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Billionaire Says Real Estate is Best Investment Possible

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Billionaire money manager John Paulson was interviewed at the Delivering Alpha Conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor.

Billionaire Says Real Estate is Best Investment Possible

During his session he boldly stated:

“I still think, from an individual perspective, the best deal investment you can make is to buy a primary residence that you’re the owner-occupier of.”

Who is John Paulson?

Paulson is the person who, back in 2005 & 2006, made a fortune betting that the subprime mortgage mess would cause the real estate market to collapse. He understands how the housing market works and knows when to buy and when to sell. What do others think of Paulson?

According to Forbes, John Paulson is:

“A multibillionaire hedge fund operator and the investment genius.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Paulson is:

“A hedge fund tycoon who made his name, and a fortune, betting against subprime mortgages when no one else even knew what they were.”

Why does he believe homeownership is such a great investment?

Paulson breaks down the math of homeownership as an investment:

“Today financing costs are extraordinarily low. You can get a 30-year mortgage somewhere around 4.5 percent. And if you put down, let’s say, 10 percent and the house is up 5 percent, which is the latest data, then you would be up 50 percent on your investment.”

How many are seeing a 50% return on a cash investment right now?

Paulson goes on to compare the long term financial benefits of owning verses renting:

“And you’ve locked in the cost over the next 30 years. And today the cost of owning is somewhat less than the cost of renting. And if you rent, the rent goes up every year. But if you buy a 30-year mortgage, the cost is fixed.”

Bottom Line

Whenever a billionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This billionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.

This post was originally published on Keeping Current Matters. See it here.

7 Fall Maintenance Moves That Will Save You Thousands

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With the dog days of summer behind us, fall is the perfect time for home maintenance.7 Fall Maintenance Moves That Will Save You Thousands

A few weekends of work before the weather really turns will help you get ready for winter and avoid any nasty surprises—and big repair bills—the cold might bring.

Here’s your must-do checklist for fall.

1. Gutter Maintenance

Clogged gutters can allow overflowing water to damage walls, spark a rodent infestation and erode your landscaping. Worse, the water can leak through your foundation, causing a flood in your basement.

A minor flood could cost $500 to $1,500 to repair, if you catch the problem quickly. If you don’t, there could be mold, damage to the sheet rock and ruined installation to repair as well, pushing the cost up to $10,000 or more.

To prevent a problem before it starts, clean and repair your gutters early in the fall. Once cleaned and repaired, consider adding a layer of waterproof mesh over your gutters to keep leaves out.

2. Protect Screen Doors

Winter’s harsh weather can rip holes in screen doors or cause the metal to rust. Replacing a damaged screen door in the spring will cost you from $150 for a lightweight model to $225 for a heavy-duty model.

To keep your screen doors intact, remove the door, clean the screen and store it in a dry place until spring.

3. Shingles

Scaling your roof to check for loose or broken shingles may not seem like the ideal Saturday, but if left unattended, small problems in your roofing can lead to major leaks during the winter as rain, hail, sleet and snow pound your home.

Professional repairs on a 10-by-10-foot roof cost an average of $630. Save yourself money and make the small repairs now.

4. Winterize Your Pipes

Burst pipes are a costly problem. A non-urgent call to a plumber can cost up to $250, while an emergency pipe repair can cost up to $600. Repairing the damage from the resulting flood could costs thousands more.

In cold climates, you need to winterize your pipes to protect your home. Outdoors, shut the water off to any spigots and drain any remaining water by briefly turning on the spigot. Indoors, locate any exposed pipes that may get cold in the winter. Wrap the pipes in foam or vinyl insulation to prevent freezing.

5. Mind the Gap

Gaps in your window or door frames let in cold air, causing your heater to work overtime all winter long, but these have an easy fix.

Start by running your hand over windows and doors. If you feel a draft, apply weather stripping around the frame to create a tighter feel. Sealing up those leaks can reduce your utilities bills by up to 10%.

6. Call the Chimney Sweep

Your fireplace should be inspected and cleaned once a year, even if you don’t use it much. While a professional may charge up to $350, it is worth the cost.

The most minor potential problem is that the lining of the chimney could crack, costing $2,000 to $4,500 to repair. At worst, the chimney could force carbon monoxide into your home or cause a fire.

7. Test Your Heater

Before the cold sets in, fire up your heater.

After your home starts to warm up, walk from room to room. If you notice cold spots, loud screeching sounds or strange smells, you may have a heating problem.

If the furnace stops working, repairs could cost $325 to $475. And if you wait until the busy season, technicians may raise their prices.

This information was originally published by Angela Colley on realtor.com. See it here.

How to Carve the Best Pumpkin on the Block

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To ensure your jack-o’-lantern is primed for Halloween, follow these tips.

