National Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Sunday, July 23, 2017
How To Safely Remove Window Glass

Why would you need to remove glass from your window? In most cases, its because the glass is cracked or broken, or it is an insulated pane thats no longer sealed properly. Or maybe its time to upgrade your windows with tinted or smart glass. Professional glass shops can help you choose and size the right glass for the job, but first youll have to remove the window glass and bring in the sash. If there is a break on a stationary window or the sash and it isnt budging, you may need to hire a professional glass installation expert.

Getting the glass out before you visit your glass installation shop can help save money and time, and its not too complicated. The most challenging part is to avoid being injured by broken glass.

Taking the Proper Safety Precautions

The No. 1 rule in working around glass is to wear protective gear. If glass is broken or you accidentally break it, even smaller glass shards can cut deep and cause injuries. Wear heavy gloves with leather palms, thick shoes or boots and safety glasses when youre working around glass. Long sleeves and long pants are also highly recommended.

Safely Removing Broken Glass

Youll want to minimize the spread of glass pieces when you remove broken glass from a window frame, and get those stubborn pieces that dont come out easily without cutting yourself. Heres how:

Step 1: Use tape.

Apply masking tape over the window pane, including the broken area. Dont press hard against the glass, but cover it completely with strips of tape on one side. The tape will keep pieces of glass from flying away from the window as you work. You want to be able to carefully take the glass pieces off the tape, so dont use duct tape or something extra sticky.

Step 2: Protect the area.

Put down a tarp or dropcloth that you can dispose of if glass breaks over it. Its best to do this on both the interior area around the window and the exterior area.

Step 3: Loosen the glass with a hand tool.

Some people use the butt of a hammer, but a pry bar or other heavy hand tool will work effectively. Your goal is to loosen the glass pieces through gentle taps. Then you can remove those larger pieces and dispose of them properly.

Step 4: Remove old glazing from around the frame.

The last bits of glass will be stuck in the window frame. With the help of a chisel or even a stiff putty knife, clear away the glazing that is holding those stragglers in place. If caulk or tape was used to hold the window in place, you may need to use a slightly more flexible putting knife to cut between the frame and the glass. Cautiously pull the glass pieces out of the frame and dispose of them.

SafelyRemoving Intact Glass Panes

Window glass is typically installed in one of three ways: With caulk, with a gasket, or with adhesive tape.


Removable stops, or very thin pieces of wood or vinyl, line the window. Youll have to get these out in order to make a bit of room where you can cut through the caulk seal. Unfortunately, often the stops get caulked a bit and can be hard to remove. Use a thin, flexible putty knife or utility knife to cut through any caulk you see and get the stops out. Then you can flip the window and slip the knife between the window and frame to loosen or cut through the caulk. You may have to break the glass out if this task becomes too difficult.

Adhesive Tape

Instead of caulk, double-faced tape is used to stick the frame and glass together and a removable stop is positioned on the other side. Youll be able to use a flexible putty knife to loosen the stop, starting from the top. Turn the window over and use that putty knife between the frame and the slightly loosened glass panel to cut the tape and >Gaskets

The glass edges are held by grooves in the window frame and contained in a vinyl or thick plastic gasket. Youll need to disassemble the frame, which is held together with screws on each corner. This is good news because it will be the easiest to take apart; then you can remove the entire pane and replace it before screwing the frame back together.

Any glazing between the glassand frame can usually be scraped off or pulled off in small stripsif needed.

Cleaning Up Broken Glass

If you have broken glass, be sure to wear safety gear before you try to clean up. Vacuum carefully around the window area and use duct tape or a lint roller to pick up tiny pieces. Put one thick black trash bag inside another so you have two layers, and use that to put your glass pieces into. Label the bagwith a sticker or tag that says, "Broken Glass for Disposal" so any handlers know to use caution.

If you have any questions about removing glass, or youre simply not comfortable working withthe glass in your window, call a professional glass installer to take care of the job. A pro can also advise you on the best replacement glass for your window and budget.
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Mortgages: When You Are In Financial Trouble

Question: We have owned our house for many years, and currently owe several months of mortgage payments. The equity in our house is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-90,000, but since I lost my job recently, I can neither make the mortgage payments nor do I want to move somewhere else. I have heard about a deed in lieu, but do not understand how it works. Can you explain? We never thought this would happen to us.

Answer: None of us can appreciate -- nor anticipate -- the future. Although we always believe it will never happen to us, once in a while, calamity strikes, and then we have to address these very hard and difficult questions.

Before addressing the deed in lieu issue, let me outline for you a number of steps on how to deal with your mortgage lender, if you start to get behind on your mortgage payments.

If you want the lender to cooperate with you, there has to be an equal level of cooperation on your side. Indeed, according to the FreddieMac guidelines on alternatives to foreclosure, the secondary mortgage market gives a mortgage lender broad discretion to extend >The first possible >Another approach is a repayment plan. Here, the borrower is given a fixed period of time -- usually not to exceed one year -- in which to bring the mortgage current by immediately making and continuing to make payments in excess of the monthly mortgage payment. It is important to get this repayment plan reduced to a written document, signed by both the lender and the borrower.

Lenders also can enter into what is known as a special forbearance >In this case, the lender will make a determination that the default is curable, and based on the current financial and appraisal data, the lender must be satisfied there is a likelihood that the borrower will be able to comply with the repayment plan. Clearly, the burden is on the borrower to document and justify the plan, so as to satisfy the lenders requirements.

If you are in the military, the Soldiers and Sailors >Another avenue that may be available to you is known as a "short sale". Here, the lender will authorize you to sell the property for what it is really worth, and the lender will get all the proceeds. Let us look at this example. The house can probably be sold at 95,000, but the mortgage is 125,000. The lender may allow you to sell the property for 95,000, giving a real estate broker a three percent commission. The lender gets all the remaining sales proceeds; you get nothing from the sale. However, under this "short sale" approach, you will be >The deed in lieu of foreclosure is another remedy that may be available to you. Under this arrangement, you deed your property to the lender or to whomever the lender designates and this is in lieu of instead of foreclosure proceedings. This arrangement is an acceptable and customary procedure when, for example, the borrower is deceased and the estate is willing and able to transfer the property, or the borrower has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and the trustee has abandoned interest in the property.

There are a number of requirements in order to accomplish a deed in lieu, and each lender will have their own set of guidelines. Generally speaking, however, the following requirements are usually imposed by a lender that is willing to accept the deed in lieu:

1. The borrower has a valid and documented reason for default which is beyond the borrowers control;

2. The borrower has demonstrated that he or she has and can make prudent financial decisions since the default;

3. The borrower has been cooperative and has provided all necessary documentation to the lender. Additionally, the borrower must permit the lender to have reasonable access to inspect the inside of the property;

4. The borrower must be willing to make a financial contribution, if this is at all possible; and

5. If the lender has escrowed monies for the payment of future taxes and insurance, the borrower must be willing to forego reimbursement of these escrowed funds.

Additionally, in most cases, the lender will not even consider taking the property as a deed in lieu unless the property has been listed for sale at market value, and all attempts to sell the property have failed. Finally, there can be no outstanding liens or other encumbrances on the property, since the lender wants to be able to take the property free and clear of any other claims against it.

When a lender takes property as a deed in lieu, presumably the borrowers credit history has already been tarnished; after all, the borrower has probably not been making mortgage payments for several months

It is strongly suggested that you contact your lender immediately, and have a face to face discussion with them. If your lender is no longer in your home town, send them a letter and then pick up the telephone and make arrangements to talk to the most senior official at that mortgage lending company.

The final option, of course -- which should be used only as a last resort -- is for you to file bankruptcy. When someone files for bankruptcy, there are many protections that automatically apply from the day the bankruptcy petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court. The most important protection under the bankruptcy law is known as "the automatic stay." If you are in bankruptcy, no legal action can be taken against your house unless the lender requests the Court for permission to "lift the stay." This means that the lender goes before the bankruptcy judge, in open court, and petitions the Court to permit the foreclosure to take place. Depending on the circumstances, including the amount of equity you have in your house and the possibility of getting back on your feet financially, the Bankruptcy Court may or may not lift that stay.

Finally, I want to address your specific situation. You have indicated there is equity in the house. I cannot recommend a "short sale" or a "deed in lieu" in your case. However, I do suggest you will probably have to sell your house -- and do so as soon as possible. Clearly, you do not want the lender to foreclose on you, since you will probably lose most -- if not all -- of that equity to a real estate investor or speculator. Even if you sell the house at a "bargain sale", at least you will keep some of that equity.

You cannot ignore the problem, hoping you will win the lottery or find some other immediate source of funds. The level of your cooperation is the most significant aspect that will determine how willing the lender is to similarly cooperate.
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Maintaining Your Hot Water Heater

Water heaters generally have a lifespan of 8-12 years, but as with anything, the better care you take of it, the longer it will last. There are several easy "set it and forget it" tips that you can use with your water heater, like keeping the thermostat at 120 degrees, and always maintain two feet of clearance around the appliance. You can also conserve money on your gas bill by setting your heater to its "vacation" setting when leaving town. This will keep the pilot light going without heating the water.

Water heater maintenance goes well beyond just checking the thermostat, however. Here are some detailed tips for making sure your water heater lives a long, full life.

Draining amp; Cleaning

The bottom of the tank can contain all manner of sediment, calcium deposits, rust and bacteria. Drain a quarter of the tank a few times a year to remove this debris. Hook up a garden hose to the drain valve and run until the water is clear.

A once-a-year full cleaning should include draining the appliance completely, removing the drain valve and then scrubbing the bottom with a long, narrow brush. From there, screw on a nipple, pump 15 or 20 seconds worth of fresh water into the tank, then drain, repeating the process until the water runs clear. This is the best chemical-free way to clean a water heater.

Testing the TPR Valve

Most experts recommend testing the temperature and pressure >

To perform the test, slowly raise and lower the test lever so that it lifts the brass stem. At this point, hot water should rush out of the end of the drainpipe. If you get no water, or only a trickle, be sure to replace the valve. The main thing to watch for immediately after testing the TPR valve is a leak. If you do catch a leak, operate the test level a few more times to loosen the debris that could be preventing the valve from working correctly. If the valve is functioning properly, turn down the temperature on the water heater controller and turn down the water pressure.

Examining the Sacrificial Anode

Sacrificial anode is the fancy name for the rod of metal located in your water heaters tank that rusts easily so that the steel wont; it takes the fall, essentially. Sacrificial anodes in water heaters are made of highly corrosive metals like magnesium and aluminum.

To examine your heaters sacrificial anode you must first remove it. Start by shutting off the electricity or gas to the water heater, as well as the water supply. Drain a few inches of water from the tank via the tank valve. Locate the top of the anode rod or connecting hardware - it may be under a cap about halfway to the center, or it may be under a pink top nipple. Loosen the anode very carefully with a wrench. Here, it may be necessary to apply penetrating oil to the connecting nut or threads.

One you remove the anode, inspect it carefully. If it is covered in rough metal that looks like its been chewed, thats normal and your anode is functioning properly. If you can see six inches or more of the steel core wire inside the anode, replace it. If not, put it back in place and check back in a year.

Insulating Older Units

When you insulate the walls in your house, you increase its energy efficiency, and the same is true with your water heater. Although newer units are optimized for insulation, many older units are not, and by insulating them, you could reduce heat loss by 25-45. If youre not sure whether or not to insulate your appliance, simply touch it; if its warm to the touch, its time to insulate.

Before purchasing a water heater insulating blanket kit, check with your utility to see if they offer blankets at discounted rates. Some companies even install them for little-to-no cost.

To self-install, turn off the electricity to your heater at the breaker or for gas, switch the valve to "pilot" position. Wrap the blanket around the heater and tape it temporarily, leaving open areas for the access panels, valves and for gas heaters, the burner areas. Then tape the blanket permanently, and be sure to never set the thermostat above 130 degrees because the wiring could overheat.

When to Replace?

If you own a conventional storage tank water heater and its getting into the double digits in age, its time to replace. However if your water heater is only a few years old, there are a few things that would only take about 150-300 to repair. These things include extinguished pilot lights, burner or heating elements failing, thermostats breaking, or valves sticking. The two precursors to replacement are usually either old age or a leak. When your water heater springs a leak that usually means its time to face the music and buy a new one.

What are some other ways you care for your water heater?

Sarah Kellner writes about home heating appliances, including water heaters, for Home Depot. Sarah provides tips to homeowners on DIY energy efficiency and maintenance. A selection of water heaters available at Home Depot can be found on the companys website.

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Is This The Ultimate Example Of What Not To Do When Listing Your House For Sale?

Theres a new home listing thats been making the Internet rounds this week, and its a must-see for anyone who is selling their house, considering selling their house, or just wants to do a little point-and-stare. Oh, and for mannequin lovers. Let us explain.

The house in question is a large, gated estate on Jones Creek in the desirable Houston-area city of Richmond. Its listed for 1,275,000. At five bedrooms, five baths, and 7,406 square feet, with two acres of pastoral grounds backing to a scenic creek with a cattle ranch on the other side, and features including an art studio, game room, trophy room, swimming pool, outdoor kitchen, and a garage apartment, its seemingly a gem.

But that assumes you can actually see any of what the home has to offer. The owner of the home, whose identity is undisclosed, is an artist. And the home is her canvas. Oh, and her tools arent paint, theyrewell, see for yourself.

Did you notice the figure hanging on the stair railing? Thats a mannequin. And hes not alone. In fact, one notable real estate insider has even teased a contest to guess the number of mannequins in the home. "Our team has been chatting about this house now for a few days," said CandysDirt. "Home stagers are running for Xanax."

It definitely begs the question, "What is art and what is clutter?" It also makes you wonder what the initial conversation was like between RE/MAX FINE Properties agent Diana Power, whos listed the home, and her seller. We assume it, at least, included the words, "decluttering," and "staging" and "storage."

It goes without saying that this array of art and accessories may be just a tad excessive and perhaps also a little bit distracting. And maybe also kind of weird, or at least eccentric. It makes for a great spectacle - and certainly brings a lot of attention. But will it sell the home? "She has lots of collections," Power told Huffington Post. "Its not hoarding or clutter; its art."

But thats hardly the end of the discussion, and it brings up a few more keys for selling your home.

Mind your curb appeal

A house thats picture-perfect on the inside but questionable from the street isnt doing a seller any favors. It takes just a few seconds to to form a first impression. If the mannequin standing at the front gate presumably, the communitys HOA either limited the number of mannequins to one or made sure it was inside the gate, or both doesnt raise an eyebrow, perhaps the knocked-down and haphazardly restacked mailbox will. I mean, we presume it was knocked down and haphazardly restacked. It could be "art," after all.

Dont creep people out

Yes, the clutter in this master bedroom is overwhelming. But beyond the sheer amount of stuff in the space, why is there a mannequin at the foot of the bed? Even more curious: all the dolls stuffed into the bookcases. One look and Im heading right back out the door. You?

Bonus question: Where do you even get all those mannequins?

Wait. Foot-of-the-bed mannequin has a friend. Or two? Whos that climbing under the table?

Show off the goods

Most sellers, and, certainly their agents, would insist on framing that view out to the pool and creek. But, between all the taxidermy real or faux, pelts, knickknacks, dolls, blankets, and furniture, its hard to even focus the eye, even with that grand expanse of glass.

Maybe this serene view of Jones Creek makes it all better? Is that a mannequin riding the lawnmower?

This home has great features throughout. In the living room, there are beautiful built-ins, gleaming hardwoods, an elegant fireplace, and detailed dental molding all around. But you have to look hard to notice any of it.

"You can see the charm of the house underneath it all, from its 300,000 foundations to the way the windows are framed in cement and stone," Powers told ABC13. "I think that the person who will end up buying this house can see the forest from the trees."

Lets test that theory in the kitchen. This gourmet space has professional grade appliances and a huge island - and every inch of it has been covered with something to distract potential buyers from the great features.

At least the seller staged a mannequin at the island to showcase the eating bar. That is a mannequin, right?

Look at the features in this library. Behind all the books, papers, rugs, birdcages?, and a mannequin that is WALKING ON THE CEILING, there are some stunning bookcases, and French doors that lead out to a patio and pool - if you can manage to get to them.

Does it make you more interested in seeing the home, and, if you do want to see it, is it only to count the mannequins?

