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Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Wednesday, August 23, 2017

HOA Meeting Basics

HOA board meetings are designed to transact essential business. They should be carefully choreographed to that end rather than a rambling discussion. Members should be welcome and encouraged to attend and observe. To that end, provide a Member Forum at the beginning of the meeting for owner comments, questions and complaints Its the American way.

Here are the meeting basics:

Motions Voting. Business matters are considered when a motion is made, and seconded. Each motion should offer the opportunity for discussion prior to a vote. Votes, when taken, involve board members only.

Meeting Agenda. There may be an agenda format prescribed in your governing documents. If so, use it. If not, use an agenda like:

Call to Order. President says, "The meeting is called to order."

Minutes. Secretary reads the Minutes of the last meeting. A motion to approve the minutes as read or amended should be passed.

Review Financial Report. Most recent month Balance Sheet, Income Expense Report and collection activity.

Officers Reports. President, Treasurer, etc.

Committee Reports. First come reports from "standing" or permanent committees; then from "ad hoc," or special committees.

Unfinished Business. Business left over from previous meetings.

New Business. Introduction of new topics. If the topic is complex and requires research, it should be assigned to a committee who will report recommendations to the board at a future meeting.

Adjournment. The meeting ends by a vote or by general consent.

Timed Agenda. To keep meetings on track, using a timed agenda is helpful. Two hours or less should be the goal of most meetings since concentration and productivity begins to fade. So, when composing the agenda, put actual time limits on each item, like Owner Forum 15 minutes, Minutes 5 minutes, Treasurers Report 10 minutes and so on. Timing will help move business along and remind all present that time is a valuable commodity.

Action Agenda. Meetings should be action driven. To that end, all agenda items should be framed with a "review and approve" context to them. While discussion may be part of the plan, it is not the goal. Every item brought up at the meeting should have a motion and second. So, if a director states, "Id like to talk about a parking poicy on commercial vehicles", the presidents response should be, "Do I hear a motion and second to establish a commercial vehicle parking policy?" If both arent forthcoming, time to move on to other business. Impromptu motions should usually be handled at a future meeting if they require research and study. The president should ask the proposer to present a proposal at the next meeting for the boards consideration.

All members have the responsibility to serve the HOA in some way, whether it be on the board or committee. If youve recently been elected, congratulations Welcome to the board and thanks for stepping up

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net
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No Pets Allowed: What About A Protective Dog?

Your condominium rules prohibit pets of any kind except fish and birds. A unit owner asks the Board of Directors to allow her to keep a dog, because she needs the comfort the animal gives her. What should the Board do?

First, the Board has to understand the difference between a "service" animal and a "comfort" or "emotional support" animal. I use the word animal, because there are more than dogs in this category. The list includes pigs, parrots, cats, ducks, and yes, even a turkey who last year had to be given a seat on a Delta air flight.

A service animal is trained to do a specific task, such as a guide dog. No one ndash;including a condominium -- can prohibit such an animal because the owner has to >

A comfort, "assistance" or "emotional support" animal ESA falls into a different category. According to the Humane Society, such an animal "does not need to be trained to perform a service. The emotional and/or physical benefits from the animal living in the home are what qualify the animal as an assistance animal."

While the Americans For Disability Act ADA does not generally apply to many community associations, the Fair Housing Act FHA does. Oversimplified, the FHA requires the housing provider including condos to make "reasonable accommodations" to a request for such a comfort animal.

Typically, if the owner seeking such an animal provides a letter from a doctor or a therapist, stating the disability and the need for the comfort that animal will provide, this will satisfy the legal requirement of making a "reasonable accommodation".

Sounds easy In fact, its too easy to get such a letter. Look on the internet for "emotional support animals". For 99, you can get the necessary letter within 24 hours. Imagine being diagnosed in less than one day that you have such a burning need for that pig or duck to keep you happy. If it quacks like a duck, thats exactly what it is: a "Quack".

In fact, I recently heard that one of these "trained professionals" issued a letter authorizing the condo owner to have two pets: one to comfort the owner and the second to comfort the poor depressed animal that was supposed to comfort the owner.

Condo boards have a major problem when faced with a request to allow such a comfort animal. The FHA makes it very clear: they are "prohibited from discriminating against ... owners or even tenants because of their disability or the disability of anyone associated with them". The Act goes on to prohibit the board from refusing "to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling."

A recent case handed down by the DC Court of Appeals summarized the law. In order for the unit owner or the tenant to have a case for violating FHA, "he must show 1 that he suffered from a disability; 2 the landord knew or should have known of the disability; 3 an accommodation of the disability is necessary... to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises in question, 4 the tenant requested a reasonable accommodation, and 5 the landlord refused..." Welsh v McNeil, decided June 29, 2017. Although that case did not involve comfort animals, the requirements are applicable for all FHA cases whether involving a landlord or a community association.

According to the Department of Housing HUD, the government agency that enforces the law, in 2016 alone, it completed over 8300 investigations, of which some 40 percent involved a housing providers failure to provide "reasonable accommodation".

Although most of these cases did not involve comfort or service animals, the fact remains that HUD has the authority to investigate and issue fines.

Unit owners who are faced with discrimination have two alternative remedies: take the association to court, or file a complaint with the local HUD office. Clearly, the latter is much less expensive.

Accordingly, condo boards -- and their property managers -- are well aware of the ramifications of not making a "reasonable accommodation". However, this does not mean the board has to allow the animal just because the owner or the tenant has one of these letters stating the importance of such an animal.

First, the board can -- and should ndash;carefully examine the facts. If the request is for a service animal, unless is it absolutely clear it is a sham a board member saw the alleged blind person driving alone in a car which was not a self-driving one the request must be honored. And even then, what one may think is a "service animal, may actually be claimed as a comfort animal.

Next, the board should carefully analyze the letter from the alleged professional. Confirm it is legitimate. Did the owner meet with the letter writer or was it me>

Finally, the board can impose reasonable requirements, similar to what all other animal owners in the condo have to follow. It must be registered, and the owner should get an animal license from the local government. The animal must be on a leash at all times on common property. The owner must clean up after the animal, and if there are special zones in the property for use by animals, that must be used exclusively. And finally, if the animal is causing a disturbance or a nuisance for other owners, the board should address the problem by holding a hearing and possibly fining the owner.

But, in the final analysis, boards should be wary in imposing too many requirements or too many hurdles for the owner seeking that comfort animal. This is a highly emotional issue for many people, and easy to seek guidance -- and enforcement -- from HUD.

The association may have to spend a lot of money defending itself, and in fact can be fined by the enforcement agency. My advice to all boards: pause before denying the request for a comfort animal.


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9 Marketing Mistakes Agents Dont Know They Make

Whether you run a large business or youre a one man show, its important to have a strong marketing strategy. Mistakes are inevitable, and part of the learning process, but theyre also preventable, so you dont have to go through the hassle of repairing damage you could have easily avoided in the first place. Here are the 9 most common marketing mistakes real estate agents make -- and how you can stay away from them.

1. Being Absent on Social Media

Posting on social media is a great way to promote your business. Sadly, many real estate agents overlook this very important aspect or simply cant identify its benefits. Engagement on social media not only improves your online presence and visitor count, but it also attracts leads. Although it might seem time consuming, its better to manage your social media yourself. This way you can interact with your followers, know their needs, keep up with the latest trends, and ultimately stand out from the competition and drive in those leads.

2. Not Investing Enough Time in Listings Descriptions

The language you use to describe your listings has the power to attract and keep potential buyers interested. When describing a property, put yourself in your customers shoes and consider all the things they might want to read about - from square footage and amenities, to the quality of schools in the area. A good way to get started is to see what others are doing. Online real estate portals like Point2Homes.com display useful, detailed listings descriptions that you can use as inspiration for your own.

