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More than 150 years ago, America’s greatest landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, created Central Park and changed New York forever. He went on to transform dozens more cities, leaving a priceless legacy of vibrant, beautiful cityscapes. And, in the process, he increased property values. 

Olmsted discovered this himself when he tracked the value of land around Central Park and found that the city’s $13 million investment had led to an astounding $209 million increase in just 17 years. The architect recognized what many planners still fail to grasp: Parks and managed green space are vital pieces of urban infrastructure that not only improve the quality of life for millions of people but also drive economic growth. 

Today we must act again to transform our cities. The commercial real estate binge of the past decade and the growth of online shopping as an alternative to brick-and-mortar stores have left more than 200,000 acres of vacant retail, office and industrial space. Residential real estate is a massive problem as well. Distressed properties are a drag on our communities and the economy, and threaten to topple even more banks that hold mortgages on these “toxic assets.”

 We need to move these toxic assets off the banks’ books, reduce the surplus of commercial space and create jobs, all while revitalizing our cities. This brings us back to Olmsted.

 Olmsted designed transformative parks, campuses and greenways; his firm completed an amazing 6,000 commissions and launched a green wave across 19th-century America. The same kind of wave could help resolve the 21st-century real estate mess.  

 We don’t have the luxury of vacant land that Olmsted often started with, so we must bulldoze underperforming and underused property, put people to work creating parks on some of the land and “bank” the rest until the economy recovers.

 Beginning with Atlanta, Georgia Tech is researching what is needed to accomplish this in 12 major cities. The project is known as Red Fields to Green Fields. Under this plan, some of the abandoned or underutilized property would be acquired by a parks agency or by public-private partnerships, which would then begin demolition, park design and construction, putting people to work immediately. More jobs would come as the improved areas attracted development.

 This would not be the first time that property has been bulldozed for economic gain. The railroads, which had many miles of underused track to maintain, pulled up 55 percent of their tracks in the past 60 years to increase profitability, enabling the creation of 19,000 linear miles of “rails-to-trails” parks.

 Pittsburgh, realizing that the steel industry was never coming back, tore down riverfront steel mills and replaced them with an attractive mix of parks and office space. In Michigan, Flint and Detroit are finding ways to “bank” land as open space. 

The banking system and the federal government could play an important role in this effort. Rather than backstop bad real estate paper, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Treasury Department could help finance the acquisition of excess commercial real estate through a land bank fund. 

Instead of buying mortgage-backed securities, why couldn’t the Fed buy excess developed real estate to be held as green space through “land-backed securities”? Why couldn’t the FDIC give some of the useless properties it obtains through bank closures to land banks or nonprofit organizations? 

With the right financing structure, philanthropic entrepreneurs could use leverage to remake America just as some of our bad developers used easy bank financing to help create the excesses. 

Acquisition money could also come from expanding tax incentives that encourage banks and landlords to donate land and encourage wealthy individuals and corporations to buy conservation tax credits. Georgia Tech’s analysis has also shown that the money needed for a nationwide program would be a tiny fraction of current real estate support programs, such as the Fed’s “quantitative easing” or its recent purchase of $1.5 trillion in mortgages. 

The 2009 stimulus package did much to protect jobs but little to stimulate the economy with transformational investments.  Converting underused commercial real estate to green space and “banked” land would be transformational. It would create jobs, strengthen the banking system to encourage lending and stabilize property values so that real estate owners would be ready to spend again. Most important, lush new parks would enhance neighborhoods across the country.    

Michael G. Messner is