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 Real Estate Blog 
Sunday, February 27 2011

Adding motion sensor lighting in and around your house provides an automated, hands-free way to turn on lights when you need them, and off when you don’t.

Motion sensor lights are eager helpers and good little guardians. They illuminate the way to your front door when you pull into your driveway, light hallways when you get up in the middle of the night, and turn on lamps when you enter a room.

They also provide safety and home security, powering up exterior floodlights should someone attempt to trespass when it’s dark outside.

In addition, they watch over your budget, dutifully turning themselves off after you’ve entered your home or left a room—saving you money on energy bills. Light-sensing diodes prevent them from switching on during daylight hours.

Plug-and-play lighting solutions

Many motion sensor lights don’t require elaborate setups or wiring; they simply plug into any wall outlet. Battery-operated types can be mounted onto your walls using adhesives, magnets, or screws.

Sylvania’s LED Motion Sensor Light runs off batteries, is easy to install in any room, and is especially handy for small spaces, such as closets. Cost: $13.

Put a sensor on anything

Have a lamp in your living room you want to turn on automatically when you walk in? The SensorPlug Motion Sensor Outlet Plug from Andev plugs into any standard wall outlet. In addition to lamps, you can use it with equipment that doesn’t exceed 500 watts, such as fans and radios.

The SensorPlug Motion Sensor Outlet Plug costs between $10 and $20.

Sun power

If your home gets ample sunlight during the day, install a solar-powered light and avoid the need to do any wiring. Designed for the outdoors, the Solar Security with Motion Detector from Concept helps you save money by not tapping into your home’s electricity.

It uses 32 long-lasting LED lamps, providing bright illumination for places like your driveway and front door. Since only sunlight is needed to recharge the battery, you can attach it anywhere on your property, such as the far end of your yard.

The Concept Solar Security with Motion Detector is available through Amazon at $49. The Solar-Powered 80 LED Security Floodlight, an even brighter light with 80 LED lamps, costs $105 from Smart Home Systems.

Overhead detection

You can easily add a motion sensor to an existing overhead light fixture by adding adaptive devices, such as the Motion Sensing Light Socket from First Alert.

Simply screw the motion-sensing light socket into an existing wall or ceiling fixture and add a 25- to 100-watt light bulb. Some motion-dection light sockets won’t support energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, but for rooms that are infrequently used, such as an unfinished basement, it’s a quick solution. The First Alert Motion Sensing Light Socket sells for $25.

Home automation sensors

Home automation systems, such as those based on X10 and Z-Wave technology, are great for controlling your thermostat and home entertainment center, but they also are useful for home security purposes. Linked to motion sensor lights, your home automation system can send a signal to have lights turned on when triggered by a timer or by your smartphone.
The HomeSeer HSM100 sensor is available for Z-Wave systems for $74, and the Eagle Eye Indoor/Outdoor Motion Sensor costs between $18 and $30.

A writer covering the latest technologies and trends for a variety of national publications, Les Shu is currently automating his home with the newest doodads to make it smarter than he is.

Read more:
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 26 2011

Advanced programmable thermostats give you precise control over your heating and cooling, helping to reduce wasted energy.

It’s no secret that heating and cooling account for the bulk of a home’s energy usage—an average of over $1,000 annually. Switching from a manual to a programmable thermostat is one simple way to save as much as $180 a year.

The most basic programmable thermostat can be self-installed in an hour, and comes with preset temperature settings for different times of the day.

Some of the latest models offer greater control, easy programming, sophisticated displays, and even communication with you via the Internet. Here is a look at some of these smart units.

High-def, high-tech settings

You wouldn’t think of spending much time in front of your thermostat, but the newest advanced models—with their colorful touchscreen displays—are an engaging, interactive experience. They offer separate programs for each day of the week, and can even alert you if service is required.

With its high-definition screen display, Honeywell’s Prestige Comfort System resembles a mini-computer more than a traditional thermostat.

In addition to indoor temperature, the Prestige’s graphical user interface can display outdoor conditions and humidity with an add-on sensor. An onscreen wizard interviews you about your usage based on simple questions, and then sets a program accordingly. A portable controller lets you adjust settings from any room in the house.

The Prestige is priced from $250 and up.

