Bathroom trends: Tubs are out, new faucets are in

Bathroom trends: Tubs are out, new faucets are in

Removing bathtubs and adding new faucets were popular changes this year, as baby boomers led the way in renovating their restrooms

Move aside millennials — baby boomers are the leading the way in what’s hot and what’s not in the 2018 Bathroom Trends Report from home furnishings marketplace Houzz, released on Wednesday. Boomers represented the largest share (52 percent) of bathroom renovators over the past year, and 56 percent of them focused on making upgrades that would make it easier to age in place.

Continuing the trends seen in Houzz’s 2017 report, Baby Boomers changed their bathroom’s layout (47 percent), removed the bathtub (34 percent), and installed other features such as seated showers (62 percent), grab bars (55 percent), low curbs (40 percent) and non-slide floors (32 percent).

Bye, tubs! Showers are in. (Photo credit: Holly Marder for Houzz)

“Baby Boomers today account for the largest share of renovating homeowners and the largest share of renovation spend,” said Houzz principal economist Nino Sitchinava in the report.  “Insights reveal that a significant proportion of Boomers are aware of pending aging needs and are proactive about integrating universal design features during renovations.”

“That said, it is also clear that there are considerable opportunities to further educate the market on accessibility, and that the demand for universal design features will continue to grow,” Sitchinava added.

Beyond Baby Boomers anticipating future accessibility needs, the bathroom renovation market was also driven by homeowners who simply didn’t like their current bathroom (37 percent), who finally have the funds to make a change (30 percent), or whose bathroom was no longer functional (25 percent). Also, new homeowners bolstered market demand as they wanted to put their mark on a new home (24 percent in 2017 vs. 26 percent in 2018).

Where’s the money going?

New faucets are a focal point in the bathroom. (Photo credit: Margot Hartford)

On average, homeowners spent $16,000 to remodel bathrooms exceeding 100 square feet. That cost drops to about $7,000 for homeowners with smaller bathrooms that are less than 100 square feet — much cheaper than last year’s average of anywhere from $12,300 to $21,000.

Renovators put most of their dough towards new faucets (92 percent), wall finishes (89 percent), flooring (88 percent), lighting fixtures (85 percent), showers (84 percent), countertops (84 percent), sinks (83 percent), and vanities (83 percent). Windows were the least popular change (26 percent).

Other special features include undermounted sinks (63 percent), built-in (42 percent) or custom (55 percent) vanities, rainfall showerheads (57 percent), and high-tech toilets (28 percent).

Gray continues to rule the bathroom

Gray and neutral palettes continue to rule home design. (Photo credit: Angela Flournoy for Houzz)

When it comes to design, gray color schemes continue to dominate homeowners’ imaginations. This cool, muted hue tends to be the top choice for walls (32 percent) and flooring (30 percent) while white is the color of choice for cabinets and vanities (35 percent).

A contemporary design style led the way in 2018 (20 percent) followed by transitional (16 percent), modern (15 percent), and traditional (14 percent). But, the farmhouse style, which is defined by natural wood finishes, neutral color schemes with pops of green or blue, and simplistic prints, grew in popularity by three percentage points (4 percent in 2016 vs. 7 percent in 2018). Meanwhile, eclectic (4 percent), craftsman (3 percent) and beach (3 percent) designs fell flat.

Homeowners also favored nickel (38 percent) and chrome (28 percent) hardware and loved brick tile patterns (66 percent) for their shower walls and vanity backsplashes.

About the report

Houzz conducted an online quantitative survey of 1,100 registered Houzz users regarding bathroom renovation projects, fielded between June 30 and Oct. 17, 2018.

Posted on November 15, 2018 at 3:31 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

What’s hot and what’s not: 10 luxury housing trends you can’t ignore

What’s hot and what’s not: 10 luxury housing trends you can’t ignore

5 fads that are hitting the mark with affluent homebuyers and 5 that are past their expiration date

The premier event for luxury agents and brokers
Luxury Connect | Oct. 16-18 | Beverly Hills

This summer we’re looking at the state of the luxury agent and broker in today’s increasingly complex real estate market. In October, we’ll gather in Beverly Hills at Luxury Connect to share best practices, network and create a blueprint for the luxury agent/broker of tomorrow. Don’t miss it.

The 2018 luxury home market was initially riddled with uncertainty due to tax reformtariffs and a predicted slow down in demand. However, all markets are local, and what happens in one geographic sector can be completely different than what happens another.

What defines luxury is also hyperlocal given varying price points, styles of homes and who the buyer audience is for properties in the are.

Are they move-up buyers, primary or secondary residences, purely vacation homes or simply trophy purchases?

In many areas of the country, 2018 has continued to defy expectations as buyers are deciding now is the time to pursue that dream property whether it is $1 million, $100 million or somewhere in between.

Income tax-free states like Florida are seeing a surge in luxury home sales as more buyers seek desirable weather and a better financial climate.

Whether today’s luxury buyer is seeking a more favorable tax shelter or something to accommodate their upwardly mobile and jet-setting lifestyle, there are certain trends that have emerged as what’s hot and what’s not.

Here’s a peek at what affluent buyers are looking for from leading luxury sources, such as Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Report Luxury in ReviewThe Institute for Luxury Home Marketing’s Luxury Home Report and Mansion Global.

What’s in

1. Smaller properties

Today’s luxury buyer desires exceptional quality, but does not have to have thousands of square feet to show it off. They desire just the right size with thoughtful use of space and would rather have a better lot with breathtaking views.

2. Tech-savvy homes

In today’s there’s-an-app-for-that society, being at home is no exception. Modern luxury buyers want their home equipped with the latest technology to control everything from utilities, appliances, security, window shades and entertainment systems — all from the comfort of their phone.

3. Spectacular kitchens 

home space / Flickr

Regardless of whether a luxury buyer cooks, a well-appointed and spacious kitchen with the highest quality finishes and state-of-the-art commercial-grade appliances is a must.

Having a grand island is also important as an ideal gathering space for everyday meals and entertaining. The kitchen is the crown jewel of the home, and in the luxury sphere, it must stand out.

4. Uniquely special

Today’s high-end buyers want a home filled with custom finishes and features that reflect their personality and taste.

Whether it’s custom-designed furniture, items incorporated into a home’s design from the owners’ travels or purchased elsewhere for a one-of-a-kind feel, they don’t want what everyone else has — so look for hand-crafted and specialty-sourced pieces.

