4 Costly Real-Life Lessons Learned While Buying a Home

Buying a home is exciting for sure, buton the flip side, a whole lot can go wrong during the process–scary events that can quicklyturn this American dream into an American horror story. As proof, check out these home-buying nightmares from people who want to share their anguish with the hopes that they can spare futurepurchasers the same fate.

Home staging … or hiding?

We ended up buying what we knew was a nicely staged fixer-upper, but we had no idea really what we were getting into, saysApril Daniels Hussar ofVerona, NJ. When we finally got the keys and moved in,we literallycried. There was a throw rug melded to the kitchen floor. And the entire house smelled like cat pee–something we somehow had never noticed until then. The sellers made very good use of candles and who knows what else! We had to redo all the wood floors.

Lesson learned: Staging is supposed to enhance a home’s features, but it may also cover up its defects, says Colby Sambrotto, president and CEO of USRealty.com. He suggests going through a house several times before buying it.

How to get rich renting instead of buying a home

Nan
Palmero/Flikcr

In an earlier post, I assessed homeownership
from an investment perspective and found that homes are terrible
investments that barely keep pace with inflation.

This poor investment, however, does force the average American to
save the money they’d otherwise spend.

The result? The median net worth of American home ownersis
over 30 times the median net worth of American renters. Home owners might not get
back every dollar they put into a home, but they’re getting back
a lot more than the American who rents.

But it need not be that way. Here is how any renter can beat the
average American home ownerin the long run.

First off, you need to save a down payment by age 33

That’s the average age of the first-time home buyer.

Instead of using it for a physical home, you’re putting a down
payment on what I call a “money mansion.” You can’t live in your
money mansion, but it will make you rich. According to
themedian American home price($229,000), a
20 percent down payment is $45,800. Invest this in a brokerage
account that tracks the market — where you can hope for a
7 percent annual return.

Here you have one major advantage over the home owner: You can
open the account right away and begin collecting interest instead
of piling up a lump sum in savings. Just make sure your money
mansion is worth $45,800 by age 33. Assuming you collect 7
percent interest per year, you could save as little as $3,000 per
year and still make it, even after taxes. Or you can play it safe
and save $4,580 per year from 23 to 33 — on top of your 10
percent retirement savings.

Once your money mansion hits $45,800, you need to feed it a
portion of your monthly income equal to what the home buyer
spends on their mortgage. See, the home buyer is essentially
saving this money because at the end of a 30-year mortgage, they
own a house worth all the money they put into it, which has
(hopefully) matched inflation. But this is the tricky part.

On average, homeowners spend 15 percent of their after tax
income on their mortgage, while renters spend 30 percent of their
after tax income on rent. That means you need to put 15
percent of your income into your money mansion on top of
your rental payment if you want to beat the average home owner.
This would be the time to move into a one bedroom with your
significant other to save on rent. Every dollar you don’t spend
there is a dollar you can put toward your 15 percent.

If you take these steps, 45 percent of your take-home pay goes to
rent (lt; 30 percent) + money mansion (gt; 15 percent). This
means you’re living off of only 55 percent of your take-home pay.
Do you currently do this? Probably not. But that’s what it takes
to beat the home owner.

Joe Raedle/Getty

So, lets talk numbers

If you manage to rent + save + invest, how much do you win in the
end?

Using the average American household income of $54,000 as a
guideline, your 15 percent money mansion contribution becomes
roughly $5,100 per year after taxes. If you start with a “down
payment” of $45,800 and contribute 15 percent of your monthly
income every year for a “30-year mortgage,” you’ll have $728,000
in your money mansion (that’s after taxes, with a conservative 7
percent yearly return).

So the gamble you’re making is that today’s average American
house will not exceed $728,000 in value after 30 years of appreciation. If our
$229,000 house keeps pace with inflation, it will be worth only
$555,000 — and that’s a big if. A hundredyears of
inflation-adjusted US housing prices suggest that a home
increases only 0.1 percent in value per year on average.
Your home probably won’t be the exception.

Looks like the renter wins

He or she gains25 percent more net worth, and all of it
liquid and free of closing costs. Some would say the liquid
capital is worth a premium.

But the renter only gets to live on 55 percent of their take-home
pay during their life while the home ownerlives on 85
percent. That’s an extra 30 percent of income — not spent on rent
— to spend on life. The home ownercould easily invest the
difference and beat the renter.

