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Phone upgrade time has come for a few of the mobile phones in our family plan. Upgrade time is a chance every 2 years to get up with the latest and greatest gadgets. This time around I went with Verizon’s Thunderbolt as I wanted an Android device to test out apps. I have already invested in an IPAD2, which means my original IPAD is now a hand-me-down to one of my daughters. Today, we upgraded my wife’s phone to an IPhone so she’s “mobile connected” as well.
I also picked up a new Verizon product called Home Phone Connect. It’s a device that looks like a wireless router but it’s meant to replace you land line phone. For $20/month (unlimited calls), I’m supposed to be able to plug it in to my existing home answering machine with wireless handsets. They will also be switching my home phone number from AT&T to this box. The Verizon rep said that if I disconnect the phone line coming into my outside wiring box, I could connect the Verizon Home Connect box to an inside phone jack and that will provide dial tone throughout the house (something about the phone line coming from the street having power on it which will zap the Verizon box). If everything goes well, I’ll soon be saying bye-bye to AT&T and the $60 monthly bill for basic phone service. I was thinking about switching to Charter’s phone service but I haven’t had good experiences dealing with Charter.
It’s amazing how much effort you need to do to get these gadgets working effectively. My Thunderbolt is a battery hog, barely lasting one day before running out of juice. I can get an extended battery but then it won’t fit in the case. I heard about an app that would turn off 4G on the phone as SLO doesn’t have 4G yet and I guess it searching for it takes a lot of battery. I downloaded it tonite so we’ll see if it makes any difference.
Another thing I’m realizing is how Wi-fi is now a MUST HAVE for some of the devices that have a cap on mobile downloads (like the IPADs). I spent some time yesterday running an ethernet cable to another part of the house and installing another wireless router so I have strong Wi-fi signals in more rooms. During the install, I learned that you need to set the wireless authentication to a certain type to take full advantage of wireless-N speeds. So I had to reconfigure the other wireless access points and the devices that connected to them.
Ok, enough of this techie talk. Time for me to go stream a video from Netflix on my Internet-connected Blu-Ray whatchamacallit.
If you’re a kite surfer, you must be loving the last month+ with all the windy days. Here are some photos I took yesterday on the pier in Pismo Beach. Looks like LOTS of fun! (click thumbnail for larger photo)
One of the great things about living in the south county is the annual Strawberry Festival. Over 100,000 visitors are expected this year on May 28th and 29th. It’s two days of wonderful food, activities, rides, contests, vendors selling arts and crafts, and of course a huge variety of strawberry desserts. You can then burn it off with the Strawberry RunWalk on the 29th! Come enjoy the blues and jazz music in the Arroyo Grande Village atmosphere with our beautiful May weather. Click here for more details. http://www.arroyograndevillage.org/strawberry_fest.shtml
Located within the popular San Luis Drive neighborhood featuring views to Cerro San Luis, Cal Poly mountain and the lovely hills behind San Luis Obispo High School on the beautiful California Central Coast. Originally built in 1949, this spacious approx. 2300 sq.ft. 4 bedroom home was expanded in 1957, kitchen remodeled in the 1960’s, with a new entry and carport added in 1979 and a shop built in the 1980’s. This home has been meticulously maintained over the years and has just had the original wood floors exposed and refinished, the landscape updated and the interior painted in its entirety.
Mortgage rates remained at their lowest levels for the year, and . Freddie Mac reported that in the first quarter of 2011 fixed-rate loans accounted for more than 95% of refinance loans, regardless of whether the original loan was an ARM or a fixed-rate loan. An increasing share of refinancing borrowers chose to shorten their loan terms during the first quarter. Of borrowers who paid off a 30 year fixed-rate loan, 34% chose a 15 or 20 year loan term, the highest such share since the first quarter of 2004. The MBA’s weekly Mortgage Application Survey was up for the third week in a row with refinancing activity increasing over 13%.
