English Español Portuguese Russian

Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Wednesday, October 21, 2020

9 Ways Becoming A Homeowner Can Change Your Life

Homeownership. It shifts so many things. If youre coming from an apartment, you may experience conveniences like direct-access garages and walls that arent shared for the first time. If youve been renting a home, you will probably feel a new sense of security and peace of mind once the mortgage is in our name. Not to mention the itch to repaint, re-imagine, and redo at least a few dozen things.

Want to know just how becoming a homeowner can change your life? Read on.

1. Financial Security

"The largest measurable financial benefit to homeownership is price appreciation," said Investopedia. "Price appreciation helps build home equity." Added Real Estate ABC: "The principle you pay on the mortgage is like putting money in the bank, in the form of equity."

2. Peace of mind

If you worry every time your lease comes up for renewal, those days are gladly over. Unless you refinance or take cash out once you have enough equity, your house payment is your house payment.

3. Pride of ownership

The feeling you get when you come home to your place - the place you scrimped and saved for and the place that represents a lifelong dream - well, theres just no substitute.

4. Stake in your neighborhood

Pride of ownership extends to the homes and area around your house as well. Whether or not you move to a neighborhood with a homeowners association, buying a house will undoubtedly make you more invested in whats going on around you. And that can mean increased property values if neighbors band together for common improvements.

5. Increased interest in HGTV. And DIY channel. And weekends at Home Depot.

Dont be surprised if you start quoting Drew and Jonathan Scott or using terms like "mitered corners" and "refaced cabinets." Which is good news, because the changes you make to your home wont just mean greater enjoyment while you live there, but also potentially greater profit when you go to sell.

"Home ownership means you have free rein in the aesthetics of the home. When renting, you do not have the advantage of changing your environment to please you," said Real Estate ABC. "You may be able to paint a room, but need to repaint back to the original color scheme when you move. Owning your own home means you can do whatever you please to make your environment both personalized and, in the process, add value to the home."

6. Your honey do list may increase

But so will your satisfaction.

7. Tax breaks

"The second largest financial benefit of owning a home is tax savings," said Investopedia. "The biggest of these is the ability to deduct the annual interest paid on a mortgage from income. Private mortgage insurance may also be a write off, on addition to fees paid at closing. If you have paid points, either discount or origination, you can deduct these as well."

8. Expert knowledge of interest rates, neighborhood home prices, and area sales trends

When youre in the process of buying and after you close escrow, youre more likely to be tuned into whats going on in the market and in your neighborhood. This can help you to make smart decisions about updates, upgrades, and refinancing, and can also make you a trusted resource among your friends who want to buy.

9. More financial responsibility in other parts of your life

With a home to take care of, you may be more clued in to other long-term investments and less wiling to spend frivolously.

Full Story >

What is an FHA Loan and Is It Right for You?

The Federal Housing Administration insures what are called FHA loans. These mortgage loans provide opportunities for buyers with less-than-perfect credit or limited down payments to purchase homes, but they arent without potential pitfalls.

FHA loans are available to borrowers with a credit score of at least 580, and you have to make a minimum 3.5 down payment. Theyre a popular option for first-time home buyers.

Lenders such as banks and credit unions issue the mortgages, which are insured by the FHA. That protects the lender if the borrower defaults, which is why the terms are more favorable than a traditional mortgage.

Around eight million single-family homes have loans insured by the FHA.

What Can an FHA Loan be Used For?

You can use an FHA loan to refinance single-family houses, to buy a single-family home, to buy some multifamily homes and condos and certain mobile and manufactured homes. There are particular types of FHA loans that can be used to renovate an existing property or for new construction.

How is an FHA Loan Different from a Conventional Mortgage Loan?

The biggest differentiator between an FHA loan and a conventional mortgage is that its easier to qualify for an FHA loan. You may get a loan with a lower credit score than you would otherwise, and your mortgage insurance payments may be lower too.

There are also fewer restrictions as far as using gifts from family or donations for your down payment.

If you have a FICO score of at least 580, you have to make a 3.5 down payment. With a FICO score between 500 and 579, youre required to make a 10 down payment, and mortgage insurance is required. Your debt-to-income ratio needs to be less than 43 whereas with a conventional loan its usually 36. You do need to have proof of income and steady employment, as you would need with a conventional loan.

Are There FHA Loan Limits?

There are limits on the mortgage amount you can get with an FHA-guaranteed loan. The limits vary based on your county, and in 2020 these ranged from 331,760 to 765,600. The limit amounts are updated by the FHA each year based on fluctuations in home prices.

The Benefits of the FHA Loan

The primary benefits of an FHA loan are that buyers who wouldnt otherwise qualify may be able to own a home and for a lower down payment. Sometimes the FHA will help facilitate coverage of closing costs. If you have problems making payments on an FHA loan you may be eligible for a forbearance period if you qualify.

What Are the Downsides of an FHA Loan?

You will have to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium with an FHA loan to protect the lender. The fee is due when you close and its 1.75 of your loan. You will also have to pay an annual mortgage insurance premium for the life of your loan. The amount can range between 0.45 and 1.05.

When you buy a home with an FHA loan, it has to meet strict standards in terms of health and safety.

Also, while there are set standards from the FHA, approved lenders can create their own requirements.

Applying for an FHA Loan

Youll have to first find an FHA-approved lender to get one of these home loans. Youll need some documents, including proof of U.S. citizenship, legal permanent residency, or eligibility to work in America. Youll need bank statements for at least the past 30 days, and youll probably need to show pay stubs.

Some of the information your lender may be able to obtain on your behalf, such as your credit reports, tax returns and employment records.

There are advantages to an FHA loan because it expands homeownership to more people than conventional loans. Its just important that if youre considering this loan you understand the costs and that youre not taking on more than youre financially prepared for because of the less stringent approval requirements.

Full Story >

What Should You Know About Buying Real Estate Overseas?

Owning real estate overseas is often a lifelong dream. It can look different for everyone. For example, maybe your goal is to retire in Tuscany, or perhaps you want to buy a second home but keep your primary residence in the U.S. You might want to purchase property now where youll live later, or you could want to move overseas full-time.

Regardless of your situation, many specifics vary depending on where you want to buy, but the following are some general considerations to keep in mind.

Buying Property Overseas Is Complex

No matter where you want to buy or when, you should go into it with an understanding that its complex. There are legal and financial issues, as well as travel->

To help streamline it, you should work with local professionals. First, a local lawyer can be extremely helpful when youre buying property as a foreigner. You should also use a buyers agent who specializes in international transactions.

There are very specific rules dictating who can buy what in most countries. For example, theres a rule in Mexico that if youre a foreigner, you cant own property on the coast, but there are ways to go around this by using a Mexican bank trust.

Some places wont let foreigners buy property altogether. For example, Switzerland has very strict restrictions on foreigners buying property. You can only buy property if youre an EU or EFTA national who has a Swiss residence permit and lives in Switzerland, or have a Swiss C permit.

