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Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018

9 Home Improvements That Can Help and Hurt Value

Home improvement can be taken as very demanding action, but there are also some ways of home improvement you can do yourself. Therefore, before you start with any, see what improvements are the most needed in your home. Nowadays, a big attraction is an energy-efficient home which saves a lot of energy and reduces energy costs. On the other hand, maintenance problems and pest or bug infestations are a major turn off and should be looked into ASAP.

We bring you several great pieces of advice you can use to improve your homes value and feel more comfortable and cozy.

1. Water Filtration System

A water filtration system in your kitchen is a small addition that will appeal to many home buyers and is used for purifying the water. When you have a water filtration system installed in your house, you dont have to buy bottled water anymore. The best thing is that its not expensive at all, and everyone can afford it.

2. Removing Old Carpets

Besides looking old, old carpets might also be hiding contaminants and allergens which means you have bad air quality in your home. Sometimes the best option for testing an indoor air quality is to call a professional company because they will su>Wooden floors are an excellent way to bring the touch of outdoors in your home. Great examples of environmentally friendly natural products are tile or laminated floors. By replacing your old carpets with a hard surface floor, your house will be easier to clean, and youll have more time to do things you like.

3. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling

It is no secret that homes with popcorn ceilings are outdated so get rid of this popcorn ceiling fast. To be sure that it does not contain asbestos, it would be best to hire professionals to test it. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling is as simple as buying a solution to soften the texture from the hardware store and scraping the popcorn away.

4. Bathroom Remodeling

Remodeling bathrooms is a great way to add more value to your home. If a full rebuild is not in your budget, you can invest in many small changes that will freshen up your bathroom. Replace the dated wallpaper, old lighting, add some fancy cupboard knobs or change the faucet and shower heads.

5. Kitchen Remodeling

Just like the bathroom, a big kitchen update can do wonders. Stained sinks and old appliances are all things to look at. If replacing the kitchen cabinets is too much for you, you can always give them a new look by adding a new varnish or paint layer and swap those old doorknobs with modern ones.

6. Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance is an ongoing process, no matter if you plan to live in your house for a long time or move soon. Repairing or replacing broken appliances or fixtures will avoid further damage. Certain things are not to be left, and for example, leak spots on the ceiling can cause great damage to your roof if not taken care of immediately. If your home is up for sale, a sign of poor maintenance will make the home seekers wonder what else is wrong with the house.

7. Water Heater Upgrade

An old water heater can be a turn off for some home buyers, but you can find water heaters that come with a tankless model. This kind of water heaters are more efficient as they only heat up the water that you need.

8. Appliance Updates

Nowadays, energy-efficiency is becoming trendy. Appliances with an energy star label use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than other conventional appliances. New models look great, and many are stainless steel which is a bonus. If you do not have the money for buying modern devices, upgrade the lighting to energy star.

9. Update Fixtures

Fixtures in your home include curtain rods, light fixtures, doorknobs, switch plates, outlet covers, etc. Make sure that these are updated because sometimes its the small detail that counts. For example, outlet covers and switch plates look more attractive when made of metal. These changes are easy to do yourself and arent so expensive, just be sure you choose the right color which looks great combined with other furniture in your home.

Matt James is a freelance writer specialized in home improvement, smart technology, architecture design. He has a love of outdoors and spending time with his dog Cooper. You can reach him on Facebook and Instagram.
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Inside Tips On Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens make dining al fresco at home more appealing than ever. A rebounding trend in outdoor living reveals more and more properties feature outdoor kitchens that once were the province of only the very wealthy.

Today, moving the homes indoor central meeting place outdoors creates an open-air living space thats both accessible and inviting as any indoor room. Great for gatherings and socializing, having a kitchen and dining area outdoors also eliminates some of the indoor mess and hassle of food preparation and makes for a more inclusive cooking experience.

You can create outdoor living space that is an organic part of your yard or a discrete, open-air self-standing room or suite for your home. With features ranging from simple and functional to more extravagant, an outdoor kitchen investment comes with a return thats at least equal to a major kitchen remodel - 80 percent or more.

Talk to your real estate agent about the return on your investment in an outdoor kitchen in your specific neighborhood. If you are enterprising, hands-on and have budget constraints, you can put ideas into play yourself. If you need a truly professional look, hire a contractor to design and build the area.

Here are a few elements to keep in mind when crafting your outdoor living space:

Outdoor kitchen appliances

Durability is paramount for any outdoor appliance and should be a primary concern, especially if you live in a harsh climate cold, wet, dry or hot, even if you cover your appliances in inclement weather.Cooking fuels are commonly gas or charcoal, but outdoor kitchens can incorporate a wood-burning oven, outdoor fireplace, or a fire pit.

Barbecue fans might opt to include a smoker or mesquite grill. Higher end outdoor kitchens often include ample counter top space, drawers and cabinets for storage, as well as a sink, and refrigeration. Existing utility connections could narrow your choices, but you can run a natural gas line to the outdoor kitchen. Adequate plumbing pressure is a must in order to accommodate hot and cold running water.

Outdoor kitchen living space

The living space that frames your appliances helps set the tone for outdoor living.

If you have an existing deck or patio, you could develop that space into a living area. If you install an island and bar area with stools or opt for a simple outdoor dining set, consider protecting your space from the elements, just as you would your appliances.

Some kitchens incorporate a roof, covered archway or pergola; others could need only an ample patio umb>Outdoor kitchen flow

To build functionality into your outdoor kitchen, consider the flow of space just as you would your indoor entertaining areas. Keep your cooking area accessible to your indoor kitchen, when possible, to experience less running around with dishes and ingredients you keep inside the home.

Put seating near your cooking area, but not so near as to interrupt the flow of the chef.

Outdoor kitchen ambiance

Keep lighting in mind when it comes to evenings. Its a lovely time to >Overall, the design of your outdoor kitchen should compliment your home, especially adjacent areas.
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Whats Wrong With Oklahoma?

As the two-week Oklahoma teachers strike ended last week, its clear that the rabidly red state has some serious problems, namely that oil money doesnt trickle down like economics are supposed to. Ignoring the benefits of its central location, >

Take the wind industry, for example. Once on track to be the number one source of wind-generated energy by 2030, according to the Department of Commerce, Oklahoma decided instead to cut the industrys last tax incentive in 2017 in House Bill 2298. Meanwhile, oil and gas production tax rates have plummeted, from an average seven percent to two percent for new wells for the first three years, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

At 7 percent, Oklahomas tax rate is well below that of other major energy states, says the OPI, compared to 8.3 percent in Texas and North Dakota, 13.3 percent in Louisiana, and 13.4 percent in Wyoming, according to a 2017 report by the Covenant Group.

