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Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Perhaps Its Time for Some RESPA Reminders

In 1974 Congress enacted the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act, commonly known as RESPA. The provisions of RESPA were intended to protect consumers during the home purchase process. Its two main areas of emphasis were 1 the provision of disclosures regarding settlement closing costs, and 2 the prohibition of kickbacks or referral fees that unnecessarily increase closing costs. Section 8 of RESPA makes it illegal, except for limited specified exceptions, to give someone money or any other thing of value for the referral of a real estate settlement service. For example, if I received money, or anything of value, for referring someone to an escrow company, in most every case that would be a violation of section 8 of RESPA.

While the Department of Housing and Urban Development has for a long time been the chief enforcer of RESPA provisions, that has, since 2011, become the province of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB. It has become an active enforcer and agents should be aware.

Fortunately, the National Association of Realtors, keeps track of RESPA activity and of the ever-on-going issues of interpretation. In what follows, we will look at a sample of issues featured on NARrsquo;s web page regarding frequently-asked RESPA questions.

Question 1

A real estate agent is sponsoring an open house for other agents. A local title agency reimburses the real estate agent for the cost of a luncheon and the title agency does not market its title services at the open house. Is this a violation of Section 8 of RESPA“

A: Yes, this is a violation of RESPA. By reimbursing the real estate agent for the cost of the luncheon, the title agency has given the real estate agent a thing of value in consideration for the referral of business. Both the title agency and the real estate agent could be held responsible for the RESPA violation. If, however, the title company attends the open house to make a presentation or to otherwise market its services, such payments may be lawful under RESPA.

Question 2

A real estate broker and a mortgage lender agree to jointly place a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper. Each company gets exactly one-half of the page to advertise its services. Each company pays one-half of the cost of the advertisement. Is this a violation of Section 8 of RESPA“

A: No, this appears to comply with RESPA. As long as the advertising costs paid by each party are reasonably >

Question 3

A real estate broker pays its real estate agents 20 for each referral the agents make to the real estate brokerrsquo;s affiliated mortgage company. Is this a violation of Section 8 of RESPA“

A: Yes, this is a violation of RESPA. Although RESPA provides an exception for payments made from an employer to its employees, payments between a real estate broker and its salespeople do not qualify for this exception. Real estate professionals are considered independent contractors, rather than employees of the real estate broker. As a result, the 20 payments described above constitute payments in return for the referral of business in violation of RESPA.

As previously mentioned, the NAR website contains a large amount of information, including regular columns, regarding RESPA Moreover, most of these pages are on the ldquo;publicrdquo; side. That is, you donrsquo;t have to log in with a user name and password. Readers are encouraged to take a look for themselves, and to become familiar ndash; if they arenrsquo;t already ndash; with the highly >

A few of the more accessible and >



Window to the Law: RESPA video

Happy reading

Full Story >

New Windows Changed My House - and My Mind

It was exciting to contemplate city life after living in smaller towns. Apparently, everyone else thought so too, because by the time I decided I liked a house, it was gone from the market.

Between struggling with a tight real estate market and shopping from across the country, it wasnt easy to find a house. While the city offers the charm of older neighborhoods and homes of by-gone eras, it also means that you can be pretty sure that youll be remodeling something.

Thats how my window struggle came into light.

Id snagged a home full of potential. Nestled in a full acre of green grass and big trees, the brick home offered the room I needed and the one-story I desired - plus it had the original hardwoods. Tangled up in an estate, it had sat empty for four years.

So here I stood trying to gaze out the spider web-coated windows of a 1950s-era ranch and see the beautiful maples and oaks. It was like an oasis tucked in the city. As I did, I began to list the key items on my to-do list, like a modern kitchen, repaired air ducts, pipe repairs and a new coating on the driveway.

Windows ba>

As I began to focus on key items, like a modern kitchen, leaking air ducts, plumbing issues and an eroding driveway, so windows ba>

Funny now to think I thought that meant I was done with windows.

Two things came into play nearly simultaneously. Only a day or two after the moving van unloaded, I decided I couldnt take the dirty windows another day. So despite having mountains of boxes to maneuver around, cleaning years of grime got moved to the top of the list. Armed with rags, cleaning supplies and a step-ladder, I marched to dark, dirty glass in the dining room. Thats when I discovered the window would not budge. It had opened on the last walk-thru, but would not open today.

Humidity had played a part in the old wood swelling. Undaunted, I cleaned the inside and headed outside to clean it from that direction. Covering the window were storm windows that probably hadnt been removed in years, if not decades. They were supposed to slide up, but it wasnt happening. As I moved around the house, I noticed a great portion of the windows had issues, including cracks, I could not resolve.

Ultimately, it didnt take long to learn that I couldnt live with the old windows that didnt function. In fact, changing out the windows got bumped up to the top of the list.

My desire for the windows had to do with function. I wanted to see out them and open them. I hadnt really thought about the look. I guess I thought a white window replaced by a white window would be the same. Instead, it was a huge shock to learn what enormous difference new windows made in the appearance and feel of the home.

In one day, the house went from one that looked like it had black widow spiders in the lock box to one that looked loved and inviting. The old windows contained grilles, the pieces of wood which visually divides a pane of glass so it appears to be made of smaller panes. The new windows I chose did not have grilles. That move made every window seem bigger and every room seem brighter. Of course, the new windows, without years of wear and the layer of dirty storm windows, really were brighter.

While I was waiting on windows and other key repairs, like electrical panel upgrades, I was trying to plan that kitchen remodel as well as a bathroom re-do. In trying to save costs where I could, I was working around existing windows. Despite taking down a wall to get more space, no matter how I moved around cabinets and appliances in my kitchen drawing, I could not get good workflow. In the current design, a small table for two sat in front of the only window, a long one that went nearly to the floor.

One day, someone asked me why I was working around that long window. They suggested I put in a shorter window and place the sink under the window. It was a light bulb moment.

With a brick house, Id not even thought about changing a windows dimensions. It turns out it wasnt hard at all. Since the windows exterior is on my screen porch, I choose wood to fill in the space of the shortened window and painted it to match the window, rather than have a brick mason brick in the space.

The same width was kept, but the shortened window allowed for a changed countertop and sink placement and suddenly made the whole kitchen plan work. I also shortened a window in the remodeled bathroom, which meant the soaking tub could be placed under the window and Id still get plenty of natural light.

