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The Internet Of Things And How It Can Help Sell Your Home

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Home Selling TipsAs a homeowner or a potential home buyer it’s important to be aware of the things that have an impact on what the term homeowner actually means. Over the years and even centuries owning a home has come to mean an increasing number of features can be expected in your possession and at your convenience.

Indoor plumbing and central heating go back to the basics of what it is to have a house and to make it a cozy home. There are many other things that have made life at home more comfortable such as vacuum cleaners and refrigerators. We can all too easily discount that there was a time when we did without them and take them for granted.

The Internet Of Things Is Getting In Everything

The next big innovation in the conveniences of the home are likely to come as part of the emerging trend of all appliances and machinery to include electronic monitoring gear and software that can connect it directly into the Internet. This potential of connecting everything to everything else is referred to as the Internet of Things. It has been building momentum in recent years and it could easily become an accepted part of the home in the near future.

The possibilities include the connection of all heating, air conditioning and the rest of your home’s utilities. Other appliances will be connected wirelessly and so your Wi-Fi router will become another vital appliance, the hob of the network of everything that is connected in your house.

The Internet of Things will give you immediate access to vast amounts of information about the state of each appliance or piece of furniture, warning of failures and energy usage. You won’t have to be at home to utilize such features. By connecting through the appropriate app you will have it all at your fingertips, even when you vacation on the other side of the world. It is likely that your refrigerator will soon be able to inventory its contents and alert you to replace anything in short supply. A more extreme possibility is that you could select options that allow the fridge to contact the supermarket on your behalf and make the order directly.

Living In Public

The downside of the Internet of things is that we could be tracked so completely that our every move is noted and logged. Whether it is by the range in the kitchen, the air-conditioning in the living room or a humble lamp in the back bedroom.

IN spite of that privacy invasion the Internet of Things promises to have such complete coverage of everyone’s lives that it will be like you are in a cocoon of electronic tracking. This is something that new homes will have as standard. For some people this may be less appealing but still it may become an important factor in creating the most modern curb appeal for your property. Millennial new homebuyers may be much more comfortable with total envelopment by the Internet of Things than the rest of us but we need to consider the potential benefits going forward.

If you are considering buying or selling in the near future the Internet of Things is a topic that you should discuss early in the process with your realtor. The possibilities and trends are evolving so rapidly that you will need to be aware of what to look out for and what to offer buyers as high-tech incentives that might be all the difference in how quickly you sell and the price that you can agree in negotiations.

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The Breakdown For Condo Fees

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real-estate-basicsWhether you are hunting for your first home or the next, you will probably want to look at condominiums as an option. They cost less than detached homes generally and there is someone to take care of the chores and upkeep of the building so you don’t have to do it yourself.

All of this comes at a price obviously and that cost is called a homeowners’ association fee or condo owners fee. This monthly bill covers the cost of managing the community. You will need to factor it into the equation of your decision to buy or to make your purchase elsewhere.

The Structure And Purpose Of Condo Fees

The legal term describing condominiums that you may see in documentation is common interest development or CID. The whole point of a condominium is that it is a community that is managed collectively by the homeowners association or HOA.

HOAs usually employ a professional management company to run the day-to-day operations. The fees that go to the management company for your condominium association or HOA what do they cover? There are several factors that account for the monthly homeowners’ association fees that you pay each month for your condo unit or townhome.

Some Services Covered

Here is a list of some of the most common elements of the bill you will pay each month as a member of an HOA:

  • Insurance – For everything outside your unit, you still need a policy of your own to cover the interior of your unit.
  • Pest control – the shared structure of your building requires that there is a holistic approach to fighting the sort of pests that can get up inside it.
  • Lawn and landscaping If you look closely you can tell the difference between condos and rental units by the quality of the yard work.
  • Maintenance and repair – All work on the shared structures and spaces of the community and the shared link to municipal services.

HOAs Wrap It Up And Put A Bow On Top

This list is not exhaustive however when you are looking at condos to buy your realtor should be able to acquire a comprehensive breakdown of what you will be paying and why.

Likewise, once you are settled and living in your condo there should be at least an annual report detailing what your board of directors has spent and what they intend to spend in the next year.

Work Gets Done So You Don’t Have To

HOA fees mean that you don’t have to worry about doing the yard work and yearly upkeep that is essential to keep the property looking good and habitable. The fee that you pay may go up in future years if there is an unexpected expense or just an increase in the cost of management.

In the balance, if you lack the time or inclination to do chores or potter around and work on your home you might find that your HOA fees represent good value and a subscription to membership in your community.

