An Apartment with the Amenities That I Want

I am not too picky when I am looking at apartments, but there are a few things that I absolutely must have. I have two cats who have been with me longer than my last boyfriend, so they are a constant in my life at this point. There is no way I could look at any apartments in Henderson NV that would not allow me to bring them with me. I also could not live in an apartment that did not at least have washer and dryer hookups.

I have only lived in three apartments in my life, and the first two did not have a washer and dryer. I had to use the laundromat across town at my first apartment and the community laundry room at the second. Continue reading

Back to the Housing Bubble

Is this a Back to the Future moment for the U.S. housing market?

It certainly feels that way. It’s as if Marty McFly took Doc Brown’s DeLorean, fired up the flux capacitor and punched 2007 (instead of 1955) into the dashboard control panel.

I mean, we’d all like to forget what 2008 and 2009 felt like, right? But 2006 and 2007? Ah, we can all remember the good times…

  • When Mom and Pop could get rich just by flipping a house or two…
  • When houses sold in days, not months…
  • When regular Joes could get a NINJA (no income, no job or assets) loan…

Well, the good times are rolling again, baby! All three of the above trends are back in play, as if – what did we used to call it? Oh, yeah – the financial crisis never happened.

Seller’s Market

Let’s talk about house flipping first. Last month, the folks at RealtyTrac, a respected data analysis leader in the industry, issued their quarterly U.S. Home Flipping Report. (I’m serious, that’s what it’s called.) When they ran the numbers, they found that 6.6% of all single family home and condo sales were “flips” (defined as an arm’s length sale of a property for the second time within a 12-month period.)

That’s not quite back to the “good old days” of 2006, when 9% of all such real estate transactions were flips, but it’s getting there – fast.

According to RealtyTrac, flipping activity in the first three months this year rose by 20%, compared to 2015’s fourth quarter. It’s running at a pace that’s 55% above the third quarter of 2014.

Then there’s the pace of home-purchasing activity. According to Redfin, a national brokerage and research firm, June marked “the fastest, most competitive housing market” since 2009, when the housing bust finally brought in a massive flurry of bargain hunters.

The average U.S. home found a buyer in just 41 days. In Denver right now – one of the hottest real estate markets in the country – if you put your home up for sale, you’re fairly certain to find a buyer within six days.

Liar Housing Loans Redux?

If there’s one thing that we have tried to keep everyone’s focus on, it’s this: ultra-low interest rates, kept in place for years at a time by the Federal Reserve, are going to result in distortions in capital markets.

In other words, when money is practically free, we’re going to get speculative bubbles. It’s inevitable. And that’s what brings us to the revival of the business in easy-to-get mortgages.

Not long ago, a New York community bank picked up some publicity as it began offering “lite doc” loans. Get familiar with the term, because I think we’re going to see many more “low documentation” products from lenders if the real estate market keeps ripping along.

In theory, the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau and the Dodd-Frank laws heavily regulate the residential mortgage market, and require volumes of documentation from the borrower.

“Lite doc” loans exploit a loophole in the legislation. If your financial institution can qualify as a “community development financial institution,” aiming its business at a low- and moderate-income customer base (which could be just about anyone – nurses, police, you name it) then the mortgages your bank writes do not have to strictly comply with the “ability to repay” rules in the Dodd-Frank legislation.

Nor have the too-big-to-fail banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo stood idly by. All three started rolling out “3% down” mortgage programs earlier this year. You have to laugh a little about this development – wasn’t Chase CEO Jamie Dimon just telling us quite recently that mortgages are bad business for an institution like his?

Proponents will tell you that “it’s different this time.” The down payments are much bigger, a borrower’s credit scores have to be at certain levels, and on and on.

But we’ve heard it all before, right?

When there’s money to be made, well, smart lenders find loopholes. The less ethical kind are more than happy to bend rules, flaunt laws and look the other way.

For them and other easy-money enablers, it’s “hear no evil, see no evil”… and make lots of money. The rest of us will be left to clean up the mess (again) at a later date.

Six Benefits of Living in a Stone House

There is something that is both rustic and charming about a stone house. The stone has an elegant appeal that simply says “luxurious”. Aside from the aesthetic appeal of the way that this material looks as it sits gracefully by a pool, it can also provide a wealth of other benefits that may make homeowners reconsider what material they would like to make their new home out of.

