Archive for February, 2011

Fire Happens: Protect Your Investment
February 26, 2011

It seems the world is on fire.

Many states including California andĀ Utah are ablaze with life-threatening, home-threatening flames. It’s a common scenario for the season. Unless, those fires are hitting close to your home.

Protecting a home from the perils of fire is a very hot topic today.

The first three recommendations I would like to make are these:

  • 1. Get insurance
  • 2. Get insurance
  • 3. Get insurance

On the morning news I watched a man interviewed by probing reporters as he stood in the midst of his once beautiful 20-acre paradise. His charred home was a pile of rubble and the trees surrounding him grim silhouettes still smoldering in the grey morning chill. He didn’t have any homeowner’s insurance. He was mad. He was very, very angry that the fire had been allowed to consume his home. “They told me that it would never happen. It happened,” he said shaking his head. He appeared to be in a mild state of shock.

Sometimes despite best efforts by safety experts, fires get out of control.

Homeowner’s insurance will protect you and your lifetime investment in the unlikely event of a fire. Check your policy for fire coverage. Make sure your personal belongings are included in the policy. Purchase “replacement value” insurance to assure your insurance company will pay to replace your home (and not just pay what is owed on it).

You might never cash in on the cost of homeowner’s insurance premiums. Consider including the premiums in your entertainment budget because knowing you have insurance will help you relax more and more often than any vacation ever will!

Do Your Part to Protect Your Home from Fire

It is important to consider fire safety at every stage of buying or building a home. When choosing a building lot, be completely aware of the surroundings. Wooded lots are lovely, but they do pose an increased risk of fire due to the fuel that surrounds them. Look for other safety considerations and make a plan for how you will physically protect your home and property.

When building a home, take into consideration the many fire-retardant materials available on the building market today. Build fire safety into your plans with plenty of accessible exits, and recommended windows to allow easy escape. Contact your local fire station for other recommendations specific to your area.

In an existing home, double-check smoke detectors and change the batteries regularly. Create a family escape plan. Avoid heavy build up of newspapers and trash in and around the home. Never store flammable liquids near the home. Make a sweep through your garage at least once a week to check for potentially dangerous chemicals.

Keep trees, shrubs and other vegetation surrounding your home trimmed. Yard debris should be removed as soon as possible including dry leaves and pine needles.

There are many, many ways to protect your home from a potentially devastating fire. Fires throughout the nation are great reminders to consider fire safety and review the precautions you have taken to protect yourself.

Fire happens. Don’t let it happen to you.

 

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NAR Reports Rise in Home Sales
February 20, 2011

 

Existing-home sales exceeded analysts’ expectations by increasing by 12.3 percent in December. Homes sales are returning to their highest level since last May.

 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported seasonally adjusted sales rose to an annualized rate of 5.28 million last month from 4.7 million for November. Analysts had predicted a rate of approximately 4.9 million units.

 

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery. The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”

 

NAR said the median existing-home price in December was $168,000, down 1 percent from a year earlier, which was attributed to the number of distressed properties sold during the month. The level of distressed-home sales last month rose to 36 percent of the existing-home market, up from 33 percent in November and 32 percent last year.

 

Regarding distressed-home sales, Yun said, “The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues,”

 

NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said buyers are responding to very good affordability conditions despite tight mortgage credit. “Historically low mortgage interest rates, stable home prices, and pent-up demand are drawing home buyers into the market,” Phipps said. “Recent home buyers have been successful with very low default rates, given the outstanding performance for loans originated in 2009 and 2010.”

Home Security Options
February 4, 2011

 

There are many effective security options that protect your family and home and give you peace of mind. From inexpensive Do-It-Yourself methods to pricier security systems with monitoring centers, here are a few different home security products and methods to consider.

 

  • Installed Security Alarm Systems with Monitoring Services

These systems are the most expensive, typically costing $25 – $50 per month. You pay for the installation and the equipment as well, which is generally in addition to your monthly fee. Many of the companies that provide these systems also require you to sign a contract, which can keep you committed from 3-5 years. Although, you may be able to find companies who will negotiate month-to-month options.

 

In the event that you need assistance, you have direct access to help once the alarm is activated. Maintenance of such systems should be minimal, and most of these systems are accompanied by a warranty.

 

If you enter into a contract for a security alarm system, it can be difficult to get out of without paying a large fee. Also, unintentionally activating these alarms can cause problems if you aren’t home to turn them off, resulting in annoyed neighbors and a possible visit from your local police department.

 

  • DIY Security Alarm Systems

 

Much less expensive than the monitoring systems are basic sensor alarm systems. You can usually install these alarm systems yourself with the ability to connect the system to your phone lines to dial preselected numbers if the home’s security is breached. Many of these systems allow for a number of points of contacts at various doors and windows around the home. These security systems typically have alarms and flashing lights to alert anyone nearby of a potential problem.

 

Since these systems don’t have monitoring services, they rely on those in the home or around the home to contact the police as well as the reliability of the dialer to dial preselected emergency contacts. Many of these systems have warranties, and you typically don’t sign any contracts.

 

  • Surveillance Cameras

 

The cost for a full video surveillance system for many homeowners can be pricey, but if it’s something you’d like to consider, it should be used as a backup device to a basic home security alarm or installed system. Cameras can only deter someone from breaking in. Also, many people who have security cameras around their home neglect to actually monitor and record the activity around the home. There have been many reported thefts from homes with surveillance systems that were never resolved due to the fact that the homeowners could never refer to any footage because the cameras weren’t recording. So, if you choose to install surveillance cameras, make sure you use them properly.

 

  • Man’s Best Friend

Although you wouldn’t get a dog for the sole purpose of protecting your home, Fido can be a great alarm system when anything or anyone suspicious may be threatening your home.

 

  • Simply Advertising an Alarm

it’s not a necessarily an effective or reliable source of protection in the event of an actual burglary, but sometimes simply placing an alarm system advertisement outside can be enough of a deterrent to keep anyone away who may consider breaking into your home.

 

  • Reliable Locks on all Windows and Doors

 

Use sturdy, dependable deadbolt locks on all your doors. Keep windows locked when they’re not in use. Block your sliding doors or windows from being opened from the outside by measuring the window track when the window is open, and purchasing a piece of wood that will fit in the slot yet is sturdy enough not to break with force.

 

When leaving your home or going to bed, always ensure that your doors and windows are securely locked. Keep your home well lit, especially from the outside. Also, let your neighbors know if you are going out of town so you have someone aware of any suspicious activity happening around your home while you’re gone.