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Updated: Friday, November 24, 2017

10 Tiny Changes to Refresh Your Home For Fall

As winter approaches, its time to snuggle down and make the most of being at home. Although it can be hard to motivate ourselves to make major interior changes as temperatures drop, there are plenty of little tweaks that will make a surprisingly big difference. So ring in the new season with these small but enticing changes.

Trade pillows. If pretty florals are starting to feel all wrong, embrace the new season with something fluffier. Most of us are happy to switch our wardrobes from summer to winter, so why not our home accessories too“

Try swapping your current pillows for cozier and more tactile ones in winter whites, oranges or browns to mirror the seasonal hues - and switch light cottons for sheepskin, velvet, wool and felt. The shaggy numbers here make a pair of compact armchairs feel much more inviting on longer evenings.

Photo by John Lewis - Browse living room ideas

Lay a jewel-bright rug. Gray has its place, but theres nothing like a colorful rug to give a living room a warm, inviting feel, especially now that the seasons are turning. It will also keep chilly toes warmer on hard flooring. If youre worried about rugs slipping and sliding around on hard floors, use double-sided carpet tape to keep them in place. Alternatively, use felt, rubber or vinyl nonslip rug pads. You can often cut them to fit though watch out for cheap pads that leave a sticky residue on floors.

Photo by Chris Snook - More bedroom photos

Sprinkle some fairy dust. Fairy lights definitely arent just for Christmas. They add a lovely twinkly feel to rooms, which is especially welcome now that were heading into autumn and winter. Hang them on a window to add an extra warm glow on those dark, cold mornings or to cheer you up at the end of the day as the light fades. They also look lovely coiled in a fireplace, hung on a mirror or picture frame, or arranged across a closet door.

Photo by LOVE INTERIORS - Search living room pictures

Mix in metallics. Coppery and golden tones were made for autumn. They add a touch of warm luxury but also seem to fit with the colors and low light of the season. You dont need to make a big change mdash; one or two lampshades, a side lamp or a vase can make a huge difference to rooms. Copper tones also go beautifully with a neutral palette of grays, whites and beiges, which so many of us have in our rooms these days.

Display evergreen foliage. You dont need to spend a fortune on expensive bouquets to cheer up your rooms. Spring and summer flowers such as daffodils and tulips may be behind us now, but you can celebrate the change of seasons with evergreen foliage or even a display of autumnal leaves.

Pop branches, cuttings and sprigs of autumn berries in tall, colorful vases to add natural beauty to the dining table. Head to your garden for ideas, but be careful not to collect poisonous berries if you have young children or pets.

Photo by 1st Option - Discover dining room design ideas

Illuminate kitchen cabinets. Undercabinet lighting makes kitchens look more appealing at night, as it creates soft pools of illumination. Its also practical for cooking and prepping, especially in gloomy corners, when natural light is at a inevitable as the seasons turn.

No need to despair if you dont want the fuss and expense of getting lights wired in. Instead, look for simple stick-on, battery-operated lighting that can be secured in place using sticky tabs and operated at the switch of a button. Puck lights are compact and often feature energy-saving LED bulbs.

Photo by louisa jane interiors - More kitchen photos

Try a wall light. Similarly, if you like the practicality of wired-in bedside or office lights but your walls are already plastered and painted, then try this trick: an angled plug-in light that has the look of a wired-in number. With visible wires being very on-trend, this can easily be >

Photo by Making Spaces - More home office ideas

Glam up your grout. If your grout is in need of a quick cleanup and lets face it, whose isnt“, consider a grout pen. This nifty device can tidy up grubby grout in a flash. Although it may not be a long-term solution, or look quite as good as replacing it properly, it can tide you over, covering up stained and cracked patches.

Simply choose the color that matches your grout mdash; or, if you want a change, choose another color and draw over the top. Most are antibacterial too, so they should help keep mold from sprouting.

Light a candle or two. Whether you refer to it as hygge or something else, theres no doubt that, as the evenings start to draw in, were more likely to light a candle and hunker down, maybe with a mug of cocoa or something a little stronger.

If you already have an assortment of tea light holders and candlesticks stashed in your drawers and cabinets, why not turn them into a flickering display on a low shelf or table“ Just always be safe and never leave open flames unattended. Ordinary glass bottles and jars can also work well if you dont have anything else at hand.

Photo by jonathan gooch photography - Browse living room photos

Add a bright blanket. Now that its cold outside, its time to take out your blankets. But dont view these just as functional accessories mdash; they can be part of your design and give tired bedrooms a seasonal refresh.

Go outside your comfort zone and choose something with a bold design or shade to change the feel of your room. Replace summer pastels with rich colors that add a mellow autumnal atmosphere, for instance. This cozy mustard number ties in with the pillows and brings the neutral bedroom to life.

Photo by Woodford Architecture and Interiors - More bedroom ideas

Also See:

  • Shop Gorgeous Rugs in Every >
  • Create a Soft Glow With the Right Undercabinet Lighting
  • More Home Interiors Transformed for Fall

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How to Say Goodbye to Renting and Hello to Home Ownership

Becoming a first-time homeowner takes a lot more than a desire to buy a house. It takes a lot of effort on your part to save up a down payment mdash; which is usually a pretty good sized chunk of change mdash; research neighborhoods, get pre-approved for a loan and other steps. Fortunately, it is quite possible to say goodbye to renting and hello to homeownership, especially when homeowners-to-be consider the following tips:

Focus on the Down Payment

In order to leave the land of rent, you are going to need a down payment mdash; plain and simple. While it is common to put down 20 percent, some lenders now allow a much smaller amount, and first-time home buyer programs may go as low as 3 percent. While a smaller down payment may sound enticing, a 5 percent down payment on a 200K home is still 10,000 mdash; not exactly a small sum. If saving money does not come naturally for you, donrsquo;t worry. With some >

Avoid Identity Theft

Unfortunately, the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft increase when you are buying and moving into a new home. The stacks of documents that are part of buying a home and that are filled with your personal information may accidentally fall into the wrong hands, and once you move, mail may not be routed correctly and thieves may steal your mail and your identity from your old mailbox. Prevent this situation from happening by purchasing an identity theft protection program; find a trusted company that will help safeguard your personal data. In addition to letting you know when a bank pulls your credit report and asking if you have authorized this inquiry, certain services will monitor your financial activity and alert you if anything is amiss.

Check Your Credit Report

When you start the pre-approval process for a loan and then move on to the Big Kahuna of applying for an actual mortgage, your credit report will be pulled numerous times. Your credit score will then be used to determine if you are approved for a loan, and what type of interest rate you will get. Please do not wait until you have the down payment saved and you are champing at the bit to go look at houses to check your FICO score mdash; check your credit as early in the process as you can. If you have a credit card that has been issued through your bank, give them a call and see if they can run your report for you for free; in the cases of some credit cards, they also offer a free monthly FICO score check. Read through the report and check for any errors; this includes credit lines you never opened and delinquent payments that you know were made on time. Dispute any mistakes that you find and look for ways to boost your credit score, like paying down credit card bills and setting up automatic bill pay so you are never late with your payments.

