Updated: Saturday, October 19, 2019

Can Someone Achieve a Perfect Credit Score?

Itrsquo;s possible but in all my years in the industry Irsquo;ve never seen a perfect score. Credit scores, commonly referred to as FICO scores, the acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation which developed the algorithm, are three digit numbers ranging from 300 to 850. Most conventional loan programs today will approve an application with a credit score around 680 but some programs go as low as 620. Government-backed loans accept lower scores such as FHA loans. FHA programs ask for a minimum score to be at least 580 with some allowances for scores as low as 500 accompanied by a 10 percent down payment. Low down payment conventional loans can require a score of 720 or better.

There are consumers who strive to achieve the highest score possible, whether or not theyrsquo;re actually applying for a mortgage. And there are ways to better scores, primarily through payment history and account balances. Credit reports log payments as theyrsquo;re made and can report payments that are more than 30, 60 or 90 days past the due dates. Making sure payments are made not necessarily on the due date but certainly no more than 30 days past due will keep scores getting progressively better.

Scores tend to rise more slowly compared to a score falling due to a late payment.
35 percent of the total score is attributed toward payment history. 30 percent of the score compares account balances with credit limits. Some consumers mistakenly think that keeping a zero balance is the way to better scores but in reality, thatrsquo;s not the case. In fact, scores will rise faster if a balance is at or around 33 percent of credit limits. If you think about it for a second that makes perfect sense. How can credit be evaluated if there are no payments being made on an account? Thatrsquo;s why those who are always wanting to boost scores keep balance around one-third of credit limits.

Taking all of that into account, how high can credit scores actually be for an individual consumer? Personally, Irsquo;ve seen credit scores in the low 800s but those are >

Finally, if there is more than one person on a loan application, lenders use the lowest qualifying score. Each credit repository, Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union, use the same algorithm but the reported scores will be similar to one another but ra>

While striving to achieve the perfect score of 850 is certainly an admirable goal, as it >
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9 Practical Tips in Handling Plumbing Emergencies

Plumbing affects several areas in your home from the bathroom to the kitchen. Plumbing problems can arise suddenly, without warning. While some minor issues are easily fixed, some difficulties can quickly escalate into a major crisis that causes damage to your home. If this isnt taken care of immediately, you can suffer thousands of dollars in loss, with lasting consequences.

How can you potentially limit a plumbing disaster? Here are some helpful tips that you can apply to protect your home:

Shut off the Water

As soon as emergency strikes, turn off the source of water immediately. It can be as simple as turning off the valve at the base of your commode. However, if larger emergencies like flooding occur, turn off the main valve in your home. Most water valves usually have to be turned off clockwise.

Turn Off the Electricity

Electricity and water will always make a deadly combination. If there is any chance that the flooded water does come into contact with any electrical circuit, then, stay away from the leaking or flooded water. If you can reach for the main switch without touching any of the water, the better. The next thing you can do is to turn off the power switch and disable the circuits.

Check Your Water Heater

After youve stopped the flooding and flow of water into your home using the main switch, you will have to turn off your water heater as well. Its crucial to note that once the all the water in your home is shut off, there is a tendency that the pressure and the water levels inside your water heater will start to rise. This situation is potentially dangerous once the pressure increases above the heaters limit, the unit can burst, making the whole situation even more hazardous.

Wear Protective Rubber Gloves

For your safety and protection, wear rubber boots and gloves if the leak is contaminated by the sewage or is in a drain line. Even after the whole area is cleaned and dried, you still need to disinfect it after thoroughly.

Assess the Damage

Before you call a professional, try to asses the damage first. Providing the plumber with sufficient information over the phone gives them a good idea of the problem at hand. As a result, they can quickly fix the problem.

Open Drains and Spigots

You have to understand that there will still be water in the pipes even after youve turned off the main valve. To move this water away from your home, turn on spigots and open drains. Also, give the hose in your garden a few extra squirts to ensure that you clear out the water as well. If youre experiencing a small clog, open the drain using >

Avoid Using Chemicals on Pipes

Try not to use chemical cleaners in your pipes as it can make the situation worse. If youre experiencing a backed-up drain, avoid using a bottle of drain cleaner. Drain cleaners will erode the pipes, and if your home is older, this can cause lasting devastating effects. While these chemicals can usually wash away debris and dirt, they still cause significant problems. As an alternative, try using a plunger. If it still doesnt work out, its time to call an expert.

Handle Small Leaks

Small leaks are quite easy to identify. The best thing that you can do about it is to stop them as soon as possible. You can try stuffing rags and towels around the pipes. Also putting buckets under those dripping leaks can help as well. Let your plumber know about these leaks the moment they arrive so that they can be addressed in the safest order.

Call a Plumber

When youre facing a plumbing crisis, its essential to call a plumbing professional or a plumbing company. Doing so gives you peace of mind that your safety and the overall condition of your home is well-taken care. Call a plumbing company that offers 24-hour, emergency service. Try to give the plumber as much information as you can about what fixtures are affected and what you have done to fix or stop the problem.


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Tips for Selling Your Home in Autumn

Autumn traditionally sees a drop the number of homes available for purchase.

Less inventory means fewer properties to compete against and more chances for your home to catch a buyerrsquo;s eye. Of course, in even the tightest sellerrsquo;s market itrsquo;s important for sellers to price their home correctly. A home thatrsquo;s overpriced rather than listed at true market value can discourage buyers from even viewing the property, especially during the crucial two-week period following listing. Itrsquo;s important that sellers take the advice of their REALTORSreg;, who have reams of data and calculators at their fingertips to help them arrive an appropriate listing price.

