Category Archives: How to Buy Foreclosed Home

How to buy foreclosed home has articles on government foreclosures, bank foreclosures, pre foreclosures, court house step foreclosures, and more. You will learn how to invest in foreclosures using various real estate investment methods. There is in depth information on where to find foreclosure listings. You will learn how one type of foreclosure differs from another, and which one is best for your situation.  Where to find money to invest is also covered, as is how to find a good lender, and how to find a good real estate agent. Short sales are explained in detail. How to sell your foreclosure after you buy it is spelled out for you. There is also techniques on how to buy privately owned homes too.  The best foreclosure websites are revealed to you. How to find deals where no down payment is needed, and where closing costs can be paid for you.  Every aspect of the foreclosure process is spelled out for you.

Real Estate Title Companies

Real estate title companies perform many important functions.Real Estate Title Companies

 

So what do real estate title companies actually do?  Real estate title companies research a title that is attached to a property to make certain that it is legitimate.

Once they determine that the property is legitimate, they provide title insurance for said property to lenders and/or buyers involved in the real estate transaction.

Title insurance protects the owner and/or the lender against lawsuits, and any claims against the property that may happen based on disputes against the property.

Real estate title companies also provide escrow services for funds involved in a real estate transaction.

These escrow service ensure that the monies held are used only for the express purposes involved with closing costs, and settlement of the real estate transaction.

Real estate title companies also provide a settlement agent to perform the actual closing of the home. Their duties include bringing the required paperwork to the closing, explaining the paperwork to the parties involved, and making sure that all documentation is signed and dated.

They also disperse the monies that are a result of the settlement of the property.  The title company also files the deeds, new titles, and other related paperwork to the proper offices, and departments.

The Title Search
The title search is to ensure clear title.

The purpose of the title search is to ensure that the title to the property is indeed valid.  By ensuring that the title is valid, the homeowner can be assured that they are the rightful owners to the property.

To make certain that the person or company claiming to be the rightful owner of the property actually is, a complete examination of said property records is undertaken.

This assures that they are the legal owner, and no other person or entity can claim partial or complete ownership of the property.

Real estate title companies are looking for any active mortgages, liens, unpaid taxes, restrictions, judgements, leases or any other encumbrances that could challenge, or effect ownership.

The title company also often orders a property survey to ensure that the property boundaries are correct, and to reveal any possible encroachment, or easements that might affect ownership.

Once the title search is completed, the title company will create an abstract of title. This abstract of title explains the findings of the title search in a short, consolidated manner.

If any title issues are uncovered during the title search, the real estate title company will work with related parties to clear these issues.

A title opinion letter is then presented. This letter is an opinion written by an attorney describing the current rights of ownership of the property.

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How does Title Insurance Work?

Title insurance protects the buyer, or the lender against claims against the title.

Title insurance is an insurance policy written by the real estate title companies to guard the owners or the lenders of the property against ownership challenges and the lawsuits, and corresponding fees that may develop as a result.

If a party or parties come forward with a claim on the property that is proven legitimate, the title insurance company will  cover the claim by likely paying the owner the value of the home, and paying the lender the amount of the loan.

The two predominant types of title insurance are owner’s policies, and lender’s policies.  The owner’s title insurance policy protects the owner of the property, and the lender’s title insurance policy guards the lender from claims or challenges against the title to the property.

The property buyer usually pays for the lender’s title insurance policy.  Sweet deal for the lender, bad deal for the buyer.

The owner’s title insurance policy is usually paid by the buyer, but the seller buys in some states.

How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?

Title insurance is relatively inexpensive.

The cost that real estate title companies charge will vary from state to state, and will depend on the cost of the property being purchased.

Lender’s policies average in the $400-$500 range, and owner’s policies tend to average about $200.

Title Closing Agent

The title company closing agent handles your file from start to closing.

A title closing agent, is a person appointed by the real estate title companies to handle your file or deal.  This agent will have prepared the paperwork, including the settlement statement, and have funds ready for disbursement.

At the closing, the title closing agent will explain the various documents, and have the buyer or seller sign and date them. They will also go over the settlement statement, and explain costs, payouts, etc. involved in the transaction.

If there is anything you don’t understand, be sure to have the closing agent explain it to you.  These agents are knowledgeable and helpful, and they will gladly help you understand the documents.

How do I find a Good Title Insurance Company?

Best place to find a good title company is through your realtor.

The best place to find a good title insurance company is with your realtor. Real estate agents work with many title insurance companies, and can usually tell you who is the most professional, the most efficient, and who charges the lowest fees.

If you have a lender that you trust, you can ask them what title insurance company they recommend.  Lenders deal with title companies every day, and they will know who the good, reputable companies are, and which aren’t.

If you have friends or relatives in the area that you are moving to, you can ask them what title insurance companies they have used, and what their opinion is of these companies.

Short all of these sources, there is always the internet.  Go to Google, or one of the other search engines, and type in best title insurance company in your city.

You may be able to get some good feedback from people that have used different title companies in your new area.

You can also try searching for title companies in the area you are moving. Go to their website. You can find out a lot about a company from their website.

You may want to know how long they have been in business. What services they offer.  The background and education of their employees.  What feedback customers of theirs have left.

You may also want to know how many locations they have, and where they are located. Ideally, you want your title company to be in reasonably close proximity to where you live or work.

Real estate title companies provide key services to the real estate transaction. Finding one that you are happy with can make the difference to a hassle free experience, and one that is not.

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How to Find a Good Lender or Mortgage Company

How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent

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Home Fix

Home fix
Home fix up can increase your resale values, if you fix the right rooms.

Home Fix

By home fix, I don’t mean that you are addicted to your home, and you need a fix by being there.  This may be the case, but it’s not my intent. I mean home fix up.

Rather, my intent is to give you advice based on my years of being a real estate agent, as to which areas of your home you should fix, in order to ensure the best chance of getting the money and time you put into fixing your home, out when it comes time to sell it.

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This may also assist you, if you know you have many areas of your home that needs fixing or updating, and you want to prioritize based on the amount of money your currently have to put into some form of home rehab.

There are 3 rooms, or areas in your home that by far exceed all the rest in appeal to buyers, and allow sellers to sell their homes faster, and for the most money.

Based on extensive research, my own experience in helping clients buy and sell homes, and talking with other real estate agents,  the three rooms of your home that have the biggest bearing in the ability to sell a home, and has the most appeal for buyers to buy your home are:

1. Kitchens

2. Master Bathrooms

3. Basements/Lower Levels

This is not to say that other rooms, and aspects of a home and property are not important to be updated, and in good working order. Obviously, if your kitchen and master bathroom are nice, and updated, and the rest of your home is unattractive, and in disrepair, you will likely still have difficulty selling your home for the amount of money that you believe it to be worth.

Don’t totally neglect the rest of your home, just focus on these 3 rooms first and foremost.

Some buyers, and sellers may consider other rooms of a home, and parts of a property more important than kitchens, and master bathrooms are, but overall, kitchens, and master bathrooms have the biggest impact on resale value.

Kitchens and master bathrooms do sell homes.  I highly recommend that you focus on these two areas first, and other areas of your home next.

What if your home doesn’t have a master bathroom? What if you only have one full bathroom in your house?  This being the case, my advice would be to update and fix this bathroom, in addition to your kitchen.

You hall bath is in effect the master bathroom since it is the bath that the homeowners will use, and any other members of the family or tenants of the home.

Let’s take a look at each room, and see what options we have, in order to maximize our enjoyment, and profit.

kitchen
The kitchen is the focal point of the house.

Kitchen

The kitchen is the focal point of most homes.  This is the room that people tend to congregate, not just for meals, but for conversation, snacks, and just hanging out.

Don’t believe it? Next time you have friends or family over, watch where they migrate. I am betting they spend more time in the kitchen area, than any other part of the home.

Have you ever heard the saying, happy wife, happy life?  If you haven’t you should pay special attention to this section.  It is a given in real estate sales that the wife, or female significant other must love the home, or at least like the home a great deal, before the home will be purchased. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many.

Knowing this basic, yet profound concept, can help you realize how important the kitchen, and master bathroom, or main bathroom, are in the sales process.

I have seen time and again, where the man has loved the home, but the wife didn’t, usually because the kitchen didn’t measure up to her expectations, so the home was taken off the possible buy list.

Conversely, I have seen many situations where the wife loved the home, but the man didn’t, yet the home was put on the buy short list, and some times was the buy choice.

Bottom line is, women love nice kitchens! Are you paying attention?

Ok, so what makes a nice kitchen?  Must haves in kitchens are, updated appliances(ideally new, stainless steel appliances). This means refrigerator, dishwasher, cook top, oven, and microwave oven, should be new, or like new, and in perfect operating condition.

In my experience it doesn’t seem to matter too much whether the cook top is gas or electric, but I would say electric may have a slight preferential edge.

Next in importance is an open kitchen. I have heard women say time and again that they want their kitchen to be open to another room, or

new kitchen
Don’t skimp on your kitchen upgrades.

living area that they can converse to family members while they are cooking, or doing other things in the kitchen, like cleaning, or planning the next meal.

If the kitchen isn’t open, I suggest seeing how difficult it would be to remove a wall or two, in order to make the kitchen open.  Trust me, if the kitchen isn’t open, it may not matter how updated and cool your kitchen is.

Next is lots of cabinets, and cabinet space. Not only should there be lots of cabinet space, but the cabinets should be new or newer, and attractive. Outdated metal, or pressed wood cabinets with weird paint colors, and designs are out. 42 inch hardwood cabinets are in.

Next in importance is counter space.  The counters don’t necessarily have to be granite, although it helps, but they do have to be new or newer, and there should be lots of counter space.  Within the counter should be a dual sink, and a large kitchen faucet with soap dispenser.

The kitchen faucet does not have to be a pull out type, but I have found that most women prefer this.  If the sink is a single sink, it should be large, and deep. A center island is a bonus, especially if it adds more cabinet space, and a breakfast bar. A newer, powerful disposal is another must have.

