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  • Los Angeles provides no limit of things to do, some awesome and some not so awesome. Since time is precious in this fast paced city, we decided to curate a list of things to do in Los Angeles every week end thatll help you decide how you want to spend your limited supply of attention (not to mention dollars!).

    This weekend (Dec. 2 to Dec. 4) includes The Los Angeles International Tea Festival, a holiday marketplace at Grand Central Market, a Festival of Carols, Foodie Con, a Mac & Cheese Smackdown, and LOTS more to choose from.


    Grand Central Market. Photo by Neon Tommy via flickr cc

    Friday December 2nd, 2016

    1. Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardenswill offer visitors a colorful one-mile path route through 10 distinct light displays at unique points within the garden. Happening nowthrough Jan. 8. Check forDiscount ticketsbefore making your purchase. DISCOUNTED(via Goldstar)

    2. The Griffith Observatory hosts a monthly forum where some of the most amazing phenomena in the known universe are explained and discussed. Its called All Space Considered and it takes place on the first Friday of every month.FREE

    3. The Contendersfilm series comes to The Hammer Museum this weekend. Curated by The Museum of Modern Art the films selected are new films believed to stand the test of time in influence.This weekend they will screen Nocturnal Animals followedbyaQ&A with Director Tom Ford.

    4. The Queen Marys signature winter attraction, CHILL, returns with a holiday theme ofAlice in Winterland,promising aninteractive and immersive experiences for the whole family to enjoy.Check for discounted ticketsall weekend before making your purchase.DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

    5. Sherman Oaks resident Mike Ziemkowski takes his Christmas decorating very seriously. ZiemkowskisLights on Displayis a beloved local tradition worth driving to. Startsnightly at 5 p.m.through the start of the new year. FREE

    6. L.A. Weekly Sips & Sweets will offer a bounty of the citys bestcocktails and desserts all under one roof at thePetersen Automotive Museum.Check for discounted ticketsall week before making your purchase.DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

    7. The folks at Quiet Clubbing are bringing their act to FIGat7th for a special holiday-inspired dance party this Friday. FREE

    8. Largest outdoor ice skating rink returns to Pershing Square for its 19th winter run. The 7,200 square-foot Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square will be open every day of the holiday season through Jan. 16.

    9. LA Zoo Lights is back! Now in its third year, the after-hours event showcases animal-themed LEDs, lasers, 3D projections, and animated displays throughout the zoo. Happening all weekend.Check for discounted ticketsall week before making your purchase.DISCOUNT ED (via Goldstar)

    10. Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show comes to the Pomona Fairplex with a hugeselection of quality handmade arts and crafts just in time for the holiday shopping season.

    11. This Friday-Sunday you can get discount tickets toThrones!, a hilarious musical parody of Game of Thrones now playing at The Hudson Theatres in Hollywood. DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

    12. Theres a free classic Movie Screening Series at Union Stationthis Friday they will screen the noir classicToo Late for Tears. FREE

    13.Snow LosAngelesas arrived with L.A.s first-ever snow tubing park which also includes nine acres of winter wonderland featuring an hourly blizzard and a Giant Snowman Forest Light Show. Happening all weekend.

    14. Enjoy a little Christmas culture by grabbing discount tickets to the Westside Ballets production of The Nutcracker at The Broad Stage this Friday at 7 p.m. DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

    15. El Capitan Theatre will screen Disneys Moana. There will be a live concert of classic Disney music by The Side Street Strutters Jazz Band and a live appearance by Moana! Happening all week.DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

    16. The Groundlings Holiday Show pokes fun at the holidays with all-new sketches and some improvisation.

    17. Since it's the first Friday of the month check out all the cool events happening around townincluding block parties and art walks for First Fridays.

    18. Free admission daysthis Friday for:Norton Simon Museum (5 to 8 p.m.),Pasadena Museum of California Art (noon to 5 pm),Long Beach Museum of Art (3 8 p.m.)FREE

    19. Los Angeles International Tea Festival (Dec. 3-4) returns tothe Japanese American National Museum for a weekend of tea demos, classes, sample stations and retailers. Highlights include a Japanese tea ceremony, a panel on world tea origin, a tutorial on how to plan the perfect tea party, a tea and chocolate pairing, and much more.Check for discount ticketsbefore making your purchase. DISCOUNTED(via Goldstar)

    20. Take a step back in time during Heritage Square Museums 22nd Annual Lamplight Celebrationhappening Saturday and Sunday. Hosts will guide you through a1892 Victorian Thanksgiving to a 1915 Christmas celebration and end at a 1945 New Years Eve party.

    21. The 3rd Annual Holiday Marketplace at Grand Central Market (Dec. 3-4) is a culinary pop-up offering seasonal delicacies, live music, and of course a visit from Santa Claus himself. FREE

    22. On two special dates in December the Los Angeles Master Chorale will celebrate the 2016 holiday season with a Festival of Carols at The Walt Disney Concert Hall. This years program offers traditional favorites, new arrangements and rare gems, all curated by Artistic Director Grant Gershon.

    23. A Current Affair: Pop Up Vintage Marketplace returns to The Cooper Design House for a two-day shopping bonanza featuring some65 premier vintage retailers.

    24. The Los Angeles Harbor Holiday Afloat parade is back for its 54th edition with a special 2016 theme of Hollywood at the Harbor. FREE

    25. At Go Little Tokyo Holiday Marketplace you can shop for the holidays, enjoy live entertainment, workshops, demos, and special deals this Saturday and Sunday.

    26. Foodie Con posits itself as a sort of Comic-Con for foodies. In short, two full days of shopping, eating, drinking, sampling, and learning, all taking place at The Reef in DTLA. Make sure to check for discount tickets to the event while supplies last. DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

    27. Need a spot to find a few one-of-a-kind holiday gifts? Check out this weekends Unique LA Holiday Marketcoming to California Market Center. The $15 admission price includes unlimited re-entry all weekend long (both Saturday and Sunday.)

    28. Get a rare inside look into artist studios during Open Studios Art Studio Tours in Altadena. The self-guided tours are hosted by the Altadena Library this Saturday and Sunday. FREE

    29. Pasadena will host their annual Holidayfest featuring festive activities and promotions at 50+ local shops and restaurants along South Lake Avenue. FREE

    30. Check out over 60 independent makers, crafters, and chefs at this Saturdays Artisanal LA Holiday Market in Arcadia.

    31. The Electric Dusk Drive-In is back at a new location on Fletcher Street at the LACCD Van De Kamp college campus complete with an astroturf outdoor seating area. This weekend they will screen Home Alone.Check for discount tickets before making your purchase.DISCOUNTED(via Goldstar)

    32. A surprise special guestwill be doing stand-up at L.A.s legendary Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip this Saturday. DISCOUNTED(via Goldstar)

    33. Time Out LA is hosting a Mac &Cheese Smackdown featuring some of LAs best restaurants serving up everyones favorite comfort foodat Downtowns Bank of America Center Plazathis Sunday!

    34. Doing your holiday shopping on Sunday? The Mosaic Craft Fair in Alhambra will feature 80+ crafters and artists all on hand selling handmade unique goods.FREE

    35. Barnsdall Art Park in East Hollywood hosts their annual holiday salethis Sunday with sales of student and faculty work to benefit arts programming.

    36. The Great Rock and Roll Flea Market takes over The Regent Theater in DTLA on the first Sunday of every month with an impressive selection of vintage, music memorabilia, vinyl and much more.

    37. Ranger Ernie will lead an intermediate 5-mile hike to Cedar Grove in Griffith Park. FREE

    38. ICE at Santa Monicais back! Get into the winter spirit by going ice skating, sip on hot chocolate and listening to festive tunes. Happening now till Jan. 16, 2017.

    39. TheNASAs Pavilion sound experience is now of view at The Huntington Library. Asoundscape experience that represents the movement of the International Space Station and 19 Earth Science satellites the shell like sculpture emits sounds each interpreting one of the satellites missions.Open to the public till Feb. 27, 2017.

    40. Free admission daysthis Sunday for:Museum of Latin American Art and Craft and Folk Art Museum(pay what you can).

    Article by We Like LA.

    Search for your L.A. home now.

  • Americans Think Homeownership is a Sound Investment

    WASHINGTON (October 14, 2015) A vast majority of Americans believe that buying a home is a solid financial decision, and most believe they could sell their home for at least its initial purchase price, according to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors. The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that a preponderance of Americans think that now is a good time to buy a home.

    The survey, which measures consumers' attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas, found that more than eight in 10 Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision, and 68 percent believe that now is a good time to buy a home. Seventy-one percent believe they could sell their house for what they paid for it, a jump of 16 percentage points from 2013.

    When asked for reasons about why homeownership matters to them, respondents answers did not change significantly from past years. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top three reasons to own a home.

    "Homeownership is part of the American Dream, and this survey proves that dream is alive and thriving in our communities," said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. "Realtors believe that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream in a safe, responsible way, which is why NAR advocates homeownership issues and educating potential buyers about achieving their property investment goals."

    The number of renters who are now thinking about purchasing a home has increased since the last survey in 2013, up from 36 percent to 39 percent. Sixty-one percent of renters stated that owning a home is a priority for their future. According to the survey, 80 percent of respondents believe that pre-purchase counseling programs and classes are very or somewhat important. Forty-five percent of homeowners who said they did not take a counseling program, reported they would have taken part in one had it been easily available to them.

    Attitudes about the housing market have improved in recent years. Forty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they feel activity in the housing market has increased in the past year, compared to 44 percent in 2013 and 12 percent in 2011. Eighty-nine percent expect home sales in their area to either increase or remain the same. Concern about foreclosures has also declined, with only 15 percent of respondents indicating that foreclosure is a major concern.

    In addition to improved attitudes about the housing market, survey participants also showed an improved outlook regarding the economy. Only 36 percent think that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, a substantial drop from 45 percent in 2013.

    Perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained mostly unchanged compared to recent years; 78 percent of respondents point to college debt and student loans as the main obstacle to making a home purchase affordable. Seventy-six percent of participants said they have a full-time job but still did not make enough money to purchase a home. Seventy-four percent believe they do not have enough money for a down payment and closing costs.

    As the market has improved, concern about the cost of housing has increased. Two-thirds of survey participants said that home prices are more expensive than they were a year ago. There is additional concern over the lack of available housing; 41 percent said the lack of affordable homes is either a very big or fairly big problem in their area, an increase of 9 percent points from 2013.

    For adult millennials under the age of 35, the burden of student debt is their chief concern, with 86 percent of respondents naming college debt as an obstacle to homeownership. Over half reported that their housing costs are a financial strain on their budget, 65 percent are concerned about high rental prices, and 60 percent are concerned about high home prices. However, millennials tend to have a more upbeat and positive view about the future of the nation than older Americans, with 42 percent of millennials saying that the country is headed in the right direction compared to only 20 percent among those aged 50 and older.

    The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NARs Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey polled 1,000 adults nationwide in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. An additional 250 interviews were conducted with millennial adults (born after 1981) from the same geography. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

    Find your next DREAM home with my home search! Feel free to schedule a showing or to just ask me a question. Start searching For Sale or Rentals:

    Courtesy National Association of Realtors. Click Here for Original Article.

  • Inflatable, portable PhotonGrill cooks your food with nothing but the sun

    The barbecue of the future is here. Meet PhotonGrill, an inflatable 100 percent solar-powered grill that lets you ditch the charcoal for greener cooking. Perfect for camping and areas with fire bans, the lightweight, fire-free and fuel-free PhotonGrill is designed for portability and easily folds down to fit in a backpack. The best part? Its NASA-inspired technology is so efficient the grill reaches 500F in just five minutes.

    Recently launched on Kickstarter, the PhotonGrill is available at a discount for early bird backers and comes with a lightweight carrying case, solar-optimized pan, BBQ tongs, and an air pump. The portable and durable grill weighs only seven pounds and can easily be set up in just three minutes. A pot can also be attached for cooking. An optional add-on module will transform the PhotonGrill into a highly efficient power generator so you can charge your electronics with sun-powered electricity wherever you go.

    Heres how the PhotonGrill works: once fully inflated, the grill, made of lightweight plastic film, takes on the form of a reflective parabolic mirror that concentrates the energy contained in the rays of light into a small area, creating highly-localized energy thats powerful enough to cook with. The design team says the technology was based on experiments carried out by NASA in the 1960s

    By using heat to thermally deform the plastics polymers structure, the plastic is able to remember and transform into the desired parabolic shape when inflated, says the PhotonGrill team, who also claim the grill has 1,000 watts of power. Set atop a stable tripod, the parabolic mirror is made with highly robust polymer foils tested to ensure they can withstand all contingencies, even a large splash of boiling grease. PhotonGrill is looking to raise $111,964 on Kickstarter to bring the solar-powered grill to production.

    Courtesy of California Association of REALTORS. Click Here for Original article.

  • "The teachings on love given by the Buddha are clear, scientific, and applicable...Love, compassion, joy and equanimity are the very nature of an enlightened person. They are the four aspects of true love within ourselves and within everyone and everything." - Thich Nhat Hanh

    Happiness is only possible with true love. True love has the power to heal and transform the situation around us and bring a deep meaning to our lives. There are people who understand the nature of true love and how to generate and nurture it. The teachings on love given by the Buddha are clear, scientific, and applicable. Every one of us can benefit from these teachings.

    During the lifetime of the Buddha, those of the Brahmanic faith prayed that after death they would go to Heaven to dwell eternally with Brahma, the universal God. One day a Brahman man asked the Buddha, What can I do to be sure that I will be with Brahma after I die? and the Buddha replied, As Brahma is the source of Love, to dwell with him you must practice theBrahmaviharaslove, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

    A vihara is an abode or a dwelling place. Love in Sanskrit ismaitri; in Pali it ismetta. Compassion iskarunain both languages. Joy ismudita. Equanimity isupekshain Sanskrit andupekkhain Pali. The Brahmaviharas are the four elements of true love. They are called immeasurable, because if you practice them, they will grow in you every day until they embrace the whole world. You will become happier, and everyone around you will become happier, also.

    The Buddha respected peoples desire to practice their own faith, so he answered the Brahmans question in a way that encouraged him to do so. If you enjoy sitting meditation, practice sitting meditation. If you enjoy walking meditation, practice walking meditation. But preserve your Jewish, Christian, or Muslim roots. That is the way to continue the Buddhas spirit. If you are cut off from your roots, you cannot be happy.

    If we learn ways to practice love, compassion, joy, and equanimity, we will know how to heal the illnesses of anger, sorrow, insecurity, sadness, hatred, loneliness, and unhealthy attachmentsLove, compassion, joy, and equanimity are the very nature of an enlightened person. They are the four aspects of true love within ourselves and within everyone and everything.

    LOVE (Maitri/Metta)

    The first aspect of true love ismaitri(metta,in Pali), the intention and capacity to offer joy and happiness. To develop that capacity, we have to practice looking and listening deeply so that we know what to do and what not to do to make others happy. If you offer your beloved something she does not need, that is not maitri. You have to see her real situation or what you offer might bring her unhappiness.

    Without understanding, your love is not true love. You must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations, and suffering of the one you love. We all need love. Love brings us joy and well-being. It is as natural as the air. We are loved by the air; we need fresh air to be happy and well. We are loved by trees. We need trees to be healthy. In order to be loved, we have to love, which means we have to understand. For our love to continue, we have to take the appropriate action or non-action to protect the air, the trees, and our beloved.

    Maitri can be translated as love or loving kindness. Some Buddhist teachers prefer loving kindness, as they find the word love too dangerous. But I prefer the word love. Words sometimes get sick and we have to heal them. We have been using the word love to mean appetite or desire, as in I love hamburgers. We have to use language more carefully. Love is a beautiful word; we have to restore its meaning. The word maitri has roots in the word mitra which means friend. In Buddhism, the primary meaning of love is friendship.

    We all have the seeds of love in us. We can develop this wonderful source of energy, nurturing the unconditional love that does not expect anything in return. When we understand someone deeply, even someone who has done us harm, we cannot resist loving him or her. Shakyamuni Buddha declared that the Buddha of the next eon will be named Maitreya, the Buddha of Love.

    COMPASSION (Karuna)

    The second aspect of true love iskaruna, the intention and capacity to relieve and transform suffering and lighten sorrows. Karuna is usually translated as compassion, but that is not exactly correct. Compassion is composed of com (together with) and passion (to suffer). But we do not need to suffer to remove suffering from another person. Doctors, for instance, can relieve their patients suffering without experiencing the same disease in themselves. If we suffer too much, we may be crushed and unable to help. Still, until we find a better word, let us use compassion to translate karuna.

    To develop compassion in ourselves, we need to practice mindful breathing, deep listening, and deep looking. The Lotus Sutra describes Avalokiteshvara as the bodhisattva who practices looking with the eyes of compassion and listening deeply to the cries of the world. Compassion contains deep concern. You know the other person is suffering, so you sit close to her. You look and listen deeply to her to be able to touch her pain. You are in deep communication, deep communion with her, and that alone brings some relief.

    One compassionate word, action, or thought can reduce another persons suffering and bring him joy. One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile a conflict, or open the door to liberation. One action can save a persons life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity. One thought can do the same, because thoughts always lead to words and actions. With compassion in our heart, every thought, word, and deed can bring about a miracle.

    When I was a novice, I could not understand why, if the world is filled with suffering, the Buddha has such a beautiful smile. Why isnt he disturbed by all the suffering? Later I discovered that the Buddha has enough understanding, calm, and strength; that is why the suffering does not overwhelm him. He is able to smile to suffering because he knows how to take care of it and to help transform it. We need to be aware of the suffering, but retain our clarity, calmness, and strength so we can help transform the situation. The ocean of tears cannot drown us if karuna is there. That is why the Buddhas smile is possible.

    JOY (Mudita)

    The third element of true love ismudita, joy. True love always brings joy to ourselves and to the one we love. If our love does not bring joy to both of us, it is not true love.Commentators explain that happiness relates to both body and mind, whereas joy relates primarily to mind.

    This example is often given: Someone traveling in the desert sees a stream of cool water and experiences joy. On drinking the water, he experiences happiness. Ditthadhamma sukhavihari means dwelling happily in the present moment. We dont rush to the future; we know that everything is here in the present moment.

    Many small things can bring us tremendous joy, such as the awareness that we have eyes in good condition. We just have to open our eyes and we can see the blue sky, the violet flowers, the children, the trees, and so many other kinds of forms and colors. Dwelling in mindfulness, we can touch these wondrous and refreshing things, and our mind of joy arises naturally. Joy contains happiness and happiness contains joy.

    Some commentators have said that mudita means sympathetic joy or altruistic joy, the happiness we feel when others are happy. But that is too limited. It discriminates between self and others. A deeper definition of mudita is a joy that is filled with peace and contentment. We rejoice when we see others happy, but we rejoice in our own wellbeing as well. How can we feel joy for another person when we do not feel joy for ourselves? Joy is for everyone.

    EQUANIMITY (Upeksha)

    The fourth element of true love isupeksha, which means equanimity, nonattachment, nondiscrimination, even- mindedness, or letting go. Upa means over, and iksha means to look. You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other. If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging in it, it is not true love.

    People who do not understand Buddhism sometimes think upeksha means indifference, but true equanimity is neither cold nor indifferent. If you have more than one child, they are all your children. Upeksha does not mean that you dont love. You love in a way that all your children receive your love, without discrimination.

    Upeksha has the mark called samatajana, the wisdom of equality, the ability to see everyone as equal, not discriminating between ourselves and others. In a, conflict, even though we are deeply concerned, we remain impartial, able to love and to understand both sides. We shed all discrimination and prejudice, and remove all boundaries between ourselves and others.

    As long as we see ourselves as the one who loves and the other as the one who is loved, as long as we value ourselves more than others or see ourselves as different from others, we do not have true equanimity. We have to put ourselves into the other persons skin and become one with him if we want to understand and truly love him. When that happens, there is no self and no other.

    Without upeksha, your love may become possessive. A summer breeze can be very refreshing; but if we try to put it in a tin can so we can have it entirely for ourselves, the breeze will die. Our beloved is the same. He is like a cloud, a breeze, a flower. If you imprison him in a tin can, he will die. Yet many people do just that. They rob their loved one of his liberty, until he can no longer be himself. They live to satisfy themselves and use their loved one to help them fulfill that. That is not loving; it is destroying.

    You say you love him, but if you do not understand his aspirations, his needs, his difficulties, he is in a prison called love. True love allows you to preserve your freedom and the freedom of your beloved. That is upeksha.

    For love to be true love, it must contain compassion, joy, and equanimity. For compassion to be true compassion, it has to have love, joy, and equanimity in it. True joy has to contain love, compassion, and equanimity. And true equanimity has to have love, compassion, and joy in it.

    This is the interbeing nature of theFour Immeasurable Minds. When the Buddha told the Brahman man to practice the Four Immeasurable Minds, he was offering all of us a very important teaching. But we must look deeply and practice them for ourselves to bring these four aspects of love into our own lives and into the lives of those we love.

