Real Estate Blog
Friday, December 30 2011
A tourism attraction in Santa Claus, Indiana has earned yet another title.
Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort, has been voted one of the top ten campgrounds in North America.
It may be best associated, though, for it's annual "Lands of Lights" Christmas display.
Campers and RV enthusiasts voted via website and text message. In celebration of its 75th anniversary, Woodall's Publications wanted to discover the best places to camp across North American, and launched the ten month long sweepstakes.
Lake Rudolph beat out more than 7-thousand other RV parks.
Thursday, December 29 2011
The Indiana Association of Realtors is reporting a 14 percent jump in closed homes sales for November, compared to the same month a year earlier. IAR also says prices did not follow the trend. The statewide median and average price of homes sold in November were slightly less than the same period in 2010.
According to the monthly “Indiana Real Estate Markets Report” today released by the Indiana Association of REALTORS®, activity was high in November with both the number of closed and pending home sales up by double digits year-over-year.
Statewide, when comparing November 2011 to November 2010:
The number of closed home sales increased 14.2% to 4,411; and
The number of pending home sales increased 10.4% to 3,959.
Prices did not follow that trend. Both the statewide median and average price of homes sold in November 2011 was less than in November 2010, but just slightly:
The median sale price of homes decreased 1.8% to $110,000; and
The average sale price of homes decreased 0.2% to $132,949.
“We’re close to being able to say that 2011 was better than the last two years,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer. “Local housing markets may not be making progress as quickly as we’d like, but they’re making progress and that’s good news for everyone.”
With regard to the slight dip in prices, Berron said REALTORS® were not concerned because year-to-date, the median sale price of homes in Indiana is actually up when compared to 2010 and 2009, and so is the average sale price.
“Home prices here in Indiana have historically held their ground,” said Berron. “It’s one of the reasons we enjoy a homeownership rate of more than seventy percent, and is certainly a positive for would-be home owners who are now shopping with some of the lowest mortgage interest rates in current memory.”
Whether market activity and value continue to grow depends upon a number of factors outside of the real estate industry’s control say REALTORS® across the state. The number one item on their list is more jobs, which drives number two and three on the group’s list – available financing for qualified buyers and less foreclosure inventory.
“Folks looking to invest should start with the sortable county tables of this report and then talk to a local REALTOR® who can give the most insight into what’s happening in a neighborhood, city or school district,” concluded Berron.
More about the “Indiana Real Estate Markets Report”
Established in May 2009 and found online under the Reports tab of www.IndianaIsHome.com, the “Indiana Real Estate Markets Report” was the first-ever county-by-county comparison of existing single-family home sales in Indiana. In March 2010, IAR added statistics on other types of existing detached single-family (DSF) home sales – condominiums, duplexes, townhomes, mobile homes, etc. – to the report.
The report became even more robust in August 2010. It now tells how the statewide housing market is performing according to eight different indicators, each with one-month and year-to-date comparisons, as well as a historical look. It also provides specific county information for 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties in a sortable table format, allowing for consistent comparison between local markets. IAR obtains the data directly from and releases this report in partnership with 26 of the state’s 27 Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), including the Broker Listing Cooperative® (BLC®) in both central and southwestern Indiana.
IAR represents approximately 15,000 REALTORS® who are involved in virtually all aspects related to the sale, purchase, exchange or lease of real property in Indiana. The term REALTOR® is a registered mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of America’s largest trade association, the National Association of REALTORS®, and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
Source: Indiana Association of Realtors
Monday, December 26 2011
New-home construction and building permits — a future gauge of construction — surged last month, slowly helping to pull the new-home market out of one of its worst years for home building.
Builders broke ground on more homes in November, a 9.3 percent increase over October, reaching the highest level since April 2010, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Year-over-year, new-home starts were up 24.3 percent in November.
Home construction increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 homes in November. However, while it’s an improvement, the rate is still below the 1.2 million home pace that economists consider healthy for the new-home sector.
November’s increase was mostly driven by construction of multi-family homes with at least two units, which soared 25.3 percent in November. Construction of single-family homes increased 2.3 percent for the month.
Building permits jumped 5.7 percent in November, the highest increase since March 2010, with the increase mostly driven by apartment construction permits.
Builders Feeling More Confident
Meanwhile, for the third consecutive month, builder confidence in the new-home market continued to edge up, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December. The index is at its highest point since May 2010.
While the index reached 21 in December, it is still far below 50, a reading which indicates more builders view conditions as good rather than poor. The index hasn’t reached that point since the housing boom in April 2006.
“While builder confidence remains low, the consistent gains registered over the past several months are an indication that pockets of recovery are slowly starting to emerge in scattered housing markets," Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. "However, the difficulties that both builders and buyers continue to experience in accessing credit for new homes are holding back potential sales even in areas where economic conditions are improving."