Financing Foreign Property

In many cases, mortgages overseas arent available to U.S. buyers, and U.S. banks typically wont lend you money to buy something internationally. Even if you can find a location where you might be eligible for mortgage lending, youre probably going to have to make a down payment of anywhere from 30 to 50 and your terms arent going to be very favorable.

You may also have to get a life insurance policy that totals your mortgage, and the bank lending you money will have to be named the beneficiary. At the same time, depending on your age you may not be eligible for life insurance in some countries.

What this means is that you should have cash if you plan to buy overseas. You might be able to get developer financing, or you can use the proceeds of a self-directed IRA if you plan to use the property as a rental or investment only.

Tax Liability

If you buy property in a foreign country, you may be taxed both when you buy it and sell it. You may also have to make payments throughout the year, similar to property taxes in the U.S.

Finally, before you buy anything overseas you need to have an exit strategy you can turn to if necessary. You may think youll never sell, but unexpected life and financial situations can arise. What taxes would you owe if you did sell? Would you even be able to sell? What is the market like where youre buying and what is it likely to look like in the future?

Full Story >

ULI & 3 Adaptability-Booster Perspectives

As the pandemic evolves, real estate professionals continue to adapt to changeboth for themselves and their clients.

Over the past months, I have been struck by repeated situations in the media and on social media that reminded me that professionals in all fields often overlook opportunities to improve adaptability while in the midst of change.

With more shifts on the pandemic horizon, why not take proactive steps to increase your adaptability by building up your powers of resourcefulness, flexibility, and resilience?

The pandemic is a health crisis not an economic crisis nor a global-scale natural disaster, so capital will be available when the crisis abates and the necessity for massive rebuilding will not delay recovery. Pandemic impact will be lessened, counterbalanced, and eventually ended by well-founded, improved, and sustained personal and societal confidence.

Once we are confident as individuals, families, and organizations that we will be safe from catching or spreading Covid-19, stand back. Individuals, businesses, communities, and countries will forge ahead when not constrained by fears of contagion.

Speakers and panelists at the virtual 2020 Urban Land Institute ULI Fall Meeting agree that the pandemic will not continue forever. Varying estimates of when it will end are linked to how quickly an effective vaccine can be developed and distributed. Uncertainty at the timing prevailed with some voicing certainty for next spring, others predicting next fall, and still others forecasting at least another year or so.

As you stay safe and keep others safe, consider reinforcing your professional expertise by incorporating:

Three Adaptability-Booster Perspectives

1. Not Unconscious But Conscious Effort

Widespread agreement that Covid has been an accelerator of trends leaves us with the knowledge that some pre-Covid hindsight may be useful in projecting into our post-Ccvid futures. The more conscious you are of what was really going on before the pandemic, the better youll be at predicting details and identifying opportunities associated with amplification of real estate trends >

Example: 18-hour cities, defined by ULI as less intense version[s] of some of the biggest global centers while still maintaining an international character and a vibrant urban core, continue to dominate The Top 10 Markets [list below] powered by strong growth, homebuilding outlook, affordability, and job prospects.

ULI and PwC US >

The Top 10 Markets in Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021

1. Raleigh/Durham, N.C.
2. Austin, Texas
3. Nashville, Tenn.
4. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
5. Charlotte, N.C.
6. Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.
7. Salt Lake City, Utah
8. Washington D.C./North Va.
9. Boston, Mass.
10. Long Island, N.Y.

2. Not Perpetuate But Shed

Progress involves risk and letting go. You cant achieve change while you cling to the way its always been. We cant embrace technology the way we have during the pandemic and hold on to the way weve always thought. Work and education are just two areas that technology has rapidly redesigned under social-distancing pressures. For digital transformation to be effective, the way we define work, learning, and, therefore, productivity must be transformed too. Until you shed bias and out-dated standards and reach out for fresh perspectives, progress is just talk.

Example: Our love affair with online tools and toys has led to consistently elevated expectations for technology. In a ULI session about the Networked Economy, Lisa Picard, CEO of EQ Office, said technology has heightened the speed at which we expect what we want: Everything. Everywhere. All the timeNot Work From Home but Work From Anywherenbsp; What is missing is that our standards and language lag behind. The pandemic has changed the nature of work and where we do it, but definitions of productivity must change as well. For example, instead of expressing intent as get the most out of workers think bring the best out in individuals.

3. Not Chance But Choice

The decisions you make, large and small, determine the present and shape the future. Even deciding not to decide is a decision. The more you leave to chance, the less certain the present and future. The more often you dig in to uncover choices for clients and yourself, the more often confident decisions emerge.

According to ULI: Social unrest and protests in cities across the country have also played a role in the reevaluation of presence in urban cores. 70 of respondents agree that the real estate industry can address and help end systemic racismfrom promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within the sector, to looking for ways to develop underserved communities. On a rating scale of social issues in real estate, income and racial inequality moved from little to moderate importance last year, to moderate to great importance.

Example: Onay Payne, Managing Director, Clarion Partners LLC shared a statistic to illustrate social inequity that also emphasizes that inequity will not be resolved by chance but by choice. Payne, an Emerging Trends general-session panelist, told reportedly 4,000 virtually-attending real estate professionals that, on the financial scale, the top 50 individual Americans possess as much net worth as the bottom 165 million Americans.

Has the dazzling speed at which Covid-19 changed everything proven to you that nothing is beyond change?nbsp;

Simply, commit to conscious effort, search for choice, and shed accumulated crap to achieve progress.

For more by PJ Wade, visit PJs blog: Whats Your Point?nbsp;

Full Story >

5 Tips for Staging Your Home

If youre in a tough sellers market or just looking to get top dollar for your home, you want to do any little thing you can to make your house stand out in a potential buyers mind. Staging is one of those things that can make the difference between a sold sign and a house that lingers on the market.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that staging has a real impact on home sales. In fact, a majority of realtors report that staging increases the sales price of a home anywhere between 1 and 10 percent. However, the real impact of staging seems to be how quickly a home is sold, with 39 percent of Realtors stating that it greatly decreases the time spent on the market. Buyers agents confirm the positive impact of staging, stating that 77 percent of buyers were better able to picture a home as their own when it was staged.

Of course, there is an art to staging a home, and a poorly staged home can have a negative impact on a potential sale. Here are five tips for staging your house that will have you putting up that SOLD sign in no time.

1. Declutter and Clean

Before thinking about decorations or furniture placement, the No. 1 suggestion of realtors is to declutter and deep clean. Clear countertops and other surfaces, and pack away anything that is not essential. Your goal is to remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing the positive aspects of your house, which is why realtors often suggest removing family photos and overly personalized decorations like your giant bobble head collection. Remember, decluttering includes removing excess furniture, which help make your rooms feel bigger.

2. Group Furniture

Once youve removed furniture that is unnecessary or too large for the space, group furniture into conversational groups away from the wall, instead of pushing sofas and chairs to the corners. You want there to be a flow to each room, and keeping the walls clear of big furniture will actually make the room feel bigger, says HGTV.

3. Accessories in Odd Numbers

Although youll need to declutter, you still want your space to feel like a lived-in home. Do this by decorating with groups of accessories like vases, books or plants. Staging professionals often recommend grouping similarly hued objects in odd number pairings of varying heights and shapes.

