The American dream of owning a home is something everyone should have if they want it. You should be able to live where you want and enjoy the features of your environment that help you relax, entertain, play, and do more of the things you enjoy without the restrictions imposed by a landlord.

You can own a pet, build a tree house, paint the walls your favorite color, and play music and videos as loud as you like without disturbing your neighbors. That’s the essence of the dream — independence.

For most first-time buyers, it’s better to accept that for dreams to come true, you have to do the groundwork. Yes, you will be far more independent than you would as a renter, but you will still have some very real responsibilities to make home ownership work. Here are the top three responsibilities you’ll have as a homeowner.

Financial responsibilities

You owe your lender timely payments. Paying on time helps you build your credit. With great credit, you can take on more projects such as remodeling, or you’ll be able to buy furniture, cars or other things you want with lower interest on your payments.

Your debts should never be more than 40 percent of your income. If you get overextended, you’ll have problems meeting the minimum payments. Instead, limit the amount of credit you actively use and pay off balances every month. Don’t add new charges until you’ve paid off your balances.

You should also be in a position to save money, which you can do several ways. You can put money in your 401K, you can pay extra on your principal every month, or you can buy bonds or invest in the stock market, according to your tolerance for risk. You can put money in a safety deposit box or under the mattress as long as you are saving rather than overspending.

Common wisdom is to build six months of cash so you can continue to make your house payments if you lose your job or become ill. You need savings for emergencies, large expenses such as student debt, and retirement.

Neighborhood responsibilities

When you buy a home, your household becomes part of the neighborhood. You can influence whether or not the neighborhood prospers or declines simply by the way you treat your neighbors and your home. It’s up to you to uphold or to set a higher standard for the neighborhood by keeping your lawn and trees trimmed, your home freshly painted, and toys and trash picked up from the entry.

This is the way you can protect your investment and those of your neighbors. It’s one of the reasons many neighborhoods have homeowners associations — to protect values by standardizing safety and maintenance for the community.

To get the benefits the HOA provides such as higher and consistent home values, you have to pay your dues and obey the covenants. You can volunteer to help or you’ll have to abide by the decisions others make. Before you buy a home in a HOA-managed community, read the covenants so you’ll know what you’re getting into. If not being able to use certain exterior paint colors bothers you, then don’t buy the home. Find something else.

Household responsibilities

You owe yourself and the other members of your household the best life you can possibly provide. Buying a new home is a great time to step up your lifestyle and enjoy what your new home and the community has to offer.

Your home should help you be who you want to be. That’s the purpose of shaping your environment. You have control over whether you entertain like Martha Stewart, paint in your studio like the next Picasso, or grow a lawn as sleek as the Augusta fairways.

Choose a home that meets as many needs as you can within your means. Separate bedrooms for the kids may be doable, but you may have to compromise on a Jack and Jill shared bath. This is an excellent opportunity to teach your older children about prioritizing, delayed gratification, give and take and winning and losing gracefully.

Make sure the area you select offers amenities that your building doesn’t have. If you don’t have a yard for the kids and the dog, make sure there’s a park and playground nearby.

Think about how far and how long it will take you to get to shopping, work, and other friends and family. Think about how a long commute will affect your family. Would you rather be sitting in traffic or attending your son’s ball game?

You and your spouse may want the prestige of living in a certain area, but if your house-payment is too high, you’ll introduce problems into the relationship you don’t need. It’s about making choices that make sense. Better to buy a smaller home in a great neighborhood and keep the arguing down.

Buy the best home you can that’s within your means and it will see you through years of comfort.

Written by Blanche Evans


Pricing Mistakes Sellers Should Avoid

Pricing Mistakes Sellers Should Avoid
Your clients have a lot of decisions to make when they decide to sell their home, but one of the most important is pricing. Inman News recently identified five of the most common pricing mistakes that sellers make:

1. Pricing to the “unsolds” rather than the “solds”
You’ll want to check out the prices of comparable homes that have sold to get a sense of what the home is probably worth, and also look at the unsold listings on the market to get a sense of the pricing you need to beat. But too many sellers ignore the “solds” and price their home according to the “unsolds”—the listings that are currently languishing on the market.

2. Overvaluing the amenities
Amenities do have value, just not enough to make a big difference in price. Amenities are important because they can change where you are in a price range, but they don’t move you up to the next one.

