Miami Beach Real Estate News

South Beach News

Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2020

Real Estate to LOVE?

Sellers who are considering a move from a home they small-L love to somewhere new theyll big L Love and buyers intent on purchasing a home to Love, can all benefit from asking themselves the same question and taking time to answer it.

What do I want to LOVE about the real estate in my near future? is a great starting question for buyers and sellers.

1. The answer is not me>2. The answer should go beyond the trite I love it expression applied liberally, and often with little thought, to everything from mid-century-modern decor to a stainless steel or marble finish. This over-used phrase is so much part of everyday speech that it has lost its deeper, discerning meaning.
3. The answerto be genuinely valuable in your real estate searchshould include deep feelings about how you want to feel while living in your new home and how this emotional state will enhance valued aspects of your life. The answer lies, not in physical features, but in life>

In short, why have you decided that spending all this money and investing all this time buying real estate is going to be well worth it?

Scientist Louis Pasteur reaches out with a clear view of possible 21st-Century futures that explains why the Love question above is a great place to start for buyers and sellers contemplating their future home.

Pasteurs belief that "Chance favors the prepared mind" can be a rock-solid guide for confident real estate decision making:

Be prepared to act when luck strikes:

Youll find luck appears more often and is easier to act on when you are prepared with >

One source of all this be prepared knowledge and more will be the highly-competent, locally-knowledgeable real estate professionalthe matchmakeryou select to help you act in your own best interest regarding every detail of the search, decision making, and the resulting transaction.

Or, plunge in and tackle the research yourself. Either way, understanding what you are buying and how the >

Be ready to respond quickly when opportunity knocks:

This is not encouragement to act in haste or to jump in before you understand what the property or the transaction involves. Respond quickly means having the confidence not to second-guess yourself after each decision. Buying real estate involves a lot of time-pressured decisions, so getting out of your own way by ending second guessing is an important, solid step forward.

Clarify exactly what life>

Be decisive when fortune calls:

Once youve learned how to quickly and thoroughly research essential elements of a property or have engaged with a real estate professional who can help you achieve this, youre on solid ground. Youll be confident you understand what you are getting intogood, bad, and indifferentbefore you act. This represents a productive mix of practical knowledge like window placement and interior traffic flow and acknowledgment of long-term benefits that matter to you and those youll share the home with.

We are what we think, what we believe. Thats "the box" that can limit our view of what the future might hold. A committed professional can expand your horizon of possibilities. This confidence may lead you to consider a different >

Because each piece of real estate is unique, separating your deep buying intentions from your must-have shopping list will enable you to fully evaluate the potential of a property that may vary from the usual cookie-cutter offering.

Is your buying vision based on trending Instagram photos and videos or current superficial Keeping up with the Jones demands? Or, are you guided by Lovehow you feel about home as a place to belong, share experiences, and gain courage to face the outside world?

The apparent simplicity of using your Love of what the new home will contribute to your life does not mean that identifying emotional connections is necessarily easy for everyone. The level of personal commitment involved in applying the Love criteria to hopes and dreams may require efforts like discussions with family members or some soul searching. Are you prepared to make personal investments like these in your future?

Doing nothing is a decision, too, perhaps not the best one, but a decision to be lived with none the less. Concentrate buying decisions on features like stainless-steel appliances, kitchen islands, and master bedroom ensuites and the result may not be the long-term Love many want and expect when buying a home.

Theres more to consider in PJs articles

Are You Buying For The Right Reasons?

Move-In: Will I Like What I Bought?nbsp;

Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensivenbsp;

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How Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Can Help You Achieve Your Goals and Prioritize Your Life

The emotions raw. And the Mamba Mentality, a persona he created for himself that epitomized his killer instinct on the court, has been brought into fresh focus.nbsp;nbsp;

Kobes un>

But you dont have to be a fan of Kobe or basketball or even sports to appreciate the Mamba Mentality. As ESPN sports personality, Stephen. A Smith, noted during NBA Countdown, it isnt something thats reserved for just basketball players. Or athletes. Its for any human being out there who has a dream.nbsp;

Kobes off-the-court pursuitsin particular his dedication to his four daughters and his many philanthropic efforts that have come to light since his passing, like granting more than 200 Make a Wish requests and making countless unscheduled and unpublicized visits to sick childrenhave resonated with people all over the world. Weve seen a terrific display of anguish and mourning even among those who never knew him and who cant comprehend the audacity of an 81-point game or the willfulness to insist on always being the one to take the last shot, and always assume hed make it. And not because he had the skillwhich he obviously didbut because he had >

If his shocking and untimely death along with eight othersKobes 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; Sarah and Payton Chester; Christina Mauser; and Ara Zobayanhas made you personally reflect on your own life and reevaluate or reprioritize your goals, youre not alone. While the loss is profound, it can inspire change. The Mamba Mentality is something we can all apply to our lives, whether youre looking to become a real estate tycoon, want to safe place for your kids to play and good schools to learn in, are ready to commit to saving more money so you can meet those financial goals, want to climb the ladder in your career or perhaps change careers altogether to something that provides you with more fulfillment, or simply desire to be more present for your family.nbsp;

Put in the work

You dont have to be an elite athlete to bring the Mamba Mentality into your world. Want to buy your first home but dont have the down payment? Work your butt off to get there. Get a second job or a side gig, or stop eating lunch out every day.nbsp;

Not getting your offers accepted? What more could you be doing? Is your agent searching for off-market properties? Have you thought about writing a heartfelt letter to the seller of a home you really want? Do you need to refocus your goals on earning more money or tightening your belt to buy a bigger house? Maybe you need to lower your expectations and buy something smaller.nbsp;

Brett Hagler, the CEO and co-founder of New Story, a San Francisco-based non-profit seeking to end global homelessness, recently re-sharednbsp;a piece he wrote on LinkedIn in 2016 about Kobe, which he titled, Because of 4AM.

The crux of the piece was that Kobe famously made sacrifices for his craft, getting to the gym at an ungodly hour to work on his game while others were sleeping. Because of 4AM came from Kobe when he was on stage accepting the Icon Award at the ESPYS, he wrote. He was addressing fellow athletes:nbsp;Were not on this stage just because of talent or ability, Bryant said. Were up herenbsp;because of 4 a.m. Were up here because of two-a-days or five-a-days. Were up here because we had a dream and let nothing stand in our way. If anything tried to bring us down, we used it to make us stronger.

There are thousands of athletes that had similar or even better talent than Kobe, Hagler continued. Just like there are thousands of executives, leaders, sales managers, artists, musicians, writers, etc. that have the same and more talent than you and me.nbsp;But at the end of the day, it doesnt come down to who has the most talent or intelligence. It comes down to who is willing to make the choices that others are not willing to make.nbsp;Who is willing to shoot baskets in the dark when everyone else is sleeping? Who is willing to prepare more for an interview? Who is willing to practice their speech 10X more than anyone else? All are choices we make. The 4AMs and two-a-days become intentional choices. The hard things over the easy, uncomfortable things become routine. The discipline to put off instant gratification is the standard process.