4. Add 1 or 2 Bold Accents

While you want to keep your staging dcor fairly neutral, adding one or two bold accent pieces will help highlight a particularly great feature of your home. Adding a dramatic chandelier that matches the >

5. Use Mirrors

Mirrors can help brighten a dark hallway, bring light into a room and make a room seem larger, says Forbes. For a big impact, get a cheap mirror and add a decorative frame, or group a lot of small mirrors in differing shapes and sizes. In a room with a window, place mirrors across from the window to reflect the sunlight.

Staging is all about helping potential buyers create an emotional connection with your home. Help buyers picture themselves living in the house by decluttering, grouping furniture and accessories, adding one or two bold accents and using mirrors. Now get ready for the offers to roll in.

Full Story >

Rate Locks: What You Need to Know

If youre a homeowner and thinking of maybe refinancing or youre out shopping for a new home, certainly interest rates are part of the picture. Rates determine your monthly mortgage payment as well as determine affordability. In either case, its important to know that any rate you see advertised on the internet or a rate you get from your loan officer arent immediately available for you. Mortgage interest rates can change daily and, in some instances, when the markets are somewhat volatile, rates can even change from the morning to later in the day. Regardless, whatever rate you see isnt any good until you lock that rate in. How do you lock in a mortgage rate and what is the process?

First and perhaps foremost, dont expect to pick up the phone and call a mortgage company and request a rate lock. Lenders take rate locks just as seriously as you and wont lock in a rate from someone whos just placed a phone call. Lenders want a bit more commitment than that. To get to this important first step, it means you must at minimum submit a loan application and provide the requested documentation.nbsp;

Lenders can quote rates over the phone to give you a general idea of what the rate market is doing but there are different factors involved when lenders quote a specific rate to a client. FICO scores, occupancy, equity in the transaction matter. Some of this information wont be known until you apply for the mortgage and send in copies of your paycheck stubs, W2s and other requested documentation.

Once youve reached this stage, you might be in a position to lock. But maybe not. There are no universal guidelines lenders must adhere to as it >

Rate lock periods can vary but most rate locks can range from 10 to 60 days or more. The longer the rate lock period the higher the rate and/or fees will be. The strategy is to lock in your rate for the shortest period as possible while still meeting your settlement date or to give the lender enough time to approve your loan, deliver your loan papers to the settlement agent, sign the papers and return them to the lender for a final review.

Finally, if your rate lock expires while your loan is still in process, most lenders will >
Full Story >

What Online Dating Can Teach You About Selling Your Home

Online dating is a big business; according to eharmony, forty percent of Americans use online dating and twenty percent of all committed >

Be smart

When you create a dating profile, youre trying to capture the essence of your beauty and personality. Apply the same principle to your home for sale. If youre not certain what your homes best features are, your agent will su>

Spruce it up

You wouldnt go on a date wearing tattered or stained clothes, so dont show your house with tattered or stained furnishings. If your couch has seen better days, a throw rug and a few pillows may be all you need to disguise the damage.

Stained carpets? Try steam cleaning first. If that doesnt work, get an inexpensive area rug. Worn tables? Cover them with a stylish tablecloth.

Be a little coy

Dont be afraid to go for it with a bit of flirtation. Just like a dating profile that insists on lifelong celibacy or is aggressively chaste may not attract the right attention and the same certainly goes for those that go waaaaay beyond flirtation, a home that shows blah and boring probably wont garner much notice.

"Popular wisdom says that when you put your home up for sale, it should be made to appear as bland and beige as possible," said The Kansan. "Well, like a lot of popular wisdom, this idea is only partially true. A low-key look helps potential buyers to envision how their own possessions will fit into the house, but a dash of zest will help your property to stand out from the crowd...in a good way.

Take a sexy pool shot with the fountain going. Transform your boring bed into a hotel masterpiece with pillows and turned-down bedding. Add a little sparkle to your dining room table, your fireplace, your sideboard. And for open houses, appeal to the senses with a sparkling clean home, soothing music in the background, and chocolate chip cookies freshly made in the oven.

Dont let them judge a book by its cover

You know the old saying: You only get one chance to make a first impression. Its true whether youre meeting a date for the first time or touring a home. If the first impression of your home is one of patchy grass, piles of leaves, overgrown greenery, and chipping paint, there probably wont be an opportunity for a second impression. A little attention to curb appeal could pay big rewards.

Strut your stuff

You dont hide great hair under a hat or muscled arms under an oversized sweatshirtnot if you want to show your best assets. Use this same idea in your home. If your granite counters are hiding under cutting boards and bills and blenders and magazines and scented candles and vessels full of stirrers and wooden spoons and spatulas, well, then how can anyone see what youre working with? Clean up your stuff so people can fall in love with your homes best features.

Show yourself in your best light

In other words, take great pictures. You never want to misrepresent the condition of the home, but rather showcase the best bits. Dating profile pics focus in on key features: pretty eyes or a great smile. Pictures of your house should do the same. If your kitchen is updated, show it off. Same for a nice master bath or well-designed master bedroom. Large yard? By all means, add a few photos of this desirable space.

Clean yourself up

Youd hardly put pictures of yourself online surrounded by dirty clothes. It would seem like a given that sellers would apply the same logic when listing their home. But in some cases, you would be wrong.

Put on a happy face

On your dating profile, that means smile big. As it translates to your house, it means open up those blinds and let the light in. And it wouldnt hurt if you put out a vase of flowers or two.

Update your look

Old-fashioned hair and out of >

Be a good listener

Online dating is all about communication, so those who are participating are bound to get feedbackunwanted or not. Home sellers can also expect to get feedback. But if your agent, other agents who viewed the home, and everyone who came to tour it during an open house are all telling you the house is unkempt, in need of obvious repairs, or is way too pricey for the condition or neighborhood, you may want to listen. Just like a man whose profile is offensive to women will likely not get him dates, a home that is turning buyers away instead of turning them on is not likely to sell.

Full Story >

Buyer vs. Seller’s Agent: How Do They Compare?

Sometimes we dont focus on distinguishing between a buyers agent and a sellers agent, but understanding the differences is important when youre choosing someone to work with. The terminology can also get a bit confusing.

A buyers agent is also called a selling agent because they help buyers find properties. A sellers agent is referred to a listing agent.

For purposes of comparing the two, well call them a buyer and sellers agent, because this references who they work for. A buyers agent represents buyers, and a sellers agent represents sellers.

If youre weighing whether or not you need an agent, when it comes to selling a home you can do it as an owner, but unless youre a great marketer and negotiator, you might not do as well as you could with a sellers agent. As a buyer, it can be even more important to have an agent representing you. Some sellers agents wont accept offers from buyers directly.

Beyond working out the terminology, the following are some differences between the two.


When youre selling a home and you hire an agent, you usually have an exclusive representation listing. Thats an agreement between your agent and you as the seller. Then, once you sign this agreement, only the listing agent is entitled to receive a commission when your home sells. More specifically, the brokerage the sellers agent works for receives a commission and of that, the agent gets a percentage.