    ~FromTeachings on Loveby Thich Nhat Hanh~

  • http://www.tourfactory.com/1496373

    Great Opportunity $798,900

    unique business and residential opportunity combined, Fantastic location. Mission Blvd in Riverside, seconds away from 60 Fwy. Property is well over an acre on 3 parcels. Residential include s 3 bedrooms 2 baths (live-in or rent-out). The commercial operations includes 6 offices, conference room, 2 bathrooms, 2 large refrigeration units over 1,000 sq ft. and 7 loading docks. This could also be great opportunity for investor to lease out business portion and home. This investment could pay for itself and more!!! Call me to schedule an appointment to view 909-552-3131.

  • Here are some tips for making your home more friendly for your pet, as well as information about how much Americans love their pooches!! click on link below for more.



    It's different to be a first-timehome buyer as compared to an experienced one.

    First-time home buyers often skew younger then the general home-buying population which means less work experience, lower income levels, and usually, less money saved for down payment.

    It also can mean higher levels of federal student loans and debt.

    Concerns about student loan obligations are among the reasons why first-time home buyers account for a smaller percentage of the housing market as compared to recent years.


  • If yourhome has you down in the dumps but you lack the cashto fix it up, dont despair! Not every upgrade has to take a big bite out of your bank account.

    Here are seven foolproof ways to make your home feel like atotally differentplace through small changesand small expenses.

    1. New hardware

    Swapping out the boring chrome hardware the previous owners installed can go a long way toward making your home look likeyoursnot to mention give the entire space an easy, inexpensive refresh. Depending on your style, new pulls or handlescan costmere dollars.

    The first thing I do to give the home more of the look and style that I like is swap out the hardware, saysDoug Mahoney, who worked in construction for 10 years and now writes about tools and home improvement forThe Sweethome. All it takes is a screwdriver, and its surprising what a difference it can make.


  • As a seller, you will be most concerned aboutshort term price where home values are headed over the next six months. As either a first-time or repeat buyer, you must not be concerned only about price but also about thelong term costof the home.Let us explain.

    There are many factors that influence the cost of a home. Two of the major ones are the homes appreciation over time, and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase their home. The rate at which these two factors can change is often referred to asThe Cost of Waiting.

    What will happen over the next 12 months?

    According toCoreLogics latestHome Price Index, prices are expected to rise by 5.5% by this time next year.

    Additionally,Freddie Macsmost recentEconomic Commentary & Projections Tablepredicts that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will appreciate to 4.5% in that same time.

    What Does This Mean to a Buyer?

    Here is a simple demonstration of what impact these projected changes would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

  • Hey, Homeowners! These Little-Known Tax Deductions Can Save You Thousands

    You probably already knowthat owning a home comes with some sweet tax benefits, like the mortgage-interest and property-tax deductions. But did you know theres a whole list of other homeowner-related tax breaks that you might be leaving on the table?

    Were not talking chump change, either.Homeowners already save an average of $3,000 a year in taxes from mortgage-interest and property-tax deductions, according to the National Association of Realtors. When you add in some of the lesser-known homeowner tax breaks, you could really be amping up the savingsand beating the IRS at itsown game.

    Back in December,Congress passed theProtecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015, which extended many exemptions that were about to expire and made others permanent.But to reap the benefits, you first have to know about them.

    So, here we go! Check out these commonand not-so-commonhomeowner deductions that you shouldtake advantage of this year:

    1. Mortgage interest deduction

    If youve taken out a loan to buy a house, you candeduct the interest you pay on a mortgage, with a balance of up to $1 million. To access this deduction, you will have to itemize rather than take the standard deduction. The savings here can add up in a big way. For example, if youre in the 25% tax bracket and deduct $10,000 of mortgage interest, you can save $2,500.

    Of course, there are some limitations. For example, if youre helping a family member pay his or her mortgage, you cant deduct that interest on your tax return.

    2. Private mortgage insurance

    Qualified homeowners can deduct payments for private mortgage insurance, or PMI, for a primary home. Sometimes youcan take the deduction for a second property as well, as long as it isnt a rental unit. Heres the catch: This only applies if you got your loan in 2007 or later.

    Another restriction:This deduction only applies if your adjusted gross income is no more than $109,000 if married filing jointly or $54,500 if married filing separately.

    3. Property taxesPlease, Mr. Postman

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    Youcan include state and localproperty taxesas itemized deductions. An interesting note: The amount of the deduction depends on when you pay the tax, not when the tax is due. As a result, paying property taxes earlier could have a positive impact on your return.

    4. Capital gains on a home sale

    The dreadedcapital gains taxcan be avoided whenthe gain from selling your personal residence is less than $250,000 if you are a single taxpayer or $500,000 if you are a joint filer. To qualify, youmusthave owned and used thehome as aprimary residence for at least two years out of the five years leading up to the sale.

    5. Medical improvements

    If youve made improvements to your home to help meet medical needs, such as installing a ramp or a lift, you could deduct the expensesbut onlythe amount by which the cost of the improvements exceed the increase in your homes value. (In other words, you cant deduct the entire cost of the equipment or improvements.)

    A lot of this comes down to fact and circumstance, saysGil Charney, director ofThe Tax Institute at H&R Block. For example, if youve recently installed a heated therapy spa or hot tub in your home, you may be able to deduct the expense if theres also evidence that, say, a physical therapist visits your home three times a week and youre over a certain age.

    6. Home office

    If you have a dedicated space in your home for work and its not used for anything else, you could deduct it as ahome office expense.

    It doesnt have to be an entire room, Charney says. It can just be a dedicated space.

    7. Renting out your home on occasion

    If yourented out your homefor, say, a major sports event like the Super Bowl or the World Series, or a cultural event such asMardi Gras, the income on the rental could be totally tax freeas long as it was for only 14 days or fewer throughout the course of a year.

    8. Discount points

    Discount points, which are paid to lower the interest rate on a loan, can be deducted in full for the year in which they were paid. In addition, if youre buying a home and the seller pays the points as an incentive to get you to buy the house, you can deduct those points, Charney explains.

    9. Energy-efficiency tax credit

    Youcan take advantage of anenergy-efficiency tax creditof 10%of the amount paid (up to $500) for any green improvements, such as storm doors, energy-efficient windows, and air-conditioning and heating systems.

    10. Loan forgiveness deduction

    If youre the owner of a foreclosed or short-sale home, youcan take advantage of mortgage-debt forgiveness. For example, if you makea short sale of yourprimary home at $250,000 but owe $300,000 on yourmortgage, the lender will forgive the extra $50,000 owedand you dont have to pay taxes on that amount.

    For more tax tips, check out IRSPublication 530for a list ofwhat homeowners can (and cannot) deduct.

  • TheNational Association of Realtors (NAR)just announced that the FebruaryPending Home Sales Indexreached its highest reading since July 2015.

    What is thePending Home Sales Index (PHSI)?

    NARs PHSI isa forward-looking indicator based on contract signings.The higher thePending Home Sales Indexnumber, the more contracts have been signed by buyers that will soon translate to sales. Februarys Index rose 3.5% month-over-month to 109.1.

    What does this mean for the market?

    Lawrence Yun,NARs Chief Economistexplained:

    "After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory."

    "Looking ahead, the key for sustained momentum and more sales than last spring is a continuous stream of new listings quickly replacing what's being scooped up by a growing pool of buyers. Without adequate supply, sales will likely plateau."

    So What Does This Mean For Buyers?

    There is a lot of competition out there right now for your dream home. Prices are going to continue to climb, act now before you are priced out of your future home.

    What Does This Mean For Sellers?

    If you are on the fence about listing your home for sale and debating whether now is the time to move on with your plans of relocating don't wait!

    There are more buyers that are ready, willing and able to buy their first, second, third, vacation, or investment property now than there has been in years! The supply of homes for sale is not keeping up with the demand of these buyers.

    Listing your home for salenowwill give you the most exposure to buyers and the best sales price.

    Bottom Line

    Whether you are planning on buying or selling a house this year, waiting to act no longer makes sense.

  • Open house today 12:00pm to 3pm at 5333 Covina Place, Rancho Cucamonga 91739. Hosted byHajia Zafarfrom Prudential California Realty and yours truly. Come check out this gorgeous home 2,609 sq feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. This is a Brentwood home built in 1993 is on a cul de sac with mountain views and in a quiet neighborhoood, 3 car garage, RV parking. Asking $639,900. Stop by and see this home! Seller motivated!!!

  • Photographers have taken millions of images from Rio De Janeiro, here are the most unusual moments caught on camera during the 2016 summer games.

    Click link: To View Beautiful Olympic Photography

  • Its always exciting to get a fresh start in a new place, but the actual moving process.Here are 23tips to do the whole thing yourself and save your sanity while youre in the process of moving.

    1. Stack paper plates in between your real plates to keep them from smashing.

    2. Use your big pots to lug spices, salts and oils. when and if they spill a bit, youll just wash out the pot.

    3. Buy a divided wine bottle box at the groceryfor your glasses.

    4. Use a checklist to manage everything you need to do. Its more gratifying to be able to tick off what youve already done and see your list in small, manageable chunks.

    5. Theres even an app for that.

    6. Pack makeup with a cotton ball inside to keep powders, like foundations and eyeshadow from cracking.

    7. Use this time to get curtains, area rugs and couch covers professionally cleaned.

    8. Take a picture of how your electronics are put together. Youll be able to just follow your photo when youre hooking them back up.

    9. Pack your closet on the hangers inside plastic bags. It will help them stay in order and will keep moving grime off them.

    10. Or go the extra mile and vacuum pack your clothes and blankets.

    11. Put pillows, blankets and throws inside dresser and ottoman drawers.

    12. Add a little extra protection against leaks by wrapping plastic or cling wrap around bottles.

    13. Lock the pumps of your soap and lotion dispensers back in place by pushing down the lever and turning the cap, the same way they were when you bought them.

    14. Cut handles inside boxes to make them easier to move. Reinforce them with duct tape for extra heavy loads.

    15. Make sure to load up your laundry baskets before you move them.

    16. Rent a dolly. Its a few extra bucks, but youll save your arms and back while youre hauling your boxes.

    17. Color code boxes with tape or markers to take boxes to the right room when youre moving them in.

    18. Use rubber bands to keep doors from locking you out when youre going back and forth.

    19. Rent padded blanket wraps to protect your appliances and furniture. Theyre a small expense, but its worth the peace of mind to not have to worry about dings and scratches.

    20. Clean the new space before you unpack. Youll get all the dust bunnies and dirt youve tracked in out of the way before it comes into contact with your stuff.

    21. Have an overnight bag handy. This way, you wont be looking at a mountain.

    22. Hire sitters for the little ones. (Kids and pets.)

    23. Drain any dangerous and messy fluids, like motor oil or gasoline, before moving.

  • Modern girls read about millions oftips onhow tochoose and apply cosmetic products. However, not all ofthis advice istruly useful and safe.

    Bright Side decided tobust the most well-known makeup myths that westill believein.

    Myth #1: Red lipstick isnot for everyone

    Myth #2: Weshould throw mascara away when itdries

    Myth #3: Ifyou dip amascara wand into the tube several times, you can get rid oflumps

    Myth #4: You dont really need toremove makeup before going tobed

    Myth #5: Cosmetics dont have anexpiration date and can beused until they run out

    Myth #6: You can avoid washing makeup brushes ifyoure the only person who uses them

    Myth #7: Cosmetic products dont gobad

    Myth #8: You can apply waterproof mascara every day

    Myth #9: Moisturizing cream can easily replace primer

    Myth #10: Concealer goes before foundation

    Myth #11: Foundation has abad effect onyour skin

    Myth #12: Eyebrows should be2tones darker than hair

    Myth #13: Tomake lips look fuller, you should over-line them

    Myth #14: Dark eyeliner makes eyes look bigger

    Myth #15: Foundation isnot allowed around the eyes

    Myth #16: Blue eye shadow isarelic ofthe past

    Preview photo credit makeupbymichaelfinch / , MELANlNAIRES

  • When abusiness has the most humble ofbeginnings, alow budget, and its headquarters islocated oh-so-proudly inagarage, wecall it a garage start-up. Surprisingly enough, many ofthe biggest multinational corporations, music bands, and other incredibly successful businesses were started just like that insomeones garage byagroup oftruly dedicated enthusiasts.

    Wehere atBright Side have compared the success stories ofsome ofthe most well-known companies, and wecame toaconclusion: they all once started with nothing, soitseems clear that success has nothing todowith the amount ofmoney that isinvested inabusiness. Its all about the idea, dedication, and courage.


    Atthe dawn ofthe Internet era, back in1994, Jeff Bezos founded his very own online bookstore. Atthe time, the main office was located inhis garage, and anold door served ashis desk. Today, Amazon isthe worlds largest online retailer. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns aprivately funded aerospace manufacturing and spaceflight services company named Blue Origin. One ofthe launch sites ofBlue Origin isbased right onBezoss privately owned land inTexas.

    Apple SLIDE

    Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak assembled their very first computers byhand inthe garage ofthe Jobs family. In2017, Apple will finish the construction ofits new headquarters afuturistic four-story building will beset ina2.8 million-square-foot area accommodating 13,000employees.

    Disney SLIDE

    Roy and Walt Disney filmed their first animated movie intheir uncles one-car garage. Today, The Walt Disney Company isthe highest-grossing media conglomerate inthe world that produces movies and owns theme parks andTV channels.


    The company was first designed asamanufacturer ofsome sort ofmeasuring equipment inPackards garage, with aninitial investment of$538. One ofthe first customers ofHewlett-Packard was the former garage start-up The Walt Disney Company. Currently, Hewlett-Packard isamong the best-known computer equipment manufacturers inthe world.

    Google SLIDE

    The worlds largest search engine was once aresearch project oftwo Stanford graduates. Today, Google isrepresented innumerous areas ofscientific work and emerging technologies, such asunmanned vehicles, augmented reality, early disease detection, and wireless Internet.

    Harley-Davidson SLIDE

    William S. Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson used tocarry out experiments with their bicycle inawoodshed. The boys attempted toattach aminiature engine toanordinary bicycle. Thus, they came upwith their very first motor-bicycle. Little did the young enthusiasts know that their future product was going tobecome the worlds most iconic motorcycle ever.

    The Beatles

    The Quarrymen, the first rock band formed byJohn Lennon, was rehearsing inagarage and giving live performances atsmall public events. Soon after John Lennon was introduced toPaul McCartney, The Quarrymens leader invited McCartney tojoin the group. In1960, The Quarrymen evolved into The Beatles.

    Microsoft SLIDE

    There were times when the Microsoft team consisted ofonly three employees, including the co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Today more than 120,000 people work for the famous multinational company. Bill Gates topped theUS wealth list and has been named the worlds richest person byForbes several times.

    Patagonia SLIDE

    Yvon Chouinard has been crazy about climbing since hewas 14. His family couldnt afford the necessary equipment, sothe boy turned his parents garage into ablacksmith shop where hebegan tomake his own equipment, such asreusable pitons. Forty years later, his company, named Patagonia, still produces high-quality equipment for customers from all over the world.

    Yankee Candle SLIDE

    A14-year-old boy, whose name was Michael Kittredge, made his first scented candle out ofmelted crayons asagift for his parents. The neighbors took notice and expressed their interest inbuying his handmade candles. Today, the Yankee Candle Company sells scented candles and other souvenirs inmore than 50countries worldwide. The first Yankee Candle shop has been transformed into amini museum.

    Lotus Cars

    The founder ofLotus Cars had begun manufacturing his first racing cars inhis parents garage. Lateron, the production line was moved into old stables. Sofar, the Lotus Team has won the Formula One World Championship seven times.

    Mattel SLIDE

    In1945, acouple founded acompany that manufactured photo frames. Acouple ofyears later, the very same couple introduced anew doll, named after their daughter Barbie. Itmade Mattel one ofthe biggest toy-producing companies inthe world.


    Anathletic student and his coach co-founded Blue Ribbon Sports, asmall company that initially operated asadistributor for aJapanese shoe brand. Blue Ribbon Sports officially became Nike Inc. in1971. Soitreally is Just doit, isnt it?

    Based on materials from econet , Preview credit: , wikimedia , www.cupertino.org

  • Aside from making coffee ...

    Coffee filters: You know them as the little paper cones that get you from uggggh to ready to face the day. But did you know you can also use them to clean your windows? Or degrease your pizza? Or buff your boots? Here, 11 totally brilliant ways to use them all day long.

    CLEAN YOUR WINDOWSSo streak-free, the birds will be fooled.


    Fill 'em up with baking soda and tie 'em with a bow.


    Whenever your skillet isnt in use, spread out a filter in the center to suck up harmful moisture

    LINE POTTED PLANTSItll prevent soil from escaping out through the drainage hole.

    SPREAD OIL IN A PANOr grease up a baking dish super fast.PROTECT STACKED CHINAPut a filter between each piece to guard against scratches.SERVE AS AN IMPROMPTU STRAINERWorks on food, old paint thinner, whatever.DEGREASE FRIED FOODSItll do a better job than a napkin.by: PureWow
  • If youve already come to terms with the fact that your kid isnt a genius, youve probably also already waved goodbye to that full ride to Harvard. But getting scholarship money isnt just about perfect GPAs or SAT scores. Here, 11 scholarships your graduating senior should definitely consider applying for--even if he or shes not valedictorian (or even close).


    1. Unigo ScholarshipAmount: $10,000Deadline: December 31, 2016Ask your kid, Weighing the expected investment and return, is college worth it for you? Why?" OK, now have them casually write it down in 250 words or less. Bada bing, bada boom.

    Apply here.

    2. No Essay College ScholarshipAmount: $2,000Deadline: August 31, 2016Listen, we wouldnt say these were easy applications for nothing.

    Apply here.

    3. CollegeWeekLive Monthly ScholarshipsAmount: $1,000Deadline: MonthlyCreate an account (get ready for the emails), visit five college pages on the website and thatskindait.

    Apply here.

    4. CollegeXpress Scholarship ContestAmount: $10,000Deadline: April 30, 2017Accepted and entering one of these schools? Great. Youre eligible to enter this contest. As long as you know how to spell your own name, you should be golden.

    Apply here.

    5.You Deserve It ScholarshipAmount: $1,000Deadline: MonthlyBooks alone could cost $1,000. You 100 percent deserve this.

    Apply here.

    6.Coca-Cola Scholars ProgramAmount: $20,000Deadline: October 31, 2016The initial applicationrequires grades, school and community activities and employment, but no essays. We repeat: No essays. If youre a semifinalist, a few more materials will be required. Oh, and its not just one prize. There are 250 of them.

    Apply here.

    7.AFSA High School Senior College Scholarship ContestAmount: $2,000Deadline: April 7, 2017Thewording on the website is misleading (it says its a $20K prize), but 10 winners will be awarded $2,000 each. Still, not bad for no essays.

    Apply here.

    8.Second Chance College Scholarship ContestAmount: $1,000Deadline: August 26, 2016Hey, this one can even be for the parents! If you graduated and now youre going back to school, this easy scholarship can set you in the right direction.

    Apply here.

    9.Cappex Easy College Money ScholarshipAmount: $1,000Deadline: MonthlyTheres no crazy essay involved, but you do have to wax poetic about your extracurricular, leadership and volunteer activities.

    Apply here.

    10.CaptainU Student-Athlete ScholarshipAmount: $2,000Deadline: June 30, 2017If your kid is already considering competing collegiately, you might as well apply to this.

    Apply here.

    11.Atlas Shrugged Essay ScholarshipAmount: $2,000 to first placeDeadline: March 29, 2017You knew thered be an essay somewhere in this list. But with over 84 awards of different values given away, it cant hurt to put that summer Ayn Rand reading to use.

    Apply here.

  • Thinking about remodeling but not sure it will pay off when it comes time to sell? According to Remodeling Magazines Cost vs. Value Report, most room remodels and additions may only recoup up to 80 percent of the cost. And since time and money is something prospective sellers are cautious about wasting, we put together the following list of practical ways to attract buyers and increase resale value without drastically changing your homes footprint.

    Transform The Kitchen With Simple Upgrades

    The most economical way to breathe new life into the kitchen is by first repainting walls with a fresh coat of neutral paint. Next, consider refreshing outdated cabinet fronts (as shown in photo above) with bright white paint along with brushed nickel or chrome hardware in modern styling. Upgrading flooring and countertops is also worth considering since there are many options available with a range of price points that are both stylish and functional.

    Give The Bathroom A Facelift

    It still goes without saying that outdated bathrooms are simply a turn-off to millenials. Even the smallest bathrooms can look more attractive with the right finishing touches. The key features that will sell a bathroom are updated or refinished cabinets and countertops, wall color, tile, faucets, toilet, and lighting in modern styles. For the bathroom featured above, we covered the light wood vanities that were in decent condition with dark espresso paint to add instant elegant style when paired with updated faucets and lighting.

    Convert the Extra Room Back To Bedroom

    Its common for many empty nesters to repurpose a spare bedroom into a more practical space such as an office, study or game room once the kids go off to college. But when it comes time to sell, showcase a room with its original purpose to appeal to young, prospective buyers since they are always on the look out for more bedrooms for the kids. In the room above, our team turned the hobby room back into an inviting bedroom setting by removing clutter and replacing with twin beds with colorful comforters and pillows, new fixtures, and simple wall art.