Housing Starts were down 10.6% for April while Building Permits were down 4%. Housing Starts have certainly not followed the growth in the job market – probably due to the high inventory in existing homes. Starts for multi-family units dropped 24%. Existing Home Sales decreased 0.8% in April. These numbers reminded us that the overall housing market is poor. Nationally, the median sales price was $163,700, down 5.0% from a year earlier, and the inventory of existing homes is now over 9 months at the current pace. Locally, real estate faired a little better in April, proving once again that real estate is local. Existing Home Sales in SLO County increased 24.2% from one year ago while sales of all homes, including new and existing single-family detached homes and condominiums, increased 9.5% in April from the same month a year ago. The median price also increased 0.7% from April 2010 to $357,500.
Currently, the 30 Year Fixed is 4.250% (4.427% APR) and the 15 Year Fixed is 3.500 (3.810% APR). The benchmark 10 year Treasury note yield is down to 3.11% on continued worries about the European debt problems. Later this week, we will see New Home Sales, Durable Goods, Personal Income, Pending Home Sales, and Consumer Sentiment.
It is hard to believe that short sales and REO’s were almost non-existent before 2007. The presence of bank owned homes and pre-foreclosure short sales has changed how we price new listings, and negotiate sales contracts.
When a homeowner decides to sell, they have to be competitive with all homes on the market, not just other non-foreclosure homes. When compiling a list of properties from which to base a listing price, a lot of the comparable properties are REO’s and Short Sales that have recently sold.
While there are some good foreclosure deals that come along, they can sometimes be tough to negotiate. The bank rarely pays for repairs or inspections, and can be very rigid in their paperwork deadlines. These homes sometimes sell for more than the listing price, after receiving multiple offers. When dealing with a homeowner, there is often more room to negotiate, especially when it comes to repairs, or allowances for replacing flooring or appliances.
The homeowner also is able to give you a history of the property, such as modifications or significant damages that have been fixed, a previous infestation or mold outbreak, or even if any pets have lived on the property. Banks don’t have any of this information.
If you are worried about paying over market value for a home, work with your Realtor to do some research. Look at recently sold homes, in similar neighborhoods, and that are approximately the same size, age, and condition. Your Realtor has access to all of this information, and should be able to show it to you. Those recent comparable properties are likely going to be part of what the loan appraiser uses to determine the value of the home. Looking at our Market Statistics dashboards can also be extremely helpful when viewing the market trends, because they are highly customizable, and full of recent sold data.
The California Department of Conservation released a study on landslide risks. The map in the link below shows the relative likelihood of deep landsliding based on regional estimates of rock strength and steepness of slopes. On the most basic level, weak rocks and steep slopes are more likely to generate landslides.
Homeowners often confuse the functions of a Home Warranty Plan and an insurance policy, and there is a distinct difference. Home Warranties are servicecontracts,as opposed to homeowners insurance, which is true insurance. That is, an insurance policy undertakes to indemnify the homeowner against damage or liability which might arise from some unknown or contingent event. In an insurance context, the agreement to indemnify means that the insurance company will compensate or reimburse the homeowner for the damages or losses that he or she may have incurred. Home Warranty Plans do not indemnify losses; they repair or replace specific covered items in the home that fail during the term of the Plan.
This example helps clarify the way a home warranty and homeowners insurance can work in conjunction with one another: if a water pipe breaks and the house is flooded, the home warranty company will cover the repair of the pipe. The homeowners insurance company may cover the secondary water damage to the structure and/or contents of the home, which was caused by the pipe break.
To find out more about Old Republic Home Protection’s products and services, please call us at 800-445-6999 or visit our web site: www.orhp.com. Check out our Quick Tips section for simple home repairs – they can help save homeowners both time and money!
~This article is provided courtesy of Old Republic Home Protection, a leader in the home warranty industry, providing superior service, comprehensive coverage and competitive pricing.
For more information on the value and benefits of home warranty coverage or to order a home warranty, please contact local area representative Amanda Wood, serving Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern Counties:
Old Republic Home Protection
(800) 282-7131 ext. 1210