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The Difference Between Houses Townhouses And Condominiums

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real-estate-basicsShould I Stay Detached Or Go Condo?

Have you ever wondered about the differences between detached homes, townhouses and condominiums? From a standpoint of comfort it is a matter of choosing the lifestyle that best suits your needs. However, from legal and practical standpoints there are numerous things that clearly mark out the distinctions between one and the others.

The main division is between the ownership of a single, detached property and one in which there is a common, shared interest with other members of the community. This shared interest is governed by the condominium agreement, a relationship that dates back to ancient times. You are said to own a condo, or a unit, meaning a unit of space when it is part of a legal condominium community; the name refers both to the unit and the contract.

The HOA Advantage

The organization that supports and operates the community, the homeowners association or HOA, is the main feature of the difference. If you own your own detached home you are responsible for all of the bills and maintenance issues.

In a condo communities the shared assets are the responsibility of a management team. Oversight of the management is provided by a board of directors that is elected by all of the members of the association.

The use of condominium rules is something that is applied to a wide range of housing needs and building types. The most familiar is the unit that is most commonly associated with the word condo and it usually brings to mind an apartment in a building that stacks up the units like shipping containers. In fact many condo complexes start out as apartment buildings that convert at a time when it is best suited to get the best return on the developer’s investment.

Different Structures Still Strictly Condominium

A townhouse is an attached home that has is like the close-packed row houses in many urban communities. They are arranged side-by-side and usually consist of two levels or more. They have an HOA to take care of the common areas and some of the amenities. Landscaping for each unit might not be included.

Detached houses in gated communities and in some privately developed subdivisions are another type of community that share responsibilities and costs. The same services as with condos and townhomes but homeowners may be expected to contribute more in the upkeep of the exteriors of their homes as well as adhere to strict rules on appearance.

For the avid gardener who is keen to create a unique and distinctive look to their home this may be a restriction that prevents them doing what they really desire. In such cases the independence of a traditional home might be much more preferable. For other buyers, the sense of community and grooming of the common areas might be just right. There are many types of ownership options because there are so many different needs of people seeking to own their own homes.

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The Stages Of Home Ownership

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stages-of-home-ownershipFirst time buyers or recently new homeowners may feel like there is so much that must be done to set the stage for that all important first home purchase. Just the thought of it can be overwhelming. The real secret is to start modestly and keep making those home payments over time; it all adds up eventually.

As you gain equity what do you do? Stay? Refinance? Sell and move to a larger home? What is the right choice for you? At different times in life you are going to view home ownership through different lenses and with different sets of needs. The following simplification is intended to give a basic roadmap of the needs of homeowners at different ages and levels of need in life.

Ownership Rules For Youth And First Time Buyers

If you don’t already have equity in real estate or cash in the bank then it might be worth looking into the different ways to leverage what cash and assets that you do have. Fortunately, there’s a lot of help available. If you have reasonably good credit and income you might qualify for a government insured loan that will get your foot in the real estate front door.

Your first home will likely be more of a stretch financially than later purchases. Firstly, you don’t have that much cash presumably and if you don’t have enough cash to make a twenty percent deposit or higher you will have a mortgage insurance premium as part of your monthly payment. Government backed loans such as those offered by the FHA and VA help you get into home ownership quickly.

Different Rules For The Owner With Equity

When you have gained enough equity under your belt, you begin to have choices. However, those choices must be balanced against the cost of change. For the former first time buyer this is the time to choose between refinancing and moving.

If you are settled and happy with the home that you’ve built equity in it may still be time to determine if you can save some expense by refinancing at a higher appraisal. This will help if you have been paying mortgage insurance premiums or you want to change the term of the loan.

Larger deposits mean lower payments. Faster payments mean lower payments. Fifteen-year terms get a preferred rate compared to thirty-year mortgage terms. The difference in the monthly repayments can be surprisingly small as shorter terms benefit from less interest compounding.

Ownership In The Sunset Years

Having some leverage applied to your home may not be a bad thing. If you have a small home loan, say less than 50% of the value of your home there is an advantage in the interest deduction for tax purposes. Lenders often manage the property tax issues by impounding an estimated monthly amount and using it to pay the bill as it comes due. With this taken care of as part of the monthly payment it is one less thing to have to worry about.

The laws against discrimination are clear that you cannot be refused a loan because of your age. Holding a loan balance may be preferable to a so-called reverse mortgage, where the value of your home goes to the lender when you pass away.