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Selling Your Home For The Holidays? Dont Be A Curb Appeal Scrooge

Thanksgiving means turkey and all the trimmings and family get-togethers and football and the Macys parade and eating until you cant breathe. It also means youre going to be seeing your neighbors up on ladders in the next few days putting up their holiday lights. If your house is currently for sale or if youre considering listing it, you may be wondering whether you should bother at all with holiday decorations this year. In a word: yes. But theres more to it than that. Theres a long way between Scrooge and The Griswolds.

"Its hard to argue with the fact that glitter lights and colorful accents make a home look more cheerful and inviting," said;"But you also probably know that if youre trying to sell your home, buyers need to have annbsp;easy time imagining themselvesnbsp;and theirnbsp;own holiday traditions in your home."

These tips will help you strike just the right balance.

Go ahead and put up lights

Being the only house on the street that isnt decorated could leave potential buyers feeling uninspired and unmotivated to purchase - or even come inside. If putting up holiday lights this year means heading to Target to buy new stuff, youll have numerous options: white lights, colored lights, snowflake shapes, icicles. Think clean, simple, and elegant to best accentuate your home.

Dont overdo the lights

Putting up lights doesnt mean you have to create a spectacle. Plastering every horizontal surface and wrapping every tree and bush with lights may read festive, but people who are out home shopping at this time of year are likely serious about buying. And they want to see your house, not how many lights you own.

"You want them to be impressed with your house, not distracted by decorations," said Forbes. "So keep it simple this year. If minimizing the lsquo;ho ho ho cramps your >

Consider LEDs

Another thing to consider if youre buying new lights this year is what type of bulb to get. If you have had your existing lights for many years, you may not even realize how many LED options are available now. The benefit to LED bulbs is that they save energy, and therefore, money. They may cost a little more upfront, but if you are making an investment in lights you plan to use for years to come, its worth it.

Travel Leisure

Go ahead and pack up the inflatables

Keeping it simple definitely doesnt include that big, inflatable Santa or The Grinch family or an entire lawn full of holiday-themed Peanuts characters.

"One mans lsquo;merry is another mans lsquo;tacky, so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market," said HGTV. "No, your neighbors didnt pay us to say that. Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your homes architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard."

Address your entry

You dont have to have a sweeping front porch to establish a warm welcome. Place a festive mini tree or cluster of poinsettias next to the door or hang a wreath to add a little holiday interest.


Go ahead and put up that tree

Putting up the tree may seem like a hassle when youre focused on decluttering and keeping everything in your home extra clean this year, but think of it as staging. A well-placed and well-decorated tree will make the home feel nice and inviting at holiday time. Placing it in a window that allows it to show through to the street creates that Norman Rockwell feel that will tug at your buyers heartstrings.

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The 10 Best Commutes In California, By County

The average Californian spends about 50 minutes commuting per day. That might sound like a lot, but as residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco will tell you, its just the tip of the iceberg. If youre planning on moving to California but dont feel like spending that much time in traffic, theres good news: California is a big state with a lot of possibilities, and many of its cities offer significantly shorter commute times.

Here are 10 great California cities with commute times at under 25 minutes Commute times are drawn from a study by Ob>

10. Woodland

Average commute time: 22 minutes

Major industries: healthcare, agriculture, distribution, education, local government

You should live there because: As if the quaint, homey downtown wasnt enough of a selling point, its close proximity to Sacramento makes for a simple commute. Plus, its a just a couple of hours away from Sonoma County, which means cheese and wine tasting is just a day-trip away.

9. Palm Desert

Average commute time: 21 minutes

Major industries: education, healthcare

You should live there because: Fourteen miles from Palm Springs and nestled in Coachella Valley, the scenery is tough to beat. Plus, its bustling with shops, restaurants and culture. Add that to a fairly quick commute time“ Sounds like paradise.

8. Coalinga

Commute time: Just under 19 minutes

Major Industries: agriculture, corrections, health care, education

You should live there because: Just about an hour or so from Fresno, Coalinga is chock-full of trails, hot springs and other natural attractions.

7. Redding

Commute time: 18.6 minutes

Major Industries: healthcare, manufacturing, admin

You should live there because: Its quaint downtown is walkable and bikeable, loaded with good food and craft beer mdash; plus, about an hour away, there are hiking trails filled with caves and waterfalls.

6. Santa Barbara

Commute time: 18.5 minutes

Major Industries: education, media, admin

You should live there because: It has its own airport. And with five colleges, it also boasts a highly educated population mdash; about twice the national average In fact, 82 of Santa Barbara residents work in white-collar jobs, with many who work in design, arts or other media.

5. Chico

Commute time: 18.4 minutes

Major Industries: sales, admin

You should live there because: A notoriously green city, Chico is known for its parks and greenways, plus bike paths that make emission-free commuting even easier. Its a diverse city with a thriving culture, thanks in part to its proximity to Chico State.

4. South Lake Tahoe

Commute time: 17.8 minutes

Major Industries: food service, admin, sales

You should live there because: Do we really have to sell you on Tahoe“ Aside from the beauty of the surrounding nature, theres the great transit system, tons of art and culture, and a million outdoor things to do all year round.

3. Monterey

Commute time: 17.3 minutes

Major Industries: military, accommodations, education

You should live there because: This is another scenic spot that practically sells itself, Monterey is a scenic, historic town with clean air, efficient public transportation and its own university.

2. Ukiah

Commute time: 17 minutes

Major Industries: sales, admin, food service

You should live there because: Surrounded by beautiful nature and with plentiful biking and walking initiatives, 67 of Ukians boast that their commute time is under 15 minutes Thats a good reason to celebrate by having a drink at one of Ukiahs many wineries or breweries.

1. San Luis Obispo

Commute time: 16.8 minutes

Major Industries: admin, food service, sales

You should live there because: Aside from being breathtakingly beautiful, San Luis Obispo has been called "the happiest city in America." Great transit, a thriving culture from the local university and a renowned beachfront contribute to this namesake - not to mention that almost nonexistent commute time.

Of course, were just scratching the surface. The Golden State is filled with so many great cities, so youre bound to find one that matches your career, interests and desired commute time.

Vannya Kristich is director of product management at Esurance, overseeing profit and growth of personal lines insurance products for the western region of the U.S., including California.nbsp; Vannya has over 17 years of industry experience, holding product management roles for several major insurance carriers.

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Going Green and Making Green: A Property Management Solution

Technology may be essential to the real estate industry, but customization is the key to excellence. It is the means by which building owners and property managers, as well as tenants, can use technology -- the way they can use customized technology -- to increase efficiency, improve service and enjoy better peace of mind.

To achieve these goals, there must be an emphasis on mobility, automation and communication. This solution must be, first and foremost, accessible to all devices; it must be available to iOS and Android devices, so users can maximize the smartphone or tablet of their choice.

Automation must also be, well, automatic. In other words, there is no need for filling out paper forms -- technology renders that process obsolete -- so building owners and/or property managers can get real-time alerts from tenants about issues ranging from issues of ordinary repair and maintenance to emergencies that require immediate action. Gone, therefore, is the submission of documents -- gone, too, is the need to call someone in vain -- when everything is a touch, tap or click from completion.

These strengths enhance communication between tenants and managers, so there is no ambiguity about one persons expectations and anothers assumptions.

Such are the benefits of a tool like GreenApps, which is as invaluable to building owners as it is indispensable to real estate professionals in general. Indeed, the latter can help the former -- the two can help each other -- by leveraging the latest technology for the greatest good.

