U.S. Real Estate News

Real Estate News

Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2017

Light Up Your Home Movie Room by Creating a Star-filled Ceiling

Can you imagine the look on the faces of friends and family when they walk into your home theater room, look up at the ceiling and discover that its covered with twinkling stars from wall to wall?

If youre not afraid of DIY projects involving power tools and if you have the patience it takes to wire up a large ceiling to make this dramatic focal point, youre ready to begin a project that adds a perfect finishing touch to a room youve already fitted with a sound system, flat screen TV, theater seating and creature comforts.

Where to begin? By recruiting an equally-handy friend whos willing to help you get this surprisingly easy-to-accomplish project off the ground, both literally and figuratively. Its going to take time to do this job right, but once youre done, expect to be thrilled every time you walk into your four-star theater.

8 Decisions to make before you begin:

1. Will you cover the entire ceiling with stars, just the center or the periphery?
2. Do you prefer twinkling stars, static ones or will you be just as happy with either?
3. Are you more comfortable using cable or do you prefer to use fiber optic filament?
4. Would you like a sky thats densely crowded with stars or just sprinkled across the ceiling?
5. Will you have to install a dropped ceiling over the current one or do you have access to an attic?
6. Will the illuminator you install to power the stars require a dedicated outlet?
7. Is your ceiling area so large, youll need more than one illuminator to handle your field of stars?
8. Do you have the time and patience to undertake an installation that could run 30 to 40 hours in total?

Finances, kits and options

Your ceiling size determines the amount of money youll spend on your project, but if youre looking for a ballpark figure to decide if its worth your while to undertake this challenge, expect to achieve a 4-to-1-star ratio on the ceiling of a small theater room using 1000-feet of .50mm fiber optic filament and an illuminator this unit provides the light, with or without a twinkle wheel, for about 500.

Make life simple by purchasing a kit that includes the items you need as well as instructions for undertaking this ceiling remodel. Alternatively, hire a contractor to do the job for you using the following suggestions, but this is a time-intensive job, so keep the checkbook near.

Basic instructions

While you can tackle this job on your own, things could get tedious as you methodically drill into your room ceiling from your attic access to thread filament into holes, so a helper can save you time and frustration. Using single strand filament costs less money and theres less waste, too. Follow these steps to do the job:

  • Mark ceiling joist locations with a pencil so you avoid cutting into them when you drill your holes.
  • Use a bright room light to illuminate the ceiling from the floor so those pencil marks are visible.
  • Drill each hole "up" from the theater room rather than down from the attic to avoid ragged holes.
  • Thread a length of continuous thread optical fiber into each hole.
  • Secure each "star" in pace with a drop of epoxy to keep it stationary.
  • Once all fibers are installed and sealed, collect them and attach them to the illuminator.
  • Plug or wire the illuminator to your electrical system, adding a dedicated switch.
  • Make your theater room a "one of a kind" creation

    Finish your home theater room by adding drama worthy of any blockbuster. Assuming youve money left in your movie room budget, go further with your design scheme by adding touches of authenticity. For example, "Architectural Digest" magazine featured an over-the-top movie room design sure to be coveted by movie fans everywhere.

    Designers started with a ceiling filled with twinkling stars and then installed the trappings of a drive-in movie theater, complete with refreshment stand, theater seating that mimics vintage cars and cut-out palm trees that bring Hollywood to mind.

    You may not wish to go to this extreme or plunder your childs college savings to replicate this ultra-cool environment, but you should be prepared for guests who drop by and refuse to leave, even if you cut off their popcorn supply

    Full Story >

    Can You Trust Zillows Home Price Zestimate? In a Word: No.

    I got an email from Zillow last week. Seems my house has gone up in value another 2,000 dollars in the past 30 days. And its going to rise another 3.5 in the next year, according to their Zestimate. Fab

    Except that its just speculation. When it comes to Zillows Zestimates, you have to take the numbers with a grain of salt. Make that a big shake of salt, right over your shoulder. And maybe a stiff drink. And a frank conversation with your real estate agent.

    "Shoppers, sellers and buyers routinely quote Zestimates to realty agents - and to one another - as gauges of market value," said the Los Angeles Times. "If a house for sale has a Zestimate of 350,000, a buyer might challenge the sellers list price of 425,000. Or a seller might demand to know from potential listing brokers why they say a property should sell for just 595,000 when Zillow has it at 685,000. Disparities like these are daily occurrences and, in the words of one realty agent who posted on the industry blog ActiveRain, they are the bane of my existence."

    Are faulty Zillow estimatesirritating, dangerous, somewhere in the middle? It all depends on your personal situation. A real estate investor, a seller in a high-end neighborhood, or an obsessive real estate watcher ahem may be able to brush off a 15,000 error. But for many people across the country, the word of Zillow might as well be the word of God. So, yeah, dangerous.

    Price errors

    Errors in sales prices are one of the issues Investopedia pointed out in its look at Zillows Zestimates.


    "Zillow factors the date and price of the last sale into its estimate, and in some areas, these data make up a big part of the figure. If this information is inaccurate, it can throw off the Zestimate," they said. "And since comparable sales also affect a homes Zestimate, a mistake in one homes sales price record can affect the Zestimates of other homes in the area. The Zestimate also takes into account actualproperty taxespaid, exceptions to taxassessmentsand other publicly available property tax data. Tax assessors property values can be inaccurate, though. The tax assessors database might have a mistake >

    In June, Zillows much-maligned by industry experts, anyway Zestimates got an upgrade with a new algorithm. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff has famously called his companys price estimates, "a good starting point" and copped to a median error rate of approximately 8. With their new algorithm, they say its dropped to 6.1.


    John Wake, an economist and real estate agent from Real Estate Decoded, applied Zillows updated 6.1 margin of error to "Zillows own estimate of the median sale price in the U.S. in May 2016 of229,737and got atypical error of 14,000. He then took a sample city, Denver - a city in which estimates areactually more accuratethan average" - and found "the error spread in 2016 is a lot tighter and more focused on the bullseye of the actual sales price," but that "their Zestimates are scattershot."

    In his example, "aDenver home has a fair market value of 300,000.According to ZillowsZestimate Accuracy Table,10 of their Zestimate priceswere off by more than 20 from the actual sale prices. Half of that 10 are Zestimates that are too high by 20 or more, and half are Zestimates that are too low by 20 or more. That means you have a 5 chance Zillow will give you a Zestimate of 360,000 OR MORE, and a 5 chance Zillow will give you a Zestimate of 240,00 OR LESS.Yikes"

    Missing data

    It gets even more complicated without all the data that gets fed into Zillows algorithm. Limit the available info and the margin for error grows.

    That same email I received included a couple of new listings and info on recent sold homes in the area. Notice anything interesting about these recent sales?

    Yep, no sales prices. Texas is one of about a dozen states without a mandatory price disclosure law, which makes property appraisals challenging and which makes it even more difficult for Zillow to come up with an accurate Zestimate since it eliminates one of their key data points.

