Florida Real Estate News

Fort Lauderdale News

Updated: Saturday, October 21, 2017

13 Decorations to Pair With Beautiful Dark Walls

Dark walls, from inky blue to charcoal and black, are refined and dramatic - but decorating around them without making your space feel too dark can be tricky. If youve been thinking of painting one or more walls a deep, dark hue, these ideas for color and decor pairings should help.

Natural wood. Natural wood, whether in a mirror frame, rustic tabletop or chair, helps lighten up dark walls while also emphasizing their richness. You cant go wrong with a driftwood or barn wood mirror, a farmhouse table or bentwood chairs.

Sculptural shapes. Place anything colorful or white in front of a dark wall, and your eye will be immediately drawn to its contours. Try placing a group of pottery pieces on a console or mantel. Or highlight the shape of an unusual table or chair by positioning it in front of a deep, dark wall.

Photo by Ingrid Rasmussen Photography - Browse home design photos

Green plants. Potted plants and indoor trees look even lusher when placed in front of a dark wall. The dark color recedes into the background, creating the feeling of having a mini forest in the room instead of a few plants. Bonus >

Photo by Claire Stevens Interior Design - Browse entryway photos

Large artwork. A single piece of oversize art hung on a dark wall has the most impact - even more than a salon->

Photo by i3 design group - More bedroom photos

White. If you feel at all unsure about which direction to go in with the other elements in your dark painted room, choose white mdash; it always works. In this bedroom a charcoal wall is set off by a grouping of wall-mounted plants on white bases, white bedding and white window treatments.

Photo by Honey Bee Interiors - More bedroom photos

Pale, watery hues. Soft and ethereal, pale aqua, mint, champagne and silvery gray bring lightness to a room with dark walls. Try these watercolor-inspired hues in bedding, a throw or pillows for an elegant feel.

Photo by Louise de Miranda - Discover bedroom design inspiration

Rich mustard and teal. These hues complement deep blue, gray or even dark chocolate walls by bringing in the colors of fall. Just a small touch of mustard, teal or both hues will do mdash; try a throw, pillow covers or curtains.

Photo by Breeze Giannasio Interiors - Browse powder room photos

Wild card pairing: brights. A flash of hot pink, neon yellow or vibrant turquoise is daring - and exciting Brights work best with black or charcoal; adding these bold hues to a room painted another dark color like navy or forest green is riskier. Test out a fun color pairing with a low-cost addition like hand towels or a cluster of bright vases.

Mirrors. Dark walls in a room without much natural light run the risk of making it feel oppressive. Boost what light you have by adding mirrors - even small, decorative mirrors, like the ones shown here, can help lighten things up. If the room is very dark, add a larger mirror, either on the wall or leaning against it.

Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design - Search bedroom pictures

Acrylic and glass. Like mirrors, clear materials, like acrylic and glass, can help a dark space feel a bit lighter. Swap out a wood piece, like a console, for a glass or acrylic version. Or add a large glass vase filled with greenery for a quick boost.

Photo by Tamara Magel Studio - More bedroom ideas
Photo by Rikki Snyder - Browse living room photos

In this living room, dark gray walls are lightened up with a glass coffee table, an acrylic TV stand, white trim and a light sofa and rug.

Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design - Search family room design ideas

Rich texture. Dark walls call out for touchable textures, like velvet, silk, oiled wood and fluffy mohair. Consider a plush velvet sofa, velvet or silk accent pillows, or a mohair throw in a living room with dark walls.

Photo by Oak Hill Architects - Search dining room pictures

Oriental rugs. Rolling out an Oriental rug is a good way to marry a daringly dark wall color with a traditional home. These carpets tend to include a range of rich, deep colors, lending them well to dark walls in just about any hue.

Antiques. As with using traditional rugs, bringing in an antique piece or two is a wonderful way to take the edge off a strong wall color. In the room shown here, dark walls look refined alongside an eclectic mix of antiques and modern Lucite chairs.

Also See:

  • Why Golden Pothos Make the Best Indoor Plants
  • Add Little Pops of Color With These Beautiful Vases
  • Stylish Wall Mirrors to Lighten Up a Dark Room

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The FAFSA And Real Estate: When To Buy And Refi To Get The Most Aid For College

Getting ready to fill out the dreaded Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA? Its the form that strikes fear in parents of college students and college students-to-be who have been cautioned about the tedious process involved, and the disappointing results. And while there is a ton of advice out there about how to properly prepare, what you need, and what to expect, theres another layer of concern for homeowners and homebuyers: How does the FAFSA affect you if youre in the market, already own a home, have investment property, or are thinking about refinancing? Were breaking it down.

First, a little bit about the FAFSA for those who have not yet had the pleasure: "Based primarily on your familys income and assets, the Expected Family Contribution EFC qualifies students for federal grants, loans and work-study programs," said Bankrate. "The purpose of the FAFSA is to calculate your expected family contribution, or EFC - the amount the government believes your family can contribute for college that year."

The good news for homeowners getting ready to fill out the FAFSA is that a principal residence is not reported as an asset. But, other real estate holdings may count as assets and may reduce your financial aid award.

Rental income

If you have a small business that is both owned and controlled by your family and has fewer than 100 full-time or full-time equivalent employees, it is not a reportable asset. However, income from a rental property cannot be included as a small business.

"Rental properties are a popular tax and investment strategy among parents, but they do not qualify as a family controlled small business asset that can be excluded from the FAFSA," said Forbes. "Dont make the mistake of thinking that you can just throw your rental properties in an LLC and exclude the value as a small business on the FAFSA."

Real estate can be reported as an asset on the FAFSA as either investment real estate or business/farm assets. "For real estate to be considered a business asset, it must be used in the operation of the business, not incidental to it," said Fastweb. "Sub-regulatory guidance published by the US Department of Education indicates that, A rental property would have to be part of a formally recognized business to be reported as such, and it usually would provide additional services like regular cleaning, linen, or maid service. This is similar toIRSguidance concerning whether rental income from real estate must be reported on Schedule E or Schedule C ofIRSForm 1040."

If youre unsure of whether to report rental income as a business asset or investment asset, there are some rules of thumb that you can read about here, but the best course of action is to consult with your accountant or tax attorney. Keep in mind, though, that reporting real estate as a business or farm asset has "less of an impact on the students expected family contribution EFC than investment assets."

Shifting assets

Because your principal residence is not a reportable asset on the FAFSA, it doesnt matter how much equity you have in your home; whether the house is worth a mere 100 more than when you bought it or you have 300,000 worth of equity, it wont count against you.

Paying down the balance on your home prior to applying for the FAFSA is one of the strategies recommended by financial professionals for those who need to lower their cash on hand and savings. "To get the most financial aid, consider shifting some assets from reportable categories into nonreportable ones before you sit down to fill out your FAFSA," said TIME Money. "For example, you might use some money from reportable assets like bank accounts and mutual funds to pay down the mortgage on your home, which doesnt count as an asset on the FAFSA."

Refinancing

But, home equity can come in handy in another important way: tapping into it can be a smart move if youre low on funds and need to find a way to pay for college, especially if the interest rate is lower than a federal Parent Plus loan or a private education loan.

Refinancing, and, especially a cash-out refinance, can be especially tempting if you have an interest rate that is higher than what is currently being offered. A cash-out refi would readjust your rate hopefully to something lower than what you currently have and give you money that could be used to pay for college tuition. But, there are issues associated with this type of refinance that may make you think twice, like the upfront disbursement.

"This yields a lump sum in advance, years before the money is needed," said fastweb "The interest rate may be very low, but the borrower will pay interest on the loan for many years before the money is needed to pay for college bills. Interest begins accruing from the date of disbursement. Another problem with a cash-out refinance is that the money will be counted as a parent asset until it is used, reducing eligibility for need-based financial aid."

For this reason, a home equity line of credit HELOC is often the preferred refinancing method for those looking to use the funds for college.