    Create Usable Space In The Basement

    Convert an empty or junk-filled basement into a room with a purpose. A game room, family room, in-law suite, office nook, or exercise room are all great examples that will appeal to buyers looking for extra living space. Once clutter is removed, carpet cleaned and walls repainted, add simple furniture such as a desk, chair, sofas and accessories that create a lifestyle that buyers can envision for themselves. Consider adding extra closet space or using a hidden area under the stairs for more storage.

    Add Style and Function To The Back Entry

    Create a mudroom that will be useful for families with young kids and pets year round. In the photo above, we transformed our clients back entry with built-in storage and seating surrounded by bead board for a stylish finishing touch

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company has received Houzz 2015 and 2016 Awards for Customer Service. Sternhas been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR Magazines blog, Style, Staged and Sold.

    By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

  • Hey, we know: Moving into a new home is exciting. Like, obsess over decor blogs and catalogs, binge-watch HGTV for eight-hour stretches, find ways to interject phrases like open kitchen shelving into everyday conversations exciting. So its understandable that youre dying to start filling every corner withstuff as soon as youve unpacked your last box. Beware: Time and again, interior designers see overeager new homeowners make the same mistakes when furnishingtheir home. Big mistakes! Take heed and tread carefully into your newspace.

    Mistake No. 1: Buyingeverything at once

    Of course, you want tomakethose empty rooms look likehome, sweet home, pronto. So youwhip out your laptop and go on a mad room-by-room shopping spree for every stick of furniture from coffee tables to your canopy bed.

    ButMark Clement of MyFixItUpLife.comurges a completely different strategy: Stop, sit down, get out a piece of paper, and plan. Great decorating, he says, is about taking your time to think through the rooms. Make a list of what you need to furnish the whole house; then focus first on the two to three most important rooms generally the more exposed parts of the house such as living room, kitchen, and family room. From there, proceed at a pace where you're certain you love (or at least deeply like) each purchase you make.

    Itreally is OKto take up to a year to decorate a new home. Youre going to be living there for a while, remember?

    Mistake No. 2: Decorating around a legacy piece

    It might be your mothers armoire or that overstuffed chair your husband bought when he was still single, or maybe its bookshelf you paid a ton of money for and wouldnt consider tossing. Regardless, trying to decorate around some of these pieceswill only cause you grief. Odds are they'll push you into acertainlyout or color scheme even one that might be completely wrong for you or your new home.

    Ive personally been saddled with two wide, black Barcelona chairs for the past decade, creating a living room motif that is simply too dark and cluttered for the space. (Welcome to my pain.) What I should have done, according to experts, is placethem in a different context (a bedroom, perhaps), sold them, or put them out on the street. Hello, Goodwill?

    Mistake No. 3: Trusting your eye rather than a tape measure

    Professionals know that measuring accurately is a critical step in design.

    Measuring a space is imperative before you purchase anything, says Homepolish designer Will Saks. Its not just a question of whether a piece of furniture will fit, but how it will look sitting there. You need to understand the dimensions of a space so the scale will feel balanced, Saks adds.

    Everything needs to be proportionate to the architecture of the room.While a large, over stuffed Chesterfield might look great in the store, in a tiny apartment it might end up looking like a fat guy in a little coat, says Saks.

    And always remember to measure doorways and hallways before purchasing large pieces.There are few things more soul-crushing (or, for the delivery guys, more back breaking) than lugging a sofa up six flights of stairs only to discover it doesn't fit through the doorway. Most companies will give you the minimum clearance you need for delivery, but its up to you to ensure that it will truly fit. In most cases, its the heightof a sofa that is the key measurement, not the width or depth.

    Mistake No. 4: Cramming rooms like a clown car

    Take a deep breath: Its OK to have some empty spaces and walls. You want to be able to move around freely without having to hurdle a cocktail ottoman. Granted, while Saks maintains that how much furniture you decide to put in a space is completely dependent on the aesthetic you want to achieve, if you're going for a more sleek look, stick to a few key pieces in a room to create the feeling of openness.The same goes for artwork enlarge frame can create an art gallery feeling.

    Mistake No. 5: Looking like a page from a catalog or decor mag

    Ah, it all looks so greatin print, but in your home, its a different story.

    I know its tempting to want to buy everything all at once and from the same place those catalogs and stores are styled so well, says Saks. But refrain from doing so.To me, the most interesting designs are the ones that are aesthetically mixed.

    His tips: Incorporate vintage or one-of-a-kind pieces into your space to make it feel personal and curated. Pair that spanking new sofa with a beautiful, vintage credenza. Shop for accessories and artwork on Easy and at flea markets so that your home feels unique. Because as nice as catalogs look, ask yourself this: Do they look like a home? Like your home?

    Article by Rosie Amodio: writer/editor who has written for brands such as Self, InStyle, Wetpaint, and The Nest. A native New Yorker, Rosie is obsessed with NYC real estate, though she dreams of living on the beach in Southern California.

  • Pay your bills, respect your neighbors, and please hide your weed. Please.

    Sometimes the landlord/tenant relationship can be a difficult one. But it does not have to be that way, and it certainly does not have to start out that way. As landlords, we try to get this relationship off to a good start and keep it that way by taking care of our properties and tenant concerns.

    But some tenants, perhaps due to past experiences, prepare for the worst and thus approach the relationship ready for a fight. Maybe they have never had a decent landlord. Maybe some just do not know how to act. Whatever the reason, here are 14 tips from our 12 years as landlords to tenants everywhere for a decent landlord/tenant relationship.

    1. Pay your bills on time. Seems fairly obvious, I know, but many tenants believe they can pay every other bill before they pay the rent. Want to stay on our good side? Please pay your rent on time.

    2. Always try to be polite. I will, too. Being polite and calm really does go a long way. You would not like it if I left you snarky or angry screaming messages on your voicemail. I know sometimes issues can seem to linger on and on, but we really are doing our best to get things resolved.

    3. Listen to our instructions. We tell you things for a reason. If we show you how to trip a breaker or turn a gas valve off, listen. It may just save your butt. If we tell you there will be a hard freeze tonight and to please let your faucet drip, dont call us the next day and complain that your pipes have frozen and you need to do laundry. I cant control the weather, so you will just have to wait until it warms up.

    4. Help us. We try to take care of our properties, but we cant be everywhere all the time. Is there something we need to know about? Tell us. Is something broken? Let us know. Help us by being our eyes and ears.

    5. Tell the truth. Did you or your kid flush something down the toilet and stop it up? Then tell us the truth so we can get the problem resolved as quickly as possible. After a dozen years in this business, we can almost always determine the culprit anyway.

    6. Please just leave me a message. If we do not answer your call, do not hang up and call over and over again. There are times we simply cannot take your call. How do you think we are going to feel when we finally answer you after you have called five times in a row? It had better be a matter of life or death.

    7. Understand that we have a lot going on. Sometimes other tenants issues may take priority. We know about your issue, and we will get to it just as soon as we can. We might for example need to make sure everyone has heat before taking care of your dripping bathroom sink.

    8. If you get in a bind, talk to us. Communication is key! Tell us what is going on. Did you lose your job? Has your roommate gone off the deep end? We have been there before, and we know what it is like. But if you do not talk to us, there is no way we can help you. Please do not put your head in the sand and hope whatever problem you are having will go away. It will not, and things will only get worse.

    9. Treat my property and the people who do work for me with respect. You would not believe how many people are just plain rude to the people we send over to try and fix their problems. Plus, how do you think we are going to react if we see that your place is a mess or that you are causing damage? Disrespecting our properties or our help is a sure way to create an adversarial relationship.

    10. Work with me. We know you have a busy schedule. So do we, and trust us, we want your issue resolved as quickly as possible too because we have a dozen or so more to deal with. It all goes much easier if you work with us on times and arrangements. You might have to put up your dog for a day or allow us into your apartment on your day off. We hate to disturb you, but we will be done and out of your hair just as soon as we can.

    11. Trust me. We are not going to steal your stuff or try and stiff you. Yes, we know some landlords might, but not us. If we say we need to get into your home, it is for a legitimate reason.

    12. Follow the rules. They are there for a reason. They were explained to you when you moved in, and you agreed to follow them. It just makes life harder for all of us if you choose to ignore them. If you could not live with the rules, then you should not have moved in.

    13. Respect your neighbors. Would you appreciate a loud party the night before you need to make a major presentation at work or before your final exams? No, you would not. Remember that you live in an apartment building, and you have neighbors sometimes very close neighbors. Think about how your actions might affect them. Im not saying do not have any fun; just try to be considerate.

    14. Hide your weed. Just please do this. It is technically against your lease, and you really never know when there will be an emergency and who will need to access your place.

    A lot of the above is just common courtesy and common sense. But for those few and you know who you are please review and follow the above and lets make your stay with us as pleasant as possible.

    Kevin Perk /This article originally appeared on BiggerPockets, the real estate investing social network. 2015 BiggerPockets Inc.

  • Tricks of the trade to help you get top dollar when selling your home.

    Selling Secret #10: Pricing it rightFind out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. Youll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids even in the worst markets and theyll bid up the price over what its worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just dont want to risk it, but its the single best strategy to sell a home in todays market.

    Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closetsStorage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize whats left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

    Selling Secret #8: Light it upMaximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery it will make it more sellable.

    Selling Secret #7: Play the agent fieldA secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.

    Selling Secret #6: Conceal the crittersYou might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but youd be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers dont want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If youre planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

    Selling Secret #5: Dont over-upgradeQuick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably wont get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.

    Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your houseOne of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

    Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes firstYoure not actually selling your house, youre selling your kitchen thats how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that youll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

    Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to showYour house needs to be "show-ready" at all times you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Dont leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. Its a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.

    Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impressionNo matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. Its important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your homes exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your homes curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when your selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

    From: HGTV Moving Guide

  • Lose refined carbs, and you'll gain energy

    Simple carbs, such as those found in cookies, candy and chips, are The Bachelorette of the food world. Theyll give you a quick thrill but you know theyre bad for you, and youre guaranteed to feel a bit guilty afterwards.

    And yet we still cant break our addiction to them. (And it is an addiction, according to certainstudies.) Worse, even if you are careful about intake, you might be stunned to realize how much youre actually eating. There are almost as many carbs in a single chocolate chip cookie as there are in a bowl of oatmeal!

    With carbs so pervasiveand so hard to resistEat This, Not That!wondered what happens to your body if you give them up. Find out how much you have to gainand losein this exclusive special report.

    1. When You Give Up CarbsYou Start Burning Fat

    Immediately. Reducing your intake of calorie-dense carbs automatically reduces the amount of calories youre consuming on a daily basis, which forces your body to burn fat stored around your midsection for energy, rather than the sugars it takes from carbohydrates. Eat This! Tip: Exercise in the morning before you eat breakfast. This forces your body to burn stored fat, instead of the food youve eaten earlier in the day. To further blast fat, drink Pu-erh tea, which has been found to lower fat concentrations in the blood.

    2. When You Give Up CarbsYou Feel Less Hungry

    Its not calories that satiate your hunger, its nutrients: fiber, protein and healthy fats. Unfortunately, simple refined carbs are lacking in all three, even as they fill your body with fast, cheap calories. So no matter how much you eat, your body will go in search of more food. The result: a sluggish, hungrier youone whos more likely to dive into the snack drawer.Eat This! Tip: Start your day with a high-protein, high-fat food like Greek yogurt, eggs scrambled with vegetables, or chia pudding, and youll reduce your hunger.

    3. When You Give Up CarbsYour Belly Gets Flatter

    One of the first things you notice when you replace simple carbs with high-fiber foods is that your belly may flatten out. The reason: Most Americans only take in 15 of the recommended 25 to 38 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine. As a result, the healthy gut microbes that keep us lean have less to munch on, and the unhealthy microbeswhich feast on sugartake over. Those are the little buggers that cause bloating, and make your belly look bigger than it actually is. Bumping up fiber can help promote healthy regularity, says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.Eat This! Tip: Start with simple swaps that feel natural to you. Trade the white bread for whole-grain or add some beans to tacos and stir-fry. And if youre hungry between meals, reach for raw nuts. Nuts are a great source of fiber and healthy fat, which can help fight inflammation in the body and also promote digestion, Smith adds.

    4. When You Give Up CarbsYou Slash Your Risk of Diabetes

    Simple carbs are made of simple sugars, and eating too many can wreak havoc in your body in both the short and long term. The more of these quickly digested carbs you consume, the more insulin your pancreas produces, which can eventually lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, according to Smith.Eat This! Tip: Fiber-rich complex carbs are harder for your body to digest, preventing the blood sugar spikes that cause insulin release. The lower and more steady we keep blood sugar, the less insulin is released on a consistent basis and the more insulin-sensitive our tissues remainwhich is a good thing, Smith explains. So, cutting back on the simple stuff means youll be able to maintain stable blood sugar levels and reduce your risk for diabetes.

    5. When You Give Up CarbsYour Muscles Get StrongerAlmost every food in the world is healthier than simple carbsfrom burgers and steaks to yogurt and even ice cream. In part, thats because simple carbs lack protein, the building blocks of muscle (and a key contributor to healthy hair, nails and skin). By filling your body with protein and other nutrients, youre giving it what it needs to grow without having to find additional calories.Eat This! Tip: If you typically get hungry between meals, try replacing those vending-machine sweets with high-protein snacks that will fuel your body and give you stable energy for the afternoon ahead.

    6. When You Give Up CarbsYou Feel More Energized

    Not all carbs are bad, of course. Your body needs carbohydrates to function properly, and theyre especially important for adequate brain and muscle function. By switching from simple carbs to more long-running fuelfruits and vegetables, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and other whole-grain optionsyoull ensure you have a steady flow of energy and avoid the ups and downs that simple carbs cause. Youll no longer need to make poor food choices as a way of getting quick energy, and you wont be dragging through those afternoon hours. Eat This! Tip: The lowest safe amount of carbohydrates is about 50 grams daily, according to Mayo Clinic; avoid dipping below that amount if you want to avoid major dips in energy. One cup of oatmeal and a half a banana is all it takes to reach that total.

    Time: This article originally appeared on Eat This, Not That!

  • Fall celebrations like Halloween and Harvest Day are fun times for children, who can dress up in costumes, enjoy parties, and eat yummy treats. These celebrations also provide a chance to give out healthy snacks, get physical activity, and focus on safety.

    Check out these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for trick-or-treaters and party guests.

    Going trick-or-treating?

    Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.

    Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

    Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

    Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

    Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. WALK and don't run from house to house.

    Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.

    Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks wherever possible.

    Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.

    Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

    Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.

    Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.

    Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.

    Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

    Expecting trick-or-treaters or party guests?

    Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone:

    Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For guests, offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause someone to fall.Keep candle-lit jack o'lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely.
  • "This is the best french toast EVER. So sweet and rich! You prepare it the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning."

    Prep Time: 15 minsTotal Time: 1 hrServes:4, Yield: 9 slicesINGREDIENTS

    1/2 cup butter2 cups brown sugar1/4 cup light Karo syrup9 slices Italian bread (sliced 1-inch thick) or 9 slices challah ( sliced 1-inch thick)1 dozen egg1 pint heavy cream1 teaspoon vanillacinnamon


    Cook butter, brown sugar and Karo syrup in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then pour into a 9x13 pan.Pack bread slices into mix.Beat eggs, cream and vanilla. Pour over bread.Sprinkle with cinnamon.Cover and refrigerate overnight.Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.


  • First impressions really do count. In fact, there's a science to a good first impression.Known by psychologists as 'thin slicing', people tend to make up their mind about various things within a few seconds of meeting you.Research also suggests that those first judgments do tend to stick.These are some of the ways in which you'll be judged the fastest.

    1. Sexual orientationIt takes about a twentieth of a second to consciously recognize a face.According tothis 2008 study, It takes about the same amount of time to determine whether you judge a man to be gay or straight.While this may not represent as much of a problem in the UK, there are parts of the world where these snap judgments on sexuality could become extremely dangerous.2. Dominance (in men)Interestingly,one study showedthat men with shaved heads were rated more dominant than men with full heads of hair: stronger, taller, and more powerful.3. Promiscuity (in women)Unsurprisingly, one of the first things women were judged on was there promiscuity - in relation to their clothes, their appearance, but also interestingly, to any tattoos.This 2007 studyfound a correlation between visible tattoos on women, and perceptions of high alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.Results also showed that tattooed women were considered less attractive, while blonde women were generally rated more negatively than brunettes in terms of sexual behavior.4. TrustworthinessPrinceton researchersfound that judgments of competence, likeability, attractiveness and aggressiveness varied depending on how long the subject (person judging) looked at the object (person being judged).However, the one judgment that stayed consistent was trustworthiness.In other words, someone's already made up their mind as to whether they can trust youwithin a tenth of a second- and their judgment is unlikely to change.5. IntelligenceThis studydrew a parallel between good eye contact and perceptions of high intelligence.Looking while speaking was a key behavior.It significantly correlated with IQ, was successfully manipulated by impression-managing targets, and contributed to higher perceived intelligence ratings.6. Social statusThis from aDutch study,which found that those wearing branded or designer clothing were seen as having a higher social status.They based their hypothesis on "costly signalling theory" and found that evidence of luxury consumption benefit-ted social interactions.The present data suggest that luxury consumption can be a profitable social strategy because conspicuous displays of luxury qualify as a costly signalling trait that elicits status-dependent favorable treatment.7. SuccessSimilarly,a British-Turkish studyshowed that men in tailored, made-to-measuresuits were judged as being far more successful than men in ordinary, 'off-the-peg' suits.They were also considered to earn more money, have more confidence and be more trustworthy.This gave comparable results toone Canadian study, in which photos of men in business attire were judged as more financially successful than those in casual clothing.8. ConfidenceA 2008 employabilitystudyconcluded that people were more likely to get a job if they could impress with a handshake, because they came across more confident.Similarly, your tone of voice could project whether you see yourself as high or low-power: reseach suggests that a lower, more dynamic vocal range helps appear more self assured.Posture and good eye contact also contributed towards an impression of confidence.
  • Are you a Starbuck Lover?

    Mark your calendars Starbucks lovers!

    Starting Thursday, November 10th and running through November 14th, Starbucks will be offering up Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Holiday beverages (hot, iced or blended) from 2PM-5PM each day!

    Holiday beverages include: Chestnut Praline Latte, Peppermint Mocha and Skinny Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brule Latte, Gingerbread Latte, Eggnog Latte, Teavana Joy Brewed Tea, and Spiced Sweet Cream Nario 70 Cold Brew. There is something for everyone!


  • Right now, the US housing market has yet to fully recover from its peak in 2006. Yes, things are healing quite nicely in many markets with some decent price appreciation, but the costs of buying a home are still very affordable. Between low home prices and favorable interest rates, this is a great time for first time home buyers to get into the real estate game.

    But, becoming a first time home buyer can be a daunting decision. These are just so many complexities that jumping in at the wrong time might not be the best decision. Instead, its much wiser to be prepared for the ups and downs of home buying.

    Getting into the market when you are certain its the right time is one of the best moves your can make as a first time home owner. When the time is right here are seven common mistakes made by first time home buyers that should be avoided at all costs.


    When you set out to buy your first home one of the top priorities should be finding a Realtor you are comfortable working with. The agent should have some experience and be competent enough to answer questions pertaining to buying and selling homes. Never under estimate the important of having a good agent. Just like any other business this really matters. You wouldnt just hire any doctor to operate on you would you? Buying a home is a very large investment. You want to have someone in your corner that is a real pro! Here is a neatinfo-graphic that summarizes the importance of a real estate agent. You will realize this is great advice the moment you pick any ole real estate agent to work with you and find yourself in a tough spot where a great agent would be welcome.


    Home ownership has long since been the American Dream. But, that same dream had thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure just a few years ago. So, be wise. Weigh your options. If the costs of owning a home are unaffordable or not feasible for you at this time, continue renting until youre ready.

    If you are going to make the leap into home ownership you want to be aware that you costs are not just principle, taxes and insurance but also the day to day expenses of owning a home. Buyers should always have emergency funds available for those occasions where financial difficulties arrive. As Kyle Hiscock, a New York Realtor points out in hisfirst time home buyer advice, understanding your complete financial picture is an important element before jumping in and looking at properties. It doesnt make a lot of sense to be a fiscally irresponsible home buyer. Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime.


    In expensive, competitive markets, such as the San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles and New York City areas, all-cash offers are very common. Thats because they almost guarantee potential buyers winning bids. As a first time home buyer, be prepared for this competition by being well educated on the current market. Above all else make sure you have your finances in order. Make getting a pre-approval letter from a lender one of your top priorities.


    DTI stands for debt-to-income ratio. Its one of the very first things your lender will investigate when assessing your mortgage borrowing power. So, if youre planning to buy a home in the near future, do not pick up any new debts, especially unaffordable ones. Many buyers have made the mistake of going out and finding their dream home while also deciding to purchase a car. When the lender finds out you have done this you could be facing the fact you might not get the loan. So be smart with your finances when purchasing a home.