3. Not Having a Target Group

Aiming for wide-ranging appeal might be an obvious choice, but focusing on a specific group is much better for your marketing strategy. For example, first-time home buyers might want to know practical information about financing options, whereas luxury shoppers will have different requests. More is not always better, and spreading yourself too thin might lead to inefficient marketing. Bridge the gap between amateur and professional by becoming a pro in a specific field rather than being average at many things.

4. Having an Unresponsive Website

A well-functioning website makes for a good first impression and, lets face it, your website is your business card. As most people start searching online when they want to buy a home, it is important that your website works on desktop computers, as well as on mobile phones or tablets. Building a website yourself might seem complicated, but there are many all-in-one DIY toolkits that can get you started. Solutions like Point2 offer amazing marketing tools for professionals, including dozens of easily customizable website templates, easily accessible across all platforms.


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5. Forgetting about SEO

Many websites remain anonymous due to ineffective SEO strategies. If your website isnt on the first pages of search engines, nobody will reach it. Optimizing your website is hard work, but it will pay off. If you dont know how to tackle this on your own, there are plenty of search engine optimization tools for real estate agents. Many real estate agent websites even come with some level of optimization right from the start to make your business rank high and generate the leads you are aiming for.

6. Not Targeting Your Local Market

When you promote yourself online, include city and neighborhood names in your keywords. Local agents who focus on a specific area attract customers, not visitors, and enjoy better search engine rankings. Its tempting to opt for general terms like "homes for sale" in your advertising campaigns, but a potential customer is most likely looking for a specific type of property, e.g. "2-bedroom home for sale near me". While general targeting might bring in more visitors, they are not necessarily the most motivated buyers.

7. Not Having a Blog

A blog is a great way to attract more traffic to your website and interact with potential customers. Every blog post you write and share increases your chances of getting discovered in search engines and directing traffic to your page. Good content is key as it will keep readers engaged and coming back for more. Choose a website provider that includes WordPress blogs, which are intuitive and easy to use.

8. Sending Untargeted Emails

Drip email campaigns are an invaluable tool that can help you boost your business. If you dont want your communications to end up in the junk email folder, avoid sending untargeted messages, which often do more harm than good. Segment your audience, analyze their needs, and only send them >

9. Overlooking >

Many real estate agents overlook the importance of >

What marketing mistakes have you been making?

There are many more real estate marketing ideas that you can include in your strategy to get your real estate business running smoothly in no time.

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What Canadas Census Reveals About Housing Needs

Canada had more one-person households in 2016 than at any time since Confederation in 1867.

More than one in three young adults aged 20 to 34 are living with at least one parent, another all-time high.

The fastest-growing type of household is composed of multigenerational families, with at least three generations of the same family.

These are some of the results from Canadas 2016 Census, which are being >

Canada has 14.1 million private households, with 9.5 million census families married or common-law couples, with or without children, and lone-parent families. Just over 32 per cent of households are non-census family households people who live alone, two or more roommates or siblings living together.

One-person households account for 28.2 per cent of all households -- the most common type of living arrangement. Statistics Canada says, "income redistribution, pensions and the increased presence of women in the workforce have led to more people being economically independent today than in the past, especially in older age groups. In addition, higher separation and divorce rates have led to more people living alone instead of in couples."

The agency says population aging and higher life expectancy have also contributed to the increase, noting that a larger share of seniors live alone than other age groups.

"Senior women are more likely to live alone than men. They have a higher life expectancy and they also tend to marry men older than themselves. As a result, they are more often widowed than senior men," says Statistics Canada. "However, since the 1970s, men have seen larger gains in their life expectancy and this has led to couples living together longer."

The number of couples living without children is growing faster than the number of couples with children, mostly because the aging baby boomers are becoming empty nesters.

But thats not happening quickly in many households.

Between 2001 and 2016, the share of 20 to 34-year-olds who were living with at least one parent has increased with each census. Nationally, 34.7 per cent of people in that age group still live with their parents. In Ontario its 42.1 per cent and in the Toronto area its 47.4 per cent, the highest in the country.

Statistics Canada says the high numbers in Ontario are due to "a combination of economic realities, including the high cost of housing and cultural norms that favour young adults living with their parents for longer."

Quebec City had the lowest number of young people still living with their parents, at 23.8 per cent.

These trends are also being seen in many other countries. Compare Canadas one-person household percentage 28.2 with the United States 27.5 in 2012, the United Kingdom 28.5 in 2014, France 33.8 in 2011 and Japan 34.5 in 2015. The highest rate is Germany 41.4 per cent in 2015.

The rates for young adults living at home are also similar. In Canada, the national percentage is 34.7, while in the U.S. its 34.1. In the European Union in 2012 it was 48 per cent.

Another Canadian trend is to multigenerational households. They represented only 2.9 per cent of households in 2016, but since 2001 they have been the fastest-growing type. The Census says 6.3 per cent of the population living in private households 2.2 million people lived in multigenerational homes in 2016.

Earlier this year, a report by the Canadian Home Builders Association CHBA said that "a remarkable demographic trend is underway in Canada, which promises to have significant impacts on housing demand over the next five to 12 years."

It says theres a "baby boomlet", as the millennial generation adults aged 25 to 34 start their own families and are looking for "family-oriented housing." It was thought that much of this demand would be satisfied when baby boomers retired and downsized to smaller homes and condominiums, but the CHBA report says this isnt happening.

"Many boomers intend to remain in their current family homes indefinitely. The move to downsize into other types of housing is simply not materializing at the level anticipated. As a result, the numbers of single-family dwellings that younger families demand will not come through the resale market, especially in fast-growing urban areas."

The report says only about half of the single-family homes needed by the next generation will be available on the resale market. The Altus consulting group estimates that 300,000 new low-rise homes will be required during the next decade.

"The long-term consequences of current trends for baby boomers and millennial parents will be consequential for both groups," warns the CHBA report. "If millennials are unable to establish equity stakes in the market they will be unlikely to meet the asking prices of baby boomers when they do want to sell.

"Increasing numbers of births appear likely to require changes in the demographically unsupported trend toward high-density high-rise condominium housing forms that have dominated many urban regions over the past decade."

The association is calling on governments at all levels to "reduce current barriers to increasing supply of low-rise housing" and focus on allowing for complete family-oriented communities. It says this includes "recognizing that policies favouring excessive intensification particularly high-rise construction are no longer supported by demographic trends."
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California Bureau Of Real Estate Makes Disciplinary And Criminal Records Publicly Available

It may come as a surprise to some, but, as a matter of fact, one or more prior legal convictions may prevent a person from obtaining a California real estate license. There is emphasis on the may. It is within the discretion of the Bureau CalBRE. Rather than denial, the Bureau may issue a restricted license. This is what happened in the case of Brenda Skulason. It is with some >

According to the court record, between 1996 -- 1999, Ms. Skulason was convicted of three misdemeanors involving the operation of a vehicle. She was placed on probation for two of them. When she applied for a real estate salesperson license in 2000, it was denied on the basis of those convictions. Finally, in 2004, the Bureau agreed to issue her a restricted license.

In 2010, Ms. Skulason was issued an unrestricted license. Three years after that, her convictions were dismissed under section 1203.4 of the Penal Code. That section of the code provides, "In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interests of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the >It is also a little-known fact that section 10083.2 of the Business and Professions Code requires that "The [Real Estate] commissioner shall provide on the Internet information regarding the status of every license issued by the department The public information to be provided on the Internet shall include information on suspensions and revocations of licenses issued by the department and accusations filed pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act"

Thus it was that information about Ms. Skulasons convictions was linked to the CalBRE web page which provided the standard information about her license status. It used to be that such information stayed there forever. However, in 2016, the Business and Professions Code was amended to allow but not require the information to be removed if it was more than 10 years old and " the licensee provides evidence of rehabilitation indicating that the notice is no longer required in order to prevent a credible risk to members of the public "

Ms. Skulason sought to have the Bureau remove from its website the references to her now-dismissed convictions. For reasons we dont know, the Bureau declined to do so. Ms. Skulason brought suit. "Specifically, she sought an order requiring the Bureau to remove any document referencing her expunged convictions from its website."

