The Three Ds of Real Estate in the Suburbs

The Three Ds of Real Estate in the Suburbs

There are many reasons people sell their homes. When you have a growing family or decide it’s time to upgrade your lifestyle, you may start looking for a larger house. Conversely, it may be time to downsize as you near retirement. Others get into real estate purely for investment opportunities.

However, the reasons aren’t always happy ones. And, these hardships can make transferring the title more complicated. If you hear someone refer to the three Ds of real estate in the suburbs, they are probably referring to unfortunate circumstances that cause someone to sell a property. Obviously, there are many reasons people sell their homes, but they usually fall under one of these categories.

The Three Ds of Real Estate in the Suburbs

No one wants to deal with the hardships that lead you to sell your home. However, major transitions in life present new opportunities as well as the need to make important decisions.

1. Death

It’s never easy to lose a loved one. It’s even harder to make difficult financial decisions when dealing with emotional turmoil. However, it doesn’t change the fact that someone has to make decisions to settle the estate. Unfortunately, a highly stressful and emotional situation can worsen when people don’t agree on how to proceed.

Dealing with valuable assets, such as real estate, can be a cumbersome and complex process for the beneficiaries. And, the more beneficiaries there are, the more convoluted it becomes. Oftentimes, families choose to sell the property after their loved ones pass. Some prefer not to move in because they have their own homes or don’t have the financial resources to maintain the property. Others simply don’t want the hassle of finding renters or the added expense of property taxes, mortgage payments, and homeowners insurance.

Settling someone’s affairs after death is much easier when there is a will in place and your loved one’s final wishes are very clear. It can provide a guide through the grief. Moreover, it removes the responsibility of making decisions and the likelihood of infighting among family members.

It takes time to settle the estate. So if you are the buyer, it will be cleaner to wait until the probate is complete. It’s better to protect your investment and guarantee the seller has the authority to complete the sale. Once the title passes to the personal representative who is handling the estate, you can move forward with the sale. While it may take longer, it makes for a smoother process with fewer complications.

2. Divorce

With half of all marriages ending in divorce, there’s a reason it’s included in the three Ds of real estate in the suburbs. Following a divorce, it may not be possible to maintain the property on a single income. Other couples simply want a fresh start. So if one party doesn’t take possession of the property, most people choose to sell and split the profit.

According to most lawyers and those who have dealt with divorce, it’s best to make a clean break and move on. Legal advisors will tell you not to attempt to share the asset, even if the divorce is amicable.

Additionally, it’s best to leave the emotion out of it so you come to a faster and easier resolution. Letting your anger or resentment get the better of you will drive up your legal fees, drag out a difficult process, and undermine your profit margin on the sale.

From a buyer’s perspective, divorce presents the opportunity to make a good investment, especially if the owners are motivated to sell.

3. Debt

The last of the three Ds of real estate in the suburbs is something we have all faced. At some point in your life, you will likely find yourself in debt. This may come in the form of student loans to pay for school, a mortgage on a home, or high-interest credit card debt.

Sadly, some people never seem to find their way out from under it. When it becomes too overwhelming, sometimes the only solution is to sell your home. People tap into their equity to help pay down their debts and reduce their monthly expenses.

If you try to sell your home, any debts associated with the property will come to light during probate. The title search will reveal liens from the IRS, creditors, mortgage companies, or child support agencies. All these debts must be paid off before you can go through with the sale. Otherwise, you will face another D for default.

Those who owe more than the value of their property will likely have their home go into foreclosure. In this case, the bank or lender takes possession of the property, then sells it to recoup some of the money. Many times, properties sell well below their assessed value. While this is great for buyers, it usually only covers a portion of the total debt.

Navigating Difficult Financial Decisions

No matter how hard you try, things don’t always work out the way you plan. The key is understanding that some things are beyond your control. People die, marriages end, and economic situations change. However, just because you suffer a setback doesn’t mean you are unsuccessful or a bad person. If you have reached one of these difficult crossroads, the only way out is through.

Those looking to buy property will also have a considerable amount of red tape during the process. While I can only speak from my perspective, I prefer expert advice to help navigate stressful financial decisions that will affect my future.

Although painful, these experiences offer us wisdom and opportunities to grow. Unfortunately, the lesson doesn’t always come before the decision. Therefore, it’s always best to seek out advice when you need guidance. Your financial advisor can help you navigate these difficult decisions, no matter which of the three Ds of real estate in the suburbs you are facing.

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Can You Put a Price on Kindness?

Can You Put a Price on Kindness?

Growing up, my mom always emphasized the importance of kindness. Her actions in her daily life set an example by showing us how we should treat everyone. She would go out of her way to help strangers, learn the names of service staff, and show gratitude for every effort. She went even further to include those in the lowest positions.