Source: “Apartment Construction Spurs 9.3% Jump in Housing Starts, But Level Remains Low,” Associated Press (Dec. 20, 2011); “U.S. Nov. Housing Starts +9.3% to 685K; Consensus +0.3%,” Dow Jones International News (Dec. 20, 2011); and National Association of Home Builders
Friday, December 23 2011
Last year, 27 percent of first-time home buyers received a financial gift from relatives or friends that they applied toward a down payment on a new home — up from 22 percent in 2009, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.
While gift-giving a down payment has increased, those who receive such gifts need to make sure they follow IRS and banks’ gift-giving rules.
1. Home owners still need to come up with at least some of the down payment on their own. A spokesperson with Freddie Mac told Newsday that loans backed by Freddie Mac require that when the loan-to-value is greater than 80 percent, the buyer will need to come up with at least 5 percent of the purchase price from his or her own funds. For Fannie Mae loans, Fannie allows all down payment funds to come as a gift on one-unit principal residences. “The thing that is tricky about this is that few people know whether the loan will get sold to Fannie or Freddie,” the Newsday article notes.
2. You may need to document where the down payment money came from. “A gift letter should be signed and dated and include the giver’s name, address, and telephone number, along with his or her relationship to the borrower,” according to Total Mortgage Services in the Newsday article.
3. If you’ve had the gift for a long time, you likely won’t need to document it. If the gift has been in your bank account for three months or longer, it’s considered “seasoned” and doesn’t require a gift letter, lenders say.
Source: “Rules for ‘Gifts’ to Home Buyers,” Newsday (December 2011)
Thursday, December 22 2011
Several cities across the U.S. have holiday-inspired names, and with namesakes like North Pole, Alaska, and Santa Claus, Ind., how could they not take advantage of the festivities?
Inman News recently highlighted a few cities with holiday-themed names.
North Pole, Alaska: The northern Alaska town was renamed North Pole in 1952 “hoping that toy manufacturers would come for the ‘Made in North Pole’ bragging rights despite its inconvenience ... as a manufacturing site,” according to a National Geographic profile about the town. But the city’s plan never worked and the manufacturers never came.
Santa Claus, Ind.: You’ll find plenty of Santa Claus’ around town here. The town was renamed from “Santa Fe” to “Santa Claus” in 1865, and each year receives thousands of letters from across the country of letters addressed to St. Nick.
Snowflake, Ariz.: The Arizona town, located north of the White Mountains, can get occasional snow, but despite its name, it actually was named not for the weather but because of its two founders Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake, according to Inman News.
Bethlehem, Pa.: You’ll find other Bethlehem’s in the country named after the Middle Eastern ancient city. In Bethlehem, Pa., the city decks its downtown with 5,500 strands of lights ever year, stretching two miles in the city.
Christmas, Fla.: During the Second Seminole Indian War, American troops built a fort several miles outside of Orlando in 1837 called Fort Christmas, which was later used as inspiration for the city’s name. According to Inman News, the city gets in the holiday-spirit year-around with lighted and decorated tree displays.
Read more about holiday-inspired towns at Inman News.
Source: “7 Towns with Holiday-Themed Names: Santa Claus, Ind., Is on the List,” Inman News
Wednesday, December 21 2011
Christmas is just around the corner and for many of us that means houseguests, and houseguests mean putting the guest room to its intended use. For many of you, your guest room has become an attached storage unit full of boxes, bags and bundles of stuff.
Over time, those dinner parties, shopping sprees and the spousal complaint about the clutter on the dining room table have created one too many junk piles shoved into your guest room. Now it’s December, and ready or not, company is coming.
Begin by sorting like items into boxes. Then organize the contents of each box in the room where they belong, purging any items that you no longer need or want. Now it is time to spice up the guest room making sure it is clutter free, organized and ready for company.
If you do not already have one, consider putting a mirror in your guest room. This is especially helpful when there is not a connected bathroom, if someone is taking a shower or the bathroom mirror is already occupied. The guest room mirror allows a second person to get ready for the day. If space is limited, purchase an over-the-door mirror or hang one on the wall. Add a shelf or surface area underneath or close by so guests have a place to put makeup, a hair dryer or other accessories.
Just because it is a guest room, it does not mean you cannot use the closet space for family storage. There are options for visiting guests to hang clothes such as garment bars that mount to a wall or over a door. These pull out for temporary hanging space and when not in use push back flush against the wall.
An organized room is a comfortable and a well thought out room. If you can, spend a night in the room and think about what your guests might need during their stay. Small gestures by you can make the stay more special for them and less stressful for you. Some guests feel comfortable getting snacks from your pantry and drinks from your fridge, while others do not. Leave a tray of snacks, fresh fruit and bottled water in the guest room. Even if your guests do not eat them during their stay, encourage them to take them for the trip home.
