Thursday, October 25, 2012

Buying a Home on Contract

A credit card, the biggest beneficiary of the ...
The most obvious reason for buyers to buy a home on contract is because they are unable or unwilling to obtain financing through traditional means such as a bank or mortgage broker. If you have poor credit, or a debt to income ratio which the bank feels is too high, buying on contract may be a viable option for you. If you can find a seller willing to sell on contract, you have secured a place to live and your money will not be paying the landlords mortgage. You have just found a way to build equity despite your less than ideal financial situation. Another great advantage to buying on contract is that there are very few closing costs. You'll still want to get a title opinion to make sure you have a clear title, and surely the seller will want a sizeable down payment. But there wont be any loan origination fees, etc. And because there is no underwriting process, you could easily close in 1-2 weeks. Because most sellers will charge you a higher interest rate than a bank would (although banks can charge pretty hefty rates if your credit is below par), you may want to consider refinance with a bank when your credit improves if it improves your rate considerably. There are many factors involved here, so be prudent and check with your accountant, banker, and Realtor when making these sorts of decisions.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Places for you to Visit

Labor day weekend is in the past, and there aren't many vacation days coming up until the holiday season. That doesn't mean it isn't a good time to start planning your vacation getaway to a few prime destinations around the world. Here are a few of the hottest places to go, that will be worth the cost.

Certainly an up and coming spot for travelers and sightseers. The Thailand industry has seen some growth within the past 15 years, making it much more friendly for travelers from around the world. The location is beautiful  and it is a lesser known tourist destination, so you will certainly get your money's worth. One of the places I particularly want to visit is the northern part of Thailand. Paradise Holiday Rentals Chiang Mai-Thailand has gotten good reviews as a nice place to visit in that area.

Costa Rica
If you're feeling like traveling to Latin America, then Costa Rica should be at the top of your list. Beautiful rain forests, friendly people and great accommodations make it a great place for any type of traveler. Many Americans have gone as far to get up and move down to the area, and Properties in Costa Rica are in hot demand.

In Your Backyard
Do you know if you've explored everything good about your local area? Are there fun things to do that you've never tried before? Having a great time can include driving up state to go camping, or going to the local cultural event that you've always been meaning to go to.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Selling Your Home the Right Way

If you expect to sell a home in the near future, there are many things you can do before you put your home on the market to help get you the offers you want more quickly. From fixing up trouble spots to hiring a professional, you can get a better price by making your home more attractive to buyers.

The first step to make your home more appealing is to make it look bigger and more attractive. Buyers are always in the "would I live here" mindset, and no one wants to live in a dirty, cluttered or old looking house. Unless it's a cool looking old house. The easiest way to make you home look bigger is to clean up the messes and general "stuff". Cleaner houses appear to be bigger for some reason. Also, having proper lighting always makes rooms appear larger, more attractive and more inviting. Apply a fresh coat of paint or get carpets professionally cleaned before an open house, so buyers can see the house in the best condition possible. Increase curb appeal by keeping your lawn neat and properly maintained.

Next, enlist the help of a professional who knows how to improve and price your home. Hire a realtor who knows the what the proper prices should be for your area. For example, Syracuse NY real estate prices can be found just about anywhere, but relators can give you a picture of what the prices will be in a few weeks, months or years in a very specific area. If you try to price your home without the help of a professional, you run the risk of over pricing and not selling or of under pricing and not getting your home’s full value. Also, hire a professional home inspector who can thoroughly examine your home for trouble spots. Also, if you are a business, and are looking to make a big purchase, it's definitely a good idea to get a property condition assessment, which will inspect for any major and expensive flaws with the property.

Whether you can fix these problems depends on how much time and money it takes. In any case, you will be aware of trouble buyers’ inspectors may find and can anticipate the problems. Both real estate agents and inspectors can help you determine how much to fix before you sell and can tell you how problems will effect the price of your house.

Once you have a real estate realtor, you can begin advertising your home. Agents can place your advertisement in online databases (for example, realtors use the MLS) and in magazines. You can also use your local newspaper and place a sign in your front lawn. The more advertising your home receives, the more likely prospective buyers will see it.

You can also opt to have public open houses to show your house. You can choose whether you want a large number of people walking through your home. It is not likely that someone will buy because of an open house, but it is one way to let a number of people see it in a short amount of time.

By doing these simple things, finding a prospective buyer for your home should be simpler and less stressful. Selling a house starts to get much easier when you put in the effort to make your house more attractive to buyers, and with the right selling price and the right amount and mix of market exposure, you will sell in a shorter time relative to other homes in your area. Be sure that your home is the best on the block, and worth buying. Who knows, maybe there you can turn the whole selling situation into a buyer's battle!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Real Estate Condos: Beware

condominium (Photo credit: OiMax)

Canaries were often used by miners to detect dangerous gases because, being so small, the gases would overcome them quickly enough for alert miners to get out before they themselves were overcome. So it is with savvy real estate market watchers and condominiums.

Condos are typically the first units affected in a real estate market because there is so much speculative activity - from both buyers and sellers - that they tend to move in larger swings and more quickly than the overall market. Takes a look at condos in representative markets across the nation to find if all is well or not. It is quite difficult as markets are widely different from one another. For example, real estate in Syracuse continues to do quite well. However, neighboring areas struggle, making the area as a whole struggle.