That was the core of the Mamba Mentality: Simply work harder than everyone else. As Kobe once said, When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure.

Ask yourself what youre willing to sacrifice to get there

How long of a drive to and from work we can endure is often a question we ask ourselves when we are buying a home. In some areas, a commute is inevitable simply because more affordable homes are sparse closer to work centers. But how much is too much?nbsp;

A big home with a yard in the suburbs that comes with a three-hour daily commute may not be preferable to a smaller place closer in that allows you to be home for dinner and tuck-ins every night in light of Kobes death. Its hard not to see the sad irony in the fact that Kobe had made the choice to ride by helicopter to maximize the time he could spend with his family, recounting a time when he had missed a school play because he was stuck in notoriously bad L.A traffic.nbsp;

Focus on small goals

When you have the impetus to make a life change, you can feel compelled to change everything at once. If youre newly focused on saving money for a down payment, perhaps, you can set yourself up for failure by setting an unreasonable goal. Want to be the CEO of your company instead of an assistant? Expecting that to happen in six months can ultimately create disappointment and frustration. Instead, set smaller goals and work hard to meet them.nbsp;

Kobe once said about his return to the game after an injury, Its a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things thatwere taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it.nbsp;

Dont be afraid of missteps

Whatever it is were pursuing, whether were spotlighting our objectives at work, our financial independence, or raising kids, the goal isnt perfection. Its making choices, pivoting when necessary, refining our processes, and always keeping the end goal in mind.nbsp;

If I wanted to implement something new into my game, Id see it and try incorporating it immediately, Kobe said in The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. I wasnt scared of missing, looking bad, or being embarrassed. Thats because I always kept the end result, the long game, in my mind. I always focused on the fact that I had to try something to get it, and once I got it, Id have another tool in my arsenal. If the price was a lot of work and a few missed shots, I was OK with that.

Keep learning

Kobe was notoriously curious and a voracious learner. On his first show back after Kobes death, Jimmy Kimmel told a story about having gifted Kobe with a book; Kobe contacted Jimmy after finishing the book, and had so many questions that Jimmy ended up putting him in touch with the author. Kobe also taught himself how to play Beethovens Moonlight Sonata by ear because he thought it would be nice for his wife. Already fluent in three languages, he was also in the process of learning Cantonese.nbsp;

You dont have to go out and learn a new language, or perfect a masterpiece on the piano. But what can you add to your life, or what can help reach your goals, by employing a learning mentality? Would picking up a new skill make you a more valuable employee at your current job or open you up to more lucrative opportunities elsewhere? Would learning to paint or garden or tile your kitchen backsplash add enjoyment to your life or value to your home? Would learning about different types of loans and programs for things like down payment assistance make it more likely that you could buy your first home? The more you know, the more you can advocate for yourself, the more prepared you are to meet your goals. The more Mamba your Mentality, the more likely your success.

Be a leader

Even those of us who love basketball and are lifetime Laker fans underestimated the impact Kobe had on the game and on other players. The outpouring of grief has been tangible. Turns out that perhaps his greatest legacy is not what he did on the court, but how he inspired others to do and be their best through his example.

Since Kobes retirement, he was fulfilling that role for others, mentoring and acting as a support system to a wide range of people, including the children of his former teammates; Shaquille ONeals son, Shareef, called Kobe Unc and received a text from Kobe the morning of his death. Kobe was also notably promoting womens and girls basketball to the extent that many felt this would be his most important legacy, surpassing even his unbelievable exploits on the court.nbsp;nbsp;

"The most important thing is to try andnbsp;inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do," he said.nbsp;

With your coworkers, your friends, your family, being more and doing more is a choice.nbsp;

Give back

If Kobes untimely death has made you think about what you were putting back into the world, youre not alone. That seems to be a common response, especially in light of all the information coming out about the selfless deeds that he did. If youre looking for a way to channel your grief, or simply achieve more personal fulfillment, think about how to give back.nbsp;

What is it in life that drives you? Are you motivated by making lots of money at your job? Do you enjoy being recognized for your accomplishments? Thats a good start, but think deeper, said author and self-help guru Tony Robbins. Why do you enjoy making money? Is it so you can provide for your family and feel secure? Perhaps you >

A loss can be a turning point, if you channel that grief properly. And it doesnt have to be the loss of someone you knew personally.

Theres a huge sense of loss when people who are young and really excelling in life are stripped away from us out of the blue, Lauren Cook, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Pepperdine University, told NBC News. Its really triggering as its a stark reminder of lifes unpredictability. We tend to go through our days with a sense of normalcy that we can take it for granted. A loss like this is something that humans, who crave homeostasis, find tragically alarming.

The sites recommendation, which is widely shared by experts in grief and loss: The next best thing you can do to cope with this loss once you have fully processed it, is to use it to make you a better person.

Figure out your priorities and make your time count

Kobes dedication to his four daughters and his pride in being a girl dad was increasingly on display after his retirement from the NBA in 2016. Few of us have the financial wherewithal to retire at age 34, but his post-NBA life is a good reminder to focus on whats important.

Kobe was once asked how he wanted to be remembered. His answer: "Ive always said that I wanted to be remembered as a player that didnt waste a moment...didnt waste a day. I felt extremely blessed by the God-given talent but, at the same time, I didnt take it for granted. So if I could be remembered as a person who was born with a lot of talent but did everything he could to try to overachieve and lived every day as if he was the 12th guy on the benchthats a very powerful message to have.

But, he also knew that his time as a player was limited, and that his life goals were much larger than what he could do with a ball. If basketball is the best thing Ive done in my life, then Ive failed, he said.

Thats a lesson for us all.

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Looking to Buy a Home This Year? Credit Score Changes Could Make It More Challenging.

What is the new scoring system?

Fair Isaac Corp., commonly known as FICO, has built anbsp;new suitenbsp;of scoring models that will be available from all three credit reporting agencies Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to lenders by the end of 2020, said Experian. The new models will treat late payments and debt more seve>

Just how could this impact borrowers? Consumers with high FICO scores who continue to manage their finances well may actually see an increase in their scores. This change will create greater separation in the 600s, said Forbes. If you are in the lower 600s and struggling to make payments on time, there is a chance your score can go down further. If you are in the high 600s and making payments on time and trending toward lower debt levels, your score could actually increase.

Joanne Gaskin, vice president of scores and analytics at FICO, told NPR that, About 40 million Americans are likely to see their credit scores drop by 20 points or more, and an equal number should go up by as much.

Whats NOT changing

The fivenbsp;main factorsnbsp;that FICO has long used in its scoring models will remain. They are: payment history, dollar amount owed, age of credit history, credit mix and new credit accounts. However, the new FICO scoring systemnbsp;expands into new territory, with the goal of giving lenders a more precise assessment of your credit risk, said Experian. It considers your trended data.

What is trended data?

