Gunning Daily News

Q: What are the disadvantages of buying foreclosures?

October 8, 2012 5:50 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.

Hey! U-Factor – Check Out These Window Tips

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

I recently had a crash course in replacement windows courtesy of the Better Business Bureau and the folks from Connecticut-based Windowland, which was voted two years running to the Qualified Remodeler Top 500 program.

The BBB advises consumers to balance cost effectiveness with energy efficiency, inasmuch as more efficient windows, doors and skylights can result in significant long-term energy savings.

Start by looking for products that carry the Energy Performance Ratings label from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The label can help determine how well a product will perform its key functions - keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, while keeping out wind and resisting condensation.

If you are looking for a well-insulated room, look for the following information about the windows you are considering:

Check the window’s “U-Factor.” During the cold winter months, you’ll want to make sure your windows are trapping heat. U-Factor ratings generally fall between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the U-value, the greater a window's resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value.

Another rating to study is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) - how much solar radiation is admitted through the window. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1, and the lower a window's solar heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits in the house.

Consider the Visible Transmittance (VT) is an optical property that indicates the amount of visible light transmitted through the window. VT is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher the VT, the more that light gets transmitted.

And since heat loss and gain occur by Air Leakage (AL) through cracks in the window assembly. The lowest AL rating, means the least air will pass through cracks in the window assembly.

The higher the Condensation Resistance (CR) rating, the better a product is at resisting formation of condensation. CR is expressed as a number between 1 and 100.

For more information on the Energy Performance Ratings label, visit http://www.nfrc.org.

Beyond the Babysitting Gig

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Kids have always worked. They’ve raked leaves, washed cars, and supervised children while Mom and Dad go out on dates. There’s only one problem, says Gregory Downing: While these typical kid jobs do result in a bit of pocket cash, they do very little to teach kids the all-important principles of entrepreneurial wealth building.

Directly trading your time for money is very limiting,” says Downing, author of Entrepreneur Unleashed: Wealth to Stand the Test of Time as well as an upcoming book on providing a financial legacy for kids. “This is especially true in a global economy characterized by skyrocketing prices and a shortage of ‘good’ jobs.”
The good news, says Downing, is that your kids can put an entrepreneurial twist on these classic childhood jobs—or at least take their earning potential to a higher level. Here are ten ideas to help you get started:

The Tutoring Source (and Babysitting Broker). School is back in session and, as always, there will be plenty of students who need a little extra help to thrive academically. Perhaps your child can provide that help. But rather than being just another service provider in a crowded market, why not suggest she be the front person? She might create a database of qualified locals and book appointments for her subcontractors. She can charge $10/hour for the services, and pay each of her contractors $8/hour. The same principle can work for babysitting.

This is great management experience and really illustrates the magic of passive income. On any given afternoon, she might be earning money from four or five or even more tutoring jobs. Meanwhile, she can be enjoying a fun extracurricular activity or perhaps earning even more money by holding a tutoring session of her own.

The Thriving Cider Stand. The lemonade stand is a classic childhood business. And just because summer is over doesn’t mean your kids have to close up shop. As the weekends get cooler and the leaves begin to change, they can simply switch over to, say, hot apple cider. No matter what they’re selling, the refreshment stand can teach many valuable lessons.

Kids can learn about profit by buying their own ingredients and doing their own marketing. They can shop around for better pricing, learn the benefits of buying in bulk, or negotiate with a local grocer for a better deal on repeat business. They can differentiate themselves by holding “buy two cups get one free” sales or throwing in a free cinnamon sugar cookie with each purchase.

The Dog Days of Entrepreneurship (Dog Walking). Taking Fido for a walk every day is a good way for kids to make a little extra money. (This is especially true in the cooler months as the days get shorter and the temperatures get cooler and people are unable—or just unwilling—to venture out in the evenings.) Add two or three more canine clients to the mix and it becomes a great learning experience in multitasking and client management.

Help your child set up a client database to keep track of client contact information, schedules, payments due and received, and any special requests or needs. Help her learn to gauge her own limits. Once she feels she’s at the outer edge of her ability to serve clients well, it’s time to stop accepting new clients or to bring on a partner or employee.

Taking this business to the next level can be easy and fun. Your child might offer every tenth walk free. Or, she might throw in a free dog washing with every new contract. Likewise, there are good opportunities to “spoke off” a whole new service: If she does a great job as a dog walker, she might offer her clients pet sitting services.

The Savvy House Sitter. Being given the keys to someone’s house, and perhaps the temporary custody of a beloved pet, is an honor. Explain to kids just how much trust clients are placing in them—and explain that if they go “above and beyond” they can shore up the relationship in a big way (not to mention generate enthusiastic referrals).