As someone who worked on cleaning crews and support staff, she wanted to show respect and appreciation for their work. Having worked in some of these jobs myself, I can tell you how rare it is that people take the time to recognize you as a human being. And, I would usually return the sentiments by providing better service. Sometimes, this also turned into financial rewards for customers. But, can you put a price on kindness?

The Perks of Being Polite

Although I have had many different jobs over the years, several of them revolved around the customer service industry. If you have ever worked the phones or in a service position, then you probably have your own stories that illustrate the best and worst that humanity has to offer.

Better Customer Service

From my own experiences, I can attest to the difference in my attitude towards customers who treated me with kindness. While I always strived to maintain professionalism, I put extra effort into helping those who treated me well. People who showed me an extra ounce of kindness received more personalized service than those who demanded things. I was much more prone to waive fees, offer upgrades, throw in freebies, and go the extra mile for customers who were patient and polite.

Discounts and Freebies

Since I have often been on the receiving end of it, I try to practice the golden rule with anyone helping me. This generally makes for more pleasant interactions. However, my patience and flexibility have sometimes included financial benefits as well. Not making a fuss has gotten me extra appetizers, free drinks from the bar, and discounts on our checks from grateful servers. Although I don’t expect these things, I tend to get these more often than my friends who don’t engage with service staff.

Upgrades

In the past, I have also received complimentary upgrades by working with employees to find fast solutions. Although this is more common in hotels, there have been other instances when I have gotten free upgrades.

Our last family vacation proved yet again that it pays to be polite. We decided to rent a car for the week. However, we noticed a mistake the morning we were supposed to pick it up. Normally we would roll with the bunches. However, this error would have left us waiting for an additional 3 hours with kids and bags in tow.

Rather than storming the rental counter, we simply showed up at our scheduled time and calmly explained our situation. The employee helping us apologized profusely for the inconvenience. And then, he offered us a free upgrade to a better vehicle. Not only did we not have to pay for the upgrade to a bigger vehicle, but he also gave us a more fuel-efficient model which saved us even more money on our trip.

Organizations That Put a Price on Kindness

While you shouldn’t expect these types of financial rewards for being nice, there are certain instances in which you can put a price on kindness. For example, the IRS offers tax breaks to those who make charitable donations. There is some paperwork and itemization involved when you file. But if you make frequent donations or monetary contributions to qualifying charities, it could save you a ton on your next tax return.

Some businesses are also offering rewards to their polite patrons. One of the most notable instances that I have seen recently is within restaurants. Several local businesses now advertise discounts to families with well-behaved children. While it is still not a common occurrence, it tells customers how much they value kindness and people who treat their staff with added consideration.

And of course, you can’t forget the incentives that many restaurants and retailers offer when you leave them a review. While they don’t necessarily require a nice review, leaving a comment for other potential customers brings in business. In return, many businesses offer discounts on future purchases, bonuses with their next order, or free entry into promotional contests. So if you are especially satisfied with the quality of your products or the service, leaving a positive review could earn you big savings.

It Never Hurts to Be Kind

The bottom line is that we should treat others as we would hope to be treated if the situation was reversed. And, it literally costs you nothing to treat others with kindness. It requires minimal effort on your part but could have lasting impacts.

Even when you are dealing with difficult situations, there is no reason to take your frustrations out on those who are trying to help you. Chances are that they are already doing everything within their power to resolve the issue. Treating others poorly won’t fix your problems. However, it could make them even worse.

You have to remember that these aren’t automated systems you’re dealing with; they’re real people. Treating them with respect may earn you an ally. Although I can’t speak for others, I was more willing to help those who showed me kindness. I would also find ways to save them money when they treated me like a friend rather than “the help.”

While there are no guarantees that it will reap financial benefits, I think you can put a price on kindness. Even if it doesn’t bring monetary savings, it could change someone’s day for the better. Feeling that you aren’t invisible and that your work matters is important. For some, making someone feel valued is the greatest reward of all.

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10 Tips for Beginners Investing in Diamonds

Tips for Beginners Investing in Diamonds

With current market fluctuations and conditions, many more people are looking for alternative assets to add to their portfolios. While many investors have traditionally turned to physical commodities like gold and silver, diamonds are becoming an increasingly popular investment option. If you are looking for new ways to diversify, here are a few tips for beginners investing in diamonds.

Why Are People Investing in Diamonds?

Here are a few of the most common reasons why more investors are turning to diamonds as a new portfolio option.

Market Volatility

The recent stock market volatility has many nervous investors looking at alternative assets. Physical commodities like gold, silver, and diamonds have always been a popular option to protect investors. However, there is an increasing interest in physical commodities that are not correlated to the stock market as prices continue to fluctuate.

Portability

Another reason people are investing in diamonds is their portability. They are small and easy to transport. Their size also makes them simpler to store than other types of assets.

