South Geelong the New Hipster Heritage says Next Address -

As old worlde style meets turmeric latte one of the oldest precincts in the growing regional hub of Geelong, South Geelong is becoming increasingly popular. This isn’t just because of its heritage streetscape says Julie O’Donohue, founder of Next Address. “When people speak about loving the area, they are also talking about liveability and according to the research we have done locally, the livability factor here is off the charts.” says Julie. Within an hour by train you are in inner…

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What Are Mortgage Points? Should You Pay Them?

(TNS)—When people want to find out how much their mortgages cost, lenders often give them quotes that include loan rates and points.

What Is a Mortgage Point?
A mortgage point is a fee equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. A 30-year, $150,000 mortgage might have a rate of 7 percent but come with a charge of one mortgage point, or $1,500.

A lender can charge one, two or more mortgage points. There are two kinds of points:

  1. Discount points
  2. Origination points

Discount Points
These are actually prepaid interest on the mortgage loan. The more points you pay, the lower the interest rate on the loan and vice versa. Borrowers typically can pay anywhere from zero to three or four points, depending on how much they want to lower their rates. This kind of point is tax-deductible.

Origination Points
This is charged by the lender to cover the costs of making the loan. The origination fee is tax-deductible if it was used to obtain the mortgage and not to pay other closing costs. The IRS specifically states that if the fee is for items that would normally be itemized on a settlement statement, such as notary fees, preparation costs and inspection fees, it is not deductible.

How do you decide whether to pay mortgage points, and how many? That depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • How much money you have available to put down at closing
  • How long you plan on staying in your house

Points as prepaid interest reduce the interest rate—an advantage if you plan to stay in your home for a while—but if you need the lowest possible closing costs, choose the zero-point option on your loan program.

By the Numbers…
A lender might offer you a 30-year fixed mortgage of $165,000 at 6 percent interest with no points. The monthly mortgage principal and interest payment would be $989. If you pay two points at closing (that’s $3,300) you might be able to drop the interest rate down to 5.5 percent, with a monthly payment of $937. The savings difference would be $52 per month, but it would take 64 months to earn back the $3,300 spent upfront via lower payments. If you’re sure you will own the house for more than five years, you save money by paying the points.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

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View the Possibilities With Virtual Staging


By Brian Balduf, VHT Studios

Appealing to home buyers is all about making that emotional connection. Smart marketers know emotions trump other factors, especially when you hear buyers say the listing “just feels right.” They may be searching for a new house, but they’re envisioning their next home.

Buyers’ emotional experience while home shopping is heightened even more by stunning real estate photography that is the attention-grabber in the age of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Houzz.

Breathtaking photographs and video stir buyers’ emotions and imaginations and prompt dreams about how they’ll live in that home.

New virtual staging tools go even one step further. Virtual staging makes a listing stand out and allows buyers to visualize their dreams – not only in their minds – but on their monitors or mobile devices.

When marketing to those buyers, virtual staging allows real estate professionals to present the rooms of a listing in many styles and functions, enabling agents to reach the widest audience possible by appealing to myriad tastes and lifestyle needs.

Virtual Staging blows up the current one-size-fits-all listing model and gives real estate pros far greater flexibility in customizing a listing to the desires and expectations of their perceived audiences.

It starts with high quality photographs, the standard for showing how a home is currently furnished and decorated today for its current owner. Virtual staging tools inserted into or enhancing those photographs amp up the features of a listing and showcase why each room is a great space and how it can be used, whether the prospective owner is a workout enthusiast, a craft hobbyist, or a new parent.

Also, virtual staging eliminates the expense of renting furnishings or hiring traditional stagers, while allowing buyers to mentally prepare how they can live in their prospective home.

Virtual staging helps buyers look beyond the stark, off-putting appearance of a vacant room. It also presents decorating options that enhance, for instance, a living room containing worn carpeting and outdated furniture that could leave a bad impression.

Virtual staging presents a property’s potential and can attract and interest different audiences with a variety of lifestyles.

