3 Things You Should Know About Preliminary Title Reports

This helpful document contains a wealth of information.

Among the dozens of records that serve to inform or disclose to the buyer significant knowledge about the property, the title report is one of the most important. It documents ownership, vesting, and detail regarding anything recorded against the home, such as liens, encroachments, or easements.

The title company compiles the report from a search of county records to issue title insurance, and any liens against the property are listed as “exceptions” to a title policy.

Here are three important pieces of the title report you should review carefully.

The legal description

The legal description is everything you won’t see in any real estate agent marketing or advertising. It’s the written description of the property’s location and the boundaries of the property in relation to the nearby streets and intersections.

In the case of a condominium or planned unit development (PUD), the legal description will include the property’s interest in any common areas, exclusive or non-exclusive easements, and details on any parking or storage that conveys with the property.

Here’s an example of a legal description from a preliminary title report of a property:

“Beginning at a point on the Westerly line of Fifth Avenue, distant thereon 250 feet Southerly from the Southerly line of Balboa Street; running thence Southerly along the Westerly line of Fifth Avenue 25 feet; thence at a right angle Westerly 120 feet,” and so on.

Legalese? Absolutely. But it’s precise, and necessary.


Property taxes always show up as the primary “lien” on a title report. A property cannot be transferred to a new owner with outstanding property taxes due.

As the top lien, the report will indicate whether taxes are due or paid in full. Taxes must be settled before any debt holder gets paid.

Mortgage liens

Mortgage liens are generally listed directly below property taxes, and they’re always ordered first, second, and third. The largest lien holder generally takes first position.

When a sale closes, the liens must be paid in the order that they appear on the title report. In the case of a short sale, there are not enough proceeds from the sale to pay off the property taxes and all of the lien holders. So one or more lenders will get “shorted” by the amount they’re owed. In order for the sale to close, the lender must agree to the short payoff.

Though this list is in no way exclusive, there are a variety of other items that could show up on a title report outside of taxes and loans.

Easements. If another property owner has access to the property via an easement, it would be recorded on the title report. This stays on the report until both parties agree to remove it. The title company can pull the original easement agreement for review.

CC&Rs. In the case of a condo or PUD, there are Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), recorded against the property. Any new buyer purchases subject to the rules and regulations documented in the CC&Rs. This is why it’s important for potential buyers to pull these from the report and review them. Once you’re the owner, you’re subject to those rules.

Restrictions, historic oversights, planning requirements. From time to time, there will be items on the preliminary title report that aren’t run of the mill. If the home is located in a historic district and therefore subject to the rules and restrictions of that community, it will show up on the title. In this case, if there are restrictions about changing the facade of a house or requirements that facade alterations comply with a local historical oversight committee led by the local planning department, a potential buyer needs to know this.

The last word

As a potential buyer, you and your agent or real estate attorney should scrutinize the preliminary title report. You want the title to be delivered as clean as possible.

If the property is subject to special items, or there are issues on the title that would affect your homeownership, you need to know and understand them thoroughly before you close.

Check out our Home Buyers Guide for more home shopping tips and tools.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published March 22, 2012

Source: zillow.com

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

As I attempt to call my house done, one key detail has continued to elude. Art! It can feel really challenging to find something you love. There are plenty an art site that offer good place holders, but I’m attempting to move beyond the cheap print everyone already has phase. Enter Instagram. I recently fell down the artist-on-Instagram rabbit hole and WOW. There are so many talented people out there just killing it! I seriously want to buy multiple pieces from all the artists listed below. Their work is beautiful, so if you have some bare walls in your life, definitely look to these folks to serve up some major inspiration.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

First up is The Poster Club. This isn’t specifically one artist, but it’s a Copenhagen-based online store offering a unique curated selection of high-quality posters and art prints from both upcoming and established artists. I am obsessed with their website and pretty much every piece of art. These are prints rather than originals, but price point is so affordable, there’s really no excuse for not having cool piece in your life. They also ship worldwide, so I’m not sure what we’re all waiting for?

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

I’m convinced Bobby Clark is my long lost Scottish soul sister or something. I would do a gallery wall of her work in every room of my house if it wouldn’t be considered weird. You know all the cool sculptural knock off art you’re seeing in department stores? They’re copying Bobby’s work. She’s the legit OG. And the price to snag a print is honestly not bad at all!