    Starting your search for mortgage information online is okay. But, this should not be your last stop when shopping for mortgages. You need to personally work with a lender in order to get a full line of mortgage options, such as FHA loans and VA loans, as well as any local first time buyers programs that may exist. Do your home work on choosing a lender to work with. Not every lender has the same rates or even the same loan programs. Ask around with family, friends and your Realtor on who they would recommend to work with for financing.


    Finding the perfect home can be very exciting. But, dont get too carried away. You still need to protect yourself by investing wisely. Oftentimes, first time home buyers try to cut costs by skipping the home inspection. Having a home inspection is for your own protection. There are lots of qualified home inspectors that a Realtor can recommend that will look for defects in the property. Not having the home inspected by a professional could result in thousands of dollars worth of defect damages later on down the line. This could easily become a first time buyers nightmare, just to save around $500. Here are some examples ofhome inspectionsproblems thatwould be real problematic to deal with after purchasing a home. Not only could they be expensive to remedy but also affect your health and well being.

    Skipping home inspections has become quite common in areas where the market is booming as buyers are doing everything they can to win some of the crazy bidding wars that are taking place. Unless you are 100 percent certain there are no major defects in the property, skipping a home inspection is a big mistake!


    The current market trends are leading to sellers receiving multiple offers on their homes. Not all of them allow the highest bid to make the final decision. Oftentimes, sellers will choose the buyer who seems to have the most love for the property. Smart buyers are even using emotion as a tool to win over the seller. Hand written letters are delivered by the buyers agent explaining how much the buyer loves the property and the years of enjoyment they can see ahead with their family. Buyers who come in complaining, adding unreasonable terms into an offer and having a generally negative attitude tend to get passed over. When buyers do this they make it easy for a seller tochoose the best real estate offerfor them!


    Many first time home buyers invest their entire lifes savings into buying a home. These buyers hope to make a hefty profit on the propertys appreciation within just a few years. But, a home is not a very liquid investment. It will take time to appreciate. So, be sure youre investing for the long haul as a first time buyer. If the last ten years is any indicator you should be buying a home for the use and enjoyment. A place of shelter for you and your family. Not your ticket to paradise and ultimate wealth. More than likely those days are gone for a while.

    OTHER EXCELLENT FIRST TIME HOME BUYER ARTICLESHow to buy your 1st housevia Great Colorado Homes.Why it is important to befiscally responsible when buy a firsthomeboyVeterans United.

    Use these additional resources to make sound decisions when buying your first home. Research and education provides a great way to go in with your eyes wide open when purchasing your first home.

    Jensen and Company.

  • Click to View Tour:

    Just Reduced... schedule appointment909-552-3131. Elegant grand foyer, extra large family room, upgraded gourmet kitchen with granite and stainless steal appliances, large walk-in pantry, Formal living and dinning room, bonus room thats sound proof can be converted into a room. spacious master suite with private deck overlooking the lush grounds. 3 car garage with RV parking. This home is perfect for horse lovers, if you don't like the maintenance of the yard for horses... This is the home for you!! Only community in Rancho cucamonga that has Equestrian facility to keep your horse, miles of horse trails all around. Gorgeous Executive Rancho Estates, Beautiful City views, Mountain views, Spectacular backyard with Pool & spa, rock waterfall slide and hideaway/cave, large patio for lounging, extensively landscaped. This is the only Rancho Cucamonga community with private equestrian center for boarding horses with individual private stalls, horse trails through out. Ashley park, tennis courts, playground, and picnic areas. Great school district. close to shopping and freeways. To many details in this home to describe. Must see!!

  • I want you to ponder the following question for a moment, because it's one of the most important questions you'll ever answer.

    How do you respond to feedback?

    Sheryl Sandberg recently visited Airbnb to share lessons learned from her years at Facebook and Google. (Special thanks to Thach Nguyen, HR business partner at Airbnb, for posting these on LinkedIn.)

    The question was posed to Sandberg: "What's the number one thing you look for in someone who can scale with a company?"

    Sandberg's reply:

    "Someone who takes feedback well. Because people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly."

    Boom goes the dynamite.

    Why we need feedback.

    Nobody's right all the time. That's why criticism can help us to grow; unfortunately, emotions often prevent us from taking advantage of negative feedback. Simply put, it never feels good to hear we're wrong.

    Additionally, since there's an art to delivering negative feedback well, there's a good chance that much of the criticism you receive isn't as "constructive" as it could be.

    Nonetheless, most criticism is rooted in truth--even if it's not delivered in an ideal manner. Which means when you're on the receiving end of criticism, you're left with two choices:

    You can put your feelings aside and try to learn from the situation.You can get angry and let emotion get the best of you.

    One method is proactive, the other is reactive.

    Guess which will benefit you in the long run?

    To be clear, I'm not excusing criticism that's hurtful or poorly delivered. (Read this if you want to learn how to give negative feedback that's emotionally intelligent.) And the truth is, if you're in the habit of delivering sincere and specific commendation first, it's much easier for your people to take your criticism the way its intended--to help.

    But if you're on the receiving end of negative feedback, don't waste time rating how ideally it was delivered.

    Instead, ask yourself the following:

    How can I use this feedback to help me or my team improve?Putting my personal feelings aside, what can I learn from this alternate perspective?

    In the rare case the negative feedback is completely unfounded, it can still give you a chance to see how a sample of your audience will feel about things. (My forthcoming book, which serves as a practical guide to emotional intelligence, outlines more specific strategies for how you can make sure you benefit from criticism.)

    Remember, praise and commendation are necessary elements of a healthy culture. But anyone can benefit from those.

    If you really want to grow as a person, take Ms. Sandberg's advice and learn to make the most of negative feedback.

    Because it'll only make you better.

    http://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/it-took-sheryl-sandberg-exactly-2-sentences-to-give-the-best-career-advice-youll.html10:05Why You Should Ditch The "Praise Sandwich8:12

  • These conversations can get your clients into trouble.

    While it may be tempting for buyers to say whats on their mind during the house hunt, agents should encourage them to pause for a moment. There are some things home-buyers should never say on the fly.

    Others may be listening. Listing agents, sellers, neighbors all have motives to keep tabs on the situation or there could be even be a recording device planted somewhere. In the age of smart home security and remote doorbell answering devices, you can never be too sure.

    Those off-the-cuff comments made while moving from room to room could be used against you. #homebuyer

    Here are six things buyers should never say when shopping for a home:

    I love it, its perfect!

    That feedback goes straight to the seller.

    When the less-than-full-price offer comes in and the buyer requests all sorts of concessions, how will the seller be inclined to respond?

    That (dcor, furniture, paint color) is hideous!

    What were they thinking?

    So maybe the sellers tastes are not what the buyer would pick, but that doesn't make their choiceswrong.

    If these comments get back to the sellers, their desire to be cooperative when offer time comes around may severely dwindle.

    This home is way overpriced

    There are plenty of other choices. Be careful with that statement.

    While this is a common buyer thought, what happens if this house ends up being the best option?

    When the listing agent and seller see the buyers name on an offer, well, who is holding the cards now?

    Why is the seller moving?

    This is a personal question thats best not asked by a buyer.

    Let the buyers agent position that query with the listing agent in a diplomatic way to glean information about the situation at hand.

    What are the neighbors like?

    Talk about putting someone on the spot. Listing agents likely have no idea they dont live in the neighborhood 24/7, and it would not be appropriate for them to comment on specifics.

    When cornered, is the seller likely to divulge?

    Theres a Mrs. Edwards across the street and a curmudgeon next door? And by the way, the teenager that lives on the other side of the house? His band starts warming up in the garage about 11 p.m. on Thursday nights.

    Hardly. These people are trying toselltheirhouse. Its all wonderful. Buyers have to assess the neighbors on their own.

    Will the seller take X price?

    This is another put the agent and seller on the spot moment.

    Negotiations are best left to agents with a written document from which to work.

    Although its OK to be candid with your own agent and those you trust, only do so when you are not within earshot of anyone in the sellers camp.

    That includes those curbside chats as you are wrapping up the showing near your car.

    Be engaged but conservative in the information you share and how you react to homes you see, even if you have really found the one.

    You can jump for joy when you are with your agent writing the perfect offer.

    ... and there you have it; six reasons why as a homebuyer you should allow your realtor to interact solely with the listing agent and/or the homeowner. Your realtor will leverage your concerns during the negotiating period if and when you decide to submit an offer.

    Happy House Hunting. Search for your new home.

  • Selling your home doesnt just mean hiring a realtor to stick a sign out front. There are a lot of preparations you should make to ensure you get the best offer possible in the shortest time.

    Repair. Just because youve gotten used to the cracks in the walls and the rattles in the radiators doesnt mean a buyer will too. If you have hardwood floors that need refinishing, be sure to get it donehardwood is a huge selling point. Buyers like to snoop around, so be sure to fix any sticky doors or drawers as well. Finally, dont forget to address any issues with the exteriorfences, shingles, sidewalks, etc. After all, without curb appeal, some buyers may never get to see the inside.

    Neutralize. You want buyers to see themselves in your home. If your living room has lime green shag, wood-paneled walls, and all your collectibles and personal photographs, this will be much harder for them to do. Try replacing any bold color choices in your floors and walls with something more neutralbeiges, tans, and whites. Repainting and reflooring will make everything look fresh and new, and help prospective buyers imagine all the possibilities.

    Stage. Once your house is clean and updated, its time to play dress up. Home stagers can add small details and dcor touches that will bring out the possibilities in the various spaces in your home: lamps, mirrors, throw rugs and pillows, flowers, decorative soaps and towels, patio furniture. Home staging can be particularly useful if your home is especially old or if the exterior looks dated. Think of it as a little mascara and rougeif its done right, you notice the beauty, not the makeup.

    Find out your home value:Click Here

  • Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

    Get your finances in order.

    Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.

    Find a house you can afford.

    As with engagement rings, theres a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Dont forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc.

    Hire a professional.

    While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you cant pick up from surfing the web. Thats why youre better off using a professional agent than going it alone. If possible, recruit an exclusive buyer agent, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

    Do your homework.

    Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price thats competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

    Think long term.

    Obviously, you shouldnt buy unless youre sure youll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new homes resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.

    Search here for your Dream Home:Click Here

  • You know, when you think about it, we should be obsessing over fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning. After all, youre about to shut yourself inside for months with all the dust and dirt your home has collected during the hot, dusty, open-window days of summer. And who wants to inhale that?!

    The EPA even estimates that indoor air quality can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. So heres a checklist to help you breathe easy all winter long in your home.

    Wash and Disinfect Garbage Cans and WastebasketsYoure going to be shut in all winter with these germ havens, so nows a good time to clean them thoroughly. Take them outside where you can blast the insides with a garden hose, then add disinfectant.

    For an environmentally safe way to sterilize these nasty grime collectors, use undiluted hydrogen peroxide or vinegar mixed 50/50 with water. Caution! Dont mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar the result is harmful peracetic acid. Regular bleach is an effective disinfectant (one part bleach to six parts water), but we much prefer environmentally safe.

    Let the garbage cans sit for an hour, then pour out the contents and scrub the insides with a stiff bristle brush to remove any residue. Rinse and, if possible, let the wastebasket dry in direct sunlight, which helps eliminate bacteria.

    Wash and Disinfect Toilet Brush HoldersTake the holder and the brush outside, and spray wash thoroughly with a garden hose. Immerse the holder and brush in a bucket of hot water mixed with one of these solutions:

    1 part bleach to 6 parts water2 to 3 cups of environmentally friendly washing soda crystalsA 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water

    Let everything sit in the solution for a couple of hours, then rinse the holder and brush with a hose and place in direct sunlight to dry.

    Turn Over Furniture and Vacuum the BottomsYou might shift furniture around so you can vacuum the floor, but theres another side to the story the underside.

    Tilt upholstered chairs and couches all the way back (much easier with two people) to expose the bottoms. The dustcovers tacked underneath furniture can catch dreck and dust bunnies, so vacuum them off, being careful not to press too hard on the fabric.

    Clean the Tops of Doors, Trim, and ArtworkTables and countertops arent the only household items with horizontal surfaces. In fact, just about everything in your house except Rovers tennis ball has some kind of horizontal surface where dust and dirt will nestle, often unnoticed. Youll want to clean the top horizontal edges of:

    Interior doorsTrim, including baseboards and chair railsArtwork and mirrorsElectrical wall platesWall-mounted smoke detectors, CO detectors, and thermostatsUpper kitchen cabinetsLight bulbs and light fixturesComputer monitorsBooks on shelves

    Vacuum Behind the FridgeYour fridge needs to be cleaned periodically so that it operates at peak efficiency. Ignore this chore and face another $5 to $10 per month in utility costs. Worst case: a visit from an appliance repair pro wholl charge $75 to $150 per hour!

    The object is to clean the condenser coils. Heres how:

    If the condenser coils are on the back of the refrigerator, then pull the unit out completely, and unplug it while you work on it. Brush or vacuum the coils to clean them, and clean up any dirt and dust on the floor.

    Also, check to make sure your freezer vents are clear. Freezers circulate air to reduce frost, but piling up too much stuff in front of the little grill-like vents inside your freezer blocks their business.

    If the condenser coils are on the bottom of the fridge, then youll need to clean them from the front of the unit.

    Take off the bottom faceplate to expose the coils.

    Clean dust using a condenser-cleaning brush ($8) or a long, thin vacuum attachment made for cleaning under refrigerators ($14).

    You should still pull your refrigerator all the way out and vacuum up dirt and dust that accumulates in back of the unit. Unplug it while you work on it.

    Put down a piece of cardboard so that grit under the wheels doesnt scratch your flooring.

    Winterize Your EntryKeep winters slush and gunk at bay by making your entryway a dirt guardian.

    Get a boot scraper ($19 to $35).Add a chair or bench for taking off boots, and have a boot rack for wet footwear.Put down a tough coir outdoor doormat ($30 to $190) for cleaning footwear.

    Clean WindowsBy some estimates, dirty window glass cuts daylight by 20%. Thats a lot less light coming in at a time of year when you really need it to help chase away winter blues.

    Clean windows inside and out with a homemade non-toxic solution:

    1/4 cup white vinegar1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon eco-friendly dish detergent2 cups water

    Wipe clean and polish using microfiber cloths.

    Clean Ceiling Fan BladesThose big blades on your ceiling fan are great at moving air, but when theyre idle theyre big dust magnets dust settles on the top surfaces where you cant see it.

    Out of sight maybe, but not out of mind. Heres an easy way to clean them: Take an old pillowcase and gently cover a blade. Pull it back slowly to remove the dust. The dust stays inside the pillowcase, instead of all over the floor, the furniture, your hair (ugh!).

    Change Furnace FiltersYeah, this is a no-brainer, which is why its last on this list. But everything else you do could be moot if youre not changing your filters at least once every 60 days (more if youre sensitive to allergies).

    Air filters for furnaces are rated by level of efficiency. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at removing dirt, mold spores, and pet dander.

    Filters are rated one of two ways (youll see the ratings on the packaging); higher numbers mean better efficiency, but theres a point of diminishing returns some filters with extremely high ratings also restrict air flow, making your HVAC work so hard that the system heats and cools inefficiently.

    Minimum efficiency rating values (MERV) for filters range from 1 to 16, but 7 to 13 is typical for households (14 and up are used in hospitals).Microparticle performance rating (MPR) range from 300 to 2,400.

    Cheap filters cost about $2, but wont do you much good. Youre better off paying $12 to $17 for a pleated filter with a 1250 MPR, or $20 to $25 for a filter rated 2,400.

    Happy cleaning (and breathing!) this winter.

  • If youre shopping for a home, odds are you should be shopping for a home loan as welland these days,its by no means a one-mortgage-fits-all model.

    Where you live, how long you plan to stay put, and other variables can make certain home loans better suited to your circumstances, and choosing wisely could save you a bundle on your down payment, fees, and interest.

    To learn about all your options, check out these common types of home loans and whom they're suited for, so you can make the right choice.

    The most common type of loan, a fixed-rate loan prescribes single interest rate and monthly payment for the life of the loan, which is typically 15 or 30 years.

    Fixed-rate loan

    The most common type of loan, a fixed-rate loan prescribes asingle interest rateand monthly paymentfor the life of the loan, which is typically 15 or 30 years.

    Right for:

    Homeowners who crave predictability and aren't going anywhere soon. You payX amount forY yearsand thats the end. The rise and fall of interest rates (like the nationwide increase that followed theFeds action inDecember) won't change the terms of your loan,so you'll always know what to expect. That said, theyre best for people who plan to stay in their home for at least a good chunk of the life of their loan; if you think youll move fairly soon, you may want to consider the next option.

    Adjustable-rate mortgage

    ARM loans offer interest rates typically lower than you'd get with a fixed-rateloaner a period of time such as five or 10 years. But after that, yourinterest rates (and payments) will adjust, typically once a year, roughly corresponding to current interest rates. So if interest rates shoot up, so do your monthly payments; if they plummet, youll pay less.

    Right for:

    Home buyers with lower credit scores. Sincepeople with poor credit typicallycant get good rates on fixed-rate loans, an ARM can nudgethose interest rates down enough to put homeownership within easier reach. These loans are also great for people who plan to move and sell their home before their fixed-rate period is up and their rates start vacillating.

    FHA loan

    While typical loans require a down payment of 20% of the purchase price of your home, witha Federal Housing Administration loan, you canput down as little as 3.5%.

    Right for:

    Home buyers with meager savings for a down payment. These loans come with several caveats. First, most loans are limited to $417,000 anddont providemuch flexibility:Ratesare typicallyfixed, with either 15- or 30-year terms. Buyers are also required to paymortgage insuranceeitherupfront or over the life of the loan, which hovers around 1% of the cost of your loan.

    VA loan

    If youve served in the United States military, a Veterans Affairsloan can be an excellent alternative to a traditional mortgage.If you qualify, you can score a sweet home with no money down and no mortgage insurance requirements.

    Right for:

    Veterans who've served90 days consecutively during wartime, 180 during peacetime, or six years in the reserves.That said, the VA has strict requirements on the type of home you can purchase: It must be your primary residence, and it must meet minimum property requirements (that is, no fixer-uppers allowed).

    USDA loan

    USDA Rural Development loans are designed for families in rural areas.The government finances 100% of the home price in other words, no down payment necessary and offers discounted interest rates to boot.

    Right for:

    Families in rural areas who are struggling financially. These loans are designed to put homeownership in their grasp.The catch? Yourdebt load cannotexceed yourincome by more than 41%,and, like the FHA loan, you will be required to purchase mortgage insurance.

    Bridge loan

    Also known as a gap loan or repeat financing, a bridge loan is an excellent option if youre purchasing a home before selling your previous residence. Lenders will wrap your current and new mortgage into one payment; once your home is sold, you pay off that mortgage and refinance.

    Right for:

    Homeowners with excellent credit and a low debt-to-income ratio, and who don't need to finance more than 80% of the two homes combined value. Meet those requirements, and this can be a simple way of transitioning between two houses without having a melt down financially or emotionally in the process.

    Written by: Jamie Wiehe
  • Artificial trees may have increased in popularity, but for the purist, only a real tree will do. No matter how realistic it looks, an artificial tree cant compete with the scent and feel of a real evergreen. Its a living part of nature that, for a short time, we give a place of honor in our homes.And no matter which kind of tree it is spruce, fir, pine or cypress once its indoors, the goal is to keep the tree fresh and green. This means keeping the needles pliable and on the tree until the holidays are over. And the only thing that does that is water, lots of it. Think of it like a big, green pet: Just as a dog or cat needs fresh water every day, so does a fresh Christmas tree.Laura Collins DesignGet the tree in water immediately. Once you get your tree home, put it into water as soon as possible, within eight hours. If the trunk wasnt freshly cut at the place where you bought the tree, then saw an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk and put it in a tree stand filled with fresh water. If youre not ready to set it up, put it in a bucket of water in a cool place. The water temperature doesnt matter.Holly MarderUse the right stand. It should comfortably fit the diameter of the trunk. Whittling the trunk down will only dry the tree out faster. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends that a tree stand should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Be sure the tree stand you choose has a large water reservoir. A tree can take up a gallon of water in its first few hours in the stand.Lord DesignWater, water, water. Big trees mean lots of agua. Watch that the cut part of the trunk stays below the waterline. Adding aspirin, lemon soda or other concoctions to the water wont extend the trees life, but it might sicken pets or children if they drink out of the water reservoir.Once indoors, a live trees branches will relax and open. Allow enough space when siting the tree for the lowest branches to fall open and not get in the way of foot traffic.Whitney LyonsKeep the tree cool. To an evergreen that spent years growing in a field, your house is as dry as the Sahara Desert. And where do Christmas trees often look best? Centered in front of windows, where the sun streams in, or tucked into a corner near air vents or baseboard heaters.Dillard-Jones Builders, LLCPosition the tree out of the sun and away from heat sources. Keep the temperature in the room as low as is practical.Elite Staging and Redesign, LLCAs magical as it seems to come home to a sparkling tree, dont leave the trees lights on overnight or when no ones in the house.Regina Gust DesignsEven with daily watering, cut trees will eventually dry out. When needles drop when you touch them, and branches droop so low that ornaments are hitting the floor, its time to take off the lights and decorations, wrap the tree in an old sheet, and take it outside. You can saw off some of the trees branches and cover garden beds with them to protect plants, or turn them into mulch with a chipper or shredder. If you have the acreage, drag the tree to an out-of-the-way spot for birds and animals to use as cover. Most communities now collect spent Christmas trees and make mulch or compost from them, which they offer back to residents. The saddest end for a tree is for it to be hauled off to a landfill, instead of being turned back into soil allowed to decompose and feed living creatures, the way nature intended.By: December 4, 2016Tell us: How do you keep your tree looking fresh?More: How to Light Your Christmas Tree Like a Pro
  • Credit Closes In on Pre-Crisis Benchmark, with Midwest Most Improved

    Americans credit profiles have recovered extensively since the recession, with the average credit score now closing in on a pre-crisis benchmark.

