Real Estate News

Updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

CondoGate: Is there a Scandal in your Community Association?

Question. I own a unit in a condominium association. It is managed by a property management company. The wife of the President of the Board of Directors has been employed by that management company. The President has monopolized the other Board members and keeps increasing our condominium fee every year since he became President. The management fees have also increased. Management is working for the President and not for the entire Board and our members. What the President says, management does. I would not even be surprised if there was some sort of "kick-back" between management and the President. What can I do as a unit owner?

Answer. Scandals and swindles make good newspaper headlines; they also make or break politicians. But you must be prepared to document your case before making any formal allegations, or you could be sued for libel.

Most Board members and property managers are honest, hard working and dedicated. Service on a Board of Directors of a community association is a thankless -- "payless" -- task. But it is an obligation that someone has to perform. And once in a while, we do learn of such scandals, which I would call "condogate".

My first answer to all these issues is that you should try to get elected to the Board of Directors. However, this is not always easy, especially if incumbent Board members have access to mailing lists and hold a large number of proxies.

You must treat an election to your Board as if you were running for a state or national elective office. Arrange a campaign committee, a fund-raising committee and start knocking on your neighbors doors to advise them you are running for the Board of Directors.

You should also obtain the current mailing list of unit owners from your management company, and send every owner an announcement, advising them of your candidacy and your platform -- what you stand for. Generally, the mailing list contains private information and unless unit owners give their permission, management should not >You also should obtain the most current accounting statements. Most state laws requires that an audit of the Association books and records be conducted at least once a year, if at least five percent of the unit owners make such a request. If no audit has been performed, get a petition signed by the required number of owners, and formally demand that the audit be done.

In some states, Boards of Directors have a "fiduciary duty" to the owners who elected them to serve on the Board. In other states, such as in Maryland and now in the District of Columbia, the standard by which a Board of Director is held is the "business judgment rule." Under this rule, the courts will not involve themselves in the internal affairs of the association. However, as was stated in a 1992 Court case handed down by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, "the business judgment rule.... precludes judicial review of a legitimate business decision of an organization, absent fraud or bad faith." emphasis added.

But under either standard, it is clear from the case law throughout the country that members of a Board of Directors cannot operate in bad faith.

What is bad faith? Clearly, when a Director personally receives financial gain from his or her service on a Board of Directors -- especially if there is no disclosure of these gains to the membership -- this cannot be considered "operating in good faith." And, in my opinion, even if the Board member fully discloses the potential gain he or she may derive, the potential conflict of interest is still great. This standard would also apply to a situation where the wife of the President receives financial benefits by virtue of her husbands position.

It must be noted, however, that even under the fiduciary duty concept, this does not preclude a Director or the Board itself from making an honest mistake. Service on a Community Association Board of Directors is a voluntary job. No one would serve on the Board if they can be held personally accountable for every decision made by that Board.

But there is a clear difference between serving in good faith and serving for personal, selfish reasons.

You asked what you can do if these practices are objectionable. In addition to trying to get elected, another solution is to mount a recall campaign and "throw the rascals" out. Read your condominium documents carefully, and you will find provisions spelling out the procedure to remove Board members. Circulate a newsletter to all owners, and call a special meeting solely for the purpose of voting on the removal petition. You must, in fairness, give the challenged member an opportunity to defend his or her position. It is also advisable to discuss your concerns first -- directly and privately -- with that Board member, if you are not uncomfortable in approaching him.

Finally, since you live in Montgomery County, you have one additional remedy that is not available to homeowners outside of that jurisdiction. Several years ago, the County Council created the Commission on Common Ownership Communities. The purpose of this Commission is to attempt to resolve disputes between homeowners and their associations. This is a form of "alternate dispute resolution" and you can get more information about this process by contacting the Commission 301 217 3636.

In the final analysis, you should send a loud and clear message to Board members: if you want to serve on the Board of Directors, do so because you are concerned with the operation of the Association and not for personal gain. You must avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
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Dealing With Difficult People In Your Homeowners Association

Living in a homeowner association, there is likelihood of running into someone that is, how should we say it, less than happy. We all have to deal with difficult people at some point. Some focus on what they dont like about a person loudmouth, condescending tone, etc and then hope they will change. Not surprisingly, this ra>

For many, personal experience with conflict creates a recurring cycle. This cycle can be positive or negative depending on the beliefs about conflict that we developed at an early age. What someone says or does can spark an automatic response based on those beliefs. This, in turn, triggers a consequence that usually reinforces our behavior pattern.

The key to dealing with a difficult person is to change your >

  • Taking the responsibility to examine your own thoughts and feelings about the difficult person.
  • Understanding what kind of >
  • Taking notice of the behavior rather than making assumptions about what that behavior means, and
  • Examining your approach to communicating with that person.

The next time you are confronted by a difficult person, what do you see them doing that causes you to react negatively? Consider the following:

  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact or lack of eye contact
  • Gestures
  • Tone of their voice
  • Screaming or whining
  • Words and/or the meaning of the words

Pay close attention to their behavior patterns. What is working and what is not? Have you made assumptions about what these actions mean?

Next, pay attention to your behavior. What is working and what is not? What do others do that works better? If you dont set aside your assumptions, you may never realize what are you are responding to.

Now, take the time to consider how your actions may affect the other person. Consider the message you may be sending them. Finally, decide what you would like the >

Treat every interaction with a difficult person as an opportunity to improve your >

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see

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Disruption and Accelerated Change In Real Estate

In this time of celebrated disruption and accelerated change, the context for everything, including home buying and selling, is facing disruption and change, globally and locally.

Corporations and governments are struggling to anticipate impact and benefits from disruptive technology while they try to manage change on many fronts at once. How successful they are in your area and in the industries that employ you and your neighbors will determine how sustainable your community, life>

The question that demands an answer is, "Whats that got to do with me and my real estate - my present and future home?"

The recent Toronto Global Forum mdash; the 11th organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas mdash; hosted representatives from 54 countries, including 130 expert speakers and more than 2700 participants. Many were high-profile leaders from governments, academia, public and private sectors, and civil society. The Forum focused on major issues >Redefining Globalization in reaction to significant political and economic volatility around the world.

Redefining globalization involves transformation of the concept to "promote an atmosphere of shared prosperity," according to opening remarks by Louis Audet, President and CEO of Cogeco. Many Forum speakers provided insight into leaders responsibility to ensure the economy works globally and benefits all.

"If you do not think technology is affecting your business, youre dead," said Mark Wiseman, Senior Managing Director at BlackRock Inc., during a panel discussion titled Global Economic Outlook: The Search for Growth. "[Technology] is affecting business around the world."

Wiseman illustrated his point by >

"The value in the bicycle is not in the bikes or in the value in environmental pressure off mass transit," explained Wiseman. "The value is in data as owners know where every [bicycle] is ridden and by whom. Investors and marketers are willing to pay a lot for that data. Owners are not in the bicycle business, but in the data business."

The Forum, a meeting of ingenious, globally-focused minds, proved that if we are not receptive as individuals, little or no progress will be made as this new industrial revolution rolls over us all.

