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Make the most of your home investment

Ask our broker

How to Figure Future Traffic

Flow into Price of a Home
Q: I’m buying an apartment
condo. In one of the areas I’m
looking the government is build-
ing a new museum, a move that’s
likely to increase area traffic. How
would this affect the property
value of the apartment condo?

A: More traffic and a unique, desirable attraction

should increase the pool of potential buyers and thus
enhance the value of the property.Alternatively, more
traffic might also lead to parking problems and related
issues.The larger question should be:Where would you
prefer to live? Your chief concerns should be price,
unit size, location, monthly fees and the like.

Q: We’re selling a single-family home on a

large lot. The market here is hot and the day the
sign went up our broker received many
inquiries. One agent asked if we would sign a
full-price offer today, with one week for inspec- Inside an award-winning remodel: great communication between client and Minneapolis design/build firm Otogawa-Anschel and a resourceful mix of the luxuri-
tions and such. Our agent said that all offers ous (a soaking tub for two) and the thrifty (a scrap granite sink surround) made for a spectacular remake of a master bath.
would be considered in a few days when we
return from a trip. Was the agent right or should
we have immediately accepted the offer? Bathroom Basics
A: By instantly accepting a written offer you would
have gotten the full list price, a good result by any stan-
dard. However, you’re in a hot market.The sign just
Eight Tips from an Award-Winning Renovator
went up and you immediately have calls.The agent
wants to get you the best possible price and terms, so BY MARY CONNORS tion costing less than $30,000. says Michael Anschel, owner and principal
Content That Works You don’t have to spend that much to designer.“It’s a relationship, and if it isn’t
it makes sense to let buyers compete for the property.
Within a few days you’ll get the original offer if the remodel a bathroom, of course.According to there the entire process is miserable.”

hat does it take to create an award- NARI, the average homeowner will spend in His success with the award-winning bath-
buyer was serious and you may also get other offers – winning bath? For Otogawa- the neighborhood of $10,000 for a typical room remodel started with clients who were
perhaps including offers for more than the asking Anschel, a resourceful design-build redo. By careful consideration of what’s open to suggestion.“There are two types of
price. firm, the formula was pretty simple: $28,000, important to you, working with design assis- clients,” he notes.“There are those who have
four weeks and an innovative, open plan. tance tuned in to your budget and goals, it’s researched and thought through what they
Q: I want to make an offer on a property One of 25 companies honored with a possible to craft something really special. want and those who watch TV shows and lis-
already under contract. The first contract 2005 national COTY award from the National Chemistry and communication between ten to their friends.”
Association of the Remodeling Industry homeowner and the designer and builder are Is there a bathroom-remodeling project in
requires certain financing, but if that require- (NARI), the Minneapolis company took top essential.To succeed with your renovation,
ment is not met the buyer can withdraw from honors this year for a residential bath renova- “find a remodeler you like and who listens,” See BATH MAKEOVER, Page 2
the sale without penalty. I have made a back-up
offer on the property. Can the owner accept my
back-up offer instead, with no financing clause
and a better price? Rules of the Road for First-Time Renters
BY CHARLES SCUTT thing. ally kept in check by the pres- Starting Out or Starting Over,
A: No doubt the seller would prefer your offer, but Content That Works It’s a great time to rent, says ence of a lot of rental housing on (Sphinx Publishing, 2004).You
before accepting a back-up proposal the owner must Alexander E. Hamilton, real estate the market.” can usually rent an apartment,
honor the current agreement. It’s a “contingent” con- Owing your own home may attorney with Benjamin,Weill & First-time renters should make condo or single-family home less
tract; that is, certain requirements must be satisfied be the great American dream. But Mazer in San Francisco.“More it their business to understand money than is required for own-
before the agreement is finalized. It may happen that renting a residence also offers and more people have invested the differences between renting ership, but a renter obtains no
practical benefits, provided you in rental property rather than the and owning and the tradeoffs equity or growth potential and
See ASK OUR BROKER, Page 2 do your homework, choose a stock market,” says Hamilton. involved, says Jim Kramon, part- no tax relief.A tenant also must
rental unit carefully and read the “Tenants have more choices than ner in the Baltimore law firm
fine print before signing any- ever before, and rents are gener- Kramon & Graham and author of See FIRST-TIME RENTER, P. 2

