Create A Great Accent Wall

Bringing color into your space doesn’t require you to splash paint up everywhere. Sometimes, focusing on just one wall can have even greater impact, or at least allow you to slowly get used to the idea of color before you take the four-wall plunge.

“An accent wall can be a perfect way to break up a large room, to emphasize a particularly great architectural feature, or to instill a sense of the extraordinary in an otherwise completely ordinary space,” said homedit.

So how do you choose a color? And how do you know where to put it? Will it go with your existing stuff, or do you need to redecorate?

“To change only one wall in your room, a good first step is to choose a color that will pair well with your existing wall color,” said Behr. “For instance, if you have soft mocha walls, paint an accent wall in chocolate brown. If your room is painted a neutral color, add a bold color to highlight that area. Opposing colors in the color spectrum work well together, for example a classic combination of cool blue

Home Projects For Your Specific Budget

Going green has been a trending topic over the last decade and will continue to be one of the real estate industry’s most talked about subjects moving forward. Unfortunately, many homeowners feel that improving the environmental friendliness of their home is an expensive and unattainable goal. The reality is that most green improvements actually save you money in the long run. So, as good weather returns and extra money from tax returns arrives, it’s the perfect time to take a fresh look at green home projects you can do now–at different price points that will meet your specific budget.

1. Replace your traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs

The price of LED bulbs has fallen drastically in the last few years, but homeowners can still get sticker-shock at seeing the upfront cost of replacing all their light bulbs (anywhere from $2 to upwards of $30 each). That being said, due to their long life and significantly lower energy use, LED lights have the potential to save homeowners a significant amount of money over the course of their lifespan as well as decrease the overall amount

Helps First Time Buyers Drive Market

Despite rising price houses across Canada and much concern about affordability in hot Ontario and British Columbia markets, young people are still buying homes. The Toronto Real Estate Board reports that just over half of the buyers in the Greater Toronto Area in 2016 were first-timers. The board predicts that percentage will rise this year, even though the price for an average property rose by more than 17 per cent last year.

A new global survey by HSBC says 82 per cent of Canadian millennials expect to buy their first home within the next five years.

“This study challenges the myth that the home ownership dream is dead for millennials — be it in Canada or around the world,” says Larry Tomei, executive vice president at HSBC Canada. “In fact, more than three in 10 Canadian millennials already own their home.”

The HSBC survey found that 37 per cent of millennials homeowners in Canada got financial help from their family — “the Bank of Mom and Dad” — to fund their purchase. Another 21 per cent moved back in with their parents so they could save

Receive Greater Scrutiny

Much has been written — and rightly so — about the plight of homeowners who have made energy-conserving improvements to their homes using financing provided through a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. Frequently, the loans are not understood by the borrowers, and they may represent a loan burden for which the borrower would not traditionally qualify.

What has been needed is adequate disclosure requirements in the PACE loan programs. As hard as it is to imagine, in what many might consider an over-regulated universe, PACE loans — loans based on home equity and secured by senior liens — have had no regulatory body overseeing their originations and no disclosure requirements explaining how they worked.

As a result of Assembly Bill 2693 (Dababneh), which the Governor signed Sept. 25, 2016, and became effective January 1, 2017, California should see some significant changes in this regard.

First of all, AB 2693 imposes specific disclosure requirements on the purveyors of PACE loans. Added to California Streets and Highway Code [don’t ask me why it is there] is section 5898.17. It contains a form for disclosure that covers almost two full pages. It includes the following:

  1. Costs of the products obtained, including labor and installation.
  2. Financing costs, including

Financing Down Payments and Renovations

Whether you’re a professional property developer or a single homeowner, financing your property ambitions comes above all else. Even professional property developers with a proven system of acquiring and renovating homes, condominiums and business properties can run into financing issues.

We’ve examined the benefits of financing a higher down payment, purchasing renovations and the cash financing options available for those of you looking to buy and upgrade your home.