If you can live without a fancy display, an advanced programmable thermostat from HAI costs around $300 to $400, while a simpler seven-day programmable model from Hunter costs $99.

Control from afar

What if you’re on your way to a long vacation, and you suddenly realized you’d forgotten to turn down your home’s thermostat?

If your home is equipped with the Smart Thermostat from ecobee, you can tap into the system through a personalized web portal anywhere there’s Internet access. Log in to check on your HVAC’s performance and make adjustments on the fly. The unit sells for $469.

Manage your home’s HVAC via a home automation app from Control 4. The sophisticated system allows you to change thermostat settings from your smartphone, pad, and PC. In addition, you can control the lighting, music, window treatment motors, and a wide range of Control 4 devices.

Know the price before you turn it on

Pilot programs for installing smart thermostats that display “time of use” pricing information are underway in regions like Florida and California. These thermostats receive a wireless signal from the utility company, and adjust the temperature according to the price of electricity during different times of the day.

With costs for air conditioning at about 70 cents to $1.20 per hour, reducing AC usage only an hour per day would yield a savings of $65 to $110 over the course of a summer.

Check with your utility company to find out if such a program is available in your area.

A writer covering the latest technologies and trends for a variety of national publications, Les Shu is currently automating his home with the newest doodads to make it smarter than he is.

Read more:
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 25 2011

While the Midwest has been battered in recent years by manufacturing job losses and price drops in residential and commercial properties, farmland has become a bright spot in Midwest real estate.

As commodity prices surge, farmers and investors across the Midwest are bidding up farmland at auctions, prompting values to soar.

Investors in Corn Belt farmland saw a 14 percent return last year on the land, which includes appreciation and income from renting it to farmers, according to the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries.

As the agricultural economy continues to thrive, farmers are having less incentive to sell, which is creating a low supply of land that is high in demand.


"Prices continue to increase due in part to the limited supply," says Randall Pope, chief executive officer of the Westchester Group Inc., which manages farm tracts. "There are a number of people who would like to buy these days but there isn't a lot of product on the market."

For example, investors bid up prices in an auction last month for 120-acres of farmland in Greene County, Iowa. The winning bid offered $8,200 an acre--nearly $1 million, which was 44 percent higher than the $5,701 per-acre estimate for average values in the county.


Sheila Bair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp chairperson, warned in October that a bubble may be forming in farmland real estate. But that hasn’t seemed to turn away investors.


Analysts predict farmland prices will continue to climb. Values in Iowa, which is the largest corn and soybean-growing state, climbed 16 percent in 2010 and are expected to increase another 10 percent this year if commodities remain at current levels.

Source: “Value of Midwest Farmland Climbs,” Bloomberg News (Feb. 21, 2011)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, February 24 2011

Maintaining the proper humidity level goes a long way towards making your home comfortable. But if you haven't yet invested in a humidifier or dehumidifier for the air quality, let us give you another reason: Having too wet or too dry air can actually wreck your home.

You might not think a humidifier or dehumidifier is necessary outside of the desert or tropics. But you could be simulating those harsh climates inside your home each time you run the heater or cook up a storm.

Air comes into your house with a certain amount of humidity from the climate outside. But cooking, bathing and doing laundry can all create water vapor and raise the humidity level in your home. And running your heating system does nothing to add moisture to the dry winter air outside, leaving you in an indoor desert without a humidifier.

Everything from your floors to your ceiling fan can benefit from the addition of humidity control:

  • A too-dry home can see it's wall paneling, wood trim and hardwood flooring shrink, causing joints to open.
  • A dry home can develop cracks in drywall and plaster.
  • A too-wet home might see wooden features, like paneling, floors and fan blades, warp and bend.
  • Excess humidity can produce enough condensation to stain ceilings and walls and cause flaking paint and peeling wallpaper.
  • If the humidity of a home is too high, it can lead to the corrosion of metal components and circuits inside your appliances.

To get started on the path to humidity nirvana, measure the humidity level in your home with an inexpensive hygrometer.

A humidity level of around 45 percent is ideal. If you're above or below, invest in a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep your home and appliances looking and running their best.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 23 2011

Home warranties can be attractive to home owners or buyers who are looking at purchasing a property. These service contracts can cover all of a home’s major systems, such as the furnace or air conditioner, and will cover needed repairs if the appliance breaks or damaged.

