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Category Archives: homeowners insurance

IT’S ALL IN PERSPECTIVE

IT’S ALL IN PERSPECTIVE

“A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.” – William Feather

When it comes to selling you home, everyone has a different perspective on what the price should be.  This is a big problem, especially for Realtors who have studied the market and different subdivisions, and are knowledgeable on the value of a home.  Sometimes there is a wide difference of opinion in pricing the home to sell, between the Realtor and the seller.  I have also found the lender, appraiser and tax assessor also have their opinions.  Following is a pictorial description of the discrepancy of these opinions.  I hope this helps eliminate any confusion current sellers may have.

YOUR HOME AS VIEWED BY….

YOURSELF, THE SELLER

YOUR LENDER

YOUR BUYER

YOUR APPRAISER

YOUR TAX ASSESSOR….

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DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE!

“For most folks, no news is good news; for the press, good news is not news.”  – Gloria Borger

You hear the bad news everywhere you turn. It’s on the television, the Internet, the radio and in print headlines. A lot of negative coverage has been devoted to today’s housing market.  What you don’t hear is the good news about the real estate market and the many reasons why the current real estate market may be beneficial to you.

Bad news sells newspapers and gets high television ratings; therefore, the media has no reason to report the upside of today’s real estate market to the average American. This is where I come in. For example, did you know that approximately 30 percent of homeowners own their home free and clear?

The current market also affords some great opportunities for those looking to purchase a home. First-time homeowners, move-up buyers and investors can all benefit from low home prices, and historically low-interest rates, making now a great time to lock in a long-term mortgage. Also, the large selection of homes and low sales prices make it a great buyer’s market. And did you know that if you buy in a rural area –Alachua, High Springs and Newberry qualify as rural areas –  you may qualify for a USDA loan, which is a 100% loan – a “no money down” loan.

Ultimately, though, these favorable conditions will go away. As inflation rises, so do interest rates. If you are looking to become a homeowner, you need to strike while the iron is hot!

TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE THIS WINTER

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of    regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”                         – Jim Rohn

Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives and destroyed property. The fact is that many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home — and can even save your life should disaster strike.

  • All electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires under carpet or rugs as this creates a fire hazard.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep each year to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
  • When using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, papers — anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.
  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home’s electrical system. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home and inside each bedroom. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Many municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences.
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline or kerosene should be stored outside the house.
  • Kitchen fires know no season. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures you can take to prevent death in a fire. Your local fire department can provide detailed recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.
  • Live Christmas trees should be kept in a water-filled stand and checked daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree, which should be discarded immediately. Always use non flammable decorations in the home, and never use lights on a dried-out tree.
  • Candles should be placed in stable holders and placed away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave candles unattended, even for a short time.
  • Christmas or other holiday lights should be checked for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when joining two or more strands together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy your indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.

Your local Pillar To Post office wishes you and your clients a happy and safe holiday season.

A big thank you to Karl for sending this article my way.

Karl Spitzer
karl.spitzer@pillartopost.com
www.pillartopost.com

SELLERS; IF YOU WANT IT, ASK FOR IT!

SELLERS; IF YOU WANT IT, ASK FOR IT!

“Ask, and it shall be given unto you.”  –  Jesus Christ

There’s nothing more frustrating to a ready, willing, and seemingly able buyer than to lose an offer to another buyer — especially since the seller was not specific (down to the letter) about what he expected to receive.

Sure, there’s the list price; but in today’s fast-paced market, a buyer/ prospect may offer thousands more than the list price and STILL not be the lucky buyer who gets the property!

That’s why sellers should be as specific as possible with buyers in what they want to receive and achieve in a successful offer.

Let’s tackle the major elements the seller should be prepared to address with serious buyers. I suggest that sellers (or their real estate agent) prepare a “Suggested Contract Requirement” sheet to give to buyers, outlining what they expect in the following:

Loan pre-approval
By now, it should go without saying that buyers without loan pre-approval shouldn’t be competing in the current market; but sadly, some are. That’s why it’s important for the seller to specify that buyers be pre-approved for loans ample enough to fund the purchase price, AND detail the type of loan and respective costs (if any) the seller would cover.