Fall also historically sees a decline in buyer demand that can, in some markets, lead to an expectation for autumn sellers to negotiate more willingly. However, in sellerrsquo;s market conditions with limited inventory mdash; such as Orlando and the nation overall are currently experiencing mdash; sellers shouldnrsquo;t expect to see requests for big discounts to their initial asking price regardless of the season. On the contrary, with fewer homes on the market, sellers are likely to continue to see competition among buyers.

Autumn homebuyers are often highly motivated.

With the prospect of inclement weather coming up fast and the likelihood of a significant inventory jump on hold until late spring, autumn homebuyers are often a motivated bunch who anticipate:

bull; Less inventory of available homes;
bull; Less competition for REALTORSreg;rsquo; time and attention;
bull; Less competition for available financing;
bull; Less competition for >bull; Homeowner tax breaks such as

bull; Mortgage Interest Deduction
bull; PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Deduction
bull; Prepaid Interest Deduction
bull; Property Tax Deduction
bull; Energy-Efficiency Upgrade Deduction

By purchasing a home in autumn, homebuyers know they can be all settled into their new home in time for the holidays

Fall colors look great on everyone.

Therersquo;s hardly a more beautiful time of year than autumn, so take advantage of it to ramp up curb appeal. Attending to your homersquo;s landscaping is crucial for making that all-important first impression. Rake up the leaves, clean gutters of debris, and make sure flowering ornamental grasses are tidy. And who doesnrsquo;t love a pumpkin and pot of mums on the swept front porch? Nobody Keep it simple, though, and donrsquo;t overdo it with fall deacute;cor inside or out.

nbsp;


nbsp;Jeffrey M. Fagan is the president of the Orlando Regional REALTORreg; Association and is regional vicenbsp;president of Watson Realty Corp.


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New Appraisal Rule: What Does It Mean for You?

So how will this affect home buyers and sellers? First, it should be noted that those homes that do receive the exemption still have to be evaluated ldquo;to provide an estimate of the market value of real estate collateral,rdquo; said Housingwire. ldquo;The agencies state that the evaluation must be lsquo;consistent with safe and sound banking practices.rsquo; To that point, the rule establishes that an evaluation ldquo;should contain sufficient information and analysis to support the regulated institutionrsquo;s decision to engage in the transaction.rdquo;

Also, the new exemption is not applicable for homes using FHA, HUD, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac financing, which eliminates a huge percentage of homes right off the top.nbsp;

If you are in a position to buy or sell a home that no longer needs an appraisal, should you still proceed with one? Herersquo;s why you may want to consider it.

What is an appraisal?

ldquo;A home appraisal is an unbiased determination of the fair market value of the home by a professionally-trained third party,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;While that may sound complicated, all it means is that its a chance for someone whos not personally involved in the sale of the home to give a true representation of the homes worth. Its worth noting that an appraisal is enti>

There are a number of factors that contribute to that fair market value. ldquo;In a purchase-and-sale transaction, an appraisal is used to determine whether the homersquo;s contract price is appropriate given the homersquo;s condition, location, and features,rdquo; said Investopedia. While the evaluation process is intended to provide guidance when it comes to pricing, it is unknown at this point how those evaluations will compare to appraisals, if they will carry the same weight in terms of establishing home value, if they will disproportionately favor the lender, etc.nbsp;

Value protection

Buyers and sellers each have a vested interest literally in knowing how much the home they are buying or selling is worth. For sellers, an appraisal can help inform the listing price, and may also be able to help a seller justify a higher listing price because of improvements they have made to the home.nbsp;

On the other hand, if a home appraises for less than the sales price, buyers have a negotiating tool. ldquo;An appraisal is important because it protectsnbsp;your investment,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;Its there to ensure that, as the buyer, you dont pay more than the home is actually worth. Its also important for securing financing. In todays mortgage industry a bank will only give you a loan up to the fair market value of the home. Therefore, if an appraisal comes back lower than the purchase price, the lender may only issue you a loan for the appraised amount.rdquo;

nbsp;


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Trend Alert: Socially Conscious Real Estate on the Rise

The pull is stronger among some demographic groups than others, with millennials largely driving the trend. Chief Learning Officer stated that, ldquo;By and large, baby boomers sought workplaces that offered stability and high pay. Millennials, however, have different priorities. Millennials have high expectations for the actions of business when it comes to social purpose and accountability; and they want to work for companies that uphold these values.rdquo;

According to a report titled ldquo;Millennials at work ndash; Reshaping the workplace,rdquo; corporate social values ldquo;become more important to millennials when choosing an employer once their basic needs, like adequate pay and working conditions, are met,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The report states that lsquo;millennials want their work to have a purpose, to contribute something to the world and they want to be proud of their employer.rsquo;rdquo;

ldquo;Social purposerdquo; goes beyond philanthropy and charity and ldquo;encompasses much more than the terms lsquo;corporate social responsibilityrsquo; and lsquo;community investmentrsquo; evoke.rdquo; But when it comes to real estate, many of todayrsquo;s buyers and sellers are seeking out agents and companies whose beliefs track with their own. If yoursquo;re looking for a socially conscious company when buying or selling a home, here are a few to consider:

Give Realty, Austin, TX

ldquo;Give Realty is a full service real estate brokerage with two passions: Real estate and the community,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We donate 25 of our commission to the 501c3 nonprofit of the clientrsquo;s choice.rdquo; So far, they have donated almost 900,000 to various charities.nbsp;

Giving Tree Realty, North and South Carolina

ldquo;Giving Tree Realty is built upon a foundation of giving back,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Our unique charity platform was designed to ensure that a portion of every sales commission our Realtors earn is donated to the charity of their choice. When a Realtor joins Giving Tree Realty, they chose a charity that is near and dear to their heart.rdquo; The company has donated more than 500,000 to local charities since 2010.

