News Feeds (RSS) Australia's most expensive home sells for $150m An off the plan apartment has smashed the record for Australia's most expensive home.The top three floors of One Sydney Harbour tower in Sydney's exclusive Barangaroo South development precinct has been sold for A$140 million (NZ$150m).The... Mon, 21 Oct 2019 08:59:06 +1200 2019-10-21 08:59 +12:00 2019-10-21 09:59 +13:00 Bunnings extends flat-pack home design range, 72 NZ houses now up, 21 builders approved Bunnings is expanding its range of flat-pack homes, 72 of the structures are now up throughout New Zealand and a list of 21 approved builders has been released.A Bunnings spokesperson said demand was growing for the products, starting... Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:00:00 +1200 2019-10-19 07:00 +12:00 2019-10-19 08:00 +13:00 Mangere warehouse with vacant possession in low-vacancy market Auckland's low-vacancy industrial market is expected to drive strong buyer demand for a substantial warehouse for sale with vacant possession in the industrial hub of Mangere.Andrew Hooper, director of Colliers International's... Sat, 19 Oct 2019 05:00:00 +1200 2019-10-19 05:00 +12:00 2019-10-19 06:00 +13:00 Japanese-inspired home in Gisborne voted supreme in architectural awards A touch of Japanese culture in a Kiwi setting is the winning recipe in this year's top architectural awards. A humble but unique family home in Gisborne has been named the supreme winner in the 2019 Resene Architectural Designers... Sat, 19 Oct 2019 05:00:00 +1200 2019-10-19 05:00 +12:00 2019-10-19 06:00 +13:00 'We will fight you for ever and ever': SkyCity AGM met by unionists with a message "We will fight you for ever and ever," chanted 31 union protesters in te reo M&#257;ori outside SkyCity Entertainment Group's AGM today in Auckland.Members of SEA Unite sang waiata and chanted their protest message as they held... Fri, 18 Oct 2019 10:28:38 +1200 2019-10-18 10:28 +12:00 2019-10-18 11:28 +13:00 $350m property deal: Dress Smart and Meridian malls up for sale Three prominent retail properties across New Zealand are up for sale in a deal which could exceed $350 million.Dress Smart discount retail factory outlet malls in Auckland and Christchurch and Dunedin's prominent Meridian Mall on... Fri, 18 Oct 2019 07:06:53 +1200 2019-10-18 07:06 +12:00 2019-10-18 08:06 +13:00 More home loans tipped for investors in boost to house prices Banks may soon be able to offer more home loans to investors in a move that could push national house prices back into strong growth.Investors had earlier been buying fewer properties after tough new rules introduced in 2016 made... Fri, 18 Oct 2019 05:00:00 +1200 2019-10-18 05:00 +12:00 2019-10-18 06:00 +13:00 COMMENT: Sign of changing times <p>Fletcher Building opened a flash, new, high tech, prefabricated house building factory yesterday. Great things are expected of it, but Miriam Bell ponders what it means for your average investor.</p> Thu, 17 Oct 2019 11:54:00 +1300 2019-10-17 11:54 +13:00 2019-10-17 11:54 +13:00 Unique Homes castles Step Inside the Castle a Dad Promised to His Son Wooden knights and a secret passageway add to the home's magical charm. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 17:40:29 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Many kids dream of owning their own castle, but John Lavender - owner, designer and builder of the Highlands Castle in Bolton Landing, New York - made his son Jason's childhood fantasy a reality. After telling his (then) 3-year-old son that he would build him a castle, Lavender delivered on his promise, constructing it from scratch himself. Nestled in the beautiful Adirondacks and overlooking the coast of Lake George, the stone castle sits on nine acres of land and feels as though it was plucked from a medieval English countryside.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Construction on the Highlands Castle began in 1982, and ever since, Lavender has been in the process of constantly building and renovating it to perfection. Currently, the structure stands at an impressive 12,000 square feet and features 3 beds, 2.5 baths as well as a two-story tower sitting area, and a "great hall" with floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a picturesque look at Lake George. The castle also has a music/library room, sitting room, den and a covered terrace that gives you magical, panoramic views of the lake. Lavender also incorporated a sense of play into his castle design, adding a secret passageway to the downstairs bedroom, patio and entertainment room.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230997 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>To give it a sense of old-world authenticity on the interior, the castle is filled with antiques and collectibles at every turn - ranging from beautiful pieces of furniture to sculptures to hand-carved wooden knights - that Lavender started procuring five years before he even purchased the land.</p> <p>"I went out and purchased antiques year after year. And I started to just put them in storage," Lavender says. "I &#8230; was committing myself to fulfill the promise [of building the castle]."</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-231004 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>Attention to detail was important in the design and construction of Highlands Castle, which features over 800 tons of stone (placed painstakingly one at a time), custom woodworking and stained-glass doors, all lending to its antique Gothic style. Thankfully, however, the home does include some modern amenities that make castle life suitable for the 21<sup>st</sup> century, including an open concept and up-to-date kitchen, luxurious bathrooms with custom tile work, and spacious bedrooms fit for a king or queen.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-231002 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>The best detail of the castle, however, is the unmatched view of Lake George, which Lavender says he never takes for granted.</p> <p>"There&#8217;s a lot of people will ask the same question: 'Do you ever like get tired of looking at the view? Or do you ever not look at it and just forget to look at it, take it, you know, just for granted?' And the answer is no. I mean, I can sit here and tell you that several times a day I will give thanks just for my time that I&#8217;m able to spend here," he says.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230995 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="767" /></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiE1OjPqqHlAhUMsp4KHbnOA9UQFjAAegQIBBAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3sxOIylOaxHmimDUmEDZ0A" data-ctorig="">Living Legacy: Making a Family Home in a Historic Mansion</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjA7N_qqqHlAhVNvJ4KHQWFC68QFjAAegQIAhAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw1T-5zkArn4WW9odIKW4gqH" data-ctorig="">1800s Estate Proves History Is Anything But Drab</a></li> <li><a href=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiPq7n7qqHlAhUDqp4KHfduA-cQFjAAegQIAhAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3vAxxyvaDQOB7ECK7JF5WW" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Urban Castle&#8217;s Magical Design Will Have You Spellbound</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-10-16 17:40 +00:00 2019-10-17 06:40 +13:00 Auckland homes becoming more affordable, but investors eyeing up bargains: Home Affordability Report There are good and bad signs for first home buyers as Auckland houses become more affordable but investors jump back into the market and provide increased competition.City homes were now almost 10 per cent more affordable as falling... Thu, 17 Oct 2019 05:00:00 +1200 2019-10-17 05:00 +12:00 2019-10-17 06:00 +13:00 Petition to Parliament urges reform of law governing $50b apartment sector A petition has been launched urging the Government to reform the law governing New Zealand's $50 billion apartment sector.Judith Collins, National's housing and urban development spokesperson and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said... Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:34:30 +1200 2019-10-16 13:34 +12:00 2019-10-16 14:34 +13:00 Fletcher opens giant Wiri prefab house-building factory: 22-week build could be just 6 weeks Fletcher Building has today opened its long-awaited giant new high-tech pre-fabricated house-building factory, aiming to cut a 22-week lead time down to six weeks."Fletcher Building today announced that Clever Core, New Zealand's... Wed, 16 Oct 2019 10:00:00 +1200 2019-10-16 10:00 +12:00 2019-10-16 11:00 +13:00 Two-thirds of buildings investigated by Palmerston North City Council may have structural problems By Phil Pennington for RNZ The mass defective design of buildings to withstand earthquakes in Palmerston North has been revealed in the face of official resistance.The city council has known for 18 months that two-thirds of... Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:25:27 +1200 2019-10-16 09:25 +12:00 2019-10-16 10:25 +13:00 Experts question shoddy building claims: 'no evidence' steel being pulled from concrete An engineering chief and an Auckland Council official have challenged claims there are widespread defects in major New Zealand buildings.They have also called for hard evidence of structural steel being pulled from concrete before... Tue, 15 Oct 2019 13:13:14 +1200 2019-10-15 13:13 +12:00 2019-10-15 14:13 +13:00 Yabba dabba don't: Fred Flintstone home goes under the hammer Auckland's "ugliest house" is still waiting for a fairytale ending.Buyers today said "yabba dabba don't" to the Fred Flintstone-style Mt Roskill home, leading it to be passed in at auction after just one $500,000 bid. READ MORE:... Tue, 15 Oct 2019 12:45:05 +1200 2019-10-15 12:45 +12:00 2019-10-15 13:45 +13:00 Mt Eden rental 'unsuitable for human habitation' Tenancy Tribunal finds An Auckland woman has been awarded more than $5000 after her flat was found to be unfit to live in due to dangerous mould levels. The woman, who the Herald agreed not to name as she is looking for another property, had just signed... Tue, 15 Oct 2019 10:42:27 +1200 2019-10-15 10:42 +12:00 2019-10-15 11:42 +13:00 Westpac tips house prices to rise 7 per cent next year Westpac is predicting that house prices will increase by up to 7 per cent in 2020 and now ASB says the market is "springing back into life".The Westpac prediction comes as the latest data from the Real Estate Institute shows prices... Tue, 15 Oct 2019 10:42:14 +1200 2019-10-15 10:42 +12:00 2019-10-15 11:42 +13:00 Should you be allowed to buy an investment property with KiwiSaver? People who live in a major city for their job but can't afford to buy a home there could be allowed to use their KiwiSaver money to buy a property elsewhere, under a proposed change to the retirement savings scheme.At the moment... Tue, 15 Oct 2019 05:00:00 +1200 2019-10-15 05:00 +12:00 2019-10-15 06:00 +13:00 Widespread defects revealed in major NZ buildings By RNZ New imaging technology has revealed hundreds of major buildings nationwide have defective or missing concrete or reinforcing steel.Concrete investigators say their scanning shows many buildings have not been constructed... Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:26:54 +1200 2019-10-14 07:26 +12:00 2019-10-14 08:26 +13:00 Fred Flintstone auction: Potential buyers face struggle for finance A Fred Flintstone-style Mt Roskill house, dubbed New Zealand's ugliest, is due to be auctioned tomorrow because no offers have been made in advance.But the agent in charge of selling 62b Stranolar Dr says a number of interested... Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:10:19 +1200 2019-10-14 07:10 +12:00 2019-10-14 08:10 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating Fall kitchens 4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall Grab your hearty soup recipes, decorative pie plates and favorite cookbooks. Fall is here, and with just a little effort you can get your kitchen ready to make the most of it. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 15:00:28 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>The season has changed, and so follows your home decor. Decorating for the chillier fall months means incorporating warm and inviting colors and textures into your home's interior design, specifically in the kitchen.</p> <p>Try these four tips to create a cozier kitchen for fall.</p> <h2>Weave in dark textiles</h2> <p>Fall means decorating with gorgeously textured throws, pillows and table linens. Introduce your kitchen to an autumnal palette using dark, natural window coverings and similar table linens for a cozy effect. This look juxtaposes raw texture with soft details like fresh fruit, warm place mats and smooth surfaces.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-221335" src="" alt="" width="650" height="780" /></p> <h2>Bank on butcher block</h2> <p>Found most often in farmhouse-style or rustic homes, butcher block is great for countertops and tables because it&#8217;s durable and looks better the longer you have it.</p> <p>If you're thinking about switching out your countertop, consider butcher block for a warm, inviting feel. If you don't want to commit to a full countertop, try a large cutting board or table to add earthiness to your kitchen.</p> <figure id="attachment_184690" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-184690" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-184690 size-full" src="" alt="ISt4nlxhnohhfk0000000000" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-184690" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Add pops of color</h2> <p>If your kitchen has a blank space or accent wall, consider painting it for an inviting scene. For the fall season, you can choose to use warmer, darker colors like a deep red, warm orange, or olive or brown tone.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t want to paint an entire wall? Select a piece of art or two featuring deep and rich colors to create a cozy ambiance. You could even paint your cabinets or counters.</p> <figure id="attachment_184693" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-184693" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-184693 size-full" src="" alt="ISdwlmdyf4ueyk1000000000" width="800" height="530" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-184693" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="">Zillow listing.</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>Nurture indoor plants</h2> <p>Houseplants are always good go-to decorations because they require little upkeep and add a touch of freshness to any space. They are particularly useful in the fall because they can double as herb gardens or unique decor.</p> <p>Install a small indoor garden on your window sill or on a shelf near a window to have easy access to fresh rosemary, sage, and basil, even when the weather might not call for gardening.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-184694" src="" alt="shutterstock_256003411" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>While these suggestions may seem small, they are great touch-ups to boost your festive theme this fall season. Add one or two, or mix all of the design tips for a home-sweet-home feel.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Our New, Old Kitchen: How We Rose to the Remodeling Challenge</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">These Stylish Floors Will Make You Rethink Your Renovation Plans</a></li> <li><a href="">5 Retro Decorating Trends That Deserve a Comeback</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2019-10-09 15:00 +00:00 2019-10-10 04:00 +13:00 Home Improvement Appliances budget DIY Fixtures kitchens 7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling Take your kitchen forward without setting yourself back too much. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 13:00:37 Z Marissa Hermanson <p>Kitchen renovations require time and money, often taking several months to complete and costing tens of thousands of dollars. If you don't have the financial resources for a full-on renovation, there are a variety of ways you can give your kitchen a new look for a lot less. From refacing cabinets to replacing lighting, a few cosmetic tweaks can give you the kitchen you've always wanted.</p> <h2>Cabinets</h2> <p>Many homeowners are turning to kitchen refacing as an easy way to update their cabinets. Refacing involves replacing the doors, drawers and hardware and covering the entire exterior of the cabinets in a brand-new veneer. If you're happy with the layout and function of your kitchen, but aren't so keen on the aesthetic feel, consider cabinet refacing.</p> <p>"It's for people who have kitchens from the '70s and '80s that have solid wood cabinets," says interior designer Anna León, who has a background in kitchen refacing with Home Depot. "They can take off the original doors and put on modern doors."</p> <p>The cost, which typically starts at around $6,000, depends on the size of the kitchen and the materials used. With an array of options available - such as woodgrains, painted wood and pressure-fused laminate doors like Thermofoil - you can transform a kitchen's facade easily. Contemporary Thermofoil doors also come in a variety of fun looks, including glossy, matte and woodgrain.</p> <p>While a full kitchen gut and renovation may take several months to complete, cabinet resurfacing typically takes three to five days.</p> <p>Painting cabinets is more affordable than refacing, costing around $3,000 to $5,000 for a professional to do the job, according to León.</p> <p>Or, you can always DIY, which is the most affordable option, but it&#8217;s laborious and takes a great deal of time.</p> <p>"Painting cabinets is great, but it's all about the prep work," says Richmond, VA-based interior decorator Lesley Glotzl. "You have to prep and paint them perfectly or they&#8217;re going to chip or peel. You can&#8217;t cut any corners."</p> <figure id="attachment_223974" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223974" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223974 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223974" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Backsplash</h2> <p>Creating a new backsplash is an easy way to freshen up your kitchen. Be sure to choose a timeless material that will complement your cabinetry, and avoid mixing styles and periods. For instance, if you have '70s-era cabinetry, you won't want to pair that with something trendy like subway tile.</p> <p>If you're a confident DIYer, tile your backsplash. Or for $20, you can paint it in a bold high-gloss paint that you can easily wipe down after cooking.</p> <p>In Glotzl's home, she installed a beadboard backsplash and painted it in a high-gloss blue.</p> <p>Shiplap is an affordable and durable option as well, and it&#8217;s not difficult to DIY. Glotzl also recommends using vinyl wallpapers from companies like <a href=";PageSize=60&amp;PageStart=60&amp;type=152&amp;page=2&amp;_=1512569716465&amp;" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Osborne &amp; Little</a> as a backsplash, as they come in an array of fun textures, colors and patterns.</p> <figure id="attachment_223980" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223980" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223980 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="549" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223980" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Countertops</h2> <p>For countertops, head to your local stone yard and choose a granite at the lower end of the price range. Formica - a more affordable option than natural stone - has a lot of cool countertop options in patterns like Greek key or textures like barn wood or grasscloth.</p> <p>If you're short on counter space and aren't looking to add more cabinetry, consider buying a premade island or bar-height table that you can float in the center of your kitchen.</p> <p>Or, if you have a more contemporary kitchen, consider purchasing a stainless-steel food prep table from a restaurant supply company. Just make sure you have at least 36 inches between the cabinets and island on all sides for easy traffic flow, advises Glotzl.</p> <figure id="attachment_223982" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223982" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223982 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223982" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Shelving</h2> <p>If your cabinets don't have lip molding on the interior, remove cabinet doors to create open <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shelving</a> and show off your beautiful serving dishes.</p> <p>Or, if you have an empty wall, create your own shelving system with floating shelves from a retailer such as Pottery Barn or IKEA. Just be sure you install brackets underneath the shelves if you plan on loading them up with dishes and cooking wares. Glotzl recommends Van Dyke's Restorers for shelving support.</p> <figure id="attachment_223965" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223965" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223965 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="569" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223965" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Lighting</h2> <p>Lighting can dramatically change the look and feel of any room. Tear out harsh fluorescent lighting and replace it with can lights.</p> <p>Make food prep easier by having an electrician install under-cabinet halogen fixtures or ambient <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Light Tape</a>. Over the kitchen sink is the perfect place for a statement piece like a sculptural pendant light.</p> <figure id="attachment_223815" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223815" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223815 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="628" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223815" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Pulls and knobs</h2> <p>If you're going the cabinet-refacing route, you'll have plenty of new pulls and knobs to ponder. You can find them at online retailers or local shops.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re painting your cabinets - or even if you&#8217;re not - new pulls and knobs can go a long way toward creating a new look in your kitchen. This simple solution is one that works particularly well for renters.</p> <figure id="attachment_223819" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223819" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-223819" src="" alt="" width="800" height="543" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223819" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Appliances and plumbing</h2> <p>Dated appliances paired with updated cabinetry will make your kitchen feel incomplete. New stainless-steel <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appliances</a> are the finishing touch. For less than $500, you can get a new stainless-steel electric range; for less than $700, a brand-new top-freezer refrigerator.</p> <p>"Compared to everything else you have to do, it ends up feeling like pocket change," says León.</p> <p>You can easily update your faucet for under $100 (although, of course, you could spend a lot more). And a new farmhouse sink could be yours for less than $400.</p> <figure id="attachment_223816" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-223816" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-223816 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="601" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-223816" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Kitchen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Maximizing Space in a Small Kitchen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pro Tips for Making the Most of Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 20 2019-10-09 13:00 +00:00 2019-10-10 02:00 +13:00 COMMENT: Getting to grips with tenancy disputes <p>Widespread ignorance of tenancy law is behind current representations of residential tenancy disputes which feature tenants as victims, writes Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Mon, 07 Oct 2019 14:21:00 +1300 2019-10-07 14:21 +13:00 2019-10-07 14:21 +13:00 Unique Homes halloween Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House Is that a ghost or just your imagination? See for yourself. Tue, 01 Oct 2019 15:54:59 Z Catherine Sherman <p>With no city lights for miles, The Pillars Estate stands alone in the darkest of nights.</p> <p>Inside, guests are greeted by dim candlelight, a windy staircase and a gentleman from Scotland.</p> <p>Tony McMurtrie purchased the Civil War-era estate in Albion, NY when it was ready to be torn down. Restoring it to its former glory over the past decade, he&#8217;s carefully curated every detail - from the grandfather clocks to the silver.</p> <p>&#8220;I don&#8217;t know where it comes from,&#8221; he explains. &#8220;I just like that time and that era.&#8221;</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe title="Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p>His love of antiques and a refined way of life hasn&#8217;t gone unnoticed. Cora Goyette moved to Albion from England and bonded with McMurtrie over their shared appreciation of European culture.</p> <p>Today, she takes care of the 13,286-square-foot house as if it were her own, hosting tea parties and events in the grand ballroom.</p> <p>But unlike McMurtrie, Goyette won&#8217;t stay at The Pillars alone. In fact, most of McMurtrie&#8217;s friends refuse to spend the night.</p> <p>&#8220;A spirit really is within the house,&#8221; Goyette says without blinking an eye. &#8220;It&#8217;s quite serious.&#8221;</p> <div class="owl-carousel"><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="575" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" data-src="" /></div> <p>From mysterious footsteps to children&#8217;s voices and a piano that plays itself, strange happenings have been reported since McMurtrie started restoring the house.</p> <p>Some believe he&#8217;s unlocked a haunted past, while others remain skeptical.</p> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Video and photos by <a href="" rel="nofollow">Awen Films</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Video: Get Ready for Four-Legged Halloween Fun</a></li> <li><a href="">5 Haunted Homes You Can Own Today</a></li> <li><a href="">For Sale: A &#8216;Slightly&#8217; Haunted Home</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 31 2019-10-01 15:54 +00:00 2019-10-02 04:54 +13:00 COMMENT: Let the buyer beware! But what about the seller? <p>Where would you stand if a property you have contracted to buy or sell is damaged on or before the settlement day? Buddle Findlay* partner John Buchan and senior associate Julia Gabrielle explain.</p> Tue, 01 Oct 2019 07:14:00 +1300 2019-10-01 07:14 +13:00 2019-10-01 07:14 +13:00 Home Improvement entertaining Fall halloween How to Throw the Perfect Pumpkin-Carving Party Gather some gourds, and invite your favorite witches and ghouls over for a little Halloween fun. Thu, 26 Sep 2019 18:59:13 Z Lindsay Jackman <p>Nothing says Halloween like carved pumpkins, festive treats and fun costumes. Try these tips for throwing the perfect pumpkin-carving party with all your friends.</p> <h2>1. Create a casual atmosphere</h2> <p>Head out to the backyard, set up a few long folding tables with tablecloths and let the fall atmosphere be your decor. Play some music to get the party started.</p> <h2>2. Assemble a self-serve buffet</h2> <p>Don't worry about serving a full meal that creates a lot of work for you. Instead, set up a self-serve buffet stocked with enough goodies for the evening, so you can enjoy the party. Think of a few simple savory dishes, add some fun and festive sweets - you've got it covered. Include a drink station with a few options in dispensers. Label them, set up a stack of glasses and let your guests enjoy.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-185562" src="" alt="shutterstock_328084430" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>3. Set up carving stations</h2> <p>Arrange a simple but structured carving station so your guests can enjoy the main event. Stock a table with an assortment of carving templates for those who want something other than the traditional jack-o&#8217;-lantern face. Don't forget tape - you&#8217;ll need to hold the templates in place while you carve.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-185557" src="" alt="shutterstock_225804526" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>On other tables, place cute buckets your guests can scoop the pumpkin seeds and pulp into. Then put out smaller containers to hold the carving utensils. Just add some pumpkins and you&#8217;ve provided everything your guests will need.</p> <h2>4. Hold a carving contest</h2> <p>What good would pumpkin carving be without a little friendly competition? Have some judges and a variety of prizes on hand for the event. Think outside the box with the awards and go beyond just the "Best Pumpkin." Think in terms of "Most Creative," "Most Adventurous," "Scariest" and so on.</p> <h2>5. Commemorate the evening</h2> <p>All that hard work should be documented! Make sure you gather up the carved masterpieces for a group shot at the end of the evening, and don&#8217;t forget to share the party photos with your guests after the fact.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-185556" src="" alt="shutterstock_219009244" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Get out those pumpkins, set the tables and crank up the music for the best pumpkin-carving party around.</p> <p>Need some more inspiration? Check out our video tutorial for easy ways to make your space spooky in no time.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="314" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sharpen Your Pumpkin Carving Skills With a Pro</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tips for Haute Halloween Decor</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Set a Fabulous Table for Fall</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2019-09-26 18:59 +00:00 2019-09-27 06:59 +12:00 Unique Homes This Studio Came From a Feed Store And now it's a home fit for a fairy tale. Wed, 25 Sep 2019 17:53:42 Z Maria Hashim <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A California couple decided to move east and preserve this Tyringham, Massachusetts, studio. Decades before that, it was a studio of a different kind.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230918" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 1920s, a local sculptor converted his backyard silo - originally purchased as a kit from a feed store - into a place where he could perfect his craft.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230914" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Large mill windows let in plenty of natural light for him to create. Today, that same light casts an ethereal glow over the second-floor bedroom. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230913" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Down the spiral staircase, a wood-burning stove and vintage decor give the first floor charm from a bygone era.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230916" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The two-story studio sits just behind Santarella, a dwelling lovingly dubbed the Tyringham Gingerbread House - appropriate, since it looks like it's from a storybook. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230917" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 450-square foot home has one bedroom and one bathroom, and unique features like Gothic doors and repurposed barnwood. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230915" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today, the couple describes the studio as a sculpture in itself. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">We think the sculptor would agree.</span></p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjotpL7q6HlAhUvIjQIHYn9DyYQFjAAegQIAxAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw2unR--nhwCQJDk0B12fo3y" data-ctorig="">Tour These Whimsical Cabins Made From Recycled Materials</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjziMmFrKHlAhWHsJ4KHeP4CMIQFjAAegQIARAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3KpmtANl-qHixGspAdWoNo" data-ctorig="">Saying &#8216;I Do&#8217; to a Tiny Grain Silo Home</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwi0sfWPrKHlAhWMnp4KHeNnDr8QFjAAegQIARAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw31iA3LSlKrcZxzTFe9VeIW" data-ctorig="">House of the Week: Snow White&#8217;s Cottage in the Woods</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 1 2019-09-25 17:53 +00:00 2019-09-26 05:53 +12:00 Home Improvement home maintenance What Kind of Bugs Are in Your House? This guide to common household creepers will help you send pests packing - for good. Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:34:12 Z Lidia Ryan <p>Pests are everywhere, and having a few in your home is pretty much inevitable. But knowledge is power when it comes to critters, says Dr. Nancy Troyano, director of technical education and training at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Rentokil Pest Control</a>.</p> <p>When you know how to recognize and prevent an infestation, you can keep unwanted visitors at bay. The first step is learning which pests might become an issue for you.</p> <p>Here are the top pests to watch out for, according to Troyano.</p> <h2>Wood-destroying bugs</h2> <p>Termites and carpenter ants eat away at the foundation, and you have to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">call a professional</a> to remove them. They&#8217;re usually hard to see, but you can still find evidence that they&#8217;re around.</p> <p>In the Northeast, subterranean termites build mud tubes that you can usually spot. Look for brown staining around the house, both inside and out, and pay special attention to baseboards in the basement.</p> <p>Other hints are blistering paint, loose siding, piles of droppings or a substance that looks like sawdust.</p> <p>Homeowners in the Southwest and California should look out for drywood termites. They create colonies in the wood instead of the ground, and they need very little moisture. Watch for piles of droppings or swarms of termites flying out of the wood.</p> <h2>Cockroaches</h2> <p>Cockroaches are a big problem in crowded cities and apartment buildings. While they don't actually cause damage to a home, they do require professional extermination - and they're just gross.</p> <p>Cockroaches are attracted to food and garbage, and they&#8217;re usually brought in from the outside. Secondhand or rented furniture is a big culprit of cockroach infestations.</p> <p>The one &#8220;upside&#8221; to roaches is that they're big, so you will definitely know when you have a problem.</p> <h2>Nuisance pests</h2> <p>Most unwanted critters are pretty harmless - just annoying.</p> <p>After the Zika outbreaks, mosquitoes are generating more concern than in the past. Standing water creates a breeding ground for these pests, so try to minimize the water that collects around your home.</p> <p>Bed bugs are a big issue in cities, where it's easy for them to be brought in by furniture, clothes or people - and they&#8217;re notoriously hard to get rid of. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Homeowners with pets</a> should also be wary of ticks and fleas.</p> <h2>Rodents</h2> <p>Bugs aren't the only unwelcome guests you may encounter - keep your eye out for rodents, too.</p> <p>Bird feeders are a "mouse buffet," says Troyano, so keep an eye on those. Mice are also drawn inside to escape the cold, so homeowners in colder climates should make sure their homes are tightly sealed.</p> <p>Then there are our flying friends: bats. Bats are usually found in homes with attics or chimneys, because they like to hang out in dark, cavernous areas.</p> <p>You can easily lure out one or two bats, but if you have a big problem, you&#8217;ll want to call a professional. A word of warning about these winged creatures: They can carry rabies, so be careful with any DIY measures you undertake.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-229438" src="" alt="" width="801" height="601" /></p> <h2>What to look for where you live</h2> <p>The types of pests you encounter largely depend on where you live.</p> <ul> <li>Tropical, humid places like Florida are breeding grounds for water-loving pests like mosquitoes.</li> <li>In wooded areas, you will find spiders, ants and beetles.</li> <li>In the desert, you&#8217;ll have to worry about snakes and scorpions.</li> </ul> <p>The type of home will also determine what kinds of pests you get. Log cabins are the most pest-prone homes, Troyano reports, and can attract beetles, termites and bees. Houses with vinyl siding or brick tend to be safer bets.</p> <p>Older homes are also a concern, because they are full of cracks and crevices where pests can enter or take up residence. Spiders and silverfish love these nooks.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New construction homes</a> come with their own issues. When wooden beams are exposed to the elements during construction, they gather moisture, which attracts fungus beetles. These tiny beetles are very common and will go away on their own once the material dries - but that could take up to a year. The fungus beetle has been nicknamed the "new-house pest," says Troyano.</p> <h2>How to prevent pests</h2> <p>The good news is that most pests are easily lured out of the home.