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Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Saturday, September 22, 2018

Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids Messes While Selling Your Home

Hide in Plain Sight

With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniturersquo;s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether itrsquo;s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your homersquo;s cleanliness and open floor space to think about whatrsquo;s inside.

Hide Within Reach

Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategymdash;underbed and attic storage. While the underside of your childrsquo;s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an oversized quilt that conceals whatrsquo;s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kidsrsquo; teepees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot whatrsquo;s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage

Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesnrsquo;t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks--kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some >

Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesnrsquo;t. Sort into ldquo;keep,rdquo; ldquo;donate,rdquo; and ldquo;throw away.rdquo; This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? Yoursquo;ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kidsrsquo; areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little >

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kidsrsquo; messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that theyrsquo;ll want to make their own.


Heather Cordonnier is a writer for Crate and Bar>
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The New District of Columbia TOPA Law

In July, the D.C. Council revised the law - exempting most single-family homes, including those with basement rentals also known as "accessory dwelling units." The council opted to exempt single-family homes based largely on a study showing that only 5 percent of renters ended up buying their homes under the previous law.

If youre a renter disappointed that you wont be able to buy the single-family house youre in, you might be interested to know that there are two exceptions - if the tenant is more than 62 or disabled and if they signed a lease before March 31 and moved in by April 15 they are entitled to a modified TOPA.

The law is a little complex, so lets take this example:

John owns a D.C. condo and Gale is his tenant. John has just listed the property for sale with a real estate company for 650,000. Gale does not qualify for the modified TOPA. Prior to July 3, John had to send a single-family TOPA form to his tenant. Now, he only has to send Gale a notice that he
intends to sell. A copy of the form referred to as "Form 1 must also be sent to the D.C. Office of Tenant Advocate as well as to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development DHCD. Since TOPA is not applicable in our example, John is free to sign a contract with anyone and ultimately go to closing. Of course, Gale still has all of the other rights available to tenants here in the District, and still has the right to buy if she submits an offer which is accepted.

But now lets change the facts: Gale is either over 62 or disabled and meets the calendar requirements spelled out above. She receives Form 1. By law, she must advise John within 20 days after receiving the form that she may be eligible for the new TOPA. Gale officially advises John by sending him Form 2 which explains her status. That form is called "Letter to Landlord."

Proving that Gale is over 62 is not difficult. All she needs is a passport, a drivers license or some other document reflecting her age. But proving disability is more difficult. Accordingly, Gale sends another form Form 4 called "Response Letter to DHCD" if claiming elderly or disabled status. To protect the privacy of the tenant, that form only goes to the District, which will determine if Gale qualifies.

If the city certifies her as eligible, John must then send her a form that either tells her he has or does not have a third party sales contract. Once Gale receives either form, she has 20 days to advise John of her interest in buying. She then has 25 days to negotiate a sale contract with John. If that is accomplished, Gale has an additional 45 days to go to settlement. That can be extended to 75 days if a lender indicates it needs a little more time.

The interesting question: Can Gale assign her TOPA rights to a third party? One of the main reasons TOPA was recently amende is that many tenants were assigning TOPA rights for lots of money, much to the disadvantage of the landlord. And often landlords were literally held hostage by tenants demanding money in order to >

Yes, Gale can assign her TOPA rights, but she cannot receive any financial payment for the assignment. The assignee can only give Gale is a 12-month extension of her lease after it expires and at the same rental rate.

Tenants living in houses with only two to four units or in buildings with five or more apartments remain under the old TOPA law.

The new law will clearly make it easier for single-family homeowners as well as owners of condos and co-ops to sell without having to go through a time-consuming process, and will discourage the efforts by tenants to stall the process in order to get more money. Since its inception many years ago, there have been numerous lawsuits in which plaintiffs often tenants were seeking guidance
on the impact of TOPA on a specific set of facts.

Only time will tell if the modified TOPA is judgment proof.

The new forms can be found here.nbsp;

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Construction and Permanent Loans Explained

A construction loan is one where funds are issued to build a new home. Some construction loans provide financing to build on someonersquo;s lot they already own while some construction loans provide funds for both the lot and the construction. Construction includes funds for both soft and hard costs. Soft costs are those for things such as permits, zoning and legal compliance while hard costs are for materials and labor, for example.

When someone builds a new home, theyrsquo;ll work with an architect to design the home. Sometimes they can also pick from a builderrsquo;s list of plans and choose a set of blueprints previously completed. The next step is to get a bid from a contractor who will break down the cost to build the home and how long it will take to complete the project. Next, the plans are delivered to the bank who will review the project and if it complies with the bankrsquo;s construction guidelines, the loan is approved.

But the construction loan isnrsquo;t issued in one lump sum. Instead, funds are issued in stages of completion as the home is being built. The first issuance of funds might be to clear and prepare the lot. Once the bank is alerted the lot has been prepared, an inspector will arrive at the property and confirm its completion. Then, the next stage is funded and so on until the home is finally finished. The bank will order out one last inspection to confirm the property is ready for occupancy. Now, the bank wants its money back.

Construction loans are short term in nature, only long enough to finish the project. This is where a permanent loan comes into play. While the home is being built, the buyers also obtain approval from a mortgage company that will issue a traditional mortgage, paying off the construction loan completely. There are a few programs out there that combine both the construction and permanent financing with just one loan, referred to as a ldquo;one time closerdquo; loan or something similar.

Yoursquo;ll want to talk to your mortgage loan officer about permanent financing and the construction process in general and get your various financing options. But with many, getting a construction loan first and then replacing it with a permanent loan is the less expensive path.

