Monday, April 14, 2014

How to Prepare Your Home for Spring and Summer



Now that winter is over and you can leave the house without layers and layers of clothing on you, it’s time to prepare the house for the warmer seasons. As a yearly routine, it helps to identify what little or big damages winter has cast upon any part of the house. Even if you live in a place that’s sunny all-year round like Florida, the summer months can expose your house to grueling moisture and heat. So before the damage gets any bigger and costs you more, do these simple tips on how to prepare your home for spring and summer.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Can you get a warranty on a used car with over 100k miles?

Disk brake by Porsche
I've driven some jalopies in my life and had great affection for a few of them. I've had two Pontiac Grand Prixs that lasted over 200,000 miles and never had anything more than structural issues. So, while I see some people calling folks crazy for ever getting an extended warranty (of any kind) I don't know if they're as crazy as they're made out to be.

Case in point. My last Grand Prix, a 1998 that I sold in 2012, never had any major engine issues. What it did have was a problem with eating brakes. So while the car kept running well beyond its expected life span, the only thing that ate into my pocketbook were the rear brakes, which needed to be changed every two or three years. This, and a couple of other small issues with power windows got to be a little expensive.

Once the car approached 100,000 miles I thought, "I wonder if I can get an extended warranty up to 200,000 miles?" I figured I could at least break even on my expected brake repairs, and if anything else popped up I'd come out in the black.

The problem was, no matter where I looked or who I asked, I couldn't find anyone who could tell me if I could get a warranty at that point. I checked out Warranty Direct, Auto Warranty One and every other place on the web and I couldn't find a thing. I would have thought long and hard if I could have found what I wanted, but it wasn't an option. Anyone have any thoughts on this topic? I'm sure the manufacturers don't offer this, but do any reputable third party warranty places?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Will your car insurance cost more in Grand Rapids?

Flag of City of Grand Rapids
Flag of City of Grand Rapids (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No matter where you live someone is always telling horror stories about the things that either cost too much or are remarkably inexpensive about where they live. This can range from property taxes, to gas to bread (REALLY expensive in Hawaii). But one thing that really seems to get people fired up is when it comes time to talk about the cost of car insurance. Unless you’ve just switched to a new company and seen a big savings, chances are you think you’re paying too much. In Michigan, this has been a complaint for years. Grand Rapids, the state’s second biggest city, this has been an increasing complaint as the city continues to grow and prosper.

So is it true, do people in Grand Rapids actually pay more than the rest of Michigan? Or the rest of the country for that matter?

No Fault’s Fault

With Michigan drivers required to carry no-fault insurance, there is some truth to the high price gripes. This requirement provides unlimited lifetime medical care for auto related injuries. Michigan is the only state that requires this, and thus the burden falls on all auto owners, artificially upping rates for Michigan drivers. Adding up the numbers from a report by carinsurancequotes.com shows that Michigan residents pay the largest amount of their annual income for car insurance, with 8 percent of the annual median household income going to pay for car insurance. OUCH! By comparison, the residents of Massachusetts pay only 1.4 percent of their household income. 

So while there isn’t any hard research on whether or not Grand Rapids (please point it out if you can find it…I haven’t been able to),  there may be some clues in typical geographic related cost issues. Such as:
  • Urban vs. Rural. More traffic, more accidents, more crime all come with urban environments compared to rural (usually). So, if you live in Grand Rapids you’re in the second largest urban area in the state of Michigan. So, if you’re in the second largest urban area in the state with the highest car insurance rates in the country, it’s safe to assume this will count against you.
  • Weather. Again, Grand Rapids being only a short jaunt away from Lake Michigan has another factor working against it. Getting pounded by heavy lake effect snow each year also causes more accidents and likely jacks up insurance rates.
So, while I don’t have hard evidence for you, when you combine in the factors of no fault insurance, the urban environment and the bad weather, car insurance in Grand Rapids is basically the “perfect storm” for high insurance rates, and likely does have some of the highest in Michigan.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Relocating Tips

No matter where you move, relocating is challenging. Although there is much involved in the process, remember the three most important things are selling your home, finding a good realtor, and buying a new home.

