Turn Your Backyard Into an Outdoor Resort

This summer many people will spend vacation time at home instead of traveling. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), with a few updates to your outside lighting, you can enjoy a mini vacation at home. Believe it or not, it’s easier and less expensive than you might think to transform your existing patio, deck or pool area into a lovely retreat. Rather than buying a costly designer patio set or lounge chairs that will lose their luster by next season, invest in a new lighting scheme that will enhance your existing outdoor furniture and amenities.

“Creating a beautiful landscape doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Rick Wiedemer of Hinkley Lighting. “A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can make a huge impact on a well-manicured landscape.” No lawn is too small. “Even modest homes or those with limited yards or gardens can benefit,” he says.

All that is needed are some basic tools, a transformer (which reduces standard 120-volt household current to the safe 12-volt level), outdoor low-voltage copper cable, and low-voltage lighting fixtures – all of which you can find at your local ALA-member lighting showroom.

“The best thing about using low-voltage lighting outdoors is you don’t have to do everything at once. I recommend purchasing a transformer that is larger than you immediately need,” says Lew Waltz of Philips Hadco. That way when you are ready to install additional lighting, the larger transformer will already be in place and ready to handle the task. “You only pay for the energy consumed by the fixtures,” says Waltz. “In other words, a 600-watt transformer that only has 200 watts of fixtures on it, uses 200 watts of energy, not 600.”

When laying out your project, remember a little light goes a long way outdoors. Consulting with a lighting professional at your local ALA-member lighting showroom can help you avoid making the common mistake of too many fixtures in one area. To find more information about lighting all areas of your home, go to www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com.

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How Can Renters Solve the Housing Crisis?

By Greg Rand

RISMEDIA, Saturday, December 10, 2011— Residential real estate is not rocket science. We know that this housing crisis is:
1. Explainable – bad lending, mad speculation, wild expectations, government meddling
2. Isolated – bad mortgages, negative equity, strategic default, government meddling
3. Temporary – demand for housing always catches up to supply eventually
Anyone with any experience and perspective will agree that this market will recover over the next 10 years, but what will this particular recovery look like? Since the root of the problem was unprecedented, the solution might be as well.
My belief is that renters are going to solve the housing crisis.
Homeownership rates have fallen by a few percentage points, which has translated into more than four million new rental households in just the past few years. According to the Census, 1.4 million of those were added between July 2010 and June 2011, showing that this trend is accelerating.
As a result, rental rates are growing at more than 5% per year, and this trend is also accelerating.
As a result of this, investors are pouring capital into American housing with a long-term mindset, kicking this trend into hyperspeed.
This crisis will not be solved by enticing home buyers. Their confidence is waiting for unemployment to come down and government to act responsibly, which could take a while.
But investors are confident right now. Why? Because they see the big picture. Rental demand equals stable cash flow. So what can be done to encourage them?
How about eliminating archaic waiting periods for investors who want to buy foreclosures? How about eliminating waiting periods for investors who paid cash and want to tap it with a refinance? Today they have to wait months to put that money back to work. Why not eliminate the overall bias against investors in FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and require big down payments to make it safe to lend, and lend?
Better yet, keep your eyes peeled for a private sector player to seize this opportunity to create America’s first national investor mortgage brand. The estimates are that half a million investor loans close every year, and who owns that niche? No one.
The Martial Arts teach you how to use the weight and momentum of your opponent against them (or so they say in the movies). This is the same thing. This drastic increase in rental demand is a by-product of the foreclosure crisis. Use it against the crisis by turning it into positive cash flow investments for those willing to be confident and take a risk in this environment.
Burn off that shadow inventory and create housing options for newly minted renters, which will, in turn, stabilize rental rates, and everybody wins. Good credit renters and buy-hold investors will be the heroes at the end of this saga.

Greg Rand is CEO of OwnAmerica.com.

For more information, please visit www.ownamerica.com.

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Foreclosure Prevention Actions Increase

RISMEDIA, Friday, December 09, 2011— Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s foreclosure prevention activity increased in the third quarter of 2011 and total nearly 2 million foreclosure prevention actions since the beginning of conservatorship in 2008. During this period, the Enterprises completed one million loan modifications, helping borrowers stay in their homes.
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s third quarter 2011 Foreclosure Prevention & Refinance Report, the increase in completed foreclosure prevention activity in the third quarter was driven primarily by loan modifications and repayment plans. Two-thirds of all borrowers who received loan modifications in the third quarter had their monthly payments reduced by over 20 percent. Additionally, the Enterprises’ cumulative refinancings through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) increased 11 percent during the third quarter to nearly 928,600 loans.

Also in the report:
• The Enterprises have completed nearly 2 million foreclosure prevention actions since the start of conservatorship. Nearly 1.7 million of these actions have allowed borrowers to retain homeownership, with more than one million being permanent loan modifications.
• Loans modified since the start of HAMP are performing substantially better compared with loans modified in earlier periods.
• Serious delinquency rates continued to decline. However, the percentage of loans that have missed one payment increased during the third quarter.
• REO inventory declined for the fourth consecutive quarter as property dispositions continued to outpace acquisitions in the third quarter.
To view the third quarter 2011 Foreclosure Prevention & Refinance Report, click here.

For more information, visit www.fhfa.gov.

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Smyrna Home Sales (requested by subscriber)

We try to help provide general information to our clients and share that with our community. One of our subscribers asked about home sales activity in Smyrna priced between 300k & $450k. We have included a 13 month chart of home sales activity. If you have a request, contact Dan Petersen at www.petersenpartners.com.

For more information, contact Dan at www.petersenpartners.com.  You can also get access to all the listed properties and search like an agent with a free subscription to www.myagentdesk.net. Log in today!


8 Easy Steps to Winterized Your Home

Now is the time to do those annual tasks before the hard winter sets in. Here is a list of tasks to get ready!

  1. Check smoke detectors:
  2. Install a carbon monoxide detector:
  3. Service your heating system and replace the filters.
  4. Drain sprinkler systems:
  5. Shut off outdoor faucets.
  6. Change light timers
  7. Get firewood delivered.
  8. If you are selling a home and it’s vacant, make sure you turn on the heat and set the thermostat.

What other things do you do to get your home ready for winter? Let us know below!

Gradual Recovery expected for Housing in 2012

Chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, stated

“Tight mortgage credit conditions have been holding back home buyers all year, and consumer confidence has been shaky recently,” he said. “Nonetheless, there is a sizeable pent-up demand based on population growth, employment levels and a doubling-up phenomenon that can’t continue indefinitely. This demand could quickly stimulate the market when conditions improve.”

Mortgage rates are expected to gradually rise over the next year.

For the full article, click here.

What does this mean for you if you are looking to buy or sell in the next year? Contact Dan Petersen to find out more! www.petersenpartners.com

Investment Deal of the Day $13k

13k for this fixer upper. Some renovations done back in 07. 3 bedroom and 2 baths.

For more information contact Dan Petersen at www.petersenpartners.com or search for free like an agent at www.myagentdesk.net.

Kick the kids to the curb

Pru #1…or better yet, buy them a rental property and turn it into an investment property for you!

Per the census bureau, the proportion of young adults living in their parents’ home increased from 2005 to 2011.The percentage of men age 25 to 34 living in the home of their parents rose from 14 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2011 and from 8 percent to 10 percent over the period for women.

With low interest rates and great value contact Dan Petersen at Petersen Partners (www.petersenpartners.com) to find that great investment property.

For more information, visit www.census.gov.