The trial court granted her request. The court stated, "The point of the expungement law is to allow those who have completed their criminal sentences to wipe their slates clean, apply for work, and build careers and lives without the specter of old convictions haunting them." The court remarked, "It is profoundly unjust [for the Bureau] to frustrate the purpose of the Penal and Labor Codes by posting an expunged conviction information with full knowledge of the harm it can cause."

The Bureau appealed. And guess what? The appellate court reversed the trial courts decision. Skulason v. California Bureau of Real Estate, First Appellate District, August 16, 2017

The Appellate Court acknowledged, "that increased access to information about prior convictions brings with it additional and potentially harmful, collateral consequences." It said, " we agree that posting information on the Internet allows the public far more access to that information than it might otherwise have. And this increased accessibility makes it easier for employers, intentionally or inadvertently, to use information concerning a conviction that has been judicially dismissed in making an employment decision."

Having said that, the court wrote, "Although we acknowledge these adverse consequences, Skulason has not provided, and we have not found, any legal authority establishing, or defining the scope of, any duty that would restrict the Bureaus ability to post publicly available information about a licensee on its website."

Simply put, the court found that, although the law does not require the Bureau to post information about dismissed convictions, it does not prohibit it either. It wrote that, "the Bureaus posting of the information is therefore, quintessentially discretionary" The court could not order it to remove that information.

As of this writing, the information at issue is not linked to the CalBRE website. It had been removed as a result of the trial courts order. It will be interesting to see how the Bureau exercises its discretionary ability. Will it restore the link to the information, or will it leave things as they are?
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13 Magnificent Mansions To Buy With Your Lottery Millions

At press time, Saturdays Powerball jackpotnbsp;was sitting at 510 million - the eighth-largest in U.S. lottery history.nbsp;Choose the cash option as the sole winner and youd bank 324.2 million before taxes. If that kind of money has you daydreaming about buying a Jay-Z and Beyonce-like mansion, well, were right there with you. I mean, real estate remains one of the best long-term investments you can make, so whats a few more zeroes, right?

Weve done some of the legwork so you can take your winning numbers right to the real estate apex, buying one of the most luxurious - and expensive - homes around the world.

The Chartwell Estate, AKA the Beverly Hillbillies Home

Who wouldnt want to own the Beverly Hillbillies house? This L.A. landmark known as the Chartwell Estate is on the market for 350 million so youll still have to take out a mortgage, but, for that, you get 10 acres, a "grand 18th-century French Neo>

Bel Air Spec House

We couldnt not include another L.A.-area mansion, because this one is a spec house - a spectacularly outfitted spec house that is on the market for 250 million. "The extravagant 38,000 square foot property features 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms, five bars and three kitchens and comes complete with its own moat, four-lane bowling alley and an 85-foot Italian glass infinity pool fitted with a hydraulic theater-sized movie screen," said CNN. "These features alone may seem luxurious, but the propertys developer,nbsp;BAM Luxury Developmentnbsp;group, have equipped the residence with a range of other unique fittings that ensure the home lives up to its opulent price tag. These include an art collection comprised of more than 100 carefully curated pieces including an interactive installation by British artist Dominic Harris and an oversized Leica camera by Chinese sculptor Liao Yibai, valued at 1 million."


cnn.com

Connecticuts Great Island

This 175 million, 63-acre waterfront property on Long Island Sound, "known as the Great Island, has been owned since around 1900 by the family and descendants of William Ziegler, an industrialist whose fortunes were attributed to baking powder," said REALTOR Mag. It features a stone mansion, a 21-stall horse stable, its own polo field, a private beach and dock, a boathouse, and several additional structures dotted on the property.

Hamptons Oceanfront

Prefer The Hamptons? Perhaps this 14-acre compound featuring a 12,000-square-foot main house and more than 700 feet of oceanfront spread across three separate lots is to your liking. For 150 million, you get 360-degree water views, and a "world->


sothebyhomes.com

Manhattan Manse

Perhaps Manhattan is more your speed. For a mere 85 million, you could own this eight-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot condo that comes with just a few bells and whistles. "The full-floor apartment comes with a million-dollar yacht and docking fees for five years, as well as two Rolls Royce Phantoms, a standing weekly dinner date for two at Daniel Bouluds restaurantnbsp;Danielnbsp;for one year, court-side season tickets to the Brooklyn Nets for a year, a live-in butler for one year, a mansion rental in the Hamptons for a summer and a private chef," said CNBC.


cnn.com

New Jersey Jewel

This European-inspired estate in exclusive Morristown, NJ features 15 scenic acres and a 30,000-square-foot custom home. Some of its more over-the-top features include a full regulation tennis court, an 80,000-gallon swimming pool, three outdoor kitchens, 13 imported fireplaces from Italy and Portugal, an elevator, Pietra Cardoza and Calacatta marble, a "museum-quality wine cellar graced by Roman brick and Jerusalem limestone floor," and a catering kitchen. Even better: Its a bargain at 39 million.


http://christianbarber.terrarealtors.com

Western Colorado Ranch

Get in touch with your inner rancher with this 6,900-acre luxury ranch in Western Colorado. For 149 million, you get Discovery Channel creator John Hendricks former property, "a 14-bed, 12-bath mansion complete with an observatory, guest house, helipad, air strip and other amenities," said the Denver Post. It also features a 22,000-square-foot main house, "scenic desert views and unmatched privacy," plus "grazing land for cattle as well as fishing ponds and horse pastures."


llnyc.com

Opulence in Palm Beach

"Internet pioneernbsp;Jim Clarknbsp;is selling Il Palmetto, his landmarked Billionaires Row mansion, with an attention-grabbing price tag of 137 million," said the Palm Beach Daily News. "The estate measures 5.14 acres and faces about 340 feet of beachfront east of South Ocean Boulevard, with another 360 feet on the Intracoastal Waterway. With Italian Renaissance->


sothebyshomes.com

Hawaiian Dream

How does 15 acres on the North Shore of Hawaii sound? "The property known as Hale lsquo;Ae Kai sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, with a private path leading down to Secret Beach," said Mansion Global. The house itself was built in a Balinese-inspired >


purekauai.com

French Fabulousness

This ones for you if youre the sole winner and youre thinking international. "The opulent address in the billionaires playground of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is currently owned by Suzanne Marnier-Lapostolle, a member of the illustrious Grand Marnier dynasty who is keen to downsize," said the Daily Mail. "Nice Matin today reports that the former home of Belgium King Leopold II can be yours for lsquo;a billion euros

dailymail.co.uk

Cool in Cannes

This one-of-a-kind estate is perfect for the big spender who wants to show off their unique digs. "Fashion designer Pierre Cardins Palais Bulles Bubble Palace, a complex of interconnected, terracotta-colored domes on the French Riviera at Theacute;oule-sur-Mer near Cannes, is up for sale," said The Guardian. Its asking price of 410 million is "one of the highest asking prices ever for a European property."


theguardian.com

Grandiose from the Grand Duke

"This historic Tuscan estate was once home to Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany," said Love Money about this swanky Grossetto, Italy villa. "Housing scores of well-appointed rooms, the sprawling villa was extensively renovated in 2003 and has since been used as a five-star hotel. Priced at 70 million, the property "a farmhouse and barn that have been repurposed as guest accommodation, period features, and "two large pools that face a private golf course and vineyard."


lovemoney.com

Barbados Beauty

At a whopping 125 million, this Barbados beachfront mansion measures 13,000 square feet on four levels with 20 bedrooms and 24 bathrooms and encompassing two acres of land, "and has its own spa, coffee shop and health club," said Point2Homes. "It is being sold partially furnished and features, for example, marble and mahogany closets. It this wasnt enough, there are also dedicated boat berths at the nearby Port Ferdinand marina."


point2homes.com

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Is Brass Here To Stay... Again?

