U.S. Real Estate News

Real Estate News

Updated: Saturday, February 16, 2019

Working With Professional Real Estate Agents

License Required

State licensing law requires anyone acting as a broker or salesperson to first obtain a real estate license this involves taking real estate >

Common examples of violations would be a misrepresentation, false advertising, undisclosed dual agency, secret profits, and commingling of client monies.

An agent is one who represents another, called the principal, in dealings with third persons. The best way to create an agency is using an express written contract, although agency can also be created after the fact through "ratification" by the principal of the agents acts.

The agent owes the principal fiduciary duties of good faith, full disclosure, confidentiality, obedience, accounting, and the exercise of reasonable skill and care.

An agency >

A listing is a written employment contract in which the owner authorizes a broker to deal with prospective buyers on behalf of the owner. The listing is a personal service contract that can neither be recorded nor assigned. The amount of commission is negotiable between owner and agent.

The main types of listings are the exclusive listings, open listings, and net listings. The Multiple Listing Service MLS is an organized "pooling" of listings by broker members.

The listing agent represents the seller; in some cases, the listing agent may offer to represent the buyer as well in what is called a dual agency. In other cases, the buyer may decide to retain the services of a buyers broker to represent the buyer exclusively in most cases, the buyers broker will be paid from an authorized commission split with the listing broker.

Key Words in a Real Estate Transaction

AGENCY- A >

AGENT- One who is authorized to represent and to act on behalf of another person called the principal. A real estate broker is the agent of his client, be it the seller or buyer, to whom he owes a fiduciary obligation. A salesperson is the agent of the broker and does not have a direct personal contractual >

ATTORNEY-IN-FACT- One who is authorized by another to act in his place under a power of attorney.

BROKER- One who acts as an intermediary between parties to a transaction. A real estate broker is a properly licensed person who, for a valuable consideration, serves as an agent to others to facilitate the sale or lease of real property.

BROKERAGE- That aspect of the real estate business that is concerned with bringing together the parties and completing a real estate transaction. Brokerage involves exchanges, rentals, trade-ins, and management of the property, as well as sales.

CODE OF ETHICS- A written system of standards of ethical conduct. The Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors, first written in 1913, establishes the high standards of conduct for members of the Realtor community.

COMMINGLING- To mingle or mix; for example, to deposit client funds in the brokers personal or general account. A licensee found guilty of commingling can have the license suspended or revoked by the Real Estate Commission.

COOPERATING BROKER- A broker who joins with another broker in the sale of real property; sometimes called the selling broker.

COURTESY TO BROKERS- The practice of sharing commissions with cooperating brokers.

DEFERRED COMMISSIONS- Commissions that are earned but not yet fully paid.

DUAL AGENCY- Representing both principals buyer and seller to a transaction.

EXCLUSIVE AGENCY- A written listing agreement giving one agent the right to sell the property for a specified time, but reserving to the owner the right to sell the property himself without payment of any commission.

EXCLUSIVE LISTING- A written listing of real property in which the seller agrees to appoint only one broker to sell the property for a specified period of time. The two types of exclusive listings are the exclusive agency and the exclusive right to sell.

EXTENDER CLAUSE- A "carry over" clause referred to as a safety clause contained in a listing provides that a broker is still entitled to a commission for a set of period of time after the listing has expired if the property is sold to a former prospect of the broker.

FARM AREA- A selected geographical area or one specific building to which a real estate salesperson devotes special attention and study.

FIDUCIARY- A >

FINDERS FEE- A fee paid to someone for producing a buyer to purchase or a seller to list property; also called a referral fee.

GENERAL AGENT- One who is authorized to perform any and all acts associated with the continued operation of a particular job or a certain business.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR- One who is retained to perform a certain act, but who is subject to the control and direction of another only as to the end result and not as how he performs the act. The critical feature, and what distinguishes an independent contractor from an employee or agent, is the right to control.

LICENSEE- A person who has a valid license. A real estate licensee can be a salesperson or a broker, active or inactive, an individual, a corporation, or a partnership.

LISTING- A written employment agreement between a property owner and a broker authorizing the broker to find a buyer or a tenant for certain real property.

OFFICE EXCLUSIVE- A listing in which the seller refuses to submit the listing to Multiple Listing Service, even after being informed of the advantages of MLS, and signs a certification to that effect.

OPEN HOUSE- The common real estate practice of showing a listed home to the public during established hours, frequently on Sunday afternoons.

OPEN LISTING- A listing given to any number of brokers. The first broker who secures a buyer ready, willing and able to purchase at the terms of the listing is the one who earns the commission.

OVERRIDE- A commission paid to managerial personnel e.g., the principal broker on sales made by their subordinates, usually calculated as a percentage of the gross sales commissions earned by the salesperson.

POCKET LISTING- A listing which is retained by the listing broker or salesperson, who does not make it available to other brokers in the office or to other Multiple Listing Service members.

POWER OF ATTORNEY- A written instrument authorizing a person the attorney-in-fact to act as the agent on behalf of another to the extent indicated in the instrument.

PRINCIPAL BROKER- The licensed broker directly in charge of and responsible for the real estate operations conducted by a brokerage company.

PROCURING CAUSE- That effort which brings about the desired result, as in producing the buyer for the listed property.

REALTOR- A registered word which may only be used by an active real estate broker who is a member of the state and local real estate board affiliated with the National Association of Realtors. The use of the name REALTOR and the distinctive seal in advertising is strictly governed by the rules and regulations of the National Assn. of REALTORSreg;.


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HOA Volunteer Pheromones

Develop a communication system.

A frequent complaint of members is not being kept informed. To draw out volunteers, itrsquo;s critical that they know whatrsquo;s going on. Also, some members develop a suspicious nature about board motives when kept in the dark. Suspicion breeds volunteer resistance. The board should strive to do business transparently. Let them know what yoursquo;re up to early and often A newsletter and flyer distribution box the kind used by real estate agents is an inexpensive and convenient way to get the word out. Email is free.

Give credit where credit is due.

People love recognition.

Make sure that directors, committee members and volunteers are given formal recognition for their efforts at meetings, in the minutes and newsletters...every opportunity where there is an audience. Seek out particular members that show superior abilities. Award certificates of achievement at the annual meeting.

Provide social opportunities.

People tend to want to help those that they know personally. However, many are shy and donrsquo;t make friends easily. The HOA can promote several social events each year to facilitate the process. Consider a spring clean-up party, pool party or just plain old potluck. It will help create real "community".

Assign real jobs to do.

Itrsquo;s been said, "A committee takes minutes and wastes hours." There is nothing more frustrating than a job with no substance. There is real work to do at each homeowner association. Directors and committee members should have clear marching orders detailing exactly what the objectives are, the time frame and the money available to help get the task done.

Get organized.

Have meetings scheduled well in advance. Have a proper agenda, run the meeting in a businesslike way and limit your meetings to two hours. Save cocktails, if any, until after the meeting to avoid endless rambling meetings which are a real turnoff to successful people the kind you want as volunteers. Your meetings should be decision oriented so things get done.

Be an encourager.

It is incumbent on the board to take the lead in promoting volunteers. The successful leader motivates by persuasion and not authority. A servant leader does not lower himself but elevates others.

Since common scents donrsquo;t work with humans like they do in the animal world, use common sense by making the volunteer position too attractive to resist....like a moth to a flame.

