Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

January 10, 2013 5:04 pm

Delinquent loan. One where the borrower is behind, or late, in payments.

Q: What Is the Most Common Type of Contract for Listing Properties?

January 10, 2013 5:04 pm

A: The exclusive right to sell. It gives the real estate broker the exclusive right to sell your home during the term of the listing. If a sale occurs – even if you sell the home yourself – the broker gets a commission. The broker may share the listing with other brokers on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to get the widest possible exposure for your home. If you request that the property not be listed on a multiple basis, only the broker named in the contract and his or her sales agents can market and show it.

7 Ways to Ward off Flu

January 9, 2013 5:54 pm

You’ve heard it before, but the number one thing you can do to protect against colds or flu is to wash your hands thoroughly and often.

“Lather up with running water and scrub at least 5 times a day,” said Dr. Andrew Pekosz of Johns Hopkins University. “Antibacterial soaps are no better than regular soap, and in a pinch, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol for a minimum of 20 seconds.”

The doctor suggests six more documented ways to help keep colds and flu at bay:

Try a humidifier – Flu viruses last longer in dry air than in moist air. A humidifier that keeps the humidity level in your home between 40 and 60 percent could be a good investment.
Skip the second drink – Alcohol can impair the ability of your white blood cells to combat viruses for up to 24 hours after you indulge. Keep your imbibing to one drink a day during flu season.
Get more sleep – Studies show that people who sleep seven hours a night or less are more apt to succumb to colds or flu than those who sleep eight hours or more.
Eat the rainbow – The immune-boosting antioxidants in brightly colored fruits and veggies battle the free radicals that can dampen your natural defenses. The brighter the color (think eggplant, red beans and blueberries) the higher the antioxidant count. Green tea is another good ally.
Season with garlic – The cloves contain a sulfuric compound that produces potent antioxidants as it decomposes. If the flavor is too strong for you, try aged-garlic extract capsules, which have no garlicky taste or odor.
Don’t rely on C – Though it’s been touted as a cold fighter, vitamin C has never been proven to fend off a cold or flu – and multiple studies show it does zilch to speed up recovery if you are sick.

How to Help Your Student Establish a Budget

January 9, 2013 5:54 pm

(Family Features)—Money management is one skill that can be difficult for young adults to master as they head off on their own. But no matter what stage of life – whether they’re entering college or the work force – every young adult should learn how to handle their money.

Establish a Budget

Sit down together with your student and map out all monthly expenses. Include room and board or rent, books, supplies, food, personal care and medications, transportation, gas, entertainment (including dining out, movies and walking around money, etc.), and payment for phone, mobile devices, cable and Internet access. Then, figure out income. This can include money from a job, financial aid, student loans and any support from you.

Income and expenses need to balance. There are plenty of online tools you can use to figure out a budget. Some, such as www.Mint.com or some bank websites, can help students manage their budgets, making it easy for them to take care of it themselves. There are also budgeting tips and worksheets at websites such as www.SmartAboutMoney.org.

How to Stick to the Budget

Prioritize needs vs. wants. It may seem like a latte every morning is a necessity to jump-start the day, but those kinds of little expenses can add up quickly. A recent study by Westwood College found that 40 percent of the average student’s budget is being spent on “discretionary” spending; included in that is entertainment (6.5 percent), apparel and services (6.7 percent), travel and vacation (4.7 percent). Have your student do the math on how much some of their “necessities” will cost them, and then talk about how to weigh purchase decisions.

Find ways to spend less. A little planning can help young adults spend less and get more value for their dollar.

Cellphone – Avoid overage charges with an unlimited plan. For example, with Cricket Wireless, you can pay an affordable monthly fee for all-inclusive talk, text, data and music rate plans for some of the most popular smartphones available. Cricket also includes a service called Muve Music that gives students unlimited song downloads as part of their plan. Learn more at www.MyCricket.com.
Food – Coupons and digital deals can cut the costs of dining out. Look into the college meal plan – and use it. Save on snacks by stocking up at the grocery store instead of buying from a vending machine or convenience store.
Clothing – Thrift stores, consignment shops and yard sales are affordable ways to find something fun to wear.
Entertainment – Encourage them to take advantage of free activities on campus with their student ID. When going out with friends, advise your student to decide how much he or she can spend, then only take that much money with them.