The new windows really changed the whole look and feel of the old house. When I get a chance to talk remodeling, I now tell people replacing old windows needs to be at the top of their list.

Lea Schneider is a professional organizer based in Nashville, Tennessee. She shares her experiences on remodeling her 1950s ranch fixer-upper, which included replacing her casement windows. If you are also looking to update your house, visit The Home Depot to see a large selection of casement windows.

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4 Essentials for Building a Home Office

The key to staying efficient and on-task is to set up your own dedicated workspace. If yoursquo;ll be working at home, building a home office helps create an environment of productivity and replicate a traditional office feeling within your own home. Of course, you should consider a few essentials when setting up an office of your own.


According to some sources, the fluorescent lights many traditional office buildings use can be damaging to your eyes. When designing your own office space, you have control over the types of lighting you choose, as well as how bright or dim they are while you work. Choosing options that fit the projects you work on will help you create the perfect lighting system. You should also consider factors like what can protect your eyes and adjust to outside conditions if your home office has a window.

Desk and chair

Getting a desk and chair for your office may seem like a no-brainer, but therersquo;s more to it than picking out something to write on and something to sit on. Since yoursquo;ll be spending a lot of time in your office chair, you should make sure it provides adequate support and comfort for the long haul.

You should also make sure your desk is well-suited for long days of work. Set up a system of organization for paperwork and any knickknacks you have lying around. In addition, try to use your desk only for work as much as possible. Training your brain to have a dedicated space during work hours can help you stay on-task when yoursquo;re working at home.

Necessary technology

Remote workers often lean on technology to connect to others they work with and complete tasks. Itrsquo;s important to invest in good equipment, from keyboards to storage. In addition, because yoursquo;ll most likely be working online, itrsquo;s important to have a strong internet connection. Keeping up-to-date on all the technology yoursquo;ll need will help prevent tech-based headaches, especially because you wonrsquo;t have an in-house IT department to fix any issues.


Since yoursquo;ll be spending a good chunk of each week in this one room, it needs to be a place you find aesthetically appealing. Adding a few decorations can personalize your office and make it a place where you feel comfortable and happy. A word of caution: it can be easy to go overboard on decorations and end up creating visual distractions for yourself. With this in mind, be thoughtful about the items you choose to put in your space. Plants and simple wall art can help your space feel inviting without catching your eye every time you sit down.


Once yoursquo;ve got your home office set up and ready to go, yoursquo;ll be able to promote a productive and enjoyable workday in the comfort of your own home. Fostering the perfect space to foster productivity and creativity is key to a successful remote working experience.

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The Best Holiday Gifts 25 And Under Can Buy

Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag, 16.50

Is it a plastic bag“ No, itrsquo;s a glass piece created to look like a plastic bag. This is just the type of unique, kitschy gift your friend, colleague, or loved one willhellip;well, love.

Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer, 25

Letrsquo;s admit it. That constant stirring is the worst part about cooking, are we right“ Anyone who loves spending time in the kitchen will appreciate this gift.

Mood Ring Thermochromic iPhone Case, 17.98

This just might make you wish you didnrsquo;t upgrade your phone to the X This cool case fits iPhones 6ndash;8 and reacts to touch, just like a mood ring.

14-Piece Stainless Steel Bartending Set, 24.99

Behold the perfect hostess gift Yoursquo;ll undoubtedly see this 14-piece stainless steel bartending set againhellip;the next time you come over

Hamilton Beach Quesadilla Maker, 14.99

Who doesnrsquo;t want to make restaurant-quality quesadillas at home“ Forget the microwave. This is the real deal.

KitchenAid Stainless Steel Utility Whisk, 9.80

This falls somewhere between a stand mixer and a hand mixer, and, at under 10 each, yoursquo;ll want to buy one for everyone

Good Housekeeping Instant Pot Cookbook, 10

When you canrsquo;t afford the Instant Pot, you can at least go with the cookbook.

Kaia Naturals Detox Hot Bath, 15

Your Type-A friends and anyone who needs to chill will love these natural hot baths, ldquo;with revitalizing ingredients like matcha, turmeric, and spearmintrdquo; that allow them to ldquo;easily be able to moisturize, soothe, and unwind,rdquo; said Womanrsquo;s Day.


Staying over with family or friends during the holidays“ Come bearing this gourmet, artisanal brunch accoutrement. Yoursquo;ll be the hit of the party

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, 11.99

This one is perfect for your favorite adventurer. ldquo;When theyre stranded out in the wilderness without anything to drink in a misguided attempt to become Bear Grylls, this handy little stick might literally save their life by turning the dirtiest sludge into drinkable water,rdquo; said Esquire.

Its Saturday Morning: Celebrating the Golden Era of Cartoons 1960s - 1990s, 20.39

Give a walk down memory lane this holiday season with this wonderfully nostalgic book thats sure to put a smile on the recipients face.

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7 Model Home Ideas to Steal for Your Home

Getting color ideas

Model homes are ra>

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

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

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

General design inspiration

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

Incorporating the newest trends

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

Treating small spaces

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

Getting space planning tips

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

Styling a guest room

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

Getting your kids rooms just right

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

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Is Your Furnace Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?

"Pollutants" is a broad term, and can include things like dust mites, pet dander, mold spores and viruses, as well as gaseous pollutants like tobacco smoke and the off-gassing from paints, cleaning products and some building products. They can lead to headaches, dizziness, irritation of eyes, nose and throat, fatigue and more serious illnesses. If you experience these symptoms while in your house, but not when you are away from home, indoor pollutants may be the cause.

The best solution is to remove the cause of the pollutants and ventilate the space with fresh outdoor air. Unfortunately, natural ventilation is not always practical. No one is going to throw open the windows on a cold winters day, nor are they likely to open the windows if the house is cooled by a central air conditioning systemmdash;as the purpose of a tightly sealed home is to conserve energy.

However, you can also help remove some of the pollutants by upgrading the filter used in your forced-air heating and cooling system. The basic furnace filter is designed to keep dust and large particles out of the machinery, but more advanced filters can effectively remove pollutants, including viruses and odors, using a variety of methods. Standard filters simply trap particles on a flat filtering medium, while others have deep pleats with added surface area. Electrostatic filters provide an electrical charge that helps trap some particles more effectively.

Pick a Filter

There are a number of rating systems to help sort out the types of filters available. The systems will help you compare filters from different companies. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE developed the minimum efficiency reporting value MERV for filters. MERV rates filters on a scale from 1 to 20, with 20 being the most efficient at removing pollutants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, filters in the 7 to 13 range are likely to be nearly as efficient as high-efficiency particle arrestance HEPA filters at removing airborne particles. Filters with higher ratings are used in hospitals, laboratories and clean rooms.