That ambition begins with customization, because a generic application cannot solve the specific needs of a specific number of tenants in a specific building. In contrast, the chance to customize an application for a property or a series of properties -- the chance to brand it by making it your own, by featuring your logo and showcasing certain features -- is the chance to make technology more >

This quartet of advantages, from mobility to automation to communication to customization, is a model for modernizing property management. It is also proof that the real estate industry keeps pace with -- and in some cases, stays ahead of -- developments within the business world as a whole. That fact can increase occupancy rates for a particular property, while retaining tenants and strengthening loyalty among these residents.

A solution for commercial and residential managers alike, this application shows how something so simple can be so disruptive -- in a good way -- for so many people.

This approach can be a source for further innovation, delivering services that the current system can neither match nor make affordable.

This approach is, in the end, the only approach that matters. It is the sole approach to eliminating a costly and cumbersome system, a system so old that it >

Let technology lead the real estate industry to greater heights and a more consistent record of success.

Let that journey begin now.

Lewis Fein is a writer and commentator about the real estate industry. Based in Los Angeles, younbsp;may contact him atnbsp;.

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CondoGate: Is there a Scandal in your Community Association?

Question. I own a unit in a condominium association. It is managed by a property management company. The wife of the President of the Board of Directors has been employed by that management company. The President has monopolized the other Board members and keeps increasing our condominium fee every year since he became President. The management fees have also increased. Management is working for the President and not for the entire Board and our members. What the President says, management does. I would not even be surprised if there was some sort of "kick-back" between management and the President. What can I do as a unit owner“

Answer. Scandals and swindles make good newspaper headlines; they also make or break politicians. But you must be prepared to document your case before making any formal allegations, or you could be sued for libel.

Most Board members and property managers are honest, hard working and dedicated. Service on a Board of Directors of a community association is a thankless -- "payless" -- task. But it is an obligation that someone has to perform. And once in a while, we do learn of such scandals, which I would call "condogate".

My first answer to all these issues is that you should try to get elected to the Board of Directors. However, this is not always easy, especially if incumbent Board members have access to mailing lists and hold a large number of proxies.

You must treat an election to your Board as if you were running for a state or national elective office. Arrange a campaign committee, a fund-raising committee and start knocking on your neighbors doors to advise them you are running for the Board of Directors.

You should also obtain the current mailing list of unit owners from your management company, and send every owner an announcement, advising them of your candidacy and your platform -- what you stand for. Generally, the mailing list contains private information and unless unit owners give their permission, management should not >You also should obtain the most current accounting statements. Most state laws requires that an audit of the Association books and records be conducted at least once a year, if at least five percent of the unit owners make such a request. If no audit has been performed, get a petition signed by the required number of owners, and formally demand that the audit be done.

In some states, Boards of Directors have a "fiduciary duty" to the owners who elected them to serve on the Board. In other states, such as in Maryland and now in the District of Columbia, the standard by which a Board of Director is held is the "business judgment rule." Under this rule, the courts will not involve themselves in the internal affairs of the association. However, as was stated in a 1992 Court case handed down by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, "the business judgment rule.... precludes judicial review of a legitimate business decision of an organization, absent fraud or bad faith." emphasis added.

But under either standard, it is clear from the case law throughout the country that members of a Board of Directors cannot operate in bad faith.

What is bad faith“ Clearly, when a Director personally receives financial gain from his or her service on a Board of Directors -- especially if there is no disclosure of these gains to the membership -- this cannot be considered "operating in good faith." And, in my opinion, even if the Board member fully discloses the potential gain he or she may derive, the potential conflict of interest is still great. This standard would also apply to a situation where the wife of the President receives financial benefits by virtue of her husbands position.

It must be noted, however, that even under the fiduciary duty concept, this does not preclude a Director or the Board itself from making an honest mistake. Service on a Community Association Board of Directors is a voluntary job. No one would serve on the Board if they can be held personally accountable for every decision made by that Board.

But there is a clear difference between serving in good faith and serving for personal, selfish reasons.

You asked what you can do if these practices are objectionable. In addition to trying to get elected, another solution is to mount a recall campaign and "throw the rascals" out. Read your condominium documents carefully, and you will find provisions spelling out the procedure to remove Board members. Circulate a newsletter to all owners, and call a special meeting solely for the purpose of voting on the removal petition. You must, in fairness, give the challenged member an opportunity to defend his or her position. It is also advisable to discuss your concerns first -- directly and privately -- with that Board member, if you are not uncomfortable in approaching him.

Finally, since you live in Montgomery County, you have one additional remedy that is not available to homeowners outside of that jurisdiction. Several years ago, the County Council created the Commission on Common Ownership Communities. The purpose of this Commission is to attempt to resolve disputes between homeowners and their associations. This is a form of "alternate dispute resolution" and you can get more information about this process by contacting the Commission 301 217 3636.

In the final analysis, you should send a loud and clear message to Board members: if you want to serve on the Board of Directors, do so because you are concerned with the operation of the Association and not for personal gain. You must avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

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Dealing With Difficult People In Your Homeowners Association

Living in a homeowner association, there is likelihood of running into someone that is, how should we say it, less than happy. We all have to deal with difficult people at some point. Some focus on what they dont like about a person loudmouth, condescending tone, etc and then hope they will change. Not surprisingly, this ra>

For many, personal experience with conflict creates a recurring cycle. This cycle can be positive or negative depending on the beliefs about conflict that we developed at an early age. What someone says or does can spark an automatic response based on those beliefs. This, in turn, triggers a consequence that usually reinforces our behavior pattern.

The key to dealing with a difficult person is to change your >

  • Taking the responsibility to examine your own thoughts and feelings about the difficult person.
  • Understanding what kind of >
  • Taking notice of the behavior rather than making assumptions about what that behavior means, and
  • Examining your approach to communicating with that person.

The next time you are confronted by a difficult person, what do you see them doing that causes you to react negatively“ Consider the following:

  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact or lack of eye contact
  • Gestures
  • Tone of their voice
  • Screaming or whining
  • Words and/or the meaning of the words

Pay close attention to their behavior patterns. What is working and what is not“ Have you made assumptions about what these actions mean“

Next, pay attention to your behavior. What is working and what is not“ What do others do that works better“ If you dont set aside your assumptions, you may never realize what are you are responding to.

Now, take the time to consider how your actions may affect the other person. Consider the message you may be sending them. Finally, decide what you would like the >

Treat every interaction with a difficult person as an opportunity to improve your >

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see

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Disruption and Accelerated Change In Real Estate

In this time of celebrated disruption and accelerated change, the context for everything, including home buying and selling, is facing disruption and change, globally and locally.

Corporations and governments are struggling to anticipate impact and benefits from disruptive technology while they try to manage change on many fronts at once. How successful they are in your area and in the industries that employ you and your neighbors will determine how sustainable your community, life>

The question that demands an answer is, "Whats that got to do with me and my real estate - my present and future home“"

The recent Toronto Global Forum mdash; the 11th organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas mdash; hosted representatives from 54 countries, including 130 expert speakers and more than 2700 participants. Many were high-profile leaders from governments, academia, public and private sectors, and civil society. The Forum focused on major issues >Redefining Globalization in reaction to significant political and economic volatility around the world.

