Rent To Own Real Estate – Positive Or Negative

Banks may not be lending but rent to own homes are booming! Rent to own homes are becoming pretty commonplace, owner financing also known as seller financing is a real estate financing technique where the buyer borrows from the seller as opposed to, or in addition to a bank.

Rent to own homes are becoming a typical way to sell a property due to the fact that it is problematic to sell properties in this economic crisis. Most of these rent to own homes are fsbo, for sale by owner. Frequently, finding a real estate agent who is willing to work with rent to own homes can be difficult for buyers and sellers. Occasionally, finding rent to own homes can be kind of hard to do.

There are various ways in which rent to own homes can come about. Generally, rent to own homes are seller financed by landlords or investors that seek to enhance their financial return by offering purchase choices to their tenants in exchange for a reasonable deposit and a rental rate premium. The majority of sellers of rent to own homes are considerably reasonable when it comes to the down payment. Sellers of rent to own homes will expect you to have bumpy credit and will know how to help. Usually, these owners with rent to own homes can compete and make the best home and terms available for you. Frequently, rent to own homes are in marvelous condition, most homes are less than 5-10 years old and at bare minimum have just been renovated. Any way you look at it, rent to own homes are an immediate answer and an intelligent alternative to traditional loans.

Due to the significant initial down payment and lease payment premium that are unique to lease option contracts, rent to own homes can be considerably risky. Common lease periods for this arrangement are three years long, though longer or shorter leases for rent to own homes are not altogether unheard of. Really, rent to own homes will allow you to finally begin earning equity in a home now. Again, if you are interested in a rent to own program then you can expect to put 5-10% of the loan amount down or if are interested in buying residential real estate properties that are selling below market value then leasing or doing rent to own with tenant buyers then rent to own is for you.

Rent to own homes can be a wonderful way to buy or sell a house in the current economic environment. Rent to own homes are a certain way to increase the financial stability of a person, and help him repair his credit. Rent to own homes are long-term rental agreement that can allow a person to buy a home with minimal financial stress. Rent to own homes are a great way for people to give home ownership a shot without actually having to get a loan. The negotiation routine of rent to own homes will be different from normal home bargaining.

Rent to own homes can potentially be a great or poor deal, depending on the contract obtained at the very beginning of the agreement. Rent to own homes can help the seller still acquire some income from the home when otherwise it may be a constant drain on the seller’s finances. Rent to own homes are a trial run for the tenant as they learn the responsibilities that come with the house. Individuals living in the rent to own homes will be expected to take care of the lawn as if it is their own and pay utilities. Rent to own homes are also a good way for you to build equity before you even own the home.

Rent to own homes can be found advertised online, in newspapers, or on street signs. Besides that, rent to own homes are available in almost any neighborhood or subdivision across the United States, but there could be a hidden risk to your arrangement, and the money you put up for a down payment. Commonly, rent to own homes can also be the perfect solution for those who have gone through bankruptcy, divorce or any other types of financial hardships that may prohibit them from meeting stringent requirements put fourth by banks and other lenders. Rent to own homes can essentially help you get into a house without having to go through all the hassles that are regularly involved.

Steps To Size, Design & Install Glass Block Showers

Understanding how to develop the right size shower base and shower walls with glass blocks does not need to be some mysterious process. If youll follow the steps in this article youll have an easy to clean, structurally sound, and unique shower you can enjoy in your home or commercial property for years to come.

Step 1) What type of glass block shower do you want?

There are basically two types of showers you can use – a shower without a door, and a shower with a door. Heres an overview of where to use both:

A)Showers without a door (walk in and roll in showers) Door-less showers have become hot in bathroom design over the last 5 years. The two most popular types of these showers are walk in and roll in showers. The biggest advantage of walk in showers is you can eliminate the cost of the shower door and having to bend over to clean around the doors framing system. The roll in shower also does not have a door, but also eliminates the curb around the base that someone has to step over to get into the shower. This makes the shower much more accessible to those with special needs. The roll in shower base is gradually sloped in towards the drain. The biggest disadvantages of the doorless showers is their bases (or platforms) need to be sized larger.

B)Showers with a door (neo angle or corner showers) Most showers have doors to prevent water from splashing out. A popular type of shower enclosure is a neo angle variety that is placed in the corner of a bathroom to conserve space. The advantage of a shower enclosure system with a door is that it can fit into tighter spaces (these showers can be as small as 32 or 36).

Step 2) What type of glass block shower base do you want? How do you size this base and design it out at your project site?

There are two generic types of shower bases available for block (1) the preformed base and (2) the custom concrete base.

The preformed base is created and sized before it is brought to the job site and can be made out of acrylic, cultured marble, or other solid surface materials. It is generally thought to cost less than a custom base, which is often true, but not always. The biggest advantage of these types of systems is they are built as one solid unit to minimize the concern about water leakage through the base. The biggest disadvantage is their size cannot be adjusted at the job site. Pittsburgh Corning makes an acrylic right or left hand entry walk in glass block shower base measuring 72 x 51, a Neo Angle shower measuring 51 x 51, a Square corner shower measuring 48 x 48 and even an acrylic shower base 60 x 32 that can be used to convert a small existing tub space into a new contemporary shower!

The custom concrete or mud set pan base is sized at the new home, remodeling, or commercial building site. Since glass block cannot be cut like tile, youll need to use layout cards that correspond to the size of the block units to make sure the custom base youll make will match up with the specific block sizes for your design. Most of the layout cards are approximately 4 wide (3 7/8 is the exact size) to accommodate for the most common thickness of block used for showers. The other base thickness is 3 1/8 wide, although design options with this thickness series are more limited.

Step 3) Choosing the right sizes, shapes, and colors to make your glass block shower cool and unique.

There are a wide selection of block sizes, patterns, shapes, colors and even artistically designed murals available for your shower. Heres a brief overview of your options:

oSizes and thicknesses of glass blocks for showers Glass masonry units are made is both metric and American sizes. Most of the blocks available in the United States are American sized. The American sized blocks are available in 4 x 8, 6 x 6, 6 x 8, 8 x 8, and 12 x 12. Specialty shapes can help you turn corners, make 45 degree neo angle showers, create rounded or radius walls if youre looking to make a walk in or roll in shower, or finish off the end of the shower wall with a smooth bullnose look. The blocks have nominal sizes meaning the actual size of the block units is smaller allowing for a mortar joint to adhere the block to one another (an 8 x 8 block actually measures 7 x 7 ). The blocks for showers are 3 and 4 thick. Thinner block (3 1/8) are more cost effective, but shower design options are much more limited in this thickness of block.

oPatterns, designs and colored glass blocks Blocks come in a multitude of patterns providing different levels of privacy, style, and design options. The block are now available in standard and custom colors, tints, and artistically decorated murals to match any interior design style. Check out a comprehensive block web site to see the possibilities.