Be sure to buy the size filter that fits your system. The information should be in the owners manual or on the furnace itself. If you dont have it, take the existing filter to the store with you. If you choose a high-efficiency filter, read the packaging carefully, as some need to be changed more frequently than others to function properly.

Inline purifiers are another option. These are installed inside the air ducts to remove pollutants. Some employ ultraviolet radiation to kill bacteria, allergens and mold. Others use a catalyst to oxidize pollutants including gaseous ones, a process that converts the pollutants into harmless hydrogen and oxygen. Inline purifiers are usually used in addition to - not instead of - furnace filters.

Other Steps to Take

Installing a high-efficiency furnace filter is a good first step for tackling indoor air pollution. Its something that you can do right away, for little moneymdash;a premium filter will cost less than 25. However, it wont solve every type of pollution problem. Here are some other steps to take:

  • Make sure range hoods, bathroom ventilation fans and dryer vents are all working properly. They vent moisture and odors to the outside. Getting rid of moisture vapor in bathrooms and kitchen will help prevent mold.
  • Install carbon monoxide CO detectors in your home. CO is a byproduct of combustion, and if it accumulates in your home, it can be lethal.
  • Have your house tested for radon. Radon is an odorless, invisible gas that is a byproduct of uranium that occurs naturally in the soil. If it leaches into your home, it can lead to serious illnesses. Test kits let you take a sample of air from your home and send it to a lab for results. If you do have elevated levels in your home, dont panic. Radon mitigation products are straightforward and simple to install.

Protect yourself from the pollutants in your air by replacing your furnace filter as needed, and making sure to ventilate your home with fresh air whenever possible.

About The Author

Home-improvement expert Fran Donegan nbsp;writes on heating systems, including furnaces, and home air quality issues, for Home Depot. Fran is the author of the home DIY books Pools and Spas and Paint Your Home. You can research Home Depots forced air furnace selection nbsp;online.

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6 Reasons to Adopt a Green Lifestyle

According to the United Nations, a whirlwind of issues, many of which are likely caused by man, threaten to harm our precious Earth in irreversible ways. From greenhouse gas emissions to air pollution, deforestation, and issues with water and waste, the human impact on our planet has become real. And if we donrsquo;t change, we face both unintended and potentially permanent consequences.

According to most experts, the biggest issue we face is climate change. Although the Earthrsquo;s temperature has ebbed and flowed throughout the course of history, some evidence suggests human activity is altering its natural path.

While some environmental changes can be easily explained, much of the evidence for climate change is compelling. According to NASA, global sea levels are rising faster than in recorded history and global temperatures are surging, with 15 of the 16 hottest years in history taking place since 2001. Ocean temperatures continue to rise while artic sea ice retreats. Decreased snow cover, ocean acidification, and global weather events provide even more proof our planet is changing.

Fortunately, there is plenty anyone can do to change the course of history. If yoursquo;re losing sleep over environmental issues, you can do more than worry ndash; you can act. With the introduction of new technologies and new, Earth-friendly products, itrsquo;s easier to ldquo;go greenrdquo; than ever before.

You canrsquo;t change the planet on your own, but you can take steps to reduce your environmental footprint, limit waste, and create a sustainable life>

Why Go Green“

When you think of ldquo;going greenrdquo; or adopting an Earth-friendly life>

Those ideas probably make you chuckle, and thatrsquo;s okay. The good news is, you donrsquo;t have to be a radical or drastically change your life to help the planet or reduce your impact. When it comes to ldquo;going greenrdquo; this is one of the biggest misconceptions we face. Many families assume they must uproot their lives or make huge changes to reduce their impact on the planet.

And even once you get past the stigma, yoursquo;ll also find that far too many people overestimate the costs of caring for the environment. Maybe they read how expensive going green can be in the past. Or, perhaps they just wrongly assume any potential changes they could make would be expensive.

Regardless of what yoursquo;ve read or heard, taking steps to help our planet doesnrsquo;t have to break the bank. For every costly change you make, there are several Earth-friendly alternatives that are 100 percent free

Wersquo;ll get to some of those steps in a minute. But first, letrsquo;s talk about why. Why should you care about the Earth“ Why should you take steps to change“ Further, why should you spend your own money ldquo;going green“rdquo;

Believe it or not, embracing a greener life>

Here are six of the most important reasons you should adopt a green life>

Reason 1: This is the only planet wersquo;ll ever have.
The top reason to go green is an obvious one; planet Earth is our only home. If we spoil our planet, we canrsquo;t move to Jupiter or Mars and start over.

Reason 2: Real food is better for you.
The big benefit here is that most Earth-friendly foods are also foods that are good for you. Fresh vegetables and fruits farmed locally are some of the best foods you can find, for example.

Reason 3: Some ldquo;greenrdquo; technologies can help you save money.
While itrsquo;s commonly believed that going green is crazy-expensive, this is no longer the case. Even energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, which are somewhat expensive upfront, will help you save money on your home energy bills over time. Meanwhile, the price of newer technologies like solar panels continues to decrease every year.

Reason 4: Going green can increase your homersquo;s value.
Adding energy-efficient appliances or upgrades to your home will help you save money over the long run. And since buyers love the idea of saving on utilities and energy, you can increase your homersquo;s value and fetch a higher sales price, too.

Reason 5: We need water to live.
If you donrsquo;t care about the health of our water, yoursquo;re forgetting one crucial detail: We need water to live. As humans, we cannot afford to ignore the health of our water supply.

Reason 6: Green living is often more humane
As the scientific journal Nature noted earlier this year, human diets are directly linked to the health of our planet. More than anything else, a vegetarian or mostly-vegetarian diet is the best way for humans to reduce carbon emissions and stop global warming.

For more great tips on green living, check out "The Ultimate Guide to Cheap Green Living" on

Michael Tamez is a certified eco-consultant who shares tips, tools and strategies for green living on his website,

Jeff Wilson has hosted over 200 television episodes on environmental topics for HGTV, The DIY Network, and public television. He currently writes over at The Greenhouse Effect and you can find him on Twitter tgheffect.

