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Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hiring a Handyman When Selling Your Home

As you get ready to sell your home, you may discover the need to make numerous repairs and updates. But when do you have the time? Most jobs you can do yourself, but others require a little more skill. Maybe its time to consider hiring a handyman.

According to Angies List, hiring a handyman can prevent waste and overcharging, as the handyman will only charge you for hours worked. Plus they keep their rates low with low overhead and by not having to pay other workers.

A handyman is someone who can handle small painting and carpentry jobs that can be completed quickly. He typically works alone, charges by the hour plus materials, and in some states is required to be licensed and carry insurance.

If you think youre going to more extensive work, you should consider a contractor. A contractor differs from a handyman by taking larger jobs that require going behind walls, or tearing out and rebuilding areas. Contractors supervise specialized tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, and craftsmen.

Before you hire a handyman or a contractor, make a list of the jobs you need done. If your list is composed mostly of repairs and some updating like painting, a handyman should suit your needs.

To hire the right person for the job, do the following:

1. Get recommendations from family, friends, or your real estate professional. She may know an individual or company that specializes in "make-ready," a room-by-room clean-up, touch-up and fix-up. You can also contact sites such as HomeAdvisor or Angies List, to hire workmen.

2. Interview several handymen before making your decision. Make sure the handyman you hire has the experience and equipment to do the jobs you need and is willing to guarantee the work.

3. You want someone youll feel comfortable having around your family and in your home. Hire only personnel who are bonded and insured.

4. Inspect the work while its in progress and when its finished. Most professionals want to do a good job out of pride of workmanship. Handymen also >

What you dont want to do is leave small repairs undone. Home buyers notice if maintenance has been ignored, and may conclude the home is in need of greater repair than it actually does.

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The Other Sphere of Influence: The Power of REALTOR Recommendations

When it comes to real estate, we know agents influence everything from the locations a buyer considers to the type, size, and >

A survey from Campbell Communications and Inside Mortgage Finance Publications "revealed that real estate agents hold sway when it comes to choosing a lender," said The Truth About Mortgage. "In fact, the survey claims 45 of buyer decisions regarding which lender to go with are controlled or influenced by real estate agents."

Larry Vecchio, broker of VRI Homes and founder of Homesin.com, has found this to be true in his East Coast-based real estate practices. "It would make sense that a buyer would approach their trusted real estate agent for counsel on resources like mortgage lenders, inspectors, and insurance agents," he said.

A lively conversation on Zillows advice thread tackled the question of whether a buyer should use the home inspector that was recommended by a clients real estate agent. While opinions were mixed, the common sense response was: If you trust your real estate agent, you should trust their recommendations.

A trusted expert

For many real estate professionals, the trust factor extends beyond industry->

Quicken Loans

"We probably refer three to five things to every client - contractors, oil tanks, cable companies. Even local restaurants we recommend," said Vecchio.

Vecchio established Surf Your Town, with community websites in every town served by his companies that list preferred vendors and allow clients to find recommended businesses ranging from banks to bed amp; breakfasts and carpet cleaners to chiropractors close to home.

"People consider us a community expert, so they ask for recommendations all the time. The percentage who take our recommendations is probably 80 or higher. If they ask us for a referral, theyre at least going to follow up. Thats the trust level weve established within our communities."

Charlotte Observer

Knowledge of the area

Today, building that trust is about service, but its also about knowledge. Moving from one house to another, even if its just next door, could trigger a need to seek out new utilities; people who are moving to another city or state, typically need more guidance in this area. Who better to turn to than their real estate agent, whose job it is - quite literally - to know the ins and outs of the area.

If you think this isnt an important factor for buyers, consider the story of "Seth." This work-from-home software engineer bought a house in Kitsap County, Washington after extensive research into the available Internet in his neighborhood, according to Ars TECHNICA. The story of how he was repeatedly foiled in his attempt to secure said Internet service is maddening, but the bottom line: Unable to get what he needed, Seth chose to sell his new home after just two months.

The upshot for agents is: It pays to be someone whos keyed in to whats available in their target neighborhoods and able to serve their clients as an area expert. Some agents have even had great success by promoting the high-speed services offered at a specific address for a tech-savvy clientele.

The science behind referrals

Referrals are nothing new. Pre-Internet, referrals were one of the main sources consumers had to find an agent, a doctor, a tailor, or a house painter. But the ability to do a Google search and find anything they need in a couple of clicks has not lowered the likelihood that people will follow the referral given to them by a friend, colleague, family member, or real estate agent.

A study on Media Post shows that "59 of people consult friends and family for purchasing decisions - and that, even given a recommendation, they are likely to do further research," said ConversionXL. Tech company Vendasta reports that "more than 88 of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision."

What that means for agents is that clients will ask around when theyre looking for you, and then theyll look to you for whatever else they need. The experience you provide matters, and your influence goes far beyond which neighborhood they should buy in.

Especially if its a neighborhood that doesnt offer high-speed Internet.

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7 Reasons To Run To IKEA Today To Grab New 2017 Catalog Items

Yesterday was basically a national holiday in our house. After days of running to the mailbox with joyful enthusiasm, only to be disappointed by the presence only of bills, 75 Chinese and Italian takeout menus, and assorted other junk mail, it finally came.

The IKEA catalog. Its here. Hallelujah.

