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Updated: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smaller Remodeling Jobs Deliver Better ROI

Your home may need some work, but that doesnt mean you want to lose money on it when you sell. Thats why you might be interested in the 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling Magazine and the National Association of REALTORS.

It may surprise you to learn that large remodeling jobs wont return their full cost in home price gains, while other could return 100 percent or more of their cost.

Any improvements should help your home sell faster and for more money in the aggregate, but if youre choosing remodeling projects, you may need to decide which ones are more important for resale, and which ones will bring you and your family the most enjoyment.

Keep in mind that buyers may not get excited about your choices unless the improvement is attractive and makes sense for them, too. It also has to look organic to the home, not like an add-on or afterthought.

Think of how you want the home to flow. Floors in new additions should be installed at the same levels as the original house, whereas a step-down is a dead giveaway that the home has been expanded and not very well.

According to Remodeling Magazine editor-in-chief Craig Webb, the simpler and lower-cost the project, the bigger its cost-value ratio is likely to be. Three of the four projects that cost less than 5,000 for a professional remodeler to do were ranked in the top five for cost recouped at resale, while no project costing more than 25,000 ranked any better than 14th.

Thats useful to know if you want to do improvements according to resale value. For example, replacing the front door with a steel entry door returns more than 101.8 percent of its cost, but if you dont need a new door, that wont make much difference to you.

Further, the cost-vs.-value ratios arent based on real property resales. Theyre based on resale value as a percentage of construction costs, as well as surveys of Realtors and their opinions of value in their own markets.

Explains Webb, "When cost and value are equal, the ratio is 100; when cost is higher than value, the ratio is less than 100; when value is higher than cost, the ratio exceeds 100."

That means there could be wide regional variations in the value of most home improvements. Within the 102 markets surveyed in the 2015 report, only 269 of the 3,672 total projects recouped 100 percent. The steel entry door job recouped all its costs and more in 43 markets. Midrange garage door replacements topped 100 percent in 28 markets.

Suggests NARs vice president of business-to-business communications Stacey Moncrieff, "The replacements that offer the greatest payback are the ones that are most obvious to buyers when they first view a house in person or online, such as new door or garage door."

When grouped by job type, siding jobs fared better than most, said Webb, perhaps because of a rising perception nationwide of the value of curb appeal. Out of remodeling jobs, kitchens still reign supreme returning nearly 20 percent of value on resale.

New to the annual list is manufactured stone veneer, which returned 100 percent of investment in 27 markets, followed by upscale garage-door replacements which topped 100 percent in 17 markets. Midrange wood window replacements returned all costs in 16 markets, while minor kitchen remodels did so in 15 markets.

To Moncrieff, the Cost vs. Value Report is a starting point, but she says there are also factors that vary from house to house and sale to sale, such as what updates are typical for the neighborhood, the quality of the work, and how important the improvement is to a particular buyer.

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The Pool Trends Youll Want To Consider This Year

Pool season never ends - at least not from the planning stage. It seems like someone is always digging out their yard, even while much of the country is digging their front steps out of snow. If youre looking to take the plunge literally, youll want to know about the latest trends in pool design.

1. Beach entry

The natural transition from deck to water provided by a beach entry is great for families and those who want to keep cool by the pool without being fully submerged.

"This swimming pool design incorporates a gently sloping transition from the deck into the water. The slope is very similar to a real beach," said Master Pools Guild. "Beach entry pools can be very accommodating to a wide variety of pool patrons. For toddlers, beach entry provides a special splash area for them and a great way for adults to supervise. Chairs can easily be placed on the slope keeping watchful eyes and helping hands close while allowing adults stay cool on those hot summer days."

2. Water features

The popularity of water features continues to grow with "pool waterfalls and water fountains showing up more and more in modern pool designs with adjustable water flow, pressure and height settings," said Install It Direct. "Popular prospective pool owner requests include fountain bubblers, water sconces, and even grottos set behind waterfalls. Install It Direct is also seeing increased demand for LED lighting and fire features integrated into the design.

"Some designs feature fire elements that appear to float on water or rise out of the pool. For an extra cool touch, check out floating "islands" with fire pits in the center."

