U.S. Real Estate News

Real Estate News

Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tax Canadians Housing Wealth, Group Urges

In the lead-up to the federal election this October, an advocacy organization for young people is calling for Canadian political parties to commit to taxing housing wealth.

Generation Squeeze, which describes itself as a ldquo;national research, education and advocacy organization for Canadians in their 20s, 30s and 40srdquo; is calling on all parties to address housing affordability in their platforms by taxing ldquo;housing lottery winnersrdquo; who have benefited from home price appreciation. ldquo;Wersquo;re calling on all parties to adopt a guiding principle of Homes First: because housing should be a place to call home, not a way to get rich,rdquo; says the organization.

ldquo;Going forward, federal policy shouldnrsquo;t encourage owners to expect more wealth from the sale of their home than they put in through principal payments and home renovations, plus inflation,rdquo; says a blog on the Generation Squeeze website. ldquo;We shouldnrsquo;t encourage landlords to expect more income than is warranted by the total cost and ongoing labour of providing a rental home.rdquo;

The group says the rise in home prices, particularly in urban centres in B.C. and Ontario, has outpaced changes to the tax system.

ldquo;For example, annual revenue from municipal property taxation is down 4.4 billion measured as a share of gross domestic product by comparison with 1976, despite the 2.6 trillion in additional net wealth accumulated in principal residences over that same time period.

Similarly, federal estimates show that non-taxation of capital gains from principal residences will cost the federal coffer around 6 billion in 2019, with corresponding losses to provincial coffers as well.rdquo;

Federal politicians have been >

ldquo;As housing values have spiralled out of control, huge new inequalities have been created between renters and owners, and young and old. Our tax system has yet to catch up, which exacerbates housing costs and burdens many of us more than is fair,rdquo; writes Eric Swanson, executive director of Generation Squeeze. ldquo;Thatrsquo;s why Gen Squeeze has been advocating for a tax shift: less tax on local incomes, more tax on speculation and unhealthy housing values, and better investments in young and old alike.

ldquo;B.C. has made the most strides here with its new Speculation and Vacancy Tax, the expanded foreign buyer tax, and increased taxes on homes worth more than 3 million.rdquo;

The organization recently >

It says for housing to become affordable by 2030 where people are spending less than 30 per cent of their pre-tax earnings on housing, average home prices in Canada would need to fall 223,000 ntilde; about half their current value ntilde; or full-time earnings would need to increase to 93,400 per year, which is almost double current levels.

In Metro Vancouver, prices would need to fall by 795,000 or three-quarters of current levels, or earnings would have to quadruple to 200,400 per year. In Toronto, they would have to fall by 523,000 or earnings would need to triple, to 150,000 per year.

The study says it takes a 25 to 34-year-old 13 years to save a 20-per-cent down payment on an average-priced home in Canada, compared to the five years it took back in 1976.

It says affordability has not yet been lost in most of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and in Atlantic Canada except for Halifax, but those provinces are home to less than 10 per cent of the countryrsquo;s population.

Canada must protect housing and residential land ldquo;against egregious uses by money launderers, cheats, speculators and those parking money in empty homes,rdquo; says Swanson.

The taxation proposals form only part of the organizationrsquo;s housing policy. Itrsquo;s also calling for a second phase of the federal governmentrsquo;s National Housing Strategy that would expand from the current focus on social housing to include the entire housing market.

Itrsquo;s calling for a strategy to reduce ldquo;harmful demandrdquo; by ldquo;tracking and restricting global capital flows into local real estate, eliminating hidden ownership, penalizing excessive speculation and lsquo;flippingrsquo;, cracking down on money laundering and fraud, taxing empty homes, restricting and regulating short-term rentals, and holding the line of mortgage stress tests and amortizations.rdquo;

It would increase housing supply by opening up low-density zoning to make room for more housing, with an emphasis on family-sized units and purpose-built rental.

ldquo;Itrsquo;s important to recognize that there is no silver bullet that will solve Canadarsquo;s housing problems,rdquo; says the study. ldquo;Instead, silver buckshot is needed to address these issues across several fronts.rdquo;

Generation Squeeze was founded by Paul Kershaw, a professor in the University of British Columbiarsquo;s School of Population and Public Health.

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Bring the Noise: Why Buying a Home in a Flight Path Could Be a Problem

Thatrsquo;s the bottom line of a new study by Localize.city, which looked at airplane noise in New York City in the context of neighborhoods whose real estate listings may suffer because of the high noise level. ldquo;Specifically, the site looked at areas where noise levels exceeded 55 decibelsmdash;or roughly the equivalent of a television with the sound on low, or conversational speech,rdquo; said the New York Times. ldquo;Anything higher quickly becomes intolerable: Once you get up to 65 decibels, the Federal Aviation Administration FAA has determined, an area may not be suitable for residential use.rdquo;

The information for the report was culled from a 2017 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey noise-impact study, and Port Authority complaint data spanning 2014ndash;2017.

ldquo;With the cityrsquo;s two major airports in Queens, it should come as no surprise that airplane noise was worst in that borough,rdquo; they said. ldquo;In fact, the study found, one in 10 listings is likely to suffer from excessive noise. But itrsquo;s not as simple as proximity to an airportmdash;the more important factor is flight paths, and which neighborhoods are beneath them. In Brookville, just north of Kennedy International Airport, 96 percent of all home listings were in a zone where noise levels topped 70 decibelsmdash;something resembling the sound of a blow dryer or vacuum cleaner.rdquo;

The negative impact of owning a home in a flight path is not a new phenomenon, nor is it >

ldquo;The roar of jet engines has never been a desirable neighborhood feature, which is why homes located near major airports and under low-lying flight paths often sell for a discount,rdquo; said MSN. ldquo;But in 2013, the Federal Aviation Administrationrsquo;s 35.6 billion Next Generation Air Transportation System began implementing changes to flight paths over major metropolitan areas. In some neighborhoods that are >

That has led to growing outrage, and activism. Homeowners in places that are adjacent to an airport and/or directly in a known flight path might not be able to do much to better their situation, but those who have been impacted by changing paths are not sitting around with their headphones on.

ldquo;Impacted residents from wealthy communities such as Roslyn, N.Y., and Georgetown in Washington D.C., are organized, politically active and technologically savvy,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Since 2013, dozens of opposition groups have popped up, including the Scottsdale Coalition for Airplane Noise Abatement and Sky Posse Palo Alto. They are teaching neighbors how to register complaints with airport authorities and lobbying state representatives to make changes.rdquo;

The bipartisan congressional Quiet Skies Caucus was also formed in 2014 to address these issues, and lawsuits have been filed against the FAA in cities like Phoenixmdash;resulting in a change of course literally, with the FAA reverting ldquo;most of the flight paths over Phoenix to where they were before.rdquo;

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7 Reasons to Keep Your Credit Good After Youve Bought a House

Not exactly. While you may have met the goal of homeownership, your credit remains vitally important. Keeping your scores up can benefit you in a number of ways. Here are 7 reasons you should keep your credit good even after yoursquo;ve bought a house.