According to forecasts from the Oklahoma Tax Commission the new subsidy will cost Oklahoma 333 million in lost gross production tax revenue, says the OPI. Are oil companies going to refuse to drill if they have to pay 7 percent? And if its causing such a shortfall that teachers have to march to get lawmakers attention, isnt that a good enough reason to review the governors budget?

And that brings us back to the teachers. According to The Guardian, Oklahoma ranks 49th in state teacher pay. The state offered teachers a raise just in time to stop the strike, but the teachers soldiered on because they are striking for the children. State spending per pupil has dropped by 26.9 percent since 2008 and is also the last time teachers got a raise. Students are making do in many areas with outdated and duct-taped schoolbooks, four-day school weeks and school closings.

Legislaters fight back with a Catch-22 - the budget shortfall doesnt allow the state to meet the teachers demands. What the lawmakers fail to realize is that catering to the oil and gas industry is preventing other jobs from coming to Oklahoma, which is starving the mostly rural state.

One of the three busiest trucking highways in the nation goes smack through the middle of the state, I-40, coming east from Memphis, Federal Expresss hub, and west from Barstow, California, outside of Los Angeles and a major highway intersection of I-15, California State Route 58, U.S. Route 66 and I-40. Intersecting with I-75 at Henryetta, Oklahoma, and I-35 in Oklahoma City, 1-40 creates a nice triangle to and from Dallas, home to DFW international airport. Yet, when one drives through Henryetta, theres little commerce, just fast food restaurants and a duck decoy manufacturer. Nearly equidistant to Tulsa and Oklahoma City, it just doesnt make sense why Henryetta isnt a huge town, teeming with manufacturing, packaging and shipping jobs, but to date, its only claim to fame is as the birthplace of Troy Aikman.

The trickle down of poo continues with the housing industry. According to Zillow, the median home value in Oklahoma is 116,900, less than half the national median and the median list price per square foot in Oklahoma is 99. And yet, nearly 12 percent of OK homeowners are underwater on their mortgages.

Californians, foreign investors and retirees smell the blood in the water. You can buy property cheaply, pay almost nothing in property taxes another problem and live like its 1970. Just dont expect any updates.
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Get The Home You Want, Millennials: Smart Strategies For First-Time Homebuyers

Hey, Millennials. Come on into the real estate market We really need you to buy some homes so we can keep chugging along. Oh, wait. Prices are rising and so are interest rates, plus inventory is scary low. Hmmm. Well, come on in anyway, wontcha?

Its not easy to buy a home in a hot market where inventory remains at historic lows - and that covers a lot of areas across the country at a wide range of different price points. But its especially hard right now for Millennials, who arent exactly getting a warm welcome from the market that has been begging them to participate.

"I think its fair to say this is the most competitive housing market weve seen in recorded history," Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, told Curbed. "Theresrecord low inventoryand strong interest from buyers in getting into the housing market. Millennials are reaching prime homebuying age - in 2020, the greatest proportion of that generation will be turn 30 - just as baby boomers are looking todownsize. This has created especially fierce competition for smaller homes, the type of starter homes that mostfirst-time buyersdesire. This dynamic can be especially frustrating for young adults because they may be bidding for the same smaller home as someone from an older generation who can lean on the accumulated wealth of decades of homeownership."

But that doesnt make buying impossible - just a bit more challenging. Get a leg up by following a few smart strategies.

Work with the right REALTORreg;

This is not the right time to give your brother-in-laws cousins neighbor who just got his license a shot. Having a competitive edge is more important than ever, and you need a savvy, experienced, and well-connected real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Work on your down payment

You may be competing against buyers who are coming in with an all-cash offer, which youre going to have a hard time standing up to. But, there are ways you can make your offer look better. Remember that if it comes down to a multiple-offer situation for your home, sellers wont just compare the offer prices. Theyll look at your down payment and the terms, and you need to have better terms than the next guy. You may only have 3.5 down, and that may be all you need to qualify for your FHA loan, but that doesnt mean the seller will embrace you.

"Your down payment is a key part ofthe offer you present to the seller," said Money Crashers."The general rule of thumb is simple: the larger the down payment, the stronger the offer. More precisely: the greater the down payments share of the total purchase price, the more likely the seller is to accept."

If youre ready to buy and theres no time to get a second job or go into hyper-savings mode, you can always take advantage of down payment assistance programs like the National Homebuyers Fundor hit up a >Be flexible on the closing

If another potential buyer is insistent on a 30-day close, but you could close earlier, later, and even rent back to the seller if need be, you just might end up with the house you want. Flexibility is key to submitting a winning offer, so make sure you have a Plan B - a place to stay for a few days or longer if youre going to be between houses, and a mover/storage option squared away.

Look in adjacent neighborhoods

Yeah, you have your heart set on a specific neighborhood. But if its just not happening, consider the next neighborhood over. Experts say they have great potential upside.

Consider the worst house on the block

Buying the ugly duckling is a top strategy for investors, and one that can get buyers in the door literally if theyre having trouble purchasing move-in-ready homes. "When your budget as a first-time buyer doesnt stretch to a house in perfect condition in a neighborhood you adore, you might consider buying a home that needs work. Or maybe youve watched fixer-upper TV shows and think you could handle sweat equity. Either way, real estate experts say buying a house that needs renovating can make sense as long as you are realistic about the process," said the Washington Post. "A fixer-upper can be a smart investment, particularly if you can buy a property under market value and then increase its value with the right projects. While some home buyers prefer move-in-ready homes, they are stuck with the choices the previous homeowner or builder picked for their countertops, fixtures and floors. Not only do buyers of fixer-uppers get to select their finishes, they also can make sure the work is done the way they want."

If youre worried about how youre going to pay for all those renovations, ask your real estate agent or lender about a 203k loan, which rolls renovation funds into your mortgage. "An FHA 203k loan, sometimes called a Rehab Loan or FHA Construction loanallows you to finance not one, but two major items 1 the house itself, and; 2 needed/wanted repairs," said The Mortgage Reports. "Because the lender tracks and verifies repairs, it is willing to approve a loan on a home it wouldnt otherwise consider."

The loan addresses a common problem when buying a fixer home: lenders often dont approve loans for homes in need of major repairs."

Waive contingencies before you submit your offer?