So what that basically means is that I did ZERO housework or back-to-school organization after 5pm last night. If it hadnt been for sad puppy eyes and a slight trail of drool left on page 47 of the catalog, I may have also forgotten to feed my animals The beings of the human variety who live here knew they were on their own.

All sense of responsibility goes out the window when the IKEA catalog comes. Cant help it.

Real Simple agrees. "Theres nothing like getting the fresh, new IKEA catalog in August, thumbing through the pages, and bookmarking or tearing out your favorites to bring to the store," they said.

Its not like everything in it was a total surprise. Ive been peeking online for weeks, reading tidbits about this years hot items and why the 2017 catalog is, from a design and content standpoint, a departure from previous years. It reads far more editorial this year, with features on "13 real people around the world" that highlight "how Ikea is connected to the way they live and incorporated into their daily lives," said POPSUGAR. It also includes a recipe for pulled salmon sandwiches umm, no, a companion to its new menu item, the smoked salmon sandwich that gets a starring spot on the very stylized back page no thanks, Ill be sticking to meatballs.

This idea beyond the 2017 catalog is to go beyond cool, inexpensive, put-it-together-yourself stuff, creating "home furnishing solutions that help people to live a life without negative expectations," said Real Simple. "We want people to care less about other peoples opinionsand more about what they want themselves." The Washington Post adds that IKEA welcomes a "more >

OK, sure. Were on board. But, really, we just want to look at the stuff. And we know that many of you dont even want to bother with the whole catalog, so for anyone who doesnt regard it with nearly as much excitement, or who would prefer a Cliff Notes version, were happy to help. Here are a few of the things you should head right on over to the big blue and yellow box to buy.

Were suckers for IKEAs utility carts, and this new one is more of the same good stuff. Priced at 29.99, Sunnersta comes in white. But, truth be told, were picturing two of them side by side in our front hall, spray painted in peacock blue.


The Gladom Tray Table is genius. No, really. This little, powder-coated, metal side table in pale yellow or sage green has a tray that lifts off And its just 29.99, which means we can get a good dozen of them without feeling guilty. The Washington Post likes it too. "A table that is also a tray; a tray thats also a table. I can think of many uses for this flexible metal design."


Everybodys got an awkward corner that just needssomething, right? Well take the Sderhamn Corner Section. How cute is it in baby pink it also comes in turquoise, white, and dark gray? Its durable in microfiber and its affordable at 200.


We love IKEAs rugs for their size and pricing, but this new LOBBAK rug also brings some snazzy design in a herringbone pattern. Because its a flat weave, itll clean up well, and it can also be used outdoors. Best yet: its just 79.99 for the 67" x 82" rug.


Smart storage is one of the main concepts of the 2017 catalog, and the KVISTBRO storage tables are a great option. "Its a table and display case in one Fill this wire-patterned stand with books, blankets or even kids toys for a practical yet pretty storage solution, said Today. "Theres a handle on the top that makes it easy to open."


Yes, thats a kitty cat print. On the curtains. These MATTRAM panels are 24.99 and we need all of them.


We usually veer toward stone countertops, but this BARKABODA Wooden Herringbone Countertop is so pretty, we just might have to make an exception. Its 229, comes prefinished and in a 98" length, and can be cut down to fit your needs.


"This new countertop option is so unique and lovely," said Apartment Therapy. "Adding pattern to your kitchen is totally on trend, but its an especially cool twist to have it be on your counter surface. Finally, it comes in at a price point that would fit into many reno or refresh budgets and has DIY or hack applications beyond the kitchen, too yet looks super luxe. Love"


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New Tech All Homes Will Have By 2020

New technologies are constantly emerging, rendering others obsolete every day. Many of these technologies eventually enter into our homes after being used in businesses or other capacities throughout the world first. Once they show themselves to be useful, people incorporate them into their everyday lives. Here are some technologies that every home will have by 2020.

Light-Transmissive Flooring

LED light emitting flooring can provide safety, informational, and decorational benefits. It can help guide people around the house, leading to exits and safety routes in case of an emergency. It can also enhance the atmosphere of the house, due to the fact that various colors can be used in the floors.

Light transmissive carpet is designed to directly engage with peoples vision and natural tendency to seek light. LED carpeting is conducive with the natural habit of being guided by the floor while moving. This new convenience can keep people from having to find a source of light during the night in order to navigate through their house.

Smart Home Theater

As smartphones are now the norm, smart devices throughout the homes are now expected. In a smart home, all electronic devices and gadgets are able to connect with each other and to the home network to work in unison.

Home theaters will play a large role in a smart homes function, as they will be able to replace sound systems in TVs and gaming consoles, offering a more surround-sound experience. Lessening the number of electronics people need to invest in and having everything done with only a few gadgets is a very attractive concept to people.

Gesture Control

This is the closest that technology seems to be headed in the arena of superpowers. PointSwitch technology, which is already used in businesses, allows the user to control their surroundings with just the point of a finger. You can turn on and off electronics, lamps, alarms, and anything else without having to actually get up and press a button. This works by creating a transparent and touch-friendly space around the user, but at a distance. This will make anything as easy as a point of the finger.

Smart Windows

We will soon be able to bid farewell to the high costs of heating and cooling our homes. With smart windows, its possible to turn the glass from translucent to opague by simply turning a switch or touching a button. Aside from aesthetic purposes, this will also eliminate the need for curtains or window shades. The convenience of smart windows will likely spread throughout homes, saving people money and time as the sunlight changes throughout the day.