Your guests will be impressed by how organized the space was and also by your thoughtfulness, and you will know exactly what is in your guest room. The next time the phone rings or you receive an email from a friend or relative asking to visit, your guest room will be ready.
Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer and owner of Get Organized!. Get Organized! is a professional organizing service in the Dallas, Texas area. As of Dec. 9, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.
Tuesday, December 20 2011
During the colder months, preventing ice dams should be a primary concern. Here’s how to protect your home from damage.
Wintertime icicles may look charming, but they usually signal a serious — and potentially costly — problem. Often lurking behind that thick ridge of ice on your roof is a pool of melted water, hence the term ice dam. That accumulated water can work its way under roof shingles and into the home, causing significant damage to ceilings, walls, and floors. Additionally, the sheer weight of the ice dam often causes gutters and downspouts to pull away from the house, sometimes bringing the fascia boards with them. Preventing ice dams helps avoid damage and costly repairs.
Over the five-year period leading up to 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for the second largest share of homeowner insurance claims, according to Claire Wilkinson of the Insurance Information Institute. The average homeowner claim for such damages was $5,531.
Ice dams are responsible for cracked plaster ceilings and walls, peeling paint, soaked carpets, and buckled wood floors. Less visible but no less destructive effects include drenched insulation, rotting joists, and the formation of mold. The most common form of ice dam-related damage is collapsed rain gutters, which can cost $100 to $300 per side to repair.
What causes ice dams
As heat rises from a home, it melts the accumulated snow on the roof. That melted snow travels down the roof in liquid form until it reaches the eave line and gutter, where it refreezes due to colder temps. This ice ridge continues to expand, blocking the flow of subsequent snow melt.
As water continues to melt higher up the roof, it collects behind the ice dam in the form of a puddle. Because that water sits over the warmer portion of the roof, it doesn’t freeze.
In order for ice dams to form, there needs to be roof snow buildup, home heat loss, and subfreezing temperatures. The more snow, the larger the heat loss, and the longer the subfreezing temperatures remain, the higher the likelihood that ice dams will materialize.
Preventing ice dams
Homeowners can’t control the weather, but they can do something about heat loss. “The main goal is to keep heat from reaching the roof, thus preventing snow melt in the first place,” explains Doug Bruell, president of Cleveland’s 25-year-old North Coast Insulation. Proper insulation and ventilation of the attic space is intended to keep the roof surface at or near outdoor temperatures.
Typical steps include insulating the attic floor and installing soffit, gable and/or ridge vents to expel heat. Folding attic stairways and recessed light fixtures also need to be insulated. “All penetrations into the attic from the heated living space need to be addressed,” adds Bruell. Homeowners can expect to pay $800 to $1,500 to insulate the attic, plus another $300 to $600 for the installation of vents.
The process is a bit more involved for homes with finished attics, says Bruell. To facilitate sufficient cold air flow from soffit vent to ridge vent, baffles or tubes are installed between the ceiling insulation and the underside of the roof. This might involve opening up the ceiling.
Insulation means savings
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adding insulation to an unheated attic will have a greater impact on energy consumption than placing it anywhere else in the house. A properly insulated and ventilated attic not only reduces winter heating bills, it will trim summer cooling bills by expelling heat buildup. You can expect to save 10% to 50% on your heating and cooling bills.
In addition, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $500.
In theory, roof rakes, brooms, and other long-handled devices can be used to remove snow before it has a chance to melt. In practice, however, the scheme is difficult to pull off, considering that most homeowners can’t reach all areas of the roof.
Electrically-heated deicing cables, which install along eave lines to inhibit water freeze, are only moderately effective, says Bruell. “These heat cables often just back up the problem, forcing the dams to form higher up the roof.” In addition to the purchase price ($150 to $300), and installation ($300 to $500), these cables require electricity to run. They also can shorten the life of roof shingles.
Ice dam removal
Homeowners suffering the effects of an ice dam—or those who fear a leak is imminent—can hire a roofing company to remove the ice buildup. Rather than employ hammers, chisels, and salt, which can damage the roof and gutters, technicians will steam away the ice and remove any remaining snow. Expect to pay around $500 or more for the service. It goes without saying that do-it-yourself removal can be dangerous when it involves ladders, heavy ice, and slippery roofs.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-thoughts/preventing-ice-dams/#ixzz1h600V0o5
Monday, December 19 2011
A real estate purchase is one of the best investments you can make — so be certain to protect your land ownership against possible title problems that can hinder the transfer and marketability of your real property. These problems are defects and occur before the date of the policy and remain undisclosed until sometime later. Even the most thorough search of the public records cannot reveal some the "hidden" hazards.