How to Carve the Best Pumpkin on the Block

It’s October. The air is getting crisp; the leaves are starting to turn. Football is in full swing. And all over America kiddies are planning costumes and candy-hauling strategies. When they arrive at your doorstep, you’ll want to be ready — with your Halloween spirit and the best jack-o’-lantern on the block. Before you head to the pumpkin patch for your sacrificial squash, check out these top tips for making a carv-tastic display.

Pumpkin selection

There are no rules for what size or shape makes a great jack-o’-lantern. Any pumpkin can rise to ghoulish greatness. Do look for a pumpkin that isn’t bruised and has no mold around the stem. Who wants to cut into a rotted pumpkin? Also, look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom that will sit firmly without rocking.

Tools

Every job is made easier by the right tools. A kitchen knife is not the best — or safest — thing to use for pumpkin carving. You can get a set of pumpkin carving tools at many hardware or drug stores around Halloween, but you can also use items already in your possession —power drills, awls, wood gouges or even cookie cutters. Don’t forget a big spoon to scoop out the guts!

Carving

Rather than giving your jack-o’-lantern a cap by cutting it at the top, draw a circle on the bottom of your pumpkin and cut your opening there, making sure to angle your blade toward the center to create a ledge for support of the finished cut area. Clean out the guts (save the seeds for your post-carving snack!) and scrape the insides of your pumpkin until they are about an inch thick in the areas you plan to carve. If you’re using a pattern, tape it on and transfer it by tracing with a poking tool. Then you’re ready to carve! If you’re using a pumpkin saw, it’s easiest to keep the pumpkin on your lap, holding the saw like a pencil and using a steady up-and-down motion. Saw at a 90-degree angle with gentle pressure.

Preservation

To extend the life of your jack-o’-lantern, spritz it with water and keep it in the refrigerator while it’s not on display. Spread some petroleum jelly on the cut edges to keep them from drying out. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, submerge it in cold water for a couple of hours. It should come back to life. Just make sure to dry it well on the inside to avoid mold. You can also ward off mold and insects by spraying or soaking the pumpkin with a water-and-bleach solution.

Display

If you are using a candle, cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin toward the back to act as a chimney for smoke and heat. A candle will be more secure if you drill a hole for it. You can also use battery-operated LEDs, Christmas lights or even a nightlight to illuminate your pumpkin. If you carve a design in the back of your jack-o’-lantern, you’ll produce a shadowy effect on the wall behind it, making it extra spooky!

However you choose to carve your jack o’ lantern, use your creativity and have fun. It’s just a pumpkin, after all. The ghosts and goblins coming to your door will be excited about whatever you display — especially the stuff in your candy bowl.

This post was originally published by Jennifer Noonan of BobVila.com on Zillow Blog. See the original post here.

Spooky! 6 Frightfully Fun Homes in Horror Movie Cities

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The idea of settling down in an area known for its horror-filled past may seem counter-intuitive, but for some horror movie buffs, living in a legendary horror movie town is worth the potential chills.

We peered through the darkness and found six cities with reputations as iconic horror destinations.

And before we stroll further down this dark and creepy path, here is a giant disclaimer: None of the homes featured below were featured in their city’s infamous screen presence.

However, if you’re a horror fan in need of some spine-tingling inspiration, here are some starting points.

1. Washington, DC, “The Exorcist” — 2706 N St NW, $999,000

The infamous Exorcist Steps are on M Street in D.C.’s tony Georgetown neighborhood. We found a cute brick row house located just a block away.

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2. Evans City, PA, “The Night of the Living Dead” — 455 Jefferson St, $179,900

This old Colonial stands just across the creek from the Evans City cemetery. That burial ground is where the opening scenes of the iconic zombie flick were filmed in 1968.

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3. Burkittsville, MD, “The Blair Witch Project” — 212 E Main St, $169,000

Shaky hand-held camera not included. Whether you decide to venture into the nearby woods is entirely up to you.

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4. Amityville, NY, “The Amityville Horror” — 53 Bennett Pl, $975,000

This lovely home is less than a half mile away from the infamous movie address of 112 Ocean Avenue. The beautiful and welcoming facade are nothing to be afraid of.

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5. Martha’s Vineyard, MA, “Jaws” — 6 Anthiers Lane Ln, $4.495M

This mega-mansion on the east side of the posh island offers pond frontage—where it’s probably safe to go in the water.

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6. Monroeville, PA, “Dawn of the Dead” — 1259 Harvest Dr, $179,900

This modest split-level is about 15 minutes away from the Monroeville Mall. You can make a stop at Monroeville Zombies to stock up on gifts for the family.