If youve been watching HGTV, flipping through interior design magazines, or touring model homes lately, youve probably seen one of todays hottest trends for home: brass. But is this interior design flashback just a blip or should you start ditching all that chrome, nickel, and stainless?

Its true - what was once old is new again, and what started sneaking back into interiors in 2015 has stuck around, becoming more and more prevalent in chic homes and more readily available in a variety of >

"Our shop is bursting at the seams with brass - and why? We love its cozy warm glow, its easygoing elegance, and its old-school >

Huffington Post likens its renewed popularity to "the chilly minimalism of recent decades fading," and "warm and inviting hues... definitely taking over on every level."

Of course, the fact that todays brass is far more stylish than what we associate with, well, the brassy light fixtures of decades ago, has something to do with it.

"If you wait long enough, everything comes back in >

Weve scoured the Internet for the best examples of brass deacute;cor today so you can get inspired to catch the brass ring in your home.

How snazzy do these brass fixtures and hardware look against the black cabinets? Yowza.


pinterest.com

A touch of brass brings a touch of >


pinterest.com

While you probably dont want to go into brass overkill, some attention to accessories, like the pendant lamps over the island and the shelving that flanks the stove, ups the ante, bringing warmth to the space and counteracting the cool gray on the cabinets.


pinterest.com

Or, you could go all out, covering your cabinets in the warm hue, like in this modern kitchen...


amuneal.com

...or in this eclectic gourmet space.


madeandstate.com

Copper, bronze, and marble make for a stunning trio in this bathroom.


pinterest.com

Brass shower fittings look amazing over patterned tile.


apartmenttherapy.com

Pulling a similar and complementary hue through to the grout makes this bathroom look even more stunning.


camidesigns.com

With brass, you can take your pick of knobs and pulls. Options are abundant and available in a range of size and >


>
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How To Simplify Your Next Move

When youre selling your home, getting your belongings organized can seem like a low priority. Youre dealing with finding the right real estate agent, the best time to list your home on the market, and maybe even house-hunting for a new place to live.

All of that can keep you quite busy considering many of us have to do those things while we work a full-time job. Organizing your home so that you can simplify your move just doesnt seem practical.

However, there is one main reason why getting organized can not only simplify your next move but also help improve your chances of selling your home faster and for more money.

When you go through the process of getting organized, you should be eliminating items from your home which helps to clear clutter. Clearing clutter is one of the first things agents and experts who stage homes for sale will tell you to do.

When the clutter is gone, the home can be shown much easier. Potential buyers can see what makes your house so special and different from others in the neighborhood.

If youre putting off the process of getting organized because you think you should wait until you accept an offer, let me encourage you to get motivated to do it sooner. Ive seen it happen many times. The homeowner thinks theres plenty of time and then when an offer is accepted theyre thrust into high gear because the buyer wants to close escrow fast.

Of course, your agent can negotiate the closing date but sometimes a faster closing is a must. Yes, you may be able to rent back from the new owners to give you more time to prepare to move but you cant avoid the fact that youll need to move at some point.

Here are five tips that can help you jump start your organizing and simplify your next move. You will be glad you start before you get an offer to purchase your home.

1. Sort piles of belongings into groups: keep, giveaway, maybe, and trash. The "maybe" pile you box up and seal for six to 12 months. If you dont have a use for your items in the "maybe" box during the year then perhaps you can donate it.

2. Give yourself plenty of time. Be patient. This process of getting organized takes time. Know that when it comes to sorting through personal papers and memorabilia it will take you much longer than reviewing other items. Leave some extra time for the expected reminiscing that will occur.

3. Store your items in clear plastic bins. Using clear boxes helps to let you have a quick view of whats inside. If you used cardboard boxes or colored bins, then use a pen to clearly label whats inside and which room it will go in at your new home. You might want to use a large piece of paper to write the label on so that you can reuse the bin again later for another purpose.

4. Get rid of the paper. A big problem in many homes is the paper trail they have from room to room. It could be magazines, newspapers, documents, advertisements, receipts, you name it. Most homeowners keep a lot of paper which creates a lot of clutter. Go through your files and reduce the paper by shredding or recycling documents you dont need. Youll find that a lot of what youre hanging on to, you just dont need.

5. Do it now This is the most valuable tip. As soon as you finish reading this, go put a time on your calendar when you will begin to get organized. Placing it on your calendar should help you block off time to get started and prevent procrastination. If you take care of things right away, youll find that life gets simpler. The same goes for your move. So, get organized and simplify your next move


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New Advances In Technology Make Going Green A Breeze

Did you know that an automatic dishwasher uses less hot water than doing dishes by hand, which equals an average of six gallons less per cycle, or more than 2,000 gallons per year? Considering that an individual American uses about 2,000 gallons of water per month, thats a pretty significant number.

The idea of "going green" has come a long way in recent decades. In the 1950s, some kinds of energy efficiency werent really a choice. From drying your clothes on a clothesline, to cutting your grass with a mechanical push mower, people often lived green without ever consciously considering their carbon footprint. These days, the story is a little different; you cant turn a corner or pick something up without seeing some kind of "save the earth" signage or packaging.

Reasons to Go Green

There are a plethora of reasons to go green, most falling into either the money-saving or the earth-saving categories. On one hand, you could seriously put some green back into your wallet with things like energy-efficient appliances, and green building tax credits and rebates. Also, simple things like carpooling, limiting eating out, and starting your own vegetable garden are great ways to save money and help the environment.

On the other hand, eco-friendliness means making your community and the planet a better place to live not only for us, but also for future generations. Examples of things you can do in your home are unplugging unused electronics to prevent "phantom" energy consumption, switching to LED light bulbs, conserving water by taking shorter showers, and using reusable items like Tupperware and canvas shopping bags rather than plastic.

Home Automation Technology

New advances in technology are taking much of the guesswork out of going green. With home automation systems like the Wink Hub and free app, you can control the settings on many of your home devices with the push of a smartphone button or even just with your voice. The Wink ecosystem interconnects all of your smart home devices either first through the Hub, or directly to the app. Winks simplicity is one of its most attractive features: according to Home Depot technology professional and Wink test user, Ramesh Chaparala, "Its very, very simple and self-explanatory," continuing, "Installing the Hub is a no-brainer; in five steps youre connected."

What Can You Control?

With the Wink home automation ecosystem, you no longer have to "set it and forget it" when it comes to your home devices. You can control many of your smart devices from your couch, bed, work, or anywhere you are in the world. Here are just a handful of devices you can install in your home that will not only bring you into the 21st century, but also make your home a smoothly running, highly efficient machine.

Smart Thermostats

Thermostats are a great way to control your homes energy consumption, and when you apply smart technology, you can control it from anywhere. One Wink App Ready device is the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which not only adjusts to your schedule, uses automatic energy-saving settings, and Smart Response technology for precise temps, but also has a full-color, customizable screen to match your decorating scheme. You can be sure your home is aesthetically pleasing and at your exact desired temperature at all times.

Custom Window Shades

Motorized window shades allow for a clean, uncluttered look, are safer for pets and children with cordless technology, and help insulate your home with the setting of a timer or the push of a button. One quality option, Bali Custom Blinds and Shades with Somfy automation controls, utilizes a single control, wall switch, remote or programmable timer to operate single or multiple window coverings. Keep the shades drawn during summer to keep your home naturally cool, or leave them open in cooler months to let the sunshine warm your space.

