Real Estate News

Updated: Sunday, May 20, 2018

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape i.e. its decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul, you might think its ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldnt expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when youve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But dont be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didnt take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely wont be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.


While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing unless there are severe allergy issues, they dont want to see - and, especially, smell - evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You dont have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.


Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers dont nitpick and find a reason to question the homes condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If youre rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? Thats what real buyers do, and if they cant picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or its oddly configured - blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance - youre keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

"Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when youre selling a house its important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each rooms dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal," said U.S. News World Report. "A home seller can do this by decluttering,lighting up the roomand especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room." You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. Its not snooping at least, we hope its not snooping - its an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one "junk drawer," but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. "Whether its a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your homes closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers," said Apartment Therapy. "Box up off-season appa>Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, theyre much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.

5 Smart, Easy Ways To Add Smart Home Technology To Your Place

Has technology passed your home by? Its never too late to update it. Whether you just want to bring the homes function into this century for your personal use or are looking to put it on the market, incorporating some smart home items is, well, a smart strategy.

"The stock advice for homeowners putting a house on the market used to go like this: Give the exterior, or the front door, a fresh coat of paint; tame unruly shrubs; and swap out a few light fixtures. But todays homebuyers are expecting a little more," said Consumer Reports. According to Coldwell Bankers latest annualnbsp;smart-home survey, most potential homebuyers want smart-home tech preinstalled."

Specifically, "Seventy-seven percent wantnbsp;smart thermostats, 75 percent want smart smoke detectors, 66 percent want smart home security cameras, and 63 percent wantnbsp;smart locks, to name a few."

Smart thermostats

Not only will a smart thermostat make your air conditioner function better and make your house more comfortable, it will save you money in the process. "With anbsp;smart thermostat, easily control the temperature in your home from a central control panel, with the sound of your voice, or using your mobile device," said Vivint. "Combined with a smart assistant that intuits and learns your preferences and behaviors, your thermostat can automatically adjust the temperature - saving you valuable time, energy, and money."

The Nest Thermostat is one of the most popular options on the market. It "currently costs 249 butnbsp;projects an average savingsnbsp;of around 173 per year," said UpNest. We also love the ecobee because it has multiple sensors. The latest version, the ecobee4 249, also has built-in Amazon Alexa.

Smart door locks

There are lots of smart door locks out there, which eliminate the need for a key and replace it with a keypad and code that are used for entry. But, we love this August Smart Lock, which takes smart home capabilities up a notch.

"This battery operated device sells for 199, and communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth," said Nerds on Call. "When the Smart Lock identifies your Bluetooth signal approaching, it unlocks your door, and can lock it behind you if you choose that setting. It also allows you to set up virtual keys for guests, with the ability to grant access for only certain dates and times for each key. The activity log keeps track of when each unique user comes and goes. Perhaps the best part about this smart home upgrade is that it goes over your existing lock, meaning that you can have strong security and an intelligent lock. If you choose, you can pair the Smart Lock with the lsquo;August Connect for 79, which lets guests in and locks the door behind them. The Connect also grants real time status of locked or unlocked, and alerts you instantly when somebody comes or goes."

The August Smart Lock Pro is also a Consumer Reports fave. "We tested the previous-generationnbsp;August Smart Locknbsp;and found that it offers a wealth of smart features that potential homeowners will appreciate," they said.

Video doorbell

The humble doorbell has come a long way in the past few years," said Business Insider. "Gone are the days when all a doorbell would do is alert you to the fact that someones at the door. These days, doorbells can connect to your Wi-Fi network to offer enhanced home security with built-in cameras and microphones. Of all the doorbells you can buy, thenbsp;Ring Video Doorbell 2nbsp;currently 199 is our top pick because it doesnt have to be hard wired and it has an excellent 1080p camera."

Smart smoke detectors

If youve ever dealt with a smoke detector going off in the middle of the night, this product should thrill you. But, of course, knowing your family is safe is obviously your No. 1 priority. And why not save a little money at the same time, right?

"Another smart technology product, the smart smoke detector, could not only save you money approximately 5 on yournbsp;insurance premiums, but could even save your life," said UpNest. "One 2014 CBS news report cites a figure of 2/3 of all home fire fatalities occurring in residences where the smoke detectors are missing or disabled -- which is something many of us have resorted to at one time or other out of sheer frustration when our typical lsquo;dumb detector insists on shrieking an alarm every time we try to fry up some bacon. A smart detector will allow you to keep on frying without fear of interruption. Two such products, thenbsp;Birdinbsp;and the Nest Protect, will not only monitor smoke but also carbon dioxide and general air quality. They can even send an alert to your smart phone or tablet if anything is amiss.nbsp;These products retail for 119 and 99 respectively."

Smart irrigation system

The SkyDrop: Smart Irrigation System Controller is a next-level automatic sprinkler system that allows you to control your irrigation from anywhere by using their app, and, "The best part is the irrigation will adjust itself based on your local weather," said Nerds on Call. "The SkyDrop can be programmed to adhere to local water restrictions in order to contribute to saving water. An amazing part about SkyDrop is that it can calculate how much water your lawn uses every day and adjust the amount of watering time to keep your lawn healthy. This device sells for 200 on Amazon, and connects to your existing irrigation system along with your WiFi network."

10 Tips To Upgrade Your Home Security

Keeping your home and family safe is a priority we all share. But beyond locking the doors and getting a home alarm, there are numerous steps we can take to protect who - and what - we love, and it doesnt have to break the bank.

1. Change your locks

Did you change your locks when you moved into your new home? Yeah. Neither did we. That means someone might already have the most important thing they need to get into your home: a key.

2. Upgrade your door security

While youre changing your locks, look for those that give you more secure options. If youre not sure how important this is, consider what Family handyman reports about FBI burglary statistics: "65 percent of break-ins occur by forcing in the front, back or garage service door."

3. Remove that extra key

The FBI also reports that 12 percent of break-ins are caused by thieves simply finding your hidden key. If you have one sitting under your welcome mat or in a planter, its time to remove it.

4. Use timers

"Put interior lights, TVs, and radios on timers so that you can create the illusion that someone is home when theyre not," said Bob Vila. "Modern digital light timers offer a key benefit over traditional models by having lights cycle on and off randomly."

Make sure to include motion detector lights in key spots around the exterior of your home. A light that pops on just as a burglar is approaching your back door may be enough to make him back away form your home. Home automation products make all of this easier than since you can control lights, TVs, and other items via Smartphone.