A one-time premium will safeguard your property from actual loss and defense costs (unless specifically excluded), up to the policy amount, resulting from any risk covered by your policy. A mortgage policy protects only your lender against tide defects. Purchasing an owner's policy of tide insurance will protect your interests. Title insurance covers tide defects such as:
1. Forged deeds, mortgages, releases of mortgages and other instruments.
2. False impersonation of the true owner of the land or of his consort.
3. Instruments executed under fabricated or expired power of attorney (death).
4. Deeds apparently valid but actually delivered after death of grantor or grantee, or without
consent of the grantor.
5. Deeds by persons of unsound mind.
6. Deeds by minors.
7. Deeds not properly delivered.
8. Deeds that appear to convey title but are really mortgages.
9. Outstanding prescriptive rights not of record and not disclosed by survey.
10. Descriptions apparently, but not actually, adequate.
11. Duress in execution of instruments.
12. Defective acknowledgment due to lack of authority of notary. (Acknowledgement taken
before commission or after expiration of commission)
13. Deed or property recited to be separate property of grantor, which is in fact, community or
14. Deed from bigamous couple. (Prior existing marriage in another jurisdiction)
15. Undisclosed divorce of spouse who conveys as sole heir of deceased consort.
16. Undisclosed heirs.
17. Misinterpretation of wills, deeds and other instruments.
18. Birth or adoption of children after date of will.
19. Children living at date of will but not mentioned therein.
20. Discovery of will of apparent intestate.
21. Discovery of later will after probate of first will.
22. Administration of estate and probate of wills of persons absent but not deceased.
23. Conveyance by heir, devisee or survivor of a joint estate who murdered the decedent.
24. Deed from trustee of purported business trust, which is in fact, a partnership or joint stock
25. Deed of executor under non-intervention will when order of solvency has been fraudulently
procured or entered.
26. Deeds to or from corporations before incorporation or after surrender, or forfeiture, of
27. Claims of creditors against property conveyed by heirs/devisees within prescribed period
after owner's death.
28. Mistakes in recording legal documents. For example, incorrect indexing, errors in
transcribing and failure to preserve original instrument.
29. Record easement, but erroneous ancient location of pipe or sewer line, which does not
follow route of granted easements.
30. Special assessments where they become liens upon passage of resolution and before
recordation or commencement of improvements for which assessed.
31. Want of jurisdiction of person in judicial proceedings.
32. Failure to include necessary parties in judicial proceedings.
33. Federal estate and gift tax liens.
34. State inheritance and gift tax liens.
35. Errors in tax records. For example, listing payment against wrong property.
36. Ineffective waiver of tax liens by tax or other governing authorities repudiated later by
37. Corporation franchise taxes as lien on all corporate assets, notice of which does not have to
be recorded in the local recording office.
38. Erroneous reports furnished by tax officials, but not binding on municipality.
39. Tax homestead exemptions set aside as fraudulently claims.
40. Lack of capacity of foreign personal representatives and trustees to act.
41. Deeds from nonexistent entities.
42. Interests arising by deeds to fictitious characters to conceal illegal activities on the premises.
43. Deed in lieu of foreclosure set aside as being given under duress.
44. Ultra vires deed given under falsified corporate resolution.
45. Conveyances and proceedings affecting right of servicemen protected by the Soldiers and
Sailors Civil Relief Act.
46. Federal condemnation without filing of notice. Federal law does not require filing of notice
of taking in local recording office.
47. Break in chain of title beyond period of examination or public records where running of
adverse possession statue has been suspended. True owners are incompetent, absent or
incarcerated or the sovereign holds title.
48. Deed from record owner of land where he has sold property to another purchaser on
unrecorded land contract and the purchaser has taken possession of premises.
49. Void conveyances in violations of public policy: payment on gambling debt, payment for
contract to commit crime or conveyance made in restraint of trade.
Friday, December 16 2011
Here is a great list for materials that can be recycled in Vanderburgh County and also where to recycle them. Every effort helps.
What and Where to Recycle in Vanderburgh County
Materials To Be Recycled
Aluminum Cans (Some locations pay cash)
Allied Waste, Fligeltaub, Material Recycling, Smurfit Recycling, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage, Veolia, Wesselman Woods
Fligeltaub, Material Recycling, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage, Veolia
Appliances - Washers, Dryers, Air Conditioners (Certification required.)
Fligeltaub, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage - Check classified ads or yellow pages for locations that take repairable appliances.
