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Real Estate News Articles


Updated: Monday, September 25, 2017


Real Estate Websites Need To Be ADA Compliant

"Is your website accessible? Thats an important question, since the U.S. Department of Justice has made it clear public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to websites. That means content on your website should accommodate people with vision, hearing, and other impairments."

Those arent my words. They came from an article in online Realtorreg;Mag Website Accessibility: Not Just About the Law; May 12, 2016. "Now, wait a minute," a sincere, but confused, agent or broker might say, "I get the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act applying to things like a lack or ramps or special parking places, but websites? How does that work?"

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals in any place of public accommodation. To comply, a public accommodation must "furnish auxiliary aids when necessary to ensure effective communication" and "remove architectural and structural communication barriers in existing facilities where readily achievable." Clearly, when the Act was written in 1990, no one had websites in mind. They didnt yet exist. But, the Department of Justice DOJ and others have argued, with plausibility, that the ADA regulations should be interpreted so as to keep pace with developing technologies.

Federal Judicial districts are currently split over in what sense, or if at all, websites are "places of public accommodation" within the meaning, and subject to the terms, of the Act. Nonetheless, the DOJ has taken the position that they are, and the DOJ is the one with the big enforcement stick.

In 2010, the DOJ issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and solicited public comments regarding what standards the agency should adopt for website accessibility under Titles II and III of the ADA. More than 400 comments were received. To date, no rules have been forthcoming. It is now expected that rules will be adopted and made public by 2018.

The lack of clear publicly-known rules has not deterred the DOJ from pressing forward with complaints and enforcement actions. Who says government agencies lack initiative? In large part, the DOJ has >In December of 2013, the DOJ filed a complaint in intervention essentially, joined in in the lawsuit National Federation of the Blind NFB et. al. v. HRB Digital LLC to enforce Title III of the ADA. HRB Digital is a division of HR Block. The complaint alleged that HR Block failed to code its website in a manner that would make it accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing and physical disabilities. The complaint noted that "individuals with disabilities use various assistive technologies to access the Internet, including screen reader software, refreshable Braille displays, keyboard navigation and captioning, among others that are not currently compatible with HR Blocks website. These technologies have been widely used for decades and are freely available to help companies ensure that individuals with disabilities can fully and equally enjoy their web-based goods and services." Two plaintiffs in the case alleged that they tried to complete their 2012 tax returns on the HR Block website but were unable to do so.

A settlement and consent decree was announced by the DOJ on March 6, 2014.

The HR Block case is instructive as to what website accessibility is all about. Brick and mortar places of public accommodations restaurants, retail stores arent expected to supply the technology, such as wheelchairs, that enables mobility-impaired customers to get around. But they are expected to provide an environment ramps, wide doors where that technology can be used.

The argument in a case such as that of HR Block is said to be similar. A website where business is conducted and ads can be read is expected to provide an environment where the applicable assistive technologies, such as screen readers, can work.

Still, it would be nice to know exactly what the rules are. Last year, NAR President, Tom Salomone, wrote to Assistant Attorney General, Vanita Gupta. He observed the current "uncertain state of the law", and noted the following: "A number of demand letters, which include the threat of litigation, have been sent to NAR members alleging that their real estate websites violate the civil rights of individuals with disabilities."

Salomone pointed out that the lack of clear regulations "has encouraged these lawsuits and left our members confused about how to mitigate legal risks in this area" He urged the DOJ to publish rules as soon as possible.

Well, the rules still havent been published. A recent posting on Realtor.org discusses the case of Robles v. Dominos Pizza United States District Court, Central District of California, March 20, 1917. There, the plaintiff sued on the grounds that "Defendants website, Dominos.com, does not permit a user to complete purchases using a particular screen-reading software program, Job Access with Speech JAWS."

The case was dismissed because the rules have not yet been finalized. Looking at an earlier case, the court noted "The Ninth Circuit stated that the failure to issue final rules left in-house counsel [and] others to read correctly legislative tea leaves and requiring compliance with unknown standards constituted a denial of due process."

Nonetheless, real estate firms are well-advised to be looking at their websites from an ADA compliance perspective. Sooner or later there will be published rules, and compliance will not be optional. A number of firms exist that can provide assistance in this. For more background, go to Realtor.org and search for "website accessibility."

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .


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Slowing Ontario Market May Produce Mild Hangover For Economy

The real estate market in Southern Ontario has enjoyed a decade of growth, taking only a short breather in 2008. But the provincial government changed all that in April when it introduced a 16-point plan to slow down the market. Since then, sales and prices have dropped.

Interest rates have started to rise and the federal government may implement additional measures to make it even more challenging for would-be home buyers to qualify for a mortgage.

