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Wednesday, March 31 2010

How to Correct Your CLUE Insurance Report

Errors or misleading information in your CLUE insurance report, which details the claims history of a person or property, can cost you. Worse, you may not even know there’s a mistake until you get turned down for homeowners insurance or see a huge jump in your premium.

Insurance companies use the claims history stored in the CLUE database-–CLUE is short for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange—as a principal factor in deciding if they will insure your home and how much that insurance will cost. So correcting a mistake or misstatement may bring you a direct financial savings. Unfortunately, the burden of proof is on you.

How to dispute report information

If you decide to contest information about a claim, your first step is to contact ChoicePoint, the owner of CLUE. You can either call the phone number listed on your CLUE report or write to P.O. Box 105292, Atlanta Ga. 30348. (The general toll-free number is 800-456-6004.) You can’t submit a dispute statement online. A-PLUS, operator of another claims-history database, follows a similar dispute procedure.

You’ll need to provide the following information to dispute a claim:

•The CLUE reference number, which appears near the top of the report;

•The name of the insurance company;

•The date of the loss;

•A brief explanation of the facts as you see them.

Once ChoicePoint gets your dispute statement, it will investigate the claim and contact your insurance company, if necessary. The investigation can take up to 30 days, according to a ChoicePoint spokesperson.

If ChoicePoint’s investigation supports your assertions, it will make changes in your CLUE file. Whether it agrees or not, the company will send you a letter explaining its findings within five days after the investigation is concluded. Many insurers offer a claim-free discount. Just 5% off means $40 in savings on an average annual premium of $804.

Setting the record straight

If you’re not satisfied with the results of the investigation, you can submit your side of the story. ChoicePoint will add your statement to any future CLUE reports that include the disputed claim.

 

Even if the claims information in your CLUE report isn’t wrong, you may decide the report doesn’t tell the whole story. You can add comments to any entry in your CLUE report to explain the circumstances of

a claim. For example, perhaps you made a claim for damage to your roof after a limb from your neighbor’s tree broke off in a storm. Since then the neighbor has cut down the tree and you’ve repaired the roof. You could attach a comment to the claim history indicating that this problem won’t reoccur.

Look out for these common errors

What should you look for in checking your CLUE report? Of course, look for any claims that you didn’t file. You can also review the specific information about each claim for accuracy, in particular:

•Social Security numbers. An incorrect number could mean someone else’s claims history is in your report;

•Policy numbers. Check them against your original policy or your most recent bill;

•Dates of claim. Since claims only remain on the report for seven years, an incorrect date could mean that the claim is listed for too long;

•Amounts of claim. Be sure that these amounts agree with any payments you received.

If you haven’t owned your home for seven years, you might also want to contact the previous owners to verify that any claims they filed are stated correctly in the report. If you got a copy of ChoicePoint’s Home Seller’s Disclosure Report from the sellers when you purchased your home, you might also want to compare that report with the “Claims History for Risk” section of the current CLUE report. This part of the CLUE report lists recent claims related to your home, not just those you filed. One catch is that the Home Seller’s report, which shows the claims history of a property without divulging personal information about the sellers, only goes back five years.

 

Mariwyn Evans has spent 25 years writing about commercial and residential real estate. She’s the author of several books, including “Opportunities in Real Estate Careers,” as well as too many magazine articles to count.

Source: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/how-to-correct-your-clue-insurance-report/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 30 2010

A tree falls on the roof of your house. You file an insurance claim with your agent, collect a settlement from the insurer, and fix your roof. End of story, right? Not quite. Every claim you make on your homeowners insurance is recorded in a widely used insurance industry database called CLUE, short for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange.

Almost all insurance companies use CLUE to check on the claims history of prospective policyholders. The CLUE insurance report also includes claims made on your home before you even bought it. A-PLUS is another company that maintains a loss-history database. What’s inside these reports can affect your insurance premiums, or even prevent you from getting coverage.

Your claims history lives on in CLUE

The CLUE Personal Property report, which pertains to homeowners insurance, is divided into two parts: your personal record of claims (“Claims for the Subject”) and the claims on your home (“Claims History for Risk”). The number of claims in either section will affect whether you can get insurance for your home, how much coverage you can get, and how much you’ll pay in premiums. If you’re turned down for homeowners insurance because of information in your CLUE report, your insurance company is required to let you know why you were rejected.

Since the database is used by most insurance companies, your claims history follows you from one insurer to another. Actual claims, as opposed to inquiries, remain in the CLUE database for seven years from the date you filed them. Both ChoicePoint, the owner of CLUE, and A-PLUS advise insurance carriers not to report loss information just because you called to ask a question about whether your policy will cover a particular loss. Individual insurance companies may keep a record of inquires, though.

How insurers use CLUE

Insurance companies rely on CLUE reports because statistics show that if you’ve filed a claim in the past, you’re more likely to file one in the future, says Dick Luedke, a spokesperson for State Farm Insurance. The amount of a claim is less important than how often you’ve filed, he says. “We aren’t trying to make up for past losses, but to predict the risk of future claims.”

Each insurance company has its own formula for calculating how much a claim will affect your premium, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group that provides information to consumers. Suffice it to say the fewer the claims the less you’ll likely be charged. State Farm gives a 5% discount if you haven’t filed a claim in the last five years, says Luedke. That’s $40 off an average annual premium of $804. Ask your agent if a claim-free discount is available.