Another important kitchen factor is a breakfast room.  This adds to the idea of an open kitchen. Most newer homes today have a breakfast room next to the kitchen, but many older homes do not.  A separate dining room is nice, but if there is not a breakfast room, it may not be enough.

A walk in pantry is another big plus for the kitchen. If this is missing, you must then have ample, easily accessible pantry space to compensate for it.

The kitchen floor is another important feature consideration. The kitchen floor doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it can’t be cheap looking or outdated either.

Due to the fact that there is so much water, and other liquids present that often find there way to the floor, expensive hardwoods, and other nice materials aren’t necessary or appropriate. Nice looking tiles, or water resistant, quality vinyls can usually fit the bill.

Bonus kitchen features are a wine fridge, a built in wine rack,  an ice, water dispenser on the refrigerator door,  a writing desk,  and a butler’s pantry.

Yes, the kitchen is the most important room in your home fix up.

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master-bathroom
A nice master bathroom can add thousands to your home’s value.

Master Bathroom

The master bathroom is of course the bathroom that is in, or part of the master bedroom. The master bedroom is the largest, nicest bedroom in the house.  The master bathroom used to be seen only in the nicest, most exclusive homes.

This trend started to change in the 1960’s, and 1970’s, as more and more homes were being built with this popular feature included. Today, you seldom see a home being built without a bathroom off the master bedroom.

A common term for the master bedroom with a tub, separate shower, and dual vanities, is the master suite, or master bedroom suite.

Regardless of the configuration of this bathroom, it is wise to update/upgrade it to it’s fullest potential.  Don’t go cheap on the materials either.

It is important that the vanity, the faucet, the toilet, and bidet, if included, as well as the bathtub and it’s fixtures be attractive, and work flawlessly.

Your bathroom mirror trim should match your vanity cabinets, and your faucet, toilet handle, and bath fixtures should all match, or at least be the same finish. For example, all chrome finish, all bronze finish, etc.

The good news is, the needed bathroom materials/fixtures, are normally not too expensive, at least from an upgrade, update aspect.  There are many ways to update your tub for example.

You can go the tub and tile grout cleaning, and refinishing route first to see if you get enough of an improvement. Even painting the walls inside the tub can often make a big difference.  If this inexpensive idea doesn’t give you the look you want, you can always attempt bathtub liners.

If you can keep from replacing the existing tub, you will save some money, and a lot of work. But, if needed, the money you will spend on anything new in the master bathroom like a new tub, you should easily realize when it comes time to sell your home, as this will increase the appeal, as well as the selling price.

Upgrading the floors, walls, and backsplashes can also make a huge difference in the look, and appeal of the bathroom. Many times a thorough cleaning, degrouting is all you need to do, but if not, don’t hesitate to invest where needed.

The master bath is the second most important room in your home fix up.

open-room
Turn unused basement space into living areas, and increase your home’s value.

Basement/Lower Level

Another area of the home that is now being emphasized is the lower level or the basement. Many homes have unused, unfinished space in the basement, and many homeowners know that finishing part of the lower level, will provide them with more livable area, and often increase the value of their home.

The majority of home buyers today, expect to have at least some finished space in the basement of the home they want to buy. If there is a walk out in the lower level, it becomes even more appealing to them.

Finishing the lower level is a smart undertaking, especially if the main levels of the home is lacking square footage, or bedrooms, or bathrooms.  Of course, the amount of available space in the basement will dictate, but adding a full bath, and a bedroom or sleeping area may be the best course of action.

This extra finished area in the lower level can have many benefits to the home owner. It can provide needed space for a growing family. It can allow overnight visitors like family, or friends to have their own private area.  Throw in a wet bar, and the once barren basement can become a hang out, or man cave, or party area for the family.

The finished lower level can also be rented out for extra income. And, if there is a separate entrance or walk out, it can provide good separation from the rest of the home.

If you wanted to go a step further, you could even add a kitchen to your finished basement, and turn it into a mother in law quarters. This would also give you the option to command more rent money if you decided to rent out this portion of the house, or allow for more independence if you had a family member live with you.

Granted, the costs involved in finishing a basement can be somewhat substantial, depending of course, on how much you want to accomplish, but it is quite likely that you will at least recoup your investment when you go to sell your home.

Before you consider finishing your lower level, or having someone do the work for you, there is one very important factor that you must address.

leaky-basement
Wet basements must be repaired before finishing starts.

It is water. Many basements, especially in parts of the country where there is a good deal of rainfall, despite what may appear to be flawless construction, allow water to enter.  Nothing can ruin a fantastic finished lower level like water damage.

In order to keep this water damage from occurring, or at least greatly minimize the chances of it happening, you must have a sump pump and sump pit installed in the floor of your basement, if there is not one already there. The sump pump will move any water that creeps in, away and out of your lower level.

You should also have any cracks in the wall of your basement repaired, and a waterproofing treatment done.  It is a good idea to hire a credible waterproofing company to do this important job for you.

You should also check to be sure that your landscaping next to your house, moves water away from, and not toward the home.  Also, make sure that your gutters, and downspouts are clear, and in good repair, and that no water puddles beneath them. If you see puddling, add downspout extensions to move the water away.

Another consideration before you begin finishing, is allowing enough room for storage, laundry area, and possibly a workshop area.  One of the best benefits of owning a home is having plenty of storage, and the option of having room for the laundry, and a workshop or hobby area.  Don’t finish too much of your basement, and cramp the other needed areas.

Once you have considered, and completed these essential steps, you can move forward with the finishing.

The basement/lower level is the third most important room in your home fix up.

Other important areas for your home fix up.

There are, of course, other rooms, and areas of the home that can benefit you by upgrading, and updating them besides the kitchen, master bathroom, and the basement/lower level on your home fix up list.

patio
A large livable patio is a strong selling feature.

For instance, home buyers have come to expect a nice, livable deck or patio off the back, or the side of the home.  Some outdoor spaces have roofs, full kitchens, fireplaces, built in barbeque pits, fire pits, ceiling fans, televisions, and stereos.

In order to increase your home’s value, it’s probably not required to include all of these amenities, but a large, clean, inviting space is a must have.

Areas you may want to avoid on your home fix up list.

Some additions like garages, may actually cost you more to put in, than you would realize down the road at selling time.  Although garages are a big positive feature to have in any home, their expensive price tag can often make them costlier than they are worth.

The average price of a 2 car garage to be built is in the $20,000 plus range in the midwest, and likely more in other parts of the country.

swimming-pool
Adding a swimming pool can sometimes detract from the appeal of a home.

Built in swimming pools can easily cost you more than they can bring you at selling time.  Many buyers don’t want a home with a pool, so your number of interested prospects decreases right from the start.

There are, conversely, many people that like pools, but ideally you want to appeal to the largest number of buyers, in order to sell quickly, and for the highest prices.  A nice built in pool can cost upwards of 6 figures or more, and you may be only able to recoup a fraction of it’s original expense when you sell.

It is vital to find out what the cost/benefit ratio is when adding improvements or upgrades to your home. You also have to know your own real estate market.

Depending on where you live, will very often determine whether or not it is in your best interest to spend the money on updates, or additions, in order to realize a positive outcome financially.

How long you intend to remain in the home you are in, is another important consideration. If you intend to stay put for many years, your upgrades will benefit you in living enjoyment before monetary gains. It is now time to get your home fix on.

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Home Safes

Home  safes are one of the most important considerations for protection of your new home.  In this day and age of high crime rates caused by desperate armed criminals, out of control governments, immigration of undesirables, and drug thugs,  it is imperative to have a home safe, or home safes.

Not to mention the ever present danger of house fires, and even flooding in some areas,  can destroy a home’s contents, and your valuables along with it.

Home safes come in various types and sizes, with different levels of protection. There are different lock options available.  There are key locks, manual combination locks,  electronic locks, and variations, and combinations of all of these locks.

gun-safes are often used as home safes
Gun safes can protect your guns and other valuables.

Gun Safes

If you are a gun owner, you know how vital it is to keep your guns away from children, and possibly other family members.  Gun safes allow you to safely store your guns, and ammunition in a clean, dry environment, and also give you fire, and burglary protection.

Many gun safes offer both burglary and fire protection, and come in various sizes with different interiors. These interiors are designed to allow for the storage of both long guns, and handguns. It is also possible, of course, to store other valuables, in addition to your guns in these safes.

The more guns and valuables you need to store should dictate the amount of protection that you want to purchase.

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handgun-safe-or-pistol-safe make great home safes
Handgun safes allow safety and quick access.

Handgun Safes

Handgun safes are crucial for your home protection against burglaries, and other unwanted break ins.  These essential safes allow you to safely store your handguns away from the curious hands of children, while at the same time, give you the ability to access your guns quickly in case of an urgent need, such as a break in of your home.

Handgun safes can be bolted to the floor, under a bed, secured into a drawer or nightstand, or any where else quick access can be had.

If you are currently keeping your handguns in a locked cabinet, or a larger gun safe, you are to be commended for keeping others in your home safe, but unless you can also get to your handgun quickly in case of an emergency, it may not be enough.

If, in the middle of the night, you are woken from a sound sleep to someone in your house that intends to steal from you, and possibly do you or your family harm, you may not have time or the mental wherewithall to find the keys to unlock your cabinet, or put in the combination to your safe to get to your gun.

Not to mention you don’t want to turn on lights or make noise to let the burglar know you are aware of his entry. But, if you have a handgun safe nearby, that you can quietly access within seconds, you give yourself fast control of the situation, which could mean the difference between life and death.

home-safe Home safes provide safety, and peace of mind.
Home safes provide safety, and protection for valuables.

Home Safes

Many homeowners also like to keep cash, jewelry, car titles, family heirlooms, and other valuables at home instead of, and/or in addition to,  a bank, safe deposit box, etc.   These home chest money safes can be bolted to the floor in an out of the way area, or a wall safe secured between joists discreetly hidden behind paintings, bookshelves, etc.

These safes can have burglary protection features, fire protection features, or both burglary, and fire protection features.  The amount of protection you buy, should reflect the value of what you would like to store in your safe.