Fingerprint Unlocking

If you are like many people, you often lose your keys. Keys will likely become a thing of the past as the fingerprint will now be the new way to unlock homes and cars. While keys can be copied or stolen, fingerprints cannot, so it adds an extra level of security. The registered fingerprints will be easily manageable, letting people adjust who has access to their house at any time.

Communication with Appliances

Perhaps you have been out of town for a while and want to check on the house. You will soon be able to send messages to your house to check on the temperature, activity, and anything going on around it. You may also be able to converse with your appliances, such as your refrigerator, while in the grocery store if you have forgotten your list. Pre-heating ovens can also be done when communicating with appliances, making time less of an issue in the evenings.

By the time 2020 rolls around, many new technologies that are emerging today will be old news. The final goal for new technologies is always convenience for the consumer and aiding in making life a bit more easy.

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7 Real Estate Pitfalls That Could Cost You A Sale

Selling a home has its typical challenges. Maybe the couple across the street just listed their house, which you know has an amazing kitchen while yours is just slightly less so. Maybe values have started to drop a tad. Or maybe youre getting transferred and you have to sell - and find something new in your future city - in what seems like an impossibly short amount of time.

Whatever the circumstances, you want the sale to go as smoothly, and take place as quickly, as possible. So dont do this stuff. Really. Just dont.

1. Dont take your own photos

How important are house photos? Many buyers wont even look at a listing that doesnt have them. Ditto for poorly taken photos that dont adequately show the home. Weve talked before about the National Association of REALTORS NAR survey that showed that homebuyers rate photos as the feature they use most when searching for a home online.

"Home sellers used to count on curb appeal to make a good first impression on potential buyers," said HGTV. "Now, with 80 percent of homebuyers starting their house hunt online, a homes pix appeal, or how good it looks in photos posted on the Internet, is taking over as the top way to impress buyers off the bat."

To put it another way: "Heres a shocker: Most of the listings with bad photos also have wording like price lowered Marked down and Priced to sell in the listingall signs that the phone isnt exactly ringing off the hook," said Adorama. "Could it be that the lousy photos of these properties are turning away potential clients?"

Ugly House Photos

The easy answer: yes.

If you insist on taking pictures yourself, and we really, really recommend you dont unless youre a professional photographer, at least heed some tips. But again, not a good idea. Trust us.

2. Dont try to sell your home by yourself

According to the National Association of REALTORS, 87 of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or brokera number that has been rising consistently since 2001 when it was just 69 percent.

The reason: Homes sold with a Realtor get a higher sales price: "The typical for sale by owner FSBO home sold for 210,000 compared to 249,000 for agent-assisted home sales," said the NAR. Homes listed with a real estate agent also sell weeks earlier than FSBOs.

3. Dont argue with your agent about price

What you feel like you should be able to get for your home. What your neighbors across the street with the updated kitchen and the oversized lot got for their home. These are two things that are ir>


Its your agents job to research the area, the market, recent sales and new listings, and come up with a smart pricing strategy to get your home sold.

If you disagree with the listing price your agent recommends without a legitimate reason like youve found real comparables that werent part of your agents research or listing presentation, there might be trouble brewing.

4. Dont trust Zillow as the word of god

In a nutshell, using Zillow as well as Redfin and Trulia to determine your homes value, is dangerous, because their price estimates are off. And not by a little.

Zillow has copped to being off by 8 on their Zestimates, but that doesnt come close to the L.A. Times report that found Zestimates can be wrong by as much as 61 depending on the house and the location. A recent study found that their average Zestimate is off by 14,000.

5. Dont follow prospective buyers around while theyre touring your house

Buyers hate this, plain and simple. If they have questions, they will ask. Shadowing them will only make them feel uncomfortable, which isnt likely to result in a sale.

6. Dont refuse to negotiate

If theres one thing you can count on during a home sale, its that theres going to be something to negotiate. Even if both parties immediately agree on the sales price, there could be issues that are uncovered during the inspection, or conflict surrounding the close of escrow and move-in dates. Your inflexibility could end up in a cancelled escrow.

Ugly House Photos

7. Dont ignore your agents request to fix up or at least clean your house

Staged homes sell faster and for more money. So do updated homes. But that doesnt mean you have to shell out a bunch of money. Depending on the condition of your home, it could take as little as a good scrub down and a little decluttering to make your house shine.

Your agent will undoubtedly have suggestions to make your house more saleable. Listen to them. Even if its uncomfortable to hear that your house isnt as tidy as it should be or that your dcor >
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Homeowner Happiness And How It Affects You

Owning your own home can be one of the most exciting times of your life. But are you truly happy with your current situation? According to a recent survey by HomeAdvisor, there are a number of different factors that come into play that determine whether someone is happy with their current living situation or not.

Some of the key factors include:

Accessibility -- Homeowners dont want to spend hours having to get from one location to another. They want to be able to get to any important services, attractions and employment opportunities within the shortest amount of time possible. On average, Americans spend about 39 minutes commuting to work.

Community -- People want a diverse place where they can live and work. They also want a neighborhood that is safe so they can raise their family and enjoy spending time outside. Roughly 70 percent of all Americans live in a community where they feel safe. That leaves 30 percent of all individuals living in a community where they dont feel safe.

