Posts Tagged ‘Information’

What You Need To Know About Easements

Monday, October 21st, 2013

As you search for a home, you may have come across the term easement in a listing and wondered what it means. An easement is a legal arrangement by the owner of the property and a non-owner to use the property in some fashion. You may see this term used in listings where a home is located near a public recreational area. For example, the property may come with a walking easement to the nearby lake.

If there are any existing easements between the current seller and a neighbor, the seller’s attorney or the seller’s agent needs to advise the buyer. It’s important to know if easements exist and how they affect the purchase or usage of the home being bought. Easements often allow the use of a pathway between adjacent properties or a pathway to reach a common play area, yard or even a fish pond.

The most common easement is called the right of way, allowing people to pass through. Easement of support refers to excavations of property. Delivery people and meter readers all have the right to step on your property by easement of right of way. Less common are easements of light and air and rights regarding artificial waterways. Easements can be hotly contested, especially where rights to oceanfront property or conservation land are in dispute.

Easements are mostly created by a binding written document. As a rule, courts base the allowance to have an easement on intention of the original parties in each situation. Courts prefer written easements and also consider account customs, habits and practices for the property.

A real estate attorney working  for a home buyer can investigate any current easements connected to the property. The attorney will explain the ramifications to the buyers. Because easements are a property law issue, they are usually straightforward. An easement can be canceled in writing, by expiration date, in estoppel and even by death. For further clarification about your specific situation, consult with a real estate attorney on what easements mean to your home purchase. 2013

Home Repairs To Do Before You Refinance

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Property values have come roaring back. Many can now refinance their loans by virtue of having additional home equity. And increased property values can also put homeowners in a better financial position to sell their home without entering short sale territory. But the fact remains: Everyone wants to attain maximum value for their real estate and home repairs can help. So what’s the best barometer of a home’s true worth? Simple: the amount a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay at any given point in time. Unfortunately, appraisal estimates can be skewed, especially when not all the home repairs and improvements are taken into consideration. This is why you should weigh all home improvement decisions carefully before you commit.

When You’re Refinancing

Unlike in years past, the weight of an appraisal to determine the home value for the purposes of refinancing a mortgage is based upon the facts (which are primarily based on other homes that have sold) and what the property description is.

Improvements that may help a refinance valuation:

  • Additional bedroom or bathroom
  • Addition to the lot size
  • Addition to the garage
  • Improvement that expands the “use” of the home

When it comes to improvements such as landscaping, painting, any home improvement more “cosmetic” in nature, realize that the primary benefit is for the enjoyment of the property, not for trying to influence value.

When Selling

A home buyer is going to take into consideration all of the facts associated with the property, location, lot size, square footage, bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as additional cosmetic improvements that have been done that add to the look and feel of the home.

Improvements that may help a sale price:

  • New paint job
  • Freshly maintained landscaping
  • Remodeled and/or upgraded interior
  • Deck and/or patio addition
  • Additional bedroom or bathroom
  • Addition to the lot size
  • Addition to the garage

What’s the Biggest Bang for Your Buck?

These include the high-ticket items that increase square footage. An additional bedroom or an additional bathroom increases the square footage, which in turn allows an appraiser to make higher adjustments when determining valuation against other comparable homes around the subject property.


Let’s say you have funds ready for possibly improving your home for long-term enjoyment. Instead of using the funds to make home improvements in an attempt to enjoy your home more, you might actually see a greater benefit if you used that money toward a refinance. Over time, the money you save from refinancing could then be put toward those home improvements down the road.

Selling in the Near Future

Typically, you won’t get a dollar-for-dollar recapture on the home improvement cost, even when selling. Because the weight is given to improvements that expand the use of the house (i.e. bedroom, bathrooms, etc.), it’s more common to expect 20 cents on the dollar, or maybe 30 cents on the dollar, depending on the improvement in such a scenario. Because the market is the strongest indicator of price, the market will dictate sales price followed by additional improvements and subsequent marketing of the home. 2013

Benefits and Drawbacks of Homeowners Associations

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Talk to 10 different people about homeowners associations (HOAs), and you’ll likely get 10 different opinions. Some people love living in a development with an HOA, while others find it too restrictive. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, it can be a great experience or one that feels too intrusive. Today about one in five Americans live in a house with home-owner or condo fees.