Cheap
While there are a variety of cheap materials available to build a new home, this one has the potential to be free. Material to build one of these houses can be picked up for free as most laws do not prohibit getting bolders from construction sites, and most construction workers will simply let individuals have them and be happy that they are out of the way.

DIY
Individuals that are interested in building their own home may be turned off at the simple thought of first but, contrary to popular belief, it is actually quite easy to build a home out of stone. There are several online tutorials available at no cost, and books can be purchased at affordable prices.

Environmentally Friendly
A stone house is one of the most environmentally friendly structures there is. Instead of ripping down rain forests to get the perfect wood or somehow harming the environment, this material is simply relocated to the structure. It does not cause a disruption in the surrounding wildlife, and does not cause additional harm to the eco-system.

Easy Temperature Control
This material may have a reputation for being colder, but that is simply not true. Buildings made out of this material are known for keeping cool in addition to keeping the heat inside. Whatever temperature the residents would like for it to be can easily be maintained due to the wonderful properties of this material. The sealed cracked in between the large rocks help prevent air from escaping, keeping the hot air inside and the cold air outside during cooler months.

Because a stone house helps to save on energy costs, it is environmentally friendly in more ways than just the material that is used to build it.

Aesthetically Appealing
Buildings made out of this have a certain appeal to them that other buildings simply do not. The way that the rocks fit together reminds many individuals of older castles and structures, giving it a rustic appeal, yet this same look can complement a modern theme perfectly. This versatile style remains timeless yet classic at the same time.

Durability
These structures are some of the most durable that there are. Before the use of modern materials, ancient civilizations used this material to build all of their structures, some of which are still standing. For example, take a look at the Egyptian pyramids, which are made of this. These structures can stand tall and strong against harsh winds that will make other buildings bend. It can remain standing during storms, and is fire proof. When buildings nearby are ablaze, homeowners will not have to concern themselves about their building catching on fire.

These houses are now beginning to come back into style as more homeowners realize all of the benefits that come with them. Newer homeowners are taking the plunge and building their own homes due to how cost effective these types of structures are, and how easy they are to build. Once the home is completed, homeowners will continue to save money on heating and cooling costs, in addition to the potential damages that can be caused by a fire.

6 Things To Learn From A Basement

You might be looking at the title of this article, and wondering how anyone can learn from a basement. After all, no one has ever heard a basement actually speak? Or, perhaps, we often do, but fail to recognize the signs or the language? Lots of important information can be gained, by closely examining a basement, and using both one’s sense, as well as senses! We don’t sleep or eat our meals in our basements, usually, yet they are part of the foundation, which often makes a significant difference, in terms of the quality, and our ability to enjoy a house. Here are 6 things to learn.

1. Odor: When you enter the basement, do you sense any type of odor or aroma? Is it pleasant, or quite the opposite? Does it appear musty, humid, etc? Often, odors are one of the tell – tale signs of mold, mildew, or excessive dampness. While one might mask some of the physical appearance of these conditions, there generally remains some sort of aroma/ odor!

2. Electric Panel: Is it neat, and new – looking, or somewhat of a mess? How about the wires entering the box? What type of amps, volts, etc? How many circuit breakers, and are they clearly marked? Does the layout seem to be logical/ make sense? What electric service is in the house – 110 volts, or 220 volts? Check the box itself, and make sure, especially if the house is from the 1960’s or 1970’s, that it is not one of those which was recalled!

3. Overall condition: Is there any evidence of water, or water damage? Check the floors, walls, ceilings, and especially, the walls which are facing the outside of the house? Any black or white spots, cracks, lines, etc? Is the basement neat and clean – looking?

4. Foundation: Are there any obvious cracks, leaks, termite evidence, etc? Does there appear to have been any significant degree of settling (understand, all houses settle somewhat)?

5. Heating system: What type of heat is being used? Is it oil, gas, electric, geothermal, solar, or some combination? What is the age of the boiler? If it’s oil, where are the oil tanks (are there any underground tanks)? Does the heat appear to start – up smoothly, when you turn it on? Do the radiators need to be bled, etc?

