Question: We have lived in our house for almost 20 years, and are considering selling our large home to our son and his wife. We would add approximately 1,000 square feet to the home, and move into that portion of the house. Our children are amenable.
We would finance the construction because the equity in our present home would be more than enough to cover the cost.
What is the best way to proceed in order to protect everyones interest? We assume that a written agreement is needed, but what should be included in that document?
Answer: You are wise to be thinking about entering into an agreement with our son and his wife. Even in the best of families, problems and difficulties arise, and it is always best to draw up a written agreement now while you are still talking to each other.
Your question must be answered in two parts: the tax issues and the partnership issues.
First lets look at the tax issue. Fortunately, the new tax law recently enacted in Congress did not change the old law on capital gains. Since you have lived in the house for a number of years and used it as a principal residence, if you file a joint tax return, you will not have to pay any capital gains tax on the first 500,000 of profit. Keep in mind, however, that if before May 6,1997, you "rolled over" profit from the sale of another house to purchase your present home, the profit you then deferred must be considered in your determination of "profit." This can potentially lower your tax basis and you may have to pay some tax. If you fall into this category, please consult an accountant before you take any action to sell.
You have indicated you would be financing the construction of the addition. What tax bracket will you be in and are there advantages to having your son and his wife pay the financing so that they can take the interest deductions?
For example, you could lend your son the money and he would pay you interest, just as if you were a bank. While this interest would be income to you, under current tax laws, if your son and his wife gave you a recorded deed of trust, it would be deductible by your son in whatever tax bracket he may be in. However, under this approach, you may not obtain sufficient moneys to do the construction.
You may also want to consider giving a monetary gift to your son and his wife, and they could then construct the addition using these proceeds. But talk with your accountant if you plan to gift the house to your son; that could trigger a large capital gain for your son.
The tax consequences should be explored, before you make the determination of how to proceed.
The partnership becomes more difficult. There are many questions that should be asked and answered before you proceed with the construction.
What happens if you and your wife cannot live in your sons home? Who owns the addition? Will there be any rent charged you for living in the addition, and if so, how much? Who will pay any increase in utility costs and real estate taxes created by this new addition? What happens if you decide to move out?
Additionally, do you have any other children? And are you properly protecting their interests after your death? While this issue is one we all want to "put under the rug," it is a serious question that must be resolved now.
The last thing you want is for your other children fighting and bickering over the ownership of that addition. It must be kept in mind that you have taken perhaps your largest asset -- i.e., your house -- and have in effect given it to your son. While this may be your intention, there is an old expression that "when there is a will, there are >Lawyers are often accused of being too pessimistic. I see my role as attempting to highlight some of the possible "horrible hypotheticals" that can -- and do -- often come up.
We all hope that >Discuss these matters with your attorney and suggest that your son and daughter-in-law retain their own counsel to resolve these matters.
In my opinion, an ounce of preventive law is cheaper than a pound of cure.
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Now is the time when most homeowner associations count last years costs and crunch next years numbers hoping to squeeze blood out of a turnip. Often its so dry, there isnt even any turnip juice left much less any O positive. But crunch you must. Here are some of the ways to make the cash flow more freely.
Adjust by Inflation. This is a no brainer. Check the area Consumer Price Index - CPI and raise all budget items by at least that amount. An exception is utilities which often enjoy a larger rate increase based on the utilities the utility companies expect not to sell added to the cost of maintaining antiquated power generation plants plus a fudge factor they hope to slip by the utility rate commission a bit of budget humor.
Add a Contingency. A contingency is 5-10 of the total budget which is used to either cover all those things you forgot to include or could not foresee.
Looking Back for Future Savings. Next years budget should be based on prior years experience. Do a side by side comparison of the last three years actual costs. You may learn something like seeing large and unnoticed utility cost variances. You may catch a cost savings that got passed by unscrutinized.
Leave Out Potential Income. Late fees may not happen so dont count on them. Besides, its a bit insulting to plan on owner delinquency.
Assign Expenses by Category.
1. Administrative. Management Contract, Legal, Reserve Study, Accounting, Office Supplies, Postage
2. Utilities. Water/Sewer, Electrical, Phone, Gas, Cable amp; Internet
3. Maintenance. Landscape Contract, Gutter Cleaning, Pool Maintenance, Elevator Maintenance, Janitorial.
4. Reserve Contribution. To fund painting, roofing, fencing, etc. See Reserve Study for details.
Itemize Significant Expenses. Its important to know where significant monies are being spent. For example, rather than lumping everything into "General Repairs" divide it among "Plumbing Repairs", "Electrical Repairs" and "General Repairs". If this hasnt be done in the past, start doing it in the future. In other words, when a significant bill is paid, assign it a proper description so that next year the Budget Committee can assess whether there is a trend.
Reserve Intelligently. Reserves are funds collected to pay for periodic maintenance and repair to roofs, siding, paint, pools and other common area components. Its critical that these >
Include Board Education. While the board members are unpaid volunteers, the HOA should invest in educating them to improve their performance. Attending seminars and joining Community Associations Institute will all return enormous dividends as director competence improves.
Other Cost Cutting Hints:
Irrigation Water Costs. Does your system have a rain override that kills the sprinkling cycle when appropriate? You would be amazed how cheap this technology is. Budget for and get it installed before the next irrigation season.
Control Pool Temperature. A solar blanket can pay for itself very quickly. A 3-5 degree reduction in pool temperature heating can result in significant savings.
Solar Pool Water Heating. A pool is one of the HOAs biggest energy hogs. Solar heating can significantly reduce this cost and pay for itself in a few short years.
Lighting Conservation. Swap all common area incandescent lighting for compact fluorescent or other higher lumen/lower wattage alternatives. Add solar or clock devices to control exterior lighting.
Pay for leaky faucets and toilets. Even though fixing unit owner plumbing is not an HOA responsibility, the resulting water bill is.
Install Programmable Thermostats. For common hallways and clubhouses, these inexpensive controls can slash heating and cooling costs.
Xeriscape. This concept reduces landscape turf area in favor of local, drought resistance bushes, plants and ground covers. Besides reducing or eliminating mowing costs, water savings are impressive.
Sharpening the HOA budget pencil is not near as hard as you thought, now is it? When you see the savings pile up, that pencil will be your best friend.
For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net.