HOAs began in the mid-19th century but didn’t really gain in popularity until the early 1960s, as an outgrowth of the postwar housing boom and the growth of the middle class. Typically, an HOA is incorporated by the developer during the development and sales process, and gradually control and ownership are transferred to the home purchasers upon completion of the project. The original owner/developer quits membership in the association and has nothing more to do with it. Anyone purchasing a home in an existing housing development with an HOA must become a member. There is no other option. The overall purpose of the HOA is to represent the residents. Depending on how active these associations are, they can be quite effective in providing forums for common home-owner representation and needs.

HOAs Are Like Small Towns

A homeowners association governs the development like a small town. The HOA’s powers include imposing fines, organizing activities and providing certain services. It can also levy assessments and force home owners to pay them. Many HOAs have yearly dues, and a homeowners association can legally impose monetary fines to enforce its decisions. The groups usually appoint a board of directors, which may then elect an association president and other officers. Meetings are typically monthly but can be quarterly, depending on the size of the group.

If the HOA is larger, it will likely be broken down into committees. Committees are also appointed for various activities: maintenance, membership dues and neighborhood representation. An accounting committee or, in smaller HOAs, an individual is assigned to present the annual budget and monitor expenses and funds collected. During the foreclosure crisis, some HOAs began to lose revenue as people living in homes facing foreclosure stopped paying their fees.

HOAs Can Promote Neighborhood Harmony and Uniformity

HOAs offer many benefits to the home owner. According to the bylaws of the association, it can collectively represent the group for whatever purposes assigned. For example, to maintain a certain degree of conformity, the association can stipulate which changes are permitted for the exterior of the buildings. Sometimes the HOA can determine acceptable noise levels. If there are common areas, such as gardens and pools, the members can appoint an internal management committee or elect to bring in an outside maintenance company. On snowy days, a snow-removal company may need to be called in, and this service will be paid for out of the association’s funds. For condos or groups with shared structures or parking lots, fees can go to upkeep.

HOAs Can Be Restrictive and a Financial Drain

If you want to change the color of your house or even add a new tree, you may run afoul of your local organization. Also, if your HOA decides to undertake a major capital improvement project and the governing group approves it, you may be left with no choice but to pay your share. If you fail to pay your dues or you go against the HOA rules, you could be assessed fees and late charges. If you disagree with some of the rules, it can be very hard to get them changed.

Overall, most people see an HOA as a positive. According to the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR), 70 percent of residents in common-interest communities say they are satisfied with their community-association experience. The FCAR’s research also found that 76 percent believe their own community-association rules “protect and enhance” property values.

Real Estate Terminology: What Is Accessibility

Monday, December 17th, 2012

ACCESSIBILITY – the ease and convenience with which a property can be entered by customers (Barron’s Dictionary of Real Estate Terms)

It is very important that when you put your home on the market it is accessible to prospective clients. I view accessibility in two different ways:

  1. Accessibility to view the home online
  2. Accessibility to personally view the home


It is very important that your home has a strong presence on the internet. According to the National Association of REALTORS 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Home Sellers, 89% of home buyers begin their real estate search online. In fact most home buyers spend several months viewing homes online and educating themselves about the local real estate market before they purchase a home. There are several important factors of your online presence:

  1. Does your home/property  have photos (multiple photos, not just the front of the home)? Lack of photos will automatically eliminate it as a possibility (unless the home was recently placed on the market). Professional photos are even better! (87% feel property photos are very important*)
  2. Is your description of the home detailed? It is very important that your description of the home is accurate and detailed. Again where most buyers are trying to educate themselves about areas, home features, etc, the more info the better! (83% feel a detailed description is very important*)
  3. Does your home have a virtual tour? Virtual tours can have a huge impact for buyers as it allows them to orient themselves in the home. They can figure out how each room flows or fits in with each other. One of my clients almost eliminated a home because it didn’t have a virtual tour. She’s glad she didn’t because she ended up purchasing the home. Virtual tours are very important! (61% feel a virtual tour is very important*)

