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HOW TO PULL CASH FROM THE HOME YOU JUST BOUGHT

 

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

As this exuberant housing market takes shape, the chance to harvest equity – to tap into idle cash – from your home may prove to be a worthwhile endeavor. In March 2011, Fannie Mae lifted the requirement that you had to hold title to a property for six months before you were allowed to access your cash equity.

The change has since allowed homeowners to acquire property and then immediately cash-out refinance to replenish liquidity, purchase other real estate, do home improvements or pay off debt. However, while it is a viable strategy, successfully sealing the deal on the “delayed financing” is something else entirely. Here’s what you need to know.

Read more here:  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pull-cash-home-just-bought-100031717.html

 

Defense Furlough Days Cut from 11 to 6

August 19th, 2013 by gaelite

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that the Pentagon is cutting the number of planned furlough days for department civilian employees this year from 11 to six.

Hagel also said that some key squadrons are flying again and the Navy has restarted some deployments that had been on hold because of the mandated budget cuts because of savings that had been achieved elsewhere.
The furlough days had been ordered in May in the wake of mandated budget cuts called sequestration. The department faced shortfalls of more than $30 billion for regular operating costs, Hagel said in a statement.

Read article here:  http://www.13wmaz.com/military/article/241768/319/Defense-Furloughs-Days-Cut-from-11-to-6

Real Estate’s New Big Buyers: Middle-Aged Women

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2013

Middle-aged women have become the fastest growing group of single female home owners, according to a new study by the real estate brokerage Redfin. The number of 45- to 54-year-old single female home owners has soared 120 percent from 1982 to 2012. 

“Probable causes for this phenomenon include the large baby boomer population entering this age group over the last several decades and the prevalence of divorce leading to the creation of more female-headed households,” according to Redfin. 

Single females have long been big consumers of real estate. Among unmarried home owners, single women have outnumbered men since at least 1982, when the Census began collecting such data. 

While middle-aged women are increasing their buying, women younger than 35 appear to be delaying home ownership until later on in life, the report shows. 

The Redfin report revealed the top U.S. cities for single successful women, factoring in the percentage of women with four-year college degrees, percentage of women with a salary greater than $65,000, and the percentage of women who are single between 25 to 39 years old. Below are the rankings, as well as the percentage of residents who are women who are single and 25 to 39 years old:

  1. Arlington, Va.: 24%
  2. Alexandria, Va.: 22%
  3. Cambridge, Mass.: 22%
  4. Washington, D.C.: 22%
  5. San Francisco: 21%
  6. Seattle: 18%

Green Energy

Posted on

Museum of Aviation Saving Money Using Green Energy

Submitted by Tom George on Thursday, May 23rd, 8:51 pm

 
 

The Museum of Aviation says it is saving money by using green energy, which is also contributing to national Department of Defense goals to use more renewable sources.

Since 2009, the main building of the museum has been using the renewable source, but as of the beginning of May, the whole facility will be using it.

It’s part of a cooperation with Flint Energies, who gets the energy in part from the Houston County landfill.

The landfill takes trash and compacts it. They then collect the methane gas through wells and burn it into green energy.

Flint says it ends up costing the Air Force less because the landfill system costs less to produce.

The museum uses 2.4 million kilowatt hours per year.

New State Car Title Tax Law

There are a few changes coming your way March 1st when the state’s new title tax law rolls out.

If you own a car in Georgia right now, you pay an annual excise tax on your vehicle tags that comes due once a year on your birthday.

They call it the “birthday tax.”

Come March 1st, that will start to change.

The new tag law allows car owners who bought or are buying a vehicle between Jan 1st 2012 and March 1st 2013 a choice to opt in to the one-time title tax.

“It’s only if you’re purchasing a vehicle you’re going to be paying this fee,” says Houston County Tax Commissioner Mark Kushinka.

People who bought a car after March 1st will now pay a one-time tax.

But this doesn’t mean the birthday tax is disappearing altogether.

“If you have a vehicle that you’ve had for years and are paying a birthday tax, you will continue paying that birthday tax until you get rid of that vehicle,” he says.

In 2013, car owners who choose the one-time tax will pay 6.5 percent of the vehicle’s market value.

For example, that would be $650 on a $10,000 vehicle.

You might be saving money depending on the car you have and when you buy it.

