Bradenton Real Estate

January 7, 2013

7 Tips for Keeping Your Financial Fitness Resolution

tips for financial fitness

7 Tips for Keeping Your Financial Fitness Resolution

The new year is a great time to get yourself pointed in the right direction financially. “Making small improvements at the beginning of the year is a lot easier than trying to play catch-up,” says financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of “The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning.”
“Just as you would embark on an exercise program to lose weight and get physically fit, there are simple steps you can take that will lead to being financially healthy and fit.” Here are Rodgers’ seven tips for improving your financial life in 2013.

• Review your credit report – Borrowing money isn’t the only reason to check your credit. Employers check credit reports and so do insurance companies. Your credit score can have a profound effect on the amount you pay for auto and homeowners insurance — and perhaps on health and life insurance in the not-too-distant future. Order your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

• Set up an Automatic Savings Plan (ASP) – If your employer doesn’t offer this through payroll deduction you can set one up through your bank or brokerage account. Simply have a certain amount of money withdrawn from your checking or savings account each month and deposited into your investment account. That way, you save it before you ever have a chance to spend it. Try to increase the amount you invest at least once a year.

• Establish a cash flow plan – Business owners know you can’t control what you don’t track. Take the time to forecast your income and expenses for the year, and put it in writing. Then adjust those numbers to reach your goals, such as paying down debt or replacing a car. Track your progress on a regular basis by holding a monthly family finance meeting to review the plan.

• Pay off your credit cards – It’s especially important to take action on debt in 2013. Cash doesn’t earn much interest sitting in a deposit account (less than 1 percent) and even “low interest” credit cards charge 10 to 12 percent. So if you’re sitting on any extra savings, consider using it to pay down credit card debt. Your cash flow plan should include a schedule to eliminate credit card debt as quickly as possible.

• Shop your insurance – Insurance agents are often paid commission based on premium levels, so they have no incentive for finding existing customers lower premiums. However, there is a huge incentive for a competing agent to find you the lowest premium in order to win your business. Make note of the coverage levels you have for your homeowner’s and auto policies and use them to comparison shop. Look at ways to save on your health insurance coverage, too, such as switching to a high-deductible plan and opening a Health Savings Account.

• Write an estate plan – At a minimum you need to have a valid will, power-of-attorney (POA) for your finances and health-care decisions, and a living will (Advanced Healthcare Directive in some states). Decide who will be your personal representative in the event you become incapacitated (POA) or at your death (executor). If you have minor children, choose who will raise them in your absence and establish a testamentary trust for their finances.

• Meet with a financial adviser – An adviser is to financial planning as a personal trainer is to an exercise program. Allow yourself to be held accountable by a third party who will push you to help yourself. Good advisers will help you develop a budget, look at your debts, tax situation, retirement and college savings, estate planning and insurance. You don’t have to be a high-net-worth individual to seek the assistance of a financial adviser. Go to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and search for one in your area.

Don’t just make a vague resolution to save money. According to Psychology Today, of the millions of American’s who make a New Years resolution, 40 percent have already failed by Jan. 31. Let 2013 be the year you make lasting changes to improve your financial life.

Certified Financial Planner Rick Rodgers is president of Rodgers & Associates, “The Retirement Specialists,” in Lancaster. For more information, visitwww.RodgersSpeaks.com and www.TheNewThreeLeggedStool.com.

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January 2, 2013

Selling Your Home? Tips for Getting Across the Finish Line in 2013

Selling Your Home? Tips for Getting Across the Finish Line in 2013

 

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

July 17, 2012

Ways to Prep For Hurricanes and Protect From Tornadoes

Hurricane Preparedness

Ways to Prep for Hurricanes and protect from tornadoes.

Most people take fire safety seriously and have fire extinguishers handy and escape routes pre-planned should a blaze threaten their home. Yet while tornadoes/hurricanes and the violent storms surrounding them are far more common than homeowners realize, many homeowners don’t take the necessary steps to prepare for these destructive storms. On average, some 1200 tornadoes appear each year in the U.S.

With the possibility that the 2012 storm season will be a long and challenging one, The Hanover Insurance Group today provided tips to help home and business owners in tornado-prone states to prepare and minimize damages.