* National Association of REALTORS 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Home Sellers


I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure the home is accessible for a prospective buyer when a showing is requested. You NEVER know if you just declined a showing to a perfect buyer for your home. When I work with buyers and we have a hard time accessing a particular listing, they inevitably assume that the Sellers may be difficult to work with if we decide to bring an offer. I must put a side note here that there are times when a showing can not be accommodated, buyers do understand that. If that is the case, maybe offer another time that would work better or if your home won’t be available for longer period, withdraw it from the market. You can always reactive the listing once showings can be accommodated. My point is that every effort should be made to get a potential buyer through the door.

Eight Factors That Could Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Homeowners insurance is a necessary expense but there are some ways you may be able to reduce your costs. Below is a helpful list of eight factors that could help you save money. You’ll have to consult with your insurance broker for specific details but these tips should give you some areas to consider:

  • New Home: You may be eligible for a discount based on the age of your home.
  • Companion Policy: Some insurers give discounts to customers who hold multiple policies with their company.
  • Protective Device: A fire or burglar alarm or sprinkler system may make you eligible for certain discounts. Be sure to check with your insurance broker before installing an expensive multi-function system.
  • Mature Homeowner: Usually available to retirees over the age of 55.
  • Secured Community: Living in a fully-secured community may also make you eligible for a discount.
  • Home Improvements: Improvements such as upgrading plumbing or roofing may result in a reduced homeowners insurance premium.
  • Lifestyle: Specifically, because of the damage caused by cigarette ignited fires, insurance companies will reward non-smokers.
  • Loyalty: If you’ve been with the same insurer several years in a row, you may be eligible for this discount.

Take another look at your homeowners insurance and see if any of these above items apply. It may be a great way for you to save some money!

February HUD Housing Scorecard Shows Both Inventory and Prices Down

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012


The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released the February edition of the Obama Administration Housing Scorecard. The latest data shows that the housing market is slowly getting stronger. The scorecard also highlights a situation that is showing as well, that the inventory is declining in some markets with fewer new and existing homes listed. Home prices were down for the fourth month in a row.

According to the scorecard, at the current rate, it would take 6.1 months to turn over the supply of existing homes currently on the market and 5.6 months to turn over the stock of new homes. This is the lowest months’ supply since 2006. Existing home sales also continued to improve, reaching their highest pace since May 2010. In a press release HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic pointed out that one in five Americans still owes more than what their home is worth and said that this is “a clear sign that we are not yet out of the woods.”

The Administration also released the “Making Home Affordable Program Performance Report”. For the Program to date, homeowners in permanent modifications have saved an estimated $11 billion in monthly mortgage payments. The report states that 85% of eligible homeowners entering a HAMP trial modification since June 1, 2010 have received a permanent modification, with an average trial period of 3.5 months. Since the beginning of this program, the Treasury has required loan servicers to improve their processes. Servicer Assessments rate the performance on key metrics such as identifying and contacting homeowners; homeowner evaluation and assistance; and program reporting and governance. For the fourth quarter of 2011, a total of nine servicers were found to need moderator minor improvement with respect to the specific metrics tested but no servicer was found to be in need of substantial improvement this quarter. The standards established by this program were also a guide for the $25 billion settlement announced in February.

The full Housing Scorecard is available online at

Top 10 Worst Cities for Spring Time Allergies

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

For those of you, who are suffering this year, feel for the kind folks in Knoxville, Tennessee right now. They are the countries leader as the worst city for allergies.

Top 10 Worst Cities For Springtime Allergies

1. Knoxville, Tennessee

2. Louisville, Kentucky

3. Charlotte, North Carolina

4. Jackson, Mississippi

5. Chattanooga, Tennessee

6. Birmingham, Alabama

7. Dayton, Ohio

8. Richmond, Virginia

9. McAllen, Texas

10. Madison, Wisconsin

via ABC News

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