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HGTV Designer Leanne Ford Simplifies Finding the Perfect White Paint with PPG

ldquo;We all should feel empowered to create a space for ourselves that we love coming home to at the end of the day,rdquo; said Ford. ldquo;Color is such an impactful way to do this, so Irsquo;m thrilled to work with PPG, a leader in paint and color that is headquartered in my hometown of Pittsburgh, to bring the power of paint to life for homeowners. Itrsquo;s really about giving everyone the confidence to use paint and color fearlessly in their homes to create spaces that theyrsquo;re proud of. For me, this all starts with picking the perfect white paint.rdquo;

For Ford, the ldquo;perfect white paintrdquo; palette will be represented in three PPG tones: Pure White, a true white hue, Natural White with a warmer tone, and White On White as a cooler alternative.

Swatches of PPG Pure White, PPG Natural White, PPG White On White

How should homeowners choose the perfect white for their home? Ford simplifies the process by providing some design tips for each hue.

When using Pure White, Ford recommends pairing it with exposed brick, marble, or greenery to give spaces a more modern look, and also suggests Pure White in rooms that seek to enhance natural light.

Natural White is best matched for those homeowners seeking to create a ldquo;cozy retreat,rdquo; as this hue is the warmest of the bunch and is more likely to provide a sense of >

Finally, Ford suggests pairing PPGrsquo;s White On White with wood tones and mixed metals, and recommends using this hue in smaller rooms to make them feel more spacious.

The colors are available in the PPG Timelessreg; and PPG Diamondtrade; paint lines at The Home Depot locations across the U.S.

To read the full press >

Photos courtesy of PPG.

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Study Says Buying a Home is Cheaper Than Renting

"The report demonstrates that the money Canadians are spending on monthly rent, if used instead to finance a home, would be a very beneficial investment over time," says Will Dunning, author of the report. "The costs of owning and renting continue to rise across Canada. However, rents continue to rise over time whereas the largest cost of homeownership - the mortgage payment - typically maintains a fixed amount over a set period of time. The result is that the cost of renting will increase more rapidly than the cost of homeownership."

"Buying a home also has more long-term upside than renting," says Dunning. "Everyone wants to save for their future, but rising costs, including rent, are making that more difficult. The lower life-time costs of homeownership mean that owners have more ability to save for retirement than do renters. The financial benefits of homeownership go beyond equity accumulations."

The report comes as Canadas homeownership rate is dropping for the first time in 45 years. A report by Point2Homesnbsp;found that 11 of 13 provinces saw the share of homeownership drop in the 2016 Census, according to Statistics Canada.

Homeowners still outnumber renters by more than two-to-one. The homeownership rate hit a high of 69 per cent in 2011 but dropped to 67.8 per cent in 2016. The number of renters rose from 31 per cent in 2011 to 32.2 per cent in 2016.

Dunning acknowledges in the report that its not easy for first-time buyers to come up with a down payment, due to rising house prices and government housing policies such as the mortgage stress test. It requires borrowers to qualify for a mortgage at two percentage points higher than the posted mortgage rate.

The study determined that across the dataset of 266 locations and different dwelling types, the total cost of homeownership is an average of 3,052 per month, compared to 2,511 for renting the same property.

"However, the cost of ownership includes a substantial amount of principal repayment 990 in the first month. Since this results in a reduction in the amount of mortgage owing, it is a form of saving," says Dunning. "There is, therefore, a net cost of homeownership that excludes the repayment of the principal. This net cost of 2,062 per month is lower than the cost of renting by 449 per month. On this basis it is, on average across the dataset, currently cheaper to own than rent."

He says that since the homeowner is tying up a lot of capital with the down payment and closing costs, they should consider the rate of return on that investment.

"In this data set there is a negative rate of return -5.2 per cent per year when the total cost of homeownership is calculated," he says. But when calculating rate of return, "the repayment of principal must be taken into account since it is a legitimate component of the return on investment. On this basis, the rate of return at the beginning is an annualized rate of 4.3 per cent."

While some people might consider this "inadequate," Dunning says that since buying a house is a low-risk investment, a high return on investment shouldnt be expected. His calculations did not include any capital appreciation on the home, since there is no guarantee that house values will go up. "In most situations, homeownership is justified financially without any need to expect price appreciation," he says.

Another advantage is that homeownership in Canada has a tax-free rate of return, which other investments do not.

In Dunnings scenarios, if the mortgage interest rate does not change, in 10 years the cost of ownership will be lower than the cost of renting in 263 out of the 266 cases. If the rate rises a full percentage point after five years, owning will still be cheaper than renting in 92 per cent of the cases, and if the rate is up by two per cent after five years, 82 per cent of the homeowners in the scenarios still come out on top.

"Looking even farther ahead, by the time the mortgage is fully repaid in 25 years or less, the cost of owning will be vastly lower than the cost of renting in every one of the 266 cases," says Dunning.

He also looked at data from Statistics Canada to compare the wealth of homeowners versus renters and found that homeowners igrave;are distinctly better off financially compared to tenants who are similar in age and level of income. The difference is not just in terms of their home equity. Owners have more non-housing wealth than tenants. This may reflect that because owners have lower lifetime housing costs than tenants, they have more opportunity to accrue other savings.icirc;

Dunning adds: "In this light, is it any wonder that Canadians remain highly interested in homeownership? Contrary to what might be asserted by some housing bears, home buying is not the result of a cult, a mania or a delusion. It is the result of a reality that, even at much higher house prices, and even with the risk that interest rates may increase substantially, in most situations Canadians, over long periods of time, are still much better off as homeowners than as tenants."

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quot;Cite and Finequot; Policy is at Work in California

The departmentrsquo;s ldquo;cite and finerdquo; authority is found in California Business and Professions Code sect;10080.9 and Commissionerrsquo;s Regulations 2907.

A 2014 DRE Bulletin explains the workings of ldquo;cite and finerdquo; this way: ldquo;A citation or other formal action will be considered when a violation is found after an investigation, audit, or examination of a licenseersquo;s records by CalBRE [now, DRE] in response to a complaint, through random selection of a licensee for an office visit, or from completion of a routine audit. Depending upon the nature such as the level of seriousness and potential for harm and type of the violation, the appropriate action will be determined.rdquo;

The Department says that ldquo;a citation is likely the appropriate actionrdquo; in cases of ldquo;>

Suppose a citation has been received. ldquo;The citation will identify the violations you committed, provide information on how to pay the fine, describe any corrective action needed if necessary, and explain the process for contesting the citation, if you choose to.rdquo;

Offenders will appreciate the policy that ldquo;information regarding specific citations issued ndash; and any fines paid ndash; will not be posted on the DRE website, nor will such information be attached to onersquo;s individual public licensee website record.rdquo; Still, the information is public and can be obtained through a Public Records Act request.