The home ownerhas other home-related expenses, however.
Home upkeep and repair costs average 1 percent of the value of the home per year.
On our $229,000 home, that’s $2,290 per year. But taking
inflation into account, you can expect the costs to rise over
time. Over 30 years, that could be $114,000 or more.

The home owneralso pays property taxes. These vary widely
by state and county. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume our
median American home ownerpays a median American property
tax of 1 percent of the home value per year — which is lower than
many countries surrounding major metros.

So how does that figure in? Over 30 years, those home upkeep
costs and property taxes will eat into 50 percent of the income
the home owner isn’t spending on rent. So the home owner’s true
take-home savings are just 15 percent of income. They get to live
on 70 percent of their income, while the renter, on average,
lives on just 55 percent. But at the end of the road, the renter
is 20 percent richer.

Suddenly, homeownership doesn’t seem like such a great
deal. By renting and investing, you can end up with enough
money to buy a homein cash by the end of your life —
and you will never pay a penny of interest, or property taxes, or
buy a new sump pump along the way. What’s more, homes are risky
investments. You never know how the community, city, or state
will turn. By comparison, investing in the market seems like a
pretty safe bet. I don’t know about you, but it’s a renter’s life
for me.

Perceptron Announces Third Quarter Fiscal 2017 Results

David Watza, President and CEO, commented, “We are pleased to announce the results for the third quarter of our 2017 fiscal year, which reflect our continued performance improvement, sustained strength in our end markets and persistent cost savings efforts. With bookings of $23.2 million, we have surpassed the $20 million bookings threshold for the fourth consecutive quarter, which is the longest sustained such period in company history. We recognized revenue of $16.3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017, which was consistent with the guidance we provided three months ago. Year to date, we reported a recurring operating profit of $1.5 million, which is an $8.1 million turnaround from last year’s nine-month figure, and clearly illustrates the progress we have made as a team. Furthermore, we ended the quarter with a robust backlog of $48.6 million. As we continue to see increasing strength in these customer demand metrics, we remain confident in the future prospects of our Company.”

“We are making substantial progress in the transformation of our Company through the growth of our top line, as reflected in our year-to-date bookings and revenue in comparison to last year,” continued Watza. “Our financial results continue to benefit from cost savings initiatives, starting with our March 2016 Financial Improvement Plan and reflecting additional ongoing activities. As a team, we have been able to further reduce fixed costs, which has significantly lowered our break-even point.”

“We remain confident in our current guidance of high single-digit to low double-digit revenue growth for fiscal 2017, as our bookings have been strong for multiple quarters,” stated Watza. “We believe that our third quarter results show strong customer activity and demand for Perceptron’s products and services. As a result, we expect our fourth quarter fiscal 2017 revenue will be in the range of $18.5 million to $21.5 million.”

“We have an extremely talented and committed work force that is engaged in providing superior value to our customers. In my first five months as CEO, I’ve spent time with various countries, functions and disciplines within our Company. As a team, we have identified a number of our organizational strengths and weaknesses, and an equivalent number of opportunities. With the best efforts of our people, continuous improvement in our company is an achievable goal. The strength of our team taken together with our recent financial results, validates we are making progress on our turnaround as we execute our strategic plan. I remain very excited about our future,” Watza concluded.

Rent or buy in Utah? The numbers say buy…NOW

When buying a home, 20 percent is the magic number recommended for a down payment. Unfortunately, at least for first-time home buyers, 20 percent can be incredibly hard to come by. And waiting to save up that 20 percent may not be the best financial move for many buyers.

In a 2014 survey by Zillow, more than two-thirds of renters indicated that their biggest barrier to homeownership was saving for the downpayment. With median home prices in Utah creeping upwards of $245,000, would-be homebuyers would need $49,000 to put 20 percent down.

Pay Programs: Retailers need to be informed and be proactive

If a retailer is engaged in financial improvement activities, pay programs should support these efforts. Retailers tend to pay bonuses deep into the organization, sometimes without necessarily differentiating rewards between roles, or among the best talent. As retailers reframe what growth and profitability are, the need for efficiency is key. Identifying important contributors, critical functional jobs related to merchandising and store planning and allocation and in some retail models jobs related to the digital platform may be imperative to the retailers changing channel strategies.