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Yes, you can. But the bonus income needs to follow a few rules, first. Employees get paid in different ways. The most common is a regular paycheck on the 1st and the 15th of each month or maybe every other week. One of the primary responsibilities of a mortgage lender when evaluating a loan application is to make the determination the borrowers have the ability to repay the new mortgage along with any existing monthly credit obligations. The process is >Lenders then verify income by reviewing the most recent paycheck stubs covering a 30 day period. The stubs will show the gross income, deductions and net pay. It will also show a year-to-date amount. In addition, copies of your last two years of W2 forms will be needed. Lending guidelines require there be at least a two-year history of employment and then make the determination the income is likely to continue into the future. If someone is self-employed, then the last two years of personal and business income tax returns will be reviewed along with a year-to-date profit and loss statement.
Okay, but what about a bonus? Can that be used if needed? Guidelines for bonus income follow the same type of review as other types of income. Is there a history of receiving bonus income? There needs to be verification the bonus income has been received for two years. In addition, the bonus income needs to be regular and of a similar amount each time. Lets say an employee gets a bonus each quarter for reaching a particular goal. The bonus amount is 1,000. The lender will need verification this amount has been received for the past two years. With this history, the lender can reasonably determine the bonus is likely to continue. Using this example, there is an additional 333 per month that can help the borrowers qualify.
If on the other hand, the bonus amounts vary in amount or frequency, its possible the income cannot be used, even though there is evidence the employee has received it. Or, the bonus might be an annual bonus paid at the first of every year. In this instance, the additional income cant help, even though its been the same for the past two years. Why? Because a bonus paid in January probably might not be around come August or September.
One final note about bonus income- if more than 25 percent of the individuals income comes from a bonus or as a commission, that person is then considered self-employed and will be underwritten as such. If youre planning on using your bonus income to help qualify, its a good idea to speak with your loan officer first to see how youll need to document this additional income.
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These are exciting times. Youve finally outgrown apartment life or living with your parents or sharing a place with waaaaayyyyy too many roommates, and youre ready to take the leap to homeownership. Now its time to prepare. As you embark on this journey, beware of six important donts that could potentially derail your purchase.
Dont think its too early to get prequalified
So, youre just going to go out "looking" at houses, you say? The time when you just expect to drive around a little and maybe visit an open house or two is obviously the time when youre going to fall in love with a house and want to make a move on it right away. If youre not already prequalified with a lender, you may not have a chance at it. Competition is fierce across the country thanks to low inventory, and well-maintained, move-in ready homes do not sit if theyre priced right. Talk to a lender now to make sure you can qualify - and learn your max budget - even if you just think youre casually looking because that can change in a hurry.
Dont wait to the last minute to check credit
As a continuation of the casually looking conversationyou want to check your credit the second you start thinking about buying a home. You never know whats going to be on there. Even if youve never missed a payment and have always done a good job of managing your outstanding debt, there could be errors on your report that youre unaware of or even something from many years ago that you didnt realize had been reported to a credit agency. Those little boo-boos, accurate or not, could be hurting your score, and a low score could keep you from getting a mortgage at all. Give yourself time to correct errors or fix blemishes; every tick upward can help you get a better rate and make your home more affordable.
Dont forget about PMI when calculating your monthly expenses
The idea of putting as little down as possible on your new home is attractive, especially if youre not a natural saver. Today, that can mean just three percent of your purchase price, depending on the loan. For FHA loans, its three and one-half percent. The problem with making the minimum down payment is that you then have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance PMI.
"PMI is a fee you pay on your mortgage until you owe 80 percent or less of what your home is worth. Its one reason why so many experts advise homebuyers make a 20 percent down payment; if you do, you avoid the evils of paying PMI," said Student Loan Hero. "PMI can cost between0.3 percent and 1.15 percent of your loan annually. Depending on how much you borrow, that can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs until you can cancel your PMI."
Dont ignore the closing costs
Many of us micro-focus on the down payment when getting ready to buy our first home, but there is another important expense >Dont forget to factor in all the monthly expenses
New-home communities often quote a monthly payment that looks quite affordable and that can entice buyers who dont look more closely. Thats because the payment is based on principal and interest only Typically, youll see a star next to the payment that tells you theres a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.. If you take a look at the small print, youll see that there are also taxes and insurance to factor in. In some cases, there is also a homeowners association fee. That monthly payment may not be looking so good anymore.
If youre buying your first home and coming from an apartment or other rental property, you may not have worked things like a gardener into your monthly budget. Youll also want to consider that if youre going up in square footage, there could an increase in your utilities, and you may be taking on payments for things like water and trash that were covered by your rental. Its best to have a true idea of what your monthly expenses are going to look like when buying your first home so you dont end up in over your head.
Dont think you can go it alone
Can you buy a home without an agent? Sure. Is it a good idea? Not usually. It could be that you are looking to buy a home that is for sale by owner. "In the industry, we call these types of sellers unrepresented," said The Balance. "Beware if you are trying to buy a home directly from an unrepresented seller. Odds are the seller wont know what she is doing or she might be taking advantage of you; either way, it could be problematic."
Unless you are a real estate attorney or are otherwise connected to the industry and aware of the laws, contract issues, etc., its best for you to have representation, regardless of what type of home you are buying.
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June 28, 2018 Las Vegas, NV ndash;nbsp; Realty Times is pleased to announce the addition of two of the most prominent industry professionals as Executive Editors. They bring over 80 years of combined real estate expertise and knowledge, engaging and influencing all functions of real estate; as a managing broker, MLS/Associations board member, licensed attorney, architects of real estate communities and passionate educators.
Together, they will pursue the Realty Times mission to deliver an experienced and competent voice, providing balanced bilateral reporting and editorial.nbsp;
ldquo;For 21 years Realty Times has been a trusted source of real estate news. In todayrsquo;s world of misinformation, Saul Klein and John Reilly will provide Realty Times readers a significant level of confidence and trust as their integrity has been well established,rdquo; stated John Giaimo, Realty Times President.
ldquo;This is really the dream opportunity for John Reilly and I, after long and successful careers in the real estate Industry.nbsp; It is like being able to step off the field, as an athlete or coach, and being able to step into a commentator role. We are excited about getting started.rdquo;
About Realty Times:
As one of Americarsquo;s largest and most trusted real estate news portals, Realty Times connects buyers, sellers, brokers, nonprofits and agents with everything real estate >
About Saul Klein:
With over 40 years in real estate, Saul Klein is well recognized as an industry pioneer, especially in real estate syndication and education, and one of the few luminaries that paved the way for real estatersquo;s transition to the online world. Saul is the co-creator of ePRO, technology certification course that certified 70,000 students, as well as the creator of the 2 National Listing Syndication Service, Point2 Technologies. Mr. Klein is a proud member of the first REALTOR.com Team, pre-IPO, responsible for obtaining first 500,000 listings.
