From Gloom to Bloom: Expecting the Healthiest Spring Season Since 2007
Freddie Mac recently released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook through March showing that as we head into the spring home buying season, continued low mortgage rates, increasing house prices, and gradually improving consumer confidence will help support increased home sales. A short preview video and the complete March 2013 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook are available here.
• Compared to 2012, expect home sales to be up 8 to 10 percent for 2013.
• Expect housing starts to increase to 950,000 units for 2013, compared to 780,000 in 2012.
• In 2012, real estate added $1.5 trillion to balance sheets, and residential mortgage debt outstanding increased by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, indicating household deleveraging might be drawing to a close.
• Because of sequestration spending reductions, expect the unemployment rate in 2013 to average about 7.8 percent, essentially flat for the year or about 0.25 percentage points higher than it otherwise would have been.
• Regardless, the housing wealth effect is taking hold in the broader market which should translate into the healthiest spring home buying season since 2007.
“History shows us not all economic recoveries are created equal and consumer confidence mirrors this fact,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.
“With the spring home buying season upon us, the recent highs in the stock market are a welcome signal of better times ahead. But it will be the gradually declining unemployment rate and steadily improving housing market that will deliver broad-based economic benefits for Americans and, in turn, support the overall recovery.”
For more information, visit www.FreddieMac.com.
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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Selling Your Home? Tips for Getting Across the Finish Line in 2013
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Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Well, you get the idea!
Below you will find some great tailgating ideas, recipes, tips, and information that will either enhance your enjoyment of game day or will help soothe your wounded pride (whatever the case may be!) while cheering on your favorite team.
If you’re a Florida Football fan, please visit our website for all your College and Pro favorite Florida teams game schedules and updates… all on one page! → FLORIDA FOOTBALL TEAMS, SCHEDULES
And while you’re there… if you’d like to also view homes for sale, get home selling tips and information, find out what you need to know before buying a home, use our mortgage calculators to find out what payments would be on your dream home, request a market evaluation for your home, get real estate market reports and statistics for your neighborhood, get information about foreclosures and short sales… and/or just about ANYTHING else you could think of that relates to real estate – buying or selling.
You’ll already be there… take advantage… and if we can help… please let us know!
Thank you to the folks at eLocal for the following guest post relating to ‘Avoiding Foreclosure.’
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.
The Serena Group team members are, and always have been, fervent supporters for anything that rewards, recognizes, enhances the lives of, or provides assistance to military men and women and their families.
The Serena Group has been involved, for a number of years, with Cell Phones for Soldiers, an organization that recycles donated cell phones and uses the proceeds from those donations to award free talk time to our military troops, and their families, while they are serving our country and its citizens. It’s a GREAT organization and we enthusiastically encourage you to explore it in more depth by visiting their website below ▼
If you have a cell phone/phones to donate to Cell Phones for Soldiers, in Manatee or Sarasota counties in Florida, you may drop them off at: Keller Williams Realty of Manatee in Braden River Plaza.
Here’s a link to a map of our office location ▼
Another fantastic ‘military family friendly’ organization, and one of our priority partners, is Chase Bank.
If you’re a member of the military and need assistance with: housing, jobs, education, banking, or credit options, you need to run… not walk…to ►ChaseMilitary.com and see how making a connection with Chase Bank may benefit YOUR family.
Here’s a testimonial from a very happy military family who is definitely glad they reached out to Chase for assistance ▼
For more information about Chase Bank, and it’s programs for military families in Manatee or Sarasota counties in Bradenton, contact Chris Tennant,Mortgage Banker for Chase Bank here ► More information about Chase Military
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.
“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.