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Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015

P-A-I-N-T to Perfection In Your HOA

No two painting projects are alike. Types and conditions of materials to be painted, complexity of architectural features, types and degree of weather exposures, impact of landscape features, and shade configurations all make a big difference in a well-conceived painting program. Even the purpose of painting can vary from one project to the next. Painting may address preventive maintenance, aesthetics, waterproofing program or all of the above. Regardless of the variables, following the acronym "P-A-I-N-T" will enhance your chances of success:

Plan. Inventory every paintable item and decide when it needs to be painted. Prioritizing is particularly important if the painting budget is inadequate to paint everything at once. You can concentrate on the short-term needs, and accrue money in reserves for future painting.

Ask. The paint industry changes rapidly so make no assumptions. All paint companies offer free expert advice on the latest and best products for your particular needs. In addition, they can provide specifications to use for bidding the project and actually do inspections on the project to ensure the product is being applied properly. This is also the time to update your color scheme. Ask the paint company to prepare a color board with three different trim and body options usually a free service but worth paying for. Let the owners vote on their favorite.

Inspect the Work. In the planning process, walk the site completely. Notice which areas are fading faster than others typically south, southwest exposures. Determine the condition of the underlying materials to be painted they may need to be refurbished or replaced.

Note the detrimental effects your sprinkler system may be having on your painted surfaces, and make necessary connections to avoid premature failure of the new paint. Know what unavoidable damage the painting process may cause to landscaped areas, and plan accordingly.

During the job, dont >

Each product has a recommended "mil" thickness which can vary depending on method of application brush, roll or spray, ambient temperature and dryness of the surface. It is critical that the right product be applied in the right way.

After the job is done at least according to the painter, do a walk-through inspection of your project before you pay the final painting bill. There are always, always, always did I repeat myself? always corrections and additions to every job. Get them done before you make final payment while the painter is motivated. Once paid, its off to the next job and motivation plummets.

After six months, and especially after the first rainy period, inspect the whole job to see how its holding up. There are often areas that begin to flake or crack. In particular, look for painted rails and other exposed horizontal surfaces that get direct rain. All significant failures should be touched up immediately. Do not wait

Negotiate. Get competitive bids from qualified contractors whose references youve checked. All bids should be based on identical and clear specifications provided by the paint manufacturer. Do not automatically choose the low bid. All bids are negotiable and you may get the price you want from the painter you like best just by asking. Youve got nothing to lose.

Timing. All your planning and painting needs should take into consideration that most painting is done usually within a >

There are few homeowner association projects more important than painting. Remember the acronym P-A-I-N-T as you venture into your next round and it will turn out A-O-K.

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


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Why Older Homes Rock

Youre ready to buy a home, but there hasnt been a new home built in your area in 10 years, leaving you no choice but to buy an older home. You could appreciate older homes more if you know a little about their history and why they were designed the way they were at the time.

You can trace expansions and contractions in the economy easily by home sizes and standard features. In the 1950s, suburbs grew quickly because of new highway systems that allowed homeowners to commute to their jobs. Yards grew larger and homes sprawled on single-story foundations because land was cheap.

Post-war parents gave birth in record numbers to the baby boomers and decorated their homes with space-age Sputnik Formica, luxurious wall-to-wall carpeting, built-in cocktail bars, and furniture-quality black and white TV sets.

In the mid 1970s at the height of the oil embargo, new homes got smaller and closer together. They began to advertise innovations such as "zero-lot-lines" which is a fancy way of saying lands too expensive over traditional homes with front, back and side yards.

Skylights helped get light from above as common townhome walls and lack of side yards in new communities limited natural light. "Great rooms" were introduced as a spacious but smaller square footage alternative to separate living and den areas. And the "Jack and Jill" bath became the norm to provide kids with some privacy while sharing a bathroom.

By the 1980s, the economy was moving from a single wage earner in the household to DINKS -- dual income, no kids. As fortunes improved, McMansions grew like mushrooms, featuring third living areas, three-car garages and private en suite baths for every bedroom. Eat-in kitchens joined palatial dining rooms as must-haves for every homeowner.