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Allowing a Lender to Cross Collateralize Against Additional Property

In many cases, this cross collateralization may not be something the borrower worries about, as the borrower intends to pay the lender in full. The general plan is for the borrower to refinance the target property at anbsp;point where a new lender does not require cross collateralization, pay off the existing lender, and the existing lender >

The danger here is that the lender may hold up the sale because it does not want to >

Now, letrsquo;s say that the borrower receives an unsolicited offer for the first rental of 525,000, and he wishes to accept it. If there was no cross collateral against this property, the borrower could accept the offer, pay off the existing first of 200,000, and pocket the remaining 325,000. However, because the rental has been crossed, the lender has 550,000 against the property in second position. That means that there is technically 750,000 of liens showing up against the property. The borrower cannot accept the 525,000 offer without having the second [the crossed loan] >

For this reason, it is imperative for there to be an agreed upon >

For example, if the crossed rental was sold at a 5 CAP rate, and the crossed lenderrsquo;s interest rate was 7, the borrower may choose to sell the rental and come up with money to satisfy the lender should the lender want more than the 325,000 net proceeds from the sale. In other words, there are times when it makes economic sense to come up with money in order to sell property. Another similar scenario like this occurs when there is a blanket loan covering multiple properties, as is the case when an apartment building has been converted to condos and the owner of the building desires to sell off one condo at a time. A typical lender on the building will usually have >

The >

Borrowers who overlook >

Many lenders may be willing to work out a reasonable amount for >

This is the primary reason why typical banks do not usually cross collateralize their loans. Most banks do not like a lot of moving parts. They want to focus on one property and the risk associated with it.

Borrowers should make sure that the lender does not hold any of the borrowerrsquo;s properties hostage and that >


Edward Brown is an investment expert and host of the radio show, "The Best of Investing." He has multiple published words, including an interview with the Wall Street Journal, and has also served as a chairman of the Shareholder Equity Committee to protect 29,000 shareholders representing 500 million REIT. Edward is also a recipient of the prestigious MBA Tax Award.

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Looking for a Bargain? Put on That Winter Jacket and Go Buy a Home Before the Spring Thaw

Jeff LaGrange, Vice President of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois Region, explained that, ldquo;In the Midwest, homes that go under contract in November, December and January usually are offered by highly motivated sellers. In spring and summer, purchasers may pay a premium because they compete with many other buyers. Less competition in winter means prices typically donrsquo;t include that premium, and sellers frequently are more flexible about price and other terms.rdquo;

Itrsquo;s that flexibility that is often key to a successful closing. So how can you use the time of year to your advantage to buy a home“ Here are a few tips.

Be ready to negotiate

ldquo;When you have fewer buyers in the market, supply exceeds demand,rdquo; said The Spruce. ldquo;This usually results in prices being lower than during the hot or peak season.rdquo;

In northern Illinois, ldquo;Chicago-area homes sold in February had a median sales price that averaged 17.8 less than homes sold in June of the same yearrdquo; over the past 14 years, said LaGrange. But, that doesnt mean you can lowball and come away with a new home. You never want to insult the seller, who can flat out reject your offer if they so choose. Allowing your real estate agent to guide the process to come away with a good deal for you that doesnrsquo;t turn off the seller is key.

Creative negotiating may also help you get the home. Be willing to look at scenarios involving closing costs, repairs to items uncovered during the inspection, and even renting back if needed to help get a deal done.

Be ready to tour a home on a momentrsquo;s notice

OK, maybe not on a momentrsquo;s notice. But being flexible with your home tours is important in a winter weather-prone area. ldquo;With fewer hours of daylight, it may be necessary to visit more homes after dark, a less than ideal situation,rdquo; said RE/MAX. ldquo;When that happens, it makes sense to arrange a daylight visit before making an offer, and that can involve taking time off work,rdquo; said Linda Dore, a broker with RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill, ldquo;but itrsquo;s worth it.rdquo;

Make sure your agent is winter savvy

Vacant homes can throw a wrinkle into any buyerrsquo;s plans, especially if a storm has left the home in less than hospitable condition. You never know when yoursquo;re going to have to MacGyver a situation. ldquo;These days, more homes than ever are vacant when they go on the market, and you never know what to expect,rdquo; said Donna Smolak of RE/MAX Vision 212 in Chicago. ldquo;Some can be beautifully maintained, but in other cases there can be six-inches of snow in the driveway, the storm door many be frozen shut or the whole home may be winterized with the heat and plumbing out of service,rdquo;rsquo; she said. ldquo;I always bring a fold-up shovel with me in case a car gets stuck or we want to scrape snow off an outdoor area to check whatrsquo;s underneath.rdquo;

Use your imagination

Vacant homes can also pose a challenge to buyers who lack the ability to envision what the home may look like with their furniture inside. But buyers are notoriously bad at seeing past paint colors or deacute;cor in any home. Especially when yoursquo;re dealing with a home that may not be everything you want, itrsquo;s important to try to look beyond any poor decorating choices or even some curious floorplan issues to see what the home can be.

Remember that if the house were perfect, it would either be more expensive, would have been sold quickly in the spring or summer, or both. Try to focus on things like overall space, ceiling height, and natural light. That will help you see the potential in the space and plan for changes once the home is yours.

Keep the goal in mind

Buyers in the winter often ldquo;have a real need to buy quickly, perhaps because of a work->

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The Power of Staging Your Home to Sell

Accentuate the Positive

When studying a room, the first point your eye catches should be a positive one. For example, a home with a massive fireplace commands the first attention spot. However, poor placement of furniture, too many "comfy" afghans and plenty of books and magazines will distort the simplicity of the rooms greatest asset. Add last nights empty pizza box and full ashtrays and any prospective buyer will less appreciate the fine points the home would have offered.

Here is a list of ten points to keep in mind when staging your home for buyer inspections:

1. Start packing the belongings you absolutely do not need to "live." Extra books, magazines, kids artwork, afghans that dont match the decor should be boxed and labeled for your next home. Extra knick-knacks from Christmas, cluttered bulletin boards and several months bank statements can easily be stored away. Kitchens are the biggest culprits as they are such a busy meeting place in the home. Discount coupons, excessive decorative magnets, photos, etc. really catch the eye of the overwhelmed buyer. The top of the refrigerator is the largest collector of sometimes used gadgets. Unless you use your "wok" daily, it is better to clear the top and the front of your refrigerator to make the kitchen a little simpler. Convenient appliances also do better when tucked away so counters look cleaner and sharper. Please check switchplates for fingerprints and smudges, as those are the first places to get noticed. Doorbells are another place that fingerprints are evident. Be sure you are making the right first impression.