5. Get a dog

Seriously. Homes with dogs are less likely to be broken into, according to a study by The University of North Carolina, because they bark to create a ruckus and can also harm an intruder by biting.


6. Fake the alarm

If you cant swing the cost of an alarm, pretend you have one. "Thieves look for an easy mark; making your home look tough to crack will encourage them to move on," said HGTV. "You can easily put up security system decals - a clear deterrent - even if you dont have a system."

7. Install a camera

"Thanks to >8. Check doors and windows

You might think your home is more secure than it is. Maybe that backdoor is easy to open with a good push or the guest room window isnt shutting all the way. Eliminating easy access points by shutting doors and windows and locking everything up will cost you nothing, but if you need a backup for that easy-access slider door, a good old broomstick cut down to size will do the trick.

9. Call the police

In many areas, a police officer will visit your home to give you tips on how to make your home more secure, and it will cost you nothing.

10. Eliminate hiding spots

"If your shrubbery is too tall, bushy, or not well spaced, youre providing a nice hiding spot for a potential burglar," said Consumer Reports. "Trim and prune plantings."

Keeping Costs Down When Building Your New Pool

Having a pool can be one of the most enjoyable parts of homeownership, but building it can be an expensive undertaking. "If youre planning to install a pool, be prepared to open your wallet," said US News. "PK Data reports that the average cost of a residential in-ground swimming pool was 39,084 last year."

If you want a pool without the high price, there are ways to keep costs down:

1. Get multiple bids

Talking to only one company gives you no point of reference. Youll want to compare at least three bids from three different companies while youre deciding who is going to build your pool, even if the companies in the running are referrals. And, speaking of referrals, make sure you get them. Entrusting someone with that much money and responsibility without the recommendation of someone you trust - and without thoroughly checking them out - may not end well.

2. Think about the big picture

It might be that a larger upfront cost can lead to savings down the line. Consider this from Marc Sheridan of River Pools: "In the past, concrete, or gunite pools as theyre also called, were almost always more expensive or at least priced about the same initially as fiberglass pools. This year thoughhellip;Ive been witness to some of the lowest prices offered on concrete pool installations in over 10 years. For example, on large pools, Im finding that most concrete pools come in 5-10k less than a fiberglass pool."

The problem lies with using inexpensive surfaces that may not have lasting power. "Most consumers have no idea that theyll be shelling out an additional 8-12k minimum only a decade after install" of white plaster," he said. "When one compounds this number over the course of 20-30 years, the cost to the homeowner is even worse. This doesnt even account for the fact that most pool owners are now using salt chlorinators with their swimming pools, a technology of which I am a huge fan of but has been shown to be more abrasive on concrete pool surfaces than regular chlorine. This is also why I always recommend to my clients that decide to go with a concrete/gunite pool that they should go with a more permanent surface like PebbleTec. I always base decisions and recommendations on what is the best for the long-term, and not for the initial moment price. What good does it does to save a few thousand dollars upfront on a swimming pool purchase if these savings will cost you thousands and thousands more in the long run?"

3. Go with a simple design

A pool design with multiple curves, steps, shelves, and other add-ons will raise the cost. Keep it simple for the best chance of keeping the price down.

4. Limit the materials

Exotic tiles and finishes in the pool, and upscale materials used on the decking and patio, can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.


5. Forgo the bells and whistles

A spa, a waterfall, a bubbler, and an Infinity edge... All are desirable pool features, and all will add to your bottom line.

"By some estimates, the actual construction of an in-ground pool is only about half of what you will eventually pay," said Pool Pricer.

6. Pay attention to size

The bigger the pool, the more expense youll have in piping, pumps, filters, chemicals, and energy used.


7. Do your own maintenance

Pools get dirty and have to be cleaned and maintained regularly. The monthly cost averages 130 to 378, according to HomeAdvisor, with pool cleaners charging 75 to 100 per hour or more. But, much of this cost can be eliminated if you choose to maintain the pool yourself.

"Maintaining your pool yourself will take less than two hours as long as you do it regularly. Routine maintenance not only keeps your pool clean for use, but it also allows you to spot problems early on - before they become big, costly repairs," they said.

8. Build a self-sustaining pond instead

The swimming pond is a growing trend that brings a natural look to the yard and limits the amount of maintenance that needs to be done. "One of the great benefits of a swimming pond is that it is chemical free. When managed properly, natural swimming pools have crystal-clear water and require no chemicals to maintain because they are self-cleaning mini-ecosystems," said Good Housekeeping.

9. Wait on the pool heater

"Adding a heater after having owned the swimming pool a season or more can be a great idea because pool owners can get a true gauge on just how much they need a heater, as well as what type of heater will suite them best," said Sheridan. This is especially useful in warmer climates where homeowners may not even need a heater in the summer.

10. Carefully choose the location

A pool that is located under trees may benefit from shade and therefore not need as much heating, however, it might end up with more leaves and debris, increasing the need for cleaning. The distance from the house is also a factor. "Well-planned pools are generally located close to the house, reducing costs associated with energy and water," said

Eight Signs Its Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Lets face it: Its probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, life>But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

Youve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If youre the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

Youre at each others throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you dont have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if "your quality of life is suffering," said Unpakt. "This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just cant keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, youre stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear."

The neighborhood is changingand not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary or wanted renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it - or get it into tip-top shape for a sale - is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You dont want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You dont want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because its overdone and considered overpriced.

"Weighing against renovation is the risk youll over-improve your home comparedwith others on the block," said Bankrate. "When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect."

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If youre still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe its time to find one that better meets your life>Youve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. "Its not just the sticker price on the house; its thelong-term costs associated with it," said "When you go up in square footage, you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance." And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming "house poor" by "using onlineaffordability calculatorsto figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.

Theres A Color Of The Year For Everyone

Color experts such as The Pantone Color Institute, provide a number of services to companies all over the world to help them learn more about color and how to use it in their businesses. One of the most famous examples of color trending is Pantones Color of the Year, which "provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design."

To remain >The idea is to stimulate change and perhaps get comfortable with a color you might not normally try in your home. In other words, the Color of the Year is a stimulus to spend money. You might not buy the purple couch, but youll be tempted to go bolder on something. Youll try a new set of towels for the bath or buy a set of glasses in some bold shade to set off the dinner table.

There are other colors of the year that are getting plenty of notice.