    In the case of my home, theyre a good 11,00015,000 high on their sales price estimate. And thats based on my direct knowledge of sales prices in my neighborhoodnot list prices, not tax assessments, and not assumed sales prices based on trends.

    Which brings up another issue that leads to inaccurate estimates. In many neighborhoods, sales trends and prices vary street to street. But Zillows estimates are a one-size-fits-all program. In my masterplan, the building of high-density units on the southern edge of the community a few years back took a bite out of the value of homes on the perimeter streets. Sales of homes with a first-floor master also get a bump here.

    And then theres the fact that this community is also split between two elementary schools. Zillow wouldnt know which one buyers prefer and wouldnt account for a difference in sales price between two otherwise comparable homes. But, people who live here would, and so would the local real estate agents.

    Which only reinforces the importance of working with one, BTW.

    Full Story >

    Maximize Your Listing Price While Minimizing Your Expense

    Its almost spring and in many parts of the country the housing market is already starting to thaw. Some markets like Denver, Seattle, and Portland are red hot. According to the S amp; P Co>

    The Price is Right

    Theres generally two schools of thought in regard to listing price. One philosophy is to list at top price and lower the price progressively until it sells. Sellers who choose this strategy are usually in less of a hurry and more risk averse. A second strategy is to list slightly under expected sales price. These sellers are usually trying to sell faster and hope to bring multiple offers, boosting the final selling price. The latter is, counterintuitively, the better strategy for getting the most money for your home. Heres how to do it:

    Price Under a Typical Search Limit

    If you home is worth 400,000, set your listing price at 399,000. This way, you capture everyone who might be setting their search ranges at 400,000 or less. Like how products are priced at retail stores, psychologically, a price that ends with 99 appears to be a better value. Better yet, such that it deviates from both, such as 397,400 which studies have shown also increase the perception of value.

    Create Demand

    It might seem risky to underprice your home what if your home is worth 400,000, you list for 375,000, and the offers all come in at only 375,000? First, thats your homes actual market worth. Two, if you receive offers you dont like, you can counteroffer or decline them. Listing your home under value creates a psychological sense of urgency. You want buyers to visit your home and become attached enough to put in an offer. If enough people do this at once, you have created a buyer frenzy and increased your chance for multiple offers and escalated prices.

    Use Comprehensive Comparables

    Your agent should create a comparative market analysis of recently sold homes but also those currently active, expired and off-market. What is selling is as important as what is not. According to Zillow, ensure your home is priced within 10 percent of the average home price in your area. If there are few sold comparables nearby, price your home 10 percent under any currently active or expired listings.

    Home Improvements Before Listing

    There are many home improvements that might enhance your homes value, such as putting in an expensive new kitchen or bath, but stick to the lowest cost for the highest possible value. Your goal is to make a positive first impression and sell your home quickly.

    Replace Tired Flooring

    If your carpet is more than five years old, has unsightly stains or is starting to buckle, its time to replace it. You can replace carpet with carpet but todays buyers see more value in hard floors. Buyers with kids or pets tend to prefer engineered floors, bamboo, or cork for their sustainability. One continuous floor of the same material also creates the appearance that the home is bigger, creating an impression your home is worth more.

    Paint, Paint, Paint

    A coat of paint can cover scuff marks and dirt and brighten a room. Did you love flamingo pink for your hallway and forest green in your kitchen? Thats great But chances are buyers wont have your tastes so instead opt for neutral colors such as grays and earth tones when readying your home to sell.

    Revitalize Your Kitchen

    Fully remodeled kitchens are a great return on investment but dont spend the money if you are looking to sell. Instead, paint them with Annie Sloan chalk paint. Chalk paint looks so good the buyers will ba>
    Full Story >

    Condo Renters: A Potential Asset

    Question: We have been renting a condominium unit in a fairly large complex for the last several years, and our current plans are to stay here for several more years. For financial and other personal reasons, we do not want to buy. However, quite frankly we feel that we are second >

    Answer: This is a very touchy and sensitive issue in the condominium community. Many condominium boards of directors have the attitude that owners are good and tenants are bad.

    But people are people.

    I have known many owners who not only do not cooperate with their Association, but indeed are downright destructive. I have known many tenants who take better care of their property than do their counterpart owners.

    Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to a tenant. The general philosophy is that "I bought into this complex, and accordingly I have a greater involvement in protecting my investment."

    However, getting these people to serve on boards of directors, or to participate in the numerous condominium activities is often quite difficult. Apathy is rampant in most condominium associations. There have been many occasions where boards of directors have pleaded with owners to attend an Annual Meeting -- or at least give a proxy -- so that a quorum could be reached.

    Many years ago, there were secondary mortgage market restrictions on the number of tenants that could be living in any condominium community. Generally speaking, if the level of tenants reached 30-40 of the entire membership, lenders would be >

    While these restrictions still apply for newly constructed or newly converted condominiums, for all practical purposes most condominium associations do not have to worry about these rental restrictions, unless the ratio starts to come close to 50 percent.

    Indeed, I believe that even the financial community is beginning to understand that sometimes a tenant can be a better asset to a condominium than an apathetic occupant-owner.

    Any legal question involving condominiums requires an evaluation of the "power source." The highest authority in any jurisdiction is the applicable state condominium law. The condominium laws throughout the country are different, and everyone has to understand the law in which your condominium is located.

    The second level of authority is the Declaration, which is recorded among the Land Records in the city or the county where the property is located. This, in effect, is a document that declares that there is a condominium created, and outlines certain important aspects, including a legal description of the complex. In any condominium, there are three components: general common elements, limited common elements, and individual units. The Declaration attempts to define each of these components.

    The third power source is the Bylaws of the Condominium. In some states these Bylaws are recorded among the Land Records, and in other states they are not. But whether or not they are recorded, the Bylaws spell out the basic operating guidelines under which the Association is to function. Bylaws always provide the requirements for the Board of Directors, and will spell out who can serve on the Board. Here is where the legal authority can be found as to whether or not you can serve on the Board if you are not an owner.

    The Bylaws will also establish the types of committees that are to function in the Condominium Association. For example, one important committee is the architectural control committee. This committee determines whether a unit owner can make improvements or alterations to the exterior of their unit.

    This architectural control committee serves an important function in a condominium. Often, however, it becomes a bottleneck to legitimate and needed improvements within the complex. Indeed, the architectural control committee of many associations has been referred to as the "local KGB."

    Here is a suggestion. If the Bylaws do not require owners to serve on the architectural control committee, this might be a very good place for you to get involved. Because you are not an owner, you do not have any vested interests, nor do you have any ax to grind. The architectural control committee members should be objective and impartial, and it sounds to me as if you meet these tests.

    Additionally, if you have any writing skills, you may be able to assist or edit the community association newsletter. Or if you have any accounting background, you should be able to serve on the finance committee.

