SPEAKING two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.

They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.

Bilinguals, for instance, seem to be more adept than monolinguals at solving certain kinds of mental puzzles. In a 2004 study by the psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee, bilingual and monolingual preschoolers were asked to sort blue circles and red squares presented on a computer screen into two digital bins — one marked with a blue square and the other marked with a red circle.

In the first task, the children had to sort the shapes by color, placing blue circles in the bin marked with the blue square and red squares in the bin marked with the red circle. Both groups did this with comparable ease. Next, the children were asked to sort by shape, which was more challenging because it required placing the images in a bin marked with a conflicting color. The bilinguals were quicker at performing this task.

The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.

Why does the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition? Until recently, researchers thought the bilingual advantage stemmed primarily from an ability for inhibition that was honed by the exercise of suppressing one language system: this suppression, it was thought, would help train the bilingual mind to ignore distractions in other contexts. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page.

The key difference between bilinguals and monolinguals may be more basic: a heightened ability to monitor the environment. “Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often — you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language,” says Albert Costa, a researcher at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. “It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.” In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks, Mr. Costa and his colleagues found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.

The bilingual experience appears to influence the brain from infancy to old age (and there is reason to believe that it may also apply to those who learn a second language later in life).

In a 2009 study led by Agnes Kovacs of the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, 7-month-old babies exposed to two languages from birth were compared with peers raised with one language. In an initial set of trials, the infants were presented with an audio cue and then shown a puppet on one side of a screen. Both infant groups learned to look at that side of the screen in anticipation of the puppet. But in a later set of trials, when the puppet began appearing on the opposite side of the screen, the babies exposed to a bilingual environment quickly learned to switch their anticipatory gaze in the new direction while the other babies did not.

Bilingualism’s effects also extend into the twilight years. In a recent study of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals, scientists led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism — measured through a comparative evaluation of proficiency in each language — were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.

Nobody ever doubted the power of language. But who would have imagined that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint?

Festival Latino Americano 2016

Mingle with more than 20,000 other culture and music lovers at one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events, the Latin American Festival! The Latin American Coalition’s signature cultural event is celebrating 26 years of music, food, and fun.

SAVE THE DATE:

Saturday October 8, 2016 at Symphony Park.

We are thrilled to announce headlining this year’s festival is Nicaraguan Grammy Winning Salsa singer Luis Enrique with Venezuela’s ska superstars Desorden Publico and Mexican-American Grammy Award winners, La Santa Cecilia.

Admission:

$5 * Children 8 & under are free.

For more information contact Tony Arreaza via email or at 980.498.2927
No outside food, alcohol, or coolers permitted. No dogs allowed. No weapons.

CHECK OUT SANTA CECILIA’S ICE VIDEO!

SHARED BY:
LEILANNI FLORES 

Qué Necesita Usted Saber Acerca de la Inspección de su Casa

Antes de que compre una casa es importante efectuar una inspección completa llevada a cabo por un inspector de casas calificado. Usted pensará que ha encontrado la casa que busca con base en la información proporcionada por el vendedor, la vista de la casa y su ubicación. Puede pensar que está pagando un precio justo por esta pieza de bien raíz. Sin embargo, si la inspección de la casa revela un problema costoso que requerirá mucho trabajo para solucionarlo, ¿todavía sentiría lo mismo acerca de esa casa?

Casi cada inspección de una casa se lleva a cabo en la misma forma que una casa nueva, reportando algunos problemas que necesitan arreglarse o sugerencias para mejorar la propiedad. Dicho lo anterior, no todo lo que se reporta en la inspección de una casa es de gran importancia. Algunas cosas, tales como por ejemplo una cerradura descompuesta, pueden ser arregladas con unos pocos dólares y sin mucho esfuerzo.

Dado que casi todo reporte de una inspección sobre propiedades que han tenido dueño contiene algún problema, la cláusula de contingencia en la mayoría de las ofertas de compra de bienes raíces solamente permite al comprador cancelar el contrato si existe un problema sustancial o de significación que haya revelado la inspección.

Qué constituye un problema sustancial o de significación, variará dependiendo de la propiedad. Los compradores y los vendedores deben considerar el costo de la reparación en relación con el precio de compra de la casa. En muchos casos las siguientes clases de problemas pueden ser sustanciales o de significación:

