Monday, August 30, 2010

Painting 101

Painting is a quick and fairly inexpensive fix that can give your home a new look. Here is a great article on DIY Painting!

For Your Clients: DIY Painting 101
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, August 28, 2010—Looking to spruce up your home, but don’t know where to start?

From molding to choice of color, there’s a lot to consider before dipping your brush in the paint. Does a room really look smaller with a darker color on the walls? Should your ceilings be white? Do you want to add an accent wall?

Here are some tips from Lowe’s on how to getting started:

Getting Started
• Size up your room. How you use color depends on where you use color. Each room has its own unique elements and function. First think about the structure of the room. Consider its shape and size. A lighter color can make a small room feel more spacious, while a darker color can help an immense room seem cozier.
• Take into account any architectural details, such as molding, trim, columns, and brackets. What's attractive and what's not? Varied intensities and hues can complement architecture, furnishings, and art. Remember, paint can accentuate a room's features or hide them.
• Your choice of color also depends largely on function. Will the main purpose of the room be eating, sleeping, working, entertaining, or something else entirely? A warm hue in the living room gives a more comfortable and inviting atmosphere for guests than a cooler color.

Selecting Interior Paint
• Before choosing your paint, think about where your room fits into the scheme of things. Where is it situated in relation to other rooms? Is it a high- or low-traffic area? Flat paint, for instance, is best suited for ceilings, walls, surface imperfections, and anywhere else that a muted low-reflecting surface is desired. Because it takes more effort to remove stains from this type of paint, a flat finish is best suited for the low-traffic areas of your home.
• Use low-luster, satin, and eggshell paint on areas where a sheen is desired. These paints are easier to clean than flat paint and hold up better under repeated washings. They withstand the wear and tear of high-traffic areas-hallways, woodwork, kitchens, baths, children's rooms, and playrooms-more easily than other finishes.
• Semigloss and high-gloss paint and enamel are best suited for banisters, railings, shelves, kitchen cabinets, furniture, doorjambs, windowsills, and any other surface you wish to accentuate. But be careful-the higher the gloss, the more it emphasizes any surface imperfections.

Choosing a Palette
• Having trouble deciding on your paint palette? Choose a design direction. If you've already chosen an interior d├ęcor or if you're working with a room that's already furnished, focus on a favorite fabric color, piece of art or furniture, or other object. If you still can't settle on a color you like, we offer free computerized paint matching and custom color mixing.
• Have color confidence-don't be afraid to paint bold and bright. If your room is unfurnished, a vibrant color can fill it until you can.
• Consider yourself above all. Paint color should reflect your mood and personality. What are your favorite colors? If you're having trouble selecting a color, try looking in your closet. The colors you enjoy wearing are the ones that make you feel good. You are the one who has to live with the color so live with the shades you love.

Making Your Purchase
• Water versus oil. When selecting an interior finish, try choosing a water-based enamel instead of an oil-based gloss paint. Water-based gloss enamels have less odor than conventional oil-based paints. They are much easier to clean up after, and they wear better over time.
• Don't purchase low-quality paint. High-quality paint performs better for a longer period of time. It's less prone to yellow as it ages, goes on smoother, and won't leave brush marks. It is also easier to wash and dirt resistant.
• Purchase test quarts to review your color and finish selections at home. Paint a piece of scrap material such as cardboard, or even a portion of your wall, to study the effects of various light conditions.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Real Estate Auction

I've already heard about Real Estate Auctions but had never been to one. That all changed on Tuesday!! One of my co-workers got asked to help write-up and read over contracts at a REDC Real Estate Auction that was going to be in Kansas City. They needed additional Realtors so I signed up. Not only was it a great experience, they paid us! :)

There were about 40+ homes that were being auctioned off mostly in the Kansas City area. REDC is a national company that travels from city to city auctioning off bank owned properties (mainly Fannie Mae). I'd like sometime to sit in the main room and see the properties and the actual auction process. I did get to take a quick peak at the begining while we were waiting for buyers to come into the back and sign contracts. Since there were about 10 of us and a little more than half of the properties sold, I only ended up writing up two contracts. REDC had this process completely streamlined and we did not even get the buyer until their financing (or bank statement since many of these were cash only) was approved. Once the buyers got to our tables, we filled out the contract and had them sign/inital where needed. There was no going over the contract - it was available online ahead of time - which definitely sped up the contract writing process a lot.

