Real Estate News Articles

Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Ask the HOA Expert: Limited Common Elements, Quorum Rules

Answer: Common elements available to one or several members instead of all are referred to as "limited common elements". This means they are common but limited to exclusive use of one member as in the case of a unit deck or designated members as in the case of a private street.

These limited common elements are typically identified on the legal plat and cannot be expanded without encroaching on common areas which belong to all owners in an undivided interest. So, the board has no authority to allow such requests. Changing this requires a vote of members which may be up to 100.

Question: At our recent annual meeting, an issue was brought up and a motion was made on something that was not on the agenda for the meeting. The president allowed the motion to be made, seconded and voted upon. But, there were not enough members represented to constitute a quorum. Was this an illegal vote?

Answer: The vote was illegal due to lack of quorum even if it had appeared on the Meeting Agenda. Without a legal quorum, no business may be transacted or elections held. You might have a lively discussion but nothing official can take place.

Lack of quorum is an all too common scenario than can be cured by proxies. A proxy is the written authorization by one member given to someone to act on their behalf at the Annual Meeting. Proxies must be distributed well in advance of the meeting and collected before the meeting to ensure a legal quorum. Getting folks to return their proxies can be challenging and multiple requests may have to be made, including going door to door to collect them if necessary. There is a sample Proxy in the Meetings section of www.Regenesis.net

Question: We recently had our unit chimneys cleaned. A board member accompanied the contractor and opened and secured units upon exiting. As a result of this process, it was discovered that one of the units was jammed with stacks of newspapers, garbage, furniture blocking hallways, piles of clothing and cases of cans. The resident is clearly suffering from a hoarding problem.

Should the board get involved in this situation? No neighbors have complained of any noxious smell. The area outside her condo is tidy. She keeps to herself, is pleasant to the staff and not a smoker.

Answer: Turning a blind eye to a hazardous situation is not the way to go. A letter to the resident and landlord if applicable is in order. When garbage isnrsquo;t being disposed of regularly, it is only a matter of time before there is vermin problem. The fire hazard potential sounds great as well so the letter should include a request to remove or store flammables.

Question: Can the board offer discounts to members that prepay a special assessment rather than participate in a payment plan?

Answer: No discounts should be offered since they would cause a shortfall. It is appropriate, however, to charge late fees to those that donrsquo;t pay as agreed.

However, it is a bad idea for HOAs to finance special assessments at all because of the increased administrative costs and the likelihood of dealing with delinquent payments. For example, If you have a 30 unit condo and allow 24 monthly special payments, you have 720 payments to track and 720 potential collection problems. Instead, require each member to provide special assessment funds from whatever source they have available. Some have cash, some has an equity line of credit or credit card. The HOA should not finance the special assessment or borrow the money.

Question: Our homeowner association is made up of condominiums built in a townhouse >

Answer: Itrsquo;s a very bad idea to allow individual unit owners to do or pay for this kind of work directly because of:

1. Quality Control. Is the person doing the work experienced? Is the material being used of good or superior quality?
2. Risk Management. Is the person doing the work properly insured for injury and liability?
3. Owner Still Financially Responsible. Doing this kind of work does not >

Question: What kind of expectations or working >

Answer: The board should:

1. Support the managers decisions unless a clear mistake has been made.
2. Not undermine the managers actions in rules enforcement and collections.
3. Carefully consider the managers advice since it comes from experience and training.
4. Be respectful of the managers busy schedule.
5. Allow the manager to execute the terms of the management agreement without micro-managing.
6. Remember that the manager works for the board.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


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Student Loans Proving a Barrier to Homeownership. We Have Solutions.

ldquo;Among buyers rejected for a mortgage from a lender, 40 percent had college debt, the NAR found.rdquo; Per the same study, 80 percent of millennials donrsquo;t own a home, and 83 of those non-homeowners said student loan debt was a barrier to buying.

The NAR found that ldquo;Two in five buyers, like Jodi Meyers, cut out luxury or nonessential items to save up for a home,rdquo; said USA Today. Her family, in the midst of paying off Meyersrsquo; 55,000 in student debt, cut out all necessities and purchased outside of their preferred area to be able to afford a 249,000, four-bedroom home in Lakeland, Florida. The upshot: ldquo;Itrsquo;s not my dream home, but it got my foot in the door, and now Irsquo;m building equity,rdquo; she told them.

Of course, compromise is nothing new when it comes to buying a home, especially if itrsquo;s your first. Few of us can go out there and purchase the waterfront mansion of our dreams, but that doesnt mean we donrsquo;t aspire to do so someday from our starter home in the lsquo;burbs.

Check out a site like Student Loan Hero and yoursquo;re going to read about things like front-end ratios and back-end ratios and it can all get very confusing. And, the truth is, the average person doesnrsquo;t need to know the nitty-gritty. The important takeaway is that, in your lenderrsquo;s eyes, your income needs to be sufficient to cover a mortgage and all associated expenses when all your debts are taken into account. Having student loans in the hundreds of dollars per month can make it harder to qualify.

So what CAN you do if yoursquo;re looking to budget and buy a home, but student loans are holding you back? There are options.

Amass a higher down payment.

ldquo;If you can save a 20 percent down payment, your student loans are far less likely to affect your loan process,rdquo; said Student Loan Hero. Your lender should be able to give you details of what loans allow your down payment to come from gift funds from a family member.

Pay off your debts.

Talk to your lender about this. You may be surprised that a scenario in which you redirect some of your down payment funds to smaller debts that can be cleared out could make it easier to qualify for a mortgage. ldquo;Paying down that high-interest credit card balance, for example, is a great place to start,rdquo; said Dave Mele, president of Homes.com on Bankrate.

Get a side hustle.

