Buying a Home From Family and Friends

Sure you love them. Maybe you have known them your whole life. However when buying a home you still have to do it by the book. A home is your biggest financial investment you will probably make in your whole life. You want to make a sound investment. You want to protect your family. So just because you are buying a home from family or a friend does not mean you should not follow the right buying steps.

1.) Always get a home inspection – this is a major. You need to be aware of the issues. If you know about them and do not want to act on them because they are family or friends then that is your problems. You just do not want to be screwed and inherit a money pit from a family member who “was giving you a great deal”. I had a young lady who bought this home from her brother. She didn’t have a home inspection done. She didn’t know better, but the basement walls were buckling. It was a major structural issue. Her brother sold her the house at fair market value. Because of the basement issues the house would sell way below market value. Her brother took her for a ride.

2.) Always go through a title company. Yes you may have enough cash and they will just do a quick claim deed to you. DO NOT DO IT. What happens if your dear sister has a tax lien against the house from not paying Uncle Sam. What happens if your best friend was notorious for not paying contractors. There may be $20,000 worth of construction liens against the house. You bought it without a title company, you now own a house that can’t be sold without paying those liens off. It is a dumb move to buy a home without a title company involved. A title company will only transfer title to a new buyer if the title is clean. So use a title company.

So follow the normal buying steps. Sure your brother, cousin or aunt may be a very nice person but the sale of a home is too big to just trust somebody. There should be no problem having a home inspection done or using a title company if there are no hidden issues. If they are trying to talk you out of doing either of these two things that is a major red flag. It’s not that you don’t trust them. It’s too protect your family and your money.

What Does a Building Contractor Do?

People who make bids for undertaking constructional projects, and hire other contractors for the execution of their contract when winning the bid, are known as building contractors. At times, a building contractor may participate in the actual process of construction. The primary job of a building contractor is to obtain contracts for the construction of commercial or residential buildings, and then hire other contractors, specializing in different fields of construction, for the completion of the project under their control. Often, they get started in this profession by executing small contracts on their own, and subsequently undertaking the execution of larger projects with the help of subcontractors.

To qualify as a building contractor, you have to appear for a test for getting a license. For getting a license in certain fields, one may need to study for taking the exam. You get books for the purpose, and you need to pay an examination fee. Moreover, there are restrictions on the number of attempts that a candidate may make for passing the exam.

Having passed the formal exam, the prospective contractor can start making bids to get contracts. There are a number of contractors making bids for the same project. So, the client is free to choose one who is suitably qualified for the particular job, and makes a very competitive price bid. Many clients would prefer only those contractors who have adequate insurance for their work, as well as for their workers, to ensure that any worker getting injured during the execution of the project gets compensated according to the law. Supervising the execution of the project is the primary responsibility of the principal contractor whose bid the client accepts.

There are contractors specializing in certain areas of construction. For instance, some specialize in roofing or flooring, while other may specialize in wiring and plumbing. The principal contractor generally hires a number of different contractors, as per their field of specialization. These contractors are known as subcontractors, and their work is supervised by the principal contractor, and not the client.

It needs a lot of effort and acumen to be a successful building contractor. Often, he has to supervise and coordinate the work of many people at the same time. In case any subcontractor or a worker does any job incorrectly, the client will hold the principal contractor responsible and liable for making the corrections. This can be very challenging, though manageable once the principal contractor builds up a relationship with dependable subcontractors having a good track record of working.

Though the amount quoted needs consideration, it should not be the only criterion when selecting any building contractor. Apart from offering to undertake the project at the lowest price, the contractor should offer to use quality materials, and complete the project in the minimum possible time. Before finalizing the choice on your building contractor, you should check his experience, background, and get various guarantees in black and white.

Can I Build a Home With Stone?

“Can I build a home with stone?” Yes, you can, if you choose to do so. You will be following an ancient tradition of shelter building combined with the modern choice to live in a more eco-friendly home.

The ancient art of stone houses

These houses have been built by humans for several thousands of years and in nearly every region of the world. It is considered to be, “the oldest construction material known to mankind.” Early shelters were made of stones carefully piled up, one on top of another. Ancient dry stone (structures built of stone without mortar) structures are still found throughout the world.

Some dry stone structures are still in use. Their walls and buildings are durable, fire, water, and insect resistant; they seem to last forever.

A house of stone – yes or no?