Speaker and participant discussions at The Forum revealed 5 challenges mdash; problems and opportunities mdash; for corporations and governments facing technology-induced transformational change that can be mirrored in our lives:

1. Redefining Context Jim Barber, President of UPS International, explained that UPS now has 450,000 employees and automation has not hit their sector yet. "If we rest for more than a minute, we would be dead."

To illustrate the disruptive effect of technology, another speaker used the example of the 40,000 elevator operators in New York City who were displaced by push-button automation in 1915. Then, he posed a key question, "As corporation and political leaders, how will we treat those who will be left behind?"

  • How prepared are you for Automated Intelligence AI and machine intelligence changes in your industry and workplace?
  • How sustainable is your income?
  • How could you use your real estate as a financial partner if your income were disrupted?

2. Redefining Risk Originally, the benefits of globalization "took for granted the world would come closer together." The key risk for the economy was Wall Street as was evident from the financial collapse of 2008. Now, Brexit and similar geopolitical events represent risk. Many still perceive risk in an archaic way, but risk is now arising "from behavior and geopolitical reaction." The world always faced disruption, but only in one sector at a time, like the textile revolution. Now, there is disruption in every sector at once. Unprecedented disruptions are changing the way we work, live, play, dreamhellip;.

Which risks would threaten real estate ownership, either present or future, for you?

3. Redefining Change "Change is 10X faster than in the Industrial Revolution, 300X the scale, and 3000X the impact of the industrial revolution," reported Patricia Meredith, Fellow at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. "These trends are gaining magnitude and impact to create monumental change. Combine this with climate change...and this is a truly complex and uncertain environment."

One suggestion for harnessing technology lies in being courageous, innovative, and curious.

If this unprecedented change is forcing corporations and governments to make decisions in spite of significant uncertainty, dont be surprised that individuals will share the same fate.

  • What decisions might this change force on you?
  • What role or roles could your real estate play in solutions and opportunities for sustaining your chosen life>

4. Redefining Corporate Thinking Corporate thinking is notoriously short-term while that of consumers and other investors can be the opposite. Wiseman shared a corporate decision-making study which reported that "55 of CEOs would forgo a project if it meant they would miss their quarterly stock value by 1 cent."

The cost to society of corporate short-term thinking is estimated at a trillion dollars. A shift to long-term thinking would have significant impact.

"The issue is systemic... Short term behavior caused the economic collapse, but in the decade since, thinking is more short-term," said Wiseman who explained that the neglected long-term thinking includes issues regarding the environment and the future of displaced employees.

Are you a short-term thinker when it comes to real estate? Real estate buyers who concentrate on the fleeting-glory of decor over the long-term benefits of location and quality of construction are short-term thinkers.

5. Redefining Paradigms During the "Navigating a World of Disruption" panel, Jonathan Crane, Chief Commercial Officer of Ipsoft, attributed the escalated, expansive growth of mega companies like Google and Amazon to the fact that they "did not do paradigm shifts, but paradigm leaps"

Cranes perspective on AI is that it will remove drudgery and monotony from the workplace, but not jobs. Work and careers will be transformed, expanded, or elevated. Disagreeing with the stated figure of "47 of jobs being at risk to technology," Crane stressed that transformation will hit 100 of jobs.

  • If your job were transformed by technology would you still be qualified to receive that income?
  • Real estate location has long been valued based on its proximity to "the best schools." That trend continues, but now "best" means forward-thinking, technology-based education that creates valued talent. When you buy real estate mdash; even if you dont have school-aged children mdash; do you seek out property near the best schools to take advantage of their market-value boost?

Holly Benson, Managing Partner, Infosys Consulting Inc. discussed the tendency to "rush to automation and deal with people later." She shared two insights that ring true in even the most intense vortex of change:

  • "Never attribute to malice what can be attributed, in the full sense of the word, to ignorance."
  • "Never assume that people automatically know what to do just because they have a title."

Ongoing Resources:

  • In future columns, well continue to explore technology, disruption, and much more to discover what this all has to do with you and your real estate - present and future.
  • Check out the 2016 Global Forum: "Explore New Markets At a Global Forum"

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2017 NAR Profile Can Help Agents Find Buyers And Sellers

We have noted that The 2017 National Association of REALTORSreg; Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers contains valuable information for sellers and their agents as to how buyers find the homes that they ultimately buy. The profile also contains valuable and interesting information as to how both buyers and sellers find the agents that they ultimately use. 87 of buyers used an agent in purchasing their home. That number has increased steadily since 2001 when the figure was 69. 7 of buyers purchased directly from a builder, and 6 bought directly from an owner. Of the 87, how did they find their agent?

Not a lot of "agent shopping" takes place among buyers. 70 interviewed only one agent, 17 interviewed two. So how do you get to be on the interview list? Referrals are far and away the dominant factor. 42 of buyers chose to work with an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or >This might seem like discouraging news for new agents. "What chance do I have of connecting with a buyer if I havent already built a referral base and a list of past clients?" Here, a new agent wants to remember that "friends, neighbors, or > Moreover, there are, just as there always have been, other ways of coming into contact with buyers who may choose to work with you. Some ways work better than others.

6 of buyers found the agent they used as a result of an open house. Another 9 found their agent through a web site. Interestingly, only 2 found the agent that they worked with as a result of walking into or calling an office and meeting the agent who was on duty at the time. In general, "floor time" is not very productive.

Agents who do want to get connected with buyers can prepare themselves so that a contact is more likely to lead to a >Sellers are just as likely as buyers to work with an agent. 90 of sellers had their home listed on MLS. But sellers, too, dont do much "agent shopping." Similar to buyers, 74 interviewed only one agent; just 15 interviewed two. Again, referrals and past business >Other seller contact sources drop into single digits. Interestingly, compared to buyers at 9, only 5 of sellers found their agent through a web site. Again, there are venues that agents who lack a referral or past client list might want to think about. Open houses account for 4 of the contacts that eventuate into a working >Would-be listing agents would do well to note that the most important factor -- 34 -- in choosing a sellers agent was reputation. Sure, its nice to have a track record of sales activity, but there are other aspects to reputation as well. 18 of sellers said that honesty and trustworthiness were the most important factors in considering an agent. Things like attitude and integrity are also components of ones reputation. Agents who want to build a business should pay attention to such things. Word gets around.

Also See: 2017 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information For Agents And Sellers
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DIY Solutions To Your Flooring Problems

True story. The wood in our living room is scratched and worn, the dark tile in the kitchen imparts a sort of cave-like feel, and theres unfinished concrete in several of the bedrooms thanks to foundation repair that was done shortly after we bought the house. We could have had the four burly men that peeled away the 10-year-old carpet to jackhammer into the floor lay it back down, but, instead, we took that opportunity to rid ourselves of the it and thanked the guys for sparing us the cost of a dumpster. The idea was to get new floors in soon after, and, well, three years laterhellip;here we are. Still considering our options.

Add to that picture a couple of bathrooms that were tiled in 2004 when textured beige-y brown tiles were popular they were, right?, and we are facing multiple rooms that need new floors. The entire first floor needs new floors, if were being honest.