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

When I think of soft colors in a Scandinavian inspired space, Saar Manche’s art immediately comes to mind. I mean, one look at her Instagram feed and I instantly feel calmer. Her work is muted with soft edges and one of her faceless portraits would fit perfectly in my home.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

Next, we have the works of Amelie Hegardt. She is regarded as a fashion illustrator, but as you can see from her Instagram, her work goes far beyond that. The silhouettes and lines of her pieces fascinate me and I’d love love love to snag an original.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

It shouldn’t surprise you that another Denmark-based artist made this list. His name is Carsten Nielsen of Bycdesign studio. You can actually buy his work through The Poster Club, but I highly recommend following him on Instagram for daily looks at his pieces. It says on his site he’s inspired by geometry and shapes and combines them with his affinity for color and form. All I know is whatever he’s doing, it is absolutely working.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

If you’re looking for something a bit more abstract with colorful flair, look no further than Maureen Meyer. With a previous career as a graphic designer, Maureen’s work is mixed media, so she incorporates a lot of paper and excess print materials into her pieces. It’s very multidimensional, which in my opinion is a very welcome breath of fresh air.

You can buy from these artists or not, but there’s no doubt they will, at the very least, spice up your Insta feed. That I can promise!

For more of my favorite Instagram finds, CLICK HERE.


Source: apartment34.com

How to Make $10,000 a Month with Rental Properties

When I first started my rental property journey I thought it would be amazing when I hit $10,000 a month in income from them. I passed that up a while ago and have kept going. Let me tell you, it was pretty amazing to hit that milestone and know that no matter what else happens in my businesses I have that money coming in. I have big goals and while $10,000 a month is awesome it is not nearly close to what my end goals are. For some people that would be more than enough and for others not even close, and that is okay. We all have different hopes and dreams. One thing is certain, real estate and rental properties in particular can be one of the best ways to build passive income and reach goals lie $10,000 a month without having to do much work.

Why $10,000?

$10,000 a month is a nice figure because it would replace most people’s income. There may be some people like myself who are looking to make a lot more, but a lot would be happy with $10,000. Even if you want to make a lot more $10,000 a month is a nice cushion if you are trying to be ultra-aggressive with other business ventures.

If you feel this number has no resonation with you because it is too big or too small the concepts stay the same. You can adjust it up or down using the numbers we use here. The way I wrote this article it will be very to plug and play the numbers in many different scenarios to see what works best for you!

Why rental properties?

I have been in real estate for a long time but I did not invest in rentals right away. It took me a while to realize all of the benefits and how great they can be building wealth. I chose to invest in rentals because of the cash flow they can produce. They have many other great features but the cash flow aspect was number one for me.

When you buy a great rental property it should make you money every month even after paying the expenses including the mortgage. That means the rent should cover the:

  • property taxes
  • insurance
  • maintenance
  • vacancies
  • property management
  • HOA
  • mortgage

After paying all of those expenses you should have a few hundred to a few thousand dollars leftover depending on the property. The cool thing about cash flow is that you can calculate fairly accurately how much money you will be making now and in the future. It is much easier to see what the cash flow is and how much income will be coming in based on the properties you have than it is to guess what the stock market will gain and how much money you will need to retire based on how long you live.

The cash flow will come in as long as you live and increase with time thanks to rents increasing with inflation and loans eventually being paid off. If I can build $10,000 a month in cash flow now, I am 99$ sure I will have that much money coming in later on in my life unless I sell properties.

Some of the other advantages of rental properties are:

  • Tax advantages
  • Loan pay down
  • Buying below market
  • Appreciation

Those make rental properties a home run in my opinion but the cash flow is still my number one goal.

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How much cash flow can you make on each property?

It would be really easy to know how to make $10,000 a month if we always knew exactly how much money each rental property made. However, every property is different and investors use different strategies to buy those properties. Some investors buy $30,000 rentals, some buy $300,000 rentals and some buy $3,000,000 dollar rentals. I could keep going but if you are buying a $30,00o,000 dollar rental you better be making much more than $10,000 a month!

In my experience with the right rental property priced from $100,000 to $150,000, you can make $400 to $500 a month in cash flow. Some people will make that much on cheaper properties and some that much on more expensive properties. One of the good and bad things with real estate is that every property is different. Every state is different in regard to property taxes, insurance, taxes, title, etc. The costs and profits will be different everywhere you go. In some areas, it is very hard to cash flow on a rental, and in others, it is pretty easy.

