Meghan McCormick's Blog
Lattice on a fence around your garden or as paneling alongside your porch or carport lends an ambiance that utilitarian wood structures can’t quite render: a romantic, charming frame to showcase outdoor features. Consider using your spare pieces of lattice to hide a large, whirring metal air conditioning unit. Get creative with shapes and styles to fit your yard. The only real constraints are that it sufficiently blocks the unit from view and opens or moves out of the way for maintenance or repair. It should also be noted that the airflow from the fan should not be restricted.
Create a fence out of sheets of lattice. Finish the ends by framing the sheets in slats that are sturdy but still thin enough to complement the size of the lattice crosses. To connect the sheets and provide strength and direction for your fence, get a fence post for each joined spot. If you select wooden fence posts, you can stain them and the lattice to match. Vinyl posts generally come in neutral colors you can match with paint. Shape your lattice pieces and posts into a straight fence, or a three-sided one to enclose the unit from view but allow easy access in back.
If your unit is situated in a place protected from wind, you could use your framed lattice sheets to build a room divider for a less permanent solution that you can change as you wish. Attach the edges of the sheets’ slat frames with weather-resistant hinges. Adopt the classic zig-zag formation to block the unit from view, or bend it around the unit.
For something smaller and tailored to your unit’s size, get its dimensions and construct a lattice box around it, leaving plenty of room on each side for airflow. Trim the lattice sheets to size and frame with heavier slats one inch thick. Connect the corners using nails or wood screws small enough that they won’t split the wood. When making the lid, be sure its width is enough that the edges rest on the box opening. The box completely hides your unit and the lid easily lifts off when needed.
Once you finish building your air conditioning unit concealer, stain or paint it and then cover with a weather-resistant coating. It goes without saying that lattice is made for vine and flower display, and this would beautifully accent any of the above projects.
A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a specialty corporate entity that owns and operates real estate to generate a profit. Several types exist. An Equity REIT typically generates income by leasing and managing income-producing property. The type of property makes no difference -- commercial, multi-family residential, retail, office, industrial, or a mix of specialty developments, including medical facilities and retirement communities.
Shares are sold to individual investors, who then receive a steady income based on operating earnings. According to some estimates, at least 225 publicly-traded REITs exist in the United States, all traded on a national securities exchange and regulated by the SEC. Public, non-traded REITs also exist, and are SEC-regulated. Private real estate investment trusts are not registered and not publicly-traded, offered instead only to a select group of investors. Picking the right type for individual investment goals can involve extensive homework.
Internal Revenue Service regulations are strictly applied. They stipulate that an REIT must be a taxable corporation, and derive at least 75% of its income from real estate sales, rents or mortgage interest. The corporation must then return at least 90% of taxable income to shareholders on an annual basis. There are additional requirements, in addition to holding at least 75% of assets in real estate, U.S. Treasury bonds or cash.
An REIT can provide important liquidity to an investment portfolio, with a typically steady annual income stream, although there may be little capital appreciation. The yield from different types of REIT can vary substantially. Equity REITs own and manage real property, while Mortgage REITs deal in financing products and mortgage-backed securities; both can be affected by the market, interest rates, the economy and consumer confidence. In addition, dividends paid to investors are treated as regular income by the IRS.
As with any form of investing, it's important to investigate the pros and cons, not only of REITs in a general sense, but the performance over time of a specific investment trust. On the plus side are the ability to diversify an investment portfolio, and the relatively secure potential of a steady return and low risk in tandem with the transparency that comes from regulatory oversight.
On the minus side are the low potential for actual growth in value, the REIT's reinvestment and expansion potential which is capped at 10% annually, and the unknown effect of real estate market volatility over the term of the investment. High management and transaction fees can also affect the financial return.
Investing in an REIT, however, is a viable way to gain knowledge and establish a presence in real estate, especially in currently hot segments of the market. Especially for a beginner, REIT investment can represent a path to future growth and security, leading to additional real estate options over the long term.
One of the final hurdles to buying a house is making sure your future home is structurally sound. To the untrained eye, the property you've made an offer on may appear to be "close enough to perfect."
