Real Estate Blog
Tuesday, May 31 2011
The city of Evansville is hoping to save around $3 million through a project development agreement with Johnson Controls Inc. The company will lead an effort to make energy, water infrastructure and operational improvements as part of the deal with the city's water and sewer utility board.
The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility (EWSU) Board approved a project development agreement (PDA) yesterday with Johnson Controls, Inc. which is expected to create operational efficiencies and save the City of Evansville millions of dollars.
Under the terms of the PDA, Johnson Controls will lead an overall effort to pursue energy, water, network infrastructure, and operational improvements; and will work in concert with Energy Systems Group on these efforts.
“The goals of this project are to reduce costs while offering improved services to citizens and ratepayers, and to meet the City’s commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.
The PDA calls for upgrades to the water and wastewater plants and an assessment of automated meter reading (AMR) devices that send meter readings electronically to the EWSU. The AMR system could lead to the creation of a wireless communication network that may also provide benefits to the Police Department, Fire Department, Building Commission, Department of Metropolitan Development, and other City and County departments. Such projects are expected to produce more than $3 million in savings and new revenue streams. The EWSU will evaluate the results of the assessment in collaboration with the City/County Computer Services Department. The City then expects to enter into a performance-based contract to execute projects deemed most beneficial to the City of Evansville.
“Performance-based contracting offers a unique approach to funding capital improvement projects by using a portion of the energy savings expected to result from a capital improvement project to pay for the project itself – without rate increases,” added Weinzapfel.
This self-funded program, projected to be completed almost entirely with local workforce, has the potential to create jobs for the area, improve services to utility ratepayers, improve working environments for City employees, reduce CO2 emissions from EWSU facilities, and provide a wireless network for several City and County departments.
About Johnson Controls:
Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries. The company’s 142,000 employees create quality products, services and solutions to optimize energy and operational efficiencies of buildings; lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles; and interior systems for automobiles. Johnson Controls’ commitment to sustainability dates back to its roots in 1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat. Through its growth strategies and by increasing market share we are committed to delivering value to shareholders and making our customers successful. In 2011, Corporate Responsibility Magazine recognized Johnson Controls as the #1 company in its annual "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list. For additional information, please visit http://www.johnsoncontrols.com/.
About Energy Systems Group:
Energy Systems Group (ESG), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vectren Corporation (NYSE: VVC), is an award-winning energy services company that specializes in delivering sustainable energy solutions which allow building owners to maximize their energy efficiency and operational performance, while reducing their carbon footprint. Through its core business of performance contracting, ESG provides customers with innovative energy efficiency, technology, and long-term financing solutions for modernization of their facilities and energy infrastructure.
To learn more about ESG, visit www.energysystemsgroup.com.
Source: InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=47890
Monday, May 30 2011
The Signature School in Evansville is eighth on the 2011 best public high schools in the nation list compiled by The Washington Post. The charter school is ranked as the top high school in the Midwest.
Evansville’s Signature School has been ranked by “The Washington Post” as the number one high school in the Midwest, the number three charter school in the nation, and number eight high school in the country. The school will be featured in the May 22 edition of the Post.
Columnist Jay Mathews, who formerly published the Challenge Index in “Newsweek,” gathers data to measure how effectively a school prepares its students for college. By dividing the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests a school gave in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors, Mathews seeks to measure the level of challenge for all students in a given high school. According to Mathews, the rating can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college. Schools with especially high SAT or ACT scores, indicating an elite student body, are included in a separate Challenge Index.
“Overall, we’re just students who want to learn,” said junior Bailey Trela.
Signature achieved 100 percent Equity and Excellence score in the rating, indicating that 100 percent of all graduating seniors achieved a passing score in AP or IB testing. Signature is also ranked as the number one school in Indiana on Equity and Excellence for AP testing.
Under the Indiana Charter School Law, charter schools are public schools that are established to provide innovative and autonomous programs. The law “allows these public schools freedom and flexibility in exchange for exceptional levels of accountability.” Signature receives 35% less funding than traditional schools.
The President of the Signature School Board of Directors, Mr. Robert L. Koch II said, “I am proud of the staff and the students for achieving this outstanding recognition. I believe it reflects positively on the Evansville community as well as the state of Indiana.” Vicki Snyder, Executive Director of Signature School said the school’s accomplishments over the past several years would not be possible without the support of the parents. “They are an integral part of our program.” She goes on to say that “Signature has also been fortunate for the support given to the school by the Signature’s Board of Directors, the business community, and the Signature School Foundation.”
You can view The Washington Post ranking of Indiana schools by clicking here.
You can view the national rankings by clicking here.
Source: Signature School & InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=47836
Thursday, May 26 2011
With models priced from $29 to $5,000 and up, outdoor gas grills offer convenience and ease-of-use to fit any budget.
There may be no home cooking appliance with a wider price range than the outdoor gas grill. With models starting as low as $29 and climbing to $5,000 and higher, it is an understatement to say there’s is a model for every budget. When shopping for a gas grill, the motto “You get what you pay for” is especially fitting, explains Dan Marguerite, owner of Backyard Barbecue Store in Wilmette, Ill. Basement models, he says, offer poor performance, are cheaply constructed, and often fail to survive two summers.
Cost range: $29-$5,000 and up
Likely additional costs: Assembly, natural gas hookup or propane tank, cover
Average life span: 2-16 years
Grills in the sub-$50 range are often of the tabletop propane variety. These units are constructed of thin painted sheet metal and cheaply fabricated components, all but guaranteeing a short lifespan. Brief 90-day warranties don’t offer much of a safety net.
When it comes to power, these grills are positively entry level, says Marguerite. The single, 12,000 BTU burner is satisfactory for grilling hamburgers and hot dogs but will be far less successful at charring a thick porterhouse. Still, when it comes to portability, these grills have no equal. If you are looking for a highly mobile tailgating grill, look to this sector of the market.