Redefining globalization involves transformation of the concept to "promote an atmosphere of shared prosperity," according to opening remarks by Louis Audet, President and CEO of Cogeco. Many Forum speakers provided insight into leaders responsibility to ensure the economy works globally and benefits all.

"If you do not think technology is affecting your business, youre dead," said Mark Wiseman, Senior Managing Director at BlackRock Inc., during a panel discussion titled Global Economic Outlook: The Search for Growth. "[Technology] is affecting business around the world."

Wiseman illustrated his point by >

"The value in the bicycle is not in the bikes or in the value in environmental pressure off mass transit," explained Wiseman. "The value is in data as owners know where every [bicycle] is ridden and by whom. Investors and marketers are willing to pay a lot for that data. Owners are not in the bicycle business, but in the data business."

The Forum, a meeting of ingenious, globally-focused minds, proved that if we are not receptive as individuals, little or no progress will be made as this new industrial revolution rolls over us all.

Speaker and participant discussions at The Forum revealed 5 challenges mdash; problems and opportunities mdash; for corporations and governments facing technology-induced transformational change that can be mirrored in our lives:

1. Redefining Context Jim Barber, President of UPS International, explained that UPS now has 450,000 employees and automation has not hit their sector yet. "If we rest for more than a minute, we would be dead."

To illustrate the disruptive effect of technology, another speaker used the example of the 40,000 elevator operators in New York City who were displaced by push-button automation in 1915. Then, he posed a key question, "As corporation and political leaders, how will we treat those who will be left behind“"

  • How prepared are you for Automated Intelligence AI and machine intelligence changes in your industry and workplace“
  • How sustainable is your income“
  • How could you use your real estate as a financial partner if your income were disrupted“

2. Redefining Risk Originally, the benefits of globalization "took for granted the world would come closer together." The key risk for the economy was Wall Street as was evident from the financial collapse of 2008. Now, Brexit and similar geopolitical events represent risk. Many still perceive risk in an archaic way, but risk is now arising "from behavior and geopolitical reaction." The world always faced disruption, but only in one sector at a time, like the textile revolution. Now, there is disruption in every sector at once. Unprecedented disruptions are changing the way we work, live, play, dreamhellip;.

Which risks would threaten real estate ownership, either present or future, for you“

3. Redefining Change "Change is 10X faster than in the Industrial Revolution, 300X the scale, and 3000X the impact of the industrial revolution," reported Patricia Meredith, Fellow at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. "These trends are gaining magnitude and impact to create monumental change. Combine this with climate change...and this is a truly complex and uncertain environment."

One suggestion for harnessing technology lies in being courageous, innovative, and curious.

If this unprecedented change is forcing corporations and governments to make decisions in spite of significant uncertainty, dont be surprised that individuals will share the same fate.

  • What decisions might this change force on you“
  • What role or roles could your real estate play in solutions and opportunities for sustaining your chosen life>

4. Redefining Corporate Thinking Corporate thinking is notoriously short-term while that of consumers and other investors can be the opposite. Wiseman shared a corporate decision-making study which reported that "55 of CEOs would forgo a project if it meant they would miss their quarterly stock value by 1 cent."

The cost to society of corporate short-term thinking is estimated at a trillion dollars. A shift to long-term thinking would have significant impact.

"The issue is systemic... Short term behavior caused the economic collapse, but in the decade since, thinking is more short-term," said Wiseman who explained that the neglected long-term thinking includes issues regarding the environment and the future of displaced employees.

Are you a short-term thinker when it comes to real estate“ Real estate buyers who concentrate on the fleeting-glory of decor over the long-term benefits of location and quality of construction are short-term thinkers.

5. Redefining Paradigms During the "Navigating a World of Disruption" panel, Jonathan Crane, Chief Commercial Officer of Ipsoft, attributed the escalated, expansive growth of mega companies like Google and Amazon to the fact that they "did not do paradigm shifts, but paradigm leaps"

Cranes perspective on AI is that it will remove drudgery and monotony from the workplace, but not jobs. Work and careers will be transformed, expanded, or elevated. Disagreeing with the stated figure of "47 of jobs being at risk to technology," Crane stressed that transformation will hit 100 of jobs.

  • If your job were transformed by technology would you still be qualified to receive that income“
  • Real estate location has long been valued based on its proximity to "the best schools." That trend continues, but now "best" means forward-thinking, technology-based education that creates valued talent. When you buy real estate mdash; even if you dont have school-aged children mdash; do you seek out property near the best schools to take advantage of their market-value boost“

Holly Benson, Managing Partner, Infosys Consulting Inc. discussed the tendency to "rush to automation and deal with people later." She shared two insights that ring true in even the most intense vortex of change:

  • "Never attribute to malice what can be attributed, in the full sense of the word, to ignorance."
  • "Never assume that people automatically know what to do just because they have a title."

Ongoing Resources:

  • In future columns, well continue to explore technology, disruption, and much more to discover what this all has to do with you and your real estate - present and future.
  • Check out the 2016 Global Forum: "Explore New Markets At a Global Forum"

Full Story >

2017 NAR Profile Can Help Agents Find Buyers And Sellers

We have noted that The 2017 National Association of REALTORSreg; Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers contains valuable information for sellers and their agents as to how buyers find the homes that they ultimately buy. The profile also contains valuable and interesting information as to how both buyers and sellers find the agents that they ultimately use. 87 of buyers used an agent in purchasing their home. That number has increased steadily since 2001 when the figure was 69. 7 of buyers purchased directly from a builder, and 6 bought directly from an owner. Of the 87, how did they find their agent“

Not a lot of "agent shopping" takes place among buyers. 70 interviewed only one agent, 17 interviewed two. So how do you get to be on the interview list“ Referrals are far and away the dominant factor. 42 of buyers chose to work with an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or >This might seem like discouraging news for new agents. "What chance do I have of connecting with a buyer if I havent already built a referral base and a list of past clients“" Here, a new agent wants to remember that "friends, neighbors, or > Moreover, there are, just as there always have been, other ways of coming into contact with buyers who may choose to work with you. Some ways work better than others.

6 of buyers found the agent they used as a result of an open house. Another 9 found their agent through a web site. Interestingly, only 2 found the agent that they worked with as a result of walking into or calling an office and meeting the agent who was on duty at the time. In general, "floor time" is not very productive.

Agents who do want to get connected with buyers can prepare themselves so that a contact is more likely to lead to a >Sellers are just as likely as buyers to work with an agent. 90 of sellers had their home listed on MLS. But sellers, too, dont do much "agent shopping." Similar to buyers, 74 interviewed only one agent; just 15 interviewed two. Again, referrals and past business >Other seller contact sources drop into single digits. Interestingly, compared to buyers at 9, only 5 of sellers found their agent through a web site. Again, there are venues that agents who lack a referral or past client list might want to think about. Open houses account for 4 of the contacts that eventuate into a working >Would-be listing agents would do well to note that the most important factor -- 34 -- in choosing a sellers agent was reputation. Sure, its nice to have a track record of sales activity, but there are other aspects to reputation as well. 18 of sellers said that honesty and trustworthiness were the most important factors in considering an agent. Things like attitude and integrity are also components of ones reputation. Agents who want to build a business should pay attention to such things. Word gets around.