 

Four Tips to Save on Your Cable

Tip #1: Shop Around and Switch Providers

Before you get into shopping mode, you should first consider your budget and the services/channels you want.  From there, check out Consumer Reports, the product testing organization with print and online publications, to assess the different services that providers offer.

Once you’ve done your research, you could then make a more informed decision about which cable provider has the best overall deal. You should also check with friends to see what they think of their current provider.

At this point, if another provider appears to be a better match for you based on factors such as price, performance, and customer satisfaction, it might be time for you to make a switch. You’ll also want to keep in mind that certain providers don’t offer coverage in select areas, so make sure to look into that too.

Tip #2: Bundle Cable with other Digital Services

Digital “bundles” often combine a variety of telecommunications services – including TV, Internet, and local and long-distance telephone service.

The benefits of bundling services include:

  • Convenience of dealing with a single provider
  • Receiving a  discounted price for using additional services
  • Receiving a single bill instead of separate bills for individual services

However, bundling isn’t an automatic solution to saving money on your cable TV bill.  You have to do the math and really figure it out.  Don’t go into bundling blindly.

Tip #3: Inquire about Discounts and Promotions

Cable TV services typically require some sort of contract that makes you commit to a subscription rate for a year.  But once this honeymoon period ends you should contact your service provider to inquire about possible discounts and promotions.

Discounts and promotions often come to an end, so you’ll want to consider the following factors when inquiring about discounts:

  • Make yourself aware when any promotion ends, how much the price will increase, and whether the promotion locks you into a contract.
  • Make sure you understand the ‘fine print’ of your service plan, as early cancellation fees could be expensive – even if you are paying a discounted rate.
  • Never ignore those change-of-terms notices you receive

Remember, not all discounts are created equal. Really take some time to shop around and compare offers from different cable providers.

Tip #4: Cut back on Premium Channels

If you decide that the premium channels are just playing the same thing over and over again, maybe it’s not worth the $10 or $15 a month you pay for them.

If you’re worried that you might miss out on something by not having a particular premium offering, you might want to track your viewing habits for a period of time to see how many hours you are really spending with a particular channel. If the number is high, you’ll at least know your money is being well spent. If the number is low, it may be time to ax certain channels from your subscription list.

 

HOA

Avoid a HOA Nightmare

Here are three things potential condo buyers should do with those documents:

1. Read the past year’s meeting minutes

Above all, read the minutes of the HOA monthly or quarterly board meetings. You can learn a lot about the HOA’s inner workings, such as the politics and how enforceable its rules are. You’ll get a sense of how the HOA works, who’s on the board and how flexible or difficult they are to deal with.

The most obvious red flag is any discussion in the minutes of an upcoming assessment or any major project (painting, roof repair, boiler replacement). These conversations generally happen months or years before the work (and assessment) is enacted. Other potential red flags would be documented conflict between homeowners and board members.

2. Review the house rules and regulations

Nearly every HOA has its house rules and regulations. In a suburban subdivision, typical rules would include restrictions on how your home looks from the street (no pink houses on Elm Street). In a condo building, restrictions often cover noise, such as no loud music or noise between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., or that 85 percent of your hardwood floors must be covered by area rugs in living, dining and bedroom areas.

While there are generally accepted common rules, from time to time more excessive ones stand out that may not sit well with a potential buyer. Some examples include no RVs in the driveway or the required removal of Christmas lights by Jan. 15. A buyer’s response to such rules is subjective. But it’s better to know the type of HOA you’re buying into before you sign the final paperwork.

 3. Review the financials

Be on the lookout for HOAs that can barely cover their monthly expenses. Since the housing crisis began, many HOAs have been forced to foreclose on homeowners who are behind on their HOA dues. If you have a third of homeowners not paying, that affects everyone, as the money needs to be made up somewhere.

Another red flag is the lack of a reserve fund. If the HOA only has $5,000 in reserves, and there’s mention in the meeting minutes of a major sidewalk replacement, you should assume that funding for the project will come from a one-time “special assessment” levied on the homeowners. Don’t want to be stuck with a $10,000 mandatory assessment six months after you move in? You may want to reconsider this property.