To furnish your home

Now that yoursquo;ve got that new home, itrsquo;s time to furnish it. If you qualified for a mortgage, therersquo;s a good chance yoursquo;ll also be a good candidate for new store cards. This can be an easy way to spread a large expense over a period of time, but, beware the pitfalls.

ldquo;Store cards or store 0 percent financing deals can enable you to make big-ticket purchases such as furniture, appliances and outdoor fixtures with no interest for several months,rdquo; said CreditCards.com. ldquo;However, many 0 percent deals charge interest on the original purchase amountmdash;often 20 percent or moremdash;if you donrsquo;t pay the entire balance by the end of the promotional period.

Todd Christensen, director of education at Debt Reduction Services, told them: ldquo;A lot of people will just make the minimum payment without thinking, and at the end of 18 months therersquo;s still a 3,000 balance. If they donrsquo;t pay it all off, here comes 25 percent interest back-dated to day one.rdquo;

To save money

The best cards are typically reserved for those with the best credit. If you let your credit dip and you want a new credit card, you still might be able to get onemdash;but yoursquo;re not going to get the best rates. You may also be limited to cards that have a hefty annual fee, which will cost you more money.

For the miles

Cards that offer miles, cash back, or some other perk arenrsquo;t offered to just anyone. If you keep your credit score high enough to snag one, yoursquo;ll love being able to rack up miles to use for travel or apply a cash back bonus to everyday expenses to keep costs down.

For a job

Many employers run your credit as part of the hiring process. Let your credit drop and it could keep you from getting a new job.

To take advantage of falling ratesnbsp;

You never know whatrsquo;s going to happen to interest rates. Maintain your good credit and you may be able to refinance if rates drop.

To stay in your home

Defaulting on credit cards wonrsquo;t affect your ability to stay in your home, but if your credit problems extend to your ability to pay your mortgage, you could be looking at foreclosure.

To buy another home

If yoursquo;ve already bought a home, you know that, in order to get the best loan and interest rate, you need to have a good credit score. You can qualify for some loans with a lower score, but itrsquo;ll cost you. ldquo;According to FICO, a homebuyer with a credit score of 760 or higher could paynbsp;nearly 2,500 less per yearnbsp;on a 210,000, 30-year home loan than someone with a score of 620,rdquo; said CreditCards.com.

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5 Common Mistakes That First Time Home Buyers Commit and How to Avoid Them

Here are five common mistakes that first time home buyers make and how you can avoid them.

Doing It On Your Own

There are some things that you simply need the help of a professional with, and home buying is certainly one of them. Beyond providing help while you navigate the twists and turns during the searching process, realtors can also provide you with valuable resources at a flat rate that end up saving you tons of time, energy, and money in the long run. For instance, instead of scouring Craigslist and other free online platforms for homes that will end up being red flagged or a waste of time, a home buyer in The Sunshine State can utilize the help of a broker to access a flat fee MLS in Florida.

The MLS Multiple Listing Service is an extremely valuable weapon to have at your disposal as a buyer because it allows you to work with who you want, while at the same time, providing you insider access to all the homes that meet your requirements from serious sellers. According to the National Association of Realtors, more than half of recent buyers used the MLS in their search for a new home.

Avoiding Budget Talks Before Shopping

Discussing finances can be an uncomfortable activity for many people, but itrsquo;s so important to have a realistic understanding of where you are financially before you look for a home. Beyond being disappointed by finding the perfect home that you canrsquo;t afford, you can also run into woes down the line if you canrsquo;t put down a serious offer on the table, or even worse if you canrsquo;t afford the house when all the monthly bills start coming in. Buying a home takes some serious work ethic, so make sure yoursquo;ve prepared yourself for future costs and have an honest view of where you are financially before committing.

Not Looking Beyond the House

While you may have found the home of your dreams, it wonrsquo;t mean much if yoursquo;re situated just off of a busy highway or in a lackluster location. It is very important to remember to look at things like walkability, proximity to schools and hospitals, and what the general feel of the neighborhood is like before buying a home. Would you feel safe walking the dogs or taking the kids to school? Are you near a busy intersection that might keep you awake at night? Remember, yoursquo;re not just living in this property for a few months or a year, yoursquo;re buying, and you need to picture what it will be like to wake up in your new home every day. Keep in mind all the things that make you happiest in life, beyond how a home currently looks.

Opening a Line of Credit Before the Sale is Final

Your credit score plays a large role when itrsquo;s time to close the sale on a house. The most critical days are after yoursquo;ve applied for your mortgage and the weeks in between closing your sale and getting the keys. If you apply for another credit card during this downtime, it may affect your credit score negatively, and that is a red flag for mortgage lenders. Sit tight during this process, and make your next big buying decision once yoursquo;ve closed on the house. Nerd Wallet advises you to wait until after closing to open new credit accounts or charge furniture, appliances, or tools to your existing credit cards. Itrsquo;s okay to have those things picked out, but donrsquo;t buy them on credit until you have the keys in hand.

Being Emotional Rather Than Visionary

Being budget conscious doesnrsquo;t always have to mean being bland and boring. If you see a home in a fantastic neighborhood that falls into your price point, but its deacute;cor doesnrsquo;t blow you away on the inside, take a step back and realize its potential rather than its current state. You have total creative control over the interior and exterior of your home unless you have a picky Home Owners Association. If you think the current owners have chosen horrible wallpaper or lighting fixtures, or think the backyard isnrsquo;t being used to its potential, yoursquo;ll have plenty of time to fix it up Another way in which emotions can muck up a home sale is to be too starry-eyed by the interior of a house.