By the 1990s, a strong movement in favor of natural materials crowned hardwood floors and granite countertops as the new luxury standard. In-home computers became more popular and affordable and the Internet changed reading and information access forever. Recessions were still six month affairs and CEO pay rose to several hundred times that of ordinary workers.

By 2005, McMansions were everywhere, boasting four or more bedrooms, media rooms, master living areas, private studies, flexspaces, island kitchens, mud rooms, and exercise rooms. Then the housing downturn hit, and very little new construction was being built.

Now it takes two incomes just to tread water, but hard-working families dont want to compromise. Theyre conscious of operating costs as well as purchase costs. Energy-efficiency has steadily moved up the ranks of most important considerations for homebuyers. Homes that have been well-maintained, regardless of age, are desirable.

When you look for an older home, consider the advantages. The neighborhood is established, so what you see is what you get. An older home might work best for a decorating >
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Its Time To Lighten Up...Your Floor, That Is

After years of dark floors, were finally lightening up again. But dont start to panic about light maple elbowing its way back into your home. The new light wood has more texture, more color variance, more beauty. And, its return to vogue may also signal an important economic trend.

"During the economic downturn, people gravitated toward the traditional dark colors. But with the economy improving, there is a rise in the demand for lighter tones," said the Orange County Register. "Some of these are finished to look like driftwood or washed in white to make them look beachy. The look is popular on both coasts and is growing elsewhere in the country."

The newspaper also sees "a growing popularity in what are referred to as domestic exotics, like hickory and ash. Walnut is growing in popularity, and if left natural, is much lighter than traditionally dark-stained walnut. Many of us remember the pickled light woods of 25 years ago. The gray, white and lighter multiple stain color processes of today are this generations version of that trend.

If youre ready to lighten up, here are a few options you might want to consider.

A variegated look brings warmth and interest.

Ultra-wide planks set a beautiful foundation.

Go rustic and reclaimed.

Not unique enough? How about floors made from wine bar>

Bring in grey tones for a modern look.

Curved wood "that follow a trees natural growth" are a hit in Europe, said interior design firm Beasley amp; Henley.

Want the look without the work? Porcelain tile resembles wood without the upkeep.

You can also get a similar effect with hard-wearing vinyl planks that look like wood.


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The Man Cave Offshoot That Could Just Save Your Marriage

The typical scenario goes something like this: the room that used to be the garage or the extra bedroom or maybe even the entire basement gets co-opted by the man of the house, adorned with all sorts of branded banners and other team-logoed stuff and is christened the Man Cave or the Dude Dungeon or some other similarly monikered male-dominated space with the idea being that the rest of the house is the womans domain and therefore the man needs his special man space.

Seems fair, really. Most women we know dont mind a bit that all the stuff we dont want strewn throughout the rest of the house is >

Except for this: There isnt really a woman space equivalent - not in the kitchen or the living room or the breakfast nook or even the bathroom even though it does have a soaking tub and a sit-down vanity and an immense walk-in closet with custom shoe storage.

If youre one who believes that women need that one special place of their own, the "She Shed," so named by folks at Lighter Side of Real Estate, might be your answer. Check out a bevy of their She Sheds here, and then see a few more examples below.

Storybook hideaway/Zen lounge on Rural Intelligence? Yes please

Also featured on Rural Intelligence, this shed turned "Anglo-American" stunner was created for a contest, but should start being mass-produced right this very second.

This designer shed from Shedly is ideal as a beachy modern getaway.

A potting shed? An outdoor living room? This choice is yours in this shed featured on Inhabit.com.

This shed from Costco featured on Tiny House Blog would be easy to doctor up to turn it into a retreat for those looking for a satisfying DIY project.

Dont you just want to curl up and read a book in this breezy shed on The Cozy Abode?

Outdoor office anyone? Featured on Design Mom.

Check out this shed-turned-poolhouse and a ton of other ideas here.

Another DIY shed, this deluxe space from CNB Homes even has solar panels.