For example, a buyer might claim to be pre-approved for a mortgage of “x” amount. What she fails to disclose, however, is that it’s Veteran’s Administration (VA) financing and she expects the seller to cover her two discount points. On a $140,000 sales price (with zero down) that’s a hefty $2,800 for the seller.
Or what about the buyer who claims to have “cash” coming to him to fund the purchase (often coming from proceeds of an estate or settlement of a law suit.) The buyer’s funds are delayed. In order to close the sale, he must borrow the money, causing the seller a three-week delay in accessing his proceeds. Verifying the buyer’s funding (which is tougher to do in a “cash” sale) is vital for sidestepping potential delays for the seller.

Earnest Money
In the old, slower school of home buying a decade or more ago, buyers would offer a meager amount of earnest money or even a post-dated check with the idea that they could always up the ante if need be. In today’s market, more (rather than less) earnest money is advised in most situations. Not only does it subtly signify to the seller how financially motivated a buyer is, but can serve as a buyer’s first (and often only) shot at a strong first impression to the seller.
By letting prospective buyers know (in writing on the “Suggested Contract Requirement” sheet) the minimum amount of earnest money the seller is seeking, it places a strong buyer on equal footing with competitors. It also gives a heads-up that if you want a stronger foothold with the seller in this area, exceeding the suggested minimum amount is certainly in order! If a buyer structures an offer to include minimal contingencies like obtaining financing in a certain amount and the property appraising for at least the sales price, etc., earnest money would be at little risk of loss.

And what about contingencies? Should a seller require that buyers make all offers free of positively all contingencies if they’re serious about the property? Hardly. But keeping contingencies to a minimum (as we’ll see in Part II of this article) definitely gives buyers an added advantage over their competition and results in a smoother sale for you as a seller.

SETTLING IN: PRE-MOVE POINTERS FOR TAKING STOCK

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SETTLING IN: PRE-MOVE POINTERS FOR TAKING STOCK

“Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world event.” – Gaston Bachelard

Despite all of the hassle moving represents, when the anxiety is gone and the dust has cleared, most of us have to admit that it’s a liberating experience. It forces us to rid ourselves of the clutter accumulated in the house we’re leaving. Whether or not you buy new furniture for your new residence, the motions of packing up and heading for different surroundings is a positive experience for most movers. It’s an opportunity to start over.

Before you move, it’s a good idea to take inventory of your belongings and consider what place they’ll have — if any — in your new home. After all, when you moved into your current home, your family’s needs were different. Since then, its occupants have become older, hobbies have been abandoned, tastes have changed, and now, suddenly, items you once thought you’d die without don’t seem that wonderful anymore.

* Taking stock of your furniture is a good place to start; after all, if you decide to get rid of a piece or two, you can save yourself the considerable expense of moving them. In addition to your furniture, take a good look at your lamps, rugs, pillows, and other accessories — particularly the ones you’ve stored away for months — and decide whether they really reflect your tastes anymore. Some of them may serve little purpose other than to clutter your closets and collect dust. Rid yourself of them, while reminding yourself that everything you pack means more boxes, more packaging and labor costs, and more to unpack later.

* An effective strategy is to draw on paper the floor plan of your new home. Sketch in the designated spots for your furniture, making sure you’ve noted where such obstacles as fireplaces, windows, built-in shelves or desks, etc., are located. Remember where your electric outlets, telephone jacks, and television hookups are located, and make sure you’ve considered the direction in which your doors open. If you’re looking for a more exact plan, with square footage taken into account, take a note from Better Homes and Gardens Online, which suggests using graph paper to draw your rooms to scale. Each square translates to one foot of available space.

Here’s where your creativity takes over: After measuring the size and shape of each major piece of your furniture, draw them on graph paper using the same one-square-per-foot scale as you did for the rooms in your new home. Then cut the shapes and arrange your miniature furniture within your various room floor plans. Once you’ve made a decision about what suits you and where, attach the shapes onto the page.