Batteries - Household
Batteries - Vehicle & Boat
Batteries Plus, Fligeltaub, Material Recycling, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage
Brass & Copper
Fligeltaub, Material Recycling, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage
Allied Waste, Material Recycling, Smurfit Recycling, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Veolia, Wesselman Woods
Cartridges-toner (Printers, Copiers)
Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent
Computers & Components
Best Buy, C&I Electronics, Office Depot, Staples
D&L Innovative Materials
Household Items - (Must be reusable)
Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent
Metal Food and Beverage Cans (Must be clean)
Allied Waste, Fligeltaub, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage, Veolia
Motor Oil (5 gallons per trip, in clean container)
Autozone, Grease Monkey, Speed Lube, TSC, Wal-Mart Automotive Centers
Packing Material - Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, foam wrap (Must be clean)
A.K. Pack & Ship, Goodwill
Paper - Computer
Smurfit Recycling, Wesselman Woods
Magazines, Catalogs (Must be slick paper)
Smurfit Recycling, Veolia, Wesselman Woods
Mixed Household Paper (Junk mail and food boxes - must be clean; remove foil or paper liners)
Smurfit Recycling, Veolia, Wesselman Woods
Allied Waste, Smurfit Recycling, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Veolia, Wesselman Woods
Smurfit Recycling, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Wesselman Woods
Sacks (Must be clean)
Smurfit Recycling, Tri-State Food Bank, Veolia
Plastic - Milk Jugs, Soft Drink Bottles, Liquid Laundry and Soap Bottles (#1 & #2 narrow neck containers) (Must be clean, lids removed)
Allied Waste, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Veolia
Some stores take back their own plastic bags
Scrap Iron & Steel
Fligeltaub Co., Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage
Fligeltaub Co., Material Recycling, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage
Allied Waste/Laubscher Meadows
Thursday, December 15 2011
December is a great month to cozy things up at home. The brighter and warmer a house looks and feels, the happier you will be. That's why we are including with this letter a few tips to make your house as cheery as possible!
And don't forget, if you have any real estate questions, you can always reach Rolando at
499-9234 or Kathy at 499-0246 or visit our Web site at: www.TheTrentiniTeam.com
FIVE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR HOME BRIGHT, COZY AND CHEERFUL
Fix it up:
Mirror mirror, on the wall:
Light the way:
During daytime hours, keep your draperies and window coverings open. This will not only allow your home to absorb heat, but it will brighten up the winter days that you spend at home.Lighting isn't just for indoor decorating it's also a valuable addition to the exterior of your home. Line your walkway or garden with cost-efficient solar light fixtures (no electricity needed!) to create a brilliant nighttime landscape outside your home. Mirrors not only create the illusion that your rooms are even more spacious than they already are, they also reflect light! Make your house warm and cozy by adding a few inexpensive mirrors in hallways, bedrooms and living spaces.Candles are generally inexpensive and are extremely versatile. Adding various candle arrangements to different rooms in your home will instantly create an atmosphere of warmth and style. Get creative! You might also favor scented candles to add a pleasant scent to different areas of the house.The light fixtures in your home are a reflection of your personal style and taste. Adding additional fixtures or replacing ones that aren't your favorites can be a fun and creative way to brighten up your home!
Tuesday, December 13 2011
CNNMoney.com reports that construction permits saw a modest boom in October.
According to the article, new construction permits sat at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 653,000 for October. This marks a 10.9 percent increase from September’s revised rate of 589,000. The numbers were gathered from the Commerce Department.
Doug Roberts, the chief investment strategist of Channel Capital Research said that even with the jump, the numbers are only speculative. Builders may still be holding back.
“Getting a permit and actually beginning to build a house is the difference between getting engaged and getting married,” said Roberts in the article. “What you have is builders thinking the market might be coming back, so they’re getting permits to make sure they are ready to build if it does.”
A government report supported Roberts’ opinion, showing that new home construction was a bit lower in October. The number of new homes fell slightly by 0.3 percent to an annual rate of 628,000 that month, according to the Commerce Department. The revised annual rate for September was 630,000 units.
“Builders thought they were going to be able to get out there and get some houses done, but then they found that they didn’t necessarily want to make the stone cold commitment and want to put anything in the ground,” Roberts said. “The demand wasn’t there, so they weren’t willing to bet a serious amount of money.”
If there is an increase in demand and the number of forecloses decreases, the article said that more permits could mean more construction.
“But that’s a big ‘if’,” Roberts added.
Even with the prevailing misanthropy of many in the housing market, both permits and construction have seen increases from last year, new construction rising 16.5 percent over October 2010 and building permits rising by 17.7 percent for the same period.
Read more: New Construction Permits Increase By 11 Percent | REALTOR.com® Blogs
Monday, December 12 2011
Snow and Ice.
They are harmless words but when pertaining to driving- they can be very dangerous.
"No one wants to be stranded in the cold because of an accident or a vehicle breakdown. Properly preparing your vehicle for winter driving is essential for the safety of all passengers and will greatly decrease the chances of your vehicle breaking down", states New Lenox Fire Chief Jon Mead.