The key to figuring out how much money you make with rentals is figuring out how much you will make on each property and how many of those properties you need to buy. Of course, if you are like me and buy different types of properties in different price ranges that gets even more difficult.

How much money do you need to buy a rental?

One of the other very important things to consider when thinking about getting to $10,000 a month in income from rentals is how much money is it going to cost you to create that much income. $10,000 a month is $120,000 a year, which means a $1,200,000 investment would give you a 10% return on your money if you are just counting cash flow.

If you invested $2,400,000 and made $10,000 a month you would make 5% on your money from cash flow alone and if you invested $600,000 and made $10,000 a month that would be a 20% return on your money. How much will it really cost you to buy rentals and get to $10,000 a month?

When I was buying rentals from $80,000 to $120,000 and renting them from $1,200 to $1,400 a month I was making about $500 a month in cash flow after putting 20% percent down. I was also fixing up the properties because I was getting really good deals so I would put from $7,500 to $20,000 of cash into the repairs as well.

Using this example I would need to buy 20 rentals to get to $10,000 a month ($500 x 20 = $10,000). If each rental cost me $100,000 that means I was putting about $30,000 to $35,000 in cash into each one to produce $500 a month. For my situation, I would need $600,000 to $700,000 in order to create $10,000 a month in income from rentals assuming I bought them all straight up.

However, there are ways to buy rentals with less money or with more if you choose. You could always pay cash or work harder to put less money down or get money back that you spent on the property after getting it rented.

How will the numbers look based on different scenarios?

I just spoke on my scenario but as I said earlier every property is different and every market is different as well. While I might need $600,000 in cash to get to $10,000 a month in rental-property income, someone else may need $1,000,000 or more, while others may need even less.

If I were making $300 per property that means I would need to own 33 rentals and I would need about $1,000,000 in cash to buy and fix those up. Here are some other scenarios with different results.

  • Make $500 a month but not need any repairs to properties: $400,000
  • Make $500 a month but buying $50,000 properties with cash: $1,000,000
  • Make $1,000 a month but paying $300,000 for a property with repairs: $800,000
  • Make $5,000 a month on an apartment complex that needs repairs: $400,000

These are four scenarios of what could be endless possibilities based on the deals you can get and the cash flow on the properties. Some people may live in areas where it is very tough to cash flow and they could buy 100 properties and still not reach $10,000 a month.

plan to buy 100 houses

Can you make $10k a month with less cash?

I know a lot of you are thinking I don’t have $500,000 to invest in rental properties! This is crazy! I don’t blame you for thinking that because most people do not have that much money and I had nowhere close to that much money when I started. Even though I have gotten past the $10,000 a month figure I still have not invested that much into my rental properties.

I mentioned buying below market value as one of the advantages of owning rentals earlier in the article. Buying below market is what I have always done and is what allowed me to put less of my own cash into the rentals. I did not spend $600,000 buying 20 rentals because I used refinances and sold a few properties along the way which gave me a lot of cash back.

For example, I bought my second rental property for $92,000. I fixed it up, rented it, and had it for a year or two when I realized I had a lot of equity in the property. I bought it for $92,000, spent about $15,000 on the repairs, and it was worth $130,000 to $140,000 after making those repairs.

After a year or two, it was worth $160,000. I put 20% down so my loan was only $73,600 when I first bought it and after a year or two, it was down to $71,000 or so. My $34,000 initial investment had turned into almost $90,000 in equity on top of the cash flow I was making every month. I did not have to let that cash flow sit in the properties, I could use it by refinancing the property.

If I were to refinance the property, which means get a new loan that replaces the old loan, I could get cashback (cash-out refinance). The typical loan to value for a refinance on a rental property is 75% which means I could get back:

  • $160,000 value
  • $128,000 loan (75% of value)
  • $71,000 old loan
  • $4,500 in closing costs for new loan
  • $52,500 cash back after paying  the closing costs

I could get all of the cash I spent on the house back and then some. This is commonly known as the BRRRR strategy. If I did this just a few times I would need much less money. My cash flow would go down some on the properties I refinance because the loan payments would be higher, but the extra cash would allow me to buy more properties with less money. Instead of needing $600,000 to buy 20 properties I many only need $300,000 to buy 25 properties and still have the $10,000 a month in income.