Homeowners will throw down some serious cash to have professionals come and stage their homes with the intent of having you fall in love with their interior design. Keep in mind, this may be done to distract you from some glaring flaws like neighborhood safety or a less-than-desirable location. Approach each home with a level head and an open mind, and you should be able to strike a balance between affordability and ingenuity.

Buying a home is a major decision in everyonersquo;s life, but if yoursquo;re armed with the right tools before you begin your search, then your big decision doesnrsquo;t have to translate into a big headache. Remember, once yoursquo;ve hired a professional, itrsquo;s okay to ask as many questions as you need to, after all, thatrsquo;s what theyrsquo;re paid for Do as much research as you can on the area surrounding your potential new home, and remember to always compare agents when selecting your realtor, as well. Putting in hard work here will save you a good chunk of change down the road in terms of interest rates, commission fees, and even renovation and repair costs after yoursquo;ve purchased your new home. Good luck and happy hunting

Alejandro Herrera is a content writer working for beycome specializing in copywriting, and general blogging. Check out more of his work in the beycome blog to see more articles to help out homebuyers like you.

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USDA Loans- Rural Financing Made Simple

These areas are officially designated by the United States Census Bureau. Every 10 years as the national census is taken, the USDA identifies new areas that qualify for the program. Nearly 97 percent of the entire country is eligible for the program. To find out if a home is in an approved area, you can contact a USDA approved mortgage lender who will research the area and determine whether or not the USDA loan is an option.

An individual canrsquo;t determine whether or not an area qualifies just by looking around. Most likely in an area where there are very few homes, itrsquo;s probably okay. But itrsquo;s your loan officer who can make that determination for you. The USDA loan does not require a down payment and is offered with competitive, 30 year fixed rate terms. There are no adjustable rate options for the USDA program. The USDA loan also provides a guarantee to the lender. Should the loan ever go into default, the lender is compensated for the loss. This compensation is financed with two separate forms of mortgage insurance, an initial premium which is rolled into the final loan amount and an annual premium paid out in monthly installments along with the mortgage payment.

What may be surprising to many however is where the loan can actually be used. The last census was taken nearly 10 years ago. And as suburban areas expand, itrsquo;s possible a USDA loan can be used to finance a property in an area that looks nothing close to being rural. The only other zero down loan is the VA home loan program but that is reserved for veterans and certain members of the military. The USDA loan has no such restrictions regarding membership in a particular group.

In addition to location there are also household income limitations. For most parts of the country the household income limitation for a 1-4 member household is 82,700 and 109,150 for a 5-8 member household, all 18 years or older. Note, this is household income, not the income of those appearing on the loan application. In certain high cost counties, the limits can be as high as 125,700 and 165,900 respectively for 2019.

Applicants will be documented much like any other loan program. To verify income, paystubs covering the most recent 30 day period will be needed along with the last two years of W2 forms. Self-employed borrowers can be expected to provide the last two years of income tax returns along with a year-to-date profit and loss statement. Though there is no down payment needed there will still be standard closing costs. Your loan officer can provide you with a list of estimated fees at your request.

For approved areas the USDA loan is the proper choice. Conventional financing will require recent sales of similar properties in the area, typically no more than one mile away from the subject unit. In rural areas, there are few if any such comparable sales. This is where the USDA program comes into play and designed to finance such properties in approved areas.

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Do Wine Cabinets amp; Cellars Increase the Value of Your Home?

According to Realtor.com, a wine cellar ranks highly among home buyers who have incomes greater than 150,000. In fact, 31 percent of these home buyers listed anbsp;wine cellar as their most desired amenitiesnbsp;when shopping for a home.

The other trend, beyond that of a wine cellar is an in-home wine room where homeowners and guests can store and sip wine at their pleasure. These rooms are climate controlled for optimal wine storage, meaning the temperature is likely between 55 and 65 degrees. They often contain seating, multiple wine cabinets, and various accessories to make enjoying wine more pleasurable.

Not only do wine cellars and wine rooms meet the expectations of many buyers in the high end housing market, homes exceeding 800,000 in value, throughout most of the country, but they offer homeowners an opportunity to add a little ldquo;wowrdquo; factor to their homes.

Some people have taken to using wine cabinets and other wine storage options as showcase piecesnbsp;in their wine cellars. While it is important to make your wine cellar your own so you can enjoy it fully, if yoursquo;re eyeing a higher resale value for your home, then you also want to make it somewhat universally appealing too.

Herersquo;s where things get tricky though. Many people purchase homes with the idea of it being a 10, 20, 30-year or longer investment. If yoursquo;re planning to live in your home, itrsquo;s not just about improving the value of your home for future owners. Itrsquo;s about improving the value of your home for yourself and the needs of your family. If wine brings you pleasure, therersquo;s no reason you shouldnrsquo;t have a wine cellar or a wine room in your home.

In fact, doing so could improve your perceived value of your home and your personal space within your home. It certainly lends elegance to your home, is impressive to your guests, and it allows you to secure and store your wine in a manner that maximizes its flavor and appeal.

The only time it may be in your best interests to avoid adding a wine cellar is if yoursquo;re planning to sell your home soon and it is in a lower price point. While home buyers looking at houses in the middle 500,000 range may appreciate a wine cellar in the home, that isnrsquo;t the practical guarantee it would be at higher price points.


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The Drain Game: Fixing Drain Problems

Signs of trouble

You have to prepared for signs of trouble. The slow-draining bathtub or sink is one of the biggest ones. Experts say you should also pay attention to any gurgling noises coming from your drain. The walls may not be able to talk, but your pipes and drains definitely can. If theyrsquo;re making a noise that seems off, then you need to pay attention.

In extreme scenarios, raw sewage can back up and come out of your sink or tub. No one wants that. If your toilet and shower are located next to each other, the pipes could clog in a way that redirects sewage into your tub. That sounds gross because it is. Ideally, yoursquo;ll want to call a plumber to come over before that happens.