Luxury homeowners want their home to tell a story when guests walk through it.

5. Amenities

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

Whether it’s within the home or nearby, today’s luxury buyers want easy access to beaches, pools, fitness, spas and massage rooms.

Specialty rooms or living spaces tailored to interests like meditation rooms, sports courts or collection garages to house specialty cars are also of importance.

Proximity to private beach or country clubs that offer it all are also quite attractive for buyers relocating from another area as a way to be able to connect with other like-minded individuals.

What’s out

1. Oversize, overdone and ostentatious

No longer does having a ton of square footage define a luxury home. Neither does over-the-top finishes that are too taste specific and perhaps outdated, such as swirled marble floors, walls of glass or custom mirrors or an abundance of garish metal-toned hardware.

The custom window or wall treatments that cost six figures to go with custom-made furniture pieces for the current owner may not mesh so well with another buyer looking to incorporate their taste and spin.

Photo by Aaron Huber on Unsplash

2. Inconvenient and far removed

Today’s luxury buyers crave convenience. They don’t want to have to travel unnecessary distances for shopping, dining or services, and the same goes for a commute to work or an airport.

An extra 10 or 20 minutes to get from a property to the main entrance of a gated community, for example, can negatively impact how buyers feel about the neighborhood and home. The same goes for proximity to amenities and activities they enjoy.

3. Lack of quality finishes

With luxury real estate, details matter. Today’s high-end buyers are attune to quality at every level and look closely at walls, ceilings, woodwork (or lack thereof), stair treads, railings and spindles.

They also pay attention to things like the quality of the kitchen cabinets, soft close drawers, pantry size, closets and storage throughout the home.

Buyers are easily turned off by properties that lack these features and display poor workmanship, especially in regards to upper-end new construction spec homes where short cuts are often taken by builders who overlook details that would make the difference.

Buyers typically perceive these homes has having inflated asking prices relative to the lack of quality being offered.

Photo by Daniel Barnes on Unsplash

4. Functionally obsolete

Homes that have awkward or choppy layouts, wasted space, floor plans that go on and on, steep staircases and no elevator (or a way to put one in) are not perceived as in vogue by the luxury buyer.

Rather than trying to fit a round peg into a square hole, buyers are more apt to simply tear the house down and start over, particularly when it sits on a gorgeous lot with incomparable views and an unbeatable location.

5. Pie-in-the-sky overpricing

The luxury market is certainly one where pricing can defy logic as sellers believe there is a unique demand for what they have and what a hypothetical buyer may be willing to pay for.

Pricing far beyond the upper range ultimately leads to higher-end properties lagging on the market for quite a while, which can make them seem less desirable.

Thinking of bringing your team to Luxury Connect? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy those tickets together too. Just contact us to find out more.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Posted on September 21, 2018 at 3:58 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

8 graphs that show how much real estate has changed since the crash

8 graphs that show how much real estate has changed since the crash

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman shares his reflections 10 years on from the global financial crisis

The premier event for luxury agents and brokers
Luxury Connect | Oct. 16-18 | Beverly Hills

The following is a reflection from Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, on the years since the 2008 global financial crisis. It has been republished from the Redfin blog with permission. 

Ten years ago, on September 15, 2008, the great financial crisis began with Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. I remember a board meeting in which an investor said her husband was loading the car with bottled water, in case our civilization collapsed.

I remember learning in a lunch line that we had just hired another real estate agent, when I’d already begun thinking about a lay-off. I remember the lay-off. And I remember that many of the houses that I saw on home tours got uglier, because their owners had left in a hurry or in anger, or just knew there was no point in fixing them up. History had arrived.

As a technology-powered real estate start-up at the center of it all, we experienced the crisis in the way a toddler might experience a hurricane: intensely. Everyone knew the world would never be the same, but the changes weren’t what we anticipated. Even now, many of those changes are clear to Redfin only because at different times we’ve been their eyewitness, their beneficiary, their target, or their propagator. Here are the eight that stand out to us.

1. Progressive policies widened the wealth gap

The financial crisis contributed to a massive wealth gap, larger even than the income gap. The income gap is a well-understood phenomenon with many causes, but it’s the wealth gap that matters more: because wealth is accumulated through capital gains and not just income, and because it’s wealth, not income, that is transferred from one generation to another, creating long-term class divisions.

And what no one has noticed about the wealth gap is how it was exacerbated by progressive reforms designed to limit the financial leverage available to the middle class. The government printed money for people to borrow at almost no cost, but passed laws that ensured only the wealthiest half of Americans could borrow it, all at a time when houses and stocks were at rock-bottom prices.

Rich people began buying homes from poor people just when those homes were most affordable. Without easy credit to mask stagnant wage growth, middle-class Americans began to feel poor.

2. A landlord nation

Mortgage interest rates dipped as low as 3.3%, a bonanza that seemed relatively short-lived at the time but that will in fact haunt the housing market for the next 30 years: homeowners have become loathe to give up the loan they got in 2012, and can easily find renters to pay the mortgage on their old place, sometimes by renting out the whole house if they want to move, otherwise just a garage that has been converted into a bedroom.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb became the marketplace for this arbitrage between low mortgages and high rents. Between 2006 and 2018, the fraction of Americans renting their home increased by 13%.

Because interest rates have dissuaded so many people from selling their homes, the laws of supply and demand no longer work in housing. From 2010 to 2017, even as home prices increased nearly 50%, the number of homes for sale per household declined 37%, and are still 38% below the historical average.

3. The builders never came back

That so few re-sale listings are reaching the market would normally make the opportunity for builders only larger but the construction industry never recovered: the number of single-family homes we started to build in 2017 still hadn’t reached half the level of twelve years earlier, in 2005.

Before the crisis, George W. Bush appealed to voters in new developments at the edge of every American city with his vision of “the ownership society.” Today, there’s no longer a broad consensus that we owe each generation the roads, schools, houses and credit to make the American Dream possible.

Builders are cautious about big, risky projects and wary of reforms that make homeowner lawsuits easier to win; many simply shrug when vilified by citizens and local governments that used to be their partners in housing the middle class.

4. The rise of the second city

Cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Providence and Milwaukee were left for dead, but when demand returned to a country that was no longer investing in more housing, these were the cities with the housing reserves to take people in.