And, P.S., dont get any ideas about trying to buy the home with everything in it. The owner has stated shes "taking everything" with her when she moves on.
Full Story >

Maintaining Your Hot Water Heater

Water heaters generally have a lifespan of 8-12 years, but as with anything, the better care you take of it, the longer it will last. There are several easy "set it and forget it" tips that you can use with your water heater, like keeping the thermostat at 120 degrees, and always maintain two feet of clearance around the appliance. You can also conserve money on your gas bill by setting your heater to its "vacation" setting when leaving town. This will keep the pilot light going without heating the water.

Water heater maintenance goes well beyond just checking the thermostat, however. Here are some detailed tips for making sure your water heater lives a long, full life.

Draining Cleaning

The bottom of the tank can contain all manner of sediment, calcium deposits, rust and bacteria. Drain a quarter of the tank a few times a year to remove this debris. Hook up a garden hose to the drain valve and run until the water is clear.

A once-a-year full cleaning should include draining the appliance completely, removing the drain valve and then scrubbing the bottom with a long, narrow brush. From there, screw on a nipple, pump 15 or 20 seconds worth of fresh water into the tank, then drain, repeating the process until the water runs clear. This is the best chemical-free way to clean a water heater.

Testing the TPR Valve

Most experts recommend testing the temperature and pressure >To perform the test, slowly raise and lower the test lever so that it lifts the brass stem. At this point, hot water should rush out of the end of the drainpipe. If you get no water, or only a trickle, be sure to replace the valve. The main thing to watch for immediately after testing the TPR valve is a leak. If you do catch a leak, operate the test level a few more times to loosen the debris that could be preventing the valve from working correctly. If the valve is functioning properly, turn down the temperature on the water heater controller and turn down the water pressure.

Examining the Sacrificial Anode

Sacrificial anode is the fancy name for the rod of metal located in your water heaters tank that rusts easily so that the steel wont; it takes the fall, essentially. Sacrificial anodes in water heaters are made of highly corrosive metals like magnesium and aluminum.

To examine your heaters sacrificial anode you must first remove it. Start by shutting off the electricity or gas to the water heater, as well as the water supply. Drain a few inches of water from the tank via the tank valve. Locate the top of the anode rod or connecting hardware - it may be under a cap about halfway to the center, or it may be under a pink top nipple. Loosen the anode very carefully with a wrench. Here, it may be necessary to apply penetrating oil to the connecting nut or threads.

One you remove the anode, inspect it carefully. If it is covered in rough metal that looks like its been chewed, thats normal and your anode is functioning properly. If you can see six inches or more of the steel core wire inside the anode, replace it. If not, put it back in place and check back in a year.

Insulating Older Units

When you insulate the walls in your house, you increase its energy efficiency, and the same is true with your water heater. Although newer units are optimized for insulation, many older units are not, and by insulating them, you could reduce heat loss by 25-45. If youre not sure whether or not to insulate your appliance, simply touch it; if its warm to the touch, its time to insulate.

Before purchasing a water heater insulating blanket kit, check with your utility to see if they offer blankets at discounted rates. Some companies even install them for little-to-no cost.

To self-install, turn off the electricity to your heater at the breaker or for gas, switch the valve to "pilot" position. Wrap the blanket around the heater and tape it temporarily, leaving open areas for the access panels, valves and for gas heaters, the burner areas. Then tape the blanket permanently, and be sure to never set the thermostat above 130 degrees because the wiring could overheat.

When to Replace?

If you own a conventional storage tank water heater and its getting into the double digits in age, its time to replace. However if your water heater is only a few years old, there are a few things that would only take about 150-300 to repair. These things include extinguished pilot lights, burner or heating elements failing, thermostats breaking, or valves sticking. The two precursors to replacement are usually either old age or a leak. When your water heater springs a leak that usually means its time to face the music and buy a new one.

What are some other ways you care for your water heater?

Sarah Kellner writes about home heating appliances, including water heaters, for Home Depot. Sarah provides tips to homeowners on DIY energy efficiency and maintenance. A selection of water heaters available at Home Depot can be found on the companys website.

Full Story >

8 Aerial Views of Popular American Housing Patterns

Even before Google allowed anybody with an Internet connection to see a satellite view of anyplace on the globe, I loved looking at books with aerial photography. A few favorites that focus on natural and human-made landscapes of the United States are Alex S. MacLeans Designs on the Land: Exploring American from the Air, Dolores Haydens and photographer Jim Warks A Field Guide to Sprawl and Alan Bergers Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America.

Flipping through these books again recently prompted me to look at Americas housing patterns in Google Maps, particularly places for which high-resolution, 45-degree aerial imagery is available. The collected views reveal the diversity of the countrys suburban housing in terms of scale and form, but also that much of it is what MacLean describes as "monotonous, sterile, inefficient and pedestrian unfriendly. It is missing a larger plan that goes beyond the responses to market forces, finances and restrictive regulations."

But all hope is not lost, as well see. So come along on a trip over America, taking in the good and the bad, the normal and the weird. All the views are at the same scale a little less than 1/2 mile across.

Suburbia. The suburbs in the United States take many forms, having evolved, like cities, over time from the 19th century to today. This image of Katy, Texas, near Houston is of the type that often comes to mind when we think of the suburbs. It is actually a layout that is fairly indicative of developments in the 1960s and 70s. Instead of following a grid, like earlier suburbs did, the streets are curved. But unlike later suburbs, where the cul-de-sac predominates, the streets are interconnected and have only the occasional cul-de-sac.


Suburban-urban grid. As cities grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they tended to follow the grid that Thomas Jefferson laid down in the 18th century. This view of Buffalo, New York, illustrates the adherence to the grid as well as >


Fairway housing. This view of Bend, Oregon, is fairly typical of suburban houses bordering golf courses. Their fronts face the streets that serve them, while the backs face the fairways and greens of the golf holes. Developments with houses and golf courses are now fairly common. The design of the streets, houses and golf courses have to work together, even though each has its own needs. As I pointed out in an article on walkability, golf course developments are extremely car dependent, given that it is necessary to drive a great distance to get to retail, commercial and other services.


Multifamily island. In the middle of this aerial shot of Bloomington, Indiana, is a multifamily housing development made up of about a dozen apartment buildings. Typical of much of the suburban landscape, the development is segregated from everything that surrounds it, such as the retail on the left. Residents must drive to it via one of two access roads. Note the recreation center with a pool that serves the apartment buildings, as well as the enormous amount of surface parking.


Greenfield housing. One of the most criticized aspects of sprawl is how land previously used for forests and agriculture is developed for housing and roads. This view of Columbus, Ohio, shows some houses that are pushed to the edge for the time being, probably serving homeowners that cant afford houses closer to urban or other commercial cores. One way to tell this is the "end of the line" is the fact the power lines dont extend to the right.

Correction: The power lines do extend to the right, angled to the south and east.


Fly-in houses. At first this view of Cameron Park, California, may look fairly typical of the suburbs, but a couple of odd things come to the fore: Those roads are mighty wide compare them with the road at the bottom, and the left-to-right road in the middle of the photo is connected to a runway. Yes, this is a community of fly-in housing, as Alan Berger calls it in his book Drosscape. After landing, residents can park their planes in hangars attached to their houses.


Canal houses. A variation on fairway housing, though not nearly as popular, is canal housing. Just picture the waterways between these houses in Palm Valley, Florida, as fairways. While this sort of plan mdash; where water is used for both recreation and to a lesser degree transportation mdash; makes some sense on the Florida coast, it can also be found in the desert Southwest and other areas where water scarcity would point to more suitable alternatives.


Houses on the water. Canal housing may offer the appearance of living on the water, but the previous example shows how the suburban norms roads, yards are still maintained. Houseboats, on the other hand, offer the reality of life on the water waves and all as well as the ability to move from one slip to another, or even to another city. This "neighborhood" of houseboats in Sausalito, California, is closer to the form of boat docks than suburban sprawl hellip; although I guess each walkway could be seen as a cul-de-sac.

Also See:

  • Unique Exterior Home Design Ideas to Break the Mold
  • Modern >
  • How to Create a Clean and Safe Community

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Nathan Grace Real Estate Is Hosting An Open House Extravagaza You Dont Want To Miss

Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex: Nathan Grace Real Estate, a boutique real estate company dedicated to the client, community and industry, is blowing the top off the traditional open house format with a massive 22-home open house extravaganza on Sunday, July 23rd from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Prospective buyers will be welcomed to these beautiful homes sprinkled across Dallas and surrounding communities with custom balloons, delicious treats and a chance to win prizes to favorite local restaurants - the more you visit, the more opportunities you have to win

Nathan Grace Real Estate prides itself on thinking outside of the box and like to say they "We are not your mommas real estate company, but shed be so proud". This not-to-be-missed event is just one example of these principles in action, so if youre looking for properties in the area, plan to visit as many of these homes as you are able, they are stunning

Watch the video below for a preview of the homes, including addresses, and listing agents:

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How Technology is Changing the Way Real Estate Leaders do Business

In recent years, real estate developers, builders, and brokerages have been faced with rapidly changing social, demographic, and technology realities, and all of which have had an enormous impact on how the real estate industry markets and sells both listings and new developments.

The combination of changes in technology and the speed of social media have meant organizations must quickly adapt to an online and mobile world, ready to meet client expectations for the delivery of multimedia property information, while still retaining an informed and engaged sales staff with strong client >The ever-evolving market is creating opportunities unlike any weve seen in the past. Real estate organizations that plan on staying ahead of their competition will quickly adopt digital technologies, enabling them to reach more prospects, close more deals faster, and gather more >As technology and competition in the global real estate market come together in real time, real estate organizations need more enhanced tools to manage and grow their business, without adding significant complexity and/or cost. Organizations traditionally have a website, and CRM tools; however there is a big gap in-between, which means its likely that the marketing and sales teams are not properly equipped to meet todays digital display property information challenges, all of which are designed to engage clients and capture leads.

The industry needs the ability to bring this together, so agents are able to share and follow properties, find and connect with other agents across multiple languages, in a manner that is both easy and accessible. The solution does exist and it is called a collaborative real estate sales platform.

Here, real estate companies can automate and enhance their marketing and sales processes, improve the creation, control and distribution of property information, accelerate the sales cycle, and track results in real time.

Proxios Collaborative Real Estate Sales Platform is an enterprise-wide solution producing consumer-facing marketing for every property in inventory, and then leveraging a collaboration model, by enabling agents to "follow" and "share" these listings, and connect with each other via a LinkedIn-type model. The marketing is branded so leads come back to them, thus creating a motivated virtual, global team that promotes listings and properties, while providing new opportunities for connected agents.

Real Estate is a traditionally non-techie field. As a result, Proxio was designed to reside in the cloud so organizations dont have to worry about additional technology to run the platform. It provides valuable feedback by tracking and revealing the activity of both agents and consumers, as they engage with and share inventory. It is genuinely user-friendly from all perspectives.

For example, Coldwell Bankers new luxury brand, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, recently adopted Proxios Collaborative Sales and Marketing Platform as its underlying technology for its 8,000 luxury agents around the world. Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, which was recently introduced to the public this past April, encompasses 8,000 agents, representing 12,000 exceptional listings globally.

Agents connected to the platform now have the ability to leverage their client networks to find buyers for distinctive properties in some truly amazing places. Agents listings are shared and promoted by this large, vibrant network of talented luxury agents from all over the world. In a space that is traditionally more local than global, the way we do business has truly changed -- for the better.

Succinctly put, traditional sales processes in real estate havent kept up with the speed of business or the speed of the enterprise. Digital presentations and extensive visuals have become the new norm, while global has become the new local. Real estate developers, builders, and brokers can finally take advantage of the technological advances that could not be utilized in the past. Going 100 digital means more control and lower costs; while multi-lingual capabilities increase reach and maintaining a collaboration model, which delivers more qualified leads in real time. In todays world, where everything is changing so quickly around us, its reassuring to know there are solutions enabling both the real estate enterprise and the real estate leaders to stay ahead of the market, rather than be left behind.

About The Author: Janet Case lives and breathes the real estate industry. Before founding Proxio, Janet was CEO of two of the largest Associations of Realtorsreg; in the U.S. simultaneously providing services to over 7500 agents in hundreds of brokerages; she also ran an online real estate forms company and participated in the governance of Silicon Valleys MLS. Today Janet is a recognized speaker at industry conferences and real estate associations on the topic of internationalizing real estate practices and building professional referral networks. Janet previously held senior management roles in Fortune 500 companies Varian Associates and Tencor Instruments, where her responsibilities included international marketing for Europe, Asia and North and South America, and launching new products worldwide. Janet holds a BA in Economics from the University of Maine and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

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Real Estate Professional Kristina Vanderpool Makes Her Agent with Heart Donation Debut

PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that Kristina Vanderpool of Century 21 Fairway in Apple Valley, California recently closed a transaction and made a special donation to Hope for Paws on behalf of her client, Kellie Farris.

"Kristina Vanderpool is a new agent to our program, and we are very proud to see that she is already taking off with her first donation," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. The Agent with Heart Program connects local realtors to nonprofits within the community with the goal of being able to aid in the growth of communities nation-wide.

"We are looking forward to seeing how Kirstinas dedication to giving back will positively impact her local community," continues Mr. Giaimo. "Id like to personally thank Kristina for her generosity and for being a partner in Agent with Heart Program. I know that, together, we will be able to do great things in the Apple Valley and surrounding communities," concludes Mr. Giaimo.

About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local agents like Kristina Vanderpool who agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit To connect with Kristina Vanderpool, please call 760-617-8026.

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Real Estate Professional Fran Bakst Makes Her Agent with Heart Donation Debut with a Donation to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance Inspires Client to Give Back, Too

PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that Fran Bakst of Realty ONE Group in Mission Viejo, California recently closed a transaction and made a special donation to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance on behalf of her client, Oscar Oo.

"Fran Bakst is a recent agent to join our program and has already turned around her first donation Realtors like Fran, who are dedicated to giving back, are precisely why our program was created," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. The Agent with Heart Program connects local realtors to nonprofits within the community with the goal of being able to aid in the growth of communities nation-wide.

"On top of Frans generous donation, her giving spirit inspired her client to also make a separate donation on behalf of someone close to him This circle of giving is what we hope to inspire through our Agent with Heart Program, and we are very proud to include Fran amongst our agents who are assisting in doing that," continues Mr. Giaimo. "We look forward to seeing how Frans generosity will continue to assist her community, and the communities of her clients, going forward."

About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local agents like Fran Bakst who agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit To connect with Fran Bakst, please call 949-923-0334or visit her website at
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The Need For Signatures - All The Signatures

One of the basics that real estate brokers teach new agents is that they need to get signatures on contracts. They also want to be sure that they get all the signatures needed, which is not always clear. The recent case of Jacobs v. Locatelli, California Sixth Appellate District, Feb. 18, 2017, provides a case in point.

On April 9, 2013, Bernice Jacobs, who is a licensed real estate broker, signed a listing agreement with John Locatelli, granting Jacobs the exclusive and irrevocable rights to sell a parcel of property in Marin County. The duration of the contract was one year. The listing price was 2,200,000. If Jacobs procured a buyer for the property, she was to receive a commission of 200,000.

Locatelli signed as trustee of the John B. Locatelli trust. There were signature lines naming four other persons plus one corporate entity. They were not signed. Jacobs said that Locatelli told her when he was signing the agreement that he was authorized to act on behalf of the other owners. She believed that there was a written agency agreement between Locatelli and the other owners. In the listing agreement, the owner is identified as John B. Locatelli, Trustee of the John B. Locatelli Trust, et al. Moreover, Jacobs says that two of the individual owners subsequently acknowledged her employment, were impressed by her performance, and inquired about working with her on other projects.

The listing experience was not a happy one. Not long into the listing period, Jacobs contacted Locatelli to tell him that she had been in contact with a representative for the Trust for Public Land TPL and that TPL was interested in purchasing the property. Locatelli told Jacobs that he had been speaking with TPL for years, and that it should be excluded from the listing. The TPL representative denied this. In any event, sometime in 2013 the owners and TPL entered into a purchase agreement. The sale, however, was never consummated.

On April 4, 2014, Jacobs filed an action against the owners. The Appellate Court noted that the failure of the sale was not addressed as a cause for Jacobs not to receive a commission. Hence that issue is not discussed. The action was for breach of contract and for specific performance, among other charges.

