Archives for May 2018

About That American Dream And Homeownership

About That American Dream And Homeownership

Any REALTOR® will tell you: home ownership is an integral part — maybe the most important part — of the American Dream. Hence, any threat to home ownership — whether it be high interest rates or, as is the case today, a lack of inventory — is a threat to the American Dream.

Recently, Joel Singer, CEO of the California Association of REALTORS (CAR), and one of the sharper tools in the real estate shed, delivered a talk to CAR directors entitled, “The American Dream (Up in Flames?): Why Homeownership Really Matters.” He offered up a plethora of studies and statistics that showed how individuals and families who own homes fare better in life than do those who do not own homes. Moreover, he shared survey results showing that 53% of those sampled thought that owning a home is a very important part of the American Dream. 18% thought it was the most important part.

I beg to differ. But, please, don’t get me wrong. My wife and I are residential REALTORS®. We have been in this marvelous business for more than 40 years. The psychic and emotional rewards for helping people obtain a home are rich and appropriate. Moreover, it is certainly not my place to dismiss anyone’s dreams.

But The American Dream is a phrase with a history and a meaning that we do well to keep in mind. It is about much more than home ownership; indeed, home ownership may not even be a central part of that dream.

Historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase The American Dream in his 1931 book, Epic of America. He said, “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability and achievement.” It was not, he wrote, “…a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

The essence of the American Dream was, and I think still is, the idea that America is a land where by effort one could better one’s condition and one’s children could live lives better than their parents. Moreover, the potential for doing so was not to be restrained by government or one’s class status. That is the dream that drew millions of people to our shores. It still does.

To put it in more modern, and certainly less emotional, terms, the American Dream is the possibility of social mobility. When we ask how the American Dream is faring, we are asking about social mobility. And the answer is, “It depends on who you ask.” (Try googling social mobility in America.)

There are articles upon articles that will tell you it has become significantly less likely that a wage-earner can move up the income ladder. A July, 2016 Atlantic article cites a study that “measured a given worker’s chances of moving between deciles [groupings of 10%] during two periods, one from 1981 to 1996 and another from 1993 to 2008. They found quite a disparity. ‘The probability of moving up from where you start has gone down’ [the author] said.” No one seems quite sure what caused this, but increasing inequality is often cited. “In the presence of increasing inequality,” [the authors] conclude, “falling mobility implies that as the rungs of the ladder have moved farther apart, moving between them has become more difficult.”

On the other hand, there are plenty of those who see the Dream alive and well. Writing in National Review (May, 2017) Scott Winship claims, “it seems likely that when all is said and done, 70 percent or more of today’s 30-year-olds are better off than their parents were at the same age.”

The state of the American Dream is important and we do well to pay attention to it. But home ownership is nowhere near being its central component. For many, owning a home may be a consequence of having lived the Dream; but it certainly doesn’t define it.

Source: Buying Tips

Home Inspections Can Save You Money In The Long-Run

Home Inspections Can Save You Money In The Long-Run

If you’re hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or you’re a seller trying to find out if there are any hidden problems that need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know:

1. You can choose your home inspector.

Your real estate professional can recommend an inspector, or you can find one on your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI), must complete an approved home inspector training program, demonstrate experience and competence as a home inspector, complete a written exam, and adhere to the NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

2. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions, not cosmetic flaws.

You should attend the inspection and follow the inspector throughout the inspection so you can learn what’s important and what’s not. No house is perfect and an inspection on any home is bound to uncover faults. A home inspector will point out conditions that need repair and/or potential safety-related concerns relating to the home. They won’t comment on cosmetic items if they don’t impair the integrity of the home. They also do not do destructive testing.

3. Home inspection reports include only the basics.

A home inspector considers hundreds of items during an average inspection. The home inspection should include the home’s exterior, steps, porches, decks, chimneys, roof, windows, and doors. Inside, they will look at attics, electrical components, plumbing, central heating and air conditioning, basement/crawlspaces, and garages.

They report on the working order of items such as faucets to see if they leak, or garage doors to see if they close properly. Inspectors may point out termite damage and suggest that you get a separate pest inspection. The final written report should be concise and easy to understand.

4. Home inspectors work for the party who is paying the fee.

The NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics clearly state that members act as an unbiased third party to the real estate transaction and “will discharge the Inspector’s duties with integrity and fidelity to the client.” A reputable home inspector will not conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report if his or her fee is contingent on untruthful conclusions.

The inspector should maintain client confidentiality and keep all report findings private, unless required by court order. That means it is your choice whether or not to share the report with others. If you’re a seller, you don’t have to disclose the report to buyers, but you must disclose any failure in the systems or integrity of your home.