There is a review process if an accused wants to contest the citation. The first level of review is a Citation Review Conference which is an informal review of the citation conducted by the DRE. If the citation and fines are upheld, the next level would be a formal administrative hearing before an administrative law judge. That can take both time and money. Clearly, it will often seem prudent simply to pay the fine.

Not much has been heard of ldquo;cite and finerdquo; until lately. Ms. Goralik pointed out that in the months from July 2017 until March 2018 most recent figures available, there have been 768 citations issued and 311,550 in fines collected. The money collected, by the way, goes to the Real Estate Recovery Fund ndash; for consumers ndash; not to the Departmentrsquo;s operational budget.

The emphasis of this activity has been on compliance issues with respect to the recently-issued advertising regulations. Real estate ads occur in a perfect venue for the application of ldquo;cite and finerdquo;. A department investigator could stay home in his or her pajamas and compile lists along with evidence of non-compliant ads in the Sunday newspaper. Not to mention all the non-compliant websites and postings of listings.

Some prominent companies and agents have already felt the sting of the increased ldquo;cite and finerdquo; activity. Others can expect to. Itrsquo;s a good time to get compliant.

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Chimney Liners: Does Your Home Have One - Do You Even Need One?

Chimney liners are a protective barrier usually made of metal or ceramic. Liners insulate heat moving through the chimney, protecting flammable areas of your homes structure. They also protect flue masonry from cracks or crumbling mortar due to repeated heating and cooling.

Why worry about your chimney liner?

Cracks or damage can lessen the effectiveness of the liner, which make burning anything in your fireplace or wood stove risky. Plus, if your liner is damaged, you may have a hard time passing a home inspection and selling your house until its repaired or replaced.

In the "olden days," chimneys were completely unlined or only lined with clay tiles, which could crack or break >

Do you burn wood in your fireplace regularly? You should definitely have your chimney liner inspected as part of an overall maintenance plan performed at least once a year. Cleaning is a good idea as well: The products of burning wood, called creosote, can build up in your unlined or improperly lined chimney, and may eventually cause a fire. Cleaning and inspection from a chimney professional, sometimes called a chimney sweep,nbsp;averages 298 in the US, according to HomeAdvisors surveys of homeowners.

How do you know if your liner needs to be repaired or replaced?

Because its hard to see into your chimney, you may be uncomfortable determining whether your chimney professional is accurately assessing your needs. There are two options for confirming a diagnosis of damaged chimney liner:

1. See for yourself. From inside the house, open the flue and look up as far as you can. Next, check the chimney from the roof by removing the cap and doing a visual inspection. Any signs of cracks or rough edges can signify an issue and confirm your chimney professionals assessment.

2. Hire a chimney professional with a camera. Most modern chimney companies run a scope with camera down the length of the chimney as part of their inspection. Upon request, theyll likely be willing to record the video and share it with you, detailing the issues they see.

What if you dont have a chimney liner at all?

If your home is older and youve determined that your home only has the stone or brick of the outer chimney, you need to decide whether a liner is necessary. First, check your citys fire code. This may mandate that you install a liner if youre making any changes to or installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace. If you burn wood in your fireplace or in a wood-burning stove, its recommended that you have a stainless-steel liner to prevent overheating your chimney and risking a fire. In some locations, your citys fire code may mandate that you install such a liner if youre making any changes to or installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace.

However, if youre not using your fireplace and your chimney acts solely as a vent for your furnace or water heater, you may not need to have a liner installed. Cracked masonry should be addressed from an energy-savings perspective -- a lot of air could be escaping from your home, depending on where the damage to the chimney is located -- but its not likely to be a fire hazard.

Homeowners with gas or electric inserts most likely do not need a new liner because those types of fuel dont produce enough heat to damage a masonry chimney.

Do you have questions about your chimney and whether it needs a new liner? A chimney professional can answer your questions and schedule an inspection for your home.



  • HomeAdvisor: Chimney Maintenance Keeps Your Family Safe
  • Chimney Safety Institute of America: About Chimney Liners
  • Why Do I Need A Stainless Chimney Liner?

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How to Stay Safeand Safeguard Your Homein a Flood

Many flood safety tips concentrate on what you can do to prevent one, but the most immediate concern for those who are in the path of rising waters is what to do to remain safe, protect others, and maybe even safeguard their cherished things at that very moment.

The most important tip

The single most important thing to do leading up to any storm in which flooding is a concern is to listen to officials. Heed warnings to evacuate; as we have seen in countless other storms and during the coverage of Hurricane Florence, those who stay behind put themselves, and those who then have to attempt rescues, in danger, and use up resources that are needed elsewhere.

