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Archive for September, 2013

Ways to be green and save green in your new home

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Buyer_thermostate

A home is a big purchase and every new homeowner knows that every dollar counts. Here are some simple ideas that are both kind to the environment and your wallet.

1.Purchase a high-efficiency shower head. This cuts down on both water consumption and energy costs.
2.Upgrading your appliances? Consider energy-efficient appliances with the ‘Energy Star’ logo. According to the Energy Star site, Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. Remember to ask about discounts, especially when purchasing several appliances at once.
3.Get with the program. Set your thermostat to accommodate the schedule of your home. Lower the heat during the day when no one is at home and at night when occupants are sleeping. Also, try to maintain a moderate temperature, instead of cranking the heat or air conditioning to drastically change the temperature.
4.Utilize fans instead of air conditioning. Consider operating fans to circulate the summer air instead of opting for the more expensive and less environmentally friendly air conditioning.
5.Insulate and seal the gaps. Hidden gaps and cracks within a home lead to an abundant loss of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the warmer months. Caulk any leaks around windows and doors, in attics and around fireplaces. Proper insulation installation or roof replacement may be necessary.
6.Replace lights with LED or compact fluorescent bulbs. The cost is more upfront, but the lights use less energy and last longer.

Categories: Finance

New listings vs. closed sales

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

graph2

graph

Statistics based on following criteria
Graph based on New listing vs closed sales
Year 1 year September 2012 to August 2013
County Entire Santa Clara county
Type : Single Family, Town homes and Condo
Price range 600 k to 1.2 M
Data based on 40,000 listings

How to protect your home while you are on vacation!

September 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Good House KeepingWays to protect your home and its contents while you’re away range from simple to high-tech. Here are some ideas to secure your home when you’re on vacation.

Consider a house sitter. It may be an added expense, but having a trusted person stay at your home is a great defense against burglars.

Don’t advertise you’re away. Don’t leave an outgoing voice mail stating you’re out of town. Also, refrain from listing vacation dates on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Invest in an alarm system.

Put all lights on timers, so it appears someone is home. A lighted home is a deterrent for break-ins.

Have the post office hold your mail and put your newspaper delivery on hold. An overstuffed mailbox and unopened newspapers on the lawn are a signal you are not at home.

Leave all doors and windows locked. When possible, utilize dead bolts and secure sliding glass doors by placing a rod in the door groove.

Alert police and a trusted neighbor to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.

Remove any spare keys that are hidden outside the house. Instead, give a key to a trusted neighbor or family member to regularly check the house.

50 Ways to Be Smarter With Your Money While You’re Still young!

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

MoneyThe personal finance habits you develop when you’re young will determine the standard of living you enjoy (or regret) when you’re older. Take it from me, adding just a couple of these to your financial routine can make a big difference at the end of the year when you look at your bank statements.
How many of these 50 ways to be smarter with your money do you commit to (most admit to less than half):
1.Maintain only two forms of debt: Mortgage and (minimal) car payment.
2.Donate your time, not your money. Getting involved is far more valuable to yourself and the organization.
3.Don’t panic when good investments go down. Investing should not be based on emotion, stick with your strategies.
4.Avoid any fees – they take from principal and reduce compounding.
5.Get your spouse involved in family finances – it’s better for your marriage and for future financial decisions.
6.Owning is cheaper than renting.
7.Have a 3 month cash reserve for unexpected emergencies.
8.Save up for your big purchases, don’t put them on credit – helps determine what you need/want and what was just an impulse buy.
9.Lend family members your time and expertise, not your money – sorry.
10.Max out company matching/contribution to 401(k).
11.Own as few investments as possible. Know the details of what you own – anything over 10 is too many.
12.Avoid school loans. If you must, calculate the potential return on your school loan investment – is it worth it?
13.Pay your 30 year mortgage off in 15 years by paying extra principal per month.
14.Never burn a bridge, ever.
15.Don’t become “Cash Poor” by over extending your monthly payments (housing, credit card, transportation).
16.Always have health insurance. Utilize COBRA if you have to keep it from lapsing.
17.Avoid extended warranties – they’re a scam.
18.Surround yourself with great people – great financial opportunities will arise from them.
19.Keep your equity in your house – don’t pull it out.
20.Do your own taxes.
21.Automatic deposits into savings account – $100 per check adds up quickly.
22.Max out Personal Injury Protection under your auto coverage.
23.Spend less than you make – the golden rule.
24.Invest in your health. Spending on nutrition and exercise will pay off in the long run.
25.Take career risks – follow your passions. You’re smart enough to switch careers.
26.Get an early start to the day – all successful people do.
27.Maintain a proper asset allocation of stocks and bonds.
28.Add a new professional certification/license every 5 years.
29.Only invest in mutual funds when you’re willing to pay for the expertise. An ETF Index fund may be a lot cheaper.
30.Pursue bankruptcy if you have to.
31.Track your investments’ performance – this helps to keep you stay engaged and informed.
32.Eliminate credit card debt – transfer balances to lower rates if you have to, then pay it off.
33.Own a term life insurance policy for you and your spouse.
34.Become an expert in your industry.
35.Check your credit report once a year. It’s free.
36.Live a minimalistic lifestyle. Spend your money on experiences and personal growth not on material possessions.
37.Finalize an estate plan – don’t burden your heirs with higher costs and confusion.
38.Eventually purchase an umbrella insurance policy – it covers any holes in your health or auto coverage.
39.Set out specific retirement goals. What’s your magic number to be able to retire…how are you going to get there?
40.Own your car for 7 years – it’s years 5, 6 and 7 that you “make money”.
41.Buy generic products when you can – they’re usually made by the brand name manufacturers!
42.If self-employed, open/contribute to an Individual 401(k) – it can decrease your taxable income.
43.Work toward a passive income stream. Could be dividend paying investments or an internet business, passive income is a great retirement strategy.
44.Know the professionals who work for you – accountant, lawyer and investment adviser.
45.Max out company matching of stock purchase program.
46.Invest in a moderate allocation – don’t over risk your retirement account.
47.Consider short selling your house if you’re 50% or more underwater – do the math, chances are you won’t break even in this lifetime.
48.Pay your bills on time – it boosts your credit.
49.Contribute to a Roth IRA – gains grow tax free!
50.Never give up – you’re never too old to right your finances!

5 PROPERTY TAX QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

1.What is the assessed value of the property?Note that assessed value is generally less than market value.
Ask to see a recent copy of the seller’s tax bill to help you determine this information.

2. How often are properties reassessed, and when was the last reassessment done?In general, taxes jump most significantly when a property is reassessed. 

3. Will the sale of the property trigger a tax increase?
The assessed value of the property may increase based on the amount you pay for the property. And in some areas, such as California, taxes may be frozen until resale. 

4. Is the amount of taxes paid comparable to other properties in the area?
If not, it might be possible to appeal the tax assessment and lower the rate.

5. Does the current tax bill reflect any special exemptions that I might not qualify for?
For example, many tax districts offer reductions to those 65 or over.

 
 
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