Monday, March 30, 2009

Real Estate and Recipes Collide - Recipe 1

Hello fellow friends...I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I should blog about and a very good friend of mine came up with an excellent idea. In addition to my passion for Real Estate and my children I also love to cook...specifically, BAKE. It is my favorite past-time. All of my friends and family have been nagging me for years to open a Bakery in our town and several have offered to pay me to make cakes for them on special occasions. However, I have this fear that if I opened a bakery the passion that burns deep inside to please people and make them smile through my cooking would fizzle if this was something I was required to do with deadlines on a regular basis. So, instead, I have decided to add this to my subjects to blog about and will be offering an original recipe each Monday for you to try and maybe share with your friends or colleagues to make them smile. Each of my recipes were made by me and I will also post pictures of each for you to see (personal pet peeve of mine when you see a recipe without a photo). Also, please note that most of my recipes did originate from a cookbook but due to my endless pursuit of perfection, each has been changed significantly from the original.

So without further ado, here is the first in the series:

Spiced Nuts

This is a great recipe to have on your desk to share with anyone who stops by it is slightly sweet, crunchy and just plain delish...

1 egg white
1 T. cold water
1 tsp. table salt
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 c. white sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 lb nuts (your choice almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews or walnuts or a mixture of each)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk egg white, water and salt. Add nuts and stir to coat, drain in a colander for at least five minutes. Meanwhile, mix sugar, ginger and cinnamon together in a bowl add nuts and toss to coat. Pour onto the baking sheet and spread them out. Bake 40-45 minutes, let cool, break apart and enjoy...

Agent and Client Hit Counts now being offered...

We just recently had the feature of hit counts added to our MLS I wonder what took them so long to do this. This is an amazing tool that you can share with your Sellers to show them how many times their property has been "clicked on".
Of course, there are certain as the Listing Agent do not count a click and any Agent or Customer that views the property more than once in any given day does not count as more than once click. I find this tool just remarkable, the Listing Agent is able to reset the counter as desired. I have been using this tool to further show the needs for price decreases or show that the price decrease that we did is causing activity on the property.
For example, We lowered the price on property A on 3/12/2009 they had 2 Client and 12 Agent clicks (which might show the Agent who was sending the MLS info felt the property wasn't a good fit for their client or that the property was not priced well) we reset the counter that afternoon to zero. Since the reset we currently have 52 Client and 57 Agent clicks (which shows the Agent is sending the property out to prospective Buyers).
Obviously, this is not a exact science and there has to be some interpretation for error but still I find this to be a neat tool to add to the bag to share with my customers. Thought I'd share this with the community and see if your MLS offers this, if not, you might want to ask if it is available.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good news for Spring Breakers...

Well...I guess the idea of Spring was just that an idea. I woke up this morning to bitter cold temperatures and the threat of snow.
I had not checked the forecast so this came as a surprise but I figured it would just be a dusting and would be sunny by noon. So about my business I went and dressed for my floor duty at 8:30 only to realize that what I was about to wear didn't fit the conditions for the day, so back to the closet I went. Digging into the winter attire already was putting me in a mood that we don't want to discuss. I AM OVER WINTER...BRING ON THE SPRING!!!!
So upon my arrival at the office and firing up the trusty HP laptop the front page of our paper greets me with a headline "Springtime storm heading to region". I was thrilled, then I began reading the article and realized we are due for about 12" how could I not have known about this?
Oh least the snow is good for someone -- All the Spring Breakers in our college mountain town...
Here's to Spring coming -- SOON!!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Should I buy a home in Durango this year?