Stock up on food and essential items

Let images of empty bread shelves in the days before a serious storm hits be a warning: The grocery store is going to be ravaged. Be the one to do the ravaging before everyone else gets there so yoursquo;re stocked up should roads be impassible and stores be inaccessible for a period of time.

ldquo;Once therersquo;s a hurricane warning, donrsquo;t wait until the last minute to buy groceries,rdquo; said National Flood Experts. ldquo;Stock up on non-perishables, water, and basic first aid items. Failing to do this will probably ensure that by the time you get to the store, yoursquo;ll be met with empty shelves. While yoursquo;re at it, also buy an external battery pack for your cell phone.rdquo;

Make your home as safe as possible

Hidden dangers in your house could prove disastrous during a flood. ldquo;If a flood is imminent, take the following steps as soon as itrsquo;s safe: Shut off electrical, furnace, gas and water, and disconnect appliances if safe,rdquo; said The Co-Operators. ldquo;Move valuables from the basement to upper floors. Raise large appliances up on wood or cement blocks. If items canrsquo;t be raised, consider anchoring them and protecting them with a floodwall or shield.rdquo;

Get to higher ground

If you happen to be out on the road when flooding occurs, ldquo;get to higher ground,rdquo; said Weather.gov. ldquo;Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, drainage ditches, canyons, washes etc.rdquo;

If yoursquo;re at home, go to a second or third story. In some cases, you may need to go even higher to escape the rising tide. During 2017rsquo;s historic flooding in Houston, officials made it a point to discourage anyone from entering the attic, and climbing onto the roof instead.

ldquo;Officials are advising people to get on the roof of their home to escape extreme flooding inside,rdquo; said WeatherNation. ldquo;Those trying to escape the floodwater in their homes are instructed not to stay in the attic, because you could become trapped.rdquo;

Take your emergency supplies

You donrsquo;t want to get stuck on the roof of your home with no emergency supplies and no way to communicate that yoursquo;re in danger. As you move to higher ground, bring your emergency stash with you, if you can do so safely. And remember: Donrsquo;t risk your life going back for things that can be replaced. According to Esurance, a flood kit should include: ldquo;three days worth of water one gallon of water per person, per day, three days worth of non-perishable food, a hand-crank radio, which also operates as a flashlight and cell phone charger these are manually powered and can be purchased at most electronic stores, a flashlight and extra batteries, and a first-aid kit.rdquo; You can see the rest of the list here.

Tread lightly

Once the waters recede, the danger isnrsquo;t over. In fact, the condition your home is in could be hazardous to your health. ldquo;The initial damage caused by a flood is not the only risk. Standing flood waters can also spread infectious diseases, bring chemical hazards, and cause injuries,rdquo; said the Centers for Disease Control CDC. ldquo;After you return home, if you find that your home was flooded, practice safe cleaning. Remove and throw out drywall and insulation that was contaminated with flood water or sewage. Throw out items that cannot be washed and cleaned with a bleach solution: mattresses, pillows, carpeting, carpet padding, and stuffed toys. Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. Walls, hard-surfaced floors, and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.rdquo;

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Seize the Savings: What to Buy in September and October

Yoursquo;ve already done the back-to-school thing, Labor Day is over, and yoursquo;ve got a bit of time before those Black Friday sales kick in. Whatrsquo;s a mega-shopper to do? Donrsquo;t worry. There are plenty of deals to be had right now, if you know what to look for. Wersquo;re breaking down the best things to buy in the second half of September and during all of October.

Outdoor kitchen faves

You might be surprised that you can still find great deals on outdoor living essentials even though Labor Sales have ended and Columbus Day sales have yet to begin. Check out Lowersquo;s and Home Depot for sales on grills and smokers.

Plants and trees

Depending on your climate, fall planting may not be out of the question. Thatrsquo;s good news, since, in September, ldquo;Nurseries are eager to clear out their remaining inventory and fall is an ideal time to plant trees, perennials, and shrubs,rdquo; said Bradrsquo;s Deals. ldquo;And because the retailers are dealing with perishable items, they may be willing to negotiate the price.


New appliance models are often >

Gardening tools

Itrsquo;s also a good time to stock up on items for your garden, even if you wonrsquo;t be needing them until next year. ldquo;As the seasons change and the temperatures plunge, all things garden-friendly start to drop in price, from lawn mowers and leaf blowers to hoses,rdquo; said Money Talk News.

Outdoor furniture

In most areas that have some semblance of a winter season, there are great deals to be had on outdoor furniture at this time of year. ldquo;Unless you live someplace like Florida, where it stays warm and sunny all year-round, you probably wonrsquo;t be spending much time on the patio or in the garden for the next few months,rdquo; said SmartAsset. ldquo;October is a great time to scoop up outdoor furniture and accessories.rdquo;


Clear some space in that garage, because your holiday shopping is officially about to start Bicycles tend to go on sale in September because ldquo;retailers wanting the bikes out of their stores to make room for winter sports gear,rdquo; said Bradrsquo;s Deals. ldquo;its an ideal time to grab new bikes for yourself. Itrsquo;s also a great way to get a jump start on some holiday shopping.rdquo;

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5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make


Wrong Price

The first misstep is to price the home wrong. Either too high or too low. Getting the price ldquo;just rightrdquo; means getting the most out of your home while at the same time not pricing it out of the market to the point where very few, if any, potential buyers reach out. If you have some time to sell, you could list your home on the higher side compared to recent sales in your area. If you need to sell quickly, the lower end can help. You should contact a couple of real estate agents and ask for a Comparative Market Analysis.

Flying Solo

Some home owners think they can save a few thousand dollars by selling a home without a real estate agent when in fact it can cost someone thousands of dollars by not using a real estate agent. You simply canrsquo;t provide the reach that a licensed real estate professional can. When a home is placed into the local Multiple Listing Service, the home is then available for potential home buyers all across the country and not just your neighborhood. A deeper buyer pool means more offers.

Show Ready

One thing yoursquo;ll need to keep on top of is the selling condition of your home. This means both inside your home and out. Howrsquo;s the curb appeal? When someone first pulls up to your home are they automatically drawn in? Or maybe the lawn needs some work and the shrubbery is a little ragged. Keep the lawn trimmed and free of clutter. Power wash the sidewalk, driveway and front porch. Inside, you also need to de-cluttter. Open up each room by placing bulky furniture into a storage unit. Take down family photos and portraits. When buyers walk into your home they want to be able to visualize it being theirs, and having an instant reminder that itrsquo;s not by having family photos all around detracts from that.
Inspection Home buyers are advised to have a potential property inspected to discover anything that needs to be fixed, updated or repaired. But you too should hire an inspector to perform a complete run-down from basement to attic looking for anything that needs your attention. The buyers will order an inspection so you want to know what theyrsquo;ll discover before they do with their own.