It was crazy how cheap some of these homes were being auctioned for! Many of the properties had been previously listed and the bank had refused higher offers! Of course all contracts we wrote as still subject to bank approval but the first buyer I helped may have saved an additional $10,000 from his highest dollar he would have offered the bank previously!

It was a great experience and I'm glad I got to be a part of it. I would definitely help out again (but bring things to do and have a fully charged cell phone since there was a lot of down time!) and hope to maybe help a client purchase cheap property to rehab!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Twitter

As many of you know, I LOVE social media! That includes facebook & twitter among others. I have a lot of my accounts "streamlined" so that I'm not retyping the same thing in a bunch of places. A few people see things double, but I have different friends/followers on facebook & twitter so it's worth it. Some days I'm not as good about catching up on my twitter feed as other days. I currently use tweetdeck to rtack my accounts (yes, I said accounts! I tweet for myself, 1154 Lill Kansas City and my office. I have heard good things about hootsuite but had issues last week setting it up so I'll have to try again. For now, I'm happy with tweetdeck.

Here is an article I got from Lowe's (again, one of my favorite emails of the day!!). It gives you another way to track your favorite tweets! There ARE companies out there that send deals via twitter!!

4 Twitter Tips that Will Keep You Texting
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, August 24, 2010—As a real estate professional, you’re on the go all the time. As such, things like SMS text messaging have probably become second nature to you. So why not use this same technology to keep up with Twitter too.

Here are four texting tips from Twitter on how to maximize its technology and your use of SMS:

Fast Follow. Anyone in the U.S. can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter. This is a simple way for people to get information they care about in real-time. For example, let’s say you want to get Tweets from New York City’s office of emergency management (@NotifyNYC). Just text ‘follow NotifyNYC’ to 40404 in the US.

Try it out the next time you see a Twitter @username at a restaurant or store, on a billboard or on TV, or if you hear one mentioned on the radio. If you want to appear in a user’s followers list or start to get followers, you’ll need to create a Twitter account. You can SMS by texting ‘signup’ to Twitter at 40404.

Fast Following without creating an account is currently available only in the U.S., but we're working with carriers to bring it to other countries.

Set SMS alerts: From your computer, wherever you see a user on Twitter.com, you can hover over their name or avatar, and click on the phone icon that appears in the hovercard. Whenever they tweet, you'll get it as an SMS message on your phone.

It's just as easy to set alerts from your phone. Send ‘on [username]’ or ‘off [username]’ to 40404 in the U.S.

Tell Twitter to be quiet. Turn text messages on or off by sending ‘on’ or ‘off’ to Twitter. You can also go to our settings page if you want to turn off text message updates during a certain time period.

Keep up with the latest Tweet. If you text 'Get [username]’, that user’s most recent Tweet will be sent to your phone, even if you don’t follow them. There are a bunch of other fun commands you can use with Twitter on your phone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tips for Selling Your Home

It's About the Basics: 7 Tips for Selling Your Home
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, August 23, 2010—Since the housing boom ended and the market began to shift, the phrase “going back to basics” has been tossed around quite frequently. From the way agents handle their business to the way they communicate with clients, the phrase has gotten quite the workout.

But what about consumers? They were caught up in the housing boom as well…with homes selling in a day, sometimes a few hours. Getting back to basics seems like something simple that sellers should look at as well. It might just mean the difference between selling within a month and selling within a year.

Here are some basic tips from State Farm on selling a home:

Set your price carefully
Too high and buyers may not consider it, too low and you're selling yourself short. Agents often give a free home market analysis if you ask. This gives you an idea of how your home compares financially with similar, recently sold homes in your area. The analysis may also include how much you might expect to earn after closing.

Don't do major remodeling
Don't break the bank preparing your home for sale. Pricey items such as a new roof may be big hits with buyers, but rarely does the buying price end up covering the payout for such costly home improvements. When possible, stick with the simpler (and less expensive) options rather than major remodeling.

Make a good first impression
Curb appeal is important. Keep your lawn and other landscaping neatly trimmed, weeded and watered. Check the exterior of your home for signs of wear and damage, such as peeling paint, foundation cracks or loose shingles, and fix what is needed. Clean the outside of the house, including windows. Many people suggest giving the front door a fresh coat of paint for that warm, welcome feeling. In addition, adding a few flowers in the spring and summer, or keeping the walks cleared of leaves and snow in the fall and winter can be inviting to potential buyers.