3. Knife-Edge Pools

Knife-edge pools, also known as "Lautner" or perimeter pools, are the evolution of infinity pools. Instead of water spilling over one edge, "the knife edge allows for water to spill over on all four sides of the pool," said Custom Outdoor Trends.

4. Natural pools

Natural pools are meant to look like a pond or natural swimming hole, with designs that typically "incorporate a lot of rock, sandstone and greenery to complete the design," said BlueHaven. "A true natural pool will even >

5. Aggregate finish

Most commonly known as the Pebble-Tec, these aggregate finishes create a pebbly texture on the pool lining that replaces gunite.

"At least 99 percent of all the pools we build or rebuild get a pebbled surface," said Ocean Home Magazine. "The surface is very easy on the feet, beautiful to view, and the tiny polished pebbles gleam in the sunlight."

Additional trends in pool design includes glass tiles instead of ceramic and "illusion" spas that integrate the spa into the pool instead of separating it at a different height.

Check out a few beautiful pool options reflecting the latest trends below.

Beach entry pools have a resort feel

Water features continues to grow in popularity

Knife-edge pools take infinity edge pools up a notch

Natural pools are a growing trend in pool design

Pebble-Tec pools are easy on the eyes...and the feet

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Ingenious Storage Options That Will Change Your Life

Most conversations about storage, and about moving up, for that matter, make us think about George Carlin. If you havent seen his "stuff" rant, you should definitely check it out there may be a bad word or two. He has a point, and yetwe still need more room to put our stuff. And since we dont see ourselves chucking it all and going full nomad, were always super excited to learn new ways and find new places to put it all.

Here are the ingenious storage solutions thatll help us all make room for all our stuff.

Take advantage of the space under the stairs

Whether its pullout drawers, the flip-up kind, or built-in wine storage, under-the-stairs storage just might be the very best kind of storage. Check out Bob Vila for more ideas.

Under the bed storage

Were not talking about shoeboxesalthough do what you have to do if youre short on closet space Ingenious ideas for under-the bed storage include pullout drawers that provide deep storage for linens, and a flip-up bed that you can store a up to 26 cubic feet of stuff under. And if you want to go all out, theres this platform storage option that is unique and utilitarian.

Built-in kitchen nook

The advantages of the built-in eating area include:

1. Its cozy
2. Its chic
3. It takes up less space than a traditional table and chairs
4. Its a great place to store some kitchen essentials

Yes, were always looking for places to put our cookie sheets, Pyrex, and muffin tins. We mean tablecloths, placemats, and fancy napkins. Either way, a flip-up or liftoff bench, or large drawers as part of your eating nook will give you useful storage.

Toy storage

You can replicate the look of the built-in seating and create a charming and useful kids storage/seating area with these IKEA Kallax shelving units turned on their sides and topped with pillows.

A few bins inside help you keep everything tidy. Shelving on the back of a kids closet door can also provide a convenient place to store books, puzzles, and art supplies.

Use those cabinet tops

Just because you dont have cabinets that go to the ceiling doesnt mean you cant have convenient kitchen storage. Make the open shelving trend work for you with framing that extends the look and function of the cabinets.

Or, spend a few bucks and bring in a few baskets for a rustic look that can store small appliances, extra dishes, or cookbooks. The same idea works in bathrooms and on top of large pieces of furniture.

Dont forget about bottom cabinets

In many cases, base cabinets are designed as one open space, which doesnt allow for much organization. You can use every inch of the space in there and double your storage by adding a stepped shelf inside each set of doors. Adding a tension rod gives you an easy an inexpensive way to hang spray bottles under the sink.

Maximize your closet space

If you havent double hung every inch of your closet, built or brought in shelves where you could and turned the back of the door into a shoe holder, youre wasting space Here are some more closet tips, like adding rows of molding inside your closet to hang your heels.

Over the door

Its not always about creating more space, but about using the space you have more wisely. A simple shelf on top of your bathroom door gives you an added storage option with a quaint look.

Laundry room

Under-appliance pedestals with drawers can provide more storage space in the laundry room thats lacking. But if you dont have space for that eitheror if you dont want to spend the money, a shoe organizer hung on the back of the laundry room door makes a good substitute.