Also See: 2017 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information For Agents And Sellers

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DIY Solutions To Your Flooring Problems

True story. The wood in our living room is scratched and worn, the dark tile in the kitchen imparts a sort of cave-like feel, and theres unfinished concrete in several of the bedrooms thanks to foundation repair that was done shortly after we bought the house. We could have had the four burly men that peeled away the 10-year-old carpet to jackhammer into the floor lay it back down, but, instead, we took that opportunity to rid ourselves of the it and thanked the guys for sparing us the cost of a dumpster. The idea was to get new floors in soon after, and, well, three years laterhellip;here we are. Still considering our options.

Add to that picture a couple of bathrooms that were tiled in 2004 when textured beige-y brown tiles were popular they were, right“, and we are facing multiple rooms that need new floors. The entire first floor needs new floors, if were being honest.

And while we have examined many, many really, it seems like hundreds of options over the last couple of years, nothing has stuck well enough to actually get to it. Part of the issue is that we dont want to hand over the installation to someone else. While that would probably be the most practical option, its not the most economical, and we tend to like to do things by ourselves. You, too“ Then come with us on this journey to find the best DIY solution to our and your flooring dilemmas.

Painted wood

Frankly, anything that starts with "Sand surface" is an immediate turnoff. If they ever made a National Lampoons Renovation Vacation movie, there would undoubtedly be a scene where Chevy Chases Rusty Griswold lost control of the electric sander and major havoc ensued. Thats pretty much what we envision happening around here if a big, hulking sander is involved. That notwithstanding, painted wood floors do look pretty cool.

SF Gate has a good tutorial for painting heavily trafficked wood floors that involves really good preparation so if youre a step-skipper, maybe not for you and high-quality primer, but, honestly, were skeptical about smooth floors that look like the above.

But, were loving the rustic beachy-ness of this look. Our shabby floors are already part of the way there, and if the dogs scratch the surface, it just adds more texture, right“

Painted tile

We first saw blogger Remington Avenues tutorial for painted floors in 2015, which should tell you how long weve been tossing around ideas for our floors. She crafted a stunning painted tile floor using chalk paint and a stencil that created a trendy Moroccan cement tile look.

Stencils have become more readily available and in greater variety since then, and her new tutorial is even more interesting because she used luster epoxy paint, like you would use to paint a garage floor. That spells greater durability, and since multiple children and multiple dogs live in this house, finishes that cant endure kid feet and dog paws are a NO GO.

Should we do it“ This would be a jackpot for that cave-like kitchen floor and beige-y brown bathroom tile floors that look just like her "before" floors, ironically.

Floating floor

First, lets get This Old Houses take: "Its hard to imagine a house being cozy without the warmth of wood flooring. The quickest way to get new wood underfoot is to install a floating floor. Unlike traditional solid-wood strips, a floating floor isnt nailed down. Instead, the planks are either glued or snapped together. The planks go down fast, over virtually any material - concrete, plywood, sheet vinyl, even ceramic tile. They have a complete tutorial here.

Now, our thoughts: The advantage to using a floating floor is that its definitely DIY-friendly in comparison to numerous other options because it requires no demolition other than removing baseboards - something we wouldnt have to do if we were painting the existing surfaces, BTW. We would have to put down plywood on the concrete surfaces to make everything flush, but thats not a big deal. The continuity that would be created by laying down one surface throughout the first floor of the house would be a dream given how broken up it currently is. The downside: its a pricier solution than paint, and the price, not surprisingly, goes up with the quality. Whether you are looking at using luxury vinyl planks, laminate, or engineered wood, its an investment.

Carpet tiles

We just havent been able to get rid of the idea of a soft, cushy carpeted surface in the bedrooms, but were not about to try to put in wall-to-wall carpet on our own. "I wouldnt recommend any homeowner try to install their own wall-to-wall carpeting," said Popular Mechanics. "First, just getting the carpeting into the room is a huge job. Second, precisely cutting it to size takes experience - one wrong cut can ruin the entire piece."

The potential answer: carpet tiles. Oh, we know. We say "carpet tiles," you say "ugly office building," right“ Fortunately, carpet tiles have come a long way in terms of design. The carpet tiles below from Flor and these that are are our favorite newer >

The best part: theyre super easy to install. "One 3-inch-diameter dot is placed at each corner of a carpet square, with the sticky side up," they said. "The next square is set in place tight against the first square, and then its pressed down onto the adhesive dots. In the end, the result is a floating floor of carpet squares all stuck together at the corners by adhesive dots."

Actually, this may be the best part: Remember those previously mentioned kids and dogs“ They make stains. Lots of stains. If one area of your wall-to-wall carpet gets stained beyond repair, youre out of luck. If the same thing happens to a carpet tile, you rip it up and set another one down. Tempting. Very tempting.

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Holiday Splurges And Saves To Make Hosting Easier

If youre hosting for the holidays, there is undoubtedly a lot to do and a lot to buy. You probably have a budget youre looking to stick to, but then you make the mistake of wandering in to Williams Sonomaand there goes your bottom line There are places to save a few bucks so you can make a few worthy splurges. Heres a guide that will help.

Splurge: Good cookware

The quality of your cookware can have a big impact on the quality of your food. If your pots and pans have seen better days, its a good time to splurge on a few high-end items, like this Swiss Diamond 10-piece set, made of cast aluminum with a PFOA-free nonstick coating. Consumer Reports rated the set the "best pots and pans for your holiday feasts."

Their lab kitchen evaluated "cooking evenness and how well nonstick surfaces >The Swiss Diamond set includes 8-inch and 9-inch frypans, 1.4-quart and 2.2- quart saucepans, 3.2-quart saute pan, 8.5-quart stockpot, and glass lids.

Save: Good cookware

The Consumer Reports article shows how, with a little research, you can find high-quality products without spending high dollars. Their top choice for nonstick frying pans“ This 100 Zwilling J.A. Henckels version in stainless steel with an aluminum core. But in second place: A 20 Red Copper nonstick pan from Amazon.

Splurge: Amazon Prime

This is a splurge thats really a save, if you think about it. The service that costs 99 for a year ends up saving you money on all those last-minute gifts and things you forgot to buy and dont have time to get to the store for because there are rooms to set up and closets to clean out and food to prepare. Amazon Prime also includes free two-day shipping on more than 50 million items, plus you get access to tons of movies, TV shows, songs, and Kindle e-books.

Save: A trip to Costco

Yes, its going to be crazy. Yes, youre going to have to wait in line. But the stuff you cant find elsewhere or at least all in one place will be worth it. Top of our list: Masterpiece plastic plates and Reflections Silverware. Theyre nicer than your average disposable stuff and youll be grateful when you dont have to do dishes 12 times a day. And dont forget to buy lots of toilet paper, paper towels, and Chunky Artichoke parmesan Dip seriously, youll be happy you did.

Splurge: A cleaning crew

It may feel like an extravagance to hire a cleaning crew to come before your guests arrive or after they leave - or, who are we kidding: both But its an extravagance that will save you time and peace of mind, which is always important, and especially so when family is in town

Save: Your kids

The children may think holiday breaks are for catching up on sleep or TV, but you know better, right“ Homes that have to be prepared for holiday guests needs lots of hands to clean out closets and organize pantries.