The owners filed a demurrer - essentially, a motion to dismiss - on the grounds that they had not signed the listing agreement. The trial court sustained that motion. Jacobs appealed.

At this point, it is >But Jacobs also >If Locatelli had authorization to sign a listing agreement on behalf of the other owners, he would have been given authorization to sign something that was required to be in writing. According to the equal dignities rule, then, that authorization would also have to be in writing.

When the Appellate Court reviewed this case, they seemed to find too many anomalies in the circumstances to allow the case simply to be dismissed. For example, they felt that Jacobs should be given an opportunity to introduce extrinsic evidence regarding Locatellis claim that he was authorized to act for the other owners. So, the case was sent back, and we dont know at this point how it will turn out. But we do know that a lot of grief and lawyer fees could have been saved if there had been a concerted effort to obtain all signatures in the manner necessary.

Indeed, there may be a lesson here for California real estate agents who have come to >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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Agents: 5 Tips for Successfully Pursuing Social Purpose

Are you searching for social purpose to enrich your work, contribute to obvious local need, and reach out to new target groups? Not as a marketing pitch or sales promotion campaign, but with real social purpose that can right wrongs and improve lives.

Real estate professionals grow to love the communities they work in and often look for ways to give back to the families and neighborhoods that help these committed professionals realize business and personal goals.

Blending social purpose with business can enrich existing connections and open the door to new >

  • Challenges: Sometimes a cause or purpose arises out of things gone wrong or service gaps that newly emerge within a community. Existing charities or nonprofits may fully or partially cover these issues, but there is always more that can be done. Real estate professionals have unique perspectives to contribute.
  • Technology: Increasingly, technology enables a mission or passion to affordably, practically take form and reach out to a target group. Networking with existing service organizations brings benefits to all involved.
  • Revelation: Often a chance meeting or a new client introduces a fresh perspective on work or life which snaps a social issue or solution into focus and the mission begins. An epiphany of clear connections can occur in the midst of common routine. Revelation unearths new purpose.

    How do you blend a business venture with social purpose?

    A recent podcast interview posted on my blog offers one example of integrating social purpose into a business start-up. Entrepreneur Lino Falotico of Inner Balance Wear, interviewed on his launch day, candidly revealed the driving force of social purpose.

    Falotico began as a successful caterer with a long-term interest in fashion design and a son who suffered from mental illness. One morning driving to a catering job during a particularly colorful sunrise, Falotico had his epiphany. Suddenly, he understood how to help his son and others like him while indulging that long-held design interest.

    Listen to Falotico share his personal story of struggling to understand his sons fight against anxiety disorder and of learning how to help him. Youll realize that the right purpose ignites passion. This drives individuals to believe they must take on a cause to help others.

    Faloticos story is not without humor. The combined mental-health and fashion statement he is making is with underwear - or more exactly on underwear.

    Nothing disrespectful there. His slogan for this motivational variation on days-of-the-week undies is "Let the first thing you put on be you." Each pair of chakra-color-coded, super-comfies in a 7-pack displays one of seven powerful "I AM" self-actualizing statements on its waistband. This means that wearers start the day concentrating on an "I AM" theme that brings vitality to the day ahead. Faloticos son works at Inner Balance as part of the team intent on ensuring the messaging works as an invisible-to-others personal reminder.

    Falotico promises to donate 7 of the net proceeds to Mental Health Awareness and Research. This is not a launch gimmick, but a long-term commitment to mental health organizations and their causes. He is adamant that his success will mean success for others.

    However your new purpose comes to you, finding practical ways to integrate it into your work routine can be a challenge. Wherever you start, your expertise with implementation and communication will determine your success, just as comparable skill will determine Inner Balances.

    The point is this...your social purpose or solution may seem odd to others until your new way of thinking about the problem and solution gains acceptance. Your goal is to develop a unique approach that guarantees this new commitment works for you and everyone concerned.

    Before you plunge into a new social venture, consider these 5 Tips for Successfully Pursuing Social Purpose:

    1. Slow Down

    Remember the previous long-term projects you started and couldnt sustainthe newsletter, the blog, the door-knocking campaign? Here "failure to stick" can do more than embarrass you. The very people youre intent on helping will be let down.

    2. Research Is Essential

    Ask real estate colleagues and others with established social purpose projects what the long-term positive and negative considerations are. Reach outside your area to learn from professionals who have adopted a purpose that intrigues you. Volunteer on others projects to learn how to engage volunteers, fund raiseand the list goes on. Construct a very practical strategy to achieve your goals within your current real estate workload before you jump.

    3. Scale Down The Start-Up

    Start small. Begin with a manageable event or a campaign to see if this is really for you. Fine-tune practical considerations before you expand commitment. An annual event may be all thats necessary.

    4. Understand Target Needs

    Invest time and resources listening to those you intend to help. They know what will and wont work for them. Stereotypes, labels, and "common knowledge" are usually wrong. You may discover targets would prefer an enti>5. Put Your Real Estate Strengths To Work

    Incorporate your real estate skills into the design of your organization and project. Your powerful communication, problem-solving, and implementation expertise can ensure your project succeeds. The more you incorporate aspects of your social project into your business routine, the more youll achieve for both.
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  • How To Create A Statement Ceiling

    Are things looking up in your home? How about people? If theres nothing to draw their eye up, you may be missing out on a great decorating opportunity. Today, the ceiling is being called the "fifth wall," and its a great place to add color, texture, and interest to a space that is often ignored.


    Who doesnt love a rustic beam or 10? Its the >

    Living in a more modern space? Maybe you want to go a little sleek instead of rustic. Keep in mind that beams today dont have to be pricy. Finding reclaimed beams - inexpensive reclaimed beams, for that matter - you can reuse is the dream of many. But when thats not a reality, or when the size and weight of the beams is a concern, "faux" beams may be the answer. Faux beams look like the real thing but are hollow, allowing them to be much easier to install and, often, more affordable.

    Paint it

    The right hue up above can take a good space and make it amazing. This dreamy sea blue makes walking down the hall a pleasure, but with so much allure in what could just be a "pass-through," you might actually want to have a seat and stay awhile.


    In a large space without a lot of architectural detail, moldings on the ceiling can create just the right amount of interest.


    You dont need a Parisian pied--terre to create historic-feeling character in your home. A medallion and some intricate moldings on the ceiling can transform a room. You can find vintage medallions at architectural salvage stores, and a variety of newer versions at Lowes.

    Or, use a stencil and some metallic paint to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling, like this one from Apartment Therapy.

    Kim R. McCormick via


    Wallpaper on the ceiling? Its the perfect accent for this sweet New York nursery.


    You may not be up to recreating the Sistine Chapel a la Michelangelo, but you may be able to reference another masterpiece. This ceiling in a London townhouse looks like a Mondrian come to life.

    Elle Decor

    Paint it dark

    "To make this dining room comfortable and intimate, the designer painted the ceiling black and added a very low paper lantern," said Build Direct. "Large, open spaces can also benefit from a dark ceiling if you want to make it look a little more defined."

    Keeping the ceiling white in this chic kitchen could go a little country paging Joanna Gaines with that shiplap look, but painting it black creates contrast and drama, while showcasing the high-end features.

    Go graphic

    Graphic patterns have invaded pretty much every other surface, and now its time to look up to them. This office/homework space benefits from the patterned ceiling, which adds even more interest and vibrancy to a space that could be dull or clinical. Who says the "work" space has to be boring?

    Stop just short of mirrors

    This glossy finish is a much more sophisticated way of creating a reflective surface on the ceiling that gives the room a touch of >

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    The Fall Colors For Home Youll Soon Be Seeing Everywhere

    Already thinking about how to jazz up your home with the latest fall trends and newest colors? Even in the dead of summer, its hard to keep from thinking ahead, especially because autumn deacute;cor can be so dreamy. This year, get a head start on the new season with the fall colors youll be seeing a lot of soon.

    "At thenbsp;International Home Housewares show,nbsp;Pantonenbsp;Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman made a long-anticipated announcement when she sharednbsp;the upcoming color trends for 2018," said Martha Stewart. "Eight color groups were announced: Verdure, Resourceful, Playful, Discretion, Far-fetched, Intricacy, Intensity and TECH-nique."

    This Elderberry Wine paint from Benjamin Moore falls under "Discretion," and is an unexpected hit of color in a built-in that brings new life to the space.


    Millennial pink isnt gone, and, in fact, its still going strong with demographics far beyond millennials. But a hot new shade of pink is gaining on it. Benjamin Moores Tissue Pink is a good place to start to incorporate this hue into your home.

    We love the rosy bed in this room from Decoholic, especially with the pink contrasted against the grey and metallic accents.



    Speaking of metallic, its not going anywhere, according to International Color Expert Leatrice Eiseman. "Metallics we know are >

    If youre looking to bring metallics into your home for fall, todays finish du jour is brass.


    Dark green

    Tired of that all-white kitchen? Thisll give your place a boost. Show off that marble with a dark contrast by splashing deep, rich green - a top color trend for fall - on the walls and cabinets.


    "Dark paint"

    "Forget farmhouse white and gray This season, its all about drama," said House Beautiful. "PPG Paints, Glidden Paints, and Olympic Paints amp; Stains all announcednbsp;cozy shades of black as their 2018 Color of the Year - nbsp;Black Flame PPG1043-7,nbsp;Deep Onyx 00NN 07/000, andnbsp;Black Magic OL116, respectively."

    Matte black

    Moody black is included under the dark paint umb>

    Not ready to take the plunge on the walls? Black matte home deacute;cor is everywhere right now.

    Chocolate brown

    Chocolate brown is also on the rise, providing a rich alternative to all that grey thats been everywhere over the last several years and "the all-white, minimalistic homes that have taken over Pinterest," said CountryLiving. Their article titled "Brown is the new black" notes that, "trends are cyclical, and now, were seeing homeowners embracing earthier shades and a morenbsp;maximalist >

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    7 Key Things That Help You Qualify For A Mortgage

    In an environment where lenders are highly regulated and risk-averse, borrowers are rightfully a little nervous when they apply for a mortgage. But with the right preparation, qualifying for a home loan can be a rewarding experience in your journey toward homeownership.

    "In a lot of ways, lenders have gone back to the basics, looking at fundamental personal finance criteria to decide who qualifies for a loan," says Rick Sharga, chief marketing officer of Ten-X, an online real estate marketplace in Irvine, California.

    At the same time, Sharga says lenders have been more risk-averse than ever since the housing bust.

    A.W. Pickel, III, Midwest division president of AmCap Mortgage in Kansas City, Missouri, recommends finding a loan officer you can trust and sticking with that person during your entire homebuying process.

    "A good loan officer is like a pilot flying you and your loan from Kansas City to Hawaii," Pickel says. "There are several ways to get there and several things that can happen on the way. A good loan officer has seen the turbulence and knows where the smooth air is."

    7 steps toward a loan approval

    The back-to-basics approach by lenders means that borrowers can take steps that increase their chances of a mortgage approval.

    Improving your credit, reducing your debt and gathering your documentation are among the many things you can do long before a loan application to increase the likelihood of getting a "yes" from a lender.

    1. Maintain a high credit score. The average FICO score for an approved borrower is around 720 for a conventional loan and close to 700 for an FHA-insured loan, says Sharga. He says borrowers should find out their FICO score before applying for a loan, make sure their credit report is correct and take steps to improve their score if necessary. Pickel says he recently reviewed a loan file with a high debt-to-income ratio of 49 percent but a credit score over 800, which resulted in a loan approval.

    Keep a vigilant eye on your credit profile while you wait for your loan to close, too.

    "Once the application process has begun, borrowers shouldnt do anything that might negatively impact their credit rating -- no new accounts, no late or missed payments," says Sharga.

    2. Save for a bigger down payment. One way to minimize risk for a lender is to make a higher-than-minimum down payment. "The average down payment today is around 10 percent; historically the standard has been 20 percent," says Sharga. "Anything above that lowers the loan-to-value ratio, which is viewed positively."

    3. Choose the right loan. If you have less money for a down payment but have good credit, you may qualify for a conventional loan with private mortgage insurance and a down payment requirement of 3 to 5 percent.

    You may want to look for a lender who issues FHA loans, which are often available to borrowers with less cash or a lower credit score and require a down payment of 3.5 percent. Keep in mind these loans require a monthly mortgage insurance payment in addition to principal and interest, Sharga says.

    4. Manage your debt. Lenders are >Paying off credit card balances or at least reducing debt before applying for a home loan is helpful.

    5. Buy within your means. "Be realistic with your monthly income," Pickel says. "Buy a house with a monthly payment you can afford. Buying a house that needs the income from two or three future raises will only cause stress."

    It matters that you can afford your payments and have remaining income after those payments are made, he says.

    6. Demonstrate stability. Lenders look for signs of personal and financial stability, such as whether youve saved three to six months worth of expenses in the bank, whether you have a steady employment record and how often youve moved over the past few years, Sharga says. Your good credit score and a pattern of saving money are both indicators of financial strength.

    7. Respond fast to lender requests. The CFPBs ability-to-repay rule requires lenders to verify whether a borrower has the means to handle loan payments, says Sharga. This requires you to have all your financial records in order, including pay stubs, bank records, tax returns and more. Sharga says incomplete documentation is a common reason for loans being declined.

    "If the loan officer asks for it, then bring it," says Pickel. "Sometimes people dont want to say they cant find something or they dont want to look for it, but it really helps to have all the information that the loan officer requests. This will help expedite the process."

    While it should go without saying, honesty is an essential component of a loan approval.

    "No one likes surprises, especially loan underwriters," says Pickel. "Tell the truth, even if it hurts. It will help even if it means that you dont qualify today."

    Michele Lerner has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades and contributes articles about mortgages at Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and online at Fox Business News, Forbes BrandVoices,,, and
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    A Heartfelt Way to Say Hello to Your New Neighbors

    Dont worry about a perfect presentation - a heartfelt note and a simple treat create a wonderful welcome to the neighborhood

    A few months ago our neighbors moved away. We had gotten to know them only recently, when we were rebuilding after our house fire. That was one of the good things that came out of that hard time. During construction we rented just a few doors down, right next to this nice family. But, alas, they found a house that suited them better.

    When I drive by their empty house every day, I glance over to check for the for-sale sign and to see if anyone is looking at it. Some days I say a prayer for my old neighbors that they will sell the house quickly and for the new neighbors, whoever they may be.

    Paul and I talked about how we wanted to make a point to welcome the new neighbors. When we moved into our first home, our next-door neighbors brought over a plate of cookies with a note welcoming us to the neighborhood. I had a newborn baby and was trying to get back in shape, so I wasnt thrilled to be delivered a plate of temptation. But I was delighted to meet our new neighbors, and their thoughtful gesture had the desired effect.

    When we bought our second house, there was a gap between the day we took possession and when we actually moved in. We shuttled between the two houses for a few weeks. One day I found a mason jar set by our front door with a simple bouquet and a note from our neighbor up the road. She gave her name and her husbands, as well as their phone number, and welcomed us to our new home.

    Last week I drove by our neighbors house, and when I did my reflexive look I didnt see the for-sale sign. A few days later I drove by and saw cars in the driveway and all the lights on in the house. It was clear someone was moving in.

    I told Paul the next day, "I think Ill make cookies and write down our name and numbers. We can walk over and introduce ourselves later this afternoon." He thought that was a great idea. Eden heard us and asked if she could please, oh please, make the card. There was no question of us saying anything but yes. She and I set to work.

    By Alison Hodgson - See more Home Design Photos

    The cookies didnt turn out the best. The first batch was slightly undercooked, and the second was half burned. I hate my new oven The third batch was inedible.

    In general I consider "Its the thought that counts" shabby thinking and simple excuse making. If youre going to do something for someone, you should do it well.

    And yet too often Ive failed to make a kind gesture because Im concerned it wont be perfect. I mean, what if the family eschews white flour and refined sugar? What if?

    Im done with that sort of worrying. The first batch I left on the cookie sheet, and they continued to bake. They werent pretty, but I knew they would taste good.

    Edens card, of course, is fantastic. Im only going to add a small card listing our names with our home and mobile numbers. I know this isnt necessary, but Id like them to know were good for a cup of sugar or a tablespoon of garam masala.