6. Settling: Don’t be concerned by a small degree of settling, because all houses do so. However, if it is excessive, or disconcerting, have a professional give you advice.

Learn from your basement. If you are considering buying a house, hire a professional home inspector or engineer, to give you a professional opinion. Ask your trusted, real estate professional, for the names of three of these, he might recommend, and make a selection that best meets your needs.

Reasons to Relocate Your Office Space Rather Than Renovate

There are times in the business world when business owners who lease office space need to either move to a new office location or renovate their current one. This can be caused by having additional employees come in or simply wanting to rearrange the current setup of the office space. When this situation arises, the question then becomes, “Should we move or renovate?” Although the decision is based on the individual circumstances of the business owner and their company, it is often a better idea to relocate rather than renovate. Here’s why:

Renovations Can Be Distracting

When an office space is undergoing renovations, while the business is continuing daily operations, the end result is a distracting situation for the business owner and employees. When you move to a new location, your company can keep operating at the first location until the move-in date arrives and then relocate when the new office space is ready. It’s hard to complete one’s work on a daily basis with construction noise going on in close quarters.

It’s Often More Cost-Efficient to Relocate

You’ll also find that relocating can be more cost-efficient than renovating. Although it may seem as if the costs aren’t too different in the beginning, as the work progresses, you’ll often be hit with new and higher-than-expected bills along the way as construction costs need to be added on from time to time. When you relocate, the cost will be straightforward and you’ll know exactly what you are getting in the way of office space.

Relocation Can Be Accomplished More Quickly

It’s also important to note that renovation can be a timely venture. When an office space is renovated, this is not a one or two-day occurrence. Renovations, depending on the extent of such, can take weeks or months to accomplish. With a relocation, you can often do this in a few days and get back to business in no time at all.

Renovation Restrictions By Building Owner Often Apply

Since you are leasing the office and not a commercial building owner, you will have to get permission to renovate the current space. There will also likely be restrictions in place as to what you can do with regard to renovations and you will have to abide by these restrictions according to the building owner’s wishes. With a relocation, you will be moving into the office space usually as-is, and if you do plan on changing anything within the new office space, you’ll know what you’re able to do in the very beginning, based on the language of the lease.

The decision between relocation and renovation should be a carefully-considered one, as you want to be sure to have the best possible space and not have to deal with extra costs or timely, distracting renovations. You want your daily business operations to continue as usual, so weigh all of the factors before deciding whether it is in your best interest, and the best interest of the company, to stay at the current location and renovate or move to a new spot with a new lease.

Strategies for Finding the Best Office Space for Rent

The commercial real estate market for small businesses is tight. There’s a shortage of office space for rent because the growth of startup companies has increased competition for commercial properties. The ideal space allows employees and clients to feel comfortable. As an entrepreneur, you need to find an affordable office space for rent that not only meets your current needs but also is flexible and allows for future growth. There are several factors that will impact this decision.

Commute

Key employees’ commute times should be considered. Ask them how far the space is from their homes. If many are going to have a longer commute, then you may need to look elsewhere. Extended commutes not only cause frustration but also are more expensive for your employees. A central, easy-to-access building will help you maintain your top talent as well as give you a competitive advantage when recruiting new staff. If you’re interested in moving to a city center, a location near public transportation routes could make your company more appealing, especially to Millenials.

Room to Grow

If you’re planning for short-term growth, be sure to get a short-term lease. Office space for rent typically involves hefty fees for early contract termination. A lessee also needs to know if the company can undertake any amendments to the space, like painting or decorating. As your company grows, you may want to alter the space around you.

Location

Determine how the neighborhood might look or feel to clients and consider the proximity to the largest portion of your client base. During this technological age, face-to-face interactions need to be convenient. Buildings in urban cores are pricier, but moving your business to a decentralized location could cause you to lose clients. Every office space for rent has a return on investment, and you want to make sure the ROI on your new space is as high as possible.

Surrounding Environment

What is the environment like around this space? If you’re in an urban setting, think about the parking situation for both your clients and your employees. Take a look around to be sure there are restaurants or cafes within walking distance for meetings or lunches. Is there a place nearby where workers can walk or exercise on their lunch break? Regular breaks are scientifically proven to increase overall productivity, improving your bottom line. Visit the building or location at different times of day to get a feel of traffic patterns and parking. All of these characteristics of the surrounding environment will impact morale and happiness, which is crucial for continued growth.