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


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Why You Should Just Say No to FSBO

Well therersquo;s an oversimplification. While we await a follow-up sometime NEVER saying the home has been sold, without a Realtor and for asking price, we thought it was a good time to examine again why itrsquo;s not a good idea to try to sell your own home. It just so happens that the National Association of Realtorsrsquo; NAR 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers was just >Data from the report shows:

The number of homes sold by owner decreased in 2018 to ldquo;the lowest share recorded since this report started in 1981.rdquo; Just seven percent of home sales were logged as an FSBO. This is likely due to: fewer homes being listed FSBO overall; and homes listed FSBO not selling and ending up, ultimately, with agent representation.

ldquo;The median age for FSBO sellers is 55 years.rdquo; Could this be a factor of people thinking they have enough life experience and knowledge to play real estate agent?

ldquo;Seventy-one percent of FSBO sales were by married couples that have a median household income of 98,800.rdquo; Regardless of marital status or income, itrsquo;s not a stretch to say that those who opt to try to sell their own home are doing so to try to save some money.

However, ldquo;FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of 200,000 last year up from 190,000 the year prior, and signicantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at 264,900.rdquo; While itrsquo;s not possible to make a straight-up comparison between the 200,000 and 264,900 number, that is a GLARING difference.

The report nbsp;also showed that among the ldquo;most difficult tasks for FSBO sellersrdquo; were ldquo;getting the right price,rdquo; at 17.rdquo; This makes sense considering agents have access to comparables, historical data, and a network of other real estate professionals to provide pricing counsel and context, whereas sellers havehellip;Zillow.


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How to Find a Living Space That Works for Your Disability

According to a US Census Bureau report, 12.6 percent of non-institutionalized Americans were living with a disability in 2015. While your situation is a unique one that requires special attention, you are certainly not alone. However, the average home might not be the right dwelling for you. Instead of staying in a place thatrsquo;s not suited to your life>

Finding Your Next Home

With the Internet serving as a haven for home listings, a world of options is at your fingertips. Just about every home listing site has a search feature that allows you to filter results for accessible housing. Try searching ldquo;handicap accessrdquo; or ldquo;disability accessrdquo; to see whatrsquo;s on the market and which house offers the best features. Since each individual has unique needs, you might not find a house that has everything to accommodate your life, but you might find something close. It could help to find a home that was lived in or designed by someone with a similar condition as yours. The more similar your condition and impairments, the less yoursquo;ll need to modify.

Preparations

Before you move into your new home and start making modifications, prepare your new home for your arrival. Safety should always be the top priority. Secure your home by having your locks changed. An online search tool can help you find a trustworthy locksmith, along with other vendors for various jobs around the house. Hire a cleaning crew to deep clean the place of toxins and allergens, especially if you suffer from a condition that can be triggered by poor indoor air quality. Find a flooring company to rip out the carpets and replace them with non-slip floors, such as laminate, vinyl, hardwood, and ceramic tile. Other modifications can be made once yoursquo;re living in the home, but these things are easier to handle when the house is empty.

Buy a Home and Modify It

Sometimes, you canrsquo;t find a dream home that features the accessibility you need, but you can turn your dream home or your current one into an accessible home with a little work. If yoursquo;re unable to climb stairs, the main thing to avoid is having a second floor; thankfully, therersquo;s no shortage of single-story homes on the market. Some houses come with small steps leading from one room to the next or at the entrances, but a ramp can alleviate the difficulty of getting up and down the stairs.

Wider doorways can make it easier for you to get around, as will an open floor plan. Aim for fewer hallways and walls so that there are fewer obstacles to navigate around. To make daily living easier and safer, look into design modifications such as grab bars in the bathroom and a walk-in shower with a bench instead of a step-in tub.

It may seem overwhelming to embark on a big move, but itrsquo;s manageable with the right resources and a reasonable plan. Recruit some help from family or friends, and start making those moves. Whether yoursquo;re disabled and require accessible accommodations or yoursquo;re simply in need of a change, your new home awaits.


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Can Experian Boost Turn You into a Homebuyer?

ldquo;The first thing most lenders look at when you want to buy a home is your credit history. Most people have traditional lines of credit such as credit cards, auto loans or a current mortgage that form a track record of how they manage debt,rdquo; said NerdWallet. ldquo;But if you have no credit history or whatrsquo;s sometimes called a nontraditional credit history, which is one with no credit card debt or other kinds of loans, it might be harder to establish a set of credit stats. That could make it tough to find a mortgage lender who will work with you.rdquo;

A just-launched program from Experian intends to help would-be buyers become better qualified. Called Experian Boost, the free, online platform allows consumers to ldquo;instantly influence their credit scoresrdquo; by using data from telephone and utility payments. ldquo;Itrsquo;s a first of its kind program designed to give more consumers access to credit,rdquo; said Experian.

How it works is: consumers grant permission to Experian Boost ldquo;to connect to their online bank accounts to identify and access utility and telecommunications payments,rdquo; per the companys >

ldquo;The amount a consumerrsquo;s score will be boosted depends on many factors, including current credit history,rdquo; Rod Griffin, Director of Consumer Education for Experian, told us. ldquo;Ultimately, the mortgage lender will make the final approval decision. The new self-reported accounts, or trades, will flow through the tri-bureau process for mortgage underwriting, giving lenders the view of new trades that were not visible before Experian Boost.rdquo;

According to the company, those with ldquo;thin credit files less than five trade lines and scores between 580 to 669 will benefit the most from Experian Boost.rdquo; Testing of the platform on a sample FICO reg; Scores showed an increase in two of three credit bureau scores and:

bull; ldquo;10 of thin-file consumers became scoreable
bull; For consumers with a score below 680, 75 saw an improvement in their credit score
bull; 14 of consumers with a credit score at or below 579 moved to a near prime score between 620 ndash; 679
bull; Depending on credit tier, 5-15 moved into a better score categoryrdquo;

The benefit to homebuyers is twofold: 1 Those who may not have been able to qualify for a home loan otherwise may end up with scores that are high enough to satisfy lenders; 2 A lower interest rate may be available for those who previously had subprime scores. This can save them tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. ldquo;According to Credit Builders Alliance, having a subprime credit score will cost the average consumer approximately 200,000 more over the course of their life,rdquo; they said.

You can sign up for Experian Boost on their website.


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Your VA Loan the Second Time Around

Yet just checking that box isnrsquo;t enough for a lender to verify the applicant is eligible for this special program. Instead, the lender contacts the VA directly the borrower can but it takes too much time and asks for eligibility. This eligibility is verified by receiving a copy of the applicantrsquo;s Certificate of Eligibility.

The certificate is received almost momentarily after the request. The interesting part of this process is how much eligibility the applicant has. For someone that has never used their VA entitlement to buy a home, that individual will have full entitlement. But the certificate will show the entitlement amount is 36,000.

Thatrsquo;s not much, is it? However, because there is a 25 guarantee to the lender, the maximum VA loan amount is four times 36,000, or 144,000. Still, thatrsquo;s much lower than what many want to borrow. In 2019 for example the maximum VA loan limit is the same as the conventional one. In most parts of the country, that amount is 484,450 for a single family home. So, whatrsquo;s the point of the certificate?

Guidelines have changed over the years and today, VA loan limits match conforming ones, regardless of what the eligibility certificate says. If a veteran buys a property and finances 300,000 with a VA loan, that uses up all of the eligibility. Stay with me here.

Now letrsquo;s say a veteran sees a house for 80,000 and uses the VA loan. The 25 guarantee would be 20,000. If you subtract that from the original 36,000, that leaves 16,000. Four times that is 64,000. Again, not many properties would fall into that category. However, that is possible and any remaining entitlement would be listed at 16,000 on the certificate. But this is only an issue if the borrower keeps the existing home and buys another. In that scenario, the VA loan isnrsquo;t an option and full entitlement canrsquo;t be restored.