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Selling some of my rentals to raise cash

Another way I was able to buy more rentals with less cash was by selling some of my rental properties. That may not make sense on the surface: sell properties so you can buy more? However, that is exactly how it worked. For example, I sold rental property number 6 in 2016.

  • Bought for $88,000 in 2013
  • Spent $14,000 repairing it
  • Rented for $1,250/month for 3 years
  • Spent another $10,000 refreshing it
  • Sold for 199,900 in 2016

The property made me money every month and it gained a ton of value and I bought it below value. By selling the house I was able to get back more than $110,000, which was way more than I put into it. I had to pay some taxes on that money, but I could buy two or three rentals with the cash I had made from selling that one rental. I sold that rental because it had a weird floorplan and was tough to rent.


There are many ways to buy rentals. I have bought commercial rentals with private money that needed no money from me. I stabilized the properties and then refinanced them with a traditional bank that sometimes gave me money back! While on the surface it looks tough to get to $10,000 a month with rental property income, you don’t have to save up hundreds of thousands of dollars. I have spent a lot of money buying my rentals but much less than if I had not used refinances, private money, and selling a few properties to recoup the cash. $10,000 a month is a great goal but it may not be the right goal for you. If you think you need more or less simply plug in some different numbers using the ideas posted above.

Source: investfourmore.com

If You’re Interested in Personal Finance Books, We Answer 3 Questions About Them Here

Much of the best personal finance advice out there is found in books, where the entire scope of a personal finance plan can be explored in depth. Your local library has a plethora of personal finance books on the shelves, covering almost any sub-topic you could want, and can request many more if you simply ask.

But among all of those books, there are questions. Which personal finance book is the best? Which one is right for me? How does the advice in a personal finance book apply in today’s world where we’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences? Let’s look in-depth at some of those issues.

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In this article

1. What’s the best personal finance book?

What is the best personal finance book? There are thousands of them on Amazon and I don’t know which ones are worth reading.

– Max

It’s hard to define what “best” really means in terms of something like personal finance because people are coming to these books from such different places in their lives. A person in their 20s at the start of a great career, single and earning a good salary, is going to be looking for something much different than the type of book that would appeal to someone in their 50s who has always struggled to make money and is now very scared about retirement.

Thus, if you’re looking for the “best” personal finance book, you would want one that explains core concepts of personal finance in a way that’s meaningful and applicable to a lot of people.

[ More: More Americans Are Using Retirement Savings to Cover Expenses ]

One very good choice in that regard is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The book focuses on examining personal finance through the lens of how much of your life you’re devoting to earning money, and thus how much of your life you’re spending with each transaction, casting money-saving decisions in a very powerful light. It is an incredibly powerful argument for spending less in the modern world, and overspending is one financial challenge almost all of us face.

Aside from that, look for a personal finance book that matches your life situation. For example, if you’re young, look for a book targeting folks in their 20s and 30s, like “Get a Financial Life” by Beth Kobliner.

2. How do I explore frugal hedonism while isolated?

I enjoyed learning about “The Art of Frugal Hedonism” and I picked it up from the library recently. Disappointed to find that it was mostly about doing things socially, which is much harder right now. How do you do frugal hedonism when you’re isolated?

– Dana

“The Art of Frugal Hedonism” is a great book that addresses saving money from an interesting perspective. It views frugality as a creative constraint, meaning that it nudges you to explore new things that you may not have done before, and those new things often expose you to pleasures that are entirely new to you.

Many of the examples given by the authors throughout the book are indeed oriented toward spending time with others, which is a difficult challenge for those practicing social distancing or socially isolated for other reasons. In our conversation with author Annie Raser-Rowland, she even directly points this out as a problem, noting that there’s no easy way around it.

So, what can a socially isolated person do to practice frugal hedonism? You can start by simply trying a wide range of low-cost solo activities and hobbies, particularly things you’ve never tried before. Try growing some vegetables in the spring, learning how to knit or learn how to cook.

[ Next: The Best Personal Finance Books ]

You can, in fact, be a frugal introvert. There are many things you can do solo that is quite inexpensive. Go through that list and pick out a few that you haven’t tried before that seem like they have at least a bit of potential to be interesting, and try them. Some will click, and that’s great. Some won’t, but then at least you’ll have an interesting story to tell.

3. What is the best Dave Ramsey book?

I have been listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio recently and I like his advice. I looked on Amazon and they have several books by him. Which one is the best or the best to read first?