Some sellers are offering a home warranty to try to lure buyers.

But not all home warranties are the same. Experts say you should carefully weigh costs, policy allowances, and customer feedback before making a decision so that you ensure you’re getting the best deal. Home warranties cost about $250 to $500 a year.

Here are some more tips from experts in shopping for a home warranty:

Find customer reviews. Web sites, such as, provide reviews of home warranty companies. You also might check how each company is rated with your local Better Business Bureau.
Check for extra fees. Will you have to pay a fee for service calls?
Check the coverage allowance. Are there any exclusions to coverage? Will the allowance cover the entire cost of a broken appliance or just some of it? For example, if you have older appliances and mechanicals, will the policy cover the full cost of replacing it or just the depreciated value? If the policy only covers the depreciated value when a 20-year-old furnace dies, for example, the reimbursement may not be enough to buy a new one. Also, verify what appliances are all included in the coverage. Some companies will allow you to add coverage for swimming pools, while others won’t.

"The biggest thing is awareness of what the exclusions are," Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at, told the Chicago Tribune. "The mere presence of a warranty, by nature, tends to have exclusions. Being aware of that can aid in the decision-making process."

Source: “When Home Warranties Are Worth It,” Chicago Tribune (Feb. 8, 2011)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, February 22 2011

The Indiana Association of Realtors says home sales throughout the state increased 2.9 percent in January, compared to a year ago. The median sale price also rose 5.3 percent. Chief Executive Officer Karl Berron says the numbers are significant because the federal home buyer tax credit was in play in January 2010, but not last month.

 The Indiana Association of REALTORS® (IAR) today released its monthly “Indiana Real Estate Markets Report” as a continuation of its “Indiana is Home” project. Statewide, when comparing January 2011 to January 2010:

The median sale price of homes increased 5.3 percent to $100,000;

The average sale price of homes increased 0.6% to $121,941; and
The number of closed sales increased 2.9% to 3,037.

The Report at a glance:

Statewide Housing Market Overview
(Monthly Indicators)

Sortable County Tables:

One-month & Year-to-date Views

Trailing three- & 12-month Views


"Homeowners Best Friend"

“These numbers are significant because the federal home buyer tax credit was in play in January 2010, but not last month,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer.

“REALTORS® have advised consumers for months now to review housing data in the long-term until the impact of the tax credit recedes. We maintain that position. A month of good news is not the sole reason for our optimism. Rather, it is what we’re seeing over several months and years that has us most hopeful,” he continued.

To Berron’s point:

The median sale price of homes, statewide, has increased 14 out of the last 16 months; and

The inventory of homes for sale has steadily trended downward since the latter part of 2007, getting closer to a normal or neutral market.

Berron conceded that activity isn’t as high as REALTORS® would like and will not be until the nation’s economy settles and there is a meaningful increase in jobs. “But,” he said, “It’s easy to see that housing has remained a smart long-term investment despite these challenges.”

More about the "Indiana Real Estate Markets Report"

Established in May 2009 and found online under the Reports tab of, 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 26 of the state’s 27 Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), including the Broker Listing Cooperative® (BLC®) in central Indiana.

It is a multi-media project aimed at keeping Hoosier homeowners, would-be homeowners, policymakers and the media well-informed on the ever-changing local real estate markets.

This month’s reportisode (video) discusses more benefits of homeownership, namely the mortgage interest deduction.

Indianapolis-based Boost Media Entertainment shot and produced all videos found online at

IAR represents approximately 16,000 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 the world’s largest trade association, the National Association of REALTORS®, and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

Source: The Indiana Association of REALTORS & InsideINdianaBusiness

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, February 20 2011

An Iowa company has been selected to manage the new arena in downtown Evansville. Project Director John Kish has been authorized to begin negotiations with VenuWorks for a final contract. The Evansville Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved another committee's recommendation to hire the company, which manages 36 facility in 17 communities.

Evansville, Ind. -- The Evansville Redevelopment Commission (ERC) voted unanimously this morning to direct Arena Project Director John J. Kish to begin negotiations with VenuWorks for management and coordinated operations of the new Evansville Arena, which will open this November. VenuWorks, based in Ames, Iowa, manages 36 facilities in 17 communities.