The biggest differences between a $50 gas grill and a $150 grill will be size and fuel source. Boasting cooking areas over twice that of their less expensive counterparts, these grills are the most economical options for families.
Models in this price range run on liquid propane stored in large refillable tanks (as opposed to the small disposable cylinders). Construction quality is moderate, featuring lightweight steel or aluminum bodies. However, the boost in price over the cheapest gas grill models yields an extra burner (albeit a low-powered one). Most are furnished with thin, steel-rod cooking grates that may warp from exposure to high temperatures, such as those from flare-ups.
Marguerite says buyers in this price range can expect to get “middle of the road” power, with burners putting out around 20,000 BTUs. Shoppers should expect a three- or four-burner grill, a roomy cooking surface, and perhaps even a storage cabinet and side burner—a separate burner used for boiling water or other independent cooking chores.
With widths of 20 to 24 inches and boasting around 400 square inches of grill surface, these units can simultaneously cook about two dozen burgers. Homeowners in cool climes who grill year round likely will lament the thin-body construction, says Marguerite. “These grills do a poor job of retaining heat in cold weather,” he says. At this price range, expect less-expensive porcelain-coated steel cooking grates that tend to chip, rust and need replacing at a cost of $30 to $60.
Constructed of heavy cast-aluminum or thick-gauge steel, and utilizing high-quality stainless steel burners, these units are built to last. Parts that do fail will be covered by five- to 10-year warranties.
Averaging between 400 and 500 square inches of cook surface, these units are not substantially larger than those in the $150-$350 category. But they are constructed of heavy cast aluminum or thick-gauge steel and utilize multiple high-quality stainless steel burners. Heavy-duty castors and solid-built carts make it easy to move these grills from spot to spot.
Grills in this category can handle enough food for 15 to 18 people. Buyers are urged to select a burner configuration that appeals to them as some models arrange them front-to-back versus side-to-side, which can complicate indirect cooking.
Units starting around $600 feature burners that reach 40,000 BTUs, power that will make short work of even the largest barbecue payloads. Precision controls and even heat distribution give home cooks the ability to simultaneously sear, cook, and keep food warm. To step up to a 36-inch grill that approaches 900 square inches of cook space, a shopper should expect to spend at least $1,000.
Constructed of high-quality stainless steel throughout, these grills will weather years of use. These first-class rigs often include heavy cast-iron grates, side burners, under-grill storage, and even a rotisserie spit and motor. Buyers also get the peace of mind that comes with improved customer service and best-in-class warranties that range from 10 years on burners to 25 years on the body.
$1,500 to $5,000 range
When you spend upwards of $2,000 on a grill, you’ll get a host of features and quality construction. These appliances boast six or more top-of-the-line burners. Almost standard issue these days is an infrared sear burner that can reach temps topping 700 degrees.
Most include a rear-mounted rotisserie burner with motor, interior and exterior lighting, and even a spring-assisted lid for effortless opening. With the best grills also come the best warranties, typically covering most components for 10 to 25 years.
Propane vs. natural gas
Homeowners should decide before buying a grill whether they intend to fuel it with propane or natural gas, says Marguerite. While many grills can be converted for around $50, it is best to buy one factory engineered for one fuel type or the other.
Owners of built-in units typically choose natural gas as there are no tanks that need filling and the cost to operate is roughly half that of propane. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s most recent figures, propane costs $20.47 per million BTUs compared to natural gas’s $12.18. Assuming a homeowner grilled once a week, he or she can expect to pay about $40 per year for propane and $24 for natural gas. Marguerite says that his company charges $150 plus $7 per foot to connect a grill to a natural gas line.
A good-fitting cover will extend the life of any outdoor appliance. Expect to pay between $30 and $50. Owners of propane powered grills should consider purchasing a $20 back-up tank so that a fully charged spare is always on hand. A $20 gas gauge will take the guesswork out of estimating a tank’s contents.
Douglas Trattner has covered household appliances and home improvement for HGTV.com, DIYNetworks, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. As an avid home cook and pit master-in-training, he struggled over the age-old debate of gas versus charcoal grill—so he bought one of each.
By: Douglas Trattner
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/outdoor-appliance-guide-gas-grills/#ixzz1NBsblh00
Wednesday, May 25 2011
The Evansville Redevelopment Commission has approved a $3 million walkway connecting a downtown casino and hotel. The walkway would let people visit Casino Aztar and Le Merigot Hotel without having to go outside.
According to our partners at the Evansville Courier-Press, the lease between the city and casino required that a walkway be built by 2012, but casino leaders have decided to start the project early. The casino’s general manager says the project would also create a safer walk to nearby restaurants.
Source: Evansville Courier-Press & InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report
Tuesday, May 24 2011
With the housing market having taken a serious hit in the recent past, I am sure you all know that home values have been plummeting. Well, one thing that did not plummet along with that is the property taxes most people are paying on those homes. The taxes some of us have been paying on our homes have been inaccurate (or unfair) to say the least. Several months after the housing market was in a full-fledged decline, I started seeing a good bit of coverage on this topic. And at the top of the list was what could the average homeowner do about it? About the only remedy is to dispute the property tax assessment on your home.
I saw all kinds of websites and links to people offering their help and services, often for a pretty hefty fee. My first question was…is this even worth doing? If it costs me $500 to effectively dispute the property tax assessment of my home and I end up with $500 in savings, isn’t that a waste of time?
A Do It Yourself Appeal?
So, after quite a bit of research, I found out exactly what I had to do to complete this process. Getting this information almost seemed more time consuming and difficult than the actual process. You didn’t think they’d actually make it easy, did you? This process is probably going to differ slightly from state to state but I’ll give you the quick rundown.