Speak with your realtor or financial advisor about the best plan for your circumstances and your point in life. You may find as many have before that, regardless of your starting point, there is a plan that will suit your life and times. The earlier that you start the more opportunity you have to move up the property ladder and to enjoy your home throughout your life. A little planning and saving in early adult life can go a long way to creating your lifestyle dream come true in the long-term.

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Hiring Contractors And Home Improvement

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choose-a-contractorThe Buyer Must Always Beware

When you decide to commit to a home improvement project for your property, you are hoping to make the house you bought into the home that you’re going to love. You may not have the time or the experience to confidently do it yourself so you have to hire a local builder who contracts for construction projects; you hire a contractor. There are a few points to ponder before you commit on what could be an expensive and time-consuming venture.

Even Nice Guys Can Turn Mean Eventually

When homeowners work with contractors to do some home improvement there is always a risk. There are incentives to cut corners and overprice work on the contractor’s side. Believe it or not this doesn’t make them a bad person per se. It just means that they are trying to get the better end of a deal in the transaction in a competitive business.

If you have never been self-employed or worked in the building industry you may not be aware of just what a cutthroat environment it is. The cycles of the economy, the ruthless competition and many harsh lessons along the way to your doorstep are enough to harden the heart of any kind soul, who is likely working to put food on the table for his or her family.

Some Points To Ponder In Hiring Contractors

When you are preparing to hire a contractor you should keep the following points in mind. Generally, you need to make certain that you hire right, so that you don’t have issues down the road. Needless to say, a little due diligence goes a long way.

  • Research the job on your own to find out what is going to be involved
  • Check out the social media reputation of prospective local builders
  • Seek referrals from people you know and trust who recently had work done
  • Get at least three bids from unconnected businesses to determine if the pricing is fair
  • Visit your local planning office and start the permit process on your own
  • Make payment for the project contingent on satisfactory approval by the city building inspector

For larger projects work with an architect or builder as consultants who oversee the project. You might even wish to consult a real estate attorney to review the intended process. In this case, you want to apply the selection process to them as much as the actual builder. The experience of a professional overseer can be the key to getting the job done right, and on time.

Make sure you ask your local real estate professional for contractor referrals. Realtors have a reputation to uphold and any reference they give will be someone they trust not to abuse that favor.

Some Clichés Will Tell You The Truth

Hiring contractors for real estate rehab, and home improvement brings to mind a whole host of clichés. That is only natural be cause of the transactional nature of the business of home improvement projects.

So, remember to caveat emptor and don’t pay the ferryman ‘til he gets you to the other side, et cetera. Contractors are people too so be prepared to apply a little character judgment and wisdom to the process and, with any luck, you can have an on-time under-budget home improvement project that will be the envy of the neighborhood.

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Building Permits And Why You Need Them

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Planning PermitsCould They Make You Tear Your House Down?

If you build or convert your home without a building permit there is always the ultimate threat. It is the fear that the county, city or municipality will resort to making an example of what happens to people who fail to get the right permits before making major changes to the structure of their real estate assets.

There is no good reason why it should get anywhere near that situation. In fact the building department has your interests at heart and can be a goto resource during your construction project.

A Short History Of Building Safety

Regulation of construction and buildings has developed over centuries to regulate best practice in the building industry and to make certain that there we occupy basically sound structures. Going back to the seventeenth century in Great Britain, the Great Fire of London devastated huge portions of the city of London and surrounding areas.

The King demanded an inquiry after the fact, which uncovered so many bad building practices that destruction had all but been inevitable. This led to the a watershed moment in the formation of building codes that require designs to limit and stop the spread of fire and other hazards.

The Phrase That Pays Is Due Diligence

Do not leave it to your contractor to determine whether or not you need a permit. It is your property and responsibility to carefully check and double check that you are following the right path.

When a project costs as much as a house, or at least a good sized extension there is much pressure to save money by cutting corners and skipping the important steps in planning your build. Don’t end up being that person who spends vast sums because they attempted to take the cheap and easy route, only to find that it is full of potholes that will cost you a fortune.

Keeping Contractors Honest

Any time that you make a change to the structure of your property you need to have the right permit from the controlling authority, usually your city or county. If you are in doubt or your contractor suggests that it is not necessary it is time to take the initiative yourself and contact the local building department.

With the right planning permit you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that a building inspector will ensure that your contractor has done the work correctly and as agreed. In this way the planning department is actually on your side and a guardian against shoddy building practices.

The Building Department Is A Resource

Any time you undertake to modify the structure of a property you are going to be making an investment of both finance and time. Make certain that you have all of the right paperwork before you start and it will make a big difference in how your plan proceeds.