"In a climate of lower housing interest rates, a home loan might seem like an attractive option for some parents to help shoulder the cost of paying forcollege," said US News. "A HELOC is a type of home equity loan that allows borrowers to borrow a line of credit against the value of their home - it operates almost like credit card and usually has a floating interest rate. A borrower can limit the amount to just whats needed under a HELOC compared with a home equity loan, which requires taking out a lump sum. The minimum amount for a home equity loan can range between 10,000 and 25,000 at lending institutions, home loan experts say."

Be aware, though, that, a HELOC may be counted toward yourEFC. Because of this, the timing of taking out the loan and filling out the FAFSA is critical. Waiting until after you file the FAFSA to take out the loan, or timing it so the proceeds of the HELOC do not hit your bank account until after you file, can protect these funds from being counted against you and having your need-based aid reduced.

Getting ready to buy a house

If youre in the market and wondering you to manage the timing of your home purchase and FAFSA filing, youll be pleased to know that buying now will likely help you when it comes to getting money for college. In determining your need-based aid, any money you currently have set aside for your down payment and closing costs would be used to reduce the amount of aid awarded. Putting it into a home improves your financial picture, at least in terms of the amount of help you can get for college.

The FAFSA has questions that "ask about how much cash students and parents have in savings and checking accounts atthe moment you are filling out the FAFSA," said TIME Money. "But notice that there are no questions on the FAFSA about your debts or bills."That means that sheltering your money in real estate, so long as that real estate is the only property you own and you intend to live in it, is a smart move.
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How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?

Home alarm systems can be particularly hard to calculate into resale value or return on investment ROI because their job is to prevent loss rather than achieve gains. You purchase a home alarm system with the hope that you never need to use it.

The reality is that a burglary is reported to police every 14.5 seconds. But robbery isnt the only thing that alarms can save you from. Smart alarms can detect smoke and hazards.

More than ever, homeowners want to feel safe in their homes. A built-in alarm system may be just what it takes to get your house off the market.

1. Alarm Systems Arent as Expensive as They Used to Be

According to HomeAdvisors survey, most homeowners invest between 330-1,040 when purchasing and installing home alarm systems. However, with the advent of smart, connected technology, home security is more affordable than ever.

Products like the Nest Cam Outdoor monitor your home in 1080p high definition video that you can access from your smartphone 24/7. This monitor also has a two-way audio feature, meaning you can use your voice to scare off intruders or give live instructions to a delivery service. Smart products allow you to monitor your home yourself, which cuts down the cost of hiring a security company to do the monitoring for you.

Smart products send security alerts right to your phone, allowing you to act fast and take control. Monthly security subscriptions on smart products are usually a fraction of the cost of subscribing to a traditional security service.

2. Add Resale Value

Owning a safe and secure home is appealing to every home buyer, from frequent travelers to families. That means pre-installed cameras, smoke detectors, and smart locks can be huge selling points. The more convenient and easy-to-use the security, the better.

One of the most desired security features for homeowners is motion sensor lighting over the driveway. Not only does it scare away late-night intruders, it also helps homeowners navigate in the dark. Buyers want added safety and convenience in their everyday lives, and the right security system can provide both.

3. Home Security Lowers Neighborhood Crime

In 2016, Rutgers University >

Burglars are less likely to break into homes that are protected with home security, and that fact carries over when applied to entire neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods are highly desirable to homeowners and can help your home sell faster and at a higher price.

4. Alarm Systems Can Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance

If you financed your home with a mortgage, you are most likely required to have home insurance. While the price of home insurance varies, most companies offer discounts to homes with security systems.

With a home monitoring system installed, you can save up to 20 on home insurance. Those savings can amount to hundreds of dollars per year or the cost of the security system all together.

5. They Save Money in the Long Run

Burglaries can cost you, not only in the possessions stolen from your home, but also in the damage that many homes incur during a burglary.

Most burglars enter homes through the front or back door or first-floor windows, usually breaking them in the process. The cost of fixing a broken window or kicked-in door can be even more expensive than the valuables taken.

It was found that when burglars enter homes with security systems, they are much more likely to leave quickly, taking fewer items with them.

While security systems arent foolproof, they do offer the benefit of safety and security. Whether youre installing a system for yourself or for future homeowners, the peace of mind it offers is the ultimate ROI.

Written By: Katy Caballeros
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Protecting Community Associations Against Money Loss

Qustion: I am the President of a 135 unit condominium association and have just read that a local Property Management company has been the victim of an embezzlement. I understand a lot of condominium money that was held by the Management Company may have been lost. What can our association do to protect ourselves against such events?

Answer: In my law practice, I have represented at least two property management companies that went out of business in this area, leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills and large losses from community associations reserve and operating accounts.

There are many ways in which to protect your association funds.

First, before you hire a property manager, make sure the firm is licensed in the jurisdiction where your property is located. However, not every state requires a license.

Second, check out the property manager carefully. Perhaps you should even obtain credit reports on the firm and the property manager who will be servicing your project; this will, of course, require the permission of the manager, but they should not object if they want your business.

Third, keep control of your funds. Generally speaking, there are two pools of moneys in community associations: operating accounts and reserve accounts.

Regarding the operating account, set a dollar figure above which the property manager will need the co-signature of at least one board member on all checks going out of that account. This will, of course, create a burden on both the property manager and the board member who has to sign checks. But, in my opinion, if you want to serve on the board, you should be willing to assume those responsibilities which will protect the funds belonging to the unit owners who elected you -- and yourself as well.

Clearly, there are routine checks that have to be paid on a monthly basis -- such as water bills, insurance, and trash collection. If you set a dollar limit such as 1,000, the property manager can write checks up to that amount without a second signature. But any checks over that limit must be co-signed by at least one board member. Your bank will give you signature cards and these requirements should be spelled out in those documents. Then, the bank will have to honor your request.

Regarding the reserve accounts, they should only be in the name of the association and only board members should be authorized to sign checks or transfer funds from those accounts. Community associations do not transfer moneys often from reserve accounts; it should not be a hardship on anyone to require that only board members be authorized to have access to those funds.

Fourth, make sure the property management company has adequate insurance covering your association in the event of embezzlement, fraud or other activities which may cause your association a loss. The insurance industry will write "third party coverage" bond insurance which will give you protection in the event of a loss. The amount of the policy will depend on the amount of the reserves you anticipate you will carry. Some associations have hundreds of thousands of dollars in reserve; clearly, third party coverage in the amount of 50,000, for example, is woefully inadequate for those associations.

Fifth, make sure that the management company has a fidelity bond in place covering any loss created by its employees.

Sixth, make sure that you and not the property manager hire an accounting firm to give you a full audit each and every year. Your association should give a letter of engagement to the accountant, and the accountant should report back to you -- and not the manager.

Seventh, and perhaps most importantly, insist that the property manager give you and your board members a monthly financial status report, which will include copies of the actual bank statements received by the management company. Review these carefully every month within five days from receipt. Keep in mind that every board member has a fiduciary >Most property managers are honest and hard-working. However, one dishonest manager will unfortunately cast a broad brush of distrust on the entire industry. I do not believe that property managers will object to the various suggestions I have made, and indeed may have more recommendations of their own.

Several years ago, the United States Attorney in New York indicted a large number of property managers there. Clearly, not all were involved in community association management. However, the lesson to be learned from New York and from the two incidents in the Washington area is quite clear: when there is money there will be greed and corruption. Community association board members have the power to control -- as best they can -- the financial security of association funds, and steps should be implemented immediately, while it is not too late.
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Earmarking Reserves In Your HOA

Most homeowner associations are entrusted with substantial common elements which must be maintained, replaced or renewed. All of this costs a lot of money. Borrowing said money is a very bad idea because it comes at a very high price in the way of interest and fees which must be repaid along with the principal. The cheapest and fairest way to pay for these expenses is to earmark a portion of the monthly, quarterly or annual fees and hold this money in reserve for future expenses. A properly done reserve study will inform the board how much the earmark should be so that all pay a fair share of a 30 year plan. If this is done, special assessments are never needed and the board has the money when needed.