About John Reilly:
John Reilly is a real estate educator and one of the foremost writers of real estate materials, including several published books and numerous articles. His national bestseller, "The Language of Real Estate", published by Dearborn Publishing, is now in its seventh edition and selling over 125,000 copies. Together with Saul Klein, John founded Real Estate Electronic Publishing Company REEPCO, which produced RealTown and Internet Crusade. In 2000, John moved to San Diego to devote his efforts full time to real estate electronic publishing with a focus on the development and moderation of NARrsquo;s online e-PRO Technology Certification Program.
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As residential towers and commercial buildings rise toward the heavens, as they pierce the clouds and refract the light from sheets of glass unto frozen crystals, creating a rainbow so many stories above the ground but below the stars, construction accelerates. It accelerates in cities large and small, increasing the need for real estate developers and agents - in addition to buyers and sellers - to have sound legal representation. For construction to continue apace, so the economy does not lose its pace, we need real estate experts and lawyers to work together. Anything less than full collaboration threatens to stall growth and bring the real estate industry to a standstill.
According to Wayne R. Cohen, a professor at The George Washington University School of Law and a partner at Cohen Cohen, P.C., lawyers are an essential part of this equation. He says:
Growth is sustainable only to the degree that there are enough lawyers to ensure developers can break ground without fear of breaking the law, because they do not have the right permits or are in violation of some zoning ordinance. As much as the law can hinder growth, or an injunction can slow or stop it, good lawyers can do their best - they can do everything in their power - to reverse that restriction.
I second Cohens analysis, since the real estate industry cannot operate without effective legal counsel. The same rule applies to the rights of tenants who can too easily be bulldozed pun intended by one side. If there is to be balance, lawyers who specialize in these matters need to come forward.
What I foresee is not so much an adversarial >For these things to happen, a conversation must begin and actions must follow. The arrangement must be right, so lawyers can do justice and real estate developers can pursue legal means for a just outcome. In turn, a national conversation can ensue for the good of the public and the advancement of those goods that benefit the republic - things like the construction or repair of parks and playgrounds, the renovation of libraries and museums, the expansion of roads and highways, and the availability of affordable housing.
If the currency of the legal profession is language, if lawyers pride themselves on the precision of the words they use, much like architects and engineers must be precise in their calculations, they have a duty - we all have a responsibility - to have a dialogue about how lawyers can aid the real estate industry and assist the economy.
The jobs that result from that discussion are one of several rewards for us to enjoy.
I welcome this chance to talk, so we can succeed greatly and grow mightily.
A writer and branding consultant, Lewis Fein covers the real estate industry, technology, and marketing, among other issues. A graduate of The Emory University School of Law, Lewis resides in Southern California. You may reach him at
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If yoursquo;re in a tough sellerrsquo;s market or just looking to get top dollar for your home, you want to do any little thing you can to make your house stand out in a potential buyerrsquo;s mind. Staging is one of those things that can make the difference between a sold sign and a house that lingers on the market.
The National Association of Realtors suggests that staging has a real impact on home sales. In fact, a majority of realtors report that staging increases the sales price of a home anywhere between 1 and 10 percent. However, the real impact of staging seems to be how quickly a home is sold, with 39 percent of Realtors stating that it greatly decreases the time spent on the market. Buyersrsquo; agents confirm the positive impact of staging, stating that 77 percent of buyers were better able to picture a home as their own when it was staged.
Of course, there is an art to staging a home, and a poorly staged home can have a negative impact on a potential sale. Here are five tips for staging your house that will have you putting up that ldquo;SOLDrdquo; sign in no time.
1. Declutter and Clean
Before thinking about decorations or furniture placement, the No. 1 suggestion of realtors is to declutter and deep clean. Clear countertops and other surfaces, and pack away anything that is not essential. Your goal is to remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing the positive aspects of your house, which is why realtors often suggest removing family photos and overly personalized decorations like your giant bobble head collection. Remember, decluttering includes removing excess furniture, which help make your rooms feel bigger.
2. Group Furniture
Once yoursquo;ve removed furniture that is unnecessary or too large for the space, group furniture into conversational groups away from the wall, instead of pushing sofas and chairs to the corners. You want there to be a flow to each room, and keeping the walls clear of big furniture will actually make the room feel bigger, says HGTV.
3. Accessories in Odd Numbers
Although yoursquo;ll need to declutter, you still want your space to feel like a lived-in home. Do this by decorating with groups of accessories like vases, books or plants. Staging professionals often recommend grouping similarly hued objects in odd number pairings of varying heights and shapes.
4. Add 1 or 2 Bold Accents
While you want to keep your staging deacute;cor fairly neutral, adding one or two bold accent pieces will help highlight a particularly great feature of your home. Adding a dramatic chandelier that matches the >
5. Use Mirrors
Mirrors can help brighten a dark hallway, bring light into a room and make a room seem larger, says Forbes. For a big impact, get a cheap mirror and add a decorative frame, or group a lot of small mirrors in differing shapes and sizes. In a room with a window, place mirrors across from the window to reflect the sunlight.
Staging is all about helping potential buyers create an emotional connection with your home. Help buyers picture themselves living in the house by decluttering, grouping furniture and accessories, adding one or two bold accents and using mirrors. Now get ready for the offers to roll in.
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The Internet is an ever-changing world that we, as business people, must always stay on top of in order to stay ahead of the competition. One of the most prominent and useful areas of the Internet for businesses to utilize, especially in real estate, is the mastering of social media. Whether you are a new agent just starting your career, or a tenured agent looking to differentiate yourself and attract new clients, having a strong social media presence is of the utmost importance. To give an idea, last year the average person spent 2 hours of their day on social media, and that amount of time is constantly increasing.