The Conscious Group, Denver

ldquo;Our Colorado real estate agents donate 10 to the nonprofit of our clientrsquo;s choice,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We are Denver and the Front Rangersquo;s only residential real estate agency social enterprise. Our real estate agents contribute 10 percent of agent commissions to the nonprofit of your choice.rdquo; The company also specializes in ldquo;eco-friendly homes and business practices.rdquo;

Windermere, Western United States/Mexiconbsp;

ldquo;For the past 30 years, the Windermere Foundation has donated a portion of the proceeds from every home purchased or sold using a Windermere agent towards supporting low-income and homeless families in our communities,rdquo; they said. ldquo;What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need innbsp;Washington State, has grown to encompass ten states and has raised over 38 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, food, childrenrsquo;s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help most.rdquo;

There are also a number of individual real estate agents who make it a point to give back to charity, and programs like PinRaise help support those efforts. PinRaisersquo;s Agent with Hearttrade; program ldquo;is a platform designed to support local nonprofits and recognize the generosity of real estate agents and brokers who give back to the community they serve,rdquo; they said.nbsp;

Agents in the program donate to the nonprofit of theirnbsp;clientrsquo;snbsp;choosing when their home closes escrow. You can find a participating agent here.


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The Basics of Mortgage Fraud

In the interest of protecting the typical consumer, we put together a brief post about the basics of mortgage fraud. If you are buying or selling property, be sure to educate and defend yourself starting with this basic knowledge.

What Is Mortgage Fraud?

Fraud is deliberate misrepresentation and deception using false facts, information, and figures. Mortgage fraud, then, is deceptive lending, buying, and selling practices in real estate. Itrsquo;s more than predatory lending; mortgage fraud includes an array of misdeeds that can hurt lenders and consumers alike.

Industry bad actors see mortgage fraud as the path to a huge payday. Most cases involve millions of dollars. For borrowers, the goal is real estate ownership, and if a legitimate loan is out of reach, some individuals with the help of an insider leave out or misrepresent details about employment, debt, income, and other metrics used in loan applications to secure mortgages.

The list of individuals who commit fraud is a long one. It includes everyone involved in the sale of a property, from the builder, realtor, and insurance agent to the title company and escrow agent. Occasionally, a complete shadow network of professionals conspire to commit mortgage fraud, and the one that takes the blame is often the buyer or seller of the property. He or she may not realize fraud was committed in their name.

Common Types of Mortgage Fraud

Fraud can be carried out by various methods. Here are four common types:

bull; Occupancy fraud - a borrower misrepresents how the property purchased will be occupied. Loan rules differ depending on whether the property is a primary home, second home, or investment property. Mortgage and interest rates vary as well.nbsp;

bull; Income fraud - the borrower misrepresents the amount, source, or continuance of income. Lenders fail to verify false employment documents and pay stubs from non-existent employers.

bull; Transaction fraud - the nature of the transaction itself is misrepresented. The down payment is falsified, or there is a secret agreement between a buyer and a seller. The straw buyer is a common trope, sometimes coupled with identity theft. The identity of someone with good credit is used to hide the real buyer with bad credit. Then, when the title is transferred to the bad creditor, the lender is left holding the bag, and the straw buyer may get blamed.

bull; Appraisal fraud - Usually in cahoots with the appraiser, the seller inflates the appraisal value of a property to set a higher price. House-flipping may involve both appraisal fraud and income fraud with inflated numbers for both.

Other ways fraudsters profit off real estate transactions is through foreclosure rescue schemes, loan modification schemes, and equity skimming or stripping. Air loans, according to the FBI, involve victims who fund a non-existent property loan where there is no collateral. Reverse mortgages are a popular way to trick senior citizens so that a scammer gets most of the money.

How to Protect Yourself from Mortgage Fraud

Obviously, donrsquo;t falsify documents, donrsquo;t lie on the mortgage application, and avoid aggressive lenders. If a lender is hounding you for your business, stay away.nbsp;

Always read and understand every document you sign. If you dont understand something, ask, and if you dont like the answer, stop the transaction until you are satisfied.

Get the property inspected by a third party you can trust and check out the title history. Most lenders require a title report, so keep an eye out for it among the many documents you have to sign. If not, get it done before finalizing the purchase.

Be thorough and cautious when buying or selling a property. A major purchase like this deserves your time and attention. Dont let anyone railroad you. Educate yourself about loan and property practices. Use reputable lenders. And look out for red flags that indicate potential trouble.

Referencing Co>

nbsp;


nbsp;Paul Cones is the President of CourthouseDirect.com, a technology company that provides legal record search products and services. Since 1982, their online repository of courthouse documents has helped real estate agents and other professionals find the documents they need.

nbsp;


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Improved Canadian Housing Data Helps With Real Estate Decisions

Yoursquo;ve probably heard this one before: ldquo;There are three types of lies ndash; lies, damn lies and statistics.rdquo; ndash; attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. Or how about this one: ldquo;Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.rdquo; ndash; Mark Twain.

You would think that compiling housing data would be a fairly straightforward process, but in Canada itrsquo;s been anything but. Through the years, housing stats have been called incomplete, inadequate and part of a plot by organized real estate designed to hide agentsrsquo; commissions.