While tornadoes can occur in the United States during any month, weather conditions produce a peak season that runs through October. In areas of the country subject to the harshest storms, winds can far exceed those of even the strongest hurricanes, averaging between 110-205 mph.

Hurricane season traditionally runs from:  in the Atlantic – June 1 and ends November 30. In the Eastern Pacific -May 15 through November 30.

“Tornadoes can form in every state east of the Rockies,” said Mark Desrochers, president of The Hanover’s personal lines business. “Preparing for a tornado is a practical safety precaution that should be taken by all households in these states. With proper preparations, home and business owners can significantly reduce the risks of injury to their family and pets, as well as damage to their property. This also enables them to recover quicker.”

To help prepare for a tornado/hurricane  and respond in the event one strikes, The Hanover suggests the following 10 tips:

1) Make an action plan. Prepare in advance so that when a tornado/hurricane watch is issued, you already have an existing plan of action. Unlike hurricanes, which tend to be closely monitored for days, tornadoes can spring up quickly. In many cases, you will have to take shelter within minutes in your own home or a below-ground storm shelter. Experts advise never trying to outrun a tornado by car. Instead, move to the basement or to an inner windowless room or interior hall. Protect your head and neck with your arms and hands. Ensure everyone knows the action plan.

2) Create a survival kit. After a storm, it may be impossible to use roads for several days. You may be forced to live in your home for a while even if it is wrecked or you’re without electricity and water. So, it’s wise to assemble a survival kit containing a week’s worth of non-perishable food, bottled water, paper plates and cups, eating utensils, medicines, first aid handbook and bandages, blanket, a radio, batteries, flashlight, soap and toiletries, bleach for disinfecting, and spare clothing. Store the kit in the basement or other safe area.

3) Have debris removal tools on-hand. There may be a significant amount of debris following a tornado/hurricane that will have to be moved just to exit your structure. Some of this will be splintered wood and glass. With this in mind, store helpful items — including heavy soled shoes, gloves, eye protection and a small shovel to safely move debris. This should be kept in the same area as your survival kit.

4) Create a home inventory. Tornadoes/hurricanes can destroy your home and its contents, making it difficult to document your property losses, which can impede your recovery. With a proper home inventory you will have an acceptable means of documenting ownership and value in the event of a claim. Photograph or shoot video of your entire home or business, including the contents of each room, and store these with a written inventory and serial numbers in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box.

5) Ensure you have proper coverages in place. It is always a good idea to review your homeowner’s policy with your independent insurance agent, ensuring you have enough coverage for your contents and the physical structure as well. Also ask about other coverages that may be of value to you in the event of a tornado loss, such as reimbursement for temporary living expenses.

6) Create and share contact info. All family members should have the personal and business contact information (phone/email) for quick communications. Also ensure you have your agent and insurer’s claims office numbers stored in your mobile phone. After a storm, cell service may be more accessible than local land lines. Have important numbers on hand to help expedite your recovery after the storm. It’s important to keep your cell phone charged in advance, as power may be out for days.

7) Wait for official notice before returning home. If there is an evacuation after a storm, wait for official notice that it is safe to return to your home. When returning to your home, be cautious when entering a damaged structure. Stay away from damaged or weakened walls.

8) Take photographs and/or video documenting claim damage. Should your home or business be damaged in a tornado/hurricane, take pictures of the entire scene and document all damage — provided it is safe. Try not to remove items until an insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to visit the property and assess the damage.

9) Keep an accurate record of any temporary repairs or expenses. If you do need to make temporary repairs to help preserve the remains of your home or personal property, keep all records to ensure that they may be considered in your claim.

10) Engage with an Independent Agent. With careful preparation and planning — and assistance from your insurance professional — you can rest assured that you have the right coverages to meet your needs and a good plan of action in place. This will reduce the time and effort required to recover from a tornado and other major weather events.

While no one can tell you for sure whether a tornado or other weather event will strike your area, they are occurring with increasing frequency. So it is a good idea to consult with a local Independent Agent, have the right insurance carrier to meet your needs, and to be as prepared as you can in advance of such events.

Source: http://www.hanover.com

The Serena Group ~ Keller Williams Realty of Manatee

is here for you!  Contact Us Today!