– Michael

Hands down, the best Dave Ramsey book is “The Total Money Makeover.” The reason is that, among all of Dave’s books, it’s the one that leans in the strongest to his core message.

Dave Ramsey is extremely good at practical psychology. He’s very good at helping people define the personal finance problem they’re facing and have the willpower to overcome it through motivational tactics. He leans into that strength, which is great, but by doing so, he’s perhaps not so good at other areas. He chooses to offer motivational predictions rather than offer extremely accurate numbers, which is why he’ll consistently overestimate stock market returns when he delves into investments because doing so motivates people to turn toward investing.

That’s why “The Total Money Makeover” stands out amongst all of Dave’s books. It sticks with the practical psychology of debt and focuses on developing a debt repayment plan, his variant of which he calls the debt snowball, and how to motivate yourself to actually pull it off. This is the area where Dave shines, and it’s never more clear than in this book.

Do you have any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, via full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

How 2017 Rate Volatility Impacts Home Affordability

Prospective home buyers may feel disheartened when they see rates rise. Here’s what it really means for them.

Rising mortgage rates decrease how much home you can afford, but you have more flexibility than you might think because of how lenders qualify you.

Let’s recap the wild ride rates have been on since November, then review how this impacts affordability, and how you can qualify for the most home possible.

2017 rate recap and outlook

Mortgage rates rose .75 percent between the election and Christmas last year, driven by a belief that the new administration’s proposed policies of infrastructure spending, tax cuts, and deregulation would be inflationary if enacted.

Rates rise on inflation threats, and this is what happened post-election.

We said back then the dramatic rate spike might level off, and now that’s happening, albeit in a very volatile way. Rates are up and down daily as investors react to new government policies. One day investors bet inflation will be muted by policy delays or roadblocks (lower rates), and another day investors return to the post-election inflationary bet (higher rates).

The net effect is that rates are off post-election highs, and now are up about .5 percent since the election.

Rate volatility will continue as investors and the Federal Reserve try to predict rate direction under the new administration, so let’s see how it impacts your home-buying plans.

How rates impact home affordability

On a $350,000 home purchase with 20 percent down, a rate spike of .5 percent reduces the home price you can afford by about $17,000.

This measure can make you think you’re doomed to a smaller house or worse neighborhood. But if you understand how lenders think, you can find solutions.

Mortgage lenders use a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to qualify you, meaning they divide your bills (for housing, car payments, credit cards, etc.) by your income to get a percentage of how much of your monthly income you spend on bills. Most lenders don’t lend to you if your monthly bills are more than 43 percent of your income.

If you earn $65,000 per year and have car, student loan, and credit card bills totaling $615 per month, you qualified for that $350,000 home purchase when rates were .5 percent lower, but now you don’t.

The reason: your DTI percentage was below 43 percent pre-election, but now it’s above 44 percent after rates rose.

On the surface, the only solution would be to reduce your purchase price by $17,000 to $333,000 to get your DTI back below 43 percent.

How to increase home affordability

But instead of reducing your price by $17,000, you can reduce your other non-housing bills.

For example, let’s say your credit card payment was $125 on a balance of $3,125. You need to get that payment down to $45 to qualify for your original $350,000 home purchase price, and you can do so by paying down the balance by $2,000.

That’s a lot better than reducing your purchase price by $17,000, and if you’re light on cash, you can negotiate a seller credit at closing to recoup the $2,000.

How to make the right decisions

Just like all real estate is local, all lending is individual.  So don’t automatically assume rising rates push down the price you qualify for.

A good lender will examine your full financial profile and goals, then dive into the math to find solutions for you.

Looking for more information about mortgages? Check out our Mortgage Learning Center.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Source: zillow.com

5 Cyber-Security Myths We Need to Ditch

Pick a subject, any subject, and there are myths and pure nonsense that someone will buy into.

  • Birds will die if they eat the uncooked rice flung at newlyweds. (Nope)
  • If you eat Mentos and drink Diet Coke simultaneously your stomach will explode. (Hardly)
  • You only have one credit score. (Wrong)
  • Napoleon was short. (At 5’ 6”, his height was average in his day).
  • “President Obama was the founder of ISIS.” (Oh, come on Donald!)

Cyber-security has its own set of misconceptions as well. Here are five.

1. Software Will Protect You

Say it with me now: “Software alone is not going to stop cyber-crime, even a little.”