Your business is successful because of strategic planning. Finding an office space for rent is no exception. Know what you want, what you can afford, and all your options before you sign a lease. In the right space, your company will continue to grow.

Tips for Finding a Residential Property

Are you looking for a residential property where you will be able to invest your money? If yes, then this article is a must read for you. Here, we have discussed some tips that will make finding the right residential property much simpler for you.

Your first job is gathering information about property management companies operating in the area you are looking to invest in. Remember, that this field is filled with frauds; so, before picking the property management company, never forget to perform detailed research. Opt for a company that enjoys great reputation. A great way of knowing what people think about the firm is checking the Internet. You can also seek suggestions from your friends and relatives when it comes to picking the management firm.

The next step should be talking to the bank. Of course, you will not need to do this if you have enough money ready to invest and if you don’t want to take a bank loan. However, for people who need a bank loan to invest, this step is extremely important. The bank will inform you about the maximum amount you can get as a loan. This will make your search for a property easier as you will know your financial capacity. The technical term used for this step is getting pre-qualified.

The third step is possibly the most important one. In this step, you will need to decide on the location you want the property to be in. Perform a thorough research to gather information on areas that have experienced maximum growth in the past ten years. If the property management company you are working with is a reputable firm, they will do this research on your behalf. Keep in mind that properties located in educational and commercial hubs of the country are the most lucrative ones. Ideally, you money should be invested on a land, home, or apartment located close to the market, school, college and last, but not least the highway.

It’s true that the management firm hired by you will ensure you get the property for the best price, but we would advise you to be ready for bargaining. However, never overdo things when bargaining. This is because when you will try to sell the property after one or two decades, the additional money spent by you when purchasing the property will not matter much.

The final tip we will give is that always keep on searching the internet for news on new investment properties. This will help you to pick the best deal more easily.

Top Tips for Choosing Office Space

Are you in the process of starting a new business? Here are a few top tips that could help you to zero down on the decision making of choosing right office space for your business. Since your office space will represent your business, choosing the right location for your office space must not be taken lightly. Here are a few tips to consider before choosing an office space:

The Location: The most vital part of an office space is the location. You need to make sure location for your office is located preferably in a well developed office locality with good transportation facilities so that the client and employees can reach the office without any hassle. Getting a space in that locality is ideal for an office.

The Construction: It is important to evaluate the building, enquire the year of construction and ensure electricity and water facilities are adequate and there is a good backup system is in place in times of emergency. Choosing the right office space should be done right from the first time, so ensure all facilities are in place. If not, you’ll end up with aggravated employees and a lot of money and time will be spent on repairs..

Office Facilities: An office that provides extra facilities is a good choice as getting facilities set up can be a pains taking task. For example, if the building has a cafeteria for the employees working there makes it easier for the employees to have lunch and errands. Another thing is access to the office, pick one that allows 24/7 access to the office. Make sure to see the security system is in the building. Parking is also an important aspect to consider, ensure there is enough secure parking for your employees.

The Office space: Answer these few questions before choosing the office space. Is it big enough for your employees? Is there room to expand? If it’s a yes for both, you are on the right track. To make things easier ask for the layout of the office and preferably choose one which already is an office set up with a reception, cubicles, executive rooms and a meeting room.

Internet Facility: internet connection is a major requirement for any business in today’s world. Enquire if the building already has an internet service, if they do there’s nothing like it and picking it would be a smart decision. If they don’t find out who are the internet service providers in that area and how long the connection will take to put it to use.

Understand the lease/rental agreement: Understand the lease/rent agreement how long the lease/rent is for and if there are any added charges for maintenance, if required hire an expert. Ensure to read through the agreement twice and consult your lawyer about the ones that seem unclear to you. Ask about the changes you can make to the office and add to the agreement to avoid any misunderstanding in the future. Also clarify what extra charges will you be responsible to pay like property tax that is usually termed as ‘Additional rent’ or “NNN’ in lease agreements.