Sell

The first step to relocating is selling your current home. In order to do so, you should obtain a professional home appraisal so you can set an appropriate, yet competitive price that suits both you and the buyer. A home appraisal is an estimate of worth or an opinion of value that varies depending on several different factors. Some of those factors may include different property features, the surrounding neighborhood and community, the amenities that are available, and many more.

Property features include things like the total square footage of the home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the kitchen, the number of garages, the overall condition of the home, the quality of landscaping, etc. Typically, a home that has more property features also holds more value and is desirable to a wider range of buyers.

The neighborhood and community that surrounds a home is important because it plays a significant role in everyday life. Most homebuyers prefer to live in a neighborhood that is near good schools, has easy access to major roadways, reasonable property taxes, a good economy, a stable government and a relatively low crime rate.

The amenities of a home are added bonuses that may include things like proximity to shopping venues, city parks, recreation, and community activities like sporting or cultural events. Homebuyers want to live somewhere that they can relax and enjoy themselves without having to go too far away.

Hire

The second step to relocating is hiring a professional, experienced real estate agent who can help you sell and buy a home efficiently. If you're searching for Tucson homes for sale, it is essential to find an agent who specializes in only Tucson to represent you. To find a quality agent, you can search the Internet, newspaper, and real estate magazines to find an agent who has adequate experience and proven success. Some qualities that a good real estate agent should possess are professionalism, dedication, understanding and concern for your needs, willingness to work hard, and thorough knowledge of the real estate market.

Buy

Once you have sold your home and found an excellent real estate agent, the hardest part is over. Now you can begin the exciting part of relocating and start searching for your new home.

Looking at several different homes day in and day out can be tiring after a while so you must be patient. You need time to carefully evaluate all the homes on the market and see which one best fits into your budget and lifestyle. If you take the time to look at many different homes, you are more likely to get a better price on the home you finally decide on. Just remember that finding the home of your dreams and setting up financing can take several months so don’t rush into buying the first home you see.

Once you find the home of your dreams, remember the importance of negotiation. Don’t be afraid to offer less than the asking price so you can get the best possible deal. But after finding a desired price that suits both you and the seller, then working with your bank on financial concerns, you can buy your new home!
After conquering the three largest tasks of relocating, your move will be much easier and smoother. Now you can tackle the smaller, less stressful concerns.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Green Housing in 2013

United States Green Building Council
The housing industry is still in one of the most depressed times in many recent years. With this down turn the focus to include green in a project may get pushed aside. Budgets are tight and many builders have the concept that green building costs more and in some cases it does. But it does not have to cost more and the suppliers in the building industry could help change the higher cost stigma.

This post is directed more to the building material supply industry. Many in the industry have not engaged the green concept and are quick to tell customers it cost more to discourage the customer from wanting to be green. Like I said in some cases it does cost more up front.

Look at an energy efficient window. It may have a higher up front cost but it does not cost more to install. But the higher cost is recouped from savings on the heating and cooling bill. Many products can be looked at this same way. What is the cost over two years, five years or ten years and then determine if it costs more.
The material suppliers could gain great benefits from engaging the green concept. But it takes more than just defining which products qualify in a green program. It takes learning the process and helping customers through the process. What differentiates different suppliers? Service! Some will say it is the product or the price. But service is what makes customers return. Learn Energy Finance Analytics' LEED commissioning services or NAHB Green Program process to help your customer whether a contractor or a home owner through the process and you will be the person that will get the next green project from this customer.
Some of the ways to learn more about the green building process is:
  • Studying the different guides.
  • Reading from the internet.
  • Joining Green committees
  • Reading Green Building books
  • Reading the many blogs about Green Building.