There are times when you can clear your drain on your own, but a raw sewage backup isnrsquo;t one of them. If you have long hair, then yoursquo;re more likely to get hair clogs in the shower. Those can be removed with a drain snake and a bit of hard work. If using a drain snake and pulling up sludgy hair feels gross, look at install a hair catcher in your drain to keep it from getting washed down the pipes in the first place.

Pinpointing drain problems

Older plumbing lines often have more problems than newer lines. Theyrsquo;ve undergone more wear and tear over the years, so it makes sense that they wonrsquo;t be able to handle issues the same way they did 10 or 20 years ago. If you live in an old house with a lot of trees in the backyard, then you should be prepared for the possibility that tree roots are clogging up your drain.

If you never that of that possibility, yoursquo;re not alone. Roots are kind of underground by nature, so you can pass the same pine tree every day and never suspect that it might be wreaking havoc on your drain. The roots can get so tangled up with your pipes that yoursquo;ll need to hire a team of plumbers to come out and perform a professional drain cleaning.

In some cases, plumbers may need to lower a camera into your pipes to get a better idea of whatrsquo;s going on, though. That should not be the first thing they do as soon as they get to your house, though. Instead, they should try more low-tech methods before jumping to a >

If you feel uneasy about their proposed methods, that means you need to ask more questions and get some clarification. A quality plumbing company will be happy to explain the thought process behind whatever theyrsquo;re doing. A shady company will shrug off your questions and ask you to just sign the paperwork. Look for companies that are transparent and pleasant rather than enigmatic and surly.


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Summer Chores for a Happier Home


- Staining your decks/fences should be done during the summer because it takes several days of warm weather to dry out the wood completely. You dont want to put stain down unless you have had several days of consistently warm weather and you also want the weather to stay warm for a few days after putting stain on so that it will dry properly and last longer.


- Exterior painting is the same as staining decks; you do not want rain. You also dont want overly hot weather, so this can be a delicate balance, but warm weather is best so that you can give the paint time to dry.


- New roofs are best to install in the summer. We live in a very raining part of the world, so to avoid having to tarp your roof while replacing the roof, it is best to have this completed in the summer.


- It is best to clean your windows during the summer months because this is the time of year when you notice dirty windows the most and your windows will stay cleaner longer with less rain hitting them. This is also the best time to replace any windows so that you avoid rain damaging the home during the replacement process.


- Gardening should typically be done before summer spring is best however if you havent gotten around to weeding or putting bark done, it can be done in the summer months. This will also help from keeping weeds from popping up as they are likely rapidly growing about this time.


- Driveway resurfacing should also be done in the summer months. Pavement seals best when it is dry and hot both during the day and remaining warmer during the nights. Longer daylight hours also mean that what may have been a two-day job can be completed in one day.


- Sewer line repairs should be done in the summer because its cheaper for them to repair. When sewer lines are replaced during rainy months, the rain turns the dirt to mud and makes the replacement or sewer line repairs more challenging and costly.


- There are also usually a lot of great deals this time of year if you want to add an A/C system. Keep an eye out for companies offering promotions this time of year. A/C repairs, on the other hand, can be much more costly this time of year since companies are busy installing new systems so that you would want to have done before summer.

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5 Steps to Follow After House Fire Damage

By knowing ahead of time what steps you should follow after fire damage has occurred, you will make a traumatic situation a little less stressful. Have your insurance company phone number close by, because you should call them first. Then, get in touch with a fire restoration company, report to the utility companies, find a place to stay, and begin going through and sorting your personal belongings.

Call Your Insurance Company to Discuss Fire Damage

As a homeowner, it is your responsibility, and often a requirement from the bank that you have your mortgage through to keep house insurance on your property. The reason for that is for these situations just like fire damage. The premiums that you pay every month are going to seem like a much better investment when your fire cleanup and restoration gets fully paid for.

So, your first step after the fire department leaves is getting in touch with your insurance agent. Let them know what has happened, and they will give you further directions from there. Every company is different, but they are most likely going to want documentation of everything you can get.

Youll want to have a camera, piece of paper, and ideally, someone else with you while you go around recording all the fire damage, smoke damage, water damage, and other destroyed property that you find. Youll have to be able to share this information with them if you want to get reimbursed for what you lost. Some companies will send out an agent after a disaster to assess the fire damage themselves, but you should always keep your own records too.

Contact a Fire Restoration Company

This is a step that can easily be interchanged with step one. For some, its better to call the fire restoration company first. These professional fire damage contractors have worked with all different kinds of homeowners insurance companies over the years, so they can help you with your evaluation and documentation of the fire and water damage.

If you wait until the second step, thats perfectly acceptable too. Choose one that offers 24/7 emergency fire cleanup services. You arent going to want to wait any longer than necessary to get your fire damage repairs started. The fire damage companies that are open around the clock are the ones that truly understand what a horrific situation youve been through, and they want to be there for you whenever it happens, not just during normal business hours.

Even if youve never been through a fire before or suffered water damage at your home, its a good idea to have a restoration company in your contacts ahead of time. While its not something that you want to worry about happening, its better to prepare yourself just in case it does.

Tell Your Utility Companies About the Fire Damage at Your Property

Depending on the severity of the fire damage that has occurred, you should contact your gas, water, and electric companies and let them know about the event. Before any fire restoration or water damage cleanup can start, they may want to come in and shut off the services for safety reasons.

For things like electrical, you dont want to be cleaning up standing water with live wires around. The results could be catastrophic. You can expect your provider to send out their own contractor to come and do an evaluation. They will be able to quickly tell if you should have your services suspended until the fire damage restoration and water cleanup is completed.

Locate a Safe Place to Stay with Your Family

For minor smoke damage or fire damage, you might be able to stay in your home while the fire restoration process takes place. However, in most instances, youre going to have to >

When talking with your insurance agent, ask them about housing if you cant stay at your residence. A lot of times, there will be a living allowance included in your coverage. You will get a check written practically instantly to cover the cost of food, lodging, and even travel expenses for some. If you dont want to wait until after fire damage has occurred, thats something you can review at any time with your insurance company. They will be able to tell you what kind of coverage you have.