5. Inspectors are not responsible for the condition of the home.

Inspectors don’t go behind walls or under flooring, so it’s possible that a serious problem can be overlooked. Keep in mind that inspectors are not party to the sales transaction, so if you buy a home where an expensive problem surfaces after the sale, you won’t be able to make the inspector liable or get the inspector to pay for the damage. In fact, you may not be entitled to any compensation beyond the cost of the inspection.

As a buyer, you need the home inspection to decide if the home is in condition that you can tolerate. You can use the report to show the seller the need for a certain repair or negotiate a better price. You can also take the report to a contractor and use it to make repairs or to remodel a section of the home.

One thing you should not do when buying a home is skip having the home inspected because of cost or undue pressure by the seller. A home inspection is reasonable, it can save you money in the long run, and it’s required by many lenders, particularly for FHA loans. There’s a reason why buyers should beware, and a home inspection gives you the information you need to make a sound buying decision.

Source: Buying Tips

Six Surprising Retirement Trends You Need To Know

Six Surprising Retirement Trends You Need To Know

Tiny homes. Rockin’ communities where Jimmy Buffet is your spirit animal. Rockin’ a strenuous hike minutes from home. Yeah, this is not your Grandfather’s retirement.

Long gone are the days when people packed it in and moved to a nice, calm little home for the aging in Florida the day they turn 65. Not only are people working longer today, but they are looking for more out of their retirement – more fun and excitement, more job opportunities, and more opportunity to hang out with family. If you’re getting ready to retire, these are the trends you’ll want to know about.

Lifestyle-oriented communities

And we’re not just talking about weekly bingo. There is a wave of new retirement communities, most notably Jimmy Buffet’s foray into a new career path, that cater to a much more active lifestyle. “It’s easy to chuckle at news that a Margaritaville retirement community is coming to Florida (what better age for Parrotheads to pursue their day-drinking dreams?),” said Curbed. “But the billion-dollar community offers more of what today’s and tomorrow’s seniors really want: active, engaging, and walkable neighborhoods. Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach has nine models open, with new homes priced from the $200,000s; the Hilton Head, SC location is in its first phase with prices from the mid $200,000s.


aarp.org

Other developments, like the new $100 million-plus Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County, CA is being developed “as an upscale mixed-generation development, with housing catering to older adults integrated into clusters of neighborhoods,” they said. “Developments like New York’s new community center for the Morningside Retirement & Health Services (MRHS) showcase a renewed focus on active, communal space. A cohousing development for seniors on Oakland’s waterfront called Phoenix Commons has been compared to a ‘dorm for grownups.'”

Retiring…but not all the way

Mid-size and larger cities are becoming havens for retirees because, among other positive attributes, they offer thriving job markets. So why would that be important to someone who is getting ready to stop working? Because, increasingly, retirees aren’t retiring all the way. Or, they’re embarking on secondary careers, often part-time, post retirement. “74% of working Americans plan to work past retirement age, with 11% expecting to work full time and 63% expecting to work part-time,” said The Street.

Chasing happiness

U.S. New & World Report’s 2018 list of the Best Places to Retire compared the top 100 metros for their potential as retirement spots, using data including housing affordability, taxes, and access to healthcare facilities. Their overall desirability and average levels of happiness were also key to the rankings. “Several cities in Texas made the top 10,” while “three cities in the mid-Atlantic region are highly rated.” You can see the entire list here.

Multi-generational living

Multi-generational living is on one of real estate’s fastest-growing trend. “In 1940, about one-quarter of the U.S. population lived with three or more generations in one home. After WWII, American families largely became two-generational, with parents and minor-age children under one roof,” said Forbes. “The percentage of households with multiple generations started declining to 21%, reaching a low of 12% by 1980.” According to Pew Research Center data, 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived in multigenerational homes, including 26.9 million three-generation households.”

In fact, the trend is so pervasive today that builders are increasingly creating highly livable granny flats and tiny homes that can live on family land or in backyards. They’re also building new construction homes like Lennar’s Next Gen, which is billed as a “home within a home” and includes “all the features you’d expect in a separate unit (a kitchenette, single car garage and full bathroom) while giving you the freedom to pop in whenever you’d like,” they said.

Increasing the activity level

“The choice of recreational activities is gradually shifting as the baby boomer generation heads into retirement,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A recent study by the Physical Activity Council revealed some interesting findings. Activities that are increasing in popularity include camping, bicycling, hiking and canoeing. Activities that are decreasing in popularity include golf, swimming for fitness and working out using machines or weights.”

The AARP found that boomers are increasingly migrating to states “with mild climates and recreational options. “A newly released survey indicates that those who do move increasingly choose mountain and western states where they find a desirable combination of affordable housing, mild weather and outdoor recreational opportunities, such as skiing and hiking,” they said. United Van Lines’ National Movers Study found that the Mountain West region – which stretches from Arizona to Wyoming – attracted the “biggest influx of older people, with 24.5 percent of those moving citing retirement as a reason for relocating.” That represents a strong shift from several decades ago “when older people mostly left northern states and headed southward. ‘We’re seeing retirees being attracted to more outdoor adventure destinations than in the past.”