It is usually a good idea to have more protection, and capacity in your new safe than you think you will need rather than less. This way, if you need to add more contents to the safe down the road, you won’t have to buy another one, or leave some valuables unprotected.

The more value you want to keep in your safe, the more burglary, and fire protection you should have.  This is definitely a case where one can be penny wise, and pound foolish, to borrow an old adage.

For instance, most safes you find at a Wal Mart or a Costco are not very expensive, it’s true, but they offer little protection.  Do you really want to trust what is important to you to a cheap safe that can be pried off the floor, and broken into easily?

Or that, in case of an intense fire, allow the contents of your safe to be damaged or completely destroyed? Also, you should always buy a safe that can be bolted to the floor, if it is a floor type safe, unless it is a very heavy safe, 2000 pounds or more.

Even the heavier safes though, can be removed by some professional, determined criminals, so it is a good idea to bolt the heavy safes to the floor as well, if at all possible.

Have you wondered what the different letters, numbers, and ratings mean on a safe?

Fire safe test thermometer Fire ratings are important for home safes.
Fire safe test thermometer.

Fire Ratings

Buying a safe that includes fire protection is a very real, important, and smart consideration.   In the USA alone, fires cause over $6 billion dollars worth of property damage every year.  A home structure fire occurs every 85 seconds.

Ideally, you want a fire rated safe that has the UL listing or designation. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratory.

UL 1 Hour and 2 Hour Fire Labels.

U.L. Label/Class 350°F-one hour and Class 350°F-two hour. The safe will maintain an interior temperature less than 350°F when exposed to fire for a period of one hour at 1700°F or for a period of two hours at 1850°F.

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UL 1 Hr Fire Class 350 Home safes may have the UL 1 Hour listing.
UL 1 Hour Fire Classification

The UL Class 350 1-hour fire rating means that the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 350° for at least one hour when exposed to external temperatures at 1700°.

UL 2 Hr Fire & Impact - 350 Classification Home safes with fire protection may have the UL 2 Hour listing
UL 2 Hour Fire & Impact Classification

The UL Class 350 2-hour fire rating means that the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 350° for at least 2 hours when exposed to external temperatures at 1850°.

The safe must also pass all requirements for the Fire Endurance Test, the Fire/Impact Test, and the Explosion Hazard Test.

ETL logo Home safes used for guns need the ETL listing.
Intertek ETL is the trusted source for Gun Safe Fire Testing.

Intertek ETL Gun Safe Fire Labels

Intertek ETL is the safe industry’s leading independent testing laboratory for fire ratings of gun safes.  They have a stringent 45 minute, 90 minute, and 2 hour fire rating.

If you don’t see either the UL label or the ETL label on the ‘fire’ safe, you can’t be sure that any fire testing was done reliably.

Burglary Safe Ratings

A burglary safe is designed to deter break ins of the safe. There are also safes that have both fire and burglary protection built in, but these ratings are strictly for burglary type safes. A burglary rating on a safe is a construction classification, as opposed to a fire safe which has a test classification. These ratings were established by the insurance industry to provide a standard of protection.

b-rate-safe Home safes like the B rate are popular.
B Rate Burglary Safe with Electronic Lock

B Rate Burglary Safe

A B rate burglary safe offers good protection, and is described as any safe that has doors of 1″ steel thickness or less, and doors of 1/2″ thickness or less.  The most common construction characteristics of a B rate burglary safe are 1/2″ thick steel doors, and 1/4″ thick steel bodies. B rates are normally used by retail establishments or restaurants that generate a small to moderate amount of cash, and that don’t store a lot of cash overnight.

c-rate-safe Home safes may include the C rate.
C rate safes offer very good burglary protection.

C Rate Burglary Safe

A C rate burglary safe provides more burglary protection than a B rate safe. The C rate is perhaps the most common of the home safes, and constructed with steel doors that are at least 1″ thick, and steel bodies that are at least 1/2″ thick.   Common C rate burglary safes are 1″ thick steel doors, and 1/2″ thick steel bodies. C rates are used by restaurants and retail establishments that generate a moderate to larger amount of cash, and have a need or who want the option to store some cash overnight. C rates weigh twice what a comparable B rate weighs.

Generally speaking the TL15’s, TL30’s, and the other safes to follow, are normally not used as homes safes, but rather in business, or commercial applications. However, if you intend to store a lot of cash or other highly valuable items at your residence,  then these could certainly be used as home safes.

tl-15-safe Homes safes may include the TL-15
TL 15 provides excellent protection from burglary, and fire.

TL 15 Burglary Safe

The TL 15 is considered to provide more burglary protection than the C rate burglary safe.  These are heavy safes, making them difficult to move from out of the home or place of business.  The TL stands for tool, and the 15 means 15 minutes. So, with the TL 15 you get 15 minutes of protection from a burglar doing his worst with his professional mechanical and electrical hand tools attempting to enter the safe.

The requirements for a TL 15 are a UL listed Group ll combination lock, or type 1 electronic lock.  Body walls of at least 12 gauge open hearth steel or material equivalent to it. Door at least 3/16″ open hearth steel or material equivalent to it. These safes also have fire protection.

TL 15 safes are used by retail establishments, and restaurants that generate medium to large amounts of cash, and who need the option to store cash or other valuables overnight.

tl-30-safe Home safes may include the TL30
The TL 30 provides superior protection from theft, and fire.

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TL 30 Burglary Safe

The TL 30 is considered to have more burglary protection than the TL 15.  In fact, the TL 30 has twice the amount of door, and body steel as the TL 15.  The requirements for a TL 30 are U.L. listed Group 2M, 1, 1R combination lock or Type 1 electronic lock.

Safe body walls of at least 1″ open hearth steel with a minimum tensile strength of 50,000 P.S.I.   Safe weight must be 750 lbs. minimum or comes with instructions for anchoring in a larger safe, concrete blocks or on the premises where used.

The TL 30 is designed for those retail establishments, and restaurants that generate a large amount of cash, and/or whose business requires them to store high cost items, such as jewelry, in the process of their business, and possibly overnight, or for extended periods of time.

tl-30x6-safe not normally used as home safes
The TL 30X6 has superior 6 sided protection.

TL 30X6 Burglary Safe

The TL 30X6 is considered to have superior burglary protection to the TL 30 burglary safe. This super sturdy safe is designed to protect against sophisticated tool attacks from all 6 sides of the safe for 30 minutes.  The same specifications as the TL 30 above, but on all 6 sides of the safe. These safes also provide excellent fire protection.

The TL 30X6 is designed for high end retail establishments, or restaurants, that generate large amounts of cash, and have the need to store and protect expensive items, such as jewelry, and precious metals overnight, and beyond, not necessarily ideal as home safes.

TRTL 30X6 Burglary Safe

TRTL 30X6 more than home safes.
The TRTL 30X6 offers optimum protection against break ins, and fire.

The TRTL 30X6 is the top of the line jewelry safe for maximum protection against burglary attacks. The TR stands for torch, and the TL stands for tool.  This safe can withstand the most sophisticated torch and tool attacks on all 6 sides of the safe for 30 minutes.

It has the same specifications as the TL 30X6, plus it has a high density compressed concrete material encased within inner and outer magnesium steel hardplates.

This safe is used by jewelers, and other high volume businesses that require the finest in protection. Insurance companies will often require the use of this safe for these high end customers.

The TRTL 30X6 safe is designed for very high end retail establishments, and restaurants that generate large volumes of cash, and have the need to store high end jewelry, precious metals, and other very valuable items for long periods of time.

Burglary, and fire safes have the ability to protect you against loss, both in business, and personally. Handgun safes, and quick access long gun safes allow you to be prepared properly for dangers that can occur at very inopportune times. All make great home safes.

I hope you will use this information to find the home safe or home  safes that are right for you, and will serve you well in the years to come.

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Tree House Plans

tree-house plans
A tree house is a great escape.Tree House Plans

Tree House Plans

If you are like me, you have had tree house plans since you were a little kid. I have always wanted my own escape high in the trees, away from parents, away from thoughts and pressures of school and studying, performing in sports, and even certain neighborhood kids that seemed to show up at the most inopportune times.

The house I grew up in was small, and the concept, and prospect of privacy was simply non existent with 5 brothers, and sisters.  How I longed for somewhere to go, to be alone with my thoughts without being disturbed by anyone.   Lacking any trees in our back yard, however, it was left as a dream or a fantasy to have my very own treehouse.

Click here to visit TreehouseSupplies.com – The place for professional grade treehouse materials.

The best I could hope for in having a treehouse, would be to join with some neighborhood buddies, whose folks were willing to let us attempt to build a tree house in their back yard.

We set about the task of finding old boards, crates, plywood, and nails that were left around our streets, or in the back of grocery stores in and around dumpsters, that were nearby.

With little sense or knowledge of planning, we borrowed some tools from our parents, a few hammers, saws, and a ladder, some rope,  and we went about the work of setting up a base for our new treehouse.

Once we accomplished that, no easy task mind you for 8 to 11 year olds, we put together some walls with the plywood we had left.  A rope was used to send up tools, nails, and what not to the designated builder on the platform, as it could only hold one or two guys at a time at that stage.

We sawed a few openings that passed for windows, and an opening in the floor, fashioned a make shift roof, and put together a ladder with a few ropes.

playing_in_tree-house-plans
Building a tree house can be fun and challenging for kids.

With some smaller pieces of wood that would serve as steps on the ladder, and we were almost done, at least to our impatient satisfaction.

We also put together a hatch for the floor opening with a door hinge and an uneven piece of plywood, and we were finished. The rickety rope ladder that was secured by a railroad spike we hammered into the tree, could be pulled up into the treehouse to keep unwanted guests from joining us from down below.

It is a wonder that none of us were injured either in the construction, or the enjoying phase as we encountered more than a few mishaps.

This makeshift ensemble that passed as a treehouse lasted all of a few months of a summer between grade school sessions.  A combination of unstable construction, and our boredom of going in the treehouse, spelled it’s inevitable doom.