A buyers agent is compensated when they work with the sellers brokerage and theres a deal for their clients to buy a home.

Representing Different Interests

The primary difference between a buyer and a sellers agent is that theyre representing different interests. The buyers agent wants to make sure their client is getting the lowest possible price and most favorable deal when they decide to purchase a home. The sellers agent wants to make sure their client gets the most money for their home.

In some cases, the sellers agent can also represent the buyer, but this is illegal in some states.

Can An Agent Be Both?

Theres no reason an agent cant sometimes work for sellers and others for buyers. In fact, many agents do this. On the other hand, some agents find they just like dealing with one side of the transaction better, so they may specialize.


A sellers agents responsibilities can include:

A sellers agent will see a property and do an initial walkthrough. During this time they might provide tips on how the seller can make the home more appealing to potential buyers.
The sellers agent might provide referrals for professionals who can make needed updates to a home, and they can help a seller stage the property.
Sellers agents work on marketing, which can include having professional photos taken.
Sellers agents work with the homeowner to price their home accordingly. There has to be a balance between getting the highest possible price and selling the property in a reasonable amount of time.
Other things sellers agents do include hosting tours and open houses, negotiating issues including inspection issues with the buyers agent, and helping with the closing process.

A buyers agents responsibilities include:

Helping buyers with the preapproval process if theyre getting a mortgage loan.
Finding properties they think will meet the criteria of their clients.
Taking buyers on appointments to view potential properties.
Helping buyers understand the value of a home as they work toward making an offer.
Coordination of communication between the mortgage lender, seller, buyer, and title officer.
Helping with the closing process.

Overall, while their roles are different, a buyer and a sellers agent have the same overall objectives. They want to represent their clients to the best of their ability and negotiate successful deals to closi

Full Story >

Ask the HOA Expert: Shared Expenses, HOA Newsletters, Swayed Managers

Question: Our By-laws indicate that expenses are shared equally. We have one and two bedroom units that vary significantly in size. Dividing expenses equally seems unfair. Can we simply vote to change it? If so, how many need to vote in favor of it?

Answer: Occasionally, developers propose an expense allocation like the one you describe. Its easier to calculate but clearly overlooks disparity in size and value. When there is substantial difference in square footage, the norm is to allocate expenses according to a units square footage as a percentage of the total units square footage.

When developers ignore the unit size and value issue, the inequity usually becomes apparent after turnover when the new board focuses on the budget process. Members that feel they are carrying a bigger share than they should lobby to "fix it." The problem is, all members agreed to pay what the developer indicated was their share of HOA expenses, fair or not.

If a majority of the owners were allowed to change the expense allocation formula, theoretically 51 percent of the owners could pass an amendment that would force 49 percent of the owners to pay 100 percent of the expenses.

This cant possibly be right or equitable. So changing the expense allocation should be based on receiving the consent of those affected. However, since people are people, this is unlikely to happen.

Bottom line listen up developers, the expense allocation formula needs to be fair from the get-go. Dont set up the HOA for conflict that inevitably will be blamed on the developer.

Question: One of our homeowners wants to start an HOA newsletter. A few Board members object to this because people dont read the minutes as it is, the Board would need to review it and finding someone to do it consistently may be difficult. What say you?

Answer: Having a regular newsletter is not just a good idea, its a basic good management practice. To encourage readership, the newsletter should be worth reading and provide information that all members need to know. If certain members dont choose to read it, thats up to them. The HOA should not withhold information because of it.

The Board Secretary generally previews the newsletter for content and accuracy. This doesnt take much time for a two to four page newsletter more than ample for most HOAs.

Newsletters do not need to be long and involved, just timely and >

Question: I just read your article on sex offenders in HOAs. My experience with paroled sex offenders is that they ra>

Answer: While the answer to that question varies from location to location, national statistics do bear out that recidivism is a big problem with sex offenders. And statistics to the contrary are small consolation when you, or someone you know especially a child, is the victim of this crime.

However, in fairness, all sex offenses are not created equal. Some involve underage consent while others committed unspeakable acts. The Board should investigate the facts before unduly impugning a residents character.

That said, for the Board to keep silent about a known sex offender could be viewed as complicity. State laws allow disclosure and the Board should do so along state prescribed guidelines.

Question: Our professional manager is pandering to certain Board members and ignoring policies passed by the Board majority. How do you keep a manager from getting involved with Board politics?

Answer: The Board President should speak to the manager directly and plainly about this problem. Most managers are only trying to please or do their job. It may be a simple misunderstanding. If, however, there is conscious subterfuge and unwillingness to change, the matter should be addressed directly with the management company owner. If change isnt forthcoming, the President should recommend to the Board that there be a change in management company.

On the other hand, if the manager is kowtowing to the Board President, the remaining directors need to have a heart to heart with the President. All officers serve at the pleasure of the Board. If an officer is exceeding authority, the Board can remove and replace that person with another director who wont.

Full Story >

Can You Get a Mortgage with Bad Credit?

The real estate market remains hot right now, despite economic headwinds. Many people want to jump in and buy a home or upgrade their current home to a new one for good reason. Interest rates are incredibly low, so now could still be a buying opportunity, despite limited inventory and high prices in some locations.

If your credit isnt perfect, you may wonder if anyone will approve you for a mortgage. The short answer is maybe.

You arent alone if you dont have great credit. Around 15 of Americans have a credit score from 500 to 599, which is considered poor. Around 10 of people have credit in the range of 600 to 649, which is considered fair.

When youre applying for a mortgage, youre most likely to be approved with a score of at least 650, although even anywhere in the 600s can make it challenging. If your score is below 500, youre almost certainly not going to be approved for a mortgage, and beyond that, the following are key things to know.

Conventional Mortgages

Conventional mortgages tend to have the strictest requirements as far as your credit score. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are two companies offering conventional mortgages. Freddie Macs minimum credit score requirement is 660, with a down payment of 3. Fannie Maes minimum score for a 3 down payment is 620. If you make a down payment of at least 25, you may be eligible for a Freddie Mac conventional mortgage with a credit score as low as 620.

The majority of lenders follow similar requirements, because usually after your loan is closed, the lender will sell it to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.

You should be aware that in the eyes of your lender, theres a difference between having a low score because you dont have much credit history and having a low score because of bad credit history. Youre likely to be viewed more favorably with limited credit than with bad credit.

If youre close to the lending cut-off, you should be able to show that you have a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 36. You will probably also need to show that you have at least two months of cash reserves on hand.

What About an FHA Loan?

An FHA loan may be an option for someone with a very low credit score. You can be approved for these loans with a score as low as 500, but youll have to plan to put at least 10 down.

If you have a higher score, you may be able to put as little as 3.5 down.

Aside from VA loans, FHA loans have the least stringent approval guidelines.

As such, FHA loans are often used by people after a foreclosure or bankruptcy.

FHA lenders dont have to follow the above credit score requirements. They can require that your credit score is higher for approval. Many FHA borrowers have a score somewhere between 650 and 699.

VA Loans

For a VA loan, there is no minimum credit score, but you can only get this type of home loan if youre an eligible service member in the military, a veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran. While theres no a set minimum score, individual lenders can create their own guidelines.