Clean!
The obvious seller's commandment: thou shalt clean. Remove all clutter from every room, including closets. Organize your basement and attic. Have a garage sale with all the stuff you don't want to move to your next home! Wipe down and paint walls and trim if necessary. Many people advocate repainting with a neutral color palette to appeal to a wider range of potential buyers. Clean all windows, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Bathrooms should always be squeaky clean. Inspect and make any necessary repairs to the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems. Highlight the bath and kitchen by selecting some attractive new towels, curtains or cabinetry knobs.

And keep it clean
Maintain the new and improved interior and exterior of your home until you successfully sell. It's hard, but it's necessary. A professional cleaning service may be able to help maintain the new clean look with occasional visits.

Light it up
When showing your house, provide plenty of light and make your home a warm, welcoming place. Open the curtains to let in the sunshine. In the event of an evening showing, make sure you have ample lighting available in all areas. Fresh cut flowers make a nice addition, and a pleasantly scented house is very inviting.

Go away
Many agents and potential buyers would prefer that the seller not be present during a showing, to avoid limiting the buyers' conversation or making them uncomfortable. Children and pets should also be absent or out of the buyers' way during a showing, if at all possible.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Real Estate Goes to the Dogs!

I admit, when I was looking for a house one of my "pre-requisits" was that it had a nice fenced yard for Maddie (I didn't have Abby yet).

Real Estate Goes To The Dogs
RISMEDIA, August 13, 2010--Sending Rover to the doghouse is no longer the punishment it once was because many of today's pooches of panache live lifestyles of the woof and famous.

According to a recent review of properties by Move, Inc. (NASDAQ:MOVE) , a leader in online real estate, man's best friend today receives more than just bones for treats as many homeowners are rewarding their dogs with custom-built doghouses, deluxe dog runs, custom "doggy-doors", pet-friendly landscaping, private patios with personal fire hydrants, and other features that add value to their master's property with many buyers.

"Pets have become important members of the family, and their needs are often high on the list of must-haves for many buyers, sometimes even higher than priorities of the two-legged members of the family," says Eileen Healy at Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors® in Colorado. "Calling out features or local pet-friendly amenities can make or break a buyer's interest in a particular property. If a buyer knows a home they love already has features the family dog or pet will also love, they'll be more inclined to give that home a second look and consider it more than others on their list."

While proximity to dog parks, doggy day-care centers, or pet fashion stores are often priorities for dog owners interested in city properties, suburban properties generally have ample space for seemingly unusual pet-friendly features. For the sophisticated canines, this Victorian dog house that matches this $10,995,000 home listed on Realtor.com in California is a must see. If country living is for you and your 'dawg' needs a warm place to chill after a long day of sheepherding on the prairie, consider a heated doghouse with a deluxe dog run listed on Realtor.com at $520,000 in Idaho. Or, for pooches in need of alone time or a quiet space, consider this secluded cottage on Realtor.com at $524,000 in Illinois.

While spaces customized to a dog's specific needs are not uncommon according to Shari Guess, a Realtor with Buy Wise Real Estate in Texas and active member of the Great Dane Rescue of North Texas, many dog lovers do go the extra mile when it comes to creating a pet-friendly environment at home.

"We have one particularly enormous Dane named Sampson, and we couldn't find a pet door big enough. So we made our own out of a semi-truck mud flap. It's a few years old now so we'll be duplicating our efforts and replacing it soon," said Guess. "We also put in a small outdoor patio so when it's muddy Sampson and our other dogs can go outside for whatever reason and come back into the house without us having to wipe 16 muddy paws! It has a short three-foot fence, pea-gravel with fire hydrant and can be accessed via the dog door from the dog room."

As the nation heads into the Dog Days of Summer, and in honor of National Dog Day on August 26th, Move celebrates man's best friend with information, tips and guides from pet experts and top Realtors specializing in pet-friendly homes. Whether it's building a pooch palace or installing a bone-shaped pool, Move offers advice on how to celebrate your canine and improve the value pet-loving buyers will give your property as they search for their next home. Interesting topics available now for pet lovers and home enthusiasts to explore on the Move Network include:

-- Properties for sale with fantastic pet-friendly features: As more people consider themselves "pet parents," Move showcases homes for sale perfect for adapting their lifestyles to their furry family members.