© 2005 Content That Works – All Rights Reserved • contact us at 866-6CONTENT or CONTENTTHATWORKS.com for licensing information.
FIRST-TIME basis, a lease obligates the tenant
to pay rent for an extended peri-
ney to explain it to you.
Ask our broker
RENTER od, normally 6 months to a year.
“A good lease is one that pro-
Generally, a landlord cannot
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 vides the tenant with the premis- increase your rent during your
es at a reasonable rent for a rea- lease term unless your lease the buyer will withdraw the contingency because the
follow the rules of the lease, sonable amount of time, permits allows for it. Once the lease financing terms have been met or just because the
which may mean a more restric- the tenant to do everything rea- expires, the landlord can usually buyer wants the property; or it may be that the financ-
tive lifestyle, and must be toler- sonable he or she wants to do in increase your rent as much as he ing terms cannot be met and therefore the buyer will
ant of neighboring renters in the the apartment, such as have a or she wants, as long as there are
building. pet, and provides a renewal no limits imposed under rent
back out.
option at a small increase in control laws or your original In this situation it would be good to know the precise
THREE RULES FOR RENTERS rent,” says Kramon. lease. terms of the financing contingency. For example, it may
Three criteria make for a Lease terms are not set in To increase your rent, a land- be that the buyer must get be able to get a $300,000
good rental deal, according to stone. It’s possible to negotiate lord must give you proper mortgage at 5.75 percent to close the purchase, and it
Hamilton. with a landlord to meet your notice. State law may require may also be that the seller has a 24-hour “kick-out”
• Is the space suitable for needs, Hamilton says. Rather your landlord to provide written
your needs? Says Hamilton,“Ask than negotiating to revise a cer- notice and serve it personally to
clause.This means if the buyer cannot get financing
yourself: Is it big enough? Does it tain lease term, it may be easier you. upon the seller’s demand within 24 hours, the deal is
have amenities that improve to add a term, he says, such as finished, the buyer gets back the deposit and the seller
your standard of living such as one that allows you to get out of SECURITY DEPOSIT can look at other offers. For details, speak with your
cable TV, high-speed Internet a lease early if you can find a Many landlords require a broker.
service, storage facilities, or new suitable replacement tenant. security deposit up front, a lump
appliances? Has it been well Consider the time frame of sum (often a month or two of
maintained?” the lease; if you don’t have a rea- rent) held in an escrow account
Q: I want to buy a home for less than the asking
• Consider the location. Is it sonable expectation that the res- and returned to the tenant when price. Can I make a reduced offer that requires
convenient to public transit? Is idence will suit your needs for he or she moves out.The land- the broker to lower his commission and thus
the neighborhood safe? Will traf- the full term of the lease, don’t lord is allowed to deduct leaves more for the seller?
fic noise be a problem? Is it close sign it.“If you anticipate chang- amounts from the security
to grocery stores and restau- ing jobs, getting married, or hav- deposit for legitimate reasons, A:When a home is put up for sale through a broker,
rants? Are there any nuisances, ing children, you should plan such as damage to the property,
such as low flying aircraft? Is the accordingly,” Hamilton says. unpaid rent or cleaning.
the broker and owner create a “listing” agreement that
weather good? Who are the Be prepared to provide credit In some states, a landlord who establishes the marketing price for the property, various
neighbors, and what hours do references or find a family mem- requires a security deposit is sale terms and the broker’s compensation.This is an
they keep? ber willing to cosign the lease if legally obligated to provide a agreement between the owner and the broker, no buyer
• Scrutinize the terms of the you don’t have sufficient credit new tenant with a statement is involved, and it’s an agreement established before any
lease. Is the rent in line with history to satisfy the landlord, detailing the condition of the purchaser makes an offer. Upon seeing a written pur-
other units in the area? Who is says Hamilton. premises before that tenant
obligated to fix things when Read and understand all terms moves into the property.Walk
chase offer which includes a commission reduction, the
they break? Is there a manage- of the lease. Don’t skip the fine through the apartment with broker can refuse to accept a pay cut.After the transac-
ment company or are you print.“Be certain you understand your landlord or the property tion, whether the bidder wins or not, the broker might
required to deal directly with the everything in it,” Kramon says.“It agent before signing the lease, to also ask a lawyer if the buyer has engaged in “tortuous
landlord? Can you decorate with- is very useful to have a checklist ensure that you agree on the interference,” essentially the effort by an outside party
out the landlord’s consent? of your requirements before you condition of the unit. Keep a to disrupt an existing contractual relationship. Please
review your lease.This will copy of the description in a safe
UNDERSTANDING THE LEASE enable you to be certain that place, along with your lease
see an attorney for details.
It’s vital for first-time renters everything you need in your paperwork, so that you can refer As a buyer your goal is to pay as little as possible for
to understand the contractual lease will be there.” to it when you move. the property and get the best terms. Submit an offer
nature of a lease, notes Hamilton. If you’re unsure of any aspect reflecting what you want to pay and what terms your
Unlike a rental agreement, which of the lease, ask a knowledgeable © Content That Works require.Whatever you propose, the seller might then
is normally on a month-to-month relative, real estate agent or attor- accept your offer, reject it or make a counter-offer.As to
what the seller pays for brokerage services, that’s a pri-
vate matter between the owner and the broker.
Alternatively, imagine if you had a buyer brokerage
Renter’s Checklist agreement.Your buyer brokerage agreement, like a list-
ing arrangement, would also be a private matter
• Determine your priorities. Consider location, affordability, apartment size and style. between you and your broker. Its terms and fees are not
• Research prospects. Use newspaper classifieds, drive-by searches, word-of-mouth recommendations. something a seller could change.
• Interview owners/landlords by phone.
© Content That Works
• Schedule a tour. Document the unit’s condition and indicate repairs needed to the landlord. Assess the appear-
ance and condition of the entire building.
Do you have a question or a quandary about buying, sell-
• Talk to neighbors. Knock on a few doors and ask how satisfied tenants are. ing or renting? Peter G. Miller, author of The Common-Sense
Mortgage, specializes in providing real solutions to real estate
• Examine the lease. Consider a review by a lawyer.
dilemmas. E-mail your questions to
• Consider renter’s insurance. peter@contentthatworks.com.