Should You Focus on Improving Your Score?

If you have less-than-perfect credit right now, you might want to focus on building your score. It can take several months, but its very unlikely interest rates will go up anytime soon based on what the Fed has said so far. The Fed says they expect rates will stay around zero through 2021 and maybe 2022, although theres no guarantee.

If you can make even modest improvements in your credit score, not only are you likely to be approved, but you may also get better terms. Focus on paying down your high-balance credit cards, cleaning up any errors, and in the meantime, also try to save for a down payment. If you have at least 10 for a down payment, a lender will see you as less risky.

Full Story >

How To Use Color To Boost Emotion And Well Being In Your Home

Having trouble sleeping? Or staying awake? Feeling down? Or stressed? Maybe you just need a new paint color.

Turns out that the colors you use in your home can impact more than just the way it looks.

"Home decor is often viewed as simply a matter of aesthetics - what looks attractive. But proponents of color psychology believe that the colors you use to decorate your home can have a profound effect on the emotional well-being of you and your family," said WebMD.

So how does it work?

"While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning," said verywell. "Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility. Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference."

Which color is right for you?

Think a sunny, yellow room may brighten up your spirit? Give it careful consideration. Yes, "Yellow captures the joy of sunshine and communicates happiness. It is an excellent choice for kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms, where it is energizing and uplifting. In halls, entries and small spaces, yellow can feel expansive and welcoming," said Freshome.

But, "Even though yellow although is a cheery color, it is not a good choice for main color schemes. Studies show that people are more likely to lose their temper in a yellow interior. Babies also seem to cry more in yellow rooms. In large amounts, this color tends to create feelings of frustration and anger."

And, of course, theres also a matter of personal taste. Its not important that a splash of yellow brightens up a dark bathroom if you despise the color so much it makes you irate every time you enter.

If you have a busy life and manage a lot of stress, blue might be a good answer for you. This color symbolizes serenity and "is said to bring down blood pressure and slow respiration and heart rate," said Freshome. "It is often recommended for bedrooms and bathrooms."

Other colors that work well in the bedroom: green, which also tends to have a >white, which keeps everything clean and calm.

White "conveys peace, simplicity, and spaciousness," said Debbie Zimmer, color expert at the Paint Quality Institute, on Professional Builder. Not to mention that, "used throughout a room, it can give the illusion that the space is bigger than its physical dimensions."

While red is a color that denotes passion, its not recommended for a bedroom because it can raise the blood pressure, heart rate, and energy level, and keep you awake. Instead, use it in a dining room, where it can help stimulate the appetite - and the conversation.

"Warm tones like reds, yellows, and oranges, and earth tones like brown and beige often work well in both the living room and foyer, because theyre though to stimulate conversation," said WebMD.

Use orange in a game room or especially a home gym, and it may inspire just the right emotion and increase well-being. "This color is great for an exercise room; it will bring out all the emotions that you need >

Deep, rich like colors like purple, black, and emerald can impart a sense of luxury and sophistication, but, especially with black, you want to use a light hand. "Dont get carried away with it," said Zimmer. "Too much black can be depressing."

Choose the right hue

When considering the colors for different rooms, its also important to remember what certain hues can do to a space. "Light colors are expansive and airy, making rooms seem larger and brighter," said Freshome. "Dark colors are sophisticated and warm; they give large rooms a more intimate appearance."

"Bright yellowcan quickly move from cheerful to abrasive," said HGTV. "Rather than painting an entire room the color of McDonalds golden arches, choose a toned-down shade or use that vivid yellow as an accent against a neutral backdrop, like gray." Likewise, "A pastel blue that looks pretty on the paint chip can come across as unpleasantly chilly on the walls and furnishingsespecially in a room that receives little natural light," said Freshome.

Full Story >

What is a Short Sale?

The idea of purchasing a home at a deeply discounted price is appealing to most people, but these situations can come with strings attached. One way to get a deal on a property is to buy a short sale, but the transactions are complex and risky.

Short sales are transactions where a home is sold for a lower price than the debt thats owed. When a homeowner realizes they cant afford their mortgage anymore, they can start the short sale process with the lender. The owner has to apply, and the goal is to avoid foreclosure.

Lenders will often approve a short sale if the home is worth less than whats owed, and the seller has to demonstrate financial hardship. Short sales were incredibly common following the Great Recession in 2008, but have since become less so.

Short Sale vs. a Foreclosure

Sometimes buyers think a short sale and a foreclosure are the same, which theyre not. During a foreclosure, the bank repossesses the property. Then, the bank tries to sell it, often at a price well below market value, to cover their costs.

In both situations, financial hardships lead to the loss of the property for the homeowner, but the specifics vary.

In a short sale, the seller is voluntarily entering the process. A foreclosure is not voluntary for the seller.

For the seller, a foreclosure is much more damaging to their credit history, and they may end up having to file bankruptcy.

What Are the Benefits of a Short Sale?

For buyers, there are a few big benefits of buying a property in a short sale. The first is the lower price. A lender is very motivated to sell the property and cut their losses. Short sales may be less complex than traditional sales because there is likely to be less competition from other buyers. Your offer has a greater chance of being approved with less competition.

For sellers, the benefits of a short sale include preventing foreclosure and possible debt forgiveness. For a seller who goes through a short sale, they may qualify for a new mortgage after two years. Its much harder to get another mortgage after a foreclosure.

Are There Downsides of a Short Sale?

For buyers, one of the primary downsides of a short sale is that its time-consuming. These transactions can take much longer than a traditional transaction. Theres also an increased level of risk for buyers because theyre buying the home as-is.

Theres also the possibility the transaction wont go through, and the time will be wasted for the buyer.

Since the owners in a short sale are experiencing financial hardship, their homes may be in significantly worse condition than similar properties.

For sellers, there are quite a few pitfalls of a short sale too. Sellers dont have any power to negotiate the priceonly the lender can. The seller isnt going to receive any profits when they sell the home because its owed to the lender, and short sales damage the owners credit scores.

Short Sale Tips

If you understand the possible risks and still want to look for a property thats a short sale, make sure that you go into it prepared. While the property is sold as-is, you still need an inspection so you can figure out how much youll have to spend in repairs. Youll also have more negotiating power with the lender if you can prove significant repairs are needed.

Even though short sales are a way to get a deal, you still need to be realistic with your offer. Your offer can be turned down if its too low.

Its also a good idea to provide as much cash as you can because the lender will want to reduce their risk.

Finally, work with a real estate agent experienced in short sales because theyre

Full Story >

Want To Cut Down A Tree In Toronto? Good Luck With That

Recently the Arbor Day Foundation, one of the largest conservation foundations in the world, presented its Champion of Trees Award to the City of Toronto.

The award recognizes exemplary leadership to develop and implement new policies and practices for municipal tree planting and care, natural area stewardship or arboriculture.

Toronto has planted more than one million trees since 2005, investing 605.6 million in its urban forest.nbsp; A 2018 study by the city estimated that the citys tree canopy the area of the tree population as viewed from above at 28.4 to 31 per cent. The goal is to increase that canopy to 40 per cent.

