Gunning Daily News

Q: What Are the Disadvantages of Buying Foreclosures?

November 29, 2012 5:22 pm

A: Buying directly at a legal foreclosure sale is risky. Among the disadvantages:

There is no financing. You need cash and lots of it.

The title needs to be checked before the purchase. If not, you risk assuming a seriously deficient title.
It may not be possible to inspect the property’s interior before the sale. So you have no idea of the property’s condition.

Foreclosures are routinely purchased “as is,” which means you cannot go back to the seller for repairs.
Also, estate and foreclosure sales are the only property sales that are exempt from some state disclosure laws. In both instances, the law protects the seller – usually the heir or financial institution – who has recently acquired the property through adverse circumstances and may have little or no direct information about it.

Holiday Home Fire Safety Tips

November 28, 2012 3:40 pm

Decorate and entertain during the holiday season with caution and keep safety in mind. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, during Thanksgiving approximately 2,000 house fires happen with 69 percent of the fires caused by cooking. During the holidays, an estimated 128,700 fires and 1,650 injuries, along with 415 deaths occur with close to $25.5 million in property damage.

Review the following tips to make the holidays safe for you and your family.

Holiday Decorations: Be aware of toxic decorations which may be poisonous. Use non-combustible, flame-resistant materials. Never use lighted candles on a tree, evergreens or other flammable materials.

Lights:
Check for loose connections, broken or cracked sockets or frayed wires. Use UL approved lighting. Fasten lights to the tree and prevent bulbs from coming in contact with the needles or branches. Turn off all holiday lights when leaving home or retiring for the evening.

Trees
: Be sure a natural tree is fresh and less likely to become a fire hazard. Cut two inches off the trunk and place in a sturdy water stand, water daily. Keep the tree away from fireplaces, wall furnaces and other heat sources. Use 'fire resistant' artificial trees.

Portable space heaters: Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible and operate only when you are in the room. Never leave a space heater on overnight or near children and pets.

Cooking: Avoid wearing loose clothing which can be ignited by hot burners. Turn pot handles in. Don't store items on top of the stove, they can catch on fire. Turn off kitchen appliances after use. Turkey fryers should be used outdoors and away from buildings and flammable materials.

Fire Escape Plan: Know your escape routes. Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, laundry room, and garage. Never burn greens, papers, or other decorations in the fireplace. Working smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, test them monthly, replace batteries every six months.

Know who to call in case of an emergency: Keep contact numbers handy for the police and fire departments, doctors and the national poison help line. In case of emergency property damage, contact a licensed, professional fire damage clean up and restoration company.

Source: www.pdrfortworth.com.

Taking a Look at Nooks: Part 2

November 28, 2012 3:40 pm

In part two of our look at nooks, I will focus on putting your nook and other kitchen space to work -- exploring the functionality of a kitchen office. So we tapped designer Geno Benvenuti at curbly.com.

Benvenuti suggests creating a visual boundary such as half walls or columns between the kitchen office and the kitchen itself to promote productivity. He also offers these tips to create a successful workspace:

Add enough power for all the tech stuff.

  • Use adequate task lighting.
  • Keep in mind your particular storage needs when choosing cabinetry.
  • Consider using built-ins for added storage needs.
  • Use pullout shelves versus doors, which take up more space.
  • Hide all equipment possible in closets.
  • Choose a durable flooring as traffic flow will increase due to the added functionality of the space.
Harmony Interiors (harmonyinteriorsllc.com) of Frisco, CO says put that nook to work by inserting a compact desk with shelving above to create a small yet useful office area. Or how about these ideas:

Use the island - Many kitchens have islands, and this can be a great place to add a workstation. An extension at a lower height on the back of the island will keep your computer and papers safe from kitchen messes and provide the appropriate height for ergonomic seating.

Connect - In many homes, the transition from kitchen to great room can leave some dead space that may go unused. Make the most of this area by creating a mini-office area conveniently close to the kitchen, yet out of the way.

Standing room - Even if you don’t have enough room for a real desk, you can create a standing “command center” for taking messages and sorting bills.

Keep it under wraps - Like the idea of a kitchen office but don’t want to look at the clutter that often accumulates in such a spot? A hutch offers many options to suit any decor style, and it has the added bonus of portability.

Hopefully these ideas will help consumers make the best of the unused nooks in their homes and apartments.