Claims aren’t all that count

Knowing what’s on your CLUE report will give you a sense of whether you’ll need to pay extra for homeowners insurance, or even if you run the risk of rejection. Unfortunately, even a pristine report doesn’t mean you can be sure of getting homeowners insurance at a great price. That’s because the claims on your CLUE report aren’t the only things that affect your overall insurance risk.

Insurance companies also consider your credit score, which is based on such things as how much debt you carry, whether you pay your bills on time, and so forth. According to the Insurance Information Institute, studies show that how people manage their finances is a good indicator of whether they’ll file an insurance claim. The more likely you are to file a claim, the bigger risk you are to the insurance company. And more risk means a higher premium or denial of coverage. Other factors insurers consider include the location of your home and its type of construction.

How to review your CLUE report

If you do decide to check you CLUE Personal Property report, it’s a relatively easy process. Under federal law, you get one free CLUE report a year. You can contact ChoicePoint by telephone at 800-456-6004. You can also register online to gain access to an electronic copy of your report for 30 days. Request a form to receive a Property Loss report from A-PLUS by calling 800-709-8842. There’s a charge of $9 to have the report mailed to you, according to the company’s website.

Your CLUE report will have:

•Your name, home address, birth date, and Social Security number;

•The number assigned to the report;

•The name of your insurance company;

•The type and number of the insurance policy;

•The type of loss—fire, water, etc.—for each claim and the claim number;

•The date of the loss and the amount of each claim;

•The status of each claim: closed, pending, etc.

The report also tells you how to dispute any errors you find. Because risk calculations vary by insurance company, it’s impossible to say exactly how a claim on your CLUE report will affect your premium. That makes it tough to decide just how much value checking your CLUE yields. Still, taking less than an hour once a year to order and review your report could pay off, especially if you find an error.

Mariwyn Evans has spent 25 years writing about commercial and residential real estate. She’s the author of several books, including “Opportunities in Real Estate Careers,” as well as too many magazine articles to count.

Source: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/your-clue-insurance-report-matters/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 29 2010
The government’s newest housing rescue effort, which was announced Friday, includes these key tenets:

· As much as $14 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will be made available to pay for writing down second liens for loans whose borrowers refinance through the Federal Housing Administration.

· Lenders that facilitate refinances through the FHA will be required to write down the principal of the first mortgage by at least 10 percent so the home owner has a loan-to-value ratio no higher than 97.75 percent.

· Lenders of second liens will be offered incentives of 10 cents to 21 cents per dollar of principal they write down in connection with an FHA refinance.

· Borrowers who lose their jobs can apply to have their mortgage payments reduced for three to six months while they search for a new job.

· Borrowers with a payment still greater than 31 percent of income after they find a job will be considered for a permanent loan modification.

· To encourage more short sales and “deed in lieu” of foreclosure transactions in which the lender settles the loan for less than is owed, the government will double assistance to borrowers to $3,000 and increase incentives to subordinate lien holders and investors to $6,000.

Source: Reuters News (03/26/2010) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2010032901?OpenDocument
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:48 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, March 28 2010
Top 10 Best Cities for Borrowers
Some cities are better than others for borrowers.

The best cities have the lowest percentage of foreclosures and delinquencies, including a low percentage of bank-owned homes. In most of the cities on this best list, home prices are actually rising.

This kind of solid housing market motivates banks to offer lower rates and better terms.

Here are the 10 cities that Forbes ranks as the best for borrowers:
1. Kansas City, Mo.
2. Houston
3. Dallas
4. Virginia Beach, Va.
5. San Antonio, Texas
6. Boston
7. Pittsburgh
8. Denver
9. Seattle
10. Portland, Ore.

Source: Forbes, Francesca Levy (03/22/2010) http://www.realtor.org/rmodaily.nsf/pages/News2010032606?OpenDocument
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 03:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, March 27 2010

A recent report from the National Association of Realtors shows that existing home sales dipped slightly in February, partially due to winter storms.

Existing home sales went down 0.6 percent across the nation. At an annual rate, existing home sales were reported at 5.02 million for February, compared to the 5.05 million reported during the first month of the year.

Though sales were down on a month-to-month basis, they were still up 7 percent when compared to levels seen in February 2008. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that the decline in February was partially attributable to the rough weather seen in a number of areas in the country.

And though sales were up on a year-to-year basis and housing prices appear to be stabilizing, Yun said that a recovery in the industry is still "fragile at the moment."

One key may be a government tax credit that gives first time homebuyers up to $8,000 for the purchase of a property. The credit can also be received by repeat purchasers, though the cap on it is $6,500.

In order to take advantage of the credit, consumers must come to an agreement on a home purchase by April 30 and close by the end of June.

"If we see a surge in home buying comparable to last fall in the months leading up to the original tax credit deadline, then enough inventory should be absorbed to ensure a broad home price stabilization," Yun said.

Another factor that could play into the housing recovery is how mortgage rates react to the end of a Federal Reserve Board program that purchased mortgage-backed securities. The end of that effort comes as March closes, with some analysts thinking it will lead to an increased in home loan rates.

Source: http://www.credit.com/news/housing-market/2010-03-25/tax-credit-for-first-time-homebuyers-could-prove-important-as-sales-decline-in-february.html

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 26 2010

An Arizona-based real estate investment trust says it has completed the purchase of a five building medical office portfolio in Evansville and Newburgh for $45.2 million. Healthcare Trust of America Inc. acquired 260,500 square-feet of space currently leased to Deaconess Clinic Inc. The buildings are located near the Deaconess Hospital campus.