A great hiding place

If you need a good hiding place to store an extra key, some emergency cash, or some valuables, try this:

"Glue old book spines to a box for hidden storage. Leave the front cover on one of the books and the back cover on another to use as the sides of your box," said DIY Home Sweet Home.

Need even more storage ideas? Check out Real Simple and Pinterest.

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Making Toronto Real Estate More Affordable

A lot of people who live in the Greater Toronto Area GTA have made big money from their real estate investments during the last decade. Resale prices have doubled since 2002, with an average increase of six per cent per year. Dozens of new condominium buildings were constructed in recent years and its estimated that as much as one-quarter of Torontos job creation during the last 10 years is a result of the housing boom.

But a report by Derek Burleton and Diana Petramala at TD Economics says the boom is creating serious housing affordability problems "for a growing share of middle->

Detached and semi-detached home prices have soared on the resale market, with demand far outstripping demand. In the new home market in 2014, the gap between low-rise and high-rise housing reached a record-setting 251,337.

The building industry says the reason for soaring prices is easy to pinpoint: the Ontario governments land-use policies.

"The desire to curb sprawl and encourage intensification has lead to the continued condominium boomspiking home prices and a widening price gap between low-rise and high-rise housing product," says George Carras, president of Realnet Canada.

"Constrained land supply and outdated land-use policies have exponentially increased the cost of property and new homes," says Brian Tuckey, president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association. "The cost of a new home in the GTA has doubled in the last decade."

Tuckey says his organization "has long advocated for the need to build new infrastructure to accommodate growth, as well as the importance of developing a fair and reasonable infrastructure-funding strategy -- one that doesnt ask new home buyers to pay more for things that will be used by generations of residents to come."

But Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner of the City of Toronto, says, "The cost of building a new house has not increased more rapidly in Toronto than in other major Canadian cities, despite the existence of one of the worlds largest greenbelts. In fact, I would argue that greenbelts and other measures to restrict the outward growth of Canadian cities are essential and fiscally responsible policy tools, since they result in higher densities that make more efficient use of infrastructure investments."

Both sides of the argument offer recent studies to back their claims. Wendell Coxs study for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy concludes that "urban containment policy leads to a lower standard of living and greater poverty by increasing housing costs >

A 2013 report by RBC and the Pembina Institute counters, "There is no evidence that provincial land-use policies, including the Greenbelt Plan and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, restrict housing development and contribute to rising home prices."

It also says there is no shortage of land in the GTA and that "based on municipal projections, 81 per cent of the land available for development will still be unused in 2031." However, it adds that there is a "limited supply of land to build single-family homes in established, location-efficient neighbourhoods where people want to live."

Burleton and Petramala, authors of the TD Economics report, say that "while increased density has been a laudable goal in recent years, it can reasonably be argued that the pendulum has swung too far in favour of condo units that are typically tailored for shorter-term living. It raises the question of how the GTA will accommodate the future changing housing needs of both the echo generation who will begin families as well as the growing population of seniors."

They say housing policies "appear to be falling well short in achieving a balance between affordability, environmental protection and smart land-use decisions." They advocate policies that will bring down the cost of housing and speed up delivery; property tax systems that dont favour single-detached homes over multi-unit properties; a review of development fees; and "greater regional co-ordination and synergies" across the three levels of government, not-for-profits, private developers and the investment community.

The authors say that rising real estate prices have encouraged public and private institutions to hoard land that could be developed. They say some countries have tax exemptions for land used for development and impose an idle tax on land that is held. "There are also opportunities to supply public lands at below market price for the construction of affordable housing."

All sides in the debate agree that government needs to find a way to build more public transit and improve existing systems.

Meanwhile, Toronto housing was ranked the 10th least affordable major market in the world in the 11th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, ranking it ahead of New York, Miami, Singapore and Tokyo.

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Landlord-Tenant Rules About Pets And Other Animals

A while back, the legal department of the California Association of RealtorsCAR >

In reviewing such laws it is important to keep in mind that most of the rules need to come with a footnote or to be stated as "in general." This is because there are all sorts of exceptions if the animal is a service animal such as a seeing-eye dog or an animal sometimes called a companion, comfort, or emotional support animal that is used to ameliorate a disability. By law, animals that fit into those categories are not considered pets, and different standards apply.