3. Trying to get full value for improvements
Not only do many sellers overvalue their amenities, but they also tend to overvalue any improvements they’ve made in the home. In most cases, improvements earn back about 60 to 70 percent of what they cost.

4. Pricing based on what the sellers need
Sometimes, sellers make the mistake of pricing according to the next home they want to buy, not the home they own now. Real estate is an open and transparent market, so sellers can’t price their homes according to theirpersonal needs.

5. Falling in love with Automated Valuation Models
Many sellers make the mistake of relying too much on Automated Valuation Models (AVMs). But they need to understand that AVMs were designed to provide quick and easy macro-level valuations for institutional investors who didn’t have the time or ability to do a detailed analysis. They’re not intended to be as accurate as an actual comparative market analysis.

Even if sellers avoid these five mistakes when they’re pricing their home, they can still make a critical mistake afterward: they set their price and forget it. Even in the best of circumstances, the initial home price is a guess. Pricing is both an art and a science, and you never quite know exactly how the market is going to react when you list a home. If the market is telling you something, you should listen.

Source: Inman News April 21, 2016

Things to Do Around Lake Mead – Las Vegas, NV

Lake Mead is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States. Connected by the Colorado River and stemming off of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is more than 112 miles long when full, with almost 800 miles of shoreline and more than 500 feet at its greatest depth. However, Lake Mead hasn’t reached full capacity since 1983 due to increased water demand and a local drought that has only become more of a problem as time went on. Due to the current low levels of the lake, Lake Sakakawea tends to hold the title as being the largest reservoir in America.

Click Here to see the Current Water Level.

The History and Formation of the Lake Mead


The Road to Lake Mead
Elwood Mead is the mastermind behind Lake Mead. The former commissioner of the United States Bureau of Reclamation, Elwood Mead planned the Boulder Canyon Project that ultimately created the lake. Lake Mead was officiated in 1936, with it being regulated by the National Park Service.

The geography of Lake Mead is unique, as it has nine access points with points of entry along Las Vegas, Interstate 15, and the Valley of Fire State Park. Because it is so large, Lake Mead tends to be categorized into several sections. The largest segment is near the Hoover Dam, which feeds the lake. There are several basins in and around Lake Mead, however, as of February 2015, most of these basins have remained try.

The river itself is beautiful, but it is also appointed with jagged mountain ranges and a scenic backdrop, especially around sunset. Within one of its basins, visitors gain access to the Boulder basin, the River Mountains, and the Muddy Mountains. These rock formations give Lake Mead an almost ethereal feel. Lake Mead may be experiencing one of its more drastic droughts, but it is still a very active tourist attraction.

Activities in Lake Mead

Lake Mead Las Vegas Carp

The Lake Mead National Recreation area has a number of water recreation activities in a picturesque setting. It is a perfect place for those who want to take out the kayak, or simply take a hike to experience the beauty of the lake and its surrounding areas. There’s also several picnic areas that are intentionally shaded with trees, with fire grills, tables, and restrooms located throughout the park. Lake Mead is surrounded by a desert, with paved roads winding through the desert scenery.

Hiking in the backcountry. Even though Lake Mead and the surrounding desert is large and expansive, civilization is never too far away as the park is covered with a network of backcountry roads that have been developed to provide easy access to the Lake’s shoreline as well as different points of interest throughout the park. Yellow signs stand throughout the roads, signaling their presence. Since there are hundreds of miles of backcountry, it is impossible for rangers to be cognizant of the condition of each road. Make sure that you carry the appropriate communication devices and a spare change of tire. If driving to the lake, make sure that you do not go off-road. This is to preserve the delicate ecosystem and the desert’s top soil. If you want to go camping, then make sure that it is done in approved sites. Your campsite must be about half a mile off of any designated routes and about 100 feet from any source of water. Lake Mead attracts novice and expert campers, with campers being able to stay in the same campsite for a maximum of 15 days.

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Boating – the correct way to enjoy Lake Mead.
Lake Mead Boating

Boating is one of the most popular activities that occurs on Lake Mead. With almost 300 square miles of waterway, Lake Mead creates a relaxing boating experience in open waters. Since it is so large, different boats of different sizes sail through Lake Mead. If you want privacy, you can always pull up into a private cove. For boaters, it is important that you are cognizant of rules and conditions set forth by park rangers. You need to have one life jacket per person on the boat, as well as a fire extinguisher if your boat is powered by combustion.