Healthcare Trust of America, Inc. ("HTA"), a self-managed, non-traded, real estate investment trust, announced the completed purchase of a five building medical office portfolio located in Evansville and Newburgh, Indiana for $45,256,500.

The approximately 260,500 square foot portfolio is 100% master-leased to Deaconess Clinic, Inc., an affiliate of Deaconess Health System, Inc. Deaconess Clinic, Inc. is comprised of 110 primary care and specialty physicians. The buildings are positioned in strategic locations and are adjacent to a hospital or clinic campus. The neighboring hospitals include Deaconess Hospital, a 365-bed acute care teaching hospital, and Deaconess Gateway Hospital, a new six story facility with 116 beds. Deaconess Health System, Inc. guarantees the leases on all five buildings, carries an A+ rating from both Standard & Poor's and Fitch and is the largest health system in Southern Indiana.

"The Deaconess Portfolio provides us with the opportunity to own core real estate assets essential to the healthcare delivery model in Southern Indiana," stated Mark D. Engstrom, Executive Vice President – Acquisitions. "This portfolio is consistent with the new era of healthcare which involves hospitals and physicians working together in new ways to meet the needs of their communities."

"We are impressed with the strength and quality of the Deaconess Health System. The acquisition of the Deaconess portfolio is consistent with our strategy of acquiring high quality and strategically located assets, with high quality tenants," said Scott D. Peters, Chief Executive Officer and President of HTA. "We believe these assets will have a positive accretive impact on our portfolio."

For more information on Healthcare Trust of America, Inc. and to download the current prospectus, please visit www.htareit.com.

About Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.

Healthcare Trust of America, Inc. is a self-managed, publicly registered, non-traded, real estate investment trust. Since September 2009, when HTA completed its transition to self management, it has acquired approximately $492 million in medical office and healthcare-related assets. These assets include a total of 12 acquisitions and one other real estate-related asset, representing approximately 2.3 million square feet. Since its formation in 2006, HTA has made 56 geographically diverse acquisitions valued at approximately $1.54 billion based on purchase price, which includes 187 buildings and two other real estate-related assets. HTA's portfolio totals approximately 7.8 million square feet, and includes 168 medical office buildings, six hospitals, nine skilled nursing and assisted living facilities and four other office buildings located in 21 states.

Source: Healthcare Trust of America Inc.
http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=40811

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 25 2010

Fred C. Tucker III mostly leads from afar from his Indianapolis F.C. Tucker Co. headquarters. But officials of F.C. Tucker Emge Realtors — an affiliate of the company in Evansville — appreciate that he is always very accessible.

“We can call him at home, or on his cell phone or at the office and he’s always anxious to help us, if we need help,” said F.C. Tucker Emge co-owner Kevin Eastridge.

Tucker, 63, announced Tuesday he will retire, effective April 1, after 33 years of growing the F.C. Tucker Co. into the state’s largest independently owned Indiana-based residential real estate firm -- with more than $2.2 billion in annual sales.

Kathy Briscoe, also an F.C. Tucker Emge co-owner, said Tucker “is first a gentleman, and always a student of real estate law.”

Both Briscoe and Eastridge described Tucker as “very much in touch with agents and managers.”

“He’s very kind and thoughtful,” said Briscoe.

In a prepared news release, Tucker’s retirement was hailed as marking “a pivotal and positive day” in the company’s 92-year history.

It marks the time when the company’s two leaders and sole owners — Tucker and H. James Litten, 63 — will shift responsibilities to maintain leadership continuity and the company’s continued growth and success, said the release.

Tucker, president of the F.C. Tucker Co., will retire and sell his ownership interest to his longtime business partner Litten, president of F.C. Tucker Co. Residential Real Estate Services.

Eastridge said he looks forward to continuing an amicable and friendly business relationship with Litten.

“It’s been wonderful ... We have confidence in Litten’s ability to run the F.C. Tucker Co.”

Tucker said “Jim Litten will provide the passion, drive and business intellect needed to carry F.C. Tucker Co. to the next level.”

Litten praised Tucker for creating “a one-stop shopping convenience experience for customers and significantly boosting F.C. Tucker Co. sales year after year.”

Besides becoming president of F.C. Tucker Co., Litten will assume the responsibility of managing both Tucker’s Residential Real Estate Services and Tucker’s family of additional businesses, including:

• Home-Link Services

• Title Services, LLC

• Tucker Associates, Inc. (franchising)

• Tucker Insurance Agency

• Tucker Mortgage LLC

• Tucker Referrals Inc.

• Tucker/Schrader Auction Co. LP.

• Tucker School of Real Estate (licensing)

Litten will also oversee the company’s two strategic alliances, HMS Home Warranty and The BryantCo. (residential leasing and management).

Tucker is a third generation of Tuckers to run the F.C. Tucker Co., following his grandfather, the founder, and his father.

Said Tucker: “When Jim Litten, David Goodrich and I bought the F.C. Tucker Co. from my father and his partners in 1986, we wanted to strength and enhance the company’s position as the dominant real estate company in Indiana.

“Our strategy was to provide superior customer service, to develop our employees and sales associates and to grow and mentor the leadership necessary to create long-term financial stability and growth for the company.”

They, indeed, accomplished all that.

F.C. Tucker Co. grew from $300 million in sales in 1986 to more than $2.2 billion in sales in 2009.