From The Beginning
The first thing that I found out was that it was too late to dispute the value on my home for this current tax year, which didn’t surprise me in the least. So, my next project was to find out what I had to do to dispute next year’s assessment. The first obstacle I had to dig through was everyone telling me that “it’s too early,” or “call back later,” and things like that. Again, they’re not going to make it easy.
The first thing you should do is contact your local Tax Assessor’s Office to find out the exact procedure for your locality. After that, I found out the following:
Sometime early next year, I will be getting a notice in the mail from the state with their tax assessment of my property for the year 2011. The person that I spoke to at the Tax Assessor’s Office told me that by law the state had to send the letter out, but if I wanted to really ensure that I get the letter, I could file a property tax return form up until April 1, 2010. This all sounded a little cryptic to me. If they’re required to send it out by law, then why would I need to file something to ensure that they send it out? I’ve decided to roll the dice on that one for now. We’ll wait and see how the beginning of the year goes.
After you receive your letter, if you decide that you disagree with the state’s assessed value for your home, you can file an appeal. And basically, the first step in this appeal is to write a letter to the Tax Assessor’s Office. This letter must be sent within 45 days of the receipt of your letter from the state.
And basically, you simply tell them why you disagree with their assessment. But along with why you disagree, you do need to provide some sort of concrete evidence. The person that I spoke with wasn’t too forthcoming on what this proof might be, but after a little prodding, she explained that it should involve two key things to “prove” my case.
First, you will need a current appraisal of your home. And obviously, these cost money. An average amount for an appraisal of my home would be about $400. The second piece of advice she offered was to include recent home sales in your area of homes that are “comparable” to yours in size. If your home is assessed at $200K, for example, but you can show that six other homes in your neighborhood of comparable size recently sold for $170,000, then you should have a pretty good case. Where do you get these “comparables”? Believe it or not, I found a real estate agent that ran them for me for free. I’d imagine you could do the same as well if you look around hard enough.
After this, the Assessor’s Office will get back to you. They either stand by their original assessment, or they make an adjustment. Rather than ending my research there, I continued on with my questioning (the rep at the Assessor’s Office was fairly irritated with me by now). If you still disagree with the result, you can appeal it again. You simply write them back and tell them you still don’t agree. It is at this point that they will do “further” research into your case. After this, you will be sent another letter.
Still Don’t Agree?
And if you still don’t agree, you can pack up all of your proof and schedule a personal appearance in front of your county Board of Commissioners. There you can state your case in person and a final, non-disputable judgment will be rendered.
Is It Worth It?
At the very least, this IS worth it. I couldn’t uncover many statistics on the subject, but one set of statistics that I found showed that 26% of the time people were successful in their appeals, receiving an average reduction of 13% in their home values and an average savings of 19% on their property tax bills. The biggest thing you need to weigh is the cost of getting an appraisal done on your home versus what you might potentially save. Consult and even utilize a professional if you wish, but just remember that it’s all a risk. If you spend $1,000 and end up with nothing in savings, then obviously it wasn’t such a good idea. But if you genuinely feel like you have a case that could lead to substantial savings, I say go for it.
By David Bakke http://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-appeal-the-property-tax-assessment-on-your-home/
Friday, May 20 2011
This is good news for the TriState area. Toyota has been hurt by supplies from the earthquake in Japan and has already implemented work changes to adjust to a slower production cycle. We can see that things are picking up at Toyota again. - RT
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Inc. plans to add 40 workers at its Princeton plant when full production resumes in June. The facility is currently running at 30 percent capacity due to a shortage of parts following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March. The automaker says all models built in Princeton will return to 100 percent production June 6.
PRINCETON, IND. – Because of an improved parts pipeline, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana announced on May 11 that full production would resume at the plant beginning on June 6. In May, the plant was running at approximately 30 percent capacity to conserve the parts supply.
With production returning to 100 percent, TMMI also announced the addition of 40 new Aerotek members to the production team. Aerotek provides variable staffing services to the Indiana plant.
Individuals interested applying for positions with Aerotek should visit its website at aerotekin.com.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana began production in Princeton, Ind., in 1998. Today, TMMI employs about 4,100 team members from the Tri-State. Inside the 4-million-square-foot automotive manufacturing facility, team members produce the Sequoia full-size sport utility vehicle, Sienna minivan and Highlander midsize sport utility vehicle. Toyota’s total investment in TMMI is $3.7 billion.
TMMI has paid more than $48 million in local property taxes since 1997 and donated more than $13 million since 1996 to local community organizations that support youth and education, health and human services, civic and community and arts and culture.
Source: Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana & InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report
Thursday, May 19 2011
Residential closed transactions in April declined slightly from March but pended transactions increased from March to April. I expect closed transactions to increase slightly over the next few months and still believe that the second half of 2011 will be significantly better than the second half of 2010.
The primary factors influencing sales over the next few months will be interest rates, shadow inventory and general economic conditions with particular emphasis on employment. Although I still believe interest rates will increase, I do not expect any significant increase for several months, maybe not until 2012. Shadow inventory, which consists of foreclosed, or seriously delinquent mortgage loans continue to decline. The National Association of Realtors has forecasted a 1.8% decline in median home prices nationwide for 2011, however locally our prices are up over 2% for the first four months of this year compared to last year. This is another sign that our prices had already stabilized last year.
The national economy continues to grow at a relatively slow rate (only a 1.8% pace during the first quarter of this year), the bad news. But, our local employment data suggests we are doing better than the nation as a whole, the good news. While national unemployment is still at 9.0% locally our rate is 7.5%. What is more encouraging is the actual number of workers who are gainfully employed. The nine county regions in southwest Indiana had 167,034 employed people as of March compared to 160,420 last March. This year’s figures are after the loss of 1,100 Whirlpool workers last summer. These employment numbers coupled with the stabilization of home prices, give me cause to be optimistic about our local housing market.