Following family

Another of today’s top trends has retirees moving closer to family. For many grandparents, moving toward their children and grandchildren is “the last chance to focus on family and to leave a legacy of special memories,” says Christine Crosby, editorial director of Grandmagazine,” to Kiplinger.

Source: Buying Tips

The Legal Ties That Bind With Your Down Payment

The Legal Ties That Bind With Your Down Payment

Question: We are both in our upper sixties and retired. Last October, we put money down on a condominium apartment that is to be completed around September of this year. We put down ten percent of the price in cash and the money is earning a modest amount of interest until settlement. We have some savings, but the balance would be paid in cash from the proceeds of the sale of our present home.

Although we believe the price of the condominium has gone up slightly since we signed the contract, we now have serious thoughts about apartment living and about putting most of our resources into this transaction because of some new and serious health concerns.

Is there any way we can cancel our agreement and not lose the down payment?

Answer: The lawyer in me says that a contract is a legally binding document that must be upheld. The humanitarian in me suggests that, at the very least, you should try to get out of the contract, especially with the facts you have described.

First, review the terms of the contract very carefully to determine your rights and responsibilities. Are there any contingencies in that contract, such as your ability to obtain financing or the necessity to sell your house? If any of these contingencies legitimately cannot be met, it is possible you have the legal right to declare the contract null and void.

Next, determine whether the contract can be assigned. Although most developer contracts are not assignable, it may very well be that you have the right to sell your contract to someone else. And even if you do not have that right, it never hurts to ask the developer.

For example, if the contract is for $100,000 and the market value now is $110,000, if you have the right to assign that contract, you may find someone who would purchase your contract for the contract price — or even a few thousand dollars above the contract price.

The person who buys your contract would be obligated to follow through on all of the terms of your contract. In effect, the buyer would be stepping into your shoes, assuming all the rights and responsibilities you presently have.

As I have indicated, although most developer contracts do not permit such assignment, it is worth looking at this aspect of your contract.

Next, do not hesitate to discuss this matter with both the real estate firm representing the seller and try to speak directly with the seller. Explain your situation. They may be sympathetic. If the market for your condominium is anticipated to be strong, the seller-developer may be able to make more money by reselling the property to someone else.

Finally, you may want to consider buying the property and then trying to sell it yourself. Unfortunately, this is risky because there never is any guarantee you will find a buyer quickly and the duplicate settlement costs, financing charges and other settlement-related matters may not make the dual sale worthwhile.

You may also have to pay a real estate commission for that second sale. Realize that until the developer has sold most, if not all of the condominium units, you are competing against the house. And as we know, the dealer always wins.

You indicated you have put down a deposit of ten percent and you do not want to lose the money. However, there are times when a buyer would prefer to walk away from a transaction, lose the money and avoid subsequent aggravation.

Peace of mind sometimes cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents. Although I cannot recommend forfeiting your deposit, if this is an option you are willing to consider, make sure you discuss the situation with the seller before deciding. Sign a release and have the seller sign it also. You want to make sure that, if you forfeit the deposit, the seller can not sue you for damages. This will be spelled out in the sales contract.

Basically, if a buyer defaults on a real estate contract, the seller has three options available:

  • Suing for specific performance, in effect, asking the court to require you go ahead with the transaction.
  • Suing for damages if there are substantial monetary damages involved as a result of your failure to live up to your part of the contract. For example, if the seller has to resell the property at a lower price than your contract price, this would be the measure of damages.
  • Electing to retain the deposit as the only remedy. Remember, if you decide to forfeit, make sure the seller agrees, in writing, that the only remedy will be the forfeiture of the deposit. This may also be spelled out in the form contract you signed.

Although I recognize that conditions often change and new circumstances often arise after a contract is entered into, it must be pointed out that, in most cases, the time to decide whether you want to purchase property is before you sign a contract.

After your signature is on the contract and you have given some money down as a deposit, you are legally bound to comply with all the terms and conditions of that document. Your fate basically depends on how the developer reacts to your situation.

Source: Buying Tips

Home Buying Checklist: What Else Does 'Location' Mean?

Home Buying Checklist: What Else Does 'Location' Mean?

“Location, location, location” are the cornerstones of property value and neighborhood popularity. Evaluating this seemingly-simple, triple-impact factor goes beyond merely checking out the street address.

Yes, proximity to the places you and family members regularly must or want to visit is an important factor in identifying an ideal location. However, there’s more to accessing location than an address.