Banks and lenders want low risk scenarios and that ultimately comes down to meeting the required down payment for your mortgage deal, and they’ll give you a better deal if you offer a lower risk scenario. Paying an increased down payment comes with a number of fantastic benefits for your financial future. Here’s a few key benefits, according to Investopedia;

Reduced Mortgage Payments – Because you’ve put more cash up front, your monthly payments will be smaller and more manageable

Lower Interest Rates – Lenders will give you a far improved rate since you’re deemed a lower risk. Expect interest rates to lower significantly upon 20% down payment.

No Mortgage Insurance Fees – If you can’t afford a significant deposit, most

Which One Is Right for You

When you’re ready to get a mortgage, you face a dizzying array of choices: Fixed rate or variable? Points or no points? Mortgage broker or mortgage lender?

That last decision – mortgage broker or mortgage lender – involves a simple but easily misunderstood distinction.

Simply put, a mortgage broker is an independent professional who can shop around to find deals from a variety of lenders. A mortgage lender is represented by a loan officer who can speak only for that institution’s product line.

What does that mean for the borrower? As a practical matter, a mortgage broker can present you loan packages from multiple lenders – for instance, Wells Fargo, Chase and Quicken Loans. The loan officer from Wells Fargo, on the other hand, can pitch only Wells Fargo mortgages.

The advantages of dealing with a lender include reliability and reputation. With a broker, you have greater flexibility. Based on your financial profile, the broker may also line you up with a lender where you’re most likely to qualify for the loan.

When in doubt, comparison shop

So, which one should you use? There’s no clear answer, says Eric Tyson, author of Personal Finance for Dummies and co-author of Mortgages for Dummies.

“I’ve seen people be happy

A Rare Breed Managers

Homeowner association management is one of the most challenging forms of property management there is. In residential, commercial and industrial rental management, there is a revocable agreement that allows the property owner a fair amount of control over the tenant. If the tenant doesn’t live up to the agreement, the owner can terminate the agreement (and vice versa). This is not the case in HOAs which are controlled by the board, governing documents, HOA statutes and property rights.

HOA managers are called on to do everything that a rental property manager is supposed to do plus be an expert at diplomacy, mediation and human psychology. They are often called on to work a full day and then attend night meetings. It is demanding work and those that are good at it are a rare breed indeed.

HOA management companies typically work by contract for a monthly fee. But how is that amount computed? It generally is based on the estimated time it takes to accomplish the tasks outlined in the Management Agreement. There is often an hourly charge for tasks not deemed to be routine.

So what goes into the management fee? There are fixed costs like rent, phones, copier, insurance, computers and

Bring Eco Friendliness Into Your Home

Living green is on the minds of many, but bring up the idea of grey water and composting toilets, and, well, never mind. The great news is there are tons of products and ideas you can use to be kind to the universe without a big compromise.

“According to the United Nations Environment Program, the world generates twenty to fifty million metric tons of electronic waste each year and most of the wastage is caused due to heavy use of electronic appliances,” said Geeknaut. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could replace our gadgets with solar powered counterparts? You can, with this Freeloader Solar Charger.

A portable charge powered by the sun, the Freeloader “is an advanced portable charging system that can power any hand held device anywhere. Once charged, Freeloaders internal battery can power an iPod for 18 hours, a mobile phone for 44 hours, PSP for 2.5 hours and a PDA for 22 hours.”

Outdoor Furniture

A stylish, outdoor dining set that’s eco-friendly? Yep. Bambeco’s “recycled post-consumer HDPE outdoor chairs are constructed with the material from 300 salvaged plastic bottles.”


If you’ve been thinking about an induction cooktop anyway, it pays to take a look at the Nuwave Precision Induction Cooktop. “The NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop

Easily Create That Plush Hotel Bed At Home

We’ve all been there. You come back from vacation all nice and rested only to return to a bed that seemed fine before you left, and now is just a sad reminder of reality. The good news is, while you probably can’t live your life on vacation, you can have a bed that makes you feel like you’re permanently on one. And it’s actually it’s pretty easy to pull off.