This cute potting shed is also a chic place to hang out. See more potting sheds on Shelterness.

Are you loving the idea of a She Shed? See more examples on Pinterest.


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Higher Prices Dont Deter First-time Buyers

A new survey of first-time buyers in Canada reveals they are more financially savvy than the general population, well-educated, employed and married or in a common-law >

The survey, commissioned by mortgage insurer Genworth Canada, "shows that todays first-time buyers have their eyes wide open, their hands firmly on their pocketbook and are thinking hard before assuming the responsibility of homeownership," says Stuart Levings, president and CEO of Genworth Canada.

Rising prices have raised concerns about affordability across the country but especially in Vancouver and Toronto, where the average price for a detached home now exceeds 1 million. The high prices and warnings that interest rates could rise and prices could fall are not deterring first-time buyers, who are taking a hard look at the market and their own finances before making the jump into homeownership.

The survey says first-timers are managing their debt carefully, by not taking on additional debt since buying their home. One-third have been able to reduce their mortgage debt by increasing payments or making lump-sum payments.

"With good incomes, solid jobs and a financial partner with whom to share the responsibility of homeownership, most first-time homebuyers generate a positive profile from the perspective of a mortgage insurer," says Levings.

At a recent conference where the survey was unveiled, Levings said that since the federal government tightened mortgage insurance regulations, the quality of first-time buyer applications has improved. "There has been a big focus on safety to qualify applicants," he said. "We have a more responsible, high-quality homebuyer today than what we would have seen in 2007 and 2008."

Erica Nielsen, a vice-president at RBC, told the conference that "as a lender, we take a lot of time to stress-test our portfolio, looking at interest rate shocks as well as other micro-economic factors. We feel comfortable with the performance of our portfolio."

However, the survey did show that nine per cent of respondents said they had to draw on their savings to get by, and four per cent said they had to borrow money to get by.

How are most first-timers coming up with their down payment? The survey says they have higher incomes than the general population, with 31 per cent having household incomes of more than 100,000. Almost seven in 10 paid for their down payment from savings or non-registered investments, while 39 per cent made a withdrawal from their RRSP.

A growing number of them -- almost 30 per cent -- are getting gifts or loans from family members, particularly in the cities where homes cost the most.

Levings said, "The parents have a lot of equity and sometimes that is being drawn out through a line of credit so the kids can get into a home."

Nielsen said that because interest rates are so low, "many parents are finding the best place to fund their childrens down payment may be from their own home, because its so cost-effective to borrow.

Levings added that many baby boomers are tapping their home equity for renovations, second homes or investment properties, so its not surprising to see some of that money going to help out their children.

A recent report about generation trends in luxury real estate by Sothebys International Realty Canada says that in the luxury market, "Despite above-average incomes 85 to 95 per cent of luxury buyers are >

David MacDonald of Environics Research Group, which conducted the survey, said that although the millennials are educated and used to researching financial and real estate matters on the Internet, they still want to consult professionals when buying a home. Asked where they found "important sources of information", the first-timers most often cited mortgage professionals, family/friends, bank/credit union representatives and real estate agents.

Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage Real Estate Services and another panel participant, was asked if for-sale-by-owner and discount real estate commission companies are gaining market share.

"Naw, they dont have a chance," he joked. "If you look at the percentage of people buying a home who are not using a licensed professional Realtor, it hasnt changed. Its about 10 per cent outside of Quebec and 50 per cent in Quebec" where private sales are a well-established tradition. That number hasnt grown, he said.

"Millennials want to work with professionals," said MacDonald. He said when it comes to personal finances, "when you start to see six digits in a row, you want to make sure you are doing the right thing so that means working with a financial advisor or a mortgage professional or a real estate agent to help you."

He says professionals working with millennials to buy a home should "open their eyes to the tools that are available to them, such as mortgage calculators on the Internet and show them the step-by-step process they need to go through to make a decision. Let them know it requires a little bit of work right now but it will all be worth it in the end."


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Ask These 7 Questions to Create a Whole House Color Palette

It seems so simple, but picking a paint color is one of the biggest obstacles my clients have when updating their homes. Once they realize theyre really picking an overall palette, theyre positively paralyzed.