The building department is there for the good of the community and for your protection. Make good use of its resources to ensure you have good advice before you start and to have your project inspected on completion to ensure that you get what you paid for at the end of the job.

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Will The Value Of My Home Drop Again?

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What is your home worth?Fear And Loathing In Homeownership

There was a time when it was common knowledge that real estate only ever goes up in value. With the traumatic drop in prices in 2007-2009 it is pretty clear that this “fact” was utterly false.

The truth is that real estate is like any other capital asset, it can go down as well as up in value. This currently has buyers nervously asking the question because it is imprinted on the common memory that prices can and will fall.

Looking at the historic trend in real estate prices it can be seen that prices have been following an underlying upward trend that follows inflation. The prices of the housing bubble deviated upward from that trend and then crashed down again.

The underlying upward trend is still there. If you slept through the entire fiasco of the ‘00s you would still be feeling pretty good about your prior real estate investments and home value.

Pricing The Emperor’s New Home

The irony of a bubble is that when we are in it no one realizes. As soon as the public discussion and perception becomes aware of the bubble prices are likely to collapse. As long as you are looking at prices that are reasonably in line with the historic trend you are less likely to suffer any remarkable loss.

Some of the factors that contribute to the value of your home are the basics of economics and politics. The law of supply and demand ultimately determines the value; when there are parties willing to buy your home the price will remain stable or rise.

What Determines Your Home’s Value?

The supply and demand for land and improvements – The value is in the land and the improvements; building structures will degrade over time and need rehabilitation or replacing but the space has potential for value based on its location and the presence of people who would put it to use.

The condition of the economy – As the economy moves through the cycle from recession to growth and boom demand will fluctuate; prices will get upward pressure in good times and negative pressure in the bad. Fear and greed dramatically exaggerate these tendencies, causing prices to oscillate wildly as panic takes over.

Political stability – In the United States, regardless of news reports and politicians bickering, we have been blessed with a relatively stable political and legal regime. There is no faction seriously calling for the end of property rights or other changes to the laws surrounding real estate.

Will my home value drop in the future? Probably. It is not likely on average and it may go up for years before it does. Buying your own home is a great way to create wealth that renters do not.

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You Bought A Home Now What?

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settling-in-your-new-homeTime To Get On With The Chores Of Living

Once you have completed closing and moved into your new abode you are going to feel great. After all of the stress and uncertainties of buying and moving there is bound to be some mixed feelings that drifts, a sort of anticlimax after all of the excitement.

Now that you are in the door it is the time to get going on all of the things that get you properly settled including some physical work and some networking and connecting.

Time To Get Physical

Get ready to start cleaning. When you sit down and look closely you will most likely realize that the real estate term of broom clean is not the same as spotless. Once you move in you will start with a thorough spring-cleaning. It is also time to paint and to change the carpets.

There will be some chores of a more practical concern. You should change all of the locks and security codes. In spite of the best intentions of the previous owners, you really do not know who has a key copy or the alarm code.

So, maybe the HVAC passed the inspection but now is the time to get it serviced, along with the other major appliances that came with the purchase.

Follow up on the paperwork. Contact your county records and confirm your deed has been recorded correctly. Get the utilities transferred into your name and make sure that you have all of the right insurance for fire, liability and theft.

Stay In Touch With Your Realtor

Your realtor can be a great source of referrals and knowledge about what to do when things break down. Another thing they can help with is any sudden surge of lingering doubt and possibly even buyer’s remorse.

The remedy is to keep looking forward with projects to complete. You might even choose to go to a few open houses in the neighborhood to help you connect to the new community around you. Your realtor can advise you on this and tell you where the next open houses will be.

Your realtor wants to keep in touch with you and that’s a good thing. Building a long-term relationship not only helps their career it makes it easier when it is time for you to sell. You have an agent who is familiar and can create an insightful market analysis for the property.

An experienced realtor has a long list of contacts in a wide range of professions and trades and you have them at your favor to do it. Professional realtors are naturally gregarious and continuously collect networks of contacts the way some people collect fine china. They can be a fantastic resource to you because you are now in that network. It can even work to promote your own career objectives or business.

Rejoice And Get Settled

It is certainly time to rejoice and to celebrate your new venture in homeownership. Following up on all of the chores and paperwork is just part of the process. Taking care of all of these details is the proactive way to getting settled into your new home.

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What To Look For In A Great Realtor

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realtor-teamThe Obvious Answers In Character

You have decided to buy a home, possibly selling the one you already have, you have your finances in order, now what do you do? One of the biggest decisions in the process of moving is going to be choosing the real estate agent that you work with.

