Warren Buffett Loves HomeServices of America

In Warren Buffett’s 2016 investor letter released this past weekend, the folksy tycoon called out HomeServices of America (HSA) and said to expect more acquisitions. The company had $225 million in earnings last year, up from $191 million in 2015. HSA is part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. “HomeServices may appear out of place in [this group]. But it came with our purchase of MidAmerican (now BHE) in 1999 — and we are lucky that it did. “HomeServices owns 38 realty companies with more than 29,000 agents who operate in 28 states. Last year it purchased four Realtors, including Houlihan Lawrence, the leader in New York’s Westchester County (in a transaction that closed shortly after yearend),” wrote Buffett. “In real estate parlance, representing either a buyer or a seller is called a ‘side,’ with the representation of both counting as two sides. Last year, our owned Realtors participated in 244,000 sides, totaling $86 billion in volume. “HomeServices also franchises many operations throughout the country that use our name. We like both aspects of the real estate business and expect to acquire many Realtors and franchisees during the next decade.” HSA owns real estate brokerages, mortgage companies, settlement service providers, insurance companies, corporate relocation and affiliated businesses and is the majority owner of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Real Living Real Estate and Prudential Real Estate franchise networks. Read more on Inman...

Things to do this Weekend: March 17th – March 19th Connecticut & Rhode Island

Connecticut Event: Long Island Sound Luau Venue: The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk Date:  March 18 – 19, 2017 Description: For the last weekend of winter, enjoy the feel, the fun and the flavors of the tropics. Expect a sunny selection of special activities, crafts, performances and fruity drinks with umbrellas, nearly all of which will be free with Aquarium admission. More Information  Event: St. Patrick’s Day Parade Venue: River & Broad Sts in Milford Date:  March 18, 2017 Description: One of the state’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. After parade activities include music and family fun activities at the Clubhouse (131 Bridgeport Ave.). More Information Event: O’Niantic 5K Venue: Niantic Bay Bicycles Date: March 18, 2017 Description: No blarney, this is a fast and flat 5K! Start and finish in front of Niantic Bay Bicycles and run by the quiet, off-season cottages in the Pine Grove community of Niantic, one of Hartford Marathon Foundation’s favorite shoreline spots. More Information View more events in Connecticut on CTVisit.com. Rhode Island Event: Providence St. Patrick’s Day Parade Venue: Downtown Providence Date: March 18, 2017 Description: Fáilte! Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year by attending the Providence parade. Enjoy traditional Irish music, Irish step dancing and more. The annual parade highlights the rich Irish heritage that Providence has to offer. More Information View more events this weekend in Rhode...

Listing Photos: Your Home’s First Showing

A picture is worth a thousand words, and could be worth thousands of dollars when it comes to attracting the right buyers to your home. Let’s face it, buyers form their first impression of your home based on the online listing. As they say, Web appeal is the new curb appeal. If you are serious about selling your home, you have to take your listing photo shoot very seriously. If your photos don’t excite buyers, they may not step foot inside. You should prepare for your photo shoot as much as you would for an open house or private showing. Work alongside an excellent local real estate agent, and follow these tips to make sure your home looks its best. Never list your home online without photos Today’s buyers get email and text alerts when a new home that matches their criteria hits the market. There is nothing more frustrating than to see the desired address come across as an alert, only for the listing to be incomplete. Buyers (and agents) will punish you for jumping the gun. Will they go back later and look again, once you have the photos up? Maybe — but maybe not. You’re adding an extra step for them, and it comes across like you don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not a great way to start out with your future customer. Clean, declutter, organize and remove You should spend a good amount of time preparing for your photo shoot. This means that you fluff the pillows, put toilet seats down, put Fido’s bowl and toys away, and ensure the home is in impeccable condition. People can zoom...

Learn These Basic Rules of Seller Disclosure So You Don’t Get Sued

Seller disclosure is a tricky maze to navigate. If you’ve recently decided to put your home on the market, you might feel hesitant to reveal problems (minor though they might be) which could discourage potential buyers. But not revealing them could get you in a world of legal trouble. So how much do you really need to disclose? And how detailed do you need to be? We’d love to give you a concrete answer. But disclosure laws vary by state—and even by city. So here are some basic rules to govern how and when you disclose any problems. (Just remember to do your research on local regulations, and check with your Realtor® and/or real estate attorney so you can know you’re totally covered.) Related Articles 10 Essential Questions to Ask When Buying a Home (That You May Have Missed) Do I Have to Disclose a Previous Repair? Bad Neighbors, and Other Nightmares You Might Need to Disclose to Buyers When in doubt, disclose In general, sellers should disclose any known facts about the physical condition of the property, existence of dangerous materials or conditions, lawsuits or pending matters that may affect the value of the property, and any other factors that may influence a buyer’s decision. But how can you possibly know what might influence a buyer’s decision? Maybe a window leaks a little bit when it rains or the basement just barely floods every now and then. Do you really need to disclose it? After all, you’ve learned to live with those things, so the buyer should be able to deal with them, too, right? Wrong answer! Especially if you want to avoid a lawsuit down the line....