2. Family rooms are for >

3. Bedrooms are other places we enjoy our conveniences the most. Having our robes and slippers waiting for us does not offer top exposure to a viewing family. Get closets slimmed down for a generous look. Freshen with a soft potpourri to diminish the stale odors that come with humidity and small confined places. Although we like our shades and blinds pulled for sleeping hours generally all buyers are drawn to a light, airy and bright room, so open up all window treatments to maximize brightness. With windows being exposed, be sure they are really clean and sparkling. A house really shows its best when it looks like it has been cared for. Remove jewelry and other small personal items from dresser tops. Clean and simple sells the best.

4. The most inexpensive way to brighten a home besides a fresh coat of paint is to increase the wattage in light bulbs. That small guest room may be seldom used, but needs to look bigger and brighter to an interested buyer. Be sure the lamp can handle a stronger bulb and invest in a 3-way if possible. When you know that a showing is scheduled be sure to turn on every light bulb in the house for the best showing potential. Look around model homes, you will notice all the lights are always on, even on sunny days This is not the time to conserve electricity - its part of your marketing plan. If you have a room that shows particularly dark, put in an interesting lamp and leave it on most of the time. It will help the buyer leave with a brighter impression of the rest of the home.
5. Everybody has a "junk" room or closet. Its acceptable not to be perfect throughout, but minimize the clutter to one room, desk, or area and you are ensured of a better showing. If it is impossible to move around you could be adversely affecting that buyers perception of the size of the home, so give careful consideration to overstuffed rooms.

6. Everyones basement and garages are >

7. The worst offenders for dust and dirt are the cold air returns and heating vents. If they wont clean up with soap and water and painting doesnt improve them either, purchasing new ones is not that expensive and a great alternative. A house with cobwebs and loaded vents really gives the wrong impression about the cleaning standards of the present owner.

8. Pet dishes of water and food should be >

9. Juniors bedroom posters of rock groups to minimize the true picture of the room. Limit the "artwork" to 1 or 2 posters and promise him that he can resurrect the rest at his next destination.

10. Bathroom grouts must look like new. Bleaching can take care of some of the problems, but its worth the money to have a professional tile person patch and regrout problem areas. This is not a good time to try extensive grouting yourself. Often times amateur attempts convey the problem more than it is. Shower tracks from doors should glisten, along with the mirrors. Remove prescription bottles, pills, old toothbrushes, and worn towels. This room should get the most attention and look its best at all times. Dated colors in sinks can be replaced for generally a low investment and can render a much-updated feeling when a yesteryear color is no longer an objection. Remove old moldy shower curtains and limit shampoos to a few.


Full Story >

Season of Giving Kicks Off with Agent-Driven Donations to Local Nonprofits

Kellie Bradt of RG Realty Group in Coon Rapids, MN has made a generous donation to Brothers Empowered on behalf of her clients, Krystyana and Jeremy Bolz.

Michelle Ratajczak of James amp; Less Realty in Virginia Beach, VA has generously donated to the Alzheimerrsquo;s Association of Southeastern Virginia on behalf of her clients Marcia McGrath and Edith Greene.

James Potenza of Texas Buyer Realty LLC in Pearland, TX donated to St. Helen Catholic School on behalf of his client, Shelly Potenza.

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 2 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program. Read more about their donations and generosity here.

ldquo;As we enter lsquo;the season of giving,rsquo; I want to thank our incredible Agents with Heart, Kellie, Michelle, James and Quinlan Realty for helping us to donate to nonprofit organizations across the country,rdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;It is because of real estate agents like them, who strive to give back within their own communities, that our program is able to assist as many nonprofits as we do.rdquo;

ldquo;November is traditionally a time of reflection and gratitude, and I am especially grateful for the kindness that Kellie, Michelle, James and everyone at Quinlan Realty show through their unique dedication to giving. We appreciate their generosity and for choosing to partner with our program. All of us at PinRaise thank our wonderful agents, and look forward to seeing the good their generosity will bring to their communities,rdquo; concludes Mr. Giaimo.

About the Agent with Heart Program: Through the Agent with Heart program, real estate agents agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their commission from a home sale or purchase to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit

To contact Kellie Bradt, please call 651-269-8435
or visit

To contact Michelle Ratajczak, please call 757-472-0944
or visit

To contact James Potenza, please call 832-372-6388 or visit

To contact Quinlan Realty, please call 314-401-9286 or visit

Full Story >

Quinlan Realtys Broker, Craig Carr, Generously Donates to Local Nonprofits

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 2 donations thanks to distinguished Broker with Heart, Craig Carr.

Craig has made a generous donation to Generation Rescue Inc. on behalf of his clients, Carrie and Craig Roland, and made a second donation to the Buddy Fund on behalf of his clients, Meron Haile and Meron Gebre.

ldquo;All of us at PinRaise do not have enough great things to say about Craig Carr,rdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Not only is he a joy to work with, but from the moment Craig joined our program he has made sure to make a donation on each and every closing hersquo;s had. Since he became a broker, he has also gone on to match the donations made by his agents, something that takes a true kindness and dedication to helping those in need.rdquo;

ldquo;I would personally like to thank Craig for his incredible generosity, and for being a shining example of what it means to be a Broker with Heart. I commend him for his kindness, and thank him for being such an incredible partner in giving,rdquo; concludes Mr. Giaimo.

About the Broker with Heart Program: Through the Broker with Heart program, brokerages agree to donate a percentage or fixed dollar amount of their commission from a home sale or purchase to the nonprofit of their clientrsquo;s choice after closing. This provides needed revenue for the nonprofit and makes a real difference in their community. For more information, please visit

To contact Craig Carr, please call 314-401-9286 or visit

Full Story >

The Dangers Not Over When the Flames Go Out: What to Look for Before You Return Home After a Fire

Should you ever be in the unfortunate position to have to escape or endure a fire, these tips will help keep you safe.