    By Alison Hodgson - See more Home Design Photos

    Eden remembered these little candy boxes I bought last Christmas and never used. She thought they would be perfect, and I agreed. Never mind that its a gingerbread house with candy cane trim and this is November. Theyre cute and happy, and its a little house welcoming our new neighbors to our neighborhood and their home. Thats our thought, and I think it counts more than enough.

    Also See:

    • Say "Welcome Home" With a Fun Doormat
    • Stock Up on Dining Chairs for Your Next Neighborhood Get Together
    • More Ways to Be a Good Neighbor

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    When It Comes To Disclosures, How Much Do You Really Have To Tell?

    You call her Gladys. For the six years you lived in your charming little 1909 Craftsman home on your charming little 1909 street, she appeared in hallways. Open and shut doors. Moved things from one place to another. She was your friendly family ghost, and now youre moving. Can she be your little secret, especially since, while she freaked people out from time to time, for sure, you never felt unsafe?

    The answer is: Maybe. It depends on if its considered a "stigmatizing factor." Beyond the obvious things you would disclose about a home, like any known defects, repairs, and renovations, there are other other important factors that need to be disclosed per the National Association of Realtors, which defines stigmatized property as: "That which has been psychologically impacted by an event, which occurred or was suspected to have occurred on the property, such event being one that has no physical impact of any kind," said HomeGuides. "Examples of stigmatizing factors include murder, suicide and other deaths, serious crime, proximity to registered sex offenders, hauntings and other paranormal activity. According to NAR, only 15 percent of potential homebuyers would pay full market value for a psychologically impacted home. A further 19 percent would expect a 31 to 50 percent discount."

    Death in the house

    Did someone die in the house while you were living there, or are you aware of a death in the house prior to your moving in? Whether or not you have to disclose this information will depend the state in which you live different states, different laws and the "type" of death were talking about.

    "Each state will have slightly different requirements for disclosure," says Jim Olenbush, a Texas real estatebroker, on Investopedia. "In Texas, for example, deaths from natural causes, suicides, or accidents un>A murder in the home would typically have to be disclosed, however. The good news is that, depending on the type of murder and especially if it was especially gruesome or attached to a notorious crime, it might actually be a selling point. "Penny-pinchers are lured by the steep discounts," said "Entrepreneurs see business opportunities. Some house hunters hope that they can transform the gory karmaof these abodes. Others are true crime and haunted house junkies. And some buyersare simply not perturbed by what happened, no matter how horrific."

    Your financial situation

    No, you dont need to include your bank balance and retirement accounts in your disclosures. But if someone has placed a lien on the property or if youre involved in bankruptcy proceedings, that information would be necessary.

    Bad neighbors

    A neighborhood kid who rides his bike past your house a couple times a day is no big deal even if it drives you, and your dogs, crazy. One that is stalking your teenage daughter or playing loud music deep into the night, or a neighbor who is harassing you and/or has become outright dangerous, is another story.

    "In the 1992 Alexander vs. McKnight case, the court held that sellers have to disclose their neighbors pattern of offensive and noxious activities, including operation of noisy equipment, late-night basketball games, and a plethora of cars parked on the property, even if the conduct had stopped," said Silicon Valley, CA-based law firm Rossi, Hamerslough, Reischl, Chuck. "Given the nature of the disclosure forms now required by both the state of California and many real estate groups, including the California Real Estate Association, the seller is required in many instances to be more than forthright with regard to prospective buyers. Full and complete disclosures must be made. If not, the buyer will move in, and one of the first things that will happen is that a neighbor will tell them about all of the problems, and then the buyer will sue the seller for failing to make complete and adequate disclosures. If you want to be rid of your bad neighbor problem, disclose, disclose, disclose"


    Reputable Realtors will generally recommend you disclose any repairs that were done to the home, beyond what may or may not be required on your disclosure sheet. "Be aware that buyers may be able to find out about the repair whether or not you tell them," said "A home inspector may find evidence of the repair work, but another possibility is that the buyers may request that you provide a CLUEHome Sellers Disclosure report,which reveals all insurance claims on your property. If insurance helped pay for your leak and tub replacement, then that claim will stay on your report for up to seven years."

    Hiding work that was done ra>Lead-based paint

    You know when youre watching one of those renovation shows and the new owners want to tear down walls but then their contractor finds out there are layers of old lead-based paint underneath and now everyone has to vacate the premises while its taken care of? That might make for great TV, but, in real life, the existence of lead-based paint absolutely needs to be disclosed.

    "Lead paint is a mandatory disclosure in all states," said Maximum Exposure Real Estate. "If you fail to comply with lead paint disclosure requirements, the buyer can sue you for triple the amount of damages suffered. Accuracy on lead paint is one of the most important disclosures for any seller."


    Paging Walter White Good news if you have a Breaking Bad situation going on in your home for sale and you live in certain areas. This is another area where state-by-state disclosure laws vary greatly. According to, "Kansas doesnt require a seller to disclose if the home was previously the site of an illegal meth lab, while Missouri does."


    Paranormal activity

    Back to Gladys. The question when it comes to paranormal activity in a house is whether it falls under the umb>Does haunting qualify? "In most areas of the country, a home seller would not need to disclose whether their home is haunted, but laws differ by state or even local ordinances," said Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School Professor Chris Trudeau on RISMedia.

    But, that also depends on how "famous" the haunting is.

    "In a famous 1991 New York case, a buyer sued the seller and the sellers Realtor for failure to disclose the houses ghostly reputation," said LegalZoom. "Prior to putting the house up for sale, the seller wrote about her bumps in the night for the local paper andReaders Digest, but the buyers were unaware of the homes reputation. Although the court did not rule nondisclosure of the houses reputation as fraudulent, it did allow the buyer to back out of his contract and get his down payment back."
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    Buying a Vacation Home: The Questions Before The Purchase

    Whether its an oceanside bungalow or a luxury cabin in the mountains, many people dream of buying a vacation home. Financial advisors call a purchase like this "life>Take a Close Look at Your Finances

    Before even looking at listings, its important to assess your finances. To determine whether you can actually afford a vacation property, consider the following questions:

    • How strong is your income stream? Will it hold up during an economic downturn?
    • Will you be able to write off some, or all, of your mortgage? The IRS caps write offs for mortgage indebtedness at a maximum of 1 million between your primary and qualified second home.
    • Will you need to finance the vacation property? If so, keep in mind that banks are quite strict on limiting borrowers for a vacation property to a 42 debt-to-income ratio or less. For example, if your gross income is at 10,000 a month your total debt payments including the new mortgage will need to be under 4,200.
    • What is your current asset allocation? Its typically not a good idea for anyone to have more than 50 of his or her net worth in any single asset >

      Sit down with an advisor and answer these questions. If you still think a vacation home makes sense, keep reading.

      Retirement Retreat or Raking It in With a Rental?

      Once youve determined that a vacation home is economically feasible, the next big question to think about is how you want to use your vacation property. Are you planning to rent it out, fix it up and sell it, or retire there?

      If youre thinking about becoming a landlord, make sure the vacation home has rental income potential. If youre looking to eventually profit from a sale, are you prepared to own the home for five years? Youll likely want to keep it for at least that long in order amortize the high transaction costs associated with buying a vacation property. On the other hand, you may see the home as part of your retirement dream, which makes it more of a life>Making the Move

      Once you know what youll use your home for, its time to figure out where to buy. Anyone who has ever bought a house has heard the adage about the three most important factors: "location, location, location." This is even more critical when buying a vacation home.

      First, look closely at the local market. As the Great Recession showed, real estate doesnt only go up. An array of factors can drive a local market up or down, including: major employers coming or going, damaging weather events, and changing zoning laws. By working with an agent knowledgeable about the area, you can get a good idea of market activity and pricing trends.

      Its important to analyze the pros and cons of the kind of community in which you want to live. For example, a beachfront house will make it easy to find tenants if you choose to rent, but it may come with complicated insurance requirements. Mountain getaways typically offer lots of land at lower costs, but they are often located in rural communities with roads and utilities that may not be well maintained.

      As you scout locations, be sure to consider the distance from your primary residence to your vacation home. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, the average vacation homebuyer purchased a property that is a median distance of 200 miles from his or her primary residence. How often will you be willing to make that drive? And have you factored in the costs associated with the journey?

      The Final Decision

      Once you know where you want your vacation home to be, you may be faced with the choice of buying a pre-existing home or building a new home. While many experts consider location to be the most important factor for buying a property with long-term appreciation potential, expanding a property gives you another way to make money, as the ultimate sale price can be significantly more than the construction cost of an expansion.

      However, this approach isnt without its downside, as expansion projects can often take longer and cost more than expected. There are also tax implications to consider. Before beginning a home investment process, you should run realistic worst-case cash flow numbers to see how long you can survive before your money runs out. Having two years in cash flow is a good guideline.

      Another option is to buy an older home, then remodel or renovate. While a renovation or remodeling likely wont get you a huge return on investment when you sell, it can save you money by allowing you to buy a less expensive home and then improving it over time as opposed to shelling out more money up front. Renovations can also enable you to charge more should you choose to rent out your home.

      While buying a vacation home can be a dream come true, its important to look at it with clear eyes, just as you would with any other investment. Make sure to do extensive research and think hard about why youre making the purchase before signing on the dotted line.

      Amin Dabit is a Senior Vice President and Financial Planning Manager with Personal Capital and author of the companys Vacation Home Buying Guide
      Full Story >

    Drone Technology Beneficial To The Real Estate Game

    Real estate agents and home inspectors are always looking for innovative ways to keep their clients informed. One of the latest tools in the home buying and selling process is drones. Drones are remote-controlled pilotless aircraft that allow aerial shots and different views of the property and can provide an added benefit to real estate transactions.

    Here are three key ways drone technology is enhancing the real estate industry:

    Additional Images and Video

    Before drones became accessible to real estate professionals, aerial photos and videography were limited to grainy satellite images or expensive photography sessions. Drones provide a cost effective and visually stunning alternative -- and can be used as a buzz worthy mention to move the sale along. Drones also provide a way for prospective home buyers to experience a video or photo tour in an online home listing before taking the time to physically visit the house. Using this technology can help to diminish the extensive time it takes to tour available homes and can speed along the home transaction.

    Catch Potential Property Problem Areas

    While home inspectors are trained to uncover potential problems of a home, drones can offer another layer of enhancement to the inspections. They may be useful when inspecting steep/high roofs, chimneys and areas that might otherwise be inaccessible. With the recent changes by the FAA allowing commercial use of drones after going through a licensing process, this technology helps a qualified home inspector to reduce the unknown and potentially save homeowners the cost of previously undiscovered issues.

    A Clear View of the Land

    Drones have the capability to show an entire property, which is especially beneficial when the area is expansive and includes additional features like stables, acreage, farmland or even a second dwelling. This also benefits home inspectors when looking for things that can sometimes be challenging to identify when conducting inspections on foot.

    The industry continues to explore ways to leverage drone-collected data to better assist real estate professionals. This includes increased use of infrared scanning, site modeling and property analysis.

    While drones are providing a competitive advantage, it is important they are always used properly. Operating a drone takes extensive practice as misuse can lead to unexpected injuries to people and property. It is critical that the drone operator, whether the real estate or home inspection professional, is properly licensed by the FAA, has a commercially registered drone, understands any local or state guidelines and is properly covered by insurance. As drones are new to the insurance world as well, not all polices automatically cover their use in commercial applications. With the use of real estate technology on the rise, the industry will continue to evolve and become more competitive than ever.

    AUTHOR: Scott Johnson, Director of Operations of WIN Home Inspection, one of the fastest growing franchised home inspection companies in the United States with more than 150 operators in more than 190 designated markets in 32 states.
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    REALTORS Giving Back Like Never Before As a PinRaise Agent With Heart

    If, as Zig Ziglar once said, "Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful," Virginia-based Realtor Michelle Huber Ratajczakof ALL/Pros Realty should be his real-world model. From one-time "struggling single mom" to thriving real estate agent today, Ratajczak has seen both the challenges and triumphs of life. And, today her measure of success goes far beyond the number of real estate transactions she makes.

    "Giving back is one of the most important aspects of my business," she said. "Many years ago I had three children with no child support and was trying to make a career in this business. I had help from so many individuals and organizations. I knew I would make giving back a priority when I was in a place to do so."

    Ratajczak is one of many real estate agents who have discovered the advantages of partnering with charity app PinRaise, which connects non-profits with the local business community, in their Agent with HeartTM program AWH. AWH allows Realtors to direct a portion of their commission toward a charity of their clients choosing at closing. Clients can select from hundreds of non-profit charities in the PinRaise system all 501c3 organizations are welcome to participate, with no out of pocket expense. Whether agents are simply looking for a new charitable outlet or are "paying it forward" like Ratajczak, PinRaise and AWH give them an easy and gratifying opportunity to use their position for good.

    As a breast cancer survivor, Realtor Terri Repetto of Realty ONE Group in San Diego is committed to giving back, and has been fundraising for many years. Now as an Agent with Heart, she is able to do so with every property sale she makes, creating even more good will among clients. "Its nice to have my clients choose something they are passionate about," she said.

    Making charitable giving easier than ever for real estate agents

    Charitable giving continues to rise across the board; "American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated 390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016, according toGiving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016." Thats up 2.7 percent from 373.3 billion in 2015, which was the highest donation amount in history, until last year.

    Charity work and real estate "have long gone hand in hand," said REALTOR Mag, the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors, who detailed the "creative ways" brokerages are leveraging "their philanthropic role in their communities as a source of name recognition and business growth" while recognizing that, "for each and every one of these brokers, doing good is its own reward."

    However, while charitable giving offers personal satisfaction in addition to the vast benefits it provides to the recipient of that giving, there is sometimes a roadblock to participation: not knowing where to go or how to make the right kind of impact. PinRaise and AWH ease the process so that participating agents can focus on the goal.

    "At the beginning of 2017, we my hubby and I wanted to find a way to give back and donate to more charities but we werent quite sure what path to take and how to be held accountable," said Irvine, CA-based real estate agent Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, who has so far donated to her clients chartable cause on seven separate occasions. "Then, one day I received a call fromPinRaise - funny how God works It was a perfect fit. The client chooses the charity then I make the donation at the close of the sale. Its a win-win. Its only been six months but I see this as a long term partnership."

    Through AWH, Realtors are able to increase their charitable contributions and raise awareness of their philanthropy through an easy process that makes donations seamless and cost-free for the client. Agents choose how much to donate. And, PinRaise also provides a complete marketing kit and promotional support to help real estate agents get the word out, grow their network, and connect with more potential clients.

    "I advertise AWH everywhere I can and wear my lapel pin," said Repetto. PinRaises "help with promoting, flyers, emails to clients, etc. is a tremendous benefit to participating in the AWH program as a Realtor."

    How the Agent with Heart program works

    Agent with Heart taps into a natural instinct to give back, especially when you realize that, "Everyone has something or someone they care about and want to help," said Ratajczak. "It may be children, pets, cancer, homelessness - deep down, we all care and want help others." For agents looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of others - beyond helping families make the dream of homeownership come true - and build their business through referrals, word of mouth, and the promotional opportunities provided by PinRaise, AWH is a no-brainer," she said.

    "Clients love this because it feels like they are making a difference and it isnt costing them anything," said Ratajczak. "You can connect with them by letting them know that you care and helping with something that is important to them. They are always excited, in a little bit of disbelief, and very appreciative. I believe we are meant to live and conduct our business by the Golden Rule, and giving back and being affiliated with a company such as this enhances what being a Realtor stands for. Can you imagine if all Realtors were Agents with Heart? We could make such a huge difference in the world and help so many people."

    About PinRaise

    PinRaise is a charity-based app that is designed to generate income for its nonprofits. There are more than 600 agents and merchants signed up to give back through PinRaise, in just Orange County alone, with a portion of the purchase of goods and services going to the givers choice. They include numerous shops and stores, restaurants, day spas, entertainment, and services, each of which makes a donation for every purchase or service rendered.

    As an Agent with Heart, real estate agents receive marketing materials they can use in print and online, including listing inserts, press >For more information about PinRaise, or the Agent with Heart program, please visit the website.
    Full Story >

    How To Spice Up Your Bedroom

    Ever notice how you feel especially amorous when youre in a nice hotel with your honey? Everything from the luxury bedding to the clean and orderly nature of the space can add to your desire to get close. You can use some of those ideas as a starting point when creating a sexy bedroom in your own home.