Keeping in mind that most of the people interviewed are the professional optimists, the underlying theme here is that speculators are getting scared out of the market and sellers in some markets are taking losses on recently purchased properties. Sure it can be difficult to gauge an entire real estate market, but in hindsight, these would be the telling signs of a major collapse.

Be a smart miner and heed the warning signs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Apartment Hunting Tips

Troy, Ohio, IMG_2007
Troy, Ohio, IMG_2007 (Photo credit: OZinOH)
I've done my fair share of hunting for apartments, and I have a few recommendations for any of those looking to settle down in a dream apartment complex.

Listen to your friends
The people you know first hand can tell you more about an apartment complex that any website or Google review could tell you. Even if they have heresy knowledge about an apartment complex, it's always good to pay attention, especially if they have had avoidable problems with the place.

Live With Others Like You
No not your roommates, althoguh I'm hoping you're already planning on doing that. Make sure your neighbors are somewhat similar to your demographic. The best example is if you're a college student, you wouldn't want to live in a family dominated complex or retirement home. If that could somehow happen. Although apartment management is not supposed to release that kind of information, you can get a sense just by hanging out in the area for a little bit.

Don't Break the Pet Rules
You'll see most apartment complexes have pet rules. Some don't allow anything, especially if they're in a city, while others allow almost anything. If the place you're looking at allows pets, they most likely require you to somehow register them and pay a fee or monthly rate or both. If you choose to sneak around those rules, there's a good chance you can get caught, get a hefty fine, or even get kicked out of the complex if there's a wait list. I've seen it happen! (thankfully not to me).

Although I've never lived in Ohio, I have heard that the First Troy Corp. Rentals group in Troy Ohio is known to be the best in that area. They have many apartment styles available including rental ranch style, townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Real Estate News for June

English: Change of the Case-Shiller Home Price...
English: Change of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index relative to its peak values in 1989 and 2006. Series starting in 1989 is in blue. Series starting in 2006 is in red. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Quite a bit has happened in the real estate industry since the start of the year. Many more people are searching for homes to buy, which is a great sign that home prices will continue to increase in the coming summer months. The expected jump in home prices is not all that substantial, estimated between 0-1%, which is both good and bad. The good news is that a small increase like this one is a safe increase, and a huge decline is much less like than if prices were expected to rise by say 5%. The bad news is that the prices may not be enough to keep some real estate businesses afloat, and the increase is certainly not uniform throughout the country and even within miles of certain communities, home prices can range in the millions.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Property Condition Assessments can save your business money

Barry O'Farrell taking to business owners at H...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many home owners and business owners live and work in buildings and homes that are outdated. Although this problem mostly affects the real estate values of home owners, it can pose a serious problem for business owners. Not only does it make the property holder liable for a lawsuit if an accident were to happen, but a simple problem can lead to expensive repairs and costs that could bankrupt a business within a few years. One way to avoid this and catch problems before they occur is to get a property condition assessment. Typical services include looking at a property before someone makes a big purchase on it, and assessing damages occurred to a property that has existed for extended periods of time.
Typically what is searched meticulously for are structural flaws that can lead to expensive repairs, and life threatening issues that puts occupants at risk. Running a business demands a great deal of attention, and worrying if the building is structurally sound shouldn't be a large priority. If you have never conducted a PCA before, it might be a good time to call up an agency to take a look at your property.

Team Cooper

Today's guest post comes from Team Cooper, the opinions and views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Real Estate Guide

Tommy and Connie Cooper make up the dynamic team of expert Southern Delaware Realtors known as “Team Cooper”.  We are experienced, connected and proactive.  We build relationships based on trust and integrity.  We offer our clients individual marketing plans for every listing.  Our marketing includes cutting-edge technology for the new millennium, and we provide unparalleled caring service and communication.  YOUR goal is OUR goal; WE LISTEN!
Licensed in 1972, Tommy has personally settled in excess of $500 million in Real Estate Transactions in Southern Delaware.
He established Cooper Realty Associates in 1984, after serving as Executive Vice President and C.O.O. of one of the largest publicly traded real estate firms on the East Coast.
A former Chairman of the Delaware State Real Estate Commission, he is currently the Chairman of the State Chamber of Commerce, a Commissioner of the State Magistrate Screening Commission, a Trustee of the Beebe Hospital Foundation, a member of the Riverfront Development Corporation Board of Directors, and a former Delaware River and Bay Authority Commissioner, having been unanimously confirmed by the Senate. These affiliations enable him access and close association with all State and Federal Agencies, so to better serve his clients and customers.
Tommy was awarded "Five Star Status" in 2010 for being in the top 6% of Real Estate Professionals for total satisfaction and performance.
Connie, licensed in 2004, embarked on her real estate career after 15 years in public education -6 years as an elementary school teacher and 9 years as a guidance counselor. Based on this experience, Connie is knowledgeable about the school districts in the Sussex County area and the various programs that they offer. She enjoys helping families who are relocating to the area find the educational services that meet the needs of their children. Connie is devoted to her clients and customers, is highly energetic, thorough and committed to professional service.
Connie was awarded "Five Star Status" in 2010 for being in the top 6% of Real Estate Professionals for total satisfaction and performance.