Donrsquo;t move back in just because everything looks fine.

ldquo;Sometimes homes that appear completely safe after a fire can conceal damage that is invisible to homeowners,rdquo; said Fast Home Help. ldquo;It is important that you have your home thoroughly inspected by licensed, experienced professionals.rdquo;

That often means more than one professional. ldquo;It is unlikely that a single inspector will be able to conduct all aspects of your home investigation. More likely, you will require the services of multiple specialists, including a structural engineer, an industrial hygienist, and a plumber.rdquo;

It may seem like a hassle to parade numerous people through your home when all you want to do is get back to normal, but, when it comes to specialists whose job it is to ensure the safety of your home and its inhabitants, the more, the merrier. ldquo;While smoke damage is visible on walls and ceilings, it can also permeate these surfaces and cause damage to a homes structure/framing, wall studs, insulation and air ducts in your ventilation system,rdquo; said Resolve by Lowes. ldquo;When soot and smoke particles become trapped in the HVAC system, the smoke odor can reoccur periodically and even cause respiratory problems.rdquo;

Do a water quality test

You can buy one of these for about 20, and the peace of mind it will give you is priceless. ldquo;Wildfires can compromise water quality both during active burning, and for months and years after the fire has been contained,rdquo; said the California Water Science Center. ldquo;During active burning, ash can settle on lakes and reservoirs used for drinking water supplies, like during the 2013 Rim Fire.

Be wary of ashes

While the California Air Resources Board said that, ldquo;The ash deposited by forest fires is >

They recommend taking great care with any ash that has settled around the property, including wearing ldquo;gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants and avoid skin contact,rdquo; staying away from leaf blowers, and leaving remediation to the professionals.

Hire a public adjustor

Yes, you need to have your home assessed for insurance purposes, and that will entail having an insurance adjustor come out. However, the adjustor your company wants to send out works for them. A public adjustor works for you, and is a better way to ensure that you get as much money as you can to repair or replace the damaged items in your home.

ldquo;The third type of adjuster, the public adjuster, works only for the policy holder,rdquo; said The Balance. ldquo;The public insurance adjuster is also an independent insurance adjuster but they are hired by the policy holders who are filing the claim. Public insurance adjusters are often hired by insurance policy holders to make sure they are getting their full claim benefit from the insurance policy they purchased.rdquo;

Full Story >

Tree Laws Differ Among the States

Over the centuries, our country has grown from a largely agricultural setting to an urban civilization. As a result of these changes, different states have adopted different rules regarding tree law and liability.

On Sept. 14, 2007, the Supreme Court of Virginia reversed its longstanding position by holding that where a neighbors tree causes actual harm or poses an imminent danger of actual harm to an adjoining property, the tree owner "may be held responsible" for this harm. Prior to this, Virginia followed what is commonly referred to as the Massachusetts rule, namely that a property owners right to protect his property from the encroaching roots and boughs of a neighbors tree is limited to self-help. In other words, the property owner has the absolute right to trim the branches and cut to roots -- but only on his own property. He cannot enter onto the tree owners property, and he cannot sue the tree owner.

In Fancher v. Fagella, the Virginia Court made it clear that its earlier decisions were made "in times when the population was far less densely concentrated than at present, and more often engaged in agriculture."

To my knowledge, every state in the Union allows a property owner to exercise this self-help. However, some courts have modified this by holding that if self-help causes the neighbors tree to die, the tree owner must be compensated by the person who cut down the branches or the tree roots.

Additionally, over the years, four basic theories have evolved as to whether the adjoining neighbor has any legal cause of action over and above self-help.

The Massachusetts rule: As noted above, even if damage is done to the neighbors property, that neighbor is limited to self-help. That is the exclusive remedy. Many judges have called this rule the "law of the jungle" because "self-help effectively replaces the law of orderly judicial process as the only way to adjust the rights and responsibilities of disputing neighbors."

It should be noted that for all practical purposes, Maryland and the District of Columbia follow this rule.

The old Virginia rule: Until the Virginia high court recently reversed itself, since at least 1939 the law there was that the injured landowner is limited to self-help "unless the encroaching tree or plant is noxious and causes actual harm to the neighboring property."

But last month, the Virginia court acknowledged that it was difficult to determine exactly what is meant by "noxious."

The Restatement rule: The American Law Institute -- a prestigious organization composed of lawyers, judges and professors -- periodically issues "restatements of law" on various topics. While such statements are not legally binding on the courts, they do assist lawyers and judges in understanding and interpreting cases. In the Restatement of Torts, promulgated in 1979, it determined that the tree owner has an obligation to control encroachments when vegetation is artificial -- i.e. planted or maintained by a person -- but not when the encroachment is natural. In other words, if you planted your tree, and it causes damage to your neighbor, you may be financially responsible for this damage.

Most states rejected this theory, simply because it is often impossible to determine whether a tree is "artificial" or "natural." If you just moved into your new home, you have absolutely no way of knowing the origin of your trees.

The Hawaii rule: In 1981, the high court in Hawaii further modified the self-help rule. Normally, the court said, living trees and plants are not nuisances. While it may be an inconvenience for the neighbor if the trees next-door cast shade or drop leaves, flowers or fruit, this is not actionable at law. However, "when they cause actual harm or pose an imminent danger of actual harm to adjoining property," the neighbor may require the tree owner to pay for the damage and to cut back the endangering branches or roots. And if this is not done within a reasonable period of time, the neighbor "may cause the cutback to be done at the tree owners expense."

In Fancher, the Virginia court carefully considered all of the various rules, and decided to "join the growing number of states that have adopted the Hawaii approach." Several reasons were provided by the court.

First, it strikes an "appropriate balance" between the competing rights of adjacent property owners.

Second, the court wanted to make sure that frivolous, vexatious lawsuits would be discouraged, while at the same time not precluding a homeowner from recovering where serious damage has occurred. Mr. Fanchers damage included displacement of a retaining wall between the two properties, blockage of his sewer and water pipes, and impairment of the foundation of his house.

Third, it agreed that limiting the neighbor to the self-help remedy does, in fact, encourage the "law of the jungle."

Fourth, the other rules in existence -- including its own rules -- were unworkable and difficult to understand and apply.

And finally, quoting an earlier case in Tennessee, which in 2002 adopted the Hawaii rule, "the rule we adopt today is in keeping with the aim of the law to provide a remedy to those who are harmed as a result of anothers tortuous conduct."

What does this all mean for a homeowner who is confronted with damage to his or her property caused by the neighbors tree“

The first thing you should do is hire an arborist. There are a number of organizations that you can find on the Internet to guide you in locating one in your state and in determining what qualifications are needed.

The arborist must personally inspect the tree or trees in question. Under no circumstances can he or she go onto your neighbors property, however, unless you get specific written permission from the tree owner. According to Lew Bloch, the author of "Tree Law Cases in the USA," "Be clear of where the property line is." In his book, Bloch points out that, "aside from possible civil or criminal actions, some states allow for double or treble damages for trespass cases. And remember that trespass does not have to be intentional; it can also be accidental."