What impact will the real estate slowdown have on the economy?

A report by RBC economist Laura Cooper in May says that, "When home sales fell by 30 per cent in 1990, activity generated by new home construction began to decline in the following quarters and subsequently fell by just over 30 per cent. This shaved nearly 10 billion off the economy with the home-building share of GDP falling from four per cent to just over two per cent by mid-1991."

Cooper says in the current market, "the direct >A report by DBRS says that housing booms in British Columbia and Ontario "have spilled over into the local job markets, with employment in housing->But the report says "the extent of labour misallocation does not appear acute, particularly when compared to some U.S. states during the U.S. housing boom. In the context of solid economic growth and steady population gains, the labour markets in both provinces are likely able to absorb a potential home-price correction without major disruption."

In B.C., the provincial government introduced a foreign buyers tax in the Vancouver area in August 2016. It slowed the roaring market, with sales and prices dropping to the end of the year. Since then, the market has picked up and by this summer, average prices were above last years levels.

Most analysts believe that Toronto-area sales and prices will soon rebound as well.

"Population increases and economic growth create a healthy demand for housing and thereby boost the number of jobs in housing->"Population growth combined with a robust economic expansion has contributed to strong job growth across economic sectors."

The report defines housing->"Housing->During the last three years as housing prices rose sharply in the two provinces, the pace of housing->The RBC report says that other non-housing sectors would also be impacted by a housing downturn.

"Rising housing wealth amongst households likely contributed to the record levels of car sales in Canada and an insatiable appetite for renovations in the recent housing upswing," says RBCs Cooper. "Vehicle purchases, eating out at restaurants and spending on recreation, cultural events and financial services all have a tendency to slow somewhat against a backdrop of declining home sales, but tends to occur over a period of six to nine months following the beginning signs of a housing downturn."

Cooper says that "tallying up the contributions of everything from the building of new homes to the costs of maintaining and running a home, housing->"We dont expect a downturn similar to that recorded in the early 1990s or even in the United States leading up to the financial crisis," says Cooper. "But after Canadas years-long housing-market party, a mild hangover is likely to follow, with important implications for Canadas economy."


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Recruiting Directors In Your HOA

From time to time, it is necessary or desirable to recruit new directors. It may due to a vacancy or an upcoming election. Often volunteers are >To All Members of Nottacare Condominium,

At the Annual Meeting, two positions for director of the board will be voted on. Anyone that is a owner in good standing current in HOA payments and no outstanding violations is eligible to run in this election.

Overview of Director Duties. The board has the authority to direct business including maintenance and financial oversight, rules enforcement and architectural design approval. The board has the authority to hire and oversee the professional management company.

The board meets four times a year for two hours to review business and to make decisions and enact policy. Between those meetings, there may be an occasion special meeting to deal with an urgent matter that cant wait for a regularly scheduled board meeting. The President has the authority to act on behalf of the board between meetings as long as the matter is authorized by the governing documents or in line with the approved budget.

Serving on the board gives you direct impact and influence on how HOA business is handled. While a management, financial or construction background is helpful, no special training is required other than the willingness and availability to serve. The office of director carries a term of three years.

All members have an obligation to serve in some capacity. We hope you will consider running for the board. You may be nominated by another owner or by yourself. If you are interested in being nominated, please email that desire and your contact information to or mail to Nottacare Condominum, 123 Easy St, Anytown USA by no later than April 1st. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Ima Daboss

President - Nottacare Condominum
Phone 666.666.6666

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see www.Regenesis.net.


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Ideas for Saving Energy with Your Smart Home

You may feel safe inside on a hot, smoggy day, but hidden dangers could be damaging your health right in your own home. In fact, according to the World Health Organization WHO, 4.3 million people a year die from exposure to household air pollution. Poorly ventilated dwellings, smoking around the home and fine particles can all negatively impact your health.

Although you can try to improve your homersquo;s health by regularly changing filters and opening the windows to let in some fresh air, you need some smart home technology to help save energy. That will ultimately help you go green by cutting down on your energy consumption. As an added benefit, saving energy can also trim your energy bills and save some money in the process. Get started with these five smart home ideas for saving energy.

Control Your Smart Home Automation

Before you start your smart home journey, look at how you can control the automation process from the start. For example, smart appliances can help reduce your energy consumption, but you need a way to control everything from turning your lights on and off to adjusting your thermostat.