Note the question mark. Your real estate professional may caution you against this strategy. But, lenders like Better Mortgage are making it work with a program that "allows buyers in select markets to not only underwrite their finances, but also get the appraised value of their home before they submit an offer. That means they have the option to waive both financing and appraisal contingencies to make their offer as competitive as cash."
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Property Survey Always Wise, Often Required

Question: At our settlement recently, a lawyer charged us 150 for a survey. When we questioned this charge, we were told it was a lenders requirement and we could do nothing about it. Just what is a survey?

Answer: I hope the lawyer at least gave you a copy of the survey and fully explained it to you.

It is important to distinguish between a survey and an appraisal -- both of which are usually charged to the buyer. An appraisal assists the mortgage lender in assessing the value of the house so as to determine whether a mortgage should be made and in what amount. Generally, the appraisal will analyze the condition of the house, its location, structural soundness and comparable sales in the area.

A survey, on the other hand, goes to the question of the marketability of the house. There are, however, several kinds of surveys: 1 location, 2 boundary, 3 if involving a commercial property, an American Land Title Survey, commonly referred to as an ALTA survey.

The typical survey that the homebuyer gets at the settlement escrow is the location survey. Oversimplified, all it does it show where the improvements the house, fence, shed are located as they >It does not, however, show you where the actual boundaries are. To do this, you will need to order the Boundary Survey. Here, the survey will -- in addition to showing the location of improvements -- determine where the property corners are, and then prepare a more detailed presentation. Often, however, it is very difficult to locate the corners of a piece of property. Years ago, great-grandma Smith told her attorney "the end of my property is where the oak tree stands." And thats what her deed -- and all successor deeds read. However, the old oak tree was demolished years ago. To be precise, the survey will have to do a lot of research, legwork and measurements. So such a survey will be more expensive.

The location surveyor determines whether the house is within the property borders, whether there are any encroachments on the property by neighbors and the extent to which any easements on the property may affect legal title.

Lenders always insist on obtaining a clear "lenders" title insurance policy covering the face value of the mortgage. Title companies will issue an exception to title unless a survey has been ordered, and thus surveys are usually required.

My own belief is that everyone buying a house should obtain a survey whether or not the lender requires it. You can at least start with the location type. It is a good idea to learn, for example, whether there are any building restrictions affecting your right to add a porch or a fence. Equally important, does the next door neighbor have any possible claims of adverse possession? If the survey shows an encroachment -- one way or the other -- on a next door property, a potential buyer must investigate very carefully before taking title.

But, here are some suggestions involving the survey process.

First, location survey prices vary considerably. Ive seen them as low as 130 and as high as 300, for the same single-family house. Ask your settlement attorney for an estimate. If it seems too high, arrange for your own survey and make sure a copy of the survey gets to your lender well in advance of settlement. It must be done by a qualified, licensed surveyor.

Next, ask your sellers who did their survey. Unfortunately, most lenders will not honor a survey if it is more than six months old. But inquire from the prior surveyor whether the old survey can be updated and whether this will save you some money. Some of the more reputable surveyors are happy to get your business and will give you a break in the price.

Additionally, if you are refinancing your existing home, some lenders and title insurance companies are willing to accept a survey affidavit instead of a new survey. You will have to sign an affidavit that no improvements have been made to the property since you originally purchased it. These affidavits are available at a minimum cost.

You should also go to the local government surveyor in the land records office where your property is located. They are quite helpful and may be able to assist you with boundary questions, easement issues and such.

If you are buying a condominium unit, you will not have to obtain -- or pay for -- a separate survey of your unit. That survey has already been done as part of the plans which were recorded with the condominium documents. But that does not excuse you from carefully reviewing the condo plats and plans. For example, are there limited common elements that impede your access to the roof? Do you have a limited common element?

Finally, if you are considering installing a fence -- or even a swimming pool -- in the future, you will want stakes posted, it will cost you additional dollars. You should make the necessary arrangements for stakes at the time you order the survey.

And dont forget to get a copy of the survey from your settlement attorney.
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Ask the HOA Expert: Admendments To Governing Documents

Question: Recently, our HOA members approved substantial amendments to the governing documents which include:

1. Sidewalks are now deemed common area even though the subdivision plat indicates that the sidewalks are located within a utility-and-sidewalk easement located on private lots.

2. An HOA landscape easement was created over the front yard of the privately owned lots.

3. The HOA claims authority to enter lots to inspect for compliance with architectural design restrictions.

Can the HOA legitimately claim these rights?

Answer: The HOA cannot vote itself ownership of property belonging to private owners without their consent. In this case, all lot owners would need to agree to >The third item is different. As long as the HOA has the right to dictate architectural design standards, it has the right to inspect for compliance.

Question: Ive heard that special assessments have to be kept in an escrow account and cannot be used until all owners have paid. Is this true?

Answer: It depends. Special assessments should be kept in a designated account if they are to be used for a specific purpose, like repairing roofs. If the special assessment is simply to build reserves, the funds can be put in the general reserve fund. There is no requirement that an entire special assessment has to be collected before its spent, however, if all the money is needed to pay for a specific project, the board needs to be careful about starting a project without the money to pay for it.

Question: One of our board member is pursuing a personal agenda. He performs unauthorized maintenance and pesters unit owner about minor rule infractions. What can we do?

Answer: Communicate with him directly, clearly and specifically. Explain that performing unauthorized maintenance undermines the budget and the system for addressing maintenance. Provide him details about specific complaints by owners. Explain that his independent actions undermine board authority.

For more Ask the HOA Expert, see www.Regenesis.net
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Buyer Love Letters Often Work; But They Can Backfire Too

In many areas of the country, housing inventory is low and competition among buyers is intense. When that happens, many buyers agents will encourage their clients to submit a cover letter - frequently referred to as a "love letter" -- along with their offer to purchase. Sometimes such letters are submitted -- in any kind of market -- in order to take the "sting" out of a below-list-price offer. In the tight inventory market, their purpose generally is to induce the seller to find some reason to favor the offer of the letter-writer rather than that of some other buyer.

While such letters are not yet standard practice, they are certainly not uncommon. A recent Google inquiry for "letters from buyers to sellers" turned up more than 1.5 million hits in a matter of seconds. In 2015, a Redfin report revealed that 43 of successful offers had included a buyer-to-seller letter.

An internet search shows not only that such letters are popular, but also that there is no shortage of people and organizations who will show you how to write one. Templates for these letters abound. They range from a standard letter format to slick marketing pieces complete with graphics and places for pictures.

Advice as to the content and emphasis of buyer letters varies. Some focus on the characteristics of the property. They suggest that the buyer focus on aspects of the property that it is assumed the seller enjoyed as well. "I know that our collies will love romping in that backyard meadow just as your Labradors do." Others will call attention to aspects of the property to which it is assumed -- possibly known -- that the seller had an emotional attachment. "We will give that rose garden the same loving attention that you did."