LOCATION CHECKLIST

Below is a comprehensive checklist of LOCATION FACTORS many of which may be overlooked by buyers until they move in and discover that their chosen and paid-for location is not all they expected it to be. Many of these factors also affect market value, now and in the future. All these factors will not be an issue for every property. Check off the factors are relevant to your home buying.

Walkability has many definitions which largely differ by walking purpose: destination-driven, exercising, socializing, exploring, enjoying the outdoors…. Measures of walkability can be useful and may add to market value, but these scores are not absolute, so investigate the reference source and measurement approach. Experiment by walking where you and family members would walk and when. There may be obstacles, like very busy streets, that would affect whether walking would be the best transportation choice.

Nearby Shopping used to be a big location factor, but online shopping has taken the shine off this convenience for many buyers. In some areas, malls are falling into disrepair and closing. Would that be a concern for you? In other locations, new large-scale commercial ventures are underway in or closer to residential areas. How would you feel about having a big box store on your doorstep?

Developments especially large-scale projects, condominium towers, multiple-housing complexes, and commercial ventures, increase density, traffic, noise, and  pressure on schools and community services. Years of planning and arguing proceed ground breaking, so today’s quiet streets may reveal little sign of what will begin once you move in. Ask a lot of questions about local development.

Street Status exists in most neighborhoods, which themselves each carry different status. Certain streets confer status on residents. Which street, side of the street, or end of the street carries greater real estate value or status? One end of the street may be closer to shopping and the other to parks. What do you value regarding physical location?

Sunshine is valued by most buyers, even though they may appreciate it for different reasons, ranging from gardening to solar energy. In some areas, south-facing backyards are more popular and, in others, it’s south-facing fronts. What is blocking sunlight to the property now and what might block it in the future?

Teardowns or properties more valued as building sites than homes, exist in most established neighborhoods. How many teardowns surround the real estate? Teardowns are not all dilapidated

structures. In many areas, attractive bungalows and two-storeys are demolished to build mega-homes, perhaps like the one you are interested in. During the demolition and build, neighbors are plagued by noise, dust, lack of parking, and inconsideration that can mean restricted use of their own properties for a year or two. What’s planned around the property?

  Neighbors may include Airbnb hosts and other home-based business owners, some of whom may conduct their ventures in ways that end up disturbing neighbors. Many municipalities and police receive complaints from homeowners concerned about what businesses are doing around their property.

  Schools particularly popular ones, can be a big influence on a location decision for those with children to educate.

  Transportation carries different importance for different buyers. Have public transit and road systems kept pace with rising population in the area? Are neighborhood-changing transportation projects like rapid transit scheduled to begin in the next year or so? Will the bulk of related construction stress fall near this property?

  Infrastructure is an often-overlooked factor. How recently have bridges and main roads, essential for access to the area and downtown, been up-dated and up-graded? Have water and sewage

services been upgraded to serve growing populations? Or, will you face months, if not years, of “under construction” streets around your home?

  Break-ins tend to be more common in some areas than others. Who keeps the neighborhood safe? What’s their track record? Do most neighbors have their own home security system? Are community safety groups active?

  Water Supply and shortages can be an issue. Droughts seem more common and last longer. How prepared is the community to handle water shortage? Do summer shortages affect lawn watering and landscaping, making local drought-resistant plants and no-grass front yards essential? Are bush fires a recurring threat?

  Flooding in low-lying areas and drainage basins can be a threat. Could rising water plague that real estate or the immediate area or access? How affordable and attainable is property

flood insurance in this area? When was the last time flooding was an issue and what happened during clean up? If the property is waterfront, is shore erosion or rising water an issue? Is the waterfront often fouled with dead algae or other smelly matter?

  Traffic is more of a concern in urban areas. Is the residential area under traffic calming and speed-management strategies to reduce rush-hour traffic through the area? If there are speed bumps, how are fire and emergency vehicles affected? Is there a plan to add or remove traffic calming and why?

  Airplanes can disrupt family life even if a property is not close to an airport. The increase in frequency of planes taking off and landing at all hours has many neighborhoods, even those distant from airports, plagued by airplane noise. Circling a city to land, means planes travel over many homes drowning out conversations and disrupting sleep. Just popping in for an open house or viewing may not make you aware of a noisy flight-path problem.

  Landscaping and mature trees enhance neighborhoods. Large trees can present hazards as they age. Are trees downed in storms replaced? What invader species are working their way through the area to undermine outdoor enjoyment?

  History of the home or location may be a concern in special cases. Has anything happened on the property or near it that has led locals to consider the real estate less favorably?

  Pollution — air, noise, or water —is a problem in some areas? What is being done to reduce the ill-effects for residents?

  Taxes are a key location-driven affordability factor. All of the above can impact how quickly property taxes and municipal fees go up. What’s the pattern of increase in the area? How does local government raise the funds it needs to maintain quality of life in the area?