    Ask for a meeting with your Board of Directors. Convince them that you are sincere, and truly want to participate in the affairs of the Association. Directors should be able to tap all the resources within the community -- whether they are owners or tenants.

    I cannot promise instant success, but a competent Board of Directors should be willing to jump at this opportunity to get able and interested volunteers.

    Full Story >

    How to Update Your Home on a Dime

    Updates and home renovations are frightening to many homeowners. But improving your home doesnt have to be a daunting task. Here are a few simple projects that will boost the value and looks of your home:

    Try a Fresh Coat of Paint

    Applying a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in the looks of your home. If you have children or rambunctious pets, consider a quick touch-up of nicked or damaged areas.

    Update Your Hardware

    Quality hardware can cost anywhere from 5 to 25 per piece. But, considering the cost of most home improvements, even more expensive hardware can be a bargain. You can update your hardware with >

    Improve Lighting

    Lighting changes the way a room looks and feels. When you want to improve the lighting in your home, focus on adding accent lighting overhead. Lamps, floor lights and even spots on your art and other collectibles can greatly improve a space. Ambient lighting like sconces can add a decorative and useful touch. Task lighting will also improve the usability of your home.

    Go Vintage

    Vintage items, particularly those with a more rustic or lived-in feel, can make a sterile space feel more exciting. Also, many vintage pieces wont cost as much as new or designer lighting options.

    Clear Clutter

    Extra items cluttering your home will detract from its charm and make it difficult to clean. Move excess items to a storage space in the garage or have a yard sale. You might even make money improving your home


    Updating your home can be a costly project. Use these tips to help you improve your home without breaking the bank. Youll be surprised how much better your home can look and feel for just a few bucks.

    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.

    Full Story >

    To Buy Or Not To Buy: Is Now The Time?

    The US Census Bureau recently revealed that the US homeownership rate declined to 62.9, the lowest level reported in 51 years of Census tracking.

    This statistic does not signal impending doom. Since 2006, there has been a decline from peak ownership rates which is attributed in part to responsible lending practices and shifting demographic patterns. What is significant about this statistic is that it can give those intent on homeownership the false impression that they are fighting a losing battle.

    If youre on the non-homeowner side of this statistic, does this spell opportunity for you? With the economy and employment gaining strength, and predicted home-buying demographic shifts, homeownership may start an upward swing.

    If you dont own your own home, you know there are reasons why not. Since my work dictates I challenge the best to become better, I ask you, "How sure are you that those reasons are still valid or insurmountable?"

    Repeatedly, when I speak to audiences about becoming their own futurist and creating strategies to achieve the future of their choice, I frequently meet people - individuals, couples, families, groups - who did not realize that their future could include homeownership.

    Because they did not consider ownership a possibility, they gave up investigating, learning, strategizing, acting, and dreaming to make it happen. So it did not.

    Ask any real estate or financial professional, and they wont hesitate to tell you that home ownership is, ra>

    Any "short cuts" lie in understanding exactly what effort and action are required for the most direct path to ownership success. Thats what real estate professionals are trained to know all about. They understand how to >

    Interview real estate professionals until you find one with the right mix of experience and determination to assist you with your ownership goals.

    Listen and take notes or record when this professional explains your options and how to achieve your ownership goals. If you ask questions, you will also receive details about various ownership options, including cooperatives, condominiums, and other alternatives available in your area and price range. More questions and youll discover how the purchasing process works.

    Consider the full range of neighborhoods and communities within your area. Prices tend to go down the further out you go from city center. With good public transit, moving to the suburbs may not require as many sacrifices as you might think.

    If youd like to own your own home, this may be the right time for action.

    There are a number of ways to increase your purchasing power and bring real estate ownership within reach. The important thing is not to give up on making an effort before you have explored opportunities available to you in this real estate market:

    Interest rates have not risen as dramatically as they are predicted to do in the future. Waiting until rates rise will limit the size of mortgage you qualify for. Mortgage brokers can explain how much youll qualify for and how you may be able to improve that level of financing. When you purchase, aim for the longest term you qualify for without seriously compromising purchasing power. That way youll have years at a rate you can afford while the mortgage debt is declining.

    Debts can reduce the size of mortgage you qualify for, but financial professional advisers can suggest do-able debt-reduction strategies to improve borrowing power.The first step may be reducing the accumulation of new debt by ending discretionary spending like impulse shopping, eating out, and holiday travel.

    The real estate you purchase may become a "financial partner" in achieving ownership. For instance, buying a one or two-unit rental income property may raise your qualifying income by some or all of the rent the rental unit or units would bring in. This financial leverage may also be possible in a non-rental property if you can prove you have boarders who will move in with you, pay rent, and share expenses.

    Uncertainty abounds, but the economy continues to build momentum and job prospects continue to improve. Untapped income opportunities may exist. When was the last time you explored new employment and education opportunities with your current employer or within your community? Having a job that is "just enough" to keep you going can create inertia that defeats your belief that theres more out there for you if you persist.

    Realtytimes.com contains a rich library of articles to answer your questions and help you explore alternatives. Below are a few from my ongoing column "Decisions amp; Communities" that reveal the range of opportunities available to those on the path to homeownership:

    • "Five Core Matching Questions For Buyers"
    • "Home Buyers: Seven Insights Into Confident Decision Making"
    • "Joint Ownership: Proceed with Equal Parts of Creativity and Caution"
    • "New Online Education Empowers Home Buyers"

    As you research ownership ideas and opportunities, stay skeptical. Ask for details and persist until you understand exactly what you and others involved will be responsible for. Beware of anyone promising overnight success or cheaper-than-believable housing. Stick with professionals who have verifiable credentials and proven expertise.

    Since the downturn, youve had years to consider homeownership. Is it time for action before rising interest rates and increasing demographic demand move real estate ownership further out of reach?

    Full Story >

    Summary Of Multiple Offers Will Also Be Useful

    Last weeks column discussed Californias new Summary of Offer form that was designed for listing agents to present to their clients who were likely to be a bit overwhelmed by the standard eight-page offer to purchase. Judging by the emails I received, California is certainly not the only state where such a form would be a useful tool for listing agents and their clients.

    If a single offer to purchase can be difficult for typical sellers to digest, what happens when they receive multiple offers? "Confusion" would be one correct answer to that question. And, by all accounts, theres probably a lot of confusion at play these days, as low-inventory markets continue to generate more than a typical amount of multiple offers.

    It is a good thing, then, that the Standard Forms Advisory Committee of the California Association of REALTORS CAR has also produced a Summary of Multiple Offers form C.A.R. Form SUM-MO.

    The multiple-offer summary is in many respects similar to the single-offer summary. It presents in an easy-to-read table form a side-by-side comparison for up to five different offers. It covers the same eleven terms as the single-offer summary. They are: 1 purchase price, 2 initial deposit, 3 increased deposit, if any, 4 loan amount, 5 close of escrow date, 6 possession date, 7 removal date for loan contingency, 8 for appraisal contingency, and 9 for buyers inspection contingency, 10 sale of buyers property contingency, if any, and 11 whether certain items are included in the sale.