-- Dogs go green: Have you ever thought about your dog's carbon "paw print"? Find easy ways to go green with your dog, including using environmentally-friendly dog products like biodegradable toys.

-- Celebrity and presidential dog homes: Celebrities love to shower their dogs with love, affection... and doghouses. Heard about Paris Hilton's two-story kennel mansion built for Tinkerbell? Or what about Drew Barrymore naming her dog 'Flossie' in her property trust valued at $3 million?

-- Realtor tips on benefits of pet-friendly homes: Realtors share experiences in working with pet owners in the market for a home and explain that Fido plays a larger role in finding a home then one might think.

-- How-to build a doghouse: Want to build an abode for Fido on a budget? Here are steps required, tools needed, and instructions for building a doghouse for under $75.00.

-- Moving tips for your pet: Moving can be stressful for pets, so prepare a room for your pooch while you're packing everything up, ensuring hazardous materials are tucked away. Find a vet near your new home and a list of pet-friendly hotels in case you need to stay at one while getting settled into the new place.

-- Streets named after famous dogs: Wondering how some streets were named? The famous dog Nipper in the RCA Victrola ads lived in Bristol, England, and visitors there will find a small road named "Nipper Alley."

-- Landscaping tips to create a pet-haven in the yard: Is your garden going to the dogs? Man's best friend can be a gardener's worst headache until you learn how to peacefully coexist with your canine companions.

-- The Top 10 Dog Parks in the U.S.: If you love to play at the park with your dog, you'll love Dog Fancy's list of top 10 dog parks. The Jackass Acres K-9 Korral in New River, AZ topped the list this year; it is completely green, and recycles dog waste to create other usable materials.

-- Pet friendly hotels: Traveling with your dog has never been easier, as hotels across the country are increasingly offering pet-friendly rooms and activities. According to www.BringFido.com, some of the most popular cities for pet travel include Myrtle Beach, SC and Santa Barbara, CA.

-- Pet friendly apartments: Finding an apartment that allows dogs is not always easy. Check out the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in your area, you'll probably find a list of local pet-friendly landlords.

In addition to offering expert advice on pet-friendly properties, Move, Inc., has partnered with top breeders at Breeders USA in California to provide facts and statistics relative to top breeds by city, and the most popular breeds in America.

"We're pleased Move is helping homeowners identify ways to transform a home into a pet-friendly environment because it's a great way to maintain a pet's health and vitality," said Daniel Hect, Master Dog Trainer and owner of BreedersUSA.com in California. "By identifying the needs of your pet while you're searching for your next home, whether it's with an outdoor play area or "doggy-doors," the property is not only enhanced esthetically, but the upgrades can also become a viable marketing feature when selling or buying a home."

As part of the campaign, Move, Inc is pawing to get a glimpse into the most luxurious doggy dwellings by asking pet owners to submit their favorite photo of their pets' home on the Realtor.com Facebook Fan Page and be entered to win $250 gift certificate for Petco. Visit Move.com, Realtor.com/blogs or join facebook.com/realtor.com for additional details on the Dog Days of Summer campaign!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

10 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal

For Your Clients: 10 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal
By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, August 10, 2010--When selling your home, the goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price while investing as little as possible in renovations. With a limited budget and a little effort, you can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit. The experts at BuyOwner.com offer the following recommendations for preparing a house for sale and staging it for showings.

Tip #1: Refresh the exterior
First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:
-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
-Washing windows.

Tip #2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:
-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.

Tip #3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:
-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.

Tip #4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:
-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.

Tip #5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:
-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.

Tip #6: Make minor repairs
The small stuff does count, especially with first-time home buyers. Without dismissing the importance of repairing major items such as a leaky roof or plumbing, you do not need to spend money on replacing these items. Instead, focus on the minor repairs that will make your home visually appealing. The best ways to improve your home include:
-Repairing ceilings and wall cracks.
-Repairing faucets, banisters, handrails, cabinets, drawers, doors, floors and tile.
-Caulking and grouting tubs, showers, sinks and tile.
-Adding fresh paint to ceilings, walls, trim, doors and cabinets.
-Tightening door handles, drawer pulls, light switches and electrical plates.
-Lubricating door hinges and locks.