Many modern individuals have chosen to return to older, more sustainable building materials such as stonehouses. Here are certain advantages to building this type of house, and there are a number of potential disadvantages. Let’s explore both sides:


  • Sustainability – Few building materials are more sustainable than stone.
  • Nearly damage-proof – As mentioned earlier, stone structures are fire, water, and insect resistant.
  • Organically attractive – Stone is often the choice of counter tops for its organic beauty. A stone house is like a magnification of the organic beauty of stone.
  • Lower maintenance -Stone houses that don’t have plaster surfaces (exterior or interior) don’t require siding or painting. They are easy to clean with a simple hosing down with water.
  • Comfortable -Stone houses can be comfortably warm or cool seasonally if constructed with passive solar design.


    • Cost – Constructing a stone house can be cost effective or budget challenging depending on several factors:
      • Source – the cost of building a stone house will go up depending on the transportation distance from the source of the stones to the construction site.
      • Labor – Depending on who builds your house, the cost of expert design and construction may be higher than for a “traditional” modern house.


    • Energy waste – If you don’t include a quality passive solar design, you may be losing too much heat in the winter and retaining too much of it in the summer. Proper insulation also helps resolve the age-old problems of drafts and dampness.


  • Repair/modify – Be careful in your choice of stone – it must be strong enough to support the considerable weight of the structure; inferior quality stone may not be able to support the weight, causing damage or collapse.

Modifications to the structure will require extra planning, cost, and care in execution.

Finding replacement stone for repairs years later may be difficult.

  • Equipment/expertise – If building with cut stone, you will need special stone-cutting tools to shape the blocks.
  • Setting stone, either in dry stone masonry (without mortar) or using mortar requires jigsaw puzzle-solving like skill to shape and fit the stone together so that the house properly supports itself.

Your stone house

First-hand information can be very helpful when you are considering such a major undertaking.

Before you decide to build your house of stone, speak with people who are living in (or have built and lived in) a stone house and ask if they would be willing to share some of their experiences – pros and the cons – with you.

Become as knowledgeable as possible on the building process, types of stones, how to best utilize passive energy sources, design, and everything else related to the building of stone houses.

Custom Home Trends for 2016 Are Dreamy and Awe-Inspiring

Latest custom home trends

Whether you’re building a new home or are just a bit curious, here are some of the latest custom home trends carrying over from the end of the year.

Smaller Homes

Perhaps the biggest change in trends is that of homes becoming smaller rather than larger. An average size is around 2,000 square feet. Simplifying lives is a strong trend that many are jumping on board for!

It’s also thought that part of the trend is the downturn in the economy which has made many thriftier with finances. A smaller home means lower utility bills. Plus, the demographic is an aging one and they don’t need a great deal of space.

Living Room, Dining Room – Bye-bye!

In lieu of a variety of rooms, great rooms that combine the family rooms, dining and kitchen are still the best. These allow the entire family to be together with all the room needed to eat, watch TV, do homework and hang out. If someone want’s privacy, they can go to a bedroom!

Green Elements

Having energy-efficient appliances and windows is still a hot trend. Engineered woods and anything with a high energy-efficiency rating will be on point as far as the latest custom home trends. Long-term savings that come along with these choices is more than appealing to those building or updating a home.

Trends in Color

Colors of choice are always changing, blues and greys were super popular in 2015. In 2016 things like mixed metals paired with wood will be chosen, especially copper. Grey and black will work perfectly with metals so they, too, will be included in the latest custom home trends. The greatest thing about metallic is that they work with most color combos.

Textures Galore

Buyers are finding an appreciation for texture this year, mostly with raw materials. Engineered wood and stone are especially popular. The textures they bring to home design give a special, organic feel that is the opposite of the smooth choices in recent years. Think “harnessing true beauty” when shopping for countertops, cabinets and the like.

Kiss Contemporary Kitchens Goodbye

Thinking about resale, many are understanding that the sleek look of kitchens past are not so loved when it comes to resale. Instead, clean and simple designs that include traditional elements with some modern are appealing. Latest custom home trends include non-touch faucets, touchscreen appliances that take personalized settings and other motion-activated goodies.

Shaker-style cabinets are always on trend and have a wide appeal that brings a warm and welcoming feeling to whomever steps in. Sticking with wood finishes is best and those building a home have their choice of dark and light woods.

Fall in Love with the Bathroom

A bathroom can be an escape from the outside world when following the latest custom home trends. Not only designers but builders have been getting requests for fixtures that control more than one water source. Also, many prefer touchscreen displays that give them more control over features such as water temperature and flow.