    There is also a place in each offer column to identify the name and firm of the buyers agent.

    Unlike the single-offer summary, the multiple offer comparison is generated enti>

    A listing agent who uses the multiple-offer summary will still need to address some items that, as with the single-offer summary, are not covered in the form. The form does not, for example, address the question of who is to pay for HOA documents and/or transfer fees. Nor does it show if a home warranty policy is being requested.

    The multiple-offer summary form provides a great and convenient start for agents to make comparisons with their clients. But for the comparisons to be complete, they will need to bring some more information to the table.

    California REALTORS can access the Summary of Multiple Offers on Zipforms. Anyone from another state is welcome to contact me for a pdf. sample.

    Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .

    Full Story >

    Top Home Security Tips You Need To Make Your Home Safer Now

    No matter where you live, your age, life stage, the square footage of your floorplan, or type of neighborhood, staying safe at home is a priority for all of us. And you can go out and spend thousands of dollars on security measures or DIY it at all, but the goal is the same: to protect your home, your things, and the people you love.

    Home security is not a one-size-fits-all enterprise, nor is it typically a one-purchase-and-youre-done experience.

    "Think of home security as though youre putting on layers of clothing to protect your body from harsh weather," Jordan Frankel, executive vice president ofGlobal Security Expertssaid on Tech Hive. "Protecting your home from burglary is all about the layers. Because burglars determine their targets through risk vs. reward scenarios, the more security measures you put in place to increase the risk and lessen the reward for would-be intruders, the less likely your home will be viewed as an easy target."

    Whether youre starting from scratch or looking to upgrade or enhance your security measures, here are eight places to start.

    1. Secure the front door

    It seems like a no-brainer to lock your front door and make sure its secure, but, "Roughly33 percent of burglars enter through the front door," said Safewise. Inspect it to make sure the frame is "strong, the hinges are protected, the wood is not hollow, and, if your door has a mail slot, that someone cant reach through it to unlock the door. If your door doesnt have a peephole or a deadbolt, you should install those immediately to help make the door even more secure."


    And if youve just moved in to the house, dont forget to change the locks. Extra keys that may have been floating around prior to you moving in could compromise your safety.

    2. Check the windows, too

    This is another easy-access spot. Safewise notes that, "As many as 23 percent of home burglaries occur through first-story windows." Check the latches, which can degrade over time and fail to protect the windows from opening.

    3. Light it up

    A home thats dark will be more inviting to a potential thief than one that is lit up. We love the BeON Home Protection system, which can be used both inside and out.


    "At first glance, the BeON Home Protection system looks like a trio of odd-looking smart LED bulbs," said Techlicious. Its actually a "sophisticated early warning system for your home, disguised and doubling as smart bulbs. Once you insert the yellow BeON peg module through the bulb and screw them into a standard A21 Edison base lighting fixture, each BeON bulb becomes a listening post that can hear and react to your front door bell ringing or your smoke/CO alarm sounding. When the BeONs hears one of these, the bulbs light up in an automatic or programmed sequence to either make it appear as if youre home to scare off intruders, or light your way to escape potential danger."

    According to BeON, "The system picks up on your natural lighting habits so that theres seamlessly no noticeable difference between you being home and away. Since the goal of the system is preventative security, BeON wants the system to act as a deterrent days in advance, rather than as a reactive security system." You can also " train your BeON bulbs to hear your doorbell, and you can set a sequence of which BeON lights go on in reaction."

    Uplights can give the home some great curb appeal and make it more safe, and motion-activated floodlights are another great theft deterrent. The added advantage of Mpow Solar-Powered Outdoor Motion Sensing Light is that its solar powered, so it wont add to your electric bill or stop functioning in a power outage.


    Rings newFloodlight Cam is "the worlds first and only HD security camera with built-in floodlights, a siren alarm and two-way audio," they said. "Floodlight Cam streams 1080HD video and comes with two 3K lumens LED floodlights, and it starts recording and turns on the lights as soon as it detects motion."

    4. Get to know your neighbors

    Establishing friendships in your neighborhood isnt just great for your social life; it can also help keep you safe. Your neighbors may already know your daily habits what time you come and go, but alerting them to changes like a new job that means youll be leaving earlier and returning later, cleaning crews or landscapers that might have access to the home or yard, and, especially, vacation plans that will leave your home empty for a period of time, is important. That way they can help keep an eye out and be aware of anything that just seems "off."

    5. Get on Nextdoor

    Your local Nextdoor community is not only useful for finding a babysitter or a handyman, but its also a great place to share and learn about security issues like break-ins and car vandalism in your neighborhood. If you know whats going on, you have a better chance of banding together to come up with solutions to get it stopped.

    6. Get it on camera

    Having security cameras outside your front door may not stop a crime from happening although it could deter someone who noticed the camera, but it can help you catch them on the backend by providing footage to police or circulating in your neighborhood.

    Cnet recommends the SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell as one of the their best smart home devices. "With 1080p resolution, SkyBells video quality is terrific, and integrations with Alexa, Nest, and IFTTT help it stand out in an increasingly competitive category," they said. "Free online video storage is a major plus, too."

    7. Get a security system

    Homes without security systems are about three times more likely to be broken into.The Simple Dollar has a thorough list of the best security systems for 2017 broken down by categories like DIY installation, cost, and >


    8. Eliminate hiding spots

    It makes sense that burglars would target homes where they cant be easily seen. If you have tall shrubs or trees up close to the house, that might be you.

    Full Story >

    8 Things You Should Do Before Moving Into A New House

    Moving into a new house? Your task list doesnt end once you pack up your old place - and were not just talking about all the fun unpacking you have ahead of you. Theres a few more things youre going to want to do before you get in and start living it up.

    Change the locks

    It doesnt make you paranoid to want new locks on the doors to your home. It makes you smart. "Who knows how many people have keys to whats now your home? The fix is easy: Its usually a minimum charge for a locksmith to come to the house," said Ron Phipps, principal with Warwick, Rhode Island-based Phipps Realty and past president of the National Association of Realtors, on Bankrate. Phipps advice: Dont just re-key the locks - replace the hardware, too. You get a nice update, plus peace of mind."

    Dont forget to change your garage door opener code, too.

    Do an in-depth tour of the house

    Do you know where the water and gas shut-off valves are? How about the electrical box and water heater? Any idea how to use your sprinkler system? Familiarizing yourself with all the ins and outs of the house and making sure key members of the household are also aware can help avoid disasters.

    Seal off rooms you dont use - or wont be using right away

    The first few months in a new home might be a revelation financially - and not in a good way. Between moving costs, new furniture, any renovations that need to be done, and the cost of turning on all your utilities, youre probably going to want to save a few dollars where you can. Sealing off rooms you wont be using for a while can help lower your heating and cooling costs.