1. Go white

When was the last time you saw any color on a hotel room bed? That’s not a coincidence. “Color scheme is of utmost importance,” said Huffington Post. “When Westin hotel designers trial tested their now-famous Heavenly Bed, they noticed a peculiar trend: “The all-white bed created this halo effect,” says Erin Hoover, vice president of design for Westin and Sheraton. “People thought a room had been renovated, even if it was just the bed that had been changed. It had a huge impact.” Hilton and Park Hyatt feature all-white beds in their rooms as well – stick to their color scheme (or lack thereof) to connote ultimate luxury in your bedroom.”

2. Focus on thread count

The sheets on hotel beds feel so sumptuous because the thread count generally starts at about 300. They manage to feel both soft

The Seller Remains In a Property

In a residential real estate transaction, it is not unusual for the seller to want to remain in the property for a few days to a couple of weeks after the closing occurs. This is in no small part due to the fact that savvy sellers (or their savvy agents) know that closing dates are frequently delayed, and that sellers who schedule the movers and the next possession on the basis of a projected closing date, do so at their own peril.

The situation is common enough that, for some years, the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) has produced a form (Seller in Possession Addendum) to facilitate the arrangement. (Writing up such an agreement is not something you would want to leave to an agent.) The form is intended for a short-term occupancy (i.e. less than thirty days). For any longer period, CAR has a more elaborate agreement called Residential Lease After Sale.

The short-term occupancy agreement specifies its term either as a number of calendar days or until a specific date. It also indicates the amount to be charged and provides for a late charge if an outside-of-escrow payment is not timely.

It is specified who shall pay for utilities and the

Accounts Serve No Purpose

Question: Why do we really have to give the lender money, which is held in non-interest bearing accounts, to guarantee we will pay our own taxes and our own insurance policies? Your comments would be appreciated.

Answer: This is a subject on which consumers should make their voices heard in the halls of Congress and in your own State legislatures.

Lenders usually want a borrower to pay what is referred to as “P.I.T.I.” This stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, and if the borrower obtains a loan with equity of less than 20%, the borrower generally has to also pay for private mortgage insurance required by the lender.

The principal and interest portion of the mortgage payment is used to pay the monthly interest which accrues on the loan, and will reduce, ever so slowly, the outstanding principal balance.

But the extra payment for taxes and insurance is generally held by the lender in a non-interest bearing account, and when those real estate taxes and insurance premiums become due, the lender will then make the payment.

On a personal level, I am categorically opposed to any such escrow arrangement.

Consumers — homeowners — fully understand that if they do not pay their real estate taxes,

Shooting for The Moon or Failure to Launch

We saw the commercial during the Super Bowl. The one that explained, “Here’s what we were thinking: What if we did for mortgages what the internet did for buying music, and plane tickets and shoes?” That talked about turning “an intimidating process” into “an easy one.” That said you could get a mortgage on your phone. It was what many called mortgage’s “iPhone moment,” for obvious reasons.

But, a little over a year after that eye-opening – and eyebrow-raising – moment from Rocket Mortgage, the fully digital arm of Quicken Loans, how’s it going?

Pretty well, apparently.

The 3…2…1…launch of Rocket Mortgage resulted in “a traffic spike of ‘thousands of people’ in the minutes following the ad,” said CNN Money. And in the time since? “One year after Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage Super Bowl ad ignited a nationwide conversation about the power of the American homebuyer, the largest FinTech lender funded $7 billion of its record $96 billion in total closed loan volume in 2016 through Rocket Mortgage,” the online lender said. “In just 11 months Rocket Mortgage’s closed volume alone would already rank as a top-30 national mortgage lender, among the nearly 50,000 banks, credit unions, brokers and mortgage companies in the United States.”