Step 4) How tall should you make your glass block shower? What do you need to do to make it structurally sound? Most block showers are built on a curb (with the exception of the roll in shower) which is 4 to 5 in height. Since many shower heads are placed 84 above the finished floor consider building your glass block wall 80 tall (this will make the size of your glass block wall + the size of your base equal to the height of your shower head). To make the glass shower walls structurally sound they should be tied into side walls with anchors every third coursing of block (usually this is every 24).

Step 5) Dont worry about any of the first 4 steps and call a glass block shower supplier and installation professional If you really dont want to figure out what size, shape, and shower base is best call a block specialty company who offers design, supply and installation services. This type of company will usually come to your home or business (without a charge), measure your shower space, figure out the possible types of bases and showers for you, and install it with a guarantee.

How a Foreign National Can Buy Real Estate in America

Opportunities for real estate investment for foreigners is wide
and varied in the United States. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and
what currency you’d be using to purchase a property, you have a
property waiting for you.

There are generally three kinds of real
estate investment available to foreigners. These investments include the
commercial estate investment and residential property investment.
Residential properties are further classified into single family
properties, apartments or condominiums and recreational properties.
Regardless of what kind of real estate you are interested in, there are
all sorts of tax ramifications, financing options and legal requirements
that you have to deal with.

Why Should You Invest in the U.S. Real Estate Market?

You’ve
probably heard of the increasing number of foreign real estate
investments in the United States. This is not surprising. With the
troubles that the real estate investment market is facing in the United
States, greater opportunities in real estate investment were opened to
foreign investors.

With the dollar’s value in its all time low,
foreign investors are finding real estate bargains all over the United
States. There are no shortages of deals in this market. More and more
distressed properties are being sold everywhere and foreigners are
pouring in millions buying these foreclosed or distressed properties.
The United States real estate has become a fairly attractive long-term
investment for foreign investors.

In November of 2006, the
National Association of Realtors released a report entitled “Foreign
Investments in U.S Real Estate: Current Trends and Historical
Perspective”. The report showed that there has been a steady increase in
foreign real estate investment in the United States. This is especially
after the euro and the loonie became stronger in the face of the
continuous devaluation of the US dollar. Prime bargains were opened to
foreigners. Many foreigners have now looked into the possibility of
retiring or settling in the United States.

If you’re a foreigner,
you would find a lot of reasons why you should invest in the United
States real estate market. Aside from the fact that the floating
exchange rate has given you a lot of leverage over the bargaining table,
the financial market is a pretty good reason why you should invest in
the US real estate.

The financial market in the United States in
relation to the real estate market is quite liberal and the restrictions
against foreign investors are pretty reasonable. This is ideal for
foreign companies that are seeking to invest in the real estate market
in the United States in order to avoid tariff restrictions and are
considering setting up an office or a company in the United States.

Furthermore,
despite the devaluation of the US dollar and the wide foreclosures of a
lot of property, the real estate market remains to be stable, though
slightly shaky, due to foreign investors’ capital appreciation. Domestic
real estate buyers may not necessarily share the same opinion, but the
market has remained to be strong for foreign real estate buyers. This
may be largely credited to the fact that there is minimal risk for them.

Why are Foreign Real Estate Investments Safe and Profitable?

There
are a lot of investments you can make, but the safest you can make
right now is investing your money in real properties. This is another
good reason aside from the fact that you can make a pretty nifty profit,
if you like, particularly now with the widespread property foreclosures
and seemingly continuous US dollar devaluation. This is especially true
if you are going to use the euro or the loonie when making your
investment.

But why is US real estate investment safe for foreigners?

It
is undeniable that stock investments are not a safe avenue at this
point. The recession has not only affected the US economy; the same
recession has greatly affected worldwide stock investments. Stocks
values are dropping. It is also a fact that even without the current
economic situation, stock values fluctuates.

On the other hand,
real estate investments are pretty stable if you would compare it to
stock investments – or even bond or mutual fund investments. With real
estate investment, you’d be putting your money in an investment that
would grow in value as years go by.

What are the Benefits of Foreign Real Estate Investment?

US
state government supports foreign investments and along this line has
formulated various tax breaks to encourage foreign investment on real
estate. Many of these tax breaks are not available in many countries. In
fact, most countries would frown at foreigners owning real properties
within their territory.

Foreign real estate investment in the
United States is open to everyone. As long as you can afford to buy the
property or at least comply with the mortgage requirements and
payments, you can secure for yourself a pretty good property in the
United States. Again, with the current economic situation of the United
States, this is the perfect chance for you to make an investment.

Another
great benefit that you can take advantage of is the availability of
mortgage financing. Lenders have opened their doors to foreign investors
who are looking into purchasing a property. So, you don’t have to
actually deplete your bank account. You can actually secure a mortgage
loan and gradually pay it off.

I’m Canadian, What Are My Financing Options?

There
is a steady increasing rate of Canadian real estate investors in the
United States; and accordingly, the government has made certain that
they have attractive financing options available to them.

If
you’re Canadian – or if you’re a foreigner – you’d find a lot of reasons
why you should buy a piece of real property in the United States. For
Canadians, the parity of the currencies or the apparent devaluation of
the US dollar is a pretty good reason itself. But how do you finance
your purchase?

There are various financing options available to
you depending on which state you are in. In Arizona, for instance, you’d
get favorable financing terms if you are purchasing a property for
recreational purposes, that is, you do not derive any income or benefit
from your purchase or ownership. You will be required, however, to sign
up a disclosure agreement and give a 30% down payment for your loan. To
qualify though for a loan, you may be required to show availability of
liquid reserves for a period of three to six months. You may also be
required to present a minimum of 3-month bank statement.

If you
are purchasing a property for investment, you’d probably meet stricter
terms. Requirements may be more stringent. For instance, you could be
required to give a down payment of more than 30% and you may be required
to show one year worth of liquidity reserves.

