February 20th, 2009 in Locations
Over the years timesharing has built up a negative reputation. The one hour presentation is often deceptive and the “hard-sell” technique leaves you dazed and confused. Not all timeshares share this reputation but, as in any decision concerning your pocketbook, you’ll need to perform due diligence. I have heard some success stories from people who absolutely love their timeshare experience. Though not considered to be a good investment if you’re looking to reap equitable returns upon selling your property, it can be a good investment of time and family memories.
Once you hop on board the timeshare train, you become part of a trading association. There are two major associations: RCI and Interval International. Depending on which association your timeshare is affiliated with, this is where you’d bank unused weeks to use at a later date should you decide not to use your detemined week.
Ownership weeks vary; however, the most common types are: fixed week, floating time, or points.
Fixed week. You own a specific unit in the resort for one week per year or you own one week in the resort in a non-specific unit that is comparable in size and quantity of bedrooms & baths.
Floating time. You own a floating week that guarantees a certain size during a particular time of the year.
Points. The most flexible of all ownership types is the point system in which you own the right to reserve time at a resort and are allotted a certain number of points each year. The unit size and time of year you travel will determine the amount of points needed. Reserving a room during low season will require fewer points, making this a nice investment for retired people who can travel whenever they choose. Any unused points can usually be rolled over to the next year; however, there are restrictions as to how long the points are good for. For example, RCI allows the points to be good for two years, so if you don’t use up those points within those two years you’ll lose the points forever. ...read full post →
February 12th, 2009 in Locations
Hurricane Katrina left 80% of New Orleans flooded, with some parts under 15 feet of water. Tens of thousands of homes were left uninhabitable, many of them historic landmarks. Today, a lot of the questions revolve around tearing down or restoring. Red tape’s keeping homeowners shut out and incentives are bringing investors in.
What’s going on in and around the Gulf Coast
It is estimated that New Orleans is now confronted with 65,000 vacant or blighted properties. Many of those properties were rentals and, in many cases, uninsured and most likely won’t be rebuilt by their current owners. On the positive side, these buildings are structurally sound shells and can be purchased for a song (sometimes for just the price of the land.) The buildings’ exteriors can be restored to the original architectural style and the interior can be gutted and restored at a fraction of their replacement cost. These gems can then be turned around and rented for a handsome profit.
The rebuilding process has been slow but steady. Homeowners have invested billions of insurance dollars into their homes as well as Road Home dollars for those who qualified. FEMA has invested billions into the public infrastructure. The work that has been completed thus far paves the path for investors who, once nervous about such a devastated market, are now seeing reasons to invest.
One reason why things are picking up in New Orleans is GOZA (Gulf Opportunity Zone Act) tax incentive. The U.S. Government enacted legislation to spur redevelopment in the areas referred to as the GO Zone. It offers a win-win incentive to both the community and to the investors who invest in it by providing for the single largest tax deduction on the acquisition of property in the area considered the Go Zone – bonus depreciation.
Bonus depreciation allows for a single one-time write off of 50 percent of the depreciable basis of the property. To take full advantage of the bonus depreciation and the other rental real estate write-offs, you must qualify as a real estate professional or actively participate in the "business of renting" the property. The GO Zone has stirred up a lot of new business in the building industry.
Issues confronting historical landmarks
Katrina spared the most famous historic areas, such as the Garden District, the Warehouse District, and the incredible French Quarter, but other areas of historical importance, such as Treme and Mid-City were destroyed. Many Historic Preservationists are working within the city in order to restore these neighborhoods and save these valuable landmarks from being bulldozed; however, the people who lived in those gems have a different agenda – they just want their homes back.
There is an eagerness to get back to life as it once was pre Katrina, an eagerness to rebuild, but it is important to the culture and character that they try and maintain the beautiful architecture for which New Orleans is famous for: Creole Cottage, Raised Center-Hall Cottage or Villa, Double-Gallery House, Shotgun House, and American Townhouse.
As the process of rebuilding begins, people should understand the rules, regulations, and programs that could affect homeowners’ plans to rebuild. There are programs that deal specifically with the historic preservation of the city, and programs that focus on getting residents back to the city.
Why the delay?