Please try TuckerMobile.com on your smart phone next time you want to learn about the house you just drove by. Just click “Find Properties Near Me” for properties details and photos on any listing in our MLS. Although I want to be your ultimate resource TuckerMobile.com can help you get immediate answers and save you some time.
Kathy and I are very excited about our new site at www.EvansvilleRealEstate.info. We hope you will enjoy the articles and perhaps even take time to reply to us if there are any questions you have about real estate or Evansville. You can reach me at 812-499-9234 or at Rolando@TheTrentiniTeam.com
Rolando & Kathy Trentini
Thursday, May 19 2011
BRING ON THE MAY FLOWERS
Did you know that, on average, quality landscaping adds 5 to 11 percent value to your home? Even if you’re not looking to sell landscaping is an improvement that appreciates over time. Here are some ideas to get a head start:
If you’re selling in a year or less
If you’re looking to buy a new home and sell your current one, you’re likely on a budget and short on time. Consider these simple enhancements:
· Edge the beds and nourish the grass – a clean, well-kept lawn gives a great first impression.
· Add some color –
There are a lot of inexpensive flower varieties that can make your home stand out to potential buyers.
· Pay attention to your selection– Buyers will appreciate plant, tree and flower varieties that are low-maintenance and require less water.
If you’re improving for the long-term:
· Make your backyard your space – A fence is a great investment for added privacy and one that will pay off if you decide to sell.
· Trim down, add drama –
Cut down overgrown, out-of-control bushes and add some exotic varieties to give your yard a unique look.
· Change your view –
Stemming away from traditional plant patterns can help accentuate your home’s best features. If you’re not sure, many nurseries offer free design help.
Herb gardens add fragrance and provide great options for fresh summer recipes. Here’s a great one to try:
Easy Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Herbs
· 2 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork chops
· Salt and pepper to taste
· Extra virgin olive oil
· 1 tablespoon chopped mixed
· herbs (such as parsley, thyme and chives)
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Lightly brush both sides of the chops with oil, then set aside on a plate at room temperature
for 20 minutes.
Grill chops over direct medium heat, turning once, for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter and set aside to let rest for 5 minutes. Garnishwith herbs and serve.
Wednesday, May 18 2011
PRINCETON, IN - Hundreds of nonprofit organizations, including 13 from the Tri-State are competing for votes on Facebook, which could help them win a new vehicle from Toyota.
Five hundred finalists have been selected for the company's social media campaign titled "100 Cars For Good".
Each day for 100 days, five of the organizations will compete for votes on the social networking site. The one with the most votes at the end of each day will receive a new vehicle, with the other four receiving one thousand dollars.
The 13 Tri-State organizations taking part in the contest, along with their specific voting dates are listed below.
- Gibson County Council on Aging, Princeton: May 11
- Southern Indiana Resource Solutions, Boonville: May 16
- Warrick Humane Society, Newburgh: May 18
- House of Bread and Peace, Evansville: May 27
- Evansville Rescue Mission, Evansville: June 20
- PC Pound Puppies, Mt. Vernon: June 23
- St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store, Evansville: July 3
- SWIRCA & More, Evansville: July 14
- Hugh Edward Sandefur Training Center, Inc., Henderson: July 16
- AIDS Resource Group, Evansville: July 18
- St. Mary's Medical Center, Evansville: July 26
- Tri-State Food Bank, Evansville : Aug. 6
- Tri-County Area Senior Center, Evansville: Aug 11
To take part in voting, click here.
Monday, May 16 2011
Today, I was reading an article in USA Today about homeowners that lost a court case contesting the policy language of their homeowner’s policy about storm surge/flood waters regarding the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. The judge upheld the ruling that the policy language is clear about not covering damages caused by storm surge or flood waters whether it is caused by actual flooding or wind. Obviously, none of these people had flood insurance, because they believed they would never need it. It’s a tragic story, because now we’ll definitely be seeing the true fallout of the Katrina damages when foreclosures and bankrupties sky-rocket in New Orleans. I am a property claims adjuster, so this article was very interesting to me, and it got me thinking about what types of insurance all adults should have no matter what phase of their lives they are in. Here are my top four types of insurance that every human being should buy in order to maintain financial stability.
- Auto Insurance: This one is obvious because it is illegal to drive in the U.S. without some form of auto insurance. My suggestions on auto insurance if you are looking to save some money is to do your homework and go to an independent agent whom can shop different companies to find you the best rate. Save money on the premium by opting for a higher deductible or cutting out collision coverage if your car is more than 7 years old. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT go cheap on the liability portion of auto coverage. If you cause an accident and someone becomes paralyzed for your negligence, an attorney will take you to the cleaners without proper liability insurance.
- Health Insurance: There are plenty of people between the ages of 18 – 30 whom do not have health insurance. I was one of them. In college I did not have any health insurance, I had major accident insurance, but not a standard health policy. Luckily, the worst ailments I ever had in college was influenza. Look, I know it is expensive, but you gotta have it. One semi-major accident or illness and you will be paying medical bills for the next 10 years. I know that there are plenty of universities that offer a plan that is catered toward students and the premium is reasonable. If your employer offers a health plan in their benefits package, PLEASE sign up for it. Usually they fit the bill for most of the monthly premium.
- Property Insurance: This coverage applies to renters and homeowners. If you own a home or a condo/townhouse, then you NEED to have a homeowner’s policy. The standard homeowner’s policy is the most bang for your buck in terms of what it covers as an insurance policy. I know that many people think that homeowner’s insurance is lousy (especially if you live in Florida), but it offers quite a bit of coverage. First, it covers your home for everyting unless specifically excluded like flood (see above), it covers your personal property ANYWHERE in the world, and it gives you liability coverage if someone sues you for being liable for something that happened to them. It’s your biggest asset, you NEED to protect it. If you rent, you NEED to have a renter’s policy. It covers your stuff for things like theft, water damage, fire, and lightning. It also has some liability coverage built into it as well. A renter’s policy is literally $10 – 15 per month. Cut out two pizzas per month and you can afford it.