Regardless of your reasons, if you feel like you can
fulfill the requirements of a financing loan, you can then proceed to
actually applying for a mortgage loan. Also, keeping yourself updated
with the financing terms flux may be a wise idea.

Understanding the Tax Ramifications of Real Estate Investment

The
first foreigner to have ever bought a real estate property in the
United States was Peter Minuit. This opened the doors to foreign real
estate investors. After a couple of centuries later, foreign real estate
investment has grown into huge proportions, accounting for
billion-of-dollar worth of industry.

The low risk attached to US
real estate market, the availability of countless properties, and the
steady market liquidity attract foreign investors in droves. The initial
snag, however, is the process of understanding the legal ramifications
of foreign real estate investment.

What you have to understand is
that foreign investment in the United States can take a lot of forms. A
foreigner has various options. He can acquire direct interest. He can
acquire an interest in the real estate through a partnership, a
corporation, or a limited liability company. The latter is the typical
structure used by foreign investors.

Limited partnership or
Limited Liability Company offers financial protection or indirect asset
protection, especially in cases of bankruptcy, law suits and taxes.
Foreign investors are generally taxed on the property as if they hold
the property in direct interest.

Ideally, you should secure the
services of a real estate accountant to help you out with the tax
ramifications, but it would help if you, at least, know the basics
before you actually talk to an accountant.

There are tax
consequences that you have to deal with when you buy a real estate in
the United States. You would need an Individual Taxpayer
Identification Number which you will use with all your tax transactions.
Your investment in real estates can be treated as a portfolio
investment and will be accounted for as an investment income which can
either be fixed or a periodic income. This is typically taxed at 30% on
gross revenues. This tax though does not apply though to all foreign
investors. Tax rates would vary depending on the tax personality the
foreign investor opted for. For instance, a corporation would be taxed
differently.

Other things that you should take note of are
availability and requirements of tax refunds and state tax laws on real
estate properties as they may differ from federal laws, among other
things.

By knowing all these things, you may save yourself from a
lot of hassles when you finally approach a real estate accountant. You’d
be in same wavelength when you finally get down to talking business. It
is, however, very important that you secure the services of an
accountant. You’d have an easier time dealing with the taxes
ramifications. You’d also have assistance ensuring that you comply with
all the accounting aspect of your investment. This is especially true if
you are purchasing a real property for investment purposes.

Do You Need to Secure the Service of a Real Estate Lawyer?

If
you are considering buying a property in the United States, you need
to secure the services of a real estate attorney – someone who could
help you with the legal issues concerning your purchase. It is tempting
to forego securing the service of a lawyer to save money, but this could
cost you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure that you have an
experienced and trustworthy lawyer to help you out. Make sure that you
have thoroughly checked out his credentials, profile, history of
successful cases handled by him, and other factors that would influence
your decision. You could check online and look for a lawyer working
within the state where you are considering purchasing a property.

Functions of a Real Estate Lawyer

There
is no actual distinctive function for a lawyer in a real estate case.
However, you would really need the assistance of a lawyer for various
tasks. A real estate lawyer would review the sales contract for you. He
would also check on the title and other documents relating to the
property. A lawyer would also review your mortgage contract and make the
necessary adjustments or corrections. You could also get him to review
with you the legal and tax issues concerning the purchase. A real estate
attorney could also make the necessary adjustments relating to various
expenses and costs involved in the purchase. He would assess your
eligibility for tax refunds and draft the documents and statements
relating to this.

Putting it simply, a real estate lawyer will be
your watchdog. He would guide you through the whole process of
purchasing a real estate in the United States in order to make sure that
you will be legally protected. You will have a capable and trustworthy
liaison to help you out with the contract. He will also face legal
disputes if any arise.

Tips on How to Invest in Real Estate Successfully

Now,
if you’ve fully bought into the idea of real estate investing in the
United States, you might just want to know how to go about investing in
real estate successfully. If you want to be successful in this venture,
the first thing that you have to avoid is overanalyzing. Of course, it
is a good idea to carefully think through your actions but it is a bad
idea to overanalyze your investment to nonexistence. You might lose a
great opportunity.

Before you purchase the property though, it
might be wise to check the property value. If it sits well with you and
you can reasonably afford the property, go ahead and make the purchase.

If
you are considering the property for a quick flip, make sure that the
property is in perfect condition and in good area. This is to ensure
that you could double or actually triple your return of investment. If
you can inspect the property yourself, do so. If not, a good and
trustworthy agent can help you with this task.

Another important
thing to remember when you’re buying real estate is good financing. You
should take your time to carefully consider all your financing options.
Foreign investors can email in their queries to various lending
institutions. It is a good idea to make sure that you’ve had their terms
and rates on paper because they tend to change these terms and charge
you with a lot of junk. Your real estate agent can help you with
reviewing the escrow charges.

The bottom line, however, is that it
is very important that you do your homework before you actually buy a
real property. Investing in real properties in the United States can be
profitable especially during these times. In fact, it may be the wisest
and most perfect investment you can make right now.

Las Vegas Nevada Real Estate

Here’s a list of the most pricey communities in the state with apartments for lease.

Enterprise, NV – ordinary apartment lease: $1,356em>

This southwestern suburb of Las Vegas with a population of 93,969 tops the list with the highest rent prices in the State. The local community has veteran wonderful expansion over the very last decade — there were fewer than 15,000 residents in 2000. The community is actually upscale with great browsing and straightforward access to Las Vegas which is only 10 miles away. There is a new 80-acre “mountain park” here that has an exciting western-themed village for youngsters to examine and trails top to the summit.

Henderson, NV – typical apartment rent: $one,206

A southeastern suburb of Vegas situated about fifteen miles from the strip, Henderson is extra established than Enterprise, offering extra in the way of buying and mature developments. A terrific put for energetic individuals, Henderson has a well-liked aquatic complex, a 140-acre bird viewing preserve with nine ponds, a recreation middle with a 40,000-square-foot gymnasium, and the Ethel M. Folks that are not from Las Vegas look to believe that we all reside on “The Strip.” Practically nothing is even more from fact. The most well-liked areas to live, such as Green Valley, Southern Highlands, Anthem, and Summerlin are suburbs nowhere near The Strip. Southwest and Northwest Las Vegas are escalating at astronomical rates and, literally, housing can not be built swiftly enough to handle our growth.