This post was originally published by Erik Gunther on realtor.com. See it here.

7 Ways to Keep Your Property Safe After Moving Out

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If you’re moving out while your home is still on the market, your vacant property could attract more than potential buyers—it could attract criminal activity.

7 Ways to Keep Your Property Safe After Moving Out
Fuse/Thinkstock

An unoccupied property is at risk for a break-in, and removing all your belongings doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Graffiti, damaged appliances, stolen copper wiring and broken windows can all add up to thousands of dollars in repairs.

Remember, don’t forget to let a REALTOR® know your moving plans. Your agent will want to take extra precautions once your property is vacant, and to keep your investment as safe as possible, you’ll have to convince passerby the property is still occupied.

Here’s how to pull it off.

1. Ask for Backup

When you’re moving out, tell your immediate neighbors, the head of your neighborhood watch and your local police department that your property will be vacant.

With more eyes on the house, you’ll have a better chance of getting quick assistance if someone does break in.

2. Maintain the Lawn

An unkempt yard is a surefire sign a home is vacant. In the warmer months, make sure the lawn is mowed regularly, the flowerbeds are free of weeds, and there is no loose trash around the curb or driveway.

In the cooler months, clean the rain gutters, rake leaves off the lawn and clear the driveway and walkway if it snows.

3. Don’t Let Paper Pile Up

As soon as you’re finished moving out, forward your mail and newspaper subscriptions to your new address.

Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to stop by your home regularly to check for phone books, flyers and any mail that might have been accidentally delivered.

4. Make Repairs

A few times a month, check the outside of your property for any needed repairs. If you find any obvious problems, make repairs as soon as possible.

A cracked window, broken porch railing or loose shutter are small problems—but problems a live-in owner would fix.

5. Use Your Driveway

If you have a driveway attached to your home, ask a neighbor to park a car there. Many families with more than one car will be happy for the extra space, and a car parked in the driveway is a great deterrent.

6. Leave the Curtains Behind

If at all possible, leave the curtains or blinds on the windows in the home when you’re moving out.

Keep the curtains drawn and the blinds closed, even at the back of the house, in case a potential vandal hops your fence to see what’s inside.

7. Keep the Lights On

Purchase lighting timers, connect to inexpensive lamps and place the devices strategically throughout the house. Set the timers to go on and off in different rooms at the appropriate times of day or night.

Some would-be thieves or vandals will watch a property for days before breaking in. If they see lights in different rooms, they’ll assume the property still is occupied.

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. See it here.

Quick Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

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A home is a product and it should be marketed as such, says one stager.

Buyers will notice sparkling countertops. Source: Leona Piro Interiors.
Buyers will notice sparkling countertops. Source: Leona Piro Interiors.

There are a number of tactics you can employ in an effort to sell your home quicker, but one of the top tricks is to stage the house.

“When a seller decides to put their house on the market, they need to recognize that they are now selling a product and that product should be marketed as best as possible,” explained Nicole Rorem of Su Casa Staging. “This is where staging comes in.”

Not only that, says Lori Livers of Interiors by Lori, home buying can be emotional and staging a home can help the buyer feel that connection.

“Buyers purchase the house they are most drawn to — the house they want to make their home,” she said.

Here are five quick tips for staging a home to sell.

Forget about empty

The empty kitchen and living room area, prior to staging. Source: Su Casa Staging.
The empty kitchen and living room area, prior to staging. Source: Su Casa Staging.
The living room and kitchen area after staging. Source: Su Casa Staging.
The living room and kitchen area after staging. Source: Su Casa Staging.

An empty house makes it hard for the new buyer to visualize themselves living there. Empty rooms can also appear smaller than they are, without furniture to provide context to the space.

“We think about placing furniture to make the space feel large, open, functional, warm and inviting,” said Rorem.

Lead the eye

The fireplace is elegantly staged in a way so that it becomes the focal point of the room. Source: Su Casa Staging.
The fireplace is elegantly staged in a way so that it becomes the focal point of the room. Source: Su Casa Staging.

When arranging furniture, make sure it enhances the room’s best features. Don’t block huge windows, or crowd furniture next to a statement fireplace. Often, less furniture is more.

You can even arrange the furniture so it “downplays the negative characteristics, by leading the eye of potential buyers,” says Livers.

Remove personal items and clutter

A simple, styled room makes a bigger impact on buyers than one cluttered with personal effects. Source: Kariel Staging & Decor.
A simple, styled room makes a bigger impact on buyers than one cluttered with personal effects. Source: Kariel Staging & Decor.

The easiest thing to do to prep a home for staging is to hide personal decor and accessories.