- Long-term Disability Insurance: This is the one that most people do not think about, and therefore, seldom purchase. This especially goes for younger people, because we like to think we’re invincible. Well, the fact is that accidents happen all the time, and you need to protect yourself if something tragic happens, and you are unable to work any longer. Long-term disability insurance kicks in when you injure yourself and are unable to go back to work for an extended period of time or never. it supplements the income you would have earned. This insurance is rated largely on your occupation, so if you have a desk job, your premium would be really cheap. But if you are in the construction business, your premium would be pretty expensive.
Some of you may say, “Hey Erik, you left out life insurance”. Well, I left out life insurance for the reason that not all people need life insurance in all phases of their lives. A young couple with no childrem whom both work and make comparable salaries or a retired couple with a large nest egg do not necessarily need life insurance policies. Life insurance policies should act to insure that your dependents are taken care of if you die tomorrow. If your wife makes more money than you or you do not have kids/your kids are grown-ups, then paying for life insurance is a waste. The four listed above are all insurances that are indispensible and everyone, no matter what phase of life you are in, should be mindful of owning these four types of insurances.
By: Erik Folgate http://www.moneycrashers.com/four-types-of-insurance-you-must-have-at-all-times
Friday, May 13 2011
Spring is here, and it's time to truly make your landscape shine! After all, one of the joys in owning your own home is attending to and personalizing your own yard! Since the focal point of most landscaping is the lawn (also one of the trickiest things to maintain), we are including a special list of tips and tricks to help you whip your lawn into perfect shape. Giving special attention to the lawn now will help to keep it healthy throughout the summer; we hope you find this list to be as helpful as we have!
Please remember that if you have any need for household advice or tips or would like to discuss any real estate questions Rolando is always available at 499-9234 or Kathy at 499-0246 or visit our Web site at: www.TheTrentiniTeam.com
FIVE WAYS TO ACHIEVE A GORGEOUS LAWN
· Water = Green: Water is one ingredient that your lawn cannot live without, so make sure that you've got a great routine in place for keeping the lawn damp. If you have a good sprinkler system installed, you're already a step ahead of the game! If not, make sure that you're reaching all areas of the lawn if watering by hand or by moveable sprinkler. Water in the evening or very early morning for best results, but don't overdo it!
· Know how to mow: Make sure your lawn mower has sharp blades; mowing with dull blades can tear the grass, altering its healthy appearance. Also, the more often you mow, the healthier your grass will be! Mow the lawn at least once per week for optimal results.
· Fertilize and vitalize: Invest in a good fertilizer and use it regularly for the thickest, greenest grass. Ever wonder why the fairways and greens on a golf course manage to look beautiful throughout the year? Fertilizer is the key to the greens keeper's success. For the greenest grass possible, purchase a fertilizer with iron content.
· Weed it out: Weeds are an obvious eyesore when it comes to the care of your lawn, and you've probably noticed how quickly they can grow. With a good fertilizer program in place, you'll get a step ahead of weeds in no time. For the pesky, hardier plants, manage the growth with a little weed spray (or dig them out by hand for best results).
· Don't get bugged: Lawn pests are not just annoying: they are bad for the grass. If you're properly watering, fertilizing and mowing your lawn, but still have an insect or pest problem, try aerating the lawn; this should help to eliminate the little buggers!
We are pleased to let you know that we have started a new blog site TheTrentiniBlog. We will continue to bring you articles pertaining to Evansville and real estate. We hope you will bookmark this page and we hope you enjoy reading our articles. We are certainly open to discussions how we can improve our site. Please send us a short note, this would make our day.
Thank you, Rolando & Kathy Trentini
Thursday, May 12 2011
For the most part, the real estate markets around the country have flattened out, and homeowners are breathing a tentative sigh of relief. So, where do homeowners go from here? It will be a while before we start to see home values appreciate on their own, because demand will need to drastically increase before that happens. So, if you want to increase the value of your home, you’ll need to do it the old-fashioned way. Here are seven ways to improve your home’s value:
1. Remodel the Kitchen. Take into account the value of your home. If you have a $750,000 house, you should probably put $50,000 into a kitchen remodel. If you have a $250,000 house, you can get away with $5,000 to $10,000 in remodeling. Instead of replacing cabinets, try refinishing or re-facing them. New tile flooring, upgraded countertops, and a new sink are great things to update that don’t cost a ton of money.
2. Remodel the Bathrooms. This doesn’t need to be a lot. A new vanity, new flooring, a fresh coat of paint, and new fixtures can be done for less than $5,000.
3. Put up a Privacy Fence. You’ll get 100% return on your money by putting up a privacy fence, and when you go to sell the house, your house will appeal to people with children and pets.
4. Replace the Windows. This is a great upgrade that many savvy buyers will look for when they are shopping for a house. New windows helps improve energy efficiency to the home.
5. Finish Your Basement. We don’t have basements in Florida, because 10 feet below us is water. But many of you do have basements that are not being used or collecting junk. You can drastically improve your finished living space by putting up drywall, paint, and some carpet or laminate flooring.
6. Replace the Roof. You drastically improve the re-sale value of your home if you roof is new. Not only can you sell it for more money, but your house will stand out above other houses when trying to sell it. If a buyer is torn between your house and another house, a new roof can seal the deal, because many buyers don’t want to deal with buying a new roof when they first move in.
7. Add a Deck. EVERYONE loves wood decks. They never go out of style and they are great for entertaining. Decks are always a great selling feature. My advice would be to have your deck professionally installed, unless you are great with carpentry. No one wants an uneven deck.