Housing

About 34% of the households in Las Vegas are rentals. You will locate an abundance of rental options through Las Vegas, ranging from apartments and condominiums to unique corporate housing to single-family properties. The typical apartment rent (for all apartments) is $738 with a vacancy charge of much less than 5%. Apartments provide some of the most effective lifestyles to Nevada residents. Apartments in Nevada are distinctive than most states. They are new, bigger than most and give all of the facilities that newer housing communities offer you. Several of the more recent communities provide 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units, with or with out garages.

Las Vegas authentic estate is nevertheless fair. It has enhanced significantly in excess of the past year, but continues to offer you some of the most economical housing in the region. Our diversity in housing selections make it easy for you to decide on from city houses to condominiums, gated residing to planned communities, superior rises to manufactured residences.The good quality of lifestyle in Las Vegas is typically far better than in most regions. Las Vegas provides top-notch physical exercise services, outstanding restaurants, the positive aspects of any other town, plus a lot additional. The common property owner is 22 a long time previous, so there is lots of option to advance in your occupation.

Wages

Nevada ranks in the upper 25 percentile of wages presented all the way through the United States. This coupled with our lower expense of living may make Nevada quite attractable to all pros. Some media outlets have talked about the lower degree of education in Las Vegas, but our common median income continues to topple most main markets.

Functioning in Las Vegas

Casinos are no lengthier just gaming they are enjoyment, dining, retail and hospitality. It also is residence to quite a few fiscal institutions these as Citibank, Family Credit Services and Initial Bank of Marin.

Increased Demand In Architecture Services Due To Housing Recovery

Architecture services have becoming increasingly popular in the past few years due to increased demand for housing in the United States. As the housing recovery and overall economic recovery continue to paint a more upbeat picture, more architecture services are being contracted. Architecture services allow for home building, home redesign, and more. Typically, if architecture is becoming increasingly in demand, that economy is usually on a upward swing.

Most architects offer both residential and commercial architecture design, as well as structural engineering services. For residential services, architects will work to come up with a design that meets all your needs, while working to meet your construction budget. Residential services typically include preliminary design, construction document preparation, interior design, landscaping design, energy efficiency calculations, and construction administration.

Other areas architects specialize in include custom residences, renovations, additions, new construction jobs, historic preservations, multi-family units, apartment complexes, condominiums, and even property development. Architects can generally even create three dimensional renderings to help show you your plans, elevations, sections using exclusive and modern design software. This allows for increased efficiency, easy planning, and helps to reduce costs and miscommunications. Commercial services typically include pre-design feasibility studies, building evaluations, programming, surveys, preliminary design, three dimensional modeling, and more. Construction administration and architecture designs are also available. Most architects are adept at construction documentation, code analysis, energy code compliance, and design development, among others. Construction administration services include: assisting in bidding and negotiations, permitting, project management, site preservations, and more.

3 Dimensional Renderings: Architects experience their environment in 3D while plans, elevations and sections are printed in 2D on flat paper sometimes creating difficulties interpreting designs. Many will even craft your project in 3D within the computer on the latest CAD and 3D software to provide you with a model that may be easily understood. This improves design efficiency, reduces project costs and results in highly effective communication.

Be sure to look for an architect that responds to your needs with thoughtful, individual designs to create inspired architecture that is both artful and intelligent. Architects must believe their design solutions will elevate the spirits of the user, but also balance value and economy while expressing the client’s ideals. Look for Nationally Accredited (NCARB) Architects as they tend to offer a higher level quality of service and design.

Many architects tend to specialize in housing, restaurants, retail, banking, offices, hospitality and historic preservation sites. Additional services could potentially include structural design and analysis, shear wall designs, insurance claims, framing plans, code compliance reports and more. Be sure your architect will be able to integrate your structural requirements into the process effectively and efficiently, in order to ensure for a beautiful and safe building upon completion.

Trustworthiness Means A Lot In The Real Estate Business

Success of a real estate broker lies in his trustworthiness to the customers; without gaining the trust of common people, it is pretty difficult for any person to get success in the real estate business. The house transaction deals involve thousands of dollars, as a result of which people generally do not get the confidence to hire just any real estate broker. There are several chances of getting fixed up by any rogue and loosing the entire money or spending a huge amount of unnecessary money for an inappropriate house. Such unfortunate incidents are often seen in many places. Hiring a well known and experienced real estate broker is the best way to prevent such incidents and carry on with a successful house transaction. People of Colorado are lucky in this case as they have got one of the best real estate brokers of United States, Andre Mazur, operating at that region. This Lafayette realtor has gained enormous popularity among the inhabitants of that region because of the extraordinary services that he provides.

Among several other qualities, the trust that this Lafayette Colorado realtor provides is unimaginable. This is the most important quality that most common people want in a real estate broker. However, it is impossible to find out whether a realtor is trustworthy or not; the best way to find it out is to discuss with that realtors previous customers and by studying about that real estate broker. When any person comes to Andre Mazur for any type of house transaction deals, he may not worry about his trustworthiness. This Lafayette realtor has been in the real estate business for 13 long years; this easily mentions his trustworthiness to the clients. He has been able to work for such a long time because people trust him and seek his help in any type of house transaction deals. The excellent service that he has provided continuously for this long period of time has earned him huge popularity and success.

This Lafayette Colorado realtor operates only in Colorado; outsiders cannot get the facilities of this real estate broker. People from other parts of United States have to hire any other real estate broker company for dealing with their house transactions. They should search a lot and gather adequate information about the real estate broker they are going to hire. All the real estate brokers that one sees are not like Andre Mazur, they may not provide the facilities that this Lafayette realtor provides. But, there is nothing that can be done; a real estate broker must be hired for the house transaction deals otherwise people may lose a lot of money behind an inappropriate house or may not get the right amount of money for a house when they sell one. Nowadays, no one gets involved in buying or selling houses without involving a good and efficient real estate broker. Everyone knows that such ignorance to the real estate brokers can cost them a lot of money. So people spend lot of time to find the best real estate broker of the region to make their house transaction deals successful.