Things to do this Weekend: March 10th – March 12th Connecticut & Rhode Island

Connecticut Event: O’Shenanigans 5K Venue: Kinsmen Brewing Company in Southington, CT Date:  March 11, 2017 Description: The first of four O’races, this brand new 5K starts and finishes outside of the new Kinsmen Brewing Company, just steps from the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. More Information Event: Build Westport One LEGO at a Time Venue: Westport Historical Society in Westport, CT Date:  March 12, 2017 Description: An afternoon event for families that like hands-on activities and have an interest in the architectural heritage of their town.  There must be at least one adult present to help the kids think through their project. More Information Event: St. Patrick’s Day Parade Venue: Downtown New London Date: March 12, 2017 Description: Join in the celebration by wearing green because everyone is Irish for the day. More Information View more events in Connecticut on CTVisit.com. Rhode Island Event: Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Venue: See website for route Date: March 11, 2017 Description: We at Rhode Island Monthly would be shirking our duty if we didn’t feature one of the biggest and longest running events in Rhode Island. It is once again time to line up in green and strut your stuff in the big Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. More Information Event: The Lion King Venue: Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, CT Date: Through March 19, 2017 Description: Everyone has fond memories of The Lion King: the music, loveable characters, action and even the Shakespeare references. It was a cultural revolution so big that it was adapted for a Broadway musical, winning awards along the way. More Information View more events this weekend...

Why May Is the Magic Month for Home Sellers

List your home at the right time, and it could sell faster and at a higher price. When it comes time to sell a home, every seller wants the same outcome: to sell quickly, for as much money as possible. According to a new Zillow analysis, listing a home toward the end of spring significantly increases a seller’s chances of making this happen. In all but five of the country’s 25 biggest metro markets, the best month to put a home on the market is April or May. Homes listed in the first half of May sold nine days faster and for almost 1 percent more money than average listings. (You may have even better luck if you’re in one of the best U.S. markets for home sellers.)                                                       Read More from...

How To Create A Great Accent Wall

Article from RealtyTimes. Bringing color into your space doesn’t require you to splash paint up everywhere. Sometimes, focusing on just one wall can have even greater impact, or at least allow you to slowly get used to the idea of color before you take the four-wall plunge. “An accent wall can be a perfect way to break up a large room, to emphasize a particularly great architectural feature, or to instill a sense of the extraordinary in an otherwise completely ordinary space,” said homedit. So how do you choose a color? And how do you know where to put it? Will it go with your existing stuff, or do you need to redecorate? “To change only one wall in your room, a good first step is to choose a color that will pair well with your existing wall color,” said Behr. “For instance, if you have soft mocha walls, paint an accent wall in chocolate brown. If your room is painted a neutral color, add a bold color to highlight that area. Opposing colors in the color spectrum work well together, for example a classic combination of cool blue with a warm orange. Adjacent colors on the color wheel also mix well together, such as shades of green and blue. There is an endless combination of colors to choose from; you will find your perfect match with a little experimentation.” Here are a few ideas to get you started. The color: A strong jewel tone, like peacock blue. Where to paint it: Looks great on a wall that draws the eye across the room Goes with: Bright white for contrast,...

Things to do this Weekend: March 3rd – March 5th Connecticut & Rhode Island

Connecticut Event: Maple Sugar Festival  Venue: Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, CT Date:  March 4 – 5, 2017 Description: Visit the little red sugarhouse on Heckscher Farm and see firsthand how sap is turned into maple syrup. Learn how trees are tapped, see how sap is collected, make a maple-themed craft, have your face painted, enjoy live music with Jay & Ray, and visit the museum galleries. More Information Event: Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour Venue: Shubert Theatre in New Haven, CT Date:  March 3 – 5, 2017 Description: Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures in an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song. More Information Event: Plymouth Maple Festival Venue: Plymouth Green in Plymouth, CT Date: March 4, 2017 Description: Tree tapping starts at 10am. Kids will get a chance to tap in the spouts, hang the buckets, and collect sap. Watch maple syrup boiling on an outdoor fire. Sample sugar on snow and maple sugar candy. More Information Event: St. Patrick’s Parade & Festival Venue: Downtown Norwich Date: March 5, 2017 Description: Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. After the parade join us for a street festival on Main Street with live music, food trucks, beer, face painting, balloon animals and crafts. If you are looking for something to do before the parade, join the Ancient Order of Hybernians at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. for a Green Mass. More Information View more events in Connecticut on CTVisit.com. Rhode...