If you canrsquo;t negotiate a raise, find other ways to make more money so you can add to your down payment or use it to pay down your student loans. ldquo;If education debt is making your debt-to-income ratio too high, consider looking for ways to pay off your student loans faster. Therersquo;s no penalty for prepaying student loans, so you can make extra payments anytime,rdquo; said Student Loan Hero.

Switch to an income-driven repayment plan on your student loans to make payments more affordable.

ldquo;An income-driven repayment plan sets your monthly student loan payment at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and family size,rdquo; said Federal Student Aid. Fannie Mae changed underwriting rules around income-driven repayment plans last year, making it easier for those on these plans to qualify for a mortgage. ldquo;Depending upon the plan, your monthly payment could be capped as low as 10 of your discretionary income,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;And if your discretionary income is low enough, your monthly payment could be as low as 0.rdquo;

Get creative with your loan type.

While many first-time buyers opt for an FHA loan because of the low down payment as low as 3.5 and generous credit score requirements as low as 580, there are other options. ldquo;The Fannie Mae HomeReadytrade; mortgage is another loan available to borrowers with student loans,rdquo; said The Mortgage Reports. ldquo;Via HomeReadytrade;, buyers can show a debt-to-income of up to 50, with certain off-setting factors; and a down payment of just three percent is allowed. The minimum credit score to get approved for a HomeReadytrade; home loan is 620.rdquo;


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Will the New Congress Compromise on Flood Insurance or Are We All Going Under?

Part of the issue that has led the bill to ldquo;languish in the Senate since late last yearrdquo; is, not surprising: Republicans and Democrats are on opposite sides. ldquo;The GOP-led House voted in favor of the bill 237-189 despite significant opposition from coastal Democrats, who believe premiums on high-risk properties could skyrocket under the reform initiative,rdquo; they said.

So whatrsquo;s really at stake? A lot, potentially.

Premiumsmdash;If the ldquo;21st Century Flood Reform Actrdquo; passed as is, ldquo;premiums, which on average cost homeowners 650 annually but can spin out of control in coastal regions, would be capped at 10,000,rdquo; said Inman.

A lapsemdash;If the program lapses without signoff by November 30, the National Flood Insurance Program wouldnrsquo;t be able to sell or renew flood insurance policies. ldquo;Right now our financial position is okay ndash; but we wouldnrsquo;t be able to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to pay claims for our existing policies,rdquo; said David Maurstad, chief executive of the National Flood Insurance Program, on the Texas Standard.

Even more people could end up without flood insurancemdash;Despite the risks associated with having a home in a coastal area, many people still opt to forgo flood insurance in places where it is not required by law. ldquo;One recent study suggested about two-thirds of people in areas that have a 1 percent chance of flooding in a given year do not have flood insurance,rdquo; said the Citizen-Times.

Common reasons laid out by the publication include: homebuyers ldquo;dont recognize the riskrdquo; because they donrsquo;t understand ldquo;flood maps and may never inquire whether they have anything to worry about; Banks and mortgage companies dont always require it; theres a myth that the governments going to bail you out; and they think their homeowners insurance will cover flood damage. Almost all policies exclude claims from flooding.rdquo;

Flood insurance may ultimately have to look to privatizationmdash;Some say this is a much better answer, anyway. ldquo;The National Flood Insurance Programrsquo;s NFIP financial woes stem from the fact that it consistently fails to charge program participants rates that cover the full risk of flooding to their properties,rdquo; said Inside Sources. ldquo;As a result, the NFIPrsquo;s revenues from premiums donrsquo;t even cover its claims during an average year. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that the program is bleeding 1.4 billion annually. In years of catastrophic flooding, the NFIP has needed to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to honor its commitments to policyholders. Its debt now stands at about 20.5 billion, and thatrsquo;s after Congress forgave 16 billion of the programrsquo;s debts last fall. Unless action is taken, the NFIPrsquo;s finances will only deteriorate in the wake of the 2018 hurricane season and with each passing year.rdquo;


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2018 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information for Agents and Sellers

This is the 37th year that NAR has conducted an annual survey of those who have purchased and sold homes. The most recent version 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers became available in November of this year. The information is based on answers to a 129-question survey mailed to a random sample of 155,250 consumers who purchased a home between July 2017 and June 2018. 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 4.6 response rate.

In 2017, first-time homebuyers constituted 34 of the market. This year, 2018, the first-time buyer rate was 33. Geographically, the highest percentage of first-time buyers was in the northeast at 45; the lowest was in the west at 29. Over the years the historic norms for the country have been in the 40 range. As interest rates continue to crank up, it may be a while until we see such numbers again.

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 83 of buyers said that they used the internet frequently during the search process. In 2003 that number was only 42. This past year 57 of buyers said that they frequently used a mobile or tablet application. That is a newer and growing phenomenon three years ago, it was 41. 63 of buyers said that they frequently >

44 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 buyersrsquo; previous residence. Interestingly, 7 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 93 and real estate agents 86. Mobile or tablet applications 73 have replaced yard signs as the third most used source of information. Still though, 46 of buyers indicate that yard signs are one of their sources of information. Only 13 of buyers indicate that they used newspaper ads as an information source. A mere 3 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 50 was the internet. Agents are second at 28. 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. 89 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 of buyers learned about their home through a real estate agent, and only 8 found their home on the internet. The times they have changed.

Some things, though, remain persistently the same ndash; 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 sixth consecutive year 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 2018, it was only 1. It has been that way for seven years now. As has been the case for the past ten years, fewer than 1 found their home through a home book or magazine.

The 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows what works. It is a valuable resource.


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Essential Garage Equipment for Car Enthusiasts

Garage Space

First, you need a garage with adequate space. A small garage might provide enough space to park your car, but if you want room to work, you may prefer something bigger. Chicago architect Allan J. Grant recommends that a single-car garage should be a minimum of 10 feet wide, and a two-car garage should be at least 20 feet wide, with 24 feet being optimal. For a car enthusiast, a two-car garage provides better working space.