Trended data offers a closer look at your financial picture over the last 24 months, specifically focusing on how you have managed your existing accounts. Trended data has not typically been shown to lenders for the purpose of qualifying home buyersuntil now.nbsp;

How will this change impact your score

Those with scores below 600 who continue to miss payments or have blemishes on their credit will see even larger declines in their scores, said REALTOR Magazine. FICOwill soon start more harshly penalizing the scores of consumers who have rising debt levels or who fall behind on loan payments. The company will also flag certain consumers who sign up for personal loans, which is a growing area of debt.

With these new changes, its more important than ever to be diligent about protecting your credit. Would-be homebuyers will want to:

Pay your bills on timeThis has always been important but is even more critical now. Late payments have always been a red flag for lenders, but they may be even more harshly penalized once the new program is in place. Delinquencies will hurt scores more now, said Experian. The impact of late payments is more pronounced than with prior FICOnbsp;Score versions. This means consumers who miss payments are likely to experience a more severe drop in their credit scores under this new model.nbsp;

Pay down credit card balancesAccording to FICO, borrowers should keep revolving debt below 30 of their available credit so that they dont see a larger impact to their credit score, said REALTOR.nbsp;

Get currentPull yournbsp;credit reports and make sure that nothing has fallen through the cracks like a small medical bill, said Forbes.nbsp;Catching up on those payments may show a positive trend.

Avoid personal loans"The scores will weigh personal loans more heavily, the Wall Street Journal reported, in order to penalize borrowers whonbsp;consolidate debt with personal loansnbsp;and then go on to rack up more debt, said MarketWatch.

Dont cancel your credit cards. Closing accounts can actually hurt your score. When it comes to credit cards, it can help to hold on to older accounts for a long time, said NPR. Doing that gives consumers a more established credit history.

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Is It a Trend or a Fad? How to Know the Difference When Updating Your Home

In a macro sense, Anbsp;fadnbsp;is a short-lived phenomenon, fading in a >

As it >

How can you tell between a fad and a trend?

Take the barn door. It started out looking like a fad, merged into a trend, and then became so oversaturated Try finding a flip or renovation on HGTV that didnt have one over the last couple of years that people became tired of them.nbsp;

If youre making changes to your home with the intent of selling, knowing the difference between fads and trends can help inform your design choices.

Paint color

Gray has been the color dujour for, well, more than a jour. If your home needs a fresh coat before you list it, a neutral is the way to go. You just want to make sure you dont go overboard.nbsp;nbsp;

Gray floors, gray walls, gray kitchen cabinets Treating gray as a neutral is something thats starting to feel predictable, Samira Tapia, a Los Angeles-based Realtor with Compass, told Apartment Therapy.nbsp; I specifically have buyers asking me not to send them any all-gray listings.

You also want to be careful about going too bold. You may love blood red or a shade of yellow thats brighter than the sun, but unusual or unpredictable shades may make your home memorable for the wrong reason.nbsp;


Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, busy, bold wallpaper is back in a big way, said HomeLight. Online searches for bold print wallpaper have increased bynbsp;401 in the past year. But heres the thing about wallpaper, dont add it to your home. It can add visual clutter, Janice Rosenberg, anbsp;top performing real estate agent in Raleigh, NC, told them. Buyers are doing their searches on the Internet, and theyre looking at the photos and when they see wallpaper that they dont like in their minds, theyre thinking its going to cost a lot of money and time to get rid of it.


If you are replacing your flooring prior to listing your home, think carefully about what to use. Hardwood can actually help you sell your home, and for a higher price than other materials, but you still wont get every dollar you spend back in most cases. Before you commit to spending thousands of dollars, its a good idea to consult your real estate agent. An experienced agent should be able to guide you to the best options for your flooring and then counsel you on the best colors, plank width, and brands of you do choose to add hardwood.nbsp;

Kitchen finishes

Watch HGTV for more than a few minutes these days and youre probably going to see some fancy gold or brass finishes in the kitchen, and possibly the bathrooms as well. Were filing this under fad, because, even though this type of finish has grown in popularity, youre still unlikely to find them in the majority of homesespecially in more suburban areas. If you live in a hip city with a large, design-savvy millennial buyer base, going with the latest finishes could be a good move. For everyone else, sticking to finishes with more widespread appeal is smart.nbsp;

Kitchen shelving is another important feature to consider. In recent years, open shelving has become quite popular on design shows. But, in real life, it can lack function and create clutterespecially when there is too much of it. Open shelving looks great when done right, but too many open shelves can look unorganized, said Family Handyman.nbsp;Stick to a couple well-organized open shelves mixed in with cabinets.


Outside of finishes, its important to consider the main features of your bathroom. Are you fixing up an outdated space? You might be seeing a number of owners renovating their master bathrooms to include a large walk-in shower, which requires them to ditch the bath. Is this a fad or a trend? Either way, it can be a move that hurts the homes value.nbsp;

Consider your potential buyer before making such a drastic change. If there are a lot of young families in the neighborhood and thats your target buyer, removing the tub in the master bath may end up costing you a sale.

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DIY Management In A Homeowner Association

According to The Owners and Managers Guide to Condominium Management: "For self-management to be successful, unit owners must have plenty of time and experience, and a professional attitude toward their work for the association. For example, the treasurer must understand accounting and be willing to devote a significant amount of time to the maintenance of proper financial records and timely collections. The chair of the landscape committee should have gardening experience so that either a landscape contractor or a gardener can be properly supervised. If the association is fortunate enough to have members who have the three main attributes--talent, time and concern--self-management may be the best choice."

Size of the development is an important factor. Although it should not be the ultimate factor in deciding to self-manage, a sound case can be made for limiting self-management to HOAs of fewer than 10 units with limited common area space and no recreational facilities.

The main advantage of self-management is cost. However, if the motivation for adopting self-management is pu>

From a volunteers point of few, the cost savings only comes because volunteers are doing the work for free. Volunteerism often has a problem with continuity. Todays "house-afire" is tomorrows "burn-out".

The board must consider the legal implications of self-management, since the board itself is liable for its decisions or indecision. The boards responsibility is to both fellow unit owners and the general public. Although many governing documents contain a hold harmless clause that seeks to protect board members from legal repercussions for their actions, this does not prevent their being sued for mismanagement.

Member enthusiasm may be high enough to make self management successful. However, that enthusiasm usually decreases as the demands on volunteers increase. A breakdown in the system can spell disaster for the entire community. Consider the nasty aspects like having to enforce rules or collection on your neighbors. This situation will happen in every HOA at some point. No volunteer should be put in the position of lording over neighbors.

Self managing a homeowner association can work under the right set of circumstances as long as the approach is professional. If it isnt clicking, consider the alternatives that professionals can offer.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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Easy Curb Appeal Updates For 2020

Tidy Up The Yard

You may not have the time or the money to invest in brand new landscaping, but that doesnt mean that you cant make the yard look clean. You can buy mulch in bulk at Home Depot for cheap. Having mulch is the easiest way to transform your yard and make it look neat and fresh. Plant some new flowers in pots placed near your front door, and add a new welcome mat. Finally, Mow the lawn and trim branches.

Clear The Pathways

Its simple enough to get out the hose and spray away all leaves from sidewalks and walkways. Large piles of leaves in the backyard and front can be a turnoff to potential homebuyers because it may make them think that the yard is hard to take care of or that the home is unkempt.