Tip #7: Showcase the kitchen
The heart of any home is the kitchen. If you are going to spend any money on renovations, this is the one area where you will see the greatest return. Even with a modest budget, focusing on a few key areas can make a great difference in getting the asking price for your property. The best ways to showcase the kitchen include:
-Replacing cabinet doors and hardware.
-Installing under-cabinet lighting.
-Replacing light fixtures.
-Replacing outdated shelving with pantry and cabinet organizers to maximize space.
-Baking cookies or cupcakes for a showing, to create a homey smell.

Tip #8: Stage furniture
Furniture placement can enhance the space of your home while giving buyers an idea of how to best utilize the space with their own belongings. Take some time to rethink how different areas in your house could be used. Some ideas to think about include:
-Moving couches and chairs away from walls in your sitting and family rooms to create cozy conversational groups.
-Creating a reading corner in the master bedroom.
-Clearing an empty room to set up a reading space.
-Turning an awkward space into a home office.
-Setting the dining room table with your best china.
-Set wine glasses in front of the fireplace or next to a Jacuzzi tub.

Tip #9: Light up the house
Create a sense of openness and cheerfulness in your home through its lighting. To improve the lighting try:
-Opening shades and drapes to let the sunshine warm and brighten rooms.
-Installing brighter light bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
-Adding additional lamps for ambient lighting.
-Turning on all the lights for a showing.

Tip #10: Add fresh touches
You can easily add color and style to your home by adding fresh touches throughout. Some ideas to consider include:
-Placing fresh floral arrangements in the entry and master bedroom.
-Placing bowls of bright-colored fruit in the family room and the kitchen.
-Filling an empty corner with a potted leafy plant.
-Setting new hand soap in the bathrooms.
-Displaying fresh towels near sinks.

Kansas City All-Star featured in People Magazine!



Check out this Kansas City All-Star who was featured in People Magazine!!! Dustin Miller is Royals stadium chef.

Monday, August 9, 2010

FHA Launches Short Refi Opportunity for Underwater Homeowners

Have I mentioned lately how much great information I get from the Lowe's Daily Real Estate News?? This could be GREAT for home owners!!!


FHA Launches Short Refi Opportunity for Underwater Homeowners

RISMEDIA, August 9, 2010--In an effort to help responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided details on the adjustment to its refinance program which was announced earlier this year that will enable lenders to provide additional refinancing options to homeowners who owe more than their home is worth. Starting September 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer certain ‘underwater’ non-FHA borrowers who are current on their existing mortgage and whose lenders agree to write off at least ten percent of the unpaid principal balance of the first mortgage, the opportunity to qualify for a new FHA-insured mortgage.

The FHA Short Refinance option is targeted to help people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth – or ‘underwater’ – because their local markets saw large declines in home values. Originally announced in March, these changes and other programs that have been put in place will help the Administration meet its goal of stabilizing housing markets by offering a second chance to up to 3 to 4 million struggling homeowners through the end of 2012.

“We’re throwing a life line out to those families who are current on their mortgage and are experiencing financial hardships because property values in their community have declined,” said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “This is another tool to help overcome the negative equity problem facing many responsible homeowners who are looking to refinance into a safer, more secure mortgage product.”

FHA published a mortgagee letter to provide guidance to lenders on how to implement this new enhancement. Participation in FHA’s refinance program is voluntary and requires the consent of all lien holders. To be eligible for a new loan, the homeowner must owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth and be current on their existing mortgage. The homeowner must qualify for the new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and have a credit score equal to or greater than 500. The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence. And the borrower’s existing first lien holder must agree to write off at least 10% of their unpaid principal balance, bringing that borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio to no greater than 115%.

In addition, the existing loan to be refinanced must not be an FHA-insured loan, and the refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio of no more than 97.75 percent. Interested homeowners should contact their lenders to determine if they are eligible and whether the lender agrees the write down a portion of the unpaid principal.

To facilitate the refinancing of new FHA-insured loans under this program, the U.S. Department of Treasury will provide incentives to existing second lien holders who agree to full or partial extinguishment of the liens. To be eligible, servicers must execute a Servicer Participation Agreement (SPA) with Fannie Mae, in its capacity as financial agent for the United States, on or before October 3, 2010.

2010 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure



Yesterday was the Kansas City Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure! What an amazing event!! Thousands of Kansas Citians (and I'm sure a few out-of-towners) come out for this great event to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness.