Workbench

A good workbench is the first piece of essential equipment, says Popular Mechanics. You can build your own workbench inexpensively or purchase one from the store.

There are several ways to design your own workbench. The simplest is to use a pair of sawhorses to support a solid-core door or a plank of medium-density fiberboard. You can also find many designs online for building workbenches out of simple materials such as 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s. Bob Villa offers five different DIY designs for workbenches you can build in a weekend.

To speed things up, kits for building your own workbench are also available from suppliers such as the Simpson Strong-Tie Company and Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation with its 2x4 Basics product line. If youd prefer to buy a pre-made workbench, modular workbenches from manufacturers such as Craftsman and Gladiator provide the flexibility to customize your workspace.

Vises

To use your workbench, you will want a good bench vise. A bench vise holds your projects in place, provides extra force and stabilizes items while glue dries. Avoid cheap vises, and invest in a quality vise from a manufacturer such as Craftsman.

Lighting

Adequate lighting is essential for working on your car. The easiest way to improve the quality of your overhead lighting is by installing ceiling-mounted fluorescent light fixtures. Four-foot instant-on T8 bulb fixtures with wide reflectors or diffusers are a good start.

However, to get lighting in hard-to-reach places, youll want more than overhead lighting. Mercedes mechanic Kent Bergsma recommends avoiding clip lights and halogen-type shop lights and instead using stage and movie lighting equipment, such as an LED video lights with barn doors.

Storage

The more tools you own, the more storage space you need. For general storage, a pegboard is the most affordable way to store individual tools and other pieces of equipment, and a tool chest provides organized storage.

To store your off-season tires, it puts less stress on tires to store them upright than to stack them. You can hang tires on hooks if theyre mounted on the rims, but never hang unmounted tires because this will distort and damage them.

Ramps, Jack Stands, Lifts and Hoists

Its also essential to have equipment to elevate your car. An auto ramp set is great for working under your car. Jack stands with safety pins will come in handy to change tires. If you can afford it, a vehicle lift will really make your garage look like a car shop. An engine hoist with a stand is also useful.


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7 Rules for Choosing The Right Area Rug

There are so many questions: Should the furniture be placed on or off the rug? Does the rug go underneath or next to the bed? How big should a dining room rug really be? It can seem overwhelming, but here are seven simple tips to help you choose wisely. After all, a good rug is an investment, and you dont want to make any costly mistakes.

Rule 1: Always Go Big

Too big is always better than too small. A rug thats too small not only looks skimpy, but seems like an afterthought. However, you also dont want to go overboard. Pick a rug thats the size of your seating area rather than the size of the room.

Rule 2: Keep Your Furniture on Your Rug

An area rug should anchor your seating arrangement, so place rugs underneath sofas and chairs. Ideally, your rug should fit enti>

Rule 3: Try Layering

Consider layering your area rug over wall-to-wall carpeting. Most people seem to think that this is a decorating "dont," but nothing could be further from the truth. An area rug over carpeting adds texture and color to a room. In this case, the area rug can be a little smaller than usual - just make sure its placed right up to the edge of the sofa/chairs. And make sure your area rug and carpeting are compatible: a too-thin area rug over plush carpeting will never lay flat and may slide around.

Rule 4: Use Color

Dont be afraid of pattern, color and texture An area rug can be the focal point of the room. If your furniture upholstery is neutral, choose a colorful or patterned rug. It doesnt have to match perfectly, but it should coordinate with the other colors and fabric in the room.

Rule 5: Your Rug Should Be Bigger than Your Bed

Think big when choosing a rug for your bedroom. Your area rug should be big enough to extend two or three feet beyond the edge of the bed. After all, you want to step onto a cozy, warm rug when you get up in the morning

Rule 6: Your Dining Chairs Must Fit Completely

Chairs should sit perfectly and completely on an area rug in your dining roommdash;that means all four legs on the rug even when theyre pushed away from the table. Never have the front legs of the dining chair on the rug and the back ones off. Not only does it look funny, but its dangerous, as your chairs are unbalanced and more prone to tipping over. You can easily estimate the size rug youll need by adding 24 to 36 inches to each side of your table. If your table has extension leaves that you use often, choose a rug size to accommodate the table with the leaves in. In terms of shape, a rectangular table needs a rectangular rug. A round table can support either a round or square rug.

Rule 7: Think Outside Standard Sizing

Area rugs tend to come in standard sizes, usually including:

  • 3 x 5 feet
  • 5 x 8 feet
  • 8 x 10 feet
  • 9 x 12 feet

If you need an odd size rug, you can always have one custom-made. It might sound expensive, but it may be more affordable than you think. Simply purchase regular wall-to-wall carpeting, have a carpet installer cut it to your desired size, and finish the edges with binding or serging to get a custom rug without the custom price tag.

Now you can avoid the stress of buying a brand new rug only to find its the wrong size. Just follow these rules to make sure your new area rug fits perfectly in your home, so you can enjoy your beautiful, cozy new space.

As a Wisconsin interior designer, Merri Cvetan of MEC Design Studio has lots of experience fitting a rug to your space. She gives great tips on sizing, color and patterns to help you make the right rug choice for your room. To gather more info and see a large selection of area rugs, visit homedepot.com.

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The Ultimate Contractors: Real Estate Agents as Independent Contractors

It is this tenacity that warrants our attentionmdash;and deserves our praisemdash;because each agent is an icon unto him- or herself. Each agent is responsible for how he represents himself to the public, regardless of his association with a firm of solid repute or a strong foundation.

Pardon the construction metaphors, as they constitute a descriptionmdash;they are a construct, pun intendedmdash;for the many ways in which real estate agents try to appeal to clients. This attempt is, first and foremost, an exercise in building an identity. It includes symbols that speak for themselves without the need for a single word, in addition to collateral materials that complement a message by their appearance alone. All of these things, and more, are the building blocks of success.