  • Elementos Estructurales de la Casa: si el techo necesita reparación, los cimientos están defectuosos o la estructura no es buena, entonces probablemente serán un problema cuyo arreglo será costoso. Esto puede incluir problemas de agua, como agua en el sótano que se acumula cuando llueve.
  • Sistema de Plomería: Si existe un problema complicado del sistema de plomería, ello puede ser costoso y difícil de reparación. Sin embargo, si el problema se limita a una área pequeña, tal como un fregadero, entonces no será un problema de significación.
  • Sistema Eléctrico: como en el caso de la plomería, si hay un problema sistémico en la electricidad, entonces será de significación. Si, por ejemplo, el sistema de cableado no está codificado, entonces será un problema de seguridad que puede ser costoso de arreglar.
  • Sistema de Calefacción y de Hornos: un problema con el sistema de calefacción o con el horno, también es un asunto de seguridad que puede ser difícil de arreglar.
  • Asbesto: esta no constituye una parte típica de la inspección de la casa, pero el asbesto puede estar presente en la casa, entonces el comprador en potencia debe contratar a un inspector en asbesto para determinar la presencia de esta sustancia. Puede ser peligroso aspirar asbesto pues puede dar como resultado graves problemas de salud como  mesothelioma. Su eliminación puede ser costosa.
  • Pintura de Plomo: la pintura de plomo, como el asbesto, típicamente no forma parte de la inspección de una casa, pero puede estar presente en casas construidas antes de 1978. Es importante que su casa sea probada por lo que toca a la pintura de plomo y que toda la que exista sea removida del edificio, especialmente si van a vivir en ella niños pequeños o embarazadas.

Otros aspectos como los problemas con los artefactos individuales y cosméticos, tales como tapetes manchados o empapelado de las paredes rotos, usualmente son insignificantes y no causan el rechazo de una oferta de compra de un bien raíz.

Antes de cancelar una oferta de compra debido a un problema descubierto durante la inspección de una casa, típicamente el comprador en potencia debe compartir el informe de la inspección con el vendedor  para darle oportunidad de arreglar el problema o negociar una solución con el comprador. Una vez que el vendedor conozca el problema, entonces éste usualmente está obligado a divulgar el problema a otros posibles compradores. En consecuencia, muchas veces es para los mejores intereses del vendedor cubrir el costo de las reparaciones o negociar con el comprador, en lugar de dejar que éste se retire del acuerdo de comprar la casa.

Why Use A Realtor® To Sell

Forms You Will Need to Review Before Someone Makes an Offer on You House:

 

Working with Real Estate Agents

Fair Housing

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY AND OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

G.S. 47E requires owners of residential real estate (single-family homes and buildings with up to four dwelling units) to furnish purchasers a property disclosure statement. This form is the only one approved for this purpose.

MINERAL AND OIL AND GAS RIGHTS MANDATORY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

 

Why use a Realtor®?

Buying a home is an important investment and a complex process. Selling your home requires care and expertise. A Realtor® brings professional expertise, local knowledge and trustworthy information.

Whether it’s your first home or you’re trading up, and whether you’re moving across town or across the country, connect with a Realtor® to get the best value for your investment.

The term “Realtor®” is a registered collective membership mark identifying a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and who also is affiliated with a state and local Realtor® association.

A Realtor® is different from a real estate licensee. All individuals legally practicing real estate in the US are licensed, but not all are Realtors®. Only Realtors® subscribe to a strict code of ethics that goes beyond what is required by law. Before engaging the services of a real estate professional, ask if he or she is a Realtor®. Learn more about the use of the term “Realtor®.”

 

  • How my Realtor® will help me sell my home

    • Setting the Stage

      • Your Realtor® will explain how agency works, and the difference between your agent and other agents who may be involved in aspects of the transaction, but actually represent another party. You’ll be given the Working with Real Estate Agents brochure to help you know your rights.
      • Your Realtor® will give you an overview of the current market conditions and projections.
      • Your Realtor® will perform an exterior curb assessment of your home.
    • The Price is Right

      • Your Realtor® will research all comparable properties and the sales activity for the past six months to a year from MLS and public records databases to prepare a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) to establish fair market value.
      • Your Realtor® will perform an exterior curb assessment of your home and advise you on features in high demand with buyers in the current market.
      • Your Realtor® will schedule showings for qualified, serious buyers.
    • The Marketing Strategy

      • Your Realtor® will listen to your needs and create an effective and strategic marketing plan geared to maximize return while staying in your comfort zone.
      • Your Realtor® will explain the advantages and disadvantages of various syndication services, IDX, web marketing and more.
      • Your Realtor® has access to an extensive network of buyer’s agents and the multiple listing service.
    • The Road to Closing

      • Your Realtor® will schedule your pre-closing walkthrough and help you negotiate repairs.
      • Your Realtor® will ensure everything is prepared for closing by coordinating with the lender, title company and attorney.
      • Your Realtor® will help you understand the various closing documents.
    • Life After Closing

      • Your Realtor® will help you resolve or clarify any outstanding repair conflicts with the buyer.
      • Your Realtor® will continue to be your valuable information source for all things related to homeownership. Realtors® have the best connections in the industry; they know the best contractors, painters and handymen to ensure that your maintenance or renovation needs are well met.

     © Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association 2015

Why Use A Realtor® To Buy

Why use a Realtor®?