Remote-Access LED Lights

Huge energy and money savings start by simply swapping out incandescent and even compact fluorescent light bulbs in your home for LED bulbs. LED solutions outlast incandescent and halogen bulbs up to 35 to 1, consume 85 less energy than incandescent bulbs, and emit less heat, which altogether drastically reduces replacing costs and landfill waste. Once youve decided to install LEDs, take it to the next level by installing smart light bulbs, like the TCP Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Kit with 2 A19 LED light bulbs. With this kit, you can remotely control lighting, dimming and smart lighting features from anywhere in the world with any computer, tablet, smart phone, or connected remote control. They have an estimated yearly cost of 1.32 and a life expectancy of 22.8 years both figures based on three hours of use a day.

Home Automation Technology is an Environmental No-Brainer

When it comes to eco-friendly new gadgets, its clear that home automation takes the cake. Having nearly complete control of your energy-consuming home devices right at your fingertips is certainly a big step forward for earth-conscious homeowners. In addition to these devices, several other smart green products are energy sensors, HVAC systems, irrigation systems, and outlet controls.

Which environmentally friendly automated devices will you install in your home?

Sarah Kellner is a DIY home-improvement writer for Home Depot in Atlanta. Sarah writes for homeowners on topics ranging from appliances to kitchens to home automation. You can view many of Home Depots home automation products on the companys website.

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How Do You Know If Your Moving To A Diverse Neighborhood

A family I know moved from California to Texas recently to take advantage of a new job opportunity. As they set out to buy a new home in their adopted North Texas city, the questions they had for their real estate agent were pretty typical:

  • Where can we afford to buy what were looking for?
  • Should we consider new or is it a better value to buy in an older neighborhood?
  • Where are the best schools?
  • What will the commute be like?
  • Where will we be accepted as an interracial family?

That last one raise an eyebrow? As a white person or family, you may be able to presume that youll be accepted into a new neighborhood without question, at least on face value literally. But for a mixed family moving to Texas from liberal California, things are not necessarily so black and white.

Especially now.

My neighbor is on the news

Mixed families arent the only ones who are challenged to find a neighborhood that welcomes them. Between race and sexual orientation, trying to fit in, or at least feel somewhat at home, can be difficult.

Most of us watched what transpired in Charlottesville, VA last weekend and have seen the aftermath this week as numerous torch-carrying Nazis and Nazi sympathizers have been systematically outed. Those identified have been fired from their jobs and even ex-communicated from their families. But, what if one of those marchers turned out to be your neighbor? They have to live somewhere, right?

While the obvious choice after this discovery may be: "We need to move," the more pressing question is this: How can you avoid living next door to a torch-bearer in the first place?

Recognize one of your potential neighbors as someone who was marching down the street with a dollar store Tiki torch would be great, right? Lets just cross that home right off the list. The truth is, you may not be able to cherry-pick every one of your neighbors or even know what theyre really about. But there are steps you can take to make sure the neighborhood suits your needs and your neighbors mostly share your values.nbsp;Especially in this increasingly contentious time when political and social differences are more pronounced, more polarizing, and more obvious than theyve been in decades, its more important than ever to know who youre living next door to.

Drive around and walk around

The more time you spend in your potential neighborhood, the better the feel youll get for how it lives. Noticing a lot of pro-Trump bumper stickers when youre looking for a more progressive neighborhood - or vice versa? This might not be the place for you. Ditto if youre a Muslim family whos getting a lot of side eye and people crossing to the other side of the street as you approach. While that might not necessarily indicate a lack of acceptance, the way it makes you feel may just be enough to ditch that area and lean toward one where you were greeted with waves and a warm "Hello" instead.

Ask your REALTORreg;

Your real estate agent or >

Do an online search

While it wont tell you what everyone on the street youre considering is like, a general diversity search will yield some good info, like this list of the most diverse cities in the country on WalletHub.

Ask around

Have anyone you can talk to about certain neighborhoods? If youre brand new to the area, you might not have trusted friends or colleagues yet. Any new affiliation with a school or church or new job can yield confidantes, or, at least, recommendations. If youre a member of the LGBTQ community, the National Association of Gay amp; Lesbian Real Estate Professionals NAGLREP can help.

Check Nextdoor

Nextdoor is great for finding a lost dog, locating a babysitter, or selling your old furniture. But its also a great place to get a feel for a neighborhood or learn new things about the one you already live in. And that, says the San Jose Mercury-News, can be a double-edged sword. "The mission of Nextdoor, a 4-year-old, San Francisco-based startup - which now operates in 70,000 neighborhoods around the country and has recently been valued at 1.1 billion - is to use the power of technology to build stronger and safer communities," they said. "This all sounds very well and good - until you bring real, flawed human beings into the mix. And, then Nextdoor becomes like any social network, with all the good and bad that comes from giving people a venue to let their free expression fly from the remote isolation of their laptops and smartphones."

This particular article from Marth Ross recounts examples of racial profiling and public shaming that "is another Nextdoor trend that Ive heard friends complain about," she said. Keep in mind that you can only become part of the Nextdoor community in your particular area if have a physical address you can register, so a friend who lives there or a well-connected Realtor can be a great help here.

Check police records

The sweet old man down the street may not seem so sweet when you uncover his criminal, racially motivated past. My Local Crime allows you to enter any address and see a list of crimes reported in the area. Family Watchdog can pinpoint sex offenders in the area surrounding the homes you are considering.


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Escaping Condo Jail
Question: The president of our condominium association acts alone and has previous members of the board on the bank account of the Association. He has been on the board for over 3 years. He harassed all the secretaries and treasurers that had been elected by the unit owners.

The President doesnt have meetings with the board or include them in any decisions for different projects, nor does he let the treasurer handle the money. He decides what projects he wants to do and he works on the projects than he pays himself. He also is a custodian/ janitor and he pays himself a 800 per month.

Please we need help. Where should we report, without hiring an Attorney. I am the current secretary for the association but the President doesnt even talk to us. He buys apartments from owners that are behind with the Association dues, he owns 5 apartments in a 20 unit building and he comes at the meetings with his votes plus with proxy votes from the unit owners that are renting their units. Ana.

Answer:Dear Ana. My first reaction was "you gotta be kidding; this was a false news email. But then I remembered reading "Escaping Condo Jail", by Sara Benson and Don DeBat, so my next reaction was "welcome to the wonderful world of condo living".

Are you the only one concerned about this? Have you talked with other owners to see if you could mobilize a group that would start to challenge the President? Have you advised the absentee owners of these problems so they would no longer give the President their proxy?

The best approach, in my opinion, is to try to "throw the rascal" out of office. Your Bylaws contains the procedure for recalling an elected board member. Keep in mind that the board can terminate an officer but only the unit owners -- in the percentage of vote required by your legal documents -- can remove a director.

If you can prove even only half of the facts in your question, there is a strong case that the President is breaching his fiduciary duty to the association.

So why dont you want to get an attorney? A lawyer can help, and I suspect that most lawyers would >Contact the Community Association Institute caionline.org. Thats a national association that represents community associations all over the country. There are local chapters, and you will get some names of local attorneys who practice community association law. I strongly recommend you talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

You are the secretary of the board. You also have a fiduciary duty to the association, and in my opinion, that duty requires you to take immediate appropriate action to remove the President -- either by vote of the membership or by court order.

Question: A contiguous owner in a three level apartment->How can a condo board deter or prevent such behavior that presents grave safety risks to all condo residents? Is it possible to declare the condo a "non-smoking" condo. Al.

Answer: Al, smoking -- which now includes marijuana -- is the hot-button issue today in almost every community association throughout the country.

You cant stop stupid people from doing stupid things. I hope the smoker if she survived -- has learned an important lesson, But the association cannot be the hand-holder of each and every unit owner.

However, you can restrict smoking -- of any kind -- in the common elements as well as in the units. While some of my lawyer friends believe the association can enact a rule prohibiting smoking in the common areas, I believe that the safe harbor is to get a ByLaw amendment on this issue. I recognize that it often is very difficult to enact Bylaw amendments.