Automation can be controlled right from your smartphone or tablet. Its also best to get a smartphone that works in tandem with a >

Use Smart Climate Control

You can go beyond controlling the temperature of your home and actually control its entire indoor climate. The Nest thermostat doesnt need to be programmed, and instead learns your habits and adapts the climate of your home to your life. The Nest can automatically adjust itself based on your life>

After using Nest for a week, it can program itself and significantly reduce your energy consumption so yoursquo;re saving more on your electric bill. Youll also get an alert from Nest to your smartphone app if something is wrong like the temperature is dropping low enough to make your pipes burst or the furnace is acting up.

Switch to Purifying Floors

You may already know that your home contains pollutants based on poor air quality and ventilation. But the materials your home was built with, or even its furnishings, can continuously emit toxic contaminants including formaldehyde.

Pure Genius flooring is made without solvents, volatile organic compounds or formaldehyde. It also uses light-activated and air-purifying agents made of titanium dioxide in its Titanium floor finish line. You can ultimately help purify your air, and reduce the energy needed to run fans and ventilating systems to freshen up your home. Another option for floors with an eye on energy efficiency is radiant floors with embedded tubing inside concrete to improve more efficient heating and cooling.

Update Your Appliances

You may have heard of energy-efficient appliances already, but may not have heard about smart home appliances that can save both energy and time. Smart appliances allow you to remotely program your washer or dryer to operate in the middle of the night to reduce the strain on the electrical grid. Meanwhile, an energy-efficient smart fridge like LGrsquo;s smart fridge can tell you that youre out of milk and save you energy at the same time.


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How to Choose Hardwood Flooring That Will Get Your House Noticed

As a house flipper, ensuring my renovated properties look great is very important to me. I love walking into homes with hardwood floors. From bamboo to cork to parquet, oak, pine, and mahogany, wood floors give an immediate feeling of quality and luxury. There are seemingly endless varieties, >

If youre thinking of selling your home in the next few years or simply want to love where your feet fall, hardwood flooring can add value and give your home the design boost it needs.

Solid Wood vs. Engineered Hardwoods

With so many options available nowadays, making the right decision can be difficult. Consider these key differences when evaluating flooring for your home.

Solid Wood Flooring is milled from trees, and each plank is composed of natural wood. Within the realm of solid wood, there are varying degrees of hardness. The Janka Hardness Scale rates the hardness of wood and can help you choose the right flooring for your home.

Engineered Wood is made up of pieces of wood and composite materials that are layered to create each plank.

There are pros and cons to each option. Solid wood flooring can swell and retract based on humidity and climate, requiring proper installation to limit the chances of these occurrences. In most instances, hardwood flooring means paying a premium in the cost. On the other hand, engineered wood flooring doesnt react like solid wood to humidity, but it cant be refinished multiple times if it gets deep scratches.


Visual interest, floor to ceiling.
Photo credit: Jacqueline Falla

Installation and Other Considerations

Engineered floors come prefinished, which saves a step or two in the process of completing your flooring project. They can be installed quickly, in as little as one day, and are ready for immediate move-in. Hardwood requires several additional steps in the process: installation and cleaning, and staining often several times prior to adding a final coat of varnish.

Weather conditions matter as well. High humidity requires a longer drying time between coats, and stepping on floors that have not cured properly is out of the question. Those with sensitivity to strong odors will want to wait until the smell disappears before returning home.

Color and Pattern Choices

>


Photo credit: Jacqueline Falla
Ready for the beach.

Durable, Practical and Stylish

Installing hardwood flooring is one of those rare instances in life where the practical choice doesnt leave you feeling like youve made a series of compromises to arrive at a responsible decision. Hardwood is beauty and brains wrapped in one tough package. The main choice to be made, really, is whether to install natural or engineered hardwoods.

Because each type has different properties, where you plan to put the flooring could supply you with the quickest answer to the type of hardwood you should select. Due to the expansion and retraction qualities of solid hardwood, its best to keep it out of spaces that have a lot of moisture, like the bathroom or kitchen, or in spaces where the flooring would be laid directly on top of a concrete slab. For this reason, basements and bathrooms are great places to use engineered wood flooring instead.

Rental Property Considerations

If your home is an investment property for rent, you may want to opt for solid hardwood over engineered. Solid hardwood floors can be refinished up to 10 times before they need to be replaced. This will allow you to refinish the floors between tenants. Conversely, engineered hardwood, while very durable, has a useful life that does not extend beyond one or two sandings.


Hardwood is a smart choice for pet owners.

Pet-Friendly Flooring

Hardwood flooring is a practical choice for pet owners as its >

Noise Reduction

If you prefer that the pitter patter of little feet - or big feet, for that matter - be muffled, cork flooring has sound-absorbing properties to keep your home quiet. Its leathery look and comfort underfoot make it an attractive option. Cork is also an eco-friendly product because its derived from the bark of the cork tree and doesnt require constant replanting.


Cork floors help stifle sound transfer.