The beauty of social media is that it provides real estate agents a way to reach clients on a personal level, while simultaneously allowing them the opportunity to advertise and build their client-base. Direct selling on a regular basis, however, is one thing for agents to avoid in the social media ring because of the influx of ads that the average consumer is faced with each day.
In fact, Huffington Post estimates that the average Internet user is exposed to as many as 11,250 ads per month. As an average Internet user, can you personally recall every one of those advertisements? Of course not. So then the question becomes, how do you get the attention of users who are being sold to every moment of every day, without selling to them? Itrsquo;s a tricky question with a simple solution.
One trick is to engage with consumers by cultivating your own community. Engaging with consumers by delivering content that they can find entertaining, informational or useful allows yourself the opportunity to show potential clients your value as an agent through your wealth of knowledge, versus forcing it on them through direct advertisements online.
Finding that content balance sweet spot
According to Forbes, following an ldquo;80/20 rule,rdquo; where 80 posts are consumer->
To assist in easing both of those struggles, Realty Times has created RT Social, which perfectly combines the consumer-driven content available on Realty Times with posts that are automatically generated to an agentrsquo;s social networks, thus taking the pressure off agents to find valuable content their clients would enjoy, whilst alleviating the time management necessary to have a successful online presence. Through RT Social agents also have the ability to schedule posts of their own to bring their own voice to their social sites, whether to wish followers a great weekend or to remind them of an upcoming showing.
How often is too often?
Stats abound when it comes to answering this question. Every social media network out there has its own statistic on the right amount of posts to create and the right times of the day to post them, however the overall average amount of posts per day for social sites falls in the 1-2 posts per day range. While that is the average, itrsquo;s always beneficial to check your own individual statistics within your social networks to track impact and engagement to adjust your tactics accordingly.nbsp;
Social media can be an incredibly useful tool to help real estate agents garner a voice in their community all while cultivating meaningful >
Editorrsquo;s Note: Realty Times can be a very useful content resource as well as your personal social media manager with RT Social.
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Getting into the housing market is tough in many Canadian cities. A new CIBC poll says that many Canadian millennials are becoming landlords to help them purchase homes, and their investments are paying off for them.
"High housing costs and the growing appetite for additional revenue streams make renting out space a popular choice, especially among younger Canadians," says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning for CIBC.
The poll found that 26 per cent of Canadian homeowners are already landlords or soon plan to rent out living space, either in their own homes or at a separate property. Almost half of millennial homeowners are already landlords or plan to be soon, compared to 29 per cent of homeowners aged 35-54 and 12 per cent of those over 55.
"Younger Canadians are more open to sharing their space because they see it as financially advantageous," says television personality and contractor Scott McGillivray in a CIBC news >The poll found that homeowner landlords earn an average of 2,189 per month, while spending an average of 1,461 on expenses each month.
Eighty per cent of homeowners surveyed said that renting out part of their home makes financial sense, but they value their privacy and time too much to do it. However, more than half of the landlords surveyed say the income is worth the headaches involved. Seventy-four per cent of landlords said that even with negative cash flow, the benefits of tax deductions alone make owning an income property a good investment.
"Being a landlord can be financially rewarding, but its not easy money and would-be landlords often underestimate the taxes theyll pay on rental income and may overestimate what deductions they can claim," says Golombek. "Its important to be clear on what can and cant lower your overall tax bill."
Golombek and CIBCs Debbie Pearl-Weinberg recently wrote a report about tax considerations for rental properties and ways that landlords can get tripped up at tax time.
For example, the poll says that 69 per cent of landlords say they would offer a discount rental rate to family and friends, but Golombek says this could limit their ability to deduct expenses or claim a loss on their taxes.
When reporting income, landlords must include everything paid as rent, including income earned via services such as Airbnb. If you make a deal with your tenant that he will cut the grass or shovel snow in return for a reduction in rent, you must include the fair market value of goods or services received as part of your rental income.
Many landlords may be tempted to do improvements and maintenance to their rental units themselves, rather than hiring someone else to do the job. However, that means they will not be able to deduct the value of the work being done.
If the homeowner is renting out a portion of their primary residence, they can only deduct the portion of expenses that >The poll says that 45 per cent of landlords own the property with at least one other person. Mark Weisleder, a partner at Real Estate Lawyers.ca in Toronto, says anyone buying a property with other people should make sure everyones name is on the lease. "Before looking for a property together, buyers should visit a mortgage broker to see how much they can collectively borrow together, as everyone on title will have to sign the mortgage," he says.
He also says it is important to have an agreement to cover what happens if one party wants to sell the property and the other doesnt, or if one party is not paying their share of the expenses. "It is also best to try and resolve any differences by arbitration, to avoid costly legal fees," says Weisleder. "Make sure this agreement is signed before you close any deal with your partners."
If you do own the property jointly with someone else, you may not be able to split the rental income equally for tax purposes, says the CIBC report. For example, if you and your spouse own the property but you were the only one to provide money to purchase it, you should report all the income as well as all of any capital gain or loss when the property is sold, it says.
If you are thinking of becoming a landlord, CIBC says you should be clear about your income expectations, keeping in mind that you will be taxed on rental income and you should expect to spend one to two months of income on property maintenance and repairs.
"While most homeowners believe the tax benefits alone make an income property a worthwhile investment, its critical to understand how it fits into your overall financial plan and be mindful of all the tax implications of going this route so you can make the most of the venture," says Golombek.
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The >But others come to mind as well. State laws require brokers to exercise varying degrees of control over their agents. Simply put, the broker is responsible for seeing to it that the agent acts within the law and does things the right way. Most brokerages develop substantial sets of rules and procedures to ensure that their agents act properly. When viewed from this perspective, the >And, of course, there are other >All of these have their place and their use. My purpose here is to suggest another model for the agent-brokerage >To be sure, the commission money that comes in the door ultimately comes from principals -- buyers and sellers. That money is then shared between the brokerage and the agent. Think of the portion that goes to the brokerage as the price the agent pays for the services that the agent receives often advertising, office space, managerial support, etc..
Now, this may seem to stand the model on its head. "No, no", some will say, "it is the brokerage that brings the customer to the agent; and the commission split to the agent is what the brokerage pays him or her for handling the transaction."
Maybe that was a more accurate way to look at it in the past. It was the brokers adds, office location, and reputation that brought the consumer in, and it was the brokers investment in the office and its infrastructure that enabled the transaction to be processed.