</p> <p>Troyano trains people on the biology and behavior of pests. Rather than putting down a pesticide, she says, you can &#8220;outsmart&#8221; the bugs. "If I have an ant problem, and I know what they like to eat, I will take away their food source."</p> <p>Don&#8217;t forget to think about how the critters are getting inside. Plants and trees can act as a superhighway for pests. "I've watched ants walk along tree limbs into a home," Troyano says.</p> <p>Here are Troyano&#8217;s top tips for keeping your home free of unwelcome intruders:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Don't let them inside.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Keep your house sealed up</a> nice and tight. Use window screens, seal window and door frames, and plug up other exterior entry points.</li> <li><strong>Keep your home&#8217;s exterior tidy.</strong> Mow grass regularly, trim shrubbery and trees to prevent branches from touching your home, and keep mulched beds away from the house.</li> <li><strong>Watch for water pools and drainage issues. </strong>You don&#8217;t want water pooling up by your home&#8217;s foundation. Make sure your gutters direct water away from the house. Similarly, you don't want hills sloping toward your house. You'll also want to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard by keeping an eye on stagnant pools of water, like birdbaths.</li> <li><strong>Inspect your house inside and out. </strong>Regularly check for signs of pests.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Tasks to Tackle Before Fall Arrives</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Is Your Home Trying to Kill You?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY: Fixing 3 Common Household Problems</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 28 2019-09-24 10:34 +00:00 2019-09-24 22:34 +12:00 Home Improvement home maintenance Is Your Home Trying to Kill You? How to detect and avoid five of the most common household hazards. Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:26:34 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Home is where you feel comfortable and safe. It's where you tuck your kids into bed and lazily watch hours of Netflix on the couch.</p> <p>Without your care and vigilance, however, your home may develop conditions that can make you severely ill - or even kill you.</p> <p>Here are five ways your home can potentially harm you and expert advice on keeping these issues from affecting your household.</p> <h2>1. Mold</h2> <p>Though <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mold</a> isn&#8217;t a pathogen (a disease-causing agent), it&#8217;s still an allergen that you don&#8217;t want hanging around your house.</p> <p>"When people say they have a mold allergy or they have a mold condition, it's an allergic reaction," says Peter Duncanson, director of business operations for disaster restoration specialists <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">ServiceMaster Restore</a>. "[Molds] generally considered toxic are ones like stachybotrys, which are black in color - but not all black molds cause the same reactions."</p> <p>Molds, including black molds like stachybotrys, form if moisture concentrates in an area where a food source is present, such as skin cells or paper. You know you have mold growing in your home if you smell an earthy, musty scent. Though mold exposure won't severely harm the average person, repeated exposure is not advised for your health.</p> <p>"The buildup [of mold] causes a more violent reaction, and those reactions are generally respiratory in nature and pulmonary, so you have trouble breathing,&#8221; Duncanson explains. &#8220;A very severe reaction to mold can be anaphylactic - you can't breathe, and you go into an anaphylactic shock."</p> <p>Luckily, you can prevent mold by keeping your home dry, running the exhaust fan when taking a shower, and purchasing a dehumidifier for the basement in the summer.</p> <p>If you do find black mold (or what's commonly referred to as toxic mold) in your home, don't panic. Contact a professional who can safely remove the mold and eliminate the water source feeding it.</p> <h2>2. Exposed asbestos</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Asbestos</a> was a commonly used building material up until the mid-20th century, when it was determined to be a very dangerous carcinogen that causes mesothelioma cancer. Though builders aren't legally allowed to use asbestos in building materials and other products anymore, traces of it are often found in older homes.</p> <p>"Asbestos is not harmful to you if you don't disturb it," Duncanson says. "The problem arises when you start cutting or doing demolition and asbestos becomes airborne."</p> <p>It may be tempting to DIY an open-concept living space in your vintage bungalow, but if your home was built before the 1980s, seek the advice of a professional before you start knocking down any walls. The latency period of mesothelioma cancer can be years, so problems may not arise until much later in your life.</p> <p>Handling asbestos is a dangerous task, and professionals have the equipment to remove it safely without risking your health.</p> <h2>3. Carbon monoxide poisoning</h2> <p>Carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills thousands of people each year, occurs when there&#8217;s too much carbon monoxide in your blood. This can result in tissue damage or death.</p> <p>Improperly ventilated appliances like stoves, water heaters and gas appliances can release carbon monoxide. Improperly cleaned chimneys cause smoke to circulate throughout the home - this can also give you carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Andy Kerns, a home maintenance researcher.</p> <p>To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, properly ventilate appliances and clean heat sources like wood-burning stoves every year before use. Call a professional if you have any doubts about the safety and security of your appliances or ventilation within your home.</p> <h2>4. Fire</h2> <p>Seven people in the U.S. die each day from house fires, according to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">National Fire Prevention Association</a>. Most of these house fires are the result of normal, everyday use of appliances, candles and cooking equipment. The most surprising fire starter, however, lives in the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">laundry room</a>.</p> <p>"Dryer lint can collect in the dryer and become an electrical fire starter,&#8221; says Kerns. &#8220;Dryers are the number one cause of house fires."</p> <p>To prevent house fires, ensure that your appliances have the right rating before you plug them into outlets. Always extinguish candles after usage and carefully watch the stove when cooking.</p> <h2>5. Slippery bathroom surfaces</h2> <p>The bathroom is often ranked as the most dangerous room in the home. Wet, slippery surfaces often lead to falls - and result in anything from embarrassment to a fractured hip.</p> <p>"Bathtubs, especially, are an area where you can fall and hit your head,&#8221; notes Kerns. &#8220;A lot of people get pretty severely injured in the bathroom, particularly when they're older."</p> <p>As we get older, bathroom safety gets more pertinent, so it&#8217;s a great idea to install things like grab bars or a walk-in tub for ease of use as you age. Be sure to wipe down any wet surfaces, and place bath mats by the sink and tub to prevent bathroom falls.</p> <h2>Keep tabs on your home</h2> <p>Taking the time to slow down and keep your home safe is essential for any homeowner. Give your home a monthly, semiannual and annual checkup to keep it in tip-top condition for years to come.</p> <p>"Given how busy our lives are, and all the different things we have to keep track of in our digital environments, it's harder and harder to keep some of the physical maintenance issues top of mind. I think a lot of people tend to let things go until there's a problem," says Kerns. "Don't leave it up to your memory. Have a good, reliable organizational system that keeps you up to date."</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Security Tips for Living Alone Safely</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Suds and Duds: Laundry Room Maintenance 101</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Safety Upgrades and Tech Tools for Seniors Living Alone</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published May 2017.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 26 2019-09-24 10:26 +00:00 2019-09-24 22:26 +12:00 Home Improvement Fall home maintenance 12 Tasks to Tackle This Fall Cooler weather is coming - prep your home for its arrival while it's still nice outside. Thu, 19 Sep 2019 15:10:43 Z See Jane Drill <p>The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks, and leaves are falling from the trees.</p> <p>Yep, it's official: Fall is here. Now&#8217;s the time to finish up any pre-winter maintenance projects and get your home and yard ready.</p> <p>Take care of these 12 tasks to get your home clean, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warm and cozy</a> for the cool days to come.</p> <h2>Exterior prep</h2> <h3>1. Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt</h3> <p>Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.</p> <h3>2. Clean out the gutters</h3> <p>No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on.</p> <p>While you're up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar and repair it by tuck-pointing, if needed.</p> <h3>3. Turn off outdoor plumbing</h3> <p>Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come.</p> <h3>4. Start composting</h3> <p>If you don't already have compost bins, now&#8217;s the time to make or get some. All those <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">accumulated autumn leaves</a> will bring you gardening gold next summer!</p> <h3>5. Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools</h3> <p>It may not yet be time to put them away, but go ahead and clean your outdoor furniture and gardening tools so they&#8217;re ready for storage over the winter.</p> <h3>6. Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers</h3> <p>Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you&#8217;ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-205251" src="" alt="shutterstock_155900531" width="800" height="600" /></p> <h2>Interior prep</h2> <h3>7. Prepare your furnace for winter duty</h3> <p>If you didn't already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At a minimum, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before you start using it on a daily basis.</p> <h3>8. Clean the fireplace and chimney</h3> <p>Clean out the fireplace, inspect the flue, and ensure the doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now&#8217;s also the time to stock up on firewood!</p> <h3>9. Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside</h3> <p>Inspect your windows and doors. Check weatherstripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway and closing the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weatherstripping isn't doing its job.</p> <p>Also, now&#8217;s the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings, if needed.</p> <h3>10. Light the way</h3> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bring as much light into your home</a> as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-228643" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Add lighting to darker spaces with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.</p> <h3>11. Create a mudroom</h3> <p>Even if you don't have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now&#8217;s a good time to think about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">organizing and stocking an entryway</a> that will serve as a "mudroom" area for cold and wet weather.</p> <p>Put down an indoor-outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack or storage bench for your entryway.</p> <h3>12. Home safety check</h3> <p>Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for daylight saving time.</p> <p>Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so you&#8217;re ready for any winter power outages.</p> <p>Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you can enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Checklist Is the Key to Taking Care of Your Home (Without the Stress)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Updates Your Home Needs Every 10 Years</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 22 2019-09-19 15:10 +00:00 2019-09-20 03:10 +12:00 Home Improvement halloween holidays Getting Your Home Ready for Trick-or-Treaters Consider these tips to ensure a fun and safe Halloween night. Thu, 19 Sep 2019 13:30:54 Z <p>As we settle into fall, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It's a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.</p> <h2>Take no trips</h2> <p>Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared.</p> <p>In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible, or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas.</p> <p>Meanwhile, if you've decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, keep electrical cords away from your walkways.</p> <h2>Light the way</h2> <p>Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely.</p> <p>You don't need to install a full suite of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">year-round landscape lighting</a> simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights.</p> <p>And although it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it's much safer - not to mention more inviting - to keep it on.</p> <h2>Resist flammable decor</h2> <p>Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks.</p> <p>If you can't resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o'-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.</p> <h2>Curb your dog</h2> <p>Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are convincing enough to frighten small children, those same get-ups could be equally disturbing to your pooch - particularly on such a high-energy night.</p> <p>It's good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that&#8217;s comfortable and secure.</p> <p>A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a happy Halloween!</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sharpen Your Pumpkin Carving Skills With a Pro</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Plan a Celeb-Worthy Halloween Party</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em></p> <p><em>Originally published October 2014.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2019-09-19 13:30 +00:00 2019-09-20 01:30 +12:00 Tips & Advice First Time Home Buyers home buying Buying a Home? Plan for These Hidden Costs Get those rainy day funds in order - you're going to need them. Thu, 19 Sep 2019 13:00:55 Z Jonathan Deesing <p>You're excited because you just found the perfect home. The neighborhood is great, the house is charming and the price is right.</p> <p>But the asking price is just the beginning. Be prepared for additional - and often unexpected - home-buying costs that can catch buyers unaware and quickly leave you underwater on your new home.</p> <h2>Expect the unexpected</h2> <p>For almost every person who buys a home, the spending doesn't stop with the down payment. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Homeowners insurance</a> and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">closing costs</a>, like appraisal and lender fees, are typically easy to plan for because they&#8217;re lumped into the home-buying process, but most costs beyond those vary.</p> <p>The previous owners of your home are the biggest factor affecting your move-in costs. If they take the refrigerator when they move out, you'll have to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buy one to replace it</a>. The same goes for any large appliance.</p> <p>And while these may seem like a small purchase compared to buying a home, appliances quickly add up - especially if you just spent most of your cash on a down payment.</p> <p>You'll also be on the hook for any immediate improvements the home needs, unless you negotiate them as part of your home purchase agreement.</p> <p>Unfortunately, these costs are the least hidden of those you may encounter.</p> <p>When purchasing a home, definitely hire a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home inspector</a> (this costs money too!) to ensure the home isn't going to collapse the next time it rains. Inspectors look for bad electrical wiring, weak foundations, wood rot and other hidden problems you may not find on your own.</p> <p>Worse still, these problems are rarely covered by home insurance. If an inspector discovers a serious problem, you'll then have to decide if you still want to purchase the home. Either way, you'll be out the cost of hiring the inspector.</p> <h2>Consider the creature comforts</h2> <p>Another cost is your own comfort. There are a number of smaller considerations you may not think about until after you move in.</p> <p>Are you used to having cable? If so, is your new home wired for cable? It's much harder to watch a technician crawling around punching holes in your walls when you <em>own</em> those walls.</p> <p>And if you&#8217;re moving from the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">world of renting</a> to the world of homeownership, you'll probably be faced with much higher utility bills. Further, you could find yourself paying for utilities once covered by a landlord, like water and garbage pickup.</p> <h2>Plan ahead</h2> <p>The best way to prepare for the unknown and unexpected is through research and planning. This starts with budgeting before house hunting and throughout your search.</p> <p>Look at homes in your budget that need improvements, and then research how much those <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">improvements could cost</a>. Nothing is worse than buying a home thinking you can fix the yard for a few hundred dollars and then realizing it will cost thousands.</p> <p>There&#8217;s really no limit to how prepared you can be. Say you find a nice home that's priced lower than others in the area because of its age. You may save money on the list price, but with an older house, you could be slapped with a much higher home insurance payment, making the house more expensive in the long run.</p> <p>This is where preparation comes in. Research home insurance and property prices in the areas you're considering to make more educated decisions before you ever make that first offer.</p> <p>Clearly define how much you intend to put toward your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">down payment</a>, and then look at how much cash that leaves for improvements and minor costs, like changing the locks. That way, when you find a house at the high end of your range, you'll know to walk away if it requires a new washer and dryer or HVAC system upgrade.</p> <p>Establish a rough estimate for as many costs as you can think of, and be extremely critical of homes at the top of your budget - otherwise, you could easily end up being house-poor.</p> <p>Know your budget and plan ahead. Buying a home is a lot less scary when you know what you're getting into.</p> <p><em>Top featured photo from Offset.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Insurance FAQs for First-Time Home Buyers</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Huge Risk Home Buyers Take When They Waive Inspections</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Weird Things You Can Ignore When Home Shopping</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 32 2019-09-19 13:00 +00:00 2019-09-20 01:00 +12:00 Unique Homes This Sky-High Water Tower Doubles as a Rustic Beach Retreat In this elevated home, every room is a room with a view. Mon, 16 Sep 2019 23:43:58 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>In the 1940s, this Huntington Beach water tower - which stands at around 100 feet tall - serviced the local trains that came through town, connecting the inner city to the beach. Today, it's a 3,500-square-foot high-rise with unmatched views of the Pacific Ocean, downtown Los Angeles and Catalina Island.</p> <p>The historic and beloved water tower has long been a fixture of the Huntington coastline, but it was nearly torn down in the 1980s - until the local community pulled together and demanded it be saved.</p> <p>"There was a huge community outcry to keep it," said Scott Ostlund, the owner of the water tower home. "People were selling quilts and having meetings on 'Save Our Water Tower.'"</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Luckily, the tower was spared, and a local professor decided to turn it into a home in 1986. And in 2017, Ostlund purchased it and did extensive renovations, which were sorely needed.</p> <p>"There was literally dust dropping from the termites in the ceiling, so it needed a lot of work. We went through and restored it after the buy," Ostlund said.</p> <p>A crew of 70 worked round-the-clock for three months to update the features and bring the water tower back to its former glory. The hard work and renovations paid off, and the one-of-a-kind-home will remain a neighborhood institution for years to come. Though the outside of the home still looks like the traditional structure of a water tower, the inside is cozy and rustic with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.</p> <p>Sprinkled throughout the home are artifacts of its past life of servicing trains, such as the barrels and burlap sacks decorating the first-floor bathroom as a nod to how trains carried cargo back in the late 19<sup>th</sup> and early 20<sup>th</sup> centuries. A tiny train track also hangs on the ceiling of one of the home's lounge areas, giving the house a feeling of nostalgia and a sense of its history.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230873 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>Beyond the historic details, the water tower's living spaces are impressive: A lounge area boasts sweeping, panoramic views of the ocean&#8230;</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230871 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>&#8230;and the spacious kitchen features fire-engine red cabinets, open shelving, subway tiles and floor-to-ceiling farmhouse paneling.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230869 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="684" height="1024" /></p> <p>The sizable bedrooms upstairs have multiple windows that pop open, offering enviable and unobstructed views of the ocean right from the comfort of a bed.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230872 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>The water tower's best feature, however, is its wraparound deck that's perfect for sunset views, catching a good ocean breeze and soaking in the hot tub, which is conveniently located next to a built-in wine fridge and wet bar.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230874 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="684" height="1024" /></p> <p>The novelty of a water tower-turned-home isn't lost on Ostlund, who knows how unique it is to the area as well as the whole country.</p> <p>"The value in the water tower is the permanence to build a house on the beach 100 feet in the air.  You look out over every other house in Southern California. There is no house that&#8217;s this tall in the country," he said.</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-09-16 23:43 +00:00 2019-09-17 11:43 +12:00 COMMENT: Prospects strong for yielding assets <p>Commercial property can offer investors better options as the search for yields intensifies so NZ Mortgages &amp; Securities director James Kellow provides his rundown on the outlook for the commercial market.</p> Mon, 16 Sep 2019 11:07:00 +1300 2019-09-16 11:07 +13:00 2019-09-16 10:07 +12:00 Home Improvement Fall home maintenance 11 Fall Maintenance Tasks to Do This Weekend Put down that pumpkin spiced beverage and take care of these maintenance to-dos before winter sets in. Thu, 12 Sep 2019 21:37:36 Z <p><em>By Shannon Ireland</em></p> <p>The scent of pumpkin spice has begun to fill the air, sweaters are moving toward the front of the closet, and leaves are changing from their summer green to the vibrant hues of fall.</p> <p>But before you cozy up with a fleece blanket and a cup of tea, take the time to tackle a few home maintenance projects.</p> <h2>Why is seasonal maintenance important?</h2> <p>The answer is simple: Seasonal maintenance can help keep your home looking and functioning properly, and save you money because you'll catch problems <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">before they get out of hand</a>.</p> <p>Plus you'll get the added bonus of sleeping easier at night knowing you've taken all necessary precautions.</p> <p>'Tis the season to …</p> <h2>1. Rake it in</h2> <p>Few things are more beautiful than a yard speckled with crimson, gold and tangerine-colored leaves. But failing to dispose of them can kill your grass and inhibit growth in the spring months.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Grab your rake</a> and enjoy the crisp temperatures of the season. You can always treat yourself to a pumpkin treat when the raking is done.</p> <h2>2. Clean the gutters</h2> <p>Speaking of leaves, when they clog your gutters, rainwater can't flow through and will eventually spill over. So what, right? This overflow can damage your home's siding, roof and foundation.</p> <p>It's better to remove the leaves from your gutters than to chance the buildup turning into a costly problem.</p> <h2>3. Check the roof</h2> <p>While we're on the subject of the roof, fall is a great time to check that all <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shingles are in place</a> and in good shape before winter snowstorms pop up on your radar.</p> <h2>4. Conduct a walking inspection</h2> <p>Take a walk around the exterior of your home, keeping an eye open for damage along the pathways leading to your doors. Cracks could mean loose cement or gravel, increasing the likelihood that someone could trip or slip and fall.</p> <p>To ensure the safety of visitors, seal any cracks you see. Be sure to inspect the siding and foundation while you're at it, and tackle any repairs as soon as possible.</p> <h2>5. Cracks and gaps can cause problems indoors too</h2> <p>When you shut doors and windows, make sure there aren't any spaces allowing air to escape. If there are, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">seal them</a>.</p> <p>You may not think much of these little gaps right now, but you will when you open your heating bill and see how much you're paying to keep the whole neighborhood warm, or when you find out that a mouse has made your cabinet his home for the winter.</p> <h2>6. Store summer staples</h2> <p>Patio furniture is susceptible to damage from winter weather. Since you probably won't spend as much time outside - except for roasting marshmallows over the fire pit - move outdoor furniture, trampolines and other summer staples into storage.</p> <h2>7. Make it a clean sweep</h2> <p>Schedule a time to have your chimney and heating system cleaned and maintained, including swapping old filters for new ones. It's important that everything is in good working condition to decrease the likelihood of house fires.</p> <h2>8. Pipe down</h2> <p>Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets and insulate your pipes before the weather dips below 32 degrees. This will help prevent pipes from freezing, bursting and flooding your home.</p> <h2>9. Take time to vent</h2> <p>Your dryer vent, that is. Cooler weather means more static electricity, which means lint buildup in your dryer can ignite more easily. Clean your dryer vent to help prevent this problem and keep it working more efficiently.</p> <h2>10. Testing … 1, 2, 3</h2> <p>Test safety devices, such as smoke alarms, and check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. In case a fire ignites, it's important to know that you and your family will be alerted and able to get out of the house quickly and safely, or able to extinguish smaller fires before significant damage is done.</p> <h2>11. Check your home insurance coverage</h2> <p>Can your insurance weather the storm? The final item on your fall home maintenance checklist should always be to call your insurance agent. Arrange a time to walk through your coverage to ensure your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home will be protected</a>, no matter what situation may arise.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Why Halloween Scares Insurance Providers (and Should Scare You)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Insurance 101: Review Your Insurance Policy at Renewal</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Tips for a Safer, More Organized Home</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em></p> <p><em>Originally published October 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2019-09-12 21:37 +00:00 2019-09-13 09:37 +12:00 Tips & Advice Fall home buying 5 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall The days may be getting shorter, but the list of home-shopping benefits is getting longer. Thu, 12 Sep 2019 13:55:00 Z Brendon DeSimone <p>Real estate markets ebb and flow, just like the seasons. The spring market blooms right along with the flowers, but the fall market often dwindles with the leaves - and this slower pace could be good for buyers.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re in the market for a home, here are five reasons why fall can be a great time to buy.</p> <h2>1. Old inventory may mean deals</h2> <p>Sellers tend to put their homes on the market in the spring, often listing their homes too high right out of the gate. This could result in price reductions throughout the spring and summer months.</p> <p>These sellers have fewer chances to capture buyers after Labor Day. By October, you are likely to find desperate sellers and prices below a home&#8217;s market value.</p> <h2>2. Fewer buyers are competing</h2> <p>Families who want to be in a new home by the beginning of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">school season</a> are no longer shopping at this point. That translates into less competition and more opportunities for buyers.</p> <p>You&#8217;ll likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, which could signal a great opportunity to make an offer.</p> <h2>3. Sellers want to close by the end of the year</h2> <p>While a home is where an owner lives and makes memories, it is also an investment - one with tax consequences.</p> <p>A home seller may want to take advantage of a gain or loss during this tax year, so you might find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31.</p> <p>Ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close before the end of the year.</p> <h2>4. The holidays motivate sellers</h2> <p>As the holidays approach, sellers are eager to close so they can move on to planning their parties and events.</p> <p>If a home has not sold by November, the seller is likely motivated to be done with the disruptions caused by listing a home for sale.</p> <h2>5. Harsher weather shows more flaws</h2> <p>The dreary fall and winter months tend to reveal flaws, making them a great time to see a home&#8217;s true colors.</p> <p>It&#8217;s better to see the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home's flaws</a> before making the offer, instead of being surprised months after you close. In fact, the best time to do a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">property inspection</a> is in the rain and snow, because any major issues are more likely to be exposed.</p> <p><em>Top photo from Shutterstock.</em></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Make a Competitive Offer Against All-Cash Home Buyers</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Mortgage Misconceptions Set Straight</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Tasks to Tackle Before Fall Arrives</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 35 2019-09-12 13:55 +00:00 2019-09-13 01:55 +12:00 Home Improvement modern modern architecture unique homes 8 Minimalist Homes That Are Big on Style (Not on Stuff) These homes with clean lines and bright spaces prove you can maximize style while keeping things minimal. Thu, 05 Sep 2019 17:01:42 Z Lindsay Cohen <p>Stunning. Sleek. Neat. Feast your eyes on eight simple, yet sophisticated homes so serene, they might just have you decluttering in no time.</p> <h2>Open and airy - up, down and around</h2> <figure id="attachment_224170" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224170" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224170 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224170" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">PLUSH Image Corporation</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>High ceilings and a palette of neutral colors make this living room feel open and luminous. From the Mid-Century Modern couch to the simple side tables, furniture with exposed legs adds to the appearance of ample space. Large windows allow abundant natural light to fill the room, giving it an airy feel.</p> <h2>White and bright with wood accents</h2> <figure id="attachment_224169" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224169" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224169 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="523" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224169" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Colt Verret.</figcaption></figure> <p>Three Edison bulbs hang above the island of this kitchen, giving it a radiant, yet clean look. A slate of uniform white cabinets makes the space feel open and spotless, while a stainless-steel farmhouse sink completes the look. From the bar stools to the sliding barn door, natural wood accents complement the kitchen - without the clutter.</p> <h2>Clean, fresh and flowing</h2> <figure id="attachment_224134" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224134" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224134 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224134" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Set against walls of white, this minimalist chic bathroom is the perfect spot to cleanse the body and the mind. This space has flowing, zen-like design elements. The shower walls and double slipper tub have a sinuous look, reminiscent of the nearby Pacific Ocean.</p> <h2>Mid-Century meets the 21st</h2> <figure id="attachment_224137" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224137" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224137 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224137" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Clean and chic, this dining room is a dream in simplicity. A modern, silver-colored chandelier provides a pop of inspiration, set against a classic backdrop of black and white. Hardwood floors and a natural wood dining table add warmth without the clutter.  </span></p> <h2>Classic style in blush tones and gold</h2> <figure id="attachment_224300" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224300" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href=",pf_pt/80836922_zpid/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224300 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224300" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Angelika Piatek Photography</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Crisp white walls and a bold, gray-paneled fireplace anchor this bright living room. Touches of light blush tones complement the simple aesthetic, while metallic-leg, Mid-Century Modern furniture adds to the minimalist chic. Clean, geometric lines - from the crisscross rug to the modern side table - complete the look.</p> <h2>A nod to nature</h2> <figure id="attachment_224367" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224367" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224367 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224367" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Roehner+Ryan</a>. Home staging by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Local Trade</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Ample light and simple lines provide the soothing setting for this home. Gold- and silver-colored light fixtures add to the glow, while a bar cart doubles as a storage space. It&#8217;s also a sneaky way to stash clutter in a pinch, keeping things neat and tidy.</p> <h2>Perfectly placed patterns</h2> <figure id="attachment_224135" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224135" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224135 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224135" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Sleep comes easy when a bedroom is this free of distractions. Classic white walls provide a soothing visual backdrop, while the patterned rug integrates a simple, chic design. Floor-to-ceiling windows elongate the space, inviting in generous amounts of light.</p> <h2>The illusion of height</h2> <figure id="attachment_224136" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224136" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224136 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224136" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Long vertical lines - from the tripod lamp to the decorative wooden ladder and tall potted plant - draw the eye upward, making the space seem larger. Touches of gray and blue add cool, soothing tones to an otherwise neutral space.