And while we have examined many, many really, it seems like hundreds of options over the last couple of years, nothing has stuck well enough to actually get to it. Part of the issue is that we dont want to hand over the installation to someone else. While that would probably be the most practical option, its not the most economical, and we tend to like to do things by ourselves. You, too? Then come with us on this journey to find the best DIY solution to our and your flooring dilemmas.

Painted wood

Frankly, anything that starts with "Sand surface" is an immediate turnoff. If they ever made a National Lampoons Renovation Vacation movie, there would undoubtedly be a scene where Chevy Chases Rusty Griswold lost control of the electric sander and major havoc ensued. Thats pretty much what we envision happening around here if a big, hulking sander is involved. That notwithstanding, painted wood floors do look pretty cool.

SF Gate has a good tutorial for painting heavily trafficked wood floors that involves really good preparation so if youre a step-skipper, maybe not for you and high-quality primer, but, honestly, were skeptical about smooth floors that look like the above.

But, were loving the rustic beachy-ness of this look. Our shabby floors are already part of the way there, and if the dogs scratch the surface, it just adds more texture, right?

Painted tile

We first saw blogger Remington Avenues tutorial for painted floors in 2015, which should tell you how long weve been tossing around ideas for our floors. She crafted a stunning painted tile floor using chalk paint and a stencil that created a trendy Moroccan cement tile look.

Stencils have become more readily available and in greater variety since then, and her new tutorial is even more interesting because she used luster epoxy paint, like you would use to paint a garage floor. That spells greater durability, and since multiple children and multiple dogs live in this house, finishes that cant endure kid feet and dog paws are a NO GO.

Should we do it? This would be a jackpot for that cave-like kitchen floor and beige-y brown bathroom tile floors that look just like her "before" floors, ironically.

Floating floor

First, lets get This Old Houses take: "Its hard to imagine a house being cozy without the warmth of wood flooring. The quickest way to get new wood underfoot is to install a floating floor. Unlike traditional solid-wood strips, a floating floor isnt nailed down. Instead, the planks are either glued or snapped together. The planks go down fast, over virtually any material - concrete, plywood, sheet vinyl, even ceramic tile. They have a complete tutorial here.

Now, our thoughts: The advantage to using a floating floor is that its definitely DIY-friendly in comparison to numerous other options because it requires no demolition other than removing baseboards - something we wouldnt have to do if we were painting the existing surfaces, BTW. We would have to put down plywood on the concrete surfaces to make everything flush, but thats not a big deal. The continuity that would be created by laying down one surface throughout the first floor of the house would be a dream given how broken up it currently is. The downside: its a pricier solution than paint, and the price, not surprisingly, goes up with the quality. Whether you are looking at using luxury vinyl planks, laminate, or engineered wood, its an investment.

Carpet tiles

We just havent been able to get rid of the idea of a soft, cushy carpeted surface in the bedrooms, but were not about to try to put in wall-to-wall carpet on our own. "I wouldnt recommend any homeowner try to install their own wall-to-wall carpeting," said Popular Mechanics. "First, just getting the carpeting into the room is a huge job. Second, precisely cutting it to size takes experience - one wrong cut can ruin the entire piece."

The potential answer: carpet tiles. Oh, we know. We say "carpet tiles," you say "ugly office building," right? Fortunately, carpet tiles have come a long way in terms of design. The carpet tiles below from Flor and these that are are our favorite newer >

The best part: theyre super easy to install. "One 3-inch-diameter dot is placed at each corner of a carpet square, with the sticky side up," they said. "The next square is set in place tight against the first square, and then its pressed down onto the adhesive dots. In the end, the result is a floating floor of carpet squares all stuck together at the corners by adhesive dots."

Actually, this may be the best part: Remember those previously mentioned kids and dogs? They make stains. Lots of stains. If one area of your wall-to-wall carpet gets stained beyond repair, youre out of luck. If the same thing happens to a carpet tile, you rip it up and set another one down. Tempting. Very tempting.

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Holiday Splurges And Saves To Make Hosting Easier

If youre hosting for the holidays, there is undoubtedly a lot to do and a lot to buy. You probably have a budget youre looking to stick to, but then you make the mistake of wandering in to Williams Sonomaand there goes your bottom line There are places to save a few bucks so you can make a few worthy splurges. Heres a guide that will help.

Splurge: Good cookware

The quality of your cookware can have a big impact on the quality of your food. If your pots and pans have seen better days, its a good time to splurge on a few high-end items, like this Swiss Diamond 10-piece set, made of cast aluminum with a PFOA-free nonstick coating. Consumer Reports rated the set the "best pots and pans for your holiday feasts."

Their lab kitchen evaluated "cooking evenness and how well nonstick surfaces >The Swiss Diamond set includes 8-inch and 9-inch frypans, 1.4-quart and 2.2- quart saucepans, 3.2-quart saute pan, 8.5-quart stockpot, and glass lids.

Save: Good cookware

The Consumer Reports article shows how, with a little research, you can find high-quality products without spending high dollars. Their top choice for nonstick frying pans? This 100 Zwilling J.A. Henckels version in stainless steel with an aluminum core. But in second place: A 20 Red Copper nonstick pan from Amazon.

Splurge: Amazon Prime

This is a splurge thats really a save, if you think about it. The service that costs 99 for a year ends up saving you money on all those last-minute gifts and things you forgot to buy and dont have time to get to the store for because there are rooms to set up and closets to clean out and food to prepare. Amazon Prime also includes free two-day shipping on more than 50 million items, plus you get access to tons of movies, TV shows, songs, and Kindle e-books.

Save: A trip to Costco

Yes, its going to be crazy. Yes, youre going to have to wait in line. But the stuff you cant find elsewhere or at least all in one place will be worth it. Top of our list: Masterpiece plastic plates and Reflections Silverware. Theyre nicer than your average disposable stuff and youll be grateful when you dont have to do dishes 12 times a day. And dont forget to buy lots of toilet paper, paper towels, and Chunky Artichoke parmesan Dip seriously, youll be happy you did.

Splurge: A cleaning crew

It may feel like an extravagance to hire a cleaning crew to come before your guests arrive or after they leave - or, who are we kidding: both But its an extravagance that will save you time and peace of mind, which is always important, and especially so when family is in town

Save: Your kids

The children may think holiday breaks are for catching up on sleep or TV, but you know better, right? Homes that have to be prepared for holiday guests needs lots of hands to clean out closets and organize pantries.

Splurge: A good set of knives

Or at least one good multipurpose knife. With all that cutting and chopping youre about to do between now and the New Year, its time to get a real knife. Food and Wines best knife is this MAC MTH-80 Professional Series 8-inch Chefs Knife with Dimples, which is 145 on Amazon. They praise its "hard, super-sharp blade" and "simple wooden handle thats extremely comfortable and feels secure in the hand." Their best value knife is the Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chefs Knife, 38 on Amazon, if youre only looking for a mini-splurge.

Save: Cutting board

Yes, it would be lovely to have a giant two-inch-thick butcher board and it would make for nice Instagram pics. But you dont have to spend gobs of money - this Walnut cutting board from Williams Sonoma is 155399 depending on size - to get the function you need. The Spruce broke down the best cutting boards of 2017 and found this 10.5" by 14.5" inch OXO Plastic board to be its best overall choice. The price: 15 at Amazon.