Buying a home is an important investment and a complex process. Selling your home requires care and expertise. A Realtor® brings professional expertise, local knowledge and trustworthy information.

Whether it’s your first home or you’re trading up, and whether you’re moving across town or across the country, connect with a Realtor® to get the best value for your investment.

The term “Realtor®” is a registered collective membership mark identifying a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and who also is affiliated with a state and local Realtor® association.

A Realtor® is different from a real estate licensee. All individuals legally practicing real estate in the US are licensed, but not all are Realtors®. Only Realtors® subscribe to a strict code of ethics that goes beyond what is required by law. Before engaging the services of a real estate professional, ask if he or she is a Realtor®. Learn more about the use of the term “Realtor®.”

 

How my Realtor® will help me buy my home

  • The First Meeting

    • Your Realtor® will explain how agency works and present you with the Working with Real Estate Agents brochure. It’s important to know your rights!
    • Analyzing your needs and desires will get the conversation started. Be sure to provide your agent with as much information as possible about what is important to you in a home.
    • Knowing how much you can afford is important from the beginning. Talk to your agent about your downpayment, current monthly obligations and getting pre-approved.
  • Working Together

    • Now that you are ready to search for a home, your Realtor® will provide you with his or her local market expertise and schedule appointments for homes that meet your criteria based on your budget.
    • Your Realtor®’s connections will prove to be one of his or her most valuable assets to you. Your agent will help link you to the right lender, attorney, home inspector, and other professionals that you might need to facilitate a smooth transaction.
    • Each home you preview will be unique. Your Realtor® will explain how a particular home fits in the current market based on price, resale attributes and potential pitfalls.
  • Protecting Your Assets

    • Knowing the details about the homes you are interested in can make all the difference. Your agent will provide you with property disclosures, HOA covenants and restrictions, deed restrictions and other potential factors to consider.
    • Now that you have found the right home, it’s time to make an offer! Through years of negotiation experience your agent can help you determine the right starting point. There’s a lot to consider here — supply and demand, current market analysis, how to present an offer that prevents you from overpaying while not insulting the seller — all while meeting your goals and timeframe. Don’t worry — you’re in good hands!
    • Do your due diligence. Your Realtor® will guide you through determining what inspections you need and help you negotiate any repairs that may arise.
  • The Road to Closing

    • Your Realtor® will ensure you are prepared for closing by coordinating with your lender, attorney and the seller’s agent through the process to limit unexpected surprises.
    • Prior to closing and after the seller has removed belongings, your agent will schedule a pre-closing walkthrough to make certain the property is prepped and ready for your arrival.
    • Reviewing the Closing Disclosure with your Realtor® will help you understand the final required funds due to complete your purchase. You will be advised on how to transfer the funds to the closing attorney, receive a copy of all important documentation and, of course, the keys!
  • Life After Closing

    • Homeownership can be a daunting day-in and day-out task, but rest assured that your Realtor® will be there for you even after the closing.
    • If you received a Home Warranty, your agent can provide you with all the correct procedures for filing a claim if anything happens and help you understand what to expect for the repair process.
    • Realtors® have the best connections in the industry, and your Realtor® will continue to be your invaluable source of information for all things related to your home. Realtors® Make It Right!
 © Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association 2015

Making Charlotte A Bicycle-Friendly City

Traffic in Charlotte becomes more congested with every passing year. Some think part of the answer is more bicycles and the city has been working for years to become more bicycle friendly. Still, it can be dangerous for cyclists to share the road. Sustain Charlotte is now working to bring protected bike lanes to uptown providing a separate space for cyclists – a protected buffer between them and motorists.

The city of Charlotte will be hosting a series of events for “Bike! Charlotte” promoting bicycle awareness and safety April 29-May15. Details here.

Open Streets 704 is a series of four Charlotte events that will temporarily close streets to car traffic so people can use them for walking and bicycling. The first event is May 1. Details here.

Mar 29, 2016

Festival Fanta Charlotte 2016

Metrolina Trade Expo Grounds

The Fanta Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a Latin American celebration of culture and tradition thrown by the flavored-soda company Fanta. The one-day event aligns itself with the Cinco de Mayo holiday and boasts internationally recognized musical talent, mariachi and contemporary Latin music performances, celebrity appearances, folkloric dances and flavorful Hispanic cuisine. Kids’ attractions include soccer skills challenges, batting cages and inflatable playhouses.

 Apr 24, 2016

Charlotte, NC

7100 Statesville Rd

How to Sell Your Home ASAP

Selling a home can often take months, even years. So what if you have to unload your home in, say, two weeks?

It can happen: Whether you need to relocate for a new job, to care for an elderly family member who’s suddenly fallen ill, or because you simply can’t handle your mortgage payments for even one more month, there are plenty of circumstances in which you might need to unload your precious home at lightning speed.