Dwelling -- Homeowners want a place that is not only affordable, but also comfortable. You want something convenient where you can enjoy spending hours at a time >

With home prices climbing, you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to purchase one that you are going to be happy with. The last thing you want is to end up committing to a home and end up feeling miserable. Even though 62 percent of the population already own their own home, that doesnt mean that they are happy. When you are happy with your purchase, you are going to take pride in your home and make sure it is taken care of at all times.

Is happiness that important?

Happiness matters more than most homeowners realize. It matters so much that the United Nations, Harvard and Gallup have devoted precious resources to better understand what makes homeowners happy. Homeowners should be the happiest where it matters the most, in the comfort of their own home.

Your home is where you form a lasting >

Finding your happy place.

Finding the perfect location for your new home isnt always as simple as you might think. To help you determine your happy spot, there are a few key questions you can ask yourself.

  • Where do you get your coffee in the morning?
  • What is your ideal mode of transportation to work?
  • What do you do when your neighborhood is having a block party?
  • What will your children be doing this summer?
  • What does your ideal home look like?
  • Just how spoiled are your pets?


Youre investing a lot of time and effort in your new home, so you want to make sure its one that you will enjoy for years to come. Investigate your different options and find out which ones work the best for you and your specific needs.

Andrea Davis is the editor for Home Advisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

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Security Deposit Is Not The Last Months Rent

Question: I have been renting an apartment, and my lease will expire at the end of November. I have taken a job out of this area, and expect to begin my new position on November 1 of this year. My landlord has a security deposit which is equivalent to one months rent. Should I pay for November since I will not be living in the apartment? The landlord will not be hurt, since she can use my security deposit for the November rent. Should I discuss the situation with my landlord?

Answer: The landlord-tenant >

However, unfortunately, this is the situation in too many cases. The landlord often presents unreasonable demands, and the tenant counters with his/her own unreasonable requests.

We have to start any landlord discussion with a review of the lease. In every landlord-tenant arrangement, there should be a written document, which is called a "lease." Once it is signed by the landlord or the agent and the tenant, this becomes a legally binding document on all parties who signed it.

Thus, it is important for tenants to thoroughly read and understand the lease before signing. Typically, however, it is my experience that most tenants do not bother to review the lease before it is signed. It is only when a problem arises does the lease begin to be scrutinized, and often that is too late.

The security deposit is an amount of money -- generally one months rent -- which a tenant gives the landlord upon signing of the lease. This deposit -- which in some jurisdictions must be kept by the landlord in an interest-bearing account -- is not to be used for the last months rent. It is used to pay any damages which the tenant may have caused to the property during the tenancy.

Landlord-tenant laws differ all over this country; some are stronger than others. In fact, the landlord-tenant laws in the District of Columbia are considered perhaps the most tenant-friendly in the United States. It is to be noted that this article is addressing residential tenancies; there are different procedures and laws impacting commercial leases.

You have suggested you want your landlord to use your security deposit for the last months rent. I cannot recommend this under any circumstances.

What will happen if the landlord finds damages in your apartment, which were caused by you -- i.e., your movers put a hole in a wall or your dog ripped a screen door? Your monthly rent is 1650 and your security deposit is in the same amount. If it costs the landlord 500 to make the repairs, this leaves the landlord only 1150 to be applied to your November rent.

Thus, your actions may cost the landlord to lose money. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, many landlords are not wealthy individuals, and any monetary loss they incur is significant.

You probably believe your landlord will not spend the time -- or the money -- filing a lawsuit against you for this small amount of money. This may be true. However, the landlord has this right, and one day you may find there is a judgement against you because you failed to appear in court.

More significantly, your landlord can create credit problems for you -- which problems can continue to haunt you for a number of years. The landlord can report your delinquency to credit reporting companies, and any lawsuit which is filed may also be picked up by these credit bureaus.

It is not a pleasant experience to explain to a banker or a department store -- several years after the incident -- why you failed to pay your legal rental obligations.

I cannot recommend you skip your last months payment; it is just not worth the subsequent problems -- and hassles -- you may encounter. Also, assuming you have a conscience, you should recognize that you may have financially hurt another human being.

However, I strongly recommend you discuss the situation immediately with your landlord. He/she may be understanding, and may even be willing to give back your security deposit if the property can be rented out immediately.

The landlord-tenant >
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Surviving Each Other In An HOA

Communication is a lost art in some HOAs due to lack of basic people skills. Board members often get more criticism than praise and then along comes an abusive owner who makes unreasonable demands. But it works both ways. Sometimes its an owner that suffers at the hands of a domineering board.

The term "Communication" has a warm connotation. It denotes a form of fellowship. However, if you believe the media, HOAs are police states with warlord boards. While there is always an element of truth in the stories, they are selected because they arent the norm like Elderly Owner Has Condo Foreclosed but the stories give the impression that such is the norm. Often as not, homeowners with a "my-home-is-my-castle" mentality disregard rules and regulations to challenge the HOA. Boards that are confronted by these challenges can react with defiance. Anger begets defensiveness which invites retreat or counter attack.

Few boards have the ability to communicate "artfully". This art includes reining in outspoken directors, negotiating with vendors, soothing the ruffled feathers of feuding neighbors and enacting rules that invite compliance rather than evoke defiance.

