Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
With the number of houses on the market now, searching for that perfect property can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating. The number of homes potential buyers want to see has increased dramatically in the last couple of years, with buyers searching for the perfect home at the perfect price.
How do you cut through the process and become efficient in your search? First, be honest with yourself and your Realtor. Make a list of all the features you want in a home and stick to it as much as possible. That includes location. By not straying, you and your agent can be much more efficient.
Be fair about what you can pay. While homes at the very upper end of your budget may dazzle you, spending time on the unobtainable is inefficient. Keep in mind that buying a house is a very long-term financial commitment.
Almost nine out of 10 homebuyers start their search online. Here you can see virtual tours and get a feel for the property. Download the information and put it in a binder that you will refer to frequently. Set up a driving tour by using an online map application. That will guide you in a logical route and you won’t waste time and gas.
The market has been flooded with short sales and foreclosures. What if the home you find falls in one of those categories? Are you ready and patient enough to deal with the special circumstances surrounding these properties? The bank owns foreclosures and there is virtually no variation in price, plus the property may have been neglected and will need extensive repairs after you buy it. Short sale properties are usually in better shape, but, since the buyer will be dealing with the seller as well as the bank, negotiations can take months. If you see a foreclosure in your future, work with a Realtor who specializes in this type of sale. You want an agent who is experienced and can work through this lengthy process.
Trust your emotions. If you feel an initial connection with the home, give it serious consideration. Be cautious about seeing the next home and the next home, hoping an amazing bargain is right around the corner when you heart lies with the first one you saw.
When you find that special home, be flexible during negotiations. Just because more homes are available doesn’t mean you can walk away with a very lowball offer. You want to get to a place where both you and the seller are comfortable and the price is fair market value.
With a bit of focus and planning you can land your new home efficiently and start your new life without stress and tension.
Thank you for allowing us to come into your life each month with our newsletter. I appreciate your time and want to take a moment to share with you The Grant Hickman Team Goals for 2011.
- Serve Help 70 Families buy and sell
- Advise Offer proven Home Buying and Selling Systems
- Faster Sell homes 25% faster than the local average days on market
- Sell Higher Sell homes for higher in price (*97% of adjusted list price, 3-4% higher than local average)
- Buy Better Buy over 10% under asking list price (-4% better than local average)
- Have Fun Proactive Real Estate that will reduce the amount of stress and we are excited about helping :)
- Give Back Embark on efforts to give back to local foundations and charities (*details in the near future)
Because of your past support, business, and recommending us to your friends and family we are able to set these new and exciting goals. The Grant Hickman Team is providing expert services including home buying, selling, relocation assistance, new construction, leasing, investment real estate and foreclosure avoidance. This is going to be a great year!
Friday, January 21, 2011
Winter is no friend to your carpet. Improve your family life and that of your carpet’s with a professional cleaning
Left unattended, your carpet takes a beating and delicate fibers begin to break down. Traffic areas become more noticeable and deeper and dried salt crushes into the carpet. If let unattended, salt products can strip carpets of their chemical bonding compounds and wood floors of the urethane coating.
Another very important issue is mold. Carpets draw melting winter snow down to the padding, where without air drying, mold begins to form. Once you have a mold problem, it’s difficult and expensive to eradicate. A good winter cleaning will address all of these situations and make your carpet even more able to help combat allergens.
Also, professionally cleaning your carpet in the winter means that with lower humidity levels, your carpet will dry quicker with no oppressive July humidity to slow down the process.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends routine carpet cleaning every 6-12 months and every 3-6 months if you have young children and pets. Scheduling a winter cleaning is a smart way to extend the life of your carpet.
With just a 5 minute phone call and filling out a quick email questionnaire, my team and I can determine if we can help you in a very short amount of time. Don't make a decision like foreclosure that can impact you for many years down the road.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Understanding why your home went into foreclosure and making financial adjustments will go a long way toward buying another home
Enduring a foreclosure on your home is painful and disheartening. Even though the past three years have been tough for many homeowners, being in the same boat doesn’t make the situation any better. Foreclosures have many ramifications for the family, the least being a damaged credit score that could prevent future homeownership.