Sherwin Williams put its 2018 money on "Oceanside," a bold, sexy teal blue thats not just for the coasts. You dont have to live on the water to appreciate its mysterious depths.

Another aggressive choice is Pittsburgh Paints "Black Flame," a smokey hue that connotes drama and sophistication. Its a good excuse to wean homeowners away from the neutral and safe light greys and whites of the past few years.

Too strong? Then try Pratt Lamberts soothing blue "Heron," or Behrs blue-tinged green "In the Moment." These are still a far cry from white, beige or grey.

The only paint company not to go in the direction of blues, greens or greys is Benjamin Moore. Its Color of the Year is a spicy hot red called "Caliente."

Does the color of the year mean you should run out and buy a purple couch or paint your babys room black? No, the color is an inspiration for the year, and may be completely different from the color of the year from the year before and the year to follow. Its only this years inspiration to give you ideas to think about, sort of like runway fashion introduces new silhouettes.

Most products for the home are designed to have a longer use than a year. But, you may see the color and be tempted to try it in a small way or in a more muted tone. A fresh new color looks modern and takes you away from colors that may date your home, like ashes of roses from the 50s, avocado green from the 70s, or Tuscan gold from the 90s.

If theres one takeaway from the colors of the year, its that they give you permission to go bolder. You can still stick to the safety of white, grey or beige, but you might use an eye-catching color on an accent wall or in a throw pillow or in a piece of art. And if you want it in a mixer or crockpot, you can have it.

Think of color as an expression of your personality and the mood you wish to convey -- both great places to start when designing and decorating your home.

Rapid Transit Project May Call For Eminent Domain

Question: I understand that our State government has plans to expand our rapid transit railway system and many of us are concerned that they will take our houses in order to complete the project. What is the law on this? Do they have the absolute right to do this? Joseph.

Answer: Joseph. You are referring to a concept called "eminent domain" -- also known as "condemnation". The short answer: if the taking of the property is for a "public use" -- such as road or a rail transit -- the government has the absolute right to take your house or even your business.

The Fifth Amendment to our Constitution reads, in part: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation". And the Fourteenth Amendment applies that same concept to all States. That means that while you have very little chance to fight the taking, you can challenge the amount the government initially offers you. You have the right to a full jury trial to have the court determine what is "just compensation".

Although the process may differ from state to state, typically once the government makes a determination that it needs certain property for its "public use", it may actually hold hearings where the pros and cons are discussed. In fact, often you -- the effective homeowner -- may not even be aware of the facts until you get a formal notice of the taking. In many states, the government does what is known as a "quick take" -- they immediately record the title to the property in the name of the government.

What is a public use? A 2005 Supreme Court opinion muddied the waters somewhat when it ruled that the City of New London, Connecticut, could condemn private property and give it to a private developer to be used a part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan. According to the Court, "the governmental taking of property from one private owner to give to another in furtherance of economic development constitutes a permissible public use under the Fifth Amendment." Kelo v City of New London.

As a result, many States have reacted to the high courts decision by enacting legislation that prohibits a state from taking property and giving it to another private land owner, even for example in the case of job creation.

I suggest that you and your neighbors immediately retain experienced local counsel so that you will be prepared in case that condemnation notice comes your way. There should be a lot of advanced preparation, such as getting your own appraiser, so that you will be able to challenge -- if necessary -- the dollar amount that the government will initially offer you as compensation.

Question: I read your informative articles and I have a question concerning condominium organization. First we have an association in "title" only, since it is run by one lady who collects the fees. Problem one: shes too tired to collect the fees from the owners that have abandoned their units. Problem two: how do we collect the fees from bank owned units. I am trying to organize the other owners, and plan to schedule a meeting with them. Hopefully we can move forward. Jilma.

Answer: Dear Jilma. I doubt that this will be any consolation to you, but you are not alone. Many, many community associations have the same problems. There is a lot of apathy since many owners bought into the community so that others could cut the grass and shovel the snow.

And where there is apathy, someone -- such as your lady -- sees an opportunity to be called "madame president", and basically takes over the association. Unfortunately, it is an ego trip on the part of many board presidents.

I do want to make it clear that the great majority of associations are run by boards of directors who take their positions seriously and are working without pay for the good of the entire community.

What should you do? There is a provision in your legal documents that allows for board members to be recalled. There are requirements, such as giving the board member adequate notice and an opportunity to defend him or herself before the community votes on the issue.

I would contact the Community Association Institute and find an attorney in your area that practices and understands community association law. Your group should retain a lawyer to guide you through the process.

To answer your questions, there are two ways to collect -- whether it is from bank owned units, current or abandoned owners: you either file a lawsuit against the delinquent owner or you foreclose on the unit.

You need a lawyer to represent your interests. Your condo unit is your investment; dont lose it.

Question: If I rent a house from owners whose house is paid off, are they required to have and keep homeowners insurance on their property? Antonia.

Answer: Dear Antonia. Thats a great question, and I dont really know the answer. However, I do not believe that your landlord is required to have any insurance. But regardless of whether one is legally required to have homeowners insurance coverage, it is -- in my opinion a foolish decision if you do not have the protection that such an insurance policy can give you.

You should get what is known as "renters insurance". This will not insure the physical structure of the building or the apartment in which you live but will cover loss of your personal property because of such catastrophes as fire, theft or vandalism.

You should ask your landlord if he has sufficient insurance coverage should there be problems in the building. If not, you should first contact your insurance agent and discuss your options. You might be wise to move out unless the appropriate coverage is available.

Why Do So Many HOAs Fail To Properly Plan For Predictable Expenses?

A fortune teller asked me to gaze into her crystal ball. "I see wear and tear in your condominiums future. I see a new roof will be needed. I see cracking paint and asphalt in need of repair. I see gasp no money to pay for these things"

It doesnt take a fortune teller to predict that common elements are going to wear out and it doesnt take a crystal ball to predict that HOAs are going to need money and a plan to fix them. So why do so many HOAs fail to properly plan for these predictable events and expenses?

The truth is that too many HOA boards are busy putting out this years financial fires and havent the time to think about next year and beyond. Remember, "its hard to drain the swamp when youre up to your behind in alligators". In other words, its easy to lose track of long term goals

when you get sidetracked by more immediate demands. Putting out fires is what HOAs do, right? The poorly run ones seem to do just that.

HOAs are no different than any other business. Those that are successful engage in long range planning. Those that fail to plan fend off disaster after disaster and board members come and go through a revolving door. No real magic here. To know where you are going, you have to have a destination in mind. In spite of bumper sticker wisdom, those that wander really are lost.

