The study found that, ldquo;Spending on improvements and repairs to the US housing stock continued on an upward trend in 2017, setting a new high of 424 billion. This represents a 10 percent increase from 2015 and more than 50 percent gain from the low in 2010.rdquo; According to their analysis, 22 million homeowners across the country completed at least one home improvement project in 2017, the last year studied.
ldquo;The report, which charted changes in home renovation activity through 2017, attributed part of the increase to a shortage of new construction and a >
The primary ldquo;spendersrdquo; are spread among three main sources: Homeowners using surging equity to make improvements; others playing catch-up on deferred maintenance and much-needed updates; and ldquo;a significant increase in spending by rental property owners,rdquo; they said. It should be noted, however, that owner-occupied homes made up the largest segment of the remodeling market, ldquo;accounting for fully 55 percent of total expenditures in 2017.rdquo; Not surprisingly, the average spend was higher in places where price appreciation was the most robust.nbsp;
A fourth driver is the aging population, ldquo;given that households age 55 and over not only have higher homeownership rates, but many also have the resources to pay for renovations and replacements,rdquo; they said.nbsp;
The average expenditure on home improvement was rather modest; 40 percent of participants reported spending a total of less than 2,500, and almost 75 spent less than 10,000. ldquo;Even so, owners that completed large projects accounted for a significant share of the 233 billion homeowner improvement market in 2017,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Indeed, owners spending 50,000 or more contributed a third of national improvement outlays, while owners spending at least 25,000 contributed over half.rdquo;
Most popular home improvement categories
From a historical standpoint, homeowners typically allocate about 40 of their total expenditures on replacements and upgrades. In this study, the percentage was higher.nbsp;
ldquo;Coming out of the last downturn, however, the replacement share climbed to almost 50 percent, where it has remained,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The growing focus on interior and exterior replacements and system upgrades likely reflects necessary investments deferred during the recession. The aging of the housing stock is also a factor. With homebuilding activity still below historical averages, the median age of owner-occupied homes nationally rose to 39 years in 2017, up from 32 years in 2007 and 29 years in 1997.rdquo;nbsp;
Homeownersrsquo; desire for increased energy efficiency also plays a role. The report shows that ldquo;many common replacement projects are also directly >
Most common improvements
The most common project in 2017 was adding/replacing flooring, with 5.2 million homeowners, or 7 percent, reporting. The other most common projects included:
bull;nbsp;Adding or replacing plumbing fixturesnbsp;
bull;nbsp;New windows or doors
bull;nbsp;Built-in dishwashers or garbage disposals
bull;nbsp;New water heaters
ldquo;Nearly 1 in 4 homeowners had some type of replacement project in 2017 to update home components or systems, compared to 9 percent of owners making improvements to their lot or yard such as driveways or walkways, fencing or walls, sheds, landscaping, etc. and 8 percent making discretionary improvements including kitchen and bathroom remodeling, room additions, and porches or decks,rdquo; they said.
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Real estate agents should champion these facts.nbsp;
Real estate agents should apprise clients of these facts, so as to reveal how real estate appraisers consider these facts.
On a practical level, homeowners should invest in technology that is as substantive as it is stylish. To distinguish between the twomdash;to know the two are not always the samemdash;is to invest in those things people want and need.nbsp;
For example: Rather than buying an appliance that is expensive but no better than the cheapest product on the market, rather than wasting an egregious sum on an everyday itemmdash;something people use every day, for years if not decadesmdash;it pays to look beyond how a product looks and feels.nbsp;
Forget the logo, the badge, and the emblem. Put aside the symbols of wealth, including the status symbols that have no currency among the wise and frugal, because a homebuyer is in the market for real estate, not products worthy of a high-end estate sale.
The homebuyer has an eye for value, not personal validation.nbsp;
The real estate agent, in turn, has particularly good eyesight. He sees what others do not notice; she notices what others may never see, that a costly appliance does not justify the advertised cost of a home, that the cost of an appliance does not always reduce the costmdash;in food and powermdash;of running a home, that less costly products match or exceed the features of the costliest appliance.
Take, for instance, Fridge Eye: a durable, rechargeable via USB-C, water-resistant camera that transform a refrigerator or cupboard into a smart appliance. Install the camera and download the Fridge Eye app, and streamline food shopping instantly.
I mention Fridge Eye not to tout a product, but to promote a way to shop and live more productively. I mention this fact to change the facts, because the average U.S. family throws out about 2,275 in food annually.
We cannot afford such decadence. We cannot sustain so much waste amidst so much squalor. We cannot continue to fill our stomachs and starve our souls.
We can, however, assuage our concerns.nbsp;
If we concern ourselves with saving lives by saving money, if we have more money to feed the hungry and help the homeless, if we have the intelligence to know and the strength to do, if we have the smarts to apply ourselves, there will be no question about the value of smart appliances.
The expense is minimal, the total expenditure minor, the benefit of maximum importance.
The future awaits us.
Full Story >
Scary but true: there were more than 50,000 emergency visits for injuries from falls on stairs in Ontario in 2015, according to Ontario Injury Compass, which analyses and discusses injury issues in the province.
ldquo;In B.C., stairs were involved in approximately 8.2 per cent of all hospitalizations for fall->
And it gets worse: a 2011-2015 B.C. Vital Statistics report says, ldquo;On average, 38 people are killed every year in B.C. by falling on stairs.rdquo;
Whorsquo;s at risk? The young and the old are most prone to stair->
Whether itrsquo;s a long flight of stairs or just a step or two, falls happen.
There are three main contributing factors to why people fall on or from stairs. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC says they are environmental factors such as poor design, construction and maintenance; health factors, for example loss of balance, weakness or vision problems; and behavioural factors including wearing unsuitable footwear or carrying something that obstructs vision when using the stairs.
How do you prevent stair->
- Experts recommend removing reading glasses when travelling up or down stairs. They also recommend caution when wearing bifocals or progressive eyeglasses.
- Install handrails. CMHC says occupational therapists recommend handrails be installed on all staircases, even if they have three steps or less. Have at least one handrail. Two is even better. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says, ldquo;You should be able to run your hand smoothly along the entire length without having to adjust your grip.rdquo;
- Use handrails: Neglecting to use your handrails defeats the purpose of having them. Teach children to navigate stairs using the handrail so they can learn good habits early.