The folks who could no longer afford San Francisco, New York, Washington, Seattle and Chicago moved, in a trickle at first and then in a great wave. This has turned the fundamental narrative of 20th century American migration on its head, prompting Oklahoma City’s mayor at one point to say, “it’s like the Wrath of Grapes.” Migration patterns now shift from city to city in search of affordability, driving up prices in Seattle before moving to Denver, then to Portland, then to Nashville, then to Salt Lake City, with long-time residents starting to leave a city even while the number coming is still rising.

This cycle will continue for years to come, straining the social fabric of one city after another, but also bringing prosperity to America’s once-forgotten places.

5. The disruption of the real estate industry

The financial crisis sapped the resources of many real estate brokerages and their standing among consumers. At the same time, Middle-Eastern and Asian money flowed into private technology companies at almost unprecedented rates, creating the so-called unicorn bubble of billion-dollar private companies.

Before the crisis, Redfin was virtually the only technology-powered real estate brokerage and no one wanted to fund us. Now, Wall Street has come to the firm conclusion that technology is going to change how people buy and sell homes. The private capital invested in real estate technology companies increased from $28 million in 2008 to a projected $3 billion in 2018, with almost all of it going to disruptive brokerages, not ad-driven listing-search sites.

Over that same five-year period, a boom for real estate, the largest holding company of traditional real estate brokerages, Realogy, lost nearly 60% of its market value, despite five straight years of increasing revenues.

6. Wall Street buys Main Street

The new capital hasn’t just funded the development of new technologies, but also the outright purchase of houses. Instead of just brokering a sale, companies like RedfinOpendoorOfferpad and Zillow are now buying homes directly from their owners, renovating the properties, and then trying to sell them at a profit.

In markets like Phoenix, more than 5% of home sales are now to institutional buyers, and the number is growing fast.

A decade ago, we were undone by a system-wide failure in deciding who could get a home loan; if there is going to be a system-wide failure in the housing market’s future, it could be in the algorithms institutional buyers now use to price homes.

7. The internet consolidates

The free-money stimulus that followed the fiscal crisis has benefited the companies best able to raise capital, funding the growth of titans like Uber and Amazon over a decade. An Amazon investor would shrug at the company’s continued reinvestment of potential profits because she couldn’t get 3% interest on her money without taking unusual risks.

These equity investments in companies that grew in size without having to generate significant profits or dividends funded the creation of near-monopolies in e-commerce, cloud computing, and transportation. It created a mindset where capital itself was the competitive weapon, not just the technology you could build with it. It has made the technology industry nearly an oligopoly.

8. The end of the middle

The fiscal crisis also engendered a deep feeling that the system was broken, spawning the Tea Party and Trumpism on the right, and Occupy Wall Street and Sandersism on the left.

Millions lost their homes, but to rebuild the system, the government chose not to prosecute the bankers and traders behind a global economic collapse.

The political and economic order survived 2008, but Americans on all sides spent the next ten years trying to tear it down. Faith in our institutions had already begun to wane before 2008, but the economic anger engendered by the crisis sharpened this trend.

But perhaps what’s most remarkable is what didn’t happen. America created the global financial crisis, but emerged as the world’s strongest economy. T

he country seemed poised for a major redistribution of wealth but then resumed the focus we’ve had for the last 30 years, on creating wealth, even if much of it remains concentrated in the hands of a few. The economy recovered better than we could have hoped, and still American society has fractured more than we could have imagined.

Posted on September 20, 2018 at 5:28 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

The Cost of Selling Without a Real Estate Agent

Hands grabbing $100 bills

© Somsak Bumroongwong – EyeEm/Getty Images

The Cost of Selling Without a Real Estate Agent

July 16, 2018

You’ve heard of buyer’s remorse; but without your market expertise and sales skills to back them up, sellers who choose to sell their home on their own just may experience “seller’s regret” when they see how much less they get for their properties. FSBOs earn an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less on the sale of their home than sellers who work with a real estate agent, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Here’s the breakdown:

  • All agent-assisted homes: $250,000 (median selling price)
  • All FSBO homes: $190,000
  • FSBO homes when buyer knew seller: $160,300

With this kind of discrepancy, why would any seller choose to go it alone? Some may want to avoid paying an agent’s commission—but even factoring that in, FSBOs still stand to make less on their home sale. “Talk to an agent and find out what they suggest for the commission, and then do the math yourself,” researchers write on NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog. “The closing price for the agent-assisted seller is likely going to be way above a FSBO. [But] in reality, homes sold by the owner make less money overall.”

Homeowners seem to be hearing the message: Only 8 percent of sellers last year—an all-time low—chose to sell their home themselves, according to NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. That figure has been falling since 2004, when 14 percent of homeowners sold their own homes.

Of the share of FSBOs last year, 38 percent of the homes were sold to a buyer that the seller knew, such as a friend, neighbor, or family member. The majority of FSBO transactions, however, were sold to buyers the owner did not know.

Posted on July 26, 2018 at 10:31 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

A Guide to Real Estate Investing

A Guide to Real Estate Investing

Isaac Miller
Author Isaac Miller

Jun 12, 2018

 What you will need to know: If you are thinking about investing in real estate, you’ll need to do your research, so we dug deep into the internet and came out alive with a list of key concepts, myths and practices. Plus, I’ll throw in a couple of extra punchlines to keep things exciting.

Ulaanbaatar - Copyright Mark Agnor (12)One of the many large residential unit groupings in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

 

This article will cover:

-Two important practical points on essentials for real estate anywhere in the world

-The age-old debate between real estate versus stock market investing

-Types of real estate investing with the pros and cons of each, and

-Some technical tools like REITs (we’ll explain later).

Buckle up and let’s go.

 

Gobi Desert-694801-editedWe have a long journey ahead of us. 

 

Two Practicals for Getting Started:

 

1. (Mostly) Avoid Purchasing Real Estate Investments in your own name

(Disclaimer: talk to an attorney certified in the country/state/province in which you’d like to invest.)

You will want to avoid signing on your own name for any domestic or overseas property investment, given its inherent risks.

If your investment goes awry, you could be personally liable if you bought your investment in your own name. In other words, if you default on your mortgage for a real estate investment, or someone trips on your property and sues you, you could lose everything you own.