“I am pleased that the Redevelopment Commission heeded the recommendation to select VenuWorks to manage the new Evansville Arena,” said Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. “VenuWorks has a proven track record of successfully opening new facilities in communities similar to Evansville, and I believe they have what it takes to help the City make the new Evansville Arena a great success,” said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

The decision to recommend VenuWorks to the ERC was made by a non-partisan committee that, according to Kish, unanimously agreed that VenuWorks was the best choice to manage and operate the new Evansville Arena. “The committee was particularly impressed by the commitment and involvement from VenuWorks’ senior management, as well as the company’s focus on mid-sized communities,” Kish said.

Steven L. Peters, president of VenuWorks, is enthusiastic about the opportunity to manage Evansville’s new arena. “This community is building a wonderful new facility that holds tremendous promise for the future of Evansville. We are honored that VenuWorks was selected to manage the arena and we will utilize our experience and resources to ensure it is a success.”

The new Evansville arena will be the region’s center for sports and entertainment, designed to host basketball, hockey, concerts, exhibitions, and shows for audiences as large as 11,000.

Source: City of Evansville & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 19 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
Recycling Locations
Aluminum Cans (Some locations pay cash)
Allied Waste, Fligeltaub, Material Recycling, Smurfit Recycling, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage, Veolia, Wesselman Woods
Aluminum Scrap
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
Call 436-7800
Batteries - Vehicle & Boat
Batteries Plus, Fligeltaub, Material Recycling, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage
Brass & Copper
Fligeltaub, Material Recycling, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage
Cardboard, Corrugated
Allied Waste, Material Recycling, Smurfit Recycling, Tri-State Resource Recovery, Veolia, Wesselman Woods
Cartridges-toner (Printers, Copiers)
Alpha-Laser, LaserTone
Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent
Computers & Components
**Fee applies**
Best Buy, C&I Electronics, Office Depot, Staples
Glass Containers
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
Office Paper
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
Stainless Steel
Fligeltaub Co., Material Recycling, Trockman & Sons, Universal Salvage
Yard Waste
Allied Waste/Laubscher Meadows
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 18 2011

An old Evansville firehouse will soon become a new west side dentist's office.
    The former hose house number 5 on Saint Joe Avenue went on the auction block Thursday morning.
    Doctor Wes Brown purchased the building for $200,000.
    Brown and his wife have two other dental offices they plan to combine into the new office on the west side.
    The auction drew a lot of people, some to bid, others just to travel down memory lane.   
    The fire department left the building for a new facility in 1988.
    Since then, it has been used for several businesses... most recently an advertising agency.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, February 17 2011
Many Americans have resolved to cut costs in 2011. One of the best places to start is in your home. There are several low-cost ways to create significant savings on your utility bills throughout the lifetime of your home.
Check for leaks.
Cold air seeping in through your doors and windows and weak spots in your insulation can have a huge impact on your energy costs. Test for these issues by taking infrared images, conducting a blower door test, or simply locating cool air by touch. You can save 10 percent on your energy bill by plugging air leaks with caulking, sealing or weather stripping.
Upgrade your attic insulation.
This simple, inexpensive solution can reduce your home's heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. The recommended insulation level is 12-15 inches, depending on the insulation type.
Take a close look at your windows.
Windows can also account for 10-25 percent of your heating bill in the winter and can kick your air conditioner into overdrive in the summer by letting sunlight in. Consider installing energy-efficient windows to help block solar heat. If that’s not in your budget, simply modifying your window treatments with thicker or longer curtains can also help lower bills too.
Upgrade your appliances.
Swapping out all appliances isn’t realistic for most homeowners, but if you’re in the market for a new washer, dryer or fridge, consider an Energy Star product.
Check your filters.
Dirty filters slow down airflow, making your system work harder to keep your home warm or cool. Clean filters also prevent dust and dirt buildup – an issue that can lead to expensive repairs or system replacement. Filters should be replaced every three months.
Swap old light bulbs for new, energy-efficient ones.
Energy-efficient light bulbs require much less power to provide the same amount of light for a much longer time.
Make small adjustments
to your routine.
-Turn off lights and electronics when  
 they’re not in use.
-Do laundry and wash dishes in the
 evenings instead of midday, when
 usage is typically greatest.
-Wash clothes and dishes in hot water,
 but rinse them in warm rather than
 hot to save heating costs.
-Don't run the dishwasher until it's full
 or consider washing dishes by
 hand occasionally.
-Don’t use too many appliances at
 the same time.