- Proper lighting is crucial, especially for people with vision problems. Having a light switch at the top and bottom means stairs can be well lit whether a user is travelling up or down.
- Make sure the edges of the steps are visible. CMHC recommends painting a contrasting colour on the edges of wooden or concrete steps, or on the top and bottom steps. Special strips that can enhance the visibility of each step are also recommended.
- Wearing proper footwear helps reduce the chance of falling on the stairs. Heels may get caught on the edge of a step, says the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. ldquo;Such mishaps are a routine cause of twisted ankles, sprained knees or more serious injuries incurred by a total fall.rdquo; Slippers that are loose or slip-on footwear is also not recommended.
- Pay attention when yoursquo;re using the stairs. This is especially important when yoursquo;re not familiar with the stairs or the staircase has uneven or narrower steps, such as those on a circular staircase.
- Rubber, metal or slip-resistant paint can help reduce the slipping risk.
- Make sure your stairs are in good repair and ensure stair treads are non-slip and are properly fastened.
- Consult an occupational therapist for advice about changes that can be made to the home to reduce the risk of falling on stairs, CMHC says.nbsp;ldquo;Simple modifications can be made to increase the safety of stairs, for example, adding a second handrail or installing visual contrast strips at the edge of stairs for easier visual detection.rdquo;
- Use baby safety gates at the top and bottom to keep very young children off of the stairs.
- Ensure stairs are kept clear of clutter and other tripping hazards.
- Do not carry bulky objects that block your vision.
- If yoursquo;re building or renovating a home, ensure stairs are built to code, with uniform steps. Handrails should be on both sides and continue one foot past the top and the bottom of the staircase, according to Fall Prevention Programming, a book by V. Scott.
- If stairs are too much of a challenge, install a stair lift or elevator.
- The majority of stairway falls result from a loss of balance, so be aware and take precautions.
- Experts also suggest removing loose carpets or throw rugs from the stairway landing.
The World Health Organization says falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injuries worldwide after road traffic crashes.
ldquo;Prevention starts by keeping in mind that there are risks in using stairs. Good planning and simple strategies can help prevent falls and injuries,rdquo; says CMHC.
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But is there a cap? Do we just want to see and watch and read about murder, or does it go further? How do you feel about buying a house where a murder was committed?
Thatrsquo;s the question new mobile streaming platformnbsp;Quibi is posing. When the platform launches in April 2020, it will offer a new show featuring renovations of some of the countryrsquo;s most ldquo;infamousrdquo; homes. The show will partner builders and decorators with forensic specialists and spiritual healers, with the goal of transforming both the ldquo;homersquo;s physical appearance but also its spiritual energy,rdquo; said Inman. ldquo;Are you a fan ofnbsp;fixer-upper shows,nbsp;haunted or otherwise creepynbsp;houses and true crime TV? Then you will love the latest home renovation show:nbsp;Murder House Flip. ldquo;Thinknbsp;Flip or Flop, with a sordid, and in some cases, paranormal, twist.
Over the years, there have been many stories of people buying ldquo;murder houses,rdquo; perhaps out of morbid curiosity, but also because, well, you might just be able to find a bargain.nbsp;
ldquo;Homes where a high-profile crime or murder occurred can sell for as much as 10-25 under market ratemdash;an enticing invitation for intrepid bargain hunters,rdquo; said The Hustle. ldquo;The mere presence of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmerrsquo;s Milwaukee apartment building depressed the value of surrounding homes for years, until a community development group bought it at a premium just to demolish it.rdquo;
In 2016, tech entrepreneur Braden Pollock purchased the ldquo;Los Feliz Murder Mansion,rdquo; where Dr. Harold Pe>
Most recently, Zac Bagans, actor, author, and host of the Travel Channelrsquo;s Ghost Adventures, purchased the Charles Manson murder housemdash;the luxury L.A. residence where Lenonbsp;andnbsp;Rosemary LaBianca were slaughtered by Mansonrsquo;s followers in 1969.
ldquo;Its unclear if the house is haunted, or filled with energy from the brutal murders, but Bagans is ready to find out,rdquo; said Newsweek. ldquo;He shared a story of dogs disappearing from the property, and said that past tenants have been spooked silly by seeming paranormal encounters. This isnt Bagans first interaction with objects or places >
Bagans may take his interest to a more detailed level than the average American, but we predict hersquo;ll be in good company watching Murder House Flip when it premieres next year.
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Replace the Windows
Poorly insulated, drafty, or cheap windows can bring down the value of a home like nothing else. Todays discerning home buyers expect double or triple pane windows with elements like Argon gas, low-e coatings, and all the other elements that make good-quality windows look good and function well. According to money.com, homeowners who replace the windows in their homes get a 73 return on investment when they end up selling their home.
Replace the Roof
A damaged or faulty roof is one of the biggest reasons that homeowners have to hand over money to buyers during the buying process. Inspections frequently turn up issues with cracked shingles, holes, old tiles and all the other roof damage that can put your house at risk. A faulty roof not only makes the outside of the house look bad, but it also raises the risk for damage inside your house.
Do a Minor Bathroom Renovation
Bathroom renos can often take quite a bit of money. If you dont have a lot of money, you can still do a renovation that not only looks good but offers a great return on your investment. Doing something like replacing old, dingy tile or adding a new bathtub can completely change how the bathroom looks. If your tile floor has seen better days, consider replacing it with high-end vinyl flooring or adding a heating element. With small changes like these, you could see as much as a 100 return on your investment when you sell, making these moves a good choice.
Do a Little Kitchen Reno as Well
The same way that a small bathroom renovation can make a huge difference is the same way that a small kitchen renovation can make a huge difference. Like a bathroom, a full kitchen reno can cost well over 100,000, something that you may or may not have. If you have it, go for it. If you dont have it, you can still make small changes that will make a huge difference and how your kitchen is perceived by buyers. When we say "small kitchen renovation", were talking about things like replacing the cabinet doors, replacing the apron on a farmhouse sink or redoing your countertops. One of the easiest things that you can do that will make it look like you have a brand new kitchen is to replace your sink and faucet. Simply upgrading those two elements can create a visual transformation that is a sight to behold. Small changes like these can result in a more that 80 return on investment, according to Nerdwallet.