Chief Mead recommends all drivers to prepare themselves with a winter emergency preparedness kit in case of a vehicle breakdown. The kit should include some of the following:
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- Jumper cables
- Flares and/or a reflective triangle
- First Aid Supplies
- A simple tool kit
- A fully charged cell phone and/or a cell phone charger
- Matches and/or a lighter
- Kitty litter, salt, or sand
- Ice scrappper with a brush
- Extra warm clothing
- Drinking water
- Make sure your car jack and lug wrench are in your car and working properly.
Before the weather of Old Man Winter arrives, make sure your car is properly serviced and maintained.
Friday, December 09 2011
With construction costs rising and the hassles associated with taking on a renovation project, many homeowners can be reluctant to tackle certain projects when it comes to remodeling their home. However, according to the 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, several inexpensive exterior replacement projects are not only crucial to a home’s regular upkeep, but are also expected to recoup close to 70 percent of costs.
Exterior replacement projects continuously outperform other remodeling projects in terms of resale value, especially siding, window and door replacements. These types of projects are considered essential to regular home maintenance so homeowners will need to implement them anyway to keep their house functioning properly. The good news is that these projects do not require expensive materials. Many exterior replacement projects can be performed with durable low-maintenance materials and they also have the added bonus of instantly adding curb appeal, which is important to those looking to sell.
The 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects in 80 markets across the country. Realtors® provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. Overall Realtors® estimated that home owners would recoup an average of 57.7 percent of their investment in 35 different improvement projects, down from an average of 60 percent last year.
Seven of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement was judged by Realtors® as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 78 percent of cost recouped upon resale. Two additional siding replacement projects were in the top 10, including foam-backed vinyl siding and upscale vinyl siding. In addition, three door replacements were among the top exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,200 on average and is expected to recoup 73 percent of cost upon resale. Both the midrange and upscale garage door replacements are expected to return more than 71 percent of costs.
There are regional differences when it comes to the resale value of particular remodeling projects. Relators® can help homeowners decide what low-cost improvement investments will provide the most upon resale in their particular market. It’s important to keep in mind that resale value is just one factor among many that homeowners must take into account when making a decision to remodel.”
Three interior remodeling projects are also considered worthy investments. A midrange attic bedroom remodel is expected to return 72.5 percent of cost. Out of all the projects it is the least expensive way to add a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint. A minor kitchen remodel and wood deck addition are also expected to recoup more than 70 percent of costs. Improvement projects that are expected to return the least are a sunroom addition and a home office remodel, both estimated to recoup less than 46 percent of costs.
The 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report is published by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC and is in collaboration with the National Association of Realtors®. Additional data for the report can be found at NAR’s consumer website, HouseLogic.com. The website includes a wide variety of ideas and projects to help homeowners maintain, enhance and improve the value of their homes.
Thursday, December 08 2011
Some scam artists are preying on home owners looking to refinance using the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program. As such, federal agencies are banding together forming a task force aimed at cracking down on con artists who are falsely claiming they can save home owners’ mortgages through HAMP, HousingWire reports.
The new task force recently issued a warning to home owners looking to refinance their mortgage: Only your mortgage servicer can grant you a loan modification through HAMP so don’t be duped by scam artists saying they can help with HAMP. Any third-party promising to guarantee a loan modification or pre-approve a loan modification or trying to charge an advance fee for a loan modification may be involved in a scam, the agencies warned in a public statement.
The task force cautions home owners to "beware of individuals or companies that ask you for payment and tout success rates or claim to be experts in HAMP."
The federal agencies involved in the HAMP fraud investigations are the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Department of the Treasury.
To check on the validity of companies or individuals who display HAMP seals or logos, call the HOPE hotline, 888-995-HOPE.
Wednesday, December 07 2011
Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires resulted in 21 deaths and 43 injuries.
Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy. Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home. Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees. Help ensure that you have a fire safe holiday season.
What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.
Selecting a Tree for the Holidays
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Tuesday, December 06 2011
LED holiday lights vs. old-fashioned bulbs: 6 tips to help you decide which is right for you.
Should you chuck all your good old holiday light strings and buy new LED holiday lights? Here’s how to decide.
1. LED holiday lights save you money. LED lights use at least 90% less energy than traditional holiday lights, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Star program.
That results in a $50 energy savings for the average family during the holidays, says Avital Binshtock of the Sierra Club in San Francisco.
Put it into perspective: The amount of electricity consumed by one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs—enough to light two 24-foot strings, says Energy Star.
2. But LED lights typically cost more than old-fashioned holiday lights.
- GE 100-bulb string of Energy Star-certified LED white lights: $18.97 at Lowe’s
- GE 100-bulb string of conventional white lights: $8.97
But shop around because a growing number of retailers are offering sales on LED holiday lights and, if you can’t find a sale before the holidays, you can certainly find one after. Plus, prices will surely go down as these lights gain traction.