This plastic board from OXO "is a true workhorse," they said. "It is just the right sizea bit larger than a piece of letter size paper - so its ideal for most chopping tasks. The soft, tapered handles on two edges make it easy to grip and carry from your counter to the stove, and because it can go in the dishwasher its ideal for cutting up raw meat and fish." If youd rather have wood, they have several options listed, including a 36 butcher block.
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House Hunting? How Good Manners Can Help Get The Home You Want

As most people know, the real estate market shifts between a buyers or sellers market, depending on supply and demand. However, regardless of which market were currently in, buyer etiquette can help you get the home you want with the least amount of stress.

It may sound odd to some, especially first-time homebuyers, but manners matter when it comes to the real estate transaction. Im not talking about "Please" and "Thank you." So, what exactly does this mean?

Buyer etiquette is not only about doing the things that are vital to helping sales go through but its also about general manners like being on time for your viewing of a home, being prepared with your financial documents, and being responsive when requests for documents, signatures, or answers are needed from your real estate professionals.

This isnt about lecturing buyers about minding their manners; rather, think of this as the inside tips to helping land the home you really want. For instance, sometimes, being late for a viewing of a listing could cause you to lose that particular home. In a really hot real estate market, if youre late or you dont show up for the listing, you might not get a second chance - the home could be sold.

Another consideration is to be aware of how much time you need to view a home. If you try to see too many homes in one day, chances are youre not going to treat each home with the same respect. The first homes might get lots of attention by you in terms of time and what you notice. However, by the time youre on, say, 15th home of the day, you might be so tired that you blaze through it ba>

One of the most important etiquette tips is to make sure that youve been pre-approved and are a serious buyer, ready to take action should you find the right home. Shopping for homes is serious business. Its likely the largest monetary transaction youll make; being financially and emotionally prepared is good etiquette and will help expedite the process.

When viewing a home, if the sellers are present sometimes this happens, dont share your likes or dislikes about the home with them. Be courteous and keep the conversation to a minimum with the sellers. You want to make sure you leave the negotiation process to your experienced real estate agent. If you have questions about the home, be sure to take good notes and consult with your agent. Your agent is the liaison for good reason. The agent is experienced and knows how to find out the information you need without undermining your bargaining position. Polite conversation with the sellers is appropriate if the opportunity occurs. And, if the house isnt right for you from the moment you set foot in it, at least give it a quick walk-through, just to be absolutely certain.

Good manners when house hunting is about more than just having people like you. It could be the potential development of a successful real estate transaction. Good will during that process helps keep things moving along at a steady pace and possibly with a better outcome than if the sellers were selling to a buyer they really didnt like.

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Choosing The Best Hardwood Floors For Your Home

The rich patina of wood floors adds beauty and elegance to any home.

Older homes were once routinely constructed with hardwood floors, but that practice was abandoned in the 1950s, when new technologies made wall-to-wall carpeting available. Builders were able to build more homes faster, for the post-war baby boom, and save money on labor.

But today, many homeowners prefer hardwoods to carpet. Hardwoods help give the impression that your home is well-built with quality materials. Hardwoods are easy to maintain and improve with wear, unlike carpet that eventually needs to be replaced.

Hardwoods add value to your home, says the National Wood Flooring Association NWFA. In a recent survey of participating real estate agents, the trade association found that real estate agents said that a house with wood floors would sell faster than a carpeted house, by a margin of three to one. About 58 percent said a house with wood floors would bring a higher price.

If you have hardwoods under carpet, its easy and inexpensive to tear the carpet out and refinish your floors. Or, you can choose to install hardwoods if theres only sub-floor underneath the carpet.

You have several options:

Solid hardwoods -- Solid hardwoods are the most expensive option. They come in planks of various lengths and are typically 3/4 thick. The floors are installed as raw wood and sanded down and stained on site. The advantage is that your floors can be refinished often over the years. Solid hardwoods are not recommended over concrete slab foundations. Disadvantages are that hardwoods cannot be washed with water, water leaks can cause them to bow, and direct sunlight can cause stained finishes to bleach.

Engineered hardwoods -- Composed of layers or plies of wood that are glued together and finished with a laminate, engineered hardwoods are finished with a final layer of hardwood that is generally between " and " thick. The advantage of engineered hardwoods is that they are suitable for any foundation. Drawbacks are that laminated floors usually cannot be refinished.

Engineered hardwoods come in a variety of >Stains and finishes

If your floor comes unfinished, you need to know what kind of wood its made of in order to select a stain, as different woods can make stain colors change tone. A good way to choose is to ask the installer for samples, or you can go to a local paint and home improvement store and view stain colors. Sherman Williams "Wood >Keep in mind that unfinished floors must be sanded, stained and sealed on site, which is labor intensive, time consuming and messy as you wait for each layer to dry. Factory finished floors are usually warrantied, they can be installed immediately which saves time and labor, and only the glue to the subfloor has to dry.

Finishes are important to choose because they dictate how you will care for your floor. If your floor has a penetrating seal, you will have to wax it to keep it burnished. If the floor is sealed with a urethane, polyurethane or other polymer coat, its water resistant and easy to clean with a mop.

Types of wood

The most common woods for floors are species of oak, pine, walnut, pecan, birch, beech, ash, cherry, maple, cypress and Douglas fir.

Wood for floors can be exotic, and are prized for their unusual grains and colors. Exotic woods include mahogany, teak, and Brazilian cherry.

One of the most popular flooring options is actually a grass, not a wood. Bamboo is a quick-growing resource that is easily replenished, making it a good choice for green-building. Bamboo can be cut and finished like any hardwood, and is more durable in some cases.

To learn more about wood floors, visit
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9 Ways You Can Score Great Deals For Your Home On Black Friday

For many of us, Black Friday shopping is key to a successful holiday gift-buying strategy for friends and family. But have you taken a look around your home lately? Maybe you need to put it on your list this year.

There are some great deals out there this Black Friday that can help you fix up, fancy up, update, and upgrade the place you call home. Here are nine ways to go about scoring the best deals.

Home improvement

One of the most exciting sale items weve seen for home this year is at Lowes. Wood-look tile is one of todays hottest trends for flooring, and on Black Friday, the home improvement store has it starting at just 99 cents per foot, down from 2.02 per foot.

Lowes also has some great deals on tools and home improvement items in their Black Friday ad. If you can get past the ho-hum-ness of buying yourself tools at this time of year, youll love the prices on this Kobalt 227-piece tool set with case and 39 Shop-Vac Vacuum.


Smart home

Bring the smart home craze to your front door. This Kwikset SmartCode Satin Nickel-Single Cylinder Motorized Electronic Entry Door Deadbolt with Keypad is just 39 on Black Friday, down from 69.


Head to Lowes for this Samsung 4.5 cu. ft. ENERGY STAR High Efficiency Top Load washer and 7.4 cu. Ft. Electric Dryer are 499 each, a savings of 600 for the pair.

This Samsung Energy Star reg; 26 cu. ft. 36" Wide 3-Door French Door Refrigerator with Filtered Ice Makernbsp;is regularly priced at 1,999 and will drop to 995 at JC Penny on Black Friday. Other appliances are on sale for up to 40 off at both Home Depot and Lowes.