BioScrip Reports First Quarter 2017 Financial Results

DENVER, May 04, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BioScrip, Inc. (BIOS) (“BioScrip” or the “Company”) today announced its first quarter 2017 financial results. For the first quarter, the Company reported revenue from continuing operations of $217.8 million, net loss from continuing operations of $19.0 million, and adjusted EBITDA of $5.2 million, in line with the Company’s plan. For the full-year 2017, the Company continues to expect to achieve adjusted EBITDA in the range of $45.0 million to $55.0 million.

First Quarter 2017 Results

  • Net revenue was $217.8 million, reflecting a core revenue mix increase to 72%, up from 60% in the first quarter of 2016, and 70% in the fourth quarter of 2016;
  • Gross profit margin increased to 30.1%, up from 26.9% in the first quarter of 2016, reflecting the positive impacts from increased core product mix, Home Solutions synergies, and other cost reductions;
  • The Company remains on track to achieve the previously announced $17.0 million in Home Solutions synergies and other incremental annualized cost reductions of $23.0 to $25.0 million, by the end of 2017;
  • Consolidated loss from continuing operations, net of income taxes, was $19.0 million, an increased loss of $9.2 million from the first quarter of 2016. The increased loss was primarily driven by the negative impact of the Cures Act, plus additional depreciation, amortization and interest expense, offset partially by higher gross margins resulting from increased core product mix, Home Solutions synergies, and other cost reductions;
  • Consolidated Adjusted EBITDA was $5.2 million, as compared to $7.4 million in the first quarter of 2016. This expected decrease was primarily driven by the negative impact of the Cures Act, offset partially by higher gross margins resulting from increased core product mix, Home Solutions synergies, and other cost reductions;
  • As of March 31, 2017, the Company had $16.0 million of cash and it was in full compliance with its bank covenants.

“I am pleased with our Company’s first quarter performance, which was in line with our plan. Our sales team met our revenue target for the quarter and continued to increase our core revenue mix. In addition, our gross profit margin improved 320 basis points year over year and adjusted EBITDA met our expectations, driven by improved core revenue mix, supply chain efficiencies and cost-structure improvements,” said Daniel E. Greenleaf, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We also successfully completed the integration of the Home Solutions business and we remain on track to realize the full $17.0 million of cost synergies and incremental $23.0 million to $25.0 million in cost savings.”

2017 Guidance

The Company is reiterating its prior guidance of adjusted EBITDA in the range of $45.0 million to $55.0 million for full-year 2017. This guidance incorporates the estimated negative impact of the Cures Act legislation and the Company’s estimates regarding its contract with UnitedHealthcare. The Company continues to evaluate the impact of the UnitedHealthcare contract on its 2017 revenue and will provide updated 2017 revenue guidance at the appropriate time.

Conference Call and Presentation

BioScrip will host a conference call and live webcast, May 4, 2017, at 9:00 am Eastern Time, to discuss its first quarter 2017 financial results. Interested parties may participate by dialing 888-372-9592 (US) or by accessing a link on the Companys website at www.bioscrip.com.

A replay of the conference call will be available for two weeks after the calls completion by dialing 855-859-2056 (US) and entering conference call ID number 8579499. An audio webcast and archive will also be available for 30 days under the Investor Relations section of the Companys website.

About BioScrip, Inc.

BioScrip, Inc. is the largest independent national provider of infusion and home care management solutions, with approximately 2,500 teammates and nearly 80 service locations across the US BioScrip partners with physicians, hospital systems, payors, pharmaceutical manufacturers and skilled nursing facilities to provide patients access to post-acute care services. BioScrip operates with a commitment to bring customer-focused pharmacy and related healthcare infusion therapy services into the home or alternate-site setting. By collaborating with the full spectrum of healthcare professionals and the patient, BioScrip provides cost-effective care that is driven by clinical excellence, customer service, and values that promote positive outcomes and an enhanced quality of life for those it serves.