Tommy and Connie have the expertise, connections, knowledge and respect within the real estate community and local associations to serve you with your next real estate transaction concerning the Resort Coastal Beaches of Bethany Beach, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Fenwick Island & Dewey Beach and inland towns of Milton, Ocean View, Laurel, Millsboro, Dagsboro, Millville, Georgetown, Frankford, Seaford & Milford.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Things to do in the Dominican Republic

Caribbean Isle
Planning out a trip to the Caribbean can be a fun and exciting process, but knowing where to begin can slow things down right from the start. That's why we've provided a list of some of the top tourist activities to partake in in our favorite place in the Caribbean; the Dominican Republic.

1. Catamaran Cruise: There are plenty of boats around the port cities in the Dominican Republic, and almost all of them have small businesses that offer tours on sailboats and catamarans. Typically you can rent out the boat for a few hours and pay one lump sum. It's much cheaper if you can get a bunch of friends to join so you can all split the bill at a low rate for everyone.
2. Zipline: Getting off the coast, there are plenty of higher elevations that are perfect for those looking for a bit of adventure. At a fairly cheap price, you can zipline through the tree tops and don't worry it's perfectly safe.
3. Buggy Adventure: If you want to take a real look at the area, hop on a buggy adventure or a truck safari. These tours usually last an hour or so, and the tour guides can teach you a lot of interesting information.
4. Snorkel Trips: Snorkeling or scuba diving is a must while being in the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic is a great place to do it. Take a cruise along the Bavaro coastline, and the boat will drop you off at some of the most colorful reefs in the world.

Make sure you have a place to stay while you're in the area. Dominican Republic villa rentals are a great option for any size of accommodation. Just make sure you book your reservations well ahead of time!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mexico's Yucatan Mayan Beach

Costa Maya Bacalar and Yucatan beachfront.
Costa Maya Bacalar and Yucatan beachfront. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm dreaming of beaches today in far away places, so why not write about the beautiful Yucatan peninsula. Known for their beautiful white sandy beaches, gorgeous sunrises, and bright sunny skies, it's hard not to call the region paradise.
One of the more popular regions on the peninsula is the Costa Maya area, which is relatively close to the border of Belize. The area is quite open to tourism and has great amenities, while also providing the seclusion and natural feel desired by anyone looking for a place to get away for a while. Things can get a little crazy if a cruise ship is in town, and the area can be overrun for a day with tourists looking to buy local souvenirs and tan out in the sun for a few hours before heading back for the boat.
If you're looking for a place to rent out for your vacation down there, there are plenty of rentals available. Mayan Beach vacation rentals has both homes and hotel B&B rooms available. Mahahual (and the Costa Maya) is a new upcoming vacation area with less than 400 rooms, so make sure you book yours in advance because they tend to fill up pretty quickly, especially around holiday and spring break periods. This is especially more difficult with larger parties as many of the rentals are bed and breakfast houses owned by families.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

California City Real Estate

Paradise Valley in Kings Canyon National Park
Paradise Valley in Kings Canyon National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's a cold one up here in Oregon today, and on days like today I wonder why I'm spending my spring in a place so chilly. Today's featured location is a place a bit warmer in the great state of California. California is home to many of the top tourism attractions in the world, and is home to great beaches, warm sunny weather and lots and lots of people. If you want to live near all those great things minus the crowds, then take a look at California City. Located northeast of Los Angelos, California City is the largest city in a fairly rural area. The city is surrounded by national parks, with Kings Canyon and Death Valley to the North, and Los Padros and Angeles to the South.
The open expanses and natural terrain of the area make it a great place to watch any sunrise or sunset. Because it is a fairly dry area, days can be hot and nights can be cold, but braving through both is well worth the natural beauty of the area.
If you're looking to relocate, there are several great California City real estate companies. This one offers affordable California real estate, homes, land, commercial, industrial and income properties for sale or rent in the area.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trapani, Sicily

Trapani seen from Erice. The islands of Favign...Trapani seen from Erice. The islands of Favignana (left) and Levanzo (right) can be seen in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)The Mediterranean is known to be dotted with some of the most beautiful beaches, gorgeous sunrises and colorful towns in the entire world. One place that seems to stick out in particular in my mind is the Sicily and the surrounding area. If you ever get the chance to tour Italy, make sure you make it all the way down to the island. The weather in the area is beautiful all year round, the people in the area are extremely friendly, and there are many activities all tourists can partake in. The locals understand the value of the area, and although many homes are offered for extremely high prices, they refuse to sell. This is because many families have lived in the same homes for many generations.

