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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FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME…

The Serena Group ~ Keller Williams Realty of Manatee

is here for you! 

Contact Us Today!

or visit our website for more home selling, home buying, real estate, tips, and information:

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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.

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

Contact Us Today!

or say “Hello!” to us on the web at:  www.Bradenton-Florida-RealEstate.com

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October 3, 2012

Fall is for Football! Tailgating eBook ~ provided by The Serena Group

fall football, tailgating, eBook, recipes, ideas, advice, information

Tailgating & Football go together like:

  • Peanut butter & jelly
  • Bacon & eggs
  • Coffee & doughnuts
  • Franks & beans
  • Bread & butter
  • Fish & chips
  • Chips & dip….

Well, you get the idea!

tailgating, football, tips, ideas, recipes, informationBelow 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!

THE SERENA GROUP IS HERE FOR YOU!

http://www.Bradenton-Florida-RealEstate.com

View this document on Scribd

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 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.

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 31, 2012

First Time Buyers Dilemma – Starter Home or Dream Home?

First Time Buyers Dilemma – Starter Home or Dream Home?

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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designing decisions, renting versus buying a home

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tax breaks, renting versus buying a home

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March 29, 2012

Video Tips for a Successful House Hunt

tips for a successful house hunt, home buyer, home buying, tips, information

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or click link below to view video

Video ► Tips for a Successful House Hunt

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