Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Has the Housing Market Stabilized?

Day after day I read articles and blogs on the housing market and what researchers are predicting 2010 will look like. `And day after day it's something new. Today's most popular topic... has the housing market stabilized? Is danger still lurking around the corner? From my understanding, the inventory of homes for sale has fallen across the nation but we will most likely see another cycle of foreclosures coming through soon. The job market does not seem to be getting stronger and many families have fallen ever farther behind on the mortgage payments. According to James Hagerty of the Wall Street Journal, "Jobs and mortgage woes will help shape the housing market this spring, the busiest time of year for home shoppers. Without a return to job growth, it will be hard to sustain demand, and mortgage defaults will eventually lead to foreclosures, dumping more supply on the market." With this being said, we are all hopeful that Spring will bring a strong selling season and buyers will beat the April 30th First Time Home buyers tax credit deadline.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moving Tips

Today's Helpful Topics: Storage & Delayed Shipments

Public/Self Storage Delivery

The movers can deliver the shipment to a public.self storage facility of your choosing in your destination state. Be advised that once the shipment is unloaded into public/self storage the mover is released of all liability, even if you discover damage at a later date to boxes that the professionals packed.

Therefore, once again, any damaged or missing items must be notated on the inventory as the items are being placed into the facility. The movers will not consider a claim if you move the items out of the public/self storage unit before filing. It is very important that you or someone you trust is there to oversee the delivery into the facility. CRS also recommends that you research public/self storage locations prior to choosing one to determine their access limitations. If a tractor trailer cannot easily access the unit you will incur additional charges for shuttle/auxiliary service. Many newer facilities are designed to accommodate tractor trailers.

Mover Storage

Most movers offer secure facilities in either your origin or destination vicinity and will containerize your shipment for the storage duration. Since the shipment is containerized, access to your articles is limited and would generally require a fee. Interstate movers offer what is termed Storage-in-Transit for up to either 90 or 180 days. This allows for the continuation of your valuation coverage for the duration of the 90 or 180 day (depending on mover terms) storage period. The mover also retains responsibility to deliver the shipment to your final destination.

Permanent storage would be recommended if you need to have your belongings stored beyond the 90 or 180 day storage period. In this instance, the interstate mover would release your shipment to an authorized local agent for storage. The valuation coverage you selected for the move would cease at the time and you would be required to obtain coverage from the local agent. In this instance, your shipment would also be containerized and the local agent would perform the delivery of your shipment.

Delayed Shipments

During the summer months and occasionally during non-peak moving times, moves can be delayed for weather related reasons, shortage of trucks, mechanical failure or other unforeseen circumstances. Being prepared for this outside possibility will help you in this event. Take things that you cannot afford to be without: if you are starting a new job, take business clothes with you. If you have children who will be attending school shortly after your arrival, take the things they will need to start school.

Through CRS if there is a delay and your shipment is over 3,500 lbs., the movers are required to reimburse you for a percentage of hotel and meal expenses. Be sure to save hotel and meal receipts during this time. You should receive a delay claim form from the mover upon your request. This is handled separately from a damage claim and must be handled promptly: the claim must be filed within 30 days of delivery. A delay claim does not pertain to shipments that are delivering to a public/self storage unit or into mover storage or from a mover or public storage facility.

Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Find a Safe Neighborhood

I spend the latter part of 2009 searching for a house to purchase in Victor, Idaho. After living in Jackson Hole for 2.5 years, I decided that it was the perfect time to purchase a house! I looked in Jackson but quickly realized only the rich and famous can afford a house here! So over the pass to Victor, ID it was. During my search, there were a few things that were very important to me. One of those things was the neighborhood. It had to feel safe and comfortable so that I could walk out my front door with my dogs and go wherever I wanted! I did some research on how to tell if you live in a safe neighborhood and this article proved to be a valuable resource.

How to find a safe neighborhood

By Karen Aho of MSN Real Estate

Your new home’s inspection report won’t come with a safety rating for the neighborhood, a crucial determinant of quality of life. It’s up to you to check out the area before you move. Here’s how.

It’s one of the first things buyers ask and something real estate agents can’t answer: Is the neighborhood safe?