What, then, does success look like? As the image that accompanies this column shows, it looks customizable; which is to say it looks familiarmdash;it is familiarmdash;because familiarity breeds comfort, not contempt. It breeds confidence, not concern.

According to Janil Jean, Director of Overseas Operations for LogoDesign.net, real estate agents should embrace the familiar. She says: ldquo;Familiar is not a synonym for generic. For example: A house may have a particular >

I agree with that statement, based on my exposure to failed marketing experiments in which >

I also agree that real estate agents can inspire us to be better marketers in general. Their work is a study in perseverance and a profile in the steadfastness necessary to succeed. They work by staging homes and taking clients on tours of various homes. They home in on the things that make a home, so to speak; the accoutrements and accessories; the decorations and designs; the symbols and signposts that adorn the streets and sidewalks along the byways of America.

Let us celebrate their work ethicmdash;and emulate it, too.

Let us put real estate agents at the forefront of a movement, whose progress advances our common interests.

Let us do so with passion and integrity, in tribute to a profession defined by excellence and driven by exceptional people.

Let us transform the real estate industry.


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Updating an HOA Reserve Study

1. Component cost changes that happen frequently can dramatically change the reserve study projections.

2. Rate of Inflation. Changes every year and directly affects future dollar needs.

3. Return on Invested Reserves. Changes every year and directly affects future owner contributions.

4. Balance of money in reserves. Changes every year and impacts funding recommendations.

5. Component Useful Lives. Can change for some components and affect the renovation schedule. Site inspections are recommended at least every three years for accurate useful life projections. When a reserve study is originally performed, each component is assigned a life expectancy based on current condition, quality of installation, preventive maintenance and affects of weather.

6. Cost of Renovation. Could change for some components and impact future dollar needs.

7. Changes to state statute can affect how the reserve study is done.

8. Lenders require a current reserve study. FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac underwrite the majority of homeowner association loans. As a condition of loan approval, they require a reserve study current within 12 months. If the board cannot provide it, members run the risk of having their refinance or buyer loans denied.

Some boards may be tempted to do annual reserve study updates to save money. This can possibly work if there is a board member that specializes in construction cost estimating. However, for the vast majority, the results will be shooting in the dark since very few boards have the expertise to perform an in-house reserve study. In most cases, the reserve study should be done by a qualified professional like a Professional Reserve Analyst PRA member of the Association of Professional Reserve Analysts. See www.apra-usa.com for a list of members. The costs are reasonably priced and the results are professional, informed and accurate. Why would the board not want to take advantage of a service provided by a qualified professional?

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


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What to Look for When Signing Your First Lease

1. Do Your Research

Treat your commitment to renting a property in the same way you would carefully consider buying an expensive appliance or a new car: do your research. Look for online reviews from previous renters attached to the property profile in Google or on other social media platforms like Facebook. Search under either the landlordrsquo;s name or the name of the property company or apartment complex to find reviews in Yelp. You can even dig up complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

2. Read the Lease

This seems like an obvious piece of advice, but itrsquo;s worth repeating. Read the lease and then read it again. Ask for advice from someone you trust who has the >

bull; Length of the lease
bull; When rent is due and how to pay it
bull; Security deposit rules and refunds
bull; Lease termination and penalties
bull; Rules about roommates or subletting
bull; Whether pets are allowed or prohibited

3. Get It in Writing

If you donrsquo;t see a topic or rule specified in writing, request to get it added to the lease. Even if it seems minor, it should be clearly outlined in the legal agreement between you and the landlord. Look for language about who handles the utilities and rules for personalizing your space. Fleshing out the details in the lease protects both you and the landlord from future misunderstandings and financial headaches.

4. Be Clear about Maintenance Responsibilities

Understand and document what your responsibilities are in terms of maintenance and who you should call in case of an emergency. When you move in, the landlord should document the condition of the propertymdash;if there is preexisting damage, insist that itrsquo;s recorded accurately before you accept the keys. Check all the appliances, door locks, and plumbing, and if anything needs attention, require that it be addressed now so you donrsquo;t end up paying for it later.

If your landlord doesnrsquo;t supply a checklist to verify the current condition of the property when you sign the lease, supply one yourself. There are several free templates online that you can use to document the condition of the property and ask your landlord to co-sign.

5. Check Out the Security

Check with the landlord or property manager to determine the security measures in place for your rental. If you are moving into a complex, make sure all areas are well lit and measures like security cameras are in place. If the apartment or home isnrsquo;t outfitted with security safeguards, ask the landlord if they allow tenants to install their own security systems. Some DIY systems cater to rentals for 15ndash;25 a month, meaning you still have security options if the property doesnrsquo;t have them already.

You can also research the surrounding area to see if they have a Neighborhood Watch program in place, and you can ask local law enforcement if the area has any crime trends.

6. Donrsquo;t Forget about Parking

This may be one of the last things on your mind when yoursquo;re signing the actual lease, but itrsquo;s crucial that you understand where you can and cannot park. Whether itrsquo;s off-street or on-street parking, covered or out in the open, the parking arrangement may end up being a pretty large hassle depending on the weather and the safety of the neighborhood. Request clarification about the parking situation if it isnrsquo;t clearly outlined in the lease.

7. Consider Renters Insurance

Insurance probably isnrsquo;t a priority when yoursquo;re still apartment or house hunting, but it should be something you consider getting before moving in. In addition to protecting you from property loss, renters insurance can sometimes help with damage caused by poor maintenance that wouldnrsquo;t be covered by your landlordrsquo;s insurance policy.

Once yoursquo;ve thoroughly reviewed the lease and checked off all these boxes, you can feel more confident about signing on the dotted line.


nbsp;Victoria Schmid enjoys writing about technology for the ldquo;everydayrdquo; person. She is a specialist in online business marketing and consumer technology. She has a background in broadcast journalism.