Don’t Let Holiday Overspending Be Detrimental to Financial Health

November 28, 2012 3:40 pm

Millions of consumers have begun their holiday shopping, snagging sale items either in-person or online, and therefore considering themselves savvy shoppers. At the same time, many lost sight of the fact that regardless of the price, a bargain isn’t a smart purchase if it compromises a person’s overall financial health.

“If there’s one time of the year when people shop with their heart, not their head, it’s the holiday season,” says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). “Emotional spending during the holidays is often the tipping point that pushes people over the edge financially, as common sense can take a backseat during this time of the year.”

To help consumers remain financially responsible during the holidays, the NFCC offers the following five reminders of the long-term consequences of over-spending, some of which can last far after the lights are taken down and the tinsel is packed away.

Paying additional interest - Adding new debt to an existing debt
load, one which cannot be paid in full when the bill arrives, equals
paying a larger dollar amount of interest due to the higher outstanding
balance. Even worse, when a balance is carried over from month-to-month
on an account, interest is paid on the previous months’ interest. People
often boast of buying an item on sale, then pay for it over time, thus
wiping out any savings.

Diminished future borrowing power – An increased level of debt
could cause lenders to decline applications for new lines of credit or
loans. Since no one knows what the future holds, not being in a position
to tap into new credit is something to guard against.

Diminished future buying power – Buying on credit is a contractual
agreement to pay the debt later, often with money that has yet to be
earned. Using tomorrow’s money for today’s expenses compromises future
spending.

Lower credit score – Excessive debt often leads to paying late,
skipping payments, and utilizing too high a percentage of open credit, all
of which could lower the all-important credit score. Further, applying
for new lines of credit simply to save money on today’s purchase will not
only increase the temptation to spend, but will show as an inquiry on the
credit report, potentially lowering the score.

Debt interferes with life - Debt is a 24/7 problem, distracts
people from their job and home-life, interrupts sleep and potentially
causes marital strife.

“With the economy still on shaky ground and job security not something to be counted on, it makes no sense to self-inflict financial damage this holiday season,” continues Cunningham.

Source: www.DebtAdvice.org.

Word of the Day

November 28, 2012 3:40 pm

Capital gain. Profit earned from the sale of an asset.

Q: What Happens at a Trustee Sale?

November 28, 2012 3:40 pm

A: When a homeowner falls behind on three payments, the bank will record a notice of default against the property. When the owner fails to pay up, a trustee sale is held, and the property is sold to the highest bidder. The lender that initiated the foreclosure proceedings will usually set the bid price at the loan amount. Successful bidders receive a trustee's deed as proof of ownership.

Trustee sales are advertised in advance and require all-cash bids, which can include cashiers’ checks. Normally, a sheriff, constable, or lawyer conducts the sale and acts as the trustee. Because these sales typically attract savvy investors, inexperienced buyers should come extremely prepared.

Expert Advice: Consider Buying Your Office Space

November 27, 2012 2:56 pm

If you’re really serious about your business, then perhaps it’s time to think about owning your building, as opposed to renting. According to financial expert and small-business advocate, Chris Hurn, it’s not a question of if, but when most business owners should think about owning commercial property.

Owning your workplace is a path toward long-term wealth – one that doesn’t rely on constantly bringing in new income, says Hurn, author of “The Entrepreneur’s Secret to Creating Wealth: How the Smartest Business Owners Build Their Fortunes.”

“Once they’ve established their business, usually after about three to six years of operation, they should look into property ownership – owning their store, office, or other workspace,” says Hurn, who has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and other financial publications and TV news shows.

“The smartest way to do that is through the SBA 504 – a little-known loan program administered by the Small Business Administration. It offers long-term financing at below-market fixed rates, which businesses generally can’t get through banks.”

Whether or not business owners qualify for the SBA 504, they will benefit by knowing the “five Cs” lenders look at when considering loans, Hurn says.