Once you get a written report from your arborist, and assuming that it shows a potential danger, send a copy to your neighbor. Depending on your >

In many cases, you may be able to amicably resolve the issues. It is clearly less expensive to agree to split the cost of removing the tree than to litigate.

But if your neighbor is obstinate and insists that, "the tree will stay," then you should consult an attorney knowledgeable about real estate and tree law.

Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to sue the neighbor seeking an injunction, which would require him to remove the tree. If you can demonstrate actual damage to your property as a direct result of the tree growth, many judges will also award you actual damages, based on the legal theory of "private nuisance." So, for example, if the neighbors tree caused 5,000 in damage to your garage, if you can prove this damage, the court may also give you a judgment in this amount.

But litigation is always time-consuming, expensive and uncertain. More importantly, since we follow the "American rule" on attorneys fees, which means that in the absence of a statute or a written agreement each side pays his or her own lawyers, it is doubtful that a court will award you legal fees, even if you win the case.

Of course, if you are in a state that still adheres to the Massachusetts rule, and if you want to take the case all the way to your Supreme Court, there is always the possibility that your court -- like the recent Virginia Supreme Court case -- will recognize that times have changed and will adopt a more homeowner-friendly rule of law.

Full Story >

Dont Let Winter Freeze Your Assets

Real estate may be the furthest thing from your mind at this time ofnbsp;year, but keep three key real estate realities uppermost in yournbsp;thinking, or 2019 could be an expensive year - in more ways than one.

1. ldquo;Itrsquo;s always the right time to buy or sell real estate- whennbsp;the right property or opportunity appears.rdquo;

Therersquo;s still a tendency to think about real estate according to seasons. This 20th-Century leftover didnrsquo;t help much then and it doesnrsquo;t now in our full-on life>

2. ldquo;Credit card debt delivers two solid financial hits that arenbsp;hard to recover from.rdquo;

bull; Carry a credit card balance and any lsquo;great dealrsquo; benefits you achieved may disappear into heavy interest penalties
bull; Credit card debt limits mortgage size and. therefore. the value of home that is considered affordable.

Billions will be spent online and in stores before the end of 2018 and billions in credit card debt will drag consumers down as 2019 unfolds.

Will those purchases be worth limiting the location and size of real estate you can afford to make yours in 2019“ Times have changed, but has your spending pattern changed“ Does out-of-date spending have you buying things that are non-essential to demonstrating your love or affection for another or to maintain an expensive life>

3. ldquo;Professional insight is essential.rdquo;

Since it is ldquo;out of seasonrdquo; with little or no buyer competition, you may feel that you can handle the search on your own. Donrsquo;t kid yourself.

Doing this without significant professional insight and experience may lead to your undoing. The good news is that this advice is all around you and most of it available at no charge. Real estate professionals are in the business of matching buyers and sellers at any time of the year.

Not to blow our own horn, but is a real estate information mecca for those who want to create achievable goals. My column, ldquo;Decisions amp; Communitiesrdquo; is packed with tips and realities for buyers and sellers and real estate professionals, too. For instance, smart home technology is high on gift lists this year, but this is still emerging technology, so be sure you buy what makes the most sense. My recent column, ldquo;Smart Homes: Backed-Up Your Fridge
Lately“rdquo; will help get you started. If there are other real estate topics yoursquo;d like explored let me know: .

Full Story >

What Do You Own When You Own an Own-Your-Own?

California law, at Civil Code sect;4100, recognizes four different types of common interest development: i a planned development, often called a planned unit development or ldquo;PUDrdquo;; ii a stock cooperative; iii a condominium development; and iv a community apartment project, often referred to as ldquo;own-your-ownrdquo;. According to the Department of Real Estate,

In a planned development, the homeowner owns 1 a home on a separate lot and 20 ldquo;common areardquo; property or facilities by virtue of the homeownerrsquo;s membership in an association that owns the common area.

In a stock cooperative, the homeowner owns 1 shares in a corporation that owns residential property, and 2 an exclusive right to occupy a unit or portion of the property.

In a condominium, the homeowner owns 1 a separate condominium unit a three-dimensional space filled with air, earth, and/or water, 2 ldquo;common areardquo; as a co-owner, and 3 common area property or facilities by virtue of the homeownerrsquo;s membership in an association that owns the common area.

In a community apartment project, the homeowner owns 1 the entire apartment project as a co-owner and 2 an exclusive right to occupy an apartment in the building.

Condominiums are certainly the most frequently encountered form of common interest development, and that would explain why, to many people, condominiums are the only kind. As a matter of fact, though, condominium ownership is a late-comer to the field. Consider these comments taken from the July-August issue of a Department of Real Estate publication in the year 1962. The article was titled, ldquo;Something about Condominiumsrdquo;.

The 1962 edition of the Subdivision Manual Division of Real Estate deals with the subject as follows:

ldquo;So far as this State is concerned, the use of the term to describe a community apartment project originated primarily in connection with the lsquo;high-risersquo; type of apartment construction in the San Francisco Bay Area.rdquo; At the present time no such word appears in the statutes of California. [my emphasis]

It goes on to say,

As a matter of record, the Division of Real Estate has no knowledge of any statutory or judicial precedent in California for the method of conveyance used [i.e. condominium ownership] in this type of community apartment subdivision.

The 1962 article goes on to point out a variety of difficulties that have been noted with regard to condominium ownership, but acknowledges that builders, developers, and other professional groups are designing legislation to overcome these problems. It advises licensees to pursue the subject matter further.

These days, when an agent or buyer comes across an own-your-own -- a community apartment project ndash; they are liable to think of it as some kind of twist on condominium ownership. Historically, though, it is the other way around. Community apartment projects were in vogue before condominium ownership was fully legislated. They still exist, and are most often found in urban areas where apartment buildings had been converted from rental units to ldquo;own-your-own.rdquo; Moreover, there are also instances of community apartment project ownership having been applied to developments of single-story, free-standing buildings.