    The seduction is on. Youre moving toward the bed, locked in an embrace, and thenyou hit the side table and that stack of books and papers tumbles to the ground. Hello, mood killer Decluttering is a recommended strategy throughout the home - one that can lower stress and also keep your home looking neater and cleanerbut it has obvious benefits in the bedroom, like eliminating the possibility that your piles of stuff will interrupt your romantic moment.

    Choose the right lighting

    Bright lights overhead probably wont make you feel like undressing. Theyre more likely to make you feel like youre being interrogated definitely not sexy. Soft lighting can set the mood, and, even better, install dimmers so you can control the amount of light in the room at all times.

    "A lot of men and women grapple with lighting," Ian Kerner, PhD, told Womens Health. "Either its too light or its not enough light for visual stimulation. And according to a recentWomens Healthsurvey, 74 percent of men and 72 percent of women want those lights dimmed during intimate times - but not totally off. The easy solution: a simple dimmer switch."

    Be careful with your color choices

    "While cool colors are actually better for supporting a good nights sleep, they are are not hot, stimulating colors," said Apartment Therapy. "Aim somewhere in the middle. AVOID red-light district red and go for warm greys, lavender, warm greens, browns, tans, rose if you really want it feminine. Neutral colors rock. Think "spa chic" and raw linen, which is so popular right now. China White is a lovely not too warm white, which goes really well with little warm pops of color in bedding, pillows, rugs, curtains or lampshades."

    Make it comfortable

    A lumpy bed wont serve anyone well, especially if you have sex on the mind. For the best results, get a mattress that isnt too soft and isnt too firm. A sore back may put an end to your romantic thoughts for the evening, or longer. And dont forget the headboard - for obvious reasons.

    Its all about the fabric

    "You want to consider all the senses when in the bedroom and softness of touch is a big one," said Apartment Therapy. Think super soft, high-quality bedding, a rug with a soft texture, cushy pillows. Scratchy surfaces are a turnoff in any setting.

    Follow the principles of Feng Shui

    "Feng shui, often called the art of placement, is an ancient oriental science incorporating astronomy, geography, environment, magnetic fields, physics and natural elements. The Chinese have been using it four thousand years to optimize living and working environments, with an amazing track record of benefits in health, happiness, prosperity and >"The bedroom is especially important in this system, since its the key area of the house where love, intimacy,
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    The First-Time Homebuyers Guide To Grown-Up Furniture

    You just bought your first home. Congratulations: Youre an adult Now its time to fill it up. But if you were planning to pack up those ratty old beanbag chairs and the bed that awakens you with a morning backache and move them to your new place, we have a few suggestions. Its time for a grown-up upgrade. Heres where to start.

    Invest in the important staples

    You can scrimp on your mattress because its not something that guests will see, right? Not so fast. A good mattress should be at the top of your list because it affects something more important than the opinions of friends and family: Your health.

    "You wouldnt run a marathon or hike a mountain without the right gear. And yet, despite spending a third of our lives sleeping, many of us havent adequately prepared in the bedroom - when it comes to mattresses, that is," said Huffington Post. "You might be tempted to blame your budget for continuing to doze on a less-than-ideal mattress, but considering justnbsp;a little bit more shut-eyenbsp;can help you lose weight, improve your memory and live longer, can you really put a price tag on good sleep? But the wrong mattress - or the mattress thats simply too old - can be the cause of more than that crick in your neck or yournbsp;lower back pain. Here are five sneakier ways your mattress affects your sleep -nbsp;andnbsp;your health.

    If you just cant bring yourself to spring for that kind of big-ticket item right now, look for opportunities to spread out payments with a zero percent interest deal, which more and more retailers are offering. Go to a place like Rooms to Go and you might be able to get your mattress and a living room set with monthly payments that are right around what you and your honey would pay for a nice lunch.

    Measure, measure, measure

    Having furniture thats too small or too large for a room can make it function poorly and look "off." Measure ahead of time so you know what to look for. Stores like HomeGoods have stacks of paper measuring sticks laying arouond, but you wont always be that lucky. Measure your space and input everything in your phone, stash a measuring tape in your bag, and you wont have to guess if something will work when youre out shopping.

    Dress up the bed

    One of the best ways to make a bedroom look pulled together is with a headboard. But many people dont even take a look at options because they assume they will be too expensive. You can get a super chic headboard for a minimal spend if you know where to go. This tufted headboard from Overstock looks like it would cost you about as much as a monthly mortgage payment, but its just 137.


    Buy a decent couch

    The couch falls squa>

    Youll hate yourself - and your couch - if you buy super cheap just to get something in the room. And were speaking from experience. Our first cheapie couch purchased online, BTW started falling apart after about a month. Contrast that against what Sothebys-trained home shopping expert Jennifer Litwin, author of Best Furniture Buying Tips Ever, says should be the lifespan of the couch: "The general prognosis isnbsp;about 10 to 15 years, she told The Nest. You can scrimp on other, easily replaceable items like side tables and chairs that wont be used often, but when it comes to that couch: Go ahead and splurge a little.

    Like and follow influential sites

    Speaking of chairshellip;

    Just today we learned about this great-looking 43 chair on Amazon that we never would have known about if we werent fans of MyDomaine. And, by fans, we mean we follow them on Facebook. "The midcentury-modern chairs feature velvet upholstering, steel legs, and are available in dusty rose, moss green, gray-green, and teal, to name a few," they said. Theyre sold in a set of two, starting at 85."

    Sites like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge are great places to get interior design ideas, and liking and following a few favorite stores like World Market and HomeGoods and online sites like Wayfair and One Kings Lane is a great way to keep up to date on sales and trends.

    Be careful about buying online

    When comfort and quality are key, you want to be careful about buying without being able to see, touch, and sit. If you just have to have it, at least you can read what others have to say before producing your credit card. Back to that 43 chair from Amazon: "How do you know if chairs sold on Amazon look and feel as luxe in real life," asked MyDomaine. "Members of the Facebook group purchased the chairs and posted images of the items IRL, confirming that they live up to the hype.nbsp;Yes, if the long chain of comments, likes, and photos are any indication, this might be one of Amazons best-kept secrets."

    Buy some art

    Real art, from real actual artists. You can find some surprisingly affordable pieces that will give your home a personal touch. "Collecting art can be an expensive habit, but these days there are plenty of places to get amazing original art for a great price," said POPSUGAR. Like Minted, one of our favorite spots for original art that "discovers talent through ongoing design competitions. Designers submit, the Minted community votes to tell them what to sell, and we end up with seemingly limitless options at super affordable prices," they said.

    That doesnt mean you need to give up all your posters although, we adults call them "art prints." Just get them framed nicely. "Luckily, framing has never been easier, now that there are online services like Framebridge," said Refinery29. "And when all else fails, you cant go wrong with the basicnbsp;Ikea RIBBA framesnbsp;just make sure the art fits and doesnt slip and slide around when its hanging on the wall."

    Dont be afraid to go to IKEA

    IKEA is good for more than frames, even though you probably equate grown-up furniture with stuff you dont have to put together yourself. But not everything has to be a permanent fixture when youre just starting out. Concentrating on the big-ticket items may leave limited funds available to fill in the rest of your place. Many a new homeowner has hit the big blue-and-yellow warehouse and headed straight for the MALM dresser. Its cheap starting at 54 for a two-drawer version, its functional, and if you have a little bit of creativitymdash;or the ability to do some basic research and follow directionsmdash;you can turn it into something that looks far more expensive.

    Were also loving this South Shore Cookie 6-Drawer Double Dresser in gray and white from Walmart, which could give you the function in you need in an extra bedroom or guest room with a sleek, modern look. We guarantee your guests will never know where it came fromhellip;unless they were savvy enough to purchase on for their own home.

    Get a few key housewares

    Living like an adult isnt just about what you put stuff on. Its also about the stuff you put on you. Still using the same stiff sheets you bought for your first apartment or ratty towels youd be embarrassed for company to see? "Youll feel more grown-up the second you stop drying off your body with a towel that has a fish in sunglasses on it," said Refinery29."

    Full Story >

    Real Estate Is Lucrative For Canadas Taxman

    The Canada Revenue Agency CRA continues to follow through on the crackdown it announced last year on people who fail to report income from real estate transactions.

    The agency says that from April 2015 to March 2017, real estate transaction audits found 329.4 million in assessed income that had not been reported. That resulted in more than 17 million in penalties, "primarily associated with Canadas two major real estate markets in Toronto and Vancouver," says the CRA.

    The agency says it conducts audits on real estate transactions on a regular basis, "including in regions of Canada where economic factors may increase the risk of non-compliance." In 2015 it doubled its efforts on the real estate sector in B.C. and now it has started a review of 500 high-dollar-value real estate transactions in that province "to uncover any tax issues that may not have already been identified."

    If a taxpayer knowingly makes a false statement when filing a return, they will be assessed a penalty equal to 50 per cent of the additional tax payable. In the last two years, 885 such penalties were assessed. The largest penalty was almost 2.5 million.

    In addition to income tax, the CRA also checks to see if GST/HST payments have been made. It also reviews whether rebates that have been claimed for new homes or rental housing are legitimate.

    In Ontario, the agency looked at 14,735 files for the GST/HST New Housing and New Residential Rental Rebates programs, recovering 190.8 million. In B.C., 2,546 audits recouped 10.8 million.

    "Builders of new residences or rental properties are required to collect and remit the GST/HST to the CRA when they sell, rent out for the first time, or appropriate the property for personal use," says the CRA. "Additionally, purchasers of new residences must ensure they abide by the rules when applying for new housing rebates."

    Builders of new or "substantially renovated homes" must charge and collect GST/HST when the home is sold and report the tax.

    "If a builder leases a new or substantially renovated home, the builder is deemed to have sold the home to themselves. The GST/HST is payable and collectible at once on the fair market value of the home, including the land value, and the builder must report that tax to the CRA," says the agency.

    Most resale homes are exempt from GST/HST, but "there may also be GST/HST implications for flipping transactions, if a property is new or has been substantially renovated," says the CRA.

    There were 2,110 Ontario files audited for income tax compliance, with 30.4 million recovered, while in B.C. 288 income tax audits yielded 12.7 million in unreported taxes.

    Capital gains on the sale of a taxpayers principal residence are generally exempt from taxes. However, beginning with the 2016 tax year, taxpayers who sell their principal residence must report the sale when completing their income tax returns.

    "For the sale of a principal residence in 2016 or later tax years, CRA will only allow the principal residence exemption if you report the sale and designation of principal residence in your income tax return. If you forget to make a designation of principal residence in the year of the sale, it is very important to ask the CRA to amend your income tax and benefit return for that year. Under proposed changes, the CRA will be able to accept a late designation in certain circumstances, but a penalty may apply."

    The agency says a non-resident who invests in property in Canada "is liable to pay tax on gains that arise from the sale of that property and is generally not eligible for the principal residence exemption."

    The CRA determines a persons residency status on a case-by-case basis, considering their residential ties in Canada, the purpose and duration of their visits outside of Canada and their social and economic ties outside of the country.

    "Residency status should not be confused with citizenship," says the CRA. "Non-residents only have to report their Canadian-source income, unless a tax treaty provides otherwise. An individuals residency status is therefore essential in determining what income must be reported."

    Taxpayers who think they have made a mistake or who forgot to report real estate income can correct the record here. They may also be able to take advantage of the Voluntary Disclosures Program where the CRA says it may "offer you a second chance to make things right."

    The agency says it is continuing to strengthen >"Our government has committed to protecting the fairness and integrity of the tax system for all Canadians, notably by cracking down on tax cheating in real estate transactions," says Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier. "This means that, without exception, every taxpayer abides by the same tax laws."
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    Probate Home Sales Have Their Own Special Rules

    Frequently the real estate that had been owned by a person now deceased is made available for sale through a procedure commonly known as a "probate sale." When this happens a somewhat complex set of rules comes into play, especially, of course, in California.

    The personal representative of the estate also known as the executor or the administrator, depending on the circumstances may seek purchasers directly or he may list the property for sale with a real estate broker. If the property is listed, the listing period may not exceed ninety days California Probate Code 10150a. Extensions of up to ninety days each may be granted if needed.

    Prospective purchasers often find that things get a bit confusing when an offer is made. Generally, negotiations will be conducted as in an ordinary sale. That is, the offer may be presented to the executor, that person might then issue a counter-offer, there could then be a counter to that, etc. However, even when the executor and the purchaser have come to terms, the deal is still not final.

    The estates acceptance is subject to confirmation by the court. The executor must petition the court for a hearing date for the purposes of confirming the sale. That is a public hearing, and notice of it is made public. The date set for the hearing will depend on the court calendar.

    At the time of the hearing other interested parties may bid on the property as well. The Probate Code sets forth a formula for determining the minimum amount of the first overbid. The first overbid amount must be at least "10 percent more on the first ten thousand dollars 10,000 of the original bid and 5 percent more on the amount of the original bid in excess of ten thousand dollars 10,000 " [Probate Code 10311a1]

    Suppose, for example, that an executor had accepted an offer of 300,000, and that you came to bid on the property at the confirmation hearing. You couldnt open by bidding 301,000. According to the formula the first overbid would have to be at least 315,500. 10 of the first 10,000 = 1,000, 5 of 290,000 = 14,500.

    After the minimum overbid has been made, there can, of course, be further bids. These are not subject to a formula, and the court may set the bid amounts at that time. For example, the judge can say that he will hear further overbids only in increments of 500.

    If there is bidding, and the highest offer is on different terms than the originally accepted offer, the court will not confirm the highest offer unless its terms are acceptable to the estates representative. For example, the estate might have preferred and originally accepted an offer that involved credit such as carrying back a long-term mortgage. It is a myth that probate sales must only be cash to the seller. If an overbid offer were for cash, it would not have to be accepted. Similarly, if the accepted offer had been for cash and the overbid involved credit.

    In general, the probate rules and procedures are designed to bring the best price to the estate. In that regard, the court is granted a great deal of discretion. Even with overbids, the court may disallow a sale, and order a new one, if it feels the price is not appropriate.

    The code also directs the court to determine that the property received adequate exposure to the market. Listing brokers of probate sales need to be prepared to show that the property was marketed thoroughly.

    There is a very complex set of rules for determining brokerage commissions in the event of an overbid situation, and it would not be beneficial to recite them here -- especially because they can be set aside by the court. Brokers need to warily remember Probate Code 10161a, "whether or not the agent or broker has a contract with the personal representative, the fee, commission, or other compensation of an agent or brokershall be the amount the court, in its discretion, determines to be reasonable..." [my emphasis]

    It is often thought that probate sales represent the opportunity to find "a steal". Given the procedures set forth for making such sales, that is highly unlikely.

    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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    HOA Assessments Based On Square Footage

    Question: I live in a condo with 150 different units. Our assessments are based on our square footage. Residents can pay a monthly rent for parking spaces, while guests pay by hour to park in the garage.

    Our assessments are high since we have only have 150 units. The garage loses 90,000 a year. Instead of raising the rates on parking, our board chooses to pay the loss by taking it out of our assessments.

    I asked the board why we are losing money and they blame it on the union. They say every attendant must be a union member. I believe we have one attendant each 8 hour period. I dont have a car, and feel I am paying for a privilege that my neighbors are taking advantage of.

    My question: since everything else is based on square footage, is it fair or right that I have to contribute so much money to a garage that is losing money.

    By the way, I feel that the monthly parking is under charged. Mimi.

    Answer: Dear Mimi. From your question, it is not clear you are directly paying the monthly rent for parking. However, if the condo is losing money each year, then there is an indirect payment from you and all other owners.

    Just because you dont have a car does not mean you dont have to contribute to the overall expenses of the association. I am always reminded of the unit owner who lived on the first floor and objected to paying for elevator repairs because he never uses the elevator.

    Keep in mind that a condominium association does not own anything. Each owner has a percentage interest assigned to their unit, and thus you own that percentage in the common elements, including the garage.

    Have you discussed your concerns with other unit owners - whether or not they park in the garage. I suspect, however, those owners who park are happy they dont have to pay a lot of money for the privilege of using the garage.

    In fact, I wonder whether the board members themselves park in the garage, and thus are purposely keeping the monthly fee low. If thats the case, that is a clear case of breach of fiduciary duty.

