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Quickly improve curb appeal in 2016

By Shannon Biszantz on February 8, 2016
in Real Estate Tips

 

curb-appeal-ftr

Quickly improve curb appeal in 2016

I was reading some articles in www.inman.com about technologies, real estate predictions, and other real estate related information. I came across this article and thought to share it with you guys.  Here are some tips on how we can quickly improve curb appeal in 2016.

 

How to quickly improve curb appeal in 2016

By: Tyler Smith | Source: www.inman.com

  • Curb appeal reflects the buyer’s impression of the inside of a home. If it’s not good, the buyer might not want to venture inside.
  • Giving a home a new garage door is like giving it a facelift — a garage door can take up as much as 40 percent of the front of the house.
  • A couple of chairs on the front porch can help potential buyers envision themselves relaxing.

 

1. Paint the front door

The front door is the focal point of a home. As the entrance, it’s an unavoidable feature. A new coat of paint in a bright or contrasting color will enhance the look of a property. You can also add a new knob and hardware for added appeal.

2. Update the garage door

The garage door is similar to the front door in that it’s obvious. Garage doors can easily take up as much as 40 percent of the front of a house, so an upgrade can make a big difference. Try a carriage-style door or a door with windows to enhance your property’s appearance.

3. Lighten up the exterior

This is more than a simple porch light. Accent lights in planters and along the walkways not only make a home feel more safe but also add extra style and elegance.

4. Liven up the landscape

Think beyond just pulling the weeds and mowing the lawn. Planting flowers and adding mulch can make a big difference. And don’t forget to green up your lawn or consider replacing it with water-tolerant landscaping.

5. Put furniture on the porch

A couple of chairs can really help a home look more inviting. Potential buyers will be able to imagine themselves sitting on the front porch drinking iced tea and watching the world go by.

Read the whole article at www.inman.com

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How to Help Your Family Members to Buy their First Home

I found this interesting article on how parents can help their children to buy their first home. There is a way, though, I would suggest  that you consult with the bank or what your partner thinks about it.

SHARED EQUITY: HELPING FAMILY MEMBERS BUY THEIR HOUSE

Written by  | source: http://realtytimes.com

This is an arrangement where you — as investors — own a portion of the property with your children. Under a shared equity arrangement, there generally are two separate entities. You (and your spouse, if applicable) would be considered the owner-investors, and your son and daughter-in-law would be considered the owner-occupants. The four of you would take title to the property. You could own fifty percent, for example, with your children owning the remaining fifty percent. Your children, as owner-occupants, would pay half of the monthly principal, interest, taxes and insurance, as well as half of the estimated fair market rental of the property. You, as owner-investors, would pay half of the monthly costs, would receive the rental income, but would also be able to get some tax benefits if the transaction is properly structured.

In today’s market conditions, where prices are clearly higher than many young couples can afford, shared equity may be the only way to permit our younger generation to get into the home ownership arena.

Here is a general outline of how shared equity works. Although there is no magic formula by which one takes title, often — especially when dealing with family — title is taken on a 50-50 split.

The owner-occupant and the owner-investor each pay 50% of the monthly mortgage costs and taxes. Both parties are entitled to deduct from their income taxes their share of the mortgage interest and the real estate taxes. The owner-occupant pays rent to the owner-investor.

In our example, because your children — as owner-occupants — will only own half of the house, they will have to pay 50 percent of the fair market rental to you as owner-investors. This rental is considered income to an owner-investor, and must be included in your tax return. The main advantage for the owner-investor is that you can depreciate 50% of the property. However, this depreciation is subject to the passive tax rules which Congress enacted with its sweeping tax reform legislation in 1986.

There are a number of legal requirements for qualifying for the shared equity program.

1. The owner-occupant must pay a fair market rental for the portion that he or she does not own.

Perhaps the best way to determine this fair market value is to ask a real estate agent to give you a statement in writing as to what they believe is the fair market rental of the property. With such a document in your files, you should be able to justify the rental if and when the IRS comes knocking at your door to challenge the shared equity concept. A Tax Court opinion has ruled that owner-occupants could pay a somewhat lower rent than fair market rental because the investor will not have any vacancy losses, and because the owner-investor will save the additional costs of hiring a property manager.

