Happy New Year

December 31, 2014

2015 New YearNew Year

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 WISHING EVERYONE A PROSPEROUS AND HAPPY

2015.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use, Disclaimer and Disclosure: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog: (i) may possibly contain one or more instances of unverified information; and (ii) is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance, oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements, comments and/or opinions of blog authors and/or users of this blog may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation. Users who comment on this blog are solely responsible for their comments and opinions.  Comments and/or opinions deemed uncivil or inappropriate will be removed or not posted.  

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Enjoy the Holidays

December 20, 2014

Fezziwig's Christmas Party

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 AT THIS GLORIOUS TIME OF YEAR we wish everyone a wonderful and safe holiday.

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukkah

Joyous Kwanzaa

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use, Disclaimer and Disclosure: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog: (i) may possibly contain one or more instances of unverified information; and (ii) is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance, oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements, comments and/or opinions of blog authors and/or users of this blog may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation. Users who comment on this blog are solely responsible for their comments and opinions.  Comments and/or opinions deemed uncivil or inappropriate will be removed or not posted.  

Cooperatives: Empty Seats

December 8, 2014

2014-12-08 - IMAGE, en.wikipedia.org

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 DURING THE APPROACH AND ONSET OF THE HOLIDAY PERIOD attendance at cooperative board meetings typically dwindles. Often there are more empty seats than attendees. Unfortunately, this not only applies to shareholders but to board members as well.

Gift shopping, setting decorations, travel plans, company holiday parties, dinners, family gatherings and visiting friends generally occur in a fairly short time span, causing folks to be unreachable or unable to be at the assembly. Recognizing this, many cooperatives schedule their board of directors meetings in a manner that has the least negative effect on attendance, especially for board members.

But sometimes the business of the cooperative requires a scheduled or special board meeting in the thick of the holiday season, such as in the case of approving a new shareholder applicant or authorizing an unexpected repair. In circumstances like these convening a quorum of board members can be a challenge when more enticing seasonal festivities beckon, and it can be even more of a challenge to pull together a quorum at the last minute for a special meeting.

What is a quorum? It is the least number of members who need to be present in order for the meeting to be considered official. If there is no quorum, there cannot be a meeting and, therefore, no action may be taken on any cooperative business.

As technical advisers to cooperatives we often see a board of directors that consists of five or seven members (five members is most common) who are elected to board positions by shareholders. A quorum for a five-seat board usually is three members and for most cooperative actions a majority vote of the board is necessary.

Yet, as is apt to happen during holidays, cooperatives sometimes stumble at a point when one or more board members are absent and only a quorum is present. The stumble is likely to occur due to a misinterpretation of the word “majority.” Unless the cooperative documents explicitly state otherwise, a majority board vote typically means a majority of all the seats on the board ― not a majority of the board members in attendance.

For example, on a five seat board having a quorum requirement of three members and with only the quorum present, all three of the members must vote to approve an action. Too many times, when reviewing board minutes, we found a board secretary had improperly declared an action approved when just two of the three-member quorum voted to support a motion. The rationale, of course, was that a majority of the three members voted to approve the action. However that rationale is incorrect since two votes on a five member board do not constitute a majority, only three or more would be a majority. Consequently, in such an instance, a matter the cooperative thought was approved actually had not been, leaving the door open for opponents to the action to argue it was not authorized.

In some situations, with just two votes in favor, we had to request the full board to vote again on those measures to obtain proper authorization.

Bottom line: To better avoid potential controversy and disputes, ensure the term “majority vote” in the cooperative documents is properly defined and upheld before declaring a measure to have been approved.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use, Disclaimer and Disclosure: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog: (i) may possibly contain one or more instances of unverified information; and (ii) is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance, oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements, comments and/or opinions of blog authors and/or users of this blog may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation. Users who comment on this blog are solely responsible for their comments and opinions.  Comments and/or opinions deemed uncivil or inappropriate will be removed or not posted.  