There is no more harmful notion than the one that leads people into doing whatever they want on their computers or smartphones because they downloaded a software update. While software has its benefits, they often have to do with containing damage, not stopping an attack.

The false sense of security fostered by the idea that software can protect anyone from the kinds of daily mutating, highly sophisticated attacks out there today is dangerous.

  • I just watched a documentary on the dark web, and I will never feel safe using my credit card again!

  • Luckily I don’t have to worry about that. I have ExtraCredit, so I get $1,000,000 ID protection and dark web scans.

  • I need that peace of mind in my life. What else do you get with ExtraCredit?

  • It’s basically everything my credit needs. I get 28 FICO® scores, rent and utility reporting, cash rewards and even a discount to one of the leaders in credit repair.

  • It’s settled; I’m getting ExtraCredit tonight. Totally unrelated, but any suggestions for my new fear of sharks? I watched that documentary too.

  • …we live in Oklahoma.

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Privacy Policy

2. Cyber-Crime Is Mostly About Credit Card Fraud

The idea that cyber-crime is just about credit card fraud is a pernicious misconception that, ironically, can lead to credit card fraud and other forms of credit-related crimes.

There is no right answer to the question regarding the most prevalent forms of cyber-crime. But by far the majority of the capers out there are focused on grabbing colossal amounts of personal identifying information from organizations that do business with millions of people or, alternately, stealing confidential business information that can be sold to the highest-bidding competitor. Sure, there are other forms of attack, some of them very much on the rise, such as ransomware schemes, but by and large the focus among cyber-criminals is on sellable information and making a lot more money than can be had from a credit pump-and-dump.

That said, the ways that stolen information can be used leads back to consumers and can very easily result in credit fraud, since stolen data can be easily purchased by identity thieves for next to nothing on the dark web.

3. Cyber-Crime Is Only About Making a Buck

If cyber-crime were only about making money, we’d all be a lot safer than we are right now.

Let that sink in.

Make no mistake, there are hordes of hackers out there driven by ideology. Many are far less interested in making money than in making money disappear or taking down the electrical grid or rigging an election. For them, mere monetary reward is not a motivation unless it is needed to facilitate an attack.

This is the stuff of nightmares and blockbuster Hollywood films, and there isn’t a thing most of us can do to stop any of it from happening.

In a world where the Stuxnet worm that was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program is quaint technology and detonating a hydrogen bomb would inflict less casualties than a cyber-attack that shuts off the power grid, having our credit ruined by a pajama-wearing identity thief is the least of our worries.

4. Cyber-Criminals Don’t Target Small Businesses

The myth that cyber-criminals don’t focus on businesses that aren’t at the top of the food chain can be debunked with one name: Target. The company was hacked by one remove. The criminals managed to get malware on a far-flung point-of-sale system by coming in the side door. They merely had to compromise a smaller HVAC vendor.

No matter how small the enterprise, it must have serious security protocols and a meaningful cyber-defense plan, lest it suffer an extinction-level event and potentially bring down a whole lot of other folks with it.

5. There Is No Way to Stop a Cyber-Attack

This is the biggest myth out there, in my opinion. Except, of course, that in the final analysis it is true: There is no way to stop every single cyber-attack.

That said, for many attacks, PEBCAK is the answer. Unfamiliar with this approach? It’s an oldie but goodie that anyone in IT will recognize, the letters forming an acronym that neatly states why countless attacks are successful. PEBCAK stands for Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard.

While it is true that cyber-threats abound, the only way to contain the pandemic and meaningfully push back is if everybody does what they are supposed to do. That is a big “if.” But one can hope, and while fixing the human problem is a Herculean task, it’s a worthy goal.

If you’re concerned you’ve been a victim of identity theft, it’s important to keep an eye on your credit as new accounts in your name or a sudden drop in credit scores indicate fraud has occurred. You can view two of your free credit scores, updated monthly, by visiting Credit.com.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: PeopleImages

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Source: credit.com

For $5.5K/Month, Live the Glamorous Old Hollywood Life at the Historic Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles

For this article, we partnered with sponsor Compass.com. While this is a paid article, its contents reflect our honest opinion and our reporting on the topic has not been influenced.

After an extensive renovation brought new life into L.A.’s iconic Villa Carlotta, the 1920s Italianate villa gloriously returned to market in 2018 as its founders intended — in the form of a swanky extended-stay residential with minimum 30-day lodging.