Getting Anxious

Donrsquo;t get too anxious and donrsquo;t jump at the very first offer. Your sales price will probably be much higher than what you originally paid for it, but take a deep breath when that first offer comes in. Give your agent plenty of time to list your home and hold open houses to gain a wider audience and have some patience. If you accept an offer very early on in the process, you might be costing yourself thousands of dollars and no more offers.

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5 Ways Moving Improves Your Happiness

This Is Your Brain on Moving

Whether yoursquo;re moving out of necessity or out of desire, the act of >

1. Nicer Neighborhoods

If yoursquo;re not happy with your quality of life in your current neighborhood, apartment building, or town, a move can help you find greener pastures. A sense of community can be a big indicator for personal happiness; when you feel connected to your surroundings, your sense of fulfillment will be higher.

Our environments also impact our happiness in significant and surprising ways. Quality of life is directly linked to our surroundings, and major cities across the world have begun using happiness as a metric for understanding the economy. Moving to a nicer neighborhood with more trees, a vibrant downtown, or a peaceful local park can truly improve your happiness if your current location is lacking these basic amenities.

2. Social Support

A social support system is an essential part of feeling safe, comfortable, and happy. Our friends and family are often an essential resource when it comes to personal fulfillment. The American Psychological Association APA finds that social support systems are a strong indicator of reduced stress and increased happiness.

Moving closer to friends and family can put your social support system within easy reach so you cope with lifersquo;s stresses in a more productive way. If yoursquo;re moving to a new area without a social support system, there are lots of ways to branch out and find new friends. Once you get settled, your social network will start brightening your life.

3. Economic >

Our finances are often the main driver of a move. Whether yoursquo;re seeking a new job or an area with a lower cost of living, a move has numerous ways of reducing financial stress. Money can be a big driver of unhappiness mdash; in fact, itrsquo;s the top cause of stress in the United States, according to the APA. Moving to >

If yoursquo;re planning to move for financial reasons, applying to jobs in several cities and picking the best offer is a good strategy. Cities vary by cost of living since utility prices and general costs like food or transportation vary across the nation. Finding a city with a good ratio between cost of living and average salary can leave you with much more financial freedom; cities like Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia have high hiring rates and some of the lowest living costs.

4. Better Climate

It can be hard to live in a place where the weather stresses you out. Weather->

Moving to an area with more tolerable weather for your personal preferences can have a big effect on your overall happiness. Nicer weather and more sunlight can coincide with increased levels of happiness, and nice weather enables activities like outdoor exercise, which can definitely lighten your mood.

5. Safer Cities

In the famous psychologist Abraham Maslowrsquo;s hierarchy of needs, a feeling of safety is second only to basic physiological needs like breathing, eating, and sleeping. Feeling safe is a complex emotion, combining aspects of physical, psychological, vocational, and economic security. Feeling insecure can put a hard cap on how happy yoursquo;re able to feel.

Moving to a city with a lower crime rate or a neighborhood with a little more privacy can give you the space you need to breathe, >

Find Your Space

The process of moving can be stress-inducing, but the long-term benefits can make it worth the trouble. Moving for any of these reasons can help you make the positive changes in your life to feel more content and gratified.

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Renovating With Your Kids: Projects You Can Do Together

Renovating your home? Why not make it a family affair, getting the kids involved in projects that can make them feel included and proud of their work.

Not every job is gong to be right for your kids.

But there are several tasks they can do with supervision, and a few they might be able to handle on their own, depending on their age and maturity level.

The first step is to properly explain the tasks at hand and identify any risks.

"Parents really need to talk to their kids who are old enough to understand and lay down ground rules for the renovation," says Eric Phillips, vice president and general manager at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen of the Triangle in Apex, NC on Bob Vila.

"And once the rules are there, parents really have to have the discipline to enforce those rules with their kids."

Feeling good about their ability to help? Go renovate something together


Cleaning and chucking

Before any renovation can start, youll probably have some cleaning out to do. The traditional three-pile method of "keep, sell, donate" can work well for kids. Telling them they can keep whatever they make on the sale of their old things usually inspires a job well done.

Painting the walls

Your kids have probably been painting since before they could speak. With their fingers, anyway. They probably havent lost the love of covering surfaces in pretty colors, so set them up with a paintbrush and let them go Youll want to give them a basic tutorial that illustrates how to best get paint on the desired surface without dribbles. And dont forget to prepare the area with heavy-duty dropcloths, tape up baseboards, and move furniture and furnishings out of the way so they dont accidentally get splattered.

teal amp; lime


Use caution with electric sanders, or any power tool for that matter, when your kids are involved. But sandpaper or sanding sticks and a surface that needs to be stripped down could be a good way to bring some kids in on a renovation. Youll need to make sure they have a dust mask, eye protection, and a well-ventilated area. Sandpaper in tender hands might cause abrasions, so make sure there are gloves as well.

Creating new art

You probably already have a stack of your kids art showcased or stashed in your home. But directing them to create something new specifically for a showcase wall or tabletop is a great way to involve them in your renovation without worrying about them getting hurt. Choosing colors and materials together at an art store and show them ahead of time where their art is going to be displayed can get them excited about this new projectmdash;and maybe make them feel better about the fact that they dont get to handle the nail gun.


Doing your own kitchen backsplash is a >

Pulling up carpet

Kids who love to dismantle stuff read: all kids will love being able to help roll up carpet for removal. The box knife needed to slice it up is probably not the best tool to put in a kids hands, but taking up the tack strip? A handy child can use a pry bar and rubber mallet to handle this task. Just take proper precautions with gloves, eye protectors and the like. Those nails can be nasty.


Laying wood floors

Kids can be helpful gluing and placing wood planks and might even enjoy the process. Can you leave your five-year-old alone to handle the job? Probably not. But working side-by-side with your children laying out the wood pieces will make you all feel good every time you take a step.