But keep in mind that even the best reserve study has its limitations. While it predicts likely useful life spans and replacement costs, it cant guarantee either one. A reserve study is based on assumptions that change over time. The climate, weather, soil conditions, maintenance, design and construction quality play a role in the aging process, causing some components to age differently than expected. The financial climate is also variable. Investment earnings and the inflation change. To keep the reserve study accurate, industry experts recommend and state statutes often require that the reserve study be updated annually.

How Much Do You Need? The reserve study will estimate how much money is needed for future projects and when the funds will be needed. For the typical garden >Communicate with Owners. For HOAs that are not currently contributing enough to reserves, the solution is to start contributing more by increasing the monthly fees. Lenders shy away from HOAs which have little or no reserves but it negatively impacts a lenders collateral. Once the reserve study is completed, provide owners with a copy and encourage them to read it. Hold a special meeting and invite the reserve study provider to explain it. Make sure owners understand the reserve funding schedule and emphasize the >Dont Commingle Funds. Reserves should not be used to pay for ongoing preventive maintenance and repairs. Those should be paid out of the operating budget. Reserve funds should be segregated in a special bank account apart from operating funds. Typically, the portion of HOA fees earmarked for reserves is swept into this separate account monthly. Only reserve >Borrow Reserves Funds Carefully. Borrow from reserves only in an emergency or because of seasonal high expenses like an insurance premium that comes due early in the year and not enough fees have accumulated yet to pay it. If you must borrow, document the board vote approving that decision, establish a reasonable repayment plan and stick to the plan.

Develop a Reserve Investment Plan. Reserve funds are typically placed in FDIC insured savings accounts, money market accounts and Certificates of Deposit. Most state laws dont have specific reserve investment standards for homeowner associations. The governing documents usually give the board investment discretion. Boards should develop a written investment policy that defines the investment goals, establishes the objectives against which the investment performance will be measured, and identifies the boundaries within which investment selections will be made.

The investment policy should include:

  • Keep the reserves safe dont risk the principal.
  • Preserve earning power by choosing investments that match or exceed the inflation rate when possible.
  • Ensure that the funds are available when they are needed.

Other issues to consider include:

  • Consider working with an investment professional. This is particularly important when the reserve fund is large.
  • Remember that this is OPM Other Peoples Money. Tread carefully.
  • Document the investment decisions in meeting minutes.
  • Diversify the investments savings, CDs, etc.
  • Focus on liquidity. Industry experts recommend holding 5 of reserves in cash for emergencies, another 10-15 in short term six months or less securities and the rest spread among varied investments with varied maturities. The reserve study provides the schedule for work and projected cost for investment planning.
  • Review your investment strategies annually to make sure they still match near and long term goals. Dont let cyclical changes in the market alter the investment strategy which should remain long term.

Maintaining adequate reserves is a fundamental part of the boards fiduciary duty. Make sure to earmark the budget for reserves.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net
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Condo Renovations: Making The Most Of Your Space

In real estate, nothing ever stays the same. In Toronto, the types of condo buyers are constantly changing, says real estate agent Cynthia Goodchild of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, Johnston and Daniel Division.

Many buyers are now families or young couples with a baby on the way. They dont want to rent but cant afford to buy a house. Or some, regardless of age, dont have the time or inclination to maintain a home.

Condo suites are smaller than they used to be, so it pays to renovate to make the most of every inch and to make the space functional for everyday living and entertaining.

Designer Sabrina Bitton, an expert in all things space saving and clever, recently transformed her 825-square-foot suite into a showpiece of good, functional, flexible and space-efficient design. Her suite offers the clean-lined and less-is-more sensibilities todays buyers want.

She embraces European design, with a dash of Frank Lloyd Wright bringing the outdoors in while ensuring no space is wasted, she says.

Her original two-bedroom suite had large windows in the living room and master bedroom, the rooms side by side at the end of the suite. Bitton removed the master bedroom wall and incorporated the square footage and windows into the living space.

She sealed up the doors to the walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom and lined the walls with floor-to-ceiling custom millwork. Instead of extending the built-ins to the end of the living room wall, she added open solid walnut shelving to provide an airy feeling and to offer a place to display treasured items.

Walnut is used for several features throughout the suite, bringing a touch of nature and creating a sense of flow between rooms.

The kitchen includes walnut shelving and a walnut island. To create maximum storage space, Bitton took advantage of the nine-foot-high ceilings and extended the built-ins to the ceiling. The high space is ideal for storing large boxes of out-of-season clothing and seasonal items that dont need to be accessed on a regular basis.

Vents for heating and cooling are hidden behind cupboard doors and kick plates, with slits to keep the air circulating.

Storage space is always a challenge in condos, so finding creative ways of adding more makes the unit more functional. "I have so much storage space that some cupboards are actually empty," she says.

A clever "Bitton trick" is a bar-height island on wheels that fits over the existing kitchen island so it doesnt take up additional floor space.

When entertaining be it for a sit-down dinner for eight, a buffet or a large cocktail party, the bar-height island can be wheeled out to provide a separate table. Or it can be used as buffet space, a place to enjoy cocktails or additional work space.

Downsizers who arent ready to give up their sit-down eating space find this a particularly welcome idea, Bitton says.

She chose bar stools with lower backs so when theyre tucked under the bar, they dont obstruct the view from the kitchen. Bitton added a clear rectangular blown glass chandelier over the island to add drama without distracting from the view.

Seamless, clean-lined built-ins on another wall in the living/dining space include a fold-up desk, and a surprise. Instead of hard-to-reach cupboards at ceiling height, Bitton added pull-down rods so hanging clothes are easily accessible.

When renovating, figure out what you want, how to achieve and what you want to invest your money on. Bitton splurged on a comfortable sofa.

"Comfort is important. Also, since its a linear space, the curved couch adds a feeling of movement. You could also add an additional sleeping area by using a sofa bed."

In the second bedroom, which is beside the original master bedroom, a door was added to provide access to the walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom. More custom built-ins were added in the closet.

In the bedroom, the original closet doors were removed and the closet space was lined with walnut to create a headboard/nook for her bed. The window seat was extended from 18 to 24 inches to create a cosy sitting area. Custom built-ins were installed below the window seat and extended along the wall. An unused alcove space was filled with shelves and glass doors to create a fun display space for Bittons fancy shoes.

Light-coloured floors are used throughout, chosen over dark, which shows dust and visually closes in a space. Paint and window treatments are different tones of the same creamy neutral colour family. Doors are painted light grey to complete the Zen ambiance.

Before buying a new condo, Goodchild says its important to speak to the builder to find out what changes can be made. You may not want the kitchen thats there or would prefer to omit a wall, but the builder may not be able to accommodate your needs.

Few developers will allow preconstruction changes. In that case, choose the least expensive finishes for features you plan to remove, and then renovate with an eye to creating functional and multi-functional space, says Bitton, of Sabrina Bitton Interior Design. "Its all about creating smart condos."

Times have changed from 20 years ago, when condos were purchased primarily by retirees, Goodchild says. Now people in their 50s are buying too because they want less upkeep, more freedom and the ability to do more of what they want, including travel.

"Retirees still make up a large percentage of purchasers, but the under 35-year-olds find condo ownership appealing because they want to be downtown and be close to work. They want to have the ability to work, live and play in the same neighbourhood," Goodchild says. "Then they have children and sometimes stay."

Whoever the buyer, making the most of the space is key, says Bitton, who along with in-person service, offers Skype design consultation. A portion of her fee goes to charity.


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Real Estate Cyberfraud Continues. Is It Time To Return To Paper?

Cybercrime continues to thrive in the real estate brokerage environment. By this, I dont mean the kind of electronic skullduggery that results in stolen identity information or hacking into someones bank account. Rather, I refer to the business of fraudulently inducing a principal -- sometimes even an escrow officer -- into wiring funds to a bank account controlled by a hacker or someone in business with the hacker.