Also for the kitchen

Looking to do some renovations in your kitchen? This brushed nickel pull-down kitchen faucet is just 59 on Black Friday, down from 109, at Lowes.

Those who love to bake swear by KitchenAid mixers, and the must-have item is typically attractively priced over the holidays. The best price weve seen so far is 249 for the KitchenAidreg; Ultra Power Plus 4.5 Qt Tilt-Head Stand Mixer at Target. Its currently prices at 279, down from 349. You can also get the KitchenAidreg; >


Also for your gourmet kitchen needs, Target has two great deals on Ninja products for Black Friday. Both the Coffee Brewer and the Professional Kitchen System are being offered as doorbusters for 99 - thats half off Perhaps no single Black Friday deal will make home cooks happier than this one: Walmart has the insanely popular Instant Pot, regularly 100, for 50 on Black Friday.

Home Assistants

Google Home is predicted to be one of the hottest items this year, and Walmarts Black Friday sale has it at 79 - a savings of 50. The 49 Google Home Mini Smart Speaker, which offers "hands-free help in any room" and is powered by the Google Assistant, goes on sale for 29 with a 10 gift card at Target. At that price, youll want to buy one for yourself and a few for gifts. If youd rather ask Alexa, head to Target for this Amazon Echo Dot, which will drop from 49 to 29.


TVs are a staple of Black Friday shopping. Personally, we have images of stampeding shoppers hoisting flat-screen boxes over their heads seared in our collective brain forever, but that wont stop us from trying to slide in there for a screaming deal. Forbes calls Best Buys Sharp 50-inch LED 2160p Smart 4K Ultra HD Roku TV for 179.99 - a savings of 320 - possibly "the best deal during the entirety of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017." nbsp;


Television accessories

Once you buy that flat screen, youll need a sound bar. Walmart has a 37" RCA Bluetooth version for just 29 currently priced at 49. Or, pick up this VIZIO 32" 5.1 Soundbar System package, which includes a wi>

And dont forget a mounting system. This one has tilt and fits TVs ranging from 47-80", Black Friday priced at just 19 currently on sale for 59.


A vacuum may not seem like the most exciting thing to buy on Black Friday, but you may change your mind when you see the price of this Dyson DC59 Animal Cordless Vacuum Cleaner at Walmart. We did Regularly priced at 369, it goes on sale on Black Friday for just 189


Walmarts high-thread-count hotel sheets are famous to smart Black Friday shoppers and are one of the most anticipated and quickest-selling items. Used to be you had to buy them in store, but theyre now online. If you want a set or four, heres a tip: get them in your cart ASAP when sales kick off, because theyll be gone in a flash. 24 per set. Macys has a worthy alternative with their Devon 4-Pc King Sheet Set, 900-Thread Count, regularly priced at 59; on Black Friday, they will be 29.


Another great sale item thatll make you say, "One for you, one for me," Targets chenille and sherpa throws are just 10 on Black Friday.

Full Story >

6 Ideas For Selling Your Home In The Winter

1 Keep the house warm.

While you dont have to keep the heat on all the time, keep the house warm during showings. You dont want people shivering while they look through the house. Set the thermostat to at least 70 degrees -- whether youll be in the house or not.

2 Trim the outdoor foliage.

Remove snow from shrubs and trees so that potential buyers dont get wet as they walk up the sidewalk to your home. Brush off snow, prune the tree limbs and trim the hedges as needed. You can even hire a tree service to do this for you if youre strapped for time. While your lawn is dormant this time of year, you can at the very least make it look well maintained to give buyers a sense of what it looks like during the spring and summer. You can also display photos in your entryway of how your home looks outside during the greener months.

3 Handle winter conditions.

If you have ice and snow on your driveway and sidewalk, you need to take care of it way in advance of showings. Clear ice and snow with shovels and salt, so that your exterior looks nice and safe to buyers. It will also increase the aesthetic quality of your home to buyers and keep you from getting sued by a buyer who falls or slips. If you have particular trouble with ice and snow, you can call a snow removal service to do it for you.

Winter driveway photo courtesy of Provino Architecture, LLC

4 Show off the fireplace.

If you have a fireplace, you should showcase it as part of your homes aesthetic appeal. A gas fireplace is easy to turn on before a showing, and it adds natural beauty to your home -- not to mention warmth. A wood-burning fireplace is a bit harder to maintain, because you can run out of firewood. So you need to time the lighting just right before the showing. You also need to make sure the chimney is in good condition, so have it cleaned and checked by a fireplace professional ahead of a showing to avoid any problems.

Fireplace photo courtesy of Pinnacle Development Group, Inc.

5 Add comfort to your home.

There are other steps you can take to make your home more comfortable and inviting during the winter months. Focus on small improvements to your home like:

  • Adding blankets to your couch
  • Turning back the comforter on the bed
  • Baking a pie or cookies for the smell
  • Lighting some candles
  • Turning on some >

    Interior Lighting photo courtesy of Red Rabbit Construction.

    6 Make sure your home is well lit.

    Since winter takes away a lot of sunshine, you need to utilize light bulbs and other forms of lighting. Outside lights, security lights, candles, LED lighting -- every bit of lighting is crucial in the interior and exterior. You want all lights on when buyers are walking through your home -- dont focus on your electricity bill right now. You also want to make as much use of natural lighting as possible. Open your window treatments during the day showings.

    Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

    Full Story >

    The Real Estate Contracts Kick-Out Clause

    Question: We are selling our house and have found a nice couple who have expressed interest. Unfortunately, they cannot afford to buy our house unless they sell their house first. We would like to work something out with this couple, but are concerned about taking our house off the market for an indefinite period while the buyers try to sell their house. How do you resolve this dilemma?

    Answer: While no one likes to sign contracts which are contingent on the purchasers ability to sell their own house, unfortunately it is a fact of life that must be recognized by every buyer and seller. With house prices having increased dramatically over the years, and with the tightening of lender requirements, more and more buyers find that they can qualify to buy a more expensive house only if they first sell their current residence.

    Generally speaking, when buyers present an offer to purchase, they can include a contingency for the sale of their house. This is known as a "contingent contract." In simple English, this means that if the specified event does not occur -- in this case the buyers do not sell their house -- then the contract to purchase the new property becomes null and void and the purchasers are entitled to a full refund of any earnest money deposit.

    Needless to say, as you have suggested, sellers do not want to take their house off the market for an indefinite period.

    Accordingly, a compromise has been developed, known as a "kick-out" clause. Under this arrangement, the sellers state in the contract that while they are willing to accept a contingency contract, the sellers will continue to market the house. If another qualified buyer is found, the seller will give the current purchaser a certain amount of time -- usually 72 hours -- in which to remove the contingency keep the contract alive or exercise the contingency and decide not to purchase the new property.

    This kick-out clause has to be carefully drafted. If the potential purchasers are confronted with the 72 hour kick-out period, and decide to delete the sale contingency, they may still be able to get out of the original contract if they cannot get financing. Keep in mind that most standard sales contracts also contain another contingency, namely the ability of the purchaser to obtain the necessary financing.