Others advocate that the buyers letter should seek to highlight some personal similarities between the buyers and sellers. This is based on the premise that people like to interact and do business with people like themselves. So, if "our little Susie loves the Girl Scouts just as your daughter does" or "if we are both dyed-in -the -wool Raider fans, mention it. Call attention to your similarities and differentiate yourselves from your competition.

Of course, there can be downsides to buyer love letters as well. In 2016, attorney Jon Goodman caused a bit of a stir when he presented on the topic at the annual meeting of the National Association of REALTORSreg;. Goodman developed a scenario in which a buyers offer was rejected. The offer had been accompanied by a letter that contained a photograph of his family. The buyer was, as Andrea Brambila, writing in Inman News put it, "a visible member of a historically oppressed minority." Subsequently, the buyer who was rejected learned that the house had sold for a considerably lower price than his offer. Quoting Goldman, Brambila wrote, " If we had had his life experiences, we might have perceived what he perceived -- that his offer was rejected because he was a member of this minority, in violation of the Fair Housing Act"

Not in all, but certainly in some, buyer-to-seller letters there may lurk the potential for a Fair Housing Violation. This has led some attorneys to advise that sellers and their agents make it known that such letters will not be accepted. That is extreme caution. Others have simply suggested that, if they think there is a potential problem, sellers and their agents should be careful to document the business reasons for taking another offer.

A more likely reason for exercising caution with buyer letters is discussed in a 2015 Realtorreg; Magazine article, "Dont Write Me a Love Song", written by Christine Smith. Smith points out that buyers who reveal their emotional connections to the property are likely weakening their future negotiating positions. Their offer may be accepted, but there is almost always another negotiation or two down the road -- after the property inspections. If a seller believes the buyers have truly fallen in love with the property, he or she is less likely to give in when those future negotiations arise.
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Rising Land Values Threaten Viability Of Canadian Farms, Says Senate Report

Rising farmland prices are putting the family farm in Canada at risk, as good farmland is being converted for residential and commercial development. A report by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry says the purchase of farmland by non-agricultural interests, along with environmental issues and policies, demographic pressures and an aging population are combining to drive up farmland values to the point that the family farm is no longer viable.

"Economic conditions are conspiring against farmers, who already encounter more adversity than they need," says Diane Griffin, chair of the committee. "We need the government to help counter the market forces that are stacked against Canadian farmers, which make it harder for them to buy the land they need to run successful farming enterprises."

Nearly seven per cent of Canadas total area -- about 65 million hectares -- is used for farming. The average price of an acre of farmland rose by 10 per cent in 2015, with Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec showing double-digit increases. The growth rate has slowed since then because of a decline in commodity prices, but the committee says this decline in the growth rate does not mean theres been a decline in value.

Several factors are contributing to the increase in values. Farmers told the committee that foreign investors have been competing with farmers for land, along with other non-agricultural interests including financial institutions, pension funds, private investment firms and private companies.

The average age of farmers was estimated to be 54 in 2011. Selling land is a way for farmers nearing retirement to create their own pension plan.

"If youre an entrant farmer, basically land rental is the only way to get in and actually start if you are going to crop farm," Paul Glenn, chair of Canadian Young Farmers Forum, told the committee. An increasing number of retired farmers are hanging on to their land and renting it to their neighbours or a young farmer. Total farmland area rented or leased by private interests increased from two per cent in 1986 to 27 per cent in 2011.

"Stakeholders are concerned about this increase since this type of ownership makes farmers employees rather than owners and exposes them to additional risks because of rising rents," the committee report says. "They are also concerned about potential changes to the production structure resulting from the loss of family farms and the shift to large-scale farms."

The committee says that farmers close to retirement sometimes divide their land to distribute various parcels to their children, reducing the cost of land ownership for the new farmers. "However, this requires good planning and a desire on the part of the younger generation to get into farming. Several witnesses said that this desire is tied to the sectors profitability."

Some organizations such as Ducks Unlimited Canada may also be driving up farmland values by acquiring land for conservation purposes.

The committee heard from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture that other environmental policies, such as provincial regulations on manure management, require farmers to acquire more land to comply with the regulations, putting more pressure on land values.

The provinces have jurisdiction over the ownership of farmland, but the committee says the federal government has a role to play in helping farmers. It is recommending that the lifetime capital gains exemption be increased for farmers to make it easier for new farmers to acquire land. Tax exemption and property tax deferral programs, which are offered in some provinces, should also be considered, it says.

Its also calling for common land-use planning policies to be established. In provinces like B.C., its up to the local municipalities to come up with these policies. Metro Vancouver, for example, is considering a proposal that would restrict house sizes and residential footprints on agricultural land. Both Ontario and British Columbia are currently studying land-use policies >Ontario loses 175 acres of farmland a day, according to the Ontario Farmland Trust OFT, citing Statistics Canada figures from 2016. The trust says, "There is increasing concern that productive agricultural land is being lost to land-grabbing, large-scale development and investor acquisition. These issues disrupt the integrity and viability of agricultural communities, the farm economy and agricultural ecosystems. Land-use planning can do more to protect this critical resource."

For owners who want to make sure their land remains a farm forever, the trust offers an easement agreement. It is a permanent legal contract between the property owner and the OFT. It is registered on the land title in perpetuity and can include provisions to protect the farmland and maintain uses on the property that are compatible with agriculture, says the OFT. Each agreement is tailored to the needs of the farmer and can be applied to the entire property or part of it. The OFT currently has about a dozen such agreements in place.

"The easement agreement ensures that the property owner maintains ownership and the right to sell the land," says the OFT. The easements can impact the property value, so an appraisal is conducted to measure any reduction in market value. If there is a negative impact on land value, the farm owner is compensated with a charitable tax receipt for the difference in value.
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Small Renovation, Big Hassle: How To Prepare For The Unknown When Buying A Home

"You never know whats behind the walls." This renovation mantra is so important and should be tattooed on the forearm of everyone about to embark on renovation or even small updates to their home.

The horrific discovery of knob-and-tube electrical wiring masquerading as updated electrical in a 100-year-old home is a great plot point on House Hunters Renovation - but a brutal, and not inexpensive, setback in real life. But, its hardly the only issue you can come across when doing renovations, and youre not immune because your home was built 20 or even 10 years ago or youre just doing a few little things here and there to freshen up the place. Before you get started on these renovations, protect yourself by taking a few key steps.