To restrict smoking in units, you have to amend not only the Bylaws but also the Declaration. Such a restriction will be controversial, which is why the Declaration should be amended. Now would be a good time to present such a proposal, because owners may be concerned there may be yet another fire due to smoking.

Case law around the country is very clear: community association owners are legally bound not only by the legal documents in effect when the owner took title but also as to any properly enacted amendments to the legal documents in the future.
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4 Tips for Keeping Your Rental Property Secure

Burglaries are a concern for all home owners, but for landlords, they are an even bigger risk. Households living in rental properties experience burglaries at a higher rate than other households, Department of Justice statistics show. Households living in rental properties are more likely to be burglarized both when no one is home and when the property is occupied. This holds true across all categories of properties, regardless of income level, race or whether the household is composed of single or married persons.

This higher risk makes security an even more urgent priority for landlords than it does for typical homeowners. A high rate of burglary can make your property harder to rent and less valuable, while strong security features can be a strong selling point. Here are four tips to keep your rental properties secure.

Make It Look Like Someone Is Home

Burglars prefer to break into a property when no one is home. Almost all burglars will avoid breaking into a property when there are signs of someone home, such as a car in the driveway or a loud TV or radio, a survey of 86 convicted burglars found.

You can help protect your properties by taking steps to make it appear as if your tenants are home. This is especially important during holiday seasons when many tenants are away on vacation. If tenants will be away for a prolonged period, coordinate with them to arrange to have mail and newspapers picked up and snow shoveled while theyrsquo;re away. Encourage them to leave a radio or TV on loudly while theyrsquo;re out.

Deny Opportunities for Concealment

Burglars seek concealment and hate to be seen, so taking away opportunities for concealment can serve as an effective deterrent. One way to do this is by maintaining landscaping so that there are no bushes or trees burglars can use to hide behind as they approach properties. Landscaping can actually have a bigger deterrent effect on burglars than doors, locks and windows, police officers interviewed by the Sun-Sentinel advise. Keep all bushes and hedges trimmed to no higher than three feet so that they are not tall enough to provide concealment. Plant low, thorny bushes beneath windows, and make sure there are no tree branches near windows that can assist burglars trying to scale properties. Add loud gravel to make it hard to conceal the sound of footsteps.

Another way to deny concealment at night is to install motion sensors that trigger lights. Adding a visible camera will let burglars know their actions are being seen.

Use Locks Effectively

Locks are a crucial part of any security approach, but in order for locks to be effective, they need to be used correctly. For properties with many renters, commercial-grade mortise locks will stand up to frequent use better than other types of locks, advises Lock Blog locksmith expert Ralph Goodman. Anti-drill plates and security pins will reinforce basic locks.

At a minimum, locks should be rekeyed after each new tenant. However, some locks that are designed to be easy to rekey, such as the Kwikset SmartKey cylinder and the U-Change Lock, are also less secure, warns Goodman. For this reason, it is often better to change locks than to rekey them. Using a patented key will prevent a locksmith from making a duplicate key without your permission.

Install Secure Barriers

In addition to locks, itrsquo;s also important to install other strong barriers. Seventy percent of break-ins are done through the front door, FBI data shows. In 80 percent of these cases, the door frame fails when it is kicked or battered in. Strong doors and doorjambs will prevent doors from being kicked or rammed in. Security screen doors provide the strongest door defense. Window bars and reinforced glass or plexiglas will help buttress window security.

Itrsquo;s also important to use strong barriers for outdoor areas of properties. Security gates and fences from a fully-licensed and insured provider such as Tampa fencing supplier Florida State Fence can help protect the perimeter of your properties. Make sure that garage doors and windows are also secure. For automatic garage door openers, use a zip-tie to secure the safety >
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Savvy Buyers Search Out Visual Disasters

Instead of shopping for your dream home, why not search out your dream discount?

First-time buyers can be distracted by the superficial. They can be enticed to pay for dream-home fantasies or, alternatively, encouraged to walk away from a hidden gemmdash;a visual disaster.

  • Buy a home which was cleverly staged and marketed to make buyers rush to put in an offer, and you may be paying for more for hype and distracting "veneer."
  • Dismiss a property because its a visual disaster, without assessing its true value to you, and you may lose a lot more.

Visual disaster is my label for a solid, well-located home that is structurally-sound and in >Smart sellers and their real estate professionals know the magic of fresh paint, the allure of professionally-staged interiors, and the appeal of cosmetic make-overs.

  • They understand which current "hot" features local buyers are willing to pay more for.
  • Generating multiple offers has become commonplace, pitting buyer against buyer to drive purchase prices higher.

A few thousand dollars worth of touch-ups and problem solving by sellers, can convert into tens of thousands more paid by buyers. Great for sellers, but is this really how you want to spend your hard-earned dollars?

Buyers who would prefer to invest their money in the best possible location and a solid, sound structuremdash;not superficial trimmings and flash done to someone elses taste and standardsmdash;may benefit from shopping for a visual disaster.

Caution: Thorough home inspection, ideally by a structural engineer, is essential to verify the home is structurally sound without any super-expensive repair necessary. Search out a reputable, skilled inspection firm before you start looking at properties. Other experienced "eyes"mdesign;contractors, designers, renovation-experienced property owners, your real estate professionalmdash;will also be helpful when viewing visual disasters.

Tasteless decor, scary color schemes, extreme pet-smells, overwhelming clutter...these are just a few ugly turnoffs that discourage buyers. For savvy home buyers these negatives may signal hidden value and money-saving opportunity.

A house, townhome, or condominium unit that does not look like something out of a magazinemdash;has not had the benefit of professional repainting, staging, or cosmetic overhaulmdash;will sell for less...in some markets, considerably less. These properties may also take longer to sell, so there can be more room for negotiation.

Buyers who are ready to contribute "sweat equity" to their purchase can end up thousands and thousands of dollars ahead. "Sweat equity" involves getting your hands dirty to uncover "good bones" and hidden

value, paying a professional to do the necessary design or physical work, or a combination of both approaches.

Depending on what the superficial "disaster" problems are, buyers have choices once they become owners:

  • They can overhaul the "visual disaster" themselves before moving in or hire professionals to tackle the more difficult aspects and then take on the rest.
  • New owners can decide to live with some or all of the "visual disaster" for a while. Then, hire professionals to make the necessary changes. Having lived in the home a while, owners discover what will really work for them.
  • If new owners have friends or family with renovation skills and knowledge, learning how to cost-effectively uncover the value in their hidden gem can be less daunting.

Here are a few common visual disasters to keep an eye out for:

  • Color Me Crazy: Many listed homes are painted white or in pale neutrals to make it easier for buyers to visualize the property with their own furnishings. Loud, clashing, or just plain "wrong" color schemes can make rooms seem smaller, darker, and less appealing. Many buyers cant think past strong colors to consider the true potential of spaces. Learn to visualize beyond crazy decor to discover value.
  • Tired and Seve> If an older home is wall-to-wall "original everything," that may be a buyer turn-off. But scrape away the dust and grime, deal with wood paneling overkill, paint with your color choices, and refinish floors or add new carpeting, and the refreshed property will sparkle. Your cost should be significantly less than what youd pay for the sellers version of their "for sale" make over.
  • Stinky Premises Animal smells cat urine is a killer and discoloration from long-term smoking are two definite buyer turn offs. Many cant get past a dirty property. Remove the broadloom and have the building professionally sanitized or tackle some cleaning yourself. Theres value under all of that ugh.
  • "What Were You Thinking" Design: What odd personal improvement or layout change has the seller made that is a total turn off to everyone else? Badly-installed spiral staircase? Transformed the diningroom into a bedroom? If its one bad feature and the home is otherwise sound, get a couple of quotes on fixing this problem. Your real estate professional will understand how your offer to purchase can reflect this extra costmdash;either a lower offer price and you pay for it or ask the seller to make the repair or at least share the cost.
  • Street De-faced: If the yard is a mess and the property is unappealing from the curb, many buyers will stay in their cars. Concentrate on where value lies: location and structural soundness. Get a quote or two on improving landscaping or correcting the street face to back up your offer price. Later you can decide how much to do yourself.

