July 12th, 2018

Time to plan your escape

Posted by at 9:39 pm

Want to combine the unpleasant experience of being locked in a room with the tedium of solving complex puzzle problems? While this may not sound like a lot of fun at first, the “escape room” experience has become something of a cultural phenomenon. But you don’t have to pay big dollars for a high-tech experience at one of the many businesses hosting the games. Whether dinner parties, family game night or birthday bashes, you can design and build your own escape room at home. It can be a bit intimidating. Isn’t it going to be a lot of work and cost? After all, don’t businesses make huge outlays for authentic costumes and high-tech gadgetry? Take a deep breath. The true magic of the escape room experience lies in creating puzzles that are difficult without being frustrating, and hiding essential clues...
Read more
June 27th, 2018

The Book on Cleaning

Posted by at 7:09 pm

Finished spring cleaning, still thinking about it, or somewhere in between? Seasonal cleaning is just a state of mind! Get inspired to do some summertime spring cleaning with these three recently published books. Each contains a look at cleaning philosophies from a different country, and how a tidy lifestyle can lead to a happier you. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter https://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Art-Swedish-Death-Cleaning/dp/1501173243/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528753350&sr=8-1&keywords=the+swedish+art+of+death+cleaning Not about death at all, but living a life so tidy that when you pass on, you’ve left an easy job to the ones who have to go through, and make choices about, your possessions. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing/dp/1607747308/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528753628&sr=1-2&keywords=life+changing+art+of+tidying+up If your home only contains items which spark joy, and you give thanks to the items...
Read more
June 20th, 2018

Manufacturing a new real estate market

Posted by at 4:44 pm

Like tiny homes, manufactured homes are emerging as a possible solution to the current housing shortage. For those with low-to-moderate incomes, who don’t want to sleep in a tiny home bed that folds out of a closet just above the kitchen sink, the manufactured home might make a more palatable choice. Previously referred to as mobile homes, manufactured houses are built in a factory, and transported to a site on a flatbed truck – not to be confused with pre-fab homes, which are transported in pieces and mostly built on-site. New manufactured homes cost a median of $73,800, or about a quarter the cost of new homes nationally, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau. That might be just the remedy for first-time home shoppers who are having trouble saving up a down payment. But regulatory restrictions on zoning and...
Read more
June 15th, 2018

Rebuilding black homeownership

Posted by at 7:10 pm

After the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, black homeownership in the U.S. increased steadily for 30 years, reaching nearly 50 percent in 2004. But those gains have all but disappeared since. The homeownership rate among African-Americans has tumbled below 43 percent in 2018, more than 20 percentage points lower than the national rate of 63.7 percent. While young people of all races are buying homes at lower rates than their parents, this is particularly true of young blacks. Fear and distrust of the system may be a motivating factor. Studies show African-Americans were disproportionately targeted by predatory lending practices in the run-up to the Housing Crisis, resulting in higher percentages of foreclosures and other adverse financial situations affecting credit. Market dynamics have made it difficult for many black households to regain a foothold. Today, only 20 percent of African...
Read more
June 12th, 2018

Social media: Real estate’s elusive missing link

Posted by at 6:39 pm

The future of housing always rests with the younger generations, and in 2018, that means it’s in the hands of Millennials – literally. Like all of today’s successful businesses, you have to enable prospects and clients to access all the information they need from their mobile devices. The power of social media is real estate’s elusive missing link. If you want to get the attention of Millennials, you’ll need to harness its power. For many, social media has devolved into a forum to post links in hopes thousands will  share them with their followers. That’s the easy way out, but it won’t set you apart from the competition. Social media channels have underscored that by updating content-ranking policies. Facebook’s algorithm now penalizes link-based content, and Instagram has made link-sharing all-but-impossible. So what’s your social media alternative? Step one: Put yourself...
Read more
May 30th, 2018

Read before you weed

Posted by at 5:09 pm

When you own a home of your own, you may suddenly be moved by an overwhelming desire to make it beautiful – both inside and out. A lush, green lawn is the foundation of any home landscaping project, but left uncared for, the lovely expanse you bought into will soon be infested with ugly weeds. You can fight back. The best way is to stop worrying so much about the weeds, and start worrying about the grass. A lawn with lots of weeds is trying to tell you something. First, if you haven’t followed a regular thatching and aeration schedule, now might be the time to start. Next, most lawn experts swear you can shade out most weed growth by mowing to a uniform height of at least 3 inches. Any shorter, and it lets too much light hit the...
Read more
May 25th, 2018

Shopping heats up for summer home season

Posted by at 7:42 pm

Just when you thought the housing market couldn’t get any hotter, it’s a buying frenzy as the summer season begins. Most buyers are beset with confidence in the job market, and many also carry the ticking biological desire to start families. Even with all the talk about rising prices, rising interest rates and reduced tax benefits in 2018, demand is not cooling. If anything, it appears the potential homebuyer is just becoming more rugged and resilient! According to a March survey, 40 percent of home shoppers have been looking for seven months or more, while 34 percent have been searching for four to six months. The numbers show that there is only enough inventory on the market to last 3.4 months. In a statement, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, reported: “supply is woefully low, and...
Read more
May 8th, 2018

Home water wells for more liquidity

Posted by at 10:10 pm

Well, well, well. Drilling a home water well could give you more liquidity – in your pocketbook. Cost to install a well depends on many factors, including where you live, but in most regions, it runs less than $5,000. After initial installation, any water you pump from the ground is free! Many urban homeowners use wells exclusively for outdoor watering, and in areas with shortages – and consequent bans on non-essential watering – a ready supply of well water can do wonders for lawn-lovers and gardening gastronomes. Water wells can also be used for drinking water, but these should be separated from any septic system by at least 100 feet. The well should be located on a level surface or uphill so that contaminants do not accumulate. If you plan to drink the water, you need to have it periodically...
Read more
April 23rd, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and Real Estate Roles

Posted by at 10:14 pm

Some real estate agents may avoid technology out of concern it could lead to their eventual demise. There’s no need to fear the future. Computers don’t have much in the way of personality, but are amazing at crunching numbers. Their efficiency is undeniable. Home shoppers don’t have a lot of time, and appreciate a real estate agent who is plugged in, allowing them to peruse neighborhoods in their precious spare time. That’s why web designers and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts have an increasing role in real estate. All the technology has some firms dropping office space altogether and going “virtual.” Computer analyzed data saves a lot of time in marketing, too. A well-maintained database can quickly find everyone within a specific area who has the basic means and motivation to buy a listed home by reviewing recent purchases and...
Read more
April 10th, 2018

Tax Helpers for Last-Minute Filers

Posted by at 6:24 pm

With tax time just a week away, there’s about a one-in-five chance you are one of the 40 million American taxpayers who haven’t yet filed. Never fear! Just like last 2017, 2018 contains some calendar quirks that give you a little extra time. Tax Day is April 17 in 2018 instead of April 15. Why? April 15 falls on a Sunday, and the Washington, D.C. holiday Emancipation Day is celebrated Monday, April 16, so the Internal Revenue Service’s main offices get that day off, too. That means everyone gets two extra days. If more time isn’t enough, The IRS has tax help, publications and information at www.irs.gov to help last-minute filers, including instructions on how to request an automatic six-month filing extension. Here’s another helper: You may not be aware, but the IRS website also provides free copies of your past returns. That’s great...
Read more