All is not lost. A foreclosure stays on your credit record for seven years, while a bankruptcy is 10 years. While you won’t own another home with a mortgage in the near future, you can look to the future and begin making repairs.
First, examine the cause for the foreclosure. Possibly a job loss or health issues prevented you from making mortgage payments. In these cases you can apply to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in three years. If the foreclosure is due to financial mismanagement, the waiting period is seven years.
Request a copy of your credit report from all of the three credit bureaus–Trans Union, Experian and Equifax–and write a detailed explanation of the foreclosure for each bureau. This is especially important if the foreclosure was the result of health issues or a job loss. It’s not going to change your score now, but in the future the facts may help you look credible to a potential lender. You can receive a free credit report by going to annualcreditreport.com.
Pay your bills on time. Credit reports look at payment history, so it is extremely important to make regular payments on your accounts, including utilities. You will demonstrate that you are now stable and have a consistent financial plan in place. That makes you more appealing to lenders.
Oddly enough, you should apply for credit. Just a little at a time, but having a car payment, a credit card or a department store revolving charge will begin the rebuilding process. Don’t go crazy though–keep you purchases low and pay them off every month.
Plan a budget and adjust your spending habits. Doing this will relieve more financial stress. Keep track of how you’ve spent money and evaluate those purchases at the end of each month. You’ll have physical proof of what you bought and can determine if that purchase was really necessary.
By being patient and practicing financial discipline for the next few years, you may indeed be able to purchase another home and start a better life.
Friday, January 14, 2011
The seed catalogs begin arriving. Beautiful, verdant pictures of luscious flowers blooming merrily along in sculpted gardens, all framed by well maintained rolling lawns. Leafing through the catalogs is certainly a fine diversion to chase away the gray January clouds and a way to begin planning your spring garden.
Now, for a douse of reality. Those vibrant pictures of flowering roses, deep purple clematis, impatiens bursting in oranges, pinks and lavender¬–they live in a controlled climate carefully tended by nursery people who care for them correctly, not in our Missouri yards.
So, keep in mind that what you see in the catalogs may not exactly work here. There’s no harm in dreaming, but as you begin to plan for spring, think of the reality of your yard and how much effort you will contribute to keeping it up.
While we can’t promise a no-maintenance landscape, we do have some suggestions for a low maintenance garden.
Begin with a plan
Whether you are starting from scratch or refreshing your current garden, a plan is a must. Look at the environmental aspects of your space and designate shady areas, full sun gardens, windy areas and extremely dry or wet locations. When you’ve completed your assessment move on to choosing the appropriate plants for the right spots.
As with most things simplicity, is much more elegant than an explosion of plant clutter. Each plant should serve a purpose, whether as ground cover, a backdrop or bits of color throughout a coordinated scheme. Give each plant enough room to grow, and be very generous with mulch. This nurtures plants, if you choose organic mulch, and reduces the need to water. Plants grouped into small beds are more eye-catching than a sweeping view more suited to public spaces. Small beds are also easier to maintain, which means success for you. The Missouri Extension Service has landscaping guides and plans that will be quite helpful.
When choosing your plants, keep in mind the Missouri summers that can be extremely oppressive in July and August. That kind of heat stresses plants and the people who care for them. Choose plant matter that can handle low watering and high heat.
The best bet for low maintenance plants are native ones. These plants live here in Missouri and have adapted well to the climate. Grownative.org, a cooperative project between the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Agriculture is an excellent resource to stock your garden with natives that you can enjoy the whole growing year with a minimum of effort. The Missouri Botanical Garden also offers Plants of merit that will grow well here.
Curl up with the delicious seed catalogs as the cold winter wind blows outside. Choose wisely and decide how much work you are willing to contribute to your garden. Then you’ll have great success and an enjoyable summer.
Tax season is right around the corner. If your finances aren't in order, give me a call today for a recommendation on who to talk to. 314.265.1531
Thursday, January 13, 2011
- 51 cents per business mile
- 19 cents per mile for medical purposes
- 14 cents per mile for charitable services
Update your payroll state unemployment rate;
Estimated tax, if not paid before the end of 2010, they are due January 18th
To avoid income tax penalties be sure you have paid 100% of 2009 taxes or 90% of what you owe this year;
Get a basket, shoe box, or storage box, to contain all the tax documents you will start receiving via mail or e-mail;
This is a great time to update your home inventory by adding any electronic or other valuable items received over the holidays. Be sure to discuss with your insurance agent for additional coverage, if necessary;
Take advantage of buying ‘out season’ items, such as carpet, linens and swimwear.