Five Tips For Building An Enviable Cigar Collection

Ask any cigar smoker why they do it and they will pontificate for as long as you will let them about the sublime and meditative act of enjoying a good cigar. They will go on and on about their personal cigar-smoking experience, never once admitting to the fact that they take great pride in their knowledge of cigars and in the collection they have accumulated.

The fact is that every serious cigar smoker wants a collection that will be the envy of his friends. Even though most cigar aficionados would never admit it, there is a social and almost club-like bond between cigar smokers.

Sure, there is the image of a man sitting in his study quietly enjoying a smoke and a great novel. Solitary enjoyment is a big part of cigar smoking. But half the fun of smoking cigars is talking with your friends about the brands you have experienced and the ones that you would like to try.

Building an enviable cigar collection requires tact, variety, and daring choices. Here are a few tips toward making your collection the talk of the town.

1. Proper Storage

First off, any serious collection of cigars is going to be stored in a proper humidor. If you dont have one, it is time to get one. Beyond just keeping your cigars at the proper temperature and humidity, a humidor will add that subtle cedar flavor that is otherwise unobtainable.

The Neo Classic I Humidor is small (it only holds about 25 cigars), but it is a great starter humidor and what it lacks in size it makes up in style. It has a black lacquer finish and the corners are accented with Greek-style columns. Piano hinges support the lid and it even comes with a lock and key to keep the kids out.

On the opposite end of the size spectrum is the Montegue End Table Humidor. Yes, it is a humidor so large that it actually functions as an end table. Behind two doors and in one drawer you can store a whopping 1,500 cigars. With a humidor this size it becomes less like collecting cigars and more like stockpiling them.

Dont worry though; there are plenty of humidors of every size in between so it should be easy enough to find one that will house your collection without going too overboard.

2. Variety

The first step towards building a respectable collection is variety. This doesnt mean you have to have every obscure shape, style, and brand of cigar, but you should at least make an attempt to try and have a decent mix on hand. This isnt just for presentations sake, but it will also grow your own tastes and experience.

A nice corona is always at home in any collection and the Cruz Real Corono Sumatra is a terrific example. The Connecticut wrapper version has a great medium-bodied smoke that will make these a staple of your collection.

If you are looking to throw something a little off the beaten path into the mix then you should try the Villiger Original Krumme 4/6. They are mild Swiss made culebra style cigars. A culebra is actually 3 small cigars twirled together.

Variety is important, but you should also be careful not to get too carried away. Dont buy cigars you dont think you will actually enjoy just for the sake of mixing up your collection.

3. The Holy Grails

Every cigar collection should have a few premium cigars. Price doesnt always determine quality, but having a few expensive cigars will add a sense of exclusivity to your collection.
The CAO America Anthem is a great all-American presidente-style cigar. It is made from two Connecticut wrapper leaves that encircle longfiller tobaccos from Nicaragua, Italy, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. It is a great showpiece cigar and would make a fine centerpiece to any collection.

4. The Liquid Collection

A cigar collection should be like the menu of your favorite restaurant. There are the old standbys that made you fall in love with the cooking in the first place, but you keep coming back to see what new specials they might have.

Collecting cigars works the same way. You can amass the greatest collection of cigars that the world has ever seen, but unless you keep adding and trying new brands and styles then it will get boring in a hurry.

Dont be afraid to get out there and try something new every once in a while. This applies not just to cigars, but to your whole life. The strong and almost spicy aroma of the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Belicoso might initially turn off someone who is used to a more mild smoke. Give it a whirl though and its blend of rare tobaccos might change your tune.

5. The Shared Collection

There isnt much point in collecting cigars if you are just going to just let them sit there. And there is no fun in showing off your collection if you arent willing to share it. You might amass a variety of cigars that would turn the most experienced aficionado into a jealous maniac, but unless you are willing to offer him a cigar from your collection he will deny your tastes until his dying day.

There is a sense of devilish delight that can be obtained from building a collection of cigars that will make your friends jealous. But the real joy in collecting cigars comes from the enjoyment you get in having a cigar with a good friend. It is fun to try new cigars and discussing your hobby with others is a great way to increase your cigar knowledge.

However, it is the other discussions that you have over a cigar that matter the most. It is the talks you and your friends have about your families. About your troubles and your dreams. About your place in the universe and in each others lives. A collection of cigars is really just material. It is how you enjoy them with the people that matter to you that is truly something enviable.

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The Florida Panhandle A Terrific Place To Invest In Real Estate

We have vacationed in Northwest Florida, Walton County in particular, for twenty years – and love it! The best, uncrowded beaches in the country – reasonable cost – great restaurants – terrific beach properties to lease! So we are very enthusiastic about the area – but what about the economic realities of investing in Florida — at this time?

Northwest Florida has a vibrant and steady tourist business, with low unemployment. The brand new Panama City International Airport, projected to open in January 2010, will make the area quickly accessible from virtually anywhere in the United States and Europe. It is expected to provide a major boost to the areas economy, and should increase demand for real estate.

We believe the Florida panhandle is a solid place to buy real estate, and that real estate values, though flat right now (January 2008) are likely to move sharply upward, especially for oceanfront and Gulf view properties. But thats our view! Here are some other folks opinions on the area.

CNN Money.com (Feb. 12, 2007) highlighted Panama City, Florida as the #1 place to buy real estate in the United States.

American Express says that the Florida panhandle is one of its Top Ten tourist destinations in the United States. The Florida panhandle is second only to the Orlando area in Florida tourism. Northwest Florida beaches are among the best in the world, attracting over seven million visitors annually – more than any other East Coast beach area.

Real estate professionals in Walton County say that prices are less than during the peak year of 2005. But they are expecting closings to increase, as more deals become available. Many residences are priced below the cost to build. “If you are looking for a property to hold on to for the next five years, the time to purchase is now. We are still very undervalued compared to other regions of Florida.”

The St. Joe Company (NYSE:JOE), whose corporate headquarters are in Jacksonville, FL, is the largest landowner in the Florida panhandle, owning some 718,000 acres of development land – half of it less than ten miles of the coast. St. Joe has been a big player in the area for a long time, beginning as a timber company but realizing in recent decades that the value of its holdings was far greater as investment property. So now theyre in the vacation home development business, with a great deal of activity centered on Walton County.

According to St. Joe’s Investor Relations Department the long term outlook for Florida panhandle real estate is particularly upbeat.

