Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

May 17, 2011 10:19 am

Trustee. One who as agent for others handles money or holds title to their land.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Question of the Day

May 17, 2011 10:19 am

Q: Are seller-paid points deductible?

A: For the buyer, yes, but not the seller-even though the seller pays them. Since January 1, 1991, homebuyers have been able to deduct points paid by the seller whereas, previously, they could only deduct the actual points they paid on the home loans themselves.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Five Benefits of the New Health Care Law

May 17, 2011 10:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 17, 2011-Today, you can take advantage of five major benefits of the new health care law, and several other important provisions will go into effect by 2015.

To help you better understand the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010, the federal government created Healthcare.gov, a web portal that explains what's changing and when.

One person who knows the details of the new law is Mayra Alvarez, Director of Public Health Policy in the Office of Health Reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In her position, Alvarez is tasked with implementing certain provisions of the law.

She recently spoke to USA.gov and shared the five most essential benefits that you can take advantage of today.

1. Coverage for Children with Pre-Existing Conditions

Previously: Health plans could limit or deny health coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.

Now: The new healthcare law requires health plans to offer coverage to children regardless of whether their health issue was discovered or treated before getting the policy. "For the moment this only applies to children, but by the year 2014 you will not be able to discriminate against anybody who buys coverage based on a pre-existing condition," says Alvarez.

2. Elimination of Annual Limits on Benefits

Previously: Health plans could establish a limit on annual or lifetime benefits, which meant that many people with chronic health problems could end up with limited or no benefits.

Now: Health plans can no longer put limits on the amount of care someone needs.

3. Young Adults Can Remain In Their Parents Health Plan

Previously: Health plans could exclude young adults from their parent's health insurance when the individual reached a certain age or became a full-time student.

Now: Young adults can remain in their parent's health plan until they turn 26. "For young people, it's important that they have health insurance so that they can focus on their career and not worry about where they are going to get coverage," says Alvarez.

4. Preventive Care and Services

Previously: Some health plans were allowed to charge beneficiaries for the costs of certain preventive care measures.

Now: Some health plans are now required to provide different types of preventive care services without co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles. Some of these services include mammograms, colonoscopies, vaccinations and prenatal care. "Because of the cost, people would often use preventive care services at half of the recommended rate," says Alvarez.

5. New Medicare Benefits

Previously: Beneficiaries of Medicare drug plans that reached the gap in coverage called the "Donut Hole" had to pay for the cost of the prescriptions they needed.

Now: People with high prescription drug costs that reach the "Donut Hole" receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name medications covered by their plan. \"It's a big step towards closing the 'Donut Hole' within the next 10 years," says Alvarez.

For more information about other benefits of the law you can visit Healthcare.gov.

USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov are the U.S. Government's official web portals in English and Spanish, and part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Now Hiring: America's Family Businesses

May 17, 2011 10:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 17, 2011-For the first time since November 2008, the U.S. has seen two consecutive months where the number of job openings has been at or above 3 million. Even in light of a slight uptick in the April unemployment rate, these are promising statistics. And according to a new survey completed by Family Enterprise USA (FEUSA), family business owners are a major contributor to this positive news.

As part of its Annual Family Business Survey, FEUSA asked family business owners in the U.S. about their likelihood of hiring and retaining employees in the next 12 months. 52 percent of respondents plan to add additional employees, and 42 percent intend to keep their current staff numbers despite an overall sluggish recovery. These are encouraging statistics, and support FEUSA's assertion that family businesses are the backbone of our economy.

These figures lend even more credibility to the research which shows that family businesses are less likely to lay off employees. "Overall, business-owning families are more concerned about long-term sustainability than short-term gains," says Ann Kinkade, President of FEUSA. "This type of thinking is part of the reason why family businesses will likely lead our nation's economic recovery.

"Unfortunately, this information has yet to infiltrate the halls of Congress," Kinkade claims. "FEUSA was formed because family-owned businesses have been misrepresented, misunderstood and overlooked by many of our nation's key decision-makers. Policies are in place that clearly create different standards for doing business based on the fact that the owners, and in some cases their employees, are related to one another."

For example, the new small business tax credit for the payment of employee health insurance premiums and the new $1,000 hiring credit both specifically carve out the inclusion of employees related to the owner(s). "Policies that purposely exclude family in business should have no place in our already complex system of business laws and regulations," states Kinkade.

"We need to incentivize the continuation of our family-owned businesses, not put policies in place that could contribute to their demise," concludes Ann. "We can only imagine a world where family businesses are allowed to operate up to their full potential. We hope that through FEUSA's efforts, we'll be able to get closer to that vision by positively impacting the current decision-making process that leads to a business-owning family being held to a different standard."

Family Enterprise USA is a nonprofit membership organization whose overall efforts include: defining the family business sector, emphasizing its impact on the national economy, highlighting its commitment to local communities, drawing attention to the extremely rewarding and compassionate philanthropic efforts, and most importantly underscoring the threats the sector faces and the need for America to help foster the continued success of America's largest employer.

