Bradenton Real Estate

January 19, 2013

5 Credit Myths to Ditch Now

credit myths

5 Credit Myths to Ditch Now

By Barbara Pronin

Everyone knows that having a good credit score marks you as a credit-worthy individual with increased buying power. But, said consumer finance consultant Jill Krasny, many people have critical misconceptions about what makes for a good credit score.

Krasny offers five common credit misconceptions:

  • Having too much available credit can hurt your score – False. There is nothing in the credit scoring formula that penalizes a consumer for having too much available credit. If anything, it may increase your credit worthiness in the eye of lenders, who operate on the theory that having a lot of credit available but low balances and on-time payments make you the best possible risk.
  • Income is part of your credit score – Wrong. Credit reporting agencies do not even include your income on your report. Lenders are interested only in whether your pay your bills on time.
  • Once married, a couple’s credit score is combined – Wrong again. All consumers, married or not, have individual credit files and scores. But it is important to manage your finances carefully, especially when it comes to shared debts.
  • Carrying balances on credit cards is better for your score – Not. The only thing a running balance will get you is interest charges. Paying off your bill on time each month shows credit activity as well as credit worthiness.
  • A credit repair agency can get negatives off your report – False. If late payments are listed accurately on your credit report, no agency can legally remove them, no matter what they promise. If the information is correct, the only thing you can do is make on-time payments going forward. If the information is not accurate, you should file a dispute with the credit reporting agency, asking them to correct the inaccurate information or remove the negative info that doesn’t belong to you – which credit agencies are obligated to do within 30 days under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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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®

October 23, 2012

Housing Sector Still Contributing in a Big Way

impact of real estate industry and housing sector on the economy

If you’ve purchased a home recently or intend to purchase soon, you may not have thought about the fact that you’re part of a vast industry that has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to the American economy.

Consider the following information from an April 2012 report by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR):

“Research has consistently shown the importance of the housing sector on the economy and the long-term social and financial benefits to individual homeowners. The economic benefits of the housing market and home ownership are immense and well documented. The housing sector (in the U.S.) directly accounted for approximately 15% of total economic activity in 2011.

Those statistics include such contributing factors as: mortgage lending; home construction; real estate agents’ commissions; lawyers’ fees, home appraisal costs, and moving costs. These sectors generate taxes and other forms of income for government at all levels.

Beyond that the housing industry also produces long reaching economic ripples that extend well beyond the home purchases and related expenses and expenditures.

Real estate transactions create jobs and, thereby, facilitate economic growth in ways that you might not even have considered.

For instance, a NAR study on the economic impact of real estate in the state of Oregon tells the tale:

For every home sold in Oregon in 2011, there were additional expenditures on consumer items, such as furniture, appliances and paint, totaling, on average, $5,234.

When you consider the number of homes sold across North America, you start to realize the numbers of manufacturers, suppliers of goods and services, trades people and sales forces that are dependent on the health and prosperity of the housing industry. The real estate industry remains, even under less than favorable circumstances, one to be reckoned with. Naysayers notwithstanding, it will continue to be so.

Even now with national housing markets in flux, home ownership remains ingrained in our very psyche. The American dream is alive and well and still very much a reality for many people.

If you’re considering or planning to buy or sell a home in the Bradenton, Sarasota, Manatee County, or Sarasota County areas of Florida

Please consider working with our team of hard working and experienced real estate professionals, The Serena Group.

Learn more about us here → MEET THE TEAM!

You may contact us directly, anytime, at →  941.757.5377.