For the second year in a row, I helped out on the teams committee. It's not a big time comitment, but it does make me feel good to help in some way. My friend Miranda decided to join Carolyn, Paula, Alana (and her girls) and I this year. I'm so glad she joined. She recently lost a good friend to Breast Cancer. I am lucky to say that my grandma is a SURVIVOR along with a few other people I know.

I can't wait for next years event!

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's still a great time for first-time buyers!

Marketing Homes to First-Time Buyers - Show Them What's Important
By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, August 6, 2010--In spite of all the frenzy over selling to first-time buyers this past year, many are still hesitating. While some first-timers aren’t ready to own a home, others would be wise to invest now.

Many first-time buyers want to own a home and can afford to own a home, but they're worried that the market is going to continue to decline and the home won't be worth what they paid for it. However, short-term future value should not matter if the other circumstances are right.

Here are some points from Marte Cliff, a copywriter who specializes in writing for real estate and related industries, that you can use when talking with first-time buyers or when writing prospecting letters.

-First-time buyers aren't investors. They're buying to own a home for themselves to live in and enjoy. If the home falls in market value a little, so what? They aren't planning to sell.
-Money paid for rent buys a house for someone else to own.
-Rents do rise with supply and demand.
-Homes in most areas are now so inexpensive that first-time buyers may be able to make their payments and set aside a few dollars for maintenance for less than their current rent.
-Interest rates are still low, making inexpensive homes even more affordable.
-With interest rates so low, a few extra dollars per month on a 30-year mortgage could mean a first-time buyer could own the house free and clear within 15-20 years.
-Hesitation could cost big dollars. Just a 1% rise in interest rates will add several hundred dollars per year to even a moderately-priced home. And interest rates are expected to rise.
-This tide will turn, and homes will begin appreciating in value. That trend has already begun in some markets and will begin in others as the foreclosures and short sales are sold.
-Over time, first-time buyers will be earning more while their house payment will remain stable.

Once a first-time buyer has determined that they are ready to take on the responsibility of homeownership, their primary concerns should be:

-Their desire to remain in the home for several years.
-Their ability to make the payments and take care of maintenance without having to give up everything else they now enjoy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Keeping Your Home Cooler

6 Tips to Keeping Your Home Cooler
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, August 3, 2010--Wow, it's hot outside! The summer's in full swing with no signs of cooling. And while you may be tempted to crank up the A/C, remember - you won't be nearly as excited to see that electric bill next month.

To save some money -- and, don't forget, energy! -- here are six tips that might just help.

1.Avoid heat build-up in your home – The best way to keep your home cool is to keep the heat out. This can be done by closing the drapes on windows facing the sun (east-facing windows in the morning and west-facing windows in the afternoon). You should also try to avoid heat-generating activities, such as cooking, on hot days or during the hottest part of the day. If you are cooking, use your range fan to vent the hot air out of your house. By reducing the amount of heat in your home, you will have to use less energy to cool it.

2.Use ventilation and circulation to cool your home – Instead of automatically turning on the air conditioner on hot days, try cooling your home with window and ceiling fans. Circulating air can make your home feel cool and comfortable in a much more efficient way than air conditioning. There is also the option of a whole house fan (a large ventilating fan installed in you attic that expels hot air out of your home) which can circulate air throughout your entire home.

3.Keep air conditioning efficient and to a minimum – When you do have to use air conditioning, there are ways to make it more efficient. First of all, turn up the temperature setting on your air conditioner by a couple of degrees. Most people keep the temperature setting lower than it needs to be, hence using more energy than is needed to keep your home cool. It is recommended that you keep the temperature at about 25° C (77° F). Also, remember to turn off your air conditioner once your home has reached a comfortable temperature. By coupling minimum air conditioning with reducing the amount of heat entering your home, you can keep it cool without using excess energy. It isn’t recommended that you leave your air conditioner on when you leave your house, but if you’re going to do so, turn the temperature setting up a few more degrees while you’re gone to about 28° C (82° F). Also, remember to turn off your air conditioner if you’re going to be away from your home for more than a day. It is also important to make sure your cooling vents aren’t blocked so that the energy being used is going towards actually cooling your home and not being wasted. Furthermore, keep rooms that don't need cooling, such as closets, closed off when you're air conditioning.