When it comes to real estate statistics, for years consumers and the government have >

But ldquo;average or median prices can change a lot from one month to the next and paint an inaccurate or even unhelpful picture of price values and trends,rdquo; says CREA. Thatrsquo;s why in 2009, CREA and five of the countryrsquo;s largest real estate boards hired Altus Group to develop the MLS Home Price Index.

Altus says the index ldquo;analyzes all of the sales data from a board or associationrsquo;s MLS system, applies a value to the lsquo;typicalrsquo; home for various types of dwellings for each submarket, and tracks the >

The index has grown to include 18 boards across the country. Recently CREA and Altus Group announced an agreement that will expand the index to include all of CREArsquo;s 90 real estate boards and associations. However, the news media still prefers to report average prices, likely because itrsquo;s easier to understand than the index.

Another popular statistic is days on market DOM, which is used to track how long it took an average home to sell via the MLS system. One would assume that the shorter the DOM, the hotter the listing or the local market.

But in Toronto, it became common practice for Realtors to >

The Toronto Real Estate Board says that in February 2019, 20 per cent of sold listings had been listed, terminated and then >

The board is now providing members with a new statistic, average property days on marketAve. PDOM, which includes the time a property has been on the market, regardless of the list-terminate->

CREA has been criticized for double-counting some sales in their national numbers when the same sale was reported by two different boards. However, the association says that impacted a very small percentage of transactions.

Statistics provided by the real estate boards are based on sales via the MLS system, and do not include private sales, transfers to family or corporations and sales of new homes and condos where the builders marketed directly to consumers. New home sales have traditionally been provided by local branches of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

A few years ago, when various governments started looking at the issue of foreign buyers and how they could be taxed, there was little data about just how many foreign owners there were in the marketplace. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. was tasked with coming up with some hard numbers to support government housing policies.

In 2017, Statistics Canada also upped its game with the introduction of the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, with a mandate to gather information about residential property ownership. In June, it >

For example, it found that 95.5 per cent of residential property owners in Ontario were individuals and residents of Canada. The same goes for 92.7 per cent of owners in B.C. and 92.1 per cent in Nova Scotia.

Statistics Canada says 6.8 per cent of Nova Scotia owners had two or more properties, and that Nova Scotia owners were about one-third more likely to own a second property than those in Ontario and B.C.

There were slightly more female owners than males: 51.9 per cent in B.C., 51.9 per cent in Ontario and 51 per cent in Nova Scotia.

The largest share of owners in B.C. and Nova Scotia was born from 1950 to 1959, while in Ontario, those born from 1960 to 1969 held the largest share. Millennial owners, which Statistics Canada says were born from 1980 to 1999, accounted for one in eight owners in Nova Scotia and one in seven in Ontario and B.C.

As more information is collected about homeownership and real estate, governments should be better able to form housing policies, and home buyers and sellers will become more equipped to negotiate the real estate market.


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How to Find a Real Estate Agent: A Few Things You Might Not Have Thought Of

Their reviews

We live in an era where you can find as much information as you want about just about anyone, with just a few clicks. Itrsquo;s imperative these days to read reviews, whether yoursquo;re looking for a good air conditioning technician or someone to help you buy or sell what is likely your largest asset. But donrsquo;t just depend on the reviews on the realtorrsquo;s website. Google any agent yoursquo;re considering, and check out whatrsquo;s being said about them on Yelp and on social media. Look to see if any complaints have been made about them. And keep in mind that every Realtormdash;even the best of the bestmdash;can have a negative review here and there from a disgruntled client. What yoursquo;re looking for is an overwhelmingly positive consensus.

Their listings

If yoursquo;re selling your home, you want your agent to be active, and that means having listings. But the number of listings can be telling. If they just go on and on and on, it could be an indication that the agent doesnt have the time to give you the level of service yoursquo;re looking for.nbsp;

Their affiliation

Is the Realtor yoursquo;re considering affiliated with a real estate company yoursquo;ve never heard of? This may or may not be of importance to you, depending on their qualifications. But you will want to make sure you do your due diligence to make sure the company is legit.

Their experience

Are you thinking of using a real estate agent who is newly licensed and has never helped anyone buy or sell a house before? Everyone has to start somewhere, but you might not want to be the guinea pig. You may have pressure from family or friends to use their daughter/cousin/uncle/next door neighbor, but itrsquo;s OK to politely tell them that yoursquo;re going with someone elsemdash;someone with many years of experience.nbsp;

Their area of expertise

Just because a Realtor has tons of experience doesnrsquo;t mean they have experience thatrsquo;s >

Their attitude

Even if the real estate agent in question checks all the other boxes, there may still be something off. Maybe they come off as aloof. Maybe theyrsquo;re so serious yoursquo;re afraid to ask questions. Maybe theyrsquo;re not serious enough. You donrsquo;t have to gel with your Realtor. Itrsquo;s perfectly finemdash;and perfectly normalmdash;to get through your transaction and never do business with that agent again. But an agent you really mesh with could end up becoming your agent for life, and maybe also become a friend.nbsp;

nbsp;


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Effective Social Media Strategies for Realtors

The results are conclusive: social media is a great tool for real estate agents. However, first agents must understand the ways in which this medium should be harnessed for this particular industry. Herersquo;s all you need to know:

Utilize social media demographics

Platforms such as Facebook have detailed targeting tools which can really help you hit that required demographic, so if you are listing a property which is great for a first home for those looking to climb onto the property ladder, or alternatively a perfect downsize for an older couple whose kids have left home, then you can reach out specifically to these age ranges by using targeted demographic campaigns. Understand your audience first, and then utilize the tools which can help you reach out.