While this process requires a little patience and a little more creativity, planning ahead enables you to avoid either moving heavy furniture yourself, long after the movers have left; or having your movers pause upon entry into a room, shouldering a heavy load as you decide where that 300-pound dresser should be placed. (Of course, you’d be lucky to find such a tolerant mover.) You’ve got a plan of attack that makes your life and your movers’ lives easier. You can point them in a direction and move on to the next item. The bottom line is that you’re paying by the hour, and a little sketching and cutting now will save you labor costs later. Take the trouble to draw only your major pieces of furniture; your smaller items and accessories can be placed anywhere for now, until you have time to consider the perfect spots for them.

This strategy also allows you to experiment with various arrangements that you may have considered in the past, but abandoned because it seemed like too much effort to pursue. And trying out new configurations is a consolation for not being able to purchase new furniture. Even if you’ve resigned yourself to a sofa that doesn’t thrill you anymore, arranging your furniture in a different manner may provide you with a completely new outlook on belongings that once seemed tired. That variety, combined with a new place of residence, is bound to inspire you. And don’t restrict your furnishings to the rooms in which you’ve traditionally placed them. For example, the chest of drawers sitting in your bedroom might look even better in your new living room. This move is your big chance to experiment — and you don’t even have to move the furniture yourself.

And while you’re laying out your plans on graph paper, you might want to determine the focal point of each room first — a fireplace, a large window, anything that grabs you when you first enter the room. Then arrange your furniture around that focal point. And while it’s a given, it’s well worth repeating that you should consider how each room is going to be used before you design its layout. For example, when you’re planning your living room, if you plan to spend a lot of time entertaining there, you’ll want to place chairs and/or sofas close together and provide plenty of walking room, as well.

After you’ve taken inventory of your current home, take stock of your home-to-be, starting with the kitchen and its appliances. With any luck, you’ll have ensured that all of those kitchen appliances are in good, safe, working order long before your move. Make sure the hot water system is both working and the correct size for your family’s needs. If the answer to either of those questions is no, replacing the unit will save you both considerable energy and money. Then investigate your new home’s heating and cooling system, which is going to represent a predominant percentage of your monthly energy expenses. To figure out if it’s running in top condition, determine the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating for your air conditioning and heating unit. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the system. A rating under 8 is considered relatively inefficient. Also check your ductwork to ensure that its size is appropriate and that it’s clean. Finally, make sure your thermostat and controls are operating correctly.

Home owners often forget that clothes washers and dryers eat up energy, particularly when stackable units are involved. Because users can’t fill them with much clothing, they’re forced to run more loads though the units, resulting in increased energy consumption and subsequent expenses. On the other hand, units that are too large may use excess water or heat. Regardless of the type of unit in your new home, make sure that the washer drains properly and that your dryer is vented out of your home.

And speaking of energy consumption, study all doors, windows, vents, and other passages to the outside for cracks. If you see any gaps or if you feel any air streams, seal them either with caulk or weather stripping. And check your windows to find out if they’re double-paned and fit tightly.

Finally, if you can’t paint your new home’s interior prior to your move-in date, don’t unpack until you do. And be sure to consider the direction of light in your home — where it hits the walls and the shadows it creates. Painting your dining room a deep shade of forest green, for example, could backfire on you if your lot is heavily treed, or if the room generally doesn’t receive much sunlight. The color that seemed vibrant in the can may leave you simply depressed once it’s covering the walls of an already dark room.

Written by Courtney Ronan
May 27, 1998

DID YOU KNOW?

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DID YOU KNOW?

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in life has a purpose.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.

Moving Information

  • Did you know, that more people are moving into Florida than out?!  In fact, the ratio is approximately 3 to 1.
  • Northern Moving Companies usually charge higher prices because they go back north empty.

Most Florida Moving Companies will move you for less, sometimes 45% percent less.

Most Florida Moving Companies will beat any written quote from your local moving company.

  • Below is a list of some Florida Moving Companies who might offer discounts to those moving into the state from the northern states.  Call and ask for their estimate brochure.
  • Also, here is a Reminder List of who should be notified of your move, such as;  the Post Office, utility companies, banks, magazine companies, newspapers, credit card companies, clubs, schools, your physicians & Dentist, and relatives / friends.