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Many quot;Clean Upquot; Changes to Real Estate Laws

Many of the changes are simply matters >

Of particular note are changes in the rules regarding agency disclosure and identification.

bull; Under current law, the requirement of an agency disclosure in a residential transaction is limited to residential properties of less than five units. That limit has been removed; the disclosure is now required on all real property transfers including vacant land.
bull; It is no longer required that a buyerrsquo;s agent present an agency disclosure to the seller. That provision made sense once ndash; when agency disclosures were something new, and it was often likely that disclosure might not have been made to the seller by the listing agent. But now, agency disclosure is so ingrained that the ldquo;third disclosurerdquo; is just an awkward fifth wheel.
bull; Agency disclosure is one of the areas where the term ldquo;selling agentrdquo; and ldquo;listing agentrdquo; have, respectively, been replaced by ldquo;buyerrsquo;s agentrdquo; and ldquo;sellerrsquo;s agent.rdquo;
bull; The agency confirmation section has been changed in order to clarify roles. Presently there is only one space each for the buyerrsquo;s and sellerrsquo;s agent. That space is meant to be filled in by the firm name, although many agents incorrectly enter their own name there. Now, there are two spaces each for both buyer and seller each. One is for the brokerage firm, including DRE number, and one is for the individual agent and his or her DRE number. Also, the term ldquo;dual agentrdquo; has been added, to be used where appropriate. The recent CAR memo emphasizes that, if an agentrsquo;s firm represents both parties, then even if the buyer and seller are represented by different individual agents, both agents are dual agents.

Among other changes:

bull; Responsible brokers will no longer by required to maintain physical possession of salespersonsrsquo; licenses.
bull; Salespersons may enter into compensation agreements among themselves e.g. in referral situations, or by ldquo;sharingrdquo; a client, but payment must be paid through the responsible broker.
bull; An agency listing, whereby the seller can still procure their own buyer without owing a commission, is now termed a ldquo;seller reserved listing agreement.rdquo;

The CAR memo emphasizes that the changes were not intended to create new law, but only to ldquo;me>
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Are You Overspending on Rent?

ldquo;Chances are if you are renting you are spending too much of your income on your monthly housing expense,rdquo; according to mortgage expert Kevin Pierce from Mid America Mortgage. ldquo;There is a long-standing lsquo;rulersquo; that a household should not pay more than 28 of their income on their rent or mortgage payment. This percentage allows the household to save money for the future while comfortably covering other expenses.rdquo;

That rule, known as the 28/36 rule, also states that a household should spend ldquo;no more than 36 on total debt service, including housing and other debt such as car loans,rdquo; said Investopedia. ldquo;This rule is used by mortgage lenders and other creditors to assess borrowing capacity, the premise being that debt loads in excess of the 28/36 parameters would be difficult for an individual or household to service and may eventually lead to default.rdquo;

Landlords may also use calculations similar to this to qualify rentersmdash;and some cap that amount even lower, at 25, said Quicken. Although, if you look at nationwide data, it appears that renters are significantly ldquo;cost-burdened, meaning they spent more than 30 of their monthly incomes on rentrdquo; last year, said ApartmentList.com, according to Pierce. Their data from 2017 shows 49.5 million renters in this precarious financial position, accounting ldquo;for nearly half of all renter households in the country.rdquo;

For many renters, especially in popular cities and nice places, itrsquo;s just not possible to live within those means. Another survey, this one from Rent.com, focused on 1,000 millennial renters between the ages of 18 and 34, and found that more than half are overspending and ldquo;nearly 1 out of 5 of the renters surveyed said that over half of their income went to paying rent each month,rdquo; said Forbes.

The immediate issue here is the fact that spending all that money on rent leaves many people feeling stressed and pressured just to make enough to pay the landlord every month. Staying in a rental situation and paying someone elsersquo;s mortgage every month when they could be earning equity on their own home stifles personal economic growth, not to mention creating a glaring lack of savings, funds for emergencies and retirement, or any ability to change their circumstance.

This revelation is often the catalyst for renters to first look into buying a home, and that is often followed by the shock of finding out that buying may not be out of reach, like they may have thought. Yes, when it comes to renting vs. buying, what consumers donrsquo;t know could hurt them. Finding out that buying a home in a particular area could actually cost around the same as renting, and that down payment and closing cost help may also be available, is a life-changer.

ldquo;Bottom line: you have nothing to lose by talking with a lender and seeing if you can qualify for a loan, how much home, if any, you can buy, and how the payments compare to what you are currently paying in rent,rdquo; said Pierce. ldquo;It may inspire a home purchase right now, or one you can work toward in the future.rdquo;


Full Story >


8 Fab Ways to Give Your Home a Fall Refresh

We have to say wersquo;re inspired this year, though. Fall/winter/holiday trends are looking intriguingly inviting, and the new crisp weather and changing leaves has us craving texture and warmth. Itrsquo;s a natural connection, says MyDomaine. ldquo;When fall rolls around, the urge to redecorate always hits us hard. After the carefree days of summer, and inspired by all the beauty weve absorbed along the way, we are finally ready to get back to the grind and nest while the temperatures slowly drop. Its only natural to want to get our spaces up to snuff before we prepare to hibernate.rdquo;

So, were making a greater investment in deacute;cor updates for the coming cold seasons, and taking some cues from current and predicted design trends. This is what wersquo;ll be buying.

Some blingy holiday swag

Come on. Yoursquo;re dying over that feather tree, right? Yeah, us, too. We donrsquo;t ususally go so glam with our holiday deacute;cor, but this display is making us rethink that.