The company now oversees 45 offices and more than 1,500 sales associates and employees throughout Indiana and in select Kentucky markets.

Source: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2010/mar/23/fc-tucker-co-president-retire/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 24 2010

Home Sales Up in Some Regions, Down in Others

Existing-home sales declined slightly in February, with modest gains in the Northeast and Midwest offset by softer sales in the South and West, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Existing-home sales, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, slipped 0.6% nationally to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.02 million units in February from 5.05 million in January, but are 7% higher than the 4.69 million-unit pace in February 2009.

Widespread winter storms in February may mask underlying demand, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Some closings were simply postponed by winter storms, but buyers couldn’t get out to look at homes in some areas and that should negatively impact near-term contract activity,” he said. “Although sales have been higher than year-ago levels for eight straight months and home prices are much more stable compared to the past few years, the housing recovery is fragile at the moment.”

Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 9.5% to 3.59 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.8-month supply in January. Raw unsold inventory is 5.5% below a year ago.

“The key test for a durable recovery comes in the next few months as the tax credit deadline approaches,” Yun said. “If we see a surge in home buying comparable to last fall in the months leading up to the original tax credit deadline, then enough inventory should be absorbed to ensure a broad home price stabilization.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $165,100 in February, which is 1.8% below February 2009. Distressed homes, generally sold at discount, accounted for 35% of sales last month.

A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 42% of homes in February, up from 40% in January. Investors accounted for 19% of transactions in February, compared with 17% in January; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers.

Among the different home types, single-family home sales declined 1.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million in February from a pace of 4.43 million in January. Still, that’s 4.3% higher than the 4.19 million level posted a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $164,300 in February, down 2.1% from February 2009.

Meanwhile, existing condominium and co-op sales rose 4.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 650,000 in February from 620,000 in January, and are 30.3% above the 499,000-unit pace in February 2009. The median existing condo price was $170,200 in February, down 0.2% from a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.4% to an annual pace of 840,000 in February and are 12% above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $254,700, up 7.5% from February 2009.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 2.8% in February to a level of 1.11 million and are 8.8% higher than February 2009. The median price in the Midwest was $128,000, which is 2.0% below a year ago. 

In the South, existing-home sales slipped 1.1% to an annual pace of 1.85 million in February but are 6.9% above a year ago. The median price in the South was $139,600, down 4.2% from February 2009.

Existing-home sales in the West fell 4.7% to an annual rate of 1.22 million in February but are 3.4% higher than February 2009. The median price in the West was $207,900, down 9.8% from a year ago. “A lack of affordable housing inventory is holding back sales and pressuring prices to be bid upwards in many California markets,” Yun noted.

Source: National Association of Realtors® http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/home-sales-some-regions-down-others/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 23 2010

Household pests want the same things you do—food, water, shelter—and will seize any opportunity to satisfy their needs. You can’t stop every pest from ever flying, crawling, or burrowing into your home, but you can make sure the occasional intrusion doesn’t become an all-out invasion.

Once a major infestation occurs, you’ll likely need professional help. But if you focus on prevention, you can tackle many aspects of pest control yourself, save money, and avoid adding pesticides to the environment.

 

You’ll find the materials—hardware cloth ($8 per 6-inch-square swatch), door weather stripping ($8 per 17-foot roll of 7/8-inch v-strip polypropylene), O rings for faucets (pennies)—you need at most home improvement stores.

And many of the steps to impeding pests’ access—clearing overgrowth from around foundations and disposing of wood scraps and other debris that accumulate in garages and along sides of houses—are things every homeowner should do as part of regular house and yard maintenance.

The effort—a few hours or a weekend a few times a year—and cost of supplies are well worth it to avoid having to repair thousands of dollars in damage caused by pests.

Start outside

Termites eat wood and carpenter ants tunnel into wood to nest. So remove piles of wood and other debris from around your home. The same goes for rotted stumps and logs. Keep firewood at least 20 feet away and five inches off the ground. And never bury wood scraps or waste lumber.

Maintain at least 6 inches of clearance between soil and structural wood to prevent decay, which attracts carpenter ants, and to make it tougher for termites to find their next meal.

Keep it dry

Termites, carpenter ants, and powderpost beetles thrive in moist areas, so maintain a Sahara zone around your home’s perimeter.

In general, you shouldn’t have any vegetation—bushes, shrubs, vines, trees—touching the house, which can trap moisture that causes rot and attracts pests. Many pests use vegetation as a bridge between the ground to the walls and roof of your home.

Keep foundation plantings (shrubs, bushes, perennials) and wood mulch at least 18 inches away from the foundation. Prune trees, bushes, and vines that touch or overhang the house. And don’t plant anything close to your home that’s aphid-prone, such as peonies or roses. That’s like ringing the dinner bell for carpenter ants, which feed on honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids.

Even an infrequent puddle close to the house can become an oasis for pests on the prowl for food, so take measures to direct water away from the house. Drain puddles, don’t overwater flower beds, point sprinklers away from the structure, and make sure the ground near the foundation slopes away from your home. Use drain tile if the site is flat.

Clean gutters so they don’t overflow. Use downspout extensions and splash blocks to direct rainwater runoff away from the foundation. Fix dripping faucets, water pipes, and air conditioning units. Even small leaks can contribute to wood rot and moist foundations that pests find irresistible.