Instead, the veteran can sell the existing home which would restore the original entitlement and use the VA loan once again. The VA home loan benefit is not a one-time deal. It can be used again. One final note, when using the VA loan the second time around, let your lender help at the outset to make sure there wonrsquo;t be any entitlement amount issues as your loan is being processed.


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HGTV is Bringing Us a New Breakup-Inspired Design Show, and We Cant Wait

ldquo;The share of homebuyers in the U.S. who are single women has been steadily increasing over the last several decades and is now at an all-time high,rdquo; said WTOP. Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Veritas Urbis Economics, told WTOP that, ldquo;In the early 1980s, it was about 9 percent. Itrsquo;s about 19 percent now, so almost one-fifth of all homebuyers in the U.S. are single women, and thatrsquo;s a significant jump.rdquo; The overall ldquo;share of homebuyers made up of single-person households, men and women, has increased from 15.3 percent in 1981 to 21.2 percent in 2017,rdquo; said WTOP.

But what if yoursquo;re already a homeowner who finds yourself single after having shared the home with the person who is now your ex. If you are willing and able to hold on to the home, you likely donrsquo;t want to it to look and feel the same. Keeping a home after a split may be necessary for financial reasons or to keep the kids in their schools, but that doesnt make it easy, especially if there are memories literally around every corner.

ldquo;Thatrsquo;s where HGTVrsquo;s new series Unspouse My House comes in,rdquo; said HGTV. ldquo;In this new renovation series, designer and self-proclaimed breakup artist Orlando Soria works with newly single clients to completely overhaul their homes and heal their lonely hearts along the way.rdquo;

File this under, ldquo;Why didnt we think of that?rdquo;

While single folks are sprinkled into HGTVrsquo;s programming, its popular House Hunters series is typically dependent on the friction created by a couple whose wishes are diametrically opposed Him: ldquo;I like mid-century modern and clean lines with no fluff.rdquo; Her: ldquo;I like Victorian architecture with lots of built-ins where I can display my hundreds of collectibles.rdquo; This is the first time the channel has specifically targeted this kind of demographic.

ldquo;The concept of Unspouse My House is totally different than anything wersquo;ve done before on HGTV,rdquo; said Loren Ruch, senior vice president, programming, projects and specials for HGTV in the announcement for the show. ldquo;Orlando Soria is an established designer whose online fans love his humorous, lighthearted take on home design. We believe the series will be a fun new addition to the HGTV lineup next year.rdquo;

No details yet on exactly when the show is going to premier in 2019 or exactly how it will be formatted, but we can tell you this:

bull; Per the >bull; Participate will need to provide the budget.
bull; Unlike so many shows that shoot in Canada, this one is based in Los Angeles, so, listen up, L.A. recently-single folks

Also, we checked out Soriarsquo;s Instagram and his work with Homepolish and we are feeling his casual, contemporary vibe. We also love the super-realness of his blog, like on this post from 2017 that he titled, ldquo;My Life Burnt to the Ground So Irsquo;m Building a New Onerdquo; in which he muses on having lost his job and being dumped at the same time. And now he has a design show about recovering from being dumped. Life, right?


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Using Independent Contractors

Our legal documents require our Board approve an expenditure before it is incurred. For this reason, I am asking you 1 Do you think that the board should proceed with a legal opinion of our procedure for hiring contractors to work on our Common Element? 2 Can you give us an estimate of the cost that we would incur for you to proceed with this matter? Jimmy.

Answer: Jimmy. Thanks for asking for my assistance, but I do not mix my column writing with my legal practice. I am competent community association attorney in your area to assist you ndash; if you really need such assistance.

Frankly, I donrsquo;t think you have to spend any money on a legal opinion. It is ldquo;condo 101" ndash; or for that matter ldquo;common sense 101" ndash; that when anyone hires a contractor, he/she/it must be licensed in your state and must have proof of insurance.

The associationrsquo;s insurance agent ndash; who handles your master policy ndash; should be able to provide you with the guidance you need to protect the association, including all board members.

And when you hire a contractor, for jobs over an amount ndash; say 3000 ndash; a written contract must be entered into. Too many contractors use what I call the ldquo;two page specialrdquo;; it spells out a price, gives little detail as to the scope of work, and states that the association or the homeowner will be responsible for attorneys fees should they default in payment.

Thatrsquo;s not adequate. Good contracts can be obtained from the American Institute of Architects AIA.org. They should contain, at a minimum, 1 exactly what work will be done, 2 when it will start and when it is projected to be completed, 3 how payments will be made, 4 what rights do you have if the contractor is in default, and 5 should you litigate or arbitrate if there is a dispute -2- and in either situation, the prevailing party will be entitled to attorneys fees and costs.nbsp;


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Agency Mess Report: Are You Doing Enough?

When intent on delivering real estate services rated ldquo;excellent,rdquo; itrsquo;s not only what goes right that counts.

How you explain what you do and what clients can expect from you is an essential and valuable part of excellence.

What term do you use to describe and define your level of expertise and service delivery? If you donrsquo;t continually raise the service bar, what will stop yours from sliding down to ldquo;ordinaryrdquo; or lower?

Customers and clients expect consistent, committed professionalism from those who are licensed to trade real estate and who want to be well-paid for this service. On the other hand, real estate professionals expect to be paid to put buyersrsquo; and sellersrsquo; money and financial security at risk on their professional ldquo;say-so.rdquo; That is what licensed real estate professionals do, right?

ldquo;The Agency Mess,rdquo; a recent report by the Consumer Federation of America CFA, calls for state officials to improve and enforce agency law and to undertake a prohibition of dual agency, which is a situation where buyer and seller are represented by the same agent.

Do yourself a favor and read the 14-page ldquo;The Agency Mess: Home Buyer and Seller Confusion and Costs >

Three key misconceptions contribute to the Agency Mess and revolve around three vital questions that consumers must have clear answers to before launching into buying or selling:

1. Who is each real estate professional involved working for?

According to the reportrsquo;s author Stephen Brobeck, a CFA senior fellow researcher: ldquo;Today, many home buyers and sellers do not know whether their agent is representing their interests, those of the other party, or those of neither. Given the huge expenditure of a home purchase and the conflict of financial interests between seller and buyer, it is important that consumers know who their real estate agent is actually representing.rdquo;

Report Results: ldquo;Two-thirds of consumers believe that real estate agents are always or almost always required to represent the interests of the home buyer or seller with whom they are working.rdquo;

Report Solutions: ldquo;The report also includes advice to home buyers and sellers about dealing with a real estate agent. At the outset, both should ask the agent whether that agent will be representing their fiduciary interests, those of the other party in the transaction, or those of neither party as a transactional agent/facilitator. If their agent is not representing their financial interests, buyers and sellers should consider employing the services of an attorney.rdquo;

Business Building Insight: The problem is that ldquo;believe,rdquo; which really means ldquo;assumerdquo; not ldquo;knowrdquo; or ldquo;are positive,rdquo; is where the problem starts and, subsequently, the long-term referral process is undermined. Clear communication of whorsquo;s interests are being served is an important legal responsibility and an essential part of trust-earning sales.