Forward-Looking Statements – Safe Harbor

This press release includes statements that may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including the statements regarding 2017 guidance, projections of certain measures of the Companys results of operations, projections of future levels of certain charges and expenses, expectations of Home Solutions cost synergies and incremental cost structure improvements and other statements regarding the Companys financial improvement plan and strategy and anticipated effects of the Cures Act and the UnitedHealthcare contract. You can identify these statements by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as may, should, could, anticipate, estimate, expect, project, outlook, aim, intend, plan, believe, predict, potential, continue or comparable terms. Because such statements inherently involve risks and uncertainties, actual future results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties, and that actual results may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statement include but are not limited to risks associated with: the Company’s ability to successfully integrate the Home Solutions business into its existing businesses; the Company’s ability to grow its core Infusion revenues; the Companys ability to continue to execute its financial improvement plan to reduce operating costs and focus its business on its Infusion Services segment; the Company’s ability to evaluate opportunities for improvement and implement solutions as part of its strategic review process; the Company’s ability to comply with the covenants in its debt agreements or obtain amendments to such covenants; the UnitedHealthcare contract termination, including potential accounting charges and impacts on other contract provisions and their associated revenue; the success of the Company’s initiatives to mitigate the impact of the Cures Act on its business; reductions in federal, state and commercial reimbursement for the Companys products and services; increased government regulation related to the health care and insurance industries; as well as the risks described in the Companys periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company does not undertake any duty to update these forward-looking statements after the date hereof, even though the Companys situation may change in the future. All of the forward-looking statements herein are qualified by these cautionary statements.

Don’t Get Burned: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Beach Home

3. Forgetting about the neighbors

It’s easy to fall in love with beautiful beach vistas and forget about everything else, saysKonnie Warburton, a real estate agent with Sereno Group in Santa Cruz, CA.

Before you buy, make sure you look beyond the stunning views and gorgeous house–as with any other home purchase, you should look into who your neighbors areand the zoning laws. Be sure to do your homework on the community. Is it a spring breaker’s paradise? A sleepy town for retirees? Will your kids have anyone to play with?

Take, for example, a couple Warburton recently helped to buy a beach home for their retirement. They were looking forward to meeting like-minded, beach-loving homeownersin a cohesive neighborhood. Instead, they’re one of only three permanent residents in their five-street enclave. At certain times of the year, their neighborhood is overrun by vacation renters; at other times, it’s deserted.

“Buyers need to research public records carefully,” Warburton says. “Also, finding out the culture of the beach location is so important.”

4. Not using a compass

We all know location is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying a home. And buying on the beach is kind of the “ultimate” location, isn’t it? But having a fabulous oceanside home doesn’t mean you have it made in the shade.

When you’re buying a coastal property, you also need to become something of a meteorologist. You need to know which way the wind blows. You need to know which way your home faces. And you need to know if your west-facing home is more prone to storm damage than a south-facing home.

Kathryn Bishop, areal estate agentwith Keller Williams in Studio City, CA, relates the story of her friends from Detroit, who moved west and bought a condo in Malibu, CA, with a gorgeous view of the water, perfect for viewing sunsets–or so they thought.

“When the moving truck arrived, the first things unloaded was the outdoor furniture, which my friends quickly set up on the balcony, opened a good bottle of wine, and waited for their first view of the sunset,” Bishop recalls. “Then they found out that their condo did not face west, and they would never see a sunset from their balcony. Everyone assumes that the Pacific coast in Malibu faces west … not true.”

5. Skipping out on the proper insurance

The No. 1 mistake people make when buying a beach home is using it as a short-term vacation rental without the proper insurance, saysHans Tonjes, a broker with Living Room Realty, in Manzanita, OR.

In his market on the Oregon coast, about 25% of the homes have some kind of rental activity going on at least part of the year, and most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover that, Tonjes says. “It’s very important to speak with your agent about how you’re using the property so that any losses are covered,” he says

And, of course, there’s disaster insurance. You already know you’re going to pay a pretty penny on your homeowners insurance premiums. But depending on where you live, you might need topurchase homeowners insurance with supplemental hurricane coverage. And don’t forget about separate windstorm and flood policies. We know–it’s going to strain your wallet in a big way, especially with skyrocketing flood insurance premiums. But you’ll consider it money well-spent when disaster strikes.

6.Not using a coastal home inspector

We hope you’re using a local, licensed home inspector, or one who comes recommended byyour real estate agent. But maybe you want to do a friend a solid, or you’re inclined to tap the inspector you worked with when you bought your first home.

Unless that inspector is an expert in coastal properties, resist the temptation. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for big problems down the road.

Beach homes are subject to a very corrosive environment that presents unique issues, Tonjes says. An inspector from the city or out of the area might not necessarily be looking for these issues.

For example, a coastal environment can completely break down galvanized joist hangers in decks and flashing on buildings, Tonjes says.