So back to the HOA scenario. When a homeowner association doesnt have the funds to handle a major repairs, they defer those repairs until the funds are available. Of course, money doesnt grow on trees and without a plan to collect more money, band-aiding and deferring become the default reality and slippery slope.

How do you steer your HOA back up to high and stable ground? The first step is to review your reserve study. "Whats a reserve study?" you say. A reserve study identifies all common element components that have useful lives between 2 and 30 years like the roof, fences, decks, paint, paving, etc. The average condominium has 15-30 components. The average high rise condo can easily have 100. And HOAs that own golf courses and marinas can have many more. Regardless, a reserve study is customized to the HOA in question.

SIDEBAR: "But our condominium is small", you say meaning, "why is a reserve study even necessary in our case?" Its basic math: The more people you have to share the cost, the less the cost per person. Smaller HOAs have a greater need for reserve planning because the cost per person is greater.

After the component list is determined, a current repair or replacement cost must be determined for each as well as the remaining useful life. With this information and the current inflation factor, a funding plan can be made to instruct the board how much money to collect and set aside each year to meet future financial needs.

While there is no state or federal requirement, the reserve study should be performed by a professional since evaluating condition of components and establishing useful lives and current pricing takes special training that few boards have. The professionals carrying the highest credential in the industry, the PRA Professional Reserve Analyst, belong to the Association of Professional Reserve Analysts. A list of members and contact information can be found at

Rather than crystal ball your future, get a proper reserve study done and follow the funding and schedule recommendations. Leave the crystal balling to Lady Luck.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

How A Housing Shock Would Impact Canadas Economy

Last year various Canadian governments took measures to slow down the booming housing market, imposing new taxes and strict mortgage qualification requirements. The governments feared that homeowners were sinking too far into debt and that runaway house prices in Vancouver and Toronto were unsustainable.

Some people who are struggling to get into the market say they hope theres a "housing crash" that will bring prices down to an affordable level. But a recent report by the British Columbia Real Estate Association BCREA says we should be careful what we wish for.

"The desire of some well-meaning British Columbians for government to drive down the price of homes through demand-side policy may sound practical at first blush. However, when you consider the broad and deep economic toll that a negative shock to home prices would exact on both homeowners and renters, it quickly becomes apparent that such an approach is at best, a mugs game."

The association estimates how much a shock of 10, 20 and 35 per cent on home prices would impact the economy.

"Nearly 70 per cent of British Columbian households own their home. A >The Canadian Real Estate Association CREA commissioned Altus Group to determine the impact of resale housing transactions on the economy. It says between the period of 2014 to 2016, 61,600 was spent in an average transaction on items other than the actual house and land.

This includes renovations, conducted both before the sale to make it more marketable and afterwards as homeowners tailored the property to their needs; new appliances and furnishings. It also includes fees to real estate agents, lawyers, appraisers, home inspectors and appraisers.

The ancillary spending added up to more than 31 billion per year across Canada.

CREA says that during the same period, 220,065 jobs are estimated to have been generated each year. "Canada-wide, the finance, insurance, real estate, construction and professional services sectors benefited the most from MLS system home sales," says CREA.

"If home prices fell 35 per cent, a level some activists are championing, the B.C. economy would collapse into recession," says BCREA. "The average homeowner would have lost 245,000 in equity, housing starts would fall by half, 64,000 jobs would be forfeited -- sending the unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent with 4.4 billion in forgone retail sales and a colossal 8 billion loss to GDP in the first year."

Not everyone agrees that a housing shock would have such a dramatic impact on the economy.

Laura Cooper, an economist with RBC Economists, wrote in 2017 that "tallying up the contributions of everything from the building of new homes to the costs of maintaining and running a home, housing->But she says not all that activity would be vulnerable to a downturn in sales, estimating that "close to 15 per cent of the economy has a degree of exposure to a drop in home sales, but only five per cent has a strong >Based on historic declines in housing, Cooper says the impacts on the economy "tend to be limited and occur over different stages of the housing cycle. This implies a one-time blow to the economy resulting from a sales slump is unlikely."

She says rising home prices make homeowners feel wealthier, contributing to all types of consumer spending. "Vehicle purchases, eating out at restaurants, spending on recreation, cultural events and financial services all have a tendency to slow somewhat against a backdrop of declining home sales, but tends to occur over a period of six to nine months following the beginning signs of a housing downturn," she says.

Cooper says although renovation activity is susceptible to a housing downturn, historically "the drop in the value of home renovations tends to be less pronounced than that of home sales, declining by about one-third of the sales drop."

But she adds, "There is always the risk that households pull back more on spending now than in past downturns given elevated levels of household debt and prospective increases in interest rates." She adds, "A broad 30 per cent drop in home resales, and attendant spillovers to building activity, house prices and consumer confidence could translate into a hit on the economy of one per cent to two per cent, with a drop in ownership transfer costs and new home construction accounting for two-thirds of the decline."

California Association of REALTORS To Release New And Revised Forms

Twice a year, in June and December, the California Association of REALTORS CAR >

Three new forms will be >As its title indicates, the SBSA is an advisory given to both buyers and sellers, though its provisions are generally more >A significant improvement is that the new SBSA will be divided into categories. The earlier and present versions were pretty much a hodgepodge, making it somewhat difficult for most people to locate quickly any particular section among its twelve single-spaced pages. By presenting a table that shows how the topics are arranged within various categories will make it considerably easier to find ones way around the advisory.

Seven general categories are presented. They are: A. Investigation of Physical Condition; B. Property Use and Ownership; C. Off-Site and Neighborhood Conditions; D. Legal Requirements Federal, State, and Local; E. Contract >There are, of course, a number of specific revisions and additions that have also been made to the SBSA. These include:

1. There is new language on page one informing the parties that different reports may not be consistent with one another and that brokers have not verified the information in the reports.

2. There is new language regarding hiring proper professionals if square footage and boundaries are material to the buyer.

3. A new paragraph addresses Accessory Dwelling Units.

4. A new paragraph addresses the Buyers Intended Use of the property.

5. Additional language has been added to the section regarding marijuana use and California law.

6. There is a new paragraph regarding short-term rentals and the possibility of local restrictions on short-term rentals.

7. Added to the current very long paragraph addressing "Neighborhood, Area, Personal Factors, Buyer Intended Use, High Speed Rails, and Smoking Restrictions" is some language and references regarding drones.