Whether youre a DIYer or need a little help, there is a flooring selection for every >

As an avid DIYer, Jaquelinenbsp;Fallanbsp; is constantly flipping houses.nbsp;She writes for The Home Depot about the projects that provide the biggest return on investment.nbsp;She loves adding hardwood floors - or refinishing existing ones - for a quick visual lift to get a house ready for sale.Visit The Home Depot to see a selection of hardwood flooring options to update your home.

This article is editorial content that has been contributed to our site at our request, and is published for the benefit of our readers. We have not been compensated for its placement.


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How The Equifax Hack Affects Homebuyers And How You Can Protect Yourself

Half of the country is freaking out. Thats about how many people are potentially affected by the unprecedented Equifax hack. If youre the average person whos afraid of having your data stolen - and by data, we mean your name, Social Security number, birth date, addresses, credit card numbers, and drivers license number that were reportedly involved in this breach - you may have already taken some steps to limit the damage. But what if youre in the process of buying a home or are getting ready to do so? How does this hack affect you, and what can you do to make sure you are protected?

Potential fallout for homebuyers

"Take this scenario: Say your Equifax file was looted but youve done little or nothing to detect fraudulent activity on one or more of your credit accounts. You sign a contract to buy a house, and you apply for a mortgage. The lender pulls your credit and confronts you with shocking news: Your FICO credit score is too low for you to qualify for the loan because youve been running up too much debt on one or more accounts. Your lsquo;utilization ratio on your available credit is too high, and that has depressed your score," said the Washington Post.

"Or theres a newly established account in your files that has put you deep in debt, even though you had nothing to do with it. It turns out that financial thieves have been racking up thousands of dollars in debts at your expense, and now - smack in the middle of a major lifetime investment - youre stuck with having to get the file corrected, which takes time and can be a pain. In the meantime, what happens to your purchase contract? Will the sellers bear with you, essentially putting off the transaction indefinitely and possibly blowing up their own plans to move into another house on a specific date? It could all get really messy."

Those who are already in escrow could also be derailed when the lender runs your credit before the loan closes and discovers fraudulent new accounts or charges that raise the debt-to-income ratio beyond what is allowed. "At the very least, whatever rate locks you had could be blown as you scramble to get your files corrected," they said. "Or your entire loan transaction could be jeopardized if the process takes too long."

Steps to take now

Have you still not checked to see if you were potentially impacted by the hack that affected as many as 143 million people? Not having dealt directly with Equifax doesnt guarantee your safety. "You may have never used Equifax yourself, or even heard of it," said CNN. "Either way, the credit reporting agency could still havenbsp;a lotnbsp;of your personal information. To find out if your data was compromised by the hack, gonbsp;here."

Keep in mind that youll have to enter your last name and the last six numbers of your Social Security number to check. Regardless of whether or not they believe you were impacted, youll be prompted to enroll in their TrustID Premier credit monitoring service, which will be free for a year. Despite earlier concerns, "Equifax has confirmed that signing up for TrustID Premier willnbsp;notnbsp;prevent you from joining a >

Armed with this information, you can go about taking further steps to protect your credit and prevent thieves from stealing your identity. Pull your credit reports for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. Look them over carefully to make sure there are not any fraudulent accounts and/or charges. If you see anything, get on the phone with the creditor right away and start the dispute process. If youre in the process of applying for a home loan or are under contract, youll also want to call your lender immediately to alert them to what you found.

To freeze or not to freeze

There has been quite a bit of discussion about credit freezes since news of the breach broke, with some consumers concerned that "turning off" their credit could potentially damage their score or negatively impact them in some other way, especially during the homebuying process. The fact is that a credit freeze is "the most extreme method, but its also the most effective" at preventing your information from being stolen and used to open new accounts, credit expert Barry Paperno, who blogs at Speaking of Credit, told NerdWallet. And, it can be turned on and off as needed for, say, a mortgage application or credit re-check before a closing.

"There are no downsides to this: You can still use your credit cards with the freezes on," said Realtor.com. "But no one will be able to check credit scores and personal information without yournbsp;permissionmdash;so no bad apples can open up fraudulent new cards or getnbsp;loans under yournbsp;name. And younbsp;can undo the freezes at any time - typically for a smallnbsp;fee."

That fee varies depending on the state, and Equifax has said it will offer free freezes for 30 days, but the need for freezing will extend long after that is over. "Because a freeze can prevent fraud, its better than a credit monitoring service, which only alerts you that fraud might havenbsp;happened," said NerdWallet.nbsp;"Its the difference between using a deadbolt to keep thieves out rather than a security camera to catch them after the fact."