Special circumstances can come up, though. For example, in Mongolia, there are 0% Capital Gains taxes (we cover that elsewhere here), only 10% income taxes, and equally strong property rights for foreigners as for citizens. It may be easier, and thus less risky, to invest in real estate in your own name in Mongolia than elsewhere.

 

2. Down Payments.

Whatever you do, you’ll have to start the ownership process with a down payment.

Investing in a primary residence can be a great move, but saving up for that down payment can have you asking: should I put my down payment money somewhere to try to grow it a lot until I need it?

The answer: No. You should listen to my dad. 

michaelford1-630x498

This is not actually my dad. 

 

On a road trip when I was 17, I once bent my car key by accident and had trouble starting the car. I bent it back and it still gave me grief until I had to get a new key. My father reminded me that I shouldn’t gamble what I can’t lose. In the same way, don’t gamble with your down payment. In short, play it safe. 

You can put that chunk of change into any one of a set of cash equivalents that have domestic or international financial institutional backers. It would definitely best to make sure you are in a preservation mindset.

Don’t try to grow it. Preserve it until the right time. Maybe you’ll see a little growth, but that’s not the goal. Try one of the following accounts:

Money market accounts backed by the likes of the FDIC in the States earn some interest, but not much.

The FDIC also issues Certificates of Deposit (CDs). Slightly more in earnings potential, but slightly less available for immediate use.

Treasury Bills or Government Bonds from the US or different governments have different credit ratings and thus different levels of risk. For example, the Bond rating for Mongolia was just upgraded by Moody’s to B3 in January 2018–not perfect, but better than where it has been.

Bonds and CDs can be pretty good for safe, guaranteed yields if you don’t need the money for more than a year or so.

 

Front_image_of_Mongolian_Stock_Exchange-744336-edited

Above, the Mongolian Stock Exchange has had recent IPOs that have been making headlines.

 

Stocks vs Real Estate

With those two practical points out of the way, let’s move on to the age-old debate: Stocks or Real Estate? While we’ll get more in-depth on what you can do with Real Estate in a bit, I’ll build on the existing debate with some simple pro-con lists on why real estate and why the stock market.

Stocks vs Real Estate: Pros of Investing in Real Estate

1. Real estate is often a more comfortable investment for the lower and middle classes because they grew up exposed to it more than to stocks. 

2. Harder to get tricked.  It’s hard for someone to tell you your land is in great shape when you show up, see it, and it isn’t. Contrast that with complicated financially engineered Wall Street inventions like a Collateralized Debt Obligation, which was comprised of terribly high-risk loans and arguably led to the collapse of the US housing market, as featured on the film the Big Short. The CDOs were rated well by ratings agencies and supported by investment managers—the very people on whom most peoples’ retirements and amateur investing completely depends.It’s easier to use debt to pay for real estate. Everyone has heard of a mortgage. Not everyone has heard of buying stocks with debt, or margin trading.

There are several ways to buy your first real estate investment. If you are purchasing a property, you can use debt by taking a mortgage out against a property.

The use of leverage is what attracts many real estate investors because it lets them acquire properties they otherwise could not afford. However, using leverage to purchase real estate can be dangerous because, in a falling market, the interest expense and regular payments can drive the real estate investor into bankruptcy if they aren’t careful.

3. To Many Investors, Real Estate Is More Tangible than Stocks. 

DSCN0461A view of the personal touch Mongolian Properties puts on our customer interactions.

 

Unless done particularly well, investing in real estate won’t make you ultra-rich overnight like a stock could, but real estate also won’t evaporate in a day like Bear Sterns or Lehman Brothers did during the Global Financial Crisis.

“A Bird in the Hand is worth two in the bush” is a common euphemism that is attributable to human preferences for the available, regardless of the valuable. 

Buying the place where you live can be a really good move, but buying extra real estate properties to make money is its own arena. People often have the misperception that investing in real estate is better than the stock market, but the stock market usually has higher returns, especially when you count in inflation, interest rates, and other costs that surprisingly add up to a lot.

You would likely see better returns by investing in stocks like Google or Apple, but more presence of certain risks.

 

Stocks vs Real Estate: Real Estate Cons:

1. Real Estate Doesn’t Have a Daily Quoted Market Value, so it’s harder to see how much what you have is worth.

2. Real Estate is more labor-intensive (sometimes). If you aren’t getting rental income from whatever you own, you could lose money easily. Taxes, maintenance costs, insurance, and other things add up quickly.

3. Inflation could hurt, but leverage could help.

If there is 4% inflation on the Pound, your property will cost £208,000 for the same value if you buy a property for £200,000. Assuming you have a mortgage, you put £40,000 on a down payment and borrow the rest. So even though you saw small increases in value on your property, you have technically only paid £40,000 so far.

Going from £40,000 to £48,000 is actually a 20% return. Taking out inflation, you get a real return of 16%. And that’s why real estate is worth a try. And in Mongolia, you can theoretically take home all of that 16%.

 

Stocks vs. Real Estate: Pros on the Stock market:

  1. World’s best way to make money: hold onto invested stocks for a long time. Enough said here.
  2. Less work than owning/managing property. Owning a security that you don’t have to sweep or check for leaks can seem like a relief compared to a rental duplex you bought two years ago that you’re losing money on.
  3. Cash dividends are good perks, too. It’s pretty nice to get cash dividends – money that some companies give to the people who invested in them, in addition to the stock price potentially going up – and it’d something people usually don’t get from real estate (except in REITs).
  4. Easier diversification, which means less risk. It’s hard to buy 20 different types of land for the first-time real estate investor,  all that land.
  5. You can turn it into cash more quickly than real estate.
  6. Margin trading, borrowing against your own stocks, is less heard-of but pretty helpful, especially wbut you can buy an ETF, and index fund, or a few different companies’ stocks for far less money thanhen interest rates are low. Contrast that with aspects of real estate, where high interest rates will quickly put you into trouble for paying back a mortgage.

Stocks vs Real Estate: Stock Market Cons:

  1. When people don’t have the stomach for it, they lose money. Watching your stock drop can scare you. If you don’t know that you still haven’t technically lost money until you take out the stock and turn it into cash, it can be quite jarring. For this reason, people lost a lot of money in the stock market. Warren Buffet’s advice: buy some stock, then buy more.
  2. Stock prices can tank and spike quickly in the day-to-day.
  3. Often reinvesting you cash dividends back into the company that issued them makes it look like you haven’t made any money. But if you do that over the years, it adds up. Look up Jeremy Siegel’s work on that if you want to do more research.