For more information, visit www.familyenterpriseusa.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Spring Has Arrived: Is Your Home Prepared?

May 17, 2011 10:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 17, 2011-Spring has finally arrived and with the warmer temperatures comes heavy rains, which can wreak havoc on a home through backed up sewers, drains and sump pump overflows. Many homeowners don't realize until it's too late that their insurance policy doesn't cover water damage resulting from backups, unless specifically purchased. Now is the time to make sure your home is prepared for a rainy season. Fremont Insurance (OTC BB: FMMH), a Michigan-based property and casualty insurance carrier, offers a few tips to help homeowners assess and minimize the risks to their home.

"Most homeowner policies contain exclusions for water damage to dwellings and personal property as a result of backup of sewers or drains," revealed Kurt Dettmer, Vice President of Marketing for Fremont Insurance. "It's important to examine your policy and understand what protection you have, but you should also be proactive and take steps to prevent any damage from occurring whenever possible."

As we enter into the spring melting and rainy periods, special consideration and maintenance of systems should be undertaken to avoid potential water hazards. Sump pump systems should be checked for age and working condition, including ensuring that sump back-up systems are installed and maintained. The most effective sump back-up systems are gravity-driven because they are not dependant on an electrical power source in the event of an outage. Vulnerable or perishable personal property susceptible to water damage should be elevated off surfaces such as basement floors and crawl space foundations to limit damage exposure. Regular cleaning and maintenance of gutters and downspouts as well as sub-surface drainage lines will help avoid ground over-saturation near foundations.

Exclusions in insurance for water damage were created in the 1950s in response to extensive basement flooding following heavy rains. They continue to be utilized today because many municipalities maintain antiquated sewage systems which fail to meet capacity requirements. Fremont Insurance Company offers a homeowners endorsement that covers loss to both dwelling and personal property as a result of water back up through sewers or drains or from an overflow within a sump pump, well or similar system designed to remove subsurface water that drains from the dwelling's foundation areas. Check to see if your insurance company makes a similar endorsement.

Many endorsements, however, do not cover "flooding," which usually refers to water damage from natural sources or bodies of water rather than from manmade sources such as plumbing systems. In fact, virtually every homeowner's policy excludes flood coverage. However, flood coverage is available through the government's National Flood Insurance Program and can be obtained through most agents. We recommend that you consult with your agent to thoroughly assess your needs, evaluate all of your policy coverages, conditions and exclusions and answer your questions.

For more information visit www.frmic.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Seven Little Tips That Can Help Save Big on Gas

May 17, 2011 10:19 am

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, May 17, 2011-With the price of gasoline still soaring in many areas, concerned drivers have already cut down on mileage by eliminating unnecessary trips. But did you know that carrying around a trunk full of heavy sports equipment can significantly affect your mileage?

From the U.S. Department of Energy, here are seven more tips on fuel economy that could help you keep some gas dollars in your pocket:

Lighten up Aggressive driving, including rapid braking and rapid acceleration, could cost you up to 33 percent in fuel economy. A lighter foot on the pedal will help.

Drive the speed limit While each car reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed, gas mileage can decrease rapidly at speeds over 60 mph. It is safe to assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra $0.24 per gallon for gas.

Avoid excessive idling Idling is a gas waster. If you're waiting at a railroad crossing for any length of time, turn off the engine.

Use cruise control Using cruise control on the highway helps maintain a constant speed, which in most cases will up your mileage.

Keep tires properly inflated You can improve gas mileage by 3.3 percent or more by keeping tires inflated to the recommended pressure.

Keep your engine tuned Repairing a car that is noticeably out of tune, or has failed an emissions test, can save you up to 4 percent in gas mileage.

Plan ahead Keep a list of the regular trips and errands that must be made each week. Plan to combine as many as you can, and when an unexpected errand turns up, consult your list to see how you can best fit it into your driving plan.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

Trust deed. A document used in place of a mortgage in certain states; a third-party trustee, not the lender, holds the title to the property until the loan is paid out or defaulted. Also called a deed of trust.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Question of the Day

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

Q: Can I contest my property taxes?

A: Many people do, mainly because determining value can often be tricky. This is especially true in a changing market when local prices either take off dramatically or plunge precipitously, like during the Texas oil bust of the 1980s.

While it is up to a professional assessor to evaluate property value for tax purposes, property owners are usually allowed to contest their assessment until a certain date after they are made public.

Once you contest, you will have to prove why you think your property is worth less-few homeowners contest hoping to pay more taxes! The two most popular ways for determining value are an appraisal and a comparative market analysis. With an appraisal, a professional estimates the property's market value based on recent sales of comparable properties. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate agent based on similar sales and property attributes. Most agents will offer free analyses to win your business.