For sure, kids need to clean up any pet messes or spills, water the plants, check the mail, and take out the trash on trash day. That’s just basic good service. But they might also offer to tackle other projects for a small extra fee: scrubbing bathrooms, washing cars, mowing the yard, or organizing photos.

The Music Moneymaker. If you have a child who is musical, perhaps a skilled pianist or budding violinist, he might offer his talents at weddings, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, and the like. Help him get his business off the ground by developing business cards and fliers or perhaps a simple website that includes a video or audio sample of his work. Above all, tell him to make sure he is never, ever less than 100 percent professional and accommodating—people’s special events are precious to them and most will not hire anyone without a glowing referral. Be referable!

Once your child has a handful of successful weddings and parties under his belt, he might move on to offering his talents at corporate functions. While this may seem a daunting prospect, it will give him a valuable look at how the business world operates. (Many business professionals will appreciate the courage and initiative he shows by asking and may very well give him a chance!)

The Birthday Party Business. Putting together a great party is a lot of work for busy parents, between buying supplies, sending out invites, and managing activities during the party itself. By offering to help execute all the exhausting details (from following up with non-RSVPers to dishing out the ice cream), your child can free up frenzied parents to just enjoy the big day with their child and 20 of his or her closest friends.

To get the business rolling, she might call neighbors and family friends who have small children and explain her services to them. (Yes, it’s daunting, but it will be a great lesson for your child in the value of picking up the phone.) She can offer a discount or free trial for the first customer or two and let referrals and word of mouth take it from there.

When your child is ready to take the business to the next level, she can offer to paint faces, make balloon animals, or do the pedicures and manicures at the sleepover. And as the business grows in popularity (or the parties grow in size), she can start putting together her own power team and learn to manage others.

The Gumball Machine Maestro. This is a great way to teach kids about passive income as well as help them polish other critical business skills. Setting up a gumball machine requires developing a nose for a great location and knowing the demands of a particular demographic. (Obviously, a gumball machine at a high-end restaurant won’t do as well as one placed in the lobby of a kid-friendly diner!) It also will require diligent maintenance: refilling the machine, keeping it clean, making sure the mechanism works, and best of all, collecting the money.

The hardest part may be convincing the owner of the property to let him put his gumball machine there. (It would be a tough task for most adults!) He may need to experiment with different tactics: Offer the store owner a flat fee? Offer her a percentage of the profits? Promise a cut to the owner’s favorite charity? He’ll quickly find his stride and start to develop serious negotiation skills that will serve him well in the future.

The Bead Business Wizard. Designing and creating bracelets and necklaces to sell teaches kids to manage inventory and pay attention to the trends so that their product can stay new and interesting. Are more bracelets selling than necklaces? Are bright colors selling better than pastels? Is there an unmet market niche selling jewelry to boys, and might your child be able to come up with some cool designs that appeal to them?

This might also be a chance to learn about business philanthropy. Help kids devise a campaign for selling the jewelry so that part of the proceeds goes to a charity of their choice. Perhaps the bracelet designs could coordinate with the colors of a particular charity. If the business really takes off, your kids might hire others to make the bracelets and expand their operation.

The Brainy Bake Sale or Smart Car Wash. These events are classic fundraisers but they tend to be indistinguishable from one another. Encourage your child to think differently about the one he oversees. Teach him about the value of pricing goods and services competitively: Just because he’s charging more doesn’t mean he’ll make good money—especially when a less expensive car wash event is happening in another part of town.

You might help your child conduct market research by visiting other area sales. See what others are doing in the way of advertising. Help him devise a marketing strategy (using social media where age-appropriate), draw up a flier, visit local businesses and ask to advertise, and so forth.

The Next-Level Landscaper. Your child might offer “free samples” of his work around the neighborhood in an effort to expand his business. He might work up a flier that offers a free service—for one leaf raking, weed pulling, or yard trimming (even better if you make the bonus something you’ve noticed a particular yard really needs).

Does he own a lot of equipment? He might rent it out when he’s on vacation or away at camp. He can arrange for a friend to keep up with yards while he’s away: This will keep customers happy and give the friend an opportunity to earn a little extra money on the side.

For more information, visit
www.GregoryDowning.com.

Five Fall Curb Appeal Improvements

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

According to the according the National Association of REALTORS®, who notes that the sale of existing homes rose in August, it looks like fall may be a prime time for those looking to sell their houses before the end of 2012.