 

Now that we’ve gotten through some basic pros and cons of real estate versus stock market, let’s look at thedifferent kinds of real estate investing we can do, and some basic insights on how to make money in real estate.

 

Commercial, Residential, Mixed-Use (Combiation of the others), Industrial, Retail. Whatever the project, your investment likely conforms to one of these self-explanatory categories. We need to go more in-depth with other concepts, but a quick Google search can easily do concise definitions of these better than we can.

For example, our developing Olympic Residence has apartments, penthouses, and space for luxury brands and quality restaurants to rent space.

Olympic_Residence-1-135638-editedOur 90%-Sold Olympic Residence

 

The Olympic would fit naturally into the Residential and Retail categories of real estate, thus making it a Mixed-Use building overall.

Appreciation: Where market change brings spare change (and hopefully much more). In general, appreciation of a real estate property investment just means that what someone else is willing to pay for your property is greater than what you paid for it.

 

If you buy an apartment, and the apartment appreciates, then that means that the listing price, or the price on the local market, went up. And if you take out a mortgage on a property, you control and own it completely, such that you can make a small down payment without paying for the property fully, thus making a significant profit when selling it to someone else.

Flipping properties, which usually just refers to buying and selling properties with a quick turnaround to make a profit, can be lucrative in good times and devastating in bad.

 

Pro: Leveraging appreciation can be a particularly good way to make money if you want to flip properties without doing any renovation work, whether by actually living there or just investing and making money off of the property. Often house flippers who want to add to the value of the house will do renovation work and can make the value of the property appreciate.

 

Con: Inflation makes a difference—contrary to common myths. We touched on this earlier. It is easy to look at the sticker price of an investment, and, if the sticker price went up, then you pat yourself on the back and celebrate your profits. Not so fast. If the inflation rate goes up faster than appreciation of the property you invested in, then you’re not actually making any money. Similarly, if the costs of labor and materials you use in renovating the property exceeds how much the property appreciates, you lose money.

It’s also often riskier than the next category of investments—think US housing crisis in 2008. If you were flipping houses in 2006, you were making money. But if you kept going in 2008, you likely had at least one property that you couldn’t sell, and likely did not have the cash or a mortgage on-hand to pay for the property fully.

 

Cash Flow Income: For the Landlord. Buying a property, letting other people rent from you, and collecting the proceeds is another well-known means of real estate investment. It can include storage units, car washes, office buildings, and rental houses. A landlord owns a property and rents it out to tenants. The landlord is usually the owner, pays the mortgage, maintenance costs, and any applicable takes.

In an ideal world for a typical tenant, landlords would only charge enough rent cover the mortgage and other expenses. After that point, a majority of rent becomes profit without a mortgage to pay off. Hopefully, the tenant will steward the rental well and pay rent on-time, and the landlord will be entirely responsive for concerns and wait until the mortgage is paid off to make a profit.

 

Pro: Often less risky than depending on appreciation, and it can lead to a steady stream of income.

 

Con: If landlords and tenants don’t do their research, they can end up in a bad situation. In case you’d like examples, ask someone you know about college horror stories with bad landlords.

Bees, flooding, and broken assets await you without doing your homework on this valuable property investment and exactly who it is with whom you’re doing business.

 

Auxiliary Real Estate Income. Think vending machines or laundromats in an apartment building. Basically, ancillary/auxiliary income for investments in real estate entails revenues from things that might only be connected to or related to the property, and providing helpful, revenue-driving products or services for the tenants.

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Leaders tour a mine outside of Ulaanbaatar. The mining industry’s employees often depend on auxiliary real estate businesses, since those employees are often expats in need of immediately available goods.  

 

Pro: Running a mini-business with tenants as border-line hostage customers that live next to what you provide can be seriously profitable in the right places.

 

Con: Again, appropriate research proves necessary. Buying a lot of things like vending machines, washing machines, or dryers can end up in unexpected maintenance, costs, and inconveniences in a way that might not be worth it at the wrong property.

 

Real Estate-Related Income: For the Specialists. Real estate management companies, real estate brokers, and others make money from selling property or operating the property on behalf of investors/owners. Selling the property – simple enough, right? A realtor sells a house and gets a 3% commission.

Pro: The better researched and experienced the company, the higher quality investment you’re getting and a higher likelihood of good returns on the investments.

Con: The better-researched and experienced the company, the more you’ll have to invest up-front. At Mongolian Properties and our parent company APIP, we have done our research on the Mongolian economy and prefer to finance our projects through equity or pre-sales instead of taking loans from Mongolian banks, due to high interest rates of 11% at the lowest.

Sometimes, then, our high-net worth clients invest in our Off-Plan Investments early on. Investors who bought in to our Park View, Temple View, or Regency properties saw rental yields as much as 30% and untaxed capital gains up to . But to see those returns with out well-researched company, they had to produce considerable A number of other options, including real estate investment trusts, real estate mutual funds, and real estate private equity are other in-depth ways to get involved with real estate investing, and we would encourage you to go more in-depth into those if you’re interested.

 

A real estate management company, or other ventures that can make money purely from operating, maintaining, or advertising a property, however, can certainly go more in-depth. Here are a few ways we can do that.

Real Estate Investment Groups. Think mutual funds, but for renting property. Real Estate Investment groups usually will buy a set of properties and give clients the option of buying one of the properties or assets with rental yields.

Meanwhile, the company as a whole takes care of leasing, maintaining, and advertising the property. Owning a rental property without being a landlord could be appealing to some, especially overseas property investors.

We at Mongolian Properties use a similar kind of model with international investors and have seen optimal returns on our real estate projects.

Real Estate Limited Partnerships. Similar to real estate investment groups, but not completely. The group still exists to buy property investments, but the group only exists for a limited amount of time.

Usually someone with experience runs the company and is called a “General Partner.” The company dissolves when the properties are bought and developed using outside investors who are given a share of ownership in the project, and eventually sold for a hopefully large profit.

One potential disadvantage of this part of real estate would be that investors’ stake is relatively non-liquid, with investors often only being about to take out cash when the company dissolves.

Limited Liability Companies

LLCs are legal entities that form from partnerships between business partners or even family members. Going through its benefits can give a better idea of how LLCs can help, especially in avoiding the pitfall of signing your personal name on your real estate investment.