First, then, let us review the rules as they apply in general, remembering that there will be exceptions for service animals and animals used to mitigate a disability.

It is perfectly legal for landlords to prohibit pets. Moreover, it is legal for a landlord to discriminate among pets. A landlord could have a "no-dogs" policy, but might allow other kinds of pets. Conversely, a "cats-only" policy would also be legal. Landlords may even specify that certain breeds are prohibited whereas others may be allowed.

In California -- thanks to a somewhat recent law -- a landlord cannot require that a dog or cat, or any other type of animal, be declawed or devocalized as a condition of rental. A landlord could, though, require that any pets be spayed or neutered. Who knew such things?

Often landlords are willing to take on pets provided that the tenant will pay a deposit that is higher than normal. This is perfectly legal; but it is still subject to Californias security deposit law which only allows for a maximum security deposit of two months for unfurnished rentals and three months for furnished rentals. Calling it a "pet deposit" does not put it into a special category which avoids that limit.

As a matter of fact, the CAR memo suggests, "it makes more sense to simply charge a higher security deposit rather than creating a separate pet deposit fee." Among other things, doing that "prevents unnecessary arguments or confusion if money in the pet deposit is needed for cleaning or damages not caused by pets." Another pet->

As we have noted, the rules are different when it comes to service or companion animals. In those cases, even if there is a no-pets policy, if a disabled tenant "requests to keep a service animal or other animal and it is a reasonable accommodation of the tenants disability, the owner would have to allow the tenant to keep the animal."

This can be dicey. As a general rule, landlords may not inquire about a tenants disability. But the CAR memo points out the following:

"However, if a tenant asks for an animal and need for the animal is not obvious, then the landlord may further inquire. For example, a tenant who suffers from an anxiety disorder, which may not be apparent, may require a cat as a comfort animal. When a tenant asks for an accommodation, the tenant and landlord must engage in what is called a "good faith interactive process" to determine how best to accommodate the tenants disability. If the need for the animal is not obvious the landlord could ask for verification regarding the nexus between keeping the animal and the tenants disability. A tenant can satisfy this by providing written verification. Typically this written verification is from a medical practitioner, although it is not required that it be from a medical doctor and other forms of proof may be acceptable depending on the circumstances."

As noted, this can be dicey.

While California and Federal law are generally the same regarding service and comfort animals, California law goes further in that the same "reasonable accommodations" must also be made for a person who is licensed to train a service animal.

California landlords have no special liability with respect to the behavior of pets allowed on the premises, unless the landlord has knowledge of a pets dangerous propensities and the landlord has done nothing about it. It is the owner of the pet who has strict liability. Nonetheless, landlords who allow pets should review their insurance with respect to coverage for injury or damages caused by a tenants pet. They also should be sure what, if any, exemptions are made for certain breeds. Finally, its not a bad idea for a landlord to require that the tenant maintain a renters insurance policy that will provide the tenant with coverage if his or her animal causes harm to someone. The landlord should verify this coverage.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way.

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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Refrigerator

Almost 5 million refrigerators shipped in the early half of 2014, reports Statista, and with the advances in kitchen technology, sales of smart refrigerators are expected to reach almost 3 billion globally in 2015. This means, if you are looking for a refrigerator this year, you arent the only one. But, how do you know what type of refrigerator to buy and then how to maintain it? The following are just a few tips:

Buying the Right Fridge

Many people inherit the fridge that comes with their apartment or home, so they are unsure of what >

Once you decide on which model suits your needs, you need to know what size to get. CNET explains that you need 4 to 6 cubic feet of refrigerator space per adult in your household, meaning at least 20 cubic feet for a family of four. However, if you have gourmet cooks, a really big kitchen or a large budget, you might opt for something roomier.

Remodelista Janet Hall advises fridge shoppers to measure and consider the space in their kitchens for the size of the fridge, the size of the kitchen entrance and the available space for the fridge door swing. You also need to think about what kind of food prep you plan to do with a new fridge when considering features like shelves, bins and cooling zones.