Heres what can happen: the hacker gains access to the "network" of participants involved in a real estate transaction. His entry point may be through a real estate agents email account, or escrows, or any one of a number of affiliated services such as title or home warranty. Certainly, the hacking of an agents account seems the most likely. The hacker will monitor the transaction, learning all the names, phone numbers, and financial information involved. Then, at some point near closing, the hacker will send an email -- posing as one of the >More frequently, this kind of theft is occurring at the beginning of a transaction. One scenario is this: the hacker is monitoring electronic communication between the buyers agent and the sellers agent and between the agents and their principals. Shortly after a purchase is agreed upon, the hacker sends the buyer an email appearing to have come from his agent telling him where to wire the earnest money. That will be to an account controlled by the hacker.

The scam at the beginning of a transaction doesnt generally yield as much money. It is deposit money, not a down payment. But it takes less time and saves watching an escrow that might fail anyway.

California REALTORSreg; have available to them a useful one-page document entitled "Wire Fraud Advisory." We have discussed that in an earlier column July, 2016 and need not review it here. Instead, it is important to focus on the use of the form.

Two things: 1 As the above scenario illustrates, the advisory -- read "warning" -- should be provided early on in the process. Just as agency >2 It should be given singular attention, not simply included in a pile of papers with "you should read these" instructions. The issue needs to be addressed.

Some companies have their own version of the advisory, which is fine -- as long as they are provided in a timely and focused manner.

Indeed, some companies are now advising their clients to use cashiers checks, rather than to trust the electronic handling of their funds. Is that just too impossibly retro for you? Well, it made sense to some of the people who recently attended the most recent meeting of the Directors of the California Association of Realtors CAR.

The topic of wire fraud received extensive discussion; and one group was formulating a request for the Standard Forms Committee to revise its treatment of earnest money deposit in the standard purchase contract Residential Purchase Agreement, RPA. As it is now, the default position in the RPA is that deposit funds will be provided by electronic transfer. One can still choose an option of personal check or cashiers check, or cash for that matter.

Brokers initially loved the electronic transfer -- and probably most still do -- because it >Speaking of which, it emerged in other discussions that brokers need to do a thorough assessment of their risks in this regard. It turns out that more than a few insurance policies that have an electronic fraud provision dont, in fact, cover the kind of fraud and loss that has been discussed here.

A topic for another day.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .
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Benjamin Moores 2018 Color Of The Year: A Modern Guide To Using Red In Your Home

Neutrals, be gone If Benjamin Moore has its way, interiors will be going from soft and soothing to red hot next year. The paint companys Color of the Year for 2018 is Caliente, and the name is appropriate. The fiery red is "hot, passionate, and sexy," said Benjamin Moore. With a hint of orange,nbsp;calientenbsp;has lots of personality and is the perfect hue for you if you are drawn to the warmer tones of red.

The companys Director of Strategic Design Intelligence, Ellen ONeill, weighed in by adding, "Strong, radiant and full of energy, Caliente AF-290 is total confidence. It is pleasing, passionate and makes people feel special, like red carpet treatment. "Whether used as one note or on four walls, the spirited personality of red turns heads signaling surprise and adventure. The eye cant help but follow its bold strokes."

Indeed. Architectural Digest believes that, "This years choice will stop you in your tracks." Whether or not youre a fan of red, youre bound to notice it. Red can be a polarizing color, with some loving the energy it brings and others finding it a tad too bold for their space. The key to making it sing in your home is knowing where to use it, and how much.

Feng Shui

If the principles of feng shui are important to you, consider that red conjures fire and, "Fire represents the energy of sun and life," said The Spruce. "A balanced feng shui fire element in your home will bring joy, excitement, and strongnbsp;sexual desire. An imbalance of the same element will bring either fiery arguments, restlessness and even aggression too much Fire or a lack of energy and enthusiasm for life too little Fire."

When it comes to the home, red "signifies richness, luck and luxury," they said. "If used too much, though, it can bring bursts of anger and over stimulation." That means a cautious hand may be best. Covering the walls in every room and oversaturating the spaces with furniture and deacute;cor pieces could just be a bit too caliente.

Color Theory

We know from the study of color theory that different colors can affect moods. If you apply that to the home, it makes sense that some spaces would be a better fit than others for a color called caliente.

"Rednbsp;raises a rooms energy level. The most intense color, it pumps the adrenaline like no other hue," said Freshome. "It is a good choice when you want to stir up excitement, particularly at night. In the living room or dining room, red draws people together and stimulates conversation. In an entryway, it creates a strong first impression." In the bedroom, it could mean a fiery sex lifehellip;but trying to sleep might be an issue.

You may not be ready to take the bold hue through your whole kitchen, but careful placement can make a huge impact, like on this island.


decorpad.com

Juxtaposed against bright white, Caliente is a standout on the walls - especially in a room that flooded with natural light.


benjaminmoore.com

Hows that for a warm welcome? The rich, red door is a beautiful complement to the neutral deacute;cor and adds another element of interest in a space with a wealth of architectural detail.


benjaminmoore.com

Dont want to splash this color on your walls? One standout piece in the electric hue can energize the whole room.


designaddictmom.blogspot.com

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Halloween Decor Trends For An Elegant Interior

Halloween stores are popping up all over the place as the countdown to candy collecting begins. Halloween dcor is big business today, too, and while some OK, a lot of it can look cheap and childish, there are many options for pumpkin dcor that allow you to be festive without veering away from your sense of >Pretty pastels

Who says your pumpkins have to be orange or that your fall dcor cant be fun and fresh? This six-piece pastel pumpkin mini mix from Etsy is handmade from white craft pumpkins, meaning you could DIY it if you wanted to. But when they look this great...

Metal

These galvanized metal lanterns from World Market offer anther unique way to dress up your home for Halloween, but with an unexpected elegance. Even better - theyre on sale for 6.99 to 10.49.


worldmarket.com

World Market offers a treasure trove of items for Halloween. We also love these black iron candelabras, that just may be elegant enough to use all-year-round. If Day of the Dead is more your speed, youll love this 19.99 los muertos ceramic candy bowl that depicts four highly detailed calavera skulls.


worldmarket.com

Splattered

Feeling artistic? All you need to create a pumpkin masterpiece is a little paint and a flick of the wrist. These splatter paint pumpkins have a chic >


pinterest.com

Carved

Dont want a face on your pumpkins but still want some time knife time? These patterned pumpkins are next-level carving and create unique methods for mood lighting. "Turn standard grocery store pumpkins into decorative votive holders that are embellished with polka-dot cutouts," said Southern Living.


Southernliving.com

Break out those crayons

Your kids will love watching the crayons melt over the pumpkins, and youll love the outcome of this easy DIY project that produce oh-so-stylish Halloween dcor.


sdentertainer.com

Studded

In>


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Mercury glass

You can buy pumpkins that look like mercury glass, but theyre fragile and can also be expensive. This easy trick gives you the look without the hassle. First, spray paint them white and then use a "looking glass" spray to get the mercury effect.


pinterest.com

Textured

Texture is all the rage in home dcor and fashion, and it hasnt escaped Halloween dcor. These velvet pumpkins are one of the hottest items this year, and theyre all over the board in terms of cost. We saw one for almost 100 at a posh boutique Save yourself some money, and a whole lot of hassle since this is not one of the easier DIY-friendly crafts unless youre very experienced and very patient, and head to Target. This three-piece collection is just 18, and theres no orange in sight


Target.com

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Tips For Decorating Rooms That Are Long And Narrow

Distract attention away from an awkward room shape and create a pleasing design using these pro tips.

When youre clicking through images of gorgeous rooms to gather inspiration for your home, does it sometimes seem as though the ideas will work only in large or pleasingly proportioned rooms? The truth is, when a room is well designed, we dont notice when its awkwardly shaped. Here, three interior designers share their tips for dealing with a common type of awkward space - a long, narrow room.