A safe harbor would be to deduct 15% from the fair market value, and then your children, as owner-occupants would pay half of that amount to you.

2. There must be an equity sharing agreement. This document, which must be in writing and signed prior to the purchase of the property, should spell out the terms and conditions between the owner-occupant and the owner-investor.

For example, when will this agreement terminate? Who has the right to buy out the other, and under what terms and conditions?

These very serious questions must be resolved, and it is strongly recommended that you do so now while you are still talking with your children. As harsh as it may sound, parents and children often get into major fights, and you do not want to wait until you start having problems in an effort to resolve these important questions.

3. One of the owners must actually occupy the property as his or her principal residence.

Read more at http://realtytimes.com

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7 Crucial Areas a Home Inspector Checklist Doesn’t Cover

By Shannon Biszantz on September 2, 2015
in Real Estate Tips

Home-Inspection7 Crucial Areas a Home Inspector Checklist Doesn’t Cover

Did you know these items are on your home inspector’s checklist?

 

Guest Contribution from HomeAdvisor

Hiring a home inspector is a crucial part of buying or selling a home. An inspector will assess the home for potential problems and identify any issues that may affect the continuation or negotiation of a sale in progress. But it’s also important to understand that inspectors don’t cover all of the bases in a home. In fact, it’s possible that an inspector may miss a significant issue. In many cases, you’ll need to hire a specialist to inspect certain areas, and you should always look closely at everything yourself. Here’s the skinny on the “home inspection checklist” and what is and isn’t covered:

#1 Inspectors don’t check for pests.

Home inspectors are not exterminators — their job is to find potential problems with the structural integrity of the house. So if you think you see a cockroach or another pest during a walkthrough, you’ll need to hire an exterminator to take a closer look. Don’t rely on the checklist or final report to yield that information.

#2 Inspectors don’t cover plumbing.

via Flickr MoToMo

Most home inspectors don’t have the qualifications to look at plumbing and can only call out visible issues like a leak or outdated plumbing. This means they probably won’t look at your:

  • Wall or undersink plumbing pipes
  • Swimming pools
  • Septic tanks

There are exceptions in which an inspector will have the qualifications to look at pools and septic systems, but this varies depending on the inspector and where you live. You shouldn’t rely on your inspector for this in any case. If you see serious cracks or dents in the swimming pool, you should probably hire a swimming pool pro to do an inspection. If you think the septic tank is making weird noises, have someone take a closer look.

#3 Inspectors won’t look at landscaping conditions.

While issues with landscaping should be obvious during a walkthrough — dead spots, potential pests, sprinkler issues, etc. — note that they aren’t on home inspector’s radar. If there’s a dead tree in the yard, you’ll be responsible for taking care of it. It probably won’t affect the final price of the house or your ability to negotiate with the seller.

#4 Appliances aren’t part of the inspection.

via pixabay

Home inspectors check only that the following appliances are working properly:

  • Washers
  • Dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Stoves

Most inspectors will run these appliances through just a cycle or two to make sure they work. So, the built-in microwave could have major problems and you wouldn’t know it. Plus, unless a major leak or smoke appears, the appliance is considered to be correctly functioning. If you think there’s a major problem, you should have an appliance technician perform diagnostics and necessary repairs.

#5 HVAC systems aren’t covered in the inspection either.

Home inspectors may or may not touch your heating or air conditioning system, depending on the climate conditions at that time of your inspection. They don’t want to cause damage by putting too much pressure on the system. In fact, in your home inspection report, there may be a liability disclaimer relieving your inspector of any responsibility for your HVAC system. Depending on the conditions at the time of purchase or sale, you may need to have it separately inspected.

Click here to read more.

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Shannon Biszantz

Shannon Biszantz

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