    Meet your neighbors

    Your neighbors may be planning to come by once they see that youve moved in, but think about beating them to it. You never know where you might make a new best friend or find one for your kids, and being friendly and outgoing from the get-go establishes good will.

    Mindful CommUNITY

    At the very least, being able to see a friendly face or two in the neighborhood will help you acclimate - and it wont hurt to have someone point out the neighborhood gossip, tell you which Starbucks makes the best lattes, and help you find the most traffic-free route to the elementary school.

    Join Nextdoor

    Need a babysitter, a dog walker, a handyman, or a recommendation for the best Chinese restaurant in your new neighborhood? Nextdoor will help you find it.

    Clean your carpets

    A thorough cleaning of the home should have been done when the sellers were moving out. In some cases, its stipulated in the contract, and a seller who fails to live up to that aspect is "at risk for a lawsuit," said Realtor.com. But unless specific cleaning tasks are called out, the house may not be as spic-n-span as you want.

    Even if the house looks clean and tidy when you move in, they may have skipped the carpets. A good cleaning can extend their life, improve air quality, and remove allergens.

    Mallary Carpets

    "Little do most of us realize that what we are seeing is only a tiny fraction of the soil that a carpet contains," said the National Carpet Cleaners Association NCCA. "The visible grime we notice is only the tip of the iceberg; up to 85 per cent of the dirt the carpet holds is buried deep within the pile. And when you consider that a carpet can eventually trap its own weight or more in soil - as much as 150 pounds for an average-sized living-room - youll agree its no trivial matter."

    Wipe out drawers and cabinets

    This is another oft-ignored task, and one that could be responsible for leaving germs, or at least crumbs, behind.

    Change your fire alarm batteries

    The U.S.FireAdministration USFA recommends that fire alarm batteries get changed twice a year. Since you probably wont know when the last time this was done, its best to change them when you move in. That way you wont be awakened at 3am by a blaring alarm your third day in the house.

    Full Story >

    A Marketing Program With Heart: A Revolution For Real Estate Agents

    Become a Certified Agent with HeartTM and set yourself apart

    Looking to differentiate yourself from the real estate competition? Who isnt There are thousands upon thousands of marketing ideas that exist for that very purpose. But what if your next great idea had a little more substance to it? Thats the concept behind PinRaises new charitable program for real estate agents, Certified Agent with HeartTM.

    What is PinRaise and how does the program work?

    PinRaise, the company that connects consumers with local businesses and nonprofits, announced its new Agent with HeartTM initiative.

    Now, PinRaise is having an impact on real estate agents, turning them into rock stars in their local community. And all they have to do is donate a small portion of their commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice. Better yet, the real estate agent sets the amount they wish to give and has access the complete Agent with Heart marketing kit, including trademarked logos, digital assets, listing presentation inserts, social media materials, a press >

    The benefits of giving back for real estate agents

    The personal satisfaction of giving back is obviously the most important factor in any charitable exercise - especially considering the number of worthwhile charities and the fact that fundraising is typically the biggest challenge for organizations. But for real estate agents who want to give back, there are some important added benefits, like increased business opportunities, more and repeat clients, and enhanced name recognition and visibility with exposure through enhanced SEO on highly rated websites like Realty Times and PinRaise.

    More Info

    Agents who join the movement are also included in an exclusive agent "wall of fame on PinRaise.com and RealtyTimes.com for enhanced search engine optimization. It also provides homebuyers and sellers yet another way to find an Agent with Heart.

    "Real estate professionals always want to be doing more selling and prospecting, but many dont realize they can do both of those things while giving back to the community," Robert Rosenthal, a spokesperson for VolunteerMatch, a San Francisco nonprofit that matches volunteers with charitable groups, said on Realtor.com.

    For those who want to volunteer in person for an organization, VolunteerMatch is a great resource. One of the main advantages to a program like PinRaises Certified Agent with Heart is that it is a zero-time-commitment method of giving back.

    For more information about how to give back with PinRaise, please visit the website, or search for partner merchants on the Merchants List page. You can also learn more about becoming a PinRaise Business with Heart here. If youre a nonprofit who would like to be involved with PinRaise, please visit the "For Nonprofits" page.

    For more information about how to give back with PinRaise, please visit the website or apply to be a Business with Heart at www.PinRaise.com/Agents. Visit the "For Nonprofits" page for more information about charities.

    Full Story >

    The Third Rule of Home Staging: Add a Splash Of Color

    When it comes to staging a home for sale, the >

    But many homeowners who already have colorful walls or furniture may wonder if its possible to keep some color in their staged home. The answer is absolutely yes. You can maintain - or even add - just a pop of color to create the right amount of personality and >

    Brighten the Living Room

    Throw pillows are easily found and often cost-efficient. On a sofa, theyre a terrific way to add a burst of color. Select throw pillows that complement the sofa and room. You might go for a bright contrast, like royal blue against white, or bright yellow on a beige sofa. Its all right to choose patterned, floral, solid or metallic versions. The key is to look for a color or combination of colors that will add visual interest without taking over the room.

    Photo by Specht Architects - Browse contemporary living room photos

    Color-coordinating your display shelves is another smart and budget-friendly way to infuse your living room with a little color. When editing your bookcase or shelves, try keeping books of the same color or combinations of colors together. You might be surprised how a simple stack of brightly colored red or blue books can transform a shelf or an accent table.

    Photo by Camber Construction - Look for contemporary living room design inspiration

    If the thought of parting with that pair of brightly colored armchairs gives you trouble, rest assured that you might not have to let them go. Once youve given the room a neutral and soothing palette overall, try reinstating that colorful furniture piece or accessory. Perhaps balance it out with a paler counterpart, as with a light-colored throw on a chair, or white books on a colorful table.

    Photo by Jeff Schlarb Design - More contemporary living room photos

    The rule of thumb is that if its a visual distraction, you should remove it. But if your punchy piece complements the space and adds just the right amount of personality, it can stay. A buyer might remember the cool house with the interesting blue velvet ottoman, especially among a sea of all-white homes with nothing memorable about them.

    Photo by TreHus ArchitectsInterior DesignersBuilders - Look for traditional kitchen design inspiration

    Bring a Splash of Color to Your Kitchen

    Look to surfaces such as a countertop, an open shelf or a stovetop as opportunities to add a pop of color here and there in the kitchen. You dont want to introduce clutter, but you could replace necessary items teakettle, dish towel, cookie jar that are neutral with colorful equivalents that tastefully brighten the space.

    Photo by KitchenLab Design
    Full Story >

    The Dos and Donts Of Flipping Houses

    So you want to flip a house, do ya? Who doesnt? The real question is, can you hack it?

    Heres the thing. You can watch Flip or Flop and see that, despite all the drama in every episode disagreement about floors/kitchen/overall spend, unpermitted addition/scary mold situation/ridiculous electrical nightmare thats going to derail the whole thing they still pretty much always make money. And that money is enticing. Obviously.