Durability

Diamonds are the hardest known substance on Earth. Therefore, there is little to no chance of accidental damage or breakage. And, you won’t have to pay for maintenance or upkeep either.

Insurability

Many owners worry about theft or loss. However, you can insure your diamonds as an extra precaution to protect your assets.

Inflation-Proof

Market demands have always been high, so it’s very unlikely that diamonds will lose value. That’s why some think of them as “inflation-proof.” As mentioned above, some investors use them to hedge against inflation and market fluctuations. This is usually a smart financial move since their value keeps up and often outpaces inflation rates.

High Demand

Diamonds have an intrinsic value because of their limited supply and high demand. The fact that there are no open markets or exchanges also drives up prices. Historically, there has been a steady demand which is continuing to rise.

The Psychology of Security

There is also something to be said about the security you have from a tangible and valuable asset like diamonds. Having something that you can see and feel makes it more real than buying stocks and bonds. Keeping them nearby or on your person may make you feel that your investments are more secure.

Enjoyment

Lastly, you shouldn’t overlook their enjoyment factor. Diamonds are an asset you can enjoy without depreciating value. You can mount and wear them, using them for more than just investment purposes.

What Are the Risks?

As with all investments, diamonds also carry risks. The first comes from a lack of price transparency. It’s hard to place a standard value on them without an official price index. It’s even more difficult with rare and colored diamonds. Although diamonds are expensive, you need to become an informed buyer. Markups erode their investment potential. And, if you aren’t careful, you could be taken advantage of and overpay.

Another factor to consider is physical storage. Theft is the biggest threat. Therefore, you’ll need a safe place to store your assets. Then, there is the low liquidity and the time it takes to find serious buyers. And last but not least, it could take years for your diamonds to appreciate. So, if you’re looking for assets that have quick turnaround and resale value, diamonds probably aren’t the best option for you.

10 Tips for Beginners Investing in Diamonds

Despite these risks, many investors are not deterred. If you are interested in diamonds as an alternative asset, here are 10 tips from the experts for beginners who are investing in diamonds.

1. Do your research and get an expert opinion.

If you are just getting started, learn the basics and get familiar with diamond jargon. You can start with the 4 Cs of diamonds – carat weight, cut, color, and color – and how these factors affect their value.

But, remember each diamond is unique. Before you purchase anything, find a trusted professional to gain more knowledge about specific items. You should seek out multiple opinions before investing.

2. Know your financial goals.

You should also be aware of your financial goals. Diamonds are a great option for safe, long-term investments. However, they aren’t so great if you need a quick turnaround or appreciation.

3. Know your financial limits.

There’s no way around it…investing in diamonds requires more of an initial investment than other assets. But, this will be part of your portfolio. However, you should still know your financial limits and how much you are willing to spend.

4. Always look at the documentation.

This should go without saying. But, only purchase certified diamonds. Real gemstones come with a GIA or IGI certificate from the most renowned geological labs with the strictest standards. And, anyone you sell to will expect these documents as well.

5. Compare prices.

As with all large purchases, you should compare prices. Pricing on diamonds can be subjective. Especially since there isn’t a transparent pricing platform. But, you can compare prices for similar stones through online retailers or local dealers to make sure you are getting a good deal.

6. Look for quality and resale value.

When it comes to diamonds, you don’t want something that everyone else has. Yet, you want to buy something of quality that will have future resale value. Look for high-quality gems and desirable cuts that will bring a higher resale value.

7. Diversify.

Any advisor worth their salt will tell you that diversification is the key to protecting your portfolio. That’s why many investors turn to diamonds as an alternative investment. But, don’t put all your proverbial eggs, or in this case diamonds, in the same basket. Purchase different types, cuts, and sizes. You never know which one will increase in value or which one will be easier to sell down the line. And, if you need to liquidate a portion of your assets, it’s easier to sell smaller stones than with a single large diamond.

8. Mounting a diamond adds appeal.

Although the mounting isn’t included in the valuation, it can add appeal. While the buyer likely has their own plans, mounting it can showcase the diamond. Not only is it much more appealing than a loose diamond, but it can also help you sell it faster. Mounting the stone also allows you to wear it and show it off to potential buyers.

9. Skip the middleman.

One of the biggest mistakes beginners who are investing in diamonds make is buying from your local jewelers. Retail prices are much higher which erodes their value. Rather than pay the markup from brokers taking their cut, look for sources higher up the distribution chain. You can cut out the middleman and try to buy directly from manufacturers.

10. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Finally, if you have questions or concerns, don’t be shy. Speak up! Ask consultants, experts, and online forums for advice. Or, talk to other investors about their experiences. Learn everything you can before delving into the world of diamonds. Knowing the market could help you find a diamond in the rough.

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