There are many improvements you can make to your home, but only few of them will actually increase the value to your home. Also, make sure that you factor in where you live. You don’t want to put $100,000 into a house in a neighborhood full of $150,000 houses. Find the most expensive and the cheapeast homes in your neighborhood, then make improvements to put your value somewhere in between the median home prices and the most expensive prices.
By: Heather Levin
Wednesday, May 11 2011
With new-home sales down drastically the last few years, builders are scrambling to re-evaluate what buyers today want in new homes. Changing demographics and tighter lending standards are influencing buyers’ purchasing decisions when home-shopping and changing their priorities, industry experts say.
“There is a lot of pressure today to retool,” says Steve Brooks, CEO of Grand Homes. “We have to redesign houses and figure out what kind of product people would want to buy.”
For example, more younger buyers are bypassing the typical suburban tract of homes and showing a stronger preference for urban-style homes closer to the city.
“Trying to keep doing the same cookie-cutter houses is going to be increasingly difficult,” says James Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “Home builders worry that the demand pool for the suburban home with the quarter-acre lot and the fenced back yard will be shrinking.”
Younger buyers also are saying they don’t need a ton of extra space in a home and that they want spaces configured differently in homes, builders say.
For example, the living room is on it’s way “out,” builders say, as more home owners instead show a preference toward a game room or media room. Plus, more home owners are finding they don’t need a fourth bedroom, which was once in high demand.
However, not all builders believe the “buying small” trend will last.
“With our typical single-family buyers, we’re not seeing them willing to give up much room,” says Bill Darling, a builder in Plano, Texas. “We have seen them willing to put fewer bells and whistles in the homes.”
Some builders are focusing on ways to cut maintenance costs of home ownership too by setting out to build more homes that are more energy efficient.
Source: “Stumped Builders Adjust Their Designs,” RISMedia (May 9, 2011) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2011050902?OpenDocument
Tuesday, May 10 2011
Home owners who live in New York and New Jersey should expect to pay some of the highest property taxes in the country, according to a new survey released by Tax Foundation, a research group based in Washington, D.C. Tax Foundation recently released findings of its analysis of the median home property taxes imposed between 2007 and 2009 in counties with populations of 20,000 or more.
Coming in at No. 1 for highest property taxes? Nassau County, N.Y., where the median amount paid on a Nassau house was $8,478.
Nassau County officials and its residents aren’t happy about claiming the No. 1 spot. Anita MacDougall, an Oyster Bay taxpayer activist, blames the county’s high tax rates as a major factor for sluggish home sales.
"There are people who cannot afford to stay in their houses, and they can't sell because nobody wants to take on that tax burden," MacDougall says.
Top 10 Counties With Highest Property Taxes
The following is a list of the highest median property taxes (along with its median home values) in the top 10 counties nationwide, according to the Tax Foundation’s rankings.
1. Nassau County, N.Y.: $8,478; $494,000
2. Westchester County, N.Y.: $8,474; $562,700
3. Hunterdon County, N.J.: $8,413; $453,100
4. Bergen County, N.J.: $8,269; $486,200
5. Rockland County, N.Y.: $8,084; $482,300
6. Essex County, N.J.: $7,801; $400,900
7. Somerset County, N.J.: $7,684; $440,000
8. Morris County, N.J.: $7,507; $479,500
9. Passaic County, N.J.: $7,345; $384,500
10. Union County, N.J.: $7,308; $399,300
Source: “Group Ranks Nassau No. 1 in Property Taxes,” Newsday (April 26, 2011)
Monday, May 09 2011
To rent or to buy: what used to be a given – that you would buy a home as soon as you could afford to – has become an agonizing conundrum for many a would-be homebuyer, in the face of the housing market’s big bust and super-slow recovery. Low prices seem to create a wide-open window of opportunity, but they also create the concern that prices will keep falling after closing. And that Catch-22 has hundreds of thousands of buyers-to-be stuck on the fence.
Fortunately, there are handful of life, mortgage and local market signals which indicate that the time *might* be right to hop – scratch that – leap off the fence and into homeownership:
Mortgage rates are going up. Home prices have been low for the last several years, and in fact are currently looking like they’re heading back down to the same levels they were at the depths of the real estate recession. During this same time frame, interest rates have also been low – this one-two punch has created record-high affordability for the last four years running, causing buyers to believe that this window of opportunity won’t be closing anytime soon.
While prices don’t look like they’ll be skyrocketing anytime soon, interest rates are another story. Rates have been on a rollercoaster over the past few months, and with inflation and Fed rates set to spike later this year, today’s low interest rates might be as good as they’re going to get for a long time to come. And I mean a very long time – in the next few years, governmental intervention in the mortgage markets is likely to wind down, and that means higher mortgage interest rates are not only inevitable, they’ll probably be here for a long, long time.
Mortgage rates on the rise are one signal that now might be the peak of home affordability, and the peak of the opportunity to buy.
Rents are going up. Rental rates in many areas are also on the rise – in fact, the foreclosure crisis has acted created additional demand on many markets’ rental housing inventory in several different ways. First, former homeowners who lost homes to foreclosure now need to rent; as well, buyers in foreclosure hot spots have been hesitant to buy, many electing to stay renters far beyond when they would have otherwise. On top of all that, super-tight lending guidelines have stopped even some who would like to buy homes from doing so. As a result, rental homes are in high demand – and rents are rising.
Rising rents at a time when the prices of homes for sale are low and, in some places, falling? One more signal that now might just be the time to buy. (Of course, where foreclosures are high, the chances of continued depreciation are, too – to offset this risk, have a long-term plan, to minimize the possibility that you’ll owe more than your home is worth when you need to sell. Read on for more on how to plan for the long term and minimize your homebuying risk.)