Be smart about credit cards.
Many students sign up for a credit card right away, and before they know it, they are thousands of dollars in debt. Make sure they understand the impact of interest rates. Also, discuss setting limitations on using a credit card to avoid non-academic debt, such as using it only for emergencies, travel or school expenses, or only charging what they can pay back on time the next month (including interest).

Equipping your student with some basic financial skills will help them make wise money choices now and for the rest of their lives.

Q: What Questions Should I Ask an Agent Interested in Selling My Home?

January 9, 2013 5:54 pm

A: Interview at least three local agents who sell homes in your community. Grill them about the following:

  • The worth of your home. The agents should inspect the home and prepare a written comparative market analysis.
  • Marketing plans. These are a must. Make sure they include regular newspaper ads, the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – which gives your home maximum exposure to all local agents – and Internet marketing through the agent’s Web site.
  • Length of the listing agreement. A 90-day listing is reasonable for marketing your home. Experts advise against signing a listing for more than 90 days unless it contains an unconditional cancellation clause. If you like, you can always extend the contract later.
  • Number of listings. Find out how many listings the agent now has and how many she normally sells. Too many listings – more than a dozen – with a low sales rate, may not be a good sign.
  • Get references. Ask for the names and phone numbers of recent home sellers. Call them and ask if they were satisfied with the level of service delivered by the agent.

Wintertime Can Be an Excellent Time for Mulching, Planting

January 8, 2013 6:02 pm

I am curious as to what you’re all doing now that the yard has 'closed for the season.' If you answered “not much,” or “not mulch…ing,” well maybe you should be!

Andrea Peck, a Master Gardener from San Luis Obispo, Calif., recently blogged about the importance of winter mulching for property owners in her temperate region of the country. Peck writes, as winter weather lowers temperatures, replenish mulch where needed and adjust watering systems to cut down on unnecessary water use.

She also offers these pointers:

  • Move sensitive container plants to a protected location or indoors when frost threatens. And drape a sheet or burlap over a frame to protect in-ground plants.
  • Prepare vegetable beds for spring by layering on a thick sheet of mulch and fertilizer.
  • Clear out annuals past their prime and tidy thoroughly before weeds latch on and pests find a home in the fallows.
  • Prune deciduous fruit and non-fruit trees now leaving strong, healthy branches ,and trim off weak, diseased or dead branches. Branches that cross or appear crowded obstruct growth, and weak limbs exposed to high winds should be lopped.

According to Peck, if you want to do some planting, selections of bare root roses are available, along with ageratum, calendula, larkspur, lavatera, phlox. This is also the time to plant artichokes, rhubarb and other bare root vegetables.

Spring flowering bulbs, such as tulips, hyacinth and crocus can be sown now, too. Just make sure bulbs have been chilled in the refrigerator for at least 6 weeks. And ample mulching, 8”-12”, discourages weeds and frost damage.

For more region-specific winter planting and garden prep or care tips, call or web-search the Master Gardeners chapter in your region, county or state. And if you're already an expert, stay tuned for a visit with your sisters- and brothers-in-mulch in Germany.

Protect Your Home from Ice Dams this Winter

January 8, 2013 6:02 pm

As low temperatures and snow and ice storms begin to sweep across the country, ice dams increasingly are becoming a hazard for home and business owners alike.

"Cold winter months alone can cause damage to your home or your business. But, emerging challenges, such as ice dams that form and go unattended can lead to leaks, mold and even safety hazards caused by falling ice," says Michael Billings , vice president, The Hanover's safety management team. "While pre-season prevention works best, there are steps you can take now to avoid the potential of further damage."