If you need help looking over your finances, give me a call at 314.265.1531 and I can recommend the perfect solution!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
- Form 1040, Schedule A, itemized deductions;
- Form 8917, Tuition and Fees deduction;
- Form 1040, line 23, Educator expenses;
- Form 4684, Casualties and Thefts;
- Form 5405, First time homebuyer credit & Repayment of credit;
There are a few other less ‘popular’ credits too. The IRS expects to have the forms updated and ready for processing about mid-February.
Another possible delay in filing your tax return this year; the Form 1099-DIV has been changed to report both ‘ordinary’ and ‘qualified’, and the Form 1099-INT now reports tax-exempt interest. Mutual Fund investments are the most likely to be incorrect since the information comes from several issuers, and then is broken out for the different types. Be sure to verify these Forms against your own records.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The Grant Hickman Team
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Have you considered SELLING your Real Estate Business? (book of business)
The Grant Hickman Team is ready to do business with you. We are looking for REALTORS who no longer have the time or passion for the business and would like an exit plan. If you are thinking of:
- Quitting the Business
- Changing Careers
- Burnt out on Real Estate Retiring
- Lost the motivation
- Let someone else do the work for you
No matter if you do one transaction or 30 transactions a year, we would like to talk to you. You can still make money and let us do all of the work.
Call Grant Hickman at (314) 265-1531 to discuss how to continue to earn money, keep your license, yet focus on other endeavors.
Bald Eagle viewing and events
Various dates and locations
The eagles return. The Middle Mississippi River Valley is home to the second largest population of bald eagles. Various state agencies and parks, nature and other local organizations and communities celebrate our nation’s symbol with many types of viewing and educational opportunities. Participants can find those activities here.
Friday, January 7
St. Louis Science Center
View the brilliant night sky with the St. Louis Astronomical Society. The Society and the Science Center will provide telescopes and answer questions. For more information, call 314-289-4453 or visit the Science Center website.
Saturday, January 8
All about the farm
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
5N726 Crane Rd.
St. Charles Park District
Learn about the historic Primrose Farm during farm story time from 10-11 a.m. Enjoy a snack and visit with the farm’s animal residents. At 2 p.m. guests can have a hands-on experience with farm animals and learn more about their care and feeding. Classes are available for both events. Primrose Farm provides interpretative experiences about life in the 19th century on a farm and how technology has changed farming life. For more info, call the farm at 630-513-4370.
Friday, January 21
Russian National Ballet presents Romeo and Juliet
Bezemes Family Theater
This full length ballet is performed by the Russian National Ballet in a dramatic and visually stunning production featuring more than 50 dancers in the great Russian ballet tradition.
For more information and to purchase tickets call the box office at 636-949-4433 or vist the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts webpage.
Daily through April 3
Treasures of Napoleon
Missouri History Museum
Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Look inside the private life of Napoléon Bonaparte, the Corsican general who attempted to conquer Europe and North Africa. Here is a look behind the legend with a showcase of his personal possessions, historic artifacts and paintings. For info and tickets, go to the History Museum’s website or call 314-746-4599.
Saturday, January 29
Fete De Glace
9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Fete de Glace or the Festival of Light is an outdoor ice-carving competition where skilled carvers from around the region turn blocks of ice into amazing creations. Coffee, hot chocolate and fire pits are available for warmth. Call 636-946-1898 for more info.
Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 30
The Great Train Expo
St. Charles Convention Center
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
This is the place to be for model railroad enthusiasts. The show offers a variety of model railroad and toy layouts in many different scales and gauges. Hundreds of dealers will display their wares and model train experts are there to answer your questions. There are also free workshops for beginners and more experienced collectors. For information, call the Convention Center at 636-669-3000 or visit the Expo’s website.
Adults $7/ kids 12 and under FREE