As far as bathtubs, those that are free-standing are becoming more affordable which is having them rise in popularity. The latest custom home trends are seeing angular, curved, vintage, contemporary and so many more styles of tubs and showers all available at different price points to fit any budget.

Also, for those that prefer showers over bathtubs they are often completely forgoing putting a tub in and adding a larger, two-person shower or an extra closet or storage space instead.
Trends are always changing from year to year, or even within the same year. One can follow the latest custom home trends by getting magazines or browsing online.

Why Custom Homes Are A Better Choice

It’s true that both types of home offer amazing options, but with new home building one can pick every element and still stay within budget. Things like custom copper hoods in the kitchen or outdoors, crown molding, fixtures and more can all make a house a home that speaks of the owners’ true personality. Further, a builder will allow the client to choose how many things they want to, and they can leave the rest to them making it a bit easier.

With custom homes, it is totally up to the future owner how much input they have during construction, many don’t realize this. Learn more of what goes into building a custom home.

Production Builders

A production builder is the type that is responsible for building many homes all at the same time. They typically offer some home templates for the buyer to choose from. The custom part is realized when it comes time to choose appliances, such as custom copper hoods; cabinets, counter tops, flooring and other similar elements. This means that the home, although a template to begin with ends up becoming a completely one-of-a-kind structure.

Custom Builders

When a homebuyer chooses to go with a custom builder, the difference is that they will choose everything including the style of the home, layout and all the details. There are no templates, and there are many bonuses to include:

  • Choice of land that’s not already owned by the builder
  • A floorplan drawn from scratch
  • The opportunity to be more involved in the entire process
  • Access to the architect and the builder for making plans
  • No defined choices or menus for more flexibility

This huge variety of styles and prices is a huge draw for many. Custom items such as a custom copper hood in the kitchen can be a masterpiece, bringing plenty of attention to the space. This is just one example that will be the same throughout the home. To break it down, the homeowner can choose who to work with to build a custom copper hood, and choose every element of the piece from bolts and straps to finish and design. A custom copper hood can also be matched to a copper sink, or fixtures.

Basically every element of every room can be designed or hand-picked by the owners. Unlimited choices are very appealing to most! The only restrictions one may have are their set budget and permits such as zoning restraints.

Anyone that finds this type of creativity in home building exciting this is definitely the route for them. They get to be the boss and choose all the house’s detailing while working closely with the architect and building team. They can choose green living options to include Energy Star items in order to possibly make some money back on tax rebates, and saving on utilities. This is great not only for their wallet, but also for the environment.

The most important thing during the process is to set a budget and stick to it! It can be very easy to overspend when building a custom home. One will find there are things they can save money on, and things they can splurge on. Regardless, the end result will be a custom home that is exciting and definitely reflect the homeowner’s personal style.

How To Find A Custom Home Builder Without Losing Your Mind

Building a custom home is the largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime, and choosing the best custom home builder is essential to the project’s success. The role of a custom home builder is as much to advocate for the homeowner as it is to collaborate with the design team. Since homebuilding is a process that takes several months, it’s important that you the buyer feel there is trust and clear communication on the part of the builder. If you have a location and have set your budget for the project, you are ready to shop builders; read the following tips on how to find a custom home builder without losing your mind.

Consider your resources

If you have already hired a designer, they are the best asset at your disposal for beginning your search. Your design professional likely has first hand experience working with builders and will know their construction qualities, communication styles, and business reputations. You could also check with your lender or realtor, if they are familiar with the custom home market in your locale. You can contact the National Association of Home Builders for a list of qualified local builders. Internet searches can identify builders in your area, and some sites may be equipped with ratings & feedback from prior customers. And, certainly, you could ask friends and acquaintances who have completed custom home projects for referrals.

Shop the candidates

Shopping for a well-qualified home builder is easy when you know what to look for to accommodate your project. The right builder for you will need to have the available time, an interest in your project, and experience in working with homeowners. You want a custom home builder whose primarily focused on building custom homes rather than speculative homes, so that their services are tailored to your needs. When considering builders, ask about their current projects and their track record with projects of similar scale and detail to yours. They should also be able to provide you client references. You want to get the sense that the builder you are considering has done this sort of thing before.

Work the schedule

When you talk to prospective builders, ask what kind of schedule you would be looking at for your project. Know that building a custom home usually takes a minimum of 6 months and that the schedule will be weather-dependent. Additionally, steps must be taken before the home can even be framed, such as installing the plumbing and electric up to city code. A builder promising a time frame for completion that is only a few weeks or months should be considered a red flag, no matter how tempting it may seem. In the case of custom home building, it’s better the project be completed properly then quickly.