But thats not how it works today. Computers and the internet have changed all that. Individual agents today have the tools and the ability to generate leads, advertise inventory, and develop and maintain data bases that far exceed anything a brokerage could do twenty-five years ago.
While it might be technically and legally true that a principal is the customer client of the brokerage, in reality, principals are the customer client of the agent. It is, for the most part, the agent, not the company, who provides the customer service experience that the principal will remember. For good or for ill.
It is all too easy for brokerages, at the management level, to envision their
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If youve ever seen a movie like Under the Tuscan Sun, youve undoubtedly had your own Italian farmhouse renovation fantasy. But how real is it to think about buying property in a place that requires changing currency and a long plane ride?
"Buying and restoring a fixer-upper in another country...It can be an appealing idea," said Huffington Post. "Houses in need of some tender loving care can be bought below market value and, when renovated, can resell for a nice profit. This is especially true in countries where labor costs are low. Using local labor and local materials hardwoods, stone, etc., you can add a lot of perceived value for not a lot of money."
But, that doesnt mean the process is easy. Think: Permit issues, trying to manage a delicate process from halfway around the world, and all the typical issues associated with renovating an older property - magnified by all that international intrigue. Still interested? Were breaking down the particulars.nbsp;
Carefully consider the location
The image above is of a multi-use building next to the Trevi Fountain in Rome. The first floor comprises several shops, a cafeacute;, and a Gelateria. On the second floor: Apartments. The two remaining floors are empty and in need of major restoration and renovation. Imagine the potential of these apartments, simply for the views alone. And, imagine the undertaking But mostly, imagine the demand for modern, renovated apartments here, right in the center of town, mere footsteps from one of the citys most spectacular sights.
"Location, Location, Location. The old adage about location is true," said Expat Focus. "Picking the right location is as important as the property. Picking the wrong one can be a nightmare. Think carefully about your requirements and if an abandoned property in the middle of nowhere seems remote on viewing, it will be even more so when living there."
Work with professionals who specialize in renovating older properties
Yes, moving to England for a year to renovate your old farmhouse sounds dreamy. But, lets be practical. There are few among us who can uproot our lives that way But, if you do it, please take us with you. Bucket list aside, there are far more reasons to consider purchasing an overseas property to renovate than because youre having an Eat Pray Love moment. And whether youre looking to move into the property some day or renovate it sell for profit, you want to do it right, which is why working with the right people is so important.
"London is filled with period homes, and owning one of these homes has become a hot commodity in the London property market," said The Resident. "The issue, however, is that while the outside of these homes are timeless and grand, the interiors dont always match up." Property management company Huntsmore focuses on renovating these period homes. "Very often we will assess a property and the walls and floors arent straight, or the original plaster work is out of shape," they said. "Many of these period properties have been converted, sometimes very badly, into flats, with no regard for practicality or aesthetics. We see odd pipework boxed in, poor space configuration and many of the original cornicing and fireplaces removed. One of the main issues is that many of the problems associated with renovating a period home are not identified until the works have started and the property has been gutted. We try to identify as many of these possible hurdles as possible in the design phase to avoid delays and keep the project on track."
Make sure its legal
Buying an international property may not be as easy as hopping on a plane, and, in some cases, it might not even be legal. Different places have different requirements, so be sure to check before you go off and purchase an old Victorian on a whim while on vacation halfway around the world. "Non-Bahamians must register any purchase with the Foreign Investments Board, and special permits are required," said International Living. "Non-Croatians can purchase real estate in this country if they have approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."nbsp;You can check International Living for a country-by-country guide.
Get your finances in order
"One of the biggest hurdles to buying real estate in another country can be coming up with the capital required to close on the purchase," said U.S. News amp; World Report. "In much of the world, financing isnt easy to organize. In some places financing is not possible at all for foreign buyers." Cash is king around the world, and, in some places, its not just king, but also emperor.
Know your buyer
Youll likely have a more limited buyer base in an international market, and knowing precisely who might bite on your home will drive your renovation. Are you in an area that attracts families, or are you mainly looking at retirees seeking retirement far from their current reality?
"Unless you plan to live in the home forever yourself, do your best to imagine who your resale buyer might be from the start, before beginning the restoration work," said Huffington Post. "If you plan tonbsp;rent the property, identify your target renter. If your resale buyer will likely be a retiree, youll make different choices than if you think you might be reselling to a family with children, for example. The differences have implications for both the work you do and the location you pick."
Make a friend
Finding a potential goldmine when it comes to any renovation project is often about who you know. Keep your eyes open when traveling, and talk to the people you meet. Sure, there are real estate companies who can help you locate properties for sale, in addition to helping you renovate, but they may not know that the great aunt of the neighbor of the shopkeeper where you bought souvenirs is thinking about selling her incredible old place with the impossible view of the Aegean.
Think about power
Buying an international property can come with a number of particulars you may not previously have thought about, and electricity is a big one. "Unless you want to get embroiled in a lengthy and costly planning application, avoid properties not connected to main electricity," said Expat Focus. "Despite some estate agents claims connection is just a telephone call away, this is not the case most of the time."
If youre buying abroad, youre almost certainly buying an older property. That can mean charming period details, but it can also mean outdated function and features. Remember when youre renovating that you dont need to ditch all the old to bring in the new. Save what you can and put it back, or use it in a whole new way. Working with tradespeople who are committing to reusing and recycling materials will save you money, aid the environment, and help you create a standout property.
Pay attention to local zoning laws
You can be the most experienced renovator in your state, or country, for that matter, and still feel completely out of your element when you go international. That could mean rules and laws youre not aware of.
"Check to see if it is a listed historic or heritage building," said Plaza Estates. "If it is, there may be some restrictions on what you can do when renovating.
"Beware of the local planning laws. Depending on the type of renovation you are undertaking, it would be wise to check with the local planning authority. Not all renovations will require planning permission, but its prudent to check if you are planning a major renovation."
Full Story >
Even though its the place we spend hours in, >
You dont have to be afraid of tackling this important space; little changes can make a big difference, and many can be made this weekend without outside help. Shake out those muscles and get ready to make that bedroom beautiful
Use wallpaper in new ways
Create an urban chic look with a feature wall of exposed brick or go romantic with this look. Theyre both of the peel-and-stick variety, which means theyll go up and come down easy. The no-commitment aspect of these wallpaper options makes them the perfect choice for those who havent done much in the bedroom because they thought they needed to strike the ultimate inspiration.