That accounted for more than “$7 billion

Features for Taking Outstanding Photos of Homes

You know the value of great-looking listings filled with plenty of gorgeous interior and exterior photos of homes. While this may have called for hiring a professional photographer and/or lugging along a large camera and plenty of equipment to the property, it is now quite possible to take amazing looking photos and videos with your smartphone.

Of course, in order to create eye-catching listings that will increase sales and help sell your clients’ homes for top dollar, it is important that you use your smartphone’s camera to the best of its ability. With that in mind, let’s look at two state-of-the-art smartphones and their impressive array of camera features:

iPhone 7

The Apple iPhone 7 comes equipped with a large number of features that you can use to take stellar photos and videos. The phone features a 12MP wide-angle camera with optical image stabilization that can take regular still photos as well as 4K video recordings. More specifically, the iPhone 7 comes with a built-in telephoto lens that will allow you to get up-close-and-personal shots of a home’s interior and exterior. If you put the phone’s camera into Portrait mode, you can control the depth of the photo’s field, much like you would

Dresser or Vintage Desk

It’s one of Houzz’s deign trends for 2017, and it gives you a chance to express your style, add a character piece to your home, and maybe even save some money at the same time. It’s the bathroom vanity conversion, and it just might inspire you to make a change for the better.

“If you’re having trouble finding the right premanufactured vanity for your home, try thinking outside the cabinet box,” said Houzz. “Many savvy homeowners are finding chests of drawers, old file cabinets, vintage consoles and more, and converting them into one-of-a-kind vanities.

This vintage dresser brings some richness to this bathroom, and it didn’t even need a vanity top. A drop-in sink, a mirror in a similar tone, and some fancy light fixtures finishes the look.

Looking to DIY this project? Get step-by-step instructions here.

“Thinking outside the square can turn up a one-of-a-kind vanity with character and function to boot,” said Forbes. A garage sale discard can be turned into something spectacular with a little ingenuity and elbow grease, plus a scrap piece of marble cut to size.

A simple sink placed on top of this antique table allows all the character of the piece to stand out.

Or, you can make the

Organization to end veteran homelessness

Military Outreach USA, a partner of the Department of Veterans Affairs launched a program to encourage communities to connect with local VA offices and help support homeless veterans and their families.

This program, the Adopt-a-VA program, connects individuals and community organizations such as schools, faith-based groups and businesses with a local VA homeless program case manager at the VA Medical Center in their area to help meet the veterans’ non-medical needs.

“VA remains committed to preventing and ending Veteran homelessness, but we cannot achieve this goal alone,” said Anthony Love, senior advisor and director of community engagement for VHA’s Homeless Programs Office.

“Partnerships are critical to providing the support needed to help veterans exit homelessness, and to identifying local housing and employment opportunities that help them remain stably housed,” Love said. “Military Outreach USA’s Adopt-a-VA program makes it easier than ever for everyone to get involved and support veterans in their communities.”

The VA’s partnership with Military Outreach USA in 2016 led to donations of more than $700,000 for homeless veterans.

“Adopt-a-VA gives those who want to help our Veterans a way to help,” said Joseph Palmer, Military Outreach USA executive director.

Communities will be able to participate in the program by donating household items and

auction sales for all types of real estate

Mortgage Specialists International announced it acquired a majority interest in Oklahoma-based Williams, Williams & McKissick, including its subsidiaries Williams & Williams Auctioneers and online real estate auction destination Auction Network.

MSI, a national property management company, acquired the real estate auction firm to grow its suite of services that includes property inspection, preservation and real estate owned asset management. Additional terms of the deal were not dislcosed.

“After a thorough assessment, MSI determined that this acquisition would be a benefit to both existing and potential clients,” MSI CEO Jim Shivers said. “We’ve expanded our services now to include auction sales for all types of real estate – commercial, residential, luxury, farms and ranches, specialty government and bank-owned.”