One of the more popular islands in the area is the Trapani island, which is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The small size of the island also gives the area a unique and different feel compared to the surrounding area. If you are looking to vacation in the area, there are Egadistar Vacation Rentals available in multiple locations. Don't be discouraged by the size you need to accomidate, because there are many locations that offer spacious properties and homes for rent. Just make sure you plan way ahead in advance because they get picked up very quickly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Southern California Real Estate Markets

This map, created by the Regional Plan Associa...This map, created by the Regional Plan Association, illustrates the Southern California megaregion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Certainly one of the most beautiful locations in the world, and filled with all the amenities and attractions anyone could ask for, the real estate market in Southern California is about to sizzle this summer. According to a report released by the Los Angeles Times today, home sales in Southern California have climbed by 2.8% year over year. The prices of many of these homes is still on the decline, and it appears to continue that way, however they are not in the free fall mode that they were at the start of the real estate market scare in 2007. Foreclosures have begun to plateau and real estate demands continue to be high in the area, as they always have been in the past.
If you're looking to live in the area, now is one of the greatest times to look. All you need is a Southern California realtor and a way to look up regional properties. If you're looking for ways to make money off of this opportunistic market, then you will want to look at ways to find Southern California investment properties.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Log Siding Cabins, My Dream Home

Log Cabin - Camp PetosegaLog Cabin - Camp Petosega (Photo credit: Odalaigh)This coming winter I want to get away for a weekend of skiing and snowshoeing, and as I was looking through various places to stay, I started noticing a strong trend. All the lodges and houses that were available to stay in are log cabins. I was curious about why this is the way it is, so I did some research and found a little bit more about log cabins.

Log siding cabins have been built for thousands of years all throughout Europe. That became a common style throughout the United States, as European settlers brought over their methods of building homes with the only material that was readily available to them; trees. When built correctly, log cabins can be very warm and comfortable throughout the winter, and can include windows, fireplaces and stoves.

Today, log cabins are still very popular, as they blend in very well with their surrounding environment and offer a great look both inside and outside. I hope to enjoy my winter trip in a log cabin soon, I suggest you look into doing something similar as well!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Backyard Waterfall and other Centerpieces

The Great Ceremonial House features a large &q...The Great Ceremonial House features a large "tropical rainforest" in its atrium with waterfalls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)If you live in a warm climate year round, or are just looking for a new way to spruce up your backyard, a backyard fountain, waterfall or water garden might make a nice addition. These can be easily bought online or in a large department store. When you're there, make sure you talk with a sales representative who knows a decent amount about installing the system. Getting the right information to put everything together will set a part a fun and exciting afternoon into a terrible and disorganized one. Many fountains and waterfalls come fully equipped with little work or assembly required. If you need to put your own set together, you need to make sure you have everything you need. One of the most common but essential parts that are forgotten are valves. You can get Valtorc flow control valves online that are quite reliable and at a nice price.

One of the great added benefits of outdoor waterfalls is that it is a great selling feature of your home. Even if you are looking to put your home on the market, installing a backyard centerpiece will make your home much more appealing and can boost the selling price by thousands of dollars.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Getting away to Koh Phangan

Something that I have noticed over the past ten years is how much tourism has increased in Southeast Asia, and how it's referred to as the new Caribbean. The area has always been beautiful and natural, but there were no hotels, places to stay or activities for tourists. That has since changed as the region continues to develop new hotels, villas and transportation methods.

One Island that I looked closely at was the Koh Phangan island, which has done tremendous development to accommodate tourism, while still maintaining beautiful beaches and a natural pristine environment. If you are searching for Ko Phangan houses and rental villas, there are many available and on the market. Because the area is so young to tourism, the prices ares still quite low.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Top 10 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a house can be intimidating. But it doesn't have to be! We’ve compiled the Top 10 Tips for first time home buyers. They are presented in chronological order. If you have any questions, please contact us and we’ll certainly get back to you.

1. Should I Even Buy?

There is nothing wrong with renting and in many cases it’s the smart move. A critical factor to consider is how long you expect to live in the house. Some experts believe that you’ll need to stay for at least 36 months. Of course, that will depend on the price you pay for the home, it’s current value and rate of appreciation.
It is good to note that in today’s “easy” credit environment, lenders are increasingly willing to loan large sums of money to purchase a house with a very small down payment. So, just because you don’t have a lot of money available for a down payment, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy a house.
While creditors are still out looking for new customers, the days of loaning money to anyone with a heartbeat are past. Getting Pre-Approved is a key step to buying a home and shouldn’t be ignored.

2. Get Professional Help

No, we’re not talking about a therapist, but instead, real estate professionals. After the decision to purchase a house is made, the next thing you should do is find a quality agent—someone who understands the process and the market; someone who’ll work well with you to find that perfect house.
Then ask your Realtor® to identify a reputable lending company. Having these professionals on your team will ensure that your first-time home buying experience goes smoothly and that you make the best decisions possible.

3. Locate the Location

You can save yourself a great deal of time and energy by narrowing the field of properties you are considering. Start by identifying the part of town in which you’d like to live. Take time to consider its proximity to your job, shopping, major highways and schools, if you have children.
Also note whether an area is growing or not. Would you prefer to live in the hustle and bustle of a expanding area or would you rather find a more secluded, quiet location away from crowded roadways and busy shops. Your Realtor can help you with this. The last thing you want to do is purchase a home that doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Remember what they always say, “Location, location, location.” Yes, it’s that important.