"The challenge you face with a long, thin living space is to ensure the room feels welcoming, inviting and free flowing," says Letiche Black of Amberth. "You want to avoid it looking too static or formal."

Make sure the seating area doesnt feel too far away from the TV and other necessities.

"The biggest challenge will be not to feel obliged to push everything against the walls, because you will only emphasize the narrow shape and corners and be left with a slim walkway," she says. "The space will feel tight and cramped instead of open and light."

nbsp;

Photo by Francesco Pierazzi Architects - Search living room pictures

Diana Greenhalgh of My Bespoke Room suggests creating areas of color, as in this room. "These will draw the eye to certain points around the room to help break up the space," she says.

Photo by Randell Design Group - Look for bedroom pictures

Maximize space with >. Greenhalgh suggests making a feature of details that will maximize the feeling of space in a narrow room. "Space-saving solutions such as small shelves instead of bedside tables, and hanging pendant lights instead of bulky bedside lights, can help make the most of the available space, and also assist by creating an interesting focal point," she says.

Photo by Amberth - Discover living room design inspiration

Focus on lighting. In a long, thin living area, Black recommends putting seating areas near the main natural light source. "This will influence how you design the rest of the space and encourages a loose placement of other furniture," she says. "Position armchairs away from the wall, as this tricks the eye into believing the space is much wider."

Photo by Alex Findlater Ltd - Discover living room design ideas

Section it off. "Break a long room into sections by cleverly placing furniture," says Charlotte Ford of Cotton Tree Interiors. "Console tables are really useful when placed at the back of a sofa," she notes. "And if possible, get some floor-mounted sockets, so lamps can be put on them to bring in subtle lighting and create a soft divide." She also advises looking at the size of your furniture. You can buy slimmer sofas and other scaled-down pieces that will fit well in the space.

Photo by Zephyr Interiors - More bedroom photos

Take the textural route. Black suggests introducing plenty of texture into a thin room. "Create layers and warmth that will allow your senses to be met with an arrangement of smooth, rough and shiny surfaces, instead of lonely corners," she says. "Use mirrors too, as these will help the space to feel wider." In a bedroom, Greenhalgh advises considering the position of the bed with care, as it will probably be the focal point. Placing a bed at the end of a narrow space, as seen in this room, plays up the rooms shape in a stylish way.

Photo by Sigmar - More bedroom photos

Open up. In a narrow bedroom, Black says, choose colors that make the space feel wider and brighter. "It is important to be mindful of the space as a whole, ensuring one end doesnt get neglected or feel darker than the other," she says. "Dont be tempted to simply position your bed, desk and other furniture all down one wall, as you will only add emphasis to the long, narrow shape of the room." She suggests using warm, light grays, off-whites and whites. "These shades instantly create a brighter, more open space," she says.

Photo by Inigo amp; Co. - Browse living room ideas

Distract the eye. "Use neutral window treatments, as drawing attention to the boundaries at either end of the room only emphasizes its shape," Ford says. "Use pattern, texture and color on occasional chairs, cushions, lampshades and art and also carefully positioned wallpaper, all of which take the focus off the shape of the room and direct it on to the more interesting objects."

Photo by Cotton Tree Interiors - Search home design pictures

Find your focal point. One of the difficulties in decorating a narrow room is deciding where the focus of the space should be, Ford says. If you are working with a builder, ask to create subtle room dividers. "Full-length narrow columns break up the room, giving a natural finishing point when using different wallpapers and paint colors," she says.

Photo by bulthaup by Kitchen Architecture - Look for living room design inspiration

Dont be afraid of the dark. "If the room is dark due to lack of windows," Greenhalgh says, "go with it and embrace a dark color palette to make the space cozy, rather than trying to fight it."

Photo by Henry Woide - Look for bedroom design inspiration

Go round. Choosing accessories in shapes that go against the linear nature of a long room mdash; such as circular forms mdash; is another trick to visually widen a space. "Avoid stripes, as these will only enhance the long, thin feel," Greenhalgh says.

Photo by My Bespoke Room Ltd - Search living room pictures

Avoid the "corridor effect". "Choose items that can be positioned to break up the feeling of a long, thin room, such as small coffee tables, side tables or armchairs," Greenhalgh says. "Break up the corridor effect by positioning pieces of furniture in clusters, instead of in a row." This tricks the eye into seeing a wider space. "For example, pick different seating options and arrange them together, instead of having just one long sofa against the long wall," she says. And dont be afraid to use bold furnishings, fixtures and fittings, Black advises, noting that they will add visual interest.

Photo by TLA Studio - Discover bedroom design inspiration

Light it right. Bedroom lighting needs to be well considered in a narrow space, as there often isnt sufficient surface area for table lamps. Ford suggests installing downlights, as they spread the light across the room. Then, if you have the luxury of enough space, "have a softer, secondary lighting plan with a combination of bedside lamps, reading lamps and table lamps," she advises. Wall-mounted reading lights can also help to declutter bedside surfaces where space is tight.

Photo by TG-Studio - Browse bedroom photos

Get horizontal. When deciding on the position of the bed in a narrow room, if space allows, "break up the space by positioning the bed across the width of the space instead of up against the length of one," Black says. Sometimes, however, you have no choice but to position the bed going with the length of the room and facing the door. And there are benefits to that. "It feels welcoming and will take your eye off the shape of the room," she says. "Especially if you use lots of pillows to add comfort and warmth."

Also See:

  • Space-Saving Table Lamps for the Bedroom
  • Use a Floor Mirror to Visually Elongate Any Space
  • Bookmark These Trending Living Room Ideas
  • Decorating 101: How to Shop for Furniture
  • Ask an Expert: How to Decorate a Small Spare Room

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Home Foundations And Why Material Matters

The typical single-family home can weigh anywhere from 80,000 to 160,000 pounds. Foundations provide a solid base for a homes weight, help to ensure the house stays level and provides anbsp;base for construction to take place. Foundations matter, and so does the material that theyre made of. Heres a closer look at both, starting with materials and why they matter.

Before buying or constructing your dream home, its important to be familiar with foundations to help you better understand how to prevent damage or make necessary repairs. Lets start with materials and why they matter.

Foundation Materials:

Concrete

The most common material used to create a homes foundation is concretemdash;by far. Typically poured or constructed with a series of cinder blocks, concrete is fairly inexpensive, easy to find and produce, and strong. Although poured concrete is prone to cracking, these repairs are often affordable and easy to have done, especially if it is being done from the interior.

Drawbacks of concrete vary based on the type of foundation. Cinder blocks may buckle over time and can involve expensive repairs. Poured concrete requires a mixer on site to perform installation. This meansnbsp;installation costs can escalate if a concrete facility isnt close by.

Pre-Built Walls

Pre-built walls typically consist of studded wall construction thats been coated in a concrete layer. It installs quickly, is always level and makes discovering problems easier. However, pre-built walls are more expensive than other types of foundations.

Stone and Brick

Laid stone and brick are two other foundation types commonly found in older homes. Stone foundation usually isntnbsp;equipped with the right type of drainage systems. Brick foundations, though typically thick andnbsp;adequate, tend to degrade over time and are also prone to mortar issues.

Foundation Types

Foundations dont just come in many materials, they take different shapes. Lets take a look at the three most popular foundation types -- slabs, crawlspaces and basements:

Basements

Cold weather climates are the most popular location for basement installation. This is because the foundation of the home needs to exist beneath the frost level in order to sufficiently support it. Theyrenbsp;typically made of poured concrete, and many also serve as a place where home appliances are located i.e., hot water tanks, furnaces, washing machines, etc.. Occupants often take advantage of the extended headroom to turn the area into additional living space.

Prone to flooding, fully underground basements can be costly if your yard doesnt quickly absorb or drain rainfall. Basement walls and floors are also susceptible to cracking, which require repair to keep moisture out and maintain structural integrity.

Slabs

A slab is nothing more than poured concrete that exists on a grade of land. This type of foundationnbsp;is particularly popular in warmnbsp;weather climates, where water tables are higher. Its installed about a foot underground and usually reinforced with steel.