Agents, constrained by fair housing laws, aren’t allowed to badmouth neighborhoods or even declare them “safe.” They can only say something to the effect of, “We suggest you check out any area you’re considering.”

OK – so how, exactly, do you do that?

You can jump online and get your fill of colorful maps overlaid with crime data, thanks to a growing number of such sites. But these dense splashes of data, while useful, can also become confusing. (More on this below.)

“They give you a picture, but it’s a very fuzzy picture,” says Greg Saville, a former police officer who now teaches urban planning and leads the movement to design safe communities. “You really need to know what you’re looking at to know what it means.”

Saville says that while he appreciates the data, it’s not enough. You have to turn off the computer and go take a good, studious walk.

Trust your gut?
Issamar Ginzberg, who buys residences to lease in New York City, gauges a neighborhood using what he calls the potato chip method: “Get out of the car, buy a bag of chips at the corner bodega and calmly eat the bag of chips outside the house.

“If I can finish the bag of chips and feel safe the whole time, I'll buy real estate in that neighborhood,” he says.

It’s what police have long said, for many situations: pay attention and trust your gut. Homebuyers certainly rely on it, often by taking a drive. Even safety officials reiterate the concept.

“I always feel like if your gut says there’s something wrong, there’s something wrong,” says Robbi Woodson, manager of the National Sheriffs’ Association Neighborhood Watch program, at USAonWatch. “If things don’t look right, then most likely they’re not right.”

But the gut is driven by real information, even when people aren’t aware of it. And some of that information may, in fact, be off, colored by preconceived notions of what a “safe” area is supposed to look like.

To be certain, experts say, prospective buyers need to know what to consider and apply the same methodical inventory they use to evaluate the home. Check off the boxes.

“A lot of people spend so much time looking at the physical configuration of the house, but they forget that they don’t just live in the house, they live in the neighborhood,” Saville says. “Their life is affected by the neighbors.”

Some of the tips offered below might seem obvious, but others might surprise.

A neighbor who cares
If you’ve been paying any attention to the news since the 1990s, when community policing came into vogue, then you’re familiar with the broken-windows theory.

Broken windows, nearly all criminologists agree, along with dilapidated buildings, abandoned lots, missing street lights, rampant graffiti, unkempt yards -- basically any signs of neglect -- attract crime. The reasons are both practical -- dark, lonely spots sit out of view – and psychological -- would-be vandals are, ironically, less apt to mess with nice stuff.

As a prospective resident, though, you have to consider an underlying question, too. Will people who let their lots fall into disrepair treat you badly as well? After all, it’s the neighbors, not the police, who will serve as the first and best line of defense.

“If the lawns aren’t mowed, the trash is not picked up, that shows people have no pride in the neighborhood,” says John Z. Wetmore, the producer of “Perils for Pedestrians,” a television show about neighborhoods and safety. “If you care about the neighborhood, you’re probably going to care about your neighbors too.

“You can be on a street with really modest homes, but if people take care of them, it can be a good place to live,” Wetmore says.

“Neighbors” includes the folks down at town hall. Take a walk. Do you see damaged signs? Potholes in the road? Breaks in the sidewalk? Come back at night. Are there broken street lights?

“It gives you an indication that the local council is not doing a good job,” Saville says, or that locals fail to demand that the town make repairs. “The physical condition of the roadways tells you a lot, actually.”

Areas designed with safety in mind
Now, do you see people? Are they out and about? Can you clearly see the children playing in the park and the man walking to the store?

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, a program that brings safety considerations to the drawing board, asks these questions, and the solutions usually align with the adage “There’s safety in numbers.” Safe neighborhoods are those in which people are physically able to see each other. It means they need desirable places to go, and places that are visible from sidewalks and windows.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Great list of things to think about when moving and relocating