4. Create Your Master List

One of the toughest tasks with any purchase decision is determining whether something is a want or a need. If you identify these features from the outset, before you’ve looked at a single property, then your list will have been made objectively and you won’t be susceptible to last minute temptations.
For example, if you didn’t list a in-ground hot tub as a need (or even a want) on your Master List, then when you visit a property that has one, you’ll be able to correctly assess the overall home and not let a single feature skew your perception.

5. Get Pre-Approved

Before you visit a single property, you should take time to sit down with your lender and determine what you feel comfortable borrowing to purchase this home. (Getting quotes from multiple lenders is even better!) Pre-qualification is a quick process that doesn’t go far enough. Pre-approval is much more thorough and basically says, Lender A with loan you “X” dollars for a house in a specific price range. It’s not the final say so but it is what most real estate professionals consider as legitimate. It doesn’t take much time and will help you zero in on the price range that is custom-fitted to your financial situation.

6. Visit Some Properties

Nothing will give you a feel for a home like visiting it in person. Have your Realtor® set up a few showings and enjoy the process. Hopefully you’re not under a time constraint and the viewings will be a fun experience. Only by visiting a few properties will you start to get a good feel for the kind of properties that exist on the market in your price range and in your desired geographic location. Don’t expect to find your dream home the first trip out. Today’s statistics show that home buyers visit an average of 10 properties before making an offer.

7. Educate Yourself

Your Realtor® will always be your most valuable resource, but you can also take advantage of the Internet in the following ways: learn more about a specific property/area; take virtual tours of houses before physically visiting them; compare characteristics of multiple properties in order to make a more informed decision.
The Internet has revolutionized the real estate industry and has given home buyers and sellers access to information that was previously unavailable. 

8. Negotiate The Deal

When it comes to negotiations, having an experienced Realtor® is vital. Understanding how the negotiation process works and the intricacies of how to best frame an offer can sometimes be the difference between getting that dream house at a price you can afford or completely missing out.
One other point, always make your offer contingent on a home inspection. Your agent can recommend a good home inspector and the costs are relatively low. You certainly want to know about a leaky basement before you purchase that house… not after.

9. Insure Your Valuables

Now that you’ve got a house, you want to have it insured, right? That goes for your home’s title as well. Title insurance is relatively cheap and is becoming more and more important in today’s litigious environment.

10. Close and Move In!

It’s finally here—the big day! A house closing isn’t the most exciting experience but it’s the necessary, final step in home ownership. Then you get to move in. Hopefully, it won’t be raining and the movers won’t break (or lose) a single item.
Congratulations, you are officially a homeowner!


This article was written by Tre Pryor, a Realtor® with RE/MAX Champions and a Louisville real estate expert. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the, the top real estate blog in Louisville, KY. The original content of this article appeared here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Art Of Hanging Art from a Professional

By Dana J. Smithers

Have you ever walked into someone's home and had to really control yourself not to walk over to a piece of art and rehang it. I have, and anyone in the business of decorating, redesigning or staging spends hours doing behind the scenes work that our clients will never know we have done. Since I teach courses in Redesign and Home Staging I always tell my students that even though the client's don't know what we do, I can sleep soundly at night because I know I hung the art professionally.

Art is really part of the 'icing on the cake' along with accessories (that's a whole other topic) and is one of the key steps in creating a professional look in your home. There is an abundance of different styles and price ranges of art available to all of us. The important thing in choosing your art is to ensure that is coordinates with the style of your home. Mixing different styles of art such as some traditional pieces with modern art can create a really personal style for you.

So what is so difficult about hanging art? Well as a professional decorator, home stager and redesigner I have worked in 100s of clients homes and have hung 1000s of pieces of art. These are some of the most common mistakes people make: 1) the art is too high - you know the kind you strain your neck to look at; 2) there are individual pieces of art all over the house that actually belong together as a cohesive grouping; 3) the art does not have the proper hanging screws and/or wire on the back and finally 4) the art is not hung with the proper hooks.

If you follow these easy steps you can have hang your art like the professionals!

I. For Art Over an Object such as a Table, Sofa, Fireplace, etc.

A. Before you hang the Art:
  1. Decide which art you are going to group together. This decision is based on finding a common element that allows the art to work together i.e. theme, colour, style, etc. Add surprise pieces like masks, fans, hats, etc.
  2. Lay them on the floor with the heavier piece(s) on the bottom and line up the bottoms or centre them with each other. For smaller pictures space them approximately 1" apart and for larger pieces 2" apart.
  3. Make the basic outline shape of a rectangle or a square.
  4. The length of the grouping should be approximately 2/3 of the object you are placing the art over e.g. if the art grouping is going over a table of 60" long, then the ideal grouping would be 40' in length.