And as lovely as your home may be, there are always things you can do to take it to the next level, especially when it comes to curb appeal. Fitting in a few simple exterior home improvements can add value to your home before the weather turns cold, helping to snag those end-of-season real estate browsers. So what upgrades can you make that are easy, cost-effective and will make potential buyers “fall” in love with your home this season? Here are a few tips:

Front door décor – The front door leaves a lasting first impression of your house. While completely replacing the front door is an option, simply sanding and repainting your existing door can make a big difference and save on costs. For a little extra: Add a nice fall foliage wreath, or a doorknocker to accentuate your home’s entrance.

Sync hardware – Mismatched exterior hardware can make your home appear disheveled and create a non-cohesive aesthetic. By streamlining your house numbers, lock, door handle and exterior light fixtures with matching finishes, you can give your home a consistent, put-together look in less than a day without a large investment. For a little extra: Upgrade your lock with a high-end deadbolt with cover plate for added curb appeal and security.

Make-over your mailbox – Sitting at the end of the driveway, the mailbox is often forgotten about when it comes to your outdoor décor. Making sure your mailbox complements your look and feel is yet another way to catch the eye of a potential buyer. If you don’t live in an area with strict rules, spruce up your standard letter holder with trim, new paint or fancy finish (and steer clear of novelty sport or hobby mailboxes). For a little extra: Add a trellis behind the mailbox for extra landscaping and a pop of color.

Great greenery – A well maintained lawn can tie together the overall look of the outside of your house, presenting a clean and sleek front to accompany your home’s entrance. With fall being a transition time for many plants, adding mums or ornamental grasses in hearty autumn colors to complement changing leaves can bring depth to your yard. For a little extra: Add reusable window boxes and porch containers filled with gourds, cornstalks and leaves to create an autumn feel.

Light the way – A well-designed walkway leading to your front door can make your home seem even more warm and inviting. Make sure the path is well lit by installing outdoor lighting that not only provides illumination and value, but also security. For those without a walkway, installing a lamppost or lantern at the end of our driveway is a good option. For a little extra: Incorporate solar lights along your front door walkway for an easy and cost-effective makeover that is also energy efficient.

Preparing your home for sale, especially as the busy summer season is ending, can seem stressful, but with a few quick, easy and cost-effective improvements you can increase your home’s curb appeal no matter the season.

Source: http://simplicikey.com.

Word of the Day

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Useful life. The period of time over which a commercial property can be depreciated for federal income-tax purposes. Also known as economic life.

Q: What Causes a Foreclosure?

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

A: A lender decides to foreclosure, or repossess, a property when the owner fails to pay the mortgage. Unfortunately, thousands of homes end up in foreclosure every year.

Many people lose their homes due to job loss, credit problems, divorce, unexpected expenses, and during periods of economic instability.

Failure to pay property taxes may also cause a homeowner to lose his home. Trouble can also arise when owners neglect to pay local water bills and home insurance premiums.

Check Out The Latest Gadget Extravaganza

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Regular readers know how much fun I have looking at gadgets. And this latest scoop of gadget samples is no different.

Forbes latest snapshot of the best household gadgets included the cool Belkin ‘Fridge Mount’ for iPad (Approx. $39); an iPad case that instantly transforms the fridge into a media hub for calendars, shopping lists, even surfing the net or watching the news.

The mount is held in place by strips that can be removed without damaging the fridge surface.

DIY-ers will love the Pocket Smart Measuring String ($8-$12). Getting your measurements correct is crucial, and that can be a challenge when it comes to measuring curved surfaces such as round tables, doorway arches, curvy pipes or the rolled arms of a sofa.

Enter the Pocket Smart measuring string, which can be laid along any curved surface to yield a precise result. Learn more at pocketsmartstring.com.

And how about that iTouchless Sensor Toilet Seat?

At about price: $160, the motion detection on this toilet seat makes it flip up and down without any help from your hands. As convenient as it is sanitary, it's easy to install and slides off for easy cleaning – check it out at itouchless.com.

Mashable Digital Lifestyle Editor Andrea Smith also recently raved about The Roku 2 (roku.com) - the tiny box that connects to a home's Wi-Fi, providing both free and subscription content, ranging from Netflix to Hulu to news and tech TV channels.

Remotes that come with the Roku 2 feature Bluetooth, something that previous models were lacking. And the Roku 2 XD and XS support 1080p playback, and the XS has an Ethernet port and a USB port for playing back music and movies.

Smith also raved about WeMo home automation switch. Used in conjunction with a free WeMo app, the switch lets you control any appliance that plugs into an electrical outlet.

It runs over your home's Wi-Fi network and can be controlled with any iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch - start your coffee maker as you come down the stairs in the morning, or turn on lights before you get home.

