Each month, we publish a series of articles of interest to homeowners -- money-saving tips, household safety checklists, home improvement advice, real estate insider secrets, etc. Whether you currently are in the market for a new home, or not, we hope that this information is of value to you. Please feel free to pass these articles on to your family and friends.

ISSUE #1189
FEATURE REPORT

Fixing Up Your Home: Protect Your Housing Investment
Your home is an investment in living as well as in savings. If neglected, it will pay no dividends. If properly maintained and improved, it will pay a high yield in comfort and usefulness for your family and in avoidance of costly repair bills. Home improvements also tend to raise neighborhood standards and, as a result, property values. From an economic standpoint, home improvements mean higher employment, increased markets for materials and home products--and therefore a more flourishing community.




Also This Month...
Homebuyers: How To Save Thousands of Dollars When You Buy
When you analyze successful homebuyers who have been able to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge. Although your agents negotiating skills are important, there are three additional key factors that must come into play long before you ever submit an offer.


 
 

Get An Extra Hour Out Of Every Day
How can you get an extra hour from each day? This is a basic challenge for all of us in today's stressful society. With each of us having to deal with some sort of pressure in our lives, whether it be work or lifestyle, it becomes important to learn tactics to successfully manage your time. We've come up with many practical ways to secure one more precious hour from each day. Each of these tips is probably adaptable to your particular situation. Here are some useful, concise, and simple ways to help you to get the most out of the limited time you have.



Quick Links
Fixing Up Your Home: Protect Your Housing Investment
Homebuyers: How To Save Thousands of Dollars When You Buy
Get An Extra Hour Out Of Every Day
 

 

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Fixing Up Your Home: Protect Your Housing Investment

Your home is an investment in living as well as in savings. If neglected, it will pay no dividends. If properly maintained and improved, it will pay a high yield in comfort and usefulness for your family and in avoidance of costly repair bills. Home improvements also tend to raise neighborhood standards and, as a result, property values. From an economic standpoint, home improvements mean higher employment, increased markets for materials and home products--and therefore a more flourishing community. 

If You Do It Yourself 

If you are handy with tools and have the experience, you can save money by doing many jobs yourself. But unless you are skilled in wiring, plumbing, installing heat systems, and cutting through walls, you should rely on professionals for such work. 

When you buy the required materials, it pays not to skimp. Good materials are not necessarily the most expensive. What you need are products that look good, are easy to maintain, and last a long time. Buy only from reliable dealers. 

If You Use a Contractor 

If you plan to use the services of a dealer or contractor, take care to choose one with a reputation for honesty and good workmanship. There are several ways to check on a contractor: 

  • Consult your local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, or Local Consumer Protection Agency.
  • Talk with people for whom he has done work. 
  • Ask your lender about him, if you plan to finance the project with a loan. 
  • Check his place of business to see that he is not a fly-by-night operator. 
  • Find out, if you can, how he rates with known building-product distributors and wholesale suppliers. 
  • Ask friends and relatives for names of firms that they could recommend. 
Compare Contractor Offers 

Before deciding on a contractor, you may want to get bids from two or three different firms. Make sure that each bid is based on the same specifications and the same grade of materials. If these bids vary widely, find out why. 

Many contractors offer package plans that cover the whole transaction. Under such a plan the contractor provides all materials used, takes care of all work involved, and arranges for your loan. 

Your contractor can make the loan application for you, but you are the one who must repay the loan, so you should see that the work is done correctly. 

Understand What You Sign 

The contract that both you and the contractor sign should state clearly the type and extent of improvements to be made and the materials to be used. Before you sign, get the contractor to spell out for you in exact terms: 

  • How much the entire job will cost you. 
  • How much interest you will pay on the loan. 
  • How much you will pay in service charges. 
  • How many payments you must make to pay off the loan, and how much each of these payments will be. 

After the entire job is finished in the manner set forth in your contract, you sign a completion certificate. By signing this paper you certify that you approve the work and materials and you authorize the lender to pay the contractor the money you borrowed. 

Beware of Fraud 

Most dealers and contractors conscientiously try to give their customers service equivalent to the full value of their money. Unfortunately, home improvement rackets do exist. Here are a few common sense rules to follow: 

  • Read and understand every word of any contract or other paper before you sign it. 
  • Never sign a contract with anyone who makes fantastic promises. Reputable dealers are not running give-away businesses. 
  • Avoid wild bargains. The best bargain is a good job. 
  • Never consolidate existing loans through a home improvement contractor. 
  • Do not let salespeople high-pressure you into signing up to buy their materials or services. 
  • Be wary of salespeople who try to scare you into signing for repairs that they say are urgent. Seek the advice of an expert as to how urgent such repairs are. High-pressure and scare tactics are often the mark of a phony deal. 
  • Avoid salespeople who offer you trial purchases or some form of bonus, such as cash, for allowing them to use your house as a model for any purpose. Such offers are well-known gimmicks of swindlers. 
  • Never sign a completion certificate until all the work called for in the contract has been completed to your satisfaction. Be careful not to sign a completion certificate along with a sales order. 
  • Proceed cautiously when the lender or contractor demands a lien on your property.

 

 

 

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Homebuyers: How To Save Thousands of Dollars When You Buy


"When you analyze those successful homebuyers who have the experience to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge."


If you’re like most homebuyers, you have two primary considerations in mind when you start looking for a home. First, you want to find a home that perfectly meets your needs and desires, and secondly, you want to purchase this home for the lowest possible price.