B. Hanging the Art:

  1. To determine the number of picture hangers you need and where to put them follow this rule.
    1. For pictures under 30" you will only need one proper weight hook which you will place at the centre e.g. if your one piece is 36" then you mark centre at 18" with the tack.
    2. If a picture is 30" and over AND has glass use 2 hooks. To determine where to place the hooks for this size art measure and mark the centre with sticky tack. Then measure from the centre tack to the end and find centre. Place another piece of tack here. Do this on both sides so now you will have a piece of tack in the centre, and 2 more halfway between centre and the end of the picture.
  2. To determine the height follow this 'Art Height Guideline' and remember it is only a guideline there are other factors that determine how to hang art. For now, we will keep it simple for you. Place the art 4 - 10" over an object such as a sofa, table, fireplace, etc. 
  3. Mark the centre or (quarters if over 30") with a pencil. Make a short (1/2") horizontal pencil line across and then a short (1/2") vertical line down so that you have made an upside down 'T'. If over 30" then you need to make 2 marks as this is where you will hang both hooks.
  4. If the picture has a wire then find centre and measure the distance from the wire to the top of the picture. If it is 7" then you will make another pencil mark exactly 7" from your original upside down 'T' mark. It is best to use a level or laser level to make sure it is lined up.
  5. To hammer in your hook place the bottom of the hook where the 'T' line intersects (Many people put the nail here and if you are using a hook it must be the bottom of the hook). Hammer in on a diagonal. Give it a tug to make sure it is in solidly. 
  6. If the picture can only be hung from the sides then follow the same steps as above except measure from the side hook to the top of the picture.
  7. If the picture has a 'saw tooth' hook (jagged ¼' piece of metal ½ - 1" long) then follow the same steps as above. Hang it with a 1" nail and put sticky tack on the two bottom corners to keep it in place as these always move! 
  8. To determine the type of hook to use for most pictures with wire you can find picture hangers at hardware and art stores. They will tell you the weight the hanger will hold. For small pictures often 1" nails will work just fine. If you have not tried the new 'dry wall hangers' with the curved ends check them out at Home Depot. They hold up to 150 pounds and are easy to use in drywall and some wood paneling.
  9. Best tools to use are levels, lasers, hanging level wall tool for smaller pictures. All of these products can be purchased at big box hardware stores.

II. For Floating Art such as Photo Galleries, large stand alone prints, etc.

A. Before you hang the Art:
  1. Follow all of the same steps above except for determining the height.
  2. To determine the height follow this 'Art Height Guideline' and remember it is only a guideline there are other factors that determine how to hang art. For now, we will keep it simple for you. Once you have determined your placement find the centre of the side of the art and put a piece of sticky tack here e.g. if the art is 52" in length the tack goes on the side at 26". On the wall put a piece of sticky tack 56" - 60" from the floor. (The larger the piece of floating art the closer to 56" you want it to be.) Line up both pieces of sticky tack i.e. the piece of art has one on its side and the wall has a piece of sticky tack.
  3. Once they are lined up then make your pencil mark at the top and follow the same steps in B. Hanging the Art.

TIP: To remove your pencil marks use Mr. Clean Magic Erase. Be careful with freshly painted walls though rub sparingly.

About the Author
Dana J. Smithers is an expert in the fields of Home Staging and Home Redesign. Dana has taught 1000s of people her ‘Secret Success Home Makeover Formula' for living and selling. She teaches a comprehensive 5 Day PRES® (Professional Real Estate Stagers) Home Staging & Redesign course in Western Canada. She is the Founder & Creative Director of both Sun On My Back Redesigns and PRES Staging Resource Centre.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Traveling the Swiss Alps

Deutsch: Uinaschlucht, Schweizer Alpen English...Image via WikipediaWhether you are an avid skiier looking for the a new thrill or a summertime hiker looking for natural beauty, the Swiss Alps are on of the top destinations to visit. Here are a few top destinations within the Swiss Alps region so you can start planning your next visit.

Hang Gliding
There are very few locations that are suitable for hang gliding and the Swiss Alps are one of them. It doesn't matter if you are a pro or have no experience. It's an activity suitable for anyone, assuming you don't have an intense fear of heights!

Visit Dufourspitze 
The highest peak in the Swiss Alps is also one of the iconic images of the country. Visible from many locations and countries, this is certainly a sight worth seeing.

Guided Tours
Sometimes its best to let someone else do all the work for you. There are many guided tours available that make stops at all the big attractions around Switzerland, and there are many that are specific for skiing or hiking.

If you're actually starting to plan a trips for the Alps, you don't want to spend all your time in the hotel room. That's why I would recommend staying in hostels. If you're looking for a quality hostel in the heart of the Swiss Alps, I know a place called the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof.  There are many cities to visit, including Berne, Lausanne, Lugano and Interlaken. I know of an Interlaken Hostel, but you will have to do your own research for hostels in other cities.

Box Springs Mountain

English: View of 'M' on Box Springs Mountain f...Image via WikipediaBox Springs Mountain is the highest peak in the Box Springs Mountains range, and is one of the defining and scenic images of the area. The mountain is known for its great hiking trails and animal inhabitants of lizards, snakes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, bears, deer and burros. The mountain has some other defining features.

The mountain got its name when travelers would stop to water their horses in a natural spring, which was surrounded by a box to maintain its water. Today the mountain is known for a letter C, known as the "Big C", that is embedded in the side of the mountain and is visible from quite a distance. This was built in the 1950s by UC Riverside students.

However, that is not the only letter on the mountain. The letter M was embedded on the side of the mountain facing the Moreno Valley. In 2009, the letter M was lit up as a celebration of the 25th anniversary.