2. Is state law understood and complied with by real estatenbsp;professionals?

ldquo;Every state has a law that requires real estate interests to disclose their >

Report Results: ldquo;The laws define agent roles - agent, subagent, transactional agent, designated agent, dual agent - that most consumers, according to the national survey, say they donrsquo;t understandrdquo;hellip;rdquo;The disclosures have not always been made conscientiously by agents according to past research and CFArsquo;s recent mystery shopper survey of listing agents in many states. These calls revealed that, when the caller asked if they could work with the agent, three-quarters of agents called failed to mention dual agency issues.rdquo;

Report Solutions: ldquo;These roles often do not serve the interests of home buyers or sellers. For example, a subagent working with a buyer owes fiduciary allegiance to the seller. And the term dual agent is an oxymoron. No one agent can represent the fiduciary interests of both buyer and seller. The effectiveness of the laws is diminished by the fact that these disclosures may be only required orally, may not require the use of a standard form, and may not be required at an early stage in the home purchase.rdquo;

Business Building Insight: Compliance is a legal requirement that also opens the door for >

3. How will laws and legal responsibilities be enforced to protect consumers?

ldquo;State officials have made little effort to enforce the disclosure laws. Violations usually only come to light when agent practices are so egregious that they lead to litigation. The ineffectiveness of the disclosure laws has harmed many consumers.rdquo;

Report Results: ldquo;The CFA report urges reforms that would greatly improve the content and timing of disclosures to home buyers and sellers. For example, it recommends that: 1 Dual agency be prohibited, as it is in eight states; 2 There be a clear written and verbal communication from agent to consumer at the first substantive contact about whether the agent will function as a fiduciary agent, a subagent, or transaction agent/facilitator; 3 State real estate commissions work both with consumer and industry representatives to develop an effective disclosure document then enforce its use. If they refuse, state attorneys general should take on this responsibility.rdquo;

Report Solutions: ldquo;These reforms would benefit both consumers and real estate agents,rdquo; noted CFArsquo;s Brobeck. ldquo;More informed home buyers and sellers will make better decisions. They will have a higher regard for, and complain less about, real estate agents. And agents will not face the risks and ethical dilemmas of dual agency and undisclosed subagency.rdquo; Further CFA research, advocacy, and development is planned at the state level.

Business Building Insight: Proactive activity at all levels of the real estate profession and industry will ensure improvements that are practical and beneficial for all parties concerned.

Self-Test: Do you see yourself in any of these CFA examples? Whatnbsp;actions by you ensured no ldquo;agency messrdquo; resulted?

1. Home buyers and sellers who think their subagents or transactional agents are fiduciaries have mistakenly believed that their agent is seeking, respectively, the lowest or highest house price.

2. Home buyers who think subagents are working for them often have disclosed information about their finances and house price ceilings that the subagents are legally required to share with sellers.

3. Home sellers working with fiduciary agents may face pressure to allow dual agency when buyers are interested in working directly with those agents. They may not understand that, under dual agency, their fiduciary interests are no longer being represented. They also may not understand that a [full] 5-6 percent commission captured by one agent usually represents very generous compensation for services rendered.

In real estate, the more you, the real estate professional, understand about the process and the profession, the more you will gain and the less you will lose.

nbsp;

Additional resource: Visit PJ Wadersquo;s blog ldquo;Whatrsquo;s Your Point?rdquo;


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What to Actually Look for When Buying a House

According to studies, 26 of people view their home once before buying it, while 43 viewed the property twice, 21 three times and 11 four or more times, proving that most house buyers feel the need to go back multiple times to make sure the house is right for them.

RubberBond have acknowledged how frustrating this can be, and have come up with a few graphics that outline EVERYTHING you need to consider when buying a home, looking at both the interior and exterior as well as the surrounding area, so you can simply refer to these any time you need to, and hopefully, yoursquo;ll only have to visit a property once to find out everything you need to know before you consider buying.

Exterior

bull; Roof ndash; Age / Flat or Pitched / Missing Tiles
bull; Windows ndash; Double Glazing / Frame Cracks / Condensation
bull; Orientation ndash; Which way does the house face?
bull; Cracks ndash; Bricks / Plaster / Wood
bull; Extensions ndash; Is there any room for developments?
bull; Parking ndash; Garage / Drive / Road Side
bull; Weeds ndash; In particular, Japanese Knot Weed

Interior

bull; Attic ndash; Access / Space / Could it be improved?
bull; Power Points ndash; Where are they situated? What condition are they in?
bull; Cracks ndash; Plaster
bull; Damp
bull; Phone Service
bull; Safety ndash; What are the Locks like on the Doors and Windows?
bull; Floors ndash; Any unusual dips or sagging, especially in the bathroom
bull; Whatrsquo;s Included ndash; Fridge / Washing Machine
bull; Plumbing ndash; Are the pipes insulated?
bull; Storage Space
bull; Room Size ndash; Are they big enough and is there room to grow?

Surrounding Area

bull; Are you under a flight path?
bull; Dilapidated Buildings nearby?
bull; Is there a local Dump?
bull; Crime Rates
bull; Is there a reputable school nearby?
bull; Is there local transport nearby?
bull; Trees ndash; Could they block sunlight or views?
bull; Shops in walking distance
bull; Building work / scaffolding
bull; Pubs / takeaways / bars nearby

Image sources: RubberBond


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How Color Helps Sell Your Home

The color scheme of your home, from the outside in, sets the tone. Its like going to see a theatre play and seeing an intricately crafted and appropriately painted set for the production. It can immediately intrigue youndash;before the play has begun and even if you know few details about the play.

When it comes to color, be sure to consider the location. A peach-pink home in a retirement community might be okay, but that same color in an upscale, urban city may be unappealing to younger city dwellers.

The outside of your home is one of the largest areas potential buyers will see. So make your decision carefully and be sure to have a professional paint job done. If you choose white for the exterior, your home is likely to appeal to the masses, according to one study that indicated upwards of 40 percent of people liked white homes.

The great thing about a white home is you have plenty of options to make the home stand out by using an accent color for the trim. The downside is that white gets dirty very fast and shows it more than other colors. So before you list your home, make sure that you have a fresh coat of paint applied or pressure wash the exterior to bring back that newly painted look.

Also take into consideration the color of other homes on the block. Typically, white will not look out of place. However, if you had a purple home on a block where the homes are mostly beige and neutral colors, youll get noticed but wont likely get the kind of attention you want.

Beige with neutral-colored trim is another popular color scheme. Both beige and white are safe exterior colors. They dont turn buyers off.

Theres also been a trend to paint just the front door a deep, rich color like red. This may not be appealing to all. However, buyers would tend to overlook it because its a simple change as well as one that can easily and cheaply be changed to the new buyerrsquo;s choice. As long as the colors look good together, this wouldnt necessarily turn buyers away.

The paint inside your home is equally important. In fact, one good tip for sellers is that if they can do nothing else, they should get some fresh paint up on the walls. The new paint helps showcase the home and gives it a new-home feel.

There are a wide variety of interior colors. Dont feel like you have to go with only beige. You can be a little more daring, using bold accent colors. Just make sure the paint colors you choose dont give a dark, closed-in feeling. Aim to create comfort, a sense of calmness, >

For a more chic and sophisticated look, interior designers often choose from the grey palette. A dark grey color can create a bold statement and attract the eye to a particular area.

Whatever colors you choose, remember that your aim is to appeal to the masses. Test the colors out first. Get opinions from the experts.

Your real estate agent has likely been in hundreds of homes and can offer you some very good guidance.


Full Story >


The Ultimate Guide to Using Ambient Scent to Sell Real Estate

For sellers within the residential and commercial real estate industries, clean, fresh smelling air translates into a positive first impression for potential buyers, and Air-Scent, a global leader within the ambient air-care industry, offers many odor control and commercial-grade air freshener solutions to help sellers and realtors transform their properties into desirable, fragrant nirvanas.