Less paperwork and money: forming an LLC can occur for as little as a few hundred dollars, especially among family members. When real estate investing can often be labor-intensive for little payoff, minimizing paperwork can be quite helpful.

It can lead to tax benefits, especially if you are able to structure your taxes in a way in which the LLC’s tax liability only depends on the LLC’s leadership’s personal income

Equal voice in decision making: if the LLC is set up with a “member managed” leadership structure, everyone involved has a say in day-to-day decisions, where a “manager managed” LLC runs by member-elected managers’ decision making.

Flexible, Helpful Income Allocation: Depending on which tax laws you’re dealing with, you may be able to divide profits and losses in ways unavailable to someone who invested in a stock corporation. For example, under US law, you can write in an LLC that, regardless of profits, 2% of sales go to a particular family member involved with the company.

Most important: Much, much less risk. Limited Partnerships, an alternative to LLCs, put personal liability on leadership for the Partnerships’ general debts and accounts payable. In contrast, LLCs ensure no member’s personal assets are at risk, unless other conditions apply.

A common case would be when a member with more than 20% equity in the LLC consents to a contractual obligation that requires a personal guarantee from someone with more than 20% equity. Some court cases have come up as well to put LLC members personally liable, but those cases are not common.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs)Imagine a corporation where, if you invest in it, it gives you practically all of its income out back to you and other people with stock in the company, almost as a dividend. Wonderful, right? That’s actually not far off from an REIT. Basically, a REIT is a legal entity that uses investors’ money to buy, invest in, and gain from land ownership, rental, and sales. They often focus on commercial real estate, and are accessible for investment on major publicly-traded stock exchanges.

You’ll have to jump through tax hoops, maybe paying a little more than the typical common stock shareholder in taxes (much of US and international tax law is changing, so talking to someone certified in IFRS or GAAP would likely be a better plan if you’re interest in the ins and outs of REITs in international tax law).

But the way REITs have existed up until this point, REITs have been required to:

-Distribute 90% of non-capital-gain taxable income to shareholders

-Maintain 75% of assets in real estate

-Derive 75% of gross revenues from real estate-related income (which we go into elsewhere here)

-Maintain at least 100 shareholders, where less than 50% of outstanding shares belong to five or less shareholders

REITS can takes away much of the hassle of direct property ownership while still giving you the chance to invest in property. Basically, REITs do some work for you, by providing management for the property and risk mitigation, as well as liquidity—often a drawback of traditional real estate investing.

As with those initial categories of real estate investing, REITs often grow more specific, being used in residential property development, acquisition, maintenance, and management, as well as industrial REITs, healthcare REITs, Mortgage REITs, or hybrids of each of those.

Although there are tax difficulties you might face, REITs have historically proven that they serve to mitigate risk in income portfolios and provide net positive returns. Internationally investing then, makes sure that you do not have all your eggs in one national basket, so to speak.

Internationally, REITs can protect against inflation of other currencies, good yields, laissez-faire managers, and diversification.

International REITs correspond, sometimes to funds like ETF on the US stock exchange. If you like the idea of investing in positives of the real estate and stock market at the same time, REITs are a particularly good idea.

 

So there it is: our pretty comprehensive guide to real estate investing, especially with a few overseas twists. Hope you enjoyed it.

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We at Mongolian Properties enjoy doing what we can to serve others. We’ve done our research and looked at other conversations on this content like The Balance and Investopedia to put together this piece for you, and we hope it meets your needs. Feel free to contact us via our website or reach at info@mongolianproperties.com.

Posted on July 12, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

From finding an inspector to dealing with surprises — this is your guide to getting a house checked out.

Image: HouseLogic

The first thing you need to know about home inspection: You’ll feel all the feels.

There’s the excitement — the inspection could be the longest time you’re in the house, after the showing.

Right behind that comes … anxiety. What if the inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?

Then there’s impatience. Seriously, is this whole home-buying process over yet?

Not yet. But you’re close. So take a deep breath. Because the most important thing to know about home inspection: It’s just too good for you, as a buyer, to skip. Here’s why.

A Home Inspector Is Your Protector

An inspector helps you make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul. (Think about it this way: You wouldn’t even get coffee with a stranger without checking out their history.)

A home inspector identifies any reasonably discoverable problems with the house (a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc.). Hiring an inspector is you doing your due diligence. To find a good one (more on how to do that soon), it helps to have an understanding of what the typical home inspection entails.

An inspection is all about lists.  

Before an inspection, the home inspector will review the seller’s property disclosure statement. (Each state has its own requirements for what sellers must disclose on these forms; some have stronger requirements than others.) The statement lists any flaws the seller is aware of that could negatively affect the home’s value.

The disclosure comes in the form of an outline, covering such things as:

  • Mold
  • Pest infestation
  • Roof leaks
  • Foundation damage
  • Other problems, depending on what your state mandates.

During the inspection, an inspector has three tasks: To:

  1. Identify problems with the house
  2. Suggest fixes
  3. Estimate how much repairs might cost

He or she produces a written report, usually including photos, that details any issues with the property. This report is critical to you and your agent — it’s what you’ll use to request repairs from the seller. (We’ll get into how you’ll do that in a minute, too.)

The Inspector Won’t Check Everything

Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision, to find hidden faults.

Inspectors also won’t put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, for example, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They’ll use binoculars to examine it instead.

They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many more years that roof will hold up, he or she can’t tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.

Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • The ground beneath a home
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

When it comes to wood-burning fireplaces, for instance, most inspectors will open and close dampers to make sure they’re working, check chimneys for obstructions like birds’ nests, and note if they believe there’s reason to pursue a more thorough safety inspection.

If you’re concerned about the safety of a fireplace, you can hire a certified chimney inspector for about $125 to $325 per chimney; find one through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Explore More Topics:

Make an Offer & Negotiate

Buy a Home: Step-by-Step

It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector

Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. He or she can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.

In addition to getting recommendations (friends and relatives are handy for those, too), you can rely on online resources such as the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Find a Home Inspector tool, which lets you search by address, metro area, or neighborhood.