Don’t panic. All these factors will not affect every property.

Our point is that buyers should find out which, if any, of these issues could significantly affect their new home, its market value, and their life at that location before they buy.

  • Concentrating too heavily on interior decor and not on relevant listed issues above, may leave buyers vulnerable to unpleasant realities after moving in.
  • What could buyers do about surprises like those listed above after they move in?
  • Would issues like these affect what buyers are prepared to pay for that real estate in the first place?

Who can possibly know all these details about a property?

  • The property owner, or at least the smart ones, keep up on what is going on at or near their location because all of this affects property value and enjoyment.
  • Neighors know a lot —maybe more than sellers realize.
  • Local real estate professionals know this and more because local knowledge and market value are what their work centers on. Listing professionals spend time with sellers to explore the history of the property and the area. Between them they know what’s going on locally and how that property will be affected.
  • The local real estate professional or buyer’s agent who assists you in finding the right real estate for your needs and budget has access to the owner’s knowledge and that of the listing professional through the Multiple Listing Service. This plus their own local knowledge should help you understand the listed factors relative to the real estate you are considering.
Source: Buying Tips

Eight Signs It's Time To Move Up

Eight Signs It's Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Let’s face it: It’s probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, lifestyles change, and the sheer accumulation of stuff can make a small home feel even tighter. “More than a third of all homebuyers last year were families with kids,” said Dave Ramsey. “And 37% of sellers age 36 and under cited cramped quarters as their reason for moving.”

But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

You’ve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If you’re the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

You’re at each other’s throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you don’t have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary! Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if “your quality of life is suffering,” said Unpakt. “This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just can’t keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, you’re stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear.” 

The neighborhood is changing…and not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary (or wanted) renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it – or get it into tip-top shape for a sale – is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You don’t want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You don’t want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because it’s overdone and considered overpriced.

“Weighing against renovation is the risk you’ll ‘over-improve’ your home compared with others on the block,” said Bankrate. “When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect.”

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If you’re still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe it’s time to find one that better meets your lifestyle needs today.

You’ve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. “It’s not just the sticker price on the house; it’s the long-term costs associated with it,” said Realtor.com. “When you go up (in square footage), you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance.” And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming “house poor” by “using online affordability calculators to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.

Source: Buying Tips

Would You Buy A Home From Kanye West?

Would You Buy A Home From Kanye West?

Among the controversial rapper/artist/fashion designer/pop culture phenom’s recent flurry of eyebrow-raising tweets comes this gem: So would you buy a home from Kanye West? You might soon be able to.

The announcement of Yeezy Home was met with a lot of “Huh?” and “What?” and “Why?!” but also a fair amount of “Hmmm” and “Wow” and “More info, please.” So…not unlike almost everything else Kanye West does. And that’s especially true of his most recent behavior.

He has courted controversy on Twitter yet again with his take about slavery…namely that it was a choice. The post-tweet backlash was swift as people quickly came out to condemn the idea. Huffington Post said he was “schooled on history” and one longtime fan spoke for many with his emotional letter to Kanye, which was printed by Variety, explaining why he was putting the artist’s music “on pause” because of the pain his words have inflicted. Kanye also supposedly lost nine million followers in the immediate aftermath, although Twitter says that was “a glitch.”

Either way, he still has his fans, his followers, and, certainly, his apologists, and he may soon have a team of architects and industrial designers working with/for him and, presumably, buyers who love the idea of a Kanye-created home.


people.com

Why architecture?

But, who are they? And, why architecture? For now, we can more easily answer the second question.

“West first mentioned his interest in pursuing architecture and design in a 2013 interview with the BBC, said Architectural Digest. “‘I want to do product, I am a product person,’ he said. ‘Not just clothing but water bottle design, architecture…I make music but I shouldn’t be limited to once place of creativity.’ He went on to explain that he was working with ‘five architects at a time’ to figure out exactly what he wanted. Later that year, he spoke to students at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, telling students, ‘I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be architected…I believe that utopia is actually possible – but we’re led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political.”

That Kanye arrogance is nothing new; some might say it’s even part of his charm. And, he does have an eye. His footwear and apparel brand, Yeezy, will reach $1 billion this year—this according to another tweet from Kanye during this most recent blitz. And, while that number is being disputed, the success of the line remains impressive. (It’s also worth noting that, “The Yeezy brand, which sells apparel and sneakers created in collaboration with Adidas, is facing a backlash online with customers threatening to burn or sell their Yeezy sneakers and celebrities including Rihanna and Drake reportedly have stopped following West on Twitter,” according to Business Insider.)


people.com

Who are the potential buyers?