RISMEDIA, October 24, 2009—The good news: in the middle of a really tough economy, you land a job offer. The bad news: you have to explain to your 14-year-old that it means moving out of state. Whether it’s for a new career opportunity or to move when a current employer relocates its business, people who may not otherwise have considered relocating are facing the potential of moving boxes in their future.
There are, however, steps you can take to make the transition more manageable:
Do your homework as a family: Like most homework, this research will start with the Internet. City and state official websites are a good starting point to get a sense of the school system, recreation and services. Look to local bloggers to get the “voice” of a neighborhood, including city, or even neighborhood focused real estate blogs. Divide up the research among the family so everyone gets to be an expert.
Take time to talk about the unknown: With everything that goes into relocation, it is easy to turn family life into a never-ending series of “to do” lists. Find time to let your family talk out loud about the move. Some days it will seem like a great adventure, other days it’ll be daunting. Let your kids know that’s okay.
Find where your hobbies live: If a family member has a special hobby or sport, locate the best ways to connect with that passion as soon as you get to the new location- it’ll feel more like home when everyone is doing what they love.
Start gathering medical and school records: We’d like to think we live in a paperless world- that is, until we roll into the emergency room in a new town and can’t access key information. Start gathering data from your physician, dentist and school administrators earlier rather than later.
Tap into the professionals: Finding the right real estate agent and a good mover can make the difference between a straightforward- or a nightmare-relocation experience. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new home right away or are opting to rent an apartment or home while you familiarize yourself with the area, these professionals can provide both guidance and support during your relocation. Take time to check out reviews, get references from people you trust and then narrow down options to a short list. It’s worth the work to get these relationships right.

Moving Tips

Today's Helpful Topic: Tipping and Unpacking

Tipping the movers is fairly customary if you are pleased with the service they are providing. A general guideline for tipping would be: $15-$20 per laborer for shipments up to 10,000lbs. and $20-$30 per laborer for shipments heavier than 10,000lbs. It is likely that your loading crew will be different than the unloading crew; be prepared to tip at each location. The driver can receive his gratuities upon completion of the move. Tipping is certainly not obligatory and many people offer the crew lunch in addition to or in lieu of gratuities. We do recommend, however, that you have plenty of water on hand for the crew during the course of the move.


Unless more unpacking is requested, the movers will generally only include unpacking you mattresses at destination. Be advised that unpacking of boxes only entails removing items from the box and placing them on a flat surface. If you would like the movers to put away your packed belongings, this is an additional expense that should be requested of the mover at the time of your estimate.

If you find any damage during the unpacking, keep a notepad listing the damaged item and the inventory number for the particular carton. If it is a box you packed yourself, save the box. It may be helpful in settling your claim.

Friday, February 12, 2010

snow. snow and MORE snow!

3 inches down...... 30 more to go! If you haven't planned anything for President's Day weekend, its not too late! Come to Jackson Hole! We are expecting 30+ inches in the next 24 hours. Unlike other places getting snow, we actually NEED it!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Consumers Relocation at Jack Conway Real Estate Annual Convention

Consumers Relocation's President, Les Velte, attended the Jack Conway Real Estate Annual meeting in Norwood, MA. on February 5. Consumers Relocation manages the Conway Move Management program from Jack Conway. The program is used by agents to move their customers and clients both locally, and interstate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Moving Tips

Today's Helpful Topic: Delivery Day

The first step to a smooth delivery is making sure you arrive to your new home prior to the movers. We suggest again that if you are moving alone, that a friend or relative be with you during this time. Make travel arrangements that coincide with the prearranged delivery period provided by the moving company. This is important because the movers will place your household goods into storage, at your expense, if you are not able to accept delivery of your shipment.

It is your responsibility to know in advance of the delivery if there are any parking restrictions or permits that may be required for the tractor trailer at both origin and destination. Contacting the local police department should help in obtaining that information.

At the time of delivery, the driver should provide you with his copy of your inventory. The crew should let you know each inventory number as it is being brought in while you check them off. It is crucial at this time that you point out to the driver and make notations on the inventory of any obvious damage or any missing items.

When your delivery is completed, you will be required to sign the inventory. The settlement of a potential claim weighs heavily on this process and your notations. Any boxes that show any outward damage must be noted on the inventory at the time of delivery.

Having a plan outlining the placement of your furniture will help considerably during the unloading. The mover will not move furniture again once it has been placed in your home.