Slabs are a cheaper type of foundation and, unlike a basement, reduce flooding risk. However, slabs are prone to cracking and can also provide difficulties for incorporating heating and cooling ducts into the home.

Crawlspaces

Crawlspaces are foundations that exist beneath a home with limited headroom. Though headroom is at a premium, itsnbsp;typically enough to store certain appliances, piping, ductwork and more. The majority dont permit the additional living space of a basement because theyre approximately two to four feet high.

Installing a crawlspace is cheaper than a basement, but more expensive -- yet more functional -- than a slab. Other big disadvantages include susceptibilitynbsp;to moisture issues and serving as a favorite place for pests and rodents to seek shelter in. The good news is, you can waterproof your crawlspace.

Worried that your foundation may be in need of repair? According to this article on HomeAdvisor, signs that your foundation needs attention include misaligned exterior doors and windows, cracks in stonework, sheetrock, and floors, bulges in the floor, or interior doors sticking or jamming. Consult a professional if you think your foundation is in trouble.


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Is Your Millennial Real Estate Game Lacking?

Maybe its time to adjust your strategy.

"They have to give up their coffee three times a week."

"They need to keep their car until its paid off and then continue to drive it for years."

"If they really want to buy a house, they need to change their life>

These are just a few of the comments overheard on a recent day as two presumably hungry mortgage professionals met over lunch within earshot of our table at a local restaurant. Curiously, they both seemed to agree that these strategies were key to turning millennials into homeowners.

The strategies dont seem out of line, really... unless you actually know some millennials and are in touch with how they act, who they are, what they like, what they want, and what they respond to. Theres an obvious grain of salt here, as were about to speak in pretty broad generalities about millennials. But, its clearly an important topic given the sheer number of them out there and the hope that at least some will transition from renting or living at mom and dads house to a place of their own.

There are countless articles out there geared toward helping the real estate agent and mortgage professional reach the millennial market. Not surprisingly, many of them are focused on social media proficiency as a means for message delivery. But what about the message itself?

The fact that specific messaging is largely not being tailored to this critical market is concerning. It further illustrates the disconnect between millennials and the real estate industry as a whole. Are millennials unrealistic in their expectations - in both thinking that the market will come to them when theyre ready or giving up the idea of homeownership altogether? Or, are real estate and mortgage professionals simply not approaching and talking to millennials in a way that makes sense to them?

Its a combination of both, really, but for the sake of this article, were going to focus on the latter. Reaching buyers is all about knowing your target. Do you wonder why so many industry professionals are using such a traditional, old-school approach? We do, too.


GQ.com

The avocado toast argument

Australian real estate mogul Tim Gurner caused a major debate earlier this year when he went on the Australian news program 60 Minutes and famously told millennials to stop buying avocado toast if they wanted to become homeowners. "When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasnt buying smashed avocado for 19 and four coffees at 4 each," he said. "Were at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day, they want to travel to Europe every year.nbsp;The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it, saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder."

Leaving some of the more negative generalizations and characterizations aside, millennials have, indeed, proven how much they value their leisure pursuits. That means that ordering a latte in a cafeacute; or avocado toast in a restaurant isnt so much about the drink or the meal as it is sitting in the cafeacute; or restaurant with a friend or loved one, enjoying the experience.

Will millennials forgo the things - or, more appropriately, the experiences - they love to buy a house? Some will. For the rest, it may just be up to the real estate and mortgage folks to adjust their tactics in order to coax these potential buyers into the market.

Do millennials even want to buy homes?

This has been a matter of much debate. According to the 2017 homebuyer Insights Report from Bank of America, the answer is a resounding "Yes."

"If theres one thing to take away from our report this year, its that forward-thinking millennials are buying homes - and theyre happy with their choice," the report said. "This growing group of millennials is seeing the value of getting into a home. In fact, nearly 80 percent who bought homes report that homeownership has had a positive long-term impact on their financial picture. Clearly, the millennial generation is coming of age and realizing it might not make sense to wait anymore to purchase their first home."

But, what are they willing to give up to get there? Might you be able to convince a millennial that paying off their car and not trading it in for a new one, as suggested by one of the restaurant mortgage pros, is the smart move if a millennial wants to buy a home? Possibly. But there are two inherent problems with that idea tied to a lack of understanding of millennials in general:

1. It assumes that a millennial has a car they can pay off, and not a lease, which is far more likely. "One-third of millennial car buyers chose a lease last year, which helped push auto lease volume to a record of 4.3 million and 31 percent of all new auto purchases, according to market research by Edmunds.com," said the Dallas Morning News.

2. It assumes that millennials will act in a way that is opposite their nature for the sake of becoming a homeowner. Yes, were back to coffee and avocado toast, but it also applies to new cars. "Younger buyers in particular are more likely to view cars as technology that needs to be continually upgraded," Jessica Caldwell, executive director of strategic analytics at Edmunds.com told the Dallas Morning News.

Mortgage options

Of note is the fact that, during the overheard, hour-plus conversation between the two mortgage professionals, only FHA and conventional loans were discussed. So much of working with buyers today, and, especially millennials, is about being creative, which is why there are so many other loans out there worthy of investigation.

In addition to FHA, which would allow millennials to put down just 3.5 with more lenient credit scores than many conventional loans, there are Fannie and Freddie loans out there that require just 3 down. There are also "lender-branded specialty mortgages" with a minimum of 3 down that have "strong appeal to millennials," said HSH.com. "Several lenders are offering loans with a 3 percent down payment requirement to offset the burden of saving for a down payment. For instance, Chases DreaMaker mortgage is directed at low-to-moderate income buyers, as well as those with less-than-perfect credit."

Lennar also just introduced a new loan program through its subsidiary called the Eagle Home Mortgages Student Loan Debt Mortgage Program in which borrowers "can direct up to 3 of the purchase price to pay their student loans when they buy a new home from Lennar," according to the builders news >

And 13,000 buys a lot of avocado toast and coffee. Maybe even a couple trips to Europe.


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Taking A Tax Loss On Your Principal Residence

Question. When my wife died several years ago, I sold the large house we were living in and bought a smaller house.. That purchase was at the top of the local real estate market. I have just purchased a retirement home and would like to sell my current property. However, after real estate commissions and sales expenses, I am facing a sizable loss -- and my accountant tells me this loss is not tax deductible. Can you suggest any solutions so that I do not lose my long-term investment?

Answer. Your accountant is correct. Current tax law permits a tax loss deduction for investment property but not for a principal residence. Although it appears that some day in the foreseeable future Congress will provide similar tax >You do, however, have a few options.

First, to the extent you can make projections, try to analyze the future marketability of your house. Will the house come back up in value, or will it continue to deteriorate? If you keep the house for a longer period of time, will you have to make a number of costly repairs and thus be throwing good money after bad? In other words, does it make sense to "take your loss and run?"

Second, if you decide it makes sense not to sell now, rent the house out for a year or two. Abandon the house as your principal residence; pay taxes where your retirement home is located, get a new drivers license and new voter registration card at a different address. Let your friends and >A year or two from now, depending on your financial and personal needs, you can then sell the property. Since it will then be investment real estate, you may be able to deduct some of your tax loss on your income tax return although you should confirm the amount with your accountant.

If you do not need the money -- or the tax loss -- and if the rental income from the house is worthwhile, you can continue to rent out the house.

Third, once you have converted the property to that of an investment rather than your principal residence, you might want to consider swapping the house under the "like-kind" Starker exchange. Such an exchange would permit you to obtain alternative real estate, without currently having to pay tax on any profit. Obviously, however, if you have no gain, there is no need to consider a Starker exchange. The rules for such an exchange are complex, and have been discussed in earlier columns.

Finally, if you have children, why not consider keeping the real estate until your death. Under current tax law, which may change in the current Congress your children will inherit the property at what is known as the "stepped-up" basis. Oversimplified, this means that the childrens tax basis is the value of the property at the date of your death -- and not your tax basis. Your tax advisors should be asked to analyze all of these various options.