When you analyze those successful homebuyers who have been able to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge. Although your agents negotiating skills are important, there are three additional key factors that must come into play long before you ever submit an offer.

These Steps Will Help You Save Thousands When You Buy a Home

Make sure you know what you want . . . As simple as this sounds, many home buyers don't have a firm idea in their heads before they go out searching for a home. In fact, when you go shopping for a place to live, there are actually two homes competing for your attention: the one that meets your needs, and the one that fulfills your desires. Obviously, your goal is to find one home that does both. But in the real world, this situation doesn't always occur.

When you're looking at homes, you'll find that you fall in love with one or another home for entirely different reasons. Is it better to buy the 4 bedroom home with room for your family to grow, or the one with the big eat in kitchen that romances you with thoughts of big weekend family brunches? What's more important: a big backyard, or proximity to your child's school? Far too often people buy a home for the wrong reasons, and then regret their decision when the home doesn't meet their needs.

Don't shop with stars in your eyes: satisfy your needs first. If you're lucky, you'll find a home that does this and also fulfills your desires. The important thing is to understand the difference before you get caught up in the excitement of looking.

Find out if your agent offers a “Buyer Profile System” or "Househunting Service", which takes the guesswork out of finding just the right home that matches your needs. This type of program will cross-match your criteria with ALL available homes on the market and supply you with printed information on an ongoing basis. A program like this helps homeowners take off their rose colored glasses and, affordably, move into the home of their dreams.

To help you develop your homebuying strategy, use this form:

What do I absolutely NEED in my next home:

  1. ______________________________

  2. ______________________________

  3. ______________________________

  4. ______________________________

  5. ______________________________

What would I absolutely LOVE in my next home:

  1. _______________________________

  2. _______________________________

  3. _______________________________

  4. _______________________________

  5. _______________________________

How Sellers Set Their Asking Price

For you to understand how much to offer for a home you’re interested in, it’s important for you to know how sellers price their homes. Here are 4 common strategies you’ll start to recognize when you begin to view homes:

1. Clearly Overpriced:

Every seller wants to realize the most amount of money they can for their home, and real estate agents know this. If more than one agent is competing for your listing, an easy way to win the battle is to over inflate the value of your home. This is done far too often, with many homes that are priced 10- 20% over their true market value.

This is not in your best interest, because in most cases the market won't be fooled. As a result, your home could languish on the market for months, leaving you with a couple of important drawbacks:

  • your home is likely to be labelled as a "troubled" house by other agents, leading to a lower than fair market price when an offer is finally made

  • you have been greatly inconvenienced with having to constantly have your home in "showing" condition . . . for nothing. These homes often expire off the market, forcing you to go through the listing process all over again.

2. Somewhat Overpriced:

About 3/4 of the homes on the market are 5-10% overpriced. These homes will also sit on the market longer than they should. There is usually one of two factors at play here: either you believe in your heart that your home is really worth this much despite what the market has indicated (after all, there's a lot of emotion caught up in this issue), OR you've left some room for negotiating. Either way, this strategy will cost you both in terms of time on the market and ultimate price received

3. Priced Correctly at Market Value

Some sellers understand that real estate is part of the capitalistic system of supply and demand and will carefully and realistically price their homes based on a thorough analysis of other homes on the market. These competitively priced homes usually sell within a reasonable time frame and very close to the asking price.

4. Priced Below the Fair Market Value

Some sellers are motivated by a quick sale. These homes attract multiple offers and sell fast - usually in a few days - at, or above, the asking price. Be cautious that the agent suggesting this method is doing so with your best interest in mind.

 

 

 

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Get An Extra Hour Out Of Every Day

How can you get an extra hour from each day? This is a basic challenge for all of us. We've come up with many practical ways to secure one more precious hour from each day. (Remember that each of these tips is probably adaptable to your particular situation.) Here they are...

1. Make up and follow a detailed, daily schedule.

2. Get up earlier.

3. Do less passive reading, TV watching and the like.

4. Avoid allowing others to waste your time.

5. If you commute to work, use the time to study or plan.

6. Organize your work; do it systematically.

7. Make creative use of lunchtime.

8. Delegate authority if possible.

9. Spend less time on unimportant phone calls.

10. Think first; then do the job.

11. Do instead of dream.

12. Work hardest when you're mentally most alert.

13. Eliminate activities which make little contribution to the best results for your life.

14. Always do the toughest jobs first.

15. Before each major act, ask: Is this REALLY necessary?

16. Choose interesting and constructive literature for spare-moment reading.

17. Learn how to sleep. Sleep soundly, then work refreshed.

18. Skip desserts.

19. Stop smoking.

20. Write notes or letters while waiting for others.

21. Always carry an envelope with paper in it, stamps and a few postcards.

22. Combine tasks which are done in the same area.

23. Be prompt for all appointments.

24. Lay out your clothes the night before.

25. Relax. Ready yourself for the important jobs in life.

26. Concentrate on the specific task you're doing.

27. Make constructive use of those five or ten-minute waiting periods. Carry with you magazine article clippings on helpful subjects.

28. Always carry a pencil and paper to capture important-to-you ideas.

29. Learn to do other "unnecessary things" while watching TV or listening to the radio.

30. Call on specialists to accomplish work you cannot do efficiently.

31. Learn to read more rapidly.

32. Nap an hour after dinner. Then take a shower. Begin the evening hours relaxed and refreshed.

33. Avoid making a "production" out of small tasks.

34. Avoid interruptions.

35. Tackle only one job at a time.

36. Search out job shortcuts.

37. Know your limitations.

38. Work to your top capacity.

 

 

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