Which brings us back to the “Who are they?” question. With so much emotion tied up in the homebuying purchase, anyway, does a home associated with such a polarizing figure crate a barrier right out of the gate? Perhaps not for fans, if they can even afford it. Kanye has expensive taste – his Hidden Hills, CA home with wife Kim Kardashian is said to be worth $60 million, and, although another one of his recent tweets said that the clothing line would be “working with the most genius-level talents and creating product at an affordable price,” ArchDaily countered that, “Given the current three-figure price of West’s product line, the tweets are a difficult knot to untie.”

Style file

So, while not much detail is known at this point about Yeezy Home, one can presume, given his taste in homes, that price points could reach sky-high levels. Which would leave many a fan on the outside.

Kanye and Kim’s home is gorgeous, if you like minimalism, all-white spaces, and an almost “cathedral-like quality. “The couple worked with renowned Belgian architect Axel Vervoordt, whose clients include Robert DeNiro and Calvin Klein, to transform the property,” said People. The publication also noted that, “West was nominated for a prestigious design award in 2017 for his fashion line, Yeezy, and even pitched a furniture collaboration to IKEA in 2016, though so far nothing has come of the proposition.”

His love or brutalism could also offer stylistic clues and design inspiration for Yeezy Home. “West also seems to have a penchant for Brutalism – the heavy-handed, much-contested architectural style that architects love to defend,” said Curbed. “A feature on PIN-UP recently offered an look inside the Yeezy studio, an all-concrete-everything kind of space in a ’70s office building in Calabasas, California. And let’s not forget his $110,000 Le Corbusier concrete lamp, which he once called his ‘greatest inspiration.'”

Source: Buying Tips

The Tenants' Opportunity To Purchase Act Is Dead: Yes and No

The Tenants' Opportunity To Purchase Act Is Dead: Yes and No

TOPA — the tenants’ opportunity to purchase act — was enacted over 30 years ago by the Council of the District of Columbia. It was designed to protect tenants from being kicked out of their homes by landlords who wanted to make more money selling the property.

Over the years, depending on who you were, TOPA was either hated or loved. Tenants called it “tenant capitalism”; landlords blasted it as “pure blackmail”.

Why? Especially with single family homes, (including condos and coops), when a tenant received a TOPA notice that their landlord had a contract offer to buy, they would demand lots of money in order to release their TOPA rights.

All of this came to a head when the Council, on April 10, 2018, enacted a bill that to a large extent, eliminated TOPA from single family dwellings. The Council relied, in part, on a study that from October 26, 2009 through August 15, 2015, there were approximately only 19 successful TOPA sales to tenants, out of 398 TOPA offers to single family residents. In other words, although landlords fully complied with the TOPA laws and provided the necessary forms , less than 5 percent of those tenants actually ended up buying their home. The law is awaiting the Mayor’s signature and then will have to wait out the 30 day period of congressional review before it becomes final.

Oversimplified, the new law abolished TOPA as it applies to single family dwellings, which includes a condominium or cooperative apartment. If you own a house with a basement that has a kitchen and bath facilities separate from the main dwelling house, and may even have a separate entrance, that is referred to as an “accessory dwelling”. Even if there are tenants in both units, and this becomes law, it will be exempt from TOPA.

However, even though the landlord no longer has to issue the TOPA notice — which had to be in English and Spanish, and copied to the Office of the Mayor — the tenants still have to be given notice of a proposed offer. That notice also has to be provided to the DC Office of Tenant Advocate.

To complicate this even further, there are different requirements where certain tenants are elderly or have a disability. If such a tenant signed a lease to occupy a single family accommodation by December 31, 2017, and physically took occupancy by January 15, 2018, then a modified TOPA still exists. Such tenants must respond with 20 days after receiving the notice expressing interest in buying. Then that tenant has at least 25 additional days to negotiate a sales contract, and closing must take place at least 45 days thereafter. However, once again, if a lender needs more time, the tenant can have an additional 30 days in which to get lender approval and then take title. A tenant who is 62 years or older is considered elderly.

The Council was sensitive to the concerns of the real estate industry — and many home owners — that tenants were flipping (assigning) their rights to speculators for large sums of money and also delaying closing. The new law is very clear: the only consideration an elderly or disabled tenant can receive for selling its tenant rights is the “right to immediately use and occupy the tenant’s unit for a period of 12 months following the sale and at the same rent charged at the date of the offer”.

However, there are three different TOPA requirements. One is (or was) for single family properties; another was for properties with 2-4 units, and a third was for apartment buildings with 5 or more units.

The latter two remain alive and kicking. Tenants in those properties still have rights to purchase their property, although if you live in an over 5 unit complex, only a formal tenant association can speak and act for the tenants. There are different time frames in which the tenants (or their association) have to respond. For example, if you live in a two-four unit building, all tenants must respond expressing an interest in buying. However, if not everyone is interested, or if 15 days have elapsed since getting the TOPA notice from the owner, any one tenant can send in such a notice, which must be within 7 days thereafter.