It can be done. Just check out these tactics and tips if time is of the essence.

Price it to move

While everyone dreams of selling their home for top dollar, if you need to sell quickly, this is one time to price your home on the modest end—even a bit below its actual value.

“A conservative list price should encourage multiple offers and lead to a faster sale,” says Carrie Benuska, a Realtor® at John Aaroe Group in Pasadena, CA.

Set a hard deadline

Want to bring buyers out of the woodwork quickly? It’s easy: Set a deadline for offers.

You can make this clear in your listing by saying you will be accepting offers only until a certain date—even as tight as one to two weeks after your home is listed for sale. That said, you should probably not announce why you need to sell quickly due to a new job or other circumstance, because buyers will smell desperation and take advantage of that. Just state your deadline without further explanation, and watch the offers roll in.

Sell to a flipper

There’s no faster home sale out there than to a flipper. These buyers enable you to usually sell the home as is—often for cash—removing the burden of costly home repairs.

“These situations usually appeal to homeowners who just need to get a property off their hands,” says Benuska. But there are downsides: Flippers may demand below-market price, so they can resell it later for a larger profit. So just be sure your flipper isn’t fleecing you up the wazoo; at the very least, compare offers from two or more investors so they can’t steamroll you.

Offer incentives

“Some sellers offer cash for the buyer’s agent if a full-price offer is received by a specific date,” says Wendy Flynn, owner of Wendy Flynn Realty in College Station, TX. Other times, the incentive is for the buyer who might score a refrigerator or other furniture for acting fast.

“I recently saw an offer that included seven flat-screen televisions and two Tempur-Pedic mattresses,” says Flynn.

Sell to a developer

It may sound drastic, but if you want to sell simply and quickly, consider selling directly to a developer. That person would purchase your home for the value of its land, tear down the property, and build a new one in its place.

“This might be a good option for people in urban or suburban areas where land is scarce and the home is older and its value has depreciated,” explains Cheryl Julcher, principal and managing broker of Yellow Brick Properties in Belleville, IL. “The benefit for the seller is that the condition of the home is irrelevant—it’s going to be torn down anyway. The downside is the seller has to reconcile the fact that their home will cease to exist, which can be tough emotionally.”

Avoid guaranteed sales programs

If you ever see a sign that reads, “If we don’t sell your home in 30 days, we’ll buy it,” run away fast.

“These are complete scams,” says Janine Acquafredda, associate broker at House-N-Key Realty in Brooklyn, NY. Here’s how it usually works: The real estate agent promises to list a home for a fixed period of time and if it’s not sold, he or she will buy it directly from the seller.

“It sounds like a good deal because in either case, the owner makes a sale,” says Acquafredda. “In reality, the agent often has no intention of putting the home on the market and in the end, pays the lowest possible market price for the home.”

Talk to your neighbors

Before you list your home on the market, check in with the locals.

“Lots of times, people want to live near relatives or they’re looking to buy in their own neighborhood,” says Acquafredda. “Selling to a neighbor speeds up the entire process, and you won’t have to pay for marketing, advertising, and, in some states, the attorney’s fee.”

Be flexible

Do potential buyers want to view your home at 6 p.m. on a Saturday? Let ’em in.

“Ease of showing is a huge factor in whether a home sells quickly,” says Acquafredda. “When a buyer is ready, willing, and able, you can strike while the iron is hot.”

FROM: Elise Sole is a New Yorker living in Los Angeles. She’s been an editor at Yahoo, Women’s Health, Redbook, and Marie Claire, and has written for publications such as Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and AOL.

Homenaje en LACA a un artista vinculado a Charlotte

Charlotte.- El próximo jueves 24 de marzo la Galería LACA de Charlotte, especializada en arte latinoamericano inaugurará una exhibición colectiva, en la que debutan en ese lugar los artistas locales Rosalía Torres-Weiner (mexicana) y Luis Ardila (colombiano). Y también expondrá el pintor argentino local Leandro Manzo.

Sin embargo, el fallecimiento reciente del costarricense Ricardo “Chino” Morales, a principios de febrero, será motivo para rendirle un homenaje póstumo.

Y es que Morales había sido hasta su deceso uno de los pintores seleccionados repetidamente por LACA para mostrar sus paisajes y sus acuarelas.

Además, que los mayores coleccionistas de obras de Morales están radicados en Charlotte, y se trata de la pareja compuesta por el diplomático, Steven Kropp y su esposa, especialista en restaurar arte, Karen.

Durante los últimos 9 años, Morales sufrió de una enfermedad terminal, pero él falleció en su ley: “con el pincel en la mano”.

Su esposa Daisy, a la que estuvo ligada durante 48 años, sencillamente asevera “fui su musa”.