Picking up on small changes can make a huge impact on electric and energy usage. For more on what you can do to save on home costs, follow Energy Star’s Maintenance Checklist.

When searching for a home service agreement, check to see if plumbing stoppages are included. Sometimes they are not covered at all and other times you may have to pay extra. With a HomeTrust home service agreement, plumbing stoppages are covered under the standard coverage.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 16 2011
                                                    HOME INSPECTIONS
This month I would like to discuss home inspections. These are an important part of virtually every real estate transaction. Unfortunately many buyers and sellers do not consider inspections before purchasing or selling a home.   I always recommend home inspections for buyers. This is an opportunity for the buyer to hire a 3rd party professional to evaluate both structural and mechanical systems in a home before the transaction closes. When significant, unknown problems are discovered this gives the buyer an opportunity to ask the seller to make an allowance or repair defects in the home prior to closing. The inspection is not intended to sour a transaction because of minor, inexpensive defects. Too often I see buyers asking for a laundry list of minor repairs especially when considering an older home. Keep in mind that inspectors will, and should, point out items for the buyer's benefit that are not necessarily major defects but simply minor repair or maintenance items.
 I try to remind sellers that most buyers will ask for an inspection. In many cases the inspection will uncover some legitimate defect(s). In these cases, it is often in the seller's best interest to make the repair because any known defects must legally be disclosed by both the seller and the Realtor. The next buyer will likely ask for the same repair. 
 As I hinted last month we have just relaunched as well as an upgraded for your web-enabled phone. The new sites are designed to make the customer experience as quick, easy and efficient as possible. TuckerMobile is the only local GPS enabled site and also allows the customer to search easily. Please try both I know you will be happy with the experience.
I will be back next month with more helpful information and we will be one month closer to warm weather. Feel free to call or email me at 812-499-9234 or if you have any questions regarding real estate or home inspections.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 11:12 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, February 15 2011

February is a great time to accomplish simple tasks that will add to the value and appearance of your home. We hope that you are enjoying the unique experience of being a homeowner! We have done a little research and have compiled a list of quick, easy projects that you might enjoy!

If you need additional tips or advice, please feel free to call us anytime at 812-499-9234 for Rolando and 812-499-0246 for Kathy. We would be happy to hear from you and would love to offer any guidance that we can!




Go green:

A few changes to the landscaping of your home can make a world of difference! You might want to consider planting some fruit trees in the backyard, adding a touch of color with some bright and unusual flowers or perhaps finally starting the vegetable garden you've always dreamed about.

 Add a touch of color:

Feeling creative? Why not give the family room, bedroom or bathroom a whole new look? By focusing on the improvement of one room at a time, you'll find that what can seem like an overwhelming job becomes fun and simple. Repainting a single room can be inexpensively completed over a single weekend.

 Bright and beautiful:

Replacing the light fixtures in your house with personally selected pieces can drastically increase your home's beauty and value. Choose a cohesive look for the entire house, or decorate room by room! The installation of new fixtures is generally a quick do-it-yourself task.

 Tile it up:

While it might seem like a daunting task, installing new tile in a kitchen or bathroom can be easily accomplished with a little know-how and the right supplies. Your local home improvement warehouse will have everything you need to revamp and personalize the flooring of your choice!


The beauty beneath:

 Always dreamed of having beautiful hardwood floors? Choose a room, pull up the carpet, and you'll be on your way to accomplishing just that! Repairing, refinishing and staining the floor is a simple step-by-step process that you can achieve without the heavy expense of installing new wood panels.


While it might seem like a daunting task, installing new tile in a kitchen or bathroom can be easily accomplished with a little know-how and the right supplies. Your local home improvement warehouse will have everything you need to revamp and personalize the flooring of your choice!Replacing the light fixtures in your house with personally selected pieces can drastically increase your home's beauty and value. Choose a cohesive look for the entire house, or decorate room by room! The installation of new fixtures is generally a quick do-it-yourself task. Feeling creative? Why not give the family room, bedroom or bathroom a whole new look? By focusing on the improvement of one room at a time, you'll find that what can seem like an overwhelming job becomes fun and simple. Repainting a single room can be inexpensively completed over a single weekend.