Replace Your Front Door
Theres nothing like a shabby, broken-down front door to negatively influence a potential buyers opinion of your home. No matter how good the inside of your house looks, that shabby front door will always be the first impression. The buyer may even go so far as to assume that because the front door is shabby, the rest of the home is secretly shabby, even if it looks good Its in your best interest to replace that front door as soon as you can. Buying a good front door will not only make your home look good, but it will give you as much as an 85 return on investment, according to Consumer Affairs.
By following the above home reno tips, youll not only be enjoying the way your home looks. Youll also feel confident that youve increased the value of your home as well.
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Herersquo;s what to do financially when yoursquo;ve decided to stop renting and start owning.
Yoursquo;re still sort of in the exploratory phase but yoursquo;re still committed on buying your first home. Yet buying a home isnrsquo;t something you should do on your own, especially as it >
Now itrsquo;s time to get some referrals for financing. You can get them from your selected real estate agent, friends and family or your financial planner or CPA if you have one. Once you make your choice about where yoursquo;re going to get your first mortgage, yoursquo;ll then speak with your loan officer over the phone or at the place of business. This is the prequalification stage. After a >
Itrsquo;s getting closer. But now itrsquo;s time to submit a loan application to your loan officer. Most often this is done online but your loan officer might offer to come to your home or place of business and take the loan application face to face. Yoursquo;ll sign a list of documents, most importantly your loan application and authorization forms allowing the lender to inquire about your employment and credit history. Your loan officer will electronically submit your application to an automated underwriting system which will, within a matter of moments, provide a list of items needed to get your loan to the full approval state. You will then have a preapproval letter in hand. Itrsquo;s time to submit copies of your pay check stubs, bank statements and tax returns if needed.
Your loan officer told you not to make any sudden changes about your work, employment or make any >
By now yoursquo;ve likely looked at your fair share of homes and you may very well be in a position to make an offer. You should always keep in close contact with your loan officer as well. Interest rates move over time and itrsquo;s possible that rates have gone up which effectively lowers the amount you can qualify for. Conversely, rates may have gone down and your buying power received a boost.
Yoursquo;ve found a home. Wheels begin to spin rather quickly after the contract has been signed. Your lender will need an appraisal and many lenders ask for money to pay for an appraisal upfront. Your loan will be reviewed one more time and any expired documentation will need to be updated. Credit documents such as a credit report, pay stubs and bank statements need to be no more than 30 days old when itrsquo;s time to fund the mortgage. Once your loan has received full approval and yoursquo;ve met all your loan conditions, loan papers are orders. At your closing, you will sign a host of closing documents and have your down payment if needed and closing cost money wired to the settlement agent. After signing, the lender does one more review of your file, making sure all the documents have been properly signed. Yoursquo;re now a first time home owner.
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Find Out How Much You Should Save
Many potential first time home buyers do not know how much they need to save in order to pay for a home. Now is the time to find out. In general, mortgage lenders expect all buyers to have at least ten percent in savings. A good mortgage will typically account for no more than a third of the buyers take home income. Its also important to keep in mind that lenders also do not want to see that youre carrying much debt. Now is the time to think about how to accomplish other goals such as paying off any credit card debt and student loans.
Think About Your Time Frame
Buying a first home can take time. Its good to start the process of thinking about it right now. Set up a short time and long term time frame. The short term should include thinking about your present housing situation and where it may fall short. Over the long term, it should include looking at potential neighborhoods in person. Stroll areas that appeal to you directly. Go to open houses and see whats on offer. Open houses let you see houses directly and examine them from attic to basement in great detail. Know where you want to be six months from now, a year from now and five years out.
Create a Streamlined Budget
Now is the time to create a streamlined budget. You can still travel now and then, however, its also important to pay close attention to all the little details that will add up over time. Avoid spending money you dont need. Make coffee at home rather than buying it on the way to work. Buying items like toilet paper in bulk can save money. The same is true of other changes. Put off buying that second car. Continue using your current model. Think about using public transportation to get to work or take a walk there and save on the fares.
Bank Any Windfall
If theres an unexpected windfall, its best to bank it rather than spend it. If you file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, take the money thats being deposited in your account and keep it right there. The same is true of any and all raises as well as an inheritance, a bonus check or any other funds that are not needed right now. Designate them as part of your home down payment plan by putting them into a separate account designed solely for this purpose.
While working hard and saving money for a down payment are good, keep in mind that life may have other plans. You may face other bills such as car payments, health issues or a sudden layoff. Its crucial to have an emergency fund on hand that youve built up in advance. This will make sure you can meet such expenses with ease. Any sudden financial issue should also not push you away from your ultimate goal. Your goal is to keep saving up enough money for the kind of first home youd like to live in going forward.
Taking the long view is crucial. Saving up enough money for a first home can take lots of time. You should never lose sight of what youll get in turn. Youll have a first home where you can set down roots and enjoy life.
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Use Less Electricity
One of the easiest ways to lower your carbon output is to use less electricity. You can easily start by turning off lights when youre not in a room and unplugging devices when you are not using them. You may think that turning off your devices is enough, but electronics like your television still use electricity even when switched off. You can also save power by running your air conditioner and heater less and hanging your clothes on the line instead of using the dryer.
Use Solar Power
If you really want to use less electricity, consider installing solar panels. These panels can drastically reduce the amount of electricity you use. While there is a cost associated with solar panels, you will eventually save money on your electric bill. You can also easily learn how to clean solar panels, so upkeep is minimal.
Reduce the Amount of Meat You Eat - or Go Vegetarian
The meat industry produces more carbon emissions than any other industry, so reducing the amount of meat you eat can help to lower your carbon footprint. Red meat is the worst offender, so if you are not ready to give up all meat for good, consider eating less red meat and you will still make an impact.
Walk When You Can
Fossil fuels are another major cause of carbon dioxide emissions, so the less you can drive, the better. If you live close enough to your work, shopping and restaurants, it is easy for you to walk or ride your bike. As an added benefit, you will be getting in some extra exercise while you are helping the environment. For those times you have to use a car, make sure your car is well-maintained with proper oil changes and tires with the right amount of air pressure. A well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. If you are in the market for a new car, consider an electric car or a hybrid.