Long-term economic and population trends continue to favor Florida, whose economy is fundamentally solid and diversified. The state’s population is forecasted to increase by three-fourths (to 28.6 million) by 2030. Its demographic growth rate regularly outperforms that of the rest of the United States: since 1970, the State’s yearly rate of growth has outpaced the national average by 100%. By 2010 Florida will pass New York to take its place as the nation’s third most populous state.

Florida’s solid, diversified economy regularly outperforms the U.S. mean, with a burgeoning tourism industry, plenty of high-tech jobs and a strong high-tech manufacturing sector. A large military presence with a number of active and expanding bases provides stability to the region’s economy. Within the Florida panhandle, Walton County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Florida and the U.S.

Florida is the commercial center of the Americas. Geographic location, as well as economic and political stability, places Florida at the heart of trade and business throughout the region. Vacation property sales to retirees remain robust, and Florida is a favorite spot for retirement relocation.

Northwest Floridas beaches are the states second favorite tourist destination, behind only Orlando. They draw over seven million visitors each year, more than any other stretch of beach in the eastern United States.

Beaches in the Florida panhandle rate as some of the most beautiful in the country and the world. Beaches in Walton, Bay and Gulf Counties have been selected for the number one ranking by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, an authority on beach quality and author of America’s Best Beaches.

Northwest Florida enjoys a very favorable climate, with mild winters, lots of sunshine and clear days. Northwest Florida is located in U.S. Climate Zone 8, the same climate zone as renowned vacation areas such as Hilton Head (SC), Amelia Island (FL), Kiawah Island (SC) and St. Simons and Sea Island (GA). Floridas beauty and variety of landscape is well-known. The Emerald Coast has a distinct geography, culture and cuisine that is very different from Miami or Orlando.

Northwest Florida entertains approximately seven million visitors annually. According to Visit Florida, the states tourism and visitor agency, 33 percent of these visitors are from households with incomes over $75,000 and 16 percent are from households with incomes over $100,000.

The number of private resort developments in the Florida panhandle is increasing. At communities like Seaside, Rosemary Beach, WaterColor and WaterSound Beach, oceanfront lots have sold for $40,000 per linear beachfront foot to prosperous families who have chosen Northwest Florida.

The new Panama City airport now under construction is expected to be in operation by February 2010. It will be a major international airport, thus opening the Emerald Coast to easy access from both coasts, the Midwest, Canada and Europe. Previously, access to the area by air was limited to regional airports.

Economists expect that the new airport will become a strong economic development engine for the area. Throughout history airports have a powerful track record for increasing economic development activity.

The new Panama City airport will be the first major airport built in the United States in almost fifteen years. As a large-scale greenfield airport location, it offers unique opportunities and unmatched flexibility for companies dependent on air transport and logistics infrastructure.
Examples of how airport construction stimulates local economies may be seen in Huntsville, AL, Savannah, GA, Jacksonville, FL, Fort Myers, FL and Northwest Arkansas. All of these airports have stimulated significant adjacent development.

The State of Florida projects that over its first decade, the new airport is likely to create 8,000 new jobs and at completion a total of 13,000 jobs. An important comparison is the construction of the new Southwest Regional Airport in the Ft. Myers/Naples area in 1983, which had a tremendous impact on real estate values. Since the airport opened in 1983, total residential real estate values in the region have increased an average of 11 percent annually.

Fortune Magazine (October 14, 2007) highlighted the St. Joe Company as one of the Ten Best stocks for 2008, citing the long-term potential of the company and its development business situated in the Florida panhandle. The article says: “When Florida real estate does rebound, investors will be kicking themselves for not recognizing today’s $28 stock price for St. Joe Co (JOE) — Florida’s largest private landowner — as a rare opportunity.”

In the quickly shifting economic climate, it is important to research and ask questions before making any investment choice. Yet the truth is that the Florida panhandle is a rarity, with a delightful climate and stunningly beautiful, mostly empty beaches. As you sit on the pristine, white sand with your feet in the emerald clear Gulf water, with pelicans and gulls flying overhead and dolphins cruising by you can see that there are some very important intangibles here. Northwest Florida is a very special place – and they’re not creating any more beach property!

other-Tiki Bar And Tiki Hut Building Supplies – Also Complete Information On Thatch Roofing & Bamboo Poles

The Story Of The Tiki Bar

The image of the care-free tropical island has been with us since long before the 1930’s. During most of the early 20th century, American kids actually read books, and grew up on 18th and 19th century adventure stories by the likes of Jules Verne, many of which featured tropical islands as their settings. Even Robinson Crusoe used to be considered a children’s book, not fodder for college courses.

So, when those kids grew up, the sight of a drinking establishment with actual props such as you would theoretically find in a real-life “tropical paradise” (“tiki masks” and wall-mounted tropical fish) sparked their imaginations. It was the perfect blend of “reality” and fancy. Presumably, the Tiki bars were related to actual Polynesian culture and named after the Maori mythological figure of Tiki, although the connection was pretty tenuous. Add alcohol to the mix, especially fruity “tropical” rum-based drinks with very high alcohol content, such as the Zombie Cocktail, and you have an unbeatable recipe for the ultimate leisure destination.

Post-Modern Tiki Bars

After the 1970’s, tiki bars fell out of fashion. They were inauthentic, no longer “cool” or “cosmopolitan.” What was once alluring because it was new and faintly exotic became hopelessly domestic and outdated. It became gauche to build a tiki hut or build a tiki bar.

However, gradually, as the 20th century merged into the 21st, the common opprobrium heaped upon the tiki bar lifted. Post-modernity looks with skepticism at any attempt to create an “objective” point of view. It revels in images and ideas that once were fashionable but that now appear “cheesy” and “outdated,” in part because these conform its thesis that the meaning of all images is subjective and relative to its time period.

Thus, delightful tiki bar, with its thatch roofs, woven mats, fanciful “tiki god” mugs and fake palm trees, has had something of a renaissance. Now, everyone wants a tiki bar–not just to go to on vacation, but to have in his or her own rec room, basement, or backyard. People who like tiki bars are aware that they might be seen by some as “cheesy,” but love them anyway, in part because of the liberation that they represent from always having to be “cool.” Build a tiki bar, and you will convey to all of your friends the message of how free-spirited and fun-loving you are.