In addition to planting new trees, the city has tough bylaws to protect existing ones including those on private property. Residents who want to cut down a tree on their land are often shocked to find out they cant do it. The city takes tree cutting so seriously that decisions on whether an individual tree can be cut down are often decided by the entire city council.

In a typical recent case, a homeowner wanted a Norway maple on his property removed because he said it could cause damage to his foundation wall, and because there was risk to an elderly neighbour who could slip on fallen leaves in autumn.

The citys Urban Forestry staff examined the tree and determined that it is botanically and structurally healthy. They also said there was no evidence the tree is associated with any leaking through or beneath the foundation wall. Tree roots are not physically capable of exerting the force required to lift or crack properly constructed and maintained foundation walls, said the Urban Forestry staff in a report. However, if property drainage has not been provided, heaving may occur as a result of freezing and thawing, creating space that tree roots may grow into.Waterproofing of the foundation, if not already done, would prevent roots from growing in any existing cracks or other openings in the foundation. The problem described here can typically be repaired without requiring tree removal.

As far as the slippery leaves were concerned, the report recommended that the homeowner rake them up. City council denied the request to remove the tree.

Another tricky application came from a family that wanted to remove a black walnut tree because the walnuts posed a risk of anaphylactic allergic reaction to the four-year-old child who lived there. A doctors note confirmed the seriousness of the allergy.

But the Urban Forestry staff denied the request, suggesting that physically collecting and removing the walnuts and educating those at risk would reduce the likelihood of exposure.

The decision was appealed and at city council, a motion was made to approve the removal despite the staff report. That vote resulted in an 11-11 tie, but since a majority was required, the motion failed. Council then voted to support the staff report and the walnut tree is still there.

Even when a request to cut down a tree is granted, its a costly process for the homeowners. Council recently agreed to let a homeowner cut down a city-owned tree on a city right of way to accommodate a new driveway entrance, but the property owner had to pay the city for the appraised value of the tree 3,809; pay the costs of removing the tree; and plant five replacement trees on the property, or pay cash-in-lieu of planting.

Why is Toronto so fixated on saving individual trees, when the city has more than 11.5 million of them? Despite the planting programs over the last decade, the 2018 report found that impervious land cover such as concrete or buildings increased by 1.4 per cent over the last decade.

The citys tree population has also taken some hits. An ice storm in 2013 took out many of them, and infections of the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer have also decimated the tree population in some areas.

Trees improve the quality of urban life and contribute greatly to our sense of community, says Urban Forestry in its reports. They help soften the hard lines of built form and surfaces in an urban setting.

Trees contribute to the overall character and quality of neighbourhoods. Studies suggest that social benefits such as crime reduction and neighbourhood cohesion can be attributed to the presence of trees.

From an economic standpoint, trees enhance property values. Mature trees can reduce the energy consumption of a home by lowering air conditioning costs in summer and protecting homes from the wind in winter.

The environmental benefits of trees include cleansing of air, noise and wind reduction and protection from ultraviolet radiation, says Urban Forestry. Trees reduce rainwater runoff thereby reducing soil erosion and lowering storm water management costs. They also contribute to moderation of temperature extremes and reduction of the urban heat island effect by providing shade during summer.

These benefits are worth an estimated 55 million per year.

Unlike grey infrastructure, the urban forest is always changing, growing, maturing and dying, says the report. Canopy cover and population size are not the whole story. Urban forest size, condition and distribution are factors in the canopy cover story; pest threats, natural mortality, invasive species impacts, development activities and climate change are realities effecting urban forest sustainability.

Full Story >

What’s a ‘Drive-By’ Appraisal?

One of the more important documents a lender reviews when a loan application is first submitted is the property appraisal. In reality, once a loan application is turned in, there will actually be two separate approvals- one for the applicant and one for the property. The application is documented with a combination of borrower-provided paperwork along with various third party documentation such as title insurance and an appraisal. What many may not know however is the old-fashioned way of ordering a property appraisal is long gone. Instead, the lender is alerted to the type of appraisal needed based upon the results of an automated underwriting system report.

A full appraisal is one where the appraiser first performs some internal research based upon recent sales in the area of similar properties along with a copy of the subject propertys sales contract. The sales price is a starting point for the appraiser. These recent sales are listed in the local multiple listing service, or MLS. When an appraiser receives an appraisal order, the first thing that is done is perform this research.nbsp;

The appraiser will identify recent sales and then make a physical visit to the subject property. The appraiser does both an interior and exterior inspection of the property. Note, this is separate from a buyer-paid property inspection. The appraiser will make a general determination of the propertys condition based upon a visual inspection.nbsp; The appraiser will visit the property, make the inspections and take photos of the interior as well as exterior of the property. After gathering this information about the property, the appraiser will then provide a final value.nbsp;

There are however different degrees of an appraisal. A full appraisal with interior and exterior photos is the most thorough. But the AUS findings might indicate that a full appraisal with photos is unnecessary. The AUS might only need an appraisal with exterior photos. The appraiser completes the appraisal order but does not take interior photos.nbsp;

A drive by appraisal is actually very descriptive. The appraiser performs the initial research including recent sales of similar properties in the area. Yet the physical visit to the property is limited. There wont be any interior or exterior photos, much less an inspection of the general condition of the property. Instead, the appraiser will literally drive by the home and make a general comment about the condition of the home.

There is even a desk review which means the lenders underwriter will review a completed appraisal as a secondary approval requirement.

One final note, even though the AUS does not mention a full appraisal but instead just a drive-by, a lender can still override that condition and request an upgraded appraisal from a drive-by to a complete appraisal report. Its just the lender cant do the reverse and downgrade an appraisal requirement from a full report to a drive-by. Its okay to require more documentation but not okay to dismiss requested documents or downgrade an existing approval. The degree of appraisal is clearly marked on the AUS findings and must be followed.

Full Story >

Gifts Of Real Estate To Children – Not A Good Idea

Question: My husband and I own our house free and clear. We purchased it in the l960s for 30,000, and have added approximately 50,000 of improvements over the years. We are at the stage in our life when we can no longer take care of the house, and are planning to give the property to our only son, and then move into a retirement home.

We believe the property is worth 500,000. How do we go about transferring title to the house?

Answer: Transferring title is easy; the real question is whether you want to do it.

In order to transfer title, you -- or your attorney -- should prepare a deed, which would reflect that you and your husband conveyed the property to your son, for love and affection -- in other words, no consideration. You will have to include the legal description of the property in the deed, and in order to avoid any transfer and recordation tax, you will need an affidavit stating that this is a transfer to your son.

Generally speaking, and you need to review the specific rules in your jurisdiction, there will be no transfer and recordation tax owed when you transfer property to a son or a daughter. These documents must be notarized and recorded in the jurisdiction where your property is located. If you do not have an attorney, the local Recorder of Deeds office should be able to assist you in making the transfer valid.

However, before you take such action, you should give serious thought to the tax consequences of your proposed action. Although your property is worth approximately 500,000 today, for tax purposes your basis in the property is 80,000 the initial price of 30,000 plus the 50,000 in improvements.