Splurge: A good set of knives

Or at least one good multipurpose knife. With all that cutting and chopping youre about to do between now and the New Year, its time to get a real knife. Food and Wines best knife is this MAC MTH-80 Professional Series 8-inch Chefs Knife with Dimples, which is 145 on Amazon. They praise its "hard, super-sharp blade" and "simple wooden handle thats extremely comfortable and feels secure in the hand." Their best value knife is the Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chefs Knife, 38 on Amazon, if youre only looking for a mini-splurge.

Save: Cutting board

Yes, it would be lovely to have a giant two-inch-thick butcher board and it would make for nice Instagram pics. But you dont have to spend gobs of money - this Walnut cutting board from Williams Sonoma is 155399 depending on size - to get the function you need. The Spruce broke down the best cutting boards of 2017 and found this 10.5" by 14.5" inch OXO Plastic board to be its best overall choice. The price: 15 at Amazon.

This plastic board from OXO "is a true workhorse," they said. "It is just the right sizea bit larger than a piece of letter size paper - so its ideal for most chopping tasks. The soft, tapered handles on two edges make it easy to grip and carry from your counter to the stove, and because it can go in the dishwasher its ideal for cutting up raw meat and fish." If youd rather have wood, they have several options listed, including a 36 butcher block.

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House Hunting? How Good Manners Can Help Get The Home You Want

As most people know, the real estate market shifts between a buyers or sellers market, depending on supply and demand. However, regardless of which market were currently in, buyer etiquette can help you get the home you want with the least amount of stress.

It may sound odd to some, especially first-time homebuyers, but manners matter when it comes to the real estate transaction. Im not talking about "Please" and "Thank you." So, what exactly does this mean“

Buyer etiquette is not only about doing the things that are vital to helping sales go through but its also about general manners like being on time for your viewing of a home, being prepared with your financial documents, and being responsive when requests for documents, signatures, or answers are needed from your real estate professionals.

This isnt about lecturing buyers about minding their manners; rather, think of this as the inside tips to helping land the home you really want. For instance, sometimes, being late for a viewing of a listing could cause you to lose that particular home. In a really hot real estate market, if youre late or you dont show up for the listing, you might not get a second chance - the home could be sold.

Another consideration is to be aware of how much time you need to view a home. If you try to see too many homes in one day, chances are youre not going to treat each home with the same respect. The first homes might get lots of attention by you in terms of time and what you notice. However, by the time youre on, say, 15th home of the day, you might be so tired that you blaze through it ba>

One of the most important etiquette tips is to make sure that youve been pre-approved and are a serious buyer, ready to take action should you find the right home. Shopping for homes is serious business. Its likely the largest monetary transaction youll make; being financially and emotionally prepared is good etiquette and will help expedite the process.

When viewing a home, if the sellers are present sometimes this happens, dont share your likes or dislikes about the home with them. Be courteous and keep the conversation to a minimum with the sellers. You want to make sure you leave the negotiation process to your experienced real estate agent. If you have questions about the home, be sure to take good notes and consult with your agent. Your agent is the liaison for good reason. The agent is experienced and knows how to find out the information you need without undermining your bargaining position. Polite conversation with the sellers is appropriate if the opportunity occurs. And, if the house isnt right for you from the moment you set foot in it, at least give it a quick walk-through, just to be absolutely certain.

Good manners when house hunting is about more than just having people like you. It could be the potential development of a successful real estate transaction. Good will during that process helps keep things moving along at a steady pace and possibly with a better outcome than if the sellers were selling to a buyer they really didnt like.

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Choosing The Best Hardwood Floors For Your Home

The rich patina of wood floors adds beauty and elegance to any home.

Older homes were once routinely constructed with hardwood floors, but that practice was abandoned in the 1950s, when new technologies made wall-to-wall carpeting available. Builders were able to build more homes faster, for the post-war baby boom, and save money on labor.

But today, many homeowners prefer hardwoods to carpet. Hardwoods help give the impression that your home is well-built with quality materials. Hardwoods are easy to maintain and improve with wear, unlike carpet that eventually needs to be replaced.

Hardwoods add value to your home, says the National Wood Flooring Association NWFA. In a recent survey of participating real estate agents, the trade association found that real estate agents said that a house with wood floors would sell faster than a carpeted house, by a margin of three to one. About 58 percent said a house with wood floors would bring a higher price.

If you have hardwoods under carpet, its easy and inexpensive to tear the carpet out and refinish your floors. Or, you can choose to install hardwoods if theres only sub-floor underneath the carpet.

You have several options:

Solid hardwoods -- Solid hardwoods are the most expensive option. They come in planks of various lengths and are typically 3/4 thick. The floors are installed as raw wood and sanded down and stained on site. The advantage is that your floors can be refinished often over the years. Solid hardwoods are not recommended over concrete slab foundations. Disadvantages are that hardwoods cannot be washed with water, water leaks can cause them to bow, and direct sunlight can cause stained finishes to bleach.

Engineered hardwoods -- Composed of layers or plies of wood that are glued together and finished with a laminate, engineered hardwoods are finished with a final layer of hardwood that is generally between " and " thick. The advantage of engineered hardwoods is that they are suitable for any foundation. Drawbacks are that laminated floors usually cannot be refinished.

Engineered hardwoods come in a variety of >Stains and finishes

If your floor comes unfinished, you need to know what kind of wood its made of in order to select a stain, as different woods can make stain colors change tone. A good way to choose is to ask the installer for samples, or you can go to a local paint and home improvement store and view stain colors. Sherman Williams "Wood >Keep in mind that unfinished floors must be sanded, stained and sealed on site, which is labor intensive, time consuming and messy as you wait for each layer to dry. Factory finished floors are usually warrantied, they can be installed immediately which saves time and labor, and only the glue to the subfloor has to dry.

Finishes are important to choose because they dictate how you will care for your floor. If your floor has a penetrating seal, you will have to wax it to keep it burnished. If the floor is sealed with a urethane, polyurethane or other polymer coat, its water resistant and easy to clean with a mop.

Types of wood

The most common woods for floors are species of oak, pine, walnut, pecan, birch, beech, ash, cherry, maple, cypress and Douglas fir.

Wood for floors can be exotic, and are prized for their unusual grains and colors. Exotic woods include mahogany, teak, and Brazilian cherry.

One of the most popular flooring options is actually a grass, not a wood. Bamboo is a quick-growing resource that is easily replenished, making it a good choice for green-building. Bamboo can be cut and finished like any hardwood, and is more durable in some cases.

To learn more about wood floors, visit

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9 Ways You Can Score Great Deals For Your Home On Black Friday

For many of us, Black Friday shopping is key to a successful holiday gift-buying strategy for friends and family. But have you taken a look around your home lately“ Maybe you need to put it on your list this year.

There are some great deals out there this Black Friday that can help you fix up, fancy up, update, and upgrade the place you call home. Here are nine ways to go about scoring the best deals.

Home improvement

One of the most exciting sale items weve seen for home this year is at Lowes. Wood-look tile is one of todays hottest trends for flooring, and on Black Friday, the home improvement store has it starting at just 99 cents per foot, down from 2.02 per foot.

Lowes also has some great deals on tools and home improvement items in their Black Friday ad. If you can get past the ho-hum-ness of buying yourself tools at this time of year, youll love the prices on this Kobalt 227-piece tool set with case and 39 Shop-Vac Vacuum.