Your question also raised a very important issue facing many older homeowners-- and one that is often overlooked or forgotten. Many homeowners purchased their first home many years ago at low prices. Over the years -- especially in the l970s and l980s -- real estate appreciated rapidly. Many homeowners moved from one house to another, and took advantage of the roll-over. Now, when they want to sell their last house -- or purchase down in price as you are considering -- the tax issues become very important.

Let us look at the following example. Assume that in 1970, you and your wife purchased your first house for 30,000. Over the years, you added 20,000 in improvements, and thus the basis for tax purposes purchase price plus improvements for you and your wife was 25,000 each. In 1987, you sold the house for 200,000, thus generating what you probably believed was a paper profit of 150,000.

However, since your wife died before you sold the first house, your basis is increased by virtue of the "stepped up" basis. At the time of your wifes death, the property was worth 200,000. Under the tax laws, you inherited your wifes basis as of the date of her death; in our example, her basis was 100,000. Thus, for tax purposes, the basis of your first house when you sold it was 125,000 25,000 plus 100,000.

Your house was sold for 200,000, and thus your profit was 75,000. But since you purchased your current house within two years from the time the first house was sold, you qualified for the roll-over, and this profit was used to reduce the basis of the Alexandria house. Accordingly, although you paid 300,000 for the new property, in reality its basis is 225,000.

If you sell the house now for 220,000, even after paying real estate commissions and other expenses, your paper loss will not be as great as you think.

However, this is tax talk; you are looking at an actual loss of 80,000, since you purchased the house at 300,000 and now can only sell it for 220,000. There are a lot of people who purchased real estate at the peak of the market, -- and despite significant increases in value -- many homeowners are still unfortunately under water.

And the rollover has long been replaced by the up-to-250,000/500,000 exclusion of gain.
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Ask the HOA Expert: Proper Funding Levels

Question: Our HOA recently had a reserve study update which the board is evaluating to ensure that we are adequately funded. What is a proper funding level? I have heard numbers from "30 Funded" to "80 Funded".

Answer: 100 Funded is the most fair to all members and should be the goal. For example, if you have a 30 year roof that costs 90,000 to replace, you should reserve 3,000/year to be 100 Funded. Reserving anything less will produce a lower level of funding that will have to be made up in the future by others that shouldnt have to pay it. Being 100 Funded all the time insures that all members pay their fair share.

If you are currently, say, 40 funded, you should institute a plan to increase the level of funding to 100 over a period of years if possible. The board could also special assess to bring it up to 100 this year, although that might be a hard sell unless there is an urgent need, like that 30 year old roof is now 35 years old and leaking like a sieve. Sometimes special assessments are unavoidable because of inadequate funding in the past. But striving for 100 Funding today will eliminate the need for special assessments in the future.

Question: Our governing documents have policies regarding tree cutting and clearing. From time to time, the board gets requests from lot owners asking permission to cut a tree because of fear that it will fall on the house. If there is no disease or damage, we deny such requests. It has been suggested recently that the HOA can be held liable for damage and injury from falling trees.

Answer: The HOA is certainly liable for failing to maintain trees in the common area and should have a regular tree maintenance program to keep trees trimmed, healthy and safe. Trees located on private lots is another matter. If an owner maintains a tree is in danger of falling, it should either be obvious to a casual observer or be documented by an arborist. The board should make prudent decisions based on >There is also a fire hazard presented by trees that are closer that 30 feet to the structure, especially if they are highly flammable like pine trees or in areas prone to drought and wildfires. If an arborist believes they are a danger, the tree should be removed.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net.
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Why Buyers Wont Buy Your Home

Theres no list of reasons mdash; no top ten or even top three reasons mdash; why buyers wont buy a specific listed property like your home.

Theres just one reason.

When buyers wont buy listed real estate, or even put in an offer close to asking price, theres just one reason why mdash; its the list price

List price must communicate value and opportunity to buyers for whom the listed real estate represents what they want and need. Individual buyers have individual home-buying wants, needs, and goals which range from solid financial investment to discovering their dream home, or both.

  • When the list price on a specific property communicates value and opportunity to buyers who are ideally suited to recognize high value and great opportunity, these buyers want to act. They are compelled to put in an offer before someone else snaps up their dream home/ideal investment.
  • When list price does not accurately communicate value and opportunity mdash; usually because it is unrealistically high for the current real estate market, location, ownership benefits, and property condition mdash; buyers not only wont make an offer, they may not even want to view the property.

The list which is vital for sellers to consider is the list of reasons why listing price can be a barrier to the successful sale of their real estate. Heres four of many reasons why list price can turn buyers off and leave the unsold real estate sitting on the market:

1. Listing "Home" Not Real Estate: Sellers may start out intent on selling their home. However, they will find the selling process challenging until they realize exactly what they are actually selling. Not their home, but real estate mdash; bricks and mortar, land, and >2. Value vs Cost: Seller improvements do not hold equivalent dollar-value for buyers. For example, a seller who recently paid thousands to modernize windows and replace the roof, may expect list price to reflect this out-of-pocket cost. Some buyers may attribute move-in-ready value to these property improvements, but the actual dollars attached to these seller expenditures may fall short of seller costs.

3. The Market Now: Economics can change quickly. The current real estate market is the one buyers are shopping in. For instance, the higher priced market last year, last month, or even last week means nothing to buyers once economic conditions change. Sellers who hang on to a now-historic selling price that they missed out on and who refuse to adjust to market-dictated price down-grades, can create a listing barrier by sticking with the out-dated higher list price. The listing message may be interpreted as "stubborn seller here," which does not attract buyers. Letting go of missed opportunity can be a challenge for sellers, but this does not help the property "shout" opportunity to buyers.

4. Selling: Only Half The Winning Real Estate Strategy Sellers who expect their real estate win to come exclusively from the sale of their real estate, miss the point of real estate as an investment. The full return from real estate ownership mdash; on top of the benefits gained by living in the property or renting it out mdash; comes from selling the property and putting the earned profit to work either to purchase more real estate or to invest the funds in other ways. Sellers who only spend time and effort on selling, may miss out on even greater returns from putting their sales profits to work. Selling or cashing-in real estate is only half the winning strategy More on this topic in my next column.

Real estate professionals are trained to understand the economic and financial complexities of establishing market value and list price for the real estate held by their clients. Ideally, list price is established by the seller based on information, selling strategy, and market data provided by the listing professional and on seller goals. Select the right professional for the correct expertise to get the list price right.

List price is based on market value which is more accurately represented by a range than an absolute figure. Depending on the marketing strategy that matches seller needs and wants mdash; including seller time constraints and moving criteria mdash; the list price may be set on the optimistic side or with a practical slant.

What value and opportunity will your list price communicate to buyers?

This is the third in our Savvy Seller Series:

  • Five Key Questions For Home Sellers
  • Are You Prepared For Disaster?

To understand more about how buyers view the sales process, read our

Savvy Buyer Series:

  • Buying: From Whose Perspective?
  • Savvy Buyers Search Out Visual Disasters
  • Home Buyer Regrets Are A Reality

For more on PJ Wades views on communication, visit Whats Your Point? blog
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BRE: Whats In A Name? Apparently, A Lot

In 2013, what was then the California Department of Real Estate DRE became the California Bureau of Real Estate BRE. Many people who have been in the business for a while have still not become used to the change, and find themselves referring to the Department. Their inability to adapt may have been prescient.

Depending on what the Governor does, the Bureau may become the Department again. This would be because of California Senate Bill 173 Dodd. Senate Bill 173 passed both Assembly and the Senate with no opposing votes. It was sent to the Governor on September 22. The Governor has until October 15 to veto, sign and approve, or simply let it pass into law.

Of course, SB 173 doesnt address just a name change. It moves the Bureau/Department out of the Department of Consumer Affairs DCA and places it within the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency BCSH.