The app will also let you schedule devices to go on and off at pre-set times.

Outsmart Hunger with 3 Easy Tips

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

(ARA) - As the leaves change and the air turns crisp, it can be tempting to indulge in delicious food favorites and hide those few extra pounds under a thick wool sweater. But you shouldn't have to choose between sticking with your weight management plan and enjoying satisfying and delicious foods. There are some easy and tasty tricks to having your cake and eating it too.

“For those looking to manage their weight, protein- and fiber-filled foods are helpful to feeling full longer. Typical protein options like Greek yogurt and eggs are not good sources of fiber,” says registered dietitian Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, who recommends finding snacks that pair protein with fiber.

Melendez-Klinger shares her tips on ways to outsmart hunger:
* Get those greens. Filling up on low-calorie, nutrient-dense vegetables are a great way to incorporate vitamins and minerals into your diet - and help fill you up at the same time. Not a salad lover? Integrating veggies into your diet can be as easy as topping your sandwich with spinach and peppers or baking chicken with carrots and onions.
* Protein packs a punch. Choosing foods with protein will help you feel full longer. “I love options like Special K Protein cereal, bars and shakes, which provide a winning combination of 10 grams of protein and up to five grams of fiber to help you satisfy hunger longer,” comments Melendez-Klinger.
* Pump up the produce. Adding seasonal produce to each meal is another flavorful and delicious way watch the scale. While summer may be best known for bringing fresh produce options to the table, fall ushers in a new group of colorful and nutrient-dense varieties of its own, like apples, yams, beets, pumpkins and carrots. Burn some extra calories by walking to your local farmer's market to buy fresh, local options.

Source: www.SpecialK.com/ProteinEffect.

Great Ways to 'Green' your Holiday Season

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

(ARA) - With trees dressed in fall finery and homes adorned in holiday hues of silver, gold and red, fall and winter are colorful times. This year, why not “green” your holiday by adopting some eco-friendly traditions? From making holiday meals with organic ingredients to wrapping gifts in recycled paper, it's easy to find ways to celebrate the season and be kind to Mother Nature at the same time.

Earth-friendly feasting
Americans are embracing organic foods for many reasons, from better taste on their plates and improved health in their homes, to the gentler impact on the environment associated with the production of organic produce and meats. If you've never tried organic dining before, give your family - and the earth - the gift of going organic this holiday season. And if you prefer organic foods throughout the year, there's no need to set the habit aside just because of the holidays.

From main dishes of responsibly raised poultry and line-caught fish, to side dishes of sustainably grown vegetables and grains, it's easy to serve a holiday meal that's good for your family and the environment. Companies like Simply Organic offer options for every aspect of holiday feasting, including mixes for gravies, dips and dressings, organic spices, flavorings, extracts and sauces. You can find holiday-appropriate organic products and recipes at www.simplyorganic.com.

Decorating with heart
Some traditional holiday decorations can be less than friendly for the environment, but a cut tree is not necessarily one of them. Consider that the production of artificial trees consumes large quantities of resources and creates wasted by-product. Also, keep in mind most tree lots sell trees raised on farms, so natural forests are not impacted by the tree you buy off the lot. When it comes time to dispose of your tree, consider mulching it yourself, rather than just setting it out on the curb.

What would the holidays be without bright lights? But those little bulbs can consume lots of energy. Switching to LED lights will reduce the amount of power it takes to keep your home twinkling brightly this holiday season. And a bonus of LED lights: they last longer, so you won't have to buy new strands every season.

Guilt-free giving
Gift-giving and the goodwill it brings are at the heart of the holidays, but that good feeling often also comes with ripped wrapping paper, pounds of packaging materials and a lot of energy consumed in shopping. It is possible, however, to give gifts with minimal impact on the environment - and your conscience. Handmade gifts are not only more eco-friendly, they show the recipient that you cared enough to invest time and effort in creating something unique. But if you're not handy, look for gifts that are energy-efficient (like solar-powered items or gadgets that use rechargeable batteries), come with minimal packaging, are made of sustainably harvested natural materials, or that are locally produced.
Intangible gifts can also be “green.” Instead of gifting the cooking enthusiast in your life with a new set of pots and pans, sign him up for a cooking class and attend together. Give your gardening fan a “gift certificate” redeemable for your help when spring planting season arrives.

Greening your holiday season will take some thought and time, but giving yourself and your loved ones a more environmentally responsible holiday season will be something you can celebrate throughout the year.

Word of the Day

October 4, 2012 5:24 pm

Valid contract. One that meets all requirements of law, is binding upon its parties, and is enforceable in a court of law.