Begin the Fire Cleanup and Restoration Process

Finally, after you have all the above steps taken care of, the fire cleanup and restoration processes are going to begin. Some homeowners will elect a fire damage restoration company to take care of everything from start to finish. Other people want to be on location to watch the progression of their homes smoke cleanup and fire restoration.

It is highly recommended that you at least take part in the fire cleanup process, so you can check your belongings and decide what can be salvaged and what has to be tossed in the garbage. It is an excellent time to get documentation and pictures of what is being lost for your insurance company as well. Many policies will give you a certain amount of money to cover any personal possessions that you lose like televisions, furniture, and clothing.

As long as you choose a trusted fire restoration company, you can leave them to handle this part of the job if it makes you more >

Ramon started over 30 years ago as an insurance adjuster. Since then, he has learned from the best and started his own company and crew of water damage and fire damage restoration contractors to help homeowners and properties when they flood. His company 24/7 Water Damage Charlotte is in the unfortunate position of being located in prime hurricane area and where flooding and storm damage is very frequent. This is his company is ready for any size disaster 24/7 to make sure nearby homeowners get the help they need, when they need it.

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What to Know Before Investing in a Vacation Rental

The Income Potential of Short-Term Rentals

Short-term rentals are a growing segment of the real estate investment market, but are they really a smart investment? It depends.

Investors in cities like Nashville, Asheville, and Anaheim can see annual profits of 20,000 or more on a single short-term rental property. However, investors need to be smart when choosing a location for their purchase. In areas with jumbo home prices, like San Francisco or Santa Monica, rental rates arenrsquo;t high enough to net a profit. The key to vacation rental success is buying in an area with low home prices, low vacancy rates, and high rental demand.

Even within a city, home prices and rental rates vary by neighborhood. Investors should understand what travelers want when booking a short-term rental and work with a real estate agent to find the best area for their purchase.

Financing a Vacation Rental Purchase

Second homes require different financing strategies than primary residences, and financing is complicated further when buying an investment property.

In general, lenders want higher credit scores and larger down payments for vacation properties. You may have purchased your primary residence with as little as 3.5 percent down under an FHA loan, a popular option for first-time buyers without a lot of savings, but you canrsquo;t use it to purchase an investment property. Instead, yoursquo;ll need to apply for a conventional loan.

Down payments for second homes start at 20 percent, but some lenders require more. You can tap into your primary residencersquo;s equity for the down payment via a home equity line of credit or cash-out refinance, but be cautious about putting your home on the line. When possible, cash is king for second home purchases; in fact, 42 percent of vacation rental investors pay cash.

Laws Restricting Short-Term Rentals

Cities are beginning to place restrictions on short-term rentals. Your city may require short-term rental permits, cap the number of short-term rentals, limit where they can operate, or restrict which types of properties can be used as a short-term rental.

Short-term rental laws are highly local and some cities are stricter than others. Before purchasing, familiarize yourself with local laws and any rule changes that are underway. Buying a property that complies with the law protects your ability to earn income from your investment.

Vacation Rental Taxes

Cities also collect taxes on short-term rentals, as do state and federal governments. Cities and states may levy lodging, occupancy, excise, and business taxes, while the IRS taxes rental income earned from your property.

If a property is used as a rental for more than 14 days in a year, property owners must pay taxes on the income, but theyrsquo;re also able to deduct business expenses. Utilities, cleaning and maintenance, furnishings, property management fees, property taxes, and mortgage interest are all eligible business deductions.

When done correctly, vacation rentals are a great investment. Short-term rentals can earn up to three times what a traditional long-term rental makes. And while vacation rental properties cost more to operate, investors who buy in the right location and market their property effectively can net sizable profits from a short-term rental. When yoursquo;re ready to buy, talk to a real estate agent to find a property thatrsquo;s a smart investment for you.

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Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe During Summer

Gate your pool

According to the Center for Disease Control CDC, ldquo;there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings non-boating >

Always watch the swimmers

A pool gate is meant to keep the pool area from being breached. But itrsquo;s equally important to always keep an eye on anyone in or around the pool. Despite the dramatizations we see on TV and in the movies, drowning does not typically involve flailing arms and loud splashing, and itrsquo;s easy to miss the signs. Familiarizing yourself with what it actually looks like and making sure there are always eyes on the swimmers is key.

Check your insurance

Even if yoursquo;ve been ultra-responsible with your homeownerrsquo;s insurance, you may not be totally aware of what ismdash;and is notmdash;covered. ldquo;Ah, summer. Longer days, better weather, and maybe even a little vacation time. Yoursquo;re almost certainly ready we sure are, but is your homeownerrsquo;s insurance policy?,rdquo; asked Kin.rdquo; For example, do you know whether your homeownerrsquo;s policy will protect you if you build a fire pit in your backyard? Now is the time to find out.rdquo;

Yoursquo;ll have to update your insurer if yoursquo;re building a pool, and things like trampolines and outdoor cooking devices may also prompt a review of your coverage.

Keep medications and toxic substances out of sight

Even if you took precautions with all the medications and dangerous substances like cleaning agents in the home when your kids were young, you may have gotten a little lax as theyrsquo;ve grown. But ,new little ones in the house may be curious, and their curiosity could prove deadly.

Put non-slip pads under area rugs

A slip and fall can can be dangerous, and can also cost you financially. Securing rugs with an anti-slip pad can help. Yoursquo;ll also want to make sure that people donrsquo;t walk inside with wet feet, which can cause them to slip and slide.

Check for allergies

So little Jimmy didnrsquo;t tell your husband he was allergic to nuts before he dove into that peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Oops. Making an easily accessible chart of everyonersquo;s allergies and any other medical issues can keep this type of oversight from turning into a medical emergency. It also wouldnrsquo;t hurt to keep an EpiPen on hand.

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How to Make Your Backyard Feel Like a Resort

Multiple seating areas

An area for dining, another for lounging, maybe some seating around the fireplace or fire pitmdash;now you have an outdoor space thatrsquo;s perfect for entertaining, but also useful for every day. Creating a layered backyard will make it more useful, but will also make it feel more luxurious.