We would have to pass the time again by playing baseball at Fred’s field, or playing pinball at the local bowling alley,  if we were able to scrounge up some change.

It was fun to try to build a treehouse as a child, and have always been fascinated with the possiblility even as an adult.  Within the last few years, as you are likely aware, there has been a movement towards building tree houses both for children, and adults. In fact, there has been a real resurgence in designing, and constructing tree houses for adults on the properties of many people.

Perhaps there are many others like me that loved either having, or the idea of having a treehouse as a youngster, and the feeling never left them as an adult.

At this point in my life, I would rather pay someone to build a fine treehouse on my property for me, than to attempt to take on such a gargantuan, dangerous task myself.

Click here to visit TreehouseSupplies.com – The place for professional grade treehouse materials.

pro-built-tree-house-plans
Pro built treehouses can cost as much as $500.000.

You well may have seen Pete Nelson, the expert tree house builder, do his thing on television, on HGTV, and possibly elsewhere.  Pete is an amazingly talented guy who designs and builds some truly gorgeous, and complex tree houses. You might say, he is a man with tree house plans.

But, before I agree to allow a tree house builder ( I’m sure Pete Nelson is too busy, and expensive ) to put one together on my property, I have some pressing questions.

  1.  What are the costs involved? This is clearly the most important aspect, as I am still building my fortune. ( Just kidding, hardly a fortune )  Turns out that treehouse builds start at $9000 for a very basic kid’s one, to upwards of $500,000 for a mega deluxe adult model.  The majority of treehouses for kids run between $10,000 and $30,000.  Most adult treehouses that have either a commercial use, or could be used as a bed and breakfast, start in the $40,000 range, and go up from there. Don’t let the costs involved put a damper on your tree house plans.

2.  Are tree houses safe?  I don’t know about you, but I would sure hate to fork over a large chunk of change, and have my tree house blow over during the next strong windstorm. Especially with me in it.  And what about neighboring trees blowing onto the tree house?

Strong wind gusts can damage a tree house structure by forcing walls or roofs apart, especially since wind can get underneath the structure sometimes in ways that houses on the ground are not exposed to.

Close by trees or branches could come off and land on or in the tree house while you or someone else are in it. Or, they could land on the steps and block off your only way to escape.

Lightning is another danger.  It can cause trees to explode, which could subject you to the current if you are in the treehouse during the ligtning storm. Not to mention, if it hits a tree that is used as a support for your treehouse, it could cause serious injury or worse to any inhabitants.

cool-tree-house-plans
Tree houses are not the safest place to be during a big storm.

Probably best to vacate a treehouse during a strong thunderstorm, or any condition where strong winds are present, if at all possible.  So, if you plan to spend any time in a treehouse, have a plan B where you can go in case any of these severe weather happenings appear. You may have tree house plans for a weekend or just an afternoon, but best to be safe than sorry.

3. Will the trees on my land work for a treehouse?  I have some trees on my property, but will they suffice as treehouse supports?

Apparently, and not surprisingly, hardwood trees work the best for treehouses.  Not knowing how to differentiate as to tree hardness, it’s best to know which tree types work the best, and which do not. It is then up to me to find out the tree types that I have.

Obviously, you don’t want to use a tree that is dead, or is declining, no matter the type.

Best trees for treehouses: sugar maple, oak, apple, hickory, monkey pod

Worst trees for treehouses: birch, sassafras, cottonwood, willow, spruce

4. Is it difficult to put electric, and plumbing in my treehouse? Is it even possible? Would sure like to have a kitchen, and a bathroom, and the ability to listen to music, and watch television.

Electric apparently is not a problem for treehouses. The lines can be run above ground like wires to your house, on the ground, or in the ground through conduit.

Plumbing, on the other hand, is a different animal.  Because treehouses usually move in the wind, the plumbing pipes going to and from them will move too. If they are not designed to move with the treehouse, they will break, causing costly repairs, or replacement.

PEX tubing is one type of flex pipe for your supply lines, and flexible Fernco fittings on the drain lines will decrease the chances of your pipes breaking when the winds are blowing.

winter-tree-house-plans
Be sure exposed pipes are insulated for winter.

Pipes that are exposed to the elements can freeze. It is important to thoroughly insulate all exposed piping to prevent this.  There is also the issue of hiding the big ugly drain/sewer pipes. It is possible to do this by running the piping under stair ways, ladders, and framing.

You should utilize the services of licensed electricians, and plumbers to ensure that you are doing things within established code, and in the safest, and most professional way possible.

Armed with this knowledge, albeit limited, I am now able and willing to take on the project of having a treehouse built on my property. All I have to do now is find a reputable, and experienced tree house builder in my area, with his own set of tree house plans.   With any luck, I will be enjoying a treehouse of my own for the first time in my life by this time next year.

I have tree house plans, how about you?

I may change my name to Tarzan.

See you in the trees!

Click here to visit TreehouseSupplies.com – The place for professional grade treehouse materials.

Tiny Houses Sale

How to Buy Motorhomes

 

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Tiny Houses Sale

 

Tiny Houses Sale

Tiny houses sale
Tiny houses are becoming BIG business.

Everywhere you look nowadays it seems there is a tiny houses sale. Turn on the television, and all the channels related to real estate have shows about buying tiny houses.

Real estate magazines, and real estate websites are suddenly including these diminutive dwellings as a viable option for home buyers.

There are singles,  young couples, young couples with young children, and even older couples that are interesting in buying one of these tiny houses.

Honestly, I have seen little kids playhouses in backyards that rival the size of many of these super small homes.  Even some children’s tree houses are as big or bigger as some of these dinky domiciles.

So what gives? What is the attraction of living in a house so small that just turning around almost guarantees you will hit something or someone.

tiny-house
Tiny houses range from 100 to 400 square feet.

Why live in a place that practically every square inch of space has a purpose for either living or storage? Who in their right mind would want to habit a home where privacy is simply non existent?

Perhaps the biggest benefit to buying, and living in a tiny house is the cost savings.  68% of tiny house owners do not have a mortgage.  This translates into massive savings over the typical life span of a mortgage.

The same amount of money that would merely cover the down payment for many regular size homes, is often enough to purchase a tiny home.

The average cost of an American home is approximately $272,000.  The average cost of a tiny home that the buyer builds themselves is $23,000.

Most Americans spend from 1/3 to 1/2 of their paycheck on their monthly mortgage payments.

tiny-houses-sale-on-wheels
A tiny house on wheels is similar to an RV or a trailer.

And, if the tiny homeowner takes the money that they would ordinarily use to pay down a mortgage, and invest it in a conservative instrument, at the end of 15 years, up to 30 years, they will have a very nice nest egg built up.

Most mortgages end up costing the home owner upwards of 3 times  the original purchase price of the home.  Eliminating this financial burden is one of the smartest monetary moves you can make.

But the cost savings of buying tiny homes do not stop there.  You have much less space to heat, and cool, so your utility costs should greatly decrease.

The average American home is about 2000 square feet. The normal size of a tiny home in America is from 100 square feet to 400 square feet.

Depending on where in the US you live, and whether you use electric, or gas, or some alternative form like solar, or wood,  your utility cost savings could possibly be in the thousands of dollars yearly by living in a tiny home.

And, because you are living in a much smaller house, and usually on a much smaller lot, your maintenance costs are a lot less. For a normal size home and lot, your upkeep expenses will normally run on average around $3000 per year. For your downsized home, your upkeep costs should be in the $500 or less range yearly.

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tiny-houses-sale-unique
Some tiny homes have even have an architectural feel.

And, how about property taxes?  Well, since property taxes are assessed on a home’s total value, they will likely be a lot less also.

The same can be said for homeowner’s insurance, as well.  Since it would theoretically cost an insurance company a lot less to repair or replace a tiny home, than a bigger home, due to a covered incident, these costs will drop dramatically for you also.

All told, your cost savings from buying a tiny house are very significant, and by itself,  are a compelling reason to downsize into one.

But, if the substantial cost savings weren’t enough of a reason to do the tiny house thing, then let’s look at some additional benefits that may help convince you.

Time savings.   Because you have much less upkeep, and maintenance with a tiny house, and lot, you will find yourself with more time on your hands.

This added time will enable you to pursue other interests, spend more time at work, spend more time with family, or whatever it is that you deem important.

By simplifying your life, and eliminating the worry, and expense of taking care of a larger home, you will, as a result, also lessen your stress levels, and this will likely provide you with a better quality of life, at least psychologically.

Another appealing aspect of living in a tiny house is the ecological impact.  The fact that living tiny has a much smaller environmental burden, or carbon footprint, it gives one a sense of accomplishment from a steward of the earth perspective.

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tiny-houses-sale-interior
Typical tiny house interior.

Also, due to a tiny house’s miniscule heating, and cooling requirements, it is easier to live ‘off the grid’, which is also becoming attractive to a growing number of people.  A relatively small solar panel on the roof, or a solar panel on a standard close to the house, may well be enough to provide energy to heat, and cool the tiny home.

There are, however, some drawbacks to becoming a tiny house owner. One of the largest hurdles to increasing the tiny house craze is the issue of locating somewhere to put them.

Normally, regulations of zoning dictate that square footage be at minimum numbers for initial construction sitting on a foundation, and for ‘portable’ tiny houses with wheels, sitting on a piece of property may be prohibited, as it could be considered camping, not unlike a recreational vehicle, or RV.

Neighbors may be against having a tiny home in their area, as it could mean a decrease in their property values.

Of course, there are the obvious negatives to living tiny, such as being in a cramped indoor environment for much of the day and night.  Having little storage for your stuff.

Some people consider this a positive, to simplify your existence by getting rid of possessions, but often times, having tools, implements, clothing, and other personal possessions can greatly enhance your life, not detract from it.

And then there is the question of privacy. If you are single, then this is not an issue. However, if you are living with someone, and/or if you have children living with you, I hope you get along well with each other, because you will seldom be out of each other’s sight, at least while in your tiny home.