    I understand that garage attendants must be union members, but that does not excuse the board from taking all necessary steps - including perhaps dropping the number of attendants and/or raising the parking fees for owners as well as daily renters.

    In my opinion, it is unconscionable for the garage to lose so much money. If the board does not address the problem, you really only have a couple of alternatives: first, try to get elected to the board so you can have some influence; sell your unit and move out, or just accept the situation and put up with it.

    You can also try to mount a campaign to "throw the rascals out", but you will need majority support in the entire complex. That may be difficult since those with cars may not be willing to support your efforts.
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    How to Let Go of Unwanted Things Youve Inherited

    Whether youve inherited a large collection of items or a single bulky piece of furniture, its OK to let it go if you dont need or want it.

    A dear friend of mine recently inherited a large collection of books. And by large, I mean over 1,000, many of them the bulky hardcover variety. He was, of course, touched by the gift - from a longtime mentor and fellow avid reader - but feels overwhelmed by the sheer size of the collection because hes downsizing his own home. When anyone suggests that he perhaps cull the collection a bit, he feels guilty, as if that would dishonor the memory of his friend.

    This reminded me of past clients who insisted that we work around a big, bulky piece of furniture they didnt especially like or use, but felt obligated to keep because it was a gift from a loved one.

    My father-in-law is fond of pointing out that when a funeral procession goes by, you never see a moving truck or armored car full of cash as part of the procession. In other words, you cant take this stuff with you when you go. So I say that instead of putting emotional energy into things, why not redirect it and instead cherish our thoughts and memories of those weve lost?

    Several years ago, I unexpectedly lost a favorite uncle and, soon after that, my grandmother, followed by my grandfather. I adored these three immensely and felt much grief upon losing them, especially within such a short span of time. What helped me most in dealing with the loss was to sift through old photos and find one that perfectly captured each of them and their fun personalities. I keep those framed photos on display in my home, and whenever I walk by and glimpse their images, Im reminded of them and, no matter what my current mood, they make me smile.

    Personally speaking, after Im gone, Id rather that my surviving family and friends keep a photo of me around to occasionally remember our good times together than feel saddled with my stuff.

    I should point out that Id never advocate getting rid of items that have sentimental or historical value to you or your family. By all means, keep the pieces you hold dear. But if you dont want the items and are looking to lighten your load, you have options for dealing with them.

    Photo by Shannon Malone - Look for living room design inspiration

    1. Keep one or two or a few. If you, like my friend, are gifted a large collection of items, perhaps hang on to a small number and give away the rest. I encouraged my friend to keep the books that are most interesting to him, or that most remind him of his friend, and then donate the remainder. I think this honors the memory of his friend without creating a burden for my friend.

    If the inherited item is something like a large dining room set, perhaps keep one chair as a reminder of the person you lost and then find a good home for the other pieces.

    Photo by Kimball Starr Interior Design - Search dining room pictures

    2. Keep but modify it. Lets say youre given a large dining room set that you could use in your own home, except that some pieces are in rough shape or the >

    Of course, I wouldnt recommend doing this if the item is an antique or otherwise has value being kept in its original condition.

    3. Donate it. If you simply cant use or dont want the item, give it to someone who can use it and will appreciate it. That large and dated dining set may not work in your house, but I guarantee that theres a family out there who would love, use and cherish such a set. I think thats a pretty great way to honor the deceased. Rather than the item sitting unused and collecting dust in your storage unit - and you feeling guilt or resentment about it - someone who cant otherwise afford to purchase such an item gets to have and use it.

    Photo by Helping Hand Thrift Shop - More home bar ideas

    4. Sell it. I believe that if someone gives or leaves an item to you, its yours to do with as you wish. If its something you cant use or dont want to keep, and it has monetary value, go ahead and sell it. Before selling it to the highest bidder, though, you may want to see if a friend or family member of the deceased wants to buy or trade for it.

    If it doesnt sit well with you to profit from the transaction, you can always donate the item - or the money you make selling it - to a cause championed by you or your loved one.

    Your turn: Do you think its OK to get rid of inherited items? How have you handled this sensitive situation?

    Also See:

    • New Bookshelves to Hold an Inherited Book Collection
    • Mix Old With New With Contemporary Kitchen Table Sets
    • Store Family Mementos on a Mantel

    Full Story >

    What You Need To Know Before You Buy In A Planned Community

    A particularly active spring storm season left pockmarked roofs and tumbled fences throughout North Texas this year, including many in my master-planned community, thanks to an EF0 tornado that blew its way through the neighborhood thankfully missing my house - this time. The process of repairs and replacements was as fickle as the tornado itself. Some homeowners received immediate or at least prompt approval from the community Homeowners Association HOA and its Architectural Review Committee ARC, while others were forced to wait and wait and wait - which would be frustrating, even if this werent the wettest June in 13 years. In one case, a homeowners approval was inexplicably delayed so long, even though she was only looking to replace her damaged roof with the exact same roof, that she suffered leaks and damage to the interior of her home.

    Thats one of the rubs of living in a community that is governed by an HOA: You need approval to do stuff to your house, even if that stuff is going to be an improvement over what it currently looks like. Its not the only potential downside, but there are also plenty of advantages associated with an HOA. And with more than 40 million U.S. households "or 53 of the owner-occupied households in the America" living with an HOA, according to HOA-USA - a number thats on the rise with new construction, of which more than 60 have an HOA - its something you might have to deal with. Get to know the pros and cons so there wont be any surprises.

    Pro: An HOA protects your investment. "HOA rules and regulations help ensure homeowners keep their homes well maintained and in compliance with overall appearance standards," said Signature Homes. "Combined with proper care of amenities and common areas, the value of your home is more protected than one that does not have HOA oversight."

    Con: Limits your creativity and individuality. HOAs may offer limited options when it comes to updates. Older neighborhoods may have a small color palette available to owners and may be >

    Pro: You wont have to deal with neighbors painting their house pink or letting their grass grow to armpit height. "Homes within an HOA must meet the standards set by the association or face a fine, so youre less likely to see unkempt lawns, peeling paint or a garishly painted house," said "Some HOAs have a design review board with the power to approve any changes to your homes exterior."

    Con: Those restrictions can be Confining. An HOA demands that you ask permission before making any changes to your home - even if youre just talking about staining your fence the very same color. Depending on how finicky your HOA is, you might also get fined because your landscaper took the week off or because the basketball net in your driveway is torn true story.


    Pro: File this under the umb>

    Con: Looking to park your RV or boat in your driveway? An HOA may nix that idea. Be sure you check ahead of time to make sure this is allowed.

    Pro: An HOA decision may not be final. Get a rejection from the HOA on your submitted request to make changes to your landscaping? You can always appeal and state your case.

    Con: Deciding to "ask for forgiveness instead of permission" ra>

    Pro: Some HOAs take care of things like your front-yard landscaping and trash removal, which means you dont have to pay for it or worry about it.

    Con: That also may mean strict restrictions about what you can and cant plant in your front yard. You may have to reconsider those rose bushes.

    Pro: You might not have to put in a pool because theres one in the community that youre helping to pay for through your HOA dues, but dont have to maintain.

    Con: When the pool needs to be redone, itll be you and all your neighbors that are on the hook to pay for it - even if you never use it.

    Pro: A pool is just the beginning. Planned communities with an HOA can have golf courses, tennis courts, clubhouses, playgrounds, and even private lakes for fishing and recreation.

    Con: The more amenities you have, the more youre likely to pay in HOA dues. In a large masterplan with a couple of pools, a playground, and a tennis court, you can pay as little as 50 per month. The more homes that are added, the more the overall cost is spread out. A more "typical range" is 200ndash;400 per month, said Investopedia, adding that, "The more upscale the building and the morenbsp;amenitiesnbsp;it has, the higher the homeowners association fees are likely to be." In some condos, the fees may be higher if parking and security are considerations, and, especially, in a luxury building with amenities including a fitness center and concierge. "Hollywoods fancy Sierra Towers condo building, which is filled to the brim with amenities like 24-hour concierge service and valet parking.nbsp;They chargenbsp;residents of a 3,400-square-foot condo about 4,000 per month in HOAnbsp;fees," said

    Pro: Youve got a built-in mediator. "Involved in a tiff with your neighbor over that big oak tree thats losing limbs? You can settle some confrontations with your neighbors by taking your grievances to the HOAs board or management company," said RISMedia.

    Con: Maybe youre the type that wants to "handle" grievances in your own way?

    Pro: Some HOAs allow you to pay monthly, quarterly, or annually.

    Con: Falling behind on HOA dues can lead to foreclosure. "This is another reason youll want to make sure those HOA fees are in your budget," said "An HOA can move to foreclose on your property if you fail to pay its dues and/or associated late fees. Laws can vary by state. A few, for instance, place limits on when an HOA can move to foreclose. So if youve fallen behind on payments, you may want to consult a local attorney about your best recourse."

    Pro: Part of what youll pay to the HOA every month goes to a reserve fund, which can be used for neighborhood repairs and emergency needs.

    Con: The reserves may not be enough to cover large expenses. "In addition to monthly fees, if a major expense such as a new roof or a new elevator comes up and there arent enough funds in the HOAs reserves to pay for it, the association may charge an extra assessment that can run into thousands of dollars," said Investopedia.

    Full Story >

    Protectecting Yourself During a Move

    "I cant wait to move"

    How often do you hear someone say that? What they mean is they cant wait to be in their new place, all unpacked and organized and enjoying their new surroundings.

    What they dont mean is, "I cant wait to spend a month packing up everything I own and hauling it into a truck were going to drive across country when Ive never driven anything larger than a mid-sized sedan, only to have to haul it all out, and into that new house. The new house that has two flights of stairs and narrow hallways. Dont get me started on unpacking boxes."

    And what they REALLY dont mean is, "I cant wait for the movers to break a bunch of my things and lose a bunch of stuff." Pretty sure they also dont mean, "I cant wait for dishonest movers to delay my delivery and charge me quadruple my quote and then hold all my stuff hostage while I sit here helpless."

    Think that could never happen to you?

    "Last year, Massachusetts officials sued one moving company and New Jersey officials sued two for providing low-ball estimates and then grossly inflating fees after loading the trucks," said Consumer Reports. "One of the companies had threatened to auction the possessions of customers who didnt pay."

    Added MarketWatch about the possibility of mover fraud: "Typically, a mover gives you an extremely low estimate over the phone or Internet without ever actually seeing what needs to be moved. You agree, they show up, load the truck with all your worldly possessions and then tell you it will actually cost a lot more. Then, they hold everything you own hostage on their truck until you cough up the extra cash."

    Yes, moving can be fraught with challenge and frustration and even heartache. So how do you protect yourself? Here are some tips for a safe and fraud-free move.

    Do your research

    Proper preparation can help you ward off many of the issues that can turn a move into a nightmare, and thats starts with a healthy dose of research. You always want to ask for a referral rather than using an unknown. And not just anyone is qualified to give a referral, according to MSN.

    "Ask your real-estate agent. The general consensus among moving professionals is that word of mouth is the best way to find a good mover," they said. "Real-estate agents know the ins and outs of the housing industry and are the most >There are also websites dedicated to moving scams. " maintains a black list," they said, as well as a "message board filled with consumer experiences, bad and good."

    Verify licensing and look for complaints

    MSN recommends people who are moving investigate the companies they are looking at using. Interstate movers must be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

    "Check with your areas Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed and whether there are >Protect Your Move also provides info on whether a movers license is current "and if the company has ever had a federal complaint."

    Watch out for the lowball bid

    "You get what you paid for" is often a dangerous reality when it comes to moving. To protect yourself against unethical movers, get several estimates and make sure to weed out any that seem too low. Yes, the desire to save money is strong. But an unusually low bid is often a red flag.

    "When shopping for movers, its best to get at least three estimates, " said MSN. "If youve got one thats really, really low compared to the other two, youre going to know somethings up."

    Have a contingency plan

    No matter how well you prepare, the unexpected can still happen. What if the truck doesnt show up on time? Are you prepared to live without your things for a few days, or longer? Make sure you pack a bag of essentials you can have with you while the rest of your stuff is stuck on the truck.

    Protect yourself

    The Better Business Bureau suggests paying a little extra for peace of mind.

    "Consider accepting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can eliminate headaches after your move," they said. "Purchasing full replacement value protection from your mover means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. The cost of full value protection must be included in the initial estimate you receive for an interstate move."

    For more information, visit Protect Your Move.
    Full Story >

    The Critical First Two Weeks of Marketing Your Home For Sale

    Brokers share their listings with other brokers in the multiple listing service MLS under certain rules of cooperation and compensation. One of the rules of cooperation is that each broker and agent make a new listings available to other MLS members within 24 or 48 hours of signing the listing agreement with the seller.

    This is to give you, the seller, the greatest chance of selling your home during the first two weeks of marketing. This critical two-week period is your best opportunity to sell your home.

    Several key events happen quickly:

    1. Your home will be entered into the MLS showing system with your showing instructions, so that other agents can bring their buyers to see your home. While your listing is being prepared for marketing, your agent will contact his or her buyers and inform colleagues of the new listing.

    2. Other data such as mapping, satellite image, neighborhood information, tax roll data, school information and other data will be added to your listing so that buyers can get the full picture of what its like to live in your home.

    3. Your agent will either take photos, or schedule a videographer to help market your home with photos and video. This enables buyers to walk through your home and property virtually, so they can choose or eliminate your home when deciding which home to buy.

    4. Your agent may create virtual or printed "feature" sheets that showcase your homes features to advantage, so buyers can remember it was your home they liked best when its time to do side-by-side comparisons.

    5. Your agent will schedule your home on the MLS tour for other agents to see, and ask for feedback. The agents who see your home in person are important, as they will be able to report your homes features and condition to their buyers. Homes in top move-in-ready condition sell faster and for more money.

    6. Your agent will distribute your listing data to his or her website or blog, accounts such as Twitter or Instagram, the brokers website, and third-party sites like, Zillow, or Trulia.

    7. Your agent will put a sign in your yard announcing your home is for sale.

    8. Your agent may advertise your home in a number of places, including the local newspaper and homes magazines. Your agent may also put your home in their personal marketing tools such as e-magazines, newsletters, or email alerts to prospective buyers.

    Anyone who is interested in homes in your price range and area will know your home is available for sale within the first two weeks of marketing.

    If you dont get many showings or offers, chances are good that your home may be facing stiff competition from other homes on the market. They are in a better location, or superior condition or theyre priced more aggressively.

    If you dont have showings within two weeks of listing your home, consult your agent. Perhaps you can do a little more to spruce up your homes curb appeal, or perhaps stage the interior to better advantage.

    Give your home a little more time before you adjust the price. You may be in a buyers market with many homes for sale. If so, buyers need more time to sort through the homes on the market.

    You dont want to take chances when marketing your home. Your best chance of selling your home is when its new to the market and exciting to buyers. Dont lose your advantage by overpricing or underpreparing your home for market.
    Full Story >

    The American Heart Associations Orange County Chapter and the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation Are Latest Nonprofits to Join PinRaise and The Agent with Heart Program

    Las Vegas, NV June 29, 2017 -- PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that the Orange County chapter of the American Heart Association and the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation are joining forces with PinRaise to direct donations to their cause. Under the PinRaise Agent with HeartTM movement, real estate professionals agree to donate a portion of their commission to the charity of their clients choice. There is no charge for the nonprofit to participate.

    "Were really excited that these two wonderful organizations are part of the PinRaise program," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. "The Agent with Heart program is designed so everyone benefits from a new real estate transaction, and we believe that our participating agents and their clients will make a real difference through donations with the American Heart Association and the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation," Mr. Giaimo explains.

    "We are proud that Agent with Heart will be further assisting these great nonprofits to continue their important work, and we look forward to seeing their fruitful success with our program. I encourage supports of both of these great organizations to consider choosing a realtor that will give back to their cause when they are ready to buy or sell a home by visiting our website at to find an agent near them," concludes Mr. Giaimo.

    About the American Heart Association:

    The American Heart Association is the nations oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, the organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters. It funds innovative research, fights for stronger public health policies, and provides critical tools and information to save and improve lives. The Orange County chapter is part of a nationwide organization that includes 156 local offices and more than 3,000 employees. nbsp;

    About the Pediatric Cancer Research Association:

    The Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to improving the care, quality of life and survival rates of children with malignant diseases. Over the last 35 years, survival rates for childhood cancer have risen from 10 to almost 80.nbsp; Because of research, the cancer death rate has dropped more dramatically for children than for any other age group. However, there are still childhood cancers that have not had the same results -- rare and aggressive cancers continue to devastate families and rob children of their childhoods. Because childhood cancers still exist, PCRF presses on, funding experienced researchers as well as emerging researchers to continue the necessary work of finding cures and improvements to care.