Camping. There is a $20 camping fee per site upon occupying a campsite. You are allowed single site camping as well as group camping with 15 people maximum, per site. To make your experience more enjoyable, you can rent an RV with water, electric, and full sewage. You are able to camp in more desolate, backcountry camping sites, as long as there are no “No Camping” signs. It’s important that you tell a friend or a relative where you will be staying in Lake Mead if you are going to camp in the backcountry. Horseback riding is also allowed in the park and along the shoreline.

Lake Mead Boating Companies

On a mobile device? Turn your phone on it’s sized (horizontal position) and see the list in a wide view.

Lake Mead Boat Rentals Get Your Guide
Canal Boat Rentals Las Vegas Boat Harbor
Calville Bay Resort SkiWi Rentals
Las Vegas Water Sports Forever Houseboats

Child playing at Lake Mead Las Vegas Small
Kayaking and canoeing
. For A more personal approach to Lake Mead, take a kayak through it. You can discover many of Lake Mead’s hidden coves and rock formations that jut out of the receding shoreline. Black Canyon is a popular spot for those who are traversing through on canoe. The Official National Water Trail Is a distinctive national network of waterways, that offers a scenic view of Lake Mead’s wildlife, rock features, and streams.

It’s important to note that Lake Mead has recently been infected with an invasive mussel species. To ensure that you do not spread the mussels to other waters, make sure that you drain water from your motor, inspect your vessels or trailers for any visible muscles, and wash your equipment that has a rough or gritty surface. If the underside of your kayak feels like there are shingles or tiny needles, then wash it with soapy water or a five percent bleach solution. This could be juvenile mussels that have adhered themselves to your boat. Do your part to ensure the health of Lake Mead.

Pets are welcome – just follow these rules. Make sure that your dog is on a leash at all times, ensuring that the leash does not exceed more than six feet in length. Yapping dogs are a nuisance and may be asked to be removed from the campgrounds. Also, make sure that you do not leave your dog in a car. Summer temperatures in Lake Mead can be extremely high, with heat being concentrated by the enclosed car.

Desert Princess Headwalk and Signage at Lake Mead Cruises

My wife and I  took  the Lake Mead Cruise. We had a blast and I would highly recommend it.

Things to Do Around Lake Mead

Railroad Tunnels Trail. There are remnants of a leftover railroad tunnel that is part of the River Mountain Trail. The 3.7-mile trail begins at Boulder Beach and will end up at the mouth of the Hoover dam parking garage. It is a relatively unassuming and flat tunnel. Walk through it and you will feel like you are walking into the past, into the age of steam locomotion.

Gold Strike Hot Springs. Witness thermodynamics by visiting the hot springs around Lake Mead. There are a series of Hot Springs and hot pools near the National Recreation Area, just a bit south on US 93.

Anniversary Narrows
. Running adjacent to Lake Mead, this six-mile hike allows you to traverse through the canyons fixed with steep walls on either side. You will be able to observe the different layers of sediment, enabling you to walk on a layer of soil and sediment that hasn’t been exposed in millennia.

Anniversary Narrows in Nevada at Lake Mead

Floatels. The Echo Bay Marina houses several floatels – or hotels that float. They are intended for temporary stays right on the lake. If you are not built for outdoor camping, and want to experience the outdoors with a bit of extravagance, then a floatel will offer all of the comforts of home, including a kitchen and air-conditioning.

Interesting Facts about Lake Mead

Near the Nevada and Arizona border. Lake Mead has the distinction of being one of the largest man-made lakes and reservoirs. Located just 20 miles from Los Angeles, Lake Mead cradles the border between Arizona and Nevada.
The Water and Sea World Comes from Lake Mead. The water that is at the Disneyland in Anaheim California, as well as the Sea world in San Diego, all uses water from Lake Mead.
There is a heavy bomber at the bottom of the lake. In 1946, a four-engine bomber crashed into the lake. The plane remained unseen by human eyes for more than 50 years, with the plane being too deep for any salvage operation.
Enjoy Lake Mead While It Still Here

The water levels at Lake Mead are at the lowest since the 1930s. Years of drastic droughts have evaporated large areas of the lake, with whole basins completely disappearing. The water level has dropped more than 120 feet in the past 15 years. The northern area of Lake Mead, Overton Arm, has noticeably shrunk. It is projected that the lake is in danger of completely drying up by 2021 – so visit Lake Mead while is still around.