Load-bearing walls

Many a renovation has gone off the rails because a load-bearing wall made it difficult and expensive, or darn near impossible, to move. While you may not be able to eliminate every potential surprise, you can give yourself a leg up by hiring a professional to take a look before you buy, and certainly before you swing the hammer.


TodaysHomeowner.com

"An experienced general contractor can do an initial consultation and assess your wall for as little as 100," buildernbsp;Jeff Andreson told Houzz. Annbsp;architectnbsp;is another possibility because they may approach the situation differently, which could save you money. "A structural engineer may also be required," and is often your best bet for achieving peace of mind.

Plumbing

"Homebuyer inspections are the rule these days," said Angies List. "Sometimes plumbers are called in to do a more thorough follow up inspection. Unfortunately, this often happens after the home has already been purchased."


eastcoastplumbingservice.com

And the issues can be costly. Hiring a plumber to check everything out before you purchase could uncover problems throughout the house, from the main sewer line to water heaters that could cause extensive damage if they leak or burst, to leaky toilets. "One problem homeowners often neglect to have fixed is a leak at the base of anbsp;toilet," they said. "The leak often appears small or insignificant, but over time the water will begin to rot the subfloor and even get between the subfloor and the finished floor. Someone unaware of the damage this kind of problem can create, may try to seal this themselves, sometimes making it worse."

Foundation

If you have a home inspection, which you obviously should ALWAYS do, your inspector will look for signs of foundation damage. But, there are things you can look for ahead of the inspection that may impact your decision to purchase, such as: cracks in exterior and interior walls, cracks in floors, gaps around windows and doors, and doors that stick. Foundation issues can arise regardless of the age of the home, and could be indicative of a serious problem in places that are prone to earthquakes. But you also want to take them seriously in areas with known soil issues, like Texas.


pinterest.com

"All foundation problems are not equal," said RE/MAX real estate agent Bill Gasset. "A few settlement cracks may be normal and safe, but you need an inspector to tell you one way or the other. Foundation repair can be expensive, something to keep in mind when you consider the price of the home."

Electrical

Back to the old knob-and-tube situation. If someone has deliberately tried to hide illegal or dangerous wiring, thats obviously a huge issue, both ethically and financially. And, its one you likely wont find out about until you get inside the walls. Also, you may or may not have recourse against the seller since it will be difficult to prove there was knowledge that necessitated disclosure.

Even in a newer home, issues with the way electrical fixtures were installed could make what you thought was a quick and easy update into a larger undertaking. This is what it looks like under the bathroom light fixture we just had removed. It lacks the support and structure to properly install the new fixture we purchased, so we would either need to spend a bunch of money to shore up the situation inside the wall or get a different fixture that can be installed directly into the studs We chose option B.. While not a huge problem, it was an unexpected one, and one that required us to spend more money, extend our installation timeline, and depend on our contractor to redo his schedule to accommodate us - not an easy feat. Ultimately, it was a good lesson for how to prepare for any type of renovation.

  • Add time to any job - You just never know whats going to come up
  • Research potential issues so youre better prepared to roll with whatever comes your way
  • Have a Plan B - See first bullet point
  • Set aside extra money - Ditto

Establish a good >
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Trend Alert: Big, Bold Floral Walls

If theres one thing you can count on, its that some type of floral pattern will always be in >

But todays floral trends are a far cry from your grandmothers busy, tightly patterned situation. Instead, its all about big and bold, and the trend is hitting hard for those who want to make a statement on one wall, or more.

This Ellie Cashman Design "dramatic, large-scale floral wallpaper is inspired by the still life paintings of the Dutch Golden Age," they said. "Majestic, ethereal blooms cascade down a dark, shadowy background." The wallpaper appears as part of Elle Deacute;cors April Edit: Large-Print Florals Their edit also includes dinnerware, placemats, and pillows, along with several fashion pieces.. "The April Edit is devoted to all petals, pistils, and stems," they said. "A fresh bouquet, literal or figurative, marks the start of spring like no other. But beyond adding a fresh spray wherever counter space allows, plant a seed in your wardrobe and on your wall, too."


Elle Decor

Its just one of the large-print florals that are breaking the light and airy mold this season. Expect to see lots of these dark, dramatic looks, many with black backgrounds and others that continue with the jewel tone theme weve been seeing in fashionable interiors.

This black-backed print helps an entry come to life.


houselust

You dont need a flat wall to create a statement wall - and your large floral print doesnt have to be the only print in the space, etiher.


mydomaine.com

Think you cant go bold in a small space? Think again


hgtv.com - Mike Schwartz

Maybe its the fifth wall you have your eye on.


hgtv.com - Twist Tours

"Floral prints are always in if you asknbsp;Anthropologie," said Country Living. "Rather than a traditionally feminine look in 2018 they feel especially fresh and more interesting >

We also love that you can incorporate this trend into your home even if you dont want to make such a semi-permanent commitment. There are numerous peel-and-stick options that will give you the look in an easily removable material, like this one from Etsy.


etsy.com

Or this fun and unique pattern from Walls Need Love that adds peacocks to the mix.


wallsneedlove.com

If the thought of covering a wall in something so bold is still too much, even in a removable application, think about smaller bursts of flower power, like these drapes.


theeverygirl.com - SF Girl By Bay

Or some show-stopping recovered dining chairs.


pinterest.com

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NAR, the DOJ and Procompetition

On June 5, 2018, NAR can make its case that ldquo;the breadth and depth of competition in the real estate and brokerage industryrdquo; at a public workshop held by the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission. Part of the strategy is to share a report by independent economist Frederk Flyer, PhD, titled Procompetitive Benefits of Policies Limiting Access to Multiple Listing Service Data.

Flyer asserts that much of the criticism of limiting information access is concern that consumers of third-party data aggregators of real estate listings, such as Zillow and Trulia, will not have access to full MLS information.

However, what the DOJ and FTC fail to recognize, is that these websites compete in a different antitrust market, argues Flyer, as neither Zillow nor Trulia broker real estate transactions as licensed real estate practitioners do. In fact, part of their business models is to provide lead generation services to the brokers using the brokersrsquo; and their competitorsrsquo; data.

ldquo;Real estate websites such as Zillow and Trulia are in the business of vying for Internet ldquo;eyeballsrdquo; and are not in the business of providing brokerage services; hence limiting these sitesrsquo; access to proprietary MLS data does not harm consumers of brokerage services nor does it limit their access to information,rdquo; writes Flyer.

ldquo;These sites are not even essential to consumers who use actual brokerage services, since these data aggregation sites do not provide consumers of brokerage services with any greater access to information.