Use Less Water
Using less water is important for many reasons. It can reduce your carbon footprint, and, as water is a finite resource, it is important to conserve it. There are many ways that you can conserve water. Avoid watering your lawn, take shorter showers and turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Surprisingly, using your dishwasher actually uses less water than washing dishes in the sink.
Create Less Waste
There are many ways to avoid waste in your everyday life. Look for ways to reuse things you may throw away, such as cardboard boxes. Use fabric bags instead of paper or plastic bags to carry your shopping. Try to avoid buying large amounts of "stuff" that you do not need. When possible, buy items that are used.
Plant a Garden
The agriculture industry has a huge carbon footprint. By growing your own food, you can help reduce carbon emissions. Growing your own fruits and vegetables has the added benefit of encouraging you to eat healthier. If growing a garden is not an option for you, you can still make an impact by buying foods that are locally grown.
Climate change and global warming are important issues that we as a society must address. While you may think that as an individual there is little you can do to help or make a difference, if everyone would follow the simple steps listed above, we could greatly reduce carbon emissions and help slow down global warming.
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1. Notify the Post Office and the Bank
The first thing that you should do is make sure that you contact the post office and make sure that theyrsquo;re aware of the change. All you have to do for this is fill out a change-of-address form. Head into the closest Post Office and fill out the form. Then, call your banks and make them aware of the change as well. This would mean that you should also change your billing address for credit cards and for any online shipping like Amazon.
2. Switch Your Utilities and Services
Step two is just as easy. After yoursquo;ve taken care of the important things with the Post Office and the bank, call your utilities to let them know that yoursquo;ve switched addresses. This will stop you from receiving any bills from your old address which is important if yoursquo;re renting it out and ensure that you are receiving the bills for your current address. If you had any pest control services, lawn care, or any other service performed on your old home, give them a call and make sure that they know yoursquo;ve moved. Hopefully, they can still service in your new area and the change will be quick and easy.
3. Make Sure Yoursquo;re Safe
Once most of the finances are taken care of, itrsquo;s time to make sure that yoursquo;re as safe as possible. If yoursquo;re buying a home from someone else, itrsquo;s possible that they still have copies of the keys used for the house. To be safe, contact a locksmith and get all of the keys remade and changed. Change all the codes for the home and garage as well. Then, head inside and make sure that all of the safety features of the home are working. This means checking the Carbon Monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers. It doesnrsquo;t hurt to hire someone to come out to double check the home for mold or termites either this should have been done before the house was put up for sale.
4. Fulfill Promises to Your Family
Things are going to feel weird in the new home for a couple days. The fastest way to move in and get settled is by making the home feel like itrsquo;s really home. If there was anything that you sacrificed to the get the new home, make plans with your family to get it. For example, if all your kids wanted was a new pool but the house didnrsquo;t have one, create a financial plan to get there and think it out step by step. Start by researching for a company that does custom pools in nbsp;your city.. Then, work with the company to create a financial plan to put in the pool. In order to help your children best adjust to the idea of moving to a new place, make sure that yoursquo;re honest with them the entire process.
5. Review the HOA Rules
If yoursquo;ve purchased a home in an HOA area, make sure that you review the rules a few extra times. Hopefully, you already know what to expect from your HOA, but reviewing the rules will help ease any stress while yoursquo;re figuring out the area. The Home Owners Association usually has very strict rules for what you can and canrsquo;t have outside in the area. They can also be strict about the upkeep of a property and the >
After yoursquo;ve taken care of the important things, go ahead and do the fun steps. Go out and meet your neighbors, explore the area, decorate the inside of the home, and >
Full Story >
Yes, for some people, there is no greater motivator to move to a city than whether or not therersquo;s an NFL team to root for, and the chances of them actually ending up in the Super Bowl. Now that the new NFL season has started, wersquo;re taking a look at the best places to live for football fans.nbsp;
We used WalletHubrsquo;s study of the Best and Worst Cities for Football Fans, which compared more than the 240 U.S. cities with at least one professional football team or college, but that didnrsquo;t rate on our list across 21 key metrics, as our base. Then we weaved in some additional info about each of the top 4 cities on their list. Is one of these cities a touchdown? Depends on what yoursquo;re looking for.nbsp;
No. 1 Pittsburgh
WalletHub has Pittsburgh at the top of their list. The city came in third for their best-performing team metric, was fourth for most accessible stadium, and tied with Green Bay for most engaged fans. ldquo;The six Super Bowl titles for the Steelers are the most for any NFL franchise,rdquo; said CheatSheet. A list of the teamrsquo;snbsp;greatestnbsp;players includes a fair share of the NFLrsquo;s best all-time players. Throw in the devotednbsp;fans,rdquo; and itrsquo;s no wonder Pittsburgh leads the pack.
So is this a great place to move? Livability thinks so. They ranked the city No. 8 on their new list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America. ldquo;The Burgh scored high in the studyrsquo;s economy category, as well as infrastructure,rdquo; said CBS Pittsburgh. ldquo;Editors also say that Pittsburgh has seen an influx of young people and tech companies in recent yearshellip;with local universities including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh driving innovation and nurturing talent. Editors also talked about Pittsburghrsquo;s climate, home values, brewers, dream jobs and weather.rdquo;
No. 2 Boston
Not surprisingly, Boston is at the top of WalletHubrsquo;s best-performing NFL city list, and is ranked No. 3 for the most engaged NFL fans. ldquo;Boston College and Boston University play football within the city limits, and Harvard plays just across the Charles River in Cambridge,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;But college football isnrsquo;t why Boston makes the list. It has a little something to do with the New England Patriots and their five Super Bowl titles. Those [six] championships and the legions of fans who live and die with the Patriots will keep Boston high on the list of top football towns for a long time to come.rdquo;
U.S. News amp; World Report has Boston ranked No. 27 on its national list ofnbsp;Best Places to Live and No. 25 innbsp;Best Places to Retire. ldquo;Boston often feels like a small town with all the perks of city life,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The metro area features a diverse culinary scene, access to the cultural institutions, and proximity to world->
The downside? ldquo;Boston is a notoriously expensive metro area. If you are looking to purchase a home in Boston, prices can vary drastically based on the neighborhood, though they tend to be higher than the national median.rdquo;
No. 3 Green Baynbsp;
This city has fervent fans, as evidenced by their No. 1 ranking in a tie for most engaged fans in the WalletHub study. Green Bay also ranked first for most accessible stadium. ldquo;The Green Bay Packers are the No. 1 reason people in northern Wisconsin leave the house in autumn and early winter,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;OK, that might be stretching the truth, but not by much. At least the team givesnbsp;Packers fansnbsp;something worth watching. Their topnbsp;quarterbacksnbsp;are among the best to ever play the game. The team has four Super Bowl titles, and itrsquo;s always a contender to win another one.rdquo;
Green Bayrsquo;s median household income is a bit higher than the state and U.S. median, but rising home prices have taken a bite out of affordability. Prices are up in the hot Green Bay market by more than 15 over last year, and many homes get multiple offers and sell for over asking price. Still, the average sales price is only 190,000mdash;significantly more attainable than homes in other parts of the country.