    Thats why so many people want to do it. The most recent RealtyTrac analysis of this segment of the market shows that "6.6 of all single-family and condo sales in the first quarter of 2016 were flips. Thats up 20 from the previous quarter and 3 year over year. And the number of flippers grew by 8 from the first quarter of 2015," said Fortune.

    But, before you decide to forge ahead, you might want to give yourself a reality check. The Flip or Flop folks were BROKE for a long time after the last market crash before they started to make any money flipping. Like downsizing from a 6,000 per month mortgage to a 700 apartment broke. Weve all seen them maxing out credit cards, borrowing from family, and paying outrageous rates to hard money lenders to get their deals done.

    They make 10,000 per episode now, which is outside of any profit they make on the homes. They flip multiple properties at once, with the knowledge, experience, cash reserves, and network to pull it off successfully. Its their full-time gig, so theyre able to dedicate far more time to the effort than the average "After 6/weekend flipper."


    And then theres the fact that, sometime during all their success building, their marriage unraveled. If youre planning a family flip, keep in mind the stress involved. Thats "Do" number one. Here are several more, and an equal amount of "Donts" to keep you on track if youre still looking to go for it.

    Do: Hire good people - before you flip, not after, so you have your team in place and ready to go when you buy your house. And, also, to help you make smart choices about that purchase. "A smart way to go about your flip is by taking your contractors with you as you first tour the property so they can give you estimates on repairs immediately," said Flipping Virgins host Egypt Sherrod on HGTV. "This way, you are not fishing around for estimates AFTER youve already purchased the property. This cuts down on renovation surprises."

    Dont: Ignore red flags. Water damage, mold, asbestos, foundation issues - they may turn out to be small problems that are >

    Do: Secure your financing ahead of time. Winging it probably wont yield the best results, especially if you dont have a good handle on how much your flip will really cost.

    Dont: Go big the first time out of the gate. That mansion in the gated neighborhood that hasnt been updated since 1972 might seem like a moneymaker, but without a ton of experience, processes that work, and a trusted network, youll probably be in over your head.


    Do: Pay attention to the market. Knowing which cities are best for flipping and keeping up on real estate trends and interest rate news can help make you successful.

    Dont: Just do the bare minimum when more is clearly needed. Everyone whos ever bought a home to flip hopes and prays for one that just needs a fresh coat of paint and some new carpet. Get in, get out, get your money, right? But thats an unlikely reality in many cases. Ignoring really outdated kitchens and baths and obvious defects probably wont yield you the kind of return youre envisioning.

    Do: Pay attention to the neighborhood. That means taking a good look at whats going on there, who lives there, and what the real estate values are. If you cant identify growth potential, it might be best to walk away. Also, you dont want to go super modern in a home that caters to a mostly >

    Dont: Blow your budget on day one. If you get into a bidding war or are trying to buy your first flip at auction, chances are good youll get caught up in the excitement and go over what you planned to spend.

    Do: Price it right. Being too aggressive about pricing can be a downfall for any home for sale. But if you went over budget or over your time schedule and are eager to get your money out of your flip, you may be thinking that a higher sales price will even everything out. Youre spending money every day to carry that home, so it might be smarter to price it a little more competitively and get it sold. Then, you can be on to your next flip

    Dont: Blow your budget on day two, either. Once youve bought your first flip house, you might want to run right out and buy all the pretty materials youve been thinking about. And those can be budget-busters. Stick to the budget youve made by making savvy buys and swapping where necessary. If you see a great flooring deal that saves you 1,000, the best move is to bank that money in case of an emergency or to fatten your profit. But if you want to upgrade to the countertop thats going to be the best fit for the kitchen, you now have the money.

    Do: Know your limits. Planning to tile the whole house yourself? Have you ever tiled a whole house before? Or even a bathroom? No? Overvaluing your skill level and taking on projects youre not qualified for may just leave you frustrated, potentially injured, and probably in need of a professional to ultimately come and clean up your mess. Can you save money by DIYing? Sure. But making smart choices will help things progress smoothly instead of holding them up and costing you more money in the long run.


    Dont: Buy your first flip at auction. "Some auction companies haveopen housesso potential bidders can walk through the properties ahead of time," said Investopedia. But for many auction and foreclosure houses, this isnt true. Buying a property you havent been able to walk through or have an inspection of is always challenging, even for experienced flippers see almost every episode of Flip or Flop where an auction or "as is" foreclosure property is involved.

    Do: Be honest with yourself about costs. "If you calculate a potential flip this way: Buy a house for 100,000, spend 20,000 on improvements, sell it for 150,000 and earn 30,000 profit, you clearly havent done all the math thats needed," said US News. "What about the cost of borrowed money and thecost of selling the house? What if the contractor discovers, once he starts the work, that half the plumbing lines are rotted? What about the cost of insurance, utilities and property taxes while you own the house? You must dig below the surface-level figures to paint a complete and accurate picture of the flipping opportunity. Only then can you determine whether its a sound financial move for you."

    Dont: Get carried away with finishes. Not every house needs a commercial range and marble countertops. Refer back to: Know your neighborhood.

    Do: Be smart about your home criteria. If you know a one-bedroom condo is hard to sell now, itll still be hard to sell after being renovated.

    Full Story >

    PinRaise Extends Nonprofit Movement To Include Real Estate Agents

    Unique program connects agents, local nonprofits and consumers

    PinRaise, the company that connects consumers with local businesses and nonprofits, announced its new Agent with Heart initiative.

    Connecting consumers with real estate agents and nonprofits, with the new Agent with Heartinitiative.

    Under the PinRaise program, local agents and brokers who join the Agent with Heart program agree to donate a portion of their commission to the nonprofit of their clients choice after closing a transaction.

    "Many real estate professionals are passionate about making a difference in their community, and the Agent with Heart movement provides an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way," says Mr. John Giaimo, President of PinRaise. "Our goal is to help agents make an impact with nonprofits in their neighborhood, so everyone benefits from the real estate transaction, including the buyer or seller, the local nonprofit and the agent."

    "Consumers like to do business with people who care," Mr. Giaimo continues. "Thats why you see so many national brands have affiliations with nonprofits. Were giving the same brand advantage to agents and brokers at the hyper-local level. Everyone wins," Mr. Giaimo concludes.

    The Agent with Heart movement provides agents and brokers with valuable marketing materials to differentiate themselves from others. Agents receive a complete marketing kit, including trademarked logos, digital assets, listing presentation inserts, social media materials, a press >

    More Info

    Agents who join the movement are also included in an exclusive agent "wall of fame on PinRaise.com and RealtyTimes.com for enhanced search engine optimization. It also provides homebuyers and sellers yet another way to find an Agent with Heart.