And that could be the key sticking point ndash; greater access to information. Is a Zestimate greater information? Is access to advertisers greater information? Is allowing brokers to advertise their services on top of their competitorsrsquo; listings greater information?

As we discussed ad nauseum in the 2000s, the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission believe that associations restricting MLS data to third-parties limits competition, giving NAR and its subsidiaries a monopoly that harms consumers. NARrsquo;s opposing view is that the forced sharing of MLS listing data with third-party websites benefits the websites, not consumers.

The establishment of the MLS, in which brokers share their listings with other brokers, in itself fosters competition among those members who pay for the service, requiring no obligation to allow third-parties to benefit financially from the collective listing data. It also keeps brokers from showing only their own listings as consumers can see that there are other homes available for sale or rent on association websites and consumer-facing access to the local MLS.

Nar General Counsel Katie Johnson explains that innovation isnrsquo;t spurred by providing unrestricted real estate data to technology companies.

States Johnson, ldquo;I can confirm that NAR has no plans to alter MLS policies mandating how property listings are displayed by online brokerages when the 2008 settlement agreement expires November 18, 2018.rdquo;

This should be interesting. Realty Times is open to new arguments from either side. So letrsquo;s throw it out there ndash; brokers, has sharing your listings via your MLS with third-party sites helped or hurt your business?


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Preparing Your Child To Move

Children respond to the general atmosphere set in the home by the attitudes of their parents. If you look at moving as an exciting adventure full of new possibilities, then chances are very good that you will infect your children with enthusiasm and anticipation.

Many times we forget that making more money or moving to a larger home is not a change that children will understand. The younger the child, the less able they are to "see into the future" as you do. They tend to focus on losing the security they already know, along with missing friends and family. Your job is to turn the sadness and doubt into happiness. Ask yourself what advantages there are for the child in the move. For example, will the family be closer to Grandma, the ocean, or another favorite person, place, or activity?

One of the easiest ways to turn an unhappy frown into joy and excitement is to communicate frequently. Let your children know, step by step, what is happening and what is likely to happen next. Tell them what the move means to the family -- how important it is that Mommy got a big promotion or that Daddy is opening a new office for his company, and how other aspects of the move will be good for the child.

Be ready for those "What about me?" questions by researching schools, churches, activities, and community amenities in advance, and offer your child choices and ways to participate where it is appropriate. Whenever possible, look up information on the Internet, or have your agent e-mail, fax, or mail vital information about the community so that you and your child can plan where to go and who to meet in order to help ease the transition into new activities and surroundings. Contact organizations with whom your child is already associated or with whom he or she has an interest, and ask for referrals to your new city. Knowing they wont have to give up favorite hobbies or sports goes a long way toward helping children adjust.

Making contacts with future friends, >Your REALTORreg; will be able to show you your home either through e-mail, the local MLS service, or Realtor.com. Have your Realtor take pictures of your home and send them to you. Have fun by showing your child the new house plans, or draw them yourself and let your child cut out furniture and toys to place in the rooms. Show your child a typical day in the home as you go from room to room. Draw a map, and show how close Mommy and Daddy work, where schools are, where Aunt Bea lives, and other points of interest to help them orient themselves in their new surroundings.

If time and finances permit, take your child on a trip to visit your new city and home to get acquainted. If thats not possible, get on the Internet, and show him or her the city, neighborhood, and home where youll be living. Most cities have Web sites available that offer a wide range of information, so you can plan activities for after your move, such as visits to the theater, a visit to the local zoo, or a trip to a local restaurant that serves your childs favorite food.

Allowing your children to participate as much as possible makes the time they spend anticipating the move pass more quickly. Keep them occupied by letting them plan and pack a box or two of their special things. Consider their input on new decor and the layout of their new rooms. Encourage them to take the time to exchange good-byes with friends and loved ones and get addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers to stay in touch.

While you are preparing for the move, try to stick as closely to your normal routine as possible, and let your children know that, although they will soon live in a new house, the rules of the household will still be the same. Bedtime is still at 9 p.m., and homework must still completed before TV time is allowed. And although Mom and Dad are a little busier and distracted with the move, they love their children very much and are giving the entire household a new opportunity to grow.

On moving day, have a bag packed of personal belongings for each member of the family, being careful to include medications, clothes, and personal items. Let your children choose what amusements and favorite "loveys" they wish to take along, and reassure them they will see their other favorite toys when they arrive in their new home.

Your preparedness will go a long way in reassuring your children that their needs are being considered.
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How To Maintain Those Fancy Countertops

Todays luxury countertops are easy to sell - they are beautiful and durable. Materials such as granite, solid surfaces, and ceramic tiles are making a statement not only about home fashion, but about easy maintenance. But beauty lasts only as long as proper care. Good fabricators will tell you how to clean and maintain your surfaces, but even then, there may be some suggestions that might have slipped through the cracks.

Todays consumer has a delightful array of choices for countertop surfaces. The rules are being broken with materials crossing design boundaries every day. Concrete is now being formed for countertops instead of floors and FormicaR, the leader in laminate countertops, has entered the flooring arena. Ceramic tiles have come out of the bath and kitchen and are used for decorative as well as surface applications throughout living areas, indoors and out. And marble and granite, once found only in bank buildings, fabulous hotels and ultra residences are being fabricated into floors and countertops for an increasing number of executive homes.

If you are en"counter"ing a luxury surface for the first time, you want to know what kind of cleaning and maintenance products to use so you dont accidentally etch the stone, strip color or cause any toxic penetrations. This is particularly important on surfaces in which many hands come into contact or food is prepared. So what kind of care do these luxury surfaces require? Lets begin by grouping the materials into two groups, natural and man-made.

Natural Stone

Natural stone is the earths formation of minerals and gases that have slowly cooled and condensed over millions of years into a solid core, forming rock beds of various colors, patterns and degrees of porousness. They include marble, granite, slate, terra cotta, and terrazzo. Thousands of types of stones have been quarried throughout the centuries from all over the world and are finding their way to modern luxury kitchens. Because natural stone is porous, including the most dense stone - granite, it must be sealed to protect the stone from penetrating water or oils. Sealants, known in the industry as impregnators, do not protect the surface as such, but protect moisture from accummulating within the stone itself.

According to Andrew Levine, president of Stone Care International, nothing is maintenance-free, but understanding the nature of your surface will help you provide better maintenance. Stone Care makes specialized products for cleaning and sealing all surfaces, from laminates to solid surfaces to natual stone. "You still have to clean, and cleaning with the right product is important, because choosing the wrong product can cause a problem. Household cleansers are not for all surfaces. Tilex is fine for ceramic tile, but it can actually etch marble. Fantastic and 409 will attack the color and fade stone. Some stones wont react, but you dont want to take a chance. You have to choose the right product for the surface."