You can easily request a freeze online for the three credit unions: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Fraud alerts

"If you dont want to lock out all creditors - perhaps youre in the middle of mortgage shopping or refinancing - you can place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit," they added. "Thisnbsp;tells potential creditors to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name." A fraud alert is a good idea whether or not you freeze your credit. In this day and age, when hacks are more frequent and more damaging to more people, ongoing monitoring just makes sense.

"The biggest fears of identity theft "center around identity theft on an epic scale. It isnt tough to conjure upnbsp;worst-case scenarios," said Realtor.com. "Think about it: Bad guys with all of someones information could, at least theoretically,nbsp;trynbsp;to buy a home under that personsnbsp;name. Its more likely, though, they would use those stolen credit card numbers - or use SSNsnbsp;to open up new credit cards - and rack up lots ofnbsp;debt in that unsuspecting victims name. And that damage could make it much harder for someone to qualify for a mortgage or refinance annbsp;existing mortgage."

Consumers have largely been turning to ID theft protection company LifeLock, who the Los Angeles Times said could be "one of the big winners from the big data breach suffered by Equifax." Not surprisingly, the firm has upped its advertising outreach in the wake of the breach. The result: "An executive of Symantec, LifeLocks parent company, told Bloomberg that since the Equifax breach was reported,nbsp;LifeLocks Web traffic has increased sixfoldnbsp;and enrollments per hour are running 10 times ahead of the pre-Equifax era."

But, theres a rub: "Heres what LifeLock isnt advertising so widely: When you buy its protection, youre signing up for credit reporting and monitoring services provided by, yes,nbsp;Equifax. LifeLock signednbsp;a four-year contract with Equifaxnbsp;in December 2015," and the >

If any or all of that makes you queasy, there are alternatives to LifeLock you may want to consider.


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5 Popular Home Trends by Region

Growth in home renovations and remodels has been steady since 2012, and the Residential Remodeling Index predicts continued growth into the future. Many renovations are trending from coast to coast, such as installations to increase energy efficiency, sustainability and security. There are some, however, which are more popular in specific regions.

Indoor/Outdoor Living on the West Coast

Indoor/outdoor living areas are trending across the nation, but the West Coast carries the torch. The regions climate practically begs you to incorporate the outdoors into your everyday activities.

  • An Open Wall - Remove the barrier between your yard and home by replacing an entire wall with glass doors, which can be opened and shut as-needed. You will find glass walls like this off of kitchens, family rooms and even bedrooms
  • A Table Outside - Move your kitchen and dining area outside, right outside the home and covered for use in any weather. With an outdoor kitchen, you can enjoy nature and a fresh breeze while you cook, rather than being confined.

Basement Remodels in the Mountains

In the mountain region, more and more people are turning their basements into livable spaces. This is a fantastic way to add useful space, as well as value.

  • Family Den - Create a downstairs family area, complete with a bathroom, couches and a television for video gaming and movie nights.
  • Home Office - Shut yourself away from dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor and attention-hoarding animals.
  • Guest Living - Give your in-laws a space of their own when they visit so that you can all have your privacy, without tripping over air mattresses.

Accessibility in the South

In the south, homeowners are making modifications which will help them to age-in-place. When people think of accessibility renovations, they dont often envision anything glamorous. However, your adaptations dont have to be boring. The changes you make can enhance the aesthetic of your home if you thoughtfully choose materials and design.

  • Easy Navigation - Widen doorways and remove steps between rooms and at entryways, so that access is flat and easily navigated.
  • Easy Access - Install a bathroom right by the entryway and retrofit the kitchen and bathrooms for wheelchair or walker access.
  • A Touch of Luxury - Build a tiled walk-in shower with recessed shelves, a bench, ambient lighting and spa-like fixtures.

    Deck Additions in the Northeast

    In the Northeast, deck additions have one of the greatest returns on investment, and the residents have taken note. Having a deck can make your home more competitive in the market. If youre renovating for yourself, its a great way to create an outdoor area for family gatherings and >

    • Entertain - Build your deck off the kitchen and outfit it with a table and chairs, to make hosting more seamless.
    • Unwind - Put your deck in a shaded corner and furnish it with comfy, weatherproof chairs for lounging. Consider installing an outdoor fireplace and a television.

    Bathroom Upgrades in the Midwest

    Midwesterners are remodeling their bathrooms, even though the return on investment isnt as high as with many other projects. Bathroom renovations are often homeowners treat to themselves, as they turn their house into their dream home.

    • Mirror, Mirror - Choose a theme that reflects your personality. Trending >
    • The Works - Install a spa tub or shower jets, and splurge on heated flooring.