What about inviting friends and family over for dinner, or to stay the night?  This idea becomes a challenging proposition when attempting to entertain at your tiny house.

tiny-houses-sale-outdoor-space
Some tiny houses also have nice outdoor spaces.

If you have a nice outdoor space, and the weather is nice, you may be able to pull it off, but if not, and you are subject to staying indoors, it could be difficult to accommodate guests, and especially so if you want them to stay overnight.

A tiny house is also subject to high winds, and if it is on wheels, it is a prospective target of a thief.  And you better be sure there are no big trees nearby because if one falls on your tiny house, it might not be only the house that is destroyed, but also the inhabitants lives could be.

And what if a fire starts in your tiny house. It could blaze through it in no time, and create a very real danger for you, and any other unlucky inhabitants.

Then there is the question of resale value.  Due to it’s recent popularity, the jury is still out on whether buying a tiny home is a good long term investment.

It’s safe to say that due to it’s uncertain nature of where to put the tiny home, that it’s value will not appreciate to the level of a conventional house.

It is even possible that a tiny home’s resale value will stay the same, or even depreciate, depending on several factors, such as quality, size, amenities, and location.

I suggest that if you are seriously considering buying a tiny house, do your research. Go online, and learn what you can. There are many articles, and videos on youtube about tiny homes.

See if there is a tiny houses sale in your area, go out and look at them. Talk to tiny house owners, and get their feedback.  See how tiny homes are treated within municipalities, and where it may be possible to build a tiny home, or move, and place one.

Buying a tiny home is kind of a big deal, so do your homework. You want to make sure you make the right decision.

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Real Estate Appraisal

Real Estate Appraisal

real-estate-appraisal-home-appraisal
The real estate appraisal is an important part of the sales process.

A real estate appraisal is the process that is used in order to arrive at an accurate valuation of residential real estate, commercial real estate or land.  Each property is unique, and therefore, a detailed valuation is needed.

Real estate appraisals are commonly used by mortgage companies, banks, or other lenders prior to making a loan, in order to ensure that their investment is properly secured by a property that is worth at least as much, if not more than the amount of money they are lending against it.

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These real estate appraisals assist the lender in determining how much to lend, what the down payment will be, and even, in some instances, what the interest rate will be.

The cost of an appraisal is approximately $400 US Dollars.  Appraisals in rural areas, and for multi unit properties usually cost more.  The lender will choose the appraiser, and the buyer will pick up the fee, payable at closing.

Real estate appraisals are also often used to determine the selling price of a property. They are also needed often for selling estates, divorces, taxation, etc

Generally, appraisers of real estate give an estimate of the buildings, and the land that the buildings sit on normally prior to it being sold, insured, mortgaged, developed, or taxed.

In most countries, appraisers have to go through training, and have to be certified and/or licensed.  In the US, most states require a Bachelors Degree in addition to the license, and certification. Certified/Licensed Appraisers typically make about $55,000 per year, or about $25 per hour USD.

One of the biggest benefits to becoming a real estate appraiser, besides the fact that it pays fairly well, and is a needed, respected profession, is that it is the perfect foundation, pun intended, to becoming a real estate investor.

Knowing precisely how to evaluate a property is the single most important aspect of buying a property at a below market price, to ensure a profit, or positive cash flow.  I personally know appraisers that also invest in real estate.

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There are many valuation types strived for by the appraiser. The most common of these is market value.

Market value is defined as the price at which an asset would sell in a competitive auction setting.  Market value is considered the same as fair value, or open market value.

Other types and definitions of value are, liquidation value, insurable value, investment value, value in use, and net present value.

real-estate-appraisal-property-value
The goal of a real estate appraisal is to determine property value.

There are three traditional approaches to value.

  • The Cost Approach: the property buyer would not pay more than it would cost to build the equivalent. This approach is often used by insurance companies to determine repair, and replacement values.
  • The Income Approach: close to the methodologies used for securities analysis, bond pricing, and financial valuations. This approach is often used by and for investor buyers.
  • The Sales Comparison Approach: a way of comparing amenities and characteristics of with others of recently sold comparable properties in similar type transactions.  This approach is most commonly used by single family home residential buyers.

There is a great deal of preparation, and execution in the process of a typical real estate appraisal.  The duties that are required by the appraiser are:

  1.  Confirm legal descriptions of real estate property in the public records.
  2. Take photos of the both the exterior and the interior of properties.
  3. Inspect existing, and new properties, documenting their characteristics.
  4. Analyze similar nearby properties or comparable properties to determine valuations.
  5. Maintain, and prepare current written information or data on every real estate property.
  6. Design written property value reports.

When appraising a property, appraisers not only take into consideration the subject property, but also the surrounding area. such as a busy road, the proximity to public schools and parks, or a  view from the back.

The basic valuation concepts are:

  • Scarcity – the actual supply of properties that are competing
  • Utility – the ability to meet the needs and desires of future owners
  • Demand – the desire or need of ownership, supported by the financial means to accomplish the desire
  • Transferability – how easily ownership rights are transferred from one party to another

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Appraisers typically work in one locale, so as to be as familiar with real estate trends, and property factors that affect property values, such as environmental issues.

During the full real estate appraisal process, the appraiser notes and documents their methods, research, and observations used in arriving at their resulting estimate of a properties current value.

Appraisers normally specialize in one type of real estate or another.  Residential appraisers usually don’t get involved with commercial appraisals, and commercial appraisers under most circumstances don’t provide residential appraisals.

real-estate-appraisal-home-inspection
Home inspection is different than a real estate appraisal.

How does a real estate appraisal differ from a home inspection A real estate appraisal differs from a home inspection in that an inspection is used to determine the condition of a given property, including the house or structures and it’s systems.

An inspector is normally hired by a buyer, or a potential buyer to allow them to know what repairs may need to be made, and for leverage in the negotiating process with the seller, and basically to protect the prospective buyer from major flaws or defects.

If an inspection reveals major repairs need to be made, the buyer then can try to renegotiate price, or have the seller fix the issues prior to their moving in. The buyer can also, in some instances, back out of the deal altogether, based on the the home inspection results.

The real estate appraisal on the other hand, is more concerned with achieving a value of the property. The appraiser may use the inspection, if available, to assist him in his appraisal.

The appraiser may also similarly inspect aspects of the property to help him determine a current value. Unlike a home inspector, the appraiser will not inspect the home’s mechanical systems, and major appliances.

The real estate appraisal is seldom if ever utilized by the residential buyer or potential buyer, other than to possibly give them a general idea of value.  The appraisal is used by and for mortgage companies or lenders, insurance companies, for selling estates, divorces, and taxation.

real-estate-appraisal bummed-business-man
A home must appraise out for a lender to lend on it.

If the property does not ‘appraise out’, or is not deemed to be worth enough to cover the lender’s loan, the mortgage company, bank, or other lender will not lend on it.

The buyer must then talk the owner into agreeing to a lower price, or the buyer must  find another property to purchase.

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How to Buy Motorhomes

How to Buy Motorhomes

motorhome
Motorhome on a beach at sunset.

 

How to buy motorhomes: If your idea of a second home or retirement home isn’t on a quiet beach in a warm tropical clime. Or if it isn’t beneath a breathtaking mountain with salmon and trout laden streams nearby.

Or if it isn’t off a back country road by a peaceful lake with star filled night skies falling to sleep with the gentle sounds of crickets, and bullfrogs.

But rather, your idea is to be in all of these places, then you may be like the thousands of others that prefer living life on your own terms in your own motorhome.

Learning how to buy motorhomes is knowledge that can benefit you in many ways.

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Motorhomes, also known as RV’s, recreational vehicles, caravan, camper van, and motorcoaches, have been around almost as long as there have been automobiles.

1910 is when the first built for commercial sale, auto related camping vehicles were made.  Known back then as auto-campers, or camping trailers, they have since evolved into what is today’s RV.

This life style continued to grow until the depression in 1929, slowed through the World War ll years, and then picked up steam in the late 40’s after World War ll, when returning vets and their families were looking for inexpensive means of travel.

In 1967, Winnebago started mass producing motor homes, and had 5 different models that cost around $5,000.  Refrigeration had then become a fixture of RV’s, which helped fuel it’s growth and popularity.

According to the RVIA, Recreational Vehicles Industry Association, as many as 8.2 million households now own RV’s.  It is estimated that approximately 450,000 are permanent, full time Motorhomers.

RV’s, recreational vehicle types are: motorhome – Class A, B, B+. C, toy hauler, pop up trailer, fifth wheel trailer, and slide in camper or truck camper-that fits in the pick up truck bed.

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How Much Do Motorhomes Cost?

The first consideration in buying anything, including how to buy motorhomes is cost.  There are many sizes, and shapes, colors, manufacturers, amenities, and ages of motorhomes.

You should ask yourself how much travel do you intend to do, and how much time will you be spending in your motorhome.   Price ranges run the gamut for RV’s.

The low end being an older, smaller model with few amenities,or a pop up trailer,  up to a current model year Class A type, that is large, and has all of the modern bells and whistles.

The cost of insurance, gasoline, other fuel like propane, upkeep, RV park expenses, food, and entertainment expenses should all be considered.

pop-up-trailer
Pop up trailer at campsite.

Starting at the low end, a new pop up trailer, that can sleep as many as 6. It is the lightest, smallest, and most affordable. Their small size makes them relatively easy to tow, and park.  Amenities available include a toilet, shower, and small kitchen.  Pop up trailer prices start at around $4,000.

fifth-wheel
Fifth wheel trailer.

The 5th Wheel Trailer is so named due to it’s attachment in the bed of a heavy duty pick up truck with a special mount.  They can be anywhere from 18 feet to 40 feet long, and can also be quite heavy, requiring plenty of power to tow them long distances.   Prices start in the $6,000 range, and can go as high as about $60,000.

travel-trailer
Travel trailer at campsite.

Travel Trailers can be as short as 13 feet, and as long as 33 feet.  They are sturdy, yet lightweight, which makes them towable by most basic pick ups, SUV’s, and some minivans. Travel trailers can sleep up to 6, and come with all of the basic amenities, like kitchens, bathrooms, and sleeping areas.