"Stone has a PH balance due to its high moisture content. It is a chemical in a solid form, so it has different cleaning requirements. Granite comes from magma - it is a natural acid so it wont react to acids, but marble is an alkalai, recrystallized limestone. It is vulnerable to acids like orange juice and colas."

Solid surface, ceramic tile, concrete

Unlike natural stone, solid surfaces and ceramic tile are man-madematerials that are produced in factories. Solid surfaces, better known by name brands such as Avonite and Corian, are pressure/heat treated products in which the pigment of the surface design is consistent all the way through the countertop. As with natural stone, solid surface materials are custom fabricated for each kitchen. They are most in danger from burning, but should the worst happen, those without high gloss finishes can be sanded to restore the countertop.

Most complaints about solid surfaces center on their tendency to streak. Newspaper and fingerprints are particularly difficult to clean, along with any greasy residues. A cleanser that cuts grease, doesnt streak, and doesnt eat through the material is required. "Again, what you find in the supermarket may not be adequate. Windex is often used, because it wont hurt solid surfaces and it doesnt streak, but it doesnt really clean either," advises Levine.

Concrete is mixed, poured, stained, sanded and fabricated for a variety of looks including old world or very urban contemporary. Like natural stone, it requires a sealant to protect it from stains, moisture penetration and accompanying bacteria.

Ceramic tile receives a permanent glaze right in the kiln, making it fairly maintenance-free. The grout, which is porous, can have stain and sealer added to blend with the tile, and most tile can be laid so closely that the grout is not a problem. Although tile is the most vulnerable surface to chipping, it cleans easily with most over-the-counter products. Levine adds, "Ceramic tile makes a good surface. It comes from mudstone, and it is pretty safe, but watch out for products like drain openers."

For a complete list of cleansers and sealants for a wide variety of countertops, visit Stone Care International.
Full Story >


A New Time for the Real Estate Industry: The Blockchain and Professional Services

Technology is the ally of the real estate industry, in terms of improving customer service and serving the needs of professionals worldwide. Nowhere is that fact more >

Now is the time to broaden our definition of e-commerce to include a new coin of the realm, so to speak, in which decentralization is as independent as it is interconnected; which is to say now is the time to ensure the integrity of the real estate industry, with technology that guarantees a level playing field for all.

Take, for example, the work of ECoinmerce: a model of decentralization, which appeals to business owners of every interest, and is a mode of doing business that is anything but business as usual. Put another way, this platform is a model of inspiration for real estate agents who want to protect the privacy of their clients, and prioritize what matters most to themselves and their profession as a wholendash;ndash;success.

How can these individuals succeed if they do not have the freedom to choose their preferred method of success? How can they maximize their success if there is only one system that limits their ability to succeed? How, in the end, can anyone prosper if there is no prospect but one, because a single competitor monopolizes success?

The answers to these questions rest, in part, with blockchain technology and the decentralized nature of this medium. By applying this resource to the real estate industry, or by making the features of ECoinmerce applicable to real estate agents in particular, competition can thrive. It can attract crowds of consumers without crowding out the competition, because decentralization precludes what traditional forms of e-commerce cannot exclude: the sort of monopolization that exercises too much control over prices, while denying vendors and users the leverage they need to be competitive.

As new platforms expand, and as real estate professionals adopt these applications, the rewards will be significant. They will also signal a shift, economically and emotionally, where the former furthers the latter, delivering a superior level of customer satisfaction and a degree of personal contentment unavailable elsewhere.

Let us celebrate this transformation, since it is democratic in its dividends and far from divisive, given its power to unify such a diverse number of users. Let us accelerate the arrival of this revolution within and beyond the real estate industry, so we can rally buyers and sellers on behalf of a better tomorrow.

A writer and branding consultant, Lewis Fein covers the real estate industry, technology, and marketing, among other issues. A graduate of The Emory University School of Law, Lewis resides in Southern California. You may reach him at .


Full Story >


Insulated Concrete Forms: The Answer for Storm-Resistant Homes?

The year 2011: An EF5 tornado rolls through Joplin, MO, killing 158 and devastating the entire town. That same year, almost 16,000 people are killed and entire towns wiped off the map in a magnitude-9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan. 2017: Then Category 5 Hurricane Maria brutalizes Texas and Puerto Rico.

While no area is immune from the calamitous effects of increasingly powerful storms, there are ways to help protect yourself, and your home. One increasingly popular building product is giving people peace of mind and providing a potential solution for storm resistance - especially for those who live in areas that are more prone to destructive weather and its catastrophic aftereffects.

According to a story on NBCDFW, the North Texas NBC affiliate, "More North Texans are looking into building homes out of concrete using Insulated Concrete Forms for the walls."

Insulated concrete forms ICFs are "cast-in-place concrete walls that are sandwiched between two layers of insulation material, usually expanded polystyrene EPS foam insulation forms," said Proud Green Home. "The foam blocks are stacked as interlocking blocks, connected with steel reinforcing rods. They offer well-insulated, airtight, energy-efficient building enclosures. Also, ICFs are a great fit for regions prone to severe weather because of their strong impact resistance."

Specifically, ICFs are said to be able to withstand winds of up to 250 miles per hour - enough to provide protection from both an EF5 tornado and a Cat 5 hurricane.

NBCDFW profiled North Texas homeowner Gary Karnavas, who has a meteorology degree as well as a keen interest in extreme weather, and who built his family home with ICFs. "Basically, the walls of his home have a six-inch core of concrete," they said. "The result is a building thats stronger than a wood-built home."


structure1.com

About "nine times stronger than conventional construction," Cameron Ware with NUDURA, the company Karnavas used for his homes ICFs and one of the leaders in the industry, told them. Ware also said that, "on average it can add an additional 5-10 percent on your overall build price."

The additional costs can be offset by increased energy-efficiency, however. Thats another advantage to building with ICFs; Karnavas mused that his electric bill for his 5,700-square-foot-home has not topped 200mdash;this despite having 300 square feet of windows on the west wall of the home to maximize the views.

According to Oklahoma City-based BuildBlock, another ICF industry leader, the product can provide "30ndash;70 savings in energy consumption and costs good for your pocketbook and the environment," as well as "75 reduction in outside air infiltration less dust and allergens." It also creates an environment that is more fire safe and is "five times quieter than a wood-frame home."