    This creates a dilemma for both parties. If the purchasers remove the sale contingency but still have the financing contingency in the contract, it is probable that a lender will not give a binding loan commitment to the purchasers unless they sell their house first. Thus, the mere removal of the sale contingency does not meet the sellers needs. The purchaser can still find an excuse to back out of the contract, based on another contingency in the contract.

    Thus, sellers should include at the very least the following language in the 72 hour kick-out clause:

    The parties agree that sellers property shall remain on the market during the above contingency period. If the purchaser does not remove the above contingency and provide evidence satisfactory to seller in their sole discretion of ability to perform under the terms herein within a specific number of hours after receipt of written notice that seller has accepted a secondary contract, purchasers deposit shall be promptly returned in full.

    Under this contractual arrangement, the potential purchaser has the right to delete the contingency and go forward with the purchase. But the purchasers also have to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the seller, they are financially able to qualify for the loan. In many instances, the purchasers will not be able to satisfy the seller, because they obviously do not have the funds to permit them to go forward with the purchase.

    From the sellers point of view, this is an acceptable arrangement. Although the sellers have signed a contract, in effect they are keeping the house on the market. The sellers have the right to continue to show it to other potential purchasers, and have the right to take back-up contracts if possible.

    If you are dealing with a real estate agent, insist that the agent continue to market your house even after you have signed the first contract.

    From the buyers point of view, the 72 hour kick-out is also an acceptable compromise -- but obviously is subject to abuse. The buyer can understand that a seller is >The 72 hour kick-out clause is a compromise for both parties, and has become an acceptable practice in the real estate arena.

    However, the sellers should also insist that the buyer immediately begin to market their own property -- whether it be through a real estate firm or on their own. Specific language should be included in the contract that if the purchaser does not begin to market the property within a reasonable period of time -- for example 5 days -- then the seller has the right to void the contract and look for another buyer.
    Full Story >

    Ask the HOA Expert: Who Is Supposed To Fix And Maintain What?

    Question: Our board has a running battle with various unit owners about who is supposed to fix and maintain what. As a result, the board has paid for repairs that were probably the unit owners responsibility. How do we get this under control?

    Answer:The board should adopt a Maintenance Insurance Areas of Responsibility Policy which defines responsibilities HOA vs Owner. The idea is to break down the buildings and grounds into component parts and then describe who is responsible. Always review and use the governing documents as a guideline if direction is provided. While the Areas of Responsibility Policy can be subject to interpretation under certain circumstances, it usually provides clear guidance to both the board and unit owners. Moreover, it provides the board with the basis for consistent handling of maintenance issues. Another benefit is it clarifies for the HOAs and unit owners insurance carriers what things the HOA is responsible for and eliminates claim disputes. This is a "must have" policy in any common wall community. There is a sample of this policy in the Policy Samples section of

    Question: We have a resident we routinely have to call the police on for disturbing the peace, verbally assaulting and stalking neighbors and threatening them with physical harm. This resident is essentially psychotic and totally unpredictable. This has gone on for years and weve reached our limit. This situation is now affecting sales What can we do?

    Answer: Have you been in contact with this persons >

    Question: I am researching HOA pool liability. Recently, the board enacted pool hours which dont seem safe: 8am to 11pm. Im concerned about allowing people to swim after dark. The pool has no lighting.

    Answer: Since daylight hours change daily, either longer or shorter, it makes sense to tie pool hour closing to dusk or 10 pm whichever comes first. Due to noise concerns, the pool needs to close at a reasonable hour unless the location of the pool doesnt create a noise issue. For the same reason, establish a pool opening schedule to avoid disturbing people who may still be sleeping. Of course in Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun, all bets are off. But the pool is probably frozen anyway.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see
    Full Story >

    2017 Homebuyer Survey Contains Valuable Information For Agents And Sellers

    One of the most useful research projects of the National Association of REALTORSreg; NAR is the annual survey of homebuyers and sellers. It is particularly useful because it shows sellers and their agents what works and what sources buyers use to find their new homes.

    This is the 36th year that NAR has conducted an annual survey of those who have purchased and sold homes. The most recent version 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers became available in November of this year. The information is based on answers to a 131-question survey mailed to a random sample of 145,800 consumers who purchased a home between July 2016 and June 2017. Names and addresses were provided by Experian, a company that maintains an extensive database of recent homebuyers that is derived from county records. After accounting for undeliverable surveys, there was a 5.6 percent response rate.

    In 2016, first-time homebuyers constituted 32 percent of the market. That was the lowest participation rate by first-time buyers since 1987 30. This year, 2017, the first-time buyer rate was 34. Geographically, the highest percentage of first-time buyers was in the northeast 43. Over the years the historic norms for the country have been in the 40 range. As more low-downpayment mortgage programs come into the market, there may be a good chance of returning to those norms.

    The most useful information for sellers and their agents is to be found in the section on the home search process. While the survey results are not significantly different from those of recent years, the trends continue. For example, this year 86 percent of buyers said that they used the internet frequently during the search process. In 2003 that number was only 42. This past year 55 of buyers said that they frequently used a mobile or tablet application. That is a newer and growing phenomenon. Two years ago it was 41 . 68 of buyers said that they frequently >Forty-two percent of buyers went to the internet as the first step in the home search process. 17 contacted a real estate agent first, and 6 began by driving through neighborhoods looking for homes for sale. How can driving around be an option? Half the homes purchased were within 15 miles of the buyers previous residence. Interestingly, 8 of home buyers began the process by going to a bank or mortgage company.

    Buyers use multiple sources of information in the process of looking for a home. Far and away the most used sources are on-line websites 95 and real estate agents 89. Mobile or tablet applications 74 have replaced yard signs as the third most used source of information. Still though, 48 of buyers indicate that yard signs are one of their sources of information. Only 15 of buyers indicate that they used newspaper ads as an information source. A mere 2 said that they garnered information from television.

    While there are a lot of intriguing data about the sources of information used by prospective homebuyers, certainly the most > This year the information source that was highest in that category 49 was the internet. Agents are second at 31. Note that this is not to say that buyers bought their home through the internet. The typical scenario would be that a consumer sees the home on the internet, and then contacts his or her agent. 88 of those who used the internet to search purchased their home through an agent.

    The differences in a little more than a decade are fascinating. In 2001, 48 percent of buyers learned about their home through a real estate agent, and only 8 percent found their home on the internet. The times they have changed.

    Some things, though, remain persistently the same -- or close to it. In 2001, a yard sign was the third most likely source of information leading to the home that was purchased 15. And this year? It is still the third leading source at 7, but this is now the fourth time in the survey history that it has been lower than double digits. Print media may not be dead, but it has shrunk to insignificance in this arena. In 2001, 7 of homebuyers found the home they ultimately purchased through a newspaper ad; in 2017, it was only 1. It has been that way for five years now. Fewer than 1 found their home through a home book or magazine.

    The 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows what works. It is a valuable resource.
    Full Story >

    The Missing Middle: Situation Dire In Toronto; Optimistic In Vancouver

    In the Greater Toronto Area, 45 per cent of housing units are single-detached homes, 35 per cent are apartment buildings and just 20 per cent are known as the "missing middle" -- including townhouses, triplexes and low-rise buildings.