No. 4 Dallas
Dallas has five Super Bowl titles and a loud and proud legion of fans across the country and around the world. WalletHub has the city ranked as the No. 4 best-performing NFL team. ldquo;Theyrsquo;re called Americarsquo;s Team for a reason, and the Super Bowls have something to do with it,rdquo; said CheatSheet. ldquo;Theyrsquo;ve been better at crushing fansrsquo;nbsp;dreamsnbsp;recently, but their legacy of success makes Dallas a great football city.
Dallas has been growing at a rapid rate for several years and shows no sign of slowing. The job market is strong, and, while home prices have risen alongside population gains, transplants from places like New York, California, Seattle, or Chicago will be surprised at the >
Full Story >
Social security is a given. You can apply for social security up to three months before you turn 62. However, if you wait until 65 your monthly social security income will be higher. There are arguments on both sides as when to take social security, so itrsquo;s important that you have a discussion with your spouse and financial planner. And yes, social security income is considered taxable income.
Dividend income and interest come from savings and retirement accounts. Therersquo;s a special section on the loan application labeled ldquo;Interest and Dividend.rdquo; As it >
Borrowers will need to provide the last two years of federal income tax returns showing the amount of interest income received during that time frame. Lenders will average those two years together and then divide by 24 months to arrive at a qualifying amount. At the same time, lenders must also make a general determination that the interest income will continue into the future. Itrsquo;s a judgment call but lenders typically want to be assured the income will continue for at least three years. Borrowers may also be asked to provide copies of statements from these accounts showing the account balances issuing interest as well as the terms of the amounts being paid. Itrsquo;s important to show that the accounts providingnbsp;interest payments are sizable enough to make these payments without directly withdrawing from the account balance. This would reduce monthly interest income.
Dividend payments are a bit trickier because they may not come on a regular enough basis where borrowers can use the dividend payments to service debt and monthly expenses. If a dividend payment comes once per year, it wonrsquo;t be available year-round for debt service. For dividend payments that come quarterly, it can be assumed the funds will be available to help pay the bills in retirement. As with any other type of income, there needs to be at least a two-year history of receiving it and the lender makes an internal determination the income will continue into the future for at least three years.
A 401k account will also pay dividends. Borrowers should be prepared to fully document the terms and payouts of a 401k account, when the borrowers expect to withdraw funds from the retirement account and if there are enough funds available to help service any type of monthly debt.
In essence, any income outside of social security needs to have a history prove the likelihood of continuance well into the future. Even though someone is receiving some type of retirement income, therersquo;s the possibility it canrsquo;t be counted toward qualifying income. For this, yoursquo;ll need to speak directly with an experienced loan officer.
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Soft wash pressure washing dramatically improves the overall curb appeal of your home. Safely yet adequately cleaning away dirt, mold, mildew, and other debris will make your property look brand new. You dont have to stick with just your homes exterior either. Pressure washing decks, patios, driveways, walkways, fencing, roofing, and everything else you can see is a guaranteed way to increase your property value and sell your home faster.
Power Washing Makes Your Home Stand Out Against the Rest
Chances are, there are several homes for sale in the city or town that you live in. When people start talking with a realtor to find their next home, they will explore all of the properties within the area they have an interest in. By having a professional pressure washing company come in and properly clean away years of dirt and other blemishes, your property will look like it was just resided or had a fresh paint job.nbsp;
The draw for you is that its a lot less expensive than actually completing one of the more significant projects. You might think that your homes exterior needs to be replaced because youve been looking at all the problem areas for so long. However, you might be surprised to find out that what you thought needed to be updated only needed a proper power washing.
Someone cruising around looking at houses for sale will notice whether or not your property has been taken care of. People want to have the feeling that theyre getting something brand new even if it isnt. Pressure washing your home gives the look and feel of a just-built home for a fraction of the cost.
Step out into the street or drive by your house and take a look at it in its current condition. Is it something that you would get a good first impression looking at? If you havent had power washing done within the past year or so, the answer is likely no. Get it pressure washed by a trusted company, and you might find yourself reconsidering even selling it in the first place because it will look so stunning.
Going Beyond Pressure Washing Your House
When you think of pressure washing your house, do you only think about siding, shutters, and maybe windows? While thats what plenty of homeowners will have done regularly by a power washing company, there are so many more options that are going to work in your favor.
A pressure washing company that has the proper tools, equipment, and experience will be able to offer you other cleaning services for your home pre-sale that will make it look even better. Some of the other features you should think about having professionally power washed include:
This information was given to us by a local Michigan pressure washing company called ProClean Pressure Washing West Bloomfield. The more dirt, mold, debris, salt, algae, and other blemishes you can wash away, the more attractive your house will be to those driving by. Its a small investment that you can make now. It comes with a high probability youll get a 100 return on your initial cost because of how great your house looks.
Power Washing Before Inspection
Unless someone walks up and offers you an all-cash payment for your home, you will be seeing a lending house inspector at some point during the sale process. Banks and mortgage companies have to go out to the location to ensure the money they are borrowing to a homeowner is worth it.nbsp;
By having your professional power washing done before the inspector gets there, it will cut down on the amount of time it takes them to go over your property thoroughly. Not only that, but they will be able to easily see that the siding, roof, windows, and other surfaces that have been washed are in good condition.nbsp;
When there is dirt or debris stuck to these areas, they have to take the time to do a closer inspection. If you want to sell quickly without a lot of questions being asked, professional power washing is one of the most effective ways to reach that goal.