It is not just a slam dunk that the Governor will approve this. That is because it would undo a part of one of his pet projects -- the 2013 reorganization of the Executive Branch of state government known as the Governors Reorganization Plan 2, or GRP 2. That plan created the BCSH agency, which oversees the DCA and other departments. An aim of GRP 2 was to bring entities that regulate or licenses industries, business activities, or professionals under one agency.

According to a letter from the Governor about the plan, consolidating under one agency would "improve service, consistency, and efficiency by facilitating shared administrative functions and expertise in areas such as automated systems, investigative practices, and licensing and legal processes."

Unfortunately, at least as far as the real estate agency was concerned, things didnt work out so well.

According to the author of SB 173, "although many elements of GRP 2 have worked as intended, the abolition of DRE and concurrent establishment of [the Bureau] have not. Since [the Bureau] was moved under DCA, the cost to administer the Real Estate and Subdivided Lands Laws has increased by several million dollars annually." [my emphasis]

And thats not all. In 2016, the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development and the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions, conducted hearings on the reorganization and transition. In their background paper with respect to the Bureau of Real Estate, they noted that "since GRP 2, key services like human resources support and management direction seem to be lacking and that the Bureau noted that purchase orders, information technology orders, contract payments, employee reimbursement, and miscellaneous human resources requests have been skipped or have not been processed since the DRE became the Bureau." The background notes that the Bureau explained that it informed DCA about issues, but does not always receive timely responses.

According to the Senates legislative analyst, "In addition, the hearing found that DCA had failed to provide consistent, on-time payment for utility bills. This led a San Diego utility provider to shut off electricity as a license examination center on January 15, 2015."

Finally, we note what was said in the analysis for the Assembly Committee on Appropriations: "Like all board and bureaus within DCE, the Bureau of Real Estate pays a pro rata charge to DCA each year to pay for administrative functions provided to the Bureau and for general operation of DCA." That yearly charge has risen dramatically. It was 1.8 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year. It had gone up to 5,094,000 in the recently ended 2016-17 fiscal year, and is projected to be 5.6 million next year. In part, those costs are attributed to DCA implementing a new licensing technology, which is not used by the BRE.

Senate Bill 173 was sponsored by the California Association of Realtors. Inasmuch as the Bureau obtains its funds through licensing and processing fees -- not the states general fund -- it is understandable that the people it charges are interested in its ability to contain costs.

Now, it is up to the Governor.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .
Full Story >


4 Cheap And Chic Window Treatment Ideas That Arent Drapes

The wrong window treatment can call attention to a poor view, mask a good one, and make a room look overall drab. Add in the right window treatments, though, and you could end up with just the right finishing touches to make your home look stylish and feel inviting.

The problem is that window treatments can be expensive, and if youre just buying your first home or putting all your money into your next home, youre probably not looking for more ways to spend money - especially if you need furniture This is why many people end up with paper shades for an extended period of time; at least they provide some privacy from nosy neighbors, right?

Thankfully, there are a few unexpected and creative ways to make your windows look amazing without emptying whats left of your bank account.

Roller shades

"With a variety of price points to fit nearly any budget, roller shades can help realize your vision of custom designed window fashions," said 3 Day Blinds."From over-the-top elegance to casual chic, roller shades come in a variety of beautiful fabrics to transform the look of your space. They are often made of poly blend fabrics that are not only gorgeous to look at but also clean-friendly and low maintenance."

These roller shades keep it simple with modern lines and a no-frills look thats perfect for contemporary interiors. The blackout material keeps the light out - great for using in a bedroom - and the cost is just 29 at blindsgalore for a 24" x 36" shade.


blindsgalore.com

If you prefer to DIY it, you can always get a super inexpensive version of a roller shade, like this 9 vinyl version from Walmart, and then use contact paper, peel-and-stick wallpaper, fabric, vinyl decals, or even paint to transform it into something that looks amazing - and expensive.


apartmenttherapy.com

Contact paper window treatment

You may think of contact paper as something you use to line your pantry shelves, but have you ever thought about applying it to your windows?

This cool solution that only cost the DIYer 8 involved tracing and hand-cutting each of the shapes before applying them to the window, but you can make it much easier on yourself by buying a roll in a cool pattern and applying it in one piece. A cool pattern, you say? Yes, today there are tons of them out there, like this reclaimed wood pattern, and this super chic vintage magnolia floral.


remodelaholic.com

Make your own Roman shades

Roman shades are a >


divaofdiy.com

Bamboo blinds

The rich, textured look of bamboo blinds always looks chic, but this semi-private window covering is also trending again. The good news is that, while it looks expensive, bamboo blinds are affordable and easy to find, whether you purchase online or head into Home Depot or Lowes. Either way, be sure to measure your windows carefully so you dont end up with something thats too wide or too narrow.

At Home Depot, this 23" x 48" blind is just 11.77, with prices increasing with the size. There are also several tutorials online that show you how to make your own bamboo blinds from outdoor fencing for as little as 10.
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Nine House Cleaning Tasks That Give You A Great Workout

House cleaning is a drag. That comes as a surprise to no one. But, there is a great side benefit to having a tidy home. Well, there are many, but were not talking about the psychological advantages of living in a clean home or even the fact that a clean house just plain looks good. Were talking about working up a sweat. Go ahead and skip the gym. Grab the broom or the vacuum cleaner instead. Turns out the simple acts of sweeping, vacuuming, and so many more housecleaning tasks can give you a great workout.

"You probably know that the U.S. Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week to maintain good health," said Weight Watchers. "But did you know that any kind of physical activity counts, including housework? Believe it or not, dusting, sweeping, mopping, making beds and carrying laundry all add up to a lot of lsquo;incidental activity - the type some health experts view as potentially more beneficial than lsquo;official workouts, such as calisthenics."

So how many calories are we talking here? "According to Health Status, a 150-lb. individual would burn 99 calories doing 30 minutes of housework," said LIVESTRONG. But the calorie burn varies depending on the activity - and your body weight; consider that the more you weigh, the more calories you burn.


Pinterest.com

Dusting

Dusting can burn 80 calories in 30 minutes, and give you a good arm and shoulder workout. Want to burn even more? Add weights to wrists and/or ankles for this and any other task. "Thenbsp;American Council on Exercisenbsp;promotes the use of weights to increase exercise benefit," said Health magazine. "You can add this to your everyday life by using ankle or wrist weights. Just adding weights can burn 25-50 more calories during your everyday activities - no gym required"

Washing dishes

"Some activities are more vigorous than others. A 150-lb. person washing dishes for 30 minutes would burn approximately 77 calories, according to Health Status," said LIVESTRONG.

Cleaning your windows

Improve your view and get a good arm workout at the same time. Washing your windows for a half hour can burn 100 calories.

Laundry

Few of us enjoy the task of doing laundry, but, while youre putting clothes in the washer, moving them to the dryer, sorting, folding, and hanging, think about this: an hours worth of these tasks can burn 68 calories. Its not as much as hitting the bike at cycling >

Sweeping

"A 30-minute dance with the broom will burn off 136 calories," said SHAPE.

Vacuuming

Between all the walking, turning, twisting, and bending, vacuuming can burn 170 calories in an hour.

Mopping

Have a lot of hard surface floors in your home instead of carpet? Grab that mop. An hours worth of mopping can burn 170 calories, too.

Washing floors

"Extra dirty" floors may be a good thing in this case. "If your floors require a little extra elbow grease, you can shed as many as 187 calories in just 30 minutes," said Shape.

Rearranging your closet

Whether its time to swap out summer duds for winter sweaters or you just need to clean out a closet thats overstuffed, this task can burn about 85 calories.

Mowing the lawn

How about taking your tidying tasks outdoor? If your lawn is in need of some manicuring, youll love the fact that this type of home improvement activity can burn a whopping 300 calories in an hour. If it only takes you 20 minutes, you "can burn more calories than a power walk," said Health. "But theres a catch: you have to mow with a push mower. You may feel like youre living on the frontier, but a push mower will turn your backyard into a boot camp"


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