The Internal Revenue Service computes capital gain on the following formula: Sales Price less certain selling expenses minus the original cost of the property plus improvements. The latter i.e. the cost of the property plus improvements is known as the "basis" of the property for tax purposes. It should be noted that if your property had been rented out, and you took depreciation over the years, your basis would be reduced by the amount of the depreciation.

In our example, your basis is 80,000. If you sell the property now for 500,000, and ignoring for the moment any real estate commissions or other selling expenses which would reduce the selling price, you will have made a profit of 420,000. Under current tax law, since you are married and most likely file a joint return, and have lived in the house for at least two years in the last five years before a sale, you can exclude up to 500,000 in profit and not pay any tax. Since your profit would be less than 500,000, you can walk away from a sale and keep all of the sales proceeds.

Now, lets consider the gift to your son.

Although the property is worth 500,000, tax law requires that the tax basis of the donor the person giving the gift becomes the tax basis of the donee the person receiving the gift. Thus, while in your mind you are giving your son a house which is worth 500,000, in reality you are giving him a house with a tax basis of 80,000.

Now you have moved out of the house into the retirement home. The first question to consider is whether you will have enough money to continue your life >

The second question is whether you are really doing your son a favor. When he receives the house, his basis will be only 80,000. If he should decide to sell the property -- and if he has not lived in the house for two out of the last five years before the sale -- he will have to pay a hefty capital gains tax. Under current tax laws, even if he only can sell the property for 500,000, he will owe the government 84,000 20 percent of the gain of 420,000.

Of course, there are two ways in which your son could avoid or postpone the tax.

First, he could move into the house and live there for two years. If he is not married, however, he will only be able to shelter 250,000 of gain. And this, of course, assumes that Congress will not change the favorable homeowner tax laws in the years to come.

Second, if your son treated the property as an investment, he can do a "like-kind" exchange under section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. This is a subject for another column.

However, for many reasons, I cannot recommend that you give the house to your son unless you thoroughly discuss all of the various issues with your attorney and your tax advisor. You should also understand that there is a tax concept called the "stepped up" basis. This means that upon your death, your son will inherit the property at the value of the property on the date of your death.

Lets explore this a little more. Obviously, while no one wants to discuss death, it is unfortunately a fact of life. If, for example, on the date of your death and assuming that your husband died before you the house is worth 500,000, your sons basis in the property for tax purposes will be 500,000. If he should immediately sell the property for that price, he will not have to pay any capital gains tax at all. Note: under the new tax law, this stepped up basis at death will be eliminated after year 2009, and clearly there will be different matters to consider after that year.

Thus, another factor which you and your financial advisor must consider is the difference between any estate tax which your estate may have to pay as compared to the capital gain savings based on this stepped up basis.

And finally, and most importantly, you should also understand that your gift to your son will trigger a gift-tax consequence. You and your husband are entitled to gift your son, each and every year, 10,000 per person or 20,000 in your case. If you give the house to your son, you will have to file a gift-tax return.

However, everyone has a lifetime gift and estate tax-exemption, and this year that amount is 675,000. The gift of 500,000 to your son will reduce your and your husbands exemption by this amount less the 20,000 allowable gift, and may impact on your ability to make additional gifts in the years to come.

As you can see, although this sounds simple, in reality it is a very complex issue -- which requires a lot of thought and examination before you sign over the deed to your son. What you consider to be a generous parental gesture may, in fact, become a financial nightmare for you, your husband and your son.

Full Story >

What To Expect When Visiting Chip And Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Market

Chip and Joanna Gaines havent just taken over the airwaves on their uber-popular HGTV program, Fixer Upper. Theyre taken over the city of Waco with their Magnolia Market at the Silos. Those of us who live in Texas within a few hours drive of Waco can get in the car and be at Magnolia easily to shop and soak in a little of that Gaines magic. But if youre planning a trip from farther away - and so many are - preparation is key. Knowing what to expect and heeding a few tips can help ensure your trip is a good one.

Bring your patience

Youre going to wait in line. Just accept it on arrival so youre not disappointed to see that you might have to wait awhile to get inside the store, or the super-busy Silos Baking Co, for that matter. But, there are some ways around it. According to the stores helpdesk, Magnolia "is busiest during the hoursnbsp;around lunch; particularlynbsp;on Saturdays, when we see thousands of people come through our doors. We suggest coming near opening or closingnbsp;hoursnbsp;to have the most peaceful shopping experience."

We got lucky on our visit, arriving in mid-afternoon and strolling right in, but these people did not.

Bring your wallet

If youre a fan of Chip and Joannas French country >

At the very least, youll probably have orders from friends and family to buy a bunch of Magnolia t-shirts and sweatshirts. If youre thinking you can just buy everything you like online, Popsugar cleared up that, "About 40 percent of the goods in their Magnolia Market store are available in their online shop, the other 60 percent can only be purchased at the physical location."

Bring your appetite, too

In addition to the Silos Baking Co, there is a rotating drove of food trucks lining the lawn where you can grab everything from mac n cheese to hot dogs to crepes to cold-pressed juice. After all that shopping, youll definitely want a snack. Bonus tip: Stake your claim on one of the covered tables for some shelter from the sun. Waco is HOT in the summer. Were not above a little table stalking when necessary.

Its ok to bring the kids

In fact, theyll probably have a blast, playing cornhole, kicking a ball around, and swinging on the swings. In the back of the property, where Magnolia Seed Supply, the Gaines outdoor mecca, is located, theres even a teepee.

Keep in mind, though, that the breakability factor inside the store is high.

Check the calendar ahead of time

Many disappointed families have arrived in Waco all set to shop, eat, and play, only to find out that Magnolia Market and the Silos Baking Co. are closed on Sunday. This may affect your trip. Youll also want to pay attention to their Facebook page, which lists upcoming events like ongoing Movie Nights at The Silos.

Make "just in case" plans for the rest of the day

One of the things that stood out to us is how different our expectations were from the reality of Magnolia in terms of the time we would spend there. We were done in a couple of hours, and that was with some food truck and lawn-lounging time. If you want to continue along the Fixer Upper Tour, head to Harp and Co Design. This is woodworking master Clint Harps nearby shop, where you can browse and buy before heading to JDH Iron Designs, Fixer Upper metal art designer Jimmy Dons shop, which is about a 25-minute drive through the countryside.

Stay in a Fixer Upper House

The Harps home that was fixed up on the show is right next door to their shop, and is now available as a vacation rental - and its not the only one. The historic Magnolia House is also available starting at at 795 a night, along with the stunning Hillcrest Estate, prices starting at 995 a night.

Get there in >

While parking is easy and free at Magnolia, you can add to the fun especially for the kids by taking the Silos District Trolley, which runs runs every 1520nbsp;minutes throughout the day and will stop anywhere along the route so you can hop on or off to browse the downtown area.

Document your trip

Youll undoubtedly go to great lengths to do so, because social media and friends demand it Your family may look mostly ridiculous, but you wont care because you got a picture in front of the Magnolia sign. The strong sun can wreak havoc with your outdoor photos, but dont leave without snapping a pic under the MilestoMagnolia sign and uploading it to Instagram.