Successful realtors are learning every day how they can tap into the minds of potential buyers by thinking outside that proverbial box. They understand the hidden powers of persuasion that lay within the folds of the proper scent in the proper place ambient marketing. Studies indicate that despite the import of a home buying decision, buyers know right away whether or not they are interested in a particular property.

One report issued by the BMO Financial Group entitled: The Psychology of House Hunting indicated that within seconds of stepping inside a residence, a whopping 80 of prospective buyers know if a home is what they want. The theory is that research has not yet caught up to the speed in which the human mind processes sensory information.

There is a caveat here and it concerns attempting to fragrance a house or commercial property strategically without the help of outside ambient air-care professionals.

The impact of complex aromas such as potpourri, on a prospective buyer can actually be confusing and non-productive. There is also a fine perception line between a clean and a deodorized smell. Scented candles and plug-ins are alluring to many, but they can also turn off and/or distract a buyerrsquo;s inclination to make a decision.

Using Scent To Increase The Perceived Value Of Real Estate

Ambient marketing provides the highly competitive real estate agent with a way to diversify and stand out among cutthroat competitors. It offers that elusive and sought after extra edge of persuasion based on human olfactory capacities.

Ambient air-care specialists know how to harness this fact to a realtorrsquo;s advantage, no matter what type of property is up for sale. They understand that prospective buyers, whether high end residential or first time homebuyers, are also unconsciously seeking a reinforcement of their life>

According to scientists, we humans can detect at least one trillion diverse scents. One little key to understanding real estate sales is the realization that women are usually the main decision maker when it comes to real estate transactions. Can it be an accident that they have a better sense of smell than men?

In some ways, real estate sales can be compared to the success of a Broadway play. Staging, costumes, lighting and colorful sets please the audiencersquo;s all-seeing eye, but the right scent in the right place seduces viewers even more powerfully than a handsome protagonist or beautiful female in distress. Ambient scenting is anther sales-pitch; a new bag of tricks, so to speak.

One way a scent can work in selling a home or commercial space is to match the fragrance with the location. For example, a scenic home in the mountain that evokes the scent of fresh pine or cedar can evoke pleasant associations and emotions >

For a realtor with many listings, working with a company that specializes in creating marketable, proven, trend-worthy scents with an in-house fragrance manufacturing division can work very well with national and regional real estate companies.

A Texas-based home developer provides the best example of thinking outside that proverbial box. A few years ago, this developer broke sales records by matching fragrances to room themes in the model homes. This realtor even went so far as to challenge potential buyers to identify the fragrances they experienced. This approach could work anywhere.

In addition to the strategic placement of scents, creating a seasonal ambiance by varying chosen scents is an effective sales tool. Warm, winter vanilla, pine and cedar would not fit well in the warmer months of the year when lighter and fresher scents should be utilized.

Understanding That First Impression and The Halo Effect

Whether the property in question is a co-op, condo, office building or private residence, when it comes to realtors selling them, they all depend upon a positive first impression, whether it is generated by a salesperson, word of mouth reference, catalogue or reception area.

Coffee brewing and pie baking in an oven are often present at open houses because they are two aromas that are like no others when it comes to conjuring memories of home sweet home in the mindrsquo;s indelible eye.

For realtors to experience the sweet smell of success, ambient scenting is the most powerful selling tool in their arsenal. The perfect luxurious scent evenly diffused via commercial-grade, ambient scent marketing diffusers is a highly effective tool to gently trap potential buyers by influencing their perceptions about a property. Once that first impression takes hold, the halo effect comes into play.

This psychological phenomenon applies to all selling situations. It can be defined as a mental reaction to sensory information. An example would be the perception of positive qualities upon entering a pleasant-smelling lobby that then unconsciously and automatically gives rise to the discernment that an entire building has ldquo;nicerdquo; qualities. Research of the benefits of scent marketing also indicate that using scent cannot only close a sale on a property, it can also increase the perceived value of that home or commercial space by up to 100,000

Social psychologist, Richard Nisbitt, studied the halo effect back in the 1970s. His goal along with his colleague, Timothy DeCamp Wilson, was to demonstrate how little insight we actually have into the way our minds work. Their experiment which was titled: The Halo Effect: Evidence For The Unconscious Alteration of Judgments conducted at the University of Michigan, was focused on discovering human awareness of this powerful phenomenon.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Retailing was conducted by Eric Spangenberg, renowned researcher on olfactory cues in retail environments and the current dean of the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California-Irvine.

The study concluded that sales in retail stores decrease with the introduction of complex scents. While those buying homes are not in the retail orbit, they are still buyers and the findings are still viable. Blending vanilla with chocolate can artfully conjure memories of home, but they also require thought to identify, which interrupts decision-making.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, he said: ldquo;When you are in the real estate business, you want someone to walk in and want to stay in the house, so you want the scent not to be overbearing, but familiar. You want to encourage revisiting because sometimes it takes several visits to decide to buy. And if you are stuck on baking scents, skip the chocolate chips in favor of a simple scented cinnamon bun. Some homes for sale are scented with a potpourri blend that may be very pleasant, but itrsquo;s just too complex...rdquo;

In another interview with the Wall Street Journal, Spangenberg stressed: ldquo;They are not there to process the smells. They are there to process whether this is a place they want to live.rdquo;

His study recommended using simple scents such as the following:

bull; Citrus

This category includes lemons and oranges primarily because they are clean and fresh scents and their fragrance lasts for longer periods of time than other fruits. They also induce energy and uplift moods making them ideal for residences, exercise centers, gyms and spas and office complexes.

bull; Herbs

Using scented herbs, such as rosemary, thyme or basil in a home slated for sale, particularly in the kitchen, will create a warm and welcoming feeling for potential buyers of residential real estate.

bull; Vanilla

Vanilla is a powerful memory inducer and it also renders a home or office cozy and warm. It should always be strategically placed in areas such as kitchens. For high-end residential properties, vanilla helps to create feelings of luxury and exclusivity.

bull; Green Tea

For commercial property developers, the crisp, lively aroma of green tea helps to restore harmony. Its clean and fresh properties are often appealing to first time homebuyers where price is the ultimate issue.

bull; Pine and Cedar

These two fragrances are complex and particularly effective in residential sales during the winter months. They work well because by nature they are easy to identify and less distracting.

Other scents that can heighten value perception include White Tea, Green Tea and Lemongrass, Sandalwood blends, Amber blends and Tonka Bean or clean fresh scents such as Green Bamboo, Fresh Breeze and Lavender Blossom to name a few. All of these are more effectively dispersed via commercial air fresheners that provide even, linear diffusion no matter how large or small the interior space.

In conclusion

A successful realtor must use ambient scenting to immerse every potential buyer, whether for a residential or high-end commercial property in a sensory adventure that will encourage him or her to imagine living, or working in that particular space.

nbsp;


Air-Scent International has well over 70 years of experience in manufacturingnbsp;commercial-grade, ambient scent marketing machines, high quality fragrance refillsnbsp;that are RIFM safe, pure and free from dyes as well as molecular vaporous odornbsp;neutralizing solutions for the enhancement of any-sized interior.


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How Do You Find a Good HVAC Company?

To find the best HVAC company, choose one with a history of positive online reviews, that offers a fast response time with free quotes, and that specializes in HVAC maintenance and repairs.

Before you call any heating and cooling contractor to visit your home or office, check out some quick suggestions for choosing the best HVAC company in your area. These tips will ensure your residential or commercial HVAC system is fixed as quickly as possible, and that you opt for the right upgrades and replacements when needed.