What is communication? According to Webster, communication is "to have or hold intercourse or interchange of thoughts; to give, or give and receive, information, signals or messages in any way, as by talk, gestures, writing, etc." Here are some tips to improve HOA communications:

1. Take a >

2. Learn "active listening", which is actually listening and paying attention when a person is talking to you. This technique doesnt mean that you agree or disagree with what is being said it lets them know that you hear them.

3. Learn how to >

4. Dont form assumptions about right or wrong. If you already have your mind made up, compromise is more difficult.

5. Respond to communications in a business like way and without anger. Ignoring communications from an owner who has an ax to grind often leads to more and stronger demands, and possibly personal attacks.

6. Count to ten. Take a walk, a break or a breather before you react. Answers given in anger ra>

The art of surviving each other in an HOA environment has long term benefits which can help grow neighbors and friendships. This is an art worth perfecting, especially if you are in a position of leadership and authority.

Excerpts from an article by Beth A. Grimm, Esq.

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5 Value-Adding Ideas From The Azores

How special are "brand new ideas" from local big box stores, popular websites, TV shows, and other "follow-us" resources when everyone else uses these same ideas?

If you prefer to lead the pack, rather than follow it, consider gathering out-of-the-box inspiration from somewhere beyond the usual and at the leading edge of practicality: the Azores. Some of their cultural trappings are unique to these Islands and some are variations of European practices with a distinctive Azores twist. Where do you search for inspiration when youre ready for value-adding improvements?

Portugals mid-Atlantic 9-island archipelago was my summer destination for idea-gathering and " a place to think." In this very different context, I collected a wealth of ideas, inspired by the Portugese strong commitment to the land, their long, rich history, and the practical ingenuity required to live in isolation in the middle of the often-fierce Atlantic Ocean.

Until you visit the Azores or a location that challenges your views on what works, Ill share five Island-inspired ideas that represent practical, >

1. Enhance Curb Appeal

If your lawn wanders uneventfully down to the sidewalk, consider adding an outstanding curb-appeal feature that may also keep dogs off your property. Low white stucco walls and hand-crafted black stone walls define roadside property borders for Azores real estate owners, while providing dramatic settings for single plantings like roses, bougainvillaea, and trumpet vine. You could substitute a split rail fence, wrought iron railing, or even a raised bed along the sidewalk for value-adding drama.

2. Accentuate Windows

Do you lust after shutters to jazz up your front windows, but lack the space to hang them? In the Islands, exterior shutters are functional elements, closing to protect windows at night and in storms. North American non-functional, decorative shuttersoften each shutter is not as wide as half the window[]can end up detracting, rather than enhancing. Consider the Portugese painted, stucco, or stone exterior framing of a window in white or a complimentary color. This detailing makes windows appear larger and can add interest to dull brick or frame walls. Which frame shape and color scheme would easily contribute value-adding glam to your home?

3. Whos the Somebody?

Have you seen litter in the street outside your house or in a beautiful natural corner of your neighborhood and wondered, "Why doesnt somebody pick that up?" In the Azores, and Portugal in general, people dont wonder about "somebody," they grab a broom and clean up themselves. Municipal crews sweep streets and sidewalks and property owners pitch in, too. Preserving and protecting the beauty of their communities and islands is vital to residents. Not a bad attitude to emulate.

4. Unique, Affordable Decorative Identifiers

Do you want your home identified by more than its street number? Azulejo roughly pronounced "as-you-lay-joo" are decorative glazed tiles, usually in shades of royal blue or azul, mounted near the front door in celebration of home and of whats depicted in the tiles. In churches and public buildings, azulejo often covers entire rooms and depicts complex scenes like battles. On homes, azulejo may represent >

5. Living It Up on a Budget

I met many very happy Americans and Canadians living in the Azores as I traveled through the islands of So Miguel, Faial, Pico, and Terceira. Most said the same thing: "We came for a visit and fell in love with [our island], so we came back and bought a house/built a home." Not everyone I met had family ties to their island. All were attracted by the natural beauty, diverse locations, strong communities, and affordable life>
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Principal Must Be Told Of Agents Profit

Sometimes real estate agents buy their own listings. That is, having contracted to represent a seller, the agent then decides that he or she would like to purchase that property. Doing so can be a little dicey, but, if handled with care and proper concern for the sellers interests, it can be done. Nothing about it is per se illegal.

But, what about this? Suppose a listing agent has contracted to purchase the property at a price acceptable to the seller, and then, during the course of escrow, the agent contracts to sell that property to a third party at a higher price, i.e. at a profit to the agent, without telling the original seller about the profit. Wouldnt that be ok? After all, the original seller was satisfied with the price he received, so whats the problem?

Well, both the courts and the real estate commissioner have a problem with what we have just described. A reminder of their problem is set forth in a decision by Californias Third District Court of Appeal in the case of Roberts v. Lomanto.

Lomanto had been the leasing agent for a shopping center owned by Roberts. In June of 1997, Roberts decided to sell the property, and he retained Lomanto also to be the listing agent for the sale of the property. Although several letters of intent were submitted, no sale of the property was forthcoming. Then, in October of 1998, Lomanto herself entered into a purchase agreement with Roberts. She told him he could not get more than 11 million for the property, and that was the price they agreed on.

As a result of certain unsatisfied contingencies, the term of the purchase agreement expired. However, in July of 1999, the parties reentered into a second agreement at the same 11 million price. Then, in November of 1999, Lomanto entered into an agreement with Pan Pacific Retail Properties whereby she assigned to Pan Pacific her rights under the purchase agreement. Roberts executed a written agreement to that assignment.