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Article from Keeping Matters Current Some Highlights: Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a close decision. Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (30%), vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15%), the choice becomes obvious. Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you could use your housing costs to own a home of your own!  ...

5 Questions to Ask Potential Mortgage Lenders

Choosing a lender? Don’t make a snap decision you might regret. Find the right fit with these five questions. Buying a home is the largest purchase many consumers will ever make, and many will turn to a lender for financing. But finding a lender you click with can be a challenge, especially if you wait until the last minute. Li-Ning Huang, a research manager on Fannie Mae’s economic and strategic research team, says buyers should start talking to lenders early in the process — before you fall in love with a home — and compare several quotes. “Otherwise, you could end up choosing a lender based on convenience,” she says. Avoid buyer’s remorse Twenty-one percent of home buyers reported buyer’s remorse over their lender, according to a recent J.D. Power study. Among first-time home buyers, that rose to 27 percent. Dissatisfied respondents cited a lack of communication, unmet promises, and feeling pressured to select a specific mortgage product. “If you’re not getting a call back, or don’t understand what’s going on, look elsewhere,” advises Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. Last year, about 9 percent of the real estate pros received C, D, or F grades from Angie’s List members. “People happy with their mortgage pros cited quick, friendly, clear responses and fair pricing,” says Hicks. “There are plenty of qualified, trustworthy lenders out there.” Find the right lender It’s important to find a lender or broker who communicates well with you, and in a manner you’re comfortable with. This applies whether you’re meeting face-to-face with a lender, or working online and over the phone. Does the lender explain things...

Best And Worst Advice For Buying A Home From People Who Have Done It Before

Asking for home-buying advice is a little like asking for parenting tips. You’ll probably get some really good (and some really bad) suggestions. But when you’re scoping out homes for sale in Austin, TX, or Fort Lauderdale, FL, how can you tell the difference? And when should you trust your own instincts instead? Here’s a peek at some of the best and worst advice homebuyers have received about real estate — and what the experts think of it. 1. Get the inside scoop “Our real estate agent advised us to write letters to the residents on the blocks we loved, in hopes of finding someone who was thinking of selling,” says Christy Lejeune, a homeowner in Philadelphia, PA. “We got six or seven responses and found our house that way. Plus, we made a friend and saved some cash in the process.” The takeaway: Supplementing your Trulia home search with targeted inquiries and in-person exploration can give you an edge as a homebuyer. This tactic could be even more helpful if you live in an area with low inventory or are in a rush to find a new home because your current home is under contract. When you have time, scout out your favorite neighborhoods in person. This might even persuade you to schedule a showing for a home you overlooked during your online search because of less-than-stellar listing photos. Talk to friends who live in the neighborhoods you love. Maybe they have the inside scoop on a home that will hit the market soon. And don’t forget your social media network! “I just did a social media version...

Things to do this Weekend: February 24th – February 26th Connecticut & Rhode Island

Connecticut Event: Winter Farm to Table Supper Venue: Stamford Museum & Nature Center In Stamford, CT Date:  February 25, 2017 Description: An evening of exceptional dining in an elegant setting of the Bendel Mansion. Featuring the cuisine of Executive Chef Carlos Baez of The Spread in South Norwalk. More Information Event: Woodlands Bridal Show  Venue: Woodwinds in Branford, CT Date:  February 26, 2017 Description: Meet some of Connecticut’s best wedding vendors and enjoy a sampling of Woodwinds award winning gourmet cuisine, entertainment, mini-beauty treatments and each bride-to-be receives a Woodwinds Goodie Bag. More Information Event: Chocolate Experience & Tour Venue: Fascias Chocolates in Waterbury, CT Date: February 25-26, 2017 Description: The tours take place in the Presentation Room where, through a multi-media and interactive session, you learn about the origins of chocolate and how it gets from bean to bar and then from bar to box. More Information Event: Connecticut Flower & Garden Show Venue: Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT Date: February 23-26, 2017 Description: The colorful, fragrant show covers almost three acre with the 2017 theme, “Woodland Enchantment, ” with creative and practical ideas for house, apartment and condo dwellers alike. More Information View more events in Connecticut on CTVisit.com. Rhode Island Event: Newport Seal Tour with Save The Bay Venue: Bowen’s Ferry Landing in Newport, RI Date: February 26, 2017 Description: Embark on a one hour tour aboard one of our education vessels as we cruise through historic Newport Harbor and take in 360 degree views of seals resting on Citing Rock off of Rose Island and the Newport Bridge. More Information Event: Blues in the Night Venue:...