If you are looking to live in the area to take advantage of this great mountain, look at some Moreno Valley real estate that's currently on the market.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Orlando Florida Real Estate

Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt D...Image via WikipediaNow that it is spring break season, one of the things that is on my mind is Florida and all the great times I had there as a kid. One of my favorite places to visit was the Orlando area, and not just because of Disney World (Although that was a top reason). Although the Florida real estate market has seen some tough times over the years, the area is booming and there are a good selection of Orlando homes for sale to meet the increased demands. Here are a few reasons why:

Despite rising gas prices, students from all over the world flock to Florida and Orlando during the spring break season giving the state an annual economic boost, and this year is no different. Among other factors, that is thanks to airlines lowering their airline costs this season and making it easier for price sensitive students to travel the distance.

After a rough economic stretch, housing prices stabilized at the beginning of last year, and have since gradually increased at a healthy rate. That was in part to the significant drop in local foreclosures. The Orlando real estate market remains as one of's top 10 real estate markets to watch.

If you are looking to move to Orlando, there are many great suburbs around the city of Orlando, many of which are nearby the main attraction of the city, Walt Disney World. If you don't want to get caught up in the Disney World magic, and the resulting tourists, there are Lake Mary homes for sale which are located on the other side of town but not too far from the city. Also located quite nearby are some great Heathrow homes for sale.

Tucson Arizona - The Real Southwest

Mission San Xavier del Bac Mission San Xavier del Bac
Located in Southern Arizona, Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America.  Hohokam Indians lived and, surprisingly, farmed the area for over 4,000 years before Spanish missionaries and soldiers arrived in the late 1600s.

The “newcomers” arrived from Spain in the 1700s and founded the Mission San Xavier del Bac and Presido San Agustin del Tucson.  These two structures have become the most historically significant in the area.  The Tucson Presidio was surrounded by an adobe wall and became know as “The Old Pueblo” and still is the nickname for the City of Tucson today.

Although once part of Mexico, Tucson became part of the United States in 1854.  Today, Tucson, the second largest city in Arizona is a vibrant city that has become not only a resort destination, but the home for almost a million people.  Tucson is the County seat of Pima County which includes The towns of Marana, Oro Valley, Green Valley, Sahuarita and Vail.  Tucson is also home of the University of Arizona, founded in 1885, it is the first university in Arizona.

Tucson is surrounded by five mountain ranges and provides elevation changes from the valley floor of 2,400 feet to Mount Lemon at 9,157 feet. Tucson has the largest concentrations of the giant saguaro cactus in the world.  The Saguaro National Park along with The Coronado National Forest, Catalina State Park offer visitors and residents once in a lifetime things to see.

Phoenix, the largest city in Arizona is roughly a two hour drive away from Tucson and has all the great amenities of a large city. One of the nicer neighborhoods of the city is Gilbert, and there are many Gilbert homes currently on the market.

Recreational activities include golf, tennis, horse riding, hiking and, believe it or not, fishing.  There are many hotels and resorts, including the Ritz Carlton that host the WCG match play event in February of each year.  Tucson's weather is perfect for those winter get a ways or retirement living.

For those interested finding a home in Tucson, Premier Tucson Homes provides real estate services and are experts  in the Tucson, Vail and Green Valley markets.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A House Is A Tool To Live The Life You Want

You don't buy a vacuum cleaner because you want a vacuum cleaner. You buy a vacuum cleaner because you want clean carpets. The difference is subtle but important.

It's the same with money. You don't want a million dollars because you want a million dollars. You want a million dollars, because with a million dollar you could... [insert whatever it is you would do or feel with a million dollars].

It's the same with houses. A house is simply a tool to live the life you want.

Sometimes what you really want isn't in the price range you are looking for, or in the town you are looking in, or it's bigger or smaller than the houses you are looking at. Or it's a condo when you've been looking at single family homes, or the other way round.

The house you buy will influence your life for years to come. It's worth asking yourself "what sort of lifestyle do I want?" before blindly seeing houses just hoping something jumps out at you.

Do you want to be the location for the family Thanksgiving Dinner? Look for a house with a decent sized kitchen and dining room. Never want the kids to try and move back in with you ever again? One bedroom townhouse for the win. Desperate to get in shape, but no local gym and winters are brutal where you live? The finished basement with room for the exercise equipment is an option.

I'll say it again...

A house is simply a tool to live the life you want.

This post was written by Athol Kay, and was originally featured here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Languedoc Southern France

Vinyard nr Perpignan, Languedoc region, France...Image via WikipediaI have a friend that recently returned from a tour of Europe, and one of her favorite places she visited was the Langedoc region of Southern France. I had heard of the region before, and if I ever have the opportunity to travel Europe it is a top place on my list to see.

The area is best known for two things, wine and coast. The region's topography is incredibly unique and the area produces a third of France's wine. The coastline along the Mediterranean Sea is gorgeous and in many areas is completely undeveloped.

The area has high international demand, and is considered one of the most luxurious locations to live in all of the world. If you are adventurous and are looking for an estate agent in the Languedoc Southern France region, then you certainly will want to locate the right agent who can speak your language. Luckily, Google is quite good at translating languages on websites so you can at least find where the contact information is on the website.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vacationing Out West

English: Fly fishing on the South Santiam rive...Image via WikipediaWith the longer days and increasingly warmer weather we are getting out in Oregon, it is hard to ignore that the summer season is right around the corner. Every couple, family or individual deserves to take some time off and enjoy the nice weather, so why not make a vacation out of it out west! Here are some fun vacation ideas and recommendations to help start your planning.

