction, and sous vide.

Decorative Range Hoods

There seems to be a general trend in home design thats focused on self-expression and doing what feels right for you. With that comes the desire to include a decorative range hood in kitchen design. That might mean something sculptural or colorful, for example, rather than the typical stainless steel range hood.

These hoods can be custom-designed in terms of not only materials and faade but additional features like lighting and dimmer switches.

The Use of Steam

Steam isnt just popular for ranges and cooking. Appliances are increasingly using vapor to clean. For example, LG has their new QuadWash dishwasher with a TrueSteam feature. This feature can loosen any food that is still on a dish and it can also help reduce water spots.

The SuperSteam built-in wall oven from Sharp heats up at high temperatures so you can grill food without smoke.

At-Home Bars

Whether its a coffee bar or a cocktail bar, you might be interested in bringing a bit of the outside world into your kitchen.

Some people are adding wine refrigerators and even wine dispensers. The Dacor company has an integrated wine dispenser that lets you store four open bottles for up to 60 days. Bartesian has cocktail makers that go onto your countertop and create the perfect libation.

As people return to entertaining, a lot of these appliance trends are likely to continue serving them well.


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Selling a Home? You May Need to Make These Plumbing Repairs First

Inspections are par for the course when selling a home, but when the inspector comes back and says something is wrong with the plumbing, sellers either panic or shrug it off and assume that its the buyers problem.

Most buyers wont commit to buying a home until after its been thoroughly vetted by an inspector, and if there are problems, the inspector will certainly find them.

Making repairs after an inspection can be a hassle and will certainly eat into your profits, but what repairs are you required to make?

Check the Contract

The first step is to check your contract to make sure that you havent locked yourself into making repairs that you dont want to make.

As a general rule of thumb, you dont want to sign a contract until you fully understand its obligations, especially when it comes to repairs.

And heres the good news: you dont have to fix everything that the home inspector say could be improved. The report is not a to-do list.

Repairs typically fall into one of three categories: ones that are required, ones that are optional, and ones that are up for debate.

Required Repairs after a Home Inspection

Some repairs will be required before lenders will >

Safety issues may include mold or mildew that is discovered during the inspection process. Water main leaks and damaged plumbing systems that go unrepaired can lead to mold growth.

Broken water mains can cause leaks to go undetected and result in high water bills, mold, mildew, and rot, which is why routine plumbing maintenance is recommended for all of our clients on a yearly basis, says Bob Oates Plumbing.

If a home inspection reveals such problems, you will likely be responsible for repairing them.

Many sellers choose to give the buyer a repair credit, which allows them to make the repairs themselves. The benefit to going this route is that you dont have to oversee the repairs.

Repairs that are Not Required

Damage due to normal wear and tear or cosmetic issues doesnt have to be repaired by the seller.

Some contracts will expressly state that the buyer cannot request cosmetic repairs and can only ask for the required repairs listed above. But state laws will also affect the sellers liability for any issue uncovered during an inspection.

Make sure that you understand your local ordinances to know which repairs will be your responsibility.

Negotiable Home Repairs

Somewhere in between the required repairs and optional ones are repairs that are negotiable. How theyre handled is really dependent on the market.

If its a sellers market, the seller has more leeway to call the shots. If its a hot sellers market, the contract may state that the buyer will purchase the home as is or may only request an information only inspection. Such language in the contract would absolve the seller of any need to pay for repairs.

In a normal market, a seller would not be able to enlist such hard and fast rules.

Its up to the seller to determine how to negotiate these repairs. Some offer a home warranty, while others may choose to offer something of value to the buyer.

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Can You Buy a House Without a ...
If youre wondering whether or not you can buy a house without a real estate agent, the short...

7 Benefits of Investing in Com...
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