A few changes to the landscaping of your home can make a world of difference! You might want to consider planting some fruit trees in the backyard, adding a touch of color with some bright and unusual flowers or perhaps finally starting the vegetable garden you've always dreamed about.
Posted by: Roando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 12 2011

The family that owns Holiday World and Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus has donated $25,000 to the Lincoln Amphitheatre in Spencer County. The gift is in memory of Will Koch, who passed away last year. His mother Pat says the family is encouraging others to donate with the hope of having the contribution double to jump start the amphitheatre’s fund drive.


SANTA CLAUS, IND-----With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday just around the corner, Holiday World’s Koch family today issues a $25,000 challenge gift to Lincoln Amphitheatre in memory of Will Koch.

“My oldest son was such an admirer of our sixteenth president,” says Holiday World matriarch Pat Koch. “Part of Will’s legacy is his dedication to seeing the story of Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana roots shared in Lincoln Amphitheatre.”

Abraham Lincoln grew up what is now Lincoln City, Indiana, from the time he was seven until he was 21. Lincoln City is located four miles west of the town of Santa Claus.

The Koch family and Holiday World are encouraging others to donate to Lincoln Amphitheatre in memory of Will Koch, who passed away last June at the age of 48. Thousands of friends and admirers from around the world who sent their condolences remembered him for his vision, integrity, and sense of humor. Will Koch was president of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari for more than 20 years and also served as president of the Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association. His widow, Lori, now serves on the association’s board.

“We hope our gift will inspire others to make a donation as well,” says Pat Koch. “Our goal is to see today’s contribution double, helping to jump-start the amphitheatre’s upcoming fund drive so that they may continue telling the story of Lincoln’s Indiana years for many seasons to come.”

Lincoln Amphitheatre staff recently announced a planned “re-tooling” of the Lincoln: Upon the Altar of Freedom play, which is expected to return as a more family-friendly musical in 2012. Meanwhile, the amphitheatre will host a variety of outdoor films and theatrical presentations this summer, including a collaborative production of The Wizard of Oz with the Evansville Civic Theatre.

Donations may be made through Lincoln Amphitheatre’s website at by clicking on the “Donate and Support” button. Lincoln Amphitheatre is located in Lincoln State Park and is operated by the non-profit Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association.

Source: Holiday World and Splashin' Safari & Inside Indiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 11 2011
Home sales rebounded in 49 states during the fourth quarter with 78 markets – just over half of the available metropolitan areas – experiencing price gains from a year ago, while most of the rest saw price weakness, according to the latest survey by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, jumped 15.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.8 million in the fourth quarter from 4.16 million in the third quarter, but were 19.5 percent below a surge to an unsustainable cyclical peak of 5.97 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, which was driven by the initial deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit.

In the fourth quarter, the median existing single-family home price rose in 78 out of 152 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) from the fourth quarter of 2009, including 10 with double-digit increases; three were unchanged and 71 areas had price declines. In the fourth quarter of 2009 a total of 67 MSAs experienced annual price gains.

The national median existing single-family price was $170,600 in the fourth quarter, up 0.2 percent from $170,300 in the fourth quarter of 2009. The median is where half sold for more and half sold for less. Distressed homes, typically sold at discount of 10 to 15 percent, accounted for 34 percent of fourth quarter sales, little changed from 32 percent a year earlier.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, is encouraged by the trend. “Home sales clearly recovered in the latter part of 2010 and are helping to absorb the inventory, including many distressed properties. Even with foreclosures continuing to enter the inventory pipeline, they’ve been selling well and housing supplies have trended down,” he said. “A recovery to normalcy requires steady trimming of the inventories.”

Yun added, “An improving housing market and job growth will go hand in hand. The housing recovery will mean faster job growth.” He projects about 150,000 to 200,000 jobs will be added to the economy this year from an anticipated 300,000 additional home sales in 2011.

Yun further noted, “Better than expected sales and/or strengthening in home values can have an even bigger job impact as consumer spending would naturally rise from a housing wealth recovery affecting a vast number of American families.”

NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said a very favorable affordability environment is a huge factor in the recovery. “Although job growth has been relatively modest and credit is tight, you can’t underestimate the impact of historically high housing affordability conditions,” he said.

“Mortgage interest rates recently hit record lows, median family income has edged up and prices in most areas have been stable following the correction from the housing boom. For people with good credit and long term plans, it’s hard to imagine a better opportunity than what we see today,” Phipps said. “Unfortunately the flow of credit is unnecessarily tight and is constraining the pace of the housing and job growth recoveries.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was a record low 4.41 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 4.45 percent in the third quarter; it was 4.92 percent in the third quarter of 2009.

“The healthier local housing markets are also experiencing favorable local employment conditions,” Yun said. Job growth is a major factor in price appreciation in metro areas such as the Washington, D.C., region, where the median existing single-family home price of $331,100 in the fourth quarter is 8.1 percent higher than a year ago; the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area, at $346,300, up 4.2 percent; and Austin-Round Rock, Texas, at $190,300, up 4.1 percent.

Smaller metro areas sometimes see larger swings in price measurement depending on the types of properties that are sold in a given period. In such markets, full year price data can provide additional context.

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 57 metro areas – showed the national median existing-condo price was $164,200 in the fourth quarter, which is 6.4 percent below the fourth quarter of 2009. Twenty-two metros showed increases in the median condo price from a year ago and 35 areas had declines; only 11 metros saw annual price gains in fourth quarter of 2009.

“Consumers in the hard hit regions of Nevada, Arizona and Florida were able to scoop up condos at absolute bargain basement prices,” Yun said. Median condo/co-op prices in affected metro areas include Las Vegas-Paradise at $60,700, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale with a fourth quarter median of $68,900, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach at $81,900.

Regionally, the median existing single-family home price in the Northeast increased 2.3 percent to $240,400 in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. Existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 15.0 percent in the fourth quarter to a level of 797,000 but are 22.8 percent below the surge in the fourth quarter of 2009.

In the Midwest, the median existing single-family home price rose 0.5 percent to $139,200 in the fourth quarter from the same period in 2009. Existing-home sales in the Midwest jumped 18.3 percent in the fourth quarter to a pace of 1.02 million but are 25.4 percent below the cyclical peak one year ago.

In the South, the median existing single-family home price edged up 0.3 percent to $152,400 in the fourth quarter from the fourth quarter of 2009. Existing-home sales in the region rose 11.4 percent in the fourth quarter to an annual rate of 1.82 million but remain 17.8 percent below the surge in the fourth quarter of last year.

The median existing single-family home price in the West declined 2.9 percent to $214,400 in the fourth quarter from a year ago. Existing-home sales in the West jumped 19.9 percent in the fourth quarter to a level of 1.17 million but are 14.2 percent below the cyclical peak in the fourth quarter of 2009.

“A good portion of the sales activity in the West has been driven by investors taking advantage of discounted foreclosures, with high levels of all-cash transactions,” Yun explained.

Source: NAR
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:48 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, February 09 2011

Most home owners opt to add some upgrades to a new home, which can be rolled into the mortgage opposed to paying for them later on their own. But the choices of what flooring, lighting, or other upgrades to choose can be overwhelming.

Designer Candice Olson, author and host of HGTV's "Candice Tells All," says lighting and extra wiring are key upgrades new home buyers should consider.

"Adding lighting -- or at least the wiring for it -- means you'll be able to have bathroom sconces instead of that one overhead light the builder gives you,” Olson says. “Your flat-screen TV can be where you want it. You'll have a floor outlet for the lamp in middle of the open room. And you won't be ripping out walls later to do all this."

Also, she says home owners shouldn’t forget about the exterior lighting either. "Outside lighting, plus landscaping, will set apart your house from the others in the neighborhood where buyers chose from plans A, B and C," Olson says.

As for flooring, Olson recommends hardwood floors for the main living areas, and cork floors for the basement, since there’s potential for water leakage in basements.

She also says the addition of taller baseboards, chair rails, crown molding, coffered ceilings, built-ins or a banquette also are smart investments for upgrades.