Paint or Power Wash?

Take a walk around your home and inspect the exterior. Do you notice any peeling or chipped paint? It may be time to consider repainting the exterior. Check the walkways, windows, and smaller details that are looking drab. A fast power wash can help transform these areas without costing a fortune. You can easilynbsp;rent a power washernbsp;if you dont have one.

Add Color

Consider updating your front door for a fresh, new look. Add a pop of color by painting your front door if you dont have the funds to update the whole house with a fresh paint. A new entry can return between 75100 of your investment. Follow the above tips for some easy curb appeal fixes tonbsp;sell your home quicklynbsp;in 2020. Good luck

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Save Big by Going Green With These Sustainability Tips

Practicing Sustainable Laundry Habits

When it comes to trimming the electric bills or finding more effective ways to minimize the utility costs, the laundry room is the perfect place to start. Washing with cold water, hanging clothes up to dry rather than using a dryer and making other small changes can often make a big difference. Households that are constantly doing laundry have much to gain by adjusting their habits and finding more sustainable ways to wash their next load.

Upgrading Older Appliances

Curbing utility costs is all about finding devices that are using more power than may be needed in order to get the job done. Outdated appliances are frequently some of the biggest sources of wasted electricity. Swapping out existing appliances for high-efficiency models or replacing older equipment that may be suffering from impaired performance can be well worth the time, effort or cost involved. The installation of roof solar panels or a rainwater collection system may also be beneficial and is an option that those planning an energy audit or home renovation would be wise to consider.

Tracking Down Water Leaks

Tracking down and fixing any leaks within the homes plumbing system is another way that homeowners may be able to reduce their bills. The slow drip of a facet, toilet tanks that constantly refill themselves and other minor issues could all result in water bills that are placing undue stress on the household budget. While extensive repairs and costly installation purchases and installation services may be required to deal with major problems, many minor issues can be resolved using nothing more complicated than a simple screwdriver and a wrench.

Gardening and Growing Fresh Produce

A backyard great way to save on grocery costs while ensuring that fresh produce is never in short supply. Lessening the environmental impact caused by industrial agricultural operations or the emissions created when bringing fresh foods to market may be as simple as setting up an area to garden within the backyard. In addition to being thrifty, gardening can be an enjoyable hobby in its own right, one that can make it much easier for households to enjoy fresh foods without having to worry about the use of pesticides or other chemicals that might otherwise be used during the growing process. Other landscaping additions that may produce some much-needed savings may include xeriscaping to help minimize irrigation or using shrubs and trees to shade the home in order to reduce cooling costs.

Creating a More Sustainable and Cost-effective Home

Unlike other home upgrades that may require no more than an installation, sustainability is an ongoing effort. Homeowners should keep an eye out for any new resources that may allow them to curb their water and energy usage as well as the new technologies and products that can be used to create a more sustainable home without requiring major changes to an established life>
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Home Restoration vs Home Renovation: Their Stark Differences and Their Best Uses

Well, the words home restoration and home renovation are kind of like that in terms of how easy it is to mistake one for the other and even worse, interchange them when you really mean the other word.

In the real estate sector, its common knowledge that different homes require different types of work. There are many aspects that work encompasses. Age, the type of materials to be used, the colors of the house, and even the personal preferences of whomever is getting work done on the house are all factors to consider.

But, as part of common sense, you need to know what you want, and you need to know how to communicate what you want as accurately as possible. Now, when should you ask for a home restoration and when should you ask for a home renovation? Here are some of the key differences:

Home Restoration

To restore a home means to return it to its original state or condition at a particular time period. This is often preferred by homeowners who have a love for the houses history and who seek to retain the original design as much as possible, whether its to pay homage to a time long past, or out of respect for traditions. This is strict in the sense that whichever materials, paints and designs were incorporated in the original structure are going to be used.

Some examples of home restoration projects include, but are not limited to:

Door and window repair

Cabinet restoration

Floor refinishing

Repainting with original color

Home Renovation

On the other hand, a home renovation is performed with the purpose of making the home feel like new. This often means that the existing materials and fixtures are often replaced with new ones, without the restriction that they stick to the houses original design. One may even have a home updated to modern trends if one so chooses.

Some examples of home renovation projects include:

Door and window replacement

Floor redesign or refinishing with different color or texture

Updating or even replacing old rooms

Repainting with a different color

When A Dilemma Isnt Even a Dilemma

Now, you may be wondering which between these two options suits your needs better. Well, Im glad to tell you that theres no dilemma to be had here. It really depends on what you or your house, rather needs. Old houses often need renovations to keep up-to-date with modern trends, while houses that arent exactly in bad shape may only need a restoration. The point here is that it all depends on what the house really needs.

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3 Tips for Buying a House That Will Support Your Lifestyle

You need a home that will conveniently fit your routines, hobbies, and expectations. Whether thats a ranch in the country or a small city townhouse, its up to you to decide if the home will support your life>

Here are three important aspects to consider when determining if a house is a good fit for the life you and your loved ones lead.nbsp;

1. Consider How Your Daily Routine Will Worknbsp;

When you first tour a house thats for sale, what are you thinking about? Are you dreaming of the house parties you could throw and the furniture that would fit perfectly, even if you cant afford it?nbsp;

Try flipping your mindset to a more realistic setting. The majority of the time youre in that house, youll be going about life normally: getting up for work, taking care of kids or pets, cooking, cleaning, and just living.nbsp;

Therefore, the visions you have when preparing to buy a new home should really be about how your average routine will function inside this particular house.nbsp;

Is the house close to the businesses, doctors, offices, and schools youll frequently be visiting? Research has shown that people with short-distance commutes are more >

Do you hate getting up at the crack of dawn to take your lovable pup outside? Make sure your dream house has a fence and perhaps a doggy door - this will make an impact on your everyday life and enjoyment.nbsp;

What about the kids? What do they do on an average day, and how will their activities and necessities be met in the house youre considering? Will they be closed to the things that they do every day, like parks, schools, and friends houses?nbsp;

A house can be beautiful, spacious, and a good price, but if it doesnt have features that will contribute to the ease of your everyday life, it might not be a good overall fit for your family.nbsp;

2. Think About Incorporating Your Hobbiesnbsp;

Speaking of daily activities, it never hurts to think about how your most important hobbies will fit into a new house. Many hobbies take up space, so before you make any commitments, think about where your workshop, exercise room, or arts and crafts area could fit.nbsp;

If youre into woodworking, youll need a safe area with great ventilation and lockable doors if you plan on using sharp tools for your projects. Consult a woodworking guide to get all the details on the tools, process and safety practices you need to know before starting with woodworking.nbsp;

Similarly, if you like to paint, work on cars, or create a real mess, where will your hobby fit into this new house? These arent hobbies you can do just anywhere.nbsp;

Maybe youll decide you need a separate room or shed for your hobby, or perhaps you want to convert half of the garage into a workshop. Regardless, these are things you need to think about while home shopping - not after youve already made the move.nbsp;