However, your excitement over that gourmet kitchen, finished basement, and manicured lawn may be causing you to view your future home with rose-colored glasses!
Fortunately, you can (and should) hire an experienced, licensed professional to thoroughly inspect the property and point out flaws and potential problems that might need to be addressed by the seller -- either in the form of price concessions or repairs. If the seller is unwilling to be flexible in those areas, then you may have the option of withdrawing your offer. Hopefully, it won't come down to that -- especially if you love the house -- but that situation could arise and derail your plans for buying a particular property.
Many real estate purchases do involve a few bumps and detours along the way, but they frequently can be resolved by your real estate agent and/or attorney.
The starting point for identifying structural issues with a house is to have the property inspected by a reputable home inspector. Here are a few of the key areas they'll evaluate and include in their report:
- Foundation and basement: Cracks, leaks, and signs of instability can often be identified through a visual inspection of the underlying structure of a home. Some issues are relatively minor, while others can be quite costly.
- Roof and attic: Although most new roofs typically last for 20 to 30 years, time has a way of slipping by when you least expect it! Depending on weather conditions, climate, and falling tree branches, roofs of any age can be subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Since roofs play such a vital role in protecting your home and family from the many forces of nature, it's crucial that your roof be intact, in sound condition, and fully functional. An inspection of the home's attic and/or crawlspace will also reveal actual or potential problems with leaks, mold, roof damage, or infestations.
- HVAC, electrical, and plumbing: There are a lot of systems that provide homeowners with comfort, convenience, and the ability to meet day-to-day needs. Whether you're talking about major kitchen appliances, hot water heaters, or climate control systems, there are dozens of things an inspector needs to check and keep you apprised of.
- Exterior checkpoints: Property inspectors will also assess the condition of the outside of the house, as well as drainage efficiency and any visible structural damage or signs of deterioration.
When it comes to home inspections, your real estate agent can not only provide you with professional referrals, but they can also accompany you on the actual property inspection. That will help make sure important questions, issues, and recommendations don't slip through the cracks!
If you discover a house that you want to buy, it generally is a good idea to submit a competitive offer. That way, you can move one step closer to acquiring your ideal residence.
However, the hours after you submit a home offer can be stressful, particularly for a buyer who fails to plan accordingly. Lucky for you, we're here to help you stay calm, cool and collected as you wait to receive a seller's response to your offer.
Let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready to handle a seller's response to your homebuying proposal.
1. Plan for the Worst-Case Scenario
Even the worst-case scenario is not the end of the world for a buyer who is awaiting a seller's response to a home offer. In fact, if a seller rejects your proposal, you can always reenter the housing market and continue your pursuit of your dream home.
As you await a seller's response to your home offer, you should not stop searching for available houses. Because if you continue your home search, you'll have no trouble moving forward in the homebuying journey if a seller rejects your home offer.
2. Consider All of Your Options
If you submit a home offer and a seller says "Yes," what should you do next? Consider how you'll proceed if a seller accepts your proposal, and you'll be better equipped than ever before to enjoy a seamless homebuying experience.
On the other hand, it helps to prepare for a potential counter-offer from a home seller as well. If you are open to negotiating with a seller, you may be able to find common ground with him or her and finalize a home purchase.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent knows all about the stress that is commonly associated with submitting a homebuying proposal. He or she can help you minimize this stress and ensure you can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.
Typically, a real estate agent will work with you to submit a homebuying proposal. This housing market professional then will keep you up to date as you await a seller's response to your offer. And if you have any concerns or questions during this time, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them.
A real estate agent will make it simple to streamline the homebuying journey too. For instance, if a home seller accepts your offer, a real estate agent will be ready to help you move forward with a property inspection and appraisal. Conversely, if a home seller rejects your proposal, a real estate agent will be prepared to work with you to help you discover another house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
The waiting period after you submit an offer on a house may prove to be a challenging time. Fortunately, if you plan ahead for this period, you can maintain your confidence and continue to move forward in the homebuying journey.