• Collateral: Lenders – usually banks – will want to know that the property in question is worth the loan. The property to be purchased is the lender’s collateral, so it must have the potential to cover the loan if for some reason owners can’t. Lenders will consider the age of a property and other factors, including whatever equipment may be involved.
• Cash flow (or capacity): The lender will look to see how much cash the business generates along with the amount of existing and proposed debt. In other words, they’ll want to know the cash available to service the total debt. A lender will also consider current rental payments, plus noncash expenses such as depreciation, amortization and interest costs.
• Credit analysis: This reveals the business owner’s history of making good on debts and other obligations. The higher the credit scores, the better. Lenders generally shy away from credit scores lower than 650, however, they will often listen to credible explanations on lower scores.
• Character: Numerous late payments, for example, suggest that owners do not manage debts responsibly, which will likely be indicated in a credit score. Factors that determine character judgment are largely subjective. An applicant can supply evidence in his or her favor.
• Conditions: What are the conditions in the industry and the economy? The better those conditions, the more likely lenders are to give applicants a plus in this bracket. Conditions are often out of a borrower’s control, which makes a positive showing of the other four factors that much more important.

Chris Hurn is CEO and co-founder of Mercantile Capital Corp. based in Orlando, Fla.

For more from Hurn, visit www.TheEntrepreneursSecretBook.com.

Home Design: Taking a Look at Nooks

November 27, 2012 2:56 pm

I was looking for an opportunity to explore the magic of nooks, and the incredible potential they hold for creativity and functionality. So let's put some eggs on to boil and consider kitchen nooks.

The nook-meisters at apartmenttherapy.com say, whether you have one of those large kitchens with giant windows begging for built-in seating, or a strangely small corner in your rental where you can simply throw a bench and a small table, a kitchen nook can make a warm and inviting space for creating a happy place to relax or host small gatherings.

Renters, especially in cities where many old buildings have been remodeled, are inevitably going to discover space in some kitchen apartments that seems strangely small. So drop a pendant lamp, throw down some pillows and pull up a chair.

A kitchen nook can serve as a cozy place for hosting wine and cheese nights, playing cards, or just reading the morning paper. The experts over at decoist.com also talk about converting a nook into intimate meal space for small gatherings, or just the two of you.

They say breakfast nook can be tucked away in the corner of a kitchen or within a bay window, and offer these tips:

Add a padded window seat -- a great opportunity to show some personality and add some color to your space with an interesting fabric pattern and a few charming pillows.

Choose a table -- just remember, a breakfast nook is supposed to be small and quaint. Instead of a table rivaling the size of your dining room set-up, a small café table should suffice.

Arrange two or three small chairs around the table opposite the window seat. If you do not have a window seat, add more chairs. And your breakfast nook can also be one-sided.

When decorating your breakfast nook, it doesn't need to be an extension of your existing kitchen décor. As long as it complements the space, it’s okay to add different colors, patterns and textures to give your nook its own identity.

In the end, a kitchen nook could become your favorite place to enjoy a hot cup of joe and a good book -- or a cozy gathering space for intimate groups and stimulating conversations. In part two, we'll focus on putting that nook to work as office space.

Tips for Rebuilding after a Storm

November 27, 2012 2:56 pm

In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, thousands of homeowners along the East Coast are assessing the damage their homes sustained in the storm and will soon begin the rebuilding process. A natural disaster of this magnitude can be daunting, leaving many unsure of where to begin. If your home was affected, read the following tips before diving into the rebuilding process:

Know the code. There are certain rules that apply when rebuilding in coastal areas. While most homeowners will not know the ins and outs of these regulations, getting up to speed now can save in unnecessary delays or costs. Contact your local building code authority and discuss with your contractor to ensure that all work is in compliance.

When in doubt, take it out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends removing all porous items, such as carpet, upholstery, drywall and ceiling tiles that have been wet for more than 48 hours and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mold growth and could pose a health threat. Always wear proper protection when removing these items to avoid any potential health risks.

Air it out. If a home has flooded and been closed up for several days, it is very likely the home has been contaminated with mold. Upon reentering the home for the first time, open windows and doors to allow the house to air out for 30 minutes or more to reduce exposure to mold. If an area larger than 10 square feet is affected, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a qualified mold remediation specialist.

Partner with a qualified contractor. Widespread disaster areas like those recovering from Hurricane Sandy often draw large numbers of contractors from out of town or out of state, so homeowners should exercise caution.

Look for Products Well-suited for Coastal Areas. There is a wide array of products that are well-suited for coastal areas. For example, vinyl or polymer siding will stand up to the weathering effects of sea salt spray. Certain roof and fence products are backed by wind warranties of up to 110 miles per hour or more.

Source: http://www.certainteed.com/sandy.

Word of the Day

November 27, 2012 2:56 pm

Cancellation clause. Stipulation in a contract that allows a buyer or seller to cancel the contract in the event of a certain specified occurrence.