MSI is based in Texas, however company president Steve Stallard announced Williams & Williams will remain in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the company performs live and online auctions throughout the country.

The needs of renters are important

The National Association of Realtors drew a line in the sand between homebuyers and investors, but one investor says he’s had enough.

NAR made its stance on investors clear on several occasions: Investors are creating more competition for first-time homebuyers, possibly even keeping them from homeownership.

Back in January, the initial public offering for Blackstone Group’s single-family rental operator, Invitation Homes, became one step closer to reality, as the company disclosed the terms of its initial public offering.

What was unusual about this deal was the fact that it happened with the backing of mortgage giant Fannie Mae, as noted in the Wall Street Journal.

NAR did not wait long to criticize the GSE, sending a letter to Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, according to an article by Lorraine Woellert for POLITICO.

“Rather than focusing on allowing well-qualified Americans to build wealth through affordable mortgages options, Fannie Mae is actively financing large institutions to compete with them,” NAR President William Brown wrote in the letter.

“These investors do not expand the affordable housing stock,” Brown wrote. “Rather, in this limited market they drive up the price of rents and remove affordable inventory from the hands of American homeowners.”

But that was far from the end. In January’s Existing Home Sales report,

Tips for Renting Out Your Home

As Airbnb and other short-term rental sites gain in popularity, property owners are putting more consideration into curating their spaces to cater to guests. Thoughtful design can make a home feel fresh, unique and inviting – qualities that are exceptionally important when your space moonlights as a vacation rental. A little effort can go a long way in making your place hospitable and appealing to prospective renters. Here are a few design elements to be mindful of when getting your home rental-ready.

Planning ahead is key if you’re reconfiguring rooms or designing from scratch. Figure out optimal room layouts by identifying the best features of your home.

Sketch a layout and then map out which areas would ideally be used and for what purposes — think entertaining, movie watching, game night, extra guests, dining or workspace. Give each space or area a job.

Have a great view, beautiful fireplace or cozy nook? Make sure to arrange seating areas that take advantage of it. You’ll also want to consider whom you’re trying to appeal to — your ideal renter. Is it the family on vacation? The person visiting on business? Make sure you can cater to that target audience, whether that means focusing on

Where does your state fall

When it comes to buying a home, buyers often focus on the mortgage payment, down payment or even closing costs, however, there is yet another cost to owning a home that comes after the deed is signed – property taxes.

Some states have relatively low property tax rates, while others can add up to quite a hefty sum. The highest rate is in New Jersey, where homeowners pay a property tax of 2.35% annually.

The average American pays about $2,149 per year in property taxes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, however about $11.8 billion in property taxes go unpaid each year, according to the National Tax Lien Association.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau to show which states charged homeowners the most in property taxes.

This chart ranks the states by applying the state tax rate to the national median home price of $179,000.

However, perhaps a better way to determine the ranking of each state is to apply each state’s property tax rate to its own median home price. Using that data, here are the top 10 states that charge the most in property taxes each year:

Maryland – $3,142

Property tax rate: 1.1%

Median home price: $286,900

Wisconsin – $3,248

Property tax

Benefit Owners Of Historic Properties

Owners and prospective owners of historic California properties would do well to familiarize themselves with the Mills Act. (O.K., O.K. At the outset we acknowledge that some of our friends on the Right Coast, who live in neighborhoods that date back to the 1800’s, might find it amusing that, in California, some houses from the 1940’s are considered “historic.” Just give us a little slack, all right?) Agents also can benefit from having some familiarity with the provisions of the Act.

In short, the Mills Act provides a way whereby owners of designated historic properties may receive significant property tax relief in return for restoring and maintaining their property.

The Mills Act was enacted in 1972. Its provisions are found in sections 50280 — 50290 of the California Government Code and sections 439 — 439.4 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code. The Act has been called “the single most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners.” What it does is to give participating local governments “the authority to enter into contracts with owners of qualified historic properties who actively participate in the restoration and maintenance of their historic properties