Now home to 50 rental units, Villa Carlotta plays on its historic past as a home and haunt for the artistically adventurous, only it now adds significant glam to the mix (and quite a few luxury rental perks).

How much will a month-long stay at Villa Carlotta cost you? A one-bedroom suite is $5,500/month, and comes fully furnished — and appointed with designer finishes, appliances for your every need, as well as towels, robes and personal care products lined up in the spa bathroom.

Rental at Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass
Rental at Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass
Rental at Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass

Since the building is a hybrid between your traditional apartment complex and an upscale hotel, renters get to enjoy services like spa treatments, a 24-hour concierge, housekeeping, and a rooftop with a killer view of the Hollywood sign. The common areas are as glamorous as you’d expect from an Old Hollywood beauty, and other onsite amenities include a swimming pool, courtyard, fitness studio, delivery lockers and bike storage. 

Common areas at Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass
Common areas at Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass
Common areas at Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass
Common areas at Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass

For more information on the Villa Carlotta rental, get in touch with real estate broker Laura Pardini.

The century-old history of the Villa Carlotta

Built back in 1926 by architect Arthur E. Harvey — the man behind neighboring manor, Château Élysée, which was once home to Humphrey Bogart, Ginger Rogers, and Clark Gable — the Italianate villa sits proudly at the corner of Franklin and Tamarind avenues.

The building has a fascinating history, starting with its controversial inception; as the story goes, Elinor Ince, the original owner of the building, received funding from William Randolph Hearst to erect the property as an extravagant apology for accidentally killing her husband, silent film superstar Thomas Ince.

Now part of Old Hollywood lore, Ince’s death supposedly happened aboard Hearst’s yacht in 1924, when the media mogul himself accidentally shot Ince with a bullet intended for Charlie Chaplin, who Hearst suspected was having an affair with his mistress, actress Marion Davies. Nothing was ever proven but surprisingly, Marion Davies became one of the first residents of the building (well before she bought the iconic Beverly House).

Villa Carlotta in Los Angeles, CA. Image credit: Compass

Over the years, Villa Carlotta has been home to countless famous residents, including Oscar-winning producer David O. Selznick (Gone With The Wind), Oscar-winning director George Cukor (My Fair Lady), actor Montgomery Clift (A Place In The Sun), and Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons, a Hearst protégé who ended up living in Villa Carlotta’s most luxurious apartment (with rumors saying the residence was a reward for her silence, as Parsons was aboard Hearst’s yacht when the shooting allegedly took place).

And while the apartment complex failed to retain its upscale status in its later years, becoming more of an artist hideout and home to up-and-coming talent, it still nabbed its fair share of celebrity residents; Jim Morrison of The Doors once stayed here, as well as Neil Patrick Harris (post Doogie Howser). Rumor has it Pulp Fiction director-screenwriter Quentin Tarantino tried to rent a unit too, but wasn’t accepted into the building.

Then, in 2018, real estate developer CGI strategies embarked on a $5.5 million restoration and renovation project, carried alongside the Hollywood Heritage Museum and Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources. With careful consideration for the building’s historic nature, the renovation brought the 50-unit complex back to life in the form of a striking boutique rental that combines Old Hollywood charm (think floor-to-ceiling French door) with modern touches (each unit has been equipped with an Apple TV and a tablet connected to the concierge service).

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Source: fancypantshomes.com

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 in, zoom out and play with photos in online listings. They’ll notice everything. If your photos don’t show your home well, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t care, and that you are not a serious seller.

The buyer is your customer. You have a product for sale. Take the time to present it in the best possible light.

Poor photos won’t cut it

Images that are blurry, poorly lit, or distorted are not going to sell your home.

It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who will take high-resolution photos, and even bring extra lighting or equipment to enhance their work. They’ll also take dozens of pictures and work tirelessly to show your home in the right light and from the best angles.

Don’t skimp on the number of photos

When it comes to photos, the more, the merrier. You want to make it easy on buyers to get comfortable with and learn more about your home.

Not only are the listing photos their initial impression, but they serve to help orient the buyer after the first or second showing. Once they have been through the home in person, they are better able to relate to the floor plan and how it flows. Going back to the listing photos allows them to make connections and dig deeper. Encourage them to do so by posting plenty of photos.

Ready to put your home on the market? Check out our Home Sellers Guide for more tips and resources.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published February 2, 2016.

Source: zillow.com