    These are some of the most popular remodels happening across the nation, as people craft their perfect home or prepare it to sell. Making renovations isnt as simple as picking a project, however. You may be wondering how your neighbors have the resources to pursue such lofty endeavors. HomeAdvisor put out a True Cost Report which outlines several aspects of home improvement in 2017, including financing, which is a great resource on the years trends.


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11 Design Tricks for Defining Your Open-Plan Dining Space

An open-plan living space gives your home a light and airy feel, but that doesnt mean it needs to be one sprawlingly large room. Check out these ideas to zone off your dining area and create an intimate space in which to share dinner with friends and family.

1. Zone the floor. You can separate your dining space by marking out the area on the floor. Here, an unusual hexagonal pattern stands out beneath the table and instantly closes the space. You also could use floor paint to mark out simple lines or create your own more elaborate design.

Photo by Cris Sega Designs - Browse contemporary dining room ideas

2. Add a rug. A simple way to zone the floor is to position a rug under the table. It will create a cozy area and feel wonderfully soft underfoot. To counteract food debris, go for something lightweight, so it can be easily picked up and shaken out.

Photo by BetterSpace: The Floor Plan Experts - Look for rustic dining room pictures

3. Use natural materials. You can add warmth to a space by introducing natural materials such as wood, plants, woven elements and fabrics. This solid wood table and the lovely textures surrounding it have created a snug spot in the center of the white room. The dining space looks comfortable and welcoming.

Photo by Xul Architecture - Search transitional dining room design ideas

4. Frame your viewpoint. The modern white table here sits in the middle of a concrete floor and is surrounded by white walls. Its prevented from feeling lost or clinical by the clever placing of two bright pictures. These colorful artworks root the table to its spot and allow other elements to fall into place around it. It feels cheerful and cozy.

Photo by Mike Taylor Bespoke Kitchens - Search scandinavian dining room design ideas

5. Have everything close at hand. Create a comfortable space by bringing in practicality. The wall-to-wall sideboard in this dining area has plenty of room for glasses and tableware, which makes the area an easy place to be. The owners and their guests can quickly get at everything, so if someone needs an extra glass, its right there. The functionality of the space should help to create a >

Photo by Banda Property - Browse industrial dining room photos

6. Break up spaces. You can make your open-plan space feel cozier by dividing zones with furniture. This large cabinet helps to separate the living room from the dining area to create a more intimate feel. It also has the added benefit of providing vast amounts of storage.

If your budget doesnt stretch to a custom cabinet, try placing a large sideboard or shelving unit between the two spaces. Any kind of barrier will help to break up the space and make it feel snug.

Photo by Hannah Brown - More dining room photos

7. Build in a bench seat. Cushioned benches are comfortable and flexible. Make the most of an open-plan space by building one next to other elements in the room. Here, the bench rests against the kitchen countertop, creating a snug and sociable spot where guests can gather while the cook prepares food in the kitchen.

Photo by House of Sylphina - Look for eclectic dining room pictures

8. Soften the lines. Isolate your dining space from any sharp edges in the rest of the room by choosing a curvy table. The dark, industrial kitchen here provides a moody backdrop to the soft, white dining table and chairs. The angled light fixture puts a spotlight on the dining area and highlights it as a oasis in the center of the room.

Also See:

  • Shop Statement-Making Area Rugs for the Dining Room
  • The Best Low-Maintenance Indoor Plants
  • Add Warmth to Your Dining Space With the Right Upholstery Fabric


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4 Things You Absolutely Must Get Rid Of Before You Move

So youre moving, and on your verrrrrry long moving->

First, use this advice from Rent.com as an overall rule of thumb: "For one, if its damaged, it should be thrown away, no exceptions. Also, if its spent more than six months unused, you likely wont miss it if you get rid of it. For clothes, if you havent worn a garment in over a year, it should be donated that way you dont get rid of seasonal clothes you may need in a few months."

Now, lets break down the specifics.

Paperwork

If youve got boxes and boxes of old receipts and taxes and printed emails dating back to the turn of the century, its time to dive in. "Keep everything for seven years" is ingrained in many of our brains, but, according to financial expert Suze Orman, thats not necessary. She says the only thing that needs to be kept for seven years are records of satisfied loans. Income tax returns only need to be kept for three years can we get a Hallelujah?. But, there are some reasons to keep them longer, depending on your withholdings. You can see all her recommendations here.

Mementos and heirlooms

It can get sticky when it comes to things youve been willed or handed down. If you feel like you need to hold on to that old antique dresser thats been in your family for two generations - and thats sitting in the garage because its not your >Clothes

Getting rid of clothes can be overwhelming. No one is saying you have to pare down to a weeks worth of outfits and shoes, but if youre moving to a smaller space or just want to be more organized when you move, the closet is a great place to start.