Hobbies should be just as much of a priority as the number of bathrooms or the color of the carpet.nbsp;

In the rise of workaholism in America, its more important than ever to actively search for ways to keep hobbies involved in your home life. Hobbies exercise a part of our brain we dont typically use and improve our cognitive functions - dont brush them off when thinking about how a house fits your life>

3. Remember: Your Happiness Doesnt Come from a Homenbsp;

The American Dream would often have us believe that a good job, a content family, and a house with a white picket fence are the necessary ingredients for a happy life - but thats not always true. Owning a McMansion you cant really afford or living in a cramped space to be in a cool city isnt always the right path to a happy life>

Know what the real ingredients to a happy life>

A sense of community and frequent community celebrations
Close friends and family, especially for children
Access and commitment to frequent exercise
Less emphasis on consumerism a big happiness suppressant
The chance to actively help people for about 100 hours a yearnbsp;

Notice that none of those ingredients have anything to do with the size of the house. However, many of them do influence where you live and how you can access support groups, community, activity, and charity.nbsp;

Want to know what actually detracts from your happiness?nbsp;

Paying too much for your living accommodations
Isolation from friends and family
Feeling out of control when it comes to your life> Making choices to impress others, not yourselfnbsp;

As you shop for your dream house, think about aesthetics and design. Consider what you feel about the actual building. Then, before you pull any triggers, ask yourself:

Will this house bring me happiness?
Does it pair well with the real ingredients that will make me and my family feel satisfied?

To Wrap It Upnbsp;

Many Americans about 40 percent say that buying a new home is THE most stressful event in modern life. There are so many aspects to consider - the entire process can be overwhelming and confusing.nbsp;

To make the process easier, focus less on the specifics of the houses youre evaluating and more on the life youll be able to lead once you move into the home you choose. Everything from your commute to your space for hobbies and proximity to friends, family, and community can seriously impact your happiness - dont let those factors be overshadowed by a pretty exterior or five awesome bedrooms.nbsp;


Riley Swanson is a life>
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Divorce, Separation and Home Loans

When two or more people apply for a mortgage to buy a home, each person who will live in the home and on the application agree to be responsible for the mortgage payments. The legal documents signed at the closing table have language that obligates each individual and what can happen if they stop paying. Essentially, non-payment means the lender has the right to take back the home via foreclosure and sell the property to settle the outstanding balance.

Lets look at a scenario where a couple gets married, applies for a mortgage and takes title as joint tenants. They live there, happily, for a few years and then later on the marriage begins to crumble. There are two types of crumbling, a separation and a divorce. There are also two types of separation, a legal and a verbal agreement. Lets consider the verbal agreement first.

As it >

In the meantime, the husband wants to buy another home and get financing on his own. Yet because theres an outstanding mortgage on the first home, his debt ratios are too high to qualify. He explains to the lender that he and his wife are separated and have agreed to split the mortgage payment. Unfortunately for him, that doesnt matter. The mortgage appears on his credit report and he originally agreed to pay it. There are also other debts jointly owned such as a car loan and some credit card debt. Those debts are also legally his. Not just half of them, but all of them.

Now lets look at a legal separation. This is a legal document signed by a judge that lays out who pays for what. Within the document, it clearly states that the wife is responsible for the entire mortgage payment while they will split the additional consumer debt. The husband applies for a mortgage and is told there are some other debts on the credit report that push his debt ratios too high. He provides a copy of his legal separation agreement that states the wife is responsible for the mortgage, not him. But the lender wasnt consulted about such an arrangement and wont let him off the note.nbsp;

A divorce runs much the same manner in most cases. The lender doesnt have any control about someones love life but does have some interest in getting paid each month. The divorce decree clearly states the wife is solely responsible for the mortgage payment, even though the mortgage still appears on his credit report. He is still not >

The wife agrees to pay the entire mortgage each month, but after a while shes having trouble keeping up with the payments. Soon, one of the payments is listed as more than 30 days past the due date. This late payment will also appear on the husbands credit report, even though their agreement states hes not responsible for the mortgage. Again, the lender isnt concerned about the marriage, just getting paid back. The only way to remove the husband from this responsibility is to get him off the note enti>

With real estate and marriage troubles, obviously legal counsel is involved. Just know that unless one party is completely removed from the existing note via a sale or refinance, theres still an obligation to pay.

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How Much Will New Home Upgrades Cost?

If youre thinking of buying a new home, understanding and considering these extra costs is important. Many buyers fall in love with a model home and are disappointed to see that the real home they are buying is full of builder basics, like unimpressive flooring and countertops, and no fancy backsplash or tiled shower. There may not be any grass or landscaping in the backyard or window coverings at all either.nbsp;

Heres what you need to know.

What is included in the base price?

Whats the first thing you do when you get to a new-home community? You tour the model homes, right? And now youre all in love and imagining your furniture sitting atop the wide-plank wood floors in the living room and your kids cozying up to the quartz-covered breakfast bar. Thats when you get hit with a big shock of reality: The model costs 200,000 more than the base price of the house.nbsp;

Can you upgrade for less?

Of course. You may want to replicate that model down to the very last knob and pull, but picking and choosing where to put your money can help you stay within a reasonable budget.

So how much are we talking?

Could be a little, could be a lot. It enti>

In general, everything you add or change will cost you. Individual prices will vary depending on the builder, the home, and the specific finishes they offer, but here are some examples of what to expect:

Wood flooring throughout the entire house could cost between 20,000 and 40,000, depending on the brand and quality.
Upgrading a kitchen could bust your budget. Depending on the builder and community, you could add better appliances, more expensive countertops, a fancy backsplash, and a nicer grade of cabinets. Before you know it, youre looking at the cost of a luxury car.
Adding another bedroom could cost 15,000.
Raising the ceilings? This could be a 10,000 upgrade.
Bathroom upgrades can get also get costly quickly. Want an expanded shower, freestanding tub, and upgraded flooring? Youre likely well over five figures.

Where should I start with my upgrades?

In the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home, the spot where you will spend the majority of your time and make the most memories, said New Home Source. It can never be overly well equipped. Pay special attention to cabinets and appliances, as this is what future buyers will focus on, as well as the tools you will use every day.

Do any builders include upgrades in the base price?

Some do. For example, Lennars Everythings Included EI program includes some of the most popular amenities, such as GE or Electrolux stainless steel, energy-efficient appliances, upgraded polished granite or quartz countertops, and upgraded cabinets and flooring, in the price of the home.nbsp;

Other things you need to know about new-home upgrades:

Youre going to have decisions to make.

Many, many, MANY decisions. Youll need to choose products and colors and finishes for every room and nearly every surface. Sometimes, there will be multiple decisions that need to be made at once. Just selecting your cabinets from among the standard options and colors can be an adventure.nbsp;

Thankfully, many new-home builders today have design centers that are staffed with professionals who can provide guidance.

Upgrades can often be rolled into your mortgage.nbsp;

This makes them seem painless since you dont have to come out of pocket for those wood floors. But it will raise your monthly payment. And, if youre already at the limit of what youre qualified for, or what you feel you can afford, that increase may be problematic.