You can also revitalize an old dresser or pretty up a boring nightstand with a roll of the stuff. It sticks to almost anything and is removable and repositionable in case you make a booboo.nbsp;
Make your own headboard
You could spend several hundreds of dollars or more on an upholstered headboard, but with a trip to Michaels or Hobby Lobby and a couple of hours of your time, you can make you own for much less. A couple of sheets of MDF, some batting, some buttons, and your fabric of choice is just about all you need. This is one of our favorite tutorials for creating a DIY headboard that looks like it came right out of a catalogue.
Snazz up your bedding
You dont have to get new bedding to create a fresh new feel in the place where you lay your head. Plush pillows can give the bed some oomph. "If you only make one tweak to upgrade your bedroom, it should be the way you >
Create a standout mirror
Peel-and-stick tiles arent just for kitchen backsplashes. Turn a regular old bedroom mirror into a standout. The whole project can be done in mere minutes. Tip: Measure first so you know exactly how many tiles you need and so you dont end up with awkward spacing. And, be sure about the placement before you add pressure because once the tiles adhere, theyre not easy to remove.
Customize a rug
A patterned rug large enough to bring a cushy feel to your bedroom floor can be pricey. With stencils and chalk paint, you can transform a simple, inexpensive rug into something that looks like it came from an expensive decor store.nbsp;
Paint your furniture
Stencils are a great choice for bedroom furniture, too. "A little sanding and some paint can give new life tonbsp;any piece of furniture, but if you really want to transform an old piece, this is anbsp;DIYers best-kept secret:nbsp;stencils," said Country Living. "Using stencils tonbsp;givenbsp;a piece of furniture a makeover is an easy way to create a completely custom and one-of-a-kind piece.nbsp;Its also a brilliantnbsp;way to refreshnbsp;wood furniture that has seennbsp;better days."nbsp;Add some new knobs, and, voila
Create some dazzling doors
Inexpensive molding can make your plain, flat, bedroom or closet doors infinitely more interesting.nbsp;Check out how many different ways you can realize this easy update on Decorating Your Small Space.
Full Story >
Consumers are encouraged to check their credit reports once per year. The primary reason for doing so is to make sure there arent any mistakes. Unfortunately, credit reports are prone to contain mistakes. Its not really the fault of the three main credit repositories, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion because all three are just a database. Whatever is reported to them is what you see. Further, someone with a similar name can show up on someone elses report. If youre not the only Bob Smith in town, this is certainly possible.
Someone elses poor credit might very well be showing up on your report which can directly damage your credit scores. When you find an error work with your loan officer to get it fixed. Your loan officer has working >
But have you ever wondered how these scores are calculated in the first place? They follow an algorithm first developed by The FICO Company years ago. For a while, credit scores werent the primary force behind a credit decision but over time the impact of a credit score became more and more important. Most every loan program available today has a minimum credit score and if a score falls below the minimum, theres some additional work that needs to be done to get those scores back on track.
There are five characteristics of your credit history that make up your three-digit score:nbsp; your payment history, account balances, how long youve had credit, the types of credit used and how often youve applied for new credit over the past couple of years.
Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Lets say a borrower has a credit score of 600 but needs a 620 to qualify for a particular loan program. Credit scores will improve much more quickly by paying attention to the two categories that have the greatest immediate impact on a score- payment history and account balances.
Payment history accounts for 35 percent of the total score and account balances 30 percent. When someone makes a payment more than 30 days past the due date, scores will fall. An occasional "late pay" wont really do much damage to a score but continued payments made more than 30, 60 or 90 days past the due date definitely will. By stopping the late payments scores will begin to recover.
Account balances compares outstanding loan balances with credit lines. If a credit card has a 10,000 credit line and there is a 3,300 balance, scores will actually improve. The ideal balance-to-limit is about one-third of the credit line. As the balance grows and approaches the limit, scores will begin to fall and fall even more should the account balance exceed the limit. This category contributes 30 percent to the total score.
The remaining three have >
Full Story >
Youre not boring, and your home shouldnt be either. But, you can obey all the design rules and end up with a place that looks like it came right out of a magazine but still lacks a little spark. Heres how to inject a little "you" into it.
You dont have to have a house full of bold florals or abstract pieces just because thats whats "in" right now. But, it may feel like it if youve been browsing for art. Building an art collection with staying power means collecting items and >"Think beyond which artists are hot or trendy," said Tze Chun, founder ofUprise Art, an online art gallery, to Corcoran. "The goal is to build a collection that can grow with you, so select artwork that speaks to you rather than whats popular at the moment. Art is a great investment because of the value it provides you everyday, by improving your living space and offering daily inspiration."
It can be a little challenging to furnish a new space from scratch, especially if you dont want a matchy-matchy situation. But, ordering a furniture "set" can be tempting because it makes it so easy to fill up a room quickly. Doing so can result in a boring look, and can also lock you into one particular >
And then theres another reality that many people face: Trying to merge too many pieces and too many >Adding one great piece
Sometimes, all it takes it one great piece to create a memorable and mesmerizing space. Your grandmothers old sideboard? Paint it glossy black and showcase it in your dining room juxtaposed against your modern table. That Italian chandelier you fell in love with at the Flea Market? Hang it over the bathtub in your master. Unexpected touches that speak to you will always catch your eye when you walk into the room, make you feel like youre home, and become conversation pieces for visitors.
No matter what youre into, be it gothic architecture or prehistoric fossils, there is a way to bring that passion into your home and showcase it in a way that creates interest but also makes you smile.
"A collection is a window into someones world. Each piece tells a story of who they are and where theyve been," said Barrons. Take a cue from three leading designers who offer recommendations for showcasing "cherished collections in >Check your Zodiac sign
If you can diet according to your Zodiac sign, you can decorate according to it, too. The idea is to tap into the main elements of your sign to connect to the colors, >Aquarians "gravitate toward inventive design with nostalgic pops," while Taurus "rooted earth sign" means theyre "drawn to natural, unpretentious materials likerustic woodand unpolished stone," said PureWow. And the hermit like Cancer is "all about maintaining a soothing, domestic shell, which makes you the prime candidate for the Scandinavian life>Choose color wisely
When you see a super chic home, it often has very little or no color on the walls. And the overwhelming mantra among designers, especially those who are staging a home, is to keep everything neutral. But you dont have to follow that rule, especially if youre just moving in or freshening up your place.