See for yourself how virtual staging was used successfully by Robert Pribyl and Bernadette Ray, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Chicago. Robert says they took advantage of virtual staging’s flexibility for a vacant and fully remodeled 130-year old house in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood.

Virtually staged by VHT Studios

“This neighborhood is very hot. It’s become a magnet for millennials and high-net worth investors, so we needed to showcase how single professionals or families with different needs might live in the home,” Pribyl says. “I like the modern furniture that buyers see in the living room – it fits the style of the buyers I’m trying to attract. The home looks more appealing to buyers when they can see select rooms that are furnished.

They used virtual staging to showcase how a bedroom might appeal, for instance, to a young couple with a newborn. They also transformed that same vacant bedroom into an office and an exercise room for a young entrepreneur or a workout enthusiast.



Virtually staged by VHT Studios


Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In the finished basement, virtual staging allowed the duo to show the space’s potential as a child’s playroom and man-cave for TV sports fans and game lovers.



Virtually staged by VHT Studios


Virtually staged by VHT Studios


Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In just four weeks after installing virtual photographs, they received multiple offers on the listing, and as of this writing, they were in negotiations with potential buyers.

Virtual staging opens many real estate marketing options which up until now have been impossible to deploy. There are now unlimited ways to present a room’s functions or decor through virtual tools.

Real estate professionals are also applying flexibility to how they use virtually staged photographs. In addition to websites, advertising and brochures, agents are using enlarged virtually staged photographs that depict multiple room functions and placing them on easels in each room of their listings. This allows buyers to instantly recall the virtually staged home they viewed online, as well as to envision the many possibilities.

Also, consider these other virtual tools that can solve common headaches that real estate professionals have had to work through over the years:

  • Virtual paint is helpful when walls need a fresh coat of paint or when dated wallpaper needs a makeover.
  • Virtual declutter removes mementos and personal effects that may be cherished by the owner but are distractions to buyers.
  • And virtual twilight wows buyers and with warm, romantic, and welcoming exterior views that appeared to be photographed at dusk.

Here’s another example of a virtually staged living space at a listing in Rosemont, Ill. See how the space has been configured to appeal to different style preferences.



Virtually staged by VHT Studios


Virtually staged by VHT Studios


Virtually staged by VHT Studios

Don’t Try This at Home!

Some digital photography pros may be tempted to hire a Photoshop hobbyist to digitally alter photos with virtual enhancements. Having great Photoshop skills doesn’t guarantee beautiful virtual staging.

Installing a virtual couch into a photograph and hitting “Sharpen My Image” may do more harm than good to a vacant room. Often the end result looks like the old Colorforms stickers we played with as kids.

Experienced virtual stagers are studio and image specialists who have composition skills in real estate photography and know how to blend multiple exposures in which lighting, window views, and details are merged to create the final composite photography.

They also understand perspective, shadows, and size in relation to room dimensions.

We advocate trusting your visual marketing to a pro, just as real estate brokers advocate to their clients.

The newest visual marketing tools are proof that real estate marketing is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. Smart professionals are adopting these tools to reach a much wider audience, to make a greater first impression on potential buyers, and sell homes faster and at the best price.

Brian BaldufABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Balduf, CEO, chairman and co-founder of VHT Studios, has built the Rosemont, Ill.-based firm into the nation’s largest real estate photography and image management services company. Since he co-founded the company in 1998, VHT Studios has helped more than 200,000 real estate professionals sell more than $200 billion in properties through its nationwide network of hundreds of photographers and image specialists. Delivering to real estate professionals their most powerful selling tools – high quality photography and video – Balduf has worked to ensure their properties get seen more, sell faster and at the highest price. For more information, visit, The VHT Studios Blog or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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$405,000 :: 597 OLIVIA Drive, Milford Township MI, 48381

Property Photo

4 beds, 2.1 baths
Home size: 2,676 sq ft
Lot Size: 15,245 sq ft
Added: 11/12/17, Last Updated: 11/12/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 217101630
Community: Milford Twp
Status: Active

Beautiful walk out home looking over a pond in desirable Milford Point Development. This new construction home features many extra’s including 9′ basement, 9′ first floor, granite in all bathrooms, hardwood flooring (kitchen, nook, foyer) and many other upgrades. Just minutes from downtown Milford. A must see!