Use images and video

Instagram is obviously a great platform for marketing properties with its focus on pictures, but donrsquo;t forget video too. In fact, all popular social media channels, as well as LinkedIn, allow the opportunity to share video content, and when selling or renting properties itrsquo;s a perfect opportunity to show people around both inside and outside.nbsp;

ldquo;You can even save yourself considerable time and effort in terms of physically showing people around, so put the resources into making great videos and this tactic really pays off,rdquo; says Tanya Maher, a real estate SMM manager atnbsp;Writinitynbsp;andnbsp;LastMinuteWriting.

Use hashtags

See whatrsquo;s trending in terms of real estate circles and follow popular hashtags online yourself to make sure you are on the ball in terms of the topics that people look out for when searching for properties online. For example , JustListed and DreamHome are two such popular options.nbsp;

ldquo;Hashtags are part of the bigger social media picture for a real estate agent which means conducting thorough social media research and having active accounts where you follow other real estate agents in order to stay up-to-date,rdquo; suggests Kirk Forrester, a tech journalist atnbsp;DraftBeyondnbsp;andnbsp;ResearchPapersUK.

Promote the area too

As any real estate agent worth his salt knows, promoting a property is as much about promoting the neighborhood and town/area in general as it is about promoting a physical building. As part of that bigger social media picture, utilize links to events, local promotions and any other activity in the place the property is situated to show off a vibrant community or peaceful oasis of calm, or whatever it is about the area that you believe complements the property itself. For example, if the property works as a family home, include links to popular family events which really showcase how family-friendly the location is.

You can also flip this around by actively posting on online community pages that you know attract the types of users who would be interested in the property. Donrsquo;t just wait for the audience to come to you, but actively go out and seek that audience by ascertaining the best places to find them. Local community online noticeboards are a great example.

Include reviews

In fact, you shouldnrsquo;t just include reviews, but build your who advertisement around the reviews themselves, as these really help convince viewers that the property and area is right for them. Use the reviews coming from and directed at your target audience, and be sure that the review includes key words and key topics that you know >

And make sure your profile is optimized

This is a simple point but often overlooked. Make sure that with any posts your contact details are overtly clear so users can quickly engage you about the property. In the world of real estate, things can move quickly, so ensure efficiency of communication with optimized profiles.

nbsp;


nbsp;Professional writer and real estate agent Ashley Halsey can be found contributing her insights at LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, where she has established her reputation as an erudite and intelligent observer of real estate marketing trends.

nbsp;


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4 Ways to Save When Selling Your Home

Selling your home can be a thrilling and very lucrative experience. But for the first-time home seller, it can also be nerve-wracking and deflating.nbsp;

Thatrsquo;s because selling the largest investment of your life can be counterintuitively expensive. Getting your home ready to be scrutinized by strangers takes a lot of cash and elbow grease.

As the saying goes, it takes money to make money.

However, there are some easy ways to cut down on your front-end expenses to make your home sale more profitable. Letrsquo;s look at five of the best.

Stage Your House Yourself

Professional home staging is expensive. The average cost of staging a home is just over 1,000, and renting furniture can add more. Thatrsquo;s the bad news. The good news is, you can do a lot of home staging yourself.

At base, the art of home staging is simply making a home as appealing as possible to prospective buyers; therersquo;s a reason that real estate agents say that people ldquo;buy with their eyes.rdquo; You want to show your home in the best possible light, and help buyers envision the potential of your living space. Thatrsquo;s easier for a trained, objective expert to do, but you can get a great result if you follow a few general rules.

If you hired a professional stager, theyrsquo;d likely deep clean your home before they staged it, so start with that. Clean the floors, walls, windows, appliances and trim; if your home needs a lot of work, hiring a professional cleaning crew might be a good investment.

Next, consider that the key to a beautiful photo or film is the lighting. Remove all window coverings, like blinds or drapes, to admit natural light.nbsp;

Now consider your furniture. If itrsquo;s out-of-date or in poor condition, put it in storage or throw it out. Even if your furniture is up-to-date and in great condition, keep in mind that having too much furniture crammed into a space is just as bad as not having any at all. You want to have enough furniture in your home to make it warm and inviting, but keep enough open space so that prospective buyers can project their own tastes onto the home.

The ldquo;less is morerdquo; rule definitely applies here; above all, make sure your home doesnrsquo;t look cluttered.

Pre-Sale Inspection

A pre-sale inspection can save you money and a lot of potential stress. If you wait until the buyerrsquo;s inspection to discover problems with the house, that could mean choosing between a price reduction, or paying for a list of repairs on the buyerrsquo;s timeline.nbsp;

The average cost of a pre-sale inspection is just over 300, and covers everything from the roof, foundation, plumbing, HVAC systems, the chimney and fireplace, and exterior features of the home like sidewalks.nbsp;

Discovering problems with your home ahead of time allows you to perform repairs at your own pace, shopping around for the best contractor rates, instead of having them done in a panic.nbsp;

Itrsquo;s also a great marketing advantage. Telling prospective buyers that your home has undergone a pre-sale inspection, followed by repairs and remediation, encourages them to bid with confidence.

Low Cost Repairs

Even if your home doesnrsquo;t require any major repairs, freshening it up a little can pay huge benefits when it hits the market. And wersquo;re not talking about a new roof or an in-ground pool; some of the most effective repairs are also some of the cheapest.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A new paint job can make a home look warmer, cleaner, and brighter; itrsquo;s also a job that can be done in a weekend, for the cost of paint, some drop cloths, and a few rollers.