What Lomanto didnt tell Roberts was that, in addition to taking over her position in the 11 million dollar purchase, Pan Pacific also agreed to pay Lomanto an assignment fee of 1.2 million. Which is another way of saying Pan Pacific paid 12.2 million for the shopping center. Escrow closed in December of 1999. Very close to the time of closing, Roberts learned for the first time that Lomanto was receiving an assignment fee, however she refused to tell him the amount.

When Roberts later read in the newspaper that Pan Pacific had effectively paid 12.2 million for the center, he was grieved. So grieved was he that he brought suit in Sacramento County Superior Court. Surprisingly, the Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of Lomanto. Not surprisingly, the court of appeal reversed that ruling.

Central to the appellate courts decision were three points: i A real estate agent owes fiduciary duty to his or her principal, and that duty includes, "the duty of fullest disclosure of all material facts concerning the transaction that might affect the principals decision." ii "If the agent, or a >

Theres nothing illegal about an agent purchasing his or her listing. And theres nothing illegal about making an immediate profit on that purchase, provided that everything has been disclosed and that the principal has given approval.

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

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10 Things You Havent Thought Of Thatll Make Your Move Easier

Moving is one of the most stressful activities there is. Its true - experts put it right up there with getting married - and divorced - and remodeling a house. If youre getting ready to move or are in the process of buying or selling a house, you may have been thinking about the unpacking and the packing and the change of address and turning on utilities. But there may be a few things you havent thought of. These tips can help you make a smooth move.

1. Hook up your cable and internet ASAP

Many utilities require only a phone call to switch them to a new address, but cable/satellite and Internet are a different story. There are a lot of options out there today, but not all of them are necessarily going to be available in your home. Doing the research ahead of time, figuring out whats best for your home, and making any necessary installation appointments as close to your move-in day or even before, if youre us will help ease the transition from one home to the other - especially if you have kids. And dont forget to change your address with Netflix and any other similar services to avoid any interruptions.

2. Find doggy daycare options

Animals dont always adjust to moves so easily. If you need to place them somewhere to minimize the trauma during the actual move and initial unpacking, youll want to do the research and make the arrangements in advance.


3. Pack a box of essentials

And take it with you. Bring anything you think youll need for the first night in your home, and then a few extras in case theres a holdup with your moving truck and your stuff doesnt arrive for a few days. If worse comes to worse and your moving truck doesnt arrive as expected, you want to make sure you have the things you need to get you through at least a few days. Things like:

  • A couple of outfits for everyone for a few days - and dont forget pajamas
  • Towels and toiletries - soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Medications for every member of the family - dont forget about any pet meds you have, too
  • A first aid kit
  • Jewelry and other precious items
  • Chargers
  • Toilet paper and paper towels - youll be glad you remembered
  • Paper plates and plastic cups and silverware
  • Dog food and bowls
  • Dog leashes and beds
  • Checkbooks and credit cards
  • Important papers including taxes, passports, social security cards, etc.

You may also want to bring a cooler filled with sandwich fixings and bottled water, plus some snacks like protein bars and peanut butter and crackers. It might be a day or two before youre able to get to the market, and eating delivery pizza for every meal is going to get old pretty quickly.


4. Think about the kids

A simple deck of cards or a new coloring book and crayons can be lifesavers if you have small kids who are getting bored with all that box carrying.

5. Do your due diligence when it comes to movers

Going with any old mover without checking them out first could end up being a disaster. If youre not loading up a truck and driving your things to your new house yourself, youll want to take a few precautions.

"Get quotes from at least three moving companies, and make sure they do in-home assessments so your quote is as accurate as possible," said HGTV. "Talk to family and friends for recommendations, or get free moving quotes from websites like >

Youll also want to research them online. Sites like Consumer Affairs and MovingScam.com are a good place to start.

Finally, dont forget that moving expenses are tax deductible. "Obtain an IRS Change of Address form, Form 8822, by calling 800 829-1040 or visiting the IRS website. You will be able to download and print form 8822 and most other IRS tax forms; e.g., Form 3903 to help deduct moving expenses," said HGTV.

6. Sign up on Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a great way to network in your new neighborhood for things like babysitters and handymen and garage sales and the aforementioned doggy day care. Signing up when youre moving in will also alert neighbors who may become new friends.

7. Leave the clicker

If its attached to the visor in your car, you may forget and take it with you.

8. Change the locks

You never know who out there could have a copy of your house key. Its a good idea to change the locks before you move in so you dont have to worry that the cousin of the friend of the girlfriend of the guy who used to live in your house has an easy way in.

Always Ready Locksmith

9. Call a cleaning service

Most people clean before they move out, thankfully, but it might not be up to your standards. Plus, theres just something about moving into a freshly cleaned place. If your realty company didnt already take care of a move-in cleaning, youre going to want to.

10. Find a doctor and dentist

If someone gets sick or needs medical attention in your new neighborhood, you want to make sure you know where to take them without having to Google the nearest random doctor. This is another place Nextdoor will come in handy.

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7 Model Home Ideas To Steal For Your Home

You dont have to be in the market for a new home to tour model homes. In fact, model home complexes are a great place to get a few ideas for your existing home. Whether youre looking for ideas to renovate your kitchen and want to see the most current trends, are having a hard time deciding on paint colors and want to see how others are incorporating color into the home, or are simply looking for a little inspiration, you can find it here.