Ive been part of the process in thousands of homes, and it really is easier than most people think. Answer a few questions, make a few quick decisions, and then narrow those decisions down to an ultimate choice. I usually give myself a week to make a final decision.

What Do You Like, and How Do You Want to Feel?

Flipping through magazines and websites can be a big help when youre looking for inspiration, but first, take a minute to answer two important questions that people often forget: What are your favorite colors, and how do you want to feel in your home?

Are you looking for a serene oasis from the world or a fun and funky vibe? Finding yourself on that spectrum and considering the colors most likely to take you there is where you want to start. We react to color on such a gut level that instinct will serve you well. If youre really having a tough time, head to the closet and note the colors of your favorite clothes. Check out the bedding and the art on the walls. Youll be surprised how quickly you see a pattern that resonates. Choose three colors to get started.

What Are the Elements You Cant Control?

Now, factor in the elements of the architecture and design that you cant change. Cabinets, carpet, floors and furniture are more permanent fixtures, and its easier - and more affordable - to paint around those things rather than remodeling just to match the paint. Now, which of your three colors come off the list? Decide quickly, be brutal, and keep moving. You can do this

Which Rooms Can You See from Other Rooms?

Even if youre not working with an open floor plan, you want to consider everything in your line of sight as you choose colors for particular rooms. This wont necessarily result in removing any of the colors from the list, but you may end up choosing a different tint or shade of the color you like for another room in your sight line.

Are You Ready to Commit? You Still Get to Pick Three

Time to make a call. Start with your three main paint chips, and then choose one or two of its neighbors on either side to give you a spectrum of the colors you like. This will give you options for accent colors or for picking a broader whole-house color palette. The chips will look different in the store than they will at home, so head home and tape them up somewhere that gets some natural light, so you get a sense of how they look in all kinds of light. Remove the "non-contenders" as soon as you can until youre down to one chip for at least two of your three colors.

Can Your Choices Pass a Test?

This is a crucial part of the process. Pick up an eight-ounce sample of your chosen colors and brush some on every wall theyre intended for. Depending on the light, one color will often look like two different shades when painted on different walls. Live with them for at least three days - viewing them morning, noon and night - again noting the difference in shades under different light sources, and start narrowing.

If youre still having trouble deciding, vow to eliminate one color a day. Remember, you can always change paint, and youve already chosen colors you actually like.

Do You Want a Different Look Between Upstairs and Downstairs?

If youre working with a two-story layout, youre no doubt trying to decide if you want a different color upstairs. Many of my clients do, often choosing warmer, cozier shades for their more private spaces. If possible, try to look for colors somewhere on the spectrum of your anchor color. But whatever you choose, just repeat the process upstairs.

Do You Have Any Neutral Nooks?

Stairwells that connect your two living areas, small hallways and the other nooks and crannies of the house where colors come together are often best left in a neutral shade to avoid clashing. For these spaces, look at shades of white, beige, or "greige," a taupey color that will work with just about anything. Believe it or not, our eyes want an occasional rest from color, and this is a great way to achieve that, and bring the colors you do use into more sharp >

Hopefully these questions will help you develop a palette thats a perfect reflection of your personality. If you have any of your own suggestions, please share them in the comments

Interior designer Kerrie Kelly writes on home dcor for The Home Depot. Kerrie is an award-winning designer and the author of Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide. To view a wide variety of Home Depot paint and trim colors, you can visit the companys website.

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Student Loan Debt And The Real Estate Market

What we know for sure is that there is a lot of student loan debt out there. What we know or believe with less certainty is what kind of effect that debt has on the real estate market -- both now and in the future.

The total amount of student loan debt is staggering. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB estimated it at 1.2 trillion in May of 2013, and it is a figure that has been rapidly growing. In the period from near the end of 2011 until mid-year of 2013, outstanding student loan debt grew approximately 20. During that same period, credit card debt increased about 2. Student loan debt is now the second largest category of consumer debt, exceeded only by mortgage obligations.