    According to Experians recently releasedState of Creditreport, the average credit score in the U.S. is 673, six points shy of 679, the average in 2007. The tapering gap represents healthier conditions for housing, which is experiencing pent-up demand as creditworthiness continues to come up short of lender standards.

    We are seeing the positive effects of economic recovery, with the rise in income and low unemployment reflected in how Americans are managing their credit, said Michele Raneri, vice president of Analytics and New Business Development at Experian in a statement on the report. All credit indicators suggest consumers are not as credit stressed. Credit card balances and average debt are up, while utilization rates remained consistent at 30 percent.

    The Midwest showed the strongest credit improvement, according to the reportthe metropolitan area with the highest average credit score in the nation was Mankato, Minn., at 708. Metro areas in Minnesota took the top three spots in the reports ranking: Rochester in second, also at 708, and Minneapolis in third at 707. Completing the top 10 were Green Bay, Wis. (704), Wausau, Wis. (704), Duluth, Minn. (703), Sioux Falls, S.D. (703), La Crosse, Wis. (703), Fargo, N.D. (703), and Madison, Wis. (702).

    The Midwest has become a hotbed of housing activity, as millennials continue to migrate from coastal centers inward in search of a more affordable lifestylein fact, the Midwest was recently highlighted inrealtor.coms forecast as a market to watch in 2017.

    Swaths of the South and metropolitan areas in California comprised the bottom of the reports ranking, with Greenwood, Miss. the lowest at 622, though posting an improvement from 612 in 2015. The remaining bottom 10: Albany, Ga. (624), Harlingen, Texas (631), Riverside, Calif. (632), Laredo, Texas (635), Monroe, La. (639), Alexandria, La. (639), Bakersfield, Calif. (639), Corpus Christi, Texas (639), and Shreveport, La. (640).

    When comparing the cities with the highest credit scores and those with the lowest, we definitely see similar trends, said Raneri. Cities with higher credit scores have lower utilization rates, late payments and balances, while those with lower scores have just the opposite.

    Credit conditions overall, according to the report, are fitter than they were just one year agoyet another sign of a strengthening economy.


    For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmarkRISMedia.com.

  • More forecasts for housing in 2017 are trickling in, most recently out of CoreLogic, which estimates home prices will increase 4.6 percent by this time next year. Prices this October, according to CoreLogics Home Price Index (HPI), increased 6.7 percent year-over-year, and 1.1 percent month-over-month.

    While national home prices increased 6.7 percent, only nine states had home price growth at the same rate of growth or higher than the national average because the largest states, such as Texas, Florida and California, are experiencing high rates of home price appreciation, says Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic.

    Home prices are continuing to soar across much of the U.S., led by major metro areas such as Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Denver, says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. Prices are being fueled by a potent cocktail of high demand, low inventories and historically low interest rates. Looking forward to next year, nationwide home prices are expected to climb another 5 percent in many parts of the country to levels approaching the pre-recession peak.

    Home prices, according to one measure, have already recovered from the recessionthe S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices posted a new, post-recession peak in September.

    Turning to 2017, other forecasts predict similar movement in prices. Realtor.coms recently released forecast expects prices nationally to increase 3.9 percent, while appreciation to slow 1 percent.

    Source: CoreLogic

    For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmarkRISMedia.com.

    Find Out What Your Home Is Worth Today

  • Housing is expected to downshift next year as the post-election economy sets in, driven by a deceleration in home price growth, according to realtor.coms recently released 2017 housing forecast. The forecast projects home prices nationally growing at a rate of 3.9 percent, down from 2016s 4.9 percent estimate, and an appreciation slowdown of 1 percent or more in nearly half of the U.S. top 100 metropolitan areas.

    Multiple factors are coming together, says realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. One is a continued trend toward moderationbasically the effect of seeing all of the rebounds coming off of the distress, the foreclosure years finally well behind us, so theres no longer that dead cat bounce that was occurring in some markets. Secondwere now in record price territory in many places in the country, so thats starting to have its own moderating effect. Were seeing that evident in the fact that more markets in our forecast represent a deceleration in price trend as opposed to an acceleration in price trend.

    The Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla. area tops the list of 46 markets projected to experience an appreciation slowdown in 2017, followed by Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C. and Jackson, Miss.

    Mortgage rates, which last week treaded above 4 percent for the first time this year, are projected to reach 4.5 percent, according to the forecast. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise the key interest rate in December.

    A new wrinkle is the higher mortgage rates, Smoke says. They have an impact on the potential of the buying pool in high-cost areas in that they really start to challenge qualifications from an affordability perspective, so, as a result, they tend to have a dampening effect. Our forecast would imply that were expecting, in addition the December move, likely two to three more moves next year.

    Higher mortgage rates do, however, have the potential to result in less stringent enforcement action, which, coupled with changes per the Trump Administration, could open up credit opportunities closed off to otherwise qualified homebuyers.

    What Im expecting is that those trends toward more conservatism will likely improve simply because mortgage rates are higher, says Smoke. An even more important factor is the fact that the refi market goes away when mortgage rates are above 4 percent; if [lenders] want to keep their lending operation performing similarly, then they have to turn to the purchase market more. I think the consumers going to win in that perspective.

    Leading positive price movementthough lessened compared to 2016will be the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. area, ranked the No. 1 housing market of 2017 in the forecast. The area is projected to see prices grow 5.94 percent and sales grow 7.24 percent. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H., Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif., and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. round out the top five of the forecasts ranking.

    Realtor.coms 2017 Housing Forecast Top 100 Metros

    Twenty-six of the top 100 metropolitan areas, as well, are projected to experience appreciation of 1 percent or more, including the Greensboro-High Point, N.C., Akron, Ohio, and Baltimore-Columbia-Townson, Md. areas.

    The forecast projects the homeownership rate to stabilize at 63.5 percent after hitting a 50-year low point (62.9 percent) in the second quarter of 2016. The homeownership rate rallied to the 63.5 percent-mark in the third quarter.

    Existing- and new-home sales, additionally, are projected to grow 1.9 percent (to 5.46 million) and 10 percent, respectively, while new-home construction starts are projected to grow 3 percent.

    We are forecasting marginally better inventory as a result of new construction continuing to expand, Smoke says. Its not going to materially change the supply dynamic. New construction is ultimately the safety valve for pressure from a supply/demand standpoint, so continued growth there starts to alleviate price pressurethe release has to come from [that] market.

    Demographic activity overall will have a substantial impact on housing in 2017, as well. The forecast projects baby boomers and millennials will power demand over the next decade, with millennials comprising 33 percent of homebuyers and boomers, 30 percent next year. Concentrations of these groups are in many of the top markets ranked in the forecast; millennials, however, are also projected to make waves in Midwestern cities, including Madison, Wis., Columbus, Ohio, and Omaha, Neb., where they currently hold 42 percent marketshare.

    For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

    For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

    Find Out What Your Home Is Worth Now

  • When we were younger, we were most likely warned by our parents to be careful of whom we choose to spend our time with. They said this in reference to the way others would judge us in accordance to our friends, in addition to the influence our friends would have upon us.

    We have all heard the saying that birds of a feather flock together, meaning that the company you keep reflects your personality. A smart person surrounds himself with other smart people. If you hang out with trash, you will be perceived as trash.

    Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself.

    You really are only as good as the company you keep. As you go through life, you begin to realize how important having true friends really is. Navigating your 20s is a difficult and confusing time and one better traveled with wholesome, close friends by your side. Unfortunately as we go through this time, we realize the people we once counted on are no longer the people we once thought they were.

    The type of people you surround yourself with speaks of your values and what you stand for. We have all heard of the concept of being guilty by association, the act of people associating your behaviors and thoughts with the people you hang out with. If one of your friends acts in a negative way, you will be lumped in with him or her. Despite if this is true or not, it is all based on perception. Regardless if you believe yourself to be an altruistic person, a time may come when your bad company starts to influence your good behavior.

    It is better to be alone than in the wrong company. Tell me who your best friends are and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl but if you associate with eagles you will learn how to soar to great heights.

    People perceive you based on the actions the people closest to you display. They make the assumption that people who are similar will spend time together. While you may be better than the company you keep, it does send a signal to those who do not know you well enough to make their our judgments. If you spend time with people who treat you poorly, this gives off the impression that you lack self-respect. Whether you like it or not, you will be judged for the people you associate with.

    People are quick to judge and therefore it is a warning to choose your friends and companions carefully. If a person has a bad company of bad friends, the people around him or her will avoid them because of the image that is portrayed by the bad company. Our personalities become molded by different situations and environment. Our company, whether it is our parents, friends or colleagues, all influence our minds and us. This is why your friends and associates are a reflection of you.

    A mirror reflects a mans face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses. The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate for the good and the bad.

    Your beliefs and goals are constantly changing in your 20s and you need people around you that will help you and not detract from your life. We must associate with others that bring out the best in us.

    When you surround yourself with other people on a constant basis, you are exposed to their personal values and ideals so it should come as no surprise that you may end up taking on some of their mentality as well. This is why it is so important to remain aware of the people you surround yourself with.

    Photo via WENN Subscribe to Elite Daily's official newsletter, The Edge, for more stories you don't want to miss.

    By: Ashley FernRead more: http://elitedaily.com/life/why-you-are-the-company-you-keep/

    Find Out What Your Home Value Is Today!

  • Went to the expert, Ben Soleimani, world-renowned designer, for his best advice. Plus, take a look at his vintage rug collection for Restoration Hardware.

    Ben Soleimani: The first thing I would ask is 'What makes this rug special, unique, and one-of-a-kind?' Beyond that, you may want to ask about the time period and what region it's from. It will require some research if you aren't familiar, but it's really the texture, the weave, the motifs, the yarn, and colors that tell you about the origin of a rug. Knowing what is common for specific time periods and places will give you more insight.

    How can you tell if a rug is valuable? And high quality? What should you look for?

    As a general rule, probably the number one thing that makes a rug special to me is how unique and different it is. Particularly a rug with a nave design meaning one where the craftsperson has created the design as they go, infusing the piece with passion and artistry, and underscoring the human element. It's not made by machine and it isn't perfect, it's a work of art. And for me, this makes it more valuable.

    Meanwhile, how can you tell if a rug is not vintage, but produced to look like it is?

    Quality, handcrafted rugs that are made to look old can also be fantastic. But if you are looking to acquire a vintage rug, there's a certain patina that typically comes only with age. This includes the wear, colors, and the way the yarns have opened up over time. Good wool gets more of a luster with age. And the colors often appear more subtle and natural.

    What imperfections are okay to look past?

    Reasonable wear and imperfections are good even desirable. Especially the oxidation of colors.

    Why would someone want to buy a vintage rug over a brand new one?

    It's really more about the quality and the uniqueness of the rug, as opposed to whether or not it's old or new. But of course, if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind piece, then you buy a vintage rug.

    Mixing new and vintage rugs in a thoughtful way. For instance, you might pair one of my new, warm-colored rugs that has an old, gently-distressed texture it's just a striate, very clean with a vintage rug from the same color family. The new, solid rug could go in the dining room and the patterned vintage rug could be used in the living room. The juxtaposition would make each of the rugs appear even more beautiful.


  • Legal


    We want Uber to be enjoyable and safe for everyone. These ground rules are designed to ensure that riders and drivers have a five star ride when using Uber. Please take a moment to read them. Because whether youre a rider trying to get from A to B or a partner wanting to earn money as a driver your behavior matters.

    Respect each other

    Treat your fellow riders and drivers as you would like to be treated yourself: with respect. Always try to be on time for your ride because nobody likes to wait. Its common courtesy not to shout, swear or slam the car door. And by tidying up after yourself whether its taking your trash home or cleaning up a spilled drink youll keep the car in good condition and ensure the next person has a pleasant ride, too. Most important of all, remember that when you use Uber you will meet people who may look different or think differently from you. Please respect those differences. We want everyone to feel welcome when they use Uber.

    Give riders and drivers some personal space

    We all value our personal space and privacy. Its OK to chat with other people in the car. But please dont comment on someones appearance or ask whether they are single. As a passenger, if you need to make a phone call, keep your voice down to avoid disturbing your driver or other riders. And dont touch or flirt with other people in the car. As a reminder, Uber has a no sex rule. Thats no sexual conduct between drivers and riders, no matter what.

    Safety first

    Everyone wants to get from A to B safely. So please ensure that you follow the local law. Check out our rider safety tips. Whether youre in the front or the back seat, buckle up when you get into the car and please leave your guns at home. Of course, drivers have a particular responsibility when it comes to safety at Uber. That means keeping to the speed limit; not texting while driving; always using a phone mount; and never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And if youre driving and feel tired, take a break. As the experts say, sleep is the only true preventative measure against the risks of drowsy driving.

    Children must be supervised

    Only adults can have an Uber rider account. If your child is using your account, a parent or guardian must be with them at all times.

    Feedback makes us all better

    Whether you are a rider or driver, please rate your journey at the end of the trip. Honest feedback helps ensure that everyone is accountable for their behavior. This accountability creates a respectful, safe environment for both riders and drivers. And if something happens during a ride whether its a traffic accident or an argument make sure to report it by tapping Help in the app so that our customer support team can follow up.

    The guidelines below help explain some of the specific kinds of behavior that may cause you to lose access to Uber as a rider or driver.


    This policy helps explain the kinds of behavior that may lead riders to lose access to Uber. Please remember that if youre traveling in a group, or you allow other people to take trips with your account, you are responsible for their behavior in the car.

    Ensuring a respectful, safe environment for all drivers and riders

    The way you behave while using Uber can have a big impact on the safety and comfort of drivers, as well as your fellow passengers. Courtesy matters. Thats why you are expected to exercise good judgment and behave decently towards other people in the car when riding with Uber just as you would in any public place.

    Here are some reasons you could lose access to Uber as a rider:

    Damaging drivers or other passengers property. For example, damaging the car, breaking or vandalizing a phone, intentionally spilling food or drink, smoking, or vomiting due to excessive alcohol consumption.

    Physical contact with the driver or fellow riders. As our community guidelines make clear, you shouldnt touch or flirt with other people in the car. As a reminder, Uber has a no sex rule. Thats no sexual conduct with drivers or fellow riders, no matter what. And you should never hit or otherwise hurt a driver or fellow passenger.

    Use of inappropriate and abusive language or gestures. For example, asking overly personal questions, using verbal threats, and making comments or gestures that are aggressive, sexual, discriminatory, or disrespectful.

    Unwanted contact with the driver or fellow passenger after the trip is over. For example, texting, calling, or visiting someone in person after a ride has been completed. Remember, in most countries you can call and text your driver directly from the Uber app without ever having to share your personal phone number. This means that your phone number stays anonymous and is never given to the driver.

    Breaking the local law while using Uber. For example, bringing open containers of alcohol or drugs into the car; traveling in large groups that exceed the number of seat belts in the car; asking drivers to break local traffic laws such as speed limits; or using Uber to commit a crime, including drug and human trafficking or the sexual exploitation of children.

    If we are made aware of these kinds of problematic behavior, we will contact you so we can investigate them. Depending on the nature of the concern, we may put a hold on your account during our investigation. If the issues raised are serious or a repeat offense, or you refuse to cooperate, you may lose access to Uber. Any behavior involving violence, sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, or illegal activity while using Uber can result in the immediate loss of your account.

    Terms of Use

    As a rider, you agree to our Terms of Use when you sign up for your account. We may take action against you for violating these terms, including permanently closing your account. For example the failure to maintain accurate, complete, and up-to-date account information, including having an invalid or expired payment method on file; allowing a person who does not meet the minimum age requirement to use your account while unaccompanied, or if you dont meet that age requirement yourself.

    Firearms Ban

    Uber prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms in a vehicle while using our app. You can learn more about our firearms prohibition policy here. [1] If you violate Ubers firearms prohibition policy, you may lose access to Uber.


    Uber has a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination of any kind. This means you will lose access to your account if you are found to have discriminated against drivers or other riders based on their race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender identity, age or any other characteristic protected under applicable law.

    Fraud or Illegitimate Behavior

    Fraudulent or illegitimate behavior undermines the trust on which Uber is built. We may deactivate any account(s) associated with this type of activity, including: abusing promotions; collusion between rider and driver; disputing fares for fraudulent or illegitimate reasons; or duplicate accounts.


    If you are a driver, and your account is temporarily blocked or deactivated, it limits your ability to earn income. Thats why we believe it is important to have clear policies that explain the circumstances in which you may be denied access to Uber; how (if at all) you can use the app again; and if you can appeal these decisions. [2]

    There will always be unforeseen events that may ultimately lead to you losing access to your driver account and well update this policy regularly but the following are sufficient cause for Uber to take action: quality; safety; fraud; and discrimination.


    Riders who use Uber expect their drivers to drive safely, and also to be courteous and professional. The higher the quality of the service, the more riders want to take trips, which in turn means more opportunities for drivers to earn money. Poor service has the opposite effect over time. There are several ways we measure driver quality, with the most important being Star Ratings and Cancellation Rate.

    Star Ratings

    After every trip, drivers and riders are able to rate each other on a scale of one to five stars, as well as give feedback on how the trip went. This two-way system holds everyone accountable for their behavior. Accountability helps create a respectful, safe environment for both drivers and riders. Drivers can see their current rating in the Ratings tab of the Uber Partner app.

    How is my rating as a driver calculated? Your rating is based on an average of the number of post-trip stars riders gave you (from 1 to 5 stars), up to your last 500 rated trips or the total number of rated trips youve taken, if less than 500.

    The easiest way to keep your average rating high is to provide good service on every trip. Drivers using Uber typically provide excellent service, so most trips run smoothly. But we know that sometimes a trip doesnt go wellthats why we only look at your average rating over your most recent 500 trips (or your total rated trip count, if under 500). This gives you the chance to improve over time.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? There is a minimum average rating in each city. This is because there are cultural differences in the way people in different cities rate each other. We will alert you over time if your rating is approaching this limit, and youll also get information about quality improvement courses that may help you improve. However, if your average rating still falls below the minimum after multiple notifications, you will lose access to your account. We may allow you to regain access to your account if you can provide proof that you completed one of these quality improvement courses.

    Cancellation Rate

    A driver cancellation is when you accept a trip request and then cancel the trip. Cancellations create a poor rider experience and negatively affect other drivers. We understand that there may be times when something comes up and you have to cancel an accepted trip. But minimizing cancellations is critical for the reliability of the system.

    How is my cancellation rate calculated? Your cancellation rate is based on the number of trips canceled out of the total number of trips you accept. (For example, if youve accepted 100 trips and 4 of them are canceled, your cancellation rate would be 4%.) High-quality drivers typically have a cancellation rate lower than 5%.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? Each city has a maximum cancellation rate, based on the average cancellation rate of drivers in that area. We will alert you multiple times if your cancellation rate is much higher or if you are consistently canceling more often than other drivers in your city, after which you may be logged out of the app. If your cancellation rate continues to exceed the maximum limit, you may lose access to your account.

    Acceptance Rates

    High acceptance rates are a critical part of reliable, high-quality service, but not accepting trip requests does not lead to permanent loss of your account.

    Consistently accepting trip requests helps maximize earnings for drivers and keeps the system running smoothly. We know that sometimes things come up that prevent you from accepting every trip request, or you may want to take a break. But not accepting dispatches causes delays and degrades the reliability of the system. If you dont want to accept trips, just log off.

    If you consistently decline trip requests, we will assume you do not want to accept more trips and you may be logged out of the app.


    Uber uses technology to keep drivers and riders safe, for instance by GPS-tracking every ride and allowing riders to share their journeys in real time with families or friends. This is all backed up by a robust system of pre-screenings of drivers. We also have a dedicated incident response team on call 24/7 to investigate safety incidents.

    Actions that threaten the safety of drivers and riders will be investigated and, if confirmed, lead to permanent deactivation of your account. For example:

    Physical contact with riders. As our community guidelines make clear, you shouldnt touch or flirt with other people in the car. As a reminder, Uber has a no sex rule. Thats no sexual conduct with riders, no matter what. And you should never hit or otherwise hurt a rider.

    Use of inappropriate and abusive language or gestures. For example, asking overly personal questions, using verbal threats, and making comments or gestures that are aggressive, sexual, discriminatory, or disrespectful.

    Unwanted contact with riders after a trip is over. For example, texting, calling, or visiting someone in person after a ride has been completed.

    Breaking the local law while using Uber. For example, texting while driving; speeding or otherwise breaking local traffic laws; and using Uber to commit a crime, including drug and human trafficking or the sexual exploitation of children.

    Safe Driving. Uber expects drivers using the app to drive safely at all times.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? If we are made aware of these kinds of problematic behavior, we will contact you so we can investigate them. Depending on the nature of the concern, we may put a hold on your account during our investigation. If the issues raised are serious or a repeat offense, or you refuse to cooperate, you may lose access to Uber. Any behavior involving violence, sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, or illegal activity while using Uber can result in the immediate loss of your account. Uber will also deactivate the account of any driver who receives several or serious complaints of poor, unsafe, or distracted driving while using the Uber app.

    Zero Tolerance for Drugs and Alcohol

    Uber does not tolerate the use of drugs or alcohol by partners while driving.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? The account of any driver found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while using the Uber app will be permanently deactivated. Uber may also deactivate the account of any driver who receives several unconfirmed complaints of drug or alcohol use.

    Compliance with the Law

    We expect drivers using the Uber app to act in compliance with all relevant state, federal and local laws and the rules of the road at all times. This includes meeting the regulatory requirements for rideshare or for-hire drivers in your area.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? Uber may permanently deactivate your account for activities such as: engaging in serious illegal activity while using the Uber app; not maintaining valid vehicle registration or drivers license; and receiving serious traffic citations, or several traffic citations that indicate unsafe driving, while using the Uber app.

    Firearms Ban

    Uber prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms in a vehicle while using our app. You can learn more about our firearms prohibition policy here. [1] If you violate Ubers firearms prohibition policy, you may lose access to Uber.

    Background Checks

    All drivers wanting to use the Uber app are required to undergo a screening process, like motor vehicle record and background checks, to ensure safety and compliance with our criteria.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? We will permanently deactivate a drivers account if a routine motor vehicle record or background check uncovers a violation of Ubers safety standards or of other criteria required by local regulators.

    Unacceptable Activities

    To maintain the transparency and safety of each trip for all users, activities conducted outside of Ubers system like anonymous pickups are prohibited.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? We will take action against a driver for activities such as: accepting illegal street hails while using the Uber app; harming the business or brand, like unauthorized use of Ubers trademark or intellectual property, or otherwise violating the drivers agreement with Uber; and soliciting payment of fares outside the Uber system.


    Fraudulent activity undermines the trust on which Uber is built. Thats why we are constantly on the lookout for fraud by riders and drivers who are gaming our systems.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? We will deactivate any account or accounts associated with fraudulent activity, which may include: deliberately increasing the time or distance of a trip; accepting trips without the intention to complete, including provoking riders to cancel; creating dummy rider or driver accounts for fraudulent purposes; claiming fraudulent fees or charges, like false cleaning fees; and intentionally accepting or completing fraudulent or falsified trips.

    Accurate Personal Information

    The Uber app is designed to give riders identifying information about drivers and their vehicles, like their name, profile picture, vehicle model and license plate number, before the trip begins. Inaccurate or outdated information creates confusion among riders and can diminish their experience with Uber.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? We will deactivate your account for activities such as: providing Uber with inaccurate information; allowing someone else to use your account; and taking a trip using an unapproved vehicle.

    In addition, we will take action to prevent any driver whose required documentation becomes invalid like a drivers license that expires from going online until the driver provides Uber with updated information.


    Ubers mission is to connect riders to reliable transportation, everywhere for everyone. We have a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination of any kind at Uber.

    What leads to you losing access to your account? It is unacceptable to refuse to provide services based on where someone is going, or characteristics like a persons race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender identity, age or any other characteristic protected under relevant federal, state or local law. Actions like these will result in permanent deactivation of your account.

    We want to help increase the transportation options for riders with disabilities. Thats why we have information available for drivers on this topic. See here for more on Ubers commitment to accessibility. We expect drivers using the Uber app to comply with all relevant state, federal and local laws governing the transportation of riders with disabilities, including transporting service animals.

    Getting Back on the Road After Deactivation

    If your account has been deactivated for quality reasons like low star ratings, you may have the opportunity to get back on the road if you provide proof that youve successfully taken a quality improvement course offered by third party experts, available in most U.S. cities today. Check with your local Uber team or help.uber.comto find out more. We are also exploring whether these experts provide the option of an equivalent online course, so that this is available to drivers everywhere in the United States at a low cost. In addition, we are exploring ways to create an appeals process for the most contentious cases. We will update this document as and when we have that process in place.

    Last updated: December 8, 2016


    [1] To the extent permitted by applicable law.

    [2] This policy does not apply to drivers using the Uber app for UberRUSH and UberEATS.

    Check What Your Home Value Is Now!

  • Dr Travis Bradberry looks at the benefits of being a 'nice' boss - and how you can become one.

    Many bosses assume that a leader needs to be aloof and tough on employees in order to be effective. They fear that looking soft will erode their employees motivation and respect for them. To prove their case, they cite examples of brilliant leaders who modeled a tough leadership style, such as Steve Jobs, who berated his employees.

    When it comes to success as a leader, radically tough leadership styles are exceptions to the rule, not the rule. Recent research has shown that overly tough bosses create significant health and motivation problems in their employees, which will make you think twice about taking the tough-as-nails approach.

    Overly tough bosses create stress, and lots of it, as the research shows: A University of London study found an especially strong link between heart disease and boss-inflicted stress, while a University of Concordia study found that employees who rate themselves as highly stressed added 46% to their employers health care costs. Research from the Institute of Naval Medicine found that overly tough bosses cause people to seek jobs elsewhere, to perform at a lower level, to decline promotions, and even to quit. Finally, a survey from Randstad Consulting showed that most employees would trade in their bosses for better ones rather than receive a $5,000 pay raise. People dont leave jobs; they leave bad bosses.

    The thing is, nice bosses dont just prevent health and motivational problems among their employees; they create massive benefits that hard-nosed bosses cant. A California State Long Beach study found that leaders who treat their teams fairly have far more cohesive and productive teams and that the individuals in those teams perform better. Research from the University of Virginia found that leaders who were considered self-sacrificing and helpful were viewed as especially inspirational and motivational and their employees were more helpful to their colleagues and more committed to their teams.

    So, what exactly does a nice boss look like, and how does one pull this off without being a push over? Lets find out.

    They'rekind without being weak. One of the toughest things for leaders to master is kindness. Its a balancing act, and the key to finding balance is to recognize that true kindness is inherently strongits direct and straightforward. Telling people the difficult truth they need to hear is much kinder than protecting them (or yourself) from a difficult conversation. This is weak. Also, true kindness doesnt come with expectations. Kindness is thin when you use it in a self-serving mannerpeople can see right through kindness when a kind leader has an agenda.

    They'restrong without being harsh. Strength is an important quality in a leader. People will wait to see if a leader is strong before they decide to follow his or her lead or not. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show strength themselves when their leader does the same.

    A lot of leaders mistake domineering, controlling, and otherwise harsh behavior for strength. They think that taking control and pushing people around will somehow inspire a loyal following. Strength isnt something you can force on people; its something you earn by demonstrating it time and again in the face of adversity. Only then will people trust that they should follow you.

    They'reconfident, without being cocky. We gravitate to confident leaders because confidence is contagious, and it helps us to believe that there are great things in store. The trick, as a leader, is to make certain your confidence doesnt slip into arrogance and cockiness. Confidence is about passion and belief in your ability to make things happen, but when your confidence loses touch with reality, you begin to think you can do things you cant and have done things you havent. Suddenly its all about you. This arrogance makes you lose credibility.

    Great, confident leaders are still humble. They dont allow their accomplishments and position of authority to make them feel that theyre better than anyone else. As such, they dont hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they dont ask their followers to do anything they arent willing to do themselves.

    They stay positive, but remain realistic. Another major challenge that leaders face is finding the balance between keeping things positive and still being realistic. Think of a sailboat with three people aboard: a pessimist, an optimist, and a great leader. Everything is going smoothly until the wind suddenly sours. The pessimist throws his hands up and complains about the wind; the optimist sits back, saying that things will improve; but the great leaders says, We can do this! and he adjusts the sails and keeps the ship moving forward. The right combination of positivity and realism is what keeps things moving forward.

    They'rerole models, not preachers. Great leaders inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that integrity is important to them, but great leaders walk their talk by demonstrating integrity every day. Harping on people all day long about the behavior you want to see has a tiny fraction of the impact you achieve by demonstrating that behavior yourself.

    They'rewilling to take a bullet for their people. The best leaders will do anything for their teams, and they have their peoples backs no matter what. They dont try to shift blame, and they dont avoid shame when they fail. Theyre never afraid to say, The buck stops here, and they earn peoples trust by backing them up. Great leaders also make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insights, and ask good questions is destined for failure.

    They balance work and fun. There are plenty of bosses out there who know how to have fun. Unfortunately, this is often at the expense of results. And for every boss out there who has a bit too much fun, theres one who doesnt know how to have any fun at all. It takes a kind, but balanced leader to know how to motivate and push employees to be their best but to also have the wherewithal to slow it down at the appropriate time in order to celebrate results and have fun. This balance prevents burnout, builds a great culture, and gets results.

    They form personal connections. Even in a crowded room, kind leaders make people feel like theyre having a one-on-one conversation, as if theyre the only person in the room that matters. And, for that moment, they are. Kind leaders communicate on a very personal, emotional level. They never forget that theres a flesh-and-blood human being standing in front of them.

    They deliver feedback flawlessly. It takes a tactful leader to deliver feedback that is accurate and objective but also considerate and inspirational. Leaders who are kind know how to take into account the feelings and perspectives of their employees while still delivering the message they need to hear in order to improve.

    Theyre generous.Great leaders are generous. They share credit and offer enthusiastic praise and theyre as committed to their followers success as they are to their own. They want to inspire all their employees to achieve their personal best not just because it will make the team more successful, but because they care about each person as an individual.

    A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. John Maxwell

    Bringing It All Together

    Kind leaders are dynamic; they meld a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole. Incorporate the behaviors above into your repertoire, and youll see immediate improvement in your leadership skills.

    Have you worked for a nice boss? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.


    Dr. Travis Bradberryis the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book,Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder ofTalentSmart, the world's leading provider ofemotional intelligence testsandtraining, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

    Search for your new home here...click:

  • byonDecember 28, 2016inFor Buyers,For Sellers

    When it comes to buying a home, whether you are a rookie homebuyer or have gone through the process many times, having a local real estate expert who is well versed in the neighborhood you are looking to move into, as well as the trends of that area, should be your goal.

    One great example of an agent who is in your corner and is always looking out for your best interests is one of the main characters on ABCs Modern Family, Phil Dunphy.

    For those who arent familiar, the characterPhil is a Realtor with a huge heart who always strives to do his best for his family and his clients.

    In one recent episode, Phil even shared the oath that he created and holds himself accountable to:

    "On my honor, I promise to aid in man's quest for shelter, to recognize I'm not just in the business of houses -- I'm in the business of dreams in the shape of houses. To disclose all illegal additions, shoddy construction, murders, and ghosts. And to put my clients' needs before my own."

    While this might seem silly, and it was definitely written with humor in mind, the themes of helping someone achieve the American Dream and putting a client's needs above your own are not to be taken lightly.

    Bottom Line

    When you make the decision to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, make sure you look for an agent who exemplifies these values and will help you through every step of the process.

  • How Much Does It Cost To Rent Vs. Buy A House?

    Are you trying to decide whether you should rent or buy your home?

    One important factor to consider is cost. But with so many variables entering the equation, it can be daunting to sit down and calculate everything by hand.

    This rent vs. buy calculator makes the math easy so you can determine the total estimated cost of renting vs. buying. Simply provide the required inputs, compute your totals, and print out a detailed report!

    As powerful as this renting versus buying calculator is, there are more factors to consider besides just financial cost.

    There are many advantages and disadvantages to both renting and buying. Heres what you need to know to make a smart decision. . . .

    Advantages And Disadvantages Of Renting

    Depending on your life situation, financial status, and tolerance level, renting a house might be the best option for you. Here are some factors to consider when renting a home.

    Advantages Of Renting:

    Youre free from the hassle of maintenance problems. The landlord is responsible for all maintenance including appliances and miscellaneous repairs. No muss, no fuss.Rental payments might be less than mortgage payments. You wont have to worry about paying property taxes and other incidental costs of owning a house. Changes in the price of housing wont affect you as much thus lowering your risk in the event of another housing decline.You can easily move. When you own a home, you might need to sell it before you can afford to move. When youre renting you can just pick up and go giving your life increased flexibility. You arent tied down by a mortgage.

    Disadvantages Of Renting:

    Some landlords will not allow you to make minor alterations without consulting them first. This could include hanging pictures, and other fixtures that would leave holes in the walls. This make it hard to ever truly feel at home.Some landlords dont pay much attention to concerns regarding repairs and maintenance. It might be difficult to get your landlord to take action quickly, if at all, when something goes wrong.Rentals arent investments. Rent payments never build equity but they can for your landlord. This means you are on an endless treadmill of eternal rent payments as long as you choose not to own.

    Lets switch gears for a moment and take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of buying a house.

    Advantages And Disadvantages Of Buying A House

    Home ownership is not for everyone, but there are some financial and emotional advantages to consider . . . .

    Advantages Of Buying A House:

    The house will be all yours once you pay off the mortgage. Also, the odds greatly favor that you will earn some capital gains if you remain in the house long-term. Neither of these will occur as long as you rent.Youll have the option to rent the house out should to decide to move. Rental earnings can be used to pay the mortgage.You can pay off your home and stop making monthly payments. Once the mortgage is paid then your housing costs will fall dramatically thus lowering your risk long-term while increasing your equity.You have the freedom to remodel and improve your home whenever you want. No landlords to stop your creative expression!

    Disadvantages of Buying A House:

    Its a long-term financial commitment. Its expensive to buy and sell real estate thus only making financial sense if you have a long-term perspective.It can be stressful to maintain a house. It takes time and money to complete repairs and maintenance. Some people dont want to be bothered.Theres no guarantee that the value of your house will increase. Theres a chance that you may even incur losses if youre forced to sell it due to relocation or financial constraints.Youll need to shell out a lot of money for the down payment, broker fees, and closing costs. The Rent vs. Buy Calculator will take these costs into account and show you which is the best deal.Final Thoughts

    Its important to notice how this Rent vs. Buy Calculator asks you the length of time youll stay in the house.

    This is a critically important input that dramatically impacts your decision because the costs of owning a home change over time. Dont make the mistake of looking at monthly payments alone. Its important to consider future expenses and changing housing needs.

    Traditional wisdom advised to buy because homes are an investment. But remember, these investments can go down in value as evidenced by the 2008-2009 housing collapse in the United States. Nothing is certain.

    This is why its crucial to take a birds-eye view of your situation. Why are you moving? What costs are involved? Is this temporary or long-term? How much can you afford? How much do utilities cost? Will you have a longer or shorter commute to work?

    The Rent vs. Buy Calculator will make the financial portion of this decision easy by weighing all the costs into a complete analysis. When coupled with your personal needs as discussed above, it will help you make a smart decision you can live with.

  • Finding the right home to buy is a process. The typical home buyer looks at around 10 homes before making an offer. If you are on your 30th home and still cant find something that you like, perhaps you are paying attention to the wrong features when you are viewing homes. Below are a list of things that you SHOULD NOT dwell on when buying a home and what you need to consider instead.

    Paint Color

    Paint colors, inside and out, can always be changed! Instead of seeing unappealing paint colors as a turn-off, look at them as an opportunity personalize the home to your liking once you move in by repainting. If youre concerned with the amount of work that painting involves, you should know that painting is an inexpensive project to hire out

    *Instead of paint color, pay attention to a homes architectural details.


    Never pay attention to the furniture in a home for sale because more than likely, itll be leaving with the home sellers! And even if the furniture comes with the home, it can easily be sold at a garage sale or donated to a local charity, many of which offer free pick-up.

    *Instead of the sellers furniture, pay attention to the size and layout of each room.

    Window Treatments

    Window treatments do typically stay with the home, but they are so easy to swap out that they should never be considered when purchasing a home. For most new homeowners, its exciting to change out window treatments to fit their design preference.

    *Instead of window treatments, pay attention to the energy efficiency of the windows and the light they allow into the home.

    Light Fixtures

    Light fixtures also stay with the home, but as with window treatments, swapping them out with something new is a simple DIY task. Updating light fixtures is an easy way to personalize the home to your taste. If the light fixtures that you are removing are in good condition, you can probably even get a few bucks for them by listing them on Craigslist!

    *Instead of light fixtures, pay attention to the electrical wiring and notice if rooms have the capability for overhead lighting.


    Most parents and pet owners desire homes with fenced in yards. They offer privacy and security and are certainly nice to have! But never rule out a home if it doesnt have a fence because they are relatively easy and inexpensive to install yourself.

    *Instead of fencing, pay attention to other details of the yard such as size and slope.


  • Get quick tips for time-saving cleanup on your most-used kitchen tools.A Blender Cleaning Secret

    1. Family physician and author Jill Grimes has a great tip to clean the blender. 'After you pour your drink, take the pitcher straight to the sink. Put in a little water and a drop of dish soap, put it back on the blender, and turn it on for 20 seconds. Rinse it out and youre done.' From Best You2 Microwave Cleaning Shortcuts

    2. The quickest way to clean a microwave oven is to place a handful of wet paper towels inside and run it on High for 3-5 minutes. You don't need a science lesson to know that the steam from the towels will soften the grime. Once the paper towels cool down, use them to wipe the oven's interior. -- Amazing Home Problem Solver 3. To deodorize, combine 1 cup of water with cup of lemon juice in a measuring cup or bowl and heat it on high for 35 minutes. Let it stand in the microwave for 510 minutes before removing. -- How to Clean Just About EverythingA Quick Coffee Pot Tip

    4. The glass jug that comes with a coffeemaker can quickly develop a brown, blotchy haze especially when you leave it on for long periods of time. For the quickest cure, you will need some ice, salt and a lemon. Fill the empty jug a quarter full of ice. Cut the lemon into quarters and squeeze two of the quarters into the jug. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Swirl the mixture in the jug for 2 minutes and the inside surface will quickly come clean. Rinse under the tap. -- Five Minute Fixes

    Clean a Cast-Iron Pan

    5. Most cooks know that you should never use liquid soap on a cast-iron pan and never scrub it with anything abrasive if you want to maintain its well-oiled nonstick surface. So how do you clean it? Use salt. If the pan will not rinse clean with water and a soft dishcloth, rub it with a few tablespoons of salt and a paper towel, and rinse. Then replenish the oil film by coating the inside surface with a dab of cooking oil. -- Five Minute FixesA Coffee Grinder Trick

    6. Run a small handful of uncooked white rice through the coffee grinder, especially if you use it for grinding anything other than coffee beans. Most coffee experts advise against using your machine for grinding dry spices since the smells from grinding ingredients, such as cinnamon sticks and dried basil, are nearly always impossible to get out. -- How to Clean Just About EverythingCheese Grater Tip

    7. Keep a clean pastry brush handy for removing every last remnant of grated food left behind in the tiny grates. It works like a charm on both sides of the grater. -- How to Clean Just About Everything

    Disinfect the Garbage Disposal

    8. Deep clean and deodorize a waste disposal unit by grinding ice cubes made with half vinegar, half water. -- Amazing Home Problem SolverCoffee Cup Saver

    9. Remove coffee stains from china cups by scrubbing them with equal parts vinegar and salt.By:READER'S DIGEST EDITORS
  • The middle schoolers brain

    When Im a grown-up, I want to be totally awesome.

    The tweens and early teens of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are often hormone-addled, pimpled, unpredictable narcissists, rudely defiant one second and emotionally clingy the next. Theyve probably calculated that youre not as completely cool as Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran,Stephen Curry, or even their faddishly-dressed BFF and they let you know it. You may wonder if your precious childs body is inhabited by aliens. Honestly, close guess those invading aliens are hormones.

    When kids reach puberty, their brains produce gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). When GnRH courses into the tiny pituitary gland, two additional hormones luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) escape and basically run wild. In boys, these hormones swim south, telling the testes to start manufacturing testosterone and sperm. In girls, LH and FSH manipulate the ovaries, soliciting production of estrogen. Either way, all hell breaks loose.


    During this traumatic time, we need to provide often-unwanted (but typically much-needed) love, advice, and support which is why its helpful to know whats occurring, anatomically, in their evolving noggins. Heres how you can better understand and navigate the cranial crises of your adolescent child.

    Judgment or lack thereof

    From middle school to maturity, the brains primary growth area is the prefrontal cortex of the frontal lobes, a region thats referred to as the CEO or central decision-maker of the brain. The cognitive control center, its responsible for functions like mediating conflicting emotions, making ethical decisions, inhibiting emotional and sexual urges, general intelligence and predicting future events. If youve noticed your 11-year-old son can be frightfully disorganized, or that your tween daughter now seeks a private area, like in a locked box or drawer, for secret items or a journal, you can trace these behaviors back to the brain of their brains, so to speak.

    And right now its changing tremendously in a rewiring process that fortifies certain neural highways while virtually abandoning the majority of others. The transitional activity of this rewiring phase is disorienting for your young teen, and often exhibits itself in recklessness, poor decision-making, and emotional outbursts.

    Pleasure seekers

    A research article published in Cerebral Cortex (January 2010) suggests that adolescents indulge in risk-taking behavior because the anterior insula is more highly-activated in young teens than in adults, and the ventral striatum peaks in middle adolescence. These regions are hypersensitive to reward. Underdevelopment of frontal lobes also makes youngsters behave more emotionally, because theyre still making decisions with their wild, fight-or-flight, reptilian-brain amygdala, instead of with their reasonable, civilized (and still growing) prefrontal cortex. Warn your impulsive daredevil about the dangers of drugs, smoking, alcohol, unsafe sex, and out-of-control skateboarding without a helmet, emphasizing the catastrophic harm that can befall their most prized possession: the mind.

    Weird growth

    Yikes! Whats growing? Tell your child immediately (if you havent already) about the physical changes ahead, which are triggered by the GnRH and LH hormone releases. For girls: breasts, acne, pubic hair, menstruation, wider hips. For boys: underarm, pubic, and facial hair, acne, larger testicles, wet dreams, erections, etc. If you dont warn your pubescent progeny, theyll be freaked out by gross surprises. Plus, tell them while they squirm and cringe that they might start to develop crushes. Middle schoolers are often self-conscious about their bodys developments, with anxiety about how others view them.

    Feed the brain

    Many sixth, seventh, and eighth graders want to slurp unhealthy junk food and soda pop into their gullets, because the pleasure centers of their brain develop sooner than their ability to calculate long-term consequences. Theyll beg for it. But dont cave in: Junk food contains chemicals that can disrupt their hormonal secretions. Instead, help your child eat healthy food and explain that it fosters their brain development. (Try some healthy brain foods for kids.) The Centers for Disease Control recommends a diet filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, which is moderate in sugar, salt and saturated fats. This doesnt mean putting your child on a no-fat diet! Healthy fats such as egg yolks, avocado, and salmon are known to support brain function. Avoid the obesity that weighs down almost 20 percent of U.S. children this age studies show obesity can eventually cause a decline in the brains cognitive abilities, particularly in learning and memory. Studies also indicate that bulimia nervosa can negatively affect brain regions involved in the reward circuitry, and according to researchers at Yale, anorexia may shrink the afflicteds grey matter.

    No virtual violence

    Gamers played one of two types of video games while researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine used MRIs to watch which brain regions were stimulated. When kids played Need for Speed: Underground a non-violent game activity was observed in the frontal area, a zone associated with concentration and self-control. But when kids played Medal of Honor: Frontline a violent game there was no frontal area activation; instead, the amygdala was excited. (Thats the reptilian part of the brain.) The amygdala is affiliated with emotional arousal especially anger and is linked to aggressive, impulsive behaviors. Repeated firing up of reptilian zones can hardwire a developing brain for less self-control, which is not great in middle school or in adulthood. So if you purchase video games, make sure the focus is on racing or skill, not violence.

    Tuning in to tweens

    An article in Journal of Adolescent Researchreports that in a study of 6,026 middle schoolers, students enrolled in formal instrumental or choral music instruction . . . outperformed [their peers] in algebra. The correlation was especially noted with African-American pupils. Seem like a coincidence? Think again: Research suggests that, musicians process music in the same cortical regions that adolescents process algebra.

    Gender gap

    Girls and boys brains are vastly different in middle school. The National Institute of Health discovered that the halfway mark in brain development (called the inflection point) occurs in females just before they turn 11, but dawdling males dont get there until theyre nearly 15. Academic abilities might also vary widely by gender. In girls, language and fine motor skills generally mature first, up to six years earlier. In the past, girls were found to lag behind boys in math, raising the possibility that girls brain development differed from boys. But since recent research finds girls now perform as well as boys in math, a more probable cause for the gender gap is culture not biology.

    Check mate

    Strengthened interconnectedness in middle school isnt just a social phenomenon its in their brain architecture, too. Youll see it in your childs improved ability to plan, problem solve, process complex thought, do deductive reasoning, and process information. To multiply your middle schoolers mental powers, encourage them to play chess. Studies indicate that the tactical thinking required in the Game of Kings initiates a significant advance in mathematical ability. Other strategic brain-builders are checkers, backgammon, and the UniWar app for iPhone and Android.

    Brain and brawn

    When it comes to helping your tween develop their mind, its worth challenging their muscles as well. Research shows that exercise has a significant positive effect on kids cognitive development. Students with higher fitness levels get higher grades and perform better on tests.One study found that strenuous aerobic exercise just before academically challenging classes help kids absorb and retain new material.

    Jay Giedd, neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, has remarked that, recess and play seems to be the first thing that is cut out of school curriculums But those actually may be as important, or maybe even more important, than some of the academic subjects that the children are doing To buff up both their brain and their body, encourage your middle schooler to be active, play sports, and exercise regularly. Parents can also work out with them to provide healthy role models.

    Benevolent rule

    A middle-schoolers evolving brain requires firm guidance from diligent adults. Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind, author of Prototypical Descriptions of 3 Parenting Styles, recommends authoritative parenting because it provides consistent, compassionate, goal-clarifying direction, and allows the child to build self-esteem by making intelligent choices. Over-controlling authoritarian parents who scold incessantly can instill a sense of inadequacy in their offspring, and over-indulgent permissive parents that heap silly praise without justification just give their kids a false sense of attainment.

    Employ these tactics in your battle to raise a mature and sensible kid, and youll be a totally awesome parent, even if your teen doesnt come out and say it just yet. Just wait someday he certainly will.

    by: | March 4, 2016

  • For the Week Ending January 27, 2017

    Equities are rallying. The Dow Jones got the most press this week when it hit a new high of 20,000. The S&P and the Nasdaq reached new highs as well.The Fed will meet next week, although it's not likely we'll see a policy rate increase right now. The Fed has said it will probably raise rates 3 times this year.However, mortgage rates are influenced by bond market movement and are not controlled directly by the Fed. Current economic growth could pressure mortgage rates higher.After 3 straight months of gains, new home sales were down slightly in December. Demand remained strong despite recent slight rate increases.Existing home sales were also down slightly, with the decline being blamed on short inventory. Supply of previously owned homes was at a 17-year low in December.The median price for new homes rose to $322,500, a 7% increase from December 2015. Home sales prices are expected to continue to increase in 2017.

    A guy walks into a bar and takes a seat. Before he can order a beer, the bowl of pretzels in front of him says, "Hey, you're a handsome fellow."

    The man tries to ignore the bowl of pretzels and orders a fine pilsner beer.

    The bowl of pretzels then says, "Ooooh, a pilsner, great choice. You're a smart man."

    Starting to freak out, the guy says to the bartender, "Hey, what the heck? This bowl of pretzels keeps saying nice things to me!"

    The bartender replies, "Don't worry about it. The pretzels are complimentary."

    Rate movements and volatility are based on published, aggregate national averages and measured from the previous to the most recent midweek daily reporting period. These rate trends candiffer from our own and are subject to change at any time.

    Update provided by:

    Joe Brockman

    Branch Manager | NMLS #353454 academymortgage.com/joebrockman

  • By Sage Singleton

    When disasters strike, they come without warning. This is why you need to prepare for emergencies ahead of time. These 10 tips will help safeguardyour home and family, and save you time, money, and stress should an emergency occur.

    Protect your home from break-ins.A home invasion occurs every thirteen seconds in the United States. This alarmingly high rate means its essential to safeguard your home from burglars by investing in a home security system.

    Know potential threats and emergencies relevant to your location.If you live in the Midwest, tornados are a bigger threat than floods. If you live in California, earthquakes are a real danger. Teach your family about the natural threats common to your location and what to do should one occur. Having a plan and instinctively knowing what to do can save your life in the event of a disaster.

    Inspect your outdoor lighting. Make sure to check your outdoor lights to see if any need to be added or replaced. Well-lit homes help deter burglars and prevent accidents.

    Perform regular home safety checks. Every month, inspect your home for signs of broken or damaged items. Make sure your roof, basement, attic, pipes, and foundation are in good condition. Check your door locks, garage door, and windows for any broken parts. Regularly fixing up your home will help maintain its value and keep it in great condition.

    Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. An average of $12 billion in personal property is lost in fires each year. Protect your home and personal items by routinely testing your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Not only will this protect your home and property, but it can also save your life.

    Inspect your fire extinguisher. Check the pressure gauge to see if the needle is in the green, and replace or service it if it isnt. Also examine the hose and nozzle for cracks, and youll need to replace your fire extinguisher if the handle is missing the locking pin or is broken. Should a home fire occur, you will be prepared to handle the situation because your fire extinguisher will be in great working condition.

    Create an emergency communication plan. Discuss what everyone in your home will do in case of a disaster. Talk with each family member about their responsibilities, where you will meet, and how to communicate with one another. If communication lines are down, it's important to have a central meeting location established so everyone can meet and regroup. Discuss different disaster scenarios and come up with a communication and action plan that everyone knows and can enact if necessary.

    List relevant contact information and make it easily accessible to everyone. Keep contact information on hand in case of an emergency. While you may keep numbers in your cellphone, it's smart to keep a hard copy of key contacts in your home. This list can include your primary care physician, poison control, and a trusted neighbor.

    Keep 72-hour emergency kits in your home and car. The CDC recommends putting together an emergency kit that includes the following.

    One gallon of water per person, per dayNon-perishable food that is easy to prepA can openerImportant medicationA radioFlashlightsBatteriesToilet paper

    Compile and regularly update your home inventory. If you need to file an insurance claim after a blizzard or burglary, itll help to have an itemized inventory for your valuable home goods. Store instruction manuals, serial numbers, and important receipts in files that you can access easily when needed.

    Incorporate these ten safety hacks into your to-do list and youll be able to safeguard your home, property, and family should a disaster or emergency occur.

    Posted on Jan 24 2017 - 4:29pm by Housecall

  • So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

    This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

    How to Choose an Inspector

    Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

    Qualifications find out whats included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.Sample Reports ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.References do your homework ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.Memberships Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that there is continued training and education provided.Errors & Omission Insurance Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

    Ask your inspector if its ok for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

    Dont be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

    Bottom Line

    They say ignorance is bliss, but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

  • Fannie Maes article, What Consumers (Dont) Know About Mortgage Qualification Criteria, revealed that only 5 to 16 percent of respondents know the correct ranges for key mortgage qualification criteria.

    Myth #1: I Need a 20% Down Payment

    Fannie Maessurvey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report,76% of Americans either dont know (40%) or are misinformed (36%) about the minimum down payment required.

    Many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, but many programs actually let buyers put down as little as 3%.

    Below are the results of a Digital Risk survey of Millennials who recently purchased a home.

    As you can see, 64.2% were able to purchase their home by putting down less than 20%, with 43.8% putting down less than 10%!

    Myth #2: I need a 780 FICO Score or Higher to Buy

    The survey revealed that 59% of Americans either dont know (54%) or are misinformed (5%) about what FICO score is necessary to qualify.

    Many Americans believe a good credit score is 780 or higher.

    To help debunk this myth, lets take a look at Ellie MaeslatestOrigination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans. As you can see below, 54.7% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

    Bottom Line

    Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.

    by on January 30, 2017 in Down Payments,

  • So youve been searching for that perfect house to call a home, and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market that you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee your dream of making this house yours comes true!

    Freddie Maccovered4 Tips for Making an Offerin their latestExecutive Perspective. Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

    1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

    While it's not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.

    This tip or step really should take place before you start your home search process.

    As weve mentionedbefore, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

    2. Act Fast

    Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.

    According to the latestExisting Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.6-month supply; This is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for anormal market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

    Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

    3. Make a Solid Offer

    Freddie Macoffers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

    Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.

    Consider ways of making your offer stand out! Many buyers write apersonal letter to the sellerletting them know how much they would love to be the new homeowners. Your agent will be able to help you figure out if there are any other ways your offer could stand out above the rest.

    4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

    It's likely that you'll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you'll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.

    Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.

    If your offer is approved,Freddie Macurges you toalways get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home. If the inspection uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract.

    Bottom Line

    Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

    byonJanuary 31, 2017inFirst Time Home Buyers,

  • Everybody pees. Humans pee in toilets (or diapers), dogs pee on grass and cats pee in litter boxes.

    But sometimes, for reasons known only to them, cats choose to bypass the litter box and pee wherever they damn well feel like peeing. Because they're cats and cats do what they want.

    And dogs? Well, they're often just as guilty.

    But fear not: Where there's pee, there's a solution literally and figuratively.

    First things first. Get some towels (and maybe a gas mask, because pee is no joke) and blot up as much urine as you can. Don't rub: It'll push urine deeper into the carpet, and that will only make life harder.

    "If it's a large spot and you don't want to waste paper towels, use a cloth towel or old clothes that can be thrown away," Animal Planet suggests. "If the spot is on the carpet, stand on the wet spot (remember to wear shoes)."

    Here are 5 methods that work when cleaning up a pee stain, whether it's wet or already set in.

    1. White vinegarShutterstock

    White vinegar neutralizes odors and works well for wet stains, and can help with those that have been there a while, too.

    "Start by blotting the area," Vetstreet suggests. "Then mix equal parts white vinegar and cold water, and pour the mixture generously over the soiled section. Blot well, and then let it dry. (A fan can speed up the process.) Once dry, run a vacuum over the area."

    2. Baking sodaShutterstock

    If the urine stain has been there for a while, Petfinder recommends sprinkling a bunch of baking soda on it, letting it sit for an hour or longer, then vacuuming it up.

    3. Club sodaShutterstock

    "When it comes to pre-treating a soiled carpet, club soda works great for nearly any type of pet stain. Since it's only effective while the soda is effervescing, the treatment may need to be applied several times," Vetstreet says.

    Make sure to blot the area before pouring on club soda. "Once the solution has stopped fizzing, immediately blot the spot again, repeating as necessary. If the stain isn't fresh, you'll likely need to follow up with the above baking soda treatment."

    4. A quick homemade concoctionShutterstock

    "Mix 3/4 cup of three percent hydrogen peroxide (you know you have some under your bathroom sink) with 1 teaspoon of dish detergent," Animal Planet suggests. "Sprinkle this solution over the baking soda and test a small spot. You need to do this because sometimes peroxide can discolor or bleach fabrics. Work the baking soda into the fabric or carpet."

    5. Citrus-enzyme cleanerShutterstock

    Stain removal products usually include enzymes to digest and break down stains and odors on a molecular level, and Everyday Roots recommends making your own at home to save money. But this takes THREE MONTHS to set, so it's something you'll want to have on hand for the future.

    You'll need 7 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 cups of lemon and orange peels, 1 liter of water and a large clear container that can hold the liquid and peels.

    "Funnel 7 tablespoons of brown sugar into your container, and add the fruit," the website suggests. "Next, add the water, and tightly screw on the cap, giving everything a good shake to mix it around. Loosen the cap and leave it on halfway to release the gases and ensure your bottle doesn't explode due to the build-up."

    It's important to clean the urine as soon as you spot it or step in it. Dogs and cats are likely to mark their territory over and over again if the urine isn't cleaned thoroughly.

    6. Keeping the house pee-free"In areas where your dog has urinated try to keep him from it or take away the attraction," Dogtime suggests. "For example, if he has urine-marked a house plant, move the plant to another spot he can't get to."

    If your cat refuses to use his litter box, the problem could be the litter box. According to Pet Place, a cat might avoid her litter box because of her natural desire for cleanliness.

    "If you think the box smells bad, just imagine how it smells to your cat, since she has 200 million odor-sensitive cells in her nose compared to your 5 million," Pet Place says.

    In that case, scoop out the box at least once or twice a day. Change the litter often, and scrub the box with warm, soapy water every week.

    And if your pet still pees in the house after you've cleaned every pee spot over and over again, you may want to just, you know, move.

  • The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the market demand.The National Association of REALTORS (NAR)surveysover 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditionsfor their monthlyREALTORS Confidence Index.

    Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

    Buyer Demand

    The map below was created after asking the question:How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?

    The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only six states had a weak demand level.

    Seller Supply

    The Index also asked:How would you rate seller traffic in your area?

    As you can see from the map below, the majority of the country has weak Seller Traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

    Bottom Line

    Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet the buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, meet with a local real estate professional in your area who can help you capitalize on the demand in the market now!

    byonFebruary 1, 2017

  • Space, space, space! You may prefer a cozy, lived-in look, but when youre selling your home its all about creating a sense of spaciousness for potential buyers. Here are some ways to shuffle things around to make your home feel big to potential buyers.

    Create Pathways

    Keep furniture to the outside of the room to maximize visual space for buyers. But dont push everything up against the walls; keep it floating as much as possible to create a sense of airiness. Ideally, there should be clear pathways around all pieces of furniture and to all exits and entrances. You may need to remove a few pieces of furniture to make the room seem more spacious.

    Keep Things Neutral

    Dark colors make a room seem smaller, so paint dark walls with a light neutral color. The same goes for furniture: cover dark upholstery with light-colored slipcovers or throws to fool the eye, but make sure to use fabrics that arent heavily textured.

    Trick the Eyes with Mirrors

    Mirrors are one of the best tricks to maximize the feeling of space in a small area. Replace wall art with mirrors to create an optical illusion of never-ending space. Placing mirrors opposite windows will also reflect sunlight and the view, in essence doubling their impact.

    Remove Rugs and Drapes

    Rugs and drapes tend to look heavy and draw the eyes down in a space of any size. While these certainly help ground a living space, potential purchasers want to see clean lines and as much clear space as possible to be able to envision their own lives in the home.

    Keep Things Low-Profile

    Low-profile furniture is an easy way to instantly add the feeling of more space to your rooms. Overstuffed couches and massive chairs may be comfortable, but they inhibit maximum use of the room from the buyers perspective. Consider putting bulky furniture in storage and renting low-profile pieces to help sell the house. Glass coffee and end tables always take up less visual room than heavy wooden ones.

    Emphasize Windows

    To begin with, make sure all of your homes windows are sparkling-clean and the woodwork is freshly painted. Think about removing drapes or dark or heavy-looking blinds, or at least have them open or pulled up when youre showing your house. Wooden blinds are a nice feature, but will make the room look smaller.

    Remove Clutter

    Clutter has a way of taking up visual and physical space and sends a chaotic vibe to people. Conquering clutter will make a room look larger and allow buyers eyes to rest on clean spaces. Clear it out, but dont just throw it in a closet buyers look in closets too!

    Make it Bright and Light

    Using higher-wattage bulbs with a daylight spectrum adds the illusion of extra natural light and enlarges even the smallest space. Turn on the lights in both daytime and nighttime showings of the house so buyers can see the effect.

    By Natalie Wise on 6/3/2016

  • Buying your first home conjures up all kinds of warm and fuzzy emotions: pride, joy, contentment. But before you get to the good stuff, youve got to cobble together a down payment, a daunting sum if you follow the textbook advice to squirrel away 20% of a homes cost.

    Here are five creative ways to build your down-payment nest egg faster than you may have ever imagined.

    1. Crowdsource Your Dream Home

    You may have heard of people using sites like Kickstarter to fund creative projects like short films and concert tours. Well, who says you cant crowdsource your first home? Forget the traditional registry, the fine china, and the 16-speed blender. Use sites likeFeather the NestandHatch My Houseto raise your down payment. Hatch My House says its helped Americans raise more than $2 million for down payments.

    2. Ask the Seller to Help (Really!)

    When sellers want to a get a deal done quickly, they might be willing to assist buyers with the closing costs. Fewer closing costs = more money you can apply toward your deposit.

    Theyre called seller concessions, says Ray Rodriguez, regional mortgage sales manager for the New York metro area at TD Bank. Talk with your real estate agent. She might help you negotiate for something like 2% of the overall sales price in concessions to help with the closing costs.

    There are limits on concessions depending on the type of mortgage you get. For FHA mortgages, the cap is 6% of the sale price. For Fannie Mae-guaranteed loans, the caps vary between 3% and 9%, depending on the ratio between how much you put down and the amount you finance. Individual banks have varying caps on concessions.

    No matter where they net out, concessions must be part of the purchase contract.

    3. Look into Government Options

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, offers a number of homeownership programs, including assistance with down payment and closing costs. These are typically available for people who meet particular income or location requirements. HUD has a list oflinks bystatethat direct you to the appropriate page for information about your state.

    HUD offers help based onprofessionas well. If youre a law enforcement officer, firefighter, teacher, or EMT, you may be eligible under itsGood Neighbor Next Door Sales Programfor a 50% discount on a houses HUD-appraised value in revitalization areas. Those areas are designated by Congress for homeownership opportunities. And if you qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage under this program, the down payment is only $100; you can even finance the closing costs.