How to Find a Good HVAC Company

Some general contractors might be qualified to make minor repairs or perform some routine maintenance on a residential air conditioner or furnace or replace some parts of a commercial HVAC system, such as the wall thermostat. However, many general contractors are not as skilled as actual heating and cooling technicians when it comes to diagnostics, technical repairs, and upgrades to a residential or commercial HVAC system. If your furnace or air conditioner needs more than just a simple cleaning, hire a company that only performs HVAC repairs.

A history of positive online reviews is a good indicator that youll opt for the best HVAC company in your area. If a companys quality of work or response time were poor, they would probably have a history of negative reviews Whether you are in a smaller population market or a more competitive area like HVAC in Houston, when a companys HVAC customers take the time to leave a positive review for an installer or repair technician, this is a sure sign that they are >

The best HVAC company in your area will also offer a fast response time, and especially for emergencies. Successful air conditioning repair and maintenance companies will be able to maintain adequate personnel to meet the demands of local customers, including hiring more repair technicians during the middle of summer and winter, when air conditioners and furnaces suffer the most wear and tear. If a company cannot offer a prompt visit to your location, they might not be the best choice of HVAC companies for your needed repairs or maintenance.

What to Expect When You Need HVAC Repairs

High-quality HVAC systems often last for years, if not even decades, before they need repairs, so a homeowner or business owner might not know what to expect when they call an HVAC company in their area for service. Note a few tips that can ensure your call or request for a quote is as hassle-free as possible:

bull; Many technicians will ask detailed questions over the phone about the issues youre experiencing with a residential air conditioner or commercial HVAC system. For example, they might ask if you heard any odd sounds or noticed unusual smells before your unit stopped working and if any symbols or wording are flashing on the front of the thermostat. This type of information often allows the technician to pinpoint a potential problem even before they arrive at your location

bull; During the diagnostic and repair process, HVAC technicians might need complete access to your home or commercial property, to check for blocked ductwork or vents, leaks in the system, and areas of your home or office that seem overly hot or cool. All of these factors can indicate the repairs needed for a residential air conditioner or commercial HVAC system. Dont be surprised if the repair technician requests access to your homes attic or crawlspace or all the areas of your commercial facility

bull; A heating and cooling technician might recommend you replace your HVAC unit, even if he or she can make repairs. Improperly sized units suffer lots of added wear and tear and are likely to break down sooner than they should, and might not heat and cool your home or office sufficiently. A new unit will be more energy-efficient and offer more effective climate control throughout your structure.

During their visit, its also good to ask a heating and cooling technician for suggestions on how to keep your HVAC system functionally optimally. He or she might recommend erecting a barrier around the air conditioner condenser, to keep it clear of leaves and other debris. Consistent cleaning of a residential or commercial furnace will also remove dust and debris from its internal parts, reducing wear and tear.

Ductwork in a residential or commercial facility collects layers of dust and other unhealthy debris that then slows down airflow through a structures vents. Regular cleaning of that ductwork and attached vents removes unhealthy debris and reduces wear and tear on your HVAC system. These simple suggestions can extend the life of your HVAC system and even allow it to run more efficiently, saving you money on your heating and cooling costs

>

Is a larger or more powerful air conditioner the most effective for cooling?

An oversized air conditioner is less useful for cooling any structure, as larger A/C units will cycle off before they can remove humidity. Your home or office might then feel cold and clammy. Opt for the size A/C recommended for your structure, for maximum cooling and comfort.

How long does a residential air conditioner last?

The expected lifespan of every residential air conditioner will vary, but a heating and cooling technician can note if youre putting undue stress on your homes A/C unit, and then also make recommendations for ensuring that it is as energy-efficient as possible.

How much does it cost to get a furnace repaired?

Heating and cooling contractors often charge by the hour for repair work, as it might take several hours to pinpoint the area needing repairs. However, typical charges range from 160 to 400 in total, with average furnace repair costs totaling around 300.

nbsp;


nbsp;Andrew Young is the owner of Total HVAC Houston with 18 years of experience serving the greater Houston market. His team is ready 24/7 with affordable and effective HVAC products to suit the needs of his friends and neighbors.


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How to Make More Sales in 2019 as a Real Estate Agent

The goal of every real estate agent or broker is to learn how to close more deals. The solution to this common problem in the real estate industry has two parts: 1 Getting more traffic, i.e., more leads, your way and 2 Closing the deals with them at a higher rate, i.e., enhancing your productivity. Here we offer you 8 absolutely practical and doable tips on how to tackle these two issues to give your career the boost it deserves in 2019.

1. Start Generating Qualified Leads Only

As a realtor, you already know that not all leads are created equal. Some have their finances figured out, have a mortgage pre-approval, know exactly what kind of house they want, and are ready to buy the moment you provide them with the right property. Meanwhile, others are just looking around, still exploring their financing options, and having no clue what home they want. The latter might need months or even years before they feel prepared to move forward with the purchase process.

If you want to increase your productivity as an agent, you have to focus on working with the former type of leads only, which means that you have to establish a lead generation and qualification system for your business. One option is to learn how to qualify the leads which come your way. You should put down a series of questions which you ask a client when they first approach you in order to understand how serious they are about the purchase. You need to be careful about the questions which you ask and the way you ask them because you donrsquo;t want to sound intimidating, condescending, or uninterested as thatrsquo;s the fastest way to lose leads and clients. Some questions you can ask nicely and politely include:

bull; Have you previously bought or sold a home?
bull; Whatrsquo;s your budget and what are your financing options? Do you need help in this regard?
bull; What type of home are you looking for? What size? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? What other features are you interested in?
bull; Whatrsquo;s the exact location where yoursquo;d like the house to be?
bull; Whatrsquo;s your timeline?

Another approach you can take is to sign up for a lead generation program. While paying for leads has many opponents in the real estate industry, thatrsquo;s one of the most efficient, fastest, and ndash; ironically ndash; cheapest time is money after all, right? way to grow your business, especially if you are still a new agent struggling with the tough competition for qualified leads. Of course, you should not just go for the first lead gen program which comes your way, as there are many of them out there. You should select one which allows you to evaluate and qualify the leads they send you and work only with those whom you consider fully qualified. This is the only way to guarantee satisfaction with the program.

2. Consider Working with Investors

Working with real estate investors is a frequently underestimated niche in terms of importance. However, if you are in search of qualified leads who will not only close deals faster but also close more deals, you should consider property investors.

A recent study by the National Association of Realtors Research Department nbsp;shows that currently people buying homes plan to live in them for a median of 15 years before moving to a new home, while 18 of homebuyers plan to not change their home at all. This means that generally speaking once you close a deal with a homebuyer, you cannot expect to do business with them any time soon, if at all. Letrsquo;s you do the math. If you stay in real estate for 30 years, you can only sell two houses to an average homebuyer.

Meanwhile, investors aim to buy as many properties as they can. They use the rental income and the appreciation from the properties they already own to add new ones to their real estate investment portfolios. This means that if you opt to specialize in working with investors, you are much more likely to have repeat clients than if you work with homebuyers. Many investors buy a new property every 2-3 years, while others purchase multiple properties every single year.

Another benefit of selling to qualified investor leads is that investors tend to close deals faster than homebuyers. They have no emotional attachment to the property, regardless of whether they are buying or selling. For them itrsquo;s all business, so as long as yoursquo;ve found them a profitable investment property property, they are ready to move forward. Some of them would not even want to see the property, provided that the rental property investment analysis looks good. In addition, property investors have more access to finances such as conventional mortgages, cash, equity, hard money lenders, private money lenders, syndication, crowdfunding, partnerships, etc. than homebuyers. Thatrsquo;s another reason why you can close sales faster with investors.