    But soon, demographics suggest that two fast-growing age groups -- those in the 35 to 44 age bracket and those who are 65 -- will both be looking for the same kind of housing in that missing middle. A report from the Ryerson City Building Institute and Urbanation says that few of these projects are underway and there wont be enough to satisfy demand.

    The report says that condo development in Toronto reached its highest level ever this year, but that most of the new homes in the pipeline are in buildings that are more than five-storeys tall.

    "As millennials get older and seek larger spaces, and baby boomers downsize from detached houses, we need housing units that meet the needs and economic realities of these important demographic cohorts," says the report. "Given the current housing affordability context and projected population increases, the GTA will require more family-oriented housing units in mid-rise and low-rise buildings in comparison to the stock built during the last several years."

    "Housing options for people living in the GTA have been either large expensive low-rise dwellings or smaller high-rise condos," says Bryan Tuckey, CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

    "The GTA is in danger of becoming the next London, Hong Kong or New York City -- highly desirable cities, but unaffordable for most people."

    The report says there are 105,000 condo apartments under development in the GTA, of which 94 per cent are pre-sold. At least half are owned by investors and will end up serving the rental market.

    The price gap between detached houses and condos has tripled since 2007, from about 200,000 to 600,000. The average condo apartment in the GTA is currently selling for about 500,000, while the average detached home is around 1.1 million.

    "Growth in the 35-44 age cohort will be higher than it has been in decades," says the report. "With an average first-time buyer age of 36, the 35-44 age bracket is one in which many individuals both move into homeownership and begin to seek larger, more family-friendly housing." In addition, more seniors will be looking for options "with enough space and bedrooms to accommodate their life>But the report says just three per cent of all condo apartments that will come on the market during the next five years are missing middle homes, especially in the downtown core of Toronto where the need is the greatest.

    "The proportion of condo units with two or more bedrooms has been declining over time through the GTA -- a troubling trend given the surge of households that will be seeking family-friendly housing over the next 10 years. Only 41 per cent of units currently under construction or in preconstruction have at least two bedrooms, down from 67 per cent in buildings completed during the 1990s," says the report.

    Tuckey blames the situation on "complicated and restrictive government policies, already lengthy yet still worsening approval processes, a shortage of shovel-ready and approved land on which to build, escalating land prices and the growing issue of NIMBYism Not In My Backyard."

    The Ryerson/Urbanation report says, "If these construction trends continue, the proportion of family-appropriate housing available in location-efficient neighbourhoods close to transit, employments, school and services will decrease and affordability will further erode.

    "This increasing demand for family-sized units means that young families will have to drive to qualify for any type of unit, not just detached housing. This may also contribute to pressure on greenfield lands and urban sprawl."

    But theres a better story in other Canadian cities. Tuckey says Montreal "has embraced the power of this missing middle -- developers are building low-rise dwellings, mostly three-storey flats and mid-rise apartment buildings within the city and in the suburbs."

    In Vancouver, like Toronto, "Strong economic growth has created rising labour demand and consumer confidence side effects, while net migration and a wave of millennials entering their household-forming years have rounded out a perfect storm of demand-side momentum," says a report by the British Columbia Real Estate Association BCREA. "The supply of resale homes has plunged to decade lows. This has led to continuing upward pressure on home prices" because supply has not kept up with demand.

    But the report says multi-family starts in Metro Vancouver have recently surged, up to 55 per cent above the 10-year average. There are an estimated 19,700 multi-family starts expected this year and another 19,000 units forecast in 2019.

    Although these are mostly not missing middle projects, BCREA says they will have a positive impact on housing availability and affordability because of three key reasons: renters will transfer into homeownership, increasing the rental supply; move-up or downsizing buyers will increase housing supply when they put their homes on the market; and more investors will buy and increase the condo rental supply.

    "The aggregate increase in the housing stock can also help dilute the impact of migrants, non-income seeking investors and first-time buyers/renters on the cost of housing," says BCREA. "This surge in multi-family completions isnt the only solution for housing affordability in Metro Vancouver. However, a marked increase in aggregate supply can move the needle toward market balance and help slow the pace of housing price/rent growth in the region."
    Full Story >

    Technology for the Betterment of the Real Estate Industry

    Far from being a threat, technology is an asset for the real estate industry. Specific services and applications can enable agents to better serve their clients, be they landlords, tenants, employers or employees. That ability, thanks to the resources agents can leverage, can ease an otherwise stressful process; a process that has too much uncertainty and too little >

I refer to traditional methods of listing space for rent, as well as the way people search for roommates. Agents can be very helpful on both fronts, provided they have access to a site that eliminates the guesswork of renting or sharing space with someone. Agents can offer their expertise regarding a potential match between two prospective roommates, in addition to doing something similar for corporate clients.

In this situation, technology makes a real estate agent more >

How, then, can real estate agents add value to this process?

In a word, experience; meaning they can screen these candidates for an individual or a company, where an extra set of eyes can focus with greater intensity on nuances others might miss or not know to review in the first place.

According to Steven Yos, Founder of WeRoomies:

"Real estate agents are important advisors, ones we should not overlook when using a tool that matches users based on similar interests and compatibility in general. Agents respect a commodity such as transparency -- they seek to ensure people can learn more about one another before entering into a rental agreement -- because that advantage is indispensable to improving quality of life. It is crucial to empowering individuals to live well without living expensively."

"By offering a social network of this kind, in which users may chat on a one-to-one basis or join a group chat or create their own, accuracy becomes the priority it must be. Accuracy of outcome, where roommates are more than people who share the same physical space, is critical to establishing domestic tranquility."

I agree with that sentiment, and I second those remarks, because technology is a tool. It is a tool that experts can use with an intensity all their own; applying their knowledge to something that they alone can analyze for the good of a site or a community of individuals.

We need to welcome technology, lest we ignore its benefits or fail to benefit the needs of the very people real estate agents serve.

The solution Yos speaks of, which is free to use and easy to navigate, promises to revolutionize a multitude of industries.

Real estate professionals can lead this movement.

Lewis Fein is a writer and commentator about the real estate industry. Based in Los Angeles, you may contact him at .

Full Story >

Stylish Trends For Modern Holiday Dcor

If your idea of holiday decor still centers around popcorn on a string and ornaments that have seen better days, it may be time for an upgrade. Todays hottest holiday decor trends offer modern hues and >

Unique fabrics

Unless were talking about red-based plaid or your Great-Great-Grandmas Gingerbread Man comforter - may not necessarily impact a holiday feel. But rich fabrics like the velvet and faux fur being shown by West Elm this season bring the luxe, helping transform your space into a winter wonderland. "The retailer declared velvet lsquo;this seasons lust-have, offering quilts, duvets, throw pillows, and blankets in the textured fabric. And who could ignore their gorgeous newnbsp;faux-fur throws," asks MyDomaine.


This hot color is another surprising yet ultra-chic choice for your holiday house. "Twas the year of blush pink. Unsurprisingly, trendy galsnbsp;are swapping their red ribbons, buntings and blooms for something something rosier... and much less expected," said PureWow. All you need is some silk ribbon tied around some greenery to achieve a special look for your stairway.