Deny access into your home

The tiniest gap or crack can become an express lane for pests—and not only insects. “If you can push a pencil through a hole, a mouse can get through it,” says Greg Bauman, senior scientist with the National Pest Management Association. 

Inspect your home’s envelope (walls, doors, windows, roof) for possible points of entry as well as moisture-inducing leaks. Use caulk or epoxy to seal any cracks in the foundation or gaps in the structure. Use steel wool or hardware cloth (1/4-inch wire mesh) to block any openings where wires, pipes, and cables come into or out of the house.

Should you detect any moisture damage, repair it promptly. Carpenter ants flock to deteriorating wood, but often move from decayed wood into sound wood as the colony expands. Replace punky fascia, soffits, and shingles. While you’re at it, paint weathered and/or unfinished wood to stop carpenter bees from drilling holes to build their nests.

Ventilate attics and crawl spaces, and make sure vents aren’t blocked by debris or vegetation. Good air flow prevents the buildup of moisture. Cover any exposed earth in the crawl space with a plastic vapor barrier.

Make sure roof and foundation vents are protected with hardware cloth. Install screens on all floor drains and windows. And while you’re at it, caulk or install weather-stripping around windows and doors as well. Close any gap between your garage door and the floor by attaching a door sweep. And keep the door closed.

Be inhospitable

If pests do get inside, they’ll usually die or skedaddle if they can’t find anything to eat or drink.

Carpenter ants will eat almost anything you do, but are especially fond of sweet and greasy food. Put kitchen waste in a sealed trash can, sweep up crumbs, and wipe up spills right away. Termites typically feed on wood, but will eat anything with cellulose, so never store paper or cardboard—or wood—in the crawl space.

Deal with interior moisture, too. Inspect the base of toilets, around bath tubs and shower stalls, and areas where pipes go through walls, such as under sinks. Repair any leaks and wrap any pipes that produce excess condensation.

Check behind and under washing machines and dishwashers, which are notorious for leaks, to make sure there’s no condensation or old moisture damage. Fix leaky faucets; in some cases, replacing a simple O ring might not only save water, but also stave off a potential invasion of pests.

Brad Broberg is a freelance writer from Federal Way, Wash. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he writes about business, health care, and real estate for REALTOR Magazine, the Puget Sound Business Journal, and Seattle Children’s Hospital, among others. He’s lived in the same home for 22 years—a home he shares with seven towering Douglas firs.

Source: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/prevent-insects-damaging-home/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 22 2010
Anyone planning to sell a home might be advised to read Jill Vegas’ Speed Decorating.” Vegas explains how to redecorate at minimum cost and maximum speed.

“Speed decorating,” she says, “is not about calling in contractors; it's about looking at a room and thinking about what you can do in a couple of hours, a week, to make it better."

Vegas offers these tips for anyone who needs to do a little high impact, low cost upgrading:
  • Clear out the clutter
  • Clean and repaint
  • Define the function of each room and then place furniture to accentuate that purpose
  • Improve the lighting, adding bright light to work areas and soft light to bed and dining rooms
  • Use art and accessories to add drama and personality


Source: CNNMoney.com, Les Christie (03/17/2010)

http://www.realtor.org/rmodaily.nsf/pages/News2010031804?OpenDocument

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, March 21 2010

Official State of Indiana website: www.in.gov

For information about obtaining an Indiana drivers license, registration and/or title: www.state.in.us/bmv

BMV Locations:
1.  East Side Branch, 6240 E. Virginia Street, (812) 477-7911
2.  North Side Branch, 4209 N. U.S. Highway 41, (812) 425-8289
3.  West Side Branch, 2421 Allens Lane, (812) 424-3102

For information on voter registration:
Vanderburgh County call (812) 435-5222
State Elections Division at 1-800-622-4941

To establish water & sewer service, as well as trash pick up:
City of Evansville Water & Sewer Department
(812) 436-7846 or www.evansvillegov.org

To establish electric & gas service:
Vectren
1-800-227-1376 or www.vectren.com

For bus service:
Metropolitan Evansville Transit System (METS)
(812) 435-6166 or www.evansvillemets.com

To establish local telephone service:
AT&T 1-800-288-2020
Insight (812) 422-1167 or (812) 838-2044
Sprint/Nextel (812) 467-0335
TDS Telecom (812) 874-2255
WOW! (812) 437-0345

To establish cable service:
Insight (812) 422-1167 or (812) 838-2044
WOW! (812) 437-0345
AT&T 1-800-288-2020

To contact local school districts:
Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation
1 S.E. 9th Street
(812) 435-8453 www.evsc.k12.in.us

Catholic Diocese of Evansville
4200 E. Kentucky Avenue
(812) 424-5536 www.evansville-diocese.org

To locate the nearest post office:
Main Post Office, 800 Sycamore Street, 812-429-3400
West Wabash, 801 N. Wabash Avenue, 812-423-6090
River City, 1915 Washington Avenue, 812-471-1966
Lawndale, 802 S. Green River Road, 812-473-4151
Diamond Valley, 600 Cross Valley Circle, 812-424-1475

Evansville Public Library www.evpl.org
Central Library
200 S.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 812-428-8200
East Branch
840 E. Chandler Avenue, 812-428-8231
McCollough
5115 Washington Avenue, (812) 428-8236
Oaklyn
3001 Oaklyn Drive, (812) 428-8234
Red Bank
120 S. Red Bank Road, (812) 428-8205
North Park
960 Koehler Drive, (812) 428-8237
Stringtown
2100 Stringtown Road, (812) 428-8233
West Branch
2000 W. Franklin Street, (812) 428-8232 

 

Chamber of Commerce www.ccswin.com
100 NW Second Street, Suite 100, 812-425-8147

Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau www.evansvillecvb.org
401 E. Riverside Drive, (812) 421-2200 or 1-800-433-3025

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, March 20 2010

More people than ever before are bunked together in multi-generational households across the United States, with a record 49 million (16.1 percent of the population) sharing close quarters either permanently or temporarily, according to a report out Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

Since 1980, the share of Americans living in such households jumped 33 percent. That represents a sharp reversal from earlier recent trends in which kids grew up, left home and didn't return except for a visit, and grandparents retired to sunny spots or stayed put in their own homes.