Its important to consider the value.nbsp;

Are you making smart upgrades that will add value to your home? Obviously, you have to weigh the importance of your personal wants and needs against what the general public might want when its time to sell. Your real estate agent should be able to provide important insight into items that willor will notmake the home attractive to future buyers.

You also want to think about whether you are over-improving for the neighborhood. If you put 100,000 in upgrades into the home, will you ever be able to get that money back out of the home? If your improvements make the home more expensive than any of the other homes in the neighborhood, you may end up losing money down the line.nbsp;

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Promoting Safety and Preventing Property Damage

Regardless of what the law requires, the real estate industry needs to be at the forefront of safety.

Regardless of what the law says about assumption of risk, real estate agents owe it to themselves to do what is right.

They owe it to themselves to maintain the trust they enjoy, the honor they possess, and the referrals they continue to receive. Because all of these things can collapse, because all of these things will collapsewith the speed and finality of a controlled demolitionunless real estate agents and property owners make safety their top priority.

According to Howard P. Lesnik, an injury law expert and member of the New Jersey Association of Justice, the real estate industry can set an example or be an example.nbsp;

That is to say, the industry can lead a campaign for safety or isolate itself as a holdout amidst a campaign to improve safety.

That the choice is obvious does not mean every industry will choose wisely. But I know and work with enough real estate professionals to know this: Real estate agents and developers and property owners are too smart not to take Mr. Lesniks advice. They are too savvy not to listen to a lawyer whose counsel is sound, whose reputation is strong, whose record is solid.

I write these words with the benefit of personal experience, as I also have a law degree.

I write these words with the hope that the real estate industry will advance the cause of safety.

The rewards of this effort would exceed the cost of retrofitting this building or renovating that property, because an industry that protects its clients is an industry that attracts more clients.

People value businesses that defend certain values, despite the lowering of expectations, the erosion of expectations, or a lack of expectations on behalf of the pubic.

If cynicism plagues the public, if the public is cynical about how businesses behave, if businesses do nothing to change the publics attitude toward business in general, safety will worsen and distrust will harden into bedrock.

Such will be the foundation that governs society.

The real estate industry cannot afford to do business in such a society. No business can survive in such a society, where accidents are commonplace and leadership is so uncommon as to seem accidental; an aberration rather than an act of assurance.

Let the real estate industry do the right thing.nbsp;

Let it embrace safety, thereby proving that common sense has more currency than dollars and cents.

Let it put morals ahead of money, and succeed beyond what any accountant can calculate or any chief financial officer can tabulate.

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The Sneaky, Costly Little Secret of FHA Loans

First, a little primer on mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance protects lenders from losing money if you default on the loan, said NerdWallet. Most lenders require private mortgage insurance PMI for conventional loansnbsp;when the home buyer makes a down payment of less than 20. All FHA loans have mortgage insurance, regardless of down payment amount.

Mortgage insurance can cost homebuyers hundreds of dollars per month. The average annual PMI premium typically ranges from .55 percent to 2.25 percent of the original loan amount each year, according to data from Ginnie Mae and the Urban Institute, said Bankrate. With these rates, it means that for a 200,000 mortgage, your PMI can cost between 1,100 and 4,500 each year, or around 91.66 to 375 per month.

In addition, PMI can be cancelled once the home appreciates to a certain level. But FHA mortgage insurance usually remains for the life of the loan.

Getting rid of PMI

So, here youve been paying down your mortgage every month, and you also happen to live in an area where homes are appreciating nicely. Sure would be nice if you could get rid of that PMI. But, short of refinancing to another loan, thats not going to happen.nbsp;

Alternative loans

There are a number of different ways to borrow money without mortgage insurance. The first and most obvious answer is to make a 20 down payment on whatever loan you get. Many loans allow you to use gift or grant funds for your down payment, which could be a solution to getting that 20 together if need be.

Short of a generous benefactor, look into these other loans, which allow you to make a small down payment without paying monthly mortgage insurance.

Bank of Americas Affordable Loan Solution mortgage

This home loan requires just a 3 down payment with no mortgage insurance. Other features include:

Income and loan amount limits, which vary depending on the location of the home
Up to 97 loan-to-value
Loan amounts capped at 510,400 with 3 down payment; You can also make a 5 down payment for a loan amount up to 765,600 with 5 in high-cost areas
Homebuyer education may be required

Flagstar Banks Professional Loan

These loans are for individuals who are very likely to have high earning potential, but have just started in their careers, said The Mortgage Reports. Think doctors, dentists, and lawyers with their own practices. The loan requires no PMI, and very low down payments. As a bonus, student loans could be excluded from debt ratios.nbsp;

In addition to low down payments and no mortgage insurance, details include:

Loan amounts up to 1.5 million
Fixed and adjustable rate options

Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America NACA Best in America Mortgage

The NACA loan is for low-to-moderate income individuals or buyers in underserved communities. In addition to no mortgage interest, this loan offers:

No down payment
No closing costs
Below-market rates
Flexible credit score requirement
Homeownership program required

SoFi 10 down loan

Dont have 20 for a down payment but think you might be able to cobble together 10? This loan might be the answer. SoFis 10 down loan offers:

Loan amounts up to 3 million
PMI required on conforming home loans with a loan-to-value LTV greater than 80, but not on any jumbo home loans
Great credit required

Citis HomeRun Mortgage

This mortgage requires just 3 down and no mortgage insurance, with flexible credit guidelines. In addition, loans are available up to 510,400, and 765,600 in high-cost areas.

Other features of these loans include:

Fixed rates
Interest rates comparable to conventional loan rates
Homeownership education and counseling required

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Jeff Bezos Didn’t Use an Agent to Buy His $165 Million Estate. Here’s Eight Reasons Not to Be Like Jeff

The property is, admittedly, stunning. Geffen reportedly auctioned off about 11 million worth of original furnishings, which he deemed too musty and museum-like, after he purchased the property, said The Los Angeles Times. But he did keep an imported wood floor"said to be the one upon which Napoleon proposed to Josephineas well as the paneled walls supposedly carved by a Chippendale.

Other impressive features, according to Architectural Digest, include a George III>

But 165 million isA LOT. Some real estate leaders have wondered aloud whether he overpaid. Others have mused that you cant put a price on a veritable museum. But what stands out for us is that Bezos and Geffen made the deal without involving real estate agents on either side. Before you start thinking, Well if its good enough for one of the worlds richest men, its good enough for me, check out these xx reasons you should definitely use an agent on your next purchase.

Because you dont have Bezos money

Part of what a good buyers agent does in advising clients is: Find you a home you love, but also one you can comfortably live in and afford. No one wants to be house poor.nbsp;

Theres no worry of that with Bezos, despite the exorbitant price tag. The 165 million is approximately one-eighth of one percent of his 130 billion net worth. A measly little 165 million isnt going to break him. Asnbsp;The Vergenbsp;pointed out, If you make 60,000 a year, thats like spending 75 on a house.