If you decide to paint the interior of your home before you put it on the market, choose your colors carefully. Though white may seem like the obvious choice, it can seem harsh and institutional, and shows dirt easily. Opt for a softer, off-white tone for more aesthetically pleasing walls.nbsp;

White does work for ceilings, though. Painting the ceiling a lighter color than the walls makes the ceilings seem higher, which makes the entire room seem larger. Just remember to invest in high-quality paint; the smoother, more uniform texture makes a big difference.

Clean Carpets

Carpets can take a beating in a busy, family home, and worn or stained carpets can make a hugely negative impression on prospective buyers. But a lot of staining, matting, and apparent wear can be cured by a thorough cleaning.

Even if your carpet still looks good, it might have a faint odor that yoursquo;ve become nose-blind to, so a deep cleaning is always a good idea.

The easiest way to thoroughly clean your carpets is to rent a steam cleaner. Make sure you follow the directions, and donrsquo;t use too much cleaning solution, which can leave unsightly residue. Afterwards, opening windows and using fans can speed up the drying process.nbsp;

Fixing the Roof

A new roof isnrsquo;t exactly ldquo;low cost,rdquo; considering it can be the single most expensive home repair of all, but if you do have roof problems, itrsquo;s better to deal with it before you put your home on the market, rather than let it become an issue down the road.

In 2017, the U.S. Census found that Americans spent an average of 6,800 to replace their roofs. Considering that 50 of that cost is labor, you could assume that the materials for replacing your roof cost about 3,400.nbsp;

If itrsquo;s a >

List with a Flat Rate Agent via Referral Network

One of the biggest single expenses of selling your home is the commission, which traditionally comes to 6 of the final sale price, split between the listing agent and the buyerrsquo;s agent. For the median American home valued at just under 230,000, that comes to about 13,800.nbsp;

Selling with a flat fee agent from a referral network ensures that yoursquo;re working with a pre-vetted, top agent, unlike if you worked with an in-house agent from a discount brokerage, and gets you a full-service experience for a low, flat fee, instead of a big chunk of your profits. That can save you thousands of dollars in commission, and yoursquo;ll be sacrificing nothing on the service end.

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5 Questions You Should Ask About Senior Apartments

Moving to a retirement residence could be the answer to senior housing thata yoursquo;re looking for. Older seniors who are considering the next stage of their retirement have a lot of reasons to downsize into a retirement residence. Today, housing options like these offer benefits such as:

gt;gt; Active living amp; social life>

gt;gt; More convenience and greater affordability

gt;gt; Flexible care options that help seniors age in place

gt;gt; Accessibility without costly renovationsnbsp;

Finding senior apartments that will fit your needs and expectations will take research. You may want to get family members involved or make the decision independently. Whatever you do, make sure to ask lots about the facilities and get your questions answered while you take the tour. Making an informed decision will help you stay where you are years down the road. These are just some of the questions everyone should remember to ask the residence, their family, and themselves.

1. How much will it cost to live there?

Understanding the full costs of moving to and living in a retirement residence will help you put together your complete financial picture. Find out about the cost differences of different suites, as well as the cost of more intensive future care. You can also ask residences how they raise the rent; costs will have to go up to keep up with inflation.

Look beyond your immediate expenses and try to see how much it may cost years down the road.

You should also ask about how the residence might terminate a lease, or what kind of financial penalties might apply if you terminate your lease.

2. What kind of activities does the facility offer?

Find out about what kind of activities, >

3. Are the suites right for you?

Are you looking for a 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, or studio apartment? Find a residence that offers all the space you want and might need. If yoursquo;re looking for something budget-friendly, studio apartments are an affordable option. Many seniors would rather downsize their space for more convenience to walkable neighborhoods or for a more vibrant social life.

4. Are the care options you need available to you?

As you get older, the possibility that you may require care increases. Donrsquo;t neglect this fact when you are looking for a senior apartment. Make sure the place you live offers the kind of care you may need later, allowing you to age in place and remain where you are.

5. What are housekeeping services like?

One of the perks of moving into a retirement residence is shedding some of the chores yoursquo;ve been doing your whole life, including home maintenance and housekeeping. Find out if the residence offers housekeeping services to your liking.

As you prepare for this next stage in your life, you need all the information. Donrsquo;t be afraid to ask questions and get answers.

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How to Solve an Ant Problem

If you are interested to know about how you can get rid of ants naturally, then you are at the right place. Ants can be found anywhere and everywhere. You can see a trail of ant army in your kitchen. To successfully get rid of these ants, you need to try some of the best and most effective methods.

Tips to Get Rid of House Ants:

  • Homemade Ant Bait

  • Borax can be an excellent compound for killing house ants, and at the same time powdered sugar will attract them. To make a homemade ant bait, you need to mix one part of the borax thoroughly with 3 parts of powdered sugar. You can fill the bottle caps with this homemade ant bait and place these at the places where you suspect the invasion of ants.

  • Spraying Vinegar

  • You can take a little bit of white vinegar and spray it in the cracks and on the kitchen countertops. These are the places where the ants mainly travel through or walk around for the search of food. You need to allow the vinegar to dry on the surfaces or you can also wipe it with a clean cloth. This can eliminate any chemical trail.nbsp;

  • Keep the Place Sanitized

  • One of the best ways to keep ants out of your house or kitchen is by practicing good sanitation practices. Do not let the bread crumbs and food spills to stay in the kitchen. Clean them immediately. Make sure to clean the garbage too on a regular basis. Keep the sweets in zip-lock bags or in air-tight containers so that the ants cannot get into them.nbsp;

  • Peppermint Essential Oil

  • Another great method that can deter the ants from entering into your house is the peppermint essential oil. You can either spray it all over the places where it is infested by the ants including the cracks from where they enter. You can also put some drops of peppermint essential oil in a cotton ball and place them near the areas where ants move or crawl through. Make sure to find 100 pure essential oils.