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They can also be left at the camping site, so you can explore the area with just your pull vehicle.  Prices start forTravel trailers at $7,000 and can increase to about $70,000 based on size, and of course various amenities.

class-c-motorhome
Class C motorhome by lake.

Class C Motorhomes are considered the smaller self contained motorhomes, or mini motor homes, ranging in size from about 20 feet long to about 40 feet long.

The class C’s popularity stems from the fact that it provides a more natural driving feel than the larger Class A’s.  Class C’s can accommodate up to 7 people, but are easier to drive and park. A typical Class C will have a bedroom with room for a queen size bed. A bathroom with shower, toilet and sink. A kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, and a small stove.A sitting area, television, and sleeping accommodations for 7 people.

Prices range from about $35,000 to over $100,000 for a deluxe model.

class-b-motorhome
Class B motorhome at campsite.

Class B Motorhomes

Also known as camper vans, the Class B motorhome is built on a full size van chassis, and has many of the comforts, and amenities of the larger Class A motorhome, but in a considerably smaller, and more manageable size.

The Class B  can have a compact bathroom, a small kitchen, a living room, a sleeping area,  a television, and the inside is also tall enough for standing room.  It is ideal for 2 to 3 travelers, and for short or long trips.  It is similar to driving a large pickup, or SUV.

Most Class B motorhomes do not have  slideouts. As far as cost, the Class B is usually the least expensive of the Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes.

The Class B’s big advantage over the others is their maneuverability, which makes parking easier, and, as a result of it’s smaller size,  it’s fuel economy.  The down side is, there is little room for storage, and it’s smaller size can feel cramped at times.

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There are many variations of the Class B, but prices normally range from about $30,000 to about $100,00.

class-a-motorhome
Class A motorhome at campsite.

Class A Motorhomes

When most of us think of an RV, a motorhome, or a motorcoach, we are thinking of the Class A motorhome.  They are built using heavy duty frames, that are very strong, and sturdy.

These frames are normally built on a commercial truck chassis, or on a commercial bus chassis. The big 22 1/2 inch wheels support the heavy load of the Class A. They range in size from about 28 feet long to about 45 feet long.

Since Class A’s are the largest motorhome, there is room on the inside for more and larger amenities. You will normally find a complete kitchen with dual sink, large refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, and even a dishwasher.

There is a large living room with couches that fold out into beds, and there is a dinette or dining table. The back area houses a bedroom with enough space for a queen size bed, and good storage.

There is also a bathroom with a good sized real shower,a flushing toilet, and a sink. Even a stackable washer/dryer is available in many units.

Class A’s can come equipped with as many as 5 slide outs.  Slide outs are rooms that extend from the walls electronically to create extra room for you on the inside.

There are also large storage spaces below the living area, often called the basement, to house all of your extra gear for those long trips or vacations. If you are looking for luxury, lots of space for living, and storage, and all the comforts of home, then the Class A is right for you.

A Class A motorhome will start at a price of $60,000 and can go up to well over $1 million dollars for a deluxe model. You could easily spend more than the price of a typical American home on a brand new, top of the line motorcoach.

The advantages of the Class A are it’s ample size, and home like amenities which provides comfort, and ideal relaxation while on the road.  The disadvantages are the difficulty in maneuvering and parking the larger RV. The fuel costs are quite a bit more than in the other models, and maintenance costs are also usually higher.

Another negative factor to consider with larger RV’s is that many municipalities prohibit parking them on your lot.  You will then have to arrange to park and store your RV elsewhere, which could mean more expense, and inconvenience.

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How Large of a Motorhome Should I Buy?

The key to knowing how big of an RV to buy, should be based on a few factors.  How many people will be using the motorhome?  Is it more important to have a bigger bathroom, or a bigger kitchen?

Will I need extra space in the bedroom for storage, or to comfortably walk around. How large of beds do I need? Yes, bed sizes can vary in RV’s. Do I want the extra weight, and expense of a slider that can make the home bigger?

Do I feel comfortable driving, maneuvering, and parking a vehicle as big as a bus, or an 18-wheeler? Is luxury more important, or is economy more important? Will I be taking long trips, or shorter ones? If longer trips, can I get by with less storage space?

I strongly suggest you write down everything that you think is important to you in a motorhome.  You should talk to as many people as possible that already own motorhomes.

Find out what they like and don’t like about owning a motorhome. Go online, and find out what you can. Go to RV shows.  Consider renting a motorhome before you buy. Go into RV dealerships and talk to the salespeople. Test drive the motorhomes that appeal to you. Ask them questions, but take your time. Do not rush the process. All of these factors can teach you how to buy motorhomes.

There are other factors to consider when buying a motorhome, such as:

Power. If you plan on towing a vehicle behind your RV, and when you have the motorhome loaded down with people and gear, will you have enough power to get up and over large hills?

  • Camping Costs
  • Insurance
  • Wi Fi  Connectivity
  • Satellite Connectivity
  • Breakdowns on the road

You should now have at least a general idea of how to buy motorhomes, and trailers.

You are on the road to finding the perfect motorhome or trailer. I hope this information proves useful for you. Feel free to leave a comment or question.  Good luck, and safe travels.

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5 Best Towns in the US to Live

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5 Best Towns in the US to Live

5 Best Towns in the US to Livefavicon

five-best-towns-to-live-in
Five best towns in the US to live in

What are the 5 best towns in the US to live in? This list is not based, necessarily on the highest median income, most corporations, most available jobs, lowest crime rate, most comfortable climate or weather, most parks, or best restaurants.

Nor is it necessarily based on best public transportation, best museums, best nightlife, best schools and universities, best shopping, best professional sports, or best highways and biways.

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Although, many of these cities do have many of these features, this list is simply of my favorite US cities that I have either lived in, or spent more than a little time in.

I could live in any one of these fine places, and may yet move to one or more of them. Unfortunately, the city that I currently live in, did not make my list, despite many positive attributes.  It’s unfavorable weather, and high crime outweigh the good that it has to offer. I will not name the city, but there are many others here in the US that resemble it.

Here are the 5 best towns in the US to live, starting with number 5.  See if you don’t agree with this list.

5. Jacksonville, Florida

jacksonville-beach
Jacksonville, Florida has something for everyone.

Jacksonville is a large city in northeastern Florida, and sits on the Atlantic Ocean, and bordering the banks of the St. Johns River. It is approximately 25 miles south of the Georgia state line.

The city population is just under 900,000, and the Jacksonville metropolitan area consists of about 1.5 million people. It is the largest city by area in the 48 contigous states, and is the 12 largest by population in the United States, as of 2015.

It is the 4th largest metropolitan area in the state of Florida, followed by Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. It was named after Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of the Florida territory, and seventh President of the United States of America.

Jacksonville is known to the rest of the country, and the world as a US Navy town, and a golf town.  It is home to Blount Island, and Kings Bay Submarine Base, and makes up the 3rd largest US Navy presence in the country.

Cecil Field Naval Air Station was prominent during the World War II years and through the Vietnam era. It has since been closed.

The PGA, Professional Golfers Association, is headquartered in Jacksonville, at Ponte Vedra Beach, the home of TPC Sawgrass.  TPC Sawgrass is home to the Tournament Players Championship, and quite possibly the most famous hole in golf, the par 3, 17th with it’s island green.

Jacksonville, with it’s warm temperatures, is also known for it’s beaches, and for it’s seafood.  It is also known for it’s rich history.

Fort Caroline, established in 1564 by the French,  is one of the earliest European settlements in what is now the continental United States.

4. Branson, Missouri

branson-table rock lake
Branson is top destination for vacation or staycation.

Branson, Missouri is a city in southwestern Missouri, and is in the Ozark Mountains. The population of Branson is 10,600, yet during the warmer months, the amount of tourists that visit the area totals well over 1 million. Branson also borders 2 large, scenic lakes, Lake Taneycomo, and Table Rock Lake.  Branson was founded in 1882, and named after a postmaster, Ruben Branson.

Branson is well known as an entertainment center with it’s miles of live theatres, and the old stand by Silver Dollar City, which has been around since the 1960’s. which started as a recreation of a frontier town, but has since evolved into a family entertainment destination.

In the 1960’s Branson was a quiet town, much like many others that sat on or close to a big lake.  Table Rock Lake, which is easily the biggest draw for me, was a primarily fishing lake, with some boating, and water skiing thrown in.

The shoreline was dotted with a few homes, and a few resorts. Today, the lake is much more populated, and is still being built out.

Branson and the surrounding area has lost some of it’s charm of the 60’s, but Table Rock Lake, and Lake Taneycomo still provide good fishing, and many picturesque views.

Possibly the best thing about living in Branson, and the surrounding area is the relatively low cost of living.   The winters in this part of the country are usually not severe, with only a few months of cold weather, and minimal snow, and ice to worry about.

This combination of lower cost of living, and warmer temperatures, makes the Branson area a great place to live, regardless whether it’s full time, as a retirement home, or as a weekend, or vacation destination.

There are many dining options, and of course, Branson is the live entertainment capital of the US, yes, even exceeding Las Vegas.

So, if you don’t mind the RV’s and campers, and some long lines once in a while, and some extra speed boats harshing your buzz,  you can have the best of both worlds. Peaceful lake living, and exciting night life.  Branson still is hard to beat.

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3. San Diego, California

san-diego-nights
San Diego is much more than a Navy town.

San Diego, California is a large city in southern California, on the Pacific Ocean coast, about 120 miles south of Los Angeles, California, and on the border with the country of Mexico to the south.

San Diego has a population of about 1.4 million people, and is the second largest city in California.  It is known for it’s sunny, comfortable year round weather, many beaches, and it’s partnership with the  US Navy. It is also known for fabulous seafood, and authentic Mexican cuisine.

San Diego is considered the birthplace of California, and was the first site on the west coast of the United States that the Europeans visited, in 1542 by Spain.  In 1850, after the Mexican – American war, it became part of the United States, along with the admission of California.

San Diego is a big Navy town, and has several Naval bases: NAS Miramar, NAS North Island, and Naval Base San Diego or 32nd Street.

San Diego has many attractions besides it’s beaches,  such as historic Balboa Park, and the San Diego Zoo, considered one of the best in the country.

San Diego’s close proximity to Mexico offers opportunities to experience what it’s like in another country.

With it’s smaller population compared to it’s neighbor to the north, Los Angeles, it is easier to get around in San Diego, and may be a better place to raise a family than LA, due to LA’s high crime rate, and it’s crazy Hollywood culture.

San Diego’s drawbacks are it’s high cost of living ( although not as high as LA, or San Francisco ), large illegal immigrant population, and it’s earthquakes. It lies on the San Andreas fault, the largest, and most active fault in the country.  It’s beautiful weather, fabulous seafood,  and gorgeous beaches, however, will trump all of the negatives.

2. San Francisco, California

golden-gate-bridge-san francisco
Sunsets and sunrises are spectacular on the SF bay

San Francisco, California, is a large city in northern California. It sits on the San Francisco Bay, of the Pacific Ocean.  The city’s population is just under 900,000, and is the 4th largest city in California, and the 13th largest in the United States.

If you include the surrounding cities of Oakland, and San Jose, making up the Bay Area, it becomes the fifth largest metropolitan area in the nation with 8.7 million people.

San Francisco was founded in 1776 by the country of Spain.  It’s population, and prestige grew in 1849 due to the California Gold Rush.

San Francisco is known for the Golden Gate Bridge which spans San Francisco Bay between itself and Oakland. It is also known for the now defunct island prison of Alcatraz, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, fog, and Chinatown.

San Francisco has suffered two major earthquakes in it’s recent history, in 1906, and in 1989.  Both times the city rebuilt, and prospered.

There may be no more beautiful city in the world when the sun sets on the San Francisco Bay over the Golden Gate Bridge.  This sight alone may account for much of it’s astronomical cost of living, especially along the bay.

It is also a very cosmopolitan city with residents from many countries around the world. It is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and one could eat at a different country cuisine restaurant most any day of the year. And, of course the seafood is second to none.

This area (San Jose) is home  to Silicon Valley, which is the technology hub of the universe and features superstar tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo.  It is also home to many other corporations, and prominent institutions of higher learning such as Stanford University.

The drawbacks beside the super high cost of living (a typical home can be 4 to 6 times as expensive as a comparable home in the midwest) are: it can get quite cool, even cold in the summer, especially when the breeze picks up off the bay.  It is a relatively small area with a dense population, and that can cause problems with traffic, and waits for public events, restaurants, etc.

San Francisco is a great place to visit, and yes, I want to live there too.

1.  Steamboat Springs, Colorado

steamboat-springs
Steamboat Springs barn in winter.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a town in the Rocky Mountains in northwestern Colorado, with a present day population of 12,000  The town got it’s name from early trappers that heard a chugging sound that they said sounded like a steamboat coming down the river, that turned out to be coming from one of the local springs.

The city, also know as Steamboat, is a winter ski resort destination that is known around the world. In addition to world class skiing, ski jumping is big in the area, and is featured at the Howelsen Ski Area.

The town hosts an annual Winter Carnival which showcases ski racing, ski jumping, dog sledding, and chariot races.

The Yampa river runs through the town of Steamboat Springs.  The Yampa valley and  surrounding area contains several geothermal hot springs.  There are two public hot springs.

Old Town Hot Springs in the largest, and Strawberry Park Hot Springs known for it’s excellent stargazing is located a few miles out of town.

If skiing, and ski jumping aren’t your thing, there is always activities at the Yampa River, like tubing, rafting, fishing, and kayaking.

The Yampa River festival takes place the first week of every June.  This features a kayak rodeo, a Crazy River Dog contest, and a down river race.

Steamboat gets a lot of snow every winter, and the townspeople embrace it.  It does get cold there, but it is a dry cold, and it is more bearable than other winter destinations.

If skiing isn’t your thing, you can take a Gondola to the top of the mountain, and feast your eyes on the breathtaking views, while you relax and have a meal.  The awe inspiring winter scenes are never ending, and having a camera with you at all times is a must have.

Perhaps the best thing about living in this gorgeous town, is the fact that it is unspoiled. The air is incredibly fresh, especially on the slopes, and the only pollution to be concerned about comes from the cars driving through town.

Each time I visit Steamboat Springs, I see or experience natural beauty that I hadn’t seen or experienced before, and when I leave, I often think of returning, maybe this time to live. If you love winter like I do, Steamboat is as good as it gets.

Honorable mention favorite cities:  Ft. Myers, Florida, Denver, Colorado, Vero Beach, Florida, Manhattan Beach, California, Phoenix(Scottsdale), Arizona, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

This is my list of the 5 best towns in the US to live in.  What are the 5 best towns in the US to live from your experience?

Green House – How to Go Eco Friendly & Save

Real Estate Drones

 

 

 

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How to Buy a Privately Owned Home & Save Money

How to Buy a Privately Owned Home & Save Money

privately-owned-home
How to buy a privately owned home.

 

Despite what you may have been told, it is very possible to find a great deal with a privately owned home.  There are, however, certain things you should do, in order to make this a reality. Here you will learn how to buy a privately owned home and save money.

First of all, what is a privately owned home?  A privately owned home is any home that is currently owned by someone that is current on his or her mortgage payments, or has paid his or her home off in full. Privately owned homes are also called retail properties, or market properties.

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The owner should be up to date with any tax payments, and any Home Owners Association fees, etc.  In other words, it is a home that is not in default, or foreclosure, and is not in process of a short sale.

I also like to preclude homes that are involved with Probate, in the definition of a privately owned home.  A For Sale By Owner or FSBO home is also technically a privately owned home, but it involves a different approach, so I won’t include it here.

For sale privately owned homes are included in the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. They are also posted on many different real estate websites, which anyone with a computer and internet access can find and use. The problem with using internet websites other than the MLS, is they are often not up to date.

If you are on Zillow, or Realtor, com, or any of the others, you may be looking at a listing that is expired, cancelled, or sold.  I have seen homes on these websites that have been off the market for months, yet are still included with their listings. Even the MLS from time to time, isn’t updated right away by the listing agent, but normally for no more than a day or two.

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Hire a Buyer’s Real Estate Agent
realtors
Find and hire a good buyer’s real estate agent.

The single most important thing you can do when in the market for a home, no matter if you are looking for a foreclosure, or for a privately owned home, or both, is to find and hire a good buyer’s real estate agent.  There are many reasons why this is the case.

It does not cost you a penny more to have your own buyer’s agent.  The real estate commission is paid by the seller of the property, not by you, the buyer.   So, in effect, you are getting many great professional real estate services for free!

Why would anyone not take advantage of that?  If you don’t use a buyer’s agent, and simply use the seller’s agent of the property you are interested in, you are making a big mistake. The seller’s  or listing agent has been hired by the seller to represent them.

Many times it is a close friend, or a family member that has the seller’s best interest at heart.  This means that they may not provide you with any negative information about the home that they don’t have to.

They may not give you the best information regarding how to negotiate, which is vital.  Also, the seller’s agent won’t provide you with information from competing homes, unless they have that listing also, and you may well miss out on a better home, and a better deal.

A buyer’s agent, on the other hand, will find out from you exactly what you are looking for in the way of a home.  How many bedrooms, baths, square footage, etc.  Where you would like to live, and of course, your price range.

You may have other criteria such as age of the home, school district location,  etc. Your buyer’s agent will email you pictures, and details of what you like, and leave it up to you to pick your favorites.

At this point, they will set up showings for these homes, and while at the showing, point out features of the home that you may not be aware of.

A buyer’s agent can also perform a comparable or comp search of sold properties for you. These comps will tell you what similar homes in the area have recently sold for, and give you an idea of how much a home you are interested in is worth.

Some homeowners have an unrealistic expectation of what their home is worth, caused by an emotional attachment, what they originally paid for it, or changing market conditions.

Sometimes seller’s agents, in order to appease the seller, or out of their own greed, will price homes well above market value in hopes they will come across an uninformed buyer.  Without a buyer’s agent to advocate for you, it is possible to fall into this overpriced trap.

In order to secure the services of a loyal, invaluable buyer’s agent, you have to sign a Buyer’s Agency agreement.  This agreement states that you will use this buyer’s agent exclusively in your search, and in return, the agent will represent you, and advocate for you in a forthright, and professional manner.

There are normally no additional fees, unless added on as a stipulation of the contract by the agent.  The only fee a buyer’s agent may charge you, is if you decide to buy a FSBO, For Sale By Owner home, that he wouldn’t get paid for, and if so, you may be able to negotiate that the FSBO owner pay the fee.

The time period that this agreement stays in place is negotiable. The usual time period for a Buyer’s Agency agreement is 3-6 months. If you don’t purchase a home within this preset time frame, you are free to use the services of another agent, or sign a new agreement with the same agent, if you so choose.

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The Early Bird Gets the Worm, but The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese

early-bird-gets-worm
The early bird gets the worm.

The key to finding a great deal in the retail real estate market is patience. If you are desperate to find a home, or if you find a home that you really like, it may be difficult to keep from making a full offer.

If, however, you are not desperate, and you are willing to pass on a home you really like if it is priced too high, or the seller is not willing to accept

second-mouse-gets-the-cheese
The second mouse gets the cheese.

your lower offer, you will have a greater chance of finding a deal.

You also give yourself a chance to find a great deal if you are willing to do some work on a home.  Many homeowners for whatever reason, do not upgrade, or update, repair, or sometimes even clean up their homes and property before they put it on the market to sell.

As most buyers are looking for updated, and move in ready, or very close to move in ready, you can find some deals if you are willing to look past what is needed in a home, and do some or all of the work yourself, or hire contractors to do the work for you.

Many homes only need cosmetic upgrades such as carpet, paint, new wallpaper, hardwoods to be refinished, old paneling removed, bushes and trees trimmed or removed, decks repaired, etc.  But, because the needed upgrades make the home look so unappealing, a lot of buyers will disregard it, and it can present an opportunity for a savvy buyer.

Another key to landing that great deal is to offer correctly.  You have to be a little careful not to offer too low, as you don’t want to insult the seller.  I have seen sellers that simply refuse to deal with a buyer that made them a low ball offer. Yet, you want to offer low enough to ensure you will see some built in equity in the home when you take ownership of it.

You can also make up some difference in price, if you ask the owner to make some of the needed repairs and upgrades himself, by writing it in the contract offer.  You can also ask for the seller to pay some or all of your closing costs to compensate for price.

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It is also important to be flexible.  If you can live with a school district that is not your favorite, or an unfinished basement instead of a walk out finished basement, or a 2 story instead of a ranch, or other amenities, and locations, you will open yourself up to a wider choice of properties, and increase your chances of finding that great deal.

Have a Professional Home Inspection Performed

professional home inspector
Have a professional home inspection performed.

Most real estate sales contracts contain a statement that allows the buyer 10 days from date of accepted contract to have an inspection performed on the property, and that the purchase is contingent on the inspection.

You may want to write in to the contract that you want 15 days for the inspection, just to give yourself a little more time. and that the offer is contingent on the inspection just to cover yourself.

If the inspection reveals issues that were not provided by the sellers disclosure, or by the seller over and above the sellers disclosure, you will then have the ability to adjust your offer price, ask for the seller to have the needed repairs done for you, or back out of the deal completely.

At the very least, the inspection will let you know the condition of the major systems of the home, so you will know what you can expect to have to repair or replace, and when, and allow you to set aside the needed funds.

A typical home inspection costs approximately $500, at least in the midwest in 2016, but it is too important to skip.  It is money well spent, and provides an escape clause for you, should it reveal more than you are willing to take on.

Let’s review.  In order to give yourself the best chance to find a great deal with a privately owned home you must:  Find and hire a good buyer’s real estate agent. Sign a buyer’s agency agreement with your new buyer’s agent.

Tell your buyer’s agent exactly what you are looking for in a home in regard to amenities, location, and price. Be as flexible as possible with your home preferences.  Be patient.

Don’t over offer on homes that you may be able to pick up at a lower price. Don’t worry if you can’t strike a deal on a home you like.  There will be others as long as you are flexible and patient.

Be willing to look past needed upgrades and repairs, as this can mean discounts on selling prices and terms. Make offers low, but not too low, and write in contract that offer is contingent on an inspection.

If you follow these guidelines, your next privately owned home purchase will be successful. Good luck!

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How to Buy Foreclosures at the Courthouse Steps

How to Buy Government Foreclosures

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Green House – How to Go Eco Friendly & Save Money

Green House – How to Go Eco Friendly & Save Money

green-house
More houses are going green, or eco friendly.

 

When I say green house, I don’t mean the greenhouses or hot houses made of glass to grow various things at all times of the year. You know, the kind made of glass that were very common in the 60’s and 70’s, like when I was growing up.

There was a series of these right next to a base ball field where our group of neighborhood friends used to play, in deep right field, and in foul territory. We called it Fred’s field, and the field and the greenhouses were owned by Fred, thus the name.

kid-playing-baseball
Green houses are healthier for your family also.

If you got hold of one and hit it to the opposite field, my being a right handed hitter primarily, it could hit the glass either on the fly or on a bounce, and occasionally break the glass.

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I am quite sure that ol’ Fred, the owner of the greenhouses didn’t like us much due to our causing him more work and expense to replace the broken glass, but he said little to us to make us stop.

No, I mean a green house that is eco friendly, and environmentally conscious. Seems like everything is going green today, and that includes how homes are built, and how homes are treated once they are built. It also includes how many things are treated inside the house that have also eco friendly effects.

If you have been thinking of buying a home, or are currently in the market for a home, you may want to consider going green. Although there are few 100% green homes available to buy on the real estate market, it is very possible to find a home with green elements to it, and, you may even want to consider building a green home.

More and more homeowners are adding green elements to their homes, and the amount of home buyers building green homes has increased substantially in the last 6 to 8 years. These numbers continue to increase each year.

Due to these increasing numbers of buyers going green, there are now a good deal of options available to new home buyers that want to have reduced energy costs, lower the environmental impact of their home, and improve their home’s quality, and value.

The lower costs of technology, and materials related to the growing green housing market, now make the option of purchasing a green house, more and more practical for a larger number of people.

There are currently many home builders that specialize in building green, environmentally conscious homes, and some builders exclusively build these types of homes.

Even home builders that don’t specialize in building green homes, are beginning to provide green home options for their customers. Check in your local area for green builders, and be sure to talk to a few of their customers before you decide to use them.

You may even find green building products, and green technology right in your own cities’ home store or hardware store.

Here are some ways you can take advantage of for your new or existing home to go green.

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Use Materials That Are Sustainable
bamboo-floor
Use sustainable building materials such as bamboo floors.

Sustainable building materials can be used for the frame, roof, flooring, decks, and other surfaces, and structures, and lower the impact of your home build on the environment.

When a wood supplier is picked that uses sustainable planting procedures called silviculture,  it is a renewable resource.  The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, has contacts of suppliers that follow these practices.

Certain types of sustainable flooring materials that provide good insulation, give you good climate control, and have the environmental friendliness that is needed are bamboo, linoleum, and cork.

You could also utilize recycled building materials such as recycled glass, recycled plastic, or reclaimed lumber.

Buy or Build Smaller

small-wooden-house
You can save money and help save the environment with a smaller house.

There is a trend today to make use of smaller homes and spaces. I’m sure you have seen some of the tiny houses that are being built, on some of the real estate type channels like HGTV.

Personally, I am not a fan of the tiny house, at least as a primary residence, but I could certainly make do with a tiny house as a weekend, or another temporary kind of residence.

But the idea of going smaller from an environmental responsibility standpoint is a very good one.  Less is more, as you will have less space to heat, and cool, less materials needed to build, less negative emissions into the atmosphere,  and less house to maintain.

Many people nowadays are looking to go smaller as a result of the empty nest syndrome of their kids moving out for college or work, or just to have less home to take care of and pay for.

Oftentimes too, there are areas of homes that are seldom, if ever used, so why build a home that is larger than what is really needed.  You may be able to be just fine with a smaller living space.

Going Solar

solar-panels
Many homes are going to solar today.

Solar energy derived from the sun, has been around for many years. It’s technology has improved, but it still has some drawbacks for many consumers. Solar is a clean technology, and is good for the environment, but it can be expensive to purchase the needed solar equipment, and it can be expensive to maintain.

The upfront costs will likely disappear after years of use in cost savings, but if you move in a few years after you buy it, you may not recoup your costs in the resale of your home.

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It is very possible to qualify for incentives, grants, and tax breaks by having a solar powered home.  There are also some utility companies that will purchase the excess energy that solar power can generate. Check with your local provider to see what they may be willing to do.

Utilizing Rain Water

rain-water
Rainwater harvesting systems can supply some of your household water needs.

Utilizing rain water for your household water needs will not be an option if you live in Los Angeles or Phoenix, but it could well be an option for most other parts of the US of A.

Rainwater harvesting systems can be installed when building your green home, or added to an existing home.  Rain water is primarily collected from roofs, and stored in a receptacle tank, or barrel.  The most common uses for rain water is in plumbing systems, and for sprinkler systems.

Tankless Water Heaters

tankless-water-heater
Tankless water heaters save money, energy, and space.

Tankless or On Demand Water Heaters, heat water as it passes through a heating element.  This technology has been  around for the last 25 years or so, but has become much more commonly used in the last 10 or so years.

The biggest environmental benefit with tankless, or on demand, is that less water is used, as a result of only the water needed is heated. When using a tank water system, a large amount of water is heated, and much of it may never be used.

It is very energy efficient to use the tankless water system.  There is also space savings as no water tank is needed, and fewer pipes, vents, drains, etc.

Other household water saving devices or appliances are: water saving washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, faucets,  and shower heads.

These items are usually close to the same price as their non water saving brethren, and can save you some money in the long term, as well as less energy usage, which is good for the environment.

Use Thermostats You can Program

heating-and-ac programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats can save you 50% or more on your energy bills.

If you are like me, you like the temperature in the house cooler at night, and somewhat warmer during the day.  It also makes sense to not excessively heat or cool your house while you are at work, or away from the home for extended  periods of time for any other reason.

With a programmable thermostat, you can set the times you want the house to be whatever temperature you like. This can save you a lot of money in utility costs, and keep you from wasting large amounts of energy, which of course, benefits the environment.

Other ways you can save energy around the home are: Making sure your ductwork is clean on the inside, straight, connected properly, and air tight.  If you feel air leaking from the duct work, seal it with duct tape.

Check windows and doors for air leakage.  Use caulk, and weather stripping to seal, and winterize against any escaping heat, or air conditioning.

Use ventilating fans only as needed. Leaving them on for long periods can pull a tremendous amount of needed hot or cold air from the home.

Keep garage doors closed. This is a good idea not only from a security standpoint, but open garage doors can cause a vacuum effect, and pull hot or cold air out of the house and into the great outdoors, which does zero good.

Consider putting on a hoodie, or your favorite pair of sweatpants when hanging around the house in the winter. Since we lose 90% of our body heat through the top of our heads, adding a cap or a hood could prevent you from raising that thermostat in the winter, and save you money, and energy in the process.

Use a portable heater. If you find that you and your family spend most of your time in one or two rooms of the house, why not use a portable heater to heat just that room.

You can also close the vents in the rooms you don’t use, and this will force more of the heated or cooled air into the rooms you have the ducts open. This will require less energy to heat or cool those rooms, saving you dollars, and helping the environment.

Use Geothermal Energy

geothermal-wonder
Geothermal uses energy from the earth to heat and cool your home.

Geothermal energy is more expensive initially, but provides cost savings down the road.  Geothermal uses energy from the earth to heat and cool your home by using an underground loop system that draws heat in the winter, and pulls heat from the air in the summer.

For more green house ideas, go to the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency website, or use the search engines.

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