8. To a section on advertising new language has been added regarding staging and explaining that some furnishings and decorations may not be included in the sale.

More generally, it is highly beneficial that a number of web sites have been added that will provide helpful reference material.

Easy Ways To Lower Your Energy Usage At Home

California just became the first state to require solar panels on every new home starting in 2020 in a landmark move for state building regulations and "government controls over climate-warming carbon emissions," said NBC News. This will be a huge plus for homebuyers who were already looking for ways to be greener, but there is a downside, albeit one with a long-term potential upside: the cost.

"The average estimated cost of a solar system is 9,500, or 40 a month when amortized over a 30-year mortgage," they said. "But the systems are projected to save customers an average of 80 a month on their utility bills."

Thankfully, there are a number of other options out there for eco-friendly living that are low cost, and many of them are also low effort.

"To reduce energy consumption in your home, you do not necessarily need to go out and purchase energy efficient products," said Energy Sage. "Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off lights or appliances when you do not need them. The behavior adjustments that have the highest potential for utility savings are turning down the heat on your thermostat in the winter and using your air conditioner less in the summer. Heating and cooling costs constitute nearly half of an average homes utility bills, so these reductions in the intensity and frequency of heating and cooling offer the greatest savings."

Here are some other easy ways to save energy and money:

Ditch the plastic

Some states have already banned plastic bags at the supermarket and many places are also in the process of changing over from plastic straws to paper straws. You can apply the same concept at home. An easy way to start is by ditching your plastic bottle habit. Instead of buying 36-packs of bottled water, grab a Britta filter instead.

Go meatless on Monday

"The one single factor in our diets that contributes the most to our carbon footprint is meat," said Tastemade. "Those who eat a lot have double the carbon footprint of those who are vegan. Animals, and livestock, in particular, require a lot more resources like water and grain to raise and process than, say, a head of lettuce." Experts say that a family of four who regularly eliminates meat from one meal a week can have the same environmental impact as driving a hybrid.

Use less water

If you cant break your long shower habit, think about other easy ways you can conserve water, like: turning off the faucet when youre brushing your teeth and only running your washing machine when its full. Lowering the water temp from high to medium or even cold, where possible, is another great way to lower your energy usage.

Use the dishwasher

You might think youre saving water by doing dishes by hand, but the opposite is often true. "Doing a full load in your machine is far more efficient than washing the same number of dishes by hand," said This Old House. "This is especially true if you have an Energy Star dishwasher, which requires an average of four gallons of water per load, compared with the 24 gallons it takes to do them in the sink. Using one will save you 5,000 gallons of water, 40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time each year."

Donate to declutter

"By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you dont another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill," said Real Simple. Take your things to a thrift store or donate to a charity, instead. Your donations will be tax deductible, and youll feel great as you start to declutter your place.

Get a Costco membership

There are so many great reasons to shop at Costco, like the free samples and the 1.50 hot dog and soda combo. Buying products in bulk also "reduces the amount of packaging needed, thus providing considerable benefits to the environment," said Conserve Energy Future.

Get to stepping

"Walking is simply the most environmentally-friendly way of getting from A to B," said "It uses no fossil fuels, produces no air pollution, and is generally a pretty quiet way of getting about. So if youre keen to go green, switching from driving to walking for short journeys is one of the easiest ways to make a real difference." And, its good for your heart, too

Switch out your household cleaners for something greener

Switching to green cleaners can reduce pollution in the air inside and out of your home, "minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health," said Real Simple. "Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels."

Learn basic composting

If you do want to get your hands a little dirty, composting offers multiple benefits, including reducing the amount of waste in landfills lowering theemission of methanewhile food is decomposing. "An awful lot of people have said an awful lot about composting," said Attainable Sustainable. "Mostly, they make it sound like an awful lot of work. Let me clear the air:composting is easy. You do not have to do anything to turn your kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost.Mother Nature will do it for you. Passive composting is an easy way to turn your waste into a useful product without much work on your part at all. You do not have to have a fancy composter. All you need is a place to put your compost pile. And thats all it has to be: a pile. Dump your kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, and leaves in a pile and forget about it."

Summer Savers: 9 Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Home Before The Heat Hits

Things are heating up and school is winding down. That means summer is right around the corner. But its not all flip-flops and sunglasses and smiles. Summer is also hot and sweaty and often expensive when youre trying not to be hot and sweaty, or you just want your home to run more efficiently. There are things you can do and changes you can make now to save money this summer.

Have your sprinkler system and outdoor faucets looked at

You could have sprinkler heads that are malfunctioning or not working at all, which could harm your grass and cost you money to replace it. Leaky outdoor faucets could also be costing you in increased water bills.

Do a leak check inside

Cold air escaping and hot air intruding - its the reality of many a home, and not only can it make you feel uncomfortable, it can make your air conditioner work overtime. "For a thorough and accurate measurement of air leakage in your home, hire a qualified technician to conduct anenergy audit, particularly ablower door test," said the U.S. Department of Energy. "A blower door test, which depressurizes a home, can reveal the location of many leaks."

Do an appliance check

Have a mixer, blender, and knife sharpener plugged in on your kitchen countertop? How often do you really use any of these items? The more you unplug, the less energy you use.

Have your A/C unit checked and serviced

Not only do you not want your air conditioning to conk out in mid-summer when its blasting hot outside, but you also want to make sure you catch little issues before they become giant, expensive ones - and before youre A/C guy books up. "There are two main reasons to schedule annual air conditioner maintenance with your local HVAC contractor: saving money and saving money no that isnt a typo," said HomeAdvisor. "For starters, you greatly increase the chances that your A/C technician will catch small problems before they become big ones by schedules regular check-ups. Repairing a small refrigerant leak shouldnt cost much more than the service call. Buying a new compressor when low refrigerant levels burn your current one out, however, can cost a thousand dollars or more. The other way an annual check-up saves you money is by ensuring that your A/C unit is working at optimal efficiency. When your A/C is running well it uses less energy to cool your house, and lower energy use means bigger savings for you on your monthly utility bills."

Remember to change your filters regularly, too. According to, "The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency ofyour air conditioneris to routinely replace or clean its filters. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a cleanonecan loweryour air conditioners energy consumption by 5 to 15."

Use the toaster instead of the oven

The heat from the oven can raise the temp in your home, causing your air conditioner to turn on. Using smaller appliances - your slow cooker is another idea - can help keep the temperature lower. Even better, use your outdoor grill, instead

Cover up

Windows that are exposed to afternoon sun can heat up the house quickly, undermining your A/C and making everyone in the house uncomfortable.