4.Make sure your home isn’t losing cool air – By weather-stripping and caulking around windows, doors and electrical outlets on outer walls, you can prevent losing cool air from your home and prevent hot air from getting in. Improve your home’s insulation on outer walls, again to keep cool air in, and hot air out. You should also consider installing storm doors for the same reasons if your home doesn’t already have them. If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed. These provide an extra barrier against the escape of cool air. All of these options will make cooling your home more efficient and will save you money on your energy bill.

5.Select energy-efficient cooling systems – If you’re in the market for a new cooling system, there are many new technologies that are much more efficient than older versions. As with other appliances, you should look for the Energy Star logo and compare the amount of electricity each uses.

6.Use the coolest parts of your home – On hot days, parts of your house will naturally stay cooler than others. For example, if you have a basement it will remain cool even during the hottest part of the day (this is because the cool air in your home will sink down to your basement). One way you can reduce the amount of energy used to cool your home is to do more in cooler areas of your home. This way, you won't have to use energy to stay cool.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The new way to get around - a SEGWAY!!



When I originally started this blog I was "touring" Kansas City. If slacked quite a bit in the last year or so on those adventures...BUT I went on a fabulous adventure last Friday! I toured The Plaza on a SEGWAY!!!



It was my friend Terri's Birthday so I took her along with me! There were two other people on the tour along with our guide Sam. We had the "watered down" tour of the plaza. I wish I could remember all the cool facts he told us, but of course I forgot most of them. The most important - JC Nichols was a KU fan!! Oh, and Kansas City has a sister city in Italy that has many of the same fountains and buildings.



I won't lie, I was the last to get on my segway (therefore the one with the least amount of practice) and I was a bit crazy at first!! I couldn't figure out how to slow down or stop. I "may" have run into a light pole to stop. haha. BUT, I did quickly get the hang of it (it helps when your feet are centered!!!) and had a GREAT time. I can't wait to go back again!!



If you are interested, check out www.segwayexperience.com. They offer FOUR different tours in the Kansas City area. My office bought a bunch of groupons so let me know before you go in case we have some left! And I could be easily persuaded to go again!!!

Keep Close Tabs on Your Credit Score

For Your Clients: Keep Close Tabs on Your Credit Score
By Dan Serra

RISMEDIA, August 3, 2010--(MCT)--With banks tightening their grip on loans, getting one is requiring more work and vigilance on the borrower's part. Even people with excellent credit are jumping through hoops to verify everything and avoiding nicks that could give the appearance of being a risky borrower. There are a few strategies to employ that could improve the chances of not only getting a loan but getting a better rate.

One of the obvious ones, beyond paying bills on time, is to not be overextended on credit. Lenders look at how credit is managed, so someone with $10,000 credit limit but owes $9,000 won't appear as good a borrower as someone who owes only $1,000 of the $10,000 limit. Therefore, it is important to pay down credit before applying for a loan. This can help raise your credit score and get a better rate.

When you do pay down the debt, such as on a credit card, keep the account open to show lenders you have a long credit history and you are responsible by not maxing out every loan you get. Be wary, however, of some creditors who have started reducing credit limits as amounts are paid off. You may need to ask for the limit to be raised, or switch to a new credit card.

Next, verify your credit score every year, or right before you apply for a large loan such as a mortgage, to make sure there is nothing on the report that is inaccurate. While other credit report requests could harm your score, because it indicates you are looking for help often, requesting your own report does no damage to your record. There are three credit bureaus that maintain reports. Request them all through www.annualcreditreport.com. Reports are free once a year. Nearly eight in 10 reports have an error, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups. Be wary of firms that offer free credit reports only after you sign up for another service with a monthly fee.

If you do see a mistake, follow the instructions to dispute the charge. If the mistake was caused by a certain circumstance you feel was not common, also dispute it.

The importance of good credit in our changing economy cannot be overemphasized. Those neglecting their credit are positioning themselves to be shut out of the economy, and at risk of not having a lifeline when times are tough. In addition, those with poor credit also face higher expenses as interest rates, insurance premiums, and rental rates can be higher for those without excellent credit, not to mention employers may shun applicants that do not demonstrate responsible money management.

Make it a point to audit your credit at least once a year and make managing it a priority in your life. Doing so will eliminate chances of financial disasters.

(c) 2010, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.