Move Yourself

If you decide to move yourself, the first thing you need is to rent a truck.  Have the rental company help you determine the size of truck that you will require.   You’ll have to pay the rental fee, mileage, and additional fees if you rent pads, dollies, blankets, packing materials and boxes.  And of course, if you break anything, you pay.

Hire a Professional

For long distances, you’ll probably want to hire a professional moving company.  Get at least three estimates for your move.   Contact the movers and ask for a copy of their companies literature and the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) brochure, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”, and a copy of the company’s “Annual Performance Record”.

Professional Costs

Interstate moves are usually based on the weight of the shipment (an average residential move ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 pounds) and the distance of the move.  Additional charges for packing and unpacking, disconnecting and hooking up appliances are added.

You have the option of choosing either a binding or non-binding estimate. If you know exactly what you are shipping at the time of the estimate, you can avoid surprises with a binding estimate.  Although the fee may be higher that a non-binding estimate, the agreed upon price is final.  There is no guarantee that a non-binding estimate is final, so choose a non-binding estimate if the exact shipment is questionable.  If the cost of the move is greater that the estimate, you will have to pay the original estimate plus 10 percent.  Regardless of the type of estimate you choose, be prepared to pay the driver in cash, money order, traveler’s checks, or bank check before your goods are unloaded. The most important document to have in your possession is the ‘bill of lading’.   This is the legal document between you and the mover.

Upon delivery of your shipment, use the ‘bill of lading’ as the movers off load your household items making notations if there is visible damage.  You have 90 days after delivery to file a loss or damage claim, but it is best to do it immediately.  It takes time to settle into a new home, so unpack the kitchen first, bedrooms and bathrooms.  Try different furniture arrangements.   Go out and explore your new neighborhood.  Meet new neighbors and may be join a social club.

For more information, the American Movers Conference offers these brochures:  “Guide to a Satisfying Move” and “Moving with Pets and Plants”.  Each Brochure will require a separate self addressed stamped envelope sent to:

American Movers Conference
1611 Dukes Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

‘BIG 6’ FACTORS THAT SELL A HOME

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‘BIG 6’ FACTORS THAT SELL A HOME

“A turtle cannot move forward unless it sticks its head out”  – anonymous

Posted 8/5/11

Although they can be stated in different ways, there are only six factors that affect the sale of a home, according to blogger Karen Kruschka.

The Sales Associate with RE/MAX Olympic Realty in Manassas, Va., wrote an Active Rain blog post detailing the “Big 6,” as she calls them. These factors are controlled by three main entities: the seller, the agent and the market.

Sharing the blog with your own clients and educating them on their role in the process gives you a perfect entry point to demonstrate your value as a trusted advisor – especially when they’re deciding on listing price and terms.

Here’s an edited excerpt of Kruschka’s post:

SELLERS Control

1. Price – You determine list price for your home. However, a list price above the market for homes similar to yours will negatively impact buyer interest in making an offer. Your Realtor will review price history with you to assist you in making a list price determination.

2. Terms – Buyers have requirements just as sellers do. Your willingness to respect them and be willing to negotiate which terms will be acceptable to both parties can have a very positive impact. Price and terms will usually be negotiated at the same time.

3. Condition – How well you have maintained the home will influence both your price and the length of time it will take to sell. The pool of buyers who are willing to make major repairs is much smaller than the pool of buyers who want a home that has been well maintained.

THE MARKET Controls

4. Timing – Economic conditions operate independently of price, terms and property condition. Similarly, seasons and weather factors can affect the time it takes to sell a home.

5. Competition – The number of homes on the market most certainly bears heavily on your ability to sell your home on a timely basis.

REALTORS Control

6. Promotion – From entry into the Multiple Listing Service to Internet marketing and any other programs, your agent will have an impact on your home sale.

RE/MAX Affiliates may share this article, provided they do not charge for it and this notice is included. All other rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011, RE/MAX, LLC. All rights reserved.

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