"Air conditioning is blissful during the summer, but running it nonstop during a heat wave will have you cursing when you get your utility bill," said Consumer Reports. "Fortunately, clever use of blinds, curtains, and other window treatments can help keep your house cool and your bills in check. The Department of Energy says that smart management of window coverings can reduce heat gain by up to 77 percent."

Cover up inside and out for the best protection. "Studies show that medium-colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gain by 33 percent,according to the DOE.Because of the horizontal slats, its difficult to control heat loss through interior window blinds, although they do offer some flexibility. Unlike shades, you can adjust the slats to control light and ventilation. When completely closed, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent, says the DOE. They can also be adjusted to block and reflect direct sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling, which diffuses the light without much heat or glare."

Outside, consider solar screens, or awnings."Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows,according to the DOE."

Turn up the temperature

That goes against the whole "keeping the house cool" thing, right? But, if you can stand it, a few ticks up on the thermostat can lower your costs. "According toEnergy Star, almost half the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling. Even making small adjustments, such as turning up your air conditioning by only one degree, can make a huge difference," said Huffington Post. "For each degree you reduce your air conditioning, its estimated youll save 3 percent on your utility bills. You can also save money by using a programmable thermostat. When used correctly, a programmable thermostat saves the average family 180 per year."

Get a learning thermostat

Unlike old-school thermostats that you can program for different times and days, products like Nest actually learn from you, and your house, which can then save you money. "Why should you have to figure out your thermostat? The Nest Thermostat learns from you," said Nest. "Just turn it up and down for the first few days. The Nest Thermostat will get to know the temperatures you like and when you like them. Then it programs itself and creates a schedule for you. The Nest Thermostat even learns from your home and figures out how it heats or cools, because no two homes are exactly thesame."

Add insulation

The upfront expense will will pay dividends later when your energy bills go down. "Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your homes energy draw by 20 to 30 percent," said Real Simple.

4 Steps to Finding a Nonprofit to Support

1. Consider your passions and whatrsquo;s important to you

The things that stir up the most emotion in you are the things you feel most passionately about. When it comes to giving back, ask yourself what areas yoursquo;re most interested in assisting. Perhaps your passion is in the environment, in the welfare of animals, education, assisting veterans, or feeding the hungry. Take into consideration the areas that mean the most to you and that you would like to impact the most.

Then, when yoursquo;ve decided on an area of interest yoursquo;d like to focus on, break it down a little more to get even more specific. For example, if your passion lies in animal welfare, what kind of animals are you interested in assisting? All animals? Dogs? Cats? A specific breed or species of animal? Narrow down the options until you have a solid starting point to begin your nonprofit search.

2. Location, location, location

Where your nonprofit is located will also sometimes determine whom theyrsquo;ll be helping. Some nonprofits assist on a local level while others serve on a national or even international level.

If itrsquo;s important to you to give back locally, be sure to narrow your search to areas close to where you live, or to smaller chapters of larger organizations near you. Choosing a national or international nonprofit doesnrsquo;t mean you canrsquo;t still give back locally. Many national and international organizations have smaller chapters throughout the country to which you can donate directly if yoursquo;d like to keep your donations closer to home.

3. Do your due diligence

The internet has a plethora of resources to choose from when it comes to selecting a nonprofit. However, anyone can say their organization is a nonprofit, even if it may not be. Before sending a donation off to a nonprofit yoursquo;ve never worked with before, make sure you do your due diligence to ensure that the nonprofit is legitimate, and that your funds would be used for programs and other areas that you prefer. Visiting a nonprofitrsquo;s website is one easy way to gather all the information yoursquo;ll need.

Simply ask yourself these questions:

bull; Does the nonprofit have a clear mission statement?
bull; Does there appear to be transparency on how theyrsquo;re using funding?
bull; To which programs do their funds go?
bull; Do they have a registered EIN number visible on their website?

That last bullet is the most important of the bunch. If a nonprofit does not have an EIN number, that means that it is not a tax-exempt organization. If you cannot find an EIN number on the nonprofitrsquo;s website, you can do an easy lookup on the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search.

4. Start paying it forward

Once yoursquo;ve decided on your nonprofit of choice, there are numerous ways you can give back. One easy and popular way to pay it forward is through third party donations simply because they are free donations from third parties that you get to direct to your nonprofit, just for purchasing the items you were already going to purchase. Some examples might include grocery stores and AmazonSmile, but there are also companies like PinRaise, Inc., which assists nonprofits nation-wide through its innovative Agent with Hearttrade; program. Through Agent with Heart, real estate agents pledge to make a donation to their clientrsquo;s nonprofit of choice at the close of escrow.

Aside from third party donations, there are many ways for you to pay it forward with your nonprofit; from volunteering directly, allowing supporters to work closely with those that they are assisting, to personal donations, fundraisers, and more. Explore what opportunities your nonprofit provides and choose the ways that work best for you and yoursquo;ll be well on your way to making a difference.

A Guide To Selecting The Right Outdoor Furniture

The outdoor living and dining season is finally here. If youre like many of us, you may have looked around your deck and realized your furniture could use an upgrade. Of course, if you realized the deck itself needs an upgrade, we can help with that, too

Here are some tips to help you purchase the ideal furniture for your outdoor space. Weve included information on furniture sizing, the pros and cons of different materials, and a checklist to guide the buying process. Happy shopping

How to determine the proper dining table size

If youre replacing your current dining table and chairs, you probably already know the size you need. If youre starting from scratch, or if you didnt size your original set properly, make your first purchase a pad of graph paper.

Then, follow these steps for a foolproof furniture plan you can use this same process for other deck furniture you might want:

  • Draw your deck to scale 1 inch equals 1 foot, example.
  • Mark the locations of stairs and doorways.
  • Cut out "furniture" using the same graph paper and scale. Tip: Look online for furniture you like; then, use the dimensions of those pieces for this exercise.
  • Avoid the temptation to overcrowd the deck. Ensure adequate room for guests to push back their chairs and move around freely. Leave some general "walking around" space as well.
  • Dont forget to allow room for your grill.
  • If you often host larger gatherings, choose a table that fits your space properly; then, purchase additional seating that can be easily stacked and stored when not in use.
  • If space allows, consider adding a small bistro set or bar-height table and chairs for more intimate dining or a cozy spot to enjoy your morning coffee.
  • Consider furniture with built-in storage or a deck box that can protect cushions, grill items, or outdoor accessories from the elements.