How Much Of My Monthly Income Should I Spend On A Mortgage?

Before you plan to spend the maximum amount you’ve been approved for, consider whether you can really afford the mortgage your lender offers. Here’s how to determine how much of a mortgage payment your budget can handle each month. According to the latest data from Trulia, the median selling price for a home is $192,000. That’s far more than most of us could afford to pay in cash, and why most of us take out a mortgage. But don’t rely on a lender to tell you how much of your monthly income you can comfortably spend on your home. They may let you borrow the maximum possible amount, but that doesn’t mean you should — or must — take them up on the offer. Crunch your own numbers first to determine how much money you can put toward your mortgage each month before you start searching for homes for sale in Alexandria, VA, or Boston, MA. Calculate your true monthly cost If you want an in-depth look at your potential mortgage payment, look for a mortgage calculator that includes costs like homeowners insurance or property taxes. (You want more than just a sales price and loan interest rate.) To figure this out, head to Trulia’s mortgage calculator and click “advanced.” Homeowners insurance and property taxes will be part of the mortgage costs you pay each month. You may also need to add in PMI, or private mortgage insurance, if you put less than 10% down on the purchase. Your monthly insurance premiums and your property taxes will depend on what you buy and where you live. When determining how...

Tax Benefits of Owning a Home: Do You Know Them All?

The joys of homeownership are many: Your own house is a place to make sweet memories, build a financial nest egg, and whittle down your tax bill. Wait, what? Yep, it’s true: Your home can save you a bundle on April 15. We’ve rounded up every last way to take advantage of the tax benefits of owning a home. Read on for the full rundown just to make sure you aren’t missing any, then pat yourself on the back for all the moolah you’ll save! Tax write-off No. 1: Your mortgage interest This is the biggie tax benefit of owning a home: the ability to deduct the mortgage interest you pay over the course of a year. And the more recent your mortgage, the greater your tax savings. “The way mortgage payments are amortized, the first payments are almost all interest—so that’s why the mortgage interest deduction is worth the most in the first few years of the loan,” says Wendy Connick, owner of Connick Financial Solutions. (See how your loan amortizes and how much you’re paying in interest with this mortgage calculator.) Here’s how this deduction looks for a married couple in the 28% tax bracket (that means a joint annual income between $151,201 and $230,450) who bought a home with a $300,000, 30-year mortgage at a 4% interest rate. They will pay $11,904 in mortgage interest their first year. Once you add in the other itemized federal deductions below, these homeowners can expect to save at least $3,333 in taxes during their initial year of ownership. Tax write-off No. 2: Your property taxes Generally, your property taxes are deductible on your tax return, says Brian Ashcraft, director of compliance at Liberty Tax Service. And that could be a hefty savings. According to...

How the Color of Your Room Affects Your Mood

Article from HouseBeautiful. Why do we choose certain colors to decorate our home — is it based on our personal tastes or the color trends for that season? Or is the color of our walls, furniture and soft furnishings more closely aligned to the psychological impact and the specific benefits it can bring? Here, Malcolm Walker, director of product at Furniture Village, shares his insights into how color can be used in our living space to influence our mood. Yellow Yellow is often associated with happiness, and this energizing and vibrant tone is fantastic for living areas and kitchens. It is an extremely warm and welcoming shade and so it also works well in hallways, lifting the mood as soon as you enter the home. If used exclusively however, this shade can be overwhelming and it can have the opposite effect. To get the most out of yellow, use it sparingly as an accent shade against crisp white.  TIM YOUNG   GETTY + HERO IMAGES Blue As the color of the sky and the ocean, the naturally cooling and calming effects of blue work well to inspire tranquillity in bedrooms and bathrooms. Lighter, brighter blues work better to encourage a calming environment than deeper regal and navy tones. The color is also associated with intelligence and productivity, and is therefore a good choice for a home office.  FRONT WALL IN HOLIDAY BLUES 4 PAINT MIXING MATT EMULSION. BACK WALL IN CELESTIAL BLUE 3 PAINT MIXING MATT EMULSION, DULUX.  WOVEN Pink Interestingly, pink is the only primary color with its own moniker (it is technically pale red) but the psychological...