A tiki bar just isn’t a tiki bar without that characteristic palm tree-looking tiki thatch covering every conceivable roof-like surface. Without tiki bar thatch, your “tiki bar” is just some bar that serves tropical drinks. If your home bar has is decorated with tiki masks and boasts a supply of tiki mugs in which to serve tropical drinks, but doesn’t have thatch covering at least one surface, it looks jarring.

Browse our Tiki Thatch

For an outdoor tiki hut, thatch is even more necessary. With an indoor tiki-themed bar, you at least have the excuse that thatch roofs “aren’t really necessary” indoors (although everyone will know you are just making excuses–tiki bars are about looks, not utility). With an outdoor tiki hut, you don’t even have that sad excuse.

Covering The Subject Of Thatch

What is thatch? It is only the world’s first building material. Straw, heather, and in the Polynesian islands, dried palm leaves, have been layered together and waterproofed to create warm, water-resistant, low-cost, sustainable roofs for thousands of years. People have been making thatched roofs since before they could write.

In the context of a tropical tiki bar, it’s practical to use thatch to cover a sun umbrella or palapa (a type of roofed structure held up by four or more poles but without any walls, intended for giving shade). Thatch’s great thermal insulation means that, not only will thatched-roof houses stay warm in winter, but people sitting under thatched palapas will stay cool in summer.

The Aesthetics of Thatch

Aside from its cost-effectiveness and its effectiveness at protection from the sun (possibly not as much of an issue, if you’re trying to build a tiki bar at home), thatch has great aesthetic properties that make it indispensable to a tropical-themed place of leisure. A thatched roof looks casual and natural. People like the fact that a thatched roof is made out of the same material as things that actually grow in the earth. Why?

Is it because everyone actually cares so much about the environment all of a sudden? Maybe, but the real reason probably has more to do with the basic aesthetic principle of “things must match.” People often express an urge to “get away from civilization” because of its perceived artificiality. Civilization clashes with what everyone really perceives to be the true nature of reality–which is, “nature,” in the sense of forests and palm trees and plants.

We love nature, but we need civilization. Modern people feel that they are simply incapable of living in nature, without any of the “artificial” incursions of civilization–and they probably are right. Even farming is, to some extent, “artificial.” However, when people see that boundary between nature and civilization blur just a little bit–as in the thatched roof of a tiki bar–they begin to relax just a little bit. It is the kind of good, relaxed feeling that makes one want to sit back with a tropical cocktail.

Commerically Available Tiki Thatch

For these reasons, thatched roofs have been an indispensable part of the tiki bar look since tiki bars first appeared. These days, if you want to build a tiki bar, you don’t even have to thatch it yourself–you can buy rolls of tiki thatch buy the foot

If you see a Polynesian-inspired grass hut, with its characteristic roof made of layered palm leaves, you will automatically assume think “tropical vacation.” If you see a real palm hut, complete with leaves, supported by a handsome cypress or cedar frame, in somebody’s patio, yard, or poolside, you will probably be somewhat impressed. Only “real” bars and themed outdoor restaurants get to have a tropical hut, right? Or the very rich?

Browse our catalogue of supplies for your Grass Hut

Wrong. A grass hut, such as you would find at a commercial tiki-themed bar, is actually relatively inexpensive to build. “Real” grass huts are relatively inexpensive to build. Think about it: their low cost and ease of construction was the very reason that grass huts were traditionally used in the tropics, where the idea of the tiki bar takes its inspiration in the first place. There’s something inexpressibly charming about being able to put together such a low-cost, comfortable, distinctive-looking shelter out of inexpensive, readily available materials.

Frame First

The easiest way to build a Polynesian-style grass hut for your next tiki party (or if you want to have a permanent tiki bar by your poolside) is to build the frame first, and to build it out of wood. You can get common materials such as pine and directly from your local hardware store. For the parts that require sturdier woods are, such as cypress or cedar, contact a lumber company. Alternatively, you can buy tiki “kits” from online suppliers, which come pre-made with all of the parts you need. Whether you choose to build from a kit, or build by yourself, you can create almost any kind of structure you could dream of–a table shaded by a huge tiki umbrella, a palapa, a hut, a tent, an actual full-service bar covered by a snazzy tiki roof, or even thatch-covered a DJ’s booth.

A Thatch Roof Gives Tiki Structures Their Distinctive Look

Once you have a frame in place, it’s time to add that which will give your tropical hut its characteristic appearance: a thatched roof. The thatched roof may be “primitive,” but it’s actually a surprisingly useful building material. It will ensure all who sit beneath it cool under the hot sun, and shelter from rain when it is cold. People don’t realize that thatched palm leaves actually offer a lot of water resistance. A well-made thatched roof can last up to 7 rainy winters. For this, you have the option of either purchasing palm leaves and learning to weave them yourself–or buying ready-made rolls of thatched palm leaves. The one advantage that modern thatch has over its ancient predecessor? For your modern tiki grass hut, you can buy rolls of palm thatch that have been treated with fire-retardant chemicals.

If you’ve already decided to build or obtain a bar from which to serve drinks at home, why stop there? Why not go all-out and put together a bamboo tiki bar in your own home.

Browse our catalogue for everything you need for your Bamboo Tiki Bar

Resurgence Of Tiki Culture

Tiki bars–that is, drinking establishments with a Polynesian motif that involved palm trees and bamboo and thatch furniture–used to be extremely popular in the United States. They went out of fashion during the 1970’s, but these days, like all things “retro,” they are experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

However, the way in which tiki bars are popular today is somewhat different from the way in which they were popular during the years 1947-1970. In the past, the tiki style was primarily confined to commercial drinking establishments and restaurants, especially in popular resort destinations such as Hawaii. These days, although tiki bars and restaurants still enjoy some of their former popularity, tiki has become an even more popular home decoration scheme. Tiki mugs are collectible items, tiki masks are considered ironically “hip” home decorations, and, in general, tiki party accessories a way to show off your individual good taste–your ability to know that something is “uncool” but to enjoy it nonetheless.

The Home Tiki Bar

Given all of these facts, what is the ultimate home tiki accessory? The ultimate way to show your guests your sense of taste, and a good time, all at once? It is the bamboo tiki bar–not in the sense of a commercial drinking establishment, but in the sense of a little stand with shelves made out of bamboo, with possible space for a mini-refrigerator, from which you can serve exotic, alcoholic, rum-based drinks with names like “Sex on the Beach” or “Death on the Islands” (that last one does not exist–yet!).