Talk to your real estate professional, friends, family, and local contractors to get a feel for what may work in your area. Collect a few ballpark quotes for painting, cleaning, and other possible undertakings to get an accurate feel for costs before you start looking at properties. Pull together a team of experienced people you can call on for knowledgeable input, so youll be ready when a possible "visual disaster" appears.

Do your homework and you can turn a visual disaster into your dream home at a great price
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Seller Cancellation Must Be Done By The Book

Breaking up is hard to do. So is cancelling a California real estate purchase contract. Especially if you are the seller. That is why, a little over a year ago, the legal department of the California Association of Realtors CAR produced a memorandum titled, "How a Seller May Cancel a Purchase Agreement: Checklist and QA".

The need for such an advisory arises out of the fact that a non-performing buyer may still want to buy. Sometimes buyers miss performance deadlines due to nothing more than sheer inefficiency. Sometimes it is because things have not gone as planned e.g. they dont yet have the money for the increased deposit that is due. And, sometimes, they stall the closing in an attempt to squeeze the seller for a further concession. In each case, they still want to buy -- just not on exactly the terms that had been agreed to.

The CAR memo notes: "Many sellers and agents are impatient. They want the contract canceled yesterday. But rushing the process of cancellation will often lead to a defective or questionable cancellation. What good does it do to cancel a contract if the buyer can come back and possibly claim a right to buy?"

For what reasons may a seller cancel? In a typical situation, the standard purchase contract RPA provides exactly ten reasons. The CAR memo provides the following list: 1 buyer failure to remove an applicable contingency; 2 buyer failure to deposit the earnest money, or an increased deposit; 3 funds for money deposited are not good; 4 buyer fails to deliver prequalification letter; 5 buyer fails to deliver verification of down payment and closing costs; 6 seller has reasonably disapproved of the verification of funds; 7 buyer fails to return the Transfer Disclosure Statement, Natural Hazard Disclosure, lead disclosures or other disclosures if required; 8 buyer fails to sign a separate liquidated damages form for an increased deposit; 9 buyer fails to deliver notice of FHA or VA costs or terms if applicable; and, finally, 10 buyer does not close escrow on time.

The ten reasons listed are in a standard transaction. Other possibilities could be added, such as a contingency for short sale approval, or the purchase of another property. Also, there are common law legal reasons such as fraud or duress.

When a buyer has failed to comply with one of the conditions in 1 -- 9 above, the seller must, before canceling, first give the buyer a Notice to Buyer to Perform NBP. In such an instance, it is important that the seller and his agent are careful to calculate correctly what is the buyers deadline date for compliance. The NBP can be delivered no earlier than two days before that date.

If the buyer has failed to close escrow on time condition 10, then the seller should use the Demand to Close Escrow DCE, not a notice to perform.

It is also important that the seller has fulfilled all of his obligations with respect to the buyers contingencies. "The [Purchase Contract] specifies that where the seller has sent out disclosures, reports or other information late, then the buyer will have an additional 5 days after receipt to remove contingencies if those 5 days go beyond the [contractual] contingency period."

Sellers will often want to retain some or all of a buyers earnest money deposit. In cases where an NBP has been used, this is not possible. The purchase contract gives the seller the right to cancel if the buyer has not performed after receiving an NBP, but it also provides that the seller will >If the buyer has not conformed with a Notice to Perform, or has not closed after receiving a Demand to Close Escrow, the seller may then deliver a Cancellation of Contract CC to the buyer. This form comes in two parts: one cancels the contract, the other cancels escrow and provides for disposition of the deposit money. It is important to note that the first part, unlike the second, does not require the signatures of both parties. It is >"Cancellation is a unilateral act regardless of whether there is an open escrow. The ten reasons for cancellation as outlined confer upon the seller a right to cancel unilaterally. It is ir>It goes on to say, "Escrow may require signatures from both parties to cancel the escrow, but the fact of an escrow being open does not affect the validity of the sellers cancellation." And further, "The fact that there is an open escrow does not by itself mean that the initial buyer retains a right to buy. If the contract was properly cancelled, then a seller may sell the property to a subsequent buyer."

Of course, there are still issues to be discussed. What happens to deposit money if the buyer balks? Can the property be put on the market if escrow isnt cancelled? What is the prudent thing to do? etc. But those are all for discussion some other day.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .
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Clever Ways To Create More Storage In Your Kitchen

Who doesnt need more storage in the kitchen? You may not have a massive space with dozens of cabinets and yards of countertops, but that doesnt mean you dont have the space you need to store all your stuff. Use a few of these clever tricks and you might be surprised how much extra room you can create.

Dining table storage

Getting creative with your dining space doesnt have to mean adding another piece of furniture. In a smaller space that cant accommodate a server or sideboard, how about a table with hidden storage under the eating surface?

Spice it up

Limited cabinet or countertop space can make it hard to store and view your spices, but a simple drawer hack can change that.

"Storing spices in a drawer rather than a wall-mounted rack ensures seasonings are handy for cooking while preserving their delicate flavors by protecting them from sunlight, moisture and heat," said HGTV. Use the 3.99 VARIERA spice insert from IKEA for an inexpensive solution.


hgtv.com

Build in a wine rack

Dont have space for the wine cellar you want? Build a cool wine rack right into your island.


hgtv.com

Transform your pantry

A small pantry space can be difficult not just from a space perspective but also because a narrow but deep space can make it hard to see whats there and access all of your goods. For as little as a couple hundred dollars, you can transform your pantry into a pull-out, which maximizes your space and gives you easy access to everything inside.


pinterest.com

Add a retractable pot rack

Perhaps the issue isnt so much about lack of space but lack of usable space when it comes to your pots and pans. Oftentimes, the cabinet intended for these items is one large box that makes it hard to keep the area neat and be able to easily find what you need without making a bigger mess. This DIY rack solves that problem and frees up space at the bottom of the cabinet for other items.


architectureartdesigns.com

Creative pot racks

Dont have the space for all your pots and pans in a cabinet? Many homeowners choose to go the overhead pot rack route, but, if you dont have the headroom for that or just dont care for that solution, how about this one: "A floating shelf that can also double as a floating pan rack," said Architecture Art Designs. Not only does this allow

you to display your nice cookware prominently and keep it within easy reach while bringing in a natural element, its perfect for a space in need of a focal point.


architectureartdesigns.com

Banquette storage

If youre doing a custom banquette, its easy enough to incorporate drawers underneath - the perfect place to keep all those things you dont need every day but dont want to store in the garage, like fancy dinnerware and silverware, tablecloths, and holiday serving pieces.


decoist.com

Easily accessible drawers that slide out from the end also make a great place to keep kids art supplies.


pinterest.com

You can also buy ready-made pieces for your dining room or breakfast nook, like this bench with a seat that lifts up to accommodate your storage needs.


Home Depot

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Introducing Your New Color Obsession

Is it gray? Blue? Green? Its all of them wrapped up in your new color obsession, and its going to have you running to Home Depot for a can or 10 in 3hellip;2hellip;1. Behrs first-ever Color of the Year, dubbed "In the Moment," isnt just a great option for refreshing your interior or exterior, its also an invitation to bring a little calm to your place.

"In the Moment" is a "restorative blue-green hue meant to soothe and >

House Beautiful describes the color as, "spruce blue, soft gray and lush green that coalesce to evoke a sense of sanctuary and >

To that end, Behr provided a "palette of 20 trend colors for 2018"nbsp;to help with pairing, alongside the announcement of the Color of the Year. All colors are available exclusively at The Home Depot.