Communication is key

Again, you need to be comfortable with how a builder communicates with you. You should not feel pressured or talked down to at any junction. You are trusting an expert to build your home, and that expert ought to be able to take the time to explain their process in layman’s terms. You should have access to the construction site. You should feel your questions are welcome, and that they being answered in a timely and respectful manner. If you get the sense that the builder is more or less communicative than you would like, take note, and consider moving on. You do not want to enter into a building contract with a builder whose communication is irksome.

Sell Your Property Fast and Simple

Everyone has heard about that lifestyle that seems to be fairytale-like. People were born in a certain town, they got married, purchased a house close to their parents, or even move in the house where they grew up in after their parents passed away. There was no rush, especially since people would already know where they would spend and work for the rest of their lives. Without Internet and without a well-developed real estate market, people didn’t feel the need to sell or advertise their houses the way they do it today.

Nowadays, things have changed, and few people remain satisfied with this kind of life. Everything is changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Many people lose their jobs or have to relocate because of their work. Kids and parents no longer live together, let alone in the same neighborhood. Many couples know that, due to a military transfer or a change in one’s job, they can be forced sell their property fast and move away.

A recommended manner to ease the way in which these things can be done is by preparing for this in advance. You should learn the best way to encounter a buyer when the urge to sell your property holds no delay. You have to be familiarized with your choices and the ways in which you can get a good price and an efficient selling. There are lots of sites that display information of this type, and which can be of assistance in preparing you for what might come next.

It would be a great thing to have the time to investigate and check all the offers for your house, but this is not always doable. Most of the time there are only a few buyers, especially if the economy is rough. If you move due to the relocation of the factory, you can expect more families to go through the same experience. This means more offers and less buyers. Those who will manage to move fast will be the ones that have done their research and have alternatives for multiple situations. They will be in control and they won’t have to fear the unknown or the unexpected.

Brokers seem like a good choice especially since it is their job to sell or buy houses, but believe it or not, they don’t have that many resources all the time. It is always more comfortable to them to work with people who’ve they met before. This can easily be done when you are doing research. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Explore the benefits or the downsides to all the options that you come across. This will help you move very fast when you have to sell a property because you will have done already most of the work, and the sale will finish in a fast and rapid manner. You will end your selling easy, fast and without any troubles. Everyone will want to do business with you!

Ten Tips for Moving in the Winter

Moving in winter poses special challenges, whether you’re moving between two high rise condos in the same city or crossing the country. Although the weather is far less conducive to the hard work of moving, it can be cheaper to hire a moving company at this time of year. Whether you’re using a professional outfit or relying on the kindness of friends, following are a few pointers for making the first day in your new home as smooth as possible.

Be Ready

Be sure the new house is ready for the move before you head over with all your belongings. Check that lights and plumbing are working and if the weather’s nippy, consider having the heat on for a few days so it’s warm for the move-in.

Clear the Snow

Slipping on snow and ice can turn a simple move into a disaster. Before you even start, make sure all walkways at both old and new homes are clear; ice or sand if necessary. Keep shovels, salt and sand on-hand.

Parking Considerations

Whether you’re using a moving company or getting help from a gang of friends, be sure there’s adequate parking for the moving truck at both locations. Parking at urban condos can be particularly, and this could mean a bit of negotiating with new neighbors or the landlord if space is tight.

Protect Your Floors

Winter’s snow, ice and salt are notorious for dirtying up or even scratching some kinds of flooring. Protect floors and carpets with big pieces of cardboard or plastic sheeting for the big day. You can use duct tape if the floors can withstand it, and small tacks work well on carpeted areas.

Have a Plan B

With the constant threat of winter storms, there’s always a chance that your move will have to be rescheduled. If you’re using a moving company, call and see what their storm policy is, as some may want to reschedule the move, meaning you can’t move out and new tenants or owners can’t move in. Check with your landlord or real estate agent to see if it would be alright to stay a few more days. If you can’t, you may have to arrange a few days of temporary housing.

Keep an Eye on Mother Nature

If you’re moving a distance, keep an eye on the weather along your travel route, checking with local authorities by phone or on-line if the forecast is ominous. Scout out overnight accommodations in case you need to make an unexpected stop.

Prep Your Car

Be sure your car is serviced and winterized, with brakes and tires checked and fluids topped. If you have chains, be sure you know how to use them, doing a trial run on installation in the garage before you go. Carry salt or kitty litter in case you get stuck, pop a snow shovel and blanket in the car and be sure you have a gas can and roadside assistance membership.