"The introduction of colour into your home is the simplest and surest way to inject a little of your personality while creating a mood that is both interesting and enduring," said Domain. "You would be surprised at how effectively combinations of colour can direct your mood. For instance, greens and blues are typically very calming which is why you will often see a hospital saturated with these tones, and red is a much more emotionally intense colour that is known to increase cravings for food, making it a common colour used in kitchens and dining rooms."
If youre not ready to do all the walls, start with one; you might end up loving this feature wall, or it may inspire you to go ahead and paint a few more.
Wallpaper has been enjoying a resurgence over the past few years, and so has the peel-and-stick version. This is one of our favorites things to use to inject personality into a room and make it feel dynamic, romantic, exoticor any other feeling youre going for. Because its removable and replaceable, its great for fickle design folks like us who want peacocks on the wall this month, banana leaves the next and then start thinking about how great that wall in the kitchen would look with peel-and-stick faux brick while were installing banana leaves in the living room.
Full Story >
Your outdoor living area can be a source of enjoyment when youre >
Here are a few tips to make your outdoor living area easier for everyone to enjoy.
For people with mobility problems, even one or two steps can be difficult to navigate. A gradual sloping walkway or a ramp in place of steps can provide better access to an outdoor living space.
When building a ramp, refer to the American Disabilities Act Code for measurement guidelines. Even though private homes are not required to follow these requirements, theyll help you determine proper slope, length and width specifications. Ramps can be built with wood or metal. If you dont have access to a professional who can build a ramp for you, some pre-made ramps are available online. Add skid-resistant surfaces to the ramp with special paint, tape or rubber matting for added protection against falls or slipping.
The threshold entrance into the home can also pose a problem for people with mobility challenges. You can purchase small threshold ramps at local hardware stores. Ramps can be made to enhance, not detract from the look of your home and increase your resale value. Check out Pinterest for some great ideas.
2.Clear, repair, or replace pathways.
Does your yard have a sitting area outside where you like to spend time by yourself or enjoy the company of friends and family? Are sidewalks and paths in your yard in poor condition with cobblestone or pavers that shift over time, or trees and bushes that become overgrown? Consider hiring a landscaper to trim or replace trees or bushes. They can repair or replace materials on a walkway that are hazardous to navigate with a cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Think about replacing mulch, stepping stones and gravel with crushed limestone, as this can make pathways smoother. Or, have walks paved with asphalt or concrete. Good sidewalks and pathways are smooth, flat or gently sloping, free of clutter, and at least 4 feet wide to accommodate mobility aids.
Gardens provide benefits for young and old. Children learn the appreciation of seeing plants grown and bloom, and, according to a research study, daily gardening can reduce dementia by 36 percent in seniors. Whether youve maintained beautiful gardens for years or youre just now trying out your green thumb, you can create a garden thats within reach.
Making a few changes can help minimize bending and straining for people with back and joint discomfort. Think about reducing the size of your gardens and raising them up to a higher level. Ask family or friends if they will help you make gardens more accessible by building a raised bed garden. You can also try vertical gardens: Make them with t>
You and your whole family can benefit from keeping outdoor spaces accessible and well maintained. It could even increase the value of your home.
Jean Cherry, BSN, WCC, MBA is a former home health nurse who is passionate about helping those with mobility issues live a happy and healthy life>
Full Story >
Question: Our pool and clubhouse are 15 years old. The board wants to build a larger pool and upgrade the clubhouse which would require a 200,000 special assessment and drain our reserves.
Answer: The board has no authority to expand the common area amenities. Its authority is to maintain existing amenities in good condition. However, if an appropriate majority of the members are in favor of raising and spending this money for this purpose, that is acceptable. However, the "appropriate" majority may be a super majority of two thirds or more depending on how your governing documents read. This requirement could effectively kill the proposal.
Question: We did not have a quorum at our last annual meeting. So, the manager passed out blank proxies for people to sign just in case they couldnt attend the rescheduled meeting. When I asked who would be the appointee for the proxies, I was told that they would be divided among the board members. Is this the way it is usually done?
Answer: Proxies should have been distributed and collected in advance of the original annual meeting to ensure there was a quorum. Its up to the board and manager to make sure those proxies are collected before the meeting to make sure a quorum is secured, not simply hope enough people show up. Getting members to return proxies in advance takes persistence but is extremely important.
As far as the proxy process itself is concerned, a member has the right to designate a representative to act on their behalf at an annual or special member meeting. If that member either does not select a representative or the chosen representative fails to attend the meeting, the proxy could include an alternative to allow "one of the directors of the board" to vote on their behalf. If a member isnt comfortable with a board member voting, the proxy should include another alternative which states "If my designated representative fails to attend the meeting, this proxy is to be used for quorum purposes only." This way, the show can still go on. For a sample proxy, see www.Regenesis.net Forms sections.
Question: Safety is a large concern in our HOA. One of our residents wanted to arrange for a Neighborhood Watch representative to speak at the annual meeting. The request went to the manager who said that the board had to approve a speaker. Weeks later, she claimed she could not get a response from the board. Does the board really need to approve a speaker?
Answer: Every meeting should have an agenda that is noticed in advance to all attendees. The typical annual meeting agenda template looks something like this:
I. Call to Order
II. Establish a quorum
III. Approve previous annual meeting minutes
IV. Officer and Committee Reports
V. Election of Directors to the Board
VI. Old Business
VII. New Business
VII. Adjourn Meeting
Since this is a business meeting, the typical agenda does not provide for speakers. However, if there is a proposal under New Business to, say, Improve Security Using Neighborhood Watch, it is enti>
That said, you do have the right to request time for a speaker. Your manager failed to address the request. "Not getting a response from the board" is a lame excuse. The board president is the one that approves the agenda. You could have called that person directly to discuss it and should do so in the future to avoid the bureaucratic bottleneck.
For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net
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PinRaise, Inc., creators of the Agent with Hearttrade; program, have developed a new branch of their program to welcome brokerages to their community through their latest initiative, Broker with Hearttrade;.