3. Focus on Referrals

Another strategy with which you can secure more sales in 2019 is to actively seek more referrals. Look at this as another way to get better qualified leads. Referrals could be clients you get from other agents or from other people you know. The first step in this regard would be to agree on and formalize a referral program with some of your colleagues in the area and beyond. This should be an agreement which is of mutual benefit.

Another thing you can and should do is to start keeping in touch with your past clients, particularly those who were very satisfied with the services which you provided to them. Put efforts into sending your past clients messages and cards on holidays or even randomly. They will appreciate the fact that you are still thinking about and remembering them even though you are not working together anymore. And the moment they are ready to buy or sell again or hear of someone else who is about to engage in a real estate transaction, you will be the first agent who will come to their mind. Keep in mind that these referrals will be highly qualified. This small investment in terms of your time will be worth every minute.

In addition, anyone who wants to succeed as an agent or a broker needs to start working on building a strong network from their day one in the business. This network should include other real estate professionals as well as random people who know about your business. Once again, the members of your network with soon start sending qualified leads your way.

4. Ace Your Digital Marketing Strategy

We live in the 21st century, and thatrsquo;s a fact. This means that most homebuyers or investor buyers will first check the internet before going to any other place when they need an agent to buy or sell with. What that means for you as an agent who wants to enhance the sales process in 2019 is that you need to build a strong online presence for yourself and your business. Start out by creating a specialized real estate website hire a professional to do that for you and publishing good content on it on regular basis, preferably daily. On your website you can not only promote your active listings but also showcase your successes, have testimonials from past clients, talk about the current state of the local housing market, and share local events and news. Donrsquo;t forget to make the best out of high-quality, professional-looking photos for any content which you publish.

However, having a good website will not be enough nowadays. You also have to have a strong presence on social media including all various channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, etc. Each one of those attracts a different audience and suits different types of content, so do good research on the topic and put together a social media strategy for your real estate business.

5. Become an Expert

No one can be the best real estate agent for every single type of property and all kinds of buyers and sellers across the entire state. Maybe early in your career it makes sense to try out a few different niches in order to find yours. But put efforts into selecting your own real estate niche >

6. Build a Real Estate Team

Once your business starts growing with more sales, you will need to build a strong team to support you in your day-to-day tasks. Building a team is not simply about hiring a few professionals and putting them to work together. It is about choosing the right individuals and helping them function as one. When you have different people taking care of different aspects of your business, this will push up your productivity and allow you to close deals faster and more efficiently.

7. Continue Learning All the Time

Donrsquo;t become one of those real estate agents or brokers who erroneously assume that the learning process ends the moment you get your license. To the contrary, being a successful agent is a never ending learning process. You should dedicate a special part of your budget to take >

Another crucially important part of the learning process is to always stay on top of trends in the housing market. You have to be extremely knowledgeable not only of the local real estate market but also of the national one, and even the international one. There are so many free sources of information and data out there that you simply have no excuse to remain ignorant.

8. Utilize Technology

The final thing which you should do in order to boost your productivity is to use the technology available to real estate agents. This refers to communication, customer >

If you feel ready to give your real estate career a boost this year, just follow the 8 tips above. In this way, you will soon start making sells faster and more efficiently and grow your business beyond your own targets.


Daniela Andreevska is Marketing Director at Mashvisor, a real estate analytics tool which helps real estate investors and agents quickly find lucrative traditional and Airbnb investment properties. A research process thatrsquo;s usually 3 months now can take 15 minutes. Moreover, we connect investors ready to buy a property with top performing agents in the local housing market.


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Insurance and Animal Bites

Answer: Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention CDC almost half were children. And 1 out of 5 bites become infected, with such diseases as rabies, MRSA ndash; a type of Staph infection, or different types of bacteria such as capnocytophaga or pasteu>

In fairness to dog owners, the CDC reported that during the early part of this century, more cats than dogs were determined to be rabid. ldquo;The majority of these cases were associated with spillover infection from raccoons in the Eastern United States,rdquo; CDC said, ldquo;and the larger number of rabies-infected cats might be attributed to fewer cat vaccination laws, fewer leash laws and the roaming habits of cats.rdquo;

Typically when a person is bitten ndash; and is infected or seve>

Because of the volume of claims, many insurance companies are now refusing to insure homeowners or community associations where certain brands of dogs are present. Dogs such as pit bulls, rottweilers, akitas and chow-chows are often labeled as ldquo;dangerousrdquo; and insurance companies will either exclude injuries from these dogs or significantly increase the annual premium. You should immediately confirm with your insurance agent whether your policy covers dog bites, and from all kinds of dogs.

For years, the law around the country was called the ldquo;one-bite rulerdquo;. Owners ndash; regardless of the kind of animal ndash; would only be held responsible and liable for injuries caused if the owner knew or should have known the dog has dangerous propensities abnormal to its >

Virginia still follows this rule. However, the owner may face criminal penalties if a ldquo;dangerous dogrdquo; causes injury or death. And all of the surrounding counties have some form of ldquo;leash lawrdquo;, requiring a dog to be on a leash at all times when outside of the home environment. Additionally, all dogs over four months old must be properly registered with the local county.

In the District of Columbia, dogs must be leashed, vaccinated and registered. The Mayor ndash; acting through one of her agencies ndash; has the power to impound a dangerous animal, defined as an animal that because of specific training or demonstrated behavior threatens the health or safety of the public. The ldquo;one-biterdquo; rule does not apply; if a dog injures a person while at large, lack of knowledge of the dogs vicious propensity will not necessarily be a defense; the court will look at all of the facts in order to determine if the owner was negligent.

Maryland has an interesting dog law history. In 2012, the highest court in the state ruled that pit bulls are ldquo;inherently dangerousrdquo; and such a dog owner could be held to strict liability in the event of a dog bite. According to the court, ldquo;it is not necessary that the pit bulls owner have actual knowledge that the specific pit bull involved is dangerousrdquo;.

Pit bull owners ndash; and many other dog lovers ndash; rose up in arms, claiming this law unfairly singled out specific breeds. Accordingly, the Maryland legislature enacted a law that in essence repealed the high court ruling, thereby adopting a strict liability approach for any dangerous animal. According to the new law, a dangerous dog is one, that without provocation, has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person. The law does, however, allow the dog owner to claim the defense of contributory negligence; the plaintiff cannot win if he contributed in any way to the dog bite.

Maryland is unique in that the state law governs the specific licensing and other regulations certain counties may adopt or enforce. And many of the local counties, have, in fact, determined certain dogs as ldquo;dangerous.

What can your association do? Adopt a rule that all dogs must be leashed when outside of the homeownerrsquo;s property, and require that all dogs register with the association, and show proof that the dog has been properly vaccinated. Furthermore, the rule should state that if any one is bitten by a dog, regardless of whether it was on a leash, the owner will be subject to a hearing and a possible fine. Furthermore, if any more incidents occur, unless the dog owner agrees to muzzle the dog when outside, the dog can be permanently removed from the area. In some cases, legal action may be necessary.

And most importantly, the Board should confirm that the association has the necessary insurance coverage. People sleep better knowing there is insurance.

In Maryland, the state dog is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever; the American Foxhound is the Virginia state dog. There is no such ldquo;Staterdquo; dog in Washington.