    About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local agents and nonprofits, like the Orange County chapter of the American Heart Association and the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. Real estate agents agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit

    Full Story >

    Relaxing Designs For Your Lakefront Backyard

    According to Wallace J. Nichols, in his book "Blue Mind," our brains are hardwired to react positively to water. Our predisposition to embrace water might be the reason being near it can actually calm us.

    But water lovers probably donrsquo;t need to be told how >

    Create a Waterside Sitting Area

    To maximize your time outdoors, create a waterside sitting area to >

    Add an Oversized Hammock

    No lakefront property is complete without an oversized hammock. You might even get inspired by the trends in cities like Minneapolis where locals are setting up hammocks in public parks and campuses for a short rest and >

    Install a grand trunk double travel hammock for outdoor roughing it and camping right in your own backyard alongside the lake. A Folding Camp Hammock is also a great choice for something more temporary that you can take up and down and move around your yard as needed. Or curl up with your loved ones in a two-person DuraCord Cameo Rope Hammock for a more traditional look.

    Include a Cozy Fire Pit

    Embrace the evening moonlight and light up a fire pit with friends and family to roast marshmallows. Its also the perfect spot to warm up after a day of canoeing or waterskiing. Look for all shapes and sizes from small, round portable pits to grand monoliths that anchor your overall design. Keep in mind the fire pit you choose may require placing it on flat stone to prevent embers from getting out of control. In addition, disclosing a fire pit may be a requirement for your homeowners insurance policy or could be against your lakefront neighborhood rules.

    Create an Outdoor Entertaining Space

    If your lakefront backyard is large enough for a deck or large patio, considering turning it into an entertaining space. Set up a Tiki bar and outdoor furniture resembling a living room set to bring the comforts of home outside. An outdoor kitchen is perfect for lakefront cooking and dining with countertop space, grill and kitchen sink along with a wine fridge to serve guests. To give your outdoor space even more dimension, create fences and garden walls for extra privacy. A pergola with a string of lights intertwined overhead turns your lakefront backyard into a festive evening.

    Indulge in a Vanishing Edge Pool

    There may be nothing more indulgent than a swimming pool overlooking your lake property. Choose a vanishing edge pool that makes it look as if your pool drops right into the lake. Place it on a hill to overlook your lakefront backyard or add to a patio area for a heated dip on a cool night. Add floating candles and outdoor speakers for a >
    Full Story >

    The Top-Three Considerations When Starting a Home-Based Business

    If yoursquo;re considering starting a home-based business, youre in good company. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of all businesses are run out of the ownerrsquo;s home.

    If yoursquo;ve already weighed the pros flexible life>

    1. Setting Up Your Workspace

    Setting up your home office is priority No. 1 for your home-based business. Without a doubt, having a dedicated office space equipped with everything you need to run your company efficiently and professionally will be key to your success.

    Now, you donrsquo;t have to necessarily create a new office, but rather a workspace thats set up solely for business purposes, a setting where you feel comfortable working mdash; and thats >

    Keep in mind you can deduct any expenses >

  • Office supplies. Setting up a home business from scratch can be a daunting task, and you dont want to spend several days or weeks buying supplies you didnt realize you would need. No one wants to bite more than they can chew, so visit the home office of a colleague or friend and make a list of supplies they use. Your best bet is to stock up on supplies like envelopes and stamps, printer paper, pens and file folders.
  • Appropriate technology. At a minimum, yoursquo;ll need a laptop or desktop computer for you and any employees as well as a printer/scanner and high-speed Internet connection. Think about other devices and software that would make your workday easier. This might include a headset and video camera for video conferencing or project management software to keep you and any employees or contractors on track.
  • Phone system. If you have customers or vendors who need to reach you by phone, you should invest in an office-only phone system. Consider the nature of your business and volume of incoming calls you expect. For many small businesses, investing in an interactive voice response system, which allows you to create automated prompts to more easily field customer calls and route calls to different departments, will save you time and money, while increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Backup plans. At some point, something will go wrong in your office mdash; your Internet or phone connection will go down or your computer will crash mdash; and youll need to have a contingency plan in place. Do you know of a nearby co-working space? Is your work backed up in cloud-based storage? Do you have a local IT professional on speed-dial? Think through the worst-case scenarios and plan how to keep your business running smoothly.
  • 2. Establishing Sound Budgeting Principles

    Developing a realistic budget for starting and running your home-based business is essential to its success. While youll no doubt save money on renting office space, youre still bound to incur a wealth of one-time and recurring expenses.

    With that in mind, research how much money yoursquo;ll need to set up your home office, market your business, secure licenses and permits, and pay any employees or contractors. Find accounting software you feel comfortable using. For small businesses, Business News Daily recommends QuickBooks Online and Zoho Books.

    3. Developing a Proper Marketing Strategy

    One of the biggest challenges for home-based businesses is marketing a product or service. This is one area where you dont want to cut corners, especially if you have plans for growth. By working from your home, yoursquo;ll need to work harder to market yourself as a professional and reputable business.

    At minimum, yoursquo;ll need a website, cohesive social media presence and professional business collateral business cards, brochures, fliers to get your name out there. Ideally, yoursquo;ll work with a marketing expert to create a comprehensive marketing plan mdash; an expense that will pay big dividends down the road.

    Full Story >

    How Green Can You Go? Eco-friendly Solutions For Every Commitment Level

    Its hard to ignore the influence of big oil in Texas. Thirty-five miles to the Southwest of Frisco, TX, this years second-fastest-growing city in the nation and home to thousands of suburban families like my own, whose electric bills climb up into the 300-plus range while cooling their 3,000-square-foot house, Irving-based Exxon is the biggest oil producer in the world - and thats just the tip of the oil well. Frisco is also among the Texas cities where deregulation among power options is still not a thing, BTW. Oh and theres also a fun Texas law that "allows builders to restrict solar-energy devices while a housing development is under construction," said the Dallas Morning News, and when they would be most convenient, and most cost-effective to install, in most cases.

    This is not the place youd expect to see, oh, I dont know, a luxury community of eco-friendly homes with features including grass rooftops.

    But thats precisely what is being proposed by architecture and design firms Stantec and Total Environment, who presented the concept "for anbsp;57-acre, single-family home development" with luxury homes featuringnbsp;low-energy, environmentally friendly products" to the Planning and Zoning Commission this week, said Frisco Community Impact. "These types of homes are popular in other countries such as India and Dubai, and, if approved, would be the first in the U.S., according to developers."

    It begs the question: Did green living just move from the fringe to the forefront? If eco-friendly homes can come to oil-rich, fracking-loving Texas, are we talking game-changer? Could be.

    Were still a long way from hiring landscapers to manage our rooftops en masse. But, in the meantime, its easier and more rewarding than ever to live a leaner, greener life. So it might be time to ask yourself: How green can you go?

    Heres our breakdown of some of the best ways to incorporate a more eco-friendly way of life into your world, no matter your commitment level.

    Green "lite"

    You may already have thought of some of the easiest ways to go green, like recycling at home, watering plants early or late in the day when the sun is not at full strength, and doing laundry and dishes during the coolest part of the day to save your air conditioning from working overtime.

    Compact fluorescent lightbulbs CFL are probably already on your radar, which is a great thing, since, according to thenbsp;Environmental Protection Agency EPA, CFLs use as much as 75 less energy than those old incandescent bulbs and can also last up to 10x longer.

    Here are a few easy changes you can make that you may not have considered:

    Replace nonstick pans with cast-iron. "To create the slick surface of nonstick cookware, manufacturers apply chemicals callednbsp;fluoropolymers, which are >

    Do your wash in cold water. Energy Star says that close to 90 percent of the energy used for laundry goes to water heating. Buy some cold-water detergent and youre good to go.

    Set your TV picture to "normal" instead of the manufacturer setting. "Many flat screens are shipped from the manufacturer with a picture setting that makes it stand out in retail displays, but are brighter than you need at home and consume 10 to 20 more energy and cash at this setting, reports the NRDC," said Prevention.

    Ditch your regular house cleaners. Many of them can include toxic ingredients that can harm the environment and are also potentially dangerous to members of your household. The only things you really need to clean just about everything in your house: baking soda, white vinegar, and lemon.

    Trade your regular mulch for rubber. Mulch is great for your yard because it keeps moisture in and also makes it look nice and tidy. But rubber is a step up from the bark-like texture youre probably used to seeing. "Made from 100-percent recycled tires, rubber mulch is suitable to use on most landscapes," said HGTV. "It has several benefits: a safe play surface for children, prevents weeds, does not attract insects and water and air can easily flow through it."

    Green medium

    Looking to make a larger commitment to green living? There are changes you can make outside of daily efforts like watching your water and electricity usage and choosing products with a more eco-friendly profile for everyday use.

    Seal it up. Sealing up any leaks can make a big difference in the heating and cooling loss thats driving up your bills - as much as a 20 percent difference, according to Energy Star. Its also a pretty DIY-friendly task, but to get the best results, you may want to hire a professionalnbsp;Home Energy Auditornbsp;who can give you the lowdown on where your home is deficient and recommend changes.

    Start composting. "Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead," said the EPA. "Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and >

    Replace your appliances. That old fridge is working hard to cool whats inside, and thats costing you - literally. It, and its friends the old dishwasher and washer and dryer, are sucking up energy and dollars. Swapping them out for newer, Energy Star versions, is good for the environment, and your bank account. Whether you get a new refrigerator or not, these tips from Prevention will help you save even more: "Keeping your fridge pushed tight up against the wall limits circulation and makes the unit work harder, increasing your energy use and costs. Keep it a few inches away from the wall, and follow the manufacturers instructions to safely keep the fridges coils clean. If youre one of the 25 of U.S. households using a second, older fridge, considering recycling it. Running an older - model fridge - ones commonly used in basements or garages - could cost your family up to 300 a year. Temperature makes a difference, too. Proper fridge temp should fall anywhere from 35 to 38 degrees - anything lower wastes energy."

    Hardcore green

    Window replacement falls here because it can be a big dollar commitment. "All-new vinyl windows for an average 2,450-square-foot house run about 15,000, according to the lsquo;Remodeling Impact Report from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSreg;," said Houselogic. But, the good news is that youll save "126ndash;465 a year when replacing single-pane windows, according to Energy Star. And, "For average-quality vinyl windows, you can recoup 80 of the project cost in added home value, according to the lsquo;Remodeling Impact Report," said Houselogic. Based on the vinyl window replacement projects in the report, thats a value add of about 12,000 if you should decide to sell your house."

    Other "major commitments" include:

    Use spray foam insulation. Give that old pink stuff the heave-ho. "An alternative to traditional fiberglass and cellulose insulation, spray foam traps more conditioned air within the home, allowing for significantly less leakage and consequently, reduced energy use year round," said CBS. "Containing rapidly renewable material, spray foam insulation does not produce harmful emissions and is also water and shrink proof, which translates into zero framing distortion over time -- a hugenbsp;constructionnbsp;plus. A study done on side-by-side homes, one with traditional insuation, and one with spray foam, "found that the use of spray foam to create an unvented attic Home CP2a lowers the HERS the industry standard by which a homes energy efficiency is measured score from 84 to 79, and results in a net annual energy savings of 16. When spray foam is used to provide an unvented attic and insulate the exterior walls Home CP3a, the HERS score is reduced from 84 to 78, and the annual energy savings increases to 22."

    If youre building from scratch, consider the material. You already know that bamboo is a top choice because it is renewable. But have you thought about recycled steel? "Two out of every three tons of new steel are recycled fromnbsp;oldnbsp;steel, making it the most recycled material on the planet," said CBS. "According to thenbsp;Steel Recycling Institute, steel also uses lessnbsp;energynbsp;and emits fewer harmful CO2 emissions than many other building materials, making it an optimum green choice. You also cant beat steel for durability."

    Choose sustainably harvested materials. You can get a natural wood look without the guilt by looking for eco-friendly options. "Put in formaldehyde-free cabinetry to avoid >

    Go solar. Forget those ugly solar panels. Elon Musk and Tesla are in the process of upending the roofing industry with their Solar Roof glass tiles, which are "offered innbsp;four >

    Reclaim your water. Water reclamation is an easy enough undertaking that it could go in the medium category above. But, for many, people, the idea of recycling water is slightly traumatizing, so its going here instead. The thing is, you dont have to recycle all the water in the home to reap the benefits from an eco-friendly perspective. If the idea of blackwater, which includes wastewater from toilets as well as dishwashers and garbage disposals,gives you the shivers, youre not alone. Companies are busy working on black water recycling systems, but, for now, you only need to concentrate on gray water, "which is tap water soiled by use in washing machines, tubs, showers and bathroom sinks," said How Stuff Works. "Gray water reclamation is the process by which households make use of gray waters potential instead of simply piping it into overburdened sewage systems with all the black water.

    The advantages of gray water reclamation for your wallet include lower water and sewage bills. Additionally, reusing gray waters otherwise wasted nutrients from soap nitrogennbsp;and phosphorousnbsp;and food potassium can sustain plant life and recharge topsoil."nbsp;

    Full Story >

    Tenants Rights During a Foreclosure

    Question: My wife and I and our two teen-age children have rented a nice house near the high-school for many years. We have >

    Answer: Pete, this unfortunately has become a common problem in the past few years. There is always the possibility that you will be asked to leave, but there are some things you should do -- and do immediately.

    You received a letter from the lenders attorney advising you about the pending foreclosure. You should call that lawyer, and ask several questions:

    1. when and where will the foreclosure sale take place?

    2. can you start making your rent payments to the lender, or putting it in escrow? I suspect your landlord has been collecting your monthly rent, but not paying the mortgage with those funds.

    3. if the lender purchases the property at the foreclosure sale, will they allow you to stay in the property? If so, for how long? At a foreclosure sale, it often happens that no one will purchase the property. Thus, the lender actually buys back the property and will own it. However, most lenders do not want to be in the real estate ownership business and will want to get rid of the property as soon as possible.

    Additionally, are you interested in purchasing the property? At foreclosure sales, it is possible to get a good deal if you are the successful bidder. However, before you go down this path, talk with your own attorney. You want to have a title search performed -- before the sale takes place. You want to know all about foreclosure sales, and what your rights and obligations will be. Too many people mistakenly believe they can get a super deal by buying properties at foreclosure sales. This "aint necessarily so".

    Finally, you should find out what your state law provides in these circumstances. In some jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia, if a lender forecloses on property, the owner must vacate the property. However, tenants have or may have stronger rights, and will be permitted to stay in the property for a period of time. Additionally, in most states in the United States, a tenant just cannot be thrown out on the street without a Court Order. This means that the new landlord -- the successful purchaser at the foreclosure sale -- will have to go to Court to seek an eviction Order. This will give you some more time before you have to move.

    As an ounce of precaution, however, you may want to start looking for another rental property. And I do not recommend you pay any more rent to your landlord. You should put your rent in escrow with your attorney. I strongly suspect that if your landlord is having financial problems, you probably will not get your security deposit back when you vacate. Thus, you want to protect yourself as soon as possible.

    Question: Regarding your column on deed in lieu being faster than a foreclosure in the case of a reverse mortgage. You dodged the implied issue of the owner no longer wanting to handle the cost of ownership for a property that is "underwater" while not opining on the moral implications of defaulting and walking away. I can assure you from my observation of the last financial crisis that the bank is in no rush to assume ownership and the >

    Answer: Howard, point well taken. You are absolutely correct that banks are not in a hurry to take over any property -- especially those under water. Yes, I did dodge the moral and ethical implications of just walking away.

    I know it happens all the time; we read about "zombie houses" all over the country. Many states are now enacting legislation putting the requirement on lenders to maintain those properties where the owner has just locked the door and walked away. In fact, in many cases, they dont even lock the door.

    I cannot recommend anyone to walk way. My concern has nothing to do with the lenders; I have no compassion for lenders that refuse to foreclose on a timely basis. My concern is for the neighborhood and the neighbors who are faced with decaying homes next door, grass not being cut, vagrants camping out, etc, etc. One neglected home in a community drags down the property values of surrounding homes, and unfortunately a downward spiral occurs.