"This lsquo;neutral blue, as Woelfel describes it, takes on a very different tone depending on the colors with which you pair it. When used as a bright pop in a mostly dark room, it feels calm and formal," said House Beautiful. However, when paired with white and light natural wood, the color comes off as energetic and vibrant, which makes for a welcoming statement on the exterior of a home."

In this dining room, the color reads blue and green and gray, changing with the light and complementing the mid-century modern deacute;cor.


lonny.com

Against the creamy white of the countertops in this kitchen and with the light streaming through the window and French door, the hue goes green.


behr.com

Ditto for this front door frame, which looks amazing against all that luscious stone.


behr.com

A subtle pop of color that brings in depth while introducing an overall sense of calm is a perfect choice for a window seat.


domino.com

Have an ocean or at least a pool outside? Youll love how the water affects the wall color, bringing in more of a sea-blue effect.


behr.com

Thats it. Weve found the perfect exterior color. We especially love how it deepens against the white trim.


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What to Do With That Spare Wall In The Kitchen

Does your kitchen have a wall or a nook thats too far away from the action to be part of the work zones but could be perfect for something? The question always is what. These designers have made the most of that extra wall, outfitting it with all kinds of useful and well-organized elements. See if any of these ideas provide inspiration for your kitchen.

1. A hardworking hutch. With a small bar sink, a coffee maker and extra countertop space, this piece has a free-standing furniture look and is versatile. It can be set up for morning beverages and pastries, as a buffet or as a wet bar. It also has plenty of storage space for glassware and serving pieces.

2. A wine bar. Side-by-side wine refrigerators topped by a counter provide a great place to uncork a bottle and let it breathe. Open shelves for glassware overhead make pouring and serving easy.

3. A streamlined built-in espresso bar. The big pantry barn doors dominate this wall but leave enough space for a built-in espresso machine and cabinets. The clever pullout shelf makes it easy to pour a cup, then tucks away. Cabinets in the same area provide space for beans and other java supplies.

Photo by Von Fitz Design - Browse kitchen ideas

4. A china cabinet. These lovely floor-to-ceiling cabinets recall a traditional china cabinet. The clear glass allows the homeowners to display their favorite things, bringing blues and greens into the white kitchen. This is a great way to provide display space for your favorite serving pieces, china and glassware.

Photo by LINCOLN BARBOUR PHOTO - Search kitchen pictures

5. A complete beverage center. A beverage refrigerator and pullout liquor cabinet make mixing up drinks easy along this home bar. Also worth noting are the wine racks overhead and the lighting that highlights the glass cabinets. Low beverage fridges are good for making items such as juice boxes easy for little ones to reach. But lock up that liquor cabinet Other elements to consider for this kind of home bar are a small sink and an ice maker.

Photo by Evalia Design, LLC. - More home bar ideas

6. Extra pantry storage. This nook was too far from the appliances to serve them. So the architect outfitted it with racks for hanging stemware, shelves for staples, and drawers and cabinets for extra storage. The countertop here is mostly used for display and allowed for a beadboard backing that harks back to the homes original architecture.

Photo by JWT Associates - Look for kitchen pictures

7. Multifunctioning space. This kitchen renovation >

Photo by New England Design Elements - Look for kitchen design inspiration

8. Bay window. This beautiful window lets so much natural light into the kitchen that its hard to imagine the room without it. A floating countertop transforms it into a work area-breakfast bar with a lovely view.

Photo by Joseph Fowler Homes - Browse kitchen ideas

9. A well-organized wall with a little bit of everything. This custom wall combines pantry cabinets, a wine rack, glassware storage, a work station and even the dogs bed. The balance between light and dark stains and strong vertical and horizontal lines creates a pleasing composition.

Photo by McKinney Photography - Look for kitchen pictures

Photo by Joseph Fowler Homes - Look for home bar pictures

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Three Percent Or 20 Percent - Which Is The Smarter Down Payment Strategy?

The minimum down payment on an FHA loan is 3.5 percent, which makes it a popular choice among those who dont have the funds for a large down payment and also those who dont meet the higher credit score requirements for other types of loans. And thats not even the lowest you can go. Loans like this one require only three percent down, and if youre a veteran or are buying a home in a rural area, you may be able to buy a home for nothing down. But should you go that low just because you can, or are you better off making a larger down payment? Were breaking it down.

The case for 20 percent

There are several advantages to putting down 20 percent when buying a home, like:

  • Since the bank will generally consider you a lower risk because you have "more skin in the game," you may be able to get a lower interest rate than you would with other types of loansas long as you have the credit score to support it.
  • Youll have built-in equity as soon as you move in.

    You can avoid paying private mortgage insurance PMI.

  • Its that last part that drives a number of people to strive for that 20 percent down payment since PMI can add several hundred dollars to a new homeowners monthly payment, and it can be hard to get rid of it. "If you can put 20 down and avoid PMI, that is ideal, said certified financial plannerSophia Bera on Business Insider.

The case for as little down as possible

The biggest roadblock to homeownership for many people is coming up with the down payment, so minimizing that expense sounds great, right? "The good news is a first-time buyer can purchase a home for a little as three percent down - and even no money down in some cases," said U.S. News.

But is that a smart move?

"The less you put down, the higher the mortgage insurance is," Casey Fleming, author of "The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage" and a mortgage professional in the San Francisco Bay Area, told them. "With five percent down, the mortgage insurance is quite high."

Yep, theres that pesky PMI again, which, for many first-time buyers, pushes their monthly payment to a level theyre not comfortable with. Another bummer about PMI: "If you need to pay PMI, the size loan you can get will be slightly smaller, to allow for the bigger payment," they said.

You may also have trouble qualifying for a loan even if you have a high enough credit score because you dont have enough cash reserves; if you are using all your savings for the down payment and the lender questions where the funds for your closing costs, taxes and insurance, and any needed repairs are coming from, you could have a problem.

But, on the flip side, a smaller down payment will up your rate of return, said The Mortgage Reports. "Consider a home which appreciates at the national average of near five percent. Today, your home is worth 400,000. In a year, its worth 420,000.

Irrespective of your down payment, the home is worth twenty-thousand dollars more. That down payment affected your rate of return. With 20 percent down on the home - 80,000 - your rate of return is 25 percent. With three percent down on the home - 12,000 - your rate of return is 167 percent."

Even when you add in the PMI and a higher interest rate, the equation comes out in favor of the lower down payment. "With three percent down, and making adjustments for rate and PMI, the rate of return on a low-down-payment loan isstill 106 percent - much higher than if you made a large down payment. The less you put down, then, the larger your potential return on investment."

The case for somewhere in between

Finding that balance between down payment and savings is a challenge for many homebuyers, and the sweet spot will be different for everyone depending on their unique circumstances and financial situation. Most financial experts will say that saving and scrounging to get together 20 percent at the risk of depleted savings and zero emergency funds is a shaky strategy, at best.

"If putting 20 percent down means that you use all of your savings, then dont do it I would much rather see people put five percent down, wipe out all their other debt with cash, and still have three months of emergency savings versus putting 20 percent down on a house," said Bera.

Especially when you consider all the added costs you may be facing once you buy: "yard work, home repairs, renovation costs, property taxes, insurance, etc. Its important to consider all of the costs and not just compare the monthly mortgage payment to your current rent amount," she said.

Another thing to consider when evaluating how much you should put down is what would happen if you had an emergency. Its easy to lose sight of real-life issues that can arise when you are so driven to buy a home and focused on saving the money to get there.

"Afinancial eventcan leave you wishing you had access to the money without selling," said The Mortgage Reports. "Say you lose a job for three months. An extra 20,000 would be a nice safety cushion. And, if you lose your source of income, you cant take home equity out via acash-out refinanceorhome equity line of creditHELOC. Lenders wont approve a new loan to someone between jobs. In short,the more you need to get at the money, the less access you have to it."
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