Keep a List

Your winter move emergency contact list should include roadside assistance, highway control and a number for road conditions. Be sure someone who’s not on the moving trip knows the route your taking and schedule a call-in with them to be sure all is fine.

Extra Clothes

Not only do you want to stay warm and dry during the move, you’ll want to be sure your helpers are comfortable. Bring along a bag of gloves, hats, sweaters and socks in case of changing weather or wet clothing.

Feed the Gang

Keep your moving pals warm and well fed by keeping hot drinks and easy cold weather eats like chili and instant soup mixes on hand along with morning donuts and lunchtime sandwiches. Try to have a warm space in the house for enjoying a tea break, and be sure to have mugs and spoons along with paper cups and plates.

4 Various Types Of Real Estate Contracts

Before going through with a real estate transaction, ask yourself if you know about the different types of contracts that exist in the market. Do you know how they work? If your answer is no, then you should definitely read this article. Below are some of the basic contracts that are usually seen in real estate.

1. Lease Contracts

This is a type of agreement that comes into play when an individual leases out their spare property to earn extra income. In a lease agreement, the landlord specifies the deal that they have agreed upon with the lessee (tenant), which includes the rent and the security deposit agreed upon by both parties.

2. Power Of Attorney

Power Of Attorney is an agreement that you sign when you give complete control of your transactions to a person of choice named in the document. This comes when you are ill or when you on a business trip halfway across the world. Note that, you will not lose the ownership of the property, you are only allowing a close associate act in your absence.

3. Purchase Agreements

Purchase Agreements are the ones you see the most. This is when a buyer/seller comes to an understanding before disposing off of their property and handing it over to the other party. This contract will have details of the buyer and seller along with the price that was agreed upon and the closing date of the deal.

4. Contract Deed

A Contract Deed is the riskiest arrangement of all real estate contracts. This is where you obtain a loan on your property from a local money lender, by offering the original documents as collateral. This is also where the loaner has complete advantage over you as the contract will not be transferred to your name, until the entire amount is repaid with interest. Defaulting on any payments would mean that the lender can foreclose your house and walk away with the documents.

These are the basic contracts that are most used by both veterans and real estate newbies. You can also make a contract template with terms and conditions you agree with, and just use it the next time you buy or sell a house. Overall, a basic knowledge of the real estate market does not account too much when you are handling a real estate transaction as it involves considerable sums of money. Which is why, you should probably hire an agent to represent you.

The Changing Face of Real Estate Communications

Some of the important features of communications in the Real Estate industry are enumerated below:

Communication of Trust: Buying or renting a property is one of the more significant decisions in our life. And therefore, it also becomes a crucial one. No one makes a decision on this aspect without being able to trust the other party or the offerings available. Therefore in the real estate space, sellers & agents ought to be able to communicate trust to their consumers. Inability to communicate trust or breach of trust in the middle of a transaction can lead to serious implications for both the buyer and the seller.

Communication of Availability: All consumers would like to have an assurance that the seller is available post-sale for any contingency. Often, in case of real estate agents, they are working on multiple leads and might find it difficult to tend to each one of them at the same time. Going incommunicado only heightens consumer anxiety while the agent might be genuinely tied up. Communication technology now allows for remote handling of calls, or auto call forward options which can keep your consumer at peace.

Communication of Transparency: A real estate agent is often misconstrued to be only interested in his own commission even at the cost of endangering a consumer’s interest. However, often it is overlooked that the agent himself might be in the dark on certain issues. Documents and land records are easily fabricated in the physical realm, with the agent completely being unware. Therefore, the emergence of digital records and ownership records means that all the stakeholders involved can swear by improved transparency.

Communication of Consumer Interest: The consumers today are far more knowledgeable, informed and keen-eyed than those from yesteryears. There is a greater availability of information and improved means to cross-verify everything spelt out by agents and sellers. Thus, it is increasingly important for real estate players to embrace the virtue of consumer interest. If an agent or agency fails to communicate the fact that they remain squarely committed to the interest of the consumer, they are unlikely to build any form of viable consumer connect.

In the real estate space relationships count for much – both the real-world and virtual. The relationship forms the basis for trust consumers place in agents. And the fundamental building block of these relationships is to be able to communicate with the consumers. Communications is not limited to spelling out the property details. It is about impressing upon the consumer that the real estate business is trustworthy, available, and transparent and has consumer interests on top of their mind at all times.