Source: “Decisions, Decisions: Add Character to Your Home With a Few Choice Upgrades,” Chicago Tribune (Feb. 4, 2011)


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, February 08 2011
First-time home buyers once set out to buy a “starter home,” which refers to an entry-level property that is affordable and often needs some updating. But new buyers are forgoing the “room for improvement” home, and are getting more choosy in their home shopping.

Eighty-seven percent of first-time home buyers said they want to purchase a home that is move-in ready, according to a survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate, which surveyed 300 first-time home buyers in the last year. First-time home buyers made up half of the market in 2010, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

"There's a real 'aha' moment for sellers revealed by this survey that the condition and quality of their home matters a great deal to first-time home buyers," says Diann Patton, a consumer real estate specialist with Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. "On top of that, our agents have reported that on average, first-time home buyers now look at more than 11 homes before making decisions, which is higher than in the past. They can be choosy about what appeals to them and are recognizing the benefits of the low prices and wide selection of homes in many areas."

Location is a key deciding factor when looking for a home: 78 percent of new buyers said the home had to be in an area convenient to shops and services, according to the survey. What’s more, three-quarters of buyers said it was important to be near their workplace, and nearly two-thirds said it was important to be close to "highly rated" schools.

Many first-time home buyers said the current real estate market offered them more opportunity than they had expected. For example, half of new buyers said they found a home in a more desirable neighborhood than they expected; 61 percent were able to get the home at a better price; and 40 percent got more space than expected.

Source: “Coldwell Banker Real Estate Survey: First-time Buyers Demand New Kind of ‘Starter Home,’” Marketwire (Feb. 8, 2011)
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 12:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 04 2011

A winter storm like the one we’ve had this week can cause significant damage to your home, ranging from roof collapse to downed trees and flooding. To get what you’re owed from insurance, try these tips from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America:

  • Stay away from downed power lines, even if they do not appear to be “live.” Call the power company to report any outages.
  • Generally, damage to refrigerated food caused by a power failure that originates off the residence premises would not be a covered loss.
  • Damage to trees, shrubs, and other plants during an ice storm is not covered under the standard home owners policy. However, insurance may pay to remove the debris from a fallen tree if it caused damage to a structure covered by insurance.
  • If your tree damages a neighbor’s property, he or she should file a claim with his or her own insurer.
  • If the tree falls on your own house, damage to the house is covered. Many policies cover the cost to remove the tree from the house. However, if the tree or branch falls and does no damage to a covered structure, you’re probably not covered.

If your property does sustain damage, take the following action:

  • Report all damage to your insurance company or agent as soon as you can in order to settle your claim more quickly and accurately.
  • If it is safe to do so, take steps to protect your property from further damage and theft by making emergency repairs. Use plywood, tarps, and other materials to cover openings in roofs, walls, and windows.
  • Keep receipts for anything you buy so you can submit them to your insurance company later.
  • Inventory all damaged property, take pictures of the damage, and check with your insurance company before throwing away any damaged property. Identify the structural damage to your home and make a list of everything you would like to show the adjuster.
  • To settle your claim more quickly and accurately, prepare as much information as possible about your damaged possessions when your insurance adjuster comes to look at your property.
  • Talk with your agent about what your deductible will be for the storm damage. The deductible can be either a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the home value.
  • Many standard home owners policies provide for reimbursement of additional living expenses if your home is so damaged that you can’t live in it. This coverage typically is limited to 20% of the value of the home or 40% of the personal property limits of the condominium or rental property.

Source: PCIAA

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Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:38 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, February 03 2011
Interest rates on home loans may drop further thanks to recent speculation that the Federal Reserve Board will inject about $600 billion into the consumer credit industry, according to a report in the Washington Post. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said this move could create mortgage rates that "will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance."

However, other financial experts are careful to point out that this decline may not be as steep as some might expect, the report said. Amy Crews Cutts, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, said rates shouldn't be affected by the cash injection too greatly, noting, "Four and an eighth is far more likely than 4 percent."

The reason for this, Cutts told the newspaper, is that the Fed would be purchasing Treasury bonds rather than mortgage-backed securities. However, another dip in home loan rates would likely spur even greater levels of refinance, which already make up about 80 percent of the mortgage market.

Meanwhile, the low mortgage rates haven't helped to boost sales of existing homes. In fact, the most recent statistics from the National Association of Realtors showed that this type of purchase declined more than 25 percent in the third quarter.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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