Something to pretty up our banquette

ldquo;From breakfast nooks to kitchen booths to family rooms, banquette->

Bold colors

Good thing bold colors are big for fall. Truth be told, our living room is pretty neutral, too. Think Revere Pewter walls and a mushroom sectional. This season, we take a leap into the world of jewel tones. "I think people are tiring of neutral and muted color schemes and are looking to use bolder colormdash;in either traditional or modern interiorsmdash;to enliven their spaces," said interior designer Perry Sayles on Apartment Therapy.
Wersquo;re starting with the couch, and since wersquo;re not ready to replace it, a melange of pillows will kick off our trek into a more colorful world. Pillows in velvet, to be specific. After a trip to HomeGoods, we have to admit that we might have a bit of a velvet problem that could require an intervention. If yoursquo;re going, might we recommend getting the small cart so you donrsquo;t have the space for more than a few items?

Arches

ldquo;Arches are seeing a major resurgence in contemporary architecture, but this trend is even felt in home deacute;cor and furniture,rdquo; said MyDomaine. We love this Fifi Contemporary Arch Wall Mirror, which not only incoroprates the arch trend, but also has a bit of an exotic, Moroccan feel, which makes it seem collected, not purchased on sale. Speaking of which, itrsquo;s currently priced at 143, down from 309, on Wayfair.

Oversized florals

We love the idea of adding a bold floral pattern in fall, when, traditionally, florals would have been concentrated in the spring. ldquo;This is a really lovely trendmdash;who doesnrsquo;t love flower prints and on a large scale? Look out for big blousy designs that have a pre-Raphaelite >

Jet black

Black has started to make its way into the kitchen and bathroom, in the form of cabinetry for the bold and jewelry for those looking for smaller doses. Expect it to be showing up all throughout the house in the coming months.

ldquo;Fans of monochrome will adore this trend,rdquo; said House Beautiful. ldquo;Its all about the accessories ndash; and they need to be black. But if yoursquo;re not a massive fan of large amounts of black you can make this trend work by using small blocks here and there. ldquo;

An overdyed Persian rug

Our design >

Art with faces

ldquo;The analysts at online vintage furniture, art, and home accessories site Chairish have studied sales data to find out what >

This is another trend wersquo;ve had our eye on. In fact, this in in our basket in icanvas right now. We love that itrsquo;s so colorful and that it has a bit of a Picasso thing going on. Now itrsquo;s time to hit ldquo;buy.rdquo;


Full Story >


Housing Counsel: The Future of Community Associations

Letrsquo;s analyze each one.

DRONES are flying all over, and according to USI, if this is not currently an issue in your community, it will be. Marvin Nodiff, a community association attorney in St. Louis and a fellow member of the College of Community Associations, has written a number of entertaining fiction books about community living. In Dark Condo, he tells of a property manager who uses drones to inspect the entire property. Unfortunately, the drone took a picture of a unit owner that was embarrassing to her, and she sued the association. Accordingly to Marvin, ldquo;community associations should consider this new drone technology to take advantage of its many beneficial applications, such as providing images depicting conditions of roofs and common grounds. Further, associations should protect against potential impacts as drones become more popular for commercial and other uses.rdquo;

Safety and privacy are ndash; or should be ndash; the concerns of all communities. Boards of directors should adopt rules regulating, controlling and monitoring who and when a drone can be used. Fines should be spelled out in the rules for any violations. And association boards ndash; and their property managers ndash; should consult their insurance agent to make sure there is adequate coverage should a drone fall and damage property or injure a person..

MOLD has always been a concern, but with the massive rainfalls in recent years, flooding homes has made the problem even worse. According to USI, ldquo;damage from mold is specifically excluded in most standard property insurance policies. Such policies provide coverage for damages that are sudden and accidental. They are not designed to cover the cost of cleaning and maintaining a home.rdquo;

Accordingly, associations must address their water problems. Cleaning up the mold but not remedying the cause is not acceptable. And even if the mold is in just one unit, does not mean the rest of the association is immune from a subsequent occurance.

It is important to know if mold is caused as a direct result of an insurance covered peril, such as a burst pipe; then insurance should cover it. But in every association master insurance policy, there is a deductible ndash; an amount the association has to pay. Typically, this ranges from 5-20,000, and must be paid every time insurance is involved.

This obviously can be expensive, especially for older buildings. However, state and DC law gives guidance as to who is obligated to pay this deductable. For example, under the laws of the District of Columbia and Maryland, if a pipe breaks in a unit, depending on what the associationrsquo;s Bylaws state, that owner is responsible for paying the associations deductible, regardless of fault. In that case, the ownerrsquo;s personal insurance policy called HO-6 should cover that cost. And in both Maryland and the District, the laws mandate that every condominium owner have such a policy.

COPYRIGHT. More and more communities, in order to foster a spirit of friendship and an opportunity to get to know your neighbor, are offering free movies. According to USI, this is a ldquo;potential for copyright infringement issues and huge fines.rdquo;

The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to distribute the movie, and if you infringe on the copyright, you may have to pay a fine ranging from 200 to 150,000 for each violation. Additionally, you may have to pay for the copyright ownerrsquo;s attorneyrsquo;s fees and court costs. And the copyright is not limited to movies; it also includes music.

The Community Association Institute CAI, a national organization representing the interests of community associations all over the United States, has developed a guidance document to assist communities on how to deal with copyright issues, particularly music and movie licensing. If your community plans to show a movie ndash; free or otherwise ndash; you must obtain a license from a performance rights organization. And even if a resident rents your clubhouse and hires a disc jockey or a band that plays or broadcasts copyright music, the association is ultimately responsible to make sure all appropriate licenses are obtained.

The CAI publication is available at advocacy.caionline.org/mmlicensing.

Every community association ndash; its board of directors and its property manager ndash; must ensure your insurance is up-to-date and complies with the minimum dollar requirements spelled out in the law and your legal documents. In my experience, I have seen policies that do not comply.

When there are legal questions, the association consults with legal counsel. When there are insurance questions, the association must consult with its insurance agent.