Wallpaper removal

The tedious peeling away of old wallpaper might be the perfect task for your kids. Even if they dont finish the job, any wallpaper you dont have to peel off yourself is a bonus. Trust us.

Other demolition

An invitation to break stuff? Oh yeah Just remember to take all safety precautions goggles, closed-toe shoes, and gloves if needed and make sure the demo is appropriate for the age group i.e. you might not want to leave your five-year-old alone with a power saw..


If your renovation includes an outdoor element, youre in luck Kids love to get dirty. Depending on the age and inclination of your children, a bag of soil and a shovel might be considered a good time

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7 Home Items That Will Absolutely Make Your Life Easier

A crumb and dog hair vacuum

We were at the hairdresser when we first spotted the EyeVac Home Touchless Sensor Activated Vacuum. She swept up a big ball of hair into this wondrous little stationary machine in the corner and it gobbled it all up. Clearly this had to be purchased for a home with three shedding dogs. Magic happens when you sweep with the included broom crumbs and hair and anything else collecting on your floor into the slot at the bottom. You can keep your malfunctioning Rumba. Wersquo;ll take our EyeVac.

The Airmega 400S

While this is not a budget item itrsquo;s currently on sale for 548, down from 849, on Amazon, you canrsquo;t put a price on good air quality, right? Whether someone in your household has bad allergies or you just want to make sure yoursquo;re breathing cleaner air, this air purifier is a great option. Technological advancements make it easy to use; the built-in air quality sensor can be controlled by Airmegarsquo;s app or by Amazonrsquo;s Alexa.

A hidden trash can

If you have dogs, and if those dogs like to get in the garbage, and if yoursquo;re sick of doing things like picking up half-eaten trash strewn about your home, yoursquo;re going to love this trash can. Not only does it hide away the trash so your pets canrsquo;t get to it, but it does so while looking good. Therersquo;s a nifty DIY tutorial here, but if you want one ready-made, be sure to look for a tilt-out version. Theyrsquo;re easier to empty.


Why are you not using Tile yet? If yoursquo;re the type that misplaces your keys or other important items, itrsquo;s a must-have. ldquo;Tile is one of the most popular lost item trackers on the market,rdquo; said Tech Crunch. ldquo;The company, to date, has now sold over 10 million of its Bluetooth-connected dongles that work with an app on your phone to help you find misplaced items, like your keys, purse, wallet, tablets, laptops, luggage and more. And because of the way its app works, Tile can leverage its community of millions of app users to help you find your device, even when yoursquo;re out of range. That is, if another Tile user is near your missing device, an alert with the location attached is sent to your phone.rdquo;

A gel anti-fatigue kitchen mat

If you have to spend time making dinner and/or doing the dishes, at least make sure your feet and legs are comfortable and feeling good duringmdash;and after. Therersquo;s nothing worse than sore legs from housework instead of a good workout The rub on comfy kitchen mats has always been that you can get cute or you can get effectivemdash;but not both. That is changing, as these GelPro mats actually have some stylish options.

Dash Deluxe Rapid Egg Cooker

We first saw this on vacation, where it was perched next to the buffet table, cooking up soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. Yoursquo;ll want one, too, since it can ldquo;perfectly cook 12 eggs in less time than it takes to boil water,rdquo; said Dash, making ldquo;omelettes, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, and poached eggs.rdquo; Plus, it can ldquo;steam vegetables, seafood, dumplings, warm tortillas, and more.rdquo;

The Snap SmartCam for home security

ldquo;This is one of the most perfect gadgets you could want for home security,rdquo; said Money Inc. ldquo;Though it looks like a USB charger, it isnrsquo;t. It is a full HD 1080p resolution security camera that will watch your home while you are away at work, shopping, or any other necessary daily task. No batteries are required. But the advantages just keep on coming. The Snap SmartCam will continuously record the activities inside your home, and when it reaches the end of its maximum recording capacity it continues by overwriting the earliest videos on the device. You can download the recorded videos is you want to retain them for your records. Oh, the USB appearance not only conceals the security camera, but it actually functions as a charger.rdquo;

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The VA Streamline


But beyond all of these advantages, there is another that comes into play when someone decides to refinance an existing VA loan. Maybe rates have fallen or home owners want to switch from a hybrid to a fixed. With a refinance, either or both can be accomplished. When replacing an existing VA loan with a new one, borrowers can take advantage of the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or IRRRL. However, most in the industry refer to this process as a VA ldquo;streamlinerdquo; primarily due to the lack of documentation needed to approve and close the refinance request.

With a standard VA mortgage, borrowers are asked to provide evidence of employment and income for the past two years with either pay check stubs and W2s or income tax returns for those that are self-employed. While there is no need for a down payment there will be closing costs involved so lenders need to verify sufficient funds to close which is accomplished by providing copies of bank statements. To establish a final value, a new appraisal will be ordered. Yet with a VA streamline you can ignore all of this.

As long as the existing loan is a VA mortgage and replaced by a new VA loan the streamline is an option. The lender will verify there are no payments made within the past six months more than 30 days past the due date and no more than one such payment over the last twelve. There needs to be evidence the new rate is lower than the old one, the borrowers are switching to a shorter term or they are refinancing out of an adjustable rate loan or hybrid and into the stability of a fixed. VA guidelines simply think that if someone has made their payments on time for the last year at the old, higher rate then it makes sense they can continue to do so at a lower rate.

The VA loan comes with a lot of advantages that other loan programs simply do not have, and making available the streamline option is yet another one.

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Smart Homes: Backed-Up Your Fridge Lately?

Computers may make life easier, but they dont necessarily make things simpler or automatically safer.

This is very true for smart home technology or intelligent home automation which aims to combine internet-connected computers with every aspect of home life. According to Digital Journal, "the smart or automated home applies new technology to control and automate heating, ventilation, air conditioning and security, but can involve appliances as well such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers and many other items."

As Fall Home Shows start to roll out, expect to see familiar and new smart home technology showcased as the latest "must-haves."