Property Management: The Winter Slide-Step

November 28, 2014

2014-11-28 - Man slipping and falling

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THE NORTHEAST’S MID-AUTUMN SNOWFALL reminds us of the need to be prepared for outdoor hazards the cold weather season brings. For snow-belt folks keeping a shovel, snow blower and sand/ salt handy are daily rituals, while clearing sidewalks, parking lots and common areas of the white stuff are almost subconscious activities.

Small wonder then that many of our thoughts and discussions this time of year focus on weather and the hazards it may bring. But what about the perils outdoor weather causes indoors? Even with shoveled sidewalks, as someone enters and walks through the building there are bits and pieces of the “marshmallow world” that are apt to enter as well. Snowflakes sticking to shoes, boots and clothing tend to soften then intermittently fall (typically unnoticed) to the floor.

Often the result is a trail of wet, partially melted snowy spots that can be very slippery, especially on hardwood, tile, linoleum or similar floor surfaces. Unfortunately it might be a trail leading to a catastrophe for an unsuspecting soul who inadvertently steps on one or more of those spots, suddenly loses his/ her balance then hard-lands on the floor.

This type of slip and fall can cause varying degrees of injury, including torn/ sprained muscles, broken bones, head trauma, paralysis and, perhaps, death in some situations. It has the potential to become a devastatingly bad scenario in any building, be it a single/ multi-family residence, commercial structure or governmental building. Striving to prevent such an occurrence is a winter-long work in progress requiring constant attention, particularly during a snow or ice event.

Beyond being a problem for property managers, there is the pain and the overall effect on any injured person … and let’s not forget the possibility of a liability lawsuit for the property owner.

So what can be done? Other than completely closing the building there likely is no single or series of measures that will provide one-hundred percent protection from a slip and fall, though there are things that help lessen the possibility of it happening.

In addition to other actions, we usually seek to prevent such incidents by having large moisture-absorbing doormats placed by each entry along with an attention grabbing sign to remind folks to “scrape” their shoes/ boots and to “wipe” off snow clinging to clothing. Then, where possible, we strive to install non-skid floor surfaces on heavy foot-traffic areas and stairways as well as use secured or non-skid moisture-absorbing runners in hallways.

To be sure, there are other steps that can and should be taken. Among them are ensuring the involved areas are properly lighted, regularly removing/ drying floor surfaces of wet/ snowy spots and debris as well as frequently cleaning doormats as well as runners.

Bottom line: During foul winter weather building interiors need the same vigilance as does the building exterior.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use, Disclaimer and Disclosure: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog: (i) may possibly contain one or more instances of unverified information; and (ii) is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance, oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements, comments and/or opinions of blog authors and/or users of this blog may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation. Users who comment on this blog are solely responsible for their comments and opinions.  Comments and/or opinions deemed uncivil or inappropriate will be removed or not posted.  

Real Estate: The Thanksgiving Report

November 18, 2014

2014-11-09 - Thanksgving Banner

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REGARDLESS OF HOW THANKSGIVING IS OBSERVED, its meaning often finds a way to pierce the routines and festivities we now associate with the day. And sometimes examples of this emerge from unexpected settings.

Right after Labor Day not too long ago a retired lady came to us requesting assistance with an ancestry project that included her family tree and places family members lived and visited over the years. Although pleased she asked for our help, we politely explained our research resources are mostly focused on investment grade real estate consulting and research rather than ancestral lineage.

Undeterred, she said genealogical aspects of her request were secondary to having us seek a meaningful piece of her family’s history ― namely, an old log cabin camp site in rural upstate New York. Earnestly recounting the considerable time she consumed unsuccessfully endeavoring to find it, she revealed a general idea of its suspected regional whereabouts yet was unable to pinpoint its location. Once found, she wanted a map depicting its position on the lake and present-day pictures of it for her project. We reconsidered then agreed to work on the matter.

An interview of the lady ―now our client― revealed smatterings of information based on childhood memories of gossip shared by long-gone relatives. She said the log cabin had been owned by her grandmother during the 1920’s or 1930’s. Its perceived importance stemmed from old family letters that indicated “the camp” had been a gathering spot for relatives during holidays and summer vacations. Our client believed it was sold during the 1940’s.