Over the 40 years between 1940 to 1980, Pew found the proportion of individuals in multi-generational households had declined by more than half - from 25 percent in 1940 to 12 percent in 1980.

"Our cultural norms shifted," says Paul Taylor, director of Pew's Social & Demographic Trends project, which analyzed Census data as well as its own surveys for the report.

The new growth, according to Pew, is a by-product of various factors - from momentary high unemployment and mounting numbers of home foreclosures to demographic changes such as increased immigrants in the population and the rising median age of first marriage.

About one in five Americans 25-34 and one in five of those 65 and older live in households in which at least two adult generations, or a grandparent and at least one other generation, share the same roof, Pew found.

The economic downturn most definitely accelerated the trend. Pew found that between 2007 and 2008, the number of Americans living in a multi-generational family household grew by 2.6 million.

And since last year, President Barack Obama's family also made it chic, with Marian Robinson, the president's mother-in-law, moving into the White House, creating a multi-generational first family.

Generations United, a national organization based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on intergenerational programs and policies, has seen soaring numbers of people downloading the Web site's fact sheet about multi-generational households.

The economy has taken a real toll on retirees, forcing many to move in with adult children, says Donna Butts, the group's executive director.

"Older people who had planned for a comfortable retirement lost a pretty serious chunk of their capital and don't have the potential to earn it back the way somebody in their 50s can," she says.

And, Butts says, the retirement community approach to life is not as popular as it once was.

"We don't think it's healthy for older adults to just live with older adults," Butts say. "All they do is talk about who's died, what hurts and what medication they're on."

Source: http://www.saukvalley.com/articles/2010/03/18/r_dd8qgednri2tbwl8bbcqpg/index.xml

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 19 2010

Realtors cite federal tax credit, very low interest rate.

The $6,500 federal tax credit for home-owners buying their next home is being credited for part of the upward movement in house prices in Vanderburgh and surrounding counties.

According to a report by the Evansville Area Association of Realtors, the sale price of single-family homes in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey and Gibson counties in January and February increased by 13.5 percent over the same period last year.

Chris Dickson, the association's president-elect, said he believes the tax credit brought out buyers for homes in the range of $150,000 to $250,000.

"There are more buyers in the market looking to take advantage of the federal tax incentives," said Dickson.

"The fact that average sale prices in 2010 are starting out strong, compared to 2009, also shows that the housing market in this area continues to rebound."

Dickson also attributed the increase in part to mortgage rates that remain at historic lows.

Bob Reid, president of the Realtors association, agreed.

He predicted March and April also will be strong as the April 30 deadline nears for the expiration of the $6,500 tax credit and for the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers.

"There's been no discussion about extending the credits," Reid said.

According to Reid, a person must sign a contract agreement to buy a house by April 30 and must close on the house purchase by June 30 to be eligible for the tax credits.

In January and February this year, the average house sale price in the four counties was $126,282, up from $111,603 in the same two months in 2009, according to the association report.

In Vanderburgh County, the average sale price for the two months rose 7.7 percent to $104,380.

The price was $96,849 for the same period in 2009.

Dickson said Warrick County had the biggest increase, rising by 15.59 percent to $186,818, compared with $161,148 in 2009.

The number of homes sold in the four-county area remained about the same: 341 sold the past two months compared with 343 for the same period last year.

The number of days it took to sell a house on average was 100 in January and February, compared with 110 in 2009.

Because of the increase in the average sale price, the overall volume rose 12.8 percent with more than $43.1 million in homes sold in January and February, compared with $38.2 million last January and February.

"Unfortunately," Dickson said, "many sellers are under the mistaken impression that the market is poor, so they are hesitant to put their homes on the market."

As a result, the number of homes available to buyers dropped to its lowest level in over two years, according to Dickson.

"We need more homes on the market to supply the buyer demand. ... Homes that are in good condition and priced well are selling."

Source: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2010/mar/17/area-home-prices-on-the-rise/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 18 2010
For anyone approaching retirement, now could be a great time to move.

Here are some tips for Boomers considering downsizing:
  • Don’t miss out on the $6,500 move-up tax credit.
  • Consider a short-distance move if it provides savings and convenience.
  • Anyone moving out of state should figure the tax consequences in their new location.
  • Consider a property that offers features allowing Boomers to age gracefully.
  • Think about sharing space with a younger (or older) family member.
  • Insist on good security in the new property.
  • Look for homes that don’t require a lot of maintenance.
  • Go green. It will pay off down the road.

Source: Forbes, Ashlea Ebeling (03/16/2010)
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 17 2010

— A newly renovated Old Gallery opened to the public Sunday at the Evansville Museum, showcasing a small portion of a planned $17.5 million project that also includes an expansion.