The bamboo tiki bar is an extremely versatile entertainment accessory. You can either build or buy these semi-portable structures, ranging in length from 3 feet and 4 feet, to 8 feet, and even to as long as 14 feet. If you properly season the bamboo to protect it from wind and water, you can have an outdoor tiki bar to use in your backyard. This is especially exciting if you also own a pool (warning: be responsible and avoid going swimming after you’ve imbibed). If you don’t have a big enough yard, or simply want to be a little paradoxical, you can build your home tiki bar indoors. It can still have the thatched roof–an homage to the absurdity and delight of tiki culture.

The main two things to keep in mind when buying or building a bamboo tiki hut bar is to, first, make sure that you are using real bamboo and, second, make sure the bamboo has been treated with appropriate chemicals if you plan to keep the bar outside. A tiki bar made of plastic just doesn’t have that exciting authentic, festive look of a bamboo tiki bar.

Bamboo wall covering is essential if you really want to ramp up the authenticity of your tiki-themed basement or rec room, or if you just want an attractive, “natural” look for the walls in your house (or outside your house, for that matter). That is because bamboo is perhaps the quintessential construction material of the Pacific islands.

Browse our Bamboo Wall Covering

Why Bamboo?

As a construction material, Bamboo has been renowned in East and South Asia, and the Pacific Islands, for millennia. It is relatively light, durable, and–most importantly of all–it grows at a super-fast rate of as much as 3-4 feet per day. That kind of growth is is almost visible to the naked eye. Bamboo is also extremely hardy. It can also grow virtually anywhere, whether high in the freezing Himalayan mountains, or in the heat of sub-Saharan Africa. It can grow as far north as Sakhalin (latitude 50 degrees N) or as far south as Chile (latitude 47 degrees S). What that means in practice is that residents of the warm Pacific Islands could (and still can) afford to make basically every building out of bamboo.

Outside of the Pacific Islands covering your walls with bamboo will give your interior that subtle but unmistakable look that is associated with the South Pacific. Visitors entering an interior with bamboo-covered walls may find themselves calmed and thinking of the tropics without quite knowing why.

Bamboo Wall Covering Options

Bamboo is an extremely versatile building material, and bamboo wall coverings come in several forms. First, you can purchase flat slats or bricks that are made of bamboo. These can be up to 9 feet in length, and are usually supposed to adhere to your wall with glue. You can also attach them to the wall with molding going along the wall’s top and bottom. Covering your wall with bamboo slats is similar to having a brick facade, except, of course, the facade is made out of bamboo.

Second, you can buy actual half-sections of bamboo trunk. The insides of these half-sections is filled with foam. These pieces of bamboo trunk are then nailed, glued, or screwed to the wall.

However, all the above options take a long time to install, and may look too “formal” for a fun, tiki bar setting. For a tiki bar, the best wall covering option is to buy woven bamboo mats by the foot. Mats? Yes. Bamboo can be cut into flexible strips that are then woven to make a sturdy, flexible, yet basically impenetrable barrier. After the mat is woven, the bamboo strips are treated with a variety of chemicals to make them water and fire-resistant. Bamboo mats are economic and versatile. They can be ordered in any size, and be made to cover your wall in a matter of hours. They also look truly casual, yet authentic–perfect for a tiki bar. Thus, for tiki bars, woven bamboo mats are the best kind of bamboo wall covering.

The atmosphere of infinite leisure and pleasure that you would find a tiki bar can actually be created easily, with the purchase and proper arrangement of the right tiki accessories. The delight you and your guests will feel at finding yourselves in a tiki bar may intangible. However, it is brought about through the proper combination of very tangible, physical props. Building a tiki bar is all about applying Gestalt principles: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Browse our catalogue for Tiki Accessories

The Basics: Thatch, Weaves, and Bamboo

The basic components of a convincing tiki bar that will surround your guests in the proper atmosphere are palm-thatched roofs (such as you would see on traditional Polynesian roofs), woven bamboo mats, and bamboo poles. These are the “brick and mortar” of putting together a tiki bar. Any surface that goes on top of where people are sitting or standing, such as the roof of a the bar area (if you’re building a little “tiki shack”) or a sun umbrella, should be covered in palm thatch. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to pay contractors to thatch the roof of your bar. Thatch is available in easy-to-install rolls that you can just unroll and use to cover a basic skeleton structure made of wood. Woven mats go great on floors, as a kind of tropical rug, or on walls. They are comfortable to touch and let in a little bit of warm, tropical breeze while keeping out the wind. If you don’t live in a tropical climate, don’t worry. You can buy woven mats by the foot and use them to line an ordinary wall. The woven mats that you can buy commercially are made with thick-woven strips of bamboo–much like the traditional ones you would see on a Polynesian island, except treated with various substances to make them stronger and more durable.

Bamboo is an excellent construction material because it can come in another form. What could be an aesthetically superior complement to a woven bamboo mat than a sign held up by a bamboo pole? The sign could be simple-looking, perhaps wooden, and hand-painted to fit in with the tiki aesthetic. “[insert your name]’s Tiki Bar,” it could say. But don’t stop there! Bamboo poles, in combination with woven bamboo, could also be used to make delightful tiki furniture for your bar. This, too, can be purchased commercially. Is there anything more playful than the combination of rustic and modern found in a bamboo CD holder, containing, perhaps, your collection of marimba music?

Get Fancier: Tiki Masks And More

Once you have established your tiki bar’s underlying structure of bamboo and thatch, you can really start the best part of decorating: choosing individual tiki accessories. You must, of course, start with the classics that have existed in tiki bars since the 1930’s: tiki masks. According to Maori legend, Tiki is actually the first human being on earth–similar to the Judeo-Christian Adam. Tiki masks are originally inspired by traditional Polynesian woodcarvings. To “western” eyes, they tend to look imposing and exotic, and they are an indispensable part of tiki bar decor. Many “tiki masks” today aren’t really masks–just giant woodcarvings. You can use tiki masks creatively: buy a couple, put a board over them (preferably made from the same type of wood), and you’ve got a tiki bench.

Other tiki accessories and tiki bar supplies you can buy include tiki mugs (in which to serve colorful, rum-based drinks), artificial palm trees, and fiberglass tropical fish to mount on your walls.