    Conclusion

    So, these are some of the best prevention methods on how to solve an ant problem. You can try all these ways to effectively eliminate the ants from your house. All these steps can be effective, but if you still see ants in your house, it is better to call for professional help.nbsp;

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    Now That Its Fall, Did You Miss the Home Selling Boat?

    But that doesnrsquo;t mean you canrsquo;t offload your home now, or that you wonrsquo;t get a good price if you do. If you have to list now and you want to get your home in the best position to sell quickly and for a good number, heed these tips.nbsp;

    Make sure your home is market ready

    Buyers at this time of year tend to be serious. They may not be any more excited about buying right now than you are about selling, but theyrsquo;re in the market because of a >

    A home thatrsquo;s not in great shape is typically going to take longer to sell at any time of yearmdash;unless itrsquo;s a super bargain. When there are limited buyers out there and yoursquo;ve got competition from other area homes, your place has to show well.nbsp;

    That doesnrsquo;t necessarily mean you need expensive or extensive renovations. But a >

    bull;nbsp;Scour and tidy up
    bull;nbsp;Declutter
    bull;nbsp;Depersonalize

    Your real estate agent may have some other suggestions to make your home more sellable.

    Celebrate the season

    A few pumpkins, a fall wreath, a couple of candles with an autumnal scent or a simmering pot of cinnamon sticksmdash;theyrsquo;re little touches that can help your home feel more inviting and more fall-like for showings, without going overboard. Your Halloween deacute;cor may be stellar, but real estate agents steer sellers away from over-decorating so buyers arenrsquo;t distracted or turned off.nbsp;

    Put in a little extra effort for great photos

    "According to one study done by a real estate photography company, top-notch photos cannbsp;make your house sell 32 fasternbsp;than a house with low quality or average pictures,rdquo; said Homelight. ldquo;Thatrsquo;s not just for million-dollar mansions, either. The study, conducted by VHT Studios, took houses of all values into account.rdquo;

    It might be a little more challenging to get those photos in fall, however; Natural light is preferable for listing photos. ldquo;Fall and winter photos run the risk of looking drab, but well-timed summer photos are bright, clean, warmmdash;really everything you need to stand out to serious buyers. So take advantage of the seasonrsquo;s best days and include those photos in the listing when you go to sell in the fall,rdquo; said Owners.com.

    If good natural light is hard to come by at this time of year in your area, using a professional photographer is even more important. They will have tricks to help overcome the challenges.

    Let There Be Light

    Emphasizing the natural light in photos is one thing. You also want you home to look as light and bright as possible for showings and tours. ldquo;Retract blinds, and widen curtains, so therersquo;s minimal window coverage,rdquo; said HGTV.nbsp;

    ldquo;The windows will look bigger, and itrsquo;ll encourage daylight to flow into your space. Experiment with your lightbulbs to find the most flattering hues for your space. A bathroom looks great with daylight bulbs 5,000-6,500K and living spaces, such as bedrooms and living rooms, look best with soft white bulbs 2,700K. In general, your homersquo;s design and color palette will play a part in what looks most appealing. Go for cozy and bright. If yoursquo;re upgrading bulbs in hard-wired fixtures, consider going all LED. Let the buyers know yoursquo;re leaving the bulbs for them.rdquo;

    Be mindful of your curb appeal

    Falling leaves are inevitable in autumn. You may not be able to rake or remove every single one of them in time for a surprise or last-minute showing, but making sure you take a walk around your house every day to address any areas that need clean-up can help you from having to make a big effort when an agent calls with an interested client.

    You know what they say: You only get one chance to make a first impression. ldquo;Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn,rdquo; said The Balance. ldquo;Dont let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cutaway summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.rdquo;nbsp;

    Adding a few fall flowers is another good idea that will up your curb appeal. ldquo;The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums or mums, and they bloom for a long time. Marigolds are another idea for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk.rdquo;

    Key in on your target market

    Your agent should be able to help you pinpoint who the most likely buyers are. Armed with that info, you can tailor your home to specific target markets.nbsp;

    ldquo;If you have a hunch your house may appeal to empty-nesters, herersquo;s how to play up that attraction: Emphasize multipurpose spacemdash;for instance, stage one bedroom as a home office-cum-hobby roommdash;because empty-nesters crave flexibility for the future,rdquo; said Bob Vila. ldquo;Provide a map to points of interest within walking distance. To the extent possible, aging baby boomers wish to integrate exercise into their daily habits.nbsp;Showcase quality. Without teenagers around, empty-nesters can enjoy more delicate finishes and fine details, so give them something to brag about. They want to upgrade as they downsize.rdquo;

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    A Guide for San Diego Seniors Planning to Downsize During Retirement

    Costs to Include When Planning Out Your Downsizing Budget

    Remodeling Expenses

    When looking for a new home, yoursquo;re not likely to find one with all of the aging-in-place features to make your golden years safe and comfortable. So factor the costs of making those home changes on your own into your budget. You can use online tools to quickly find out how much home projects cost in your area. For instance, an average bathroom remodel runs 10,332 to 24,516 in San Diego, but project specifics can drive those costs up or down.nbsp;

    Costs of Selling a Homenbsp;

    You may have already thought about local home prices when planning your downsizing move, but many seniors are surprised by the costs of selling a home. Two of these costs that tend to take homeowners by surprise are the expenses of preparing a home for sale and the fees involved with selling a home. Closing costs can vary according to your location, but seniors should be prepared to pay for at least a portion of closing costs when selling a home. Plus, you may need to cover closing costs on your new home. The best way to prepare for these transaction expenses is to consult your real estate agent when buying or selling a home.nbsp;