Por su parte, su hijo Ismael recuerda como en una madrugada hace 17 años, un incendio en la casa de la familia consumió alrededor de 250 obras del maestro de ojos rasgados, que siempre fue apodado “Chino”, pero que no tenía sangre asiática. “Después del incendio, mi padre se puso más productivo que nunca y los críticos afirmaron que había renacido como el Ave Fénix: de las cenizas”, acotó Ismael.

En ese momento, fueron los Kropp los que enviaron a Costa Rica algunas de las obras de Morales, para reponer la pérdida.

Es que el vínculo entre los Morales y los Kropp se fundió a través de Erika, la hija del pintor y de la musa, que de niña sufrió de fibrosis quística y se le trató en Dallas (Texas).

“El presidente y premio Nobel, Oscar Arias, ayudó a “Chino” adscribiéndolo a la diplomacia para que estuviera cerca de la menor”, contó Kropp.

“Entre los dos hicimos un trato, yo le compraba las telas, los elementos para que vendiera su arte y él me compensó con algunas obras”, contó Kropp.

Nelly Verano, directora de la galería LACA, anticipó que el jueves tendrán un panel especial recordando al pintor tico. “A través de su carrera, que se extendió por más de 50 años, Morales ha sido uno de los artistas centroamericanos mas elogiados y más galardonados”, dijo Verano. Ahora, se podrá disfrutar la obra de “Chino” Morales aquí en Charlotte.
Escrito por Rafael Prieto Zartha

5 Things You Should Know About Real Estate Disclosures

It’s standard practice in real estate to give a home a fresh coat of paint before putting it on the market. Nine out of 10 times, the intention is to show the property at its best. But every so often, the seller paints the house in hopes of covering something up.

That’s why I always triple-check the disclosure documents of newly painted houses, to ensure there were no recent leaks or other damage. It’s the seller’s obligation to disclose these kinds of issues. And it’s the buyer’s responsibility to be completely aware of past problems before signing on the dotted line.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, here are five things you should know about real estate disclosures.

1. What is a disclosure?

Disclosure statements, which can come in a variety of forms, are the buyer’s opportunity to learn as much as they can about the property and the seller’s experience in it.

Potential seller disclosures range from knowledge of leaky windows to loud neighbors to information about a major construction or development project nearby. Not only do disclosure documents serve to inform buyers, they can protect the sellers from future legal action. It is the seller’s chance to lay out anything that can negatively affect the value, usefulness or enjoyment of the property.

Leaking windows — bad coincidence?

I once had a buyer call me after the first rainstorm of the season. The windows in the master bedroom were leaking. We checked back on the disclosure documents from the sale and there wasn’t any mention of the leaks. Nothing showed up in the property inspection report at the time of escrow, either.

Unfortunately for the buyers, I said, this is part of homeownership. This could be the result of something that was building over time. I thought that was the end of it. The same client called back a few weeks later. They had workers out to check on the siding. That prompted their neighbor to inquire what they were up to. According to the neighbor, the previous owner of my client’s property had the same siding issues and had discussed it with the neighbor.

Given this new information, it was clear the previous seller had not properly disclosed. I had the buyers do more investigation, get bids and understand what the issue was. Armed with the knowledge of the neighbor and the approximate costs, we went back to the seller, through his agent. Though it did not turn into a lawsuit, the seller took responsibility and the situation was resolved quickly and fairly.

But too often, the lack of proper disclosure can result in a lawsuit. I heard of a story in which a buyer bought a house, with the seller disclosing that a kitchen renovation was done without permits. A few years later, that buyer went to sell the property but didn’t disclose that the previous owner had renovated the kitchen without a permit. The new buyer wanted to do some electrical work with a permit. The city inspector discovered that some things had not been done to code. The inspector dug deeper and realized that much of the kitchen renovation (both plumbing and electrical) was not to code. The new buyer was on the hook for ripping out the kitchen and doing it over. A lawsuit arose between the current owner and the second seller for not disclosing. The original sellers had covered themselves, but the second seller had not.

2. How does a seller go about making a disclosure to the buyer?

Disclosure laws vary from state to state, even down to the city and county level. California has some of the most stringent disclosure requirements. Often, sellers there are required to complete or sign off on over 50 pages of documents, such as a Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement, Lead Based Paint Disclosure, Advisories about Market Conditions and even Megan’s Law Disclosures.

Depending on where you live, sellers can be on the hook for what they disclose (or fail to) for up to ten years. I’ve seen agents and sellers take all types of approaches when dealing with property disclosures. More than anything, I always tell sellers to err on the side of caution. If you know it, disclose it. If you try to hide something, it can come back to bite you long after the sale and it is just not worth it.

Disclosure typically comes in the form of boilerplate documents (put together by the local or state Realtor association), where the seller is responsible for answering a series of yes/no questions detailing their home and their experience there.