• Photograph or videotape the apartment before moving in, as proof of the unit’s condition.

who want to complete parts of a They’ll last longer.” In his award- it,”Anschel says.
BATH job themselves.“Their involve- winning bath,Anschel used 19
MAKEOVER ment gives them real ownership
of a project.”
different colors of paint, creating
visual effects to expand the FANCIFUL
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 In his recent award-winning space and add drama. Deep red Anschel’s project stars a 21”
bath remodel, the homeowners tile next to the soaking tub soaking tub – with room for two
your future? Perhaps it’s time to handled the painting, using col- added richness and drama. – and a light dimmer.The tub is
turn off the T.V. makeover shows ors Anschel chose and following fiberglass, which is less costly
and get down to the practical his painting plan. Other clients 6. IF SPACE ALLOWS, PUT THE than cast iron. Sunk in a well-
business of planning a great bath- have stained floors and wood- STOOL IN ITS OWN ROOM built deck with concrete, fiber-
room.Anschel offers the follow- work; qualified homeowners or This gives the bathroom more glass delivers the same perform-
ing tips: their family members have han- utility.“A separate water closet is ance,Anschel believes. Instead of
dled plumbing and electrical a fact of life in Europe and Asia,” a chunky vanity or a pedestal
1. DON’T LET YOUR TIMELINE DRIVE work.“Our goal is not to monop- says Anschel.“It’s more and more sink with no counter space, the
THE PROJECT olize the project,” he says. common here, too. I think it’s firm installed a $600 piece of
“Don’t call a firm in the here to stay.” Separate showers remnant granite, carved and pol-
spring and say, I want it done this 4. CONSIDER HIRING A DESIGN- and tubs are more common, too, ished into a pleasing organic
summer,” says Anschel.“Truth is, BUILD FIRM he says.“If you have the space,” shape, and fitted with a stainless
the companies that are good are Anschel is biased, obviously. says Anschel,“I recommend under-mount sink.
typically booked out a little Otogawa-Anschel is a “design- doing it.” In his award-winner, As for the painting,Anschel
ways.” Finding the right people build” firm.The company plans two rectangular cutouts in the selected the 19 colors, carefully
to do your job may be the single and executes a project, and is wall of the shower enclosure let plotted what shade went where,
most important factor in under- responsible for the whole nine light spill through the space. and let the homeowners handle
taking a successful remodel.“If yards, from conception, to blue the application.“I like when
you have to wait six months, so print to project completion. 7. THINK LOW-IMPACT DESIGN clients handle an aspect of a
what? Be leery of the person Architects and interior designers Make ecologically sound project,”Anschel says.“It gives
who can start next week.” can deliver a design plan, but choices where you can,Anschel them ownership.And then, when
they operate at a remove from urges.“Our clients like the idea at some point a project isn’t pro-
2. ESTIMATES ARE OVERRATED real-world issues of construction of green design and we do, too.” gressing as fast as they seem to
Unless you have drawn up a and cost, he says. Typically, going “green” means on TV’s Extreme Makeover show,
set of plans specifying all aspects “When we encounter a prob- using a better quality product, so they understand why.”
of the job right down to the door lem with a design, we can you don’t need to redo the room
pulls on the vanity, asking for address it instantly.”When a con- for a long time, conserving all ©Content That Works
three estimates and choosing, struction contractor working sorts of construction material
say, the one in the middle, is not from a designer’s plan hits the and energy. His firm often opts
a smart strategy,Anschel says. same snag, he must stop work for bamboo rather than tile or
“Instead, hold three interviews and put in a call for design help, hardwood floors, non-toxic, low-
with remodelers and keep your which may or may not be avail- or no-VOC (volatile organic com-
ears open. Find a remodeler you able quickly. pounds) paints, now available in
like, one who listens to you and a full range of colors, and rem-
who you like listening to.” 5. DON’T BE AFRAID OF COLOR nant granite.
Look for full, rich, deep colors Green products are easier on
3. SWEAT EQUITY CAN MAKE A that contain hints of other col- the environment and using them
BUDGET GO FURTHER ors.“Avoid flat colors. Go for doesn’t mean abandoning a
As long as they respect the those that are a little warmer, a quest for high style.“All the cut-
project timeline,Anschel is little richer.These are more pleas- ting edge stuff we see coming
happy to accommodate clients ing, and will resist looking dated. out these days has some green to

© 2005 Content That Works – All Rights Reserved • contact us at 866-6CONTENT or CONTENTTHATWORKS.com for licensing information.