Melissa Kaspern's Blog
Although most people think of real estate investments in terms of real property that they can see and touch, buy and sell, or rent and manage on their own, there is a popular form of real estate investment that is not as personal and interactive.
In many ways, it is easier, featuring the expectation of a steady, long-term income stream, and requiring less cash, almost no worry, and little concentrated effort. Buying shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT) is one way to create a diversified investment portfolio, and such investment opportunities are now widely available even to those with limited cash reserves and minimal investment expertise.
Instead of holding the deed to a specific piece of property, an investor in an REIT holds shares in a corporate entity that operates under strict guidelines established by the Internal Revenue Service. The law that governs such investment was actually passed in 1960. Today, it is estimated that about 80 million Americans own shares in the hundreds of REITs that are publicly traded through the SEC or offered privately by brokers and financial advisers. In recent years, there has been substantial growth in REIT investment through pension and retirement plans.
For the individual investor considering REIT investment, there are some cautions as well as some decided advantages.
Advantages of REITs
First, on the plus side, a relatively small investment is required. Buying individual properties either to rent or for resale typically requires a substantial cash outlay, but REIT investment can begin with little cash outlay. This may be the prime advantage. Because one of the regulatory provisions limits major shareholder presence in any REIT, there is a great deal of opportunity for small investors.
Additional advantages include:
- Liquidity: Particularly with publicly-traded REITs, buying and selling is as easy as contacting a licensed broker and issuing the order.
- Steady Income Stream: REITs are required to return 90% of taxable income to investors each year, in the form of dividends.
- Regulation & Transparency: Corporations operate under strict governance, and must be managed by trustees or a board of directors.
- Beneficial Risk-adjusted Return: With initial due diligence, the risk of loss over the long-term is very low.
- Minimal Growth: The possibility of capital appreciation is less than that of other investment types.
- Tax Consequences: REIT Dividends are taxed as normal income under IRS rules.
- Market Risk: All real estate value is market driven, and REIT's are no different. Investors should be aware of current trends, and take those into account when comparing various REITs. Certain segments are perennial high performers, while others are location and use-driven.
- Associated Fees: Pay attention to management and transaction fees, not only those charged by investment brokers, but also the operating expenses of the REIT itself.
Investment decisions should always be made following due diligence, and with personal goals and objectives in mind. But for investors who wish to get into the business of real estate investing, even on a limited basis, REITs can be a first step.
27 Jackson Dr, Holliston, MA 01746
If you have a bath or shower that required caulking, chances are that caulk has seen better days. It's soft, so abrasive cleaners wear away at it. This may cause gaps or ragged holes that trap residue. And even if it's all in one piece, mildew and grime will likely stain it over time.
But beyond the cosmetics, if your caulk is old and porous, it could be letting water behind the tub or shower. This leads to warping of the outer liner and even severe water damage that could go unnoticed for years. The wall or floor could be rotting beneath the surface as we speak.
So if your caulk doesn't look its best, or it's been five or more years since you replaced it, the time is now to remove that old caulk and lay down new.
What you'll need
For this project, you need:
Step one: soften the caulk
If you try to remove caulk without softening it first, it will not come off cleanly. You'll end up doing a lot of extra work. So before you begin, open a window or make sure the room is well-ventilated. Put on your gloves. And then follow the product's instructions for application. It will vary.
Step two: slice the caulk & remove
Carefully use your utility knife to cut the caulk. On a good day, the caulk will come off clean at this point. But even with caulk softener, you may have places where it does not. This is especially true if someone tried to re-caulk in the past without completely removing the old stuff.
If this happens, you'll need some needle nose pliers and a little patience to pull off the stubborn pieces. Now, rake the remained caulk away with a putty knife.
Step three: clean the surface & prepare it
Clean the edges, removing any mildew or scum with your ammonia-free tub cleaning solution. Then go over the area with a 1/3-cup to one-gallon bleach solution. Use a paintbrush to work the solution into the crevices. Rinse and then dry the surface thoroughly with your rag.
And, in case you're wondering, ammonia and chlorine don't mix and could be deadly. So please check those labels.
Step four: apply the caulk & let it dry
Here's the easy part. Use the caulk gun to create an even stream of caulk where you removed the old caulk. Wait at least 24 hours before running water into the tub or shower.
And that's it. Doesn't your shower look great? For more quick projects you can do yourself to spruce up your home, follow our blog.
Building a home is no inexpensive task, but it doesn’t have to cost more than buying a home. In building a home you have many opportunities to save money mainly because you have control over every part of the process, from design to finishing touches. With proper planning and a practical budget, you might save thousands of dollars. Here are the best ways so save when building a home:
At the very beginning of your process, you’ll need to choose a builder. Lots of options means lots of different price points. It’s a good idea to do your own research and get estimates from multiple companies before you decide. Consult builder references including past clients and other industry professionals like a real estate agent to learn more about potential hidden fees or customer service issues. Delays, mistakes, schedule mismanagement and other issues can cost you money beyond just the price of the house itself. Learn as much as you can about the contractors your potential builders hire and the overall reputation and client satisfaction for the builder themselves.
Don’t Settle for Standard
Does your builder allow you to substitute in your own non-standard appliance and finish choices? If so, this could be another place to save. Many builders offer different appliance packages at different price points, but sometimes you might find a less expensive option through a suggested third-party vendor. Builders usually get special bulk pricing from their suppliers, but for items that don’t necessarily need to be bought in large amounts (think light or bathroom fixtures) you might get a better deal yourself. Ask your builder what they allow and whether they’re willing to handle the installation for you without extra cost.
A house with a smaller footprint will cost less to build, even if it has a second floor. Rather than expanding the home layout in a single story, consider building up instead. The savings here come from the foundation work and roofing materials. Overall, foundation and roofing can make up about half the total cost of the house. If you can reduce that cost while still gaining livable square footage with a second floor, it might be a great option. Take other factors into account like energy efficiency and accessibility and any zoning laws in the area you’re building in. Discuss the possibility with your builder to see if it will work for you.
You can also make a smaller footprint feel larger by opting for an open floor plan. This increases efficiency of the home both in terms of energy and livable space. Multi-functional rooms are a great way to save money compared to adding more rooms to the footprint.
When possible, try to do some work yourself. Anything not included by the builder might add expense even long after the home is finished. Things like small hardware or window blinds are simple and safe enough to install without hiring a professional. You can even install larger appliances yourself — just make sure you abide by the rules of whatever warranty or insurance you got from the builder. Even for the projects you don’t do yourself, you can still have a say in how much it costs by finding the right contractor.
Factoring everything into a budget for a new home can be overwhelming, but planning will help you identify possible ways to save. Every square foot and every hour of hired labor adds up.
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