A coat of paint can hide some of these liabilities, but a coastal inspector is going to be searching for the unseen but likely issues our salt air and wind-driven water and sand can present, he says.

This isnt to throw a wet blanket on your beach dreams. But the more prepared you are before diving in, the sweeter the sound of those waves will be.

Down payment holding back renters from buying a home

Almost 70 percent of renters in 20 US metros say coming up with the down payment is holding them back from homeownership, according to the first Zillow Housing Aspirations Report.

Even though a mortgage payment is more affordable than a rent payment on a monthly basis, renters say they can’t buy a home due to the pricey down payment.

Almost 70 percent of renters surveyed cite the down payment as a greater barrier to homeownership than debt, job security and qualifying for a mortgage. Just over half of renters cite qualifying for a mortgage as a barrier to homeownership, and half say debt is holding them back. Almost 40 percent of renters say job security is keeping them from buying a home.

The US homeownership rate is near an all-time low and has been falling since 2004, although members of the largest generation of Americans — millennials — are coming of age and starting to think about buying a home and settling down. Rents are also at record highs, costing almost 50 percent of the median income in some cities. Making a monthly mortgage payment is cheaper than a monthly rent payment in all but two of the 35 largest US metros, but first renters need to save enough money for a down payment.

The Zillow Housing Aspirations Report, a semi-annual survey sponsored by Zillow and conducted by IPSOS, asks 10,000 renters and homeowners in 20 metros across the country about their views on homeownership and their personal housing expectations going forward.

Here are some highlights from the report:

Over half (63 percent) of renters are confident that they will be able to afford a home someday, with 25 percent planning on buying in the next three to five years.

Millennial renters are more confident than any other generation that they will be able to afford a home someday, with 34 percent planning on buying in three to five years. Almost a quarter (22 percent) said they plan to buy in one to two years and 2 percent of millennial renters said they never plan on buying a home.

The majority of respondents (66 percent) believe owning a home is necessary to live The American Dream, and 72 percent believe owning a home increases your standing in the local community — millennials believe these two statements more than any other generation.

With home values across the country at their highest point since June 2007, cobbling together a 20-percent down payment on a home costs more than two-thirds of the US median household annual income. In pricier markets like San Jose and Los Angeles, buyers must come up with more than 180 percent of the median annual income, making a home purchase out of reach for many aspiring homeowners.

“With home values close to record highs, it’s no surprise renters are concerned about coming up with enough money to buy a home,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Rising rents are also a factor — it’s extremely difficult to save when you’re paying record-high rents. While it is possible to put down as little as 3 percent on a home, the trade-off is a higher interest rate and costly private mortgage insurance, a financial tradeoff that may make sense for some buyers. But with interest rates rising in 2017, it’s important to remember that a lower interest rate can save buyers thousands of dollars over the life of their loan. For those trying to save for a down payment, it’s important to set realistic goals and realize it may take a few years. Also, consider working with a reputable financial advisor to help set a budget that works for you.”

San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles had the greatest share of renters say affording the down payment is the number one barrier to owning, at over 72 percent. Women (72 percent) were more likely than men (62 percent) to select the down payment as the top barrier to homeownership.

One-third of buyers used more than one source of funds for their down payment, including gifts and loans from family, according to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. Over half of buyers saved by setting aside a little money at a time.

Mortgage rates on Zillow ended the month of March at 3.94 percent, down from a high of 4.13 percent in the middle of the month. Home shoppers can use the Zillow Affordability Calculator to see how varying loan amounts and down payments will impact monthly payments and the lifetime balance of their mortgage.

District of Columbia GO bonds outlook to positive from stable on strengthening reserves

Samp;P Global Ratings revised its outlook on the District of Columbias (DC) general obligation (GO) bonds to positive from stable and affirmed its AA rating on the bonds. At the same time, Samp;P Global Ratings assigned its AA rating and positive outlook to the districts series 2017A GO refunding bonds.

The revised outlook reflects our view of the Districts sustained financial strength, with improved available reserves resulting from six consecutive years of general fund operating surpluses, said Samp;P Global Ratings credit analyst Timothy Barrett. In addition, this financial improvement is a good step toward mitigating our concerns regarding the uncertainty the District faces with regard to potential changes in levels of federal employment or a possible federal government shutdown, Mr. Barrett added.