October 10, 2012

Real Estate Home Buying Report, Data, and Information for International, UK, Home Buyers and Investors For Florida Properties

Real Estate Home Buying Report, Data, and Information for International, UK, Home Buyers and Investors For Florida Properties

international, real estate, home buyer, home buying, information

If you’re a resident of the United Kingdom (UK), or an international home buyer from outside of the United States,and have been toying with the idea of buying a vacation or investment property or home in the United States, Bradenton, Sarasota, Florida is a location that you should be considering very seriously for a number of reasons:

  • There are still great home buying, and real estate investment opportunities in the Bradenton, Sarasota areas of Florida!   We are beginning to see a shift, however, from an all out buyer’s market to a more stable market that is just beginning to give a home seller the edge in some areas.
  • Great home prices coupled with the excellent dollar to pound exchange rate, currently, is a winning combination and great incentive to get serious about home buying or real estate investments right now.
  • It goes without saying… Bradenton, Sarasota, Florida property is always appealing due to our weather conditions and our unmatched gorgeous white sand beaches and warm Gulf of Mexico waters. These elements, combined with the others above, contribute to a ‘perfect storm’ situation for real estate investment opportunity for foreign investors or home buyers. Whether you plan to purchase a property for personal use or whether you’re buying a home or property for investment only and plan to lease it, the Bradenton, Sarasota areas of Florida will always be a ‘paradise’ that people will be happy to call home.

If you’ve been sitting it out on the sidelines, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to get into the real estate, home buying, game that time has arrived!

Contact The Serena Group today to schedule a personal consultation to discuss your plans, and to let us know how we can assist you with YOUR dream to buy a Florida home. We’re here for you!

Click the image below for a glimpse of a year over year comparison of real estate market data for the Bradenton, Manatee county area of Florida.

real estate, market, report, reports, data, statistics, information, UK, home buyers, foreign investors

Here’s a link to a recent article and more information for international home buyers from the Florida Association of REALTORS: INFORMATION FOR UK, INTERNATIONAL HOME BUYERS FROM FloridaRealtors®

August 16, 2012

Fighting Off Foreclosure

Thank you to the folks at eLocal for the following guest post relating to ‘Avoiding Foreclosure.’

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As we hear about foreclosures in the news almost daily now, it is important to understand how the foreclosure process works and what some of the other options might be.

Foreclosure is an emotional and arduous process, as well as being catastrophic to your credit rating.  Foreclosure can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years and remains a part of your public record forever.

 eLocal asked their Legal Expert Network, which is made up of real estate agents and real estate lawyers, how to protect against foreclosure.They received many responses.   Using these responses, along with doing some further research on their part, eLocal compiled this information into a mini infographic foreclosure guide.

Source: elocal.com

Fighting Off Foreclosure - Infographic by eLocal.com

→ CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Fighting Off Foreclosure – Infographic by eLocal.com

August 13, 2012

Zillow Study Finds Owning a Home After Three Years More Beneficial Than Renting

Zillow Study Finds Owning a Home After Three Years More Beneficial Than Renting

View this document on Scribd

Thank you to Mike & Winnie Koebel of Home Lending Source for this guest blog post.

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!

July 10, 2012

Summer Ushers in Highest Consumer Sentiment in Four Years

Summer Ushers in Highest Consumer Sentiment in Four Years

consumer confidence report The Consumer Reports Index, an overall measure of Americans’ personal financial health, saw a sharp improvement in its consumer sentiment measure, which jumped to its highest level since October 2008.

The rise in sentiment (53.1 from 47.5 the previous month) was broad-based, with significant gains among those Americans in households earning less than $50,000 (+5.5 pts) as well as more affluent households earning $100,000 or more (+7.7 pts).

“With more than half the country earning less than 50,000, any improvement among that group may have a significant impact on the economy. They still have some distance to climb, but these are positive signs,” explains Ed Farrell, director of Consumer Insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

The improvement in consumers’ mood was supported by a decline in financial difficulties, which reached the lowest level since first measured in April 2009. The Consumer Reports Index’s Trouble Tracker, a gauge of financial difficulties faced by Americans in the past 30 days, dropped to 41.8, down from 46.5 last month.

The decline in financial troubles was evident in both lower- and upper-income households. However, the level of financial difficulties faced by those in households earning less than $50,000 is three times as great as experienced by those in more affluent households (earning $100,000 or more) as measured by the Trouble Tracker, 58.9 versus 19.5, respectively.

The Consumer Reports Index’s employment measure climbed into positive territory this month (50.9), up from 49.7 last month, indicating that more Americans have started a new job versus those that reported losing a job in the past 30 days. The employment measure’s improvement was driven by a gain in job starts (5.5 percent), up from 4.0 percent last month, reversing a three-month decline.