Power Wash the Outside to Improve the Inside
Experts suggest that serious homebuyers are more attracted to homes that have an open and well-lit interior. Before you power wash your home, you might not even realize that the natural light that was once coming in has been obstructed. Time passes, and dirt and grime on the windows and the rest of your homes exterior build up.nbsp;
After you have your favorite pressure washing company show up and do the cleaning of your homes exterior, the interior will shine a lot more brightly. The debris that was blocking the sunlight from coming in has been blasted away. Afterward, youre left with a much cleaner and fresher environment that buyers look for.
Well-Maintained Homes Sell Faster
People dont want to buy someone elses problem. If you lived in your house for 20 years and never took care of the power washing of the roof, siding, or other surfaces, expect buyers to keep driving on by. They dont want to have to do everything that you neglected for so long to get their new house livable.nbsp;
After pressure washing is complete, your home instantly looks like its been taken care of. Even if you didnt replace the windows or fix the roof, just by it being cleaner, the problem areas arent as noticeable. People that see a clean house on the outside will automatically believe that everything on the inside was taken care of the way it was supposed to be as well.
There are people out there that look for homes that need a little bit of work so that they can get it at a lower price. If you arent worried about how much money youll get for the sale of your home, then go ahead and sell it as-is. If you want to get the most out of your investment, then proper professional power washing is a no-brainer.nbsp;
Make sure to request pressure cleaning of your siding, windows, roof, gutters, driveway, sidewalks, and other surfaces when you call a power washing company near you. It will increase your chances of getting that higher asking price faster.
Nate Knebl of ProClean Pressure Washing West Bloomfield has been offering his wide range of exterior cleaning services through Michigan for over 15 years. Over the years he has earned himself a 5 star reputation and consistently gets referrals from clients looking for his spotless cleans. He stays in touch with the industry and is always on the cutting edge.
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Wersquo;re looking at five of the most popular projects to determine whether you can have at it or you should turn it over to the pros.
The cost to install new wood floors can range widely, and is largely dependent on the cost of the product itself. HomeAdvisor estimates the cost of installation at 3ndash;8 per square foot; You can save thousands by installing it yourself, but it can be challengingnbsp;
ldquo;Installing wood or wood-like floors can range from a fairly easy DIY project to one that requires a good bit of carpentry and finishing skills,rdquo; said Todayrsquo;s Homeowner.
Truth be told, installation is hard on the knees, hard on the back, tedious, and seemingly never-endingmdash;and also incredibly satisfying if you pull it off. ldquo;Flooring is one of the most popular home improvement projects because itrsquo;s a way to transform the look and feel of the home without spending a fortune,rdquo; Dan DiClerico, home expert at renovations website HomeAdvisor, told Money. ldquo;Wersquo;ve seen the project really take off in the age of open-floor plans in contemporary homes.rdquo;
Be sure to invest in good products, good tools, and take breaks as needed to keep your bodymdash;and your mental statemdash;in a good place.
A sparkly chandelier over the dining table, some new pendants that illuminate the kitchen islandmdash;the right lighting can make a huge difference in how your house looks and feels. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of lighting to make a space look fresher or give it some personality. But, while wersquo;re all about picking out the good stuff, we donrsquo;t mess around with anything that can electrocute us. If you have basic wiring skills and feel confident that you wonrsquo;t set the house on fire while installing a new sconce, have at it. This post will give you some good info.nbsp;
For the rest of us, count on an hourly rate of ldquo;40 to 100 per hour with a 75 service call-out fee,rdquo; said HomeGuide. ldquo;Small electrical projects range from 141 to 419 with most homeowners spending 280 on average. Project and hourly rates depend on thenbsp;electriciansnbsp;experience level and the type of work.rdquo;
New plumbing fixtures
Plumbing is the other thing we donrsquo;t mess with. Wersquo;re happy to pay a professional to do the job right. But for those in the know, the savings over hiring a plumber can be well worth it. Adding a shiny new sink and faucet to a kitchen can give the whole space a lift. Ditto in the bathrooms, where changing out a shower head and faucets can make it appear that the space has been updated.nbsp;
Expect to pay a plumber ldquo;from 175 to 450 for a typical job with the average costnbsp;per hour ranging from 45 to 200,rdquo; said HomeAdvisor.nbsp;
Replacing windows and doors
New windows and doors can add curb appeal, improve energy efficiency, and provide pretty good ROI while theyrsquo;re at it. For most people, however, this is a professional job. ldquo;Window replacement is a bigger job than most homeowners may expect,rdquo; said The Spruce. ldquo;Window installers, after all, replace windows every day of their life; what is difficult for the DIYer is rote for them.rdquo; In addition, ldquo;it is difficult for homeowners to buy their own replacement windows for self-installation.
According to HomeAdvisor, ldquo;labor will runnbsp;150 to 800 per window,rdquo; so the savings can be substantial. If you want to take a chance, there is some good how-to info here, and Window E-Store is a good place to start looking for windows.nbsp;
Painting your kitchen cabinets
Weve talked a whole lot about painting kitchen cabinetsmdash;because itrsquo;s one of homeowners most-wanted renovations. The cost of hiring a professional can make the project price prohibitive; yoursquo;re looking at several thousands of dollars to get a fine finish. Scrimp on someone without the experience, or who isnrsquo;t going to do all the prep or skip steps, and you might save a few bucks, but you might also end up with drips, cracks, peeling paint, or all of the above.nbsp;nbsp;
That having been said, painting your own cabinets is a tremendous undertaking. It will test your patience, your resolve, and maybe even your marriage. So consider this one carefully.nbsp;
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ldquo;The world we live in today is a digital one and searching for a home is no different,rdquo; they said. Buyers now have apps that let them search by location and neighborhoods. Online searching maximizes the ability to compare and contrast homes on the market by selected features. Most of this is done before a potential home buyer connects with a real estate agent. In the Real Estate in a Digital Age report, we examine the process home buyers go through in the initial online search and how REALTORSreg; are connecting with customers in the digital space.rdquo;
Wersquo;re running through some of the most important data points in the NAR report.