Preliminary review of the several faded photographs showed a log cabin on a nameless lake shore front. With the brittle handwritten documents and tattered map fragments she possessed yielding nothing overtly useful to track down the camp site, we commenced a painstakingly methodical examination of the material. It was slow, especially since some of the paperwork contained incomprehensible or illegible passages or inscriptions. Moreover, various geographic features and places had eighteenth and nineteenth century names that changed over the years, requiring supplemental research.

Gradually, as bits of handwritten references were deciphered and linked to photos and maps, an elimination process was undertaken to match those depictions with relevant shoreline portions of two likely lakes in the suspected region. Visiting the towns in which those water bodies lie, finding then studying aged municipal records and an old community map eventually produced clues leading to two adjacent parcels on one of those lakes, just outside a popular summer resort locale.

By mid-November we had sufficient data to reasonably conclude the two identified parcels at one time formed the sought log cabin camp site. Apparently a subsequent owner of the property subdivided it into two parcels sometime after the 1930’s. However, there was no trace of the log cabin pictured in the old photos. Decay, fire and/or a new owner likely took it down sometime in the past. 

Our findings were packaged into a report along with the requested map and photos, all of which our client received a few days before Thanksgiving. She called to express her thanks. As we said then, and say to all now: “Happy Thanksgiving!”

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use, Disclaimer and Disclosure: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog: (i) may possibly contain one or more instances of unverified information; and (ii) is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance, oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements, comments and/or opinions of blog authors and/or users of this blog may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation. Users who comment on this blog are solely responsible for their comments and opinions.  Comments and/or opinions deemed uncivil or inappropriate will be removed or not posted.  

Real Estate: Security Cameras Worth A Look?

November 8, 2014

14Nov08 - security camera

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EVEN AS THE VIBRANT COLORS OF AUTUMN BRIGHTEN OUR DAYS, THE DARKNESS OF LONGER NIGHTS presents a potentially problematic scenario for homeowners, tenants and property managers. For most it has relatively nothing to do with longer hours of lighting costing more since they plan on that happening and budget for it. In our case it is a reminder of what transpired at one of our client’s properties a few years ago.

While extended winter nights are no revelation to this part of the world, they may bring increased trepidation to those concerned about burglars and similar hooligans who are apt to operate under cover of night’s murkiness, which is a topic discussed in many other forums. For us autumn evokes memories of vandal misdeeds.

Our client owned a stately, well-maintained century old apartment house with carefully landscaped grounds, and as consultants to that property we were never aware of a graffiti problem. To our knowledge there was no such trouble in the neighborhood, or even in adjacent neighborhoods. Nonetheless, we learned that one autumn night the out-building walls and doors became billboards for such displays. Although the skill of the “artists” was quite good and their productions were not profane, their handiwork defaced the building and most definitely did not belong on the property. Nobody saw the vandals or knew who they were yet their “art” magically appeared on a regular basis. The owner seemed unable to stop the delivery of another wall mural by the latest aspiring Rembrant.

Our previous recommendations that a security camera system be inconspicuously installed had always been dismissed because the owner wanted to maintain an exterior environment representing the period in which the buildings were constructed. But the repeated instances of graffiti had the owner relent and, interestingly, the artwork ceased immediately — an occurrence that questioned whether the graffiti was an “inside” job (performed by one or more of the owner’s tenant household members or guests) or whether the vandals were super sensitive and savvy to security apparatus. It remains anyone’s guess as they were never caught or identified.

Though the vandals departed as abruptly as they entered the scene the owner was pleased just to have the problem resolved, which was the primary purpose for the camera system. However, the system brought other benefits to the owner as well. Tenants liked knowing the camera system was there, especially when walking to or from their vehicles after dark. And the system qualified the property for an insurance premium reduction.

Bottom line: If your property doesn’t have such a system, it certainly is worth a look.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Haunting Real Estate Bargains?

October 28, 2014

2014-08-22 - Haunted House

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ALONG WITH THE COLORS OF AUTUMN THE THOUGHT OF HALLOWEEN almost always seems to awaken a similar pattern of light-hearted imagery: Pumpkin carving, goblin-themed parties, scary movies and outlandish costumes. But real estate?