June 20, 2012

Bradenton, Sarasota, Manatee County, or Sarasota County Home Owner, Contemplating a Move?

selling a home, selling real estate, home selling

If you’re thinking about the pros and cons of selling your home in the current Bradenton, Sarasota, Manatee County, or Sarasota County real estate market, here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Low inventory in your neighborhood with high ‘buyer’ demand is usually indicative of a seller advantage or seller’s market for that area.  If this is the case for your neighborhood or subdivision, you may end up with multiple offers or a bidding war on your home, which is a great position to be in as a home owner!  Offers over the ‘list price’ are becoming more common for high demand areas.
  2. Even if there are distressed property competitors or a higher inventory of available properties for sale in your neighborhood, if you’re selling a home and then buying a new home too, you could very well make up on the ‘buying side’ of the process what you might lose on the selling side.  In some instances, you might even gain more than you lose.  Enlist the assistance of a great real estate team/agent to give you an analysis of the real estate market for your area and to offer their professional interpretation of the facts.
  3. Although the real estate market is moving in an upward direction, after a number of ‘down years,’ you still might be able to take advantage of a ‘move up’ opportunity or of purchasing a bigger, more elegant, or newer home at a price that may not be available long or be seen again for years.

Need an ear, a hand, or just some wise and professional real estate advice?

Contact The Serena Group today!

Our team of 7 seasoned agents is here for you with free online home research tools, market reports, a free home seller consultation, short sale resources, or a free market analysis for your home.

Email or contact our team leader, Robert Serena at ►  info@TheSerenaGroup.com

or by Direct phone ►941.928.1248.

If you do decide to sell your home, you may benefit from some of these excellent moving tips.

Vital Ideas to Make Moving as Easy as Possible

Moving is one of life’s most stressful events.  Here’s a quick guide to make your move as painless as possible.

Decide what not to pack

  • Now’s a good time to declutter your life by deciding which items you don’t want to take with you. Decide what you want to give away, throw away, or sell.
  • Get packing materials
  • If you’re not using a professional mover, you’ll need to get some packing materials. Bookstores often have strong boxes they don’t want anymore — call on the day of a delivery to ask for them.
  • Draw a floor plan — and use labels
  • Create a plan of your new home that you can use as a guide throughout the moving process. Label each of your boxes according to this plan. And clearly list what’s in each of the boxes.

What to pack first

  • Pack things you don’t need often first. Books, out-of-season clothes, and memorabilia make good candidates to go into boxes right away.
  • Pack “essentials” boxes
  • Mark some boxes as “essentials” and put in them the things you need on your first night in your new home.  That way you won’t waste time (and valuable energy) trying to find important things.

Food…and plants

  • Food, particularly from the freezer, isn’t easily stored, so try to use it up. Put plants in big plastic bags to avoid dirt spilling.

May 16, 2012

6 Arguments for Buying Versus Renting a home

You’ve probably been bombarded by local and national real estate market news and information stating that “Now is the time to buy!”  

Especially if you are a first time home buyer, you might be asking yourself,

“Should I take the leap now into the real estate market to purchase a home?”  Or  “Is now the right time to buy a home?”

As much as all of the positive signs that we’re seeing in our local real estate market for the Sarasota, Bradenton, Manatee County, and Sarasota County area of Florida seems to provoke the answer to those questions to be a resounding “YES!”buying a home is a very personal action with very unique and individual circumstances to be considered for making the right decision at the right time .  A ‘one size fits all’ answer to the questions posed above would not do you, as a home buyer,  justice as the unique person that you are.

The advantages to home buying versus renting a home are numerous, but only you can determine if those advantages outweigh your other personal situations.

The very best home buying advice that you could follow is to, first, sit down with your family to privately discuss your options, pros and cons of both home ownership and renting.  When you’ve got a clear picture of your family’s priorities and have decided to look into buying a home, poll your trusted family members, friends, and colleagues, do your research on the web, and then,  seek the advice and guidance of an experienced, seasoned, and skilled real estate team or professional.

A good real estate agent or team of agents will be happy to schedule a home buyer consultation to go over your list of priorities, home criteria, and personal family situations to help you to decide the best plan of attack for purchasing your new home.  A good real estate agent will also counsel you on the steps of buying a home so that you will feel comfortable all throughout the home buying process… from the beginning point of looking at homes, to the end of the line at the closing table when you finally take possession of the keys to your new home!