This is the property sales professional who will represent you at critical phases in the process and attempt to negotiate the best price and terms in the deal. It is going to require that you make a personal choice. Even though it will be a business endeavor you will be working with one agent who is supposed to understand you and fight passionately for your interests.

The Business Attracts Professionals With Interpersonal Skills

There are many outstanding real estate professionals that would fit the general characteristics to do the job but you will always get the best outcome when you find the one with whom you make a personal connection.

The best place to begin the search is with trusted friends and family members who have recently bought or sold real estate. Look to real estate websites and social media as well to determine who has had the best experience working with an agent and which agent that was.

There are the general, big picture characteristics that you are going to want in your agent. Honesty is paramount of course; they should have exhibited integrity and demonstrated experience that includes local market knowledge. All of this should be documented in testimonials and the verbal referrals from friends and family.

Making Deals And Closing Them

Making deals comes down to hustle at the end of the day. Anyone can become probably become a success in real estate if they are determined and they apply enough energy. It may be a lot of energy for some and less for others but it is the hustle that goes into making a successful career in a field as dynamic as real estate.

With hustle come results and those results help to create a reputation. In addition to this you will find that realtors will often specialize. As they mature property professionals learn more about their own personal strengths and weaknesses. As they do they become more valuable to the clients that need the skills at which they excel.

An In All Things A Balance

There has to be a balance between your drive and hustle, and their long-term involvement in the local real estate market, specialization and how well their personalities align with your own. You will have to rely at least in part on your own personal ability to judge the right realtor for your needs. Try to leverage this with as much third-party information that you can gather from your personal network, industry websites and social media sites such as

One final tip: The National Association of Realtors has a website with a vast library of resources.   At you can read about choosing a realtor and search through their listings. Most realtors will do a great job but you will get that extra edge from working with a realtor who understands you. When you have a high level of rapport in the relationship it kicks your project up to the next level of real estate success.

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City Living Has Some Things Going For It Lately

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city-livingLearning How To Live The Urban Life

From Williamsburg in NYC to Queen Ann Hill In Seattle, from Santa Monica California to Collins Avenue in Miami there is a definite trend toward urban living that has emerged over the last decade or two. Although there are always issues of crowdedness and expense in city living some people are finding that they love the connection and freedom that it creates. Arguably it is the exact opposite of living in a gated community because of the direct and intimate contact that you have with masses of people on a daily basis.

Things have changed in the urban environment and there is a new movement toward city living. This is very much in evidence in the condominium and townhome projects popping up in urban areas across the country. This gives homeowners and potential homeowners more opportunities to buy into the urban lifestyle.

Sacrifices Brings Savings That Make It Worthwhile

Prepare to Downsize when you go urban. Prices go up the closer that you get to down town. But there are advantages to balance out the crowdedness. You have many choices for food, drink and entertainment.

Can you let go of your car? No seriously, if you have a modern downtown condo you might get one parking space in the garage at the bottom of the structure but very often parking is considered as an extra and you will pay a lot to have it.

New York City is notorious for the cost of parking and New Yorkers have been willing to go without as a basic part of the culture and that leads the way. You learn to use public transportation, taxis, walking greater distances and now online services such as Uber and Lyft. Being able to call on a car and driver via your mobile device is rapidly becoming a standard part of the urban lifestyle across the country.

Getting Around Alone In The Crowd

Cities are also embracing alternative transportation such as bicycling and creating lanes and traffic controls that support it. Light rail and trolley cars are enjoying a renascence, putting neighborhoods in easy reach of all of the amenities that support urban living in the cities they serve. Finally, delivery services will bring nearly anything imaginable directly to your door.

Urban living encourages interaction as much as being alone in the crowd. Thanks to the iniquitousness of mobile devices and social media you can easily find some group or club that shares your interests and passions.

So, city living definitely has something going for it. But what is available? There are loft conversions that pop up as industrial districts become gentrified and condominium projects that stack modern luxury up to the sky. Houses, if they are available at all, tend to be extremely expensive.

Moving Up To The Urban Lifestyle

There is not much different in the house hunting process when you are seeking an urban abode. The differences lie in the character of the community and the scale. There is a growing sector in real estate that serves urban living and you should speak with an urban realtor or broker who specialize in the city of which you wish become a resident.

Adopting the urban lifestyle is a new and exciting frontier that has become a popular lifestyle choice for homebuyers. If you think you would enjoy the adventure and can tolerate the pressures of city living you should take a look at moving into an urban home.

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