Getting color ideas

Model homes are ra>

1 The color is by and large not used large scale, meaning, all the walls of every room wont typically be painted in bold or bright colors;

2 The main color scheme generally flows from room to room. The shades and placement of color may be different, but there is a coherent look and feel throughout the home that makes it feel finished.

If you want to introduce color without covering every surface, consider these tips from Lennar: "You can add color to a space without painting walls. Pop color with pillows, rugs flowers and artwork. If you do add color to walls, use it sparingly. A painted feature wall can be a great backdrop for a bed or built-in cabinets."


General design inspiration

You may not have thought about putting certain colors together or layering a bunch of patterns in one room or choosing tile that looks like wood instead of real wood... but you will once you see what theyve done in model homes. If youre in a design rut or youre not sure how to take the first step toward modernizing your space, walk through the models. Consider not just what you see, but how you feel in the space. Starting to feel >

Incorporating the newest trends

Looking to redo your kitchen? Touring a model will give you some great ideas about how to handle the layout and materials. It may not have occurred to you to take down your double-height island and continue the counter height the full length, but this is a hot kitchen trend intended to capture the open space feel. Seeing all-white cabinets may inspire you to have your dark wood cabinetry painted, and the quartz counters are sure to inspire you to start researching new countertop options.

Meritage Homes

Treating small spaces

In general, the less crowded a room is, the more airy it will feel. But that doesnt mean leaving it empty. Furniture placement is key to creating a space with form and function. Notice how the office in the room above has just the right amount of furniture. And instead of placing the desk up against the wall, its been floated, which allows the eye to more easily move around and makes the space feel larger.

Getting space planning tips

Model home designers are great at disguising awkward spaces with creative solutions and showcasing spaces with furniture thats to the perfect scale and placed in such a way that it shows the room in its best light. If youve got a weird spot in your home that you dont know what to do with or are having trouble figuring out what furniture to buy or where to put it, studying what theyve done in a few models might help you figure it out.

Styling a guest room

Go stand in the guest room in the model down the street. Simple, clean, and elegant, right? Excited to go home and redo your guest room? Remember three key things: lighting, pared-down accessories, and crisp bedding.


Getting your kids rooms just right

Kids rooms are often some of the most challenging spaces to design, because its a slippery slope between a creative space and a circus room. Model home designers love to theme these spaces or give them some pizazz, and they often get the balance just right.

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Five Ways Big Data Is Changing Real Estate

The term big data is used to refer to very big sets of data that can be analyzed and computed to reveal trends and patterns. These patterns are of particular importance as they >

Big data is useful in many ways from designing of better houses to improving the project management process. Additionally, investors in the industry have found ways to reduce risk in the industry through the use of big data. The following are some of the ways big data has impacted real estate.

Accurate pricing

Practitioners in the real estate sector deal with appraisals often. Appraisals involve a qualified individual going to a piece of real property and determine the value of the asset. Banks use these appraisals while offering loans so as not to avoid awarding loans for a house whose value is less than the amount of the credit.

Over recent times, appraisals have been a tricky business since the value of most estates depends on a ton of factors. Big data has, to a great extent, simplified the process of pricing. The internet does offer much information on how much similar properties are selling for. Big data reduces room for error and omissions. The value of a real asset may also determine the insurance premiums payable by the homeowner. Consequently, insuring a house is necessary.

Any practitioner in the industry will be well advised to embrace the use of data so as to remain top in a changing industry.

Streamlining the financial process

The real estate sector is embracing big data to improve the financial decision-making procedures. Established real estate platforms use risk algorithms to determine the risk scores for a particular region. Real estate platforms can also use big data to analyze a propertys structure and the owners financial well-being. Such information is important in helping commercial real estate professionals make informed decisions.

Financial institutions and investors: determining foreclosure and short-sale changes

Besides the consumer and industry uses of big data, financial institutions such as banks can use data resources to determine if a short sale or foreclosure is worth what an investor may be willing to offer. By keeping data organized institutions use big data to ensure that they do not sell real property at a price lower than the market price. In most cases, banks are rich with knowledge regarding real assets that they demand to earn full equity from the foreclosures and short sales.

Understanding between communities

Data is not only providing information to real estate professionals, but it is also fueling and initiating ways of looking at developments and various community projects. For example, the Hudson project hopes to establish a new bank in Manhattan. Big data fueled this project. From the big data sets, real estate professionals learn what areas are best in terms of provision of health facilities, energy efficiency, and such points.

Trends and models

It is the wish of every investor to know what the property will be worth in the foreseeable future. This is what big data has helped to achieve. Through the use of real estate investor software programs, investors have been able to estimate the future values of some real estates. These predictions, while not enti>

Big data seems to be the fuel for a desirable commercial real estate market.

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Negotiating With Home Sellers

If you dread the negotiating process when buying a home, never fear. Your real estate agent is an experienced negotiator who helps keep the bargaining from becoming emotional and veering off track.

Your agent must know your desires by heart and have quick access to you if a negotiation point needs to be made. Its important to stick to the strategy you and your agent have agreed upon -- showing the seller how strong your offer is.