Full Story >


Earning Client Trust: The 3 Rs of Respect

A buyer or seller benefits from quickly bonding with their chosen real estate professional, so they can all get to work on the tasks associated with buying or selling a property. How does a professional make it easy for buyers or sellers to believe their trust will be well placed when invested in someone they have only just met?

bull; Confident, articulate, respectful professionals are aware of the impression they make and how to earn trust from first contact, online or off. Less polished professionals often undermine opportunity by concentrating on what they want to have happen rather than on what the prospect is attempting to achieve.
bull; Referrals from friends or family can help get the >bull; Professionals with a strong ethical and results-oriented reputation in the community may more easily earn trust in those they just meet. Once again, itrsquo;s how they perform that really earns trust, not just their reputation.

How do you make it easy for prospects to quickly give you their trust? How do you make it easy for clients to sustain trust in you?

RESPECT is a vital element in earning trust. This materializes as consideration for feelings and beliefs, paying attention to questions and responses, treating others with courtesy and kindness, and maintaining an attitude of deference or admiration for the knowledge and goals of prospects and clients.

The three ldquo;Rsrdquo; are key elements of Respect that professionals should keep in mind when determined to earn trust:

1: Recognition
When a real estate professional doesnrsquo;t recognize the value in prospects and clients, they probably wonrsquo;t see value in the professional either. Take people for granted or adopt condescending airs and yoursquo;ll receive the same reaction, or no reaction, in return. For buyers or sellers to recognize your value to them, it must be clearly evident to themmdash;in terms they >viewing your property.rdquo;

2: >
To earn trust, stop believing that your stand-by excuses carry any value at all. Simply and consistentlymdash;>

3: Resourcefulness
Prospects and clients want to find professionals to work with who can be trusted to put client interests first, whatever happens. A solid and creative commitment to problem solving and troubleshootingmdash;ldquo;What I get you into, Irsquo;ll get you out of if necessaryrdquo;mdash;to help clients secure the property of their dreams, is essential to earn respect and trust. Your physical and mental stamina, as well as a hunger for up-to-date strategic information from the latest listings to the hottest trends, will keep you steps ahead of your and your clientsrsquo; competition. A reputation for creating financial and negotiation pathways around offer-stalling situations is a major trust-earning element since it demonstrates respect for client needs and goals. When clients enter into transactions, the respect they receive will build trust to levels that mean they cannot resist telling everyone about youmdash;the amazing real estate professional who had their back during the often-confusing, stressful transaction.

Respect for clients and for yourself is expressed in the many ways clients find you and your expertise valuable. To earn trust from prospects and clients, concentrate on recognition of their efforts and concerns, on your consistent >

Accomplish the above and yoursquo;ll know the answers to the following two questions and how to use the answers to your advantage and your clientsrsquo;:

bull; Why are you valuable?
bull; How are you valuable?


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How Will the TCJA of 2018 Affect Your Taxes?

Mortgage interest has been a standard deduction for most homeowners for years and is certainly one of the more popular. The biggest change reduced the loan limit on which mortgage interest can be deducted from 1 million dollar mortgage to a 750,000 mortgage. When you compare the national median home value today somewhere near 240,000, these new limits wonrsquo;t affect that many home owners. But for those living in higher cost areas and fall into the upper tier tax brackets, they will indeed see some changes.

Another change >

In addition, the deductions for state, local and property taxes, sometimes referred to as SALT, have limits. The new limits for SALT deductions is now 10,000 but again primarily affect higher income earners.

Other changes implemented in 2018 affect:

bull; Higher standard deduction to 12,000 for single filers and 24,000 for joint filers
bull; Personal exemption eliminated enti>bull; Income tax rates reduced for most filers
bull; Child tax credit boosted
bull; More medical expenses allowed

There are many other changes but these are the ones most commonly addressed when filing income taxes. Finally, this information is not considered tax advice. For information on how these changes affect your personal situation, you need to speak with your tax professional.


Full Story >


October Generates Donations to 18 Nonprofits Thanks to Generous Real Estate Agents

Peter Lunde of Coach Realtors in Stony Brook, NY has generously donated to Prevent Child Abuse America on behalf of his clients, Brian Hillman and Stefanie Valsamopolous.

Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Irvine, CA has generously made three donations this month. One to Folds of Honor on behalf of clients Matt and Erica McGinley, a second to Susan G. Komen of Orange County on behalf of clients Rob and Deidre Moffat, and a third donation to Acres of Love, made on behalf of her client, Brian Konoske.

Brittany Howe of Realty One Group in Goodyear, AZ has made a generous donation to St. Vincent De Paul Diocese of Phoenix on behalf of her client, Cindy Frami.

Michelle Ratajczak of James amp; Less Realty in Virginia Beach, VA has made three generous donations this month. One to Girls on the Run Hampton Roads on behalf of her clients RJ and Jennifer Ratajczak, a second to the Alzheimerrsquo;s Association of Southeastern Virginia on behalf of her client, Linda Bing, and a third donation to the American Red Cross Hurricane Florence >

Kellie Bradt of RG Realty Group in Coon Rapids, MN has made a generous donation to the Bhutanese Community Organization of Minnesota on behalf of her clients, Sagar and Sostika Katel.

Jennifer DaPonte of Berkshire Hathaway in Wesport, MA has made two generous donations in her debut as an Agent with Heart. The first to the Fall River Historical Society, made on behalf of her clients, Bill and Carroll Brown, and the second to the Wes-Mac Parent Teachers Organization, made on behalf of Stacy and Brian Silva-Boutwell.