Contact your local tax assessor's office for procedures on appealing your property tax assessment.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


New Soda Can Top Solves Sanitation Problem and Offers Advertising Opportunity

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 16, 2011- During lectures and market tests in Texas middle schools, Team Advercan has proven the ultimate weapon to win the global Cola War. The weapon? A simple, biodegradable, no-cost sanitary can top cover that protects consumers from germs (bacteria, viruses, etc.) and acts as a coupon.

Amy Cannon, Advercan's in-school assistant, exclaims, "McGruff the Crime Dog picked Pepsi when given a choice, but as soon as we put Advercan's Clean Cap on the Coke can, he wagged his tail and pawed for Coke!" Emily A., a 7th grader, says, "I'm glad someone cares enough about others' health to make this happen. I would definitely drink whatever soda had a sanitary seal." Carissa S. admits, "I would switch from Pepsi to Coke if there was a chance to win Justin Bieber tickets on the top." One student didn't like Coke or Pepsi, but said she'd switch from Sprite to 7UP if it had an Advercan cover on it.

"Our student polls show over 99 percent brand switching! There is almost no brand loyalty when we put a sanitary seal with a coupon on top," claims Advercan's founder, Kenny Mac McClintock. "We polled a few middle-school classes, a city jazz fest, a film festival, and health/wellness fair attendees for brand loyalty. Only three soda fans were brand loyal out of a couple hundred polled! Even Dallas Film Festival patrons were 100 percent non-loyal when presented with a sanitary can cover and movie coupon offer."

Not only is Advercan's "AmeriCANtop" paid for by second-party advertisers and assures can-top hygiene, it also assures brand dominance. What of the billions of dollars in CanAd revenues to be gained? $35 billion is being spent on unwanted Direct Mail annually, so why not net-net a few billion of this spending by selling can-top coupon space globally?

The Beverage Companies should want to cover their cans because of market share increase, new branding space, POP snack ads, fast food pouring rights, safeguarding, theme park ads, prizing, scent, taste; anything to increase the profitability and allure of the soda/beer package. Oh, and of course massive new advertising revenue streams from can-top coupons and PPC. Jerry Clapp of Cott Bottling once said it best: "It's all about the Doe Re Mi!"

The leading expert of our decade-long quest, Thomas Bachman of Beverage Industry Magazine, states, "The Advercan system is the right idea at the right time whose time has literally come. With today's safety concerns about product contamination and the need for unique brand expansion opportunities, the Advercan can top cover looks to be the most consumer-friendly and efficient way to answer these concerns." Advercan exec, Grady Embry remarks, "Advercan has proven a multibillion-dollar marketing revenue business plan along with sanitary safety for its consumers. Why not profit several billion off marketing and prevent the spread of pathogens?

"If the beverage companies say that there isn't a yucky can top problem, let's have their kids line up to buy cans from an H1N1-positive cashier before Christmas break," sites Michelle A., Middle School Teacher, TX.

For more information, please visit http://www.advercan.com.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Fine Homebuilding Magazine Awards New Home of the Year

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 16, 2011-New Energy Works Timberframers received Fine Homebuilding's New Home of the Year Award for The Vermont Street Project, a sustainably designed and built timber frame home in Portland, Oregon. The home is featured in Fine Homebuilding's 2011 HOUSES issue along with 11 finalists.

Inclusion in Fine Homebuilding's Annual HOUSES is one of the most prestigious honors a design/build professional can receive, while winning New Home of The Year is akin to winning The World Series. HOUSES features just twelve homes out of the hundreds of applications sent in from around the globe.

Fine Homebuilding Special Editions Editor Charles Miller comments on this year's winner, stating that "the house expertly balances a contemporary floor plan with traditional detailing rendered in sustainable materials. And its state-of-the-art mechanical systems will substantially lower its demand for energy and water usage for decades."

"The Vermont Street Project is a living example of greater sustainability in a design and craft intensive home," says Jonathan Orpin, President, New Energy Works Timber Framers.

Design and construction of the project was approached with the principle that a well built home stands on four legs:

1: A long-lasting, thermally efficient structure

2: Advanced and efficient mechanical systems

3: Sustainable structural and finish materials

4: A plan tailored to the family's needs and to carefully crafted, coherent detailing

Features include: a reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame; reclaimed elm and oak flooring; interior woodworking using reclaimed walnut (cabinets/interior doors); solid wood framed windows; recycled redwood siding; antique barn siding; photovoltaic panels; solar hot water panels; rainwater collection system; SIPs panels; recycled wood and cement form blocks; natural plaster wall coverings; a high efficiency boiler, and more. For details visit The Vermont Street Project.

Partners who collaborated on this project: Pioneer Millworks, Basco Appliance, Chown Hardware, Custom-Bilt Metals, Dimensional Millwork, Inc., ecohaus, Evolution Floors, GLD DesignStudio, Imaginenergy, Landscape East & West, Loren Nelson Photography, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Traditional Natural Plaster Company, Premier Building Systems, and Shelter Works.

For more information visit http://timberframe-postandbeamhomes.com.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.