Aside from the boilerplate documents a seller is required to complete, if there is any written (or sometimes verbal) communication regarding something negative about the property, it should be disclosed to the buyer. For example, there was a property for sale with a dispute over a tree on the property line and whose responsibility it was. The neighbor faxed a letter to the seller’s real estate agent documenting the dispute. This immediately became a disclosure item that both the seller and buyer needed to sign off on.

Bottom line: Disclosure statements are legal documents that can stand up in court.

3. What do sellers typically disclose to potential buyers?

The work and upgrades sellers have done to their property are a common disclosure, whether the work was done with or without permits. If done with permits, buyers are advised to cross check the seller’s disclosure with the city building permit report. Doing work without the city signing off with a permit is a key disclosure. If the work was not approved by the city, it may not have been performed to code and may cause a fire or health hazard. Buyers should independently investigate any non-permit work that was done.

Other common disclosures include the existence of pets, termite problems, neighborhood nuisances, any history of property line disputes, and defects or malfunctions with major systems or appliances. Disclosure documents often ask sellers if they are involved in bankruptcy proceedings, if there any liens on the property, and so on. Failure to disclose can result in a messy conflict with the buyer after the sale.

Some disclosure documents are very detailed. For instance, among the questions posed by the San Francisco Association of Realtors disclosure statement are:

  • Is there any non-tempered glass on shower or sliding doors?
  • Have there been any unusual odor problems in the neighborhood?
  • Was there any death on the property in the last three years?

4. Is a disclosure the same as an inspection? Are the two related?

A disclosure is something given to the buyer by the seller documenting their knowledge of the property. It is not the same thing as an inspection; because there are things the seller may not be aware of that an inspection brings to light.

This is why a property inspection should always be done by the buyer while in escrow. The inspector will check the property out from top to bottom, many times verifying what the seller has disclosed but sometimes bringing to light new issues. Often, we will see sellers hire a property inspector before going on the market. It seems backwards, but this is the sellers’ opportunity to hire an independent party to inspect the property, in case they missed or were not aware of something.

5. When does the buyer typically receive a seller’s disclosure statements?

In most markets, disclosure documents are provided to buyers once the seller has accepted their offer. In addition to their inspections or loan contingency, the buyer has an opportunity to review the seller’s disclosures. If the buyer discovers something negative about the property through disclosure, he can usually back out of the offer without losing his escrow deposit.

In some markets, sellers provide these disclosures to the buyers even before they receive an offer. Some sellers prefer to have buyers know everything they need to know up front. This is also smart because it saves everyone time, hassle and expense by preventing deals from falling apart once they’re in escrow.

Buyers are required to sign off on disclosure documents and reports. So it’s important to review them carefully and ask questions if you need to.

Full disclosure upfront is the way to go

In some ways, providing full disclosure can actually help a seller. As a Realtor reviewing disclosures with potential buyers, I like to see a comprehensive set of disclosure documents. It shows that the seller is thorough and upfront. This goes a long way toward giving buyers peace of mind, and in this market, anything you can do to move buyers off the dime is worth considering.

Author : 

Brendon DeSimone is a nationally recognized real estate expert and author of the book, Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling. A fifteen year veteran of the residential real estate industry, Brendon has completed hundreds of transactions totaling more than $250M. His expert advice is often sought out by reporters and journalists, and he is regularly quoted in local and national press. Brendon is a regularly featured guest on major television networks and programs including CNBC, FOX News, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20 and HGTV. Brendon is the manager of the Bedford and Pound Ridge Offices of Houlihan Lawrence, the leading real estate brokerage north of New York City.

Clean to Sell

Many people get so intimidated when it comes to cleaning when preparing to sell a home. It’s a lot like detailing a car before you sell it. You want everything squeaky clean. Here, I’ll help you remember what to clean, including places that are so easy to overlook because buyers will look everywhere.

To make it more fun, get your family and friends to help and have a special dinner or barbecue afterwards. If you really don’t see yourself doing a good job, it might be worth the investment to hire a professional cleaning service. Since cleaning comes after de-cluttering, I’m going to assume you’ve already de-cluttered the home and are ready to do a full cleaning, which is much easier to do after you’ve removed a good chunk of your belongings.

Let’s get started, room by room. First, make sure you have all the supplies you need.You’ll quickly lose motivation if you have to stop to find supplies or go out and buy them. Some tasks are repeated in every room, so to avoid being repetitive, I’ll include these in a general list at the end.

This hallway is in need of a bit of cleaning before it's ready for the market. - Copyright 2010 by Brankdonink2001
Cleaning is a critical part of home staging. This hallway is in need of a bit of cleaning before it’s ready for the market. Copyright 2010 by Brankdonink2001

1.  Entry

Guests will spend a good portion of time here as they walk in, look around, take their coats/shoes off and take in their surroundings.