Glittery white trees

Frosted branches, mercury glass ornaments, and twinkling lights create a glowing centerpiece to your holiday deacute;cor. Keeping everything light and bright and effervescent makes for a show-stopping look that is both brilliant and calming.

If thats a little too sedate for you, try this tip from Elle Deacute;cor and "make white your base color" with pops of red.

Blue Christmas

Is the traditional red and green color scheme on its way out? Never. But, this year a festive blue hue is making a strong argument for holiday domination. "Its all about the blue," said MyDomaine of West Elms luxurious take on this years holiday trends. "While red and green made an appearance in the form of an evergreen tree, ornament, or flower arrangement, almost every page featured a deep jewel-tone blue. Think dining chairs, pillows, and even dinnerware."

Black and white

Another color combination is bringing more interest to the holiday home. "One of the hottest 2017 holiday decoration trends is black and white," said Connecticut in >

We love how black and white brings beautiful >


Unique ornaments

Make your tree a focal point with these modern shapes and metallic hues.

But dont stop there Ornaments look great in other places throughout the home, too, like over the dining room table. "Dont restrict magnificent baubles and sparkly snowflakes to the tree when it comes to your Christmas decor ideas," said Real Simple. "Accentuate overhead lighting with shimmery decorations and stick to a fresh winter palette like pale blue and silver. Finish it off with an elegant satin ribbon gently dangling from the chandelier."

Full Story >

10 Holiday Gift Must-Buys From HomeGoods

Truth be told, its not hard to find a reason to go to HomeGoods. But, ever since we heard that the company is continuing to pay workers at Puerto Rico stores along with Marshalls and TJ MAXX that remain closed, were doing as much of our holiday shopping as possible there. Thankfully, finding thing to purchase is not a challenge not purchasing every one of them for yourself is.

HomeGoods a holiday bonanza right now. Were talking shelf upon shelf and table upon table of every holiday item you can imagine. Wreaths. Santa figurines. Holiday-scented candles. Ornaments. Reindeers. Trees of every size, color, and texture you can imagine. And thats just the themed stuff. For your gift-giving pleasure, weve rounded up a list of 10 holiday must-haves for teachers, neighbors, colleagues, friends, family, and, of course, yourself.

Choose your Santa. Any Santa or tree or bunny. Prices start at just 6.99.

Have a name-brand fan in your life? The festive tablecloth from Kate Spade is just 24.99, and the colorful mugs are 3.99 each.

Oven mitts and kitchen towels may not be what you think about when you think hostess gifts, but you will when you see this cute assortment of themed items, ranging in price from 5.99 to 9.99.

Hello, Christmas Day O.J. Wouldnt it taste so much better poured from this 14.99 jug? The host you gift it to will certainly think so.

Whats even better than a festive holiday platter? One that is UNBREAKABLE. Buy a few of these great-looking plaid plastic platers. At 9.99, youll definitely want to keep one in your kitchen.

Dont forget the little ones. Stuffed animals start at just a few bucks.

Gift pretty without spending a pretty penny. This sparkly bowl set is only 6.99 and the martini glasses 3.99 apiece.

You might not have explored HomeGoods food section, but you definitely should, especially at this time of year. You can find great baskets perfect for your fave foodie, exotic jams, crackers, and gourmet sweets if youd rather make your own, and items like this 9.99 trio of hot chocolates that you may just want to buy 10 of.

Impress the millennial pink lover in your life with this 179 tree.

Or, soothe the dark soul of your moody teenager with this black tree, also 179.

Full Story >

Expert Advice for Styling Beautiful Home Photography

Annette Joseph shares her tips for styling beautiful home photography and finding the soul of a room.

Atlanta-based photostylist/producer Annette Joseph possesses an intangible skill that keeps us hooked on our favorite shelter magazine publications: the ability to breathe life into interior spaces. My first encounter with Joseph was at a private mock photo styling session where I watched her artistry in action. It was at that moment I realized how much I took for granted the effort that goes into making an interior space magazine-ready.

I often look for her name in the styling credits as I read some of my favorite shelter magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens, Atlanta Magazine, and Renovation >

Erika Ward: How do people and pets effect the overall mood conveyed in a >

Annette Joseph: Interior shots that include people in this case, the homeowner and pets truly speak to me; they are the key elements that essentially bring the photo to life.

Each shelter magazine has its preference regarding the use of life>

I will say that once you introduce life into the shot it complicates the process and becomes more time consuming. Nevertheless, people and pets are my preference, and they add an element of fun.

Photo by Annette Joseph - Browse home design ideas

EW: How does styling a photo for a magazine differ from staging a home for sale?

AJ: I have >

Photo by Annette Joseph - Look for home design design inspiration

EW: What are some of the key elements that make a space feel welcoming in photographs?

AJ: A sense of order is very important in a photograph; great composition, balance, and warmth are a key factors. But that is not all - its not that simple. When I work with talented photographers to make a beautiful image, it is collaborative and artistic. A photo needs a soul, and finding that soul in the home is what I do. It is not a tangible thing.

Photo by Annette Joseph - Look for home design pictures

EW: Give an example where you >

AJ: There are times when the flow of a space is not ideal, but most of the spaces we photograph are beautiful to start. When the flow is not ideal the camera angle is actually more important than the styling.

Photo by Annette Joseph - Look for home design pictures

It is very difficult to >

EW: Why should an interior designer consider using a stylist when shooting photographs for a portfolio?

AJ: When a potential client sees your portfolio, they should want to live in a space that you designed. This feeling should resonate through every photo in your portfolio no matter the room.

Photo by Annette Joseph - More home design photos

A stylist can help your client to translate comfort, function, and great design without them having to physically visit the space.

Simply put, designers and stylist work hand in hand to tell a story and evoke feelings through interior photography.

Interested in styling your home? Start with a small vignette to gain confidence. Many of the items pictured above are pieces you may already own.

With a wall mirror, stylish lamp, books, vases, and flowers you can create a gorgeous feature in any room of your home.

Photo by Annette Joseph - More home design photos

Annette Josephs photostyling tips and tricks:

1. Photograph your rooms in slices. Looking at your room from a photograph gives you an objective view of the space.

2. When photographing multiple rooms, use a color thread throughout each room to make the photo story come together.

3. Less is more.

Photo by Annette Joseph - Search home design pictures

4. If you like tchotchkes, corral them in a tray for a cleaner look.

5. When making a space look lived-in, pull the chair out just a little from the dining room table. When shooting a bed ruffle the sheets a bit.

6. Instead of purchasing flowers from a prepackaged bouquet, buy a mass of the same flower.

7. Continue to examine each photo for equal weight and balance.

Also See:

  • Stylish Plant Stands Hold Fresh Blooms
  • Desk Lamps in Every >
  • Picture-Perfect Bedroom Designs

Full Story >

Copyright© 2017 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

Today's Real Estate News and Advice
Updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Copyright ©2017Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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Since 1949, the Klock name has been the most trusted name in real estate. For the past...
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Welcome to the Klock Parker Blog!
April 20, 2012
It is such an exciting time to be in real estate in South...
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