Cover it up

You can spend several thousand dollars on a pergola or patio cover, creating a permanent structure that extends your living space. But, a covered outdoor space doesnrsquo;t have to be expensive. Take a cue from resorts and put up a big articulating umb>

Add a bar

Sidle up to this three-piece bar, currently on sale for just 209, and your intimate get-together is now a party. Itrsquo;s also perfect for hanging with the family. Pack an outdoor fridge or cooler with drinks or drink fixinsrsquo; and no one has to go inside and get the floor wet.

Up your barware game

You canrsquo;t have a cool bar without cool barware. Part of the fun of being on vacation is ordering a cocktail, which arrives in a fancy glass. You can replicate that feeling with a visit to Tuesday Morning or HomeGoods or to a site like Wayfair. The best partrdquo; Theyrsquo;re plastic, so you dont have to fear a broken glass situation.

Spring for the good towels

If the towels at the hotel yoursquo;re staying in are old and hole-y, it might be time to find a new hotel Same goes for your towels at home. Plush, oversized towels can make the experience of swimming or lounging so much more enjoyable.

Light it up

Good lighting is key both indoors and out, and that simple patio light probably isnrsquo;t cutting it. Why not string some twinkle lights over your dining table or across the fence? Accentuate an outdoor living room with mood lighting on a tabletop or opt for something wall-mounted. And donrsquo;t forget the task lighting for outdoor kitchens

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Five Opportunities to Supercharge Sales Communication

What could supercharge your sales communication without requiring you to spend big or make big changes?

Do you spend time and money searching for the ldquo;hot new tech or social mediardquo; instead of continually perfecting what you have already invested in?

Overlooked or underestimated room for improving communication effectiveness surrounds real estate professionals.

Prioritize the following Five Opportunities to Supercharge Sales Communication to align with your sales goals and reveal where your untapped room for improvement lies:

1. Listen Instead of Talking

No salesperson listens themselves out of a sale. Talks themselves out, yes. Too many get used to telling their stories and forget to listen to those of prospects and clients. Professionals who know a lot about real estate can always think of something to say, but random chatting is not effective professional sales communication. Increased use of email and texting, can leave professionals distracted and intent on responding quickly, not being strategic.

The opportunity=talk less, listen more.

Do you periodically record your presentations and client conversations to confirm what value you add and to learn what you miss? After years on the job, you can fall into conversational habits instead of remaining sharply conscious of what you ask about, say, and respond to. During accelerated exchanges through email and texts, do you concentrate on thinking ahead to anticipate challenges and seize opportunity for your clients and yourself?

2. Questions Sharpen The Sales Edge

Is it the prospectrsquo;s and clientrsquo;s job to know what they need? Often buyers, especially first-time buyers, are not fully aware which property features or benefits will best deliver on their needs and dreams. They ra>

The opportunity=tell less, ask more.

You understand the importance of asking questions to demonstrate your genuine interest in serving buyer and seller needs. Do you prepare questions and query sequences in advance to achieve specific communication goals during the sales process? Remember, you know what is coming next, but the sales process may be a surprise to buyers and sellers. Questions are not only information gathering tools, but opportunities to help prospects and clients increase their awareness of why and how they make decisions. Ask a wide variety of questions to learn exactly what will attract or repel buyers. What realities about what a buyer or seller wants versus the market realities facing them, will they need your help adjusting to?

3. Anticipate Objections amp; Build Rapport

When preparing a listing contract or an offer to purchase, what potential objections from the seller or buyer are you considering? Real estate is a very popular ldquo;media star,rdquo; where everyone seems aware of and at ease with real estate transactions. Some real estate professionals overlook the fact that individual buyers or sellers can be nervous about signing a binding contract or may have little experience with large financial decisions. In hot markets, professionals may be swept up in the competition, so they brush aside client uncertainty and >

The opportunity=anticipate resistance and prepare

When resistance increases, are you aware of whatrsquo;s not working for the seller or buyer? Whether expressed or not, objections persist to undermine real estate decisions. Instead of dodging resistance, have you honed your communication skills to draw out client fears and objections, so they can be dealt with effectively and without pressure? From first contact, do you work to build rapport and establish your fiduciary role to help prospects and clients feel comfortable voicing any and all concerns to you? Which buying and selling objections do you anticipate and deliberately prepare for to ensure prospect or client hesitation is replaced with clarity, confidence, and intention?

4. Identify The Decision Making Process

In a hot market, when there may not be time for a second or third viewing or time for a lawyer to review the buyerrsquo;s offer, professionals may have to scramble to keep the deal on track when faced with fulfilling last-minute requests. Down-to-the-wire requirements for a >

The opportunity= Identify the decision makers.

Learn, in advance, who you are dealing with. Ask who, ultimately, is or are making the decisions. Clarify how many others must be involved in the sales processndash;who must view the property and who must approve or sign any offer or contract involved. At the start, and while explaining why, confirm the signing process and everybody involvedndash;including their contact information, location, and availability during offer time. If others must view the property, attempt to include them in initial showings to save time and ensure everyone has the same real estate experience for evaluating ldquo;the best buy.rdquo; Further prepare by asking yourself ldquo;what ifhellip;?rdquo; questions, that will also reduce surprises and impress clients with your think-ahead professionalism. Keep track of your objection-handling strategiesndash;successes and failuresndash;to always be prepared.

5. Ask For The Offer

When I was just out of university and knew nothing about real estate, I wanted to buy an income property. The real estate professional took me out to see properties. A few I said I liked. One I said I loved and wanted to see again. I was never asked to make an offer, so I bought nothing with that real estate professional. This experience did catalyze my interest in communication though. Real estate professionals can get so caught up in not being high pressure and in showing homes that they forget what they are paid to do: get the offer.

The opportunity=ask for the offer or the listing.

Buyers and sellers can be naturally subject to what I call informed inertia. They know more than they did when they met you, but not enough that they feel driven to take the frightening next step of making an offer or signing a listing. How do you take them from informed inertia to informed action? What are the approaches you have developed for asking for the offer in a manner and >

Prioritize these five opportunities in line with your strengths and weaknesses. You may decide to improve on what you do well or to dig into areas that need more attention.

Eventually, branch out to supercharge your entire sales process and your complete listing procedure.

Donrsquo;t just chase whatrsquo;s new. Continually invest in what yoursquo;re good
at to become a supercharged communicator.

Also available: PJrsquo;s Whatrsquo;s Your Point?nbsp;Blog.