3. LED holiday lights last and last. LED bulbs can keep your season bright for as long as 100,000 hours, says Cathy Choi, president of Moonachie, N.J.-based Bulbrite, which manufactures LED and regular bulbs. That’s substantially longer than the life of your old holiday light strings.
4. You can string a BIG strand of LED lights. Safety wise, you shouldn’t connect more than three traditional light strings, but you can connect up to 87 LED holiday light strings, totaling a whopping 1,500 feet, Choi says. So blow your neighbor’s display away by cocooning your house in lights:
- You won’t have to buy as many extension cords.
- You can take your holiday lighting display further away from the outlet.
5. LED lights reduce the risk of fire. They stay cooler than incandescent bulbs, according to Energy Star.
6. How about that hue? Some people stick with their old lights because they don’t like the brighter hue that white LED holiday lights emit. But Choi says manufacturers now offer a “warm white” bulb that more closely mimics the glow of an incandescent light. Be sure to read the label to choose a bright or warm white and to ensure what you’re purchasing is Energy Star-certified.
Colored and color-changing LED holiday lights are more vibrant than conventional lights, making your display easier to see from the street, Choi says.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/lighting/led-holiday-lights-6-need-know-tips/#ixzz1f2b3ZNGL
Monday, December 05 2011
The latest twist on designer parking garages: a Jetsonesque elevator that whisks residents to their condos while they are still in the driver’s seat.
Pull over into the designated space. Turn off the engine. And enjoy the oceanfront view as you escalate in a glass elevator that takes you, while you are sitting in your car, to the front door of your apartment.
No, this is not the latest Disney ride.
The $560 million Jetsonesque tower will rise in Sunny Isles Beach as part of a collaboration between Germany-based Porsche Design Group and a local developer, Gil Dezer. It likely will be the world’s first condominium complex with elevators that will take residents directly to their units while they are sitting in their cars.
“You don’t have to leave your car until you are in front of your apartment,” said Juergen Gessler, CEO of Porsche Design Group.
Here is how it will work: After the resident pulls over and switches off the engine, a robotic arm that works much like an automatic plank will scoop up the car and put it into the elevator. Once at the desired floor, the same robotic arm will park the car, leaving the resident nearly in front of his front door. Voila, home!
The glass elevators will give residents and their guests unparalleled views of the city or of the ocean during their high-speed ride, expected to last 45 to 90 seconds.
“What this is really doing is taking two technologies that have existed for centuries and putting them together,” said Gil Dezer, president of Dezer Properties. “It’s taking the robotic arm and it’s putting it in an elevator.”
The building, to named Porsche Design Tower, was approved unanimously Thursday night by the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission. Before the meeting, Mayor Norman S. Edelcup said he had not heard any opposition to the plan.
The cylindrical building will be erected on 2.2 acres of land at 18555 Collins Avenue. The 57-story luxury tower will have 132 units. Smaller units will be allocated two parking spaces and larger ones will have four, with 284 robotic parking spaces in total. There will be three elevators.
Residents will be able to see their cars from their living rooms.
“So people with fancy cars and antiques, they will actually have a really nice view of them,’’ Dezer said.
Units will range from 3,800 to 9,500 square feet and could cost up to $9 million.
The car elevators are the latest twist on Miami Beach’s burgeoning passion for designer parking garages. The highly acclaimed 1111 Lincoln Road designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron opened in 2009; also planned are garages by London architect Zaha Hadid, Mexico’s Enrique Norten and Miami’s own Arquitechonica.
Dezer said his hopes are that many other buildings in the United States and the rest of the world will be constructed following the Porsche Design Tower model.
But this will be the first and last one in South Florida, he said.
“We want to keep this really exclusive and not have this become a McDonald’s kind of style. The tower is going to change the skyline of Miami Beach,” Dezer said. “This is something Floridians should be proud to have in their state.”
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/17/2507333/at-planned-miami-beach-condo-cars.html#ixzz1eH7MNnwn
Friday, December 02 2011
The ultimate goal of investing in rental property is to turn a profit. To ensure that you achieve that goal it is essential that you follow several critical guidelines.
First, always make sure that you check tenant references. This can be a burdensome step and many landlords overlook it because they feel as though they have good instinct when they meet with the tenant. But not checking references can lead to a number of problems later on. You will uncover a wealth of information about potential problems before you rent to a prospective tenant.
Second, make sure you have everything in writing. This is to protect your rights as a landlord as well as the rights of your tenants. Everything from the code of conduct you expect your tenants to abide by while renting your property to the rental application itself must be in writing.
Third, you will find that you have better success with your rental property if you take the time to ensure that it is both secure and clean. The grounds of the property should be free of litter and trimmed regularly. Not only will the property be more visually appealing but these actions will also assist you with property liability. You will also want to take additional security measures. Extra security may be able to lower your insurance premiums as well as provide an incentive to quality tenants to rent your property when they know it is secure.