There are certain neighborhoods that are regulated by the Historic District Landmarks Commission and their approval is needed in order to make any physical changes to the houses. This has been a factor in the delay of the rebuilding process. Some homeowners feel they have the right to demolish their homes and start over, while The Historic Preservationists believe the houses should be saved. If a home is on the National Register of Historic Places, they will offer homeowners up to 45,000 in grants to help owners preserve their landmark. ...read full post →
February 10th, 2009 in Locations
Home is our daily topic of choice, but there’s one in particular we haven’t discussed – the President’s home. With 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, it is a residence worth knowing more about.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been around for over 200 years. What started out as an idea by our beloved President Washington became a symbol of America and all that we stand for.
Construction began in 1792 but wasn’t completed until 1800; President Washington never lived in the White House. The first residents were President John Adams and his wife Abigail. Including President Obama, 43 presidents have called the White House their private home.
Prior to President Roosevelt officially naming the White House in 1901, it was known as the Executive Mansion, President’s Palace, and the President’s House.
A Glance at The White House
8 staircases & 3 elevators
Dinner seating for 140 guests
Track ...read full post →
February 6th, 2009 in Locations
The concept of living and having a business in the same building is a familiar one, but it seems to be resurging these days. In addition, the interest in utilizing residential properties for housing businesses may be on the rise as well. After establishing the requisite approvals regarding zoning regulations, some business owners are choosing home-like settings for their workplaces – with the blessing of the buildings’ owners, who cover the zoning approvals as a welcome aspect of attracting new tenants.
Laura Ortiz writes about this growing trend in a feature for The Future of Real Estate called Some Businesses Go for Home-Like Settings. One of the business owners she interviews for the piece talks about having lived in Europe for 20 years, and how common it is for small business owners to have their shop or office on the ground floor, with their residences upstairs. This arrangement has also been popular in most U.S. cities, especially in the times up to the early 1900s.
“Live-work spaces are generally located on well-traveled roads and include work space on the lower level and living accommodations upstairs,” writes Ortiz. She writes of a new development live-work community designed on this model that has been successful in attracting an artist, an antique dealer, a jewelry designer, a seamstress who specializes in wedding gowns, and hair and nail salons.
Another example features a married couple, both attorneys. They leased the entire eighth floor of Detroit’s 93-year-old Lafer Building, which has mixed-used zoning that allows residences and businesses to comingle. With nearly 4,000 square feet, the space has two private elevators, as it was originally intended as two residential lofts.
This couple, reports Ortiz, “is among a growing group of business owners opting for loft-style work environments. As developers struggle to sell condos and lofts to potential buyers, more are offering to lease these spaces to individuals and businesses. And because these units were originally meant to be residential, businesses are getting good deals on office space.” Not only that, but this couple’s new office comes equipped with lots of cozy rooms, two kitchens, and two full bathrooms. ...read full post →
February 4th, 2009 in Locations
There’s a big difference between a city with a metro area of millions of people and a small city of 100,000 people or so – and that difference makes it both interesting and challenging to answer the question, “Where are the most eco-aware and eco-friendly places to live in the U.S.?”
It’s a question many people are asking, though. And the good news is that the green movement is now so widespread that it can be found, with gusto, in places both large and small.
Almost 1,000 city mayors have joined the Mayors Climate Protection Center, a 2-year-old addition to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Its major goal is to provide mayors with the guidance and assistance they need to lead their cities’ efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to climate change. Participating mayors are in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and represent a population of approximately 82 million people. Whether representing cities the size of Los Angeles, Toledo, or Bisbee, each member of this group is committed to reducing emissions in their cities to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012.
Eco Times ranks the top 5 eco cities with this caveat: “There are a plethora of environmental rating systems out that measure various criteria to decide the ‘greenness’ of a city, from urban congestion and water quality to energy policy and land use. We have extrapolated information from a cross section of different reports. It is often difficult to compare cities that face such dramatically different challenges. For example, how can a resource-starved area like Arizona be measured against the agriculturally-rich basin of California? And how can a city of 12 million like New York City be compared to Eugene, Oregon with a mere population of 137,000? To be fair, five U.S. cities with populations of more than 300,000 have been selected, and not only their environmental policies, but also their commitment to social responsibility through community programs and low-income housing have been taken into account.”
Portland ...read full post →