Full Story >

Marketing Tips for Agents During a Pandemic

Were many months into the coronavirus pandemic, and while its perhaps not something we expected to be still dealing with, thats the reality we have. As a real estate agent during this time, you want your marketing to be both sensitive and >

The real estate market is thriving despite the pandemic, and you want to be part of that.

How do you achieve each of these distinctive objectives?

Pivot How You Do BusinessAnd Advertise It

There are a lot of creative ways to work right now as an agent. Many of the new offerings real estate agents provide their clients are actually in line with buyer preferences, pandemic or not. For example, the use of virtual tours is becoming increasingly popular. Some buyers are doing everything digitally from start-to-finish.

Theres the social distancing contributing to these trends, but also the desire for convenience.

Think about how you can offer safe practices that allow for social distancing, and then use those to build your marketing campaigns.

With that being said, what you should never do is create marketing that makes it sound like coronavirus is a unique opportunity.nbsp; You could damage your brand by making the situation about making money when so many have gotten sick and died. Instead, focus on your understanding of the gravity of the situation and how youre willing to make the appropriate changes. It shows your potential clients that youre in the situation with them.

Be specific in how you plan to meet the changing needs of your clients, and how youll keep yourself and the community safe.

Develop Educational Videos

Many buyers are jumping into the market for the first time right now because the interest rates are low. You want to position yourself as someone who can help guide them through the process, so to facilitate that, consider developing educational videos.

Tech-savvy buyers and sellers will be able to learn from your expertise, and theyre more likely to consider you when hiring an agent.

Along with educational videos, now is just a good time, in general, to focus on your creative content because people are spending more time at home and potentially looking for information along the way.

When you create content, you position yourself as a trusted resource, and that can feel incredibly valuable to people right now.


Whether its prospects, former clients, or just people you know in the community, take time to check-in and see how everyone is holding up. Even if someone isnt ready right now to buy or sell a home, knowing that you thought about them at a difficult time will stick with them.

Consider Whether or Not Your Website and Social Media Profiles Need a Revamp

Again, people are >

Your clients are more likely than ever before to connect with you on these platforms, so make your website and profiles great.

Think about your search engine optimization and whether or not youre using the right local keywords.

What do your website and social media convey about you?

Its challenging to market in an emotionally heightened time when people are sensitive and even afraid. Your marketing has to be aware of these factors, and your focus as a real estate agent right now should be on positioning yourself as an expert and a source of information and assurance. People do want to buy homes right now. The market has shown that. They, at the same time, want safety and a real estate agent whos cognizant of the environment were in. nbsp;

Now is a great time to perhaps rethink your digital marketing too, to be in line with what modern clients not just want but expect. nbsp;

Full Story >

Use Construction Loans to Adapt Your Business to the New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has modified the way businesses serve their clients. Drive-thru windows and delivery services are emerging as feasible solutions to comply with quarantine measures while avoiding a complete shutdown of the business activities.

But adapting to the new normal may require some renovations to comply with safety protocols. Thats when construction loans can help in securing the funding needed to perform them. Think about it A business that offers safety measures will attract more customers in, and thus, increase sales.

Which Renovations Do Businesses Require Under the New Normal?

It is still difficult to say for how long we will have to deal with the virus as a potentially life-threatening disease. The timeline provided by experts in terms of how long it will take to get a long-term solution varies from six months to as long as two or three years, so renovations as the following are very much needed.

Social distancing

According to the Centers for Disease Control, social distancing protocols can reduce the number of virus->

Given the impact of this prevention method, businesses should focus most of their efforts on redesigning their premises to enforce social distancing. This may include >

Meanwhile, stores and retail establishments may have to rethink their layouts so that customers follow a specific predefined path when shopping to prevent them from getting too close to each other.

Temperature checks and sanitization areas

Businesses can set up sanitization booths and checkpoints at the entrance of their establishment to prompt customers to soak their shoes in an antibacterial solution while getting their temperature checked and their hands cleaned with hand sanitizer.

It is essential to follow the guidelines provided by health authorities to set up these checkpoints adequately. If you need financing for these expanses, construction loans can help you in building and equipping these booths.

Production-area modifications

Whether it is a restaurant or an industrial facility, the premises in which workers produce the goods offered by the business have to be redesigned, at least temporarily, with social distancing in mind.

For example, specific machinery may have to be moved, and tables, shared spaces, and assembly lines may have to be >

Office space

Encouraging employees to get back to the office is perhaps one of the biggest challenges, as many still fear that the office space is an unsafe place to be.

In this regard, if working from home is not an alternative for the employer, the office space must be redesigned to comply with social distancing protocols by reducing the number of work stations. Offices will also have to set up sanitization booths and temperature checkpoints at the entrance, and all the equipment shared by the staff will have to be cleaned more regularly. It would be a good idea to buy additional printers and copiers.

Construction loans can finance these investments as part of a larger project to get offices ready to receive workers once again.

How Much Do These Renovations Cost?

The cost of renovating a business or a workspace varies depending on the extent of the project. Small changes made to a store may cost a few thousand dollars while renovating a factory could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Regardless of how much the cost of the project is, construction loans can provide the funds required to complete them.

Certain construction loans, such as those secured by the Small Business Administration SBA in the United States, can finance up to 5 million, with a repayment period of between 20 to 25 years. Others provided by financial services firms, such as Camino Financial, can provide up to 400,000, with the repayment period up to 18 months.

A helping handnbsp;

Now more than ever, creating a safe environment and ensuring peoples safeness when they visit, shop, or work at the companys premises has to be a priority for business owners. This has to be part of their strategy to survive the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus.nbsp;

But entrepreneurs are not alone. Construction loans can provide the funds needed to perform renovations at an affordable interest rate and with long-enough repayment periods to ensure these investments can result in higher sales and foot traffic.

If you are looking to acquire one of these loans, do your homework Investigate at least three institutions and compare their offerings before accepting one, taking into consideration the loan amount, interest rate, fees, time to pay, terms, and requirements.

Full Story >

Copyright©2020 Realty Times®.All Rights Reserved
$1,860,000 Exclusive Property !!! Beautiful premium Size corner Lot: 5,297 Sqft. Locate in the most e...
  • Learn More about this Property
Press and Events New Developments Worldwide Developments Exclusive Penthouses Why list with Venegas International Search by Map
Updated: Wednesday, October 21, 2020

9 Ways Becoming A Homeowner Ca...
Homeownership. It shifts so many things. If youre coming from an apartment, you may experien...

What is an FHA Loan and Is It ...
The Federal Housing Administration insures what are called FHA loans. These mortgage loans p...

More Real estate News
Copyright ©2020 - Realty Times®
All Rights Reserved.

An Unprecedented Hospitality Experience For The Region LOS ANGELES, CA — July...

Ritz Carlton Miami Beach Residences

The Future of Miami
Brickell City Centre Designed by developer Arquitectonica, Brickell City Centre aims...

< Visit Our Blog