There is nothing suspect or untoward about own-your-own, although it can be difficult to find financing for them. Conventional lenders, for the most part, donrsquo;t want to, or canrsquo;t, make loans on them, because the borrower owns a portion of everyonersquo;s personal unit. In such a position, he has potentially greater liability than if he or she only had common area ownership through an association. Moreover, how would a lender go about foreclosing on a single owner“

This is not to say that no conventional loans are ever made on an own-your-own. I have seen a number of them. However, in most of the cases I have seen it, the lender had mis>

Full Story >

Fannie and Freddie Loan Limits Set to Increase in 2019

The new conforming loan limit for 2019 is set at 484,350 for a single family home. We wrote here how FHFA sets these limits as the Home Price Index, or HPI is reviewed at the end of the third quarter of each year and compares that number with the HPI from the same time last year. If there is an increase, the conforming loan limit is adjusted accordingly.

Because the HPI jumped by 6.9 percent from October 2017 to October 2018, the limit is raised by 6.9 percent. If there is no change or the HPI actually falls there will be no change in the conforming loan limit. In areas where the median home value exceeds the baseline limit by 115 percent or greater for the area, the maximum limit can be as high as 726,525. Such areas are deemed ldquo;high cost areasrdquo; but are still considered conforming because the loans that finance these properties conform to guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Conforming loans make up more than two-thirds of the entire mortgage market and thus carry the most competitive rates compared to higher balance or jumbo mortgage loans. When lenders underwrite a loan to conforming standards the loan is then eligible for sale in the secondary market which in turn replenishes a mortgage companyrsquo;s credit line, allowing it to make even more home loans.

Government-backed mortgages are also influenced by this increase. VA loans will match the new conforming limits in 2019. FHA loans are calculated at 65 percent of the prevailing conforming limit. In 2019, the FHA loan limit will be 324,827 in most parts of the country. In high cost areas, the new limit will be 150 percent of the conforming limit.

Full Story >

Have a Challenging Listing? Perhaps Half-Naked Photos are the Answer

By now, you may have seen or at least heard of the photos of 590 Mosswood Drive in Conroe, TX, which features a young couple engaged in various household activitiesmdash;none of them dirty, but that hasnrsquo;t stopped people from raising an eyebrow, and an objection. In fact, there were so many objections to the somewhat risqueacute; photos a shirtless changing of a lightbulb here, some scantily-clad cooking there that the Houston Association of Realtorsreg; HAR took them down the morning after the pictures were added. You can still see them on listing agent Kristin Gyldenege of Home Pros Real Estate LLCrsquo;s Instagram.

We talked to Gyldenege about how the photo shoot materialized, the picturesrsquo; impact on the listing, the overwhelming response, and why she feels there is a larger issue at play here thatrsquo;s threatening the long-term viability of the real estate industry as we know it.

Realty Times: What gave you the idea to use these photos for your listing“

Kristin Gyldenege: I wanted something that would catch peoplersquo;s attention. It just felt like such a great house, and our budget was really limited, so we couldnrsquo;t stage it or anything. This was a way that we could do something to get attention and show the house for what it is, with a young couple enjoying the house they just bought. Part of our job as Realtorsreg; is is to imagine who might live in the house when wersquo;re staging, taking pictures, or writing descriptions. We thought maybe this visual representation would help take it a bit further.

RT: Have you ever done anything like this before“

KG: This was a completely new thought process, but something we wanted to do for a long time; we just had to have the right house and seller. We needed a seller that would be open to this, and a house that would be something that would appeal to a younger generation. The seller was supportive from the get-go; she was really happy to be a part of it.

RT: I know there has been a bit of backlash about the photos. Why do you think that is“

KG: Overall, I feel like the support has been much more profound than the backlash. Irsquo;ve received so many messages from all over, with people saying they love the progressive idea and the photos.

The majority of the people who have been negative have been from older generationsmdash;people looking to lsquo;protect the integrity of the industry.rsquo; The fact that these pictures, while not really showing a whole lot, garnered so much attention, is telling. I truly feel like this is a prime example of how the industry needs to change to keep up with the times. Agents are so worried about being replaced, and we will be if we donrsquo;t bring more to the table. The younger generation is going around us because they donrsquo;t see the value in working with an agent. When yoursquo;re able to create marketing that takes a listing to a new level, it gets noticed. Younger generations are embracing being able to capture social media attention and being able to cross-promote, and not just take pictures of a house and stick them up on the MLS and pray for the best. Were in sales and marketing. If you cant be creative about sales and marketing, youre limiting yourself. Eventually, yoursquo;ll be phased out.

Photo Courtesy Kristin Gyldenege

RT: Why this particular home“

KG: This house was on the market for 40 days before this. We didnt get any showings, and there were less than 2,000 views in all of October on the MLS. The home is located in a flood-prone area and most agents who know Houston tell clients to stay away from this side of 45. But this particular house is 20 feet above flood level, and has never flooded. If this house floods, were all in trouble. But itrsquo;s like an automatic no-fly zone; people donrsquo;t even take a look at it.

Itrsquo;s also a double lot, which makes it appear overpriced at first. Itrsquo;s the newest home in the neighborhood and more expensive than anything else in the neighborhood, so it may appear as though itrsquo;s above buyersrsquo; price point. Its a challenging listing. Irsquo;m certain I will sell it faster than if I hadnrsquo;t done thismdash;but it wont be overnight. The listing had 20,000 views within the first 24 hours after the pictures went up but they were only up for 10 hours.

RT: Why were they taken down“

KG: HAR took them down because they said they had over 100 complaints by 10am the following morning. I know several came from Realtorsreg; because they were bragging on social media that they had called to complain. It inhibits me being able to do my job. Here this listing is getting all this attention, but people are looking at the listing on news stations and sister sites because they canrsquo;t see the photos on the MLS. Itrsquo;s kind of frustrating.

Itrsquo;s also very sadmdash;wersquo;re in an industry that used to pride itself on helping each other, and this is very cutthroat. You have some people who claim to be trying to protect the integrity of an industry that is changing and that they may not understand anymore.

Photo Courtesy Kristin Gyldenege

RT: What would you say to people that question your strategy based on what they consider to be the questionable nature of the photos“

KG: Our job is to get as many people to see this house as possible. I want to do whatever it takes to sell it. Irsquo;ve also had a number of people contacting me who say they wish I was their Realtorreg;, and itrsquo;s great to be able to put them in contact with people who share a similar mindset.

RT: Any way we may see the photos back up on the site at some point“

KG: I just have to go with it for now. Irsquo;m waiting until the smoke clears a little bit to approach HAR and try to work with them.

Full Story >

Copyright©2018 Realty Times®.All Rights Reserved
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Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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