The exhibit space had been closed since January. It originally was dedicated in 1985 as part of the museum's South Wing addition.

"We're making something old new again," said Museum Director John Streetman. "At that time, there was no other venue for people in the arts to show their work."

The 5,000-square-foot gallery is the museum's largest changing exhibit space. Since its opening 25 years ago, more than just art has graced its space.

The gallery has hosted receptions, community events and concerts.

"It became, really, kind of the living room of our community," Streetman said.

The multipurpose gallery has received new walls, wall coverings, floor covering and lighting. In addition, from the end of the gallery facing the Ohio River and adjacent to the gallery's kitchen are facilities that can be closed off and used for smaller meetings and activities.

It is named the Charlotte M. Richardt Memorial Room in honor of a longtime museum benefactor.

The approximately $700,000 overhaul received major funding from Old National Bank. The gallery originally was created with funding from the bank in honor of Dorothea Schlechte, who opened the first Old Gallery in 1964 in a bank branch at Washington Square Mall.

The public unveiling of the renovated gallery also kicked off a public portion of the museum's "Reach for the Stars" fundraising campaign to underwrite the proposed expansion.

Already, the museum has quietly raised $13 million toward its goal from area corporations, foundations and other major donors.

"The public campaign is just the next step. Our commitment is to keep those signs up until the last penny is raised," said Jeffrey Berger, a museum trustee.

Streetman said raising the remaining $4.5 million is essential to maintaining the quality and extending the life of the institution. He said the Evansville Museum is one of only about 50 general museums still operating in the United States.

"Never have we needed it more than we need it now," he said. "If we don't raise the $4.5 million, we don't do the rest of the project."

When the expansion is completed, it will include a 21/2-story glass pavilion main entrance, a new planetarium and immersive theater; new history and science exhibition spaces; a family gallery for hands-on science learning; a permanent exhibit about Evansville's involvement in the World War II home front, including the LST shipyards; two learning centers for classes and workshops; space for the museum's art consultation service; new museum shop; and needed infrastructure improvements.

"This has got to work. This is my favorite place in town," said Sharon Harrison.

The Downtown resident said she frequents the museum and attends art classes there.

Shirley Tarter, another Downtown resident, said the museum is an important part of the continuing Downtown improvements. "It's important not to neglect the sciences and arts," she said.

Source: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2010/mar/14/museumcelebratesnew-old/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 16 2010
The snow is gone and we are ready to sell some homes. It seems however that our market is not leading the nation in the housing recovery. Almost half of the country showed an increase in the price of homes in the 4th quarter compared to the previous year. The number of homes sold increased in 48 states in the 4th quarter compared to the 4th quarter of the previous year. Nationally the supply of homes on the market is less than 6.5 months. These are all positive and encouraging statistics.
When the real estate market started slowing a couple of years ago our market stayed stronger longer and never declined to the same extent as the nation as a whole. Since our market slow down started later and since we did not fall as far, our recovery is running a little later than most parts of the country. For the first two months of 2010 our market is virtually unchanged having closed 2 fewer homes than the corresponding period in 2009. Average prices however were slightly higher at $118,075 compared to $112,319. Our inventory of homes is still too high at just under 12 months supply. I am certain that we will show a significant increase in closed sales in March compared to January or February. We have also seen more activity in more expensive home transactions in the past few months. Pending transactions increased significantly the second half of February and I firmly believe that sales will stay strong at least through April. I am confident about the April date partially because of the Home Buyers tax credit which is still available for contracts that are completed by April 30 and close by June 30. Smart shoppers and prudent sellers need to act soon to take advantage of this credit before it expires.
Remember the best place to start your home search is at FCTuckerEmge.com, where you can register yourself and receive automatic notifications at My FCTuckerEmge.com.   Signing up is simple and easy.
 
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 09 2010

Newburgh has been awarded a $50,000 grant which it will use to fund a downtown revitalization planning study, according to Cynthia Burger, town manager.

The grant money comes from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) administers the grants.

The study will assess the city’s downtown area and business district and provide recommendations with cost estimates for improvements. Items in the study will include: sidewalk and curb improvements, storm drainage and utility issues, streetscaping and beautification projects and other strategies to create a more economically viable downtown district.

More information about The CDBG grant program is available at www.in.gov/ocra.

Source: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2010/mar/09/newburgh-gets-grant-downtown-revitalization/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, March 06 2010
The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.97 percent this week, down from 5.01 percent last week, mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday. Last year at this time, rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.16 percent.
The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.34 percent from 4.40 percent, Freddie Mac said.
Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.19 percent, down from 4.27 percent a week earlier. One-year ARMs rose to 4.33 percent from 4.22 percent.
Borrowers can reduce their interest rates by buying points, equal to 1 percent of the mortgage amount. The nationwide averages in Freddie Mac's survey were 0.7 points for 30-year mortgages and 0.6 points for 15-year, five-year and one-year loans.
"To me, these numbers say, for another week, so far so good," said Don Rissmiller, chief economist for New York-based Strategas Research Partners.
"The question that's lingering is what happens when the Fed removes its continuing support for housing."
A Federal Reserve program to buy as much as $1.25 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities helped push rates to a record low 4.71 percent in December. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernanke reiterated the Fed's intention to end the purchases at the end of March.
His comments came in written testimony prepared for a House Financial Services Committee hearing that was postponed because of snow.
The Mortgage Bankers Association's index of mortgage applications fell 1.2 percent in the week ended Feb. 5, with the purchase gauge decreasing 7 percent and the refinancing gauge increasing 1.4 percent. More than two out of three mortgage applications were for refinance transactions over the first six weeks of this year, according to the association.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 05 2010

— Recycle Drop Off day is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the old Walmart on the West Side.