Which deck furniture material is best for your space?

Here is a quick rundown of the pros and cons of different furniture frame materials.

  • Solid and sturdy
  • Doesnt get overly hot or cold
  • Teak is extremely long lasting with proper care
  • Hardwoods more resistant to weather
  • Will fade in the sun
  • May require preservatives to prevent cracking, decay
  • Some species need oils to preserve natural color
  • Some species prone to splintering
  • Wooden tables need protection against moisture rings and heat marks
  • Lightweight, easy to move
  • Chairs usually easy to stack
  • Resists moisture, rotting, cracking
  • Salt water not a threat
  • Resists fading
  • May contain recycled content
  • Can blow around easily in strong winds
  • Inexpensive pieces may look cheap or flimsy
Cast Aluminum
  • Resembles wrought iron yet easier to move and maintain
  • Stays cooler than wrought iron
  • Low maintenance annual soap and water cleaning
  • Wont corrode, rust, or fade
  • Higher-end sets can be costly
  • Lower-priced sets might not be quite as durable store inside during the winter
Rattan and wicker
  • Synthetic versions are fairly weather-resistant
  • Synthetic versions available in wide range of colors
  • Synthetic versions can be washed with soap and water and left to dry
  • High-end synthetics are usually UV-resistant; wont fade or crack
  • Natural fibers are not as hardy as synthetics
Wrought iron
  • Elegant and timeless
  • Newer pieces usually powder-coated to resist rust and chipping
  • Wont blow around in strong winds
  • Difficult to move
  • Can get very hot in the sun
  • Chairs can be uncomfortable without cushions
  • Older pieces can rust and chip
  • Annual refinishing recommended for older sets

Choosing the perfect outdoor dining set

Where should you shop for outdoor furniture? Fortunately, you can find attractive outdoor furniture everywhere from big box home improvement stores to warehouse club stores to high-end furniture retailers. Let your budget be your guide. To further assist you in the buying process, use these tips from

  • Pay close attention to the height of both the table and the chairs. If the table feels too high or too low >
  • Examine the construction of the table. Is it sturdy, or does it move easily when you push on it? Are screws or other fasteners capped and hidden? If not, are they made from rust-proof stainless steel?
  • Is the finish smooth and uniform all over? Any sharp edges visible?
  • Do the chairs fit comfortably close to the table or do the armrests get in the way?
  • What about the seats? Can you easily slide all the way back or is the angle uncomfortable? Unless youre a riveting storyteller, chances are your guests would rather not eat their meals perched on the edge of their seats.
  • Dont forget about seat cushions. Do the cushions fit the seats appropriately and have plenty of comfy padding? Can the material withstand the elements, or will you need to be extra-diligent about putting them away after every use?

If youll need to purchase cushions, are the seats a standard size and shape? Meaning, will you be able to purchase cushions easily, or will they need to be custom made? Either way, purchasing outdoor cushions can be a pricey proposition. Factor in the added expense.

Need an umb>

Warm sunny days are glorious hellip; unless youre sitting in direct sun trying to enjoy a meal or beverage. The easy solution, of course, is an umb>

  • If your new table is equipped for an umb>
  • Wooden umb>
  • Most metal umb>
  • For durability and longevitys sake, look for umb>
  • To ensure adequate protection from the sun, use the following formula to determine the optimal umb>
  • If your table does not accommodate an umb>

Know your furniture options hellip; and your decking options

As with most significant purchases, a little time spent doing some research will yield much better results.

Of course, if you are researching decking options, check out the advantages of Fiberon composite decking over wood -- especially when it comes to low maintenance and durability. Composite decking has come a long way; you may be surprised by what you learn.

Effective Staging Ideas Can Transform Your Home

Appearance is crucial when selling your home. Making your home look sensational will go a long way in being able to get what you want out of the property. Its here that staging comes into play. But many homeowners arent able to afford the cost of a professional stager. Thankfully, you dont have to turn to a professional. There are a number of things that you can do on your own to transform the look of your home.

1 Pack up your personal items.

Packing up all of your personal effects is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to prep your condo or home for sale. Removing your personal touches will help a potential buyer to see the home as their own. Sometimes your personal items can make that difficult. Pictures, artwork and other decor are more distracting than you realize. Hide them in the basement or a storage space while conducting tours.

2 Get rid of the clutter.

Getting rid of any excess clutter is a great way to get potential buyers to look at your home. Sometimes emotional attachments can make throwing out clutter difficult. Its easy to gather clutter if you have lived in the same home for years. Excess items can have a negative impact on how your potential buyers view your property. De-clutter your home as much as you can to attract more buyers.

3 Rearrange and neutralize your rooms.

Even though you might enjoy the blue walls in your bedroom, that doesnt mean a potential buyer will. Loud or eclectic design elements might make a potential buyer think about all of the work that they have to put into the home. The best thing you can do is to repaint your rooms a neutral color, like white, tan or cream. This will appeal to more buyers and allow them to visualize their own decor in the home.

Consider rearranging the furniture in your rooms to increase their functionality. Think about how to show potential buyers how much they could do with a room. Maximizing space is crucial when selling a home.

4 Eliminate smells and stains by deodorizing and scrubbing your home.

No buyer wants to walk into a home that is dirty and smelly. The best thing you can do is scrub everything from floor to ceiling before having an open house. You dont want any dirt, dust or odors lurking around the home. You want to make sure your property shines as much as you can. Greet buyers with a clean, fresh smell in every room. If youre short on time, hire a cleaning service. A pro will save you time and ensure a spotless home.

5 Replace the hardware around your home.

Most homeowners can afford to replace the hardware around their home. Focus on your doors and kitchen first. Next, make your way through the rest of the home. Swapping out your old hardware with new hardware can make a big difference in how your cabinets and doors look.


In going through the tips above, you can quickly transform the appearance of your home. Even making these small changes can make a major difference in how potential buyers view your home. You dont need to spend a fortune staging your home. Instead, invest some time and effort in making a difference in the way your home looks.

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

Would You Buy A Home From Kanye West?

Among the controversial rapper/artist/fashion designer/pop culture phenoms recent flurry of eyebrow-raising tweets comes this gem: So would you buy a home from Kanye West? You might soon be able to.