You’ll want to interview at least three inspectors before deciding whom to hire. During each chat, ask questions such as:

  • Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary, based on where you live. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed, and licenses can indicate different degrees of expertise. ASHI lists each state’s requirements here.
  • How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
  • How much do you charge? The average home inspection costs about $315. For condos and homes under 1,000 square feet, the average cost is $200. Homes over 2,000 square feet can run $400 or more. (Figures are according to HomeAdvisor.com.)
  • What do you check, exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
  • What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
  • How soon after the inspection will I receive my report? Home inspection contingencies require you to complete the inspection within a certain period of time after the offer is accepted — normally five to seven days — so you’re on a set timetable. A good home inspector will provide you with the report within 24 hours after the inspection.
  • May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the inspector is and how he or she explains problems.

Sometimes you can find {{ start_tip 84 }}online reviews{{ end_tip}} of inspectors on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, too, if past clients’ feedback is helpful in making your decision.

Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)

It’s inspection day, and the honor of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required, but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.

Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue); if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and Besides drainage, ask the inspector about any signs of water damage. Water can destroy the integrity of the home’s structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.drainage.

The inspector might also be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification, they come at an additional charge.

Get Ready to Negotiate

Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.

Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs. These can vary depending on location. Most sales contracts require the seller to fix:

  • Structural defects
  • Building code violations
  • Safety issues

Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller.

If there are major issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”

  • If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests: He or she must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
  • If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer: He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.

At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.

That’s something to feel good about.

Posted on June 25, 2018 at 6:19 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

Thinking of a home addition?

A Home Addition: What to Consider Before Starting to Build

Posted in SellingLiving, and Architecture by Kenady Swan 

 

 

Adding on to your current home may be your best bet if you’re short on space, but you don’t want to move or can’t find another house in the area with all the qualities you’re seeking. It’s also an attractive option if the house you have is lacking just one significant element (a family room, another bedroom, a larger kitchen, a separate apartment, etc.).

On the other hand, even a modest addition can turn into a major construction project, with architects and contractors to manage, construction workers traipsing through your home, hammers pounding, and sawdust everywhere. And although new additions can be a very good investment, the cost per-square-foot is typically more than building a new home, and much more than buying a larger existing home.

 

Define your needs

To determine if an addition makes sense for your particular situation, start by defining exactly what it is you want and need. By focusing on core needs, you won’t get carried away with a wish list that can push the project out of reach financially.

If it’s a matter of needing more space, be specific. For example, instead of just jotting down “more kitchen space,” figure out just how much more space is going to make the difference, e.g., “150 square feet of floor space and six additional feet of counter space.”

If the addition will be for aging parents, consult with their doctors or an age-in-place expert to define exactly what they’ll require for living conditions, both now and over the next five to ten years.

 

Types of additions

Bump-out addition—“Bumping out” one of more walls to make a first floor room slightly larger is something most homeowners think about at one time or another. However, when you consider the work required, and the limited amount of space created, it often figures to be one of your most expensive approaches.

First floor addition—Adding a whole new room (or rooms) to the first floor of your home is one of the most common ways to add a family room, apartment or sunroom. But this approach can also take away yard space.

Dormer addition—For homes with steep rooflines, adding an upper floor dormer may be all that’s needed to transform an awkward space with limited headroom. The cost is affordable and, when done well, a dormer can also improve the curb-appeal of your house.

Second-story addition—For homes without an upper floor, adding a second story can double the size of the house without reducing surrounding yard space.

Garage addition—Building above the garage is ideal for a space that requires more privacy, such as a rentable apartment, a teen’s bedroom, guest bedroom, guest quarters, or a family bonus room.

 

Permits required

You’ll need a building permit to construct an addition—which will require professional blueprints. Your local building department will not only want to make sure that the addition adheres to the latest building codes, but also ensure it isn’t too tall for the neighborhood or positioned too close to the property line. Some building departments will also want to ask your neighbors for their input before giving you the go-ahead.

 

Requirements for a legal apartment

While the idea of having a renter that provides an additional stream of revenue may be enticing, the realities of building and renting a legal add-on apartment can be sobering. Among the things you’ll need to consider:

  • Special permitting—Some communities don’t like the idea of “mother-in-law” units and therefore have regulations against it, or zone-approval requirements.
  • Separate utilities—In many cities, you can’t charge a tenant for heat, electricity, and water unless utilities are separated from the rest of the house (and separately controlled by the tenant).
  • ADU Requirements—When building an “accessory dwelling unit” (the formal name for a second dwelling located on a property where a primary residence already exists), building codes often contain special requirements regarding emergency exists, windows, ceiling height, off-street parking spaces, the location of main entrances, the number of bedrooms, and more.

In addition, renters have special rights while landlords have added responsibilities. You’ll need to learn those rights and responsibilities and be prepared to adhere to them.

 

Average costs

The cost to construct an addition depends on a wide variety of factors, such as the quality of materials used, the laborers doing the work, the type of addition and its size, the age of your house and its current condition. For ballpark purposes, however, you can figure on spending about $200 per square food if your home is located in a more expensive real estate area, or about $100 per food in a lower-priced market.

You might be wondering how much of that money might the project return if you were to sell the home a couple years later? The answer to that question depends on the aforementioned details; but the average “recoup” rate for a family-room addition is typically more than 80 percent.

 

The bottom line

While you should certainly research the existing-home marketplace before hiring an architect to map out the plans, building an addition onto your current home can be a great way to expand your living quarters, customize your home, and remain in the same neighborhood.

 

Posted on March 26, 2018 at 4:20 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

The 8 Best Destinations for the Solo Traveler

The 8 Best Destinations for the Solo Traveler

From secluded retreats on private Caribbean islands to personal training sessions in the treetops of the U.K.’s hinterlands, here’s the ultimate in luxury adventure for a solitary vacation

Unaccompanied globe-trotting is one of life’s most underrated pleasures. Equal parts liberating and eye-opening, there may be no better way to hit the reset button. We combed the planet to find the best in wellness, adventure, and self-discovery programs.