Listed with Healy Homes Realty Inc

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at!

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$33,000 :: 962 WOODLAWN Drive, Deerfield Township MI, 48421

Property Photo

2 beds, 1 bath
Home size: 862 sq ft
Lot Size: 20,908 sq ft
Added: 11/11/17, Last Updated: 11/11/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 217101581
Community: Deerfield Twp
Status: Active

Manufactured home with lake privileges on a beautiful double lot that backs up to a large wooded area. The home is in rough condition, but there is an existing well and septic, and a nice long gravel drive. Please call us for more information and to see this wonderful property for yourself.

Listed with American Real Estate Services

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at!

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$218,860 :: 3153 JOHANNA WARE WEST, Wixom MI, 48393

Property Photo

3 beds, 3 baths
Home size: 1,541 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 11/11/17, Last Updated: 11/11/17
Property Type: Condo/Townhouse/Co-Op
MLS Number: 21389080
Community: Wixom (63172)
Status: Pending

This brand new town home built by the Home Builders Association 2015 Builder of the Year, Robertson Homes features a spacious and bright open floor plan just 2 blocks from downtown Wixom. The Sylvan floorplan features 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, granite counter tops, hardwood flooring, ceramic tile, 9 foot ceilings, two car attached garage, privacy deck, patio in the front yard, and many other upgrades! Enjoy maintenance free living in this established community close to freeways, Novi shopping, Kensington Park, Proud Lake, and Lyon Oaks Park. Liberty at Tribute boasts it’s own dog park, and the rails to trails is adjacent. We anticipate this home to be completed fall 2018, hurry to pick your finishes!

Listed with Robertson Brothers Company

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at!

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$644,995 :: 24499 ACORN TRL, Novi MI, 48374

Property Photo

4 beds, 4 baths
Home size: 3,100 sq ft
Lot Size: 10,890 sq ft
Added: 11/10/17, Last Updated: 11/10/17
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21388928
Community: Novi (63272)
Status: Active

QUICK DELIVERY HOME – SIGN TODAY – MOVE IN TOMORROW! ISLAND LAKE OF NOVI with Novi Schools – resort living with private 170-Acre Lake, swimming pools, boathouse, fitness center & locker rooms, tennis, volleyball, beach and miles of trails. The ASTOR WILLIAMSBURG floor plan offers a 2 story foyer open to the formal living & dining rooms and leads into the expansive 2 story expanded family room w/ gas fireplace. Private 1st floor study w/ elegant double doors is conveniently located & spacious. Large kitchen w/ granite counters, large walk-in pantry, hardwood floors & stainless steel appliances lead to the breakfast nook & Solarium addition. Gracious master suite includes private bath w/ separate shower & soaking tub, HUGE walk-in closet & relaxing sitting area. 9 ft basement ceiling with 3-piece rough plumbing for future bathroom. Building package includes Sod/Irrigation & full builder’s warranty. Photos are representational.

Listed with Toll Realty Michigan Inc

Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at!

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Asbestos Removal Projects Continue for Bay Area Rapid Transit Station

Recently, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) announced that the agency had directed contractors to remove asbestos from one of their most popular stations. Powell Street Station has three locations with asbestos that will be removed so that a project to install new ceiling panels and lights can progress safely. According to a news release from BART, “The material has not been a hazard while it remained undisturbed, however, since the installation of new ceiling panels and lights could cause…

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Construction Industry’s 2018 Economic Forecast to Debut at Dodge Data & Analytics 79th Annual Outlook Executive Conference

Dodge Data & Analytics will hold its 79th annual Dodge Construction Outlook Executive Conference, November 1-2, 2017, at the Swissôtel Chicago. To register, please visit 2018 Dodge Outlook. Continue Reading →

MEP Awards 2017: Faisal Jassim Group bags Supplier of the Year award

Faisal Jassim Group went on to win the Supplier of the Year award Continue Reading →