According to Statista.com, smart home household penetration is 32.0 in 2018 and is expected to hit 53.1 by 2022. The global market is projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 14.5 between 2017 and 2022 to reach 53.45 billion by 2022.

Smart, connected appliances and systems can make life easier and more convenient for families, but not automatically simpler or safer.

Each year, smart technology appears in more incarnations, but we are a long way from industry-wide standards with significant cross-compatibility, avid consumer adoption, and problem-free systems and technologies.

When you explore smart home potential at a Home Show or online, here are key issues to consider:

1. Hacker target : Instead of being locked out of your computer if you dont pay a cyber ransom, what if you were locked out of your smart house unless you paid up? Computers operating with out-dated software, like older versions of Microsofts Windows Operating System, are easy targets for hackers. These problems are further complicated by interconnectivity: infection spreads quickly through computers and networks, locally and globally. How will you ensure the nasty things that hackers can make happen to your laptop or smartphone wont happen to the smart technology running heating, cooling, or security systems in your homemdash;all of which

will probably be controlled by your laptop or smartphone?

2. Code flaws : The software driving smart home technology consists of millions of lines of code which, by their sheer number and complexity, are vulnerable to glitches and failuresmdash;many of which are hard to detect before significant damage occurs. Will software and system manufacturers take responsibility for ongoing investigation into glitches, correcting them, and providing online patches to reduce downtime and keep systems at top efficiency?

3. Multitasking systems : Before smart technology took hold, if the fridge died, youd lose a tub or two of pistachio ice cream. As refrigerators become increasingly complex equipmentmdash;which may also monitor family wellness, check food inventory, pay bills, and fulfill other functionsmdash;cyber attacks may have even more impact on families. Back-up systems may be essential precautions. Home insurance will provide some security, but limitations will exist. Just as home policies may not pay on problems caused by poor maintenance or unlocked doors, out-of-date software may invalidate claims if home smart systems fail and cause damage.

4. Support failings : To reduce service costs, manufacturers >5. Equipment failure : Using a smartphone or iPad as a smart controller, homeowners can change room temperature, turn on the oven, or unlock the front door from miles away or as they pull into the driveway. However, if that mobile-computing device is lost, stolen, broken, or batteries die, there are two concerns: 1. could those and other essential smart-systems still be turned on or adjusted by the family, and 2. who else would have access to this information and your home? What back-ups are necessary when power fails? The other flaw in home security could be you. If you dont set alarms, manage passwords, review data about system efficiency, and carry out maintenance system-wide and with individual equipment, your failure may undermine the security and efficiency of the smart system.

6. Transaction precautions : When smart technology is included as part of a home purchase or rental agreement, a detailed inventory of this equipment is essential. Model numbers and age are among the details necessary for estimates of value. If you are selling your home with its smart technology intact, erase your user, security, and payment profiles from each appliance and system by restoring factory settings, so you leave no data trail.

Soon it will be hard to buy an appliance that doesnt incorporate smart technology, but integrating appliances and systems may remain a smart home challenge for a while.
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Making Ethics Important

In last weeks column we emphasized the distinction between ethicsas a body of rules and principles and being ethical as a disposition to conform to those rules and principles. We noted that it is certainly possible to teach someone ethics, but it is a different task to lead someone to be ethical -- to internalize those principles and to be guided by them. See: Ethics Can Be Taught, But Thats Not All There Is To It

To be sure, there are some who would reject this view that a person could know what is good or right, but not choose it. It is a view that Plato rejected, so they would be in good company. Nonetheless, I think there is plenty of evidence that someone may do what is wrong, even though they know it is wrong. I will go no further than to cite the church->Be all that as it may, we are still left with the very real question: what would it take to incentivize REALTORSreg; to behave in a way that would conform to the articles and principles embodied in the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics? I think the answer is fairly simple, although implementing it could take some work.

REALTORSreg; are more likely to become conversant with the Code, and to conduct their businesses in accordance with its provisions, when they see and believe that this is important to the firms that they work for and the people they work with.

If agents only hear through general pronouncements that ethics are important to their company, and yet they only see that ethics seems to be the Boards, or Associations, concern, they are not much liable to seek to learn about the Codes provisions, nor to let those provisions affect the way they do business.

Its pretty simple really. If agents are going to conduct their businesses in accordance with the Code, they will need to see that doing so is important to their company. This, of course, would also entail seeing that the unethical would not be tolerated by their company.

Easy to say; but what would it take to make it happen that agents could see that ethics was important to their company? First and foremost, I would say, there needs to be on-going ethics training at the office or company level. Some might remember that this was the central tenet of the federal guidelines when it came to matters of corporate behavior. It is a mitigating factor in the case of unethical or unlawful behavior by an employee when it can be shown that the company had a program that tried to teach right behavior.

Theres no question but that it would take work for companies to provide ethics training. Certainly, the Associations could help to develop programs and materials. Perhaps they could even provide instructors. But it would have to clearly be the companys enterprise, not "the Boards."

Moreover, the question arises: why would companies want to devote time and resources to this? Well, perhaps the Realtorreg; Associations, who are very good at promoting certifications -- which are earned through taking courses -- could come up with something that would give public recognition to a company or an agent for pursuing a regime of ethics->The possibilities, I believe, are endless.
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Prep Or Pay The Price: What You Do Before You Paint Matters More Than The Paint Itself

So youre sitting there on a Saturday morning, watching HGTV and drinking your coffee, when it hits. Its the urge to paint a room, and its not going away. Next thing you know, youre dipping that brush right into the paint can and slopping that blue hue up on the wall.

Itll all be fine, right?

Its a scenario well admit to knowing all too well - one in which eagerness and adrenaline push patience and logic aside, and not always with the greatest results. But, the reality we must all face eventually is that the right preparation makes all the difference when it comes to painting. For the best job that looks like it was done professionally, these are the steps to take.

Do a little research

A paint color chosen on a whim can end up being wonderful... but, most of the time, it ends up being a mistake. Yes, buying a couple of samples to put up on the wall and watching them for at least a few days so you can really get a feel for which one works best in your space, with your stuff, and at different times of the day and night, takes time. But itll all be worth it when you find the right color, instead of having to repaint because your whim choice ended up looking off.

Buy the right supplies

A successful paint job is one in which you not only achieve a great result, but you do so without running back to Lowes 12 times because you forgot something or you go without and make a big mess. According to Sherwin-Williams, "Important items for your supply list include:

  • "Primer
  • Paint
  • Stir sticks
  • Paint rollers
  • Roller covers
  • Small paint brushes, for cutting in or touch-ups
  • Paint trays, and if needed a sturdy holder for your paint tray
  • Painters tape
  • Rags
  • Drop cloths"

    Buy the good stuff

    Painting is one of the least expensive, and most effective, ways to make over a space. But that doesnt mean you should buy the cheapest products you can find. Bargain basement paint likely wont give you the coverage you want, and cheap brushes can leave brush marks, streaks, and even bristles on the finish. The Spruce has a good guide to the best interior paints. Brands of brushes and rollers can vary depending on the store, so be sure to ask the paint specialist which options they would choose for their own walls.

    Tape, tape, tape

    Its tedious and time-consuming and a pain in the butt. And were speaking from personal experience. But paint all over your moldings or baseboards is not a good look. And, sadly, were also speaking from personal experience here, too.

    Cover your stuff

    Even if you have the gentlest, most even, most professional stroke in the world, splatters happen. So do drips and spills. Dont take the chance of ruining something special because you didnt remember to get a drop cloth.

    Take a good look at your walls

    Dings, cracks, or other imperfections in the walls will not be covered by paint. They may even look worse once youre done. Use Home Depots recommendations to get them looking good before you start layering on the color.

    • "Carefully inspect walls for cracks, holes, dents or other surface imperfections before priming or painting.
    • Use a lightweight spackling compound and putty knife to fill and repair any holes or imperfections, then remove any excess spackling with the putty knife and allow the area to dry completely.
    • Once dry, use a small piece of very fine 220-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge to smooth the repaired areas flush with the surface.
    • Wipe the walls clean with a damp towel or sponge and allow them to dry before priming or painting.
    • Use a floor duster to wipe the walls clean of dust to ensure paint applies evenly."

    Full Story >

    Legal Marijuana: Where To Move, And Why

    Because you need it for medical reasons. Because you want to become a grower or open a dispensary. Or because youre simply a fan of getting high. Theyre all reasons for moving to states where marijuana is now legal. But there are also a few you may not have thought about, like the fact that, "Legal marijuana is a boon to the economy," said Forbes. And that the economic benefit is largely being felt by homeowners.

    "One thing is clear, pot entrepreneurs are contributing to real estate booms in commercial and residential markets in states that have legalized the drug for medical and recreational use," said PropLogix.

    The impact on commercial sales has been palpable, with growers and dispensaries creating demand for warehouses, factories, and "long-abandoned strip malls. As a result, states like Colorado and Washington are seeing premium prices for building leases and purchases within the proper zoning," they said.

    As for residential sales, Colorado provides a prime example of the demand being created. "Colorados state law allows for counties to determine if they and how they want to legalize and regulate the drug. Areas where its legal attract more homebuyers, including marijuana users as well as entrepreneurs and job seekers. As more growers and retailers open up shop in these municipalities, the demand for workers rise. The influx of new residents inevitably leads to more home sales and higher rents. There are also plenty of people moving to pot-friendly states without intent to work for the industry, but rather to enjoy the bud of its labor."

    So how does that translate to home values? The Cannifornian also turned to Colorado for a look at how the states home values were affected by the legalization of marijuana. "Researchers looking at the impact of legalized recreational marijuana on Denvers home prices found a surprising trend: dispensaries that began selling recreational marijuana had a large positive impact on neighboring property values," they said. "After recreational sales became legal, houses close to a participating dispensary saw their value increase more than 8 percent >In addition, Realtor.com looked at real estate values in Colorado and three other legalized states, Alaska, Oregon and Washington. They "showed a marked increase in home prices well above the national median price," after at least "a year of experience with recreational marijuana sales," said the Herald-Tribune.

    Where its legal

    Oklahoma recently became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana. The rest are:

    • Alabama
    • Arizona
    • Arkansas
    • Connecticut
    • Delaware
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Hawaii
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Iowa
    • Kentucky
    • Louisiana
    • Maryland
    • Michigan
    • Minnesota
    • Mississippi
    • Missouri
    • Montana
    • New Hampshire
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico
    • New York
    • North Carolina
    • North Dakota
    • Ohio
    • Pennsylvania
    • Rhode Island
    • South Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Virginia
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin
    • Wyoming

    Nine states, plus Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use:

    • Alaska
    • California
    • Colorado
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • Nevada
    • Oregon
    • Vermont
    • Washington
    • Washington D.C.

    Several additional states including New York are considering the move, especially in light of the growing support pun intended and tax ramifications. The Verges recent look at whether or not New York should legalize weed brought up several interesting points in favor:

    "Itd certainly be a popular move, since one in 10 New Yorkers used marijuana in the last month. It could also help fight the opioid epidemic. After all, medical cannabis can be prescribed for pain->Indeed, a Gallup Poll shows that support for marijuana legalizationis at "64 of Americans, and a recent report predicts "the legal marijuana market will reach 24.5 billion in salesa 28 annual compound growth rate - by 2021, as more state-legal markets come online," said Business Insider.

    The financial consideration for states is tremendous. "In the end, legalizing pot could be good for New York States bottom line because the state could rake in the tax revenue," said The Verge. "People buy between 6.5 and 10.2 million ounces of weed illegally in New York State every year. If you estimate that it costs between 270 to 340 per ounce, that adds up to a 1.7 to 3.5 billion-dollar market. With taxes, anywhere between 173.3 million to 542.3 million of that could end up in state coffers."
    Full Story >

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