1. REI Adventures, Patagonia Multisport

Photo: REI Adventures

Immerse yourself in the welcome distraction (and challenge) of daunting glaciers, grand peaks, and the unmatched beauty of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. “A solo traveler will have uninterrupted reflection time in their sleeping or yoga dome, balanced by great companionship on hikes, biking, and a kayak tour,” says Belinda Gardner, program manager. rei.com/adventures

2. Ten Thousand Waves in Sante Fe, New Mexico

Photo: Thomas McConnell

Indulge in a traditional Japanese hot-tub session as snow falls in your very own sylvan wonderland. If you can peel yourself away, there is perhaps no better solitary pilgrimage in the Land of Enchantment for art lovers than Meow Wolf, a completely transformational art experience. But do come back to the grounds, where sake and omakase await. tenthousandwaves.com

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3. Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands

Photo: Courtesy of Guana Island

This lush private island is part of a remote volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean. But the rewards of getting here are plentiful: The grounds have an almost spiritual air. And the secluded villas make it so you can easily spend a week in contemplative detox without seeing fellow vacationers. Wander the organic orchard or the 12 miles of hiking trails (from easy to cliffside difficult), and indulge in a beachside massage or private yoga class at the “Garden of Eden.” guana.com

4. Inns of Aurora in Aurora, New York

Photo: Courtesy of Inns of Aurora

The intoxicating allure of these historic 19th-century inns is especially well suited to the solo wanderer. First, there’s the “serenity director,” who will guide you through essential oil blending, ayurvedic philosophy, or a private restorative yoga class in a Zen sanctuary. The glorious double dawn over Lake Cayuga—the traditional one, followed by light spilling over the hills’ crests—begs for a dockside stroll. innsofaurora.com

5. Champions Retreat in Evans, Georgia

Photo: Courtesy of Champions Retreat

Gaining access to this exclusive club isn’t easy. The famed golf resort opens to all for Masters Week, but otherwise you’ve got to know a member to book your getaway (pro tip: ask your country club if they have reciprocity). Take in the imposing Georgia pines, the mellow Savannah River, and the sheer bliss of solitude, and you’ll be glad you put in the effort. championsretreat.net

6. “Treetox” at Chewton Glen in Hampshire, U.K.

Photo: Adrian Houston

Embrace your inner child at this curated retreat, which includes yoga, private training sessions, a juice cleanse, and more, all from the comfort of a private tree house. Another treat best enjoyed alone at this five-star hotel? The elusive joy of a twilight spa treatment, coupled with use of the outdoor Jacuzzi for incredible stargazing. chewtonglen.com

7. Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge in Gold Beach, Oregon

Photo: Courtesy of Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge

A few days spent at the riverside spa and enjoying the thrills of solitary hiking or fly-fishing on the Rogue River can be life changing. Or, just stroll aimlessly around the property, tasting edible herbs and flowers and sharing apples with deer as you wander. After working up an appetite, tuck into the property’s divine, healthful cuisine. tututun.com

8. Amangiri in Canyon Point, Utah

Photo: Ken Hayden

You’re floating in a stone-lined plunge pool. In unattended glory. In the desert. And the spectacular stargazing, along with the deep soul-searching this remote haven nurtures, may very well just bring you one step closer to total bliss. aman.com

Posted on March 16, 2018 at 10:17 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

HELOC Interest Is Deductable

IRS Clarifies Home Equity Loan Interest Deductibility

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a news release(link is external) clarifying that in many cases, interest paid on home equity loans remains deductible under the new tax reform law.  Many questions have arisen on this issue, as many media reports on the new tax law indicated that as of 2018, interest is no longer deductible on home equity loans.  The IRS stated that “despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labelled.”  The key factor is that the proceeds of such loans must be used to buy, build, or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.  Interest on a home equity or other loan used for personal living expenses (e.g. paying off credit card debt, education, or vacation expenses) would not be deductible.

The news release offers several examples.

For more information on tax reform, visit NAR’s homepage on the issue.

Posted on March 3, 2018 at 7:39 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

The Most Remote Island Vacations in the World

The Most Remote Island Vacations in the World

Arriving at one of the world’s most remote islands is well worth the extra time and effort

There is a difference between going away and getting away. Islands crowded by shipped-in tourists hardly seem relaxing when you’re beach towel to beach towel with a stranger. These 11 secluded destinations will provide the R&R you desperately need, minus the crazy crowds.

Photo: Kimberley Coole / Getty Images

The Faroe Islands

If you are looking for a departure from the typical tropic paradise, the Faroe Islands will scratch your itch for a nature-filled adventure. Composed of 18 islands off the coast of Northern Europe, this cluster of islands is filled with postcard-perfect towns composed of colorful clapboard houses overlooking rocky waters.

Photo: Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images

Heimaey Island, Iceland

Heimaey is home to the largest puffin population in the world; in the summer, puffins outnumber humans 1,777 to 1.

Photo: Getty Images

Ikaria, Greece

Sitting pretty in the far east of the Mediterranean, about 30 miles off the Turkish coast, Ikaria is home to the oldest people on the planet.

Photo: Karol Kozlowski / Getty Images

Flores Island, Azores, Portugal

With just fewer than 4,000 inhabitants, this island is named for its flower-covered landscape.

Photo: Getty Images

Koh Yao Yai, Thailand

As one of the last untouched islands in the Andaman Sea, Koh Yao Yai is the perfect destination for white sandy beaches and lush terrain ideal for hiking.

Photo: Anne Dirkse / Getty Images

Easter Island

Located 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile, Easter Island is probably best known for its incredible archeological sites containing more than 900 statues dating back as far as the 13th century.

Photo: Getty Images

Saba, Caribbean

Known as the Unspoiled Queen, this very friendly, little-known Caribbean island is home to the shortest airstrip in the world. If you aren’t a fan of tiny planes, Saba also has an active port.

Photo: Getty Images

Niue

Its name literally meaning “behold the coconut,” Niue is most well known for snorkeling amid beautiful coral reefs and sightings of humpback whales during their migration in July and October.

Photo: Steve Dunwell / Getty Images

Ocracoke, North Carolina

If you’re looking for a remote getaway Stateside, Ocracoke is your paradise. As an island that is only accessible by air or boat, it’s a little more desolate than the rest of the Outer Banks. Pro tip: Keep an eye out for a gang of wild ponies running along the sandy beaches (yes, really).

Photo: Darren Robb / Getty Images

St. Helena

This tiny little island sits 2,500 miles east of Rio de Janeiro and has roughly 4,500 residents. In 2016, St. Helena built its first airport, making the dreams of adventure seekers around the world come true.

Photo: Lynn Gail / Getty Images

Christmas Island

Named for the day it was first spotted by explorers, this tropical island is covered in rainforest, Christmas Island red crabs, and miles of beautiful coastline.

Posted on February 26, 2018 at 6:42 pm
Scott Rabin | Category: Uncategorized

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