Smart home

Bring the smart home craze to your front door. This Kwikset SmartCode Satin Nickel-Single Cylinder Motorized Electronic Entry Door Deadbolt with Keypad is just 39 on Black Friday, down from 69.


Head to Lowes for this Samsung 4.5 cu. ft. ENERGY STAR High Efficiency Top Load washer and 7.4 cu. Ft. Electric Dryer are 499 each, a savings of 600 for the pair.

This Samsung Energy Star reg; 26 cu. ft. 36" Wide 3-Door French Door Refrigerator with Filtered Ice Makernbsp;is regularly priced at 1,999 and will drop to 995 at JC Penny on Black Friday. Other appliances are on sale for up to 40 off at both Home Depot and Lowes.

Also for the kitchen

Looking to do some renovations in your kitchen“ This brushed nickel pull-down kitchen faucet is just 59 on Black Friday, down from 109, at Lowes.

Those who love to bake swear by KitchenAid mixers, and the must-have item is typically attractively priced over the holidays. The best price weve seen so far is 249 for the KitchenAidreg; Ultra Power Plus 4.5 Qt Tilt-Head Stand Mixer at Target. Its currently prices at 279, down from 349. You can also get the KitchenAidreg; >


Also for your gourmet kitchen needs, Target has two great deals on Ninja products for Black Friday. Both the Coffee Brewer and the Professional Kitchen System are being offered as doorbusters for 99 - thats half off Perhaps no single Black Friday deal will make home cooks happier than this one: Walmart has the insanely popular Instant Pot, regularly 100, for 50 on Black Friday.

Home Assistants

Google Home is predicted to be one of the hottest items this year, and Walmarts Black Friday sale has it at 79 - a savings of 50. The 49 Google Home Mini Smart Speaker, which offers "hands-free help in any room" and is powered by the Google Assistant, goes on sale for 29 with a 10 gift card at Target. At that price, youll want to buy one for yourself and a few for gifts. If youd rather ask Alexa, head to Target for this Amazon Echo Dot, which will drop from 49 to 29.


TVs are a staple of Black Friday shopping. Personally, we have images of stampeding shoppers hoisting flat-screen boxes over their heads seared in our collective brain forever, but that wont stop us from trying to slide in there for a screaming deal. Forbes calls Best Buys Sharp 50-inch LED 2160p Smart 4K Ultra HD Roku TV for 179.99 - a savings of 320 - possibly "the best deal during the entirety of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017." nbsp;


Television accessories

Once you buy that flat screen, youll need a sound bar. Walmart has a 37" RCA Bluetooth version for just 29 currently priced at 49. Or, pick up this VIZIO 32" 5.1 Soundbar System package, which includes a wi>

And dont forget a mounting system. This one has tilt and fits TVs ranging from 47-80", Black Friday priced at just 19 currently on sale for 59.


A vacuum may not seem like the most exciting thing to buy on Black Friday, but you may change your mind when you see the price of this Dyson DC59 Animal Cordless Vacuum Cleaner at Walmart. We did Regularly priced at 369, it goes on sale on Black Friday for just 189


Walmarts high-thread-count hotel sheets are famous to smart Black Friday shoppers and are one of the most anticipated and quickest-selling items. Used to be you had to buy them in store, but theyre now online. If you want a set or four, heres a tip: get them in your cart ASAP when sales kick off, because theyll be gone in a flash. 24 per set. Macys has a worthy alternative with their Devon 4-Pc King Sheet Set, 900-Thread Count, regularly priced at 59; on Black Friday, they will be 29.


Another great sale item thatll make you say, "One for you, one for me," Targets chenille and sherpa throws are just 10 on Black Friday.

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6 Ideas For Selling Your Home In The Winter

1 Keep the house warm.

While you dont have to keep the heat on all the time, keep the house warm during showings. You dont want people shivering while they look through the house. Set the thermostat to at least 70 degrees -- whether youll be in the house or not.

2 Trim the outdoor foliage.

Remove snow from shrubs and trees so that potential buyers dont get wet as they walk up the sidewalk to your home. Brush off snow, prune the tree limbs and trim the hedges as needed. You can even hire a tree service to do this for you if youre strapped for time. While your lawn is dormant this time of year, you can at the very least make it look well maintained to give buyers a sense of what it looks like during the spring and summer. You can also display photos in your entryway of how your home looks outside during the greener months.

3 Handle winter conditions.

If you have ice and snow on your driveway and sidewalk, you need to take care of it way in advance of showings. Clear ice and snow with shovels and salt, so that your exterior looks nice and safe to buyers. It will also increase the aesthetic quality of your home to buyers and keep you from getting sued by a buyer who falls or slips. If you have particular trouble with ice and snow, you can call a snow removal service to do it for you.

Winter driveway photo courtesy of Provino Architecture, LLC

4 Show off the fireplace.

If you have a fireplace, you should showcase it as part of your homes aesthetic appeal. A gas fireplace is easy to turn on before a showing, and it adds natural beauty to your home -- not to mention warmth. A wood-burning fireplace is a bit harder to maintain, because you can run out of firewood. So you need to time the lighting just right before the showing. You also need to make sure the chimney is in good condition, so have it cleaned and checked by a fireplace professional ahead of a showing to avoid any problems.

Fireplace photo courtesy of Pinnacle Development Group, Inc.

5 Add comfort to your home.

There are other steps you can take to make your home more comfortable and inviting during the winter months. Focus on small improvements to your home like:

  • Adding blankets to your couch
  • Turning back the comforter on the bed
  • Baking a pie or cookies for the smell
  • Lighting some candles
  • Turning on some >

    Interior Lighting photo courtesy of Red Rabbit Construction.

    6 Make sure your home is well lit.

    Since winter takes away a lot of sunshine, you need to utilize light bulbs and other forms of lighting. Outside lights, security lights, candles, LED lighting -- every bit of lighting is crucial in the interior and exterior. You want all lights on when buyers are walking through your home -- dont focus on your electricity bill right now. You also want to make as much use of natural lighting as possible. Open your window treatments during the day showings.

    Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

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    The Real Estate Contracts Kick-Out Clause

    Question: We are selling our house and have found a nice couple who have expressed interest. Unfortunately, they cannot afford to buy our house unless they sell their house first. We would like to work something out with this couple, but are concerned about taking our house off the market for an indefinite period while the buyers try to sell their house. How do you resolve this dilemma“

    Answer: While no one likes to sign contracts which are contingent on the purchasers ability to sell their own house, unfortunately it is a fact of life that must be recognized by every buyer and seller. With house prices having increased dramatically over the years, and with the tightening of lender requirements, more and more buyers find that they can qualify to buy a more expensive house only if they first sell their current residence.

    Generally speaking, when buyers present an offer to purchase, they can include a contingency for the sale of their house. This is known as a "contingent contract." In simple English, this means that if the specified event does not occur -- in this case the buyers do not sell their house -- then the contract to purchase the new property becomes null and void and the purchasers are entitled to a full refund of any earnest money deposit.

    Needless to say, as you have suggested, sellers do not want to take their house off the market for an indefinite period.

    Accordingly, a compromise has been developed, known as a "kick-out" clause. Under this arrangement, the sellers state in the contract that while they are willing to accept a contingency contract, the sellers will continue to market the house. If another qualified buyer is found, the seller will give the current purchaser a certain amount of time -- usually 72 hours -- in which to remove the contingency keep the contract alive or exercise the contingency and decide not to purchase the new property.