    For veterans, theVAwill guarantee part of a home loan through commercial lenders. Often, theres no down payment or private mortgage insurance required, and the program helps borrowers secure a competitive interest rate.

    Some cities also offer homeownership help. The city of Hartford has the HouseHartford Program that gives down payment assistance and closing cost assistance, says Matthew Carbray, a certified financial planner with Ridgeline Financial Partners and Carbray Staunton Financial Planners in Avon, Conn. The program partners with lenders, real estate attorneys, and homebuyer counseling agencies and has helped 1,200 low-income families.

    4. Check with Your Employer

    Employer AssistedHousing (EAH) programs help connect low- to moderate-income workers with down payment assistance through their employer. In Pennsylvania, if you work for a participating EAH employer, you can apply for a loan of up to $8,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance. The loan is interest-free and borrowers have 10 years to pay it back.

    Washington University in St. Louis offers forgivable loans to qualified employees who want to purchase housing in specific city neighborhoods. University employees receive the lesser of 5% of the purchase price or $6,000 toward down payment or closing costs.

    Ask the human resources or benefits personnel at your employer if the company is part of an EAH program.

    5. Take Advantage of Special Lender Programs

    Finally, many lenders offer programs to help people buy a home with a small down payment. I would say that the biggest misconception [of homebuying] is that you need 20% for the down paymentofa house, says Rodriguez. There are a lot of programs out there that need a total of 3% or 3.5% down.

    FHA mortgages, for example, can require as little as 3.5%. But bear in mind that there are both upfront and monthly mortgage insurance payments. The mortgage insurance could add another $300 to your monthly mortgage payment, Rodriguez says.

    Some lender programs go even further. TD Bank, for example, offers a 3% down payment with no mortgage insurance program, and other banks may have similar offerings. Check with your regional bank, Rodriguez says. Maybe they have their own first-time buyer program.

    Not so daunting after all, is it? Theres actually a lot of help available to many first-time buyers who want to achieve their homeownership dreams. All you need to do is a little research and start peeking at those home listings!

    Made Possibleby REALTORS

  • If you ever get to the point when you feel as though all of your money seems to go toward paying off debt, you are probably living on the edge of a high debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your debt-to-income ratio is a measure of how much you are paying in debt each month versus how much income you receive. Suffice to say, the higher your DTI, the greater the strain on your financial situation. If your DTI is more than 40 percent, you are under financial stress and you should be doing everything you can to reduce your debt payments or make more money.

    Calculating Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

    If you want to know your DTI, it's easy to calculate. Simply add up all of your debt payments, including your mortgage or rent, car payment, credit card payments, student loan payment and any other debt payment. Then, add your sources of monthly income. You divide your total debt payment by your total income and the result is your DTI ratio.

    Why Your Debt-to-Income Ratio is so Important

    From your personal perspective, the DTI ratio is an important number to watch. The more it creeps up past 40 percent, the less wiggle room you have should your income suddenly drop or you have an unexpected expense. From the perspective of lenders and creditors, your DTI is an indication of how much risk you present. Looking to buy a home? Applicants with a lower DTI ratio will be able to qualify for a higher value mortgage, vs. those with high DTI ratios. Lenders view borrowers with higher DTI ratios as more likely to default. Though your DIT does not affect your credit score, it is sometimes more heavily weighted than your credit score. Don't confuse your DTI ratio with your credit utilization ratio, which is a big part of your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is a measure of how much credit you're using compared to your credit limit.

    Each mortgage lenders has their own DTI requirement; however, as a general rule, a DTI of 43 percent is thought to be the highest you can have and still qualify for a mortgage. Some lenders require a lower DTI ratio. If you have less than great credit, lenders may want to see a lower DTI ratio. Generally, for the best financial health and to expand your opportunities for getting a mortgage, it is recommended that you keep your DTI ratio to less than 36 percent with no more than 28 percent going towards mortgage expenses. Again, if you have less than great credit, you may want to reduce your ratio even further to less than 25 percent.

    How to Lower Your DTI Ratio

    There are two obvious ways to lower your DTI. You can make more money and/or you can reduce your monthly debt payments. As far as making more money, you know your capabilities or limitations better than anyone. If you can handle a side job or a small business on the side, you can increase your income. Any raise you have coming will reduce your DTI ratio as long as you don't increase your debts.

    Pay Down Consumer Debt

    Regardless of your ability to make more money, you should target debt reduction as your number one strategy. Your first target should be your credit card debt. The most effective way to slash your credit card debt is to stop paying for things on credit and then start living below your means. Then, budget for a big enough credit card payment to reduce your credit card debt by a meaningful percentage each month.

    If you have a high interest credit card account, be on the lookout for a zero interest balance transfer offer. If you can transfer a balance and pay no interest for 12 to 18 months, you will be able to pay down your balance faster. Transferring to a zero interest account will also lower your DTI ratio because your minimum payment will be lower. You could accomplish something similar with a personal loan. With a personal loan, you could lower your monthly interest costs, which allows you to pay the balance more quickly. A personal loan can be an effective way to consolidate multiple credit card accounts for a more manageable payment.

    Slash Your Student Debt

    Unfortunately for student loan borrowers, student debt is also counted towards the DTI ratio and, for many, it can be an obstacle to reducing it. As with any other type of debt, the best way to reduce the balance and lower your overall costs is to pay it down more quickly. Student loans do not have prepayment penalties, so by making extra payments, you can reduce the balance and the interest costs. Making extra payments to your student loan won't reduce your interest rate or lower your required payments.

    If your goal is to reduce your monthly payment, your best option is through refinancing. Private loans can be refinanced, and some lenders will also refinance federal loans into a new private loan. Although you could lower your interest costs, and therefore your monthly payment, the disadvantage is you will lose the protections you have under your federal loan. You would no longer be eligible for income-based repayment plans or loan forgiveness. However, with a lower interest rate, you should be able to make additional payments which can drastically reduce the term and cost of your loan.

    Andrew Rombach

    Andrew Rombach is a NYC-based writer with a knack for personal finance. He grew up reading the Wall Street Journal and watching Bloomberg, and today enjoys helping Americans optimize their finances.

  • MENUWhat's this home worth?13 DECEMBER 2016 on Data

    One of the most common questions homebuyers ask is "what's this home worth?"

    A traditional agent might dodge the question by asking how much a home is worth to you. Online price estimates such as Zestimates are notoriously, perhaps purposefully inaccurate.

    We believe this critical question deserves a simple, data-driven answer. Understanding a home's value means you can bid successfully without overpaying. It prevents subsequent problems like a low appraisal or a potential loss when you decide to sell.

    Using comps to price a home

    The best way to create a price estimate for a home is to look at recent, similar, nearby home sales. These are called comps (short for comparable sales) and they are used by appraisers and automated valuation models alike. By selecting the most similar comps and comparing their sold price per sqft, you can create a price estimate that's backed by real data.

  • For owners who can no longer afford to keep mortgage payments current for whatever reason, there are alternatives to bankruptcy or foreclosure proceedings. Foreclosure on a home has consequences for the family, the community, the housing market, and the economy. However, the option for a short sale provides a way for troubled homeowners to prevent foreclosure and many of the dire penalties involved.

    A short sale is an agreement in which your mortgage lender agrees to accept a payoff on the loan for less than the balance. Many lenders agree to a short sale because they receive more of the loan balance in comparison to the amount they would gain from selling the property following a foreclosure. This process also aids in maintaining home values in the community the property is located and helps the homeowner maintain a better level of credit compared to a foreclosure. In most instances, homeowners considering a short sale must meet specific criteria to qualify: you must be behind in your mortgage payments, provide evidence of economic hardship, and have little or no equity in the property.

    A short sale is not a typical real estate transaction. Most real estate transactions involve the home seller and their real estate agent, the buyer and their lender, and their real estate agent. In a short sale situation, all of those parties in addition to the sellers loan servicer, a housing counselor, any junior lien holders, mortgage investors, and insurers may be involved too.

    With so many parties involved in a short sale, the process can be difficult to complete without a qualifiedREALTORto help guide you and act as a liaison between all of the parties involved. You will want the advice and expertise of a REALTOR who has your best interests in mind and will expedite the short sale transaction. It is essential to have a REALTOR who wont allow you to miss a detail that could delay closing the transaction in a timely manner and to the specifics required by all parties involved. A qualified REALTOR with experience in short sales will also be able to find a buyer to complete the transaction. Homeowners agreeing to a short sale should also consult a tax expert and obtain the services of an attorney to help protect themselves from any future claims by the lender.

    If you are considering selling your home and owe more than the home is worth. Please contact us today so we can discuss your options with you, No Obligations and Absolutely FREE to you 909-552-3131

  • Find HUD Homes

    All HUD homes can be found at http://www.HUDHomeStore.com. On this site, you can search by:

    StateCountyCityZip CodeStreetPriceBedroomsBathroomsBuyer TypeStatusFHA Case Number

    To begin searching for HUD homes, visit http://www.HUDHomeStore.com now.

  • A Decent Year for 2016 but Outlook for 2017

    Is Murky California home sales slowed down in December after experiencing strong year-over-year gains in October and November. Sales of existing singlefamily homes in the final month of 2016 dropped 7 percent from November, and declined 0.6 percent from the same month of 2015. Despite the declines, home sales in December were solid and on par with the two-year average sales-pace of 412,000 maintained since 2015. The rising trend in interest rates at the end of 2016 may have carried some sales forward, causing a stronger than normal December for the second year in a row, following an unusually strong sales-pace of December 2015 trigged by the effects of the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rules (TRID).

    Tight inventory remained an issue in California, as the statewide unsold inventory index dropped in December to 2.6 months, the lowest level since May 2013. Despite a decline in closed sales in December, the index worsened as the number of active listings dropped 8.5 percent from December 2015.

    Scant housing inventory exerted upward pressure on home prices and the statewide median price climbed 3.9 percent in December from the previous year. The increase, however, was the smallest since February 2016. The modest increase was attributed partly to the change in the mix of sales between December 2016 and December 2015, as sales were much stronger in the high-end market last December with many non-conventional loans delayed closing due to TRID. This is also a primary reason for the more significant decline in sales in higher-priced regions in December than in other more affordable areas.

    For the year 2016, California managed to edge out a marginal gain of 1.7 percent in existing home sales from last year to hit 416,250, as the state housing market wrapped up the year with a very strong quarter. In fact, the fourth quarter was the strongest we have seen since the last quarter of 2012 when we had our last presidential election. The statewide median price also increased 5.4 percent from 2015 to reach $502,250, and it was the first time since 2007 that the median price surpassed the $500,000 benchmark.

    While the housing market closed out 2016 with a decent performance, it is by no means an indication that the environment will be easy in the upcoming year. As we move forward with a new president and a new administration in 2017, we are chartering into a territory with many uncertainties in the policy arena that will present challenges to the housing market. The future of Fannie and Freddie, the impact of tax reform, the changes to financial regulations such as the Dodd-Frank Act, and the risks of global trade wars are a few of the unknowns that the market will likely encounter in 2017 and beyond. Adding into the mix a rising trend in interest rates, a housing supply shortage, and a persistent affordability crunch, the 2017 housing market outlook will be the most unpredictable one in recent history.

  • The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slight bump in contracts with an increase of 1.6% in December. This news comes as existing home sales are also forecasted to be on pace for 5.54 million in 2017, a 1.7% increase over 2016, which was the best year for sales in a decade.

    The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed.

    According to NARs Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun,

    Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract.

    So, whats the problem?

    Buyers are searching for existing homes, but supply is not keeping up with their demand!

    Yun went on to explain,

    The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing cost. Sales will struggle to build on last years strong pace if inventory conditions dont improve. (emphasis added)

    Bottom Line

    Buyers are out in force right now! If you are considering selling your home this year, the early months of 2017 will be your best option. Contact a local professional today to capitalize on current market conditions.

  • The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled 'Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing. The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:

    Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.

    Today, we want to cover the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on educational achievement. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:

    *The decision to stay in school by teenage students is higher for those raised by home-owning parents compared to those in renter households.*Parental homeownership in low-income neighborhoods has a positive impact on high school graduation.*Though homeownership raises educational outcomes for children, neighborhood stability may have further enhanced the positive outcome.*Children of homeowners tend to have higher levels of achievement in math and reading and fewer behavioral problems.*Educational opportunities are more prevalent in neighborhoods with high rates of homeownership and community involvement.*The average child of homeowners is significantly more likely to achieve a higher level of education and, thereby, a higher level of earnings.Bottom Line

    People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. As we can see, there are also social benefits of owning your own home.

  • Homeowners Net Worth Is 45x Greater Than A Renters

    Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts aSurvey of Consumer Financesin which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowners net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

    In aForbesarticle, theNational Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief EconomistLawrence Yun predicts that by the end of 2016, the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater.

    The graph below demonstrates the results of the last twoFederal Reservestudies and Yuns prediction:

    Put Your Housing Cost to Work for You

    As weve saidbefore, simply put, homeownership is a form of forced savings. Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlords net worth.

    ThelatestNational Housing Pulse SurveyfromNARreveals that 85% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:

    Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldnt be overlooked.

    Bottom Line

    If you are interested in finding out if you could put your housing cost to work for you by purchasing a home, lets get together and evaluate your ability to buy today!

  • About Good Neighbor Next Door

    Law enforcement officers, pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians can contribute to community revitalization while becoming homeowners through HUD's Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program. HUD offers a substantial incentive in the form of a discount of 50% from the list price of the home. In return you must commit to live in the property for 36 months as your sole residence.

    How the Program Works

    Eligible Single Family homes located in revitalization areas are listed exclusively for sale through the Good Neighbor Next Door Sales program. Properties are available for purchase through the program forseven days.

    How to Participate in Good Neighbor Next Door

    Check the listings for your state. Follow the instructions to submit your interest in purchasing a specific home. If more than one person submits an offeron a single home a selection will be made by random lottery. You must meet the requirements for a law enforcement officer, teacher, firefighter or emergency medical technician and comply with HUD's regulations for the program.

    HUD requires that you sign a second mortgage and note for the discount amount. No interest or payments are required on this "silent second" provided that you fulfill the three-year occupancy requirement.

    The number of properties available is limited and the list of available properties changes weekly.

    To learn more, please see our Good Neighbor Mortgage Frequently Asked Questions!
  • The National Servicing Center (NSC) monitors the servicing of Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) loans after closing. The Good Neighbor Sales program allows eligible full-time law enforcement officers, teachers, and firefighters/emergency responders to participate. This page describes GNND participant responsibilities according to program regulations.

    If you have any questions about your GNND mortgage, pleaseclickthereforinformation about how to contact HUD's Loan Servicing Contractor.

    Annual Certifications

    When participants purchase properties under the GNND program they agree to own and live in the property for a three-year period as their sole residence. Participants are required to certify every year that they are living in the property.

    The annual certification is mailed to participants, ready for signature, around the anniversary of the purchase. Participants should sign, date, and return the form to the address specified in the letter. If they fail to return the first letter, a follow-up letter is sent one month later. At times, their return letter and our follow-up letter cross in the mail. If this happens, participants can either contact our servicer to determine if the first certification was received and logged in or they can sign and return the second certification.

    If participants fail to return at least one annual certification per year, NSC refers the case for investigation. An investigator will then make an on-site visit to verify the occupancy of the property. Further, the investigator will ask the participant to sign the annual certification in their presence. In the event that investigation fails to verify occupancy, the participant will be turned over to the Office of Inspector General for further investigation and possible prosecution. To avoid noncompliance, complete and return the annual certification forms promptly and honestly. Falsifying information on this certification is a felony. HUD will prosecute false claims and statements. Conviction may result in criminal and/or civil penalties. (18 USC 1001, 1010, 1012 3559, 3571; 31 USC 3729, 3802).

    Military Duty

    Participants who are called to active military duty are provided clemency in regards to the owner occupancy requirements of the program for the timeframe that they are on active duty. Participants on active military duty are not required to occupy the property and are allowed to rent the property (only while on active duty) if necessary to minimize potential vandalism. However, the NSC needs to be aware of those participants who are on active military duty and are not occupying their property. Participants must notify the NSC according to theMilitary Duty Instructions. Print out the information and instructions and comply with the instructions so that you will not be referred for investigation during your military duty.


    When participants close on their home, they sign a note and a mortgage. The mortgage is filed right after the first (primary) mortgage, making it a second mortgage. When participants pay off their first mortgage (usually done by refinancing), HUD's mortgage moves into first position. If a participant is attempting to refinance their first mortgage, the lender will want its new loan to be in first position. In order to accomplish this, HUD must be willing to subordinate its position to the new first mortgage.

    HUD has certain rules and procedures regarding subordinating. The rules are that HUD will consent to refinancing (1) for the purpose of obtaining an FHA 203(k) rehabilitation loan or (2) for the purpose of obtaining a lower mortgage interest rate or change in the term of the loan and (3) to prevent the participant from defaulting on the first mortgage. The 203(k) loan is a rehabilitation loan in which necessary property improvements are financed into a new loan.

    The closing (or title) agent handling the closing of the new loan should handle the paperwork and details to obtain the HUD subordination. Participants can refer the closing company to this page or they can print theSubordination Informationsheet and take it to the closing company. Read the linked information then mail or fax the subordination request toHUD's Loan Servicing Contractor.

    Pay Offs

    If a participant needs to dispose of the property before expiration of the three-year occupancy period (for job relocation, family composition changes, or refinance),HUD's Loan Servicing Contractorprocesses those payoffs. Fax the request for the payoff with the following information: participant's name, full property address, estimated closing date, company requesting the payoff, company address, company telephone number, return fax number, and signed permission of the participant to collect the data. All of this information may be mailed or faxed toHUD's Loan Servicing Contractor. Payoff requests are usually processed and faxed out within 2 business days of receipt.


    At the end of the required three-year occupancy period, HUD's second mortgage will be released provided (1) the participant has completed and returned the required annual certifications, (2) is not currently under investigation by the Office of Inspector General, and (3) is in compliance with all GNND regulations. A mortgage satisfaction will be filed with the participant's local county recorder's office. After the release is filed, a copy will be mailed to the property address. Thereafter, HUD's second mortgage will not show up on the title to your property. After release, there is no further obligation to or restrictions imposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Releases are mailed to the county recorder for filing no later than thirty days after the end of the required occupancy period. However, some counties have a filing backlog, over which HUD has no control.

    Releases are prepared and filed byHUD's Loan Servicing Contractor.

  • Law enforcement officers, pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians can contribute to community revitalization while becoming homeowners through HUDs Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants to make American communities stronger and to build a safer nation. The Good Neighbor Next Door program helps make this goal a reality by encouraging law enforcement officers, pre-K through 12th grade teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians to become homeowners in revitalization areas. HUD offers a substantial incentive in the form of a discount of 50% from the list price of the home. In return, you must commit to live in the property for 36 months as your sole residence.

    Who Can Participate?

    Law Enforcement

    You may participate in the Good Neighbor Next Door program as a law enforcement officer if you are employed full-time by a law enforcement agency of the federal government, a state, a unit of general local government, or an Indian tribal government; and, in carrying out such full-time employment, you are sworn to uphold, and make arrests for violations of, federal, state, tribal, county, township, or municipal laws.


    You may participate in the Good Neighbor Next Door program as a Teacher if you are employed as a full-time teacher by a state-accredited public school or private school that provides direct services to students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. In addition, the public or private school where you are employed as a teacher must serve students from the area where the home you are purchasing is located in the normal course of business.

    Firefighters / Emergency Medical Technicians

    You may participate in the Good Neighbor Next Door program as a Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician if you are employed full-time as a firefighter or emergency medical technician by a fire department or emergency medical services responder unit of the federal government, a state, unit of general local government, or an Indian tribal government serving the area where the home is located.

    How the Program Works

    Eligible Single Family homes located in revitalization areas are listed exclusively for sale through the Good Neighbor Next Door Sales program. Properties are available for purchase through the program forseven days.

    HUD requires that you sign a second mortgage and note for the discount amount. No interest or payments are required on this silent second provided that you fulfill the three-year occupancy requirement. If you qualify for any FHA-insured mortgage program, your downpayment is only $100 and you may finance closing costs.

    You do not need to be a first time home buyer to qualify for the Good Neighbor Program. However, you may not own any other residential real property at the time you submit your offer to purchase a home; and for one year previous to that date.

    You must use a real estate broker or agent to buy a home through the Good Neighbor Program. The number of properties available is limited and the list of available properties changes weekly.

  • HUD Homes and Programs

    A HUD home is a 1-to-4 unit residential property acquired by HUD as a result of a foreclosure action on an

    FHA-insured mortgage. HUD becomes the property owner and offers it for sale to recover the loss on the foreclosure claim.

    HUD offers many programs to help buyers purchase the home of their dreams. These include programs such as the Good Neighbor Next Door, nonprofit Orginazations, and the Dollar Homes program.

    Call our office today and see how we can help you take advantage of HUD special programs! 909-552-3131. Visit HomesbyHajia.com for HUD homes listed.

    Also visithttp://www.hudhomestore.comto search for HUD Homes and to place a bid.