The announcement of Yeezy Home was met with a lot of "Huh?" and "What?" and "Why?" but also a fair amount of "Hmmm" and "Wow" and "More info, please." Sohellip;not unlike almost everything else Kanye West does. And thats especially true of his most recent behavior.

He has courted controversy on Twitter yet again with his take about slaveryhellip;namely that it was a choice. The post-tweet backlash was swift as people quickly came out to condemn the idea. Huffington Post said he was "schooled on history" and one longtime fan spoke for many with his emotional letter to Kanye, which was printed by Variety, explaining why he was putting the artists music "on pause" because of the pain his words have inflicted. Kanye also supposedly lost nine million followers in the immediate aftermath, although Twitter says that was "a glitch."

Either way, he still has his fans, his followers, and, certainly, his apologists, and he may soon have a team of architects and industrial designers working with/for him and, presumably, buyers who love the idea of a Kanye-created home.

Why architecture?

But, who are they? And, why architecture? For now, we can more easily answer the second question.

"West first mentioned his interest in pursuing architecture and design in a 2013nbsp;interviewnbsp;with the BBC, said Architectural Digest. "I want to do product, I am a product person, he said. lsquo;Not just clothing but water bottle design, architecture...I make music but I shouldnt be limited to once place of creativity. He went on to explain that he was working with lsquo;five architects at a time to figure out exactly what he wanted. Later that year, he spoke to students at Harvard Universitys Graduate School of Design, telling students, lsquo;I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be architected...I believe that utopia is actually possible - but were led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political."

That Kanye arrogance is nothing new; some might say its even part of his charm. And, he does have an eye. His footwear and appa>

Who are the potential buyers?

Which brings us back to the "Who are they?" question. With so much emotion tied up in the homebuying purchase, anyway, does a home associated with such a polarizing figure crate a barrier right out of the gate? Perhaps not for fans, if they can even afford it. Kanye has expensive taste - his Hidden Hills, CA home with wife Kim Kardashian is said to be worth 60 million, and, although another one of his recent tweets said that the clothing line would be "working with the most genius-level talents and creating product at an affordable price," ArchDaily countered that, "Given the current three-figure price of Wests product line, the tweets are a difficult knot to untie."


So, while not much detail is known at this point about Yeezy Home, one can presume, given his taste in homes, that price points could reach sky-high levels. Which would leave many a fan on the outside.

Kanye and Kims home is gorgeous, if you like minimalism, all-white spaces, and an almost "cathedral-like quality. "The couple worked with renowned Belgian architect Axel Vervoordt, whosenbsp;clientsnbsp;include Robert DeNiro and Calvin Klein, to transform the property," said People. The publication also noted that, "West was nominated for anbsp;prestigious design awardnbsp;in 2017 for his fashion line, Yeezy, and evennbsp;pitched a furniture collaboration to IKEAnbsp;in 2016, though so farnbsp;nothing has come of the proposition."

His love or brutalism could also offer stylistic clues and design inspiration for Yeezy Home. "West also seems to have a penchant for Brutalism - the heavy-handed, much-contested architectural >

The Right Landscaping Can Increase Your Homes Value

Whether youre looking to sell your home or simply improve its overall appearance, consider upgrading the landscape. These six tips will help you utilize landscaping to increase your homes curb appeal:

1. Freshen your mulch

Mulch eventually dulls and blends in with the surrounding plants and shrubs. Adding new mulch doesnt cost very much and can greatly improve the appearance of your flowerbeds.

2. Add potted plants

Container plants allow you to add mobile color to your home. Add attractive containers to your porch, driveway or any other place that company enters your home.

3. Plant shrubs

Make sure to trim existing bushes for a well-manicured appearance. Adding additional shrubs in sparse areas gives your yard a lush look. Shrubs also add privacy to your home and property. For additional springtime appeal, invest in flowering shrubs.

4. Spruce up your porch

Add a porch swing with comfortable, colorful cushions to create an inviting atmosphere. Rocking chairs are another way to add some old-world charm to your home and porch.

5. Plant trees

Even smaller trees have a big impact on the beauty of your property. Plant a few trees that have interesting blooms and trunks, like dogwoods or Japanese maples. Trees also help with your homes energy efficiency by providing cover from the sun and storms.

6. Add landscape lighting

Choose a >Conclusion

Landscaping will enhance the value, enjoyment and appearance of your home. A few fundamental improvements to your yard will help your home entice prospective buyers or keep your family comfortable for years to come.

Pool Maintenance In Your HOA

The climate in many northern states offers limited access to outdoor pool facilities, generally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Many elements such as weather, temperature, rain, sunshine, oils, lotions, sweat, etc., have an influence on water clarity and purity. It is important that regular inspections of the water and mechanical equipment be performed and recorded on a log in compliance with local or state requirements. A regular review of the maintenance and chemical treatment logs, combined with needed preventive maintenance adjustments, will assure a season of uninterrupted fun and enjoyment.

Safety Considerations.

1. There is no substitute for adequate supervision. The "buddy system" is always a good practice. Even good swimmers can drown if they bump their head, become entrapped, or have a medical emergency.

2. Pools are an "attractive nuisance" and most jurisdictions require, at minimum, a four foot fence with a self closing and lockable mechanism on the gate.

3. Pool rules should also be prominently displayed. Rules and regulations can be community specific and should always be board approved.

4. Rescue equipment must be readily accessible and include a ring buoy, life hook and backboard. First aid kits should be visible and nearby.

5. Alcohol consumption should be carefully controlled or prohibited in the pool area.

Pool Chemical Storage.

  • Store in a cool, dry, well ventilated area that is kept locked. Do not leave chemicals sitting in the sun or in an enclosed area in which heat builds up.
  • Keep chemicals separate from each other and from other chemicals. Violent reactions such as explosions, fire or noxious gas production can occur. Never mix chemicals together.
  • Do not stack chemicals containers on top of each other.

6. Always replace lids and caps immediately and firmly after each use.

7. Post Material Safety Data Sheets and emergency information and telephone numbers near by.

8. Never allow smoking around the chemicals; fire or explosion could result.

Facts and Statistics.

  • 75 of drowning victims studied by the Consumer Product Safety Council were between 1 and 2 years old.
  • Drowning incidents involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a telephone. 75 of the victims had been missing for less than five minutes.
  • Child drowning is a silent death; there is ra>Survival for a child or an adult depends on rescuing quickly and restarting the breathing process; seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.

Pools are a great way to socialize with neighbors and friends. Properly maintained and controlled pools can offer many hours of fun and games. Heed these considerations and enjoy

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