“Put away all extraneous items like papers, personal bathroom items, pill bottles and personal collections,” said Rorem. “You want buyers to see all the features of the home and fall in love with the space as soon as they walk in. If the house is full of personal items and collections, the buyer may get distracted.”

If you are still living in the home and want to display personal items, store them in a decorative basket during showings.

Create a sense of comfort

A bed piled with blankets and pillows makes a room appear inviting. Source: Su Casa Staging.
A bed piled with blankets and pillows makes a room appear inviting. Source: Su Casa Staging.

Fluffy, luxurious towels in the bathroom and pillows arranged on the couch or bed will give your home a more luxe look and are easy additions to a space. Decorative candles, even when unlit, are a great styling tool and provide a light scent in the room.

Clean

Buyers will notice sparkling countertops. Source: Leona Piro Interiors.
Buyers will notice sparkling countertops. Source: Leona Piro Interiors.

No one wants to tour a dirty house. Cluttered, dusty rooms will be the first thing the buyer notices, rather than the great view your home has, or the convenient open kitchen. Cleanliness matters when selling.

And, if all else fails, call in a professional. Many real estate agents offer staging services, or can connect you to a staging professional that can help you see your home objectively and make changes that a potential buyer will enjoy.

This post was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.

6 Common Obstacles Remodelers Face

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Learn from others’ past experiences to overcome frequent home improvement hurdles.

6 Common Obstacles Remodelers Face

The do-it-yourself movement is on the rise, and while revamping your home’s interior without professional assistance is a financially savvy move, it’s also one full of potential roadblocks.

To help you stay on the right path, we’ve asked 12 DIY writers for their been-there, done-that advice for completing a project without becoming discouraged.

1. Settle on a theme

“When tackling home design my biggest problem is trying to keep it cohesive and flowing from room to room.” – Danielle Leonard of The Frugal Navy Wife

Solution? Go eclectic. While cohesive style is classic, assorted designs are trending. Mix and match without going overboard by combining large, traditional living spaces with small, bright and bold powder rooms or entryways.

2. Prepare ahead of time

Planning is the biggest challenge: gathering supplies, blocking off time, getting up the guts to start and then doing all the prep work.” – Jessica Davis of Nest Studio

“There are so many times I’ve rushed through a project because I was so excited to get to the end result, but then had to start all over because it didn’t turn out as well as I anticipated.” – Katie Nathey of Upcycled Treasures

You need to prepare for your project, both mentally and physically. Purchase a DIY day planner to keep track of timelines, to-do lists, materials and reminders. You’ll likely fall slightly behind – or skip ahead – but a written plan is a helpful guide.

3. Stick to the budget

“We did anticipate finding several problems in a 112-year-old house, so we budgeted a good amount for miscellaneous. But we still went over budget!” – Sarah Gaylor of 702 Park Project

It’s a great feeling when a project is successfully completed and for a fraction of the costs of hiring a professional.” – Audrey Kuether of Oh So Lovely.

Most homeowners attest to spending more on their remodels than initially planned. Unfortunately, there’s no way to combat unanticipated, yet necessary, expenses. Make fixing structural problems a priority, even if it decreases the budget for aesthetic trimmings.

4. Remain flexible

“If you are renovating an old home, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  There isn’t much you can do about the uneven floors and crooked walls in a historic home.” – Kelly Raether of Corner of Main

“I’ve learned to expect something to go wrong and now nothing ever does. That may sound cynical, but I swear it helps things to go more smoothly.” – Jourdan Mclaws of Little Yellow Barn

Keep optimistic, and consider yourself lucky if you only hit minor roadblocks, such as purchasing the wrong paint colors or misplacing necessary tools.

5. Project a realistic timeline

“We thought we’d have the house completed a couple of months after moving in. Four years later we are about half way done!” – Amanda Bassetti of Simply Maggie

Two to three hours of work daily in the evenings seemed exhausting after a whole day of work, and the time to finish the project was prolonged.” – Beauty Harmony Life

Don’t expect results to happen overnight. Many homeowners choose to delay their plans until their busy lifestyles can accommodate demanding projects.

6. Take advantage of resources 

“Tackle the project with a friend or spouse. Having someone help you will ensure you double-check each step so it is correctly done, but it is also more fun to do a new project with someone you enjoy working/talking with.” – Rachel Pereira of Shades of Blue Interiors

“If you’re really stuck, call a friend or hit up Google. Chances are, someone else ran into the same problem as you.” – Bre Bertolini of Brepurposed

“We are so fortunate in having the Internet as a resource.  It has given us encyclopedia of knowledge at our fingertips.” – Anne Davis of DesignDreams by Anne

Don’t underestimate the power of collaboration. Even seasoned professionals consult friends and colleagues from time to time.

This post was originally published by Jennifer Riner on Zillow Blog. See it here.