Are your properties showing up online?
The wider the net you cast with property listings, the better. Homebuyers search first for properties online a whopping 44 of the time.nbsp;
Social media more important than ever
Whatrsquo;s your Facebook page looking like? Do you even have a business page on the social media site? Have you mastered Instagram or are you still writing it off as unimportant to your target market? You may be surprised. On the report under ldquo;top tech tools that give the highest quality leads,rdquo; social media was the leader by far, at 44. Coming in second was MLS site at 32, followed by the brokeragersquo;s website at 29.
Is your website mobile optimized?
It isnrsquo;t enough to have a great website if it only works on desktop. The majority of buyers today are using their mobile device to search for homes, across all demographics. The NAR Infographic showed that, ldquo;81 of Older Millennials, 80 ofnbsp;Younger Millennials and 78 of Generation Xnbsp;found their home on a mobile device compared to 68 of Younger Boomers.rdquo;nbsp;
Itrsquo;s no surprise that buyers want to see pictures of listings, but the percentage of buyers who made this the most valuable feature about online properties in the report was compelling: 87. No. 2 was detailed property information, and No. 3 might be surprising: floorplans. Realtors may have an opportunity to set themselves apart by showing property floorplans along with the other identifying information in online listings.nbsp;
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If you donrsquo;t have children, but you and your partner share the solid conviction that your lives will revolve around children in the near future, consider buying a home as if you now have children.
Thenbsp; ldquo;2019 Moving With Kidsrdquo; Report, >
How would pretending to yourself that you already have children change how you approach your home search
According to the ldquo;Moving Withrdquo; Report, having children impacts buying decisions in many ways. Even before you have children, you may benefit from buying as if you do, for instance:
bull; The Importance of Neighborhood
Fifty-three percent of buyers who have children evaluate neighborhoods based on the quality of school districts. Half of these buyers select a neighborhood based on the convenience to schools. The value and spirit of a neighborhood revolves around its schools, so yoursquo;d buy into the heart of the neighborhood from the start. Yoursquo;ll benefit on resale as properties near preferred schools usually carry higher market values.
bull; Home Size
Buyers with children, tended to purchase ldquo;larger homes of 2,110 square feet in size with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.rdquo; If you buy a slightly larger home now, yoursquo;ll save the cost and inconvenience of moving again when the children arrive. In the meantime, the extra rooms could be used as a home office, a workroom, a distribution center for your online business, or short-term Airbnb rentals to generate more income. Use this additional income to pay down your mortgage more quickly and benefit financially in many ways.
bull; Limitations >
Twenty-six percent of buyers with children, reported the financial pressure of child-care expenses delayed home buying. This ongoing financial burden necessitated compromises regarding ldquo;the condition and size of the home, followed by price, lot size, and >
Savvy buyers with children look at a potential home purchase and ask themselves and their real estate professional, ldquo;Why might we want to sell this home in the future?rdquo; That is, what location or design factors might challenge a growing family in the future?
bull; If keeping children within the same school district and community throughout their schooling is a vital concern, the feasibility of long-term ownership should be considered before you buy.
bull; If a move in the future would be practical or preferred for a variety of reasons, the home may only need to suit the children during their early years.
The ldquo;Moving Withrdquo; Report revealed that 24 percent of owners with children under 18 sold because their home was too small. Other reasons for selling included job >
bull; Almost a quarter of buyers with children reportedly sold their home ldquo;very urgently,rdquo; compared to 14 percent of child-less buyers.
bull; Twenty-one percent of sellers with children requested help from their real estate professional to sell within a specific timeframe, 20 percent wanted skilled input to price their home, and 19 percent needed assistance with marketing the home to potential buyers.
With your real estate professional, review what typical buyers with children seek out in the areas yoursquo;re searching. How are the differences between those choices and your ldquo;no children nowrdquo; search significant to your overall results, financial and otherwise?
The benefits of buying now with your family in mind versus buying something smaller now and then selling and buying a larger property before the children start school, may include cost savings, convenience, and minimized disruption.
bull; In some areas, real estate prices rise steadily, so what you can afford today may be out of reach in three or four years.
bull; The sale of a home and purchase of a new one within a few years of the initial buy may be an expensive alternative if the value of the current home has not appreciated much and the next homersquo;s value has gone up significantly.
These are all very couple-specific decisions:
bull; Use the stats to get you thinking not to restrict your search.
bull; Your real estate professional will help you thoroughly investigate your options.
bull; Your vision of your future and your sense of >
You may want to read more on this subject to clarify the differences between your ldquo;pre-childrenrdquo; thinking and what yoursquo;ll be considering soon regarding full-on family-home purchasing. The buyer profiles in NARs Buyer Bios: Profiles of Recent Home Buyers and Sellers may spark some interesting discussions.
More Savvy Buyer articles by PJ Wade:
bull; ldquo;Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensiverdquo;
bull; ldquo;Home Buyers: Seven Insights Into Confident Decision Makingrdquo;
bull; ldquo;Three Things Home Buyers Should Never Dordquo;
Full Story >
Therersquo;s some initial interest, a couple of ldquo;lowballrdquo; offers that border as an insult, but they pay little attention to them. Theyrsquo;re just going to wait. They hire a professional house cleaner to perform a thorough cleaning. They pay some money to stage the home and also pay for a storage unit to house the furniture the stager didnrsquo;t like. A month passes, then the phone calls stop coming in. Two months go by and now itrsquo;s heading into the third month. The homeowners scratch their heads a little bit and decide theyrsquo;re not going to get what they need, so they decide to go ahead and refinance their current mortgage and at least get their monthly payments down. But there now may be a problem.
When a lender accepts an application for a home loan, the research wheel will begin to turn. An appraisal will be ordered. The appraiser will take the appraisal order and start looking for homes in the area that have recently sold and how long it took to sell the homes. The appraiser will also note which homes in the area have been listed and make note of that on the appraisal. This can mean the subject property pops up on the MLS. A mortgage company wonrsquo;t be all that excited about approving a refinance application in this scenario. Why?