This list can go on and on but the key is the learn the whole process not just about the products. Many lumber suppliers of log siding products get caught up in just the wood supplied but there is so much more. Recycled wood products, reclaimed wood and alternatives to wood are more of what a lumber supplier needs to know. How do the different products compare, what are each of the benefits and what are the cost differences. How can you truly sell a product if you don’t know what you are selling against? Digging in and learning the process is going to be a great benefit for any supplier in the economy of today.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Have you found your dream second home, but it’s not for sale?

A tablet with the phrase "For sale by own...
We've all had the experience of finding the perfect home while out for a weekend drive. Sometimes we even drive by that home on a regular basis, hoping that one day there will be a for sale sign out front (or we check the MLS listings and FSBO listings on a weekly – or daily – basis hoping to see it listed). The real estate market is still down, but that doesn't mean all local markets are suffering. Okversilia real estate is very popular at the moment, and home buyers need to be aggressive when it comes to finding a home in that area. Using that site, you can look up homes for sale in Italy, search for land in Mexico, and buy Red Sea property".

There are a couple of different options for trying to purchase a home that is not currently on the market. If a property appears to be abandoned or otherwise not being lived in, inquire with the town or county that it’s in to see if the taxes are up to date. If not, then you may be able to acquire the property for the amount of the back taxes. If taxes are up to date, you can at least get the contact information for the owner of the property. While you’re there, see if you can get what the tax appraisal for the home is, and when it was last sold (and for how much).

There are a few ways to go about approaching the owner of the property. If the property is owner occupied, you may be able to simply knock on the door and let them know that you love the home and see if they’ll let you know first if they ever plan on selling. Another option is to write a letter to the owners stating the same thing. Often, if the owners are considering selling, they may jump on the offer and start negotiations. Or, they may just make a note of your contact information in case they ever do want to sell. The worst they can do is say no.

Another option is to have a real estate agent approach the owner. Sometimes an owner will take an offer coming from an agent more seriously than one coming from a random person. It shows that you are a more serious buyer.

In all instances, the worst the owner can do is tell you no. But, hopefully the owner will already be considering selling, and you’ll be in the right place at the right time!

Finding a Local Real Estate Agent For You


The purpose of obtaining a local real estate agent in is to avoid the hassles of selling or buying property without the advice or representation of a professional third party. You need the help of a Realtor to save precious time and money. They will generally be of great assistance to you by displaying a wide range of properties to purchase, or enabling you to market your home efficiently. Agents are required to demonstrate professionalism and diplomacy in order to cater to your needs.

Research

It is not likely you will find the ideal agent in  if you do not put a substantial amount of effort into it. Your success relies heavily on how much research went into finding a Realtor. It is important to put a lot of time and consideration into your decision before taking action. Consult with family, friends, and co-workers for referrals or spend ample time reading through profiles and listings on the Internet. Never settle for less than you deserve.

Ask Questions

During the process of searching for a local real estate agent, do not forget to ask agents specific questions regarding their experience and intentions in the real estate business. Do not assume anything! They are the experts and it is important to listen to their advice. It might also pay to go to local open houses and interview potential candidates. If you are unable to attend such an event, simply call a real estate office and request a recommendation from the manager to find out what agent may coincide with your interests.

Communicate Frequently

The power of good verbal skills goes a long way in the real estate business. When you have chosen a local real estate agent, discuss deals and preparations regularly to avoid any misunderstandings. Together you both can create an outline of your expectations in accordance with their qualifications. Communication is the key to successful real estate transactions.

Cooperation

You and your local real estate agent must work as a team to ensure the most successful real estate transaction. Make it a priority to provide them all the information they will need to meet your standards as a consumer or a seller. Even discussing plans over a light meal or drink will enable you to cooperate with one another and further open the lines of communication. Also remember to hold on to vital documents concerning transactions and agreements.

If you're looking for a real estate agent that matches all of these above criteria in Arizona, I'd recommend checking out Cactus Mountain Properties. They're Your Arizona Online Connection, and they've been helping buyers and sellers in The Valley of the Sun for over 10 years!