If you or anyone that you know would like to schedule a home buyer consultation with The Serena Group, please contact our team leader, Bob Serena, directly at ► 941.928.1248

controlling your expenses, stable living costs, renting versus buying a home

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privacy, entry rights, renting versus buying a home

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pet ownership, renting versus buying a home

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noise and privacy, renting versus buying a home

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April 17, 2012

Invest Your Tax Refund in Your Home

income tax, investment, tips, information, real estate, home owner, home buyer

Invest Your Tax Refund in Your Home

One way to give your tax refund legs is to invest it in your home.   While the housing market may still be experiencing difficulties, real estate remains a great long-term investment.   BMO Financial Group offers the following real estate-related options for your tax refund:
First-Time Homebuyers
Today’s historically low interest rates along with more reasonable home prices make home buying a great opportunity and a tax refund can be used toward a down payment.   There are a number of loan options along with grant and down payment assistance programs that are perfect if you are a first-time homebuyer.   But, before you set out to buy a home, it’s best to talk with a mortgage professional and be pre-approved.

Refinance Your Home
With rates at historical lows, refinancing may help a homeowner lower their rate or change the length of the loan’s term, allowing them to pay off their loan quicker and save money on interest.   It’s best to check with a mortgage professional you trust who can help determine if a lower rate or different loan term makes the most sense for your personal situation.

When considering refinancing, people often worry that appraisals and closing costs will outweigh the minimal monthly savings gained.   Determine how long you plan on staying in the home you’re refinancing.   Sometimes closing costs can be recouped in monthly savings over a longer period of time.   An alternative is to use your tax refund to pay closing costs.

Pay Down Your Mortgage

Paying down your mortgage with your tax refund is also a great way to decrease your debt and increase equity in your home.   If you plan on staying in your home for at least the next three to five years, consider investing your tax refund toward the principal of your mortgage.

The Serena Group ~ Keller Williams Realty of Manatee is here for you!     Contact Us Today!

January 17, 2012

Make 2012 the Year of the Home Sale

Homes for sale inventory levels in Manatee County have seen more than a 30% decline, year over year, from December 2010 to December 2011.

This presents home owners who are contemplating a home sale a fantastic window of opportunity to get your home on the market for sale before the possibility of home inventory levels rising again due to the release of foreclosure properties that have been held back and delayed by the banks.

Use the form below these helpful articles to contact The Serena Group for a free evaluation of your home and personal home selling circumstances… we’re here for you!

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2012 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

December 28, 2011

Smart Ideas For Organizing Your Home To Welcome In The New Year

With a brand new year upon us, many of us will be rethinking, regrouping, and reorganizing our lives in preparation for what lies ahead in 2012.

Below are a few ideas for making the most of your ‘at home’ spaces. Creating a calm, clutter-free, and organized home is a fine way to pave the way for a happy and productive New Year.

bradenton, realtor, realtors

From our family to yours…. We wish you a very happy and warm new year,
full of joy, happiness and success. Happy New Year!

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

November 28, 2011

5 Reasons for a Mortgage Refinance Other Than Lowering Your Payment

Filed under: MORTGAGE INFORMATION,Mortgage Tips — serenagroup @ 1:35 pm
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Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

November 23, 2011

Bradenton, Sarasota, Real Estate News and Updates


NOVEMBER – 2011 Newsletter Housing Trends eNewsletter


Welcome to the most current Housing Trends eNewsletter, presented by The Serena Group. This eNewsletter is specially designed for you, with national and local housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.

The Serena Group, Housing Trends eNewsletter contains the latest information from the National Association of REALTORS®, the U.S. Census Bureau and Realtor.org reports, videos, key market indicators and real estate sales statistics, a video message by a nationally recognized economist, maps, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles, plus local neighborhood information and more.

Please click here to view our NOVEMBER – 2011 Newsletter Housing Trends eNewsletter.

If you are interested in determining the value of your home, click the Home Evaluator link for a free evaluation report, or contact our team leader, Bob Serena, anytime, at: 941.928.1248.

We’re Here for You!

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