If you are taking delivery into a self storage unit, please note that the mover's liability ceases when the unloading is completed. Any damage or missing items MUST be noted on the drivers inventory at the time of unloading.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Moving Tips

Today's Helpful Topic: Packing and Loading Day

Packing Day-
If you have requested that the mover provide packing services this will typically be done a day or two before the loading. The agent for the van line will contact you prior to this day and let you know what time they plan on arriving. Be sure that the packers have ample room and a flat surface on which to work. Set aside and clearly mark items that you do not wish the movers to pack. They will not pack your basic necessities until the day of actual loading. If you are moving alone, we strongly suggest arranging for a friend or relative be with you. Another set of eyes and ears and just moral support will help you through the packing and loading process.

Loading Day-

When the moving day finally arrives, it is crucial that you have the entire day set aside to supervise the process. The driver and crew may have questions or concerns only you can address. If you have small children, you should make every attempt to arrange for them to be with a friend or relative. There will be a lot of activity that will require your undivided attention.

If you have any items that are not being shipped, tell the crew and the driver and set the items aside, clearly labeled, to avoid any confusion. Likewise, store your pocket book, cash or any valuables in a secure location such as the trunk of your vehicle. Do not leave any items such as jewelry or cash out in the open.

Prior to loading, the driver will be completing an inventory of your goods and their condition. You are required to sign this completed inventory at the time of loading and at the time of delivery. Before signing this inventory, you must note any exceptions you take to the driver's assessment of your goods. If anything is damaged or missing when delivered, your ability to recover from the mover may depend on the notations made.

When all your belongings are loaded and before the driver leaves, it is your responsibility to be certain that nothing has been left behind. Check all closets, the attic, basement, garage, and outside for any items that may have been missed.

Be sure that the driver has all the correct destination information including contact numbers while en route, directions to your new home, and other specific instructions relating to your move.

While it's not common, its possible if you happen to be the final household scheduled to load onto the van, that there might not be enough room for all of your belongings. This can happen when previous shipments loaded or your shipment is larger than scheduled, If this should happen, the driver will ask you what things are not immediately required at destination. The local agent will arrange to pick up those items and bring them to their warehouse for pick up by another van operator going to the same general destination. These items are not subject to any delay claim but will be delivered as quickly as possible. Nobody likes this inconvenience but it's not completely unavoidable.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

American Dream

According to a national survey conducted by real estate leader Trulia, 54% of Americans gave President Obama a grade A or B in February 2009 on the decisions he’s made towards restoring the American dream of homeownership. In January 2010, that number dropped to 37%. Despite the lower number, it is still evident that Americans do value homeownership as part of their American dream.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Unemployed and Looking to Relocate?

19 Best Cities for Jobs

If you are in major need of a job, why not try one of these cities whose employment numbers increased in 2009.

Merced, Calif.

Morgantown, W.Va.

Dubuque, Iowa

Wilmington, N.C.

Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, N.J.

Mansfield, Ohio

Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C.

Portsmouth, N.H.-Maine

Raleigh-Cary, N.C.

Iowa City, Iowa

Springfield, Ohio

Fresno, Calif.

Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.

Rockford, Ill.

Glens Falls, N.Y.

Athens-Clarke County, Ga.

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa

Johnson City, Tenn.

Spokane, Wash.

Todays Best and Worst Cities for Jobs

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Consider This When Building a Home

Structural Insulated Panels

In this day and age, building a home can be very pricey, not to mention caring for and heating the house! When you are building your next or first home consider looking into energy efficient and sustainable resources. It is easy to get the warmth from the sun into your home.... but how do you keep it there? The answer is SIP (structural insulated panels). These panels can be used on your walls and ceiling to achieve heat retention. It may be slightly more costly to build with, but will save you money in the long run and they are a lot more energy efficient. To find out more on SIP's go to

Monday, February 1, 2010

Almost Time to Retire?

Retirement can be an exciting, confusing, fun time. But where should you choose to retire? A mountain town? A beach town? Here is an interesting article on helping you choose the right spot!

10 Tips for Picking The Right Retirement Spot

By Emily Brandon

Most people retire in the same town where they spent their final working years. But some seek out a new locale with ski slopes or perhaps ocean views. Of course, budget is a big concern. "Many people move close by and move to a smaller home or condo where they have less upkeep," says William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer. "But they still want to stay close to their children and stay involved in the business world by consulting and remaining close to their clients." Here are some tips for finding a place that fits your budget and interests.