Most experts recommend getting rid of anything you havent worn in a year, but if the thought of purging that many items is giving you anxiety, start by asking yourself a few questions, said The Spruce:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I wear it?
  • Does it project the image I want to project?
  • Does it itch or scratch?
  • Does it pinch my toes? Are the heels too high to walk in?
  • Is it moldy? Smelly? Stained?
  • Does it fit?"

When you get to No. 7, take a deep breath. Many people have clothes in a couple of sizes to accommodate things like post-pizza-pigout days, but if youre holding on to 15 pairs of pants that havent fit you since 2002, maybe its time to ditch them.

Broken, scratched or tired furniture

Old, boring, broken, or otherwise undesirable pieces youve been living with in your current home may not be so tolerable once you move. Your shiny new place deserves some shiny new stuff, right? If youre not in a position to shell out a bunch of money after buying your new home, wait a bit. Youll undoubtedly be receiving credit card offers after you close escrow; sift through them and set aside those offering 0 interest from furniture stores like Rooms to Go.

These can make big purchases easier - if you are good at managing your credit. Miss a payment or fail to pay off your balance within the allotted time and youll have interest accrued going back to the date of purchase plus a whopping interest rate, which can put payments out of reach. You may also receive 0 interest offers from places like Lowes and Home Depot, which can be a great way to update appliances, flooring, or countertops, and Best Buy for your electronic needs.


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6 Surprising Benefits Of Buying Or Selling Your Home In The Fall

Seeing fewer for-sale signs now that summer is over? That can be great news for buyers who are looking to score a new home and buyers who want to get rid of their place and buy a new one. If you think you missed the boat on making your move this year, were here to tell you why buying and selling in the fall can work for you.

Less competition

Yes, there may be fewer homes on the market, but there are also fewer buyers out there competing for the same home you want. That gives buyers an important edge. "Families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture," said Forbes. "Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale - and in some cases, theres just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer."

The benefit to sellers is that those buyers who are out there tend to be more serious, which means yours REALTORreg; can key in on the real buyers without having to sift through the riffraff.


AgentJet.com

Tax breaks

If youre a buyer who closes escrow before December 31, and you may get a nice write off on your taxes. "Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole years worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December," David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert told Realtor.com. "Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year."

There are also potential tax breaks for home sellers. "You can include all sorts of selling expenses in thecost basisof your house," said The Balance. "Increasing your adjusted cost basis decreases your capital gain because this is whats subtracted from the sales price to determine how much of a gain - or loss in some cases - youve realized. If you have less of a gain, youre more likely to fall within the exclusion limit, and if youre gain isnt excluded, youll pay taxes on less." And thats just the beginning. Closing costs and home improvements may also be write offs for sellers. Check out the full list here.

Home for the holidays

Buy or sell early in the fall and you could be nicely situated in your new home in time for the holidays and before winter weather hits. Moving during a calmer time of year also means you may have better access to movers and other necessary resources than during the busier spring and summer seasons.

The right price

Did you list in the spring or summer with an exorbitant number that you thought youd have no trouble getting because it was a hot market? Thats pretty common these days. Whether youve had a revelation about the price you should be asking or have made updates to your home to justify a higher price, youre probably in better shape to get your realistic asking price in the fall. If youre a seller and you establish a smart pricing strategy, you could find your home standing out in the crowd and selling while others sit on the market under a blanket of snow.

Buyers also may have a better time getting a home thats within their budget because when there is less competition for homes, there is less chance of bidding wars and over-asking-price sales.

Fall may be safer for buyers and sellers

Heres something you may not have thought of. "Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com, told Forbes. "July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place. Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood. Youll be settled in your home and can take precautionslike setting up that new alarm systembefore the next burglary season rolls around.

For sellers, less competition for your home can be a good thing if it means your home is safer from theft.

Great deals on stuff to fix up your home

Coordinate the timing right, and those items you need to fix up your home for sale in the fall or update and upgrade after a purchase might be priced to your advantage. Check Consumer Reports for a full list of the best times of year to buy everything, and keep in mind holiday and Black Friday sales. You could score some great deals at this time of year.


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A Sneak Preview of Chip and Joanna Gaines New Home Collection With Target

Nine words sent shockwaves through the world of interior design this week: "Chip and Joanna Gaines reveal home collection with Target." If you love the Gaines >

"This November, Target will launchHearth Hand with Magnolia, an exclusive home and life>Target describes the collection as one that "reflects a modern take on Magnolias signature aesthetic with modern, >More than 300 items are included in the initial collection, including "tabletop dining sets, adorable vases and napkin sets, and other items of home decor," said the Today show, where the couple offered a sneak peek.