Well, yes, in some ways ― particularly when there is an interest in purchasing an existing home and the buyer may be a bit (or more than a bit) squeamish about living in a reputedly haunted house or one in which a death occurred.

Perhaps such potential purchasers became jittery after reading about ghosts that attacked a TV crew in a house or upon hearing of  journalists who nearly fled while checking out a haunted house and claims of strange happenings . Or maybe they are part of the  nearly 50% of Americans who already held a belief in hauntings.

Apparently most folks don’t believe or are skeptical about ghosts, goblins or supernatural spirits roaming the spaces of the living … at least that is what they say. And about 60% of Americans indicate they would buy or at least consider buying a haunted house.

Really? So why is the seller of a home in which sprits reportedly roam or in which someone recently died likely advised or required to disclose that information to a potential buyer ? Is it because certain buyers may be fascinated with ghost and might pay an amount close to the asking price, or could it be that many times buying a haunted house might be a tremendous bargain ?

Or … is it something else?

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Real Estate: A Renter’s Market?

October 18, 2014

buy house

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RECENTLY OUR INVOLVEMENT IN REAL ESTATE MARKET DISCUSSIONS again witnessed the same persistent and lingering observation: Despite depressed prices, we hear a home sale in our area can be as rare as inheriting a rich uncle’s estate, which tends to contradict stories of a dwindling supply of houses to sell. Of course, sales may differ in various areas but sporadic and few sales appears to be the case in many locales, more or less.

While there are several efforts to identify the cause of slack sales, the one most curious to us is the sentiment that too many folks who otherwise would be likely potential purchasers now only seem interested in renting. Rent rather than buy? Why? Traditional thought usually gives home ownership a thumbs-up in terms of being a cornerstone for long-term financial benefit. Indeed,  many other positive aspects come with home ownership as well … for the homeowner and the community

So despite logic implying lower home prices should be spurring house purchases, not apartment rentals, for people who are looking for a home and can afford to buy. But this does not seem to be the case. Certainly negative local factors such as high property taxes, poor quality of schools, distant shopping and medical facilities all play a role.  Yet the apparent pervasiveness of the issue suggests one or more generalized causes for this circumstance, like the one we hear most frequently repeated: Lenders have become more demanding ― some may argue far more demanding ― in scrutinizing loan applications, resulting in too few approvals. In other words, loan application reviews are the polar opposite of those conducted less than ten years ago when mortgage qualification was far too easy.

To be sure, we’ve heard other theories and explanations too. Perhaps an uncertain economy produces would-be buyers who are overly cautious, which uncertainty and caution nudge them toward the transience and flexibility of renting. Or they may be extremely uncomfortable with the notion of committing to one of the biggest purchases of their lives until a nationally firm and reliable economic foothold is reestablished. Maybe they heard a horror story or two about rising costs for insurance, maintenance or property taxes. Could be they are too frightened to be tied to a mortgage and a property that could be difficult to sell in the current market, which inability to sell within a reasonable time is apt to prevent them from changing jobs or searching for one in another locale thereby reducing or eliminating their income. Then again, the lack luster economy might be pushing them to reevaluate all their financial priorities, spending habits and even lifestyle patterns, any of which just might point to a rental as a viable living arrangement that can be adjusted on relatively short notice as employment and/or other factors change.

Whatever actual perceptions or rationale exist in the market, we see housing moving with renters, not buyers. Although rentals certainly have a legitimate place in the housing arena, the need for the permanence of home ownership should not be taken lightly or shrugged off. Beyond financial considerations, home ownership has been shown to provide positive benefits for household members, a stakeholder interest in the neighborhood and a stabilizing factor to the overall community.

Consequently government and the private sector need to find cooperative methods to not only create and maintain sensible affordable housing opportunities, but also develop reasonable mortgage lending qualifications and review procedures.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Real Estate: The Property Tax Question 2

October 13, 2014

2014-08-23 - home in autumn

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured, related or other matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Real Estate: The Property Tax Question

October 8, 2014

2014-08-23 - home in autumn

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.