The tenant (or tenants) have 90 days to negotiate a contract to buy, and if such a contract is entered into, the buyer has at least another 90 days in which to go to closing. However, if a lending institution gives the tenants a notice in writing that it needs more time. the settlement can be extended for another 30 day.

If you think that’s complicated, let’s look at the over 5 unit complex. Here, once all of the tenants get a TOPA notice, they have 45 days in which to form a tenant organization with the legal capacity to hold property. They then have 120 days to enter into a contract, and another 120 days to take title. Once again, if a lender needs more time, the landlord must extend the time in accordance with the lender’s estimate of how long it needs.

Since its enactment, TOPA has been the subject of literally hundreds of lawsuits, some brought by landlords and others by tenants. I suspect that litigation will continue regarding the 2-4 and the over 5 unit requirements; only time will tell how the new law will fare regarding single family properties.

Source: Buying Tips

The Dangers Of Love At First Sight When Buying A Home?

The Dangers Of Love At First Sight When Buying A Home?

Facebook just announced they are getting into the dating app game, giving those who are looking for love yet another avenue to potentially find it. While we don’t yet now specific details of how it will work, one thing is for sure: There are bound to be a lot of matches made based solely (or at least mainly) on looks, alone. Is this a smart strategy? It all depends on what you’re looking for. And the same could be said of your home search. If you’re just looking for a pretty face, it’s easy to fall in “love” – with a person, or a home. But you need to look deeper if you want it to last.

The kitchen makes your stomach do that roller coaster thing and the master bath is so pretty it should be on the cover of How to seduce a homebuyer magazine. It’s hard to ignore the pretty stuff when you’re home shopping. The trick is not getting distracted by the pretty stuff and ignoring the important stuff. You can take yourself out of the house hookup land and help avoid falling for the wrong home by asking yourself these questions during your home search.

Is it a keeper?

If you’re looking for a long-term relationship with your home, you should have some non-negotiables. Perhaps you would never consider marrying someone who was rude to service people or didn’t share your political views. When it comes to your forever home (or at least your “for the foreseeable future home”), making a list of absolute must-haves can help you stay on track. They’ll probably include location, price, and home size, but getting even more specific (perhaps you need to be in a certain school district but are willing to compromise on the type of architecture) is even better.

Is there any substance behind your emotional attachment

You walk into a restaurant to meet your date, and before you even sit down, you’re a goner. Is it the eyes, the smell? Some cosmic thing at work? Love at first sight? Who knows.

You walk into a house that seems like nothing special, and before you’re even passed through the hallway, you’re a goner. What’s at play here? Is it some reminder of a home from your childhood, maybe? Who knows. But now you’ve got it bad, and you have to have that house. Time to get real with yourself, because falling for a person – or a home – and going on emotions alone typically doesn’t end well.

“Buying a home is a very emotional process, but if you allow those emotions to get the best of you, you may fall prey to a number of common home buyer mistakes,” said Investopedia. “Since buying a home has many far-reaching implications – ranging from where you will live to how hard it will be to make ends meet – it’s important to keep your emotions in check and make the most rational decision possible.”

Is it too much of a project?

We’ve all heard of the project person – you know, a guy or girl that could be great with just a little (or more than a little) work. A project house could be even more alluring. Seriously, who doesn’t love the idea of a fixer-upper these days? But, you need to know your limits, says Bob Vila.

“Don’t overestimate your abilities. Determine if the house you like needs work,” they said. “Then assess whether you’re really capable of doing it.” It’s also a good idea to properly estimate the post-renovation potential with help from your real estate agent. “Make sure that if you can’t do the work, you get estimates before you buy the house so you know what you’re getting into. If the cost of the house plus the renovations will put the home’s value significantly above others in the neighborhood, it’s probably not the best investment – or you may need to scale back the renovations.”

What are its friends like?

You can tell a lot about someone by their friends, and the same is true of homes. If the home you’re looking at is fixed up and well-taken-care-of, but the rest of the neighborhood is eh, that could be reason to walk away. “Before making an offer on that picture-perfect home, take a look at the surrounding houses. If they’re all in disrepair – or just obviously less nice than the one you’re considering – you might be buying the most expensive house in the neighborhood,” said Realtor.com. Their three reasons include: 1) “When it comes time to sell, unloading the priciest home on the block will be a challenge. 2 ) A home is an investment – and the best investments have the most room for improvement. Ideally, you’ll be adding to the home during your ownership, building equity in hopes of a payoff when you (eventually) sell. 3) You can’t bet on the neighborhood to improve.”

What are they not telling you?