Realty Times sat down with PinRaise, Inc. Chief Communications Officer Celeste Orsquo;Hara to discuss this new program and the many ways it can benefit brokerages everywhere. According to Mrs. Orsquo;Hara, ldquo;Broker with Heart functions in the same way as Agent with Heart in that real estate agents pledge to donate an amount of their choosing to a nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice at closing. The big difference, however, is that now a broker can receive the Broker with Heart designation and invite their agents to participate as Agents with Heart.rdquo;
See Also: Merging the Gap Between Real Estate agents and Social Responsibility
Broker with Heart also opens the opportunity to mortgage lenders and insurance brokers to pay it forward locally. ldquo;Wersquo;ve had mortgage and insurance brokerages that will match Agent with Heart donations, or simply donate on their own with each closing. Broker with Heart is truly fluid and inclusive of any type of broker that is interested in donating back to their community. Additionally, many mortgage and insurance brokerages love that Agent with Heart makes a great conversation piece and brings something new and different to the many breakfast meeting presentations they give in any given month.rdquo;
To date, the Agent with Heart program has been tremendously successful in generating thousands of dollars in donations to nonprofits around the country, and PinRaise anticipates generating exponentially more funds now that Broker with Heart has opened the opportunity to offices as well as individual agents. ldquo;Wersquo;re proud to have found a solution to social responsibility in the real estate industry as the call for giving back locally rings louder than ever, and we are confident that our partnership with brokerages across the country will assist us in our goal of donating to as many nonprofits as possible.rdquo;
Of course, brokerages that give back arenrsquo;t unheard of. In a competitive market where brokerages are currently setting up their own individual partnerships with specific nonprofits, Orsquo;Hara isnrsquo;t concerned. ldquo;What sets our programs apart from similar programs in existence is that, with Agent with Heart, the clients are responsible for choosing where their agentrsquo;s donation will be directed. For a client, being able to personally choose a nonprofit and know that the donation will be going to a cause that is close to their heart, versus a cause a client may know little about, is an empowering and meaningful experience, and one that leaves a lasting impact.rdquo;
Agent and Broker with Heart each have the ability to reach clients on a more personal level than others, with some clients even asking that their agentrsquo;s donation be made on behalf of a specific friend or family member >
For agents and brokers alike there is explicit value in the extensive publicity PinRaise offers after each donation. ldquo;Competing programs may offer a donation service, however there is no one in the marketplace that offers the publicity after each donation for agents like we do,rdquo; says Orsquo;Hara. Each time a donation is made, PinRaise launches a round of online and social promotions with customized materials to recognize the agent and the donation theyrsquo;ve just made. ldquo;Our agents love the promotions we offer for them and the fact that they can be recognized by a third-party rather than having to toot their own horn.rdquo;
In addition to promotions with each donation, PinRaise also provides its members with an arsenal of personalized materials for agents to utilize in their personal marketing, including an online advertisement that PinRaise places across various locations to promote that agent online.
With the opportunity now open to offices, brokers who are keen to differentiate their branch and would like to implement a program in support of social responsibility, or who already have a donation plan in place but would love the publicity with each donation, should give pause to consider Broker with Heart. ldquo;We welcome all branches to our program, and we look forward to the incredible donations we can accrue for nonprofits nation-wide with the help of our partnering brokerages and agents,rdquo; concludes Mrs. Orsquo;Hara.
For more information on Broker with Heart, or to receive a membership quote for your office, please visit www.PinRaise.com/Broker-with-Heart.
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Household growth has increased over the last three years, millennials are stepping up, and home prices have recovered from recession lows. So what is there to worry about? Not much on the surface, but there are some emerging trends that suggest good times wont continue for much longer in the housing market.
Rising housing costs
According to the latest from Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University State of the Nations Housing, the cost of housing has outpaced incomes to the point that almost one-third 38 million U.S. households are cost burdened, meaning they pay 30 percent or more of their incomes for housing in 2016. Worse, 47 percent of renter households 28.8 million are cost-burdened, with over half paying more than 50 percent of their incomes for housing.
The price of a typical existing home sold in 2017 was more than four times the median income, compared to just over three in 1987.
Tepid wage growth
While theres been growth in wages in recent years, it hasnt kept up with inflation, and certainly hasnt kept up with housing. The real median income of households in the bottom quartile increased only 3 percent between 1988 and 2016, while the median income for adults aged 25 to 34 rose by just 5 percent.
Meanwhile, the median home price grew 41 percent faster than inflation between 1990 and 2016, the median rent grew 20 percent faster. Adding insult to injury, 2.5 million rental units priced below 800 serving households earning up to 32,000 annually were lost between 1990 and 2016.
A new reportnbsp;from the National Low Income Housing Coalition attests that theres not one state, county or metropolitan area in the entire United States where a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of 7.25 an hour can afford a modest 2-bedroom apartment. They need three times that amount, or 22.10 to afford a modest two-bedroom rental.
According to real estate analyst John Burns, the problem is the shrinking middle >
lt;pgt;Senior Households increasing faster than Millennials
Millennials formed an average of 2.1 million net new households annually in 2012ndash;2017, but despite being larger in numbers, theyre forming fewer households than older generations. Over the past 10 years, the number of older households grew by over 7 million, rising from one in five households to one in four. By 2035, one out of every three households will be at least 65 years old. As the oldest homeowners move into care facilities or pass on, there eventually wont be enough buyers for senior homes because younger household formation hasnt kept up.
New Housing Still Underperforming
New JCHS analysis projects household growth at a rate of 1.2 million per year between 2017ndash;2027. Single- family construction, however, has remained well below the long-run annual average of 1.1 million units for at least ten years.
Homebuilders are trying to keep up. Single-family starts rose 8.6 percent to 848,900 units while permitting increased in 78 of the 100 largest metros, but because of the higher cost of materials, new homes are priced higher than existing homes. In April 2018, the median price of new homes sold was 312,400, compared to the median existing-home price of 257,900.
And for the first time since 2009, the national rental vacancy rate rose, ticking up from 6.9 percent to 7.2 percent. Most of the increase was concentrated among newer and higher-cost units, which suggests the party could be about to end.
The National Association of REALTORSreg; reported that housing sales volume has fallen for the last two months. While prices are at a 74-month high, sales volume is 1.4 percent below a year ago.
While its early to call a housing recession, the indicators are being felt. Home prices, affordability, household formation, wages, rental, existing and new home performance are all categories to watch going forward.
Full Story >
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