 Advice to sellers

If you live in an HOA community that has some issues, be sure to disclose them upfront. It’s not much different from disclosing the leaky window or recent crime in the home. You don’t want to create a giant red flag for potential buyers, of course. But if they find out about something major after the fact, it could come back to haunt you. Work with your real estate agent and strategize about some of the best ways to make the HOA documents or disclosure information available to buyers during escrow.

Weatherproofing Your Windows

Step 1

Cut metal or vinyl v-strips to fit in the sash channels.

Cut them long enough to extend at least 1 inch beyond the sash ends when the window is closed. Cut vinyl with scissors; cut metal with tin snips.

Step 2

Remove the adhesive backing and stick the vinyl in place.

Tack metal strips in place, driving the tacks flush so that the window sash will not snag on them. Flare out the open ends of the metal V-channels with a putty knife to create a tight seal with the sash.

 Step 3

Wipe down the underside of the bottom sash with a damp rag and wait for it to dry;then attach self-adhesive closed-cell vinyl foam to the edges of the underside. The surface must be at least 50 degrees for self-adhesive strips to stick.

 Step 4

Seal the gap where the top sash meets the bottom sash.

For double-hung windows, raise the bottom sash completely to the top, and then lower the upper sash a couple of inches. This reveals the lower rail, which is normally hidden. Seal with V-channel weather stripping. If the top sash is stationary, tack tubular gasket to the outside of the lower sash so that it compresses slightly against the top sash when the window is locked shut.

Step 5

Apply paintable caulk around both the interior and exterior window trim. Smooth with a wet finger.

 

January Home Tasks

January Home Tasks

Happy New Year.  I hope you had wonderful holiday season.  Now it’s time to return to reality. :)

Now is a good time to review home tasks for the month of January:

  •     Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and product manuals to check on recommended maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances and tools. Mark your calendar to track scheduled upkeep and service.
  •     Inspect furniture, cabinets and vanities for loose knobs, pulls and hinges. Tighten or repair as necessary. Lubricate squeaky door hinges with lightweight machine oil. Free sticky doors by trimming edges or shimming hinges with thin pieces of cardboard.
  •      Fix squeaks in floors and stairs by applying weight to the area (having a partner stand on it works) and driving an 8d or 12d galvanized finish nail through the flooring into a floor joist or stringer. If you have access to the floor from underneath, glue and screw backs to the floor or treads and to the joist or stringer.
  •     Look for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Before buying, make sure that warranties are valid.
  •    Make a room-by-room inventory of everything in your house. In the event of fire, flood or other disaster, it will be important in filing an insurance claim. Photographs or video of your possessions can also be helpful.
  •    Don’t close vents to crawl spaces. If you live where pipes can freeze and the floor becomes very cold, insulate pipes and under the floor. Vents play an important role in controlling condensation beneath a house.
  •    Double-check insulation around exterior pipes that are exposed to freezing weather to be certain that water cannot seep under the insulation.

Here’s to a very prosperous 2013!

 

 

Schools Names Family-Friendly

Two Houston County Schools Named Family-Friendly

The Georgia Department of Education wants to encourage parent involvement in schools across the state.  They went on a search for the most family-friendly schools, and turned up two, out of only three selected, in Houston County.  Morningside Elementary in Perry and Miller Elementary in Warner Robins stood out among the state’s best.

Christal Reid comes to this Morningside Elementary classroom five days a week. With the amount of time she spends there, you might assume she’s the teacher, but no. She is a parent volunteer.

Reid said, “I think it’s one of the best schools there is, and my child loves to come.”  She feels 100-percent welcome, too.

That is the goal of family-friendly strategies principal Pat Witt incorporates.

Witt said, “There’s a lot of things were doing here at Morningside that are innovative ways of making sure families stay involved with their children.  We have come up with some creative ways of going to them, going to their house, going to their place of business.”

Miller Elementary is celebrating their successes, too.

Principal Gwen Pearson-Kilgore said, “We have an open door policy. Parents are free to come, to call.”

She said they invite parents into the classrooms once a month, sometime for the entire day.  The parent resource library offers adults an education in technology and their child’s curriculum.  For parents that don’t have computers at home, they’re welcome to use the computers set-up there.

The state also graded them on customer service, looking at their phone manners, waiting areas, signage and student work displayed throughout the building.  The state chose the winners using some surprise tactics. Employees or selection committee members posing as parents called or visited the schools, incognito.

In late November, State School Superintendent John Barge will visit both schools to present them an award

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