Maintaining Your Fridge

Your food freshness depends on the operating conditions of your refrigerator. That means you need to check on things like condenser coils, drip pans, the water filter, door gaskets and temperature settings.

BrightNest suggests that you should clean your fridge twice a year from dust, hair and grime. You also should clean the condenser coils with a vacuum and coil brush, and make sure the drip pan and drain hole are clear. Also, be sure to clean the door gaskets of any crumbs, spilled food and liquids. If you have high energy bills or are unsure about your fridges performance, consider checking the condenser coils and door gaskets every three months, recommends HouseLogic. This can help you reduce any wasted energy from fridge doors that dont close tightly and clogged coils that make the fridge run more often than is necessary.

Cleaning Your Fridge

Keeping the inside of the fridge clean also is important for food safety and optimal operation. Here are just a few suggestions from Martha Stewart and BuzzFeed hacks:

  • Clean spills as they occur rather than letting them accumulate and drip into places where they may interfere with operation or be harder to clean later.
  • Dont let spoiled food sit in the fridge to smell and contaminate other foods.
  • Eliminate odors by keeping food in air tight storage containers.
  • Keep the door clean and free of smudges and stains with a weekly wipe down with soap and water.
  • Empty your fridge completely at least once a year for a thorough take-it-apart-and-clean-everything job.
  • Cover your fridge shelves with plastic place mats to protect against spills and to avoid bigger cleanups later.
  • Keep raw meat and seafood on bottom shelves to prevent them from dripping onto other foods.
  • Use organizing items like lazy susans and plastic bins to help you see and access everything easily. This also means you never have to dig into the back of the fridge again.

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Deducting Interest When You Are Not On The Title

Question: I want to buy a condominium unit for my son. Although he makes a decent living, his credit is not good. Accordingly, the lender has advised that title must be in my name only. My son will live in the property and make all of the mortgage payments.

Can he deduct the mortgage interest on his tax returns?

Answer: The answer is a qualified yes. There are certain rules which you must follow since if the IRS ever challenges the deduction, the burden will be on your son to prove that he is eligible to take the deductions.

We must first look to the regulations which have been promulgated by the IRS.

Regulation 1.163-1b reads as follows:

Interest paid by the taxpayer on a mortgage upon real estate of which he is the legal or equitable owner, even though the taxpayer is not directly liable upon the bond or note secured by such mortgage, may be deducted as interest on his indebtedness.

In August of 2003, the United States Tax Court addressed this situation and denied the interest deduction. The petitioner bought a house for his mother and although the mortgage loan was not in his name, he made the monthly loan payments. He argued to the Tax Court that he was obligated to repay his mother and "that his failure to repay would result, upon his mothers death, in a corresponding reduction in his testamentary share of his mothers estate. But the tax court rejected this argument. Based on the facts which were presented in evidence, the Court determined that the petitioner was neither "directly liable on the note securing the mortgage on his mothers house, nor was he a legal or equitable owner of the property." Montoya v IRS, decided August 5, 2003.

However, this same Tax Court held -- as recently as January 12, 2015 -- that the son was an equitable owner. In Phan v. IRS Docket 16202-13S, the court was impressed with the fact that the sons family had granted him an interest in the property and would allow him to add his name to the title if he paid the property expenses.

What exactly is required to be an "equitable owner"? Our legal dictionaries define this as ownership by one who does not have legal title.

Lets look at this example. I own property A; I am the legal title holder to the property. I enter into a contract to sell the property to you. Based on that contract, even though you have not yet taken title, you have certain rights. These rights are based on the legal principles called "equity" -- namely that the courts will do what is fair under the circumstances, rather than strictly interpreting the letter of the law.

Obviously, each case has to be decided on the specific facts presented to the Court. In the Montoya case, the Tax Court determined that the son just did not have enough evidence to prove that he had some kind of ownership in his mothers property. But in Phan, the sons testimony convinced the court and the son was allowed to deduct the mortgage interest on the mortgage payments he was making. Unfortunately, the opinion in Phan cannot be treated as precedent for any other case; however, the reasoning spelled out by the court will give taxpayers guidance.