Also, its not the only property he has purchased recently. In addition to the Warner Estate, Bezos recently purchased a 90 million plot of undeveloped Los Angeles land, which he is considering an investment, a source told thenbsp;Wall Street Journal. And last summer, the Amazon chief made headlines when henbsp;purchasednbsp;not one but three Manhattan apartments overlooking Madison Square Park for some 80 million.

Bezos also reportedly owns several condos that overlook NYCs Madison Square Park, a 30,000-acre estate in Medina, WA, a huge ranch in west Texas, and two additional properties in Washington, D.C.

But what happens if you buy too much house? When you dont have billions of dollars as a safety net, you need to know youre in good hands with a professional who has your best interest at heart.

Because you dont have that 165 million in cash

There hasnt been any word on whether Bezos intends to mortgage his new manse, but we doubt it. Not surprisingly, his past purchases have been rumored to be all-cash deals.nbsp;

But it reminds us of a story we love. After L.A.s 924 Bel Air Road sold for 94 million in October 2019a huge cut from the original 250 millionnbsp;list pricethe anonymous buyer turned around and took out anbsp;58.2 million, 10-year loan from HSBC Bank USA, according to property records, said The Business Times. That would make the monthly mortgage payment about 650,000

Carry the nine, multiply that by xand, yeah, the possible mortgage payment on a 165 million home makes our collective heads hurt.

All-cash deals are on the rise among luxury homes, which is hard to comprehend for us regular folks who are just doing the best we can to cobble together a minimum down payment. When your money is on the line, you want to do everything you can to protect yourself. A real estate agent acts as a fiduciary of sorts, with training and expertise that can help give you peace of mind, whether youre spending 165,000 or 165 million.nbsp;

Because you dont have a yacht

I mean, arent all real estate deals made on a 590 million superyacht? Jeff Bezos and David Geffen hammered out the Amazon chiefs record-setting 165 million purchase of Geffens Beverly Hills estate while socializing on the former music moguls famous yacht, the Rising Sun, said The Real Deal.nbsp;

Because you dont want to do your own negotiating

Really, you dont. Check out this article from Inc. that called Bezos and Amazons search for its new HQ2 a master >

Bezos competitiveness and business savvy are legendary. Not that were saying yours dont comparebut, lets be honest. Unless youre a real estate agent or an attorneyor some other type of professional who gets paid to negotiate and/or argue for a living, its just best to leave this to the professionals.nbsp;

Because you dont know what you dont know

You might be far out of your element when it comes to reviewing and understanding the multiple documents involved in a real estate deal, and you should have a thorough understanding of what youre getting into regardless of whether youre buying or selling, said The Balance. Purchase agreements alone can top 10 pages in 2019, not to mention federal, state, and local document requirements.nbsp;

Home buyers may be tempted to purchase without using their own agent in certain circumstances, like if they happen into an open house and talk to the sellers agent or if they are buying new construction. But there are important reasons to work with your own agent in either case.nbsp;

Yes, a sellers agent might be able to work both sides of a deal, but having your own agent better ensures that you have someone in your corner whose priority is getting you the deal you want.nbsp;

Buyers are sometimes unaware that they can work with their own real estate agent when buying a new home. Each development has its own rules, but, in general, the agent must accompany you on your first visit to the community or they will forfeit any available commission. That commission may also be lower than what the agent is accustomed to; this will generally be advertised as a broker co-op or broker participation, with a percentage set by the builder or development.nbsp;

Working with a real estate agent on a new construction home may not yield you a better price; builders are typically >

Because thats just too much house

Seriously, who needs 13,600 square feet on nine acres, with expansive terraces and gardens, two guesthouses, nursery and three hothouses, tennis court, swimming pool, nine-hole golf course and motor court complete with its own service garage and gas pumps, as Architectural Digest puts it. No one. No one NEEDS this. But, clearly, this purchase wasnt about need.

A good real estate agent will su>
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Ask The HOA Expert: Can The Board Modify Architectural Design Policy?

Answer: This kind of policy is generally amendable by the board when its in resolution form a separate document outside the recorded governing documents. If the policy is part of the governing documents, a vote of the members is needed. But even if the board has the authority to amend, it is strongly recommended that proposed amendments be circulated to the members for comment prior to voting to enact them. A 30 day review is not going to make much difference in the long run and members will be more likely to comply when theyve had a chance to be heard.

Question: Does a director of the board have the authority to give a power of attorney to another person to act on his/her behalf?

Answer: No. Directors are elected by the members and cannot give that authority to another person.

Question: We have a board member who argues that damage done to the interior of a condo unit from a roof leak is the responsibility of the homeowner association. I have been telling the board that the HOA is not responsible for the interior damage unless the board does not address the roof leak in a timely manner. Whos right?

Answer: Technically, this board member is correct. When HOAs purchase insurance for the structures, that insurance extends to the units themselves. However, the governing documents often has or the board can establish a requirement for unit owners to carry insurance for their individual units and be the primary insurance in the event of a claim, regardless of the source of the problem kitchen fire, toilet overflowing, flooding from the upstairs unit, sprinkler system leaks leaks through foundation, etc..

This kind of policy is necessary to protect the HOAs insurability. If every unit owner was allowed to file claims against the HOAs insurance, it would not be long before the HOAs insurance would be cancelled due to excessive claims or the premium increased beyond affordability. Spreading the risk out to unit owners keeps the HOAs insurability viable.

Question: What can be done about a board member that slanders another board member? He not only does it at meetings but spreads his accusations around the neighborhood.

Answer: It is inappropriate and divisive for a board member to engage in character assassination. The remaining directors should take action to rein him in in a diplomatic but firm way. The director with the best rapport with him should have a heart to heart with him and explain the damage that is being done. Insist that he keep such personal opinions to himself.

While the board doesnt have the authority to remove a rogue director from the board only the members do, the board can remove a director from his office President, Treasurer, Secretary if he has one. That may be necessary to make the point.

Question: Our HOA has many residents that leave trash receptacles out long after trash pick-up day. It makes the HOA look shoddy. What can we do?

Answer: Most HOAs have a requirement that trash receptacles are only allowed out on pick up day and need to be stored out of sight within 24 hours. This is both reasonable and desirable from a curb appeal standpoint.

Question: Our HOA has a member that is a chronic offender of rules. How should the board deal with this?

Answer: Three special "scofflaw" penalties come to mind: caning, tarring and feathering, and the stock and pillary. But seriously, rules that carry no penalties are useless. If you need a rule, it needs an effective enforcement mechanism in the form of a fine significant enough to get noticed. Scofflaws often refuse to pay fines so failure to pay them must be treated the same way as failure to pay regular HOA fees. Process them through the normal collection process. Eventually, even the most persistent scofflaw will come to understand the price of being a jerk.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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4 Home Security Features to Increase Safety and Peace of Mind

There are a million scenarios like this each year--in fact, 3.7 million of them. Of these 3.7 million homes with break-ins in the United States, only 17 had some sort of security system in place. How safe are you in your home? Do you have any security features in place to protect you and your family in case of a break-in or other emergency?