If you decide to hire a property manager, take the time to interview prospective candidates very carefully. Property managers can be very helpful if you don't have the time to manage the property yourself. This is especially true if your property is a long distance away from you. The wrong property manager can cause you problems with poor tenant screening and delayed lease up times. This means that you will need to hire a thoroughly responsible and professional individual to handle the job. Always ask for referrals.
Always make sure that you obtain adequate insurance. Not only should you have property insurance but you should also have liability insurance. One incident is all it takes to wipe out your investment. Also check with your state to determine if any additional insurance coverage is required.
Regardless of the condition the property was in when you purchased it, there will come a time when repairs are needed. This is part and parcel of owning rental property. If you take too long to make repairs, not only will your property suffer and repairs will ultimately cost more to take care of but you will also likely lose quality tenants as well. By making sure you handle repairs promptly you will be able to maintain the life of your property as well as retain good tenants.
Always make sure that you follow all applicable regulations in the renting of your investment property. The Fair Housing Administration Act provides precise regulations in order to prevent discrimination. If you violate those regulations you could find yourself facing a lawsuit that is costly in terms of time as well as money. The best course of action is to take the time to do your homework and consult an attorney experienced in real estate matters for guidance regarding the FHA as well as ensuring that you have the proper forms. Good property managers will already be versed in these regulations.
Finally, make sure that you do not violate the privacy of your tenants. Check with your state's regulations to find out whether you must provide any type of notice to your tenant before you enter the dwelling.
Following these guidelines will help you to retain good quality tenants and avoid any potential legal problems. After all, happy tenants make for happy landlords!
Thursday, December 01 2011
Jasper-based Indiana Furniture Industries Inc. says it will expand operations and create up to 10 jobs by 2015. The company, which is more than 100 years old, says it needs new machine operators and engineers.
Jasper, Ind. -- Indiana Furniture Industries, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of office furniture, announced plans today to expand its operations here, creating up to 10 new high-wage jobs by 2015. The company will add a 30,000 square-foot addition to one of its existing manufacturing facilities as part of the project. The new addition is slated to be operational by the end of 2012.
"With more than a hundred years of experience in the Hoosier State, Indiana Furniture is continually setting the standard for sustained growth in an ever-changing market," said Dan Hasler, Secretary of Commerce and chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. "Our nationally-ranked business climate and expansive infrastructure are helping local businesses establish a successful foundation to bring more jobs to Indiana."
Indiana Furniture, which currently has 287 full-time employees in Indiana, plans to begin hiring additional technical machine operators and engineers to coincide with facility construction. Interested candidates should apply at www.indianafurniture.com.
"With our long heritage in the Jasper community, coupled with our Midwest values, it's easy to call Dubois County our home," said Bret Ackerman, president and chief executive officer of Indiana Furniture. "To gain a competitive advantage in this industry, we've recognized that we need to embrace innovation in technology and processes. Therefore we plan on considerable capital expenditures over the next several years."
Founded in 1905, the company was established as Jasper Novelty Works in part as a response to the efforts of the Jasper Business Men's Association's initiative to provide local employment opportunities. Indiana Furniture's ultraviolet finishing technology was awarded the GREENGUARD certification for indoor air quality in 2008 by the Greenguard Environmental Institute for the company's non-toxic curing process.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Indiana Furniture Industries, Inc. up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The city of Jasper approved additional property tax abatement.
"It's particularly gratifying that our new property tax abatement program's first recipient is an existing company," said Jim Dinkle, president of the Dubois County Area Development Corporation. "Indiana Furniture is a century-old company with deep roots in Dubois County."
Indiana Furniture's announcement comes one month after AFCO Racing Products, a manufacturer of parts for the racing industry, announced plans to grow its operations in nearby Warrick County. The company will invest $3.7 million to purchase and equip a new retail facility in Boonville, creating up to 61 new jobs by 2014.
About Indiana Furniture
Indiana Furniture, headquartered in Jasper, Ind. for over a century is committed to providing its customers with office furnishings of the highest standards in quality and craftsmanship. Through advance information systems and state of the art technology we deliver a wide range of environmentally conscious products, styles, and sizes at competitive prices.
Created by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Daniels. Dan Hasler serves as the chief executive officer of the IEDC.
The IEDC oversees programs enacted by the General Assembly including tax credits, workforce training grants and public infrastructure assistance. All tax credits are performance-based. Therefore, companies must first invest in Indiana through job creation or capital investment before incentives are paid. A company who does not meet its full projections only receives a percentage of the incentives proportional to its actual investment. For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.
Source: Indiana Economic Development Corporation http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?id=50985&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IIB-Headlines+%28Headlines+-+Inside+INdiana+Business+with+Gerry+Dick%29