First, get preapproved for a mortgage loan. That means your mortgage lender has reviewed your credit history and assets, checked employment and income, examined your debt-to-income ratios, and has preapproved you for a certain amount, terms and interest rate so you know exactly how much you can spend.

Being preapproved shows sellers that you are prepared and able to buy. Before you submit an offer, ask your agent to find out more what the seller wants as far as terms. The more your offer matches up with the sellers requests, such as a closing date, the more likely your offer will be accepted.

Find out when the house will be vacated, if any repairs or improvements are planned, and if the seller has any pressure points such as a >

Your agent must also find out if other offers are on the table. Your position is stronger if there are no other offers. The seller may be less likely to bend on price concessions or repairs if there are other offers.

Have your agent pull up the most recent CMA comparable homes recently sold or on the market within a reasonable radius of the home, so you can sculpt your offer price. Be sure that you are comparing apples to apples in terms of updates, size of the home, amenities, location, schools districts, etc.

Once these steps are made, you are ready to write an offer.

Making the offer

Make yourself think like the seller. It helps you anticipate what the seller will accept in price, terms, and other conditions. By considering the sellers position, you will likely create an offer that is either accepted or strongly considered.

Your offer should be clear on the terms, closing dates, repair requests or other conditions the seller needs to meet and it should be accompanied by a letter from your lender that you are preapproved to buy the sellers home. Include a cover letter summarizing your strengths as a buyer in terms of creditworthiness, flexibility in closing, and the strength of the offer.

Dont insult the seller with an offer thats too low or requires too many concessions. The seller may be nostalgic about his or her life in the house and may not like the idea that you want to remodel.

The only thing a seller cant argue with is a strong set of comparables that show the home is overpriced or out of date. These are homes that have sold that are nearby within two blocks and similar in age, size and features. If you can show that a similar home has sold within the last two months for less than the seller is asking, thats good.

Be sure all conditions, repairs, etc. are agreed to in writing. Some sellers may feel that a handshake covers a promise, but its essential to be clear on paper what is expected and when. A sellers promise to paint should be included as an addendum to the contract and include all details, such as primer, exact color and type of paint, how many coats, and when the work will be finished for inspection.

Negotiating after inspections

The offer is negotiated and accepted, the earnest money is at the escrow agents office. Now the inspections occur, and this is where the contract negotiations can break down.

No home is perfect, not even brand-new construction. During the inspection process, the inspector is usually required to tell you about any condition of appliances, heating and cooling systems, roofs, electrical and plumbing systems, etc, and if your future home is up to current city codes.

Sellers are usually not required to bring a house completely up to current local building codes. Negotiate a repair only when a system is unsafe or a major repair is needed to make the system operate effectively.

As long as the seller has a reasonable explanation of what your position is and why, and communication remains open, the seller should have as much desire to make the contract work as you do.

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The Only 3 Things You Need to Land More Leads

Are you tired of the old location-location-location real estate slogan? As far as the buyer is concerned, the old saying still rings true. But for agents, theres a new tune to sing in order to generate more leads and close more sales: exposure-exposure-exposure

Youve probably been working hard on your exposure, but are you doing the smart things that actually attract leads?

1. Get Exposure -- Your listings dont have to be luxury mansions or designer houses to bring in scores of leads. You must know that a quality listing is as much about the presentation as it is about the house, so make sure you showcase it the right way: a good number of high quality, large photos, correct facts about the home with a good description, a list of major features and all that jazz.

Once youre ready to go online, always make sure to put your listings in the right section of your agent website. Buyers search with a certain intent and will use the appropriate filters for their needs. Your website needs to serve your prospects well -- thats the one basic thing you need to know about getting on the exposure express.

2. Get More Exposure -- Get your quality listings on the right consumer portals One very good option is Point2 Homes. This international portal has just smashed a new traffic record of 3.43 million monthly visits in July. It has 18,000 listings browsed every hour and 137 million page views so far in 2016, which translates into a huge potential lead base.

And to make online spreading of your listings even easier, choose an online marketing solution which gives you access to listing syndication. Point2 offers its customers a network of 50 consumer portals in the US and 24 consumer portals in Canada. This means you only enter your listings once and you can distribute them to the largest online marketplaces.

3. Get Even More Exposure -- Now that theyre in tip-top shape and on a great network of consumer portals, you need to make sure your listings stand out. Many portals offer advertising options, but Point2 Homes Featured Ads are a particularly great way to go. With Featured Ads, your listings show up on at the top of searches and are neatly highlighted. You can advertise your agent profile as well, and make prospects see you as the local expert. To get ads on Point2 Homes youll need one of the higher tier memberships. Ads are included in the Professional - 1,000 worth of ads per year, - and the Elite - 6,000 worth of ads per year.

Click Here For More Info.

You might think keeping track of all that is difficult, but your strategy will come together smoothly with the help of an all-in-one solution like the one offered by Point2. Along with all of the exposure brought in by the consumer portal Point2 Homes, you also get a mobile friendly DIY website with integrated social media sharing options, drip e-mail marketing campaigns, built-in Customer >and much more.

Summer is the perfect time to step up your business and the Point2 Summer Sale offers huge discounts - up to 300 OFF complete online marketing solutions. This is a limited time offer and only available by phone, so take advantage of the open door to online real estate stardom and call 888-277-9779 now or click here to find out more.

Point2 is a leading provider of real estate marketing and lead management solutions specially designed for top performing agents and brokers.

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Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2016

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