Full Story >


What To Consider If You Are Buying An Historic Home

Youve fallen in love with an old Victorian house and want to bring her back to her glory days. With dreams of starting the next row of "painted ladies," you close the deal.

You may already have some ideas of things you want to do to your new home, but before you make any changes to the structure itself, do a little research and make sure you have the answers to these three questions:

1. Is your home designated as historic - part of a state or federal historical building or neighborhood registry? If so, you may have to adhere to a number of regulations and be subject to some historical preservation oversight in order to update the home.

2. How extensive do you want the updates to be? Do you plan to "take it back to the studs," or simply do some cosmetic work like refinishing floors?

3. How authentic do you want the renovations to be? The more accurate the details, such as spindle bannisters and egg and dart moldings, the higher the cost in materials and labor.

Your home and its state of repair may dictate which course of action you choose. For example if your home has serious structural damage or decay, then preservation may not be possible. However, youll still be able to reconstruct and renovate.

Not sure if you should preserve, restore or renovate? Here are a few definitions that may help you form a plan:

Preservation means restoring and using the building for its original purpose, with as much of the original features and dcor saved as possible.

Restoration means tearing out improvements made over time that dont reflect the original age and >Reconstruction means making major changes to the floor plan such as adding new rooms and dramatically altering and repurposing parts of the home.

Renovation or remodeling freshens the look of the home using modern materials such as updating an older kitchen with custom cabinetry, farm sinks and granite countertops.

Before you begin, find out if there are any local or state subsidies for historic preservation for homes in your area. You could get tax breaks and special home improvement loans or other assistance. Contact your local tax assessor-collector for more information, or your local housing authority.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has some excellent resources for homeowners of older or historic homes. Also, check out historicproperties.com and thisoldhouse.com for more information.
Full Story >


Dealing With Powers Of Attorney

You and your spouse own your home and you would like to sell it. However, your spouse is currently unable to sign the sales contract. This is because he is either out of the country in some exotic far-away-place where fax and overnight delivery is unavailable, or because he is physically and mentally unable to make decisions or sign legal documents.

What to do?

There is a document called a "power of attorney", whereby your spouse signs a legal document authorizing you to act on his/her behalf. The giver of the power of attorney is called the Principal. The receiver is generally called the "attorney in fact". The latter is given the right to act on behalf of the principal, for the purposes and functions spelled out in the legal document. Note: the power given to the attorney in fact may be very broad, unless conditions and limitations are spelled out in the legal document.

There are two types of Powers of Attorney:

1. General -- here, the principal authorizes the attorney in fact to take any and all actions as if the principal was taking them him or self. This is also known as a Durable Power of Attorney.

Keep in mind that your own State law may have specific requirements in order to sell real property by way of a Power of Attorney. Some states will not permit real estate to be conveyed by such a General power of attorney.

2. Specific -- here, the principal gives specific information and instructions to the attorney in fact. For example, sell my house located at 123 ABC Street; or write a 1,000 check to my insurance company from my bank account. The specific instructions are contained in the legal document, and the attorney in fact has no authority to exceed those instructions.

If you plan to sell your house, and find yourself in the situation where one party in title will not be available to sign contracts, deeds or other legal documents pertaining to the sale, it is best to have your attorney draw up a Power of Attorney that meets your needs, as well as the legal requirements in the State where your property is located.

The principal may want to put a time limitation on the Power -- for example one or two months. However, with a durable power of attorney, the principal normally does not place any such limitations. The purpose of a durable Power is to assure that in the event the Principal becomes incapacitated, his attorney in fact will be able to step in without having to go to Court.

Lets go back to our example. If your spouse knows in advance that he/she will be out of the country when you want to sell your house, have the Power of Attorney executed before the trip starts -- and give a long lead time before the Power expires. Keep in mind that although we now >However, if you do not have a Power of Attorney and your spouse suddenly has a stroke -- or is otherwise unable to comprehend and sign legal documents, then you will have to go to your local Court and seek permission to become the Conservator of the Estate of your spouse. This is a >Speaking of banks, if you will need to use a power of attorney to get information or money from a bank, check with the bank first. Many banks have their own power of attorney forms they insist on being used.

Preventive law is the key; consider obtaining a durable power of attorney now, while you both are in good health. Each spouse should sign a separate document, making the other spouse the attorney in fact. However, an alternative attorney in fact should also be designated, just in case both of you become incapacitated at the same time.

Your local attorney should be consulted to make sure that you are using the proper forms and that you fully understand the consequences of your actions. A Power of Attorney gives someone else the right to sell your house, and you want to make sure that you are not giving away the store.
Full Story >


In Homeowner Associations, Dogs Do Present Challenges

Some may be old enough to remember the rock band from the 1970s called Three Dog Night. There is an interesting story behind their name. Australian aborigines domesticated and kept wild dogs dingos. On cold nights they would customarily sleep with their dogs to keep warm. On colder nights they would sleep with two dogs, and if a night was especially cold, it was a "three dog night".

The >

Barking dogs can be a very contentious issues in an HOA. Many dog owners think that while other dogs may bark, theirs certainly doesnt. Lets come clean on this one. When left alone, all dogs bark. Some howl. Its their nature. They are social animals and when deprived of company, barking is a way of attracting it. But in the confines of a common wall community, barking generally attracts only the unwelcome attention of the neighbors.

Modern technology provides answers to the barking issue by surgical and non-surgical means. Surgery is considered in extreme cases when behavior modification cant be accomplished. Some of the bark control gizmos include:

Bark Control Collar Shock. Automatically emits a battery powered electric shock when triggered by barking.

Bark Control Collar Spray. Automatically emits a citronella lemon spray when triggered by barking.

Bark Control Collar Ultrasonic. Automatically emits a high pitched sound.

Stationary Ultrasonic Unit. Automatically emits a high pitched sound without collar.

Portable Ultrasonic Unit. Emits a high pitched sound when triggered by a trainer.

Reports on effectiveness of these devices vary. They are battery controlled so making sure the batteries are working is essential. Whether shock, spray or ultrasound is more effective is subject to trial and error. But according to industry reports, over 2/3rds of those that reported using the devices for more than 90 days said behavior improved.

There is a belief that shock collars are the dog equivalent of Tasers stun guns. But according to the industry, the level and duration of a collar shock is a tiny fraction of what a Taser does.

If a dog barks in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, is he still a bad dog? Since barking is bound to cause complaints in a homeowner association, be prepared to offer effective alternates to the owners of the offenders. Good boy.

For more on this topic, see www.Regenesis.net
Full Story >




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Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018

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