Things to do this Weekend: February 17th – February 19th Connecticut & Rhode Island

Connecticut Event: Winter Family Programs  Venue: Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens in Stamford, CT Date:  February 16 – 21, 2017 Description: Sign up for one or more family programs. Participate in winter hikes and tracking, starting seeds, arts and crafts, and more over four dayys in February. Each child must be accompanied by an adult. More Information  Event: Dinosaur Days Venue: Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, CT Date:  February 18 – 19, 2017 Description: From the 150-million-year-old Brontosaurus skeleton in the Great Hall to the award winning, life-sized sculpture of Torosaurus outsidet, dinosaurs and the Yale Peabody Museum go hand in hand. Dinosaur Days is the celebration of paleontology and dinosaurs. More Information Event: Chocolate Experience & Tour Venue: Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury, CT Date: February 18 -19, 2017 Description:The tours take place in the Presentation Room where, through a multi-media and interactive session, you learn about the origins of chocolate and how it gets from bean to bar and then from bar to box. Tastings and demonstrations, including a behind-the-scenes look into the factory via remote controlled camera, complete the experience. More Information Event: Tropical Sunsation Week Venue: Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT Date: February 18 – 26, 2017 Description: A warming up vacation week. Paradise awaits with a staycation including live music, hula lessons, a beach party, colorful crafts and more. Warm up to countless tropical animals and drift away to the soothing sounds of live steel drum performance. More Information Event: Cardboard Box Race Venue: Mount Southington Ski Area in Southington, CT Date: February 18, 2017 Description: One event you won’t want to miss....

From Coastlines to Skylines

Article from RIS Media  In the following interview, Candace Adams, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England & Westchester Properties in Wallingford, Conn., discusses the company’s recent expansion and its plans for growth in 2017. Region Served: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Westchester County, N.Y., New York City Number of Offices: 56 Number of Agents: 1,800 On Relaxation and Balance: I’m very active and a physical fitness fanatic. I love the outdoors and hike all the time. I also read incessantly, usually 5-7 books at a time. My family and two beautiful grandchildren are also a big part of my life. You have exciting news about a recent expansion. Please tell us about that. Yes, we have enthusiastically expanded our presence into New York City. We have leveraged the relationships we’ve built over the years in the suburbs of Westchester County, N.Y., and Fairfield County, Conn., and all the way up the coastline of Connecticut and Rhode Island, to bring Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices to New York City, where there’s been a high demand for the brand. When did the plans for a presence in New York City begin? New England Properties was one of the first two franchises to convert to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and we quickly grew under that brand into Rhode Island and Westchester County. We’ve had a mission to open an office in New York City since the onset of the brand three years ago, but we wanted to do so very carefully with the right talent at the right time. In early January, we opened our doors at 590 Madison Avenue, right in the heart...

5 Ways to Show Your Home Some Love

Don’t leave your home out of the Valentine’s Day fun — send it a love note or two with these quick tips. Editor’s note: Love is in the air. Why not part with tradition and observe Valentine’s Day in a way that also involves your home? After all, home is where the heart is. Sure, you could make reservations. But maybe the ultimate in romance is a candlelit evening at home. And those long-stemmed red roses have their appeal, but what about buying your sweetheart (or yourself!) a rose bush that will provide endless blooms? And if you’re celebrating solo, there’s no better way to treat yourself than splurging on something beautiful for your home – it’s a gift that keeps on giving. To inspire you, we’re delivering a weeklong bouquet of tips for filling your home with romance. When February rolls around, we’re often thinking of little ways to show our loved ones how special they are to us. Why not take the opportunity to do the same for your home? While you can’t send your home a box of chocolates or a card, there are plenty of things you can do to show it a little love this Valentine’s Day. Make easy DIY updates Even if you’re not planning on selling your home anytime soon, it’s always good to make small improvements to increase your home’s value. Plan a quick weekend project, like one of the following: Install a no-touch faucet on the kitchen sink Swap those brass drawer pulls from the ’90s with a more modern design Replace the old fluorescent light fixtures in the bathroom...