Take a Hike!
Hiking is a great way to discover the most beautiful places in the world, with the freedom to choose when are where you want to go. If you are in the learning mood, you can take a walking tour of a national park or landmark location. Quite often they are free or at a low cost, and they make you appreciate your surroundings even more.

Climb Every Mountain!
There are no shortages of mountains out west. The Rockies run from Mexico to Canada, and have a great deal of variety to meet your novice or advanced mountaineering needs. It is usually best to refer to a local guide book or resource when choosing mountains to hike or explore. Always make sure you've done your research so you are never in over your head!

Rivers Galore
With mountains come rivers, and with rivers come endless activities. Some of the more popular activities include whitewater rafting tours, fly fishing tours and river side camping. Like mountain activities, river activities out west have a large range in experience level. Always know what you are getting yourself into!

Know where to Stay
With all the activities you will put yourself through, plan out a place to stay in advanced based on your comfort needs. If you plan on sleeping out under the stars, that may seem like not much effort, but do you research and find a park or location that allows overnight camping. If you're more like me, and appreciate a warm and cozy night, take a stay in a condo. If you're coming out to Oregon, I would take a look at some Oregon condo vacation rentals. This site has locations in Depoe, Newport, Gleneden and Bend Oregon, but also has locations all over the American West.

Best of luck to your vacation planning and happy travels!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Texas Economy

texas our texas(Photo credit: jmtimages)I hear it pretty often. "I'm moving to Texas, the economy is great down there, lots of jobs, great cities, etc.." The real estate industry seems to support my suspicions. The Texas real estate industry is one of the few that is seeing a rise in home prices, especially in the hot San Antonio region, so if you are looking for some San Antonio TX real estate, you better snatch those properties up fast! I thought I would look into Texas a little more into the Texas economy, and see if all the hype matched the stats. Here is what I found:

Texas is indeed one of the largest employers in the country. Not only that, but over the past several years the rate of employment has expanded at a moderate pace, about 2% according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

As in correlation with job growth, businesses and industries have seen positive and consistent growthover the past several years. Retail sales have substantially increased over the past few years, which indicates stronger buying power of residents in Texas. An eye opener for me was the fact that there have been strong improvements in Texas real estate. Sales have been up 8.7% from a year ago, and prices rose by 0.8%, which are numbers that don't easily go up together. There are also many Texas home rebates that are particularly high at the moment, which provides even more incentive to consider living in the state.

The biggest question economists are asking about Texas is how long can they sustain consistent economic growth like this for? Towards the end of 2011, employment and economic growth flattened, but overall the year of 2011 was positive for Texas. In any rate, it is always good to see a state that is enjoying prosperity despite economic hardships.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sunset Beach North Carolina

Sunset on Hilton Head Island, December 28, 2006Image via WikipediaHow can you not like a place called Sunset Beach? This beach town sits a mile away from the border of South Carolina, and is known as a popular spot for travelers looking to spend a day on the beach, but want to get away from the Myrtle Beach crowd. If you're ever visiting the Sunset Beach North Carolina, here are a few things to consider partaking in:

Bird Island State Reserve: Bordering Sunset Beach, this state park is perfect for bird watchers and those who want to get away from the crowds. If you wake up early enough, this is a great place to go shell hunting.

Gift Shops: Just a quick walk from the beach, there is a great collection of gift shops in the town. One includes the Ocean Isle Fishing Center, which has all sorts of fishing supply needs as well as experts who love to talk to visitors about how to be a better fishermen.

Restaurants: A beach town would not be complete without some great restaurants and Sunset Beach doesn't disappoint. Magnolias is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch. One of the top local dining places is the Sea Trail Plantation, which is great for both a casual lunch or a classy dinner.

Like many of its neighboring towns, Sunset Beach has a great deal of rentals available during the summer. If you are looking at Sunset Beach real estate so you can live there full time, there are several spots to consider. Sunset Harbor real estate is always in high demand for its ideal location and proximity the the beach. Carolina Shores is a less expensive option as it is a bit further inland, but it is a nice town to have easy access to. There are several neighboring towns if you are having difficulty finding the right place including Calabash real estate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What is the biggest real estate market according to Google?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseWant to know real estate markets that have the biggest potential for growth? How about looking at state-by-state search volumes in Google! The Google Adwords Keywords Tool gives semi-accurate search volumes for any keyword you wish to know more about. In this situation I used [<insert state> real estate] as my keywords. I've listed the real estate search volumes by each 50 state in comparison to other metrics like population and size. The results are rather surprising.


United States Search Volume


Land area (sq. miles)

Pop. Density (sq. miles)














































New York





North Carolina










New Hampshire





South Carolina






























New Jersey








































New Mexico

























Rhode Island








































North Dakota















West Virginia















South Dakota




















Regardless of whether these numbers are 100% accurate, search volumes can be an accurate measure of demand for any market or industry.