Yes, there are seller disclosures, but they’re only going to tell you so much. Have you checked out the neighborhood in terms of crime statistics, sexual offenders nearby, and any big plans for the neighborhood or surrounding area that could affect your home value or lifestyle? Just like you might Google someone you meet on Tinder (Come on, we all do it!), do the same with any home you are considering.

Are they dating someone else?

It’s human nature to want someone who is wanted by someone else. Seeing a lot of interest in a particular home may affect you similarly, and you may find yourself pressing for a home because it’s in high demand. Are you just trying to “win,” or do you really want the house?

Conversely, a home that’s seemingly unpopular because it’s been on the market for a while can have the opposite effect on us. Don’t let a good one get away just because it hasn’t already been snapped up by someone else. In either case, refer to your list of must-haves to remind yourself of those things that are really important to you before making a move.

Does it have good character?

This is obviously important when looking for a relationship partner. But, to many people, it’s also an important factor when buying a home. You can get waylaid by a great figure or physique just like you can a huge backyard or a gourmet kitchen and ignore something that was key on your must-have list. As it relates to your home, you can always add crown molding or vintage fixtures. But new construction may never have the feel of an older home, if that’s what you’re into.

Source: Buying Tips

Can IRA Assets Be Used To Purchase Real Estate?

Can IRA Assets Be Used To Purchase Real Estate?

Question: We are interested in buying investment property? Currently, our IRA is not producing the income we would like. Can we use some of our IRA assets to purchase real estate? – Anna

Anna: The simple answer is yes, but its complicated and full of risks. This column can only touch on the surface; if you remain serious, you must talk with an attorney and a qualified financial adviser.

The typical real estate investor can get lots of tax benefits, such as deductions for property taxes, mortgage interest as well as the ability to depreciate the property on your annual tax return. However, if your IRA owns the investment property, you cannot take advantage of any such tax benefits. In fact, it is even more complicated, if you are over age 70 1/2 and have to start taking the required minimum distributions (RMD).

Since the annual calculation is based on the balance of your IRA at the end of each year, you actually have to get your investment appraised, so as to plug that number into your calculations.

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot invest your IRA in property you already own. Furthermore, even if the property is a “so-called” vacation home, you cannot legally use it, even occasionally. And all expenses relating to the property must be paid from the IRA.

Bottom line: It may not be worth it. Talk with your advisers about other investments that may be available for your IRA.

Question: I have a friend who owns his home outright. He is in financial difficulty but refuses to look into a reverse mortgage because an attorney friend of his told him to stay away from reverse mortgages. In my opinion, a reverse mortgage sounds like the only way for him to go since he has no wife or children to consider when he passes. Any ideas why people are afraid of reverse mortgages? – Cindy

Cindy: That’s a very good question. To some extent, journalists may be part of the reason people don’t like reverse mortgages.

Over the years, I have often written that a reverse mortgage should be the last resort; see if you can get a new loan or refinance your existing mortgage before looking at a reverse.

Why was I so negative? Two reasons: First, the upfront costs were very high, and second, all too often there was no regulation and no enforcement against the reverse mortgage lender. For years, celebrities like Fred Thompson, Henry Winkler or Pat Boone were touting the benefits of reverse mortgages, but they were not disclosing all of the facts – all the pros and cons.

However, there have been significant changes in recent years. First, in order to get a reverse mortgage, you now have to demonstrate you have the ability to pay your real estate tax and maintain adequate homeowner insurance. Second, before you can get such a loan, you must meet (or talk) with a professional housing counselor. You have to know the facts before you can get this kind of loan.

Yes, in your friend’s situation, since he has no real family, a reverse mortgage probably makes sense. However, I will continue to strongly suggest that anyone considering a reverse mortgage should first look at all the options, such as refinancing, selling and downsizing from your present home or getting loans or gifts from relatives. Once you have carefully reviewed all options, then make your decision.

Question: I am an owner in a six-unit townhouse fee simple (a building where the owner pays for some exterior maintenance) with $200 annual assessment complex. Last year, we decided to have the complex painted. However, one of the owners wanted to wait until the spring. Currently, the same owner is negligent in returning the painting company’s emails in regards to paying the deposit.

Do the other five owners have any recourse? We would really like to get the complex painted. As an added note the negligent owner lives out of state and is renting out the unit. – David

First, did the association formally vote to paint the complex? Was the out-of- state owner advised of the vote? Do you have proof that she got notice?

If you are satisfied that you all complied with the legal requirements in your association, then all of you should pay the contractor and then pursue legal action against that owner.

You should retain a local attorney who can guide you through the process. You might be able to file a lien against her home, and, in fact, you might even be able to foreclose.

Different states have different collection procedures, but the fact that the owner is out of state should not be a problem.

Source: Buying Tips