Analysing your options: Make sure you don’t settle on the first one you see even if you like it. Look for more options and see them and get all the required information for each office space. Then compare, first disregard the ones that had major issues like bad building structure, limited access, no security and no parking. Then with the ones remaining compare the prices and the services being provided. Your main priority must be the locality and it provides all the services. If you find a space that provides you with fully furnished office space with security, cafeteria facilities, parking and is a good structure it would be an ideal choice to make. The lesser effort in setting up of the office makes it easier for you and it gives you extra time to concentrate on evolving your business to higher level.

Choosing the Right Real Estate Location for Your Business

Selecting the perfect location for your business can be a hassle. There are many variables and factors to consider when opening a new business location and the process of finding a building that houses many of your needs already may be a hassle. You would suggest that your find a commercial property locator to help in your search. Commercial property locators will be able to search locations around the entire city in order to scout out the exact location for your business.

When looking for commercial real estate there are several considerations to pay attention to. One of the primary concerns should be the overall structural integrity and safety of the building. Purchasing a commercial real estate property with bad poor building materials and structural issues can cause you hefty repair costs and state inspection visits, I would advise you call an inspector to come out and inspect any piece of commercial real estate you are looking into before making any final purchase decisions.

Depending on your needs you may want to look into office space rental properties that can provide you with the proper space to operate your business. Office space rental are generally more affordable than purchasing a commercial real estate property and often times can provide you with the exact amenities that a commercial building can.

If you are having trouble locating a good location for your operation look into services that help you find office space that will be able to suit your needs. There are also retail options available if you’re in that market. Find retail space by contacting local real estate agents that have knowledge of the area in which you are planning to open your new location. Often times they will be able to give you tips on consumer behavior in the area and how you should present yourself to potential clients.

Thoroughly scout the area in which you are planning to open your business before you purchase any property to make sure that you are catering to the type of consumers who frequent the area. Follow all local and state mandates that regulate what you need to become legally operable. Consider hiring a cleaning service to prepare your new location for its opening day.

Choosing the right location for your business doesn’t have to be a hassle, all it takes is the right assistance and adequate knowledge of exactly how you want your business to look and how you want customers to be able to interact with your business. Follow these simple steps and I guarantee that you will be able to find the right location without all of the frustration in between.

Tips to Buy Overseas Property Safely

Buying a property is a process that requires patience and perseverance. It takes time to do the research on the status of the real estate market and its norms in your choice of destination. The crucial part is to find a proper, reliable and experienced service provider who can help you through the whole process, right from the start through to the final stage of owning your property. We have enlisted a few key points with a goal to help you initiate the process of buying your dream property abroad.

Hire an independent lawyer

Many people seek the help of real estate agents, which is not a very good start. No matter how smart, experienced, informative and well-mannered an agent tends to be, never fall for it. Always get an independent lawyer, who will represent you throughout the whole buying process. If you are represented by the lawyer, it means you are well-protected from making any expensive mistakes down the road.

Get help from a financial specialist

Sort out your financial preferences that would help you allot a suitable budget to purchase the property. Get a provisional mortgage if you have plans to borrow money apart from what you plan to pay from your pocket. Ask your financial specialist to suggest a long term repayment plan that would be feasible for you as the lending criteria and the borrowing costs may change during those years.

Hire a foreign exchange specialist

If you borrow money overseas, but earn at home, you have to make sure that the rate fluctuations would not affect the value of your property. The difference in the value of currencies could take the property out of your hands as it goes beyond your budget. Discuss with a foreign exchange specialist and understand your risks and have a proper contingency plan to handle unpleasant situations.

Double-check the agent credentials

Apart from hiring an independent lawyer, choose a professional overseas real estate agent to assist you through the process. Place your focus on the agency rather than the property you want to buy. Question them in all possible ways to make sure the company or the agent is potentially the right person to do business. No matter what they claim, make sure everything is true, to the last bit. Don’t trust reel reviews, read real client testimonials. Ask them to offer their “Terms of business” on paper prior to signing a formal contract with them.

Learn to get the most out of your investment

When you purchase a property overseas as an investment, you must understand that you can have big returns only with risks. Make a thorough inventory of the risk to reward ratio to help you cope up with the risks and to reap better rewards out of your investment when everything goes well.