</p> <h6><em>Top image by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Angelika Piatek Photography</a>. </em></h6> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Designer Lookbook: Marc-Michaels Creates Stylish Minimalism</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Minimalist Kitchen Design: Clean Look and Lines</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1920s Japanese Tea House Turned Zen Retreat – House of the Week</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 134 2019-09-05 17:01 +00:00 2019-09-06 05:01 +12:00 COMMENT: How much is too much <p>New regulations around rental properties mean that being a landlord is becoming increasingly unattractive. Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis asks how much is too much&hellip;</p> Thu, 05 Sep 2019 06:32:00 +1300 2019-09-05 06:32 +13:00 2019-09-05 05:32 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating 7 Retro Trends Making a Comeback These styles from the '70s and '80s prove it's OK to say "in with the old!" Thu, 29 Aug 2019 17:32:34 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>Each year, fashion leaves a strong impression on the design industry and its offerings for the season. For 2020, the vibe includes handmade organic details paired with the sparkle of the &#8217;70s disco club and the velvety softness of the &#8217;80s.</p> <p>But beyond the nostalgic hints that those artistic impressions carry, what lies ahead for interiors? How will we change and evolve in our home environment? Read on and see what speaks to your design style as we approach another new year.</p> <h2>Cork and recycled elements</h2> <p>Many manufacturers, designers and architects have focused their products and projects on a sustainable, environmentally friendly approach to home building and design. Thanks to modern technology, sustainable products don't mean inferior quality, comfort or design.</p> <p>In fact, these products celebrate eco-chic versions of modern or traditional designs in both elevated and affordable versions. While products like linoleum or cork flooring may have been long forgotten, they will see a strong comeback in the new season, thanks to its natural characteristics.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230832 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="791" /></p> <h2>Abloom with florals</h2> <p>The traditional beauty of floral patterns, either abstracted or straight-up chintz, will continue to be the pattern to use, especially when paired with deep luxurious velvets and maximalist styled spaces. But home designer, beware: Chintz can be tricky. Its bold old-fashioned prints can easily turn to frilly English bed-and-breakfast if you&#8217;re not careful. When done right, the floral theme can add color, texture and just the right touch of classic elegance to your interior.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230830 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="826" /></p> <h2>Handmade accents</h2> <p>Handmade items made with sustainable materials like jute, rice paper and clay will be all the rage in 2020. These elements go far in grounding a home, allowing its inhabitants to be in touch with the earth and their roots. The incorporation of natural materials popular years ago - like caning, rope, sea grass and bamboo - has a strong influence over modern furniture silhouettes and decor details. Elaborately embossed wall coverings, including gold rivets and metallic accents, give surfaces a beautiful tactile sensation and modern ambiance.</p> <p><img class="size-large wp-image-230826 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="782" /></p> <h2>Plastic and acrylic</h2> <p>Increasing social consciousness around climate change has influenced the design industry to produce products accordingly. Plastics are being used for indoor and outdoor furniture frames, while water bottles are being used to create outdoor rugs and accents.</p> <p>For a more luxe look, acrylic products are having a comeback, giving a room the architectural structure it needs without taking up visual real estate. Acrylic in a small space, like an entryway or sitting area, provides a surface that can be layered with more organic items and not feel fussy.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230831 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="806" /></p> <h2>Authentic construction</h2> <p>The rise of digitally printed fabrics has created a true appreciation for real embroidery, thick wool boucles, linens and other artisan-inspired elements. Rich textural expressions are the theme of the upcoming season. Think velvet upholstery, hemp drapery, cork walls, wicker and jute for furniture and finishes.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230827 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="821" /></p> <h2>Maximal artwork</h2> <p>The surge of minimalism and Scandinavian design, characterized by neutral colors and simple materials, is finally declining. In its place, bright colors and graphic patterns are becoming more prevalent in the home.</p> <p>Don't be afraid to mix colors, patterns and textures. Take a gallery wall to the next level by having it cover an entire wall, or add a dramatic large-scale piece to your space. In this case, more is more.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230828 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="683" /></p> <h2>Metallic accents</h2> <p>And speaking of timeless metal accents, sparkle is still on the design scene for living room decor compositions. Add a hint of disco glamour and luxury by introducing bronze, gold and chrome details through decorative accents, furniture inlays, hardware, lighting, mirrors and accessories.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230829 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="576" /></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Creative Ways to Add Color to Your Rental</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Design Tricks That Will Make Your Small Space Feel Big</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A DIY for the Books: How to Get Custom Built-In Shelves on a Budget</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 27 2019-08-29 17:32 +00:00 2019-08-30 05:32 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating 8 Ways to Incorporate Your Passions Into Your Home Decor Surrounding yourself with reminders of your hobbies and interests makes any space more meaningful. Thu, 29 Aug 2019 15:21:27 Z Moriah Simmons <p>Your home reflects who you are, and you're way more than a selection of tasteful paint and furniture. Why not celebrate your passions by incorporating them into your decorating? When your talents, skills, and hobbies are on display as a natural part of your decor, you feel more inspired and more at home.</p> <p>You don't have to remake your life to incorporate your passions into your home decorating. In many cases, just a small change of storage or placement will make all the difference - and you may even save money because you're using items you already own.</p> <p>If something makes you happy, bring it out and let it shine.</p> <h2>Store your tools in arm's reach</h2> <p>Many creative hobbies come with beautiful tools. Don't hide your paintbrushes or yarn - show them off with pride of place!</p> <p>Make sure to put tools you use frequently in accessible places where you can grab them. Nothing's worse than being inspired to create and having to wrestle a guitar off the wall or extract a crochet hook from the back of a cabinet. A good rule is to keep anything you use once a week or more within easy reach.</p> <h2>Display seasonal equipment year-round</h2> <p>Just because you can only ski a few months out of the year doesn't mean you forget about hitting the slopes. Keep your seasonal passions alive by keeping them in sight, but out of the way.</p> <p>Mount skis or fishing poles over a door in the off season. If you have space above kitchen cabinets, that's a great place for the gorgeous fondue set you only use in winter. You could even ceiling-mount a canoe paddle - or the whole canoe if there's room. The good thing about most seasonal equipment is that you use it outside, so you don't have to worry too much about interim storage.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-226143" src="" alt="" width="650" height="975" /></p> <h2>Put your talents to work</h2> <p>Give your creative passions room to shine in everyday life. If you're great at calligraphy, write a stylish meal-planning list for your week or create a framed school checklist to put by the front door.</p> <p>Woodworkers can make anything from cutting boards to furniture. If you embroider, make your own cushion covers and embellished hand towels. Potters, once you fill your mug cupboard, branch out into making planters and wall hooks.</p> <p>For almost any art or craft, there's a practical application, so make it a fun challenge to find yours.</p> <h2>Bring the mass-appeal objects into the conversation</h2> <p>When you have an interest in common with someone, the conversation just flows. That's why it's great to have some pop-culture touchpoints in your living space. Items like framed vinyl albums give your guests an easy way to learn about your interests and start talking.</p> <p>Not everyone will be able to contribute to a discussion about your 19th-century Japanese chisel, but almost everyone who sees your framed program will remember the first time they heard about "Hamilton.&#8221;</p> <p>For a living room where you entertain friends, or a home office where you have clients, these objects can help create connections.</p> <h2>Let your collection tell a story</h2> <p>When you're a collector, every piece has a story. As a whole, the items in a collection tell a narrative of their own history and how they came into your life.</p> <p>Keep collections in a place of honor where the whole story can come together. Cabinets and display shelves are great for 3D objects like glassware, figurines and curios, and albums are perfect for stamps, old photos and ephemera.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-226139" src="" alt="" width="800" height="564" /></p> <h2>Active items inspire action</h2> <p>If you need a little motivation to practice your passion, let your decor help inspire action. Match each inspiring object with the place you're most likely to need a boost.</p> <p>If you aren't feeling your usual gourmet self, display your antique bakeware in your kitchen. To help with writer's block, display your diploma, your first pitch acceptance letter or special first editions of your favorite books over your desk. Hang athletic medals and photos of you at the finish line over the shoe bin near your entryway to encourage you to go for a run.</p> <h2>Match the vibe of the room</h2> <p>In general, keep the purpose of the room in mind when deciding where to display your prized possessions. Don't just go by where you have available wall space; take time to find the right fit.</p> <p>A shelf of antique clown toys can look great in an office or playroom, but might not feel restful in your bedroom. And your championship soccer cleats or a signed football may be perfect inspiration in your workout room, but they're less than appetizing hanging in the dining room.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-226140" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Mellow treasures set the mood</h2> <p>Some of your possessions are just for you, and they spark special memories and feelings when you see or touch them. If you have an object that brings your comfort, place it according to how it makes you feel. Does that beach rock make you feel calm? Keep it by your bedside.</p> <p>If your grandpa's old pipe reminds you of how he taught you to read, keep in in a display case on a bookshelf or by your desk.</p> <p>These are just a few of the ways you can bring your passions into your home decorating. Hopefully these ideas inspire you to bring your most important possessions into your decor, so you can keep those passions alive in your daily life.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Ideas for Personalized Home Accents That Are All About You</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Style Is Your Dream Bedroom?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get Hygge: Cozy Up to Scandinavian Simplicity</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 15 2019-08-29 15:21 +00:00 2019-08-30 03:21 +12:00 Home Improvement bedrooms decorating Quiz: What Style Is Your Dream Bedroom? The best way to create a cozy bedroom you'll love snuggling up to? Find a look that reflects your personality. Thu, 29 Aug 2019 13:05:28 Z Renee Meininger <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Aah&#8230; the bedroom of your dreams. Will it include fuzzy pillows or homespun quilts? Perhaps it's covered wall to wall in plush rugs. Or maybe it's a clutter-free, serene space. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rest assured, this quiz will help you discover your style.</span></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" src="" width="300" height="150"></p> <section> <h2>What&#8217;s Your Nesting Style?</h2> <p>Take the quiz to find out.</p> </section> <section> <h2>Minimalist</h2> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">Clean lines, neutral colors - for you, less is more. While others banish beige, you say bring it on. It takes a renegade like you to strip away the unnecessary clutter and focus on a few statement-making features. </span></p> </section> <section> <h3>Farmhouse</h3> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">You'll take all the reclaimed wood and wrought iron, please. Your look is all about keeping things light, yet cozy. If it's rustic, knitted, homespun or antiqued, you'll welcome it with barn doors wide open. </span></p> </section> <section> <h3>Romantic</h3> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">This isn't granny's doily collection. You're going for refined elegance, which means delicate shapes paired with ornate details. Think curvaceous frames, chandeliers dripping in crystals and lush florals with creamy whites.</span></p> </section> <section> <h3>Bohemian</h3> <p><span style="background-color: transparent;">You're vibing hard on ikat prints right now. Surround yourself with bright pops of colors, crocheted textiles, and patterns on top of patterns on top of patterns. You'll feel like you're in an exotic locale, even if it is just the suburbs. </span></p> </section> <section> <h2>Which season do you enjoy the most?</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Where would you love to go on vacation?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What is your ideal date?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What is your must-have accessory?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What midnight snack do you reach for?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What is your preferred beverage?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>Which accent do you need in every room?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>If you had an extra $100, what would you spend it on?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>What best describes your fashion sense?</h3> </section> <section> <h3>How do you like to unwind?</h3> </section> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p></iframe></div> <div data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><strong>Related:</strong></div> <ul> <li data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Create a Restful Bedroom</a></li> <li data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Home Design Quiz: Would You Rather &#8230; ?</a></li> <li data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get Hygge: Cozy Up to Scandinavian Simplicity</a></li> </ul> <div data-rid-id="138640" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="true"><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></div> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 98 2019-08-29 13:05 +00:00 2019-08-30 01:05 +12:00 COMMENT: The dangers of neglecting code compliance certificates <p>It&rsquo;s a legal requirement for commercial buildings to have a Code Compliance Certificate yet many don&rsquo;t. Building compliance expert Rosie Kilip explains why this is not a good thing...</p> Wed, 28 Aug 2019 10:12:00 +1300 2019-08-28 10:12 +13:00 2019-08-28 09:12 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating Home offices Home Organization Creating a Home(work) Station That Gets Top Marks Good study habits are easier to build when you have a dedicated and attractive spot to hit the books. Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:00:21 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>When was the last time your home workspace or study station inspired you? For most people, the answer is, "Not recently."</p> <p>Whether you&#8217;re prepping an area for your work-from-home days or setting up a spot for young scholars to study , you can kick inspiration into high gear with home office solutions that will get your creative juices flowing again.</p> <h2>Window wonder</h2> <p>It's no secret that sunshine does the body good. Fix up a space near the window so you can soak up plenty of vitamin D while pumping out price lists or writing that term paper.</p> <p>Greenery looks great near a bright area, so a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">potted plant</a> or two might help naturally bring your space to life.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-229284" src="" alt="" width="800" height="531" /></p> <h2>Arts and crafts</h2> <p>The age of DIY is upon us. Embrace the casual-cool vibes and create your very own home desk area.</p> <p>Need a semipermanent to-do list? Try using chalkboard paint to make yourself a giant notepad on a nearby cabinet or a framed chalkboard. Tired of the overdone corkboard for your sticky notes? Framed chicken wire with clothespins makes a more shabby-chic memo board.</p> <p>The possibilities really are endless for this type of style. Just don't let your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIYing</a> get in the way of the tasks you originally sat down to do!</p> <figure id="attachment_181204" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-181204" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-181204 size-full" src="" alt="arts" width="500" height="750" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-181204" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Collaboration is key</h2> <p>For those less focus-intensive projects, investigate a collaborative workstation with several small spaces or a giant community table. This type of work environment has been popular among small companies and creative agencies for the purpose of bouncing around ideas.</p> <p>If you still want your own personal space, put a divider between you and the other desks for some extra privacy, and take it down when it's time to meet and discuss. You know what they say: Teamwork makes the dream work.</p> <figure id="attachment_181205" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-181205" style="width: 550px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-181205 size-full" src="" alt="collab sm" width="550" height="645" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-181205" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>A clear mind</h2> <p>While many of us would like to think we have complete control of our habit of logging onto Facebook or checking what else our calendar has in store for us, most of us really don't. And the greatest enabler of this sidetracked behavior is a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cluttered workspace</a>.</p> <p>Set the stage for a clean slate with a bright white desk and matching chair, a simple light fixture and an inspiring element. Keeping your workstation simple and clutter-free ensures you have a productive day - even if your homework is less than exhilarating.</p> <p>Whether you're up all night cramming for exams or prepping for a work presentation due first thing in the morning, you'll feel more focused and productive by incorporating any of these tips into your workstation.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Ways to Conquer Clutter and Simplify Your Life</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Steps to Creating an Organized Entryway (Even If You Don&#8217;t Have the Space)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Ways to Self-Sabotage Your Organizing Efforts</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 17 2019-08-22 11:00 +00:00 2019-08-22 23:00 +12:00 Tips & Advice home buying Home selling real estate agents Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Real Estate Agents Do you need one? Do they pocket the whole commission? Let's set the facts straight. Thu, 01 Aug 2019 13:09:24 Z Brendon DeSimone <p>Buyers and sellers often enter the market with misconceptions about real estate agents - how they work, how the process works and what the agency relationship is all about.</p> <p>It&#8217;s helpful to point out, without getting too far into the weeds, that in any one real estate transaction, there are most likely two agents: one for the buyer and one for the seller.</p> <p>Here are five myths (and five truths) about working with both buyer's and seller's agents.</p> <h2>1. Agents get a 6% commission, no matter what</h2> <p>Most people assume that their agent is pocketing the entire <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">commission</a>. That would be nice, but it&#8217;s just not accurate.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>First, it's helpful to know that the seller pays the commission, and they split it four ways: between the two brokerages and the two agents.</p> <p>Finally, the brokerage commission isn't fixed or set in stone, and sellers can sometimes negotiate it.</p> <h2>2. Once you start with an agent, you're stuck with them</h2> <p>If you're a seller, you sign a contract with the real estate agent and their brokerage. That contract includes a term - typically six months to a year. Once you sign the agreement, you could, in fact, be stuck with their agent through the term. But that&#8217;s not always the case.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>If things aren't working out, it's possible to ask the agent or the brokerage manager to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">release you from the agreement early</a>.</p> <p>Buyers are rarely under a contract. In fact, buyer's agents work for free until their clients find a home. It can be as quick as a month, or it can take up to a year or more. And sometimes a buyer never purchases a house, and the agent doesn't get paid.</p> <p>Before jumping into an agent's car and asking them to play tour guide, consider a sit-down consultation or a call, and read their online reviews to see if they're the right fit.</p> <p>Otherwise, start slow, and if you don't feel comfortable, let them know early on - it's more difficult to break up with your agent if too much time passes.</p> <h2>3. It&#8217;s OK for buyers to use the home's selling agent</h2> <p>Today's buyers get most things on demand, from food to a ride to the airport. When it comes to real estate, buyers now assume they need only their smartphone to purchase a home, since most property listings live online.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>First-time buyers or buyers new to an area don't know what they don't know, and they need an advocate.</p> <p>The listing agent represents the seller's interests and has a fiduciary responsibility to negotiate the best price and terms for the seller. So working directly with the selling agent presents a conflict of interest in favor of the seller.</p> <p>An excellent buyer's agent lives and breathes their local market. They've likely been inside and know the history of dozens of homes nearby. They're connected to the community, and they know the best inspectors, lenders, architects and attorneys.</p> <p>They've facilitated many transactions, which means they know all the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">red flags</a> and can tell you when to run away from (or toward) a home.</p> <h2>4. One agent is just as good as the next</h2> <p>Many people think that all agents are created equal.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>A great local agent can make an incredible difference, so never settle. The right agent can save you time and money, keep you out of trouble and protect you.</p> <p>Consider an agent who has lived and worked in the same town for around ten years. They know the streets like the back of their hand. They have deep relationships with the other local agents. They have the inside track on upcoming deals and past transactions that can't be explained by looking at data online.</p> <p>Compare that agent to one who's visiting an area for the first time. Some agents aren't forthright and might be more interested in making a sale. Many others care more about building a long-term relationship with you, because their business is based off referrals.</p> <h2>5. You can't buy a for sale by owner (FSBO) home if you have an agent</h2> <p>In a previous generation, sellers who wouldn't deal with any agents tried to sell their home directly to a buyer to save the commission.</p> <h3>Truth</h3> <p>Smart sellers understand that real estate is complicated and that most buyers have separate representation. And many <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FSBO sellers</a> will offer payment to a buyer's agent as an incentive to bring their buyer clients to the home.</p> <p>If you see a FSBO home on the market, don't be afraid to ask your agent to step in. Most of the time the seller will compensate them, and you can benefit from their knowledge and experience.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How Do I Sell My House: Getting Started</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Do I Need an Agent to Sell My House?<br /> </a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Price Your Home to Sell</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em></p> <p><em>Originally published June 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 56 2019-08-01 13:09 +00:00 2019-08-02 01:09 +12:00 Unique Homes cabins treehouses unique homes This Stylish Treehouse Is Luxury Off-the-Grid Living More castle-like than rustic, this forested glamping retreat took the couple three years to build. Wed, 31 Jul 2019 17:39:09 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p id="video">Kati O'Toole and her husband, Darin, wanted to create a giant piece of artwork on their private and heavily wooded seven-acre property in Montana. They ended up with what they refer to as the Montana Treehouse Retreat - a two-story, fully finished treehouse nestled among three living trees.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>"Everybody thought we were crazy [at] the beginning, like 'What are you guys doing building a treehouse here?' Our parents thought we were crazy," says Kati.</p> <p>But the hard work and vision paid off, and now visitors from all over the world routinely come to stay at their carefully crafted work of art. The 700-square-foot treehouse features a master suite with a deck that overlooks the forest, a living area with three benches that can double as sleeping quarters, and two bathrooms. Guests can also prepare a meal in the treehouse's downstairs kitchen, complete with a refrigerator, a stove, a sink and a dishwasher.</p> <p>"There&#8217;s even air conditioning in this treehouse, because we wanted to create a very luxury experience here. I have to be honest - the treehouse is nicer inside than the house that I live in, so I like to come back here and just have a little retreat away from it all," says Kati.</p> <p>Every detail of the treehouse was painstakingly thought out, and most of the materials were either sourced locally or repurposed. The trim and the interior feature wood that Darin himself milled, sanded and finished, and the breakfast table nook was made from the base of a tree located right on their property.</p> <p>One of Kati's favorite details of the treehouse, however, is the spiraling exterior staircase, which is wrapped around a large tree shipped in from Darin's grandmother's yard, roots and all.</p> <p>Although Darin handled most of the heavy-duty construction of the structure, Kati's handiwork is all over the interior.</p> <p>"We wanted it to be kind of funky and modern - but still have some Montana accents and still be a little rustic too. So there were many things coming into play, and we wanted people to feel like it was a very cozy home away from home when they came here, and just like a one-of-a-kind Montana experience," she says.</p> <p>A combination of white shiplap and multicolored wood paneling covers the interior walls, giving the home an eclectic yet polished farmhouse look, and expansive windows create an open, airy feeling in the small living spaces. Modern elements that are dotted throughout the house, like the industrial chandelier in the kitchen and the black hexagon and subway tiles in the bathrooms, are more reminiscent of a boutique hotel than a remote treehouse located near Glacier National Park.</p> <p>Close to Kati's heart are the pieces by local artists that don the walls, with some of the pieces coming from guests who created the artwork while staying at the treehouse.</p> <p>"It&#8217;s been really cool to see [how] this place inspires people," she says.</p> <p>But the defining characteristic of this home - and what guests travel miles for - is the unique experience of living out your childhood dreams of sleeping in a treehouse.</p> <p>"It&#8217;s a very unique feeling that most people have never experienced, to be lying in bed and seeing a tree - or you&#8217;re actually moving. And people have told me that they love the experience, and it&#8217;s - yeah, it&#8217;s a treehouse. That&#8217;s the beauty. It&#8217;s a real treehouse," says Kati.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="">Explore a Tiny Tropical Treehouse in Hawaii</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Nashville Treehouse Will Drench You in Light</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tour These Whimsical Cabins Made From Recycled Materials</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 27 2019-07-31 17:39 +00:00 2019-08-01 05:39 +12:00 Tips & Advice curb appeal home remodel home seller tips home staging paint color 5 Myths (and 5 Truths) About Selling Your Home True or false: All real estate advice is good advice. (Hint: It depends.) Wed, 31 Jul 2019 14:15:36 Z Mary Boone <p>Everyone has advice about the real estate market, but not all of that unsolicited information is true. So when it comes time to list your home, you'll need to separate fact from fiction.</p> <p>Below we&#8217;ve identified the top five real estate myths - and debunked them so you can hop on the fast track to selling your property.</p> <h2>1. I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you won't get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.</p> <p>Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood, and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.</p> <h2>2. My home&#8217;s exterior isn't as important as the interior</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> Home buyers often make snap judgments based simply on a home's exterior, so <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">curb appeal</a> is very important.</p> <p>"A lot of buyers search online or drive by properties before they even enlist my services," says <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bic DeCaro</a>, a real estate agent at Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, Virginia. "If the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there's a chance they won't ever enter the house - they'll just keep driving."</p> <p>The good news is that it doesn't cost a bundle to improve your home's exterior. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.</p> <h2>3. If my house is clean, I don't need to stage it</h2> <p><b>Truth: </b>Tidy is a good first step, but professional home stagers have raised the bar. Tossing dirty laundry in the closet and sweeping the front steps just aren&#8217;t enough anymore.</p> <p>Stagers make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home&#8217;s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. For example, they might recommend removing blinds from a window with a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger.</p> <p>Of course, you don't have to hire a professional stager. But if you don't, be ready to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">use some of their tactics</a> to get your home ready for sale - especially if staging is a trend where you live. An unstaged house will pale when compared to others on the market.</p> <h2>4. Granite and stainless steel appliances are old news</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.</p> <p>"Most shoppers just want to steer away from anything that looks dated," says <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dru Bloomfield</a>, a real estate agent with Platinum Living Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona. "When you a design a space, you need to decide if you&#8217;re doing it for yourself or for resale potential.&#8221;</p> <p>She suggests that if you're not planning to move anytime soon, decorate how you&#8217;d like. But if you&#8217;re planning to put your home on the market within the next couple of years, stick to elements with mass appeal.</p> <p>"I recently sold a house where the kitchen had been remodeled 12 years ago, and everybody thought it had just been done because the owners had chosen timeless elements: dark maple cabinets, granite counters and stainless steel appliances."</p> <h2>5. Home shoppers can ignore paint colors they don't like</h2> <p><b>Truth:</b> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Moving is a lot of work</a>, and while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don't want to.</p> <p>That's why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property stand out in online photographs, which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.</p> <p>Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000-square-foot house will cost about $3,000 to $6,000, depending on labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it's probably a worthwhile investment.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Should You Renovate Your Home or Sell?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Listing Photo Do&#8217;s and Don&#8217;ts</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Say What? Home-Buying Lingo You Should Know</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 1, 2014.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 48 2019-07-31 14:15 +00:00 2019-08-01 02:15 +12:00 COMMENT: The coming rental housing crisis <p>Failure of government to reverse policies will result in a calamitous fall in houses to rent and escalating rents in a crisis unseen since the 1930&rsquo;s, writes veteran property investor Jonathan Bidmead.</p> Tue, 30 Jul 2019 10:25:00 +1300 2019-07-30 10:25 +13:00 2019-07-30 09:25 +12:00 Unique Homes tiny homes unique homes This School Bus Is a Tiny Home ... to a Family of 6! With bunk beds for the kids, a master bedroom for the adults and a rooftop deck for all, one family is redefining the term "on the go." Wed, 24 Jul 2019 17:49:14 Z Lindsay Cohen <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The wheels on the bus go round and round - and then might stop for family dinner, if you're Gabriel and Debbie Mayes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It may not be the dream for every family, but it's the one Debbie envisioned after seeing a video on Facebook a few years ago. It featured a couple who had converted a school bus and spent all their time on the open road, exploring the country.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I immediately thought, 'Hey, we can totally do this with our kids. Why not?'" she recalled. "And so I brought the idea to Gabriel. It took a while to convince him."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Definitely took a while," Gabriel chimed in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the more the duo thought about the idea, the more it made sense. They felt disconnected as a family in a 5,000-square-foot home; downsizing would bring the family closer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">4,752 square feet closer, to be precise. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We were talking about that disconnection in our marriage, in our family as a whole, and just thought if we&#8217;re gonna do anything adventurous, now would be the time," Gabriel said. "We were looking to reconnect, to do something crazy exciting with our kids, and just to take life and flip it upside down."</span></p> <p>So they bought a school bus to live in.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The family of six - two adults, four kids - sought the help of an outside company when it came to finding the bus and designing the features. </span></p> <figure id="attachment_227512" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227512" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227512 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227512" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <figure id="attachment_227521" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227521" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227521 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227521" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Mayes Team</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their priorities: separate sleeping areas for the kids and the adults (the master bedroom has a door that closes), space to entertain guests, and a kitchen with ample countertops. (They pulled that off by installing an under-the-counter fridge. It holds enough food for a week!)</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227515" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227515" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227515 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227515" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We even went and taped out the design on the floor so we could walk through and see," Debbie said. "We did things like reduce the depth of the couch, reduce the depth of the [kids'] bunk beds. We knew aisle space would be way more important than them having that extra bed space. I was very intentional in designing all of the little areas to be functional. It&#8217;s down to the inches."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gabriel's only ask: a rooftop deck.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I just had this vision of taking the bus, backing it up against the lake, opening up the skylight out of my bedroom, going up to the roof deck, and then sitting in my chair and just chilling," he said. "I just wanted this place where I&#8217;m secluded from the rest of the world and I&#8217;m overlooking just beautiful scenery."</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227612" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227612" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227612 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227612" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Buying and renovating the bus cost about $38,000 and took about five months. During that time, the family sold or donated much of what they owned and put the rest in storage. They hit the road in August 2017.</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227526" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227526" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227526 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227526" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Mayes Team</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On their first trip, the road hit back.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I remember the day that I got in the bus. We had spent the whole day packing. Last thing goes on, the kids get on, we close the door, and I put it in drive and our home starts moving. I can&#8217;t fully explain how exhilarating that feeling was," Gabriel said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was amazing but also did not go exactly how we had planned," Debbie added. "We got 300 miles into the journey, and the bus broke down on the side of the road. It was like, 'Wah-wah.'"</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227514" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227514" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227514 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227514" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The school bus - which they affectionately call "the Skoolie" - picked a patch of desert land in Oklahoma to break down. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Turns out it was also a piece of private land.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We fed the kids lunch and tried to figure out what the heck we were gonna do, and a random stranger pulls up after we&#8217;d been there for a few hours, and he was like, 'You&#8217;re actually on my land.'" Debbie said. "But he had been a diesel mechanic."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The stranger ended up building a part to get the bus moving. It's been pretty much smooth sailing ever since, from the mountains of Wyoming to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227528" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227528" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-227528" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1198" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227528" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Jen Hammer.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their biggest advice for others considering a home on wheels: Do the research. Find a builder or designer you can trust. In retrospect, they probably would've chosen a washer and dryer over installing a shower, but they have few other regrets.</span></p> <p>And yes, of course, there are seat belts for all. The family designed the living space to hide the seat belts under the couch cushions when the bus is parked. The baby rides in a car seat. &#8220;They are able to buckle up safely,&#8221; Debbie said, about her kids. Anything that&#8217;s breakable gets packed away for when the bus moves.</p> <figure id="attachment_227518" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227518" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-227518" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227518" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"To be able to have everything that you own as a family of six inside 248 square feet, knowing everything that you own is where it&#8217;s supposed to be - the amount of stress and anxiety really goes out the window," Gabriel said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Whenever you rid yourself of this desire to have things, it&#8217;s not that the desire goes away, it&#8217;s just that you just don&#8217;t have the space for it anymore,&#8221; he continued. &#8220;It causes you to start thinking on different levels. Now I just want to be intentional with my wife and be intentional with my kids. This massive weight is just gone."</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227516" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227516" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-227516 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227516" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Eventually, the Mayes plan to park the bus and turn it into a short-term rental. They hope to find a forever home and allow others to explore their tiny home on wheels.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The kids feel like they&#8217;re on this massive adventure. Whenever you pull up to a location that&#8217;s surrounded by mountains or there&#8217;s a new waterfall to go explore or some trail just to go run down, you put the bus in park, and you open the door," Gabriel said. "Just to see their excitement … I&#8217;ve never experienced anything like that."</span></p> <figure id="attachment_227519" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-227519" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-227519" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-227519" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Marcus Ricci.</figcaption></figure> <p><em>Top featured image by Jen Hammer.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Van? RV? School Bus? 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home on Wheels</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wild Ride: Turning School Buses Into Homes on Wheels</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Double Shipping Container Home Has Twice the Delight - House of the Week</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published July 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 8 2019-07-24 17:49 +00:00 2019-07-25 05:49 +12:00 Unique Homes unique homes 6 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure From the elegant to the unplugged, these charming circular homes will make your head turn. Wed, 24 Jul 2019 13:45:14 Z Lindsay Cohen <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Contemporary yurts</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are popping up everywhere - from Los Angeles to Zion National Park - as airy homes, backcountry destinations or even weekend glamping getaways. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Below are some of our favorites.</span></p> <h2>Marfa, Texas</h2> <figure id="attachment_225125" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225125" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225125 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="570" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225125" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Nick Simonite</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Sleep under a swath of stars in this brightly colored Marfa, Texas, yurt. Located about three hours southeast of El Paso, the yurt sits on a 21-acre artists&#8217; retreat with a hammock grove, bike rentals and wood-fired hot tubs. Bringing friends? The yurt is perched alongside safari tents and renovated vintage trailers.</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <h2>Orderville, Utah</h2> <figure id="attachment_225126" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225126" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225126" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225126" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Robert Ranney</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just beyond the terra-cotta backdrop of Zion National Park, this Utah yurt is off-grid and on point. Cell service and technology are nonexistent, making for the perfect environment to enjoy this bucolic setting. An outdoor fire pit serves as a spot to warm up underneath the night sky, and the yurt&#8217;s interior can sleep up to 11 people tuckered out from exploring Utah&#8217;s natural bliss.</span></p> <p>This home is currently available for <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term stays</a>.</p> <h2>Elgin, Texas</h2> <figure id="attachment_225138" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225138" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225138 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225138" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Sean Mathis</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>About 30 minutes outside of artsy Austin, Texas, sit five yurts for the glamping fan in all of us. Each space is artfully decorated, from the Southwestern decor to the hand-picked vintage furniture. The rustic surroundings provide the perfect escape from the hubbub of big city life. There&#8217;s a classic writer&#8217;s desk inside each yurt, relaxing hammocks outside and walking trails nearby.</p> <p>These homes are currently available as <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rentals</a>.</p> <h2>Fairplay, Colorado</h2> <figure id="attachment_225123" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225123" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225123 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225123" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Joe Holmes</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>If the mountains are calling and so you must go, this might be the yurt for you. Nestled in the wilderness about 30 minutes from Denver, this home serves as a Rocky Mountain retreat for explorers of all ages. Enjoy stunning stargazing at night, fresh powder all winter long and 360-degree views from the wraparound deck.</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <h2>Los Angeles, California</h2> <figure id="attachment_225124" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225124" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225124 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1010" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225124" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Ryan Schude</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>This urban yurt proves the circular structures aren&#8217;t just for outdoor explorers. Smack dab in cosmopolitan Los Angeles, this yurt sits under a canopy of orange, lemon and avocado trees, just a few miles from the famous Hollywood sign. The space boasts hardwood floors, modern amenities and a fire pit (for the few weeks each year that LA braves chilly weather).</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <h2>Saratoga, Wyoming</h2> <figure id="attachment_225129" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-225129" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-225129 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-225129" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Lodge &amp; Spa at Brush Creek Ranch</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>About two hours outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, sits this 700-square-foot mountain yurt. An overnight stay in this luxury space comes with custom gourmet meals, along with an expert guide to lead you to your digs via horseback. There are luxe glamping amenities on the inside (leather couches and a giant bed) and all that rural Wyoming has to offer on the outside (trout fishing, wildlife viewing and even yoga au naturel).</p> <p>This home is currently available as a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">short-term rental</a>.</p> <div class="mceTemp"></div> <p><em>Top featured image by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Sean Mathis</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Tiny Home Is Ready for Outer Space</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sleep Under the Stars in a Bubble Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Home Looks Like a Barn (But Has Enough Room to Be a Small Castle)</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 68 2019-07-24 13:45 +00:00 2019-07-25 01:45 +12:00 Unique Homes homes on wheels Van? RV? School Bus? 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home on Wheels Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of mobile living. Wed, 24 Jul 2019 13:41:24 Z Britany Robinson <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We've all seen photos of the perfectly manicured home on wheels: the reclaimed wood-lined walls, the occupants dreamily sipping coffee and watching a sunrise. People of all ages (including me) are asking themselves, "Can I do that too?" </span></p> <p>When I first saw the van that would one day be mine, I thought it was perfect for me. The 1986 GMC Vandura had a comfy bed, turquoise cabinets and twinkle lights that made me weak in the knees.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But a mobile life can involve just as much work as a stationary one - sometimes even more. You won't have to pay a mortgage, but you might need new brakes. You won't have to rely on neighbors to water your plants when you travel, but you will have to keep a tiny space organized and livable on the road. </span></p> <p>If those things don&#8217;t scare you off, the rewards can far outweigh the work. Here are some important questions to consider first.</p> <h2>Which home is right for you?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are various names for homes on wheels and recreational vehicles.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The RV is a self-contained, manufactured home on wheels. It typically contains a bathroom and a kitchen, and depending on the version you choose, it can be driven or towed. If you own a vehicle with towing capacity, a towable RV allows you to park and move around more freely.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220928" src="" alt="" width="650" height="975" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Camper vans are more compact but offer fewer amenities. They might have a small kitchenette but rarely contain a bathroom. If you're willing to rough it on the road, the camper van can be a more affordable option. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then there are the more creative approaches to mobile living. People have converted </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">school buses</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and vintage <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Airstreams</a></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> into living quarters. Choosing the vessel for your life on wheels is an important decision, so weigh your options carefully.</span></p> <h2>How will you use it?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Previously, people bought mobile homes when they retired. These days, the options for remote work allow more people to embrace a mobile lifestyle, with many variations. Some people want to travel regularly, while others park their homes and only occasionally switch locations.</span></p> <p>My motivation for buying a van was the freedom to spend month-long stints on the road and rent out my house whenever I left. As a freelance writer, I often travel in search of stories, and this seemed like a perfect way to do so. I could have the comforts of home and the freedom of wheels.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220930" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>However, since dropping $5,500 on the initial purchase and about $1,000 in repairs, I've landed a full-time job. It's now more of a weekend camping vehicle than a home. The extra headspace that once seemed luxurious now feels cumbersome, especially when I'm driving over windy mountain passes and spending $60 to fill up my tank. Also, the $80-per-month insurance feels extra expensive, now that I'm paying for something I don't often use.</p> <p>I'll travel regularly in my van someday, but my experience illustrates the importance of knowing how your van will facilitate the life you wish to lead. Where will you go, how often will you go and what will you do? Looking back, I would have gone for something a little smaller and lower maintenance.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Freedom can become debilitating if you don't know how you'll use it.</span></p> <h2>Where will you park?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Campgrounds, RV parks, Walmart parking lots and city streets have all become temporary homes for people who live on the road. But you must consider parking laws, safety and cost - every single night. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">RV parks and many campgrounds offer hookups for electricity and water. If your home is designed to accommodate those amenities, they're nice to have. It helps to research campground details before you hit the road. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you're freeing yourself from rent or a mortgage, you might not want to dump that money back into parking each night. National forests offer free camping, as long as you're 100-200 feet away from any road, trail or water source. Ask local ranger stations about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">access to dispersed camping</a> and local regulations. </span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220941" src="" alt="" width="800" height="480" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While mobile life is often celebrated with a backdrop of ocean beaches or beloved national parks, cities are something to consider too. They just require a little extra consideration. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vans have a leg up on bigger, flashier RVs when it comes to cities, especially if your van doesn't look like someone lives in it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most important piece of advice when considering where to park: Do your research. Reserve a spot when heading to popular parks, call ranger stations for information about parking in the area, join </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">local forums</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and always collect information ahead of time so you you're not searching for a place to sleep in the middle of the night with no service.</span></p> <h2>How much does it cost?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Paring down your belongings can be a great way to save money. But mobile living isn&#8217;t always cheap. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First, there's the cost of your vehicle, which can vary considerably. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Conversions - van, Airstream, school bus, etc. - can be expensive, even if you&#8217;re doing the work yourself. For example, </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">this stylish Sprinter van conversion</span></a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">cost $54,120</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">You'll see a huge range on RV prices as well, from several thousand to </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">millions of dollars</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once you find a home that&#8217;s right for your budget, you'll need to consider living costs too.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220934" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Camping fees are about $20 per night, which can be alleviated by free parking. But you won't get water and electrical hookups unless you pay for them. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vehicle insurance will add a few hundred to several thousand dollars in yearly costs. Comprehensive auto insurance, while more expensive than bare-boned liability plans, will protect your home and belongings from vandalism and theft. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I learned the hard way that an RV insurance plan is required of any vehicle that's been converted into a living space. Even though my van isn't technically an RV, AAA initially refused to tow me when I broke down in Seattle because I didn't have RV insurance. I've since upgraded, which has been worth it for the peace of mind. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, you'll also need to factor in regular repairs. And don't forget gas money! You'll spend a lot more on gas for your mobile home than you will on filling up your regular car. And the more toys you carry with your mobile home, the more your gas bills will climb.</span></p> <h2>Where will you go to the bathroom?</h2> <p>Unless you're able to find a mobile home with a built-in shower and toilet, personal hygiene can be a challenge on the road. But there are plenty of creative ways to make it work.</p> <p>A membership to a gym chain with locations across the country, like Planet Fitness or L.A. Fitness, will allow you to access showers and bathrooms - not to mention a workout, which can be vital when your living space only allows you to walk a few feet in either direction.</p> <p>Campgrounds and truck stops also provide facilities to the traveler looking to freshen up.</p> <p>If you don't have a toilet, you'll likely find yourself using truck-stop and cafe bathrooms. But a late-night bathroom break could mean toilets aren't available, and you'll have to settle for whatever is around.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-220939" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Can you work on the road?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Remote work opportunities have </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">freed many people</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from the constraints of a typical office job. But working from a mobile home is much different than a home office. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First, consider how often you'll need to work and where you'll be able to do so. It might be helpful to stay close to developed areas where there are plenty of establishments offering free Wi-Fi. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you can work comfortably inside of your mobile home, you can use your mobile device as a Wi-Fi hotspot or purchase a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot for $100-150. Whichever option you go with, you&#8217;ll need to sign up for a service plan with data. Check on the coverage area of service providers before you pick one - they're no use when you're in a dead zone! </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Working from the road also means you'll need electricity, which is nice to have for other uses, too, like charging your cell phone or running a fan to stay cool when your engine is off. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Solar panels</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">are a convenient, rechargeable and environmentally friendly energy source. </span></p> <p>I can see my van parked on the street from the window of my house right now. I'm still not entirely sure what a mobile life will look like, but figuring it out is half the fun.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Converted Van Is a Tiny Home on Wheels</a></li> <li><a href="">6 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This School Bus Is a Tiny Home &#8230; to a Family of 6!</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2017.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 12 2019-07-24 13:41 +00:00 2019-07-25 01:41 +12:00 Tips & Advice staycation Summer Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation Rule #1 of the best week off at home: Plan ahead. Wed, 17 Jul 2019 13:04:59 Z Sarah Pike <p>You don't need to stay in a hotel and play tourist to have a proper staycation. Look no further than your own home for a staycaytion dreams are made of.</p> <p>Make no mistake, an at-home staycation doesn&#8217;t just mean a lazy weekend on the couch. Turn your humble abode into a resort made for relaxation with a few days of planning and prep work.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s your guide to creating the ultimate staycation.</p> <h2>Tackle chores in advance</h2> <p>Make a list of chores you want to tackle a few days before your staycation begins. At the very least, cover the basics like washing linens, dusting and vacuuming.</p> <p>For an added level of sparkle, schedule time to clean your windows. That way when you're staring out to your backyard garden or pool (aka your staycaytion resort spa), your windows will be as spick-and-span as those at a five-star bed and breakfast.</p> <p>Better yet, for a totally chore-free staycaytion, consider setting aside extra cash for a housecleaning service to do the work for you beforehand.</p> <h2>Maximize your comfort</h2> <p>Maybe your home is already perfectly comfy and cozy. But for maximum staycation relaxation, why not add a few extra elements to make your home feel like a luxury resort?</p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><b>Adjust your lighting. </b>Look for soft ambient lighting options to create a calming environment. New lamps for bedroom and living areas and candles for the master bath can completely change the mood of a space.</li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><b>Add new rugs. </b>Soft, plush area rugs boost the comfort level of a room and make a cozy reading spot if you add a few floor pillows.</li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><b>Buy new bedding. </b>Not only will it feel like you're truly on a vacation somewhere else, but new sheets are an added perk after your leisure time comes to a close.</li> </ul> <h2>Create designated spaces</h2> <p>Think about what kind of environment will help you reach peak relaxation. You can do a quick makeover of your bathroom to create a calming home spa or carve out a quiet corner for a meditation or reading nook.</p> <p>If a spa setting is more your style, look at bath pillows, aromatherapy candles and bath oils. Or if you simply crave a reading corner, pick up some new reads that have been sitting on your wish list for too long.</p> <p>If you have kids, create a designated craft or board-game corner, or come up with a few activities they can enjoy while you relax.</p> <p>Look outside for added comfort ideas too. Whether it&#8217;s a hammock, a porch swing or patio furniture, look for ways to blend your staycaytion lounging with the great outdoors.</p> <p>On that note, consider setting up your camping gear in the backyard for part of your staycaytion, or try out a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY fire pit</a> for late-night chats and s&#8217;mores.</p> <h2>Manage meals ahead of time</h2> <p>Don't waste precious relaxation time planning menus. Pick your favorite family recipes, plan which meals you&#8217;ll have delivered and knock out grocery shopping before your staycaytion begins.</p> <p>If you enjoy cooking, consider using some of your staycation time to make more intricate meals than you typically have time for - or bring in a local chef for a cooking lesson.</p> <h2>Plan ahead to make it count</h2> <p>With a few preparatory tasks on your to-do list, you can turn your house into a staycaytion sanctuary. Map out what you want your staycation to be like, and delegate tasks. Soon you'll be ready for a few days of ultimate relaxation - without ever leaving your home.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spectacular Solariums and Sun Rooms Let in the Light</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Summer Smackdown: Which Home Is Your Favorite?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published July 5, 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 12 2019-07-17 13:04 +00:00 2019-07-18 01:04 +12:00 Tips & Advice home buying Home selling homeownership Say What? Home-Buying Lingo You Should Know Need a crash course on real estate terms? This glossary will get you started. Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:15:52 Z Zillow <p>DTI, PMI, LTV … TBH, it can be hard to keep all this stuff straight. This lexicon of real estate terms and acronyms will help you speak the language like a pro.</p> <p><strong>Appraisal management company (AMC)</strong>: An institution operated independently of a lender that, once notified by a lender, orders a home appraisal.</p> <p><strong>Appraisal</strong>: An informed, impartial and well-documented opinion of the value of a home, prepared by a licensed and certified appraiser and based on data about comparable homes in the area, as well as the appraiser's own walkthrough.</p> <p><strong>Approved for short sale</strong>: A term that indicates that a homeowner&#8217;s bank has approved a reduced listing price on a home, and the home is ready for resale.</p> <p><strong>American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)</strong>: A not-for-profit professional association that sets and promotes standards for property inspections and provides educational opportunities to its members. (i.e., Look for this accreditation or something similar when shopping for a home inspector.)</p> <p><strong>Attorney state</strong>: A state in which a real estate attorney is responsible for closing.</p> <p><strong>Back-end ratio</strong>: One of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender analyzes to determine a borrower's eligibility for a home loan. The ratio compares the borrower&#8217;s monthly debt payments (proposed housing expenses, plus student loan, car payment, credit card debt, maintenance or child support and installment loans) to gross income.</p> <p><strong>Buyers market</strong>: Market conditions that exist when homes for sale outnumber buyers. Homes sit on the market a long time, and prices drop.</p> <p><strong>Cancellation of escrow</strong>: A situation in which a buyer backs out of a home purchase.</p> <p><strong>Capacity</strong>: The amount of money a home buyer can afford to borrow.</p> <p><strong>Cash-value policy</strong>: A homeowners insurance policy that pays the replacement cost of a home, minus depreciation, should damage occur.</p> <p><strong>Closing</strong>: A one- to two-hour meeting during which ownership of a home is transferred from seller to buyer. A closing is usually attended by the buyer, the seller, both real estate agents and the lender.</p> <p><strong>Closing costs</strong>: Fees associated with the purchase of a home that are due at the end of the sales transaction. Fees may include the appraisal, the home inspection, a title search, a pest inspection and more. Buyers should budget for an amount that is 1% to 3% of the home's purchase price.</p> <p><strong>Closing disclosure (CD)</strong>: A five-page document sent to the buyer three days before closing. This document spells out all the terms of the loan: the amount, the interest rate, the monthly payment, mortgage insurance, the monthly escrow amount and all closing costs.</p> <p><strong>Closing escrow</strong>: The final and official transfer of property from seller to buyer and delivery of appropriate paperwork to each party. Closing of escrow is the responsibility of the escrow agent.</p> <p><strong>Comparative market analysis (CMA)</strong>: An in-depth analysis, prepared by a real estate agent, that determines the estimated value of a home based on recently sold homes of similar condition, size, features and age that are located in the same area.</p> <p><strong>Compliance agreement</strong>: A document signed by the buyer at closing, in which they agree to cooperate if the lender needs to fix any mistakes in the loan documents.</p> <p><strong>Comps</strong>: Or comparable sales, are homes in a given area that have sold within the past six months that a real estate agent uses to determine a home's value.</p> <p><strong>Condo insurance</strong>: Homeowners insurance that covers personal property and the interior of a condo unit should damage occur.</p> <p><strong>Contingencies</strong>: Conditions written into a home purchase contract that protect the buyer should issues arise with financing, the home inspection, etc.</p> <p><strong>Conventional 97</strong>: A home loan that requires a down payment equivalent to 3% of the home's purchase price. Private mortgage insurance, which is required, can be canceled when the owner reaches 80% equity.</p> <p><strong>Conventional loan</strong>: A home loan not guaranteed by a government agency, such as the FHA or the VA.</p> <p><strong>Days on market (DOM)</strong>: The number of days a property listing is considered active.</p> <p><strong>Depository institutions</strong>: Banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. These institutions underwrite as well as set home loan pricing in-house.</p> <p><strong>Down payment</strong>: A certain portion of the home's purchase price that a buyer must pay. A minimum requirement is often dictated by the loan type.</p> <p><strong>Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)</strong>: A ratio that compares a home buyer's expenses to gross income.</p> <p><strong>Earnest money</strong>: A security deposit made by the buyer to assure the seller of his or her intent to purchase.</p> <p><strong>Equity</strong>: A percentage of the home's value owned by the homeowner.</p> <p><strong>Escrow account</strong>: An account required by a lender and funded by a buyer's mortgage payment to pay the buyer's homeowners insurance and property taxes.</p> <p><strong>Escrow agent</strong>: A neutral third-party officer who holds all paperwork and funding in trust until all parties in the transaction fulfill their obligations as part of the transfer of property ownership.</p> <p><strong>Escrow state</strong>: A state in which an escrow agent is responsible for closing.</p> <p><strong>Fannie Mae</strong>: A government-sponsored enterprise chartered in 1938 to help ensure a reliable and affordable supply of mortgage funds throughout the country.</p> <p><strong>Federal Reserve</strong>: The central bank of the United States, established in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible and more stable monetary and financial system.</p> <p><strong>Federal Housing Administration (FHA)</strong>: A government agency created by the National Housing Act of 1934 that insures loans made by private lenders.</p> <p><strong>FHA 203(k)</strong>: A rehabilitation loan backed by the federal government that permits home buyers to finance money into a mortgage to repair, improve or upgrade a home.</p> <p><strong>Foreclosure</strong>: A property repossessed by a bank when the owner fails to make mortgage payments.</p> <p><strong>Freddie Mac</strong>: A government agency chartered by Congress in 1970 to provide a constant source of mortgage funding for the nation's housing markets.</p> <p><strong>Funding fee</strong>: A fee that protects the lender from loss and also funds the loan program itself. Examples include the VA funding fee and the FHA funding fee.</p> <p><strong>Gentrification</strong>: The process of rehabilitation and renewal that occurs in an urban area as the demographic changes. Rents and property values increase, culture changes and lower-income residents are often displaced.</p> <p><strong>Guaranteed replacement coverage</strong>: Homeowners insurance that covers what it would cost to replace property based on today&#8217;s prices, not original purchase price, should damage occur.</p> <p><strong>Homeowners association (HOA)</strong>: The governing body of a housing development, condo or townhome complex that sets rules and regulations and charges dues and special assessments used to maintain common areas and cover unexpected expenses respectively.</p> <p><strong>Home equity line of credit (HELOC)</strong>: A revolving line of credit with an adjustable interest rate. Like a credit card, this line of credit has a limit. There is a specified time during which money can be drawn. Payment in full is due at the end of the draw period.</p> <p><strong>Home equity loan</strong>: A lump-sum loan that allows the homeowner to use the equity in their home as collateral. The loan places a lien against the property and reduces home equity.</p> <p><strong>Home inspection</strong>: A nondestructive visual look at the systems in a building. Inspection occurs when the home is under contract or in escrow.</p> <p><strong>Homeowners insurance</strong>: A policy that protects the structure of the home, its contents, injury to others and living expenses should damage occur.</p> <p><strong>Housing ratio</strong>: One of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender analyzes to determine a borrower's eligibility for a home loan. The ratio compares total housing cost (principal, homeowners insurance, taxes and private mortgage insurance) to gross income.</p> <p><strong>In escrow</strong>: A period of time (30 days or longer) after a buyer has made an offer on a home and a seller has accepted. During this time, the home is inspected and appraised, and the title searched for liens, etc.</p> <p><strong>Jumbo loan</strong>: A loan amount that exceeds the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac limit, which is generally $425,100 in most parts of the U.S.</p> <p><strong>Listing price</strong>: The price of a home, as set by the seller.</p> <p><strong>Loan estimate</strong>: A three-page document sent to an applicant three days after they apply for a home loan. The document includes loan terms, monthly payment and closing costs.</p> <p><strong>Loan-to-value ratio (LTV)</strong>: The amount of the loan divided by the price of the house. Lenders reward lower LTV ratios.</p> <p><strong>Market value coverage</strong>: Homeowners insurance that covers the amount the home would go for on the market, not the cost to repair, should damage occur.</p> <p><strong>Mechanic&#8217;s lien</strong>: A hold against a property, filed in the county recorder&#8217;s office by someone who's done work on a home and not been paid. If the homeowner refuses to pay, the lien allows a foreclosure action.</p> <p><strong>Mortgage broker</strong>: A licensed professional who works on behalf of the buyer to secure financing through a bank or other lending institution.</p> <p><strong>Mortgage companies</strong>: Lenders who underwrite loans in-house and fund loans from a line of credit before selling them off to a loan buyer.</p> <p><strong>Mortgage interest deduction</strong>: Mortgage interest paid in a year subtracted from annual gross salary.</p> <p><strong>Mortgage interest rate</strong>: The price of borrowing money. The base rate is set by the Federal Reserve and then customized per borrower, based on credit score, down payment, property type and points the buyer pays to lower the rate.</p> <p><strong>Multiple listing service (MLS)</strong>: A database where real estate agents list properties for sale.</p> <p><strong>Origination fee</strong>: A fee, charged by a broker or lender, to initiate and complete the home loan application process.</p> <p><strong>Piggyback loan</strong>: A combination of loans bundled to avoid private mortgage Insurance. One loan covers 80% of the home's value, another loan covers 10% to 15% of the home's value, and the buyer contributes the remainder.</p> <p><strong>Principal, interest, property taxes and homeowners insurance (PITI)</strong>: The components of a monthly mortgage payment.</p> <p><strong>Private mortgage insurance (PMI)</strong>: A fee charged to borrowers who make a down payment that is less than 20% of the home's value. The fee, 0.3% to 1.5% of the yearly loan amount, can be canceled in certain circumstances when the borrower reaches 20% equity.</p> <p><strong>Points</strong>: Prepaid interest owed at closing, with one point representing 1% of the loan. Paying points, which are tax deductible, will lower the monthly mortgage payment.</p> <p><strong>Pre-approval</strong>: A thorough assessment of a borrower's income, assets and other data to determine a loan amount they would qualify for. A real estate agent will request a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter before showing a buyer a home.</p> <p><strong>Pre-qualification</strong>: A basic assessment of income, assets and credit score to determine what, if any, loan programs a borrower might qualify for. A real estate agent will request a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter before showing a buyer a home.</p> <p><strong>Property tax exemption</strong>: A reduction in taxes based on specific criteria, such as installation of a renewable energy system or rehabilitation of a historic home.</p> <p><strong>Round table closing</strong>: All parties (the buyer, the seller, the real estate agents and maybe the lender) meet at a specified time to sign paperwork, pay fees and finalize the transfer of homeownership.</p> <p><strong>Sellers market</strong>: Market conditions that exist when buyers outnumber homes for sale. Bidding wars are common.</p> <p><strong>Short sale</strong>: The sale of a home by an owner who owes more on the home than it's worth (i.e., "underwater" or "upside down"). The owner's bank must approve a lower listing price before the home can be sold.</p> <p><strong>Special assessment</strong>: A fee charged by a condo complex HOA when cash on reserve is not enough to cover unexpected expenses.</p> <p><strong>Tax lien</strong>: The government's legal claim against property when the homeowner neglects or fails to pay a tax debt.</p> <p><strong>Third-party review required</strong>: Verbiage included in a home listing to indicate that the lender has not yet approved the home for short sale. The seller must submit the buyer's offer to the lender for approval.</p> <p><strong>Title insurance</strong>: Insurance that protects the buyer and lender should an individual or entity step forward with a claim that was attached to the property before the seller transferred legal ownership of the property or "title" to the buyer.</p> <p><strong>Transfer stamps</strong>: The form in which transfer taxes are paid by the home buyer. Stamps can also serve as proof of transfer tax payment.</p> <p><strong>Transfer taxes</strong>: Fees imposed by the state, county or municipality on transfer of title.</p> <p><strong>Under contract</strong>: A period of time (30 days or longer) after a buyer has made an offer on a home and a seller has accepted. During this time, the home is inspected and appraised, and the title is searched for liens, etc.</p> <p><strong>Underwater or upside down</strong>: A situation in which a homeowner owes more for a property than it's worth.</p> <p><strong>Underwriting</strong>: A process a lender follows to assess a home loan applicant's income, assets and credit, and the risk involved in offering the applicant a mortgage.</p> <p><strong>VA home loan</strong>: A home loan partially guaranteed by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and offered by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies.</p> <p><strong>VantageScore</strong>: A credit scoring model lenders use to make lending decisions. A borrower's score is based on bill-paying habits, debt balances, age, variety of credit accounts and number of inquiries on credit reports.</p> <p><strong>Walkthrough</strong>: A buyer's final inspection of a home before closing.</p> <p><strong>Water certificate</strong>: A document that certifies that a water account has been paid in full. The seller must produce this certificate at closing.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Things You Need to Do When Buying A Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Predicting the &#8216;Right Time&#8217; to Buy or Sell a Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Don&#8217;t Believe These 5 Myths About Real Estate Agents</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2019-07-15 20:15 +00:00 2019-07-16 08:15 +12:00 Tips & Advice staycation Summer 8 Budget-Friendly Staycation Ideas for Families Staying home doesn't mean you can't have an adventure. Mon, 15 Jul 2019 13:00:42 Z Erica Sooter <p>Disneyland, the beach, camping &#8230; just a few of the many places your kids would nominate as a vacation destination this summer. But staying home?</p> <p>B-O-R-I-N-G.</p> <p>So how do you sell a staycation to your little ones? And not spend a ton of money? Fill it with fun and adventure.</p> <p>Check out these eight kid- and budget-friendly ideas that will make your summer staycation just as lively and memorable as any trip.</p> <h2>Camp out in your backyard</h2> <p>Pitch a tent, grab the camp chairs and roll out those sleeping bags. It&#8217;s time to go camping - in your backyard!</p> <p>Study the local flora and fauna, practice wilderness skills, roast marshmallows over <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a fire pit</a>, tell scary stories and spot constellations in the night sky.</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe title="Zillow #HomemadeHack: DIY Backyard Tabletop S&#039;mores" width="500" height="375" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <h2>Get your chef on</h2> <p>Let your little chefs put their skills to the test with a &#8220;Top Chef&#8221; competition. Introduce a mystery ingredient, work in teams and see what you can come up with.</p> <p>If competition isn&#8217;t your style, simply head to the farmer&#8217;s market or grocery store and pick out a unique ingredient and see what your family can come up with to put in a dish.</p> <p>Have a sweet tooth? Throw a bake-off and create your favorite cookies, cupcakes or cake. Share the snacks with friends and neighbors too.</p> <h2>Family carnival</h2> <p>Create your very own town fair, and bring your friends and family members in on the fun. Serve up classic carnival food like corn dogs, french fries, funnel cake and cotton candy.</p> <p>Set up DIY games like ring toss, cake walk, corn hole, balloon darts, a fishing hole and more.</p> <p>Finish off the night with an outdoor movie by stringing up a sheet and using a projector.</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe title="Zillow #HomemadeHack: Make a life size game board on your lawn" width="500" height="375" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <h2>Learn something new</h2> <p>Take an online course to learn a new skill or craft, or figure out how to play an outdoor game like bocce ball or croquet. Practice a different language with books from the library, or hit the zoo to learn about a new animal.</p> <h2>Build a fort</h2> <p>Wrangle all the cardboard boxes, blankets, chairs and pillows you can find and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">build the ultimate playhouse</a> or fort.</p> <p>Construct tunnels with boxes (bonus if you can snag a large refrigerator box), create rooms with blankets and chairs, and arm your fortress by building a pillow moat. Play castle or just snuggle up in your cozy den and watch a movie - don&#8217;t forget the popcorn.</p> <p>Keep the fun going into the night: Add twinkle lights and have a sleepover in your new castle.</p> <h2>Cool down with water play</h2> <p>Hot summer day? Cool down by making your own backyard into a mini water park.</p> <p>Break out the sprinkler and burn off some energy by splashing around. Fill the kiddie pool and hop in with your little ones, or wage a water balloon or squirt-gun fight for an afternoon that&#8217;s guaranteed to cool you off and make you feel like a kid again.</p> <p>Live in an apartment or don&#8217;t have the water gear? Head to your local splash pad or community pool. To save money, look for free or discount promotions at the pool or water park.</p> <h2>Find your inner artist</h2> <p>Arts and crafts are a great way to get those creative juices flowing, make fun memories and create cool pieces to treasure for years to come.</p> <p>Tie-dye some plain T-shirts, create your own modeling clay using flour and salt, make beaded bracelets, or try your hand at loom weaving.</p> <p>Keep things even simpler by drawing with some sidewalk chalk, building a birdhouse out of Popsicle sticks, or simply getting messy with some finger paint.</p> <h2>Plan a treasure or scavenger hunt</h2> <p>Set up a string of clues for your kids to follow that lead them all around the house, yard and even the neighborhood. Make up your own clues or check online for clever rhymes or location ideas.</p> <p>End the hunt with a fun prize, which can be anything from a chest full of faux gold coins, a long-desired toy or trinket, or a plate of fresh cookies or cupcakes. Add a dash of extra fun by dressing up as pirates or explorers.</p> <p>Whether you have a lot of free time or a little, a chunk of change to spend or a limited budget, there are plenty of fun staycation ideas to make your summer special.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">With This DIY Sporting Goods Catch-All, Game Day Is No Sweat</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Summer Smackdown: Which Home Is Your Favorite?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published May 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 7 2019-07-15 13:00 +00:00 2019-07-16 01:00 +12:00 Tips & Advice home buying legal issues Buyer, Beware: Is Your Future House Haunted? Paranormal activity, suicide, murder, cult activity, famous adulteries - is that dream house a "stigmatized property"? Sun, 14 Jul 2019 21:36:33 Z Dana Bull <p>We've all heard home-buying horror stories. Sellers backing out or financing falling through can quickly kill a deal. But these snags don't hold a candle to buying a "stigmatized" home.</p> <p>A home where paranormal activity, suicide, murder, cult activity or other misfortunes and crimes took place could be categorized as a stigmatized property.</p> <p>In real estate terms, a stigma refers to an intangible attribute of a property that may prompt a psychological or emotional response on the part of a potential buyer. In addition to physical defects, a house may have unusual features or a history that negatively impacts its value.</p> <h2>Get to know your state's disclosure laws</h2> <p>Here's a scary fact: A listing agent may not be required to disclose a stigma to buyers.</p> <p>Ever heard the phrase "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware)? In the past, sellers were not required to disclose anything about homes they were selling. Over the years, most states have made changes to this rule and now require that buyers be made aware of certain issues.</p> <p>The law urges buyers, sellers and their agents to engage in fair and honest dealing with all principals in the real estate transaction. However, the laws that regulate disclosure of sketchy events vary from state to state. Some state laws explicitly relieve the salesperson or broker of the obligation to disclose certain property stigmas.</p> <p>For instance, what if a house is haunted? Massachusetts is particularly lax when it comes to stigmas. In the witch city of Salem, a seller's agent does not necessarily need to volunteer information about paranormal activity or even a felony, suicide or homicide that has occurred in a home.</p> <p>But if you or your agent asks a seller's agent directly, they must answer truthfully. This differs from California's stringent laws, which, in addition to other disclosures, mandate that buyers be informed of any deaths that occurred at a property in the last three years.</p> <p>While it's certainly ethical for sellers to be upfront about any defects that may impact the value of a property, it may not be a legal requirement.</p> <h2>Research before you fall in love</h2> <p>Since you're unlikely to find the descriptors "haunted" or "former crime scene" in a property listing, how should you go about digging up some dirt?</p> <ul> <li>Check with a real estate attorney in your state to see what disclosures are required.</li> <li>Ask the seller's representative if criminal or paranormal activity has been reported. Again, sellers and their agents are legally obligated to reveal problems they're aware of when asked.</li> <li>Carefully review the seller's disclosures, if one is included with the listing. In many states, property owners are forced to put their real estate disclosures in writing.</li> <li>Get the inside scoop from the neighbors.</li> <li>Always Google the address of your future home. You may uncover a headline that sways your decision.</li> </ul> <p>You may learn that a former owner passed away in the house. In areas with older properties, this is likely going to be the case, though it may not be cause for concern. Someone peacefully passing away in the comfort of their home is a lot different from a situation that involved foul play.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tenant Troubles: Who Is Responsible for Problems in Your Rental?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Things You Should Know About Preliminary Title Reports</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">What You Need to Know About the Fair Housing Act</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 12 2019-07-14 21:36 +00:00 2019-07-15 09:36 +12:00 Home Improvement curb appeal DIY 3 Simple DIY Driveway Ideas Nowhere to park? Create your own driveway with one of these affordable methods. Sat, 13 Jul 2019 23:12:24 Z Tim Layton <p>A DIY driveway can be an easy want to add parking or improve the look of your home. Here are three relatively simple options.</p> <h2>1. Carve out a parking pad</h2> <p>The easiest, most affordable way to get an extra parking space is to clear out some grass and throw down mulch. It works fine, looks good and can be done in a day.</p> <p>But beware: Mulch isn't a permanent solution. Mulch breaks down over time, floats away in a heavy rain and fades in the sun. Over time, you may end up spending more money sprucing up the mulch than you would have pouring concrete in the first place.</p> <p>Be sure to use a store-bought landscape barrier, or even lay down newspaper to prevent weeds.</p> <p>If mulch seems too temporary, consider other loose materials like gravel, stones or crushed oyster shells.</p> <h2>2. Build a DIY driveway with pavers</h2> <p>A more solid parking option is a concrete or brick <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paver driveway</a>. It can be installed either professionally or DIY. Thousands of videos online show the steps and all the tricks of the trade. It's really quite simple:</p> <ol> <li>Excavate the area to be paved.</li> <li>Install a base material, such as crushed concrete, at a thickness of a few inches.</li> <li>Pack down the base material with a compactor, making sure to slope it as desired.</li> <li>Install a thin layer of sand on top of the base material.</li> <li>Install paver blocks on the sand layer, laying them in place in the pattern of your choice.</li> <li>Install a border row of bricks along the edges, and back that row with a poured concrete edge restraint, which will keep things from moving outward.</li> <li>Put another layer of sand on top of the finished surface and broom it into the joints between the bricks.</li> </ol> <p>When installed properly, a paver driveway can last for decades.</p> <h2>3. Go with classic concrete</h2> <p>Finally, there is the tried-and-true concrete driveway. There's a reason concrete is still the most common driveway product in the world: It looks good, doesn't cost a fortune and lasts a very long time.</p> <p>There are fewer steps to pouring a concrete parking area than there is to installing pavers, but it's not quite as beginner-friendly. If you've never poured concrete before, it's a good idea to start with a smaller area, such as a sidewalk, before tackling a large area.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sealing and Insulating Your Ductwork</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Fix Ceiling Water Stains</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Replace a Ceiling Fan</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-07-13 23:12 +00:00 2019-07-14 11:12 +12:00 Home Improvement DIY home maintenance A DIY Guide to Concrete Pavers for Driveways Get everything you need to know before kicking off your driveway remodel project. Fri, 12 Jul 2019 18:16:24 Z Karie Fay <p>Beyond the variety of styles, colors, textures and shapes available, pavers - often called paving stones - have distinct advantages over other driveway surfaces.</p> <h2>Why choose concrete pavers for your driveway?</h2> <p>Among other benefits, a concrete paver driveway delivers the following.</p> <p><strong>Strength, durability and longevity</strong>: Sheet concrete and asphalt look good, but they really aren't as strong and durable as you might think. Your driveway becomes nothing more than one giant slab. Although strong when in good condition, it won't handle age or freezing and thawing very well. Eventually, it will crack, calling for major repair work or replacement.</p> <p>Concrete pavers, in contrast, combine the strength and comfort of newly poured, solid driveway surfaces with the flexibility they lack. Concrete pavers will not crack from weather and will likely last for decades. The biggest drawback is that pavers may settle if the foundation material underneath shifts. The fix is simple, however: Remove, readjust and reset the affected pavers.</p> <p><strong>Ease of maintenance</strong>: Whether you have to recoat, reseal, spread more of it, grade it or replace it, it seems like there's always something your driveway needs when you have a traditional driveway material. A concrete paver driveway is about as close as you can get to "install it and forget it." Once laid and sealed, it's virtually maintenance-free unless you need to adjust or replace a paver or two.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Sure, concrete pavers typically cost more upfront than stone and slab paving materials. However, a concrete paver driveway pays for itself over time in both lower maintenance costs (including time and money) and the fact that long after other driveway materials fail, your concrete pavers will likely still look - and work - wonderfully.</p> <p><strong>DIY installation</strong>: Ask anyone who has ever poured concrete or asphalt - it's hard work. Done improperly, the material is likely to fail. Even spreading dirt or rock is tiring. In contrast, most concrete pavers are fairly DIY-friendly. The hardest portion is grading and preparing the base material, and any specialized equipment is easily rented. Alternatively, consider hiring a contractor for this part of the driveway project. Next, simply start laying pavers in place like a jigsaw puzzle.</p> <h2>Planning your driveway</h2> <p>While you're looking at other concrete paver projects and considering the myriad colors, styles and other options, you're also planning the driveway project. The two steps go hand in hand. You can't really plan how many pavers you need, after all, until you know the size of your driveway and a general idea of what you want. You also can't really plan the final appearance until you choose your pavers.</p> <p>Try making a sketch first. Having your vision on paper allows for more precise planning. Next, stake out the driveway area. Measure and mark the length and width, following any curve or direction you choose. Allow for a minimum driveway width of 12 feet in the vehicle parking area to provide plenty of walkway around the cars. For length, allot at least 18 feet of length for each vehicle planned.</p> <p>Decide what portion - if any - of the work you wish to do yourself. If the driveway area needs excavation, professional help will be useful. It also needs to be graded - meaning slightly sloped to allow water to run off into the appropriate area. A contractor knows how to easily grade the area while digging it out.</p> <p>On top of hiring out the excavation and grading, you can also hire someone to lay the substrates (two layers) and even the pavers themselves. If you go this direction, make sure to comparison shop. Ask the contractor about other projects they've worked on and ask for pictures. Find out specifically what the contractor will and will not do.</p> <p>If you choose to do the work yourself, make sure to line up everything you need before you start. Besides pavers, you also need the substrate materials (usually aggregate and sand) and the tools. You can rent plate compactors, diamond blade wet saws and other heavy equipment at most tool and equipment rental stores.</p> <h2>DIY concrete paver installation</h2> <p>Even if you prefer to have someone build your concrete paver driveway for you, it's still useful to understand the general process.</p> <p>The most important part of the job is a properly prepared and compacted substrate. The driveway foundation is essential for a quality installation that lasts. While the following information covers the basic steps, it isn't intended to be an exhaustive guide. If you're uncertain about any procedure or have questions, consult a concrete paver installation professional.</p> <ul> <li>Call 811 to request an underground utilities check. Never dig without first checking for these.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Excavate the driveway area to at least 15 inches. Your area may need a deeper drainage base. Talk to local building professionals if you're uncertain. Depth depends on the results of a percolation test, which measures how fast the soil absorbs rainwater. Contact your local Cooperative Extension for more details.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Compact the subgrade to provide a solid, stable soil base.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Install screen, if desired, to discourage weed growth.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Spread and compact a layer of paver base. Typically this is a 6-inch layer of washed, crushed stone (not river gravel or other rounded rock). Choose rock with a 3/4- to 2-inch diameter.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Cover the base with a 1-inch layer of concrete sand. Screed the surface - take a long flat edge and pull it across the surface to leave it perfectly smooth and level.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Set the edging around the driveway borders. Edging, called restraints, is critical - it isn't just ornamental. It helps keep each paver from shifting.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Place the concrete pavers according to your design. Set pavers together closely to minimize joints.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Spread mason sand over the pavers. Tamp down the pavers mechanically to force sand into the joints.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Finish with a layer of concrete sealer once the driveway is completely set. Spray on with a garden sprayer, following the product instructions for best results.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Note:</strong> In colder climates, consider installing a special snow-melting system beneath the pavers. Much like radiant heating systems indoors, these driveway-warming devices use heated cables to keep ice and snow off your driving surface. Ask a professional for further information.</p> <h2>Driveway maintenance</h2> <p>Concrete paver driveways don't require much maintenance if they are protected with a quality sealer and the joints are properly filled. To keep your driveway looking its best:</p> <ul> <li>Sweep regularly to keep dirt, leaves and other debris from accumulating.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Rinse when necessary to remove heavy soiling.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Treat oil and grease stains with a pressure washer and the appropriate cleaning solution.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Reseal the driveway surface every few years.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Plow or shovel in winter as needed. Avoid using sharp objects to chip at the ice, which may result in shattering or cracking the pavers.</li> </ul> <p>Use sand or a noncorrosive deicer like calcium magnesium acetate, never rock salt (sodium chloride) or calcium chloride. These products may cause efflorescence - a white, chalky discoloration.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sealing and Insulating Your Ductwork</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">With This DIY Sporting Goods Catch-All, Game Day Is No Sweat</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 1 2019-07-12 18:16 +00:00 2019-07-13 06:16 +12:00 Tips & Advice taxes Investment Property: How Much Can You Write Off on Your Taxes? Learn how to navigate the tricky tax laws around investment properties, including ways to save. Thu, 11 Jul 2019 17:56:53 Z Jason Van Steenwyk <p>There are certain things you can do as a real estate investor to help manage your tax bill and maximize your after-tax return on investment. To do so, however, you need to understand the primary ways in which investment real estate portfolios get taxed. You must also have a general grasp of some abstract concepts like calculating your tax basis, as well as the depreciation of capital investments.</p> <p>Warning: This article is not going to make you an expert. But it will acquaint you with the basic terminology so you can be better prepared for a meeting with your tax adviser.</p> <h2>Taxation of rental income</h2> <p>The IRS taxes the real estate portfolios of living investors in two primary ways: income tax and capital gains tax. (A third way, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">estate tax</a>, applies only to dead investors.)</p> <p>Rental income is taxable - as <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">ordinary income tax</a>. That means you must declare it as income on your tax return and pay income tax on it. Unlike wages, rental income is not subject to FICA taxes.</p> <p>Your income is everything you get from rents and royalties on the property, minus any deductible expenses. You can't deduct everything though. You can only deduct mortgage interest and repairs you make that restore the property to its original minimally functional condition. You can't deduct capital investments like new buildings, additions or renovations. More on these later.</p> <h2>Capital gains tax</h2> <p>The second tax bill you need to worry about is <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">capital gains tax</a>. The IRS taxes you on any net profits you get out of a property when you sell it. If you're flipping the property and you've owned it for less than a year, you pay short-term capital gains tax, which is the same rate as your marginal income tax rate. If you're in the 28% tax bracket, you'll pay a 28% tax on short-term capital gains.</p> <p>If you hold the property for 12 months, you'll qualify for more favorable long-term capital gains. Depending on your marginal income tax bracket, these taxes could range from 0% to 15%. In every bracket, however, the IRS takes a smaller cut out of long-term gains than out of ordinary income or short-term gains.</p> <h3>Calculating capital gains</h3> <p>You pay capital gains tax on the difference between your selling price in the property and your adjusted tax basis. Your adjusted tax basis in a property is the original cost you paid for the property, plus any amount invested in renovations and improvements (including labor costs on these projects) that you have not previously deducted for taxes.</p> <p>If you have deductions associated with the property, you subtract them from your tax basis. If your adjusted tax basis is higher than your sale, you have a capital loss. You can subtract capital losses from a given year from capital gains to reduce your tax bill. If you have more capital losses than capital gains, you can "carry forward" these capital losses into future years to offset future capital gains. If you have no capital gains, you can deduct $3,000 annually until you have recognized all your capital loss carryforward.</p> <h3>How to defer capital gains taxes: an intro to like-kind exchanges</h3> <p>The IRS provides an important exception to capital gains taxation, made-to-order for real estate investors: If you own an investment property, you can sell your property at a profit and roll your money over into another property within 60 days without having to pay capital gains taxes at all. This transaction is known as a Section 1031 exchange, named for the section of the U.S. Revenue Code that allows it. You cannot swap your rental property for a personal residence, or vice versa. For this reason, these exchanges are called like-kind exchanges, in that the property you replace it with needs to be substantially similar to what you sold.</p> <p>The 1031 exchange makes it possible for real estate investors to defer paying capital gains tax, which is another advantage over investing in mutual funds, stocks, bonds and other securities or collectibles. Outside of a retirement account, you have to pay tax on gains in these items by April 15 of the year after you sold them.</p> <h2>Depreciation and amortization</h2> <p>This is a broad concept, so we can only cover the very basics here. When you buy investment property - be it a building, a computer or a horse - the IRS knows that the item won't stay young and new forever. Over time, the property will decrease in value. Depreciation is the process of claiming a deduction to compensate you for the property's decrease in value during the year.</p> <p>Note: You can't depreciate your personal residence. You can only depreciate investment property. For more information on the process of depreciation, see IRS Publication 946, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">How To Depreciate Property</a>.</p> <p>Land, of course, doesn't depreciate. But minerals underneath the land do. If you are extracting oil or other minerals, or timber, for that matter, from the land, you will account for the gradual loss in value through a process called <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">depletion</a>.</p> <p>Likewise, when you make a purchase of investment real estate or capital equipment with a useful life of longer than a year, the IRS knows you will be using that property to generate income for a long time to come.</p> <p>Except in certain circumstances, the IRS does not allow you to deduct the full cost of your investment in the first year. Instead, you must amortize your investment over a number of years. For real estate, you must spread the deduction out over 27.5 years.</p> <h2>Passive activity rules</h2> <p>Again, these rules are complex. But in a nutshell, if you are a passive investor - meaning you are not working day to day in the business of managing your real estate investments - you are subject to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">passive activity rules</a>. Basically, you can only deduct passive losses to the extent that you can cancel out gains from passive activities. These rules restrict your ability to use passive activity losses to offset capital gains elsewhere in your portfolio. Congress implemented these rules in 1986 to eliminate tax loopholes and abusive tax shelters.</p> <p>Most individual investor landlords can deduct up to $25,000 per year in losses on rental properties, if necessary (subject to income limitation). Hopefully you won't have to make use of this provision much.</p> <h2>Property taxes</h2> <p>Expect to pay property taxes to local and county governments each year. Your local government will assess the market value of your property at its "highest and best use" and charge you a percentage of that value every year. You can deduct property taxes against your rental income, though, provided the property tax is uniformly assessed throughout the jurisdiction and is not a special assessment.</p> <h2>Other tax deductions</h2> <p>Watch for opportunities to take deductions for these common real estate investment expenses:</p> <ul> <li>Mortgage interest</li> <li>Legal fees related to your investment properties or business</li> <li>Mileage</li> <li>Business use of your home (the home office deduction)</li> <li>Advertising fees</li> </ul> <p>Employees (but if they are working on capital improvements or renovations, you have to amortize their labor costs as part of your capital investment, rather than as a current year expense.)</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">What is Tax Assessed Value, Tax Appraised Value, and Market Assessed Value?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Small Updates, Big Return: 5 Ways to Increase Your Home&#8217;s Value</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Want to Rent Your Vacation Home? Beware These Lender Rules</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-07-11 17:56 +00:00 2019-07-12 05:56 +12:00 Home Improvement remodeling How to Modernize a Split-Level Home Breathe new life into a dated split-level with these tips - you have more options than you might think! Wed, 10 Jul 2019 22:20:08 Z Tim Layton <p>What's not to love about a split-level home? The interior spaces flow. And while the change in floor level creates a partial separation of spaces, they are visually connected from one level to the next. Split-levels are cool - on the inside.</p> <p>The outside is often another story. Split-level exteriors tend to be a bit bland. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. And that&#8217;s probably because so many of them were built during the 1970s. T1-11 siding (plywood sheets with vertical grooves spaced 8 inches apart) is common on the upper levels, and the upper floors tend to be cantilevered out over the structural walls below.</p> <p>Split-level homes can feel dated. But a few simple modifications can transform them, making  them one of the best fixer-upper options.</p> <p>Let's take a look at a few of the primary changes you might make to create a modern masterpiece from the average split-level home.</p> <h2>Split-level remodel: siding</h2> <p>Modern home styles are generally made up of two surface types. The predominant surface is generally smooth and clean. Stucco is the most common material used to achieve this look, and thankfully, it&#8217;s not very difficult to stucco over many existing exterior siding products, such as T1-11. Any split-level modernization project should look very closely at ways to make those exterior walls smooth.</p> <p>The second exterior wall surface, which can make a huge impact and is easily retrofitted, is a natural stone of some sort. Think of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, and take note of the contrast between perfectly smooth wall surfaces and the texture of natural stone used intermittently throughout the design. A split-level home already has the structural breaks that make this kind of mix look perfect.</p> <h2>Split-level remodel: windows</h2> <p>Single-hung windows, which feature bottom panes that slide up to open the windows, are common in split-level homes from the &#8217;60s, &#8217;70s and &#8217;80s. And many of them are Colonial style, meaning that they feature grids that divide the window into 12 or more small "lites," rather than larger panes of glass.</p> <p>Replacing old windows with a more modern style can greatly modernize your home's look. Consider casement windows, which feature cranks and swing out to open up. Horizontal sliders can also provide a more modern look. Fixed glass is another very modern type of window, but it won't work for bedrooms that require an emergency escape and ventilation.</p> <h2>Split-level remodel: roof color and material</h2> <p>The roof is an oft-overlooked aspect of a home's exterior, which is surprising given the size of both the visible surface area of the roof and the investment required to have a new one installed. A roof is far more than a utilitarian way to keep precipitation out of the house - it's an important design element that can make or break an exterior remodel.</p> <p>Some roof colors simply won't work with a contemporary design - an old shingle roof usually looks anything but clean and smooth. Dark colors tend to work well with shingle roofs, and the potential to switch to a standing seam metal roof should also be considered.</p> <p>If you want to go full-on modern, consider hiding the roof completely. This may involve a major structural overhaul, but it's worth considering. Always consider even the most extreme ideas if you're planning to be in the home for a long time.</p> <h2>Split-level remodel: exterior lighting</h2> <p>A very simple way of updating the look of a traditional split-level is to add some bling to the design. Exterior accessories such as light fixtures and house numbers can make a huge difference. Modern home designs tend to focus on lighting details. A split-level home has a few great places to start.</p> <ul> <li><strong>The pathway to the front door: </strong>Often sloped to reach the middle level, this pathway could be an ideal place for some interesting lighting.</li> <li><strong>The overhang of the cantilevered second levels:</strong> These existing spaces are great for recessed lighting that illuminates the wall beneath, which you might want to cover in natural stone.</li> <li><strong>Either side of the front entry:</strong> If the home design includes a forward-facing front door or a recessed entryway, some nice modern fixtures on either side can accentuate the welcoming nature of the entry. Larger fixtures are often better here.</li> <li><strong>The garage:</strong> See below about garage doors and consider a translucent door with interior lighting or some wooden doors with accent lighting.</li> </ul> <h2>Split-level remodel: garage doors</h2> <p>If your split-level features garage doors that face the street, they may represent your easiest and best option for modernization. Garage doors are often taken for granted. The original spec was probably a steel door with very little curb appeal. Most of the time, they are downright ugly.</p> <p>But times have changed, and modern garage door designs can transform the look of the front of your home. Doors with glass-like, translucent flat panels are beautiful in daylight and at night, when interior light can turn them into giant night lights - all while obscuring the contents of your garage from neighbors.</p> <p>Another great garage door style on a modern home is a wood-look door. If done properly, this can tie in wonderfully with the natural stone sections of wall mentioned above.</p> <p>These are just a few ideas, and you can use them as a simple spark of design inspiration to get you going. Once you see the possibilities and start looking at the changes that can be made, you'll realize that a split-level may have more potential to look great in decades to come than almost any other old-school design out there.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Things You Need to Do When Buying A Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Reasons to Live in a New Home Before Renovating</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-07-10 22:20 +00:00 2019-07-11 10:20 +12:00 Home Improvement DIY home maintenance Sealing and Insulating Your Ductwork Who doesn't want to save money on utility bills? A good place to start is by insulating your ducts. Wed, 10 Jul 2019 17:38:09 Z Karie Fay <p>Insulation isn't free, but as the old saying goes, sometimes you have to spend some to make some. When it comes to adding duct insulation, your monthly savings in utility bills will soon cover the costs, especially if you install the insulation yourself.</p> <h2>The problem with uninsulated ducts</h2> <p>You need insulation – even around your ducts – no matter where you live. Insulation isn't only about keeping heat in. It also keeps the heat out of the home (or duct).</p> <p>In the average home, around 20% to 30% of the heated or cooled air flowing through the ducts is lost to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">leaks and uninsulated surfaces</a>, according to the Department of Energy. The result is higher utility bills, wear and tear on the heating and cooling system, and difficulty maintaining the temperature inside your home. Additionally, uninsulated ducts can accumulate condensation, which eventually leads to rust. Once the ducts start rusting, you face having to install new ducts.</p> <h2>Evaluating your ducts</h2> <p>First, consider the duct location. The greater the temperature extreme between the air inside the duct and the air surrounding the ductwork, the greater your need for duct insulation.</p> <p>Unfortunately, so many houses - especially newer homes - end up with ductwork running through the attic. Unheated basements, crawl spaces under the home and even garages are also unconditioned (neither heated nor cooled) runs for ductwork.</p> <p>If, on the other hand, your ducts run across the ceiling of a heated basement or inside well-insulated walls and ceilings, your need for duct insulation is minimal. However, if the ducts have a lot of leaks, the air that makes it to your rooms will not be as warm or as cool as intended. So duct loss matters no matter what.</p> <p>Then there's the duct material itself. Most heating and cooling ducts are metal. These are the bulky, gray box-shaped ducts so common everywhere. Sometimes metal ducts are lined with duct liner, a 1-inch-thick fiberglass board that insulates the interior of the duct, rather than the exterior. Duct liner isn't generally a DIY installation, and if your ducts already have liner, you don't need to insulate the exterior.</p> <p>Duct board, much like the duct liner, is also a fiberglass product. Made from 1- to 2-inch-thick sheets of rigid glass fiber and coated with an aluminum laminate for a moisture/air barrier, duct board comes in sections that fit together like metal ducts. Duct board's advantage is that it is already insulated, eliminating the need for further work, as long as it is structurally sound.</p> <p>Another product, known as flex duct, is a round framework of wires coated with fiberglass and encased in either foil or plastic to resist moisture and air leakage. Although flexible ducts don't require further insulation, they are vulnerable to damage, especially punctures. Since they are generally used for short runs, when working on the remainder of your ductwork, check any flex ducts as well.</p> <h2>Types of duct insulation</h2> <p>Once you determine that your duct needs insulation, consider the type of insulation you want. To insulate the exterior, you have a choice between sleeve-style insulation and blanket wraps, which literally wrap around the ductwork.</p> <p>To install sleeves, you must either disassemble the ductwork and slide it on before reassembling the ducts or - as many homeowners find themselves doing - slit it and wrap it around like the blanket-style material. In the end, it's probably best to buy the blanket insulation.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Duct insulation sleeves: </strong>Come in pre-measured lengths. They may have an adhesive strip to make the installation a little easier. Common sleeve materials include foam, bubble wrap and fiberglass, all typically featuring a foil-like outer surface to provide air and moisture resistance. To fit your ducts, simply cut the sleeve to length with a sharp pair of scissors. Like any other insulation, use additional layers to provide better insulation power.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Foil-backed self-adhesive foam</strong> <strong>duct insulation:</strong> Installs easily and wraps around irregular ductwork areas well. Most brands come in rolls a foot in width and several feet long. While fairly thin, it works well to dampen sound and can be combined with other forms to increase the insulation rating. Best of all, you eliminate the fiberglass in that area of your home. However, never apply just any foam to your ductwork - only formulas designed for the application. Many foam products are highly flammable and toxic when burning.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Fiberglass and cotton duct insulation:</strong> This type typically includes an aluminum foil backing to repel moisture invasion or air leaks. Available in a variety of thicknesses, rolls are usually a foot wide and several feet long. It's often a cheaper form of insulation, though the end value relies on installing it properly. Fiberglass and cotton are easily cut to size.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Foil-backed bubble wrap:</strong> May not deliver the insulation power and vapor barrier performance you expect if you opt for a cheaper brand. Another drawback is that as a reflective insulation, you must provide an air gap between the duct and insulation itself. Special spacers are purchased to ensure this gap. Alternatively, you can cut squares of the insulation and line the length of the duct with these squares, tape or glue them in place, then install the insulation. Use enough to ensure the length of outer insulation doesn't touch the duct anywhere. This is quite a hassle, so think carefully before choosing this duct insulation style.</li> </ul> <p>As new and innovative products arise continually, these are by no means the only types of duct insulation available, nor will they remain the main types. When evaluating any type of duct insulation, make note of the installation method, the drawbacks and the advantages, as well as the insulation power, known as the R-value. Talk to others about what works for them and shop around before choosing any insulation for any part of your home.</p> <h2>Considering your insulation R-value</h2> <p>More important than the type of insulation (provided it is installed properly) is the R-value of the insulation you use. R-value is the measure of the ability of the insulation to prevent heat from either penetrating or escaping the object insulated. The higher the R-value (literally meaning resistance value), the better the insulation works. However, there is a ceiling on the effective R-value because, at a certain level, the cost of the material becomes greater than any additional savings.</p> <p>Before selecting your duct insulation, determine the optimum R-value for your region. In general, the colder your climate, the higher the R-value you will need. Even then, different areas of the home may require greater or lesser insulating power. As a rule of thumb, expect to install a minimum of R-5 material. To be precise, consult the Department of Energy's <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Duct Insulation R-value Chart</a>.</p> <p>When selecting your duct insulation, use the R-value you require to determine what product - or combination of products - you need. Use more than one layer if a single layer won't give you the value you desire.</p> <h2>Testing and sealing: the critical first steps</h2> <p>Well-meaning homeowners commonly make a couple mistakes when insulating their ducts. First, some don't realize that you can't use paper-backed fiberglass insulation. Perhaps the most commonly used insulation for joists and walls, the fiberglass itself is fine, but it doesn't take much to get the paper hot enough to burn. Never use anything not specifically intended for use with HVAC ductwork.</p> <p>The second mistake is even more common: DIYers often do not understand that they must seal the ducts first. Failing to perform this basic step will undermine your insulating efforts. No matter how well you install the insulation or how high the R-value, even with the moisture/air barrier attached to the exterior of the insulation, it won't prevent air and temperature loss if your ducts aren't structurally sound.</p> <p>Some ducts, depending on the material and the location, are more vulnerable than others when it comes to air loss, but any duct has the potential to leak. With age, house settling, rust from moisture, animal intrusion and a variety of other hazards, your ducts may obtain anything from pinholes to gaping voids, loose and leaking connections between pieces, or even potentially missing ducts. Your joists or wall studs may actually form the "duct" run if a portion of your HVAC ductwork is missing - or the air may simply pour out to the exterior.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230680" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>To ensure you aren't wasting your time, money and insulation, have a duct leak test conducted before sealing the ducts. A professional duct leak test identifies leaks inside your home's ducts. Generally called a duct blower door test, the technician seals the air intake and outlet registers before blowing air through the system. With the aid of specialized tools, the technician can determine the amount of air leaking from your ductwork and where it's occurring. Common problem areas include around the registers and vents, where they enter the room they service, and at each duct joint (connection).</p> <p>Having your ducts tested adds to your expense, of course, with most professional inspections running $100 to $200. Only a professional has the equipment and knowledge required, so it's really not a DIY-friendly task. Still, spending the money will end up paying off in the end.</p> <p>Also, local building codes are gradually beginning to require that new houses have a whole-house and duct blower door test performed. How does this apply to you? At any point that you make any upgrade involving your ducts that requires a building permit, you will have to follow the current code. It's also a good selling point if you ever put your house on the market.</p> <p>To find a professional to perform the work, try your local utility company, HVAC service company or specialized testing companies. The Department of Energy provides excellent tips on <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">choosing your technician</a>. Also look for energy efficiency credits that may be available through the utility company or the state or federal government for testing and insulating your ducts. This may offset your costs significantly.</p> <h2>Sealing and insulating: getting down to work</h2> <p>Some duct testing companies will seal the ducts for you, eliminating leaks and holes, as either part of the service or for an additional fee. Do what you're comfortable with - if you feel confident about doing the sealing yourself, it will be messy.</p> <p>If you decide to proceed without testing your ducts, perform a thorough examination, looking for any rust, holes, severely damaged pieces, loose connections or missing portions, starting at the furnace and air unit and working back to the very last register in the home. Mark problem areas with a marker or chalk. After the inspection, seal your ducts, keeping a few tips in mind:</p> <ul> <li>Start with clean, dry ducts. You don't have to wash them, but wiping them with a damp cloth or whisking them with a broom and making sure the surface is dry will help the sealant-to-duct bond.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Select your desired sealant, or use a combination of products as appropriate. Mastic is the most common sealant, but specially formulated duct sealant, in cans or caulk tubes, is also available. Silicone caulk will work in small areas.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Choose a tape to use with the sealant when necessary. Special foil tapes work well, or select a mastic tape. Never use duct tape - it will not stick for long. In general, only use the tape by itself when you have no other choice. Any tape tends to degrade or peel away with age, while mastic hardens to a stiff, durable surface. When the tape is used with the mastic, however, it works very well.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Spread duct mastic or sealant across the duct seams, joints and very small holes. Follow the product instructions for precise application instructions.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Apply mastic in a layer about as thick as a nickel. An even, generous layer helps ensure your duct will never leak again. Use a stiff-bristled paintbrush or your fingers to spread the sealant. Wear rubber gloves to limit skin contact.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Wear old clothes during application. Mastic and other products may not wash out.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Tape cracks or holes larger than 1/8-inch diameter with the tape selected. Cover with the mastic to create a durable duct patch.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Seal all the duct joints, holes and connections near the furnace. Seal the duct-to-register connection as well. Wherever there's a joint or intrusion, use sealant. Keep in mind that it is better to over-seal than to have a remaining leak.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Work from the furnace or air unit back to the last (farthest) register in the home. This allows you to prioritize your sealing efforts, ensuring the most important areas are covered. Holes, leaks and gaps closer to the HVAC unit encounter higher air pressure than those farther away, so your greatest savings and increase in efficiency will come from sealing well at and near the unit. Leaks also tend to be common close to the blower fan and where the ductwork emerges from the furnace.</li> </ul> <p>After the sealant is dry, the final step is insulating the ducts. The process is simple if you use a wrap-style insulation product. Before beginning, read the product instructions and follow wherever they deviate from general duct insulation guidelines:</p> <ul> <li>Measure and cut your duct insulation a little large to allow overlap at every seam, both lengthwise and on the ends.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Wrap the insulation around the duct, allowing the beginning edge to ride up slightly over the previous piece.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Ensure the material is turned the proper way; the vapor barrier should face out, and the fiberglass or other material should be against the duct.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>First staple, if possible, then tape each seam, both lengthwise and between pieces. When overlapped 2 to 3 inches and secured with tape, each joint should be very secure and leak-free. Use a pressure-sensitive vapor retarder tape designed for ductwork.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Tape any punctures in the insulation's vapor barrier to prevent leaks.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Avoid compressing the insulation. Most insulation relies upon the air space between its fibers to deliver the R-value promised. When insulation is squeezed, flattened or compressed, its R-value drops tremendously. Some compression is unavoidable, such as around bends.</li> </ul> <p>Once your ducts are sealed and insulated, you can have a technician retest your ductwork if you desire. Some companies may offer the "after" test for free. Following these guidelines and installing everything properly guarantees that your second test will blow the first away - pun intended - but better yet, your utility bills will show the difference.</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-07-10 17:38 +00:00 2019-07-11 05:38 +12:00 COMMENT: Loss ring-fencing ups war on renters & owners <p>New rules around the ring-fencing of rental property losses came into force late in June and Stop the War on Tenancies spokesman Mike Butler believes they&rsquo;ll have a negative impact on the rental market...</p> Wed, 10 Jul 2019 10:07:00 +1300 2019-07-10 10:07 +13:00 2019-07-10 09:07 +12:00 Tips & Advice Down payments home buying Mortgages Personal Finance pre-approval 10 Things You Need to Do When Buying A Home Everything you need to know about buying a home - on one index card. Tue, 09 Jul 2019 13:52:18 Z Harold Pollack <p>A home is often the biggest financial investment you'll make in your lifetime. In fact, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a recent Zillow analysis</a> reports that the typical American homeowner has 40% of their wealth tied up in their home.</p> <p>Several years ago, I wrote <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">a complete guide to financial planning</a> on one index card, which <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">went viral</a> and later became a book: "<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated</a>" (co-written with Helaine Olen).</p> <p>Now, following up on my original index card, I've written a guide on buying a house. Below is the housing index card - a handy resource to print and take with you as you look at houses or think about buying one - plus some additional advice as you contemplate making the big decision.</p> <figure id="attachment_224315" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-224315" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-224315" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-224315" class="wp-caption-text">Photo by Harold Pollack.</figcaption></figure> <h2>1. Buy for the long run</h2> <p>A home is a significant investment, not to mention a linchpin of stability. According to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017</a>, the majority of Americans who sold their homes last year had lived in their home for at least a decade before selling.</p> <p>Some are even staying for the long haul. Almost half (46%) of all homeowners are like me - living in the first home we ever purchased. In short: Buy a home you want to live in for at least five years - one equipped (or ready to be equipped) with the features and space you need, both now and in the future.</p> <h2>2. Buy to improve your life, not speculate with money</h2> <p>Your home is more than a financial investment; it's where you sleep, eat, host friends, raise your children - it's where your life happens.</p> <p>The housing market is too unpredictable to buy a (primary) home purely because you think it will net a big short-term financial return. You will most likely be living in this home for several years, regardless of how it appreciates, so your first priority should be finding a home that will meet your needs and help you build the life you want.</p> <h2>3. Focus on what's important to you</h2> <p>Today's housing market is short on inventory, with <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10% fewer homes</a> on the market in November 2017 than November 2016.</p> <p>So, focus on finding a home you can afford that meets your needs - but don't get distracted by shiny features that might break your budget. Nice-to-have features often drive up the price tag for things you don't particularly value once the initial enjoyment wears off.</p> <p>Make a list of your basic needs, both for your desired home and for your desired neighborhood. Stick to finding a home that meets these needs, without buying extra stuff that adds up.</p> <h2>4. Set a budget and stick to it</h2> <p>It's important to set a budget early - ideally before you even start looking at homes. In today's market, especially in the more competitive markets, it's incredibly easy to go over budget - <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">29%</a> of buyers who purchased last year did.</p> <p>The most common culprit? Location. Zillow's data indicates that urban buyers are significantly more likely to go over budget (42%) than suburban (25%) or rural (20%) buyers.</p> <p>There's nothing inherently wrong with that. Local schools matter, and psychologists tell us that a short commute improves your life. But be realistic about your local market and about yourself. Know what you're willing to compromise on - be it less square footage, home repairs or a different neighborhood.</p> <h2>5. Aim for a 20% down payment</h2> <p>If you can afford it, a 20% down payment is ideal for three reasons:</p> <ul> <li>Buyers who don't put a full 20% down pay a premium, most commonly in the form of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">private mortgage insurance (PMI)</a>. This is less financially punishing than it used to be, given today's low mortgage rates. A monthly mortgage payment (with PMI) may be lower than a monthly rental payment in many markets - but still.</li> <li>Buyers who put more down upfront typically make fewer offers and buy faster than those who put less down. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow research</a> found that buyers with higher down payments make 1.9 offers on average, compared to 2.4 offers for buyers with lower down payments (after controlling for market conditions).</li> <li>A higher down payment reduces your financial risk. You don't want to owe more money than your house is worth if local markets dip when you need to sell.</li> </ul> <h2>6. Keep a six-month strategic reserve</h2> <p>While a down payment is a significant expense, it's also important to build up a strategic reserve and keep it separate from your normal bank account.</p> <p>This reserve should cover six months of living expenses in case you get sick, face an unexpected expense or lose your job. A strategic reserve will not only save you from financial hardship in an emergency but also provide peace of mind.</p> <p>When we accumulated a strategic reserve, my wife and I finally felt ready to build for our future. Without it, we were living from paycheck to paycheck, anxiously managing our cash flow rather than saving or budgeting.</p> <h2>7. Get pre-approved, and stick with a fixed-rate mortgage</h2> <p>The pre-approval process requires organizing all your paperwork; documenting your income, debt and credit; and understanding all the loan options available to you. It's a bit of a pain, but it saves time later. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Getting pre-approved</a> also shows sellers that you're a reliable buyer with a strong financial footing. Most importantly, it helps you understand what you can afford.</p> <p>There are a variety of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mortgage types</a>, and it's important to evaluate all of them to see which is best for your family and financial situation. Those boring 30- and 15-year mortgages offer big advantages.</p> <p>The biggest is locking in your mortgage rate. In short: A 30-year fixed mortgage has a specific fixed rate of interest that doesn't change for 30 years. A 15-year fixed mortgage does the same.</p> <p>These typically have lower rates but higher monthly payments, since you must pay it off in half the time. Conventional fixed-rate mortgages help you manage your household budgeting because you know precisely how much you'll be paying every month for many years. They're simple to understand, and current rates are low.</p> <p>One final advantage is that they don't tempt you with a low initial payment to buy more house than you can afford.</p> <h2>8. Comparison shop to get the best mortgage</h2> <p>Though a home is the biggest purchase many of us will ever make, most home buyers don't <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shop around for a mortgage</a> (<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">52%</a> consider only a single lender).</p> <p>I certainly didn't. This did save me some annoying calls and hassle, but it cost me $40 or $50 every month, for years. The difference of half a percentage point in your mortgage rate can add up to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. It's important to evaluate all the available options to make sure you're going with the lender who meets your needs - not just the first one you contact.</p> <p>The three most important factors are that the lender offers a loan program that caters to their specific needs (76%), has the most competitive rates (74%) and has a history of closing on time (63%).</p> <h2>9. Spend no more than a third of your after-tax income</h2> <p>It's better to regret spending too little on your home than spending too much. One-third of your after-tax income is a manageable amount. This isn't always possible if you live in a place like San Francisco or New York, but it's still a good yardstick for where to be.</p> <h2>10. Be willing to walk away</h2> <p>Buying a home is a time-consuming, stressful but ultimately rewarding endeavor - if you end up closing on a home that meets your needs. But it's important to manage your expectations in case you don't immediately find a home you can afford with the features you need.</p> <p>Always be prepared to walk away if the sellers don't accept your offer, the home doesn't pass a rigorous inspection or the timing isn't right. Hold fast to your list of must-haves, stick to what you can afford and don't overreach or settle.</p> <p>It's no tragedy to miss out on any particular house. Remember that you're playing the long game. You want to be happy 10 years from now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">6 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Why Is 20% Ideal for a Down Payment?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 New Year&#8217;s Resolutions That Can Help You Buy a Home in 2018</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 18 2019-07-09 13:52 +00:00 2019-07-10 01:52 +12:00 Home Improvement DIY remodeling How to Bleach Hardwood Floors Whether you need to remove a stain or refresh the space, bleaching hardwood can get you results. Sat, 06 Jul 2019 23:56:20 Z Karie Fay <p>Bleaching hardwood floors is a chemical process to lighten the color of the wood. Sometimes your hardwood floors become discolored with age or accidental stains. Occasionally, homeowners choose to lighten their floors in preparation for special finishes, such as antiquing or pickling.</p> <p>Learn how to bleach your hardwood floors, including what type of bleach to use, to get the job done correctly.</p> <h2>Types of wood bleach</h2> <p>There are three types of bleach you can use on wood: chlorine bleach, "two-part" (peroxide) bleaches and oxalic acid. Not all bleaches are interchangeable. The best bleach for your floor depends on the source of color you seek to remove. The challenge, then, is to know what made the stain and which bleach is appropriate.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Chlorine bleach</strong>: Just like in the laundry room, chlorine bleach will remove dyes and many organic stains such as tea, blood, berry-based juices and other foods. Using household bleach is the mildest form and may take several treatments to prove effective. For a stronger chlorine-based bleach treatment, choose swimming pool chlorine (calcium hypochlorite). Purchase swimming pool chlorine at a local superstore or swimming pool supply.</li> <li><strong>Two-part bleaches</strong>: While chlorine bleach combats many inks, dyes and organic stains, it doesn't significantly alter the wood color. A two-part bleach is the only choice for altering wood color. Some stains that do not respond to either oxalic or chlorine bleaches will disappear when treated with two-part bleaches. Look for this type of bleach at your local hardware or home improvement store.</li> <li><strong>Oxalic acid</strong>: Nothing combats iron and rust stains like oxalic acid. It also removes water stains (which arise due to the iron content of water) and some black inks that are iron-based, although it's not effective against carbon-based India ink. Even pet urine stains may respond to oxalic acid. You can purchase oxalic acid in a crystal form at pharmacies and hardware or home improvement stores, as well as other sources. Use pure oxalic acid for best results.</li> </ul> <p>Occasionally, you may find reference to other bleaching solutions. Chlorinated lime bleaching, for instance, is often used for walnut in particular. Permanganate of potash, on the other hand, creates a bleach that leaves a residual purple tint. Both of these chemicals are readily available online and from local stores or pharmacies. Simply dissolve the chemicals in water, creating a strong solution. Paint on, wait for the solution to work, and neutralize as you would with any other bleach.</p> <h2>Bleach application and safety guidelines</h2> <p>Before applying any bleaching agent to your hardwood floors, consider the size of the area you wish to bleach and the condition of your floor, along with the nature of the bleach itself. Any bleach will deteriorate the wood slightly. The chemically weakened wood fibers are more susceptible to wear and tear from foot traffic. For this reason, many professionals discourage bleaching wood floors.</p> <p>Bleaching stains isn't as destructive as bleaching the entire floor to remove wood color, since it involves a limited area. It's also much easier: You must remove the finish - either with a stripper or by sanding - before applying wood bleach.</p> <p>When spot-bleaching your hardwood floor, you may be able to remove the finish only in the affected area, bleach and neutralize the treatment, then refinish the surface and blend it in with the surrounding floor - provided you have matching finish products.</p> <p>For extensive stains, or if you're unable to match the finish, you may choose to strip the entire floor before bleaching.</p> <p>Here are some other application and safety tips to consider:</p> <ul> <li>Some stains and marks lend character to the floor. Think before using bleach as a stain remover: Is the stain bad enough that you want to subject your floor to bleach?</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Is there an out-of-the-way area where you can test the bleach's effect on your hardwood floor? If you wish to bleach your entire floor, try it first on a spare board.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Consider sanding to remove the existing finish. Sanding the wood has one particular advantage: It allows you to possibly sand away the stain, if it isn't very deep, instead of applying harsh bleaching agents.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Redwood, cedar, cherry and rosewood don't bleach well. Some of the more exotic woods, such as mahogany, are prized for their color and aren't considered suitable for bleaching. Avoid bleaching white oak as well. It has a tendency to discolor when bleached and may leave you dissatisfied with the appearance.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Use the least amount of bleach possible, whether bleaching the wood or treating a stain. Some woods react poorly to over-bleaching. Walnut, for instance, will attain a green haze.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>When using a commercial bleaching product, follow the product manufacturer's instructions carefully for safety and best results.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Always wear safety glasses and rubber gloves when working with bleaching products. Any bleach is extremely caustic and may burn your skin, blind your eyes or damage your lungs. Use with extreme caution.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Ventilate your workspace. Keep windows open, fans running, and pets and children away from the area.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Wear a dust mask or respirator when sanding bleached wood or working with dry bleach chemicals.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Pour a bit of the neutralizer (see information below) suited to your bleach in a small bowl or bucket. Place it near your work area and use immediately if you notice you have spilled or splattered bleach on yourself.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Don't cross-contaminate brushes, rags and other applicators. Wash immediately or dispose of properly after use.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Wash your hands and arms after working with bleach and before doing anything else.</li> </ul> <h2>How to strip, bleach and neutralize your floor</h2> <p>If you're lucky, you know exactly what made the stain and which bleach to use as a result. In some cases, finding the right bleach is more a process of elimination.</p> <p>Start with chlorine bleach and progress to oxalic acid if necessary. If your wood is finished, you'll have to strip your wood and then neutralize the bleach.</p> <p>Here's how to strip, bleach and neutralize your hardwood floor:</p> <ul> <li>Remove the existing finish, using the appropriate product: Lacquer thinner dissolves lacquer finishes (commonly used on modern wood floors), while denatured alcohol removes shellac. A commercial paint-and-varnish remover will work on most other finishes. Either brush on the product or lay a thick layer of paper towels or rags across the area and pour on enough product to saturate the cloths. Wait for the finish to dissolve the wipe away as it softens. Use a plastic spatula or wood scraper as necessary, taking care to avoid gouging the wood.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Follow with sandpaper to lightly smooth the surface and remove any remaining finish. Start with 80-grit sandpaper and end with 120-grit.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Mix a solution of washing soda - sometimes called sal soda - with hot water in a small bucket. Follow the ratio recommended in the product instructions (purchase washing soda in the laundry aisle of your big box store). Wash over the stripped wood with the solution to remove stripping chemicals and other contaminants. Air-dry before bleaching.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Prepare the bleach of your choice. For chlorine bleach, use either a full-strength or half-and-half solution of laundry bleach mixed with hot water (or swimming pool bleach dissolved in hot water), until the solution is completely saturated. To mix oxalic acid, start with about 8 ounces of oxalic acid crystals dissolved in 2 quarts of hot water. Continue adding until the solution is saturated and won't accept more crystals. For two-part bleaches, follow the product instructions, mixing parts A and B as necessary.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Use a synthetic-bristled brush to apply the bleach. Avoid natural bristles, which may dissolve, or metal materials, which will create a chemical reaction with the bleach. Spread a consistent layer of bleach across the wood. Place a paper towel over top to keep it from drying too fast in warm conditions. Wait 20 to 30 minutes, or as instructed by the two-part bleach product, before testing the wood color. When the color matches your expectations, blot up any remaining bleach.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Flush the area with distilled water to rinse away excess bleach. Using distilled water prevents water stains caused by the iron in regular water. Prevent the rinse water from invading the surrounding finished floor surface.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Neutralize the bleached area to stop the bleaching action. For chlorine or two-part bleaches, use a blend of half hot water and half white vinegar. Oxalic acid requires a mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved per quart of hot water.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Allow the wood to air-dry at least 24 hours. Follow with another sanding, using 120-grit sandpaper to smooth the wood fibers, which are rough after bleaching. Alternatively, coat the wood with a light coat of lacquer and sand through that instead. The lacquer stiffens the wood and helps the sanding.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Refinish the bleached spot - or the entire floor - as desired.</li> </ul> <p>In some cases, the stain or color may not lift. Feel free to try successive bleach treatments, but at some point you may need to settle for what you achieve. Consider alternatives to bleaching when the results are less than what you prefer.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Modernize a Split-Level Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Are You Overimproving for Your Neighborhood?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Should You Renovate Your Home or Sell?</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2019-07-06 23:56 +00:00 2019-07-07 11:56 +12:00 Tips & Advice home buying Home selling legal issues real estate agents Is a Dual Agency Relationship Risky? Can one agent represent both parties? The answer: It depends. Mon, 01 Jul 2019 22:21:16 Z Zillow <p>Buyers and sellers sometimes have the option of entering into a dual agency relationship with their real estate agent. Although this is not necessarily a problem, you should be aware of exactly what a dual real estate agency means and the restrictions it can place on your agent.</p> <h2>What is a dual real estate agency?</h2> <p>The term "agency" refers to the relationship that you, as a buyer or seller, have with your real estate agent. Dual agencies can occur with two agents or with a single agent.</p> <p>A dual agency with two agents can occur when the buyer's agent and the seller's agent are licensed under the same broker.</p> <p>In a dual agency with a single agent, potential buyers may ask a seller's real estate agent to submit an offer on their behalf. In this case, the agent is acting as a dual agent.</p> <h2>Dual real estate agency disclosure</h2> <p>Because dual agencies represent a conflict of interest for the buyer and seller, some states don't allow them.</p> <p>In states where dual agencies are legal, however, the law requires that a dual real estate agent inform both the buyer and seller of a dual real estate agency. These two parties must also sign consent forms indicating that they understand the concept of dual agency, as well as the restrictions imposed on the real estate agent by this type of agreement.</p> <p>If either the buyer or the seller refuses to sign the dual agency agreement, the transaction cannot continue. Once the dual agency agreement is executed, the real estate agent becomes known as the disclosed dual agent.</p> <h2>Disadvantages of dual agencies</h2> <p>Dual agency imposes some restrictions on a real estate agent. The agent is required to treat both buyer and seller with fairness and honesty.</p> <p>The agent is required to provide full disclosure concerning the property to the buyer, but they cannot reveal confidential information about the seller. When the time comes to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">make an offer,</a> a dual real estate agent cannot advise the buyer on how much to offer, nor can they advise the seller to accept or reject an offer.</p> <p>In a New York Department of State memo, consumers are advised to be wary of dual agency relationships. The memo states that when a person enters into a dual agency relationship, they are forfeiting their right to that agent's loyalty. The agent then cannot advance the interests of either party.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Types of Listing Agreements: Understanding Real Estate Agent Contracts With Sellers</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Break Up With Your Real Estate Agent</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Say What? Home-Buying Lingo You Should Know</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 0 2019-07-01 22:21 +00:00 2019-07-02 10:21 +12:00 COMMENT: The Sound of One Hand Clapping <p>Two of our Lords and Masters have recently been laid low yet landlords are still treated as the problem rather than part of the solution, argues Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Tue, 02 Jul 2019 10:43:00 +1300 2019-07-02 10:43 +13:00 2019-07-02 09:43 +12:00 Market Trends Your Zestimate Is Now Smarter - and More Accurate Zillow's signature home valuation tool - the Zestimate - just got an upgrade. Thu, 27 Jun 2019 04:00:42 Z Zillow <p>The Zestimate is now more accurate than ever, thanks to new technology that identifies and values home improvements you've made based on photos. Plus, we now incorporate even more data into Zestimates for homes on the market, and we update those Zestimates in real time. That's in addition to the millions of data points that the Zestimate's complex machine learning models examine for more than 100 million homes across the country.</p> <p>Here's the rundown of what's new.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <h2>'Seeing' your home features</h2> <p>We can evaluate photos of a home to, in a sense, "see" and value the home features you're most proud of. Think of the bathroom you remodeled, the new quartz countertops in your kitchen or the beautifully landscaped backyard. Those features now factor directly into your home's Zestimate, making it the first time the Zestimate can understand not just a home's facts and figures, like number of bathrooms or bedrooms, but also its quality and curb appeal.</p> <p>We heard from homeowners over the years that when it comes time to sell, they want to make sure all the work they've put toward upgrading it is reflected in its Zestimate. Yet before recent advances in technology, there was no way for computers to look at photos of a home and get the same information that people do. The Zestimate now incorporates advanced technologies that make this possible.</p> <p>Homeowners can <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">claim their home on Zillow</a> to edit, add or remove photos at any time in just a few simple clicks.</p> <h2>Listing info added in real time</h2> <p>On homes listed for sale, the Zestimate now incorporates data from the home's listing itself - including listing price and how long it has been on the market - in its calculations. These factors provide important insight into a homeowner and agent's listing strategy and what the homeowner believes their home is worth, both key variables in how much a home ultimately sells for.</p> <p>To top it off, Zestimates on for-sale homes update with new information in real time. That means home shoppers get an up-to-the-second snapshot of what's going on in the local housing market. When the Zestimate launched in 2006, it was updated monthly, so this is a big leap forward as both buyers and sellers navigate dynamic and ever-changing housing markets.</p> <p>The results of all these upgrades? The Zestimate's error rate on homes listed for sale is now less than 2%, meaning half of all Zestimates fall within 2% of the home's eventual sale price.</p> <p>Just as you look for new ways to refresh your home, we're always working to improve the Zestimate. This most recent <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zestimate refresh</a> is another milestone along that journey, all to provide a more accurate look at the value of the place you call home.</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 16 2019-06-27 04:00 +00:00 2019-06-27 16:00 +12:00 COMMENT: The compliance struggle <p>For many property investors, the end goal is setting themselves up for retirement &ndash; but new requirements are making that harder. Investor Dale Young explains how his retirement project is turning into a compliance nightmare...</p> Wed, 26 Jun 2019 07:17:00 +1300 2019-06-26 07:17 +13:00 2019-06-26 06:17 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating Renting Creative Ways to Add Color to Your Rental Can't paint the walls? No problem. These pops of color require no landlord approval. Mon, 24 Jun 2019 13:15:10 Z Erica Sooter <p>Living in a rental can dampen your design options. With unchangeable fixtures and cabinets, bland paint colors, and the threat of losing your security deposit if you make changes, a lot of renters suppress their personal style and settle for builder-grade basic.</p> <p>But it doesn&#8217;t have to be this way. By getting creative with your furniture and accessories, you can have a colorful and inviting home without sacrificing your deposit or infuriating your landlord.</p> <h2>Wall to wall</h2> <p>Many homeowners paint the walls as a relatively easy way to bring color to a space. But landlords and property managers often forbid changing a rental&#8217;s interior paint color.</p> <p>Think beyond paint, and you&#8217;ll discover a multitude of ways to dress up your walls without touching a paintbrush. The key is to think big.</p> <p>Find large-scale art pieces that speak to your style and feature punchy colors. Collect snapshots in ombre frames of your favorite hue (instead of traditional black or white) and assemble a gallery wall.</p> <p>Have an artistic streak? Paint a mural on a large piece of canvas and tack it over an entire wall.</p> <p>For the less artistically inclined, removable wallpaper or decals in bright shades and eye-catching designs provide an instant pick-me-up. You can also cover entire walls or awkward spaces with a pretty patterned curtain or piece of fabric for a cozy bohemian vibe.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230603" src="" alt="" width="801" height="534" /></p> <h2>Punch it up</h2> <p>Rentals often come with outdated cabinets, fixtures, and flooring that can&#8217;t be altered. Beige, brown and off-white are the norm for these spaces, but that doesn&#8217;t mean you have to let it restrict your style.</p> <p>Add visual interest and draw attention by bringing in splashy pieces of furniture and decor. Look for pieces in your favorite color or choose a theme, like sunny yellow and coral, to drown out the drab.</p> <p>Vibrant painted wood chairs can give your dining space some zing. Or purchase a couch or chair in a daring tone like emerald or sapphire.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t have a ton of cash to spend? Go DIY. Find furniture with good bones at your local thrift shop or garage sale, and give it a makeover. Use spray paint for smaller decor pieces and latex or chalk paint for dressers and side tables.</p> <p>Add extra flair with stenciled details and paint-dipped legs. Line the backs of bookshelves with decorative paper, and temporarily replace boring kitchen and bathroom pulls and knobs with vibrant versions.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230601" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>Soft goods, bold tones</h2> <p>Textiles in assorted colors will be your best friends for dressing up your outdated or dull apartment. Start with an inviting rug in a rich jewel tone or a trendy overdyed hue. And stay away from traditional white and beige curtains - instead, opt for a bright color or lively pattern.</p> <p>The same goes for bedding. White may be a traditional go-to for duvet covers, but in the case of a blah apartment, pick a print or hue that will make your bedroom an energizing getaway or relaxing retreat. If you&#8217;re looking for a calm feel, search for a bed set in cool indigo, lavender or sage. Want to make it upbeat instead? Try poppy colors like coral, tangerine or sunflower.</p> <p>Fun throw pillows and blankets will spice up your bed, couch, lounge chairs and more. Keep the color trend going into the bathroom and kitchen by choosing pretty hand towels and bathmats.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230602" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Make it yours</h2> <p>By punching up the walls with custom artwork, bringing in attention-grabbing furniture, and using pretty textiles to boost the style factor, you can have a colorfully custom home without ever touching a drop of paint.</p> <p>The key is moderation and intention. Stick with a few favorite shades and mix it up by using variations of those hues instead of pulling in every color in the rainbow. Choose a few important focal points to infuse with color and let the rest blend in.</p> <p>You&#8217;ll be happier for the design boost, and your landlord will be glad you haven&#8217;t made any big changes. That&#8217;s a win-win situation for everyone involved.</p> <h6></h6> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">What to Unpack First in Your New Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">&#8216;You&#8217;re Throwing Money Away&#8217; and Other Myths About Renting</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Ways to Make Sure You Get Your Security Deposit Back</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published June 13, 2016.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 5 2019-06-24 13:15 +00:00 2019-06-25 01:15 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating furniture Boho and Minimalism Top Our List of 2019 Outdoor Living Trends In with minimalism, out with rustic farmhouse. See what trends are heating up patios this summer. Fri, 21 Jun 2019 22:33:58 Z Zillow <p>It's easier than ever to create an outdoor oasis that's an extension of your home, and this summer's biggest trend is creating a backyard space that is as comfortable as your indoor one. Design styles like bright and bold boho and Scandinavian minimalism are heading outside, according to our 2019 Outdoor Living Trends Report.</p> <p>&#8220;The lines have been blurred between what's indoor-only and what you can use outside, which means it's never been easier to create an outdoor space that's cohesive with your indoor design," says Kerrie Kelly, design expert and founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s her rundown of this year&#8217;s five hottest outdoor trends:</p> <h2>1. Mixed materials</h2> <p>This summer, design elements that were once considered indoor use only - brass, rope, textured upholstery and webbing - are combining in new, unexpected ways for outdoor spaces. Chandeliers, soft rugs and cozy floor cushions are now popular for outside, and new fabric options now include outdoor-safe velvets, leathers and nubby chenilles.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230586" src="" alt="" width="650" height="902" /></p> <h2>2. Minimalism to the max</h2> <p>Scandinavian minimalist design is now showing up in outdoor furnishings. Lounge chairs, love seats and bistro tables are trending this summer in lightweight, powder-coated aluminum. Finish the look with neutrals like black, white and gray, or mix-and-match with a natural material like teak.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230587" src="" alt="" width="800" height="595" /></p> <h2>3. Some like it hot</h2> <p>This summer it's all about elevated outdoor spaces that feel as stylish, comfortable and functional as interiors - with all the amenities. Fire features and outdoor kitchens continue to be extremely popular, providing a sense of "indoor cozy." Beyond adding ambiance, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow research</a> found home listings mentioning outdoor kitchens and outdoor fireplaces sold for significantly more than expected.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230588" src="" alt="" width="650" height="958" /></p> <h2>4. Pops of color</h2> <p>Splashes of bold color are brightening up neutral upholstered furnishings. This summer's top color trend of citrus-bright oranges, reds, yellows and pinks are lively and vibrant outside. Think about adding a touch of Living Coral, Pantone&#8217;s Color of the Year, or play with newly trending emerald green in your accessories.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230589" src="" alt="" width="799" height="514" /></p> <h2>5. Go green outside</h2> <p>Eco-conscious landscaping, outdoor furnishings and fixtures have gained traction this year. Living walls make a design statement and reduce your carbon footprint, and solar-powered LED accent lights provide upgraded illumination without complex wiring or tricky installation. When it comes time to sell, listings mentioning outdoor lighting were associated with homes selling for <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">19% more than expected</a>.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-230590" src="" alt="" width="800" height="548" /></p> <h2>Outdoor trends to leave behind in 2019</h2> <h3>Matching patio sets</h3> <p>With more options than ever, there's no need to rely on matching patio sets for a pulled-together look. Instead, curated, eclectic outdoor spaces continue to rise in popularity. Own a patio set? Add mix-and-match, multi-patterned outdoor pillows, a textured ottoman and a vintage rattan side table for a unique look.</p> <h3>Rustic farmhouse</h3> <p>Weathered barnwood dining tables and industrial metal chairs are getting a 2019 makeover with a sleeker combination of teak and aluminum. Take your existing farm table and give it an upgrade with a set of bright, cheery mesh aluminum dining chairs.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spectacular Solariums and Sun Rooms Let in the Light</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Summer Smackdown: Which Home Is Your Favorite?</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 16 2019-06-21 22:33 +00:00 2019-06-22 10:33 +12:00 Home Improvement decorating Solariums Sun rooms Spectacular Solariums and Sun Rooms Let in the Light Summon the sun indoors with these gorgeous light-filled spaces. Fri, 21 Jun 2019 21:11:38 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>Sun rooms, solariums, skylights - oh my! While the terminology can be confusing, these rooms designed to offer indoor sunbathing have similar qualities and suit any type of home environment.</p> <p>If your climate doesn&#8217;t offer year-round sun, you can still enjoy the outdoors by adding a sun room or solarium addition to your space.</p> <h2>What&#8217;s the difference?</h2> <p>A <strong>sun room</strong> is a home addition made completely of windows, which offer a 360-degree view of the outdoor scenery without stepping foot outside.</p> <p>The term &#8220;sun room&#8221; usually means a room made of glass, and it&#8217;s commonly interchanged with conservatory, solarium, greenhouse and atrium, among others. Technically, a sun room is any large room that allows the light to pour in through large windows or glass walls.</p> <p>A <strong>solarium</strong>, on the other hand, is a more specifically designed room. To be considered a solarium, the space must also have a glass roof in addition to a wall of windows or glass.</p> <p>Traditionally, solariums were built as part of hospitals to allow patients to soak up the sun without being exposed to the outdoor elements. Solariums can be attached to the home or stand as a separate structure altogether.</p> <p>Check out these gorgeous sun rooms and solariums, and get inspired for a sunny space of your own.</p> <h2>Verdant sunlight</h2> <p>This sun room lets the light pour in for the plants while still maintaining a homey charm. The wooden ceiling and leafy plants complement the tranquil view outside, making it perfect for afternoon tea or family game night.</p> <figure id="attachment_230579" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230579" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230579" src="" alt="" width="800" height="580" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230579" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing.</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>Sunny dip with a view</h2> <p>This palatial Sarasota, Florida, solarium houses a pool you can swim in while enjoying views of the nearby lake. The iron frame and tinted glass allow the homeowners to enjoy the sun but avoid harmful rays and heat.</p> <figure id="attachment_230576" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230576" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230576" src="" alt="" width="800" height="532" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230576" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing.</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>Dining <em>almost</em> al fresco</h2> <p>This sun room serves as a light-drenched dining room, featuring garden views and easy patio access. Day or night, hot or cold, this multipurpose room is ideal for a quiet meal at home or an intimate gathering with friends.</p> <figure id="attachment_230575" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230575" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230575" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230575" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing.</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>Room with a view</h2> <p>Boasting sky-high views and traditional architecture, this solarium in <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Friday Harbor, Washington</a>, shows how outside structures can flow seamlessly to the indoor space. With area rugs and overhead lighting, the solarium feels like a light and bright living room.</p> <figure id="attachment_212478" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-212478" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-212478 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-212478" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Homes With Dreamy Spots for April Showers</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Summer Space Melts Your Heart?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published March 2017. Updated June 2019.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 19 2019-06-21 21:11 +00:00 2019-06-22 09:11 +12:00 Unique Homes 10 Homes Saluting the Red, White & Blue Cue the fireworks! These patriotic properties will get you in the Independence Day spirit. Tue, 18 Jun 2019 22:51:27 Z Zillow <p>You see plenty of red, white and blue on July 4th, but these 10 American homes sport the star-spangled colors of Old Glory year-round. Take a trip around the country and peruse some of these patriotic homes.</p> <h2>Portland, Oregon</h2> <figure id="attachment_230550" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230550" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230550" src="" alt="" width="800" height="573" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230550" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>San Francisco, California</h2> <figure id="attachment_230553" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230553" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230553" src="" alt="" width="800" height="590" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230553" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Charleston, South Carolina</h2> <figure id="attachment_230547" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230547" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230547" src="" alt="" width="800" height="448" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230547" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Washington, D.C.</h2> <figure id="attachment_230554" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230554" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230554" src="" alt="" width="800" height="901" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230554" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Providence, Rhode Island</h2> <figure id="attachment_230551" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230551" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230551" src="" alt="" width="800" height="530" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230551" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Boise, Idaho</h2> <figure id="attachment_230610" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230610" style="width: 801px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230610" src="" alt="" width="801" height="530" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230610" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing.</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>New Orleans, Louisiana</h2> <figure id="attachment_230549" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230549" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230549" src="" alt="" width="800" height="558" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230549" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Boston, Massachusetts</h2> <figure id="attachment_230546" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230546" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230546" src="" alt="" width="800" height="636" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230546" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Annapolis, Maryland</h2> <figure id="attachment_230544" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230544" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230544" src="" alt="" width="800" height="485" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230544" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Austin, Texas</h2> <figure id="attachment_230545" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-230545" style="width: 801px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="wp-image-230545" src="" alt="" width="801" height="532" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-230545" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h6><em>Featured image from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a>.</em></h6> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Summer Smackdown: Which Home Is Your Favorite?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 8 2019-06-18 22:51 +00:00 2019-06-19 10:51 +12:00 COMMENT: Ditching Accommodation Supplement not the answer <p>Tenant advocates have long claimed the Accommodation Supplement benefits landlords over tenants but those demanding it be scrapped are ignoring some relevant facts, says NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King.</p> Wed, 12 Jun 2019 10:53:00 +1300 2019-06-12 10:53 +13:00 2019-06-12 09:53 +12:00 Tips & Advice moving in Own & Rent 5 Things to Do Before and After Closing Your journey doesn't end on closing day. Here are some next steps to consider before you actually move in. Mon, 10 Jun 2019 13:08:05 Z Brendon DeSimone <p>You&#8217;ve been house shopping for months or even years. You&#8217;ve endured a series of offers, property disclosures, inspections and reports. Finally, after so much excitement, stress and anxiety, the house hunt has come to an end.</p> <p>But the story isn&#8217;t over yet. Here are some next steps to consider before you actually move in.</p> <h2>1. Plan renovations well in advance</h2> <p>Rarely does a buyer get a place that&#8217;s move-in ready. By the time you&#8217;ve signed a contract, you have lots of ideas about how you'll live in the home, how you'll customize it and what work needs to be done.</p> <p>If the place needs work, don&#8217;t wait until you&#8217;ve closed to engage a professional. Either at your final walkthrough or during a private appointment, get the proper contractors in the house and start collecting bids for necessary work. If possible, have floor sanding, painting or small fix-it work done before you move in. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Real estate agents</a> work with all kinds of tradespeople, so they're often a great resource for referrals.<b> </b></p> <h2>2. Set up the utilities</h2> <p>Some people assume the utilities will work once they walk in. While many utility companies have grace periods (the days between when the seller cancels service and the new owner calls), you can&#8217;t always assume this will be the case. If you have an out-of-town seller, they may have canceled services the day they knew all contingencies were removed. In this instance, the grace period likely lapsed, and you may be stuck dealing with the electric company, waiting for an appointment or just being without power when you really want to start painting, fixing or cleaning.</p> <p>The best plan is to call the utility companies and get service set up well before closing. If they haven&#8217;t received cancellation notice from the seller, let the seller know to take care of that.</p> <h2>3. Change the locks</h2> <p>Assume that everyone has a set of keys to your new home. The seller's real estate agent likely gave copies to their assistant, a painter, a stager or even another agent at some point during the listing period. That's why the first person you should call after getting the keys is a locksmith.</p> <h2>4. Hire a cleaning crew</h2> <p>There's nothing worse than showing up with the movers, dozens of boxes and your personal belongings only to discover the seller hasn&#8217;t had the place cleaned.</p> <p>Assume the worst and get a professional cleaning crew in there the minute after closing. Even if the seller did clean, they may have done a poor job. You want to start life in your new home with a clean slate. The bones of the place will be sparkling clean, and you won't be scrambling to get cleaners in while the home is in a state of unpacking disarray.</p> <h2>5. Have a handyperson, contractor or designer on call</h2> <p>Moving involves the kind of stuff you wouldn&#8217;t wish on your worst enemy. Things like aligning your framed artwork, centering the couch in the living room or getting the large rug set up in the master bedroom can drive you crazy.</p> <p>While it may seem like a luxury, investing a few hundred dollars in hiring someone to help with these tasks will save time and potentially relieve you of a giant headache.</p> <h2>Thinking ahead is the way to go</h2> <p>As your closing date draws near, you're probably exhausted. But taking a little extra time to plan ahead will save you time, money and stress - and make the move into your new home so much more satisfying.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Reasons to Live in a New Home Before Renovating</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Move Cross-Country: See How These Renters Made It Work</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow. Originally published February 2013.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 1 2019-06-10 13:08 +00:00 2019-06-11 01:08 +12:00 Tips & Advice home buying remodeling 3 Reasons to Live in a New Home Before Renovating New house? Hold that sledgehammer! You might want to hold off until you've settled in. Mon, 10 Jun 2019 13:00:17 Z Brendon DeSimone <p>In today's market, many buyers forego <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fixer-uppers</a> for move-in ready homes. As a result, significant opportunities abound in prime locations as homes that need work linger on the market.</p> <p>In competitive markets, savvy consumers gravitate toward these homes that nobody else wants. Why? They can customize the home to their requirements and build equity along the way.</p> <p>That said, I often recommend that buyers live in a new home for a while before undertaking any <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">major remodeling or pricey home improvements</a>. I'm not talking about lighting or plumbing repairs necessary to make the house habitable. Rather, I'm referring to discretionary remodeling, expansions and other improvement projects.</p> <p>Here are three good reasons to at least consider holding off on the big home improvement projects until you&#8217;ve had some time to settle in.</p> <h2>1. Living in the home can change your mind</h2> <p>You may have grand visions for what you'd like to do to a home, based on its condition and your priorities at the time you buy it. But until you're actually living there, it's difficult to know exactly how you'll use the house, what will work for you and what won't.</p> <p>Ultimately, it's this day-to-day experience that will inform your home improvement decisions, instead of early notions of how you want your everyday experience to be.</p> <h2>2. After buying a home, you deserve a break</h2> <p>Buying a home is a massive project, an enormous change in your life and a shock to the system - if not your finances. I've seen buyers jump through hoops, spending months on end looking for a home. In some situations, it becomes a part-time job.</p> <p>A home renovation can be yet another big and stressful project, what with all the decisions to make and contractors to deal with.</p> <p>My recommendation: Take a break from the stress of buying your new home.</p> <h2>3. You need time to plan</h2> <p>Any renovation, no matter how small, should be designed with care. That means speaking to multiple architects, contractors or designers to get their take on your ideas and options - a time-consuming process.</p> <p>An hour with a well-qualified contractor can uncover opportunities where you least expected them. For instance, even though it may be an added cost now, moving the laundry machines from the garage to the top floor during a larger renovation may save you time and money down the road.</p> <p>Conversely, hiring architects and contractors while under the constraints of an escrow period is likely to cause problems for you later.</p> <p>Some buyers want to jump into renovations because they don&#8217;t want to live in a construction zone or pay rent and a mortgage at the same time. While this may make some economic sense upfront, it can still cause costly problems later.</p> <p>Often, buyers who said they don't want a home that requires any work end up buying a home that needs at least some. It's the natural evolution of the buying process. Rarely does someone end up buying the home they started off thinking they wanted.</p> <p>While you should be open to doing work on a home, don't feel stressed about getting it all done at once. Live as-is for six months to a year. Take the home for a test drive and see how it runs. You may be surprised at how your perspective and priorities change once you settle in.</p> <p><em>Find out which home renovations DIYers most regretted tackling themselves.</em></p> <div class="video-container"><iframe width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Are You Overimproving for Your Neighborhood?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Should You Renovate Your Home or Sell?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Build a Home Renovation Team You Can Trust</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em><br /> <em>Originally published August 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 48 2019-06-10 13:00 +00:00 2019-06-11 01:00 +12:00 Tips & Advice Moving relocation What to Unpack First in Your New Home Where are the towels? Who packed the cat food? When you're surrounded by boxes, what you need is a strategy. Sat, 08 Jun 2019 16:42:34 Z Moving.Tips <p>So you&#8217;re finally in your new home, surrounded by piles of boxes, tired and glad that your relocation is about to end.</p> <p>To fully complete your moving adventure, however, you need to unpack your belongings and make your new place feel like home. But where do you even begin?</p> <h2>First things first</h2> <p>No matter how much you want to get it over with, there are three important things to do before you can actually start unpacking.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Clean and prepare your new home</strong>. It's easier to wipe down shelves, clean windows and mop floors before your belongings are in place. Make sure your home-to-be is spotless when your items arrive. If you can't get to your new place early enough to do a thorough cleaning, consider hiring professional cleaners to do the job for you.</li> <li><strong>Inspect and organize your belongings</strong>. Check all the delivered boxes and household items against your inventory sheet to make sure nothing is damaged or missing. Then have each of your possessions taken to the room where it belongs. If everything was properly marked and labeled, sorting your items will be a piece of cake.</li> <li><strong>Set major furniture and appliances</strong>. Position your large furniture pieces and bulky household appliances first. Then you can put any smaller items you unpack later directly in their rightful places. Plan your interior design well in advance so you don't end up moving heavy pieces around several times.</li> </ol> <h2>Tackle the necessities</h2> <p>What matters most when unpacking your items after a move is ensuring that your essentials are immediately accessible. So prioritize your belongings, and unpack only the necessities first.</p> <h3>Bedding</h3> <p>You may not be able to unpack the entire bedroom right away, but you&#8217;ll definitely need at least the bed the day you move in. Reassemble the bed frame (if necessary), lay down the sheets, unpack the pillows and spread the blankets so you can get a good night's rest - you&#8217;re going to need it!</p> <p>Provided that you have a change of clothes and some comfortable indoor shoes (as well as curtains on the windows to ensure your privacy), the rest of your bedroom items can wait until you find the time and the energy to deal with them.</p> <h3>Bathroom items</h3> <p>Without a doubt, your personal care items, toiletries and medicines should top the list of the most important items to unpack after your move. Put out toilet paper and soap, find your toothbrush and toothpaste, hang the towels and the shower curtains, and unpack any other bathroom essentials you&#8217;ll need to wash away the weariness and stress of moving.</p> <h3>Kitchen necessities</h3> <p>Kitchens tend to take a very long time to unpack and organize properly due to the large number of items that need to be sorted and carefully arranged.</p> <p>As soon as you&#8217;ve hooked up the large appliances, such as the fridge and the stove, move on to your smaller kitchenware. Plates, silverware and glasses should be the first to find their places in cupboards and kitchen cabinets, closely followed by cooking utensils, pots and pans, and pantry items.</p> <h3>Kids&#8217; and pets&#8217; items</h3> <p>If you have young children, unpack some of their favorite toys, books, games and blankets during the first few hours in your new home. Keeping your young ones happy and occupied will let you concentrate on your work and finish it faster.</p> <p>Of course, you should also take care of your pets' needs immediately upon arrival. It&#8217;s a good idea to pack adequate pet food and some of your animal friends' favorite toys in your open-first box.</p> <h2>Finishing up</h2> <p>When you&#8217;ve unpacked the three most essential rooms in your home (bedroom, bathroom and kitchen), everything else can wait a bit. There are no deadlines to meet, so you can set your own pace when unpacking and decorating your new place - just unpack in order of priority without procrastinating.</p> <p>If you stay organized, set reasonable goals, clean after every unpacking phase, and dispose of the packing materials in a safe and eco-friendly manner, your new surroundings will soon stop looking like a warehouse full of boxes and start feeling like home.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Picking a Moving Company: How Do Your Choices Stack Up?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Hidden Costs of Moving: 11 Extra Fees to Watch For</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published February 5, 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2019-06-08 16:42 +00:00 2019-06-09 04:42 +12:00 Tips & Advice home buying Home selling Predicting the 'Right Time' to Buy or Sell a Home You can't see into the future, but you <italic>can</italic> make an informed decision. Thu, 06 Jun 2019 13:00:49 Z Brendon DeSimone <p>Buying or selling a home at the right time is tougher than it sounds. People usually take these actions because of a life event or financial issues, and the economy and real estate forecasts tend to be secondary considerations. Yet both buyers and sellers often pose the question, "When is the best time to buy or sell?"</p> <p>If you have the luxury of choosing when you enter the real estate market, here are some points to consider when timing a home purchase or sale.</p> <h2>Every market is different</h2> <p>There&#8217;s no longer one national real estate market or forecast like there was 20 years ago. And just because the 24/7 national news outlets tell stories of hot real estate markets with multiple offers and quickly rising prices doesn't mean that's happening in your neighborhood.</p> <p>In fact, real estate activity can vary widely within the same county. One town can see record-breaking activity, while another 10 miles away has a glut of inventory.</p> <p>If you want to purchase or sell, dig deeper, look around and get as much local information as possible. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Meet with a good local agent</a> early and often to stay informed about shifts in the market.</p> <h2>Interest rates fluctuate</h2> <p>Most people <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">need a mortgage</a> to purchase a home, and long-term interest rates are a major factor. For many years, we've been living with historically low <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mortgage rates</a>. But while we might be living in a time of 3% or 4% rates today, remember that in the 1980s, rates were 12% or higher.</p> <p>It&#8217;s not uncommon for buyers to get off the sidelines and into the real estate market when they hear news of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. It&#8217;s very likely that when rates do start to creep back up again (and they eventually will), would-be buyers will turn into active customers.</p> <h2>Seasons change</h2> <p>Traditionally, spring has been the big real estate selling season. Flowers bloom, the grass is green, pools are open and homes show in their best possible light. Parents with school-aged children also wanted to purchase in the spring or summer so the kids can start a new school in the fall.</p> <p>While spring is still a strong selling season, buyers are looking online and searching on their phones every day, no matter the season, and transactions happen from New Year&#8217;s Day to Christmas Eve.</p> <p>If you have a home to sell and aren't in a rush, consider doing so at a traditionally &#8220;off&#8221; time. There will be fewer homes for sale, which means less competition.</p> <p>Don't try to time the market based on antiquated assumptions about seasons. It's more important that you show your home in its <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">best possible condition</a> and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">choose the right listing price</a>. If it's priced right and shows well, it will sell anytime.</p> <h2>Money isn&#8217;t everything</h2> <p>If a real estate purchase were purely financial, then we would see every renter with savings and a solid job getting in the market. But there are practical and emotional considerations.</p> <p>I've worked with buyers for months, sometimes years. They were always qualified to purchase, but they never pulled the trigger. Why? Because it doesn't make sense to put down 20% and take on a mortgage if their job with an hour commute isn't steady, their marriage is on the rocks, or their aging parents live across the country.</p> <p>Renting and keeping with the status quo is totally acceptable if there is any uncertainty in your future. While these buyers are free to shop and learn the market, they may not make a move.</p> <p>Since the financial crisis, many buyers have been hesitant to get back into the real estate market. And for good reason: Some of those buyers probably were never qualified to be in the market. But in many parts of the country, we've seen a comeback. Some markets are better than others.</p> <p>If you think home buying is in your future, do your research. Take your time and start to get a feel for the market. Just know that nobody can predict when the right house will come along, and you can't time a real estate market.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Thinking of Selling Your Home? 8 Ways to Know You&#8217;re Ready</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Determining the Local Housing Market: Buyers or Sellers Market</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Property Descriptions 101: How to Write Listing Descriptions That Sell</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 5 2019-06-06 13:00 +00:00 2019-06-07 01:00 +12:00 Unique Homes Summer Smackdown: Which Home Is Your Favorite? Who's in for a little summertime competition? Fri, 31 May 2019 19:03:48 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>We all have a dream home, whether it&#8217;s a historic home in a busy neighborhood, a cabin in the middle of nowhere or a home on wheels.</p> <p>No matter what your dream home is, you&#8217;ll be sure to find a listing for it on Zillow. Let&#8217;s see what happens when our favorite home styles go head-to-head.</p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="196876" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - Which cozy dwelling makes you want to give up square footage?" src=""></p> <section> <h2>Which cozy dwelling makes you want to give up square footage?</h2> </section> <section> <h2>Rustic mountain tiny home</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Vintage-loving tiny retreat</h3> </section> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><br /> </iframe></div> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Rustic mountain tiny home</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vintage-loving tiny retreat</a></em></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="196877" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - [COPY] Which cozy dwelling makes you want to give up square footage?" src=""></p> <section> <h2>[COPY] Which cozy dwelling makes you want to give up square footage?</h2> </section> <section> <h2>Rustic mountain tiny home</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Vintage-loving tiny retreat</h3> </section> <p></iframe></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Window-filled loft</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mid-Century style &#8220;treehouse&#8221;</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="196878" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="rgb(255, 255, 255)" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - Which A-frame gets the best report card?" src=""></p> <section> <h2>Which A-frame gets the best report card?</h2> </section> <section> <h2>Cute and tidy Arkansas A-frame</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Dark and brooding Idaho A-frame</h3> </section> <p></iframe></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cute and tidy Arkansas A-frame</a>; <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dark and brooding Idaho A-frame</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="196879" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="rgb(255, 255, 255)" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - Which cabin do you want to completely unplug in?" src=""></p> <section> <h2><span style="color: #2a2a33;">Which cabin do you want to completely unplug in?</span></h2> </section> <section> <h2>Majestic Lake Tahoe cabin</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Double-decker Gatlinburg cabin</h3> </section> <p></iframe></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Majestic Lake Tahoe cabin</a>; <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">double-decker Gatlinburg cabin</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="196883" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="rgb(255, 255, 255)" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - Which waterside home would you like to watch a sunset from?" src=""></p> <section> <h2><span style="color: #2a2a33;">Which waterside home would you like to watch a sunset from?</span></h2> </section> <section> <h2>California cool</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Pacific Northwest gem</h3> </section> <p></iframe></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">California cool</a>; <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pacific Northwest gem</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="196881" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="rgb(255, 255, 255)" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - Which rustic space feels most like home?" src=""></p> <section> <h2><span style="color: #2a2a33;">Which rustic space feels most like home?</span></h2> </section> <section> <h2>Picturesque with cathedral ceilings</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Sleek and simple</h3> </section> <p></iframe></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Picturesque with cathedral ceilings</a>; <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sleek and simple</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="196882" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="rgb(255, 255, 255)" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - Which historic home would you like to call your own?" src=""></p> <section> <h2><span style="color: #2a2a33;">Which historic home would you like to call your own?</span></h2> </section> <section> <h2>A Vermont Victorian</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Stately in Washington, D.C.</h3> </section> <p></iframe></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vermont Victorian</a>; <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stately in Washington, D.C.</a></p> <p><strong>Related articles:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Getting and Staying Organized Through the Summer</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 78 2019-05-31 19:03 +00:00 2019-06-01 07:03 +12:00 COMMENT: Tenant selection turned into a lotto draw <p>The Privacy Commissioner has created a lotto draw for tenant selection with the recent release of some ill-conceived guidelines, writes property management consultant David Faulkner.</p> Sat, 01 Jun 2019 08:00:00 +1300 2019-06-01 08:00 +13:00 2019-06-01 07:00 +12:00 COMMENT: Why the new standards are not the answer <p>The final version of the Government&rsquo;s new Healthy Homes minimum standards came out last week. Stop the War on Tenancies spokesman Mike Butler tells us what he thinks about them&hellip;</p> Thu, 23 May 2019 09:58:00 +1300 2019-05-23 09:58 +13:00 2019-05-23 08:58 +12:00 Tips & Advice Moving relocation 3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them) Moving doesn't have to be a waking nightmare. Here's how to avoid a move from ... you know where. Mon, 20 May 2019 13:37:56 Z Moving.Tips <p>Moving may top the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream - one that can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.</p> <p>Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process, but the most common moving nightmares fall into three categories. Here&#8217;s how they typically play out - and how to avoid them.</p> <h2>Poor organization</h2> <p>Moving involves a lot of loose ends, and even the smallest oversight can result in a disastrous move.</p> <ul> <li style="list-style-type: none;"> <ul> <li><strong>Packing chaos.</strong> You realize you&#8217;ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers, and some items can&#8217;t be loaded onto the moving truck. Or maybe you don&#8217;t label the boxes properly. Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes result in lost time and money.</li> <li><strong>Furniture troubles. </strong>If your large furniture doesn't fit through the doors, you may have to leave treasured pieces behind or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and delay your move.</li> <li><strong>Paperwork problems</strong><strong>.</strong> If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won't have electricity, gas and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won't have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver's license and car registration in time, you'll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.</li> <li><strong>Overspending.</strong> If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget or pack all your items without sorting them out first, you&#8217;ll end up paying much more than you expected.</li> <li><strong>Safety issues.</strong> Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p>The best way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time.</p> <h2>Traffic problems</h2> <p>Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Traffic jams.</strong> The moving truck is delayed, and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.</li> <li><strong>Traffic accidents.</strong> If there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions. It&#8217;s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.</li> <li><strong>Breakdown. </strong>If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you'll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What's more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.</li> <li><strong>Parking issues.</strong> The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from your home&#8217;s entrance. In such cases, you'll not only lose valuable time but also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.</li> </ul> <p>Of course, there&#8217;s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.</p> <h2>Misleading movers</h2> <p>Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.</p> <ul> <li><strong>The movers are late or don't show up at all</strong>. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. Regardless of the excuses you receive, the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time.</li> <li><strong>The movers are careless or inexperienced</strong>. If your movers arrive late or lack the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience.</li> <li><strong>The movers are scam artists. </strong>In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated, based on alleged extra services. They may also hold your belongings hostage until you pay an extra "fee" as ransom or steal your more expensive belongings and discard the rest.</li> </ul> <p>The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It&#8217;s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Hidden Costs of Moving: 11 Extra Fees to Watch For</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Picking a Moving Company: How Do Your Choices Stack Up?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Maximizing Space in a Small Kitchen</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 15, 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 27 2019-05-20 13:37 +00:00 2019-05-21 01:37 +12:00 COMMENT: Ring-fencing impact likely to be limited <p>The new rules around the ring-fencing of rental losses are unlikely to cause a sea-change in investor behaviour, according to CoreLogic senior property economist Kelvin Davidson.</p> Mon, 13 May 2019 07:05:00 +1300 2019-05-13 07:05 +13:00 2019-05-13 06:05 +12:00 Unique Homes unique homes Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer? It's a battle of the backyards! Which poolside retreat has your vote? Mon, 06 May 2019 18:49:30 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>There&#8217;s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool during the dog days of summer. Whether you&#8217;re a floater, a diver or more of a poolside lounger, a pool is the best summer gathering spot for all your friends and family.</p> <p>So, grab your floaties, put on some sunscreen and get ready to take the plunge - it&#8217;s time to choose the pools where you&#8217;d most like to spend a scorching summer day!</p> <div class="riddle_target" data-rid-id="193869" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" style="margin:0 auto;max-width:100%;width:640px;" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"> <script src=""></script> <link href="" rel="stylesheet"> <iframe style="width:100%;height:300px;border:1px solid #cfcfcf;" src="" title="Opinion Poll - Mid-Century quirk or cleanly traditional?"></p> <section> <h2> <p>Mid-Century quirk or cleanly traditional?</p> </h2> </section> <section> <h2>Mid-Century quirk</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Cleanly traditional</h3> </section> <p></iframe> </div> <p><em>Photos from Zillow listings: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mid-Century quirk</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cleanly traditional</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" data-rid-id="193872" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" style="margin:0 auto;max-width:100%;width:640px;" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"> <script src=""></script> <link href="" rel="stylesheet"> <iframe style="width:100%;height:300px;border:1px solid #cfcfcf;" src="" title="Opinion Poll - Riverfront simplicity or long laps?"></p> <section> <h2> <p>Riverfront simplicity or long laps?</p> </h2> </section> <section> <h2>Riverfront simplicity</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Long laps</h3> </section> <p></iframe> </div> <p><em>Photos from Zillow listings: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Riverfront lagoon</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">long laps</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" data-rid-id="193874" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" style="margin:0 auto;max-width:100%;width:640px;" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"> <script src=""></script> <link href="" rel="stylesheet"> <iframe style="width:100%;height:300px;border:1px solid #cfcfcf;" src="" title="Opinion Poll - New Orleans charm or California garden?"></p> <section> <h2> <p>New Orleans charm or California garden?</p> </h2> </section> <section> <h2>New Orleans charm</h2> </section> <section> <h3>California garden</h3> </section> <p></iframe> </div> <p><em>Photos from Zillow listings: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New Orleans charm</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">California garden</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" data-rid-id="193875" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" style="margin:0 auto;max-width:100%;width:640px;" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"> <script src=""></script> <link href="" rel="stylesheet"> <iframe style="width:100%;height:300px;border:1px solid #cfcfcf;" src="" title="Opinion Poll - Pool playground or indoor slip and slide?"></p> <section> <h2> <p>Pool playground or indoor slip and slide?</p> </h2> </section> <section> <h2>Pool playground</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Indoor slip and slide</h3> </section> <p></iframe> </div> <p><em>Photos from Zillow listings: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pool playground</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">indoor slip and slide</a></p> <div class="riddle_target" data-rid-id="193877" data-fg="#0074E4" data-bg="#FFFFFF" style="margin:0 auto;max-width:100%;width:640px;" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"> <script src=""></script> <link href="" rel="stylesheet"> <iframe style="width:100%;height:300px;border:1px solid #cfcfcf;" src="" title="Opinion Poll - Room for family or palatial hideaway?"></p> <section> <h2> <p>Room for family or palatial hideaway?</p> </h2> </section> <section> <h2>Room for family</h2> </section> <section> <h3>Palatial hideaway</h3> </section> <p></iframe> </div> <p><em>Photos from Zillow listings: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Room for family</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">palatial hideaway</a></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Should You Renovate Your Home or Sell?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Summer Space Melts Your Heart?</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 162 2019-05-06 18:49 +00:00 2019-05-07 06:49 +12:00 COMMENT: Punishing landlords won’t solve crisis <p>The capital gains tax debate is over, but landlords are still being scapegoated as the focus turns to Healthy Homes, argues Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Mon, 06 May 2019 07:02:00 +1300 2019-05-06 07:02 +13:00 2019-05-06 06:02 +12:00 Home Improvement DIY outdoor spaces DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps The perfect backdrop for outdoor fun is closer than you think, thanks to our step-by-step instructions. Mon, 29 Apr 2019 13:55:19 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Turn your backyard into a cozy camp spot by making your own fire pit. This DIY project is easy to complete, and you'll be making s'mores around the fire in no time.</p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=600" width="600" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span></iframe></p> <h2>Get ready</h2> <p>Before you begin building, consult your local fire code to see if fire pits are allowed in your city and, if so, how far away the fire pit has to be from a structure.</p> <p>Then, gather your supplies:</p> <ul> <li>Bricks for the fire pit wall</li> <li>Gravel</li> <li>Twine or string</li> <li>Tape measure</li> <li>Stake</li> <li>Large shovel</li> <li>Trowel</li> <li>Tamp</li> <li>Level</li> </ul> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-219154 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="516" /></p> <p>When purchasing bricks for the fire pit wall, go for something sturdy like retaining wall bricks or concrete pavers. Some home improvement stores even carry bricks specifically designed for fire pits. Use a layer of firebricks, which have a higher heat resistance, on the inner layer of the fire pit as an extra safety measure.</p> <p>Now that you have all your supplies and you&#8217;ve checked your local fire code, you&#8217;re ready to build!</p> <h2>1. Create a circle</h2> <p>Pick a spot for your fire pit (ensuring that it is located a safe distance from any structures, bushes or trees) and insert a stake in the ground where the center of the pit will be.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-219155" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /></p> <p>Tie one end of the string or twine to the stake and measure how wide you want your circle to be.</p> <p>Typically, a fire pit has a diameter of about 4-5 feet. Cut the string and tie the other end to the handle of a trowel. With the string or twine taut, drag the sharp end of the trowel around in a circle, creating a line in the grass.</p> <h2>2. Shovel out the grass</h2> <p>Using a large shovel, dig out the grass inside the circle.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-219161" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /></p> <p>For safety purposes, the hole for a fire pit should be about 6-12 inches deep. Be sure to call 811 before you start digging to ensure there are no utility lines buried under the spot you&#8217;ve chosen.</p> <h2>3. Tamp down the dirt</h2> <p>If you don't have a tamp, you can just use the bottom of your shovel.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-219165" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /></p> <h2>4. Make sure the circle is level</h2> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-219167" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /></p> <p>Get down on the ground with your level to ensure that the surface is ready for the bricks. Keep making small adjustments until it's completely level.</p> <h2>5. Add gravel</h2> <p>Put a pretty thick layer of gravel in the fire pit (at least a couple of inches). Spread the gravel around evenly.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-219169" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /></p> <h2>6. Arrange the bricks</h2> <p>After you've spread the gravel around, arrange your bricks in a circle and stack them in layers until the fire pit wall is at least 12 inches tall.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-219171" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /></p> <p>For extra safety, you have the option to put an inner layer of firebricks. Though you don't need to use mortar if the bricks are heavy enough to make a sturdy stack, you can use an outdoor fire-resistant mortar between the bricks for extra stability.</p> <h2>7. Relax and enjoy!</h2> <p>Gather a couple of Adirondack chairs, some firewood, a few friends and campfire treats to get full use out of your new fire pit.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-219173" src="" alt="" width="800" height="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Tips for Preparing a Fabulous Flower Bed</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tips for Spring Lawn Prep</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">With This DIY Sporting Goods Catch-All, Game Day Is No Sweat</a></li> </ul> <p>Originally published July 19, 2017.</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 37 2019-04-29 13:55 +00:00 2019-04-30 01:55 +12:00 COMMENT: Why Takapuna is worth a look <p>It&rsquo;s no surprise that new REINZ data shows Takapuna&rsquo;s median house price has climbed 30% over the past year, writes Takapuna Beach Association chief executive Terence Harpur.</p> Sat, 27 Apr 2019 11:49:00 +1300 2019-04-27 11:49 +13:00 2019-04-27 10:49 +12:00 COMMENT: Tax deductibility of rental property upgrades <p>Rental property upgrades required by the Healthy Homes minimum standards will make the area of tax deductibility even more thorny, writes Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis&hellip;</p> Thu, 04 Apr 2019 08:04:00 +1300 2019-04-04 08:04 +13:00 2019-04-04 08:04 +13:00 COMMENT: Capital gain vs cash flow <p>There are two very different types of property investors and the introduction of a capital gains tax would affect one far more than the other, explains veteran property investor Graeme Fowler.</p> Tue, 12 Mar 2019 09:21:00 +1300 2019-03-12 09:21 +13:00 2019-03-12 09:21 +13:00 COMMENT: Property reno - where are the tradies? <p>What seemed like a straight-forward renovation job on a rental property left Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis wondering where all the tradies have gone when we need them so much&hellip;</p> Tue, 05 Mar 2019 08:02:00 +1300 2019-03-05 08:02 +13:00 2019-03-05 08:02 +13:00 COMMENT: Ring-fencing rules could mean 116,000 less rentals <p>Ring-fencing of rental losses on rental properties could end up resulting in 116,000 fewer rentals, Stop the War on Tenancies spokesman Mike Butler cautions.</p> Tue, 12 Feb 2019 09:29:00 +1300 2019-02-12 09:29 +13:00 2019-02-12 09:29 +13:00 COMMENT: How to fix the housing crisis <p>Dealing with the housing &ldquo;crisis&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t need rocket science, just a clearly articulated set of steps and fast action, argues property commentator Ashley Church.</p> Thu, 10 Jan 2019 08:00:00 +1300 2019-01-10 08:00 +13:00 2019-01-10 08:00 +13:00 The outlook for 2019 <p>2019 is set to be a year of massive change as the Government&rsquo;s suite of housing and tax policies start to bed in. Here&rsquo;s what property market commentators have to say on the coming year&hellip;</p> Thu, 03 Jan 2019 12:18:00 +1300 2019-01-03 12:18 +13:00 2019-01-03 12:18 +13:00 Desperately seeking answers <p>Looking for a straight answer from MBIE&rsquo;s Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team? If you are a landlord, don&rsquo;t expect too much clarity.</p> Tue, 18 Dec 2018 08:30:00 +1300 2018-12-18 08:30 +13:00 2018-12-18 08:30 +13:00 What lies ahead in 2019 <p>Wondering what is in store for residential and commercial property across the spectrum in the coming year? Here&rsquo;s what Colliers International New Zealand&rsquo;s have to say in their annual predictions&hellip;</p> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 07:59:00 +1300 2018-12-12 07:59 +13:00 2018-12-12 07:59 +13:00 COMMENT: Setting policies good practice for landlords <p>Landlords need to establish strict policies around their rental properties rather than just winging it, Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis believes&hellip;</p> Tue, 04 Dec 2018 11:01:00 +1300 2018-12-04 11:01 +13:00 2018-12-04 11:01 +13:00 COMMENT: Embedded networks - what to watch out for <p>Developers are increasingly seeking to maintain control of embedded networks in apartments and that means both buyers and body corporates need to know what to watch out for, Auckland District Law Society president Joanna Pidgeon explains.</p> Thu, 29 Nov 2018 08:35:00 +1300 2018-11-29 08:35 +13:00 2018-11-29 08:35 +13:00 COMMENT: War on tenancies should stop <p>Life for rental property owners may become tougher as Labour&rsquo;s newbie Housing Minister Phil Twyford tries to &ldquo;make life better for renters&rdquo;, Stop the War on Tenancies founder Mike Butler warns.</p> Wed, 21 Nov 2018 09:00:00 +1300 2018-11-21 09:00 +13:00 2018-11-21 09:00 +13:00 COMMENT: Landlording is a business <p>Governments from both sides of the political equation have failed to recognise residential landlording as a business - but it is, argues Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis.</p> Tue, 06 Nov 2018 13:22:00 +1300 2018-11-06 13:22 +13:00 2018-11-06 13:22 +13:00 COMMENT: Reforms would increase rental shortage <p>Feelings on tenancy law reform continue to run high as MBIE considers submissions on the Government&rsquo;s proposals. Here&rsquo;s a summary of what landlord Naveen Goel had to say in his&hellip;</p> Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:15:00 +1300 2018-10-31 11:15 +13:00 2018-10-31 11:15 +13:00 COMMENT: Have we hit the bottom? <p>It looks like New Zealand&#39;s property market may have reached a floor, and the worst could be over for property market activity, argues CoreLogic&#39;s head of research Nick Goodall.&nbsp;</p> Thu, 25 Oct 2018 09:12:00 +1300 2018-10-25 09:12 +13:00 2018-10-25 09:12 +13:00 COMMENT: Reform word games <p>Everyone is talking about residential rental reform at the moment - or are they? Here&#39;s what Auckland Property Investors Association vice president Peter Lewis has to say about it...&nbsp;</p> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 12:54:00 +1300 2018-10-12 12:54 +13:00 2018-10-12 12:54 +13:00 COMMENT: What “bad tenant” tales are really saying <p>Tales about nightmare tenants have been rife in the media of late but such stories are not new &ndash; so does the sudden deluge indicate that landlords have reached breaking point, Miriam Bell asks.</p> Tue, 09 Oct 2018 10:00:00 +1300 2018-10-09 10:00 +13:00 2018-10-09 10:00 +13:00 Addressing tenancy law reform Tenancy law reform is a hot topic at the moment. Here’s some thoughts on the Government’s proposed changes from Kishan Lal of Clarke Group Property Management… Tue, 25 Sep 2018 08:00:00 +1300 2018-09-25 08:00 +13:00 2018-09-25 07:00 +12:00 Rental WoF won't help affordability The Green Party is again calling for the introduction of a rental Warrant of Fitness (WoF). But NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King is questioning that call... Sun, 09 Sep 2018 12:00:00 +1300 2018-09-09 12:00 +13:00 2018-09-09 11:00 +12:00 A different system: the rental market in Scandinavia European rental models are often looked to as ones that New Zealand could learn from. That prompted Auckland Property Investors Association vice-president Peter Lewis to take a close look at Sweden's rental market. Wed, 22 Aug 2018 10:00:00 +1300 2018-08-22 10:00 +13:00 2018-08-22 09:00 +12:00 How to profit from the new plan The Super City’s new Unitary Plan provides interesting reading for Auckland property owners. Could you be an “accidental investor”? Hamish Firth from Mt Hobson Group tells all. Mon, 06 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +1300 2018-08-06 09:00 +13:00 2018-08-06 08:00 +12:00 Flawed rental policy not the answer Renters United's plan to "fix" New Zealand's "broken" rental laws is poorly thought out and will negatively affect everyone, NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King argues... Fri, 13 Jul 2018 06:00:00 +1300 2018-07-13 06:00 +13:00 2018-07-13 05:00 +12:00 Tax working group agrees property fairly taxed Claims that rental property is undertaxed are based on flawed assumptions and the Tax Working Group agrees, the NZ Property Investors Federation says... Wed, 04 Jul 2018 10:00:00 +1300 2018-07-04 10:00 +13:00 2018-07-04 09:00 +12:00 Is vaping a new risk for landlords? <p>With many cigarette smokers switching to vaping, does this pose a new risk for landlords? Dr Marewa Glover argues that it does not.</p> Mon, 02 Jul 2018 11:00:00 +1300 2018-07-02 11:00 +13:00 2018-07-02 10:00 +12:00 Correct facts on tax & rental properties - NZPIF The NZ Property Investors Federation has produced research which shows that property investors pay their fair share of tax... Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:00:00 +1300 2018-06-20 11:00 +13:00 2018-06-20 10:00 +12:00 'I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown': Retiree on battle with Ng&#257;ti Wh&#257;tua over demolished home Once she decided retirement village life was for her, Sandra Pearce, 76, chose an Eastcliffe place in Auckland's Or&#257;kei, bought three years ago for $780,000."I thought I'd treat myself. I just loved looking out every single... Tue, 19 Jun 2018 09:04:30 +1200 2018-06-19 09:04 +12:00 2018-06-19 09:04 +12:00