    About PinRaise: The PinRaise app connects consumers with local businesses who agree to donate a small percentage or fixed dollar amount to the nonprofit of the buyers choice, providing recurring revenue for the nonprofit, a differentiator for the local business or real estate professional, and a feel-good story for the consumer. PinRaise is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. You can download PinRaise at the App Store or Google play. For more information, please visit www.PinRaise.com/agents.

    Full Story >

    Home Looking Drab? Boosting Curb Appeal Is Easy And Worth It

    Improving the curb appeal of your home will not only bring a smile to your face when you pull up after a long day, but it will leave you smiling all the way to the closing table. Boosting the exterior aesthetic of your home adds to your enjoyment, but also can dramatically improve the value at resale. By focusing on the three main areas of your homes exterior, youll be proud no matter who is driving by.

    Improving the driveway, garage, and walkway

    In most homes, the driveway and the garage comprise a significant portion of the homes curb appeal, yet they are often overlooked by homeowners. Ensuring your driveway is in good condition and free of weeds will automatically freshen the exterior -- edging your driveway with coordinating stones or pavers can also enhance the appeal.

    Also, take some time to inspect your exterior walkway. Is it in good condition? Does it enhance the other exterior features? Upgrading a walkway with pavers or flagstones is >

    Garage doors can also set the tone for a homes appearance. Consider touching up garage door paint or replacing your door altogether. With a wide variety of materials to choose from, a new garage door can transform your homes exterior. Doors are available in wood, steel, and fiberglass with countless choices in design and color.

    Attending to your homes exterior

    A home with siding and paint in good condition that blends well with the neighborhood and surrounding landscape will offer a more serene experience. Even if your paint is in good condition, consider power washing the exterior to remove dirt and grime that can diminish its appeal. Renting a power washer for the weekend is inexpensive but can reap massive rewards in how your home looks and feels.

    Small changes to the entryway can have a dramatic impact on visitors. Replace broken or rusted lighting fixtures, update door hardware, and embrace symmetry at the entry point. Even the simple act of repainting your front door with a fresh shade can add tremendous appeal. Installing additional lighting along a walkway or dark areas can also enhance these exterior spaces.

    Luscious landscapes

    Landscaping is one of the primary ways to make a dramatic impact on how your home looks. Improvements in landscaping are thought to return about 4 to 5 times your investment when it comes to selling your home. To maximize your time and investment, first, assess what of your existing landscape can be used or improved. Trim overgrown bushes, prune trees and refresh mulch or other ground covering. Peeling back the overgrown exterior can attract some unwanted attention to your home -- consider purchasing home insurance riders to protect any belongings not covered in your policy.

    Adding plant beds to feature climate appropriate plants will help you maintain your landscape with less hassle and will enhance the natural beauty of your lot. Choose annuals to add bright pops of color, either in beds or matching planters at the front of your home.

    Lastly, attend to your lawn. Patch dead areas with sod or seed and ensure you are caring for your lawn using recommended methods -- mow regularly, use fertilizers and weedicides as needed, and make sure your clean up after any pets. Stubborn bare patches can be transformed into unique flower beds or improved with alternative ground cover, such as ivy, in areas where it is too shady for many types of grass.

    With some simple and inexpensive fixes, you can create an exterior that you are not only proud of but that you enjoy spending time in. Not only will this improve your happiness in your home, but it will also reap benefits when youre ready to move someplace new.

    Full Story >

    Create A Natural Habitat In Your Urban Garden

    When its cold and snowy outside in Canada, its nice to dream of spring. For gardeners, its the ideal time to sit back and plan the perfect outdoor space.

    For those who want to make their space wildlife friendly, nows the time to plan for that too. Homeowners dont need large properties in order to help wildlife. Urban gardens can provide the necessities -- elements such as food, water and shelter. Once your wildlife friendly garden is done, you can apply for a certificate to recognize your hard work.

    "By introducing native plants and some strategic design features to your garden, you can provide patches of natural habitat for many species," says Nature Conservancy Canada. "A well-designed backyard can offer birds and pollinators like butterflies more living space, feeding opportunities and the safety of cover from predators. By enhancing and restoring natural elements in your garden, youll make the urban landscape more wildlife friendly."

    Where to begin? The North American Native Plant Society suggests starting small, "maybe even with a single plant." The society recommends a native fern or hedge rather than a hosta for a shady spot. In the northeast, a Redbud or Pagoda Dogwood is an ideal small tree for a city garden. The society also says a native tall grass such as Indian Grass or Big Bluestern is ideal for the back of a sunny border.

    The society offers a list of native plants www.nanps.org/index.php/gardening/native-plants-to-know and a database of plants at naps.com.

    For pollinators, the main thing you can do is to eliminate your use of pesticides, says Seeds of Diversity, which offers a variety of programs such as Pollinator Canada that encourages bee friendly gardening.

    "Secondly, because habitat loss is one of the largest stressors responsible for the decline of our bee-loved pollinators, the next best thing you can do is plant for them. Do what you can. Plant just one species or plant a field. Plant native species or plant species that you know are laden with pollen and nectar," Seeds of Diversity says.

    In order to qualify for certification by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, in addition to providing food, water and shelter, you also need to have at least one plant native to your area and use "earth-friendly gardening practices in maintaining it".

    The federations Backyard Habitat Certification Program "recognizes the amazing efforts Canadians are taking to meet the habitat needs of wildlife, and allows individuals to have their property certified by officially designating their gardens as wildlife friendly."

    Homeowners interested in having their homes certified must send a sketch of the property, at least five photos and a 10 application fee along with a completed application. Once their properties are certified, homeowners are able to purchase a sign to display on their property, the Wildlife Federation says. "Certified properties can raise awareness in their communities of the importance of gardening with wildlife in mind and that it can be done beautifully in any garden >

    Nature Conservancy Canada suggests homeowners consider the types of plants native to their garden, as well as to think about how the garden should look and feel. Other considerations include features such as small ponds with trickling water to attract birds and frogs and brush piles to provide shelter to migrating birds in the spring and fall. Bee, bat, squir>

    Check with your municipality to see if they offer programs. Richmond Hill, Ont. has a Healthy Yards Program that helps homeowners care for their lawn, trees and gardens. It also offers residents a chance to buy subsidized native plant kits and rain bar>

    "Native plant is a term used to describe plants that occur naturally and have existed for many years in a given area," the municipality says. "They are adapted to local climate and soil conditions and therefore require less water and maintenance. They improve local biodiversity by providing habitat and food for birds, mammals and insects."

    Nature Conservancy Canada says, "Contact your local gardening or nature club about plants and invasive species that are known to be of concern in your area and avoid buying them. If they are already present, remove them."

    Full Story >

    Summary Of Offer Will Be A Useful Document To Have

    The standard residential real estate purchase contract in California Residential Purchase Agreement or RPA is eight pages long in a font size that most people would not consider large. It is not a document that is easily assimilated, and most principals, if not their agents, can be excused if their eyes glaze over. Thus it is that listing agents often find themselves called upon to summarize the purchase offers that their clients receive.