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What Does a Benchmark Interest Rate Halt Mean for Homebuyers?

ldquo;Officials voted to hold their benchmark rate steady and delivered an about-face from their policy stance six weeks earlier,rdquo; said the Wall Street Journal. ldquo;Last month they raised their benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point to a range between 2.25 and 2.5 and signaled two more rate rises were likely this year.rdquo; Instead, the Fed just signaled they were going to slow down, applying patience to the equation.

Reaction was swift. Immediately following the Fedrsquo;s announcement, the stock market rallied. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 435 points and the Nasdaq rose by 155 points.

Impact on mortgages

So how will this surprising announcement affect homebuyers?

ldquo;Many people think mortgage rates are tied to the Fedrsquo;s short-term rate, but there isnrsquo;t a direct link,rdquo; said the New York Times. ldquo;Most 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are priced off the 10-year Treasury bond, which is influenced by a variety of factors, including the outlook for inflation and long-term economic growth here and abroad.rdquo;

While interest rates on mortgages arenrsquo;t necessarily a product of benchmark rates, consumer confidence certainly plays a role. A new CNBC report shows just how sensitive buyers can be to the slightest increase in mortgage interest rates. ldquo;Mortgage application volume decreased 3 percent last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association,rdquo; they said. This was in response to average interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rising ever so slightly, from 4.75 percent to 4.76 percent.rdquo;

Of course, ldquo;The biggest drop in application volume was for refinancing, which are most rate-sensitive week to week,rdquo; they saidmdash;and also the most impacted by benchmark rates.

Earlier expectations

Interest rates for 30-year, fixed-rate conventional loans were expected to surpass 5 this yearmdash;a number that hasnrsquo;t been reached in yearsmdash;but it remains to be seen whether this will still occur. While industry experts were previously pretty unified in their predictions of where rates were going this year, theyrsquo;re largely conflicted now. In fact, they canrsquo;t even seem to agree on what will happen seven days from now.

ldquo;Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found the experts it surveyed were evenly split on where rates are headed,rdquo; said the Washington Post. ldquo;Half said rates will decrease, while the other half said rates will remain >
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How to Build a Window Seat, Easily and Affordably

ldquo;Whether your petite space needs some extra seating or yoursquo;re craving a cozy nook, the window seat is a functional solution to many aspects of home design,rdquo; said Elle Decor. ldquo;Top it with a plush throw or surround it with a table and chairsmdash;the window seat shines in many ways and wersquo;re not just talking about the magnificent natural light.rdquo;

This cozy addition is easier than you think to pull off. In fact, you can build a custom-looking feature easily and affordably, and the whole DIY thing can be created in less than an afternoon. For the sake of ease and expediency, wersquo;re concentrating on simple solutions using ready-made items like cabinetry, but if you want to build a window seat from scratch, you can get a good tutorial here.

It should also be noted that, while wersquo;re calling this a window seat, it could just as easily bring interest and functionality to any old nook or niche in need of a little love.

Here are our best tips:

Use pre-made cabinets

You may love the idea of a completely custom built-in, but do your DIY skills match up to the vision? Pre-made kitchen cabinets may be the answer. Look for wall cabinets, especially those intended to go over the refrigerator, because they have more depth. The traditional 12-inch depth of a wall cabinet wonrsquo;t give you much tush space, and base cabinets tend to be too tall.

In this video, you can learn how to turn IKEArsquo;s SEKTION over-the-fridge cabinets into a dining bench. The same idea can be used to create a window seat. Itrsquo;s up to you whether you want to create a base to go under the cabinets, to raise them above their 15-inch height. Standard seating height is about 18 inches, but you donrsquo;t have to go that high, especially if you are going to be using a thick cushionmdash;and if yoursquo;re not intending for this to be used at a dining table.

You can see what cabinets will look like without a base here. Personally we love the low, sleek look and the fact that no sawing is involved. These in-stock cabinets from Lowersquo;s are another option. They come in a variety of sizes and are already painted gray.

Use a toy box

If yoursquo;re OK with or if you prefer the idea of a lid you can lift up instead of cabinets to open, a toy box makes a great base for a window seat. This one from Wayfair is >

Use a bookcase

Flip this KALLAX shelving unit nbsp;from IKEA on its side and you have a bench with cubbies for storage. Even better, itrsquo;s super affordable, comes in several colors, and can be customized with a variety of drawers, doors, and other storage options.

Make your own cushion

Now itrsquo;s time to top it. You have a couple of options for a homemade bench cushion, and it really comes down to whether or not you can sew. If yoursquo;re a whiz on the sewing machine, you likely already know what you want to do, but this version with box corners keeps everything neat and clean.

If you donrsquo;t sew, yoursquo;ll want to become friends with the staple gun. In addition to your fabric and stapler, yoursquo;ll need foam, spray adhesive, and plywood. Dont freak out about the plywood; you can have it cut to size for free when you purchase it at Lowersquo;s or Home Depot. Now itrsquo;s just a matter of putting it all together. Get the full tutorial here and here.

Get fancy with a French mattress

You can also top your budget window seat with one of these beauties and no one will ever know itrsquo;s not an expensive, custom built-in. Unless yoursquo;re a master sewer, yoursquo;ll probably have to buy one retail or outsource this, and it can get pricey. Driven by Deacute;cor was quoted as much as 2,500 by a New York company If you dont get lucky with a great seamstress the way she did, check out Urban Outfitters. Wersquo;re so in love with their Rohini Daybed Cushion and the 119 price that wersquo;re trying to figure out how to fit a 74-inch bench in our breakfast nook.


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Dont Do This on Your Own

All of those moving parts are beyond your mortgage lender including your real estate agent, an appraiser and other third parties yoursquo;ll never meet. Theyrsquo;re all needed to make sure the loan file is up to standards and meeting all lending guidelines.

Yet before all of this takes place the buyers speak with a lender, get preapproved and have an idea what they can qualify for. But a big mistake comes into play when consumers ldquo;prequalifyrdquo; themselves without the assistance of a loan officer. And thatrsquo;s where things can get a bit unwound.

So much so that the buyers decide not to buy because they visited a website somewhere, ran some numbers and found out they couldnrsquo;t qualify for the amount they needed to buy where they wanted to live. Donrsquo;t be those people.

Herersquo;s a scenario for you. A couple does more than their fair share of research about the neighborhood they want to buy in, the different types of loan options and the advantages of one over the other and more. Theyrsquo;ve spent quite a bit of time gearing up to go shopping for their first home.

One of the things they kept reading about was ways to save on mortgage interest. Because of this information they decided on a 15 year fixed rate loan. Then entered all their general information on a prequalification site, selected a 15 year loan but it showed the debt ratios were too high for an approval based upon the information submitted. Dejected, they gave up, resigned to being renters for a little longer.

But what a loan officer would have told them is there are other, longer loan terms with lower monthly payments that could qualify them for the home they really wanted. As a plus, the 30 year mortgage didnrsquo;t have any prepayment penalties, those are rare today anyway, so they could pay extra on the mortgage each month, just as if they had a 15 year term.

Another scenario can occur when someone gets a copy of their free credit score and see that itrsquo;s closer to 590 instead of 680 or 700. In this instance, that person again sat on the sidelines not knowing they could qualify for an FHA loan which would not only get them in the home but also help reestablish credit through timely mortgage payments. Therersquo;s no reason to try and fly solo when shopping for a home. Take advantage of the experience thatrsquo;s out there.


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Copyright©2019 Realty Times®.All Rights Reserved

Updated: Saturday, February 16, 2019

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