Several years earlier, this same Tax Court also allow a couple to deduct the mortgage interest even though they were not on title to the property. In Uslu v IRS, the following facts were presented to the Court.

Uslu had filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy >

The Tax Court found that Uslus mortgage payments "constituted payments on an indebtedness" and thus could be deducted for income tax purposes.

According to the Court:

The Court is satisfied, from all of the evidence presented, that petitioners Uslu have continuously treated the... property as if they were the owners, and that they exclusively, held the benefits and burdens of ownership threof. On this record, the Court holds that petitioners established equitable and beneficial ownership of the property, and they were liable to the brother in respect of the mortgage indebtedness.

How do you meet the burden? Here are some suggestions:

  • your son must continuously live in the property. To prove this, his drivers license, voter registration and utility bills should be in his name at the property address;
  • you and your son should enter into a written agreement, spelling out that he is fully obligated to make the mortgage payments on a timely basis, and that you reserve the right to evict him should he go into default; the agreement should specifically state that you recognize that your son has an equitable interest in the property;
  • your son must be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of the property, and
  • you should prepare and sign a Quit Claim Deed, in recordable form, conveying the property to your son. This will not be recorded, but will be further evidence of your decision that this property is, in reality if not legally, owned by your son.

There obviously are no guarantees, but if you follow the guidelines spelled out above, you have a good chance of prevailing should the IRS challenge your sons deductions.

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Trade HOA Stress for Success

Too often serving on a homeowner association HOA board feels like a I-got-stuck-with-it kind of position. But a few simple changes can turn HOA drudgery into an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The book Trade HOA Stress for Success explores proven methods to transform your board from crisis-driven, overworked and isolated into a focused team with clear goals and direction. Learn to communicate the boards success to your members and create the kind of carefree living an HOA promises. Co-written by The HOA Expert Richard Thompson, CPA Doug McLain and Erik Wecks, Trade HOA Stress for Success provides a shortcut to years of proven HOA management experience without the usual learn-from-experience mistakes.

Homeowner association management is unique because it involves neighbors managing neighbors. This >

What is so special about this book? It provides proven solutions in concise, layman terms to highly complex issues. It also reveals phenomena unique to HOAs, like:

Meeting seating. Did you know that the seating arrangement at a board meeting has a profound impact on the meeting outcome? Learn how to make your meetings smashing success stories.

How do you find a qualified manager? Most states do not require professional licensing for HOA managers. Some HOA managers seek out professional education and credentialing while others do not. This variable makes it critical for the board to identify those managers who are qualified to do the work Hint: many are not. A sample Request for Proposal is available to help you with this process.

Two reasons for hiring professional management: Rules and Collections. While its true that managers dont work for free, no neighbor should have to enforce rules or collections on another neighbor. Managers provide the buffer between neighbors and are good at defusing neighbor on neighbor hostility.

Kinder, gentler rules. While rules will be necessary as long as there are humans, there is a harmonizing rules philosophy that will promote compliance and reduce the number of rules in an HOA.

Secret to recruiting volunteers. Since HOAs are run by volunteers, finding the brightest and best is easier than you think if you make the job attractive enough. Successful people want to be part of a successful board.

Long range planning. It never ceases to amaze how many HOA boards define "long range planning" as "tomorrow". These boards, of course, are continually putting out fires instead of harvesting the fruits of good planning. Learn how to plan, schedule, fund and invest to maximize value for the members.

Improve efficiency by trimming costs. Just because youve always done it that way doesnt mean you cant improve and cut costs at the same time. This is particularly true about communications.

Proper accounting. Learn the value of accrual accounting, fraud embezzlement prevention and proper tax filing.

There are many more how-to secrets revealed in Trade HOA Stress for Success. If you serve on an HOA board or manage one, this books for you. Its an easy read available in both hardcopy and Kindle editions at www.Amazon.com, Click Here.

Click here for more info

For other innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net

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10 Things That Will Absolutely Kill Your Home Sale

When youre selling your home, you need every advantage you can get. And there are few homes that are magically market ready without a little help. If your home needs a touch more than a little help, its time to get focused. After all, listing your home when its not in the right condition to sell will probably only end in frustration. And, in this case, frustration means: your home sitting on the market for months with no offers or the errant, offensive, lowball.