Full Story >

The Refi Boom Goes Bombastic

ldquo;Mortgage applications surged an impressive 26.8 WoWmdash;the largest jump since Jan 2015mdash;led by a massive spike in refis as mortgage rates tumbled alongside the Treasury market. 30-year rates ldquo;dropped back below 4.00mdash;the lowest since Jan 2018,rdquo; said Zerohedge.

So whatrsquo;s all the hubbub about? There are a few other key pieces of data at play:

bull; Refinances jumped 47 for the week last week and and are up 97 for the year.
bull; Mortgage volume rose by 41 over the same week a year ago.
bull; Real estate purchases also rose, by 10.

In fact, for the week of June 13, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is averaging 3.82. ldquo;Nearly halfway through the year, the popular product has managed a weekly increase only six times,rdquo; said MarketWatch. ldquo;It now stands at about a two-year low. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.26, down from 3.28. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.51, down 1 basis point.rdquo;

That has led to a cavalcade of refinances by savvy homeowners and investors who are paying attention to the market and falling ratesmdash;and/or who have a good lender whorsquo;s reaching out to customers when they have a unique chance to save some money.

ldquo;Consumers saw an opportunityhellip;and took it mdash; in a big way,rdquo; said CNBC. ldquo;Will rates stay this low or move even lower? Impossible to predict, but there are definite signals.rdquo; Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily, told them, ldquo;Wersquo;re in a consolidation phase now where markets are coming to terms with the longer-term move lower that began in late 2018. The next move will depend on how economic data evolves and whether there are any more trade policy bombshells.rdquo;

The Federal reserve was expected to raise interest rates several times this year, and many experts thought mortgage rates would follow. ldquo;Markets and some analysts now predict that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year,rdquo; said MarketWatch.nbsp;In addition, ldquo;Demand for home loans has been so robust that mortgage lender profit margins turned positive for the first time in nearly three years.rdquo;

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Advise and Consent: Business Advisors in the Real Estate Industry

Which is to say the real estate industry is in the midst of ldquo;tech-tonicrdquo; change: a shift above ground as great as any movement below; as serious, economically, as the costliest collision of tectonic plates, because the quake that will strikemdash;the Big Onemdash;will be more fiscally disruptive than physically destructive.

Its epicenter is within the ethereal realm of technology: everywhere yet elusive just the same, because there is no one location for the algorithms that govern electronic commerce, including real estate advertising, sales, and the rankings of individual agents or brokers.

Without the help of a business advisor, who can interpret data, there is only one interpretation about the near future of the real estate industry: passivity. That is, technological change is so conclusive, its casualties so clear, one cannot help but conclude that inaction is inexcusable.

According to Nick Chini, Managing Partner of Bainbridge, technology is at the forefront of the rise of smart cities, innovations in urban planning, and the development of various commercial real estate projects.

In turn, the role of a business advisor is to avoid generalities. To abjure restating the obvious, albeit in the vernacular of white papers and PowerPoint presentations, and offer real, measurable value.

By value, I mean a straightforward answer. An answer based on the wisdom of a particular advisor. An answer based on that advisorrsquo;s analysis of intelligence, with the aid of artificial intelligence AI, so he may extrapolate from what technology shows but does not tell: a course of action about where to invest, or when not to invest, thanks to that advisorrsquo;s ability to read what few can ba>

Make room for that business advisor.

Include a team of similar advisors, since the real estate industry will need these people.

The real estate industry needs people with the independence to speak truth to power. To go beyond the power to compute. To have the power to do what no computer can do on its own: persuade.

A business advisor must persuade an executive to act, not for the sake of doing something in lieu of nothing, but for reasons of prudence.

The evidence is in the rationale behind a recommendation, complemented by an advisorrsquo;s appeal to facts instead of feelings. The evidence makes it easier for an advisor to be persuasive, provided his argument is direct, his directive unambiguous, his position unequivocal.

A business advisor of that sort deserves a spotmdash;an important onemdash;in the real estate industry of today, and tomorrow, because now is the time to prepare for the changes described above.

Full Story >

How Essential Oils Can Help You Sell Your Home

You want to make sure that your home is clean and that you have not just put out a deodorizing smell. If you put out a bunch of scented candles or plug-ins, a potential buyer might think you are masking a smell or they might not like the scent at all. In some cases, the smell may be so overpowering it distracts the people from being able to make a decision on the home.

Cleaning Your Home

The very first thing you want to do is clean the entire home from top to bottom. Make sure that you get every nook and cranny to ensure that there are no smells. If you hate cleaning, get the whole family involved. Ask them to help you clean the entire house to help you get it ready for sale. If you have trouble getting your family to help, consider using whatever reward necessary to help them get the house clean. Cleaning the house will help the overall smell of the home.

While you are cleaning your home, it is important that you use a simple fragrance. Using more than one fragrance can actually be unpleasant and overpowering. Using a cleaner with an essential oil not only helps to clean your home, but will also help with the smell. Here are some of the essential oils that you should use. Below are some ideas of essential oils that you may want to consider using for your home.


Citrus essential oils like lemon essential oil and orange essential create a pleasant smell that will last throughout your house. These oils also have a disinfecting quality that can help rid your home of bacteria that might cause smells.


Essential oils herbs cause an inviting smell in the home. Consider diffusing the essential oils of basil, thyme, and rosemary. This smell will create a warm environment for potential buyers.

Pine and cedar.

Pine and cedar create a warm environment for guests. You can use this essential oil to clean your home as well as diffuse when you have potential buyers looking at your home.

Green tea.

A mix of essential oils from green tea can help to restore harmony in your home and refresh the mind. This scent can give buyers clarity about whether or not they want to purchase your property.


This essential oil gives your home that warm cozy feel. People will be more attracted to a home that smells cozy and sweet. This fragrance is best to use in a diffuser, and can be mixed with other essential oil to bring in a fresh scent.

Consider adding these essential oils to your cleaning routine as well as diffusing them or using candles created with them throughout your home. You want to make sure that your house is clean and smells nice for when a potential buyer comes to visit. There are many options when it comes to essential oils so make sure that you take your time and find the one that most benefits your home. Remember to make sure that is not too overpowering as overpowering fragrances can make a person not want to purchase your home.