Cost of living. Moving to a place with lower housing, food, and entertainment costs is an obvious way to stretch your nest egg. "A lower cost of living is the major factor behind retirement mobility," says David Savageau, author of Retirement Places Rated. "I don't know anyone moving from Kansas to Hawaii." Some 22 percent of Americans age 51 and older who moved between 1992 and 2004 did so to save money, according to a recent Center for Retirement Research at Boston College analysis. Estimate how your expenses will change if you move.

Low-tax locales. Tax rates vary considerably by location. Seven states don't levy an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. New Hampshire and Tennessee tax only dividend and interest income. And five states have no sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Be sure to evaluate property taxes and state and local tax exemptions for seniors.

Healthcare facilities. Your healthcare needs are bound to increase as you age. Make sure your prospective retirement spot has adequate health and elder-care facilities and a doctor who can treat any condition you may have. "You can call and see how difficult it is to get an appointment," says Michael Perskin, a geriatrics physician at the New York University Langone Medical Center. "If you're on hold for more than 10 minutes or you leave a message on voice mail and you don't get a call back, then you know."

Proximity to family. Many retirees would like to become more involved in their grandchildren's lives. Living near family sometimes has another bonus: help with lawn care or transportation for grocery shopping—services you would otherwise have to hire. More than a quarter (28 percent) of older Americans who have relocated after age 51 did so primarily to be near children or relatives, Boston College found. "People often migrate toward someone because they have become more disabled or have lost their spouse and they need some support that they are not getting in their current location," says Mark Fagan, a sociology professor at Jacksonville State University in Alabama who studies retirement migration. "They will move toward their children or some friends to help them with their daily life."

Job opportunities. Many people who haven't saved enough or have seen their investments drop significantly in value will need to work during the traditional retirement years. More than a third (38 percent) of Americans between the ages of 62 and 74 worked in 2008, up 39 percent since 1993, according to the Census Bureau. Although the national unemployment rate has been climbing, cities such as Kennewick, Wash.; McAllen, Texas; and Danville, Va., have added thousands of jobs over the past year. Look for a place that has plenty of part-time job opportunities or consulting work in a field that interests you.

Recreation and culture. When you're no longer tied to a job, you have the freedom to live in wine country or within walking distance of a beach. Perhaps your ideal retirement spot has plenty of art galleries, golf courses, and hiking trails. College towns often fit the bill and host world-class speakers and entertainers, and they often have an affordable cost of living.

Public transportation. Retirees often reach a point when they can't or no longer want to drive. Consider the cost and quality of a town's public transportation system and how to get around without a car. AppalCART, a regional bus service in Boone, N.C., for example, provides free local transportation. And retirees who join Walnut Creek, Calif.'s Senior Club ($7 annual dues) are eligible for a minibus service that offers transport within the city limits for $1 each way.

Housing needs. Downsizing into a smaller house or condo goes a long way in stretching your retirement budget. "There's a lot of money tied up in your home, and sometimes there is someplace else you could buy a home and free up some of those assets," says Michael Goodman, a certified financial planner and president of Wealthstream Advisors in New York. Retirement communities and assisted living facilities aim to cater to baby boomers' changing needs and whims. "As you age, you are going to be less able to maintain a large home and [keep up the grounds], and you may be looking for a smaller place with less maintenance," says Fagan. "Rent in a place for a while to see how well you really like it."

Weather. To some, it's important to not have to shovel snow or defrost a car. But warm climates also come with the downside of larger air-conditioning bills. Think about whether you want four distinct seasons. Some retirees can get the best of both worlds by maintaining or renting a residence in the north and then heading south for the winter.

Amenities. Of course, you'll want to cover the basics, including the crime rate and quality of healthcare facilities. But don't forget about things like libraries, Internet and cellphone access, shopping, religious institutions, and senior centers. If you plan to travel on a regular basis, look for a place that's near an airport or train station. Some cities, including Boston, Princeton, N.J., and Washington, have developed nonprofit associations of seniors who pool their resources to stay safely in their homes longer. These aging-in-place communities typically provide a range of services, including affordable door-to-door transportation, home maintenance and meal services, and even a daily check-in phone call for an affordable annual fee.