If you want to make sure you get home sold quickly and for the right price, youll want to avoid listing it with the following:

1. Excessive damage

Maybe the home youre selling was used as a rental and trashed by frat boy tenants, or maybe you just havent kept it up as you should. Either way, those holes in the wall that look like the living room was used as a boxing gym, the scratched-up wood floors on which dinosaurs have clearly been racing, and the yard thats barren except for those two-foot-tall patches of weeds are not what buyers are looking for. Unless youre planning to offer your house for a price that will make buyers emphasize the good and ignore the bad and the ugly, its going to need some attention.

2. Carpet in the bathroom

Its just gross. And everyone who walks into that bathroom is thinking one of two things: 1 Theres gotta be mold under there; 2 Theres gotta be pee on the floor around that toilet. This is one update youll want to do before you list. Or, if youre already listed and your homes not selling.

3. Big, nasty stains

A buyer shouldnt know where your dog likes to mark or where your kids spilled the entire bowl of holiday punch. If the stains on your carpet are that bad, potential buyers will stroll in and run right back out. No one wants to buy a pigsty. Invest a few bucks in new carpet. Youll make the money back since you wont have to drop your sales price.

4. Pet smells

Speaking of petsthey smell. You probably dont notice since you live with them everyday, but buyers will, and it might be enough to turn them off. Deep clean the carpets and the upholstery, invest in some air fresheners, and remove cat boxes from the house for showings. The last thing you want is a potential buyer referring to your house as "the stinky one."

5. Loud dogs who bark every time someone approaches the home

One last word on pets. Barking happens, whether its your dog or one that belongs to a neighbor. But you dont need that on the day of your open house. Offering to pay for doggie day care for a neighbors pooch can eliminate the issue and help create the serene setting buyers want.

6. Your dead lawn

Lack of curb appeal wont necessarily kill a deal. In many cases, you wont even get potential buyers to get out of the car. If the front yard is a mess, buyers will naturally think the mess continues inside.

7. A bad agent

Face it. Not all of them are winners. If your agent is: rude, uninformed, lazy, uncommunicative, belligerent, or unwilling to take your opinions into consideration, get a new one. An agent who isnt giving their client the right type of attention probably isnt going to get the job done.

8. Your sloppiness

Those drawers and cabinets you shoved everything into when you cleaned off your kitchen and bathroom cabinets could be a deal breaker for picky buyers. We all know buyers open stuff. They look in drawers, they open cabinets, they examine closets. If these spaces are messy and overstuffed, they may assume theres not enough storage space.

9. Unreasonable sellers

Big problems in your house can be deal killers, but they can also be deal sealers, if you are reasonable. If your inspection uncovers plumbing, electrical, or roofing problems or all three and youre unwilling to negotiate, you can kiss that sale goodbye.

10. Bad Taste

Your poor decorating choices and failure to keep up with trends from this yearor centurymay haunt you when its time to sell. If its true that many buyers have no visionand all you have to do is watch House Hunters and observe a buyer getting hung up on a paint color to know thats truethen you are really in for it with your crowded house full of ugly, outdated crap. A few simple updates can help it to look fresh and give buyers something to fall in love with. Not sure where to start? Check out FrontDoors 15 Updates That Pay Off and HGTVs 10 Best-Kept Secrets For Selling Your Home.

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Updated: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Deducting Interest When You Ar...
Question: I want to buy a condominium unit for my son. Although he makes a ...

How To Get The Most Out Of You...
Almost 5 million refrigerators shipped in the early half of 2014, reports Statista, and with...

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Hyde Midtown - New Pre-construction in Midtown Miami
HYDE Midtown 3401 NE 1 Avenue, Miami, 33137  Hyde Midtown Pricing: $250,000...

Hyde Midtown - Programme Neuf a Miami Midtown
HYDE Midtown 3401 NE 1 Avenue, Miami, 33137  Prix a partir de: $255,000 ($500...

Edgewater - New Building Development
Edgewater 481 NE 29TH Street, Miami About the Residence: 7 Floors and 30 units....

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