Following are a few simple steps that can help home and business owners reduce damage from ice dams:

  • Take preventive actions to remove ice and snow from the roof to allow proper drainage. In doing so, take precautions, such as staying on the ground and using a snow rake and consider calling a professional if it is necessary to go on the roof. Additionally, it is imperative to avoid contact with electrical lines, and to watch for falling objects.
  • If there is an existing ice dam, melt a channel through the ice to the roof surface to create a drain path to relieve water build up.
    • An easy way to do this is to fill the leg of nylons with calcium chloride ice melter and place that on the roof. The long tube can melt a patch through the ice to allow drainage. You can refill or replace the ice melter to keep the channels open. Make sure the channels extend to the roof edge or gutter.
    • You can engage the services of an insured roofing contractor to remove ice buildup and ensure they don't cause additional damage to the roof.
  • If you observe water damage, hire a restoration service to dry out the walls, ceiling and structure. Minor damage can cause rot, decay and more extensive problems if it is not properly addressed.
  • Contact your roofer and an insulation company to correct the ventilation and heat transfer issues in your attic. This can prevent future problems.
  • When replacing a roof, add an ice and water shield membrane at the edge of the roof and extend it at least five feet up the roof to protect this area against water intrusion.
  • In the future, try to prevent ice dams by ventilating and insulating your attic.
  • If you have suffered damage to your property, contact your local independent insurance agent immediately.
Source: www.hanover.com

Setting up a Home Office that Fuels Productivity

January 8, 2013 6:02 pm

(BPT) - One of the biggest mistakes businesspeople make is assuming that working from home will automatically result in a higher level of productivity. Unless you carefully construct your home office environment, you may find that working from home is less productive than you anticipated.

Staples, the world's largest office products company and a trusted source for office solutions, offers the following tips for setting up your home office to help maximize your productivity.

The ideal working environment

Home office setup is an exercise in knowing yourself. Before you make any decisions, make a list of the things you need to spur productivity. Some people can work at a desk in a common area of the house with the television running in the background. Others want a closed-door environment where distractions are minimized. For some people, a home office is a place to finish up work from a regular day job. For others, a home office is a primary workspace where they spend eight or more hours of the day. Before you start rearranging the furniture, decide what you need as an absolute minimum to encourage you to use the space as intended.

The right office furniture, equipment and supplies

Once you have decided whether you're going to segregate an area of the living room, convert a spare bedroom or set yourself up in the basement or garage, you should start thinking about-home office furniture.-The type of office furniture you pick and the way you organize your space will significantly impact your productivity.

Whatever your preferences are, investing money up front in the style of office furniture that makes you comfortable will naturally lead to greater productivity. At the very least, this ensures that you won't be tempted to relocate to the bedroom instead of working at your desk. Likewise, an upfront investment in office supplies and equipment will help you get your work done faster and avoid distractions.

The cost of outfitting a home office

A basic home office setup can cost you under $500 if you already have a computer that you can relocate to your new space. There are a number functional-office furniture options-that look expensive but are actually quite affordable, especially if you are willing to put the furniture together yourself. A printer and a phone with voicemail can round out a basic home office setup.

A more advanced home office setup would include a fax machine and a photocopier. Fortunately, there are 3-in-1 office machines that combine a-printer, fax and copier all in one-piece of equipment for under $300, saving you money and space. Keep in mind, however, that a machine that does many things often offers fewer features for each specific function. For example, if your work at home requires more than the occasional photocopy, it can be more efficient to buy a dedicated copy machine that has special functionality to handle a heavier workload.

Don't forget to set aside money in your home office budget for office supplies. From paper to paper clips, you will have to buy all of the little things that you took for granted when you worked for an employer.-A home office is sometimes considered the holy grail for people who work. Who wouldn't want a comfortable home oasis where commuting is a foreign concept and the work just gets done? To achieve home office nirvana, make a plan that is specifically designed to meet your individual needs and choose the right home office furniture, equipment and supplies to make your plan a reality.

Q: Do I Need an Attorney to Sell a Home?

January 8, 2013 6:02 pm

A: Although most sellers can handle routine real estate purchase contracts, some experts say it is a good idea to be represented by an attorney, particularly if you are selling on your own. You should choose one with expertise in real estate transactions. Before hiring someone discuss all the details of the transaction, including all legal costs you will incur. A good attorney will assist you in completing the deal swiftly and with confidence.

Word of the Day

January 8, 2013 6:02 pm

Default. Breach of a contract or failure to meet a legal obligation. Nonpayment of a mortgage beyond a certain number of payments is considered a default.