According to Forbes Magazine August 2013, approximately 2/3 of those currently graduating from colleges and universities will have loan debt. The average amount is around 27,000. Nor does this just apply to four-year schools. Of students completing associate degrees from community colleges in 2008, "38 graduated with debt. In the for-profit sector of two-year degrees, over 90 have debt. The average debt load at a public two-year institution is 7,000."

Moreover, student loan debt is, in general, somewhat less than golden. A recent Wall Street Journal article April, 2015 cites a study from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank showing that the student loan delinquency rate is almost twice as bad as previously thought. The study pointed out that the official measure is that 17 of student loans are delinquent at least thirty days. This compares delinquent loans to all student loans. But many student loans -- almost half are not yet in repayment status. Because the borrowers are still in school, or are in a "grace" period, they are not required to be making payments. If you took the delinquent loans as a percentage of loans which currently require payments, the number is an extremely high 31. For example, the delinquency rate for auto loans is about 8.

So what does all this have to do with the real estate market? Well, more than a few people have noticed that the run-up in student loan debt just happens to coincide with an historic drop in first-time buyers. Since 2011, first-time buyers have represented less that the 40 -- 40 that we have been accustomed to for years. In 2014 only 33 of transactions involved first-time buyers 2014 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. That is the lowest percentage since 1987.

Now cor>

In September, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported on a study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting predicting that the effects of student loan debt could reduce yearly sales nationally by almost 8. The report estimated that "every 250 per month in student loan debt reduces borrowers purchasing power by 44,000", and that "around 35 of households under age 40 have monthly student debt payments exceeding 250, up from 22 of households in 2005." The Burns report estimated that approximately 308,000 purchases were "lost" because of student loan debt with payments up to 500 monthly.

Harvard economist Larry Summers, former chair of President Obamas National Economic Council, has said that, "A crucial factor slowing down the recovery has been the limited demand for homeownership resulting in part from a slowdown of family formation." Summers believes that the underlying culprit is student loan debt.

But, other studies suggest that things might not be so bad. Research from Federal Reserve economists Mezza, Sommer, and Sherlund show that, in earlier years 2004 -- 2010, those with student loan debt were slower than those without it at getting into home ownership, but, by the age of 35 their ownership rates were just about the same. "Our results suggest that for those with college education student loan debt more likely affects the timing of homeownership than peoples eventual attainment of it."

And, as to all those scary reports about the size of student loan debt, more research has yielded some interesting counter-intuitive results: there is an almost inverse >"Among those who owed less than 5,000, one in three had defaulted at some point as of Dec. 31, 2014. Those borrowers made up 21 of the entire pool of those with debt.

"The Fed researchers show that the higher the debt burden, the lower the default rate. Those with burdens above 100,000 had the lowest rate at 17.6.

"Why is that? One likely explanation, offered by the New York Fed researchers, is that many Americans with small loan balances are dropouts. They may have attended school for a semester or two without getting a degree. They often dont end up with the decent-paying job that a college education is supposed to bring, and thus lack the income to repay their debt.

"Another possibility is that low-balance borrowers attained credentials such as certificates that dont lead to the kinds of jobs and salaries that a bachelors degree does.

"By contrast, many borrowers with large loan balances are people who graduated from masters programs and professional schools -- doctors, lawyers -- who typically end up with generous salaries"

Theres little doubt that the growth of student loan debt has had an effect on the real estate market. It has lowered the rate of first-time buyers and that, of course, affects the move-up market. But dont write off those folks just yet. Their time will come.


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Today's Real Estate News and Advice Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Man Cave Offshoot That Could Just Save Your Marriage
The typical scenario goes something like this: the room that used to be the garage or the extra...
> Full Story

Higher Prices Dont Deter First-time Buyers
A new survey of first-time buyers in Canada reveals they are more financially savvy than the ge...
> Full Story

Ask These 7 Questions to Create a Whole House Color Palette
It seems so simple, but picking a paint color is one of the biggest obstacles my clients have w...
> Full Story

Copyright © 2015 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved