Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Safety in the Workplace

Today will end our Holiday Safety series. We hope you have enjoyed it and have learned some new tips on how to stay safe during the Holiday Season.

Remember, all of this information can be found on Travelers’ website: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.

Here are some helpful hints to consider when putting up, taking down, and living with holiday decorations in the workplace:

  • Make sure new hires are familiar with their surroundings and responsibilities. While they may have a lot of industry experience, your unique facility is still unfamiliar territory.
  • Train employees in proper lifting techniques and ladder safety.
  • Ensure that your candles are battery operated. Decorations also go hand-in-hand with potential accidents and injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the top 4 highest days of the year for candle fires happen between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. So in a busy retail environment, or even in the office, faux candles may be best.
  • Choose your decorations wisely. Many of them are combustible, or will burn. Things like paper, decorated trees and wreaths will increase the fire load in a small business. Keep them away from heat or other ignition sources.
  • Use extension cords properly, and be sure you aren’t “daisy-chaining” them in order to extend a decoration or a theme to an area where the plug cannot reach. Aside from a potential trip and fall incident, this is also a fire hazard.
  • Choose smart locations for any additional holiday displays and products. Be sure you are not covering up emergency exit signs, over-crowding aisle ways—anything that would make it difficult to get out in an emergency situation.
  • Be sure decorations are secured properly and traffic can navigate easily around them, especially when it comes to big displays.
  • Maintain appropriate inventory levels. Over-stocking shelves could lead to items toppling onto staff or customers.
  • As a general rule, always take the time to scan your facility to make sure it’s safe for customers and employees. It should be a part of your daily process to open and/or close up shop.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog; and remember, to think of us next time you need insurance!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Home Improvements

The energy-efficient home upgrades tax credit is scheduled to expire on December 31st this year.  If you need to make improvements to your home, this could be an incentive to do it before the end of the year.  If you have already made qualifying improvements without realizing the tax credit is available, it may seem like a holiday gift you weren't expecting.
energy home.pngThe equipment must be installed to qualify for the credit which can put you under a time crunch.  Heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, doors, skylights, water heaters and home weatherization may qualify.
The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit has been available for purchases since January 1, 2011.  The tax credit is 10% of up to $5,000 of qualifying improvements which would make a maximum of $500 tax credit.
The cumulative maximum amount of tax credit that can be claimed by a taxpayer in the different years this law has been in effect is $500.  If it has been claimed in previous years, the taxpayer is not eligible for this credit for additional new purchases.
For more information, see energy.gov or talk to your tax professional.

Holiday Safety Tips: Packing and Storage

Christmas is only 9 days away!

It seems hard to believe, but 2014 is also just around the corner. This also means that in only a few short weeks it will be time to put away the holiday decorations.

It’s a sad time when the Christmas tree and stockings are put away, but it’s also a sad time if someone gets hurt.

Here are some helpful reminders from Travelers for you to remember when it’s time to take down the holiday decorations.
  • Inspect and discard damaged decorations prior to packing and storing them.
  • Disassemble, pack and store all decorations according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store decorations in a dry location that is out of the reach of children and pets, as well as heat sources and open flames.
  • Stack boxes in a corner or other stable location, and never higher than eye level to avoid injury or damage from toppling.

Visit Travelers’website to find more holiday safety information https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.

Tomorrow will end this little Holiday Safety series, and we will be discussing safety in the workplace during the Holidays.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Emails and Attachments

Today we are going to look at ways to protect yourself while sending emails and viewing attachments and some general online safety.

This information was taken from Traveler’s website: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx

Emails and Attachments
  •  Do not send personal information in email or instant messages. Emails are out of your control once sent, and can be easily intercepted.
  • Only open attachments from senders you know and trust. If unsure, you can run a virus scan on attachments before opening.
  • Do not download files or programs or click on links from senders you do not know and trust. Consider whether to open emails from retailers if you know you are not on their email list. If you are unsure if an email came from a trusted source, hover over the link to see where it leads.
  • If you receive unsolicited spam email, do not respond or click on any links in the email.
  • Be cautious of emails you receive regarding your financial accounts. If you are not sure of the email's validity, contact your financial institution directly.
General Online Safety
  • Limit personal information you put on the Internet. Social media sites can be good for networking, but identity thieves can use the information you share.
  • Keep your Web browser up to date. This can help ensure the latest security features are installed.
  • Avoid storing personal information, account numbers and personal identification numbers on your computer.
  • Install firewall and anti-virus software. This can help protect you from exposure to malicious cyber attacks.
  • Choose strong passwords and keep them private.
On Monday we will look at ways to safely pack and store those holiday decorations.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Online Shopping Safety

Today we are going to look at ways to protect yourself while doing online shopping.
This is taken from the Traveler's webiste:
  • You should research retailers to make sure they are reputable and have a secure network and website. Avoid buying from a site that does not have a secure socket layer (SSL) encryption installed. Look for the 's' at the beginning of a URL – HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// – to help determine if a site is SSL secured.
  • Read the site's privacy policy to learn how the personal information you provide will be used.
  • Use only one credit card for online purchases. Be sure to open statements when received to check for fraudulent charges or activity.
  • If you receive an email regarding sales or discounts from a particular retailer, log on directly to the official website for the business. Avoid linking to it from an unsolicited email.
Tomorrow we will look at emails and attachments.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Holiday Theft

Today we will be looking at ways theft happens over the holidays. There is porch pirating, parking lot pilfering, and personal id theft.

Below are ways to prevent such theft from happening to you. These tips are taken from Traveler’s website: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.

Porch pirating
When having packages delivered to your home, beware of “porch pirating” – when a thief steals delivered packages from your doorstep or porch. Thieves can follow delivery trucks, watching for prime targets. These thieves commonly strike during working hours as many homes are empty at that time. To help avoid this situation, when possible, have your packages delivered to a location where they can be received in person, such as a neighbor’s or relative’s house. If your employer allows it, consider having your package delivered to work.

When making a purchase online, if the retailer provides the option, choose a specific delivery time. If purchasing from a larger retailer, consider having your package delivered to a local store for pick-up. Take advantage of delivery alerts so you can be notified when a package arrives at your home. If you are not available to pick it up, ask a trusted neighbor to take your package inside for safekeeping.

When possible, request the delivery company to hold your package at their closest pick-up facility until you can pick it up. You also can ask the shipper to require a signature confirmation of delivery in order to prevent packages being left when no one is home to sign for them. It also is helpful to provide delivery instructions so packages can be left out of sight from your yard or the road.

Parking lot pilfering
Your parked vehicle can be a prime target for thieves. They often will break windows or punch locks to gain access to items left in plain view. Open windows and unlocked doors also can make your car an easy target. To help reduce the risk of theft from your vehicle, always lock your doors, even if you are quickly running in somewhere, and be sure to put the windows up in your car when leaving it unattended.

Park your vehicle in well-lit, high-traffic areas and away from larger vehicles or shrubs. Thieves can target cars in isolated areas in order to “work” without drawing attention.

Do not keep any items – including your purse or wallet – in plain view. Clearly visible items can catch the eye of a thief. Be sure to stow and secure all items prior to reaching your destination. Thieves often watch parking lots for people stowing items in their trunk. Also, be sure to remove any portable accessories, such as GPS units and stereo faceplates, when leaving your car.

Personal ID theft
Sixty-two percent of Americans worry about the potential for ID theft, according to the
2013 Travelers Consumer Risk Index, and the holidays are a prime time for thieves to target their victims. To help reduce the chances of falling victim to ID theft, keep the amount of personal information you carry in your wallet or purse at a minimum. Always take credit card and ATM receipts. Do not throw them into public trash containers or leave them on the counter as thieves can pick up the receipt.

Guard your credit card or debit card when making purchases or using an ATM machine. Shield your hand when typing in personal identification numbers. It is critical to always be aware of who is around you, as some identity thieves have been known to copy credit card information or even use cellphone cameras to snap pictures of cards.

Tomorrow's blog will talk about online shopping safety!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Ladder Safety

The following information is taken from Traveler's website where it features different tips on how to stay safe this Holiday Season.


Ladder Safety 

Ladder safety should start before even stepping foot on one. The improper use of a ladder, or using an object other than a ladder to reach an item, can result in serious injury due to over – reaching or falling. Statistics suggest that workers are more likely to abuse and misuse ladders rather than use them correctly in the workplace.

There are a number of factors that must be considered when working with ladders, and following key practices of ladder safety can help prevent a potential injury.

  • Inspect a ladder for cracks, loose rungs, slivers and sharp edges prior to every use. If the ladder appears to be in poor condition, do not use it.
  • Use caution while carrying or moving ladders.
  • Practice team lifting if the ladder is too long or heavy for one person to move.
  • Ladders should be carried horizontally rather than vertically, unless it is lightweight or under eight feet tall.
  • Ensure ladders are set on firm ground and against a solid support during use.
  • When using a non-self-supporting ladder, which must lean against a wall or other support, be sure to position it at such an angle that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is about 1/4 the working length of the ladder.
  • Always completely open the step ladder and make certain it is stable before using it.
  • Make note of the maximum intended load and manufacturer's rated capacity when selecting and using ladders.
  • Do not stand higher than the second step from the top.
  • Never stand or sit on the top step.
  • Do not use metal ladders near electrical exposures.
Tomorrow we will look at holiday theft.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Winter Driving

The following information has been taken directly from Traveler's website. To see the original article, please go to https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.
Winter Driving Tips:
· Make sure your car is prepared for cold temperatures and wintery conditions like snow and ice. Keep your equipment properly maintained and include a winter survival kit in your vehicle: blankets, clothing essentials (sweatshirts/warm sweaters, gloves), security items (flashlight, candles, small knife, waterproof matches), water and food (energy bars or trail mix), first-aid kit, ice scraper, sand and salt, snow shovel, jumper cables, tow rope/strap.
· Clear snow and ice off your car – including windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk.
· Drive with your headlights on, and be sure to keep them clean to improve visibility.
· Use caution when snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic.
· Avoid using cruise control in snowy or icy conditions. In adverse conditions, you want as much control of your car as possible.
· Know how to brake on slippery surfaces. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes operate much differently from those that do not have anti-lock brakes. You should consult your vehicle's owner's manual for instructions on how to brake properly if your vehicle should start to skid.
· Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season. This helps ensure you have a source of heat if you are stuck or stranded.
· If you do venture out or are unexpectedly caught in a snowstorm and encounter problems, stay in your car and wait for help. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the pipe and enables the deadly gas to build up in your car. Open your window slightly to help prevent the buildup.
· Keep your windshield washer reservoir full, and make sure your car has wiper blades that are in good condition.
· Remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. You should reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen.
· Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy.
· Avoid passing snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers can have limited visibility, and the road in front of them could be worse than the road behind.
· Monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or Internet traffic and weather sites.
· If you must travel during a snowstorm or in blizzard conditions, be sure to let a relative, friend or coworker know where you are headed and your expected arrival time. Avoid the temptation to check or be on your phone while driving as all of your attention should be on arriving safely.
· Make sure all scheduled maintenance is up-to-date. This can help reduce the risk of a mechanical breakdown.
· Ensure that your tires are in good condition, properly inflated and have ample tread. If you live in an area where heavy snow is common, consider having snow or winter tires installed.
· Make sure your heater and window defrosters are working properly.
· Make sure your battery is in good condition.
· Consider putting all-weather or winter floor mats in your car.
Tomorrow we’ll look at ladder safety!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Fire Hazards - Decorations

Welcome to the second blog dedicated to helping keep your home fire free this holiday season!

Today, we are going to look at fire hazards relating to holiday decorating.

Here is a list of decorating tips:

1. Use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations.
2. If you have a fresh tree, make sure it is well watered at all times, and take it down after 4 weeks.
3. For menorahs use dripless candles.
4. Keep decorations and trees away from candles, fireplaces, and heaters.
5. Use lights tested for safety: look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or other notionally-recognized laboratories.
6. Consider using LED lights when possible:they run cooler, use less energy, and last longer than incandescent lights.
7. Inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets and loose or bare wires.
8. Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together.
9. Unplug electric lights and devices before replacing bulbs or changing parts or doing repairs.
10. Turn off all lights before leaving your home, office, or going to bed.
11. Use battery-operated candles.
12. Never leave candles unattended.

Outdoor decorations

1. Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters to reduce the risk of shock.
2. Secure lights and decorations and cords to prevent wind damage.
3. Never staple or nail through or fasten electrical wires or extensions cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation.
4. Keep your self and decorations at lest 10 feet from power lines.
5. Make sure decorations are well ventilated.
6. Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when putting up electrical decor.

All of this information can be found on Traveler's website:

Monday we will look at Winter Driving tips.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Fire Hazards - Cooking


Travelers and Triplett Insurance want to make sure you have a safe and happy holiday season. Over the next several days we are going to post a series of blogs relating to holiday safety.

Travelers has a wonderful website filled with information to help keep your holiday hazard free. We will be using this website for the information in the blogs we post over the next several days.

Our first two blogs will focus on fire hazards.

Did you know that home fires peak between December and February?

Did you know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round?

Below is a list of ways you can prevent cooking fires; because after all, only you can prevent cooking fires:

1. Never leave your range or cooktop unattended while cooking.
2. When cooking, it is important to wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves.
3. Keep your cooking area clean and free of combustible materials.
4. Be sure to clean up any spilled or splattered grease.
5. Keep a fire extinguisher readily available.
6. Never throw hot grease in the garbage as it can ignite combustible materials.
7. Do not store food in your oven.
8. Always be alert when cooking.
9. Before using, make sure your kitchen appliances, including microwaves and toasters, are plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord as it can overheat or overload the circuit and cause a fire.

What to do if a cooking fire flares up:

1. If you don't know if it is safe to fight the fire, leave the scene and call 911 for help.
2. If a fire flares up and you are going to attempt to fight it, call 911 for help first.
3. Smother a grease fire - never throw water on a grease fire.
4. If a fire starts in your oven, keep the door closed and turn off the heat source. Do not open until the flames are completely out.
5. If a fire starts in the microwave, turn off the microwave and do not open it until the fire is completely out.

Visit Traveler's website to learn more about how to prevent cooking fires

Tomorrow we will look at fire hazards relating to holiday decorating.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thinking About Refinancing Your Home?

Most people are familiar with the various reasons a homeowner refinances their home which generally result in two major benefits: saving interest and building equity.
refinance 250.jpgThere is however another reason to refinance which may not be as common which is to remove a person from the loan. In the case of a divorce, when one party wants to keep the home and the other party wants their equity out of the home, it is possible for the remaining party to refinance the home. If the equity is sufficient to justify it and the remaining owner can qualify for the new loan, the refinance can provide the proceeds to buy out the other spouse.
Refinancing to remove a person from the loan could also involve a situation where two or more heirs jointly own a property and have differing opinions on when to sell. The same situation could apply to a rental property with multiple owners and the refinance would provide a way to buy out a partner.
Sometimes, it’s not about taking cash out of the home to buy out the other party. If a person’s name is on the mortgage, they’re responsible if it goes to default. One party may be willing to deed the home to the other party but it doesn’t necessarily relieve them of the liability of the mortgage they originated.
Many times, once a person has made their mind to move on, they’ll take the fastest and easiest way out. Removing a person from the deed or a mortgage is a reason to consider obtaining legal advice to protect your interests. Refinance Analysis calculator.
Reasons to Refinance
1. Lower the rate
2. Shorten the term
3. Take cash out of the equity
4. Combine loans
5. Remove a person from a loan

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lower Your Interest Rate

The Mortgage Interest Deduction is available to homeowners for up to $1,000,000 of acquisition debt on the combination of their first and second home.  They can also deduct interest on up to an additional $100,000 of Home Equity debt.
shift debt.pngWhile Acquisition Debt is used to buy, build or improve a principal residence, the Home Equity Debt can be used for any purpose.  It can be used for educational or medical expenses, to purchase a personal car or boat, consolidate debts or pay off credit cards.
A homeowner with $15,000 of credit card debt at 19% and sufficient equity in their home could replace it with a home equity loan at much lower interest rate. Not only would the interest rate on the home equity loan be about 1/3 of the rate paid on the credit card, it’s would now be tax deductible.
If the taxpayer was in the 28% bracket, the net interest on a 6.5% loan would be 4.68% after tax benefits are considered.
Shifting personal debt to Home Equity debt can result in an interest deduction and probably, a lower interest rate. For more information see IRS Publication 936 page 10 and consult your tax professional.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Home Inspection Report

Home inspection.jpgOne of the anxiety highpoints during the sale of a home is waiting for the buyer’s home inspection report.  Most sellers willingly disclose what they know about their home to any potential buyers.  The concern stems from the inspector finding something that they’re totally unaware of and that it will either cost them a lot of money to correct or the buyer will simply use it to void the contract.
If the inspection does reveal some unknown problem with the home, it’s probably as big a surprise to the buyer who is not as emotionally or financially invested as the seller.  It is human nature to fear what you don’t understand and when a report identifies defects, they may simply opt-out of the home.
The solution to the situation may be for the seller to have the home inspected prior to putting it on the market.  There is still a risk of becoming surprised by an unknown defect which at that point, would have to be disclosed to potential buyers or repaired by the seller.  The advantage is that it creates a baseline to compare discrepancies that may arise when a future buyer has the home inspected.
If the seller’s inspection report is made available during the marketing process, it could give buyers a sense of confidence about the home even though they may still choose to have the home checked by their own inspector.
The cost of the inspection, possibly $500, keeps some sellers from taking this initiative when selling their home.  In an effort to minimize their expenses, they forego getting valuable, disinterested 3rd party advice that could help sell their home.  On a $175,000 home, the fee for the inspection will probably be less than 3/10 of one percent of the sales price.
Another option to the seller to increase marketability of the property and bolster buyer confidence in the home would be to offer a home protection plan.  Generally, the seller doesn’t incur cost for this coverage until the home is sold and there may even be some coverage for the seller during the listing period.  The benefit to the buyer is avoiding unanticipated expenses for specific items that are covered during their first year of ownership.
Contact me for recommendations of home inspectors or home protection plans.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Reduce the Risk of Higher Rates

interest.pngLenders, like any business, have to make a profit.  The cost of acquiring the funds, the operating costs to service and the expected profit margin are easily identified.  The variable in pricing is the type of mortgage and the credit worthiness of the borrower. 
A loan with a 3.5% down payment is riskier than a loan with 20% down payment.  If the lender has to take the property back to recover their expense, the margin is greater between what is owed and what the property is worth on an 80% mortgage. 
Credit scoring is a risk-based pricing method that allows a lender to be competitive in the market for the best loans from different borrower groups.  Individual lenders set their own levels for what they consider “A” credit which is reserved for the best rates.  If good credit is approximately 710 to 740, scores below that are considered higher risk and will have higher rates.
Risk must be assessed for both the borrower and the property that collateralizes the loan.  The borrower’s credit history and income stability are strongly evaluated by the lender but if a default should occur, the property must secure the loan to avoid a loss to the lender. 
Mortgage pricing.png
The challenge for some buyers is they are unaware of what their credit score is and how it will affect the interest rate offered by the lender.  It is to the buyer’s advantage to be pre-approved by a reputable lender prior to starting the process of looking for a home.  In some cases, the lender can actually improve the borrower’s credit score to help them qualify for a lower interest rate.
Contact me for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional - kexcell@triplettcompanies.com

Monday, September 30, 2013

Buying a New Home? Don't Do THIS

You’ve seen lists telling buyers what to do to find the right home but knowing what not to do can be just as important.  After finding the right home, negotiating a contract, making a loan application and inspections, buyers, understandably, start making plans to move and put their personal touches on the home.
In today’s tenuous lending environment, little things can derail the process which isn’t over until the papers are signed at settlement and funds distributed to the seller. Verifications are made by a lender at the beginning of the loan process to determine if the buyer qualifies for the mortgage. The verifications are usually done again just prior to the closing to determine if there have been any material changes to the borrower’s credit or income that might disqualify them.
Simply stated:

1. Don’t make any new major purchases that could affect your debt-to-income ratio 
2. Don’t apply, co-sign or add any new credit 
3. Don’t quit your job or change jobs 
4. Don’t change banks 
5. Don’t open new credit accounts 
6. Don’t close or consolidate credit card accounts without advice from your lender 
7. Don’t buy things for your new home until after you close 
8. Don’t talk to the seller without your agent

Your real estate professional and lender are working together to get you into your new home. It’s understandable to be excited about one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and that you feel you need to be getting ready for the move.
Planning is smart but don’t do anything that would affect your credit or income while you’re waiting to sign the final papers at settlement.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Housing Market

Some homeowners, who were not able to sell during the recession, chose to rent their homes instead.  In some cases, they didn't need to sell their home at the depressed prices and opted to rent it until the market recovered.
It's a valid strategy but there are time restrictions that could have serious tax implications for some homeowners.
Temporary Rental2.pngThe section 121 exclusion for gain in a principal residence requires that the home is owned and used as a main home for at least two years during the five year period ending on the date of the sale.  This allows a homeowner to rent their home for up to three years and still have some part of the exclusion available.
The sale of a home with a $200,000 gain that qualifies as a principal residence would result in no tax being paid by the owner.  Comparably, a rental property with the same gain could have a $30,000 or higher tax liability depending on the length of ownership and tax brackets of the investor.
The housing market has dramatically improved in the last year.  If you have a gain in a home that has been your principal residence and it has been rented less than three years, you might want to consider selling it while you qualify for the exclusion.
If you are considering a sale on your principal residence that has been rented, consult with your tax professional for advice on your specific situation.  For additional information, see IRS Publication 523.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Real Estate vs. Diamonds

How much is a one carat diamond worth? Anyone who has shopped for one knows that the price could have a significantly wide range of value. It's been said that purchasers  should consider the color, cut, clarity and carat size to compare stones but when it gets down to decision time, buyers still want to know “how much is it worth?”
Real estate valuation can be equally as confusing to the public. There are three commonly used tools that today’s home buyers rely on to make decisions but they vary significantly in the methods used to make the determination as well as the possible final consideration.
http://jonathansfinejewelers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bigstock-Diamond-4904031.jpgAppraisals are an opinion or estimate of value based on specific guidelines made by individuals who are licensed and possibly certified. Buyers and sellers may be reluctant to engage an appraiser because there is a fee of several hundred dollars that must be paid in advance even if no sale is ever consummated.
A Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO) as defined by the National Association of REALTORS® is an “estimate of the probable selling price of a property.” The Dodd-Frank Act describes a BPO as “an estimate…that details the probably selling price of a particular piece of real estate property and provides a varying level of detail about the property’s condition, market, and neighborhood, and information on comparable sales, but does not include an automated valuation model.”
A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is a commonly used tool of salespeople to provide information to buyers and sellers to facilitate a sale. In most cases, it would be difficult to distinguish a CMA from a BPO because the steps considered are essentially the same and practitioners commonly use the terms interchangeably.
Another method called Automated Value Model (AVM) use software to search available data on the Internet to arrive at an approximation of value. Zestimates found on the Zillow site use this method. AVM’s may not consider all the market activity such as MLS sales and active listings. They can’t make adjustments based on human experience and market knowledge.
For what it’s worth, a buyer or seller might want to acquire as much current and factual information as possible from a trusted real estate professional familiar with the market before making a decision on the largest single asset most people acquire.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Homeowners At A Young Age

Fannie Mae, in a recently released study, states that consumer attitudes continue to be favorable about homeownership, particularly with the younger generations, ages 18 to 34. Slightly over half of them think that owning makes more sense than renting when comparing the financial and lifestyle benefits.
FNMA NHS.png90% of aspiring owners expect to purchase a home someday and slightly over half think they’ll do it within five years. The primary challenges are having sufficient savings and the difficulty of getting a mortgage today. Younger renters see renting as a temporary stepping stone toward homeownership.
Homeowners are far more likely than renters to be “very positive” about their housing experience. Some of the benefits identified are:
• Having control over what you do with your living space 
• Having a sense of privacy and security 
• Having a good place for your family or to raise your children 
• Having the best investment plan 
• Living in a nicer home 
• Building up wealth 
• Saving for retirement 
• Living in a place where you and your family feel safe 
• Feeling engaged in your community
To satisfy a buyer’s doubts about qualifying for a mortgage, make an appointment with a trusted mortgage professional. If you’d like a recommendation at no cost or obligation, please contact me at kexcell@triplettcompanies.com.  Check out this Rent vs. Own to see the real cost of owning a home.
For more information about the Fannie Mae survey in presentation form, Click Here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What is an Independent Insurance Agency?

What is an Independent Insurance Agency?
An Independent Insurance Agency is not limited to writing insurance policies with one insurance company, but can shop multiple insurance companies and find the best price and coverage for their customers.

What is a Captive Agency?
A Captive Agency is limited to one insurance company.

What is the difference between an Independent Insurance Agency and a Captive Agency?

The difference between an Independent Agency and a Captive Agency is an Independent Agency can provide quotes from several different insurance companies; however, a Captive Agency can only provide one quote from one company.
For example, Tom and Sarah have insurance with a Captive Agency (State Farm, Allstate, American Family, etc), and they just received their renewal bill. Their policy premium increased over $100 from last year. They call their agency and asked for a quote from another company. The Captive Agency cannot help them because they can only sell that one brand of insurance (State Farm, Allstate, American Family, etc.).

 Now let’s use the same scenario, but this time Tom and Sarah are insured through an Independent Insurance Agency. Tom and Sarah receive their renewal premium and it has increased over $100 from last year. They call their agency, and the agency quotes the policy with several companies to find the best price and company for Tom and Sarah.
The advantage of doing business with an Independent Agency is that they do the insurance shopping for you.