Your income and career are stable for the foreseeable future. The smartest homebuyers look to their lives, not just the market, for signals about when the time is right to buy. Homebuying is a long, long-term endeavor these days. The goal is to be able to commit to staying in the same place, geographically-speaking, for 7 to 10 years before you buy (more in a foreclosure-riddled market, less in an area that has been more recession-resistant). Most lenders will require that you’ve been at your job – or in the same general field of work – for at least two years before you buy. But that’s the bare minimum – beyond that, you don’t want to be barely beginning a career in which you think you may need to move sooner than that, nor do you want to buy when you’re advanced in your career, but in an industry which is dying or downsizing the workforce in your region (unless you have a strong Plan B).
When you get to the spot in your career where you can realistically project a stable income 7 to 10 years out, life might be giving you a green light to move forward on your homebuying dreams.
You can reasonably predict the home you’ll need in the years to come. Since successful homeownership requires that you be ready to be in the place for a good number of years, best practice is not just to buy a home with the space and number of rooms you need right now – rather, you should aim to buy the home you’ll need 5, 7 or even 10 years down the road (to the best of your ability to predict, of course). You might be a newlywed with no kids now, but you plan to have them in a few years. Or maybe you’re a newly minted empty nester right now, but can project that you’ll want to retire - and might not want to climb two flights of stairs to get to and from your bedroom - 10 years down the road. Before you buy, you should be in a position to buy the home that meets your future needs – not just your current ones; and that requires that you have a reasonable idea of your life vision and plan for the future.
If you’re able to predict – and afford, at today’s prices – a home with the space, amenity and geographic location you’ll need 7 to 10 years from now, you might be in a good phase of life to get off the rent vs. buy fence.
With that said. . . buying a home is a massive decision and includes multiple, long-term financial and lifestyle obligations, so if one or more of these signals are present for you, that doesn’t mean you have the green light to run out and buy a home tomorrow – rather, it’s a good sign you should begin down that path, if you’re so inclined. You’ll still need to do the work to make sure your personal finances and holistic life picture are also in alignment before you buy, as well of the work it takes to ensure that your real estate and mortgage decisions are sustainable and smart, over the long-term.
It’s not overkill to check in with a mortgage pro, a tax pro, a local real estate broker or agent and a financial planner to make sure all your ducks – not just one - are in a row before you make your move.
Friday, May 06 2011
After three straight months of declines, sales of new homes got a boost last month, jumping 11 percent, according to the Commerce Department’s latest new-home sales report released Monday.
New-home sales rose in March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 300,000 homes, up from February’s 250,000. However, the number is still far from what economists view as a healthy 700,000-a-year pace for the sector.
The median price of a new home increased 3 percent from February to $213,800. New-home prices are about 34 percent higher than the median price of existing homes, according to economists.
Regionally, new-home sales saw the biggest boost in the Northeast, jumping nearly 67 percent in March. The West saw an increase in new-home sales last month by nearly 26 percent; the Midwest posted a 13 percent increase; and in the South, new-home sales dipped 0.6 percent.
The new-home market continues to be battered by a high number of foreclosures that continue to dampen home prices across the country. With 1.2 million foreclosures forecast this year, the new-home sales market may not see a major turnaround for years, according to RealtyTrac Inc.
However, while residential construction has decreased considerably in recent years, reports have recently shown building permits have increased 28 percent for apartment and condo buildings.
Source: “The number of people who bought new homes jumped 11 pct., but pace is far below healthy level,” Associated Press (April 25, 2011)
Thursday, May 05 2011
Even though EVSC Superintendent Dr. Vince Bertram is stepping down, one of his biggest initiatives is on its way up.
The brand new North Junior High and High School is just months away from completion.
Fox 7's took an exclusive tour around the school on Friday.
Next year, it won't just be new classes for these North High school students.
It'll be a brand new school altogether.
Project Manager George Link was our personal tour guide around the 85 million dollar facility.
We walked with him for an hour...and couldn't cover everything.
That's because this school is designed to handle 3,000 thousand students.
"Whether you're doing a small school for 500 students or a large one for 3,000, they have the same features. It's just different in the scale of it."
The scale of this one is grand.
And all the window's aren't just for show...they're built to save energy.
"You can see the daylighting in here on a cloudy day with no lights on so imagine what it's gonna be like on a sunny day."
Each classroom is equipped with some pretty green features: each light has a daylight sensor, dimmer, and occupancy sensor that automatically adjusts the temperature of the room.
Changes outside the classroom too, from the high school's open, food-court-style cafeteria to its thousand seat-auditorium.
All coming together in less than two years.
"That's a pretty incredible accomplishment. When you look at this in a traditional scale, this would probably be a three year building project."
Link says construction on North Junior High should wrap in august in time for the new school year.
If everything stays on schedule, the high school should be finished in December, allowing students to get settled after winter break.
Wednesday, May 04 2011
If your house is on the market then you might be at the point of tearing your hair out. After all, some sellers have had their home up for sale for years at this point. It can be maddening, and the competition is only getting more intense as prices continue to fall and more foreclosure homes flood the market.
So what, exactly, are buyers looking for this spring? In short, they're looking for homes that are going to save them money. And when you think about it, it just makes sense. Mortgage loans are harder to come by, and thanks to an uncertain economy, people are less likely to splurge on a McMansion they're going to have to pay to heat and cool for the next five years (i.e. save money on utility bills).
[See the best personal finance stories from around the Web at the U.S. News My Money blog.]
Even if you're planning on staying in your home the next few years, it's still helpful to know what people are looking for because you're likely going to make changes and home improvements over the years. Knowing what potential buyers are interested in can help you invest your money wisely, so you have a better chance of selling when you're actually ready. So what are people looking for?
1. Homes in Good Condition
Buyers aren't interested in fixer-uppers right now. They don't have a lot of cash, and they don't want to spend money on home repairs immediately after they move in. They're looking for homes that are in great condition and that are absolutely move-in ready. They don't want to have to repaint, clean carpets, or cover up cracks in the ceiling. And they especially don't want to spend money on major repairs. To increase your chances of an offer this spring and summer, make sure you do everything you can to get your home in tip-top shape. Utilize a house spring cleaning checklist and make your home spotless before showing it off.