Full Story >

4 Steps for Finding the Perfect Home

Moving is one of the most stressful things that you will need to do. It puts pressure on you, your spouse, and your children as you all try to find something that fits with each personrsquo;s expectations. You also have to consider the location of the new home, the size of the home, the size of the outdoor area, and the quality of the neighborhood. With all of these things that you need to consider, sometimes finding a house can seem like itrsquo;s impossible. The good news is that if you focus on these 4 main things, finding your home will be a whole lot easier.

1. Define Your ldquo;Perfectrdquo; Home

Get every in your family together and talk about what your perfect home would be. Your kids might want to have a big backyard and you want it to be close to your childrenrsquo;s school. If therersquo;s a room size that yoursquo;re looking for, make sure that you write that down as well. You want your list to cover everything that you need. Itrsquo;s also important to figure out what you need and what you want. For example, if your kids are big swimmers you might want to look at houses that have custom pools. However, this might not be something that you need in the house since a pool can be an easy addition to afterward. You need to realize which things can be compromised and which things cannot. Then, once yoursquo;ve defined what your perfect home is, give the list of needed things to your real estate agent and theyrsquo;ll be able to locate houses that fit the criteria much easier.

2. Stay in the Budget

You might find a home that fits everything that you want, but itrsquo;s out of the budget. Now, you have a choice. You can abandon the budget and get the house, or find something that sticks within the price range. This piece of advice comes from years of experience--always choose to stick with the budget. You will only regret spending more than you were planning on spending and it will create financial stress in your future. It might take longer, but you need to find something that actually works with the money that yoursquo;ve set aside for buying a house. If you do, you will be a happier family with less financial stress on your shoulders.

3. Think About Remodeling

Remodeling is always an option. Letrsquo;s say that you find a house that is perfectly in your budget maybe even a little cheaper but it has one fewer room or the layout of the house isnrsquo;t what you were hoping for. Donrsquo;t just pass up the house. You might want to factor in the cost of remodeling the house and if thatrsquo;s still in your budget, this might just be your dream house after all. Itrsquo;s perfectly fine to remodel aspects of your home right after you buy it. Again, just make sure that remodeling isnrsquo;t going to push you outside of your budget.

4. Picture Your Family in the Home

Your family is the reason why yoursquo;re moving. Maybe your old home was getting too small for a family thatrsquo;s always growing. Or, maybe yoursquo;re moving to a location that has better schools for your children. Sometimes, people move because they were offered a better job that will help them to better care for their family. Most of the time, the move is fueled by the desire to have a better location for the family. Because of that, the family should be at the heart of the home. Can you image your family happily living in the home? If no, then you should keep looking. If yes, then this might be the home for you.

Just make sure that your family is happy with the choice. Encourage your children to be apart of the move as well so that they know that their voices are valued in these big decisions.


Full Story >

Top Tips for Repatriation

Whether you were hoping to stay or glad to leave, itrsquo;s important to try and make repatriation to your point of origin as painless as it can be. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider before you go, from bureaucracy and paperwork to dealing with goodbyes.

Plan your timeline

Yoursquo;ve already done at least one international >

Be prepared for as many eventualities as possible by starting your planning as far ahead as you can, and sitting down to make notes on what needs doing and when. Donrsquo;t just think about packing, flights and logistics ndash; be sure to factor in time for your farewells.

Dinners with close friends, farewell drinks and simple emails about your departure for those you arenrsquo;t as close to are all things to consider. If you have children in tow, prioritise their wellbeing and make time to organise farewells to their friends too.nbsp;

Your repatriation timeline should include everything from check-out days to immunisations, which brings us on to the next point.

Know the protocols

Itrsquo;s the least fun part of any move, but itrsquo;s crucial to understand any paperwork, laws and legislation around your repatriation. How much notice do you need to give at work, if any, and to your landlord? How far ahead do you need to organise the cut-off date for your household bills, and is an international forwarding address enough?

Depending on where yoursquo;re heading back to, you may also need proof of certain up-to-date immunisations in order to return easily, and you may no longer be entitled to things like national health insurance if yoursquo;ve lived abroad for several years. Find out about any periods for which you will not be entitled to healthcare or other public services, and ensure that your international health insurance plan continues on your return until this period ends.

Other things to watch out for are the weight limits for your flight luggage, or restrictions on shipped items. If you have any pets, theyrsquo;re going to need a passport of their own ndash; and itrsquo;s likely yoursquo;ll need to pay substantial fees for their flights and quarantine before they can finish their own journey on the other side.

Be financially ready

On that note, itrsquo;s also advisable to be really thorough with checking your finances when committing to a repatriation. The cost of >

The cost of living in your home country may well be very different to your expat home, and changes in the economy and inflation can mean that things are more expensive than you remember. If yoursquo;re returning to a particular job, or are negotiating a new role for your return, be certain of how far the salary will go and any areas where you need to save or can afford to splurge.

If you still have a bank account open in your point of origin then this is one less thing to take care of, but if your lack of local address has meant that you no longer have a local account, setting one up should be on your to-do list too. If you bank with an international bank like HSBC, transferring your account should be >

Capture memories

Something thatrsquo;s easy to forget in the rush and multi-tasking of an international move, is the simple act of taking photos, or storing other kinds of memories. Once yoursquo;ve lived somewhere for a few years, the idea of taking photos of your day to day life might seem a bit odd. But when yoursquo;re looking back at your expat experience in another ten yearsrsquo; time, simple things like photos of your home and of places yoursquo;ve visited can become cherished items.

In the run up to leaving, capture everything. Friends and family, favourite spots, local foods, anything that sparks a little joy. One of the sad truths of expat life is that unlike the goodbyes you say when you leave your original home, which are said knowing you will likely see the recipients again, often a goodbye to other expat friends really is a final goodbye.

Living a global life>

Understand what may have changed

Last, but not least, be ready for the things that may have changed since you last lived at your starting point. From people and >

Just as you will have changed and grown as a result of your time away, know that returning back to where you started from is not the same as having never left. See repatriation as another new chapter in your adventure, only this time in more familiar territory.

Full Story >

Copyright©2019 Realty Times®.All Rights Reserved

Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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