Items accepted during off-site collections are aluminum cans; glass containers of all colors; steel food cans; newspapers, including inserts; plastic bottles (small necked) and only No. 1 and No. 2 plastic (milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles and soda bottles); magazines and catalogs; mixed paper (junk mail, notebook paper, wrapping paper, copy paper); cardboard and paperboard, including cereal boxes.

Bottles that contained a hazardous material such as bleach or antifreeze cannot be accepted.

Items should be separated by the material types and placed in separate bags or boxes. Flatten boxes to be recycled before arrival if possible. Items should be clean and dry, and lids should be removed.

Wesselman Nature Society also conducts monthly drop-off recycling opportunities at various sites in Vanderburgh County for certain recyclable items. For a full listing of these off-site recycling opportunities, log on to http://www.WesselmanNatureSociety.org/recycling/offsite.php.

Additional information is available by contacting the Vanderburgh County Solid Waste District at (812) 436-7800 or www.vanderburghgov.org.

Source: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2010/mar/04/no-headline---05a03recycle-brf/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 04 2010

 

SAVANNAH, Ga.—Sounding a familiar clean-energy theme, President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced details of a proposed energy rebate program he hopes will spur demand for insulation and water heaters —and jobs for hurting Americans.

Obama said the administration’s “HOMESTAR” program would reward people who buy energy-saving equipment with an on-the-spot rebate of $1,000 or more. He cast the idea as one that would save people money on utility bills, boost the economy and reduce American dependence on oil.

The plan would take the approval of Congress.

“When it comes to domestic policy, I have no more important job as president than seeing to it that every American that wants to work and is able to work can find a job,” Obama said at Savannah Technical College, in a state where the unemployment rate tops the national average of 9.7 percent.

“That was my focus last year and that is my focus this year,” he said, “to lay a foundation for economic growth that creates jobs.” He appeared in Georgia three days before the government releases the February unemployment report.

Speaking to the many people looking for jobs, Obama said he knows “it’s tough out there.”

The administration is hoping the energy rebate plan could become as popular as last year’s Cash for Clunkers money-back program for autos. Consumers would collect immediate rebates for buying insulation, water heaters or other equipment to make their homes burn energy more efficiently.

Various vendors, ranging from small, independent contractors to national home improvement chains, would promote the rebates, give the money to consumers and then be reimbursed by the federal government.

Some details of the program, including how long it will run and its total cost, remain to be worked out with Congress, administration officials said.

The price tag could be in the range of $6 billion.

Obama said the upfront costs would be worth it, just as homeowners must put money into their homes to improve them and save costs in the long term.

Appealing to Congress, Obama said: “I just hope Washington stands alongside me in making sure we’ve got the kind of energy future that we need.” Congress has stalled several of Obama’s legislative efforts, including overhauling the health care system, addressing climate change and giving the government a bigger role in providing student loans.

Cash for Clunkers was a $3 billion program that ran for about a month last year, from July 27 to Aug. 25.

The latest proposal has two levels of rebates.

Under the first level of energy rebates, to be called Silver Star, consumers would be eligible for rebates between $1,000 and $1,500 for a variety of home upgrades, including adding insulation, sealing leaky ducts and replacing water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing, and doors. There would be a maximum rebate of $3,000 per home.

Under the second level, Gold Star, consumers who get home energy audits and then make changes designed to reduce energy costs by at least 20 percent would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate. Additional rebates would be available for savings above 20 percent.

If the program is enacted, the administration expects millions of households will boost demand for insulation, water heaters and the like—the same way consumers pumped up car and truck sales last year by trading in their gas-guzzling autos with more fuel-efficient models.

Representatives of the construction and home improvement business sectors were invited to Obama’s speech.

Howard Feldman, co-owner of Coastal Green Building Solutions in neighboring Ridgeland, S.C., said he hoped an influx of business from homeowners seeking the rebates would allow his small company to bring work back to job-starved contractors his company hires to perform energy-efficiency upgrades.

Feldman said he also suspects the program would have a lasting effect after the government rebate program ends, when people who took advantage of it tell friends and neighbors about the money they save on utility bills.

Yet some viewed it differently.

Todd Odom of nearby Guyton, Ga., stood across the street from the college with a group of about 70 Obama supporters and protesters. Odom, a 42-year-old machinist, said the government’s already spending too much and “HOMESTAR” would be a wasteful giveaway.

“When is it my responsibility to pay to refurbish somebody’s kitchen?” Odom said. “I want the government to fight my wars, build my roads, house our prisoners and leave me alone.”

Before heading back to Washington, Obama visited two local businesses—a company that makes custom steel parts and a digital post-production studio that got started with help from some $2 million in loans from the Small Business Administration.

Associated Press writer Russ Bynum contributed to this report.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

Source: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/obama-spells-out-rebates-for-energy-efficiency/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 10:30 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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The Trentini Team
F.C. Tucker EMGE REALTORS®
7820 Eagle Crest Bvd., Suite 200
Evansville, IN 47715
Office: (812) 479-0801
Cell: (812) 499-9234
Email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com


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