    This kick-out clause has to be carefully drafted. If the potential purchasers are confronted with the 72 hour kick-out period, and decide to delete the sale contingency, they may still be able to get out of the original contract if they cannot get financing. Keep in mind that most standard sales contracts also contain another contingency, namely the ability of the purchaser to obtain the necessary financing.

    This creates a dilemma for both parties. If the purchasers remove the sale contingency but still have the financing contingency in the contract, it is probable that a lender will not give a binding loan commitment to the purchasers unless they sell their house first. Thus, the mere removal of the sale contingency does not meet the sellers needs. The purchaser can still find an excuse to back out of the contract, based on another contingency in the contract.

    Thus, sellers should include at the very least the following language in the 72 hour kick-out clause:

    The parties agree that sellers property shall remain on the market during the above contingency period. If the purchaser does not remove the above contingency and provide evidence satisfactory to seller in their sole discretion of ability to perform under the terms herein within a specific number of hours after receipt of written notice that seller has accepted a secondary contract, purchasers deposit shall be promptly returned in full.

    Under this contractual arrangement, the potential purchaser has the right to delete the contingency and go forward with the purchase. But the purchasers also have to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the seller, they are financially able to qualify for the loan. In many instances, the purchasers will not be able to satisfy the seller, because they obviously do not have the funds to permit them to go forward with the purchase.

    From the sellers point of view, this is an acceptable arrangement. Although the sellers have signed a contract, in effect they are keeping the house on the market. The sellers have the right to continue to show it to other potential purchasers, and have the right to take back-up contracts if possible.

    If you are dealing with a real estate agent, insist that the agent continue to market your house even after you have signed the first contract.

    From the buyers point of view, the 72 hour kick-out is also an acceptable compromise -- but obviously is subject to abuse. The buyer can understand that a seller is >The 72 hour kick-out clause is a compromise for both parties, and has become an acceptable practice in the real estate arena.

    However, the sellers should also insist that the buyer immediately begin to market their own property -- whether it be through a real estate firm or on their own. Specific language should be included in the contract that if the purchaser does not begin to market the property within a reasonable period of time -- for example 5 days -- then the seller has the right to void the contract and look for another buyer.

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    Ask the HOA Expert: Who Is Supposed To Fix And Maintain What?

    Question: Our board has a running battle with various unit owners about who is supposed to fix and maintain what. As a result, the board has paid for repairs that were probably the unit owners responsibility. How do we get this under control“

    Answer:The board should adopt a Maintenance Insurance Areas of Responsibility Policy which defines responsibilities HOA vs Owner. The idea is to break down the buildings and grounds into component parts and then describe who is responsible. Always review and use the governing documents as a guideline if direction is provided. While the Areas of Responsibility Policy can be subject to interpretation under certain circumstances, it usually provides clear guidance to both the board and unit owners. Moreover, it provides the board with the basis for consistent handling of maintenance issues. Another benefit is it clarifies for the HOAs and unit owners insurance carriers what things the HOA is responsible for and eliminates claim disputes. This is a "must have" policy in any common wall community. There is a sample of this policy in the Policy Samples section of

    Question: We have a resident we routinely have to call the police on for disturbing the peace, verbally assaulting and stalking neighbors and threatening them with physical harm. This resident is essentially psychotic and totally unpredictable. This has gone on for years and weve reached our limit. This situation is now affecting sales What can we do“

    Answer: Have you been in contact with this persons >

    Question: I am researching HOA pool liability. Recently, the board enacted pool hours which dont seem safe: 8am to 11pm. Im concerned about allowing people to swim after dark. The pool has no lighting.

    Answer: Since daylight hours change daily, either longer or shorter, it makes sense to tie pool hour closing to dusk or 10 pm whichever comes first. Due to noise concerns, the pool needs to close at a reasonable hour unless the location of the pool doesnt create a noise issue. For the same reason, establish a pool opening schedule to avoid disturbing people who may still be sleeping. Of course in Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun, all bets are off. But the pool is probably frozen anyway.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see

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    2017 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information For Agents And Sellers

    One of the most useful research projects of the National Association of REALTORSreg; NAR is the annual survey of homebuyers and sellers. It is particularly useful because it shows sellers and their agents what works and what sources buyers use to find their new homes.

    This is the 36th year that NAR has conducted an annual survey of those who have purchased and sold homes. The most recent version 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers became available in November of this year. The information is based on answers to a 131-question survey mailed to a random sample of 145,800 consumers who purchased a home between July 2016 and June 2017. Names and addresses were provided by Experian, a company that maintains an extensive database of recent homebuyers that is derived from county records. After accounting for undeliverable surveys, there was a 5.6 percent response rate.

    In 2016, first-time homebuyers constituted 32 percent of the market. That was the lowest participation rate by first-time buyers since 1987 30. This year, 2017, the first-time buyer rate was 34. Geographically, the highest percentage of first-time buyers was in the northeast 43. Over the years the historic norms for the country have been in the 40 range. As more low-downpayment mortgage programs come into the market, there may be a good chance of returning to those norms.

    The most useful information for sellers and their agents is to be found in the section on the home search process. While the survey results are not significantly different from those of recent years, the trends continue. For example, this year 86 percent of buyers said that they used the internet frequently during the search process. In 2003 that number was only 42. This past year 55 of buyers said that they frequently used a mobile or tablet application. That is a newer and growing phenomenon. Two years ago it was 41 . 68 of buyers said that they frequently >Forty-two percent of buyers went to the internet as the first step in the home search process. 17 contacted a real estate agent first, and 6 began by driving through neighborhoods looking for homes for sale. How can driving around be an option“ Half the homes purchased were within 15 miles of the buyers previous residence. Interestingly, 8 of home buyers began the process by going to a bank or mortgage company.

    Buyers use multiple sources of information in the process of looking for a home. Far and away the most used sources are on-line websites 95 and real estate agents 89. Mobile or tablet applications 74 have replaced yard signs as the third most used source of information. Still though, 48 of buyers indicate that yard signs are one of their sources of information. Only 15 of buyers indicate that they used newspaper ads as an information source. A mere 2 said that they garnered information from television.

    While there are a lot of intriguing data about the sources of information used by prospective homebuyers, certainly the most > This year the information source that was highest in that category 49 was the internet. Agents are second at 31. Note that this is not to say that buyers bought their home through the internet. The typical scenario would be that a consumer sees the home on the internet, and then contacts his or her agent. 88 of those who used the internet to search purchased their home through an agent.

    The differences in a little more than a decade are fascinating. In 2001, 48 percent of buyers learned about their home through a real estate agent, and only 8 percent found their home on the internet. The times they have changed.

    Some things, though, remain persistently the same -- or close to it. In 2001, a yard sign was the third most likely source of information leading to the home that was purchased 15. And this year“ It is still the third leading source at 7, but this is now the fourth time in the survey history that it has been lower than double digits. Print media may not be dead, but it has shrunk to insignificance in this arena. In 2001, 7 of homebuyers found the home they ultimately purchased through a newspaper ad; in 2017, it was only 1. It has been that way for five years now. Fewer than 1 found their home through a home book or magazine.

    The 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows what works. It is a valuable resource.

    Full Story >

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Updated: Friday, November 24, 2017

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