    A form that provided a summary of an offer would be a useful tool for an agent to have; and now, thanks to the California Association of REALTORS CAR Standard Forms Advisory Committee, such a form is available. The form -- Summary of Offer RPA, or SUM-RPA -- was >

    The SUM-RPA presents eleven of the central terms of an offer in an easy-to-read, three-column table format: column one -- name of term and paragraph reference; column two -- amount or description; and column three -- additional information. For example, the first row shows the purchase price, the RPA paragraph reference; and whether it is all cash.

    The terms covered in the table are: 1 Purchase Price, 2 initial deposit amount, 3 increased deposit, if any, 4 loan amount, 5 close of escrow, 6 possession date, 7 loan contingency removal date, 8 appraisal contingency removal date, 9 buyers investigation period, 10 buyers sale contingency, if any, and 11 whether certain items are included in the sale.

    Each of these items is automatically included in the SUM-RPA when the purchase agreement is constructed using the standard zipForms electronic platform. Additionally, there is also space for other items and terms to be manually added to the summary form.

    Of course

    some will opine that other items should have been included, and that perhaps some that were included need not be there. Such is life.

    As a matter of brokerage practice, it will no doubt take some time for the SUM-RPA to become widely used. It is a document that would appear to be primarily for the use of a prospective seller. It provides a summary of the offer that has been presented to him/her/them. To be sure, though, a copy for the buyer might also be beneficial. But the SUM-RPA is generated by the buyers agent. Its spaces are populated when the buyers agent fills out the RPA that is to be presented to the seller. How will this summary get into the sellers hands?

    Some buyers agents might just include the summary along with the full RPA that is presented. But they dont have to; and its hard to see for how long, or why, that might become a habit.

    Listing agents who want their sellers to have the summary form have two choices. They can stipulate that a summary must be included with an offer; or they can, upon review of the offer, manually fill one out themselves.

    In any case, listing agents who want their clients to have a SUM-RPA will need to review the document carefully before presenting it. The SUM-RPA does not, for example, provide for the automatic inclusion of terms calling for the seller to pay for such things as home warranty policies and/or HOA documents. Such items can be substantial, and it could be important that they be manually added to the summary. Also, many items that might be asked for in a sale e.g. the dog house, a chandelier, the giant TV, etc. would need to be manually added to the form.

    The new Summary of Offer form is a good idea and many will find it useful. No doubt it will be tweaked and modified as the years go by. Those who want to familiarize themselves with it now can find it on zipForms. Or just ask me to send a copy.

    Full Story >

    Hot Bedroom Trends To Try For 2017

    The bedroom. Its the nest we retreat to at the end of the day. The place we >

    Look to these bedroom trends for 2017 to get you the sumptuous bedroom space you deserve.

    Patterned walls

    Patterns are everywhere today in a variety of applications, but few make the impact of wallpaper. "While 2016 was the year to add bright pastel colors to the walls of your bedroom, the upcoming year welcome backs the designer wallpapers, to adorn the walls of your bedroom with a modish touch, said interior designer and cofounder of Meraki on Design Genie.

    Bring in some needed color, add a graphic pattern for interest, or go all dreamy with something like this de Gournay plum blossom print. Itll definitely transport you to another place - even if only in your dreams.


    Textured walls

    You dont have to have a big, bold pattern on your walls to bring your room into 2017. Texture is all the talk this year. But pass that rustic wood by - its soooo 2016. Instead, try some decorative molding painted in a dramatic hue. "The best way to kick traditional >

    Elle Decor

    Upholstered beds

    The trend thats been around for several years isnt going anywhere yet, although, for a modern look, go for a dramatic shape or size on your headboard. And, dont forget the embellishments. Its all about the tufting and covered buttons.


    Mixing patterns

    Its all about mixing and matching today, but doing so in a way that amps up the >


    Go tropical

    You dont have to live on the coast to push a coastal look at home. This trend has been percolating for a few years, and now there are some great choices to incorporate into your bedroom that can help you to "embrace your adventurous side," said Textile companyKip amp; Co.


    Cerused wood

    Need to pick up a few pieces of bedroom furniture? Look for this hot new finish. "A cerused finish refers to the technique that brings out the unique grain of wood," said House Beautiful. "This trend which has been around in the high end market for some time has finally trickled down and seems universally accepted," Laura Michaels of Get a Room Design told them. "Youll see it on cabinets, but also in bigger pieces like tables, chairs, and storage furniture."


    Full Story >

    Do You Have What It Takes To Go Bold In The Kitchen?

    White kitchens. Theyre everywhere. And dont get us wrong. We looooove a good, crisp, white kitchen, especially when its slathered in marble. But all that white thats become so prevalent in kitchens across the country and around the world has also inspired a bit of a backlash. Or at least a slight rebellion.

    Yes, color is back, and its being showcased in some of todays most stylish kitchens. "Punch upcabinetrywith bright blues and reds, or ground a large space with a soothing gray or bay leaf green," said House Beautiful.

    Do you have the guts to go bold? You might once you see these beautiful options.

    Cobalt Blue

    The deep blue shade brings the drama, but the white Carrera marble counters, oversized subway tile backsplash, and large space keep it feeling airy.

    House Beautiful

    Emerald green

    Emerald green cabinets, a bold, graphic black-and-white tiled floor, and an eye-catching window shape may not be the safe choices, which is exactly why this combination is so outstanding. The lack of upper cabinets keeps the space from feeling closed-in, and the rustic finish on the cabinets brings in an old-world feel.


    Heres another look at emerald green, since its such a trending color. This kitchen uses flat-panel cabinets and complements them with lots of shiny jewelry, in the pendants, fixtures, and knobs. A black marble countertop, Moroccan backsplash tile, and turquoise-topped barstools finish off the chic space.



    Paprika? Yes, the color thats not really red or orange or even brick or terracotta makes a statement in this California home. Mission->

    House Beautiful


    Its a Mondrian painting come to life in this whimsical kitchen. "Bold contrasting colors or muted natural tones will give your kitchen a mid-century modern look and feel," said Riverbend Home.

    Riverbend Home


    This black kitchen is no wallflower. While the white outer countertop and ceiling bring in some contrast, everything else reads dramatic and daring. Shiny black appliances keep the eye moving, and the sexy backsplash provides just the right amount of pattern play.


    Bold backsplashes

    This kitchen is clean and serene, with white cabinets and counters, and a bolder hue on the backsplash subway tile.


    Cement tile is the hottest look in backsplashes today, allowing you to add color and pattern into an otherwise neutral space.

    Photo by Courtney Holland Interiors - Browse transitional kitchen ideas

    Outrageous appliances

    Another option if youre looking to create a killer kitchen without involving your cabinets is to go for a standout appliance. The cabinets here are a custom smoky light gray and the backsplash is something you wont see in everyones home, but its hard to notice anything else with that amazing yellow range in the space.


    Full Story >

    Copyright©2017 Realty Times®.All Rights Reserved

    Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2017

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