Target

Chip Gaines himself weighed in on the Magnolia blog after the announcement, providing a bit more detail about, and insight into, the collection.

"Just as weve never created an exclusive line of product for a retailer before, Target has never done anything like this before either," he said. "Let me try to give you a visual: its like a little shop inside of Target. Jo keeps calling the look modern farmhouse, whatever that means. All I know is shes so excited about this collection that she wants to register for our wedding all over again."

If you cant wait until November, you can always check out Magnolia Markets online store for a range of products designed by the pair, many of which are featured in their Waco shop.


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City Or Suburbs: Where Should You Buy A Home?

Getting ready to buy your first home? Youre probably caught in that age-old dilemma of whether to buy in the city or move to the suburbs. There are plenty of reports out there that detail how millennials want to stay in the city to be where all the action is. Walkability isnt just a catchword; its a life goal. And, the reports out there that detail how being within close proximity to a Starbucks, a Trader Joes, and a Target can raise your home value only strengthen the argument for urban living. Of course, dont discount all those reports that show that millennials are moving to lsquo;burbs to buy homes.

"A recent report from the National Association of REALTORSreg; shows that, instead of settling down in urban areas,nbsp;young homebuyersnbsp;are increasingly scooping up properties in the suburbs," said smartasset. Conventional wisdom may say thats primarily an affordability issue, and that factor cant be ignored. However, there are several additional reasons why the suburbs are calling out to millennial buyers. And, on the flip side, there are those who cant even conceive of leaving the city for the lsquo;burbs, affordability notwithstanding.

So how do you know where to go? These are some of the key factors.

Being close to what you need

In a city, you can be close to bars, shops, restaurants, and everything else that makes the area so dynamic. Of course, the density can make it hard to find parking, limit the open space, and make it unappealing for young families who want to live among other young families. Millennials who have kids or who are thinking of having kids in the near future have to weigh the importance of being in what they consider an exciting location against the practicality of being in a more family-friendly area.

Schools

The schools may be better in the suburbs. "It should come as no surprise that urban districts tend to have lower graduation rates than suburban ones," said The Hechinger Report. The reason: "They often have more disadvantaged students and fewer resources."

While individual cities and districts continue to tackle this important issue, families move to the suburbs, where theyll likely pay higher taxes on their home to accommodate newer schools and expanded resources. Stay in the city, and you may have to pony up for private schools or seek out a charter to get a comparable education for your present or future kids.

Living Space

"The closer you get to a city center, the smaller the living spaces tend to be, even in Texas where things are bigger," said Square Cow Movers. "This could be doable for some single professionals or couples, but for families it can be an issue. The suburbs provide more space to spread out, which is part of the reason they are still so popular today."


elpadvisors.com

Jobs

"One thing to consider before heading to the suburbs is where youll work," said smartasset. Do you currently work in the city? How long will your commute be, and are you sure you can live with it?

Its also important to think in terms of a big, unpleasant, "What if?" What if your job situation changes? What will the prospects be like in the area you are considering? Asking yourself how much time you are willing to spend in the car every day and taking a good look at how that translates to options in the area can help you key in on some areas and nix others.

Outdoor space

In some urban areas, parks give residents a respite from all the high rises and commercial spaces. However, living in the city often means having to make tradeoffs, and ample access to nature is one of them.

Safety

While crime rates and data vary depending on the specific location, overall, the suburbs have a reputation for being safer. Obviously if this is an issue for you, youll do your due diligence to ensure the safety of your family. Its important to keep in mind, though, that transitional neighborhoods can provide a great value for money-conscious homebuyers - as long as youre willing to put up with some potentially unpleasant realities while the transition is under way.

This guide from Forbes can help you identify a neighborhood thats about to take a turn for the better and might be a good buy. Or, you can heed these tips from Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott. "This is when its really important to work with a real estate agent that knows the area. Proximity to downtown, transit, shopping, amenities, and schools are really important," they said on POPSUGAR. "You can also go to the city planning department and find out any major developments that are going into the different communities. Also, drive through the neighborhoods that you are considering and look to see if there are a lot of recent sales. Trying to invest in emerging communities can be risky, so if you are new to real estate, then we suggest sticking to areas you are comfortable in."

Age of properties

If you want something newer, it may be harder to find in the city. Infill projects tend to be rarer, depending on the location, largely because of their cost. "Real estate is generally more expensive in infill locations than in outlying areas because land is >


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Updated: Monday, September 25, 2017

6 Surprising Benefits Of Buyin...
Seeing fewer for-sale signs now that summer is over“ That can be great news for buyers...

4 Things You Absolutely Must G...
So youre moving, and on your verrrrrry long moving->First, use this advice from Rent.com ...

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