    Full Story >

    Enforcing Long Unenforced Rules In Your HOA

    It may come as little surprise that quite a few homeowner association boards fail miserably in rule enforcement, especially in self managed HOAs. Lets face it, confrontation with neighbors is not something most people look forward to. So when certain members play fast and loose with the rules, these boards turn a blind eye or run for cover. If this failure to enforce goes long enough, a reform group often appears to run for election and make a change. Once elected, Big Questions arise like "How do we go about enforcing long unenforced rules?" and "How aggressive should we get?" Good questions.

    All rules are not created equal. Some are much more important than others. The board should focus on those that degrade curb appeal, market values and livability. In the case of planned communities, for example, a homeowners failure to maintain his roofing, paint, fences and landscaping has a direct impact on the market values of neighboring properties. So, issues that impact curb appeal and market value should be a high priority.

    Livability issues are important as well. Does the HOA have a problem with, say, uncontrolled pets or loud and rowdy residents? While the police are the answer to extreme behaviors, the HOA can control the less extreme through warnings, and if necessary, fines.

    To get a handle on the scope of rule issues, the board should make a list of violations by type and address and then prioritize by blatancy. While all violations should be addressed, focus attention on the big ones with a goal of getting compliance or compromise on all within a reasonable period of time.

    To establish the boards position and intent, a written notification should be sent to all members. Heres a suggested format which can be adapted to your use:

    Dear Members of Nottacare Condominium,

    The board of directors discussed Nottacare rules compliance at the last board meeting. In particular, there has been ongoing issues with parking, pets and architectural design issues. In years past, prior to the current board taking office, rule enforcement has been inconsistent. The board is charged with and given authority in the governing documents to enforce rules, regulations and policies for the benefit of all Nottacare members. These rules, regulations and policies are design to enhance the livability of Nottacare and help sustain all member home values.

    To that end, please be advised that the board will begin regular and consistent enforcement of rules, regulations and policies effective date. Written violation notices will be directed to the violator or landlord if the violation was done by a renter, a description of violation, the corrective action required, the penalty for failure to comply and a right of appeal.

    Deadlines for compliance are based on the type of violation. The deadline may be immediate as in the case of illegal parking or days as in the case of correcting an Architectural violation. See a copy of the rules, regulations and policies attached for the specifics.

    The board appreciates your understanding and attention to this matter. Our goal is to facilitate the best possible living conditions for all Nottacare residents by establishing reasonable standards. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated. Please dont hesitate to direct your written comments and questions to email address or mail address. All feedback will be reviewed by and responded to by the board within 30 days. We also invite you to attend the next board meeting time on date at location to express your views on this communication.

    Since>I.M. Incharge
    Board President - Nottacare Condominium

    Rules in homeowner associations should be few and necessary. When reviving rule enforcement, focus on the ones that truly make a positive impact on value and livability. Treat your members with respect and understanding. Be prepared for compromise if its in the best interest of the HOA. Rule on

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to
    Full Story >

    Real Estate Professional Dertrez Pressley Makes Third Generous Donation on Behalf of His Client with the Agent with Heart Program

    Las Vegas, NV June 20th, 2017 -- PinRaise, the company that connects real estate agents with local clients and nonprofits, announced today that Dertrez Pressley of Simply Vegas Real Estate in Las Vegas, Nevada recently closed a transaction and made a special donation to the Beyond the Dream Foundation on behalf of his client, Adrienne Richmond.

    "This is Dertrezs third donation with our Agent with Heart Program and we are very grateful for his impeccable kindness and generous spirit," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. "Our program was created to help assist nonprofits within the community by connecting them with local realtors and their clients, and Dertrez is a shining of example of our goal at work," continues Mr. Giaimo.

    "We look forward to seeing how Dertrezs generosity will continue to assist his community, and thank him for being a partner in our Agent with Heart Program," concludes Mr. Giaimo.

    About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the PinRaise app, the Agent with Heart program connects homebuyers and sellers with local agents like Dertrez Pressley who agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their real estate commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit To connect with Dertrez Pressley, please call 702-963-6424.
    Full Story >

    Are You Prepared for Coaching Success?

    Two demanding forces may be holding real estate professionals back by creating gaps that need attention:

    • If you invest most of each day concentrating on what your clients want, need, and aim to achieve, you can shortchange yourself by overlooking these same gaps in your own lifemdash;professionally and personally.
    • Technology enables you to pack more and more into a day, but this does not automatically make you more productive or successful. Professionals now >the desired charge to productivity and thinking.

    Interactionmdash;the correct human interactionmdash;can be a phenomenal accelerator to overcome the above two challenges. In this column, were explored many ways that professional communication is a "brain-to-brain dynamic" that can clarify thinking, enrich engagement, and enhance productivity. With coaching, your brain is in for a leap forward that it may not achieve alone. The coaching brain belongs to an experienced and highly-trained professional communicatormdash;a coach not to be confused with traditional sales trainers.

    Growing numbers of professionals in many industries >Thats where the right coach comes in.

    Todays professional coaches are intent on advancing their profession and the skills they bring to client engagements, as coaching sessions are called. Coaching industry events like the World Business and Executive Coaches Summit WBECS, which provides high-quality educational programming for its more than 20,000 attendees, is the largest online coaching event and community. Local chapters of coaching organizations are a good place to begin your search for the right coaching match.

    Are You Prepared For A Successful Coaching Experience?

    If you hire a coach or are considering this step, you know that the right match will help you charge ahead. One of the most overlooked aspects of hiring a coach is first deciding what you will contribute to ensure a successful coaching experience.

    Coaches are trained to help their clients overcome obstacles and roadblocks. However, clients can save themselves a lot of wasted time by committing to overcome three bad habits that do neither the coach or themselves any good:

    1. Not doing the learning exercises or "homework"

    Experiential learning, or completing seemingly-simple exercises to reveal the complexity behind ending negative behavior and embracing positive reactions, is essential to coaching. Talking is not enough. Coaches help clients find practical ways to incorporate these exercises into a packed schedule, but ultimately progress is ruled by client intent.

    2. Not listening to and absorbing the importance of coaching questions

    This shortcoming arises from the misconception that the coach is responsible for making the difference. In fact, the coach is trained to help the clientmdash;thats youmdash;take responsibility for making the difference. Coaches hone questions to address specific client needs, gaps in understanding, and goals. Thinking about what each question evokes is as important as honestly answering it.

    3. Not valuing what the coach does because you do not understand the significance of each thing the coach does to help you

    • During a recent WBECS webinar, Dr. Brian Underhill of Coach Source reviewed methods for client measurement of the effectiveness of coaching sessions. His research revealed that executive and CEO clients often subjectively undervalued coaches in clear contrast to measured return-on-investment coaching results. Underhill attributed this difference to executive coaching clients not completely understanding the coachs skills and impact because coaching finesse is not specifically pointed out to clients by coaches. Much the way, buyers and sellers undervalue real estate and > Make the effort to understand why your coach asks you specific questions, selects details to share, and provides specific exercises, and youll enhance resulting benefits and outcomes many fold.
    • In a different WBECS webinar, Senior Executive Coach Mark C. Thompson, quoting another well-known coach, explained that there is "deep frustration in getting our clients to really embrace what we have to offer." To illustrate coach frustration, he repeated familiar laments "Why wont they listen to us and our questions?" and "Why wont they pay attention in a way that could really benefit them?" Any of this sound familiar?

    Thompsons WBECS webinar dealt with "Super Powers of Highest-Paid Coaches." He explained that this title referred to the reactions of executive- coaching clients from The Incredibles-creator Pixar. They described the best coaches as "quick to serve, fast to adapt, drivers of change... like superheros."

    Thompson, known for his actionable, practical coaching on business essentials from leadership to sales growth, dissected one super power he called FUEL, as in "FUEL the power to deliver results," to demonstrate how subtle and effective coaching communication techniques can be. Heres a summary of his FUEL acronym points, which, with respect and in the spirit of our shared economy, I have extrapolated so real estate professionals can >

  • FOCUS mdash; Focus on what matters most to clients. Focus on a few things with the highest impact instead of trying to do it all at once.
  • URGENCY CARING mdash; Urgency about the clients priorities is essential. The context that dictates client priorities is the one that coaches must respond to first.
  • ENGAGEMENT mdash; Helping the client engage in terms of managing "up and down" with those who matter to the client. That is, assist the client to >LENGTH of time mdash; Think longer term from the first moment to create sustainable context for the client-coach >

    Real estate and >For more on coaching, WBECS, and
    Full Story >

  • When Is A Listing Commission Earned?

    Of course, different listing contracts may contain unique or unusual conditions, but, for many years in many parts of the country, listing agreements have held that a commission had been earned if a buyer was procured who made an offer that matched the price and terms specified in the listing agreement, or on other price and terms the seller might find acceptable. A completed transaction was not a required condition for a commission to have been earned.

    But a 2012 California Appellate Court ruling RealPro, Inc. v. Smith Residual Company, Fourth Appellate District Court changed that understanding in the Golden State. In the RealPro situation, a buyer had made a full-price, per the listing, 17 million offer on terms that the seller found acceptable. However, the seller then increased the listing price to 19.5 million. The buyer declined the price increase; but, subsequently, the buyers broker, as a third-party beneficiary, sued for his commission.

    The trial court focused on the portion of the listing that set forth price and terms, which said "17,000,000 cash or such other price and terms acceptable to Sellers..." The courts view was that it would be a mistake to say that the listing was for 17 million. Rather, it "was for 17 million cash or such other price, plus terms acceptable to Sellers."

    The Appellate Court said, "we, like the trial court, conclude that the 17 million price was me>

    You cant fight them; so you might as well join them. The California Association of Realtors CAR changed its Residential Listing Agreement RLA the next year. It currently reads that a commission is due if anyone "hellip;procures a ready, willing, and able buyers whose offer to purchase the Property on any price and terms is accepted by Seller, provided the Buyer completes the transaction or is prevented from doing so by the Seller." [my emphasis]

    But wait Now a different California Appellate Court has come forth with an opinion Carol Gilbert, Inc. v. City of San Francisco Ellis-OFar>

    Carol Gilbert, Inc. CGI entered into a listing agreement with Ellis Parking to find a tenant for restaurant space in a parking garage that has retail space on the ground floor. The City of San Francisco owns the building and Ellis Parking has a master lease. The listing agreement said that "If a lease is entered into during the Term of this Agreement, or any extensions hereof, [Ellis Parking] will pay [CGI] a sum based on [a complex schedule in the agreement]... When Commission Due: Commissions shall be deemed one half due and payable upon the later Lease Execution or Removal of Contingencies, and one half on the earlier of Tenants Opening for Business or Commencement of Rent..."

    CGI procured an offer on behalf of Loris Diner, and in October of 2012, Ellis Parking signed a lease agreement with Loris Diner for a twenty-year sublease of the space. The sublease contained language saying that it was subject to the master lease which, among other things, required that the city of San Francisco would not unreasonably withhold consent.

    Whether reasonable or not, the city did withhold consent. Instead it renewed a lease with the existing tenant. Ellis parking declined to pay CGI any commission, so CGI sued for breach of contract. The frac12; commission owed, by the way, was 245,717.38

    The trial court held that "Because there was nothing in the Exclusive Listing and Sale Agreement which mentioned or referenced the Citys approval as being a contingency that needed to be removed in order for CGI to receive the commission, [CGI] is entitled to one half the commission."

    The Appellate Court agreed. Quoting an earlier case, they wrote "The brokers right to compensation lsquo;must be found within the four corners of the listing agreement, which will be lsquo;strictly enforced according to the lawful terms." The court acknowledged that, of course, some condition or contingency could limit or void the brokers right to a commission. But such language would have to be clearly stated within the listing agreement. In this case, it was not.

    The court wrote, "The only condition precedent to CGIs right to a commission under the listing agreement was that a lease be lsquo;entered into. A lease was lsquo;entered into when Ellis Parking and Loris Diner signed the sublease..."

    This case, and much of the reasoning in the opinion, could lend weight to the idea that maybe the "old way" -- in which a sale did not have to be completed for a commission to be earned -- could be revived. Right now, though, that would be premature. CGI v. Ellis Parking has not been published, and cannot be cited as law. That would have to be changed. There is a time period during which the court can be asked to publish its opinion. You can bet that there are interested parties working on such requests.

    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 .

    Full Story >

    What To Expect When Visiting Chip And Joanna Gaines Magnolia Market

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

    Bring your patience

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

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

    Bring your wallet

    If youre a fan of Chip and Joannas French country >

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

    Bring your appetite, too

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

    Its ok to bring the kids

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

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

    Check the calendar ahead of time

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

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

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

    Stay in a Fixer Upper House

    The Harps home that was fixed up on the show is right next door to their shop, and is now available for rent through Airbnb - and its not the only one. The historic Magnolia House is also on Airbnb, although its so popular, even at 695 a night, that its booked through 2017. Do a search for "Fixer Upper Airbnb" for more options.

    Get there in >

    While parking is easy and free at Magnolia, you can add to the fun especially for the kids by taking the Silos District Trolley, which runs runs every 15ndash;20nbsp;minutes throughout the day and will stop anywhere along the route so you can hop on or off to browse the downtown area.

    Document your trip

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

    Full Story >

    7 Top Design Tips for a Small Backyard

    Long to be a land baron, with acres of lush grounds to create the ultimate outdoor paradise? That may be a dream for another time. For now, a smaller space is your reality, but that doesnt mean it cant be amazing. These 7 tricks will help your small yard live large.

    Dont be scared of trees

    While a towering live oak may not be the right choice for your smaller yard, you dont have to give up on trees altogether just because you dont have acreage. Japanese maple and ornamental crabapple are just a few great options that will bring some color to your outdoor space. Our favorite: the crape myrtle, which maintains a manageable size and, "Its hard to beat the showy summer flowers, beautiful bark, and brilliant fall color," said Sunset.

    Consider the scale

    That patio set at Costco might be great deal, but how are that huge glass-topped table and eight rocker chairs going to look on your mini deck? There are plenty of options for small-space patio sets, and if youre looking to create an outdoor living room, building in the seating in this yard creates a welcoming seating area and keeps the rest of the space open.


    Go diagonal

    Finding the right hardscape material is only the beginning. How you lay it can make a big difference in the overall impact in your yard. "Creating a view along the diagonal of the property creates the illusion that the space is bigger than it looks," said HGTV. "Here, the diagonal path with steps traces a zigzag line through the garden, providing areas to linger and enjoy the wide beds and colorful plantings."


    Go vertical

    Vertical gardens have been one of the top trends for outdoor spaces for a few years and are perfect for smaller spaces or yards where the floor space is limited. There are all kinds of fun planters you can use for a mix of greenery and flowers, or choose a climbing variety. "Liven up a plain patio wall with a sun-seeking climber, like bougainvillea," said Good Housekeeping. "A simple stake in the dirt is all the t>

    Divide it up

    You may think that the less you place in the yard, the larger it will seem. But think about how a house looks with no furniture; that emptiness doesnt always translate to roominess. Placing things randomly throughout the yard might not create the feel you want, so think strategically. "It may seem counterintuitive, but by dividing your yard into zones using garden beds and landscaping, you actually give the illusion of space," said Aussie Green Thumb. "Consider creating areas that are essentially a series of rooms, such as an outdoor paved area, a lawn section and then gardens of varying heights. This means when you look at the yard from any angle, you dont know what is around the corner and it could go on forever. Its about creating mystery and allure."

    Play with varying heights throughout

    The gardens are a great place to start, but you dont have to stop there. This multi-level deck creates so much interest that the size of the space becomes an afterthought.

    Create a container garden

    Container gardening makes even the smallest outdoor space game for some greenery. "No space? No problem You can grow flowers, herbs, and even vegetables in pots," said Rodales Organic Life. "Container gardening is ideal for those with little or no garden space. In addition to growing flowers, gardeners limited to a balcony,nbsp;small yard, or only a patch of sun on their driveway can produce a wide variety of vegetable crops in containers containers.nbsp;Basil,nbsp;chives,nbsp;thyme, and othernbsp;herbsnbsp;also are quite happy growing in pots, which can be set in a convenient spot right outside the kitchen door."

    Full Story >



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