Well...the answer is yes and no...
There are many factors to consider when purchasing a home in the current Real Estate of which would have to be the current downward trend to the market that some speculate will last through 2010. However, currently I am seeing the number of showings and the number of qualified Buyers almost returning to what I would call a normal spring. Therefore, I feel and hope that prices will begin a slow rebound. Although I don't know that we will ever experience the phenomenal gains we had between 2003 and 2006 until the current state of the economy is turned around, if ever.
However, with all the current stimulus packages, interest rates being historically low and prices that have dropped off quite a bit, there is the opportunity to get into the market that there never was before. With interest rates so low people that could not previously qualify for a home can now and couple that with the $8,000 First Time Buyer credit and my answer is a resounding YES!!! Historically, Durango is isolated from extreme downward pricing trends and I am seeing what I will call a leveling or stabilization of the market.

Are you getting what you paid for from your Home Inspector?

Be sure when investing money into a home inspector that you not only check their credentials that you know what kind of report you are going to get. There are different kinds used by inspectors -- hand written checklist, computer generated (using inspection programs) and the descriptive style.
Some reports are delivered via e-mail, some on the date of inspection and some may take as long as a week (be sure to include this time in your deadlines). All styles have their pros and cons.
The most important thing you should look for is a description of each item inspected. Even though a report that states the items condition is accceptable without the descriptive style can be vague and misunderstood by all
Here is an example of the different styles:
Written Checklist
Bathroom Sink Area: Condition - Good, Fair, or Poor.
The above does nothing to explain the condition of the sink and anyone can do this why pay for the inspection? This type of report style begs you to ask questions such as does the sink have a cosmetic problem? Does the home have a plumbing problem? Has there been water damage?
A good report should provide you with information regarding the condition of the sink and any reccomondations to fix or preventative maintenance to be done.
Descriptive Style:
Bathroom Sink Area: Condition - Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rust stains, or chips in enamel finish. Recommend sealing sink at counter top.
As you can see, this description includes a recommendation for repair. Descriptive reports without recommendations for repairing deficient items may be had for the construction novice to understand and you should ask the inspector for clarification.
Computer Generated
Bathroom Sink Area: Condition - New, Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rusted, chips in enamel, caulking. Recommend that caulking be completed around the sink to prevent water damage to countertop.
These are just a few of the basic types of inspections available to the consumer. Make sure you take the time and become familiar with the type of report that is being provided to you. Should the report have a legend, key, symbols or icons, read and understand them thoroughly. The more information provided about the site and home, the easier to understand the overall condition. After the inspection there should be question and answer opportunity between you and the inspector IF THERE IS SOMETHING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND...ASK this is the opportunity to ask questions regarding terms or conditions that you may not be familiar with. A good inspector should be able to explain the answers to your questions. If for some reason a question cannot be answered at the time of the inspection, the inspector should research the question and obtain the answer for you. For instance, if the inspector's report states that the concrete foundation has common cracks, be sure to ask, "Why are they common?" The answer you should receive will be along these lines: common cracks are usually due to normal concrete curing and or shrinkage. The inspector's knowledge and experience is how the size and characteristics of the cracking is determined.
I recommend that you accompany your inspector through the entire inspection if possible. This helps you to understand the condition of the home and the details of the report.
Read the report completely and understand the condition of the home you are about to purchase. After all, it is most likely one of the largest investments you will ever make.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How does $8,000 of free money sound?

Want an extra $8,000 in your pocket? Are you a first-time homebuyer? Then boy, I have a surprise for you.

At the end of last year, our Government introduced yet another financial incentive to try to stimulate the economy it consisted of an income tax credit of up to $7,500(that needed to be repaid). The rules were simple: you must have been a first-time homebuyer (as defined by not owning a home in the previous three years) and you met certain income requirements but it didn't do much to stimulate the economy so the bill was re-introduced and passed as follows...

The new $8,000 tax credit is available to those who buy between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009 (as long as the set aside money lasts). It’s not a deduction, it’s an actual dollar for dollar credit. The maximum tax credit is $8,000 or 10 percent of the sales price of the home, whichever is less. Three years residence in the property are required. The income limits that must be met are $75K for singles and $150K for couples.

This is an amazing opportunity for first-time buyers to purchase at great interest rates and receive this credit. Please be sure to check with your accountant for details and submit IRS form 5405 when you file your taxes