If you dont feel safe, and if you dont have any security features in your home, these are some features you might want to consider:

1. A security system.

Its been shown that as the number of home security systems increase in an area, the number of home invasions decrease--and not just for homes with systems, but for the whole neighborhood.

When you choose your security system, there are several types to choose from. But its best to purchase a state-of-the-art home security system service where the latest technology is used to allow you to monitor and control your home security from the convenience of your smartphone. A security system not only protects you when there are break-ins, but it also protects your family if there is a fire or medical emergency.

2. Smart locks.

Smart locks allow you keyless entry into your home, allowing you, your family members, and guests easy access when needed. With a phone or other authorized device such as a key fob, smart locks can be unlocked or locked remotely; and using smart home technology, access can be granted or denied for specific time periods.

This is a great security feature since smart locks take away the need to hide spare keys outside or leave a key with a neighbor. You can always look for a home security service that comes with a smart lock option and wholl install it for you. Youll love the convenience and added security of smart locks.

3. Smart lights.

Smart lights, same as with smart locks, can be managed virtually using similar smart home technology. There are several ways you can use your smart lights. One of the most important ways is to take advantage of the feature allowing lights to be turned on or off even when youre away, giving you added security when you cant be there.

Most break-ins occur when youre away from home, so being able to trick would-be-burglars into believing youre home by randomly turning on different lights and turning off others via your phone is a great way to keep your home safer. Its great when you can piggyback smart lights in with a security system that has this feature.

4. Security cameras.

Security cameras are important for several reasons: they help police solve crimes, they actually deter crimes, and they give you peace of mind.

Through smart home technology, you can strategically place security cameras to remotely view areas in and around your home and make sure everything is as it should be; you can even review old video footage when needed.

Security cameras are great features to add to any home, and security system services often have cameras available as part of their home security packages.

You probably know at least one person who has experienced a home invasion of some sort. It may have even been you. When these traumas hit close to home, we realize how important it is to make sure our homes are as secure and protected as they can be. Its better not to wait until something happens to our home, or worse, someone we know and love, before we take precautions. By getting a home security system, smart locks, smart lights, and security cameras, youll have that added peace of mind that youre doing all you can do to ensure the safety of your household.

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Growing Wealth in the Vacation Rental Market: Advice for First-Time Investors

The Right Spot

First, think like a vacationer. You want a place in a beautiful and easily accessible natural setting, with lots to do and see. For many people, that means the beach. For others, it could be a mountainside cabin. Remember, people are looking for an unforgettable experience, a vacation theyll reminisce about for years. That makes the location an important factor.nbsp;

Do your research, as buying in an area where demand is low could leave you with high vacancy rates, which will certainly cut into your profits. When you find a place you like, consider spending a few days there to assess what the place has to offer. Youll want to be able to tell potential guests that theres lots to do and plenty of good places to eat.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

If youre located far away from your vacation home, you may not be able to handle routine maintenance and guest support. In this case, youll likely need to hire a property manager. Many property management companies offer online booking, hire maid services to clean your home in between guests, and provide 24/7 support.nbsp;

Assess Your Financial Situationnbsp;nbsp;

Review your financial picture, paying special attention to your income, debt-to-income DTI ratio, and credit score. Youre basically taking on a second mortgage, and that can be an overwhelming prospect for someone whos not well-positioned financially. Your credit and debt picture will have a lot to do with the kind of loan youre able to secure. A disadvantageous loan will ultimately work against your profit potential. And youll need an adequate cash reserve on hand in case you lose income due to job loss, illness or injury.

Best Loan Options

Conventional loans are often the best option for an investment property because theyre >

Show Lenders an Appealing Financial Picture

Having a plentiful supply of cash is one of the best ways to show lenders youre a good candidate for a loan. As with any real estate purchase, the more you can put down up front, the better the terms you can expect on your loan. An investment property mortgage will require at least a 20 percent down payment approximately half of all vacation property buyers made a down payment of at least 30 percent in 2017. Its an option well worth considering because paying at least 20 percent up front means youll avoid paying private mortgage insurance.nbsp;nbsp;

The Tax Factor

Even an inexperienced investor understands about property taxes and knows to factor it into expenses. However, if youre a first-timer, you may not be familiar with lodging taxes, which are required in many places. In such locations, its the landlords responsibility to collect lodging taxes on the rents they charge. As a landlord, you dont pay lodging tax yourself, but you do have to account for taxes from your guests, so be sure youre charging enough to account for it. A busy landlord may find it difficult to monitor and account for lodging taxes from each guest. Fortunately, there are tax management services that can help.nbsp;

A vacation rental property can be an excellent investment for a novice looking for ways to generate wealth. Growth in the short-term rental market and the desirability of a temporary vacation home rather than a hotel room make it a profitable investment.

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FHA Cash Out Refinancing in 2020

At some point however, homeowners could consider refinancing an existing mortgage. Maybe rates have fallen lower than the rate currently on the note. Thats typically the most common reason refinancing can make sense but there are other reasons. Changing loan terms can also be a valid reason to refinance. Different loan terms simply means shortening or lengthening the life of the loan. A 30 year term will have lower payments than say a 10 year loan, for example.nbsp;

On the flip side, a longer loan term means more interest is paid over the life of the loan. A shorter loan term will mean higher monthly payments over the course of the loan, but the amount of interest paid is significantly less. But once a decision has been made to refinance, there may also be an option to pull out cash as part of the transaction. This is an FHA cash out refinance.

There have been some changes to the FHA refinance program when pulling out cash occurs. These changes implemented late last year changed the limit on how high the new cash out loan can be compared to the current market of the property. The maximum cash out limit is now 80 percent of the value of the property compared to 85 percent previously.nbsp;

Other FHA guidelines for a cash out loan include a minimum credit score of 580 when the loan amount is less than 90 percent of the value of the property but can go as low as 500 when there is more equity in the home. With a cash out refinance, there will be a limit at 80 percent. An FHA cash out loan is also fully documented, just as it was when using an FHA loan to purchase and finance a home.nbsp;nbsp;

Existing FHA loans may also be eligible for a streamline refinance which simply means less documentation is required for an approval. With a cash out FHA loan, there is no such option. Other requirements include verifying there have been zero payments made within the last 12 months more than 30 days past the due date. Owner occupancy is also still required. This requirement can be fulfilled by providing a copy of utility bills going back at least 12 months. Youll need to speak with your individual lender how to comply with this FHA guideline.

Finally, remember that pulling cash out of a property reduces the amount of equity in your home. With an FHA cash out loan, this is partially addressed by limiting how high the loan can be compared to the current market value of the property. Pulling cash out during an FHA refinance should only be a secondary consideration, not a primary one. If converting equity into cash is the primary focus, a home equity loan is probably the better answer.nbsp;

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Growing Wealth in the Vacation...
Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Right Spot

First, think like a vacationer. You want a place in a beautiful and e...
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4 Home Security Features to In...
Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2020

There are a million scenarios like this each year--in fact, 3.7 million of them. Of these 3....
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