The primary reason is cost. Cost to the lender. There is enough overhead a mortgage company goes through that it can mean the lender wonrsquo;t start to see some profit from the interest on the new loan until maybe two years have passed. Otherwise, approving a short term loan becomes an expense, not profit. If a lender reviews an application and sees the property was recently taken off the market, there will be some explaining to do. The loan application wonrsquo;t automatically be declined, but it can make it more difficult to get the lender to ldquo;yes.rdquo;
Why did the home not sell? Is the current real estate market softening? If the markets come back soon, will the owners decide once again to sell the property, retiring the note? The owners in this situation will be asked to provide an explanation letter assuring the potential lender that they have permanently changed their mind and selling is out of the picture. Maybe the owner just wanted to get their toes in the water and see what type of activity could be generated. In any scenario, taking a home off the MLS then immediately applying for a refinance might be more difficult than first imagined.
The difference is whether or not the owner intends to keep the property. If the owners can convince the lender it was essentially a ldquo;toes in the waterrdquo; thing, it most likely wonrsquo;t be an issue. But what if it is? Then itrsquo;s probably best to sit back a few months and wait. And just maybe the owners might decide to stay after all, and the lenders can >
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Before you decide on a method of energy conservation, look at your energy bill to see your monthly usage usually in kilowatt hours. Often times, energy companies and government agencies will provide tips to help you use less energy. One of the improvements for which energy companies and even the government just might be willing to provide incentives has to do with that great ball of fire in the sky.
Sleek Solar panels
Solar panels save you money and help the environment by producing energy plus, they are usually tax deductible. You can purchase solar panels in different forms. For example, you can opt for the traditional panels, or go sleek with glass roof tiles. Even though the former is a mark of onersquo;s intent to help the planet, the roof tile solar panels are less conspicuous because they blend with the roof. Energy production is not the only way you can save on your heating bill. A common household upgrade can sometimes let in more than the sunlight.
One of the more common ways a home can lose heat is through its windows. If you do not use the proper insulation and/or you do not have the right type of window, heat escapes, and cold air gets in. On average, 30 percent of a homersquo;s heat is lost through windows. You can either install energy efficient windows, or you can opt for less expensive options, such as window dressings. Curtains, drapes, or blinds can help reduce heat loss through the window by acting as a sort of stylish insulation. The utilization of another element of the Earth in our everyday lives can also be reduced.nbsp;nbsp;
Inconspicuous Water Heaters
Water heaters are normally large and hidden away in dank, dark basements. They store the water and heat it up giving us our hot water for dishes and showers. Instead of reheating stored water, tankless water heaters heat only the water you use. Their smaller sizes allow them to be placed in more accessible areas. You would no longer have to waste energy on standby heat loss when keeping unused water hot. To reduce overall usage, you can reduce it in smaller areas first.
Neater Space Heaters
Space heaters are no longer the open flame disasters-in-waiting appliances of the past. Smaller models today not only heat more space, but their heat sources are not exposed. Plus, they do not look like space heaters. Many are ceramic, making aesthetically pleasing shapes, sizes, and colors that can blend into any decor. You can still ask such questions as How much electricity does a space heater usersquo;, but there are compact sized units that use low kilowatt hours that heat sizeable areas.
There are many ways you can be energy conscious. Solar panels, windows, tankless water heaters, and space heaters are prime examples of methods of energy reduction and production. They can also fit into anyonersquo;s >
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Before you give in to that universal itch, here are 5 things that you should know before you start improving and repairing your home.
Have a Plan
One of the worst things to happen in terms of home improvement is starting a renovation project without any major details of how itrsquo;s supposed to gomdash; design, materials, time and costmdash; be as realistic as you can from the start.
Nothing will cost more than having second thoughts like changing your tile choice or moving an appliance somewhere else. Consider using design tools to conceptualize your home improvement project and add a healthy buffer of 10 ndash; 15 percent on top of that to your final budget and renovation time to account for those inevitable surprises.
Be Realistic About Your Timeline And Get Ready For Inconveniences
Although you have a plan, know that it will usually take longer than expected. Thus you need to be prepared to make adjustments to avoid any frustration.
Also, if yoursquo;re planning a major renovation, you will likely be inconvenienced. You will not be able to use the rooms while the project is ongoing. Consider how you will manage without those facilities as well as the time of the year and how uncomfortable you might be during the project.
Expect The Unexpected
All homes hold dirty secretsmdash; under the floor, in the walls, behind your appliances, everywhere. And a home renovation can bring those secrets to light. For instance, when moving the fridge aside, you might notice a leak of some sort or weird noises coming from it which will need to be repaired before you start.
You can either troubleshoot it yourself or have repair servicesnbsp;do the hard work for you. Regardless, you might find something else to deal with during the renovation project that you might not have anticipated.
Permits For Major Works
Depending on the state you reside in, you might need to secure permits before starting any renovation projects. Contractors should offer the costs for all permits on the quoted estimate and they are usually responsible for securing permits from local offices unless youd rather do it yourself.
Major home improvements that might require local permits include electrical and plumbing work, structural changes such as building a deck or patio and new structures like fences and windows. Regardless, your city council office should have all the information for home projects and improvements that will require permits.
Choosing The Right Contractor
You wonrsquo;t have trouble finding contractors willing to manage your renovation project. However, finding the right contractor will definitely take some time.
nbsp;In your planning stages, make sure you interview multiple contractors. Ask them about their communication and work >
Another option is to ask family and friends for their recommendations. Consult those in your network that you can trust. Ask contractors for any videos and/or photos of their most recent projects. Those who actually know what they are doing and run a reputable and solid business will have no problem showing off what they are capable of. Remember that experience heavily counts in this regard.
Furthermore, the BBB, or Better Business Bureau, advises every homeowner to consider contractors that are a member of a professional association which will ensure that they adhere to specific standards or code of ethics. All BBB Accredited businesses uphold the BBB standards of ethics in the marketplace. BBB reports can show you just how long a company has been in the business, posted reviews negative or positive, complaint detail as well as any known government actions.
When done properly, home improvement projects not only add value to your home but also comfort and confidence. On the other hand, these projects can bust your wallet and end up failing miserably if you neglect to plan ahead. However, with the above tips, you will definitely steer your home renovation towards success.
Full Story >
Copyright© 2019 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved
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