    Moving Expensesnbsp;

    To help your downsizing move go smoothly, you need to anticipate all potential moving costs. A local San Diego move can cost you anywhere from about 365 to 1,255 depending on your homersquo;s size, but you may also need to factor storage costs and professional moving fees into your budget. Hiring professional movers may be an added moving expense, but having that extra help can help you avoid the headache of packing and moving heavy boxes on your ownmdash;especially since it can take time just to declutter and downsize your home before you even think about packing.nbsp;

    Things to Consider When Searching for Your Perfect Golden Years Home

    Location and Sizenbsp;

    If yoursquo;re not sure which San Diego neighborhood is best for your retirement, you could always rent a vacation home to test out different neighborhoods and home types. Per Turnkey, San Diegorsquo;s 70 miles of gorgeous coastline and mild average temperatures make it a perfect retirement spot, and test-driving homes in areas like La Jolla and Torrey Pines can help you find your perfect retirement neighborhood. There are also quite a few San Diego County cities, such as La Mesa and El Cajon, where you may be able to stretch those retirement dollars further without sacrificing access to all of the perks that San Diego has to offer.nbsp;

    Floorplan and Featuresnbsp;

    Aging-in-place modifications can make any home safer for your retirement years. These modifications are specifically tailored to prevent falls and home accidents that can reduce senior independence, all while adding comfort to your golden years home. While you may not be able to find a San Diego home with all of the aging-in-place features you need, you can look for senior-friendly design elements, such as no-step entries and slip-resistant flooring. Also, pay attention to the floorplans of potential homes, since open floor plans may make it easier to move around and provide enhanced lighting throughout all of the living areas in a home.nbsp;

    The whole point of downsizing is to simplify your golden years. So donrsquo;t let the process of downsizing and moving to a new home cause you more stress than it needs to. Keep this guide handy every step of the way, and be sure to get the help you need with downsizing tasks. These are some of the best years of your life, and you deserve to enjoy them

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    Why Maintenance Tracking is Beneficial to HOAs

    Schedule Preventative Maintenance Easier

    Preventative maintenance is a key component of ensuring the proper working order of all your systems and equipment. This includes things like pest control, pools, filter changes, water pipes, and monthly landscaping tasks to ensure the continual beauty of the community for your homeowners. When people are part of an HOA, they long for beautiful and serene common areas and do not like to see signs of wear and tear on their community.

    When you add a maintenance tracking program to your HOA, it makes preventative maintenance, like monthly lawn care, easier to schedule. Maintenance tracking software, like a CMMS, allows HOA property management teams to have the ability to schedule maintenance on an easier timeline. These programs allow you to input manufacturer maintenance schedule information and will automate scheduling for the team allowing management to focus on the many other important tasks.

    Reveals Drains on the Maintenance Funds

    It may not seem like it is worth the expense, but preventative maintenance is very valuable to a controlled maintenance budget. With maintenance tracking, your HOA can easily see the time and expense used on each preventative maintenance task, like servicing the water pipes or pumps on a regular basis. While it might seem like a drain on expenses to keep maintaining the pool in cooler months, it can be a task that saves money. This is especially true when you can see the cost in a maintenance tracking form that identifies that information for you easily.nbsp;

    In addition to tracking the cost and hours spent on preventative maintenance tasks like checking and changing pool filters, you can also track the hours and cost of things like repairing broken water pumps due to neglected preventative pool maintenance. This in-depth tracking allows homeowners associations, to easily give examples of why preventative maintenance is a key component of keeping track of the budget to all members of the HOA and maintenance workers.nbsp; This way you can show how monthly maintenance has saved thousands of dollars compared to the cost of having a plumber repair burst water pipes.nbsp;

    Helps Reduce Maintenance Costs

    In addition, to helping to reveal drains on your maintenance budget and remove them, you can help to reduce costs. If you have the groundskeeping crew and another separate crew checking on the various maintenance needs of your grounds, like the storm drains, you may find that two different people are being paid to inspect the same items. This will inflate costs significantly over time. To reduce this, you need to schedule maintenance tasks better based upon who is more likely to be better at doing the task.nbsp;

    With the example of storm drains, rather than send out an enti>

    Improves Efficiency of Maintenance Team

    With the addition of maintenance tracking, especially the type of software programs that allow for team collaboration and review, you can allow the team to see what places are needing more care than others. Some places will need more care and others will have fallen behind in care because of lack of oversight. However, with the addition of maintenance tracking, each team will have the opportunity to see where they have spent more time than others.nbsp;

    This additional layer of oversight takes pressure off of management and allows the teams to see how to better serve the community in their efforts. For example, a maintenance team might spend a lot of time ensuring the pristine beauty of community gazebos while only thinking of the roofing of community property on occasion. After a while, the gazebos will still look amazing while the community property roofs sit in disrepair. With proper maintenance tracking, you can see the amount of hours spent on a particular problem and adjust levels of care to ensure that all problems get the level of care they need to be perfect for your community.nbsp;

    By adding maintenance tracking you are able to change your community for the positive. It can make problems easier to see with the constant stream of trackable data. It alleviates pressure from management and allows teams to coordinate easily. Overall, if you arenrsquo;t tracking your maintenance, you arenrsquo;t being as efficient as possible.

    nbsp;


    Warren Wu leads growth atnbsp;UpKeep, a CMMS software company that was designed to empower empower maintenance teams to make better decisions from data-driven insights.


    Full Story >




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