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 7 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program. Read more about their donations and generosity here.

ldquo;Thanks to our incredible Agents with Heart, we have achieved another record month of donation dollars generated to nonprofits nation-widerdquo; said Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;I would like to personally thank Peter, Dana, Brittany, Michelle, Kellie, Jennifer and Quinlan Realty for being so incredibly driven to make a difference in their communities. It is because of real estate agents like them, who have a true dedication to paying it forward, that we created our program, and why we are able to assist nonprofits everywhere.rdquo;

ldquo;It is a true honor to include agents like Peter, Dana, Brittany, Michelle, Kellie, Jennifer and everyone at Quinlan Realty within our program because they are truly aligned with our vision, and all of us at PinRaise are grateful to be partnered with such kind, caring agents. We look forward to all of the wonderful good their generous donations will generate to these nonprofits, and to many others in the future,rdquo; concludes Mr. John Giaimo.

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

To contact Peter Lunde, please call 631-601-7906 or visit www.PeterLundeNorthShoreHomes.com.

To contact Dana Roberts, please call 949-433-6694 or visit www.DanaRobertsRealEstate.com.

To contact Brittany Howe, please call 623-302-4542nbsp;or visit www.Facebook.com/BrittanyHowe.RealtyONEGroup.

To contact Michelle Ratajczak, please call 757-472-0944nbsp;or visit www.ahomeforgood.com.

To contact Kellie Bradt, please call 651-269-8435nbsp;or visit www.kelliebradt.realtygroupmn.com.

To contact Jennifer DaPonte, please call 774-526-0984.

To contact Quinlan Realty, please call 314-401-9286 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.


Full Story >


Quinlan Realty Goes the Extra Mile with Another Month of Generous Donations

Quinlan Realty in Creve Coeur, MO has generously made 7 donations as a brokerage through the Broker with Hearttrade; program.

Agent with Heart Tayler Stanowski has generously donated to Partners 4 Pets on behalf of her clients, Dan and Crystal Lindow.

Agent with Heart Kevin Robben has generous donated to Tenth Life Cat Rescue on behalf of his clients, David Robben and John Davis.

Quinlan Realtyrsquo;s distinguished Broker with Heart, Craig Carr, generously matched Taylerrsquo;s donation to Partners 4 Pets, and also made four individual donations One to Sunshine Ministries of Saint Louis on behalf of his client, Sherrie Gross, a second to the Buddy Fund on behalf of clients Rebecca and Andy Yonaka, another to SimpleChurch Inc. on behalf of his clients Jason and Chrissy Hagan, and a final donation to Shelter Friends, made on behalf of Dawn Dulle and Dulany Harms.

ldquo;Quinlan Realty is a shining example of what it means to pay it forward to the community,rdquo; says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. ldquo;Craig and his team of agents donate after each and every transaction they close, which is truly remarkable and appreciated not only by all of us at PinRaise, but by each and every one of the local nonprofits they are assisting each month.rdquo;

ldquo;We are incredibly proud to be partnered with such an incredible brokerage who is completely aligned with our mission of giving back, and I would like to personally thank Craig, Tayler and Kevin for assisting us in accomplishing that goal each month through their wonderful generosity. We applaud and appreciate their kindness, and look forward to seeing the good they will continue to bring in the future,rdquo; concludes Mr. John Giaimo.

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

To contact Craig Carr, please call 314-401-9286 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.

To contact Tayler Stanowski, please call 314-401-9889 or visit www.QuinlanRealty.com.

To contact Kevin Robben, please call 314-922-8819nbsp;or visit www.QuinlanRealtySells.com.


Full Story >


Ask the HOA Expert: Hiring an HOA Member to Do HOA Work and Public Delinquencies

Answer: It is bad business to hire an HOA member to do HOA work because there is a clear conflict of interest even if the member is competent to do the work. And if the member turns out to be incompetent, the board will end up firing him and likely create a long term enemy. Unless this person provides a service that is unavailable elsewhere, stick with outside professionals.

Question: What approaches have you seen boards take to inform their members about other members who are in arrears? Our board likes to post names and amounts in arrears as well as put the information in the minutes.

Answer: Do not post delinquent member names And get rid of that stock and pillary The board should refer to a collection only by the amount owed, time past due and status of the collection process. Naming names is a sure way to alienate neighbors and trigger litigation for defamation of character. Besides, all collections are not created equal. Some may have a legitimate reason for not paying disabled, unemployed, others donrsquo;t pay because of a matter of principle: ldquo;Irsquo;m not paying until the board fill in the blank and some may simply be jerks.

To avoid favoritism, the board should institute and use a Collection Policy which is uniformly applied to all members, including themselves. Even better, that Collection Policy should be enforced by a hired professional manager since no board member should be put in the position of personally enforcing collections on other members. There is a sample in the Policy Samples section of www.Regenesis.net

Question: Our board asked our current management company to get competitive quotes from other management companies. Somehow this seems ill advised.

Answer: There is an obvious conflict of interest in what the board proposes. Instead, the board should appoint a committee to develop a Request for Proposal RFP which is given to at least three qualified companies, which may include the current management company, depending on what the board is trying to achieve. There is a sample RFP in the Manager Issues section of www.Regenesis.net

Question: The board is proposing that, since some people are not comfortable addressing others in person at the annual meeting, that they can submit questions or comments in writing for a board member to read. Is it appropriate?

Answer: The board is not given some special authority to speak for other members. If certain members are too timid to speak for themselves, they are entitled to appoint a proxy legal representative to speak or act on their behalf. That representative, of course, could be one of the board members.

Question: Our annual meeting proxy form has an option that reads: ldquo;This proxy is valid for quorum purposes onlyrdquo;.

Answer: This is a common proxy option. It means that the proxy is not valid for voting purposes but can be counted toward achieving a legal quorum as defined by the governing documents so that the meeting can be held.

Question: Our board president does not like one of the members and will not recognize her when she wants to speak. Does the president have the power not to recognize someone?

Answer: If a general member is speaking out of turn or otherwise acting disrespectfully or rudely, yes, the president can refuse to acknowledge her. However, not liking someone is not a valid reason. If this president cannot overcome this self-serving and immature tendency, the board should remove and replace her with another director who can.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net


Full Story >




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