After a five-month slide, the index’s past 30-day retail measure moved upward this month to 9.9 from 8.9 a month earlier, but is virtually unchanged from a year ago (10.2). Planned purchasing over the next 30 days (8.6), reflecting intent to buy in July, was also up versus last month (7.0), but lags last year at this time (7.7).

Source: Consumer Reports

The Serena Group ~ Keller Williams Realty of Manatee

… is here for you!  Contact Us Today!

July 5, 2012

7 Issues That Will Prevent Your Home From Selling

7 Issues That Will Prevent Your Home From Selling

7 Issues That Will Prevent Your Home From Selling

No curb appeal

Buyers won’t even go inside if the outside of the house looks unappealing.  Clean up your front yard by trimming trees and hedges, and getting rid of weeds. Make sure the outside of your home looks well cared-for by painting the trim, mowing the lawn, refreshing mulch and plant beds, and placing attractive potted plants by the front door.

Offensive Odors

You may have become accustomed to and not even notice bad odors that may be lurking in your home, but buyers most certainly will. Smoking and pets are the prime causes of offensive odors, so, if you’re a smoking household, smoke outside while you are selling your home and make sure to dispose of the ashes right away.  Take time to devise a plan for how to handle your pets while buyers will be viewing your home.  Make sure that they are always well-groomed, that their pillows and bedding are laundered frequently, litter boxes emptied and cleaned, and that any ‘accidents’ are thoroughly and completely eliminated.  Allow the house to air out thoroughly before viewings – don’t just try to mask the odor with another scent.  If a freshening scent is needed, place a pan of water or apple juice on the stove, set to simmer on a low setting, with cinnamon sticks, and lemon or orange slices.

Loud and intimidating pets

Apart from the odor of some animals, a big dog or noisy bird can be off-putting to some buyers. If that’s a concern for you, try to remove the pet from your home when you have viewings so your potential buyers aren’t distracted from appreciating the great features of your home by your pet, or worse, frightened.

Signs of Moisture or Mold

Problems with moisture are a big turn-off to buyers. Make sure your home doesn’t smell of mildew and there are no signs of mold or mildew on walls, cabinetry, sinks, bathroom showers, A/C units, or flooring. It’s much better to address and remedy moisture problems, proactively, before you get a buyer, than to wait until buyers point them out to you.

Dirt and Grime

Although dirt is usually only cosmetic, it sends a ‘red flag’ out to buyers, leaving the impression that; overall, the house isn’t well cared for. Make sure that your kitchen and bathrooms, in particular, are squeaky clean, as these areas are particularly scrutinized for cleanliness by potential buyers.

Questionable or Dated Décor

Although your home’s décor shouldn’t matter, due to the fact that it’s also a cosmetic fix or design choice, with many buyers it does influence their choices. ‘Move in ready homes’ are very appealing to home buyers and are usually at the top of their favorite’s list due to the fact that they can move in and get settled quickly without having to make a lot of changes. Given this reality, make it a priority, when getting your home ready to sell, to replace or refresh tired or out-of-date carpeting, flooring, paint,  or wallpaper with more neutral colors and modern scheme.

Pricing

If your home is overpriced compared to similar properties on the market for your neighborhood or community, you’ll be limiting buyer interest and activity, and it will be very likely that your home will sit on the market without getting solid offers. Pricing for your home depends on a number of important market conditions and factors, so it’s very important to seek out the advice of and engage a real estate professional that you trust, and then take their advice when it comes to setting a price for your home.

Follow the link below for more home selling tips from The Serena Group ▼

HOME SELLING, SHORT SALE, FORECLOSURE, TIPS, INFORMATION, AND RESOURCES!

If you’re contemplating or need answers to questions that you may have about a short sale of your home, The Serena Group is a team of distressed property experts and specialists, sharing 100+ years of real estate experience and expertise… We CAN help you!

Follow the link below to schedule a free short sale consultation ▼

The Serena Group offers online SHORT SALE CONSULTATION scheduling HERE!

or Contact our team leader, ROBERT SERENA directly ► 941.928.1248.

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