2. Homes with Green Features
Saving money and living green are trends that aren't likely to disappear anytime soon. Buyers are now looking for features which are going to cut down on a home's operating costs, as well as lessen its impact on the environment. Tankless water heaters, high-efficiency furnaces, energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, adequate insulation, and solar panels are just a few that are making it on to buyers' wish lists.
Basically, any "green" upgrade that's going to save money on utility bills will be highly appealing to people looking for a new home. You probably don't want to splurge on solar panels, a geothermal furnace, or other expensive green energy technologies, but there are some small changes you can make that will help potential buyers save money in your home. For instance, you could install a rain barrel or two against the house, add insulation, upgrade any old appliances to Energy Star rated models, and plant some trees to help with shading during the summer months.
[In Pictures: 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget.]
3. Outdoor Living Spaces
In an uncertain economy, people travel less. This means that our homes are truly becoming our castles, no matter how small they are! Outdoor living spaces have always been popular, but they're especially appealing now since so many people are taking staycations, and choosing to relax at home instead of going out at night and on weekends. If your backyard leaves a lot to be desired, then do whatever you can to turn it into an oasis. Build a deck, plant flowers, add a fountain, and turn it into an escape for potential buyers.
If your home is currently on the market, it's important to do everything you can to remove any concerns buyers might have about your house. Sellers sure don't want to continue spending money on their homes, but small changes such as planting flowers, repainting, and cleaning can go a long way towards getting you an offer. Remember, you don't want to give people any reason not to buy your home!
Have you had any success selling your house in this market? What are some of the best methods that worked for you?
Heather Levin is a regular contributor to the Money Crashers personal finance resource site and is also the creator of The Greenest Dollar, a blog focused on green and frugal living.
Tuesday, May 03 2011
We hope the article below will be of interest. In today’s economic climate all savings can add up so that we can stretch our dollars further. I have started to combine trips so that I can save somewhat with the current high gas prices. We hope you will enjoy reading this article. -RT
You can help save the planet while also saving cash, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
The average U.S. household spends about $3,425 to power a car and $2,175 on home energy costs--in other words, about $5,600 on energy costs per year. That number is likely even greater with rising fuel and utility costs.
In honor of Earth Day, the Alliance to Save Energy is offering up some pointers on how to trim those yearly expenses with some easy ways to go “green.” Here are a few of its tips.
In your car:
- Use cruise control. Cruise control on the highway can help you maintain a constant speed, which can help save gas.
- Use the overdrive gear. By using the overdrive gear, your car’s engine speed goes down, which not only saves gas but also reduces engine wear and tear.
- Slow down. Driving anything above 60 miles per hour is decreases your gas mileage rapidly. The Alliance equates it to every 5 mph over 60 mph that you drive is basically like paying 24 cents per gallon for gas.
In your home:
- Swap out the light bulbs. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy efficient options such as compact fluorescent lights, which can shave up to $50 off your electricity costs over the lifetime of each bulb, even factoring in the higher purchase price of the bulb.
- Plant a tree. Properly positioned trees outside your home actually have been found to reduce a home’s energy use, even up to 50 percent during the summer months and 15 percent in the winter.
- Get a tax break. Uncle Sam is offering 2011 tax breaks of up to $500 for energy efficiency home improvements, such as with Energy Star windows, insulation, or energy efficient heating and cooling equipment. Learn more.
Source: “Already-Soaring Gas Prices Make Energy Efficiency an Apt Way to Honor Earth Day While Saving Money, Says Alliance,” Alliance to Save Energy (April 19, 2011)
Monday, May 02 2011
The Vanderburgh County Solid Waste Management District will hold its 2011 Electronics Recycling Days on Saturday, May 14, and Saturday, September 24, from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon at the Civic Center parking lot.
Vanderburgh County residents can bring a variety of electronic materials including but not limited to computers and computer related equipment, TVs, DVD players, DVR/TiVo devices, digital cameras and fax machines.
Copy machines and appliances, including microwaves, will not be accepted.
This program is for households only. Items from businesses will not be accepted.
For more information, call the Vanderburgh County Solid Waste District at 436-7800.
# OF ITEMS # OF
YEAR VEHICLES COLLECTED POUNDS
2002 143 1,351 n/a
2003 278 1,384 n/a
2004 249 1,962 20,890
2005 458 3,587 n/a
spring 2006 353 3,502 n/a
fall 2006 437 5,056 n/a
spring 2007 591 6,705 n/a
fall 2007 682 6,291 66,788
spring 2008 714 7,090 82,084
fall 2008 924 10,619 100,579
spring 2009 935 n/a 107,022
fall 2009 974 n/a 111,227
spring 2010 850 n/a 97,725
fall 2010 400 n/a 48,456
Monday, May 02 2011
Unfortunately the cases of meth labs are on the increase, and Evansville has its fair share of them. Meth labs are a nuisance to the community and law enforcement does all they can to stay on top of this situation. The article below shows how a community can work together to lessen the possibilities of individuals to start new meth labs. We commend law enforcement and landlords working together to overcome this problem. -RT
Fire fighters and police deal with the aftermath of meth lab explosions.
But who's left to clean up the mess afterward?
In many cases-- it's the landlord who's stuck with the bill.
The Property Owners And Manager's Association of Evansville started up last year, and already it has nearly 70 members representing more than 3,000 rental units.
Police say 9 out of 10 meth lab busts happen at rental properties.
"They need to be aware of what's going on at their rental property and that will protect them and the neighborhood the rest of our community and us," said drug task force Sgt. Scott Hurt.
Police say they filed more than 400 meth related charges in 2010-- an all time record that they are on pace to shatter in 2011.
View video here: http://tristatehomepage.com/fulltext?nxd_id=264647