  • Make sure the door and all hardware are sparkling clean.
  • Wipe off any fingerprints, which are quite common here.
  • Check for scuff marks along the walls or even the bottom of the door. If there’s too much dirt and too many marks, it may mean it’s time to repaint the door or walls. If scrapes are minor, try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
  • Clean your welcome mat or get a new one.
  • Make sure the light bulbs are all working and that you clean and dust the fixture and the bulbs.
  • Check the coat closet, if applicable, and make sure the walls and floor are clean and free of marks and dents. Remember, pack away unused items so there’s extra room in there, making it look spacious.
You can't get much cleaner than this beautifully decorated kitchen. - Copyright 2010 by Dru Bloomfield
You can’t get much cleaner than this beautifully decorated kitchen. What buyer wouldn’t want to put in an offer after seeing this?. Copyright 2010 by Dru Bloomfield

2.  Kitchen

  • Buyers tend to spend lots of time in the kitchen, so really spend the time here to make sure it’s extra clean.
  • Wipe down all the cabinets. You’d be amazed how much food splatters and grease get on the doors and hardware.
  • Clean all appliances, inside and out. This includes the entire interior of the refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven/stove.
  • Don’t forget to clean the stove hood, both on top and underneath. Make sure the grill is clean, the light bulb is working, and the actual unit works.
  • Pull out the refrigerator and clean behind it, including the cords. Clean underneath the refrigerator as well. Vacuum the grill underneath.
  • Clean the microwave inside and out.
  • Don’t forget to clean underneath the sink. Take out everything and wipe down the entire inside, including the pipes. Put everything back in an organized way.
  • Clean the garbage can inside and out. A good tip is to use scented garbage bags and/or put an air freshener or baking soda package in the cabinet. This will help keep it smelling fresh.
  • Wipe down counters and backsplashes.
  • Wipe down any small appliances or other items on counters, which as you learned in decluttering, should be minimal. You should only have a maximum of 3 items out, such as a coffeemaker.
  • Wipe down any blinds or shades and wash any curtains or throw rugs.
  • If drawer liners have seen better days, replace them.
  • Clean out the junk drawer and take out and clean the utensil tray and drawer.
  • Find one place, out of sight if possible, to store and keep pet food, dishes, and other supplies.

3.  Dining Room

  • Clean and wax all furniture.
  • Check seat covers for stains or dirt. Wash or use stain remover, if possible. Wash slipcovers if you have them.
  • Wash any rugs or curtains.
  • You should have already de-cluttered inside your china cabinet or buffet, but make sure you wipe down the insides and all the contents.
This Clean, Organized Dining Room is Warm and Inviting - Copyright 2010 by Steve Bennett
This dining room has not only been organized and de-cluttered, but received a thorough cleaning and is ready for showings. Copyright 2010 by Steve Bennett

4.  Living Room and Family Room

  • Wipe down the television. Clean the screen. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s guidelines for what to use, depending on the type of screen you have.
  • Vacuum and/or wash sofa, loveseat, and chair cushions. Make sure to take off the cushions and vacuum underneath them. Also, move the sofas to make sure you get any wayward items that rolled underneath or fell behind these pieces. Dust bunnies and pet fur (or feathers) always collect here.
Who Wouldn't Buy this Home After Seeing This Updated, Clean Bathroom? - Copyright 2010 by Lee Ruk
Buyers pay particular attention to kitchens and baths, so make sure yours receive a thorough cleaning. Copyright 2010 by Lee Ruk

5.  Bathrooms

  • Make sure these spaces are spotless. Wipe down all surfaces.
  • Common missed areas include behind the toilet and underneath the sink. Make sure the pipes and fittings are cleaned well. Replace any missing plastic bolt covers on toilets.
  • Wipe down counters and any other furniture.
  • Make sure the mirrors sparkle.
  • Since de-cluttering, you should only have absolute necessities on display. Make sure they are clean (such as the toothbrush holder). Although, anything you can put out of sight is better.
  • Clean out under the vanity and make sure it’s organized and that you removed stuff when de-cluttering so that it appears spacious.
  • Clean every crack and crevice on the toilet, even inside the tank. Remove any stains. You might even want to add those cleaning tablets. Buy one of those disposable toilet brushes with flushable pads to use for quick in-between clean-ups. I actually recommend using this instead of the typical toilet brush. This way, you don’t have to have that germ-filled brush on display.
  • Wash the shower curtain, any window treatments, and bath rugs.
  • Clean every crevice in the shower and tub. Scrub the grout with a cleaner and toothbrush. If it’s really grimy you might want to replace the grout.
  • Scrub the floors and clean the grout lines.
  • After de-cluttering, you should have removed personal items, but make sure any that remain are neatly stored or organized. You might want to invest in a shower caddy to keep things in one place. The same goes for kids’ toys in the tub.
  • Keep dirty clothes and towels off the floor. Clothes should be in a hamper, and towels should be on rods or hooks.
  • Remove any prescriptions to a safe location. You actually shouldn’t store medication in the bathroom anyway.
  • Clean the fan and make sure it’s functioning.
This Bedroom is All Ready for the Market -- Clean, Organized and Inviting - Copyright 2011 by N1NJ4
Buyers want bedrooms that feel like retreats away from their hectic lives. This one lives up to that expectation. Copyright 2011 by N1NJ4

6.  Bedrooms

  • Wash sheets, blankets, and comforters.
  • Wash or dry clean curtains and rugs.
  • Remove any stains on any fabrics.
  • Wipe down all furniture.
  • Clean the walls and floors of closets.
  • Keep dirty laundry off the floor or furniture. Put them in a laundry basket or bring them to the laundry room.
  • For kids rooms, keeps toys and other items corralled in one area and store them in containers.

7.  Hallways

  • Wipe down walls, baseboards and any wall art or mirrors.
  • Make sure to get cobwebs and dust our of corners and along the ceilings. Also clean ceiling vents.
  • Clean off any marks on walls. Hallways easily collect these things. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great for this.
All Rooms in a Home Need to be Staged and Basements Are No Exception - Copyright 2011 by Sean Madden
When buyers tour a home, they are looking carefully at each and every room. Make sure to stage your basement, if it’s finished, or give it a good cleaning if it’s not. Copyright 2011 by Sean Madden

8.  Attics, Basements, and Garages

  • Give each of these rooms a thorough cleaning.
  • Sweet attic floors.
  • Sweep and wash the garage floors (and basement floors, if possible) and wipe down the walls.
  • Get rid of any dust, dirt, and debris, especially from corners and along the ceiling lines.
  • Make sure to clean up any signs of bugs or rodents, such as nests or droppings.
  • Wash the windows — yes, even basement, garage and attic windows should sparkle.
  • Clean off shelves and racks.
  • Remove stains from garage floors. If walls and floor are particularly messy, they may need to be painted or repainted.
  • Clean garage doors, including the tracks, and make sure they function properly.
  • If you have to store things in either of these places, make sure they are organized well.
  • If you have no other place to store packed boxes, at least stack them in one corner only.
Cleaning the windows is important because clean windows let in lots of natural light. - Copyright 2012 by Kristen DiNobile
Clear windows let in lots of natural light, which buyers are looking for, and also allow buyers to see attractive outdoor views. Copyright 2012 by Kristen DiNobile

9.  General Tips For All Rooms

  • Clean plant pots and make sure the plants are in good health.
  • Wipe down baseboards, moldings, and trim.
  • Clean baseboard heating units. If they are in really bad shape, it might be best to paint them. Make sure to use the appropriate type for heating vents.
  • Clean windows inside and out. Dirty windows don’t let as much natural light into your home.
    Quick tip: wipe horizontally on the inside and vertically on the outside (or vice versa) so if there are streaks, you know which side they are on.
  • Clean all light fixtures and check to make sure all bulbs are working. Don’t forget to dust off the bulbs as well.
  • Don’t forget to clean ceiling fans. They are notorious dust collectors.
  • Clean all hard surfaced floors. Wax wood floors.
  • Steam clean the carpet. You can either rent a steamer at a home improvement store, or if you need a deep cleaning, it might be best to hire a professional. If the carpet is that bad, you might want to replace it.
  • Spot clean, wash, or dry clean rugs, depending on size, type, and manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Wash or dry clean curtains and draperies. Dust and wipe down any blinds.
  • Make sure all hardware on cabinets, dressers and doors sparkles.
  • In addition to washing the window glass, make sure to clean all the edges, channels, along the tops of double-hung windows, or the sides of sliding windows. Pay attention to corners, where dust often collects, as well as the window tracks.
  • Clean and wipe down all walls. Make sure to dust in the corners of ceilings and floors, as well as where the walls meet the ceiling and floors.
  • Clean all TV and computer screens by following manufacturer’s directions.
  • Clean the frames and glass of all pictures and other wall art.
  • Don’t forget to wipe down cords and wires for electronics such as TVs, DVDs, computers and more.
    If they are messy, consider bundling them using one of the many options available in the marketplace.
  • Make sure pet cages, beds, toy containers, etc are neat, organized and placed out of site, if possible.
  • Contain kids’ toys in one room and put them in decorative boxes, containers, or even storage ottomans.
  • Empty garbage cans before any showings.
  • Keep a box of cleaning wipes in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Wipe all mirrors — in bathrooms, as well as those hanging throughout the home. Also clean glass covers of picture frames.
  • Tip: White distilled vinegar and baking soda are your best friends for so many different cleaning tasks.

Overall, you want everything to shine and sparkle. Not only do buyers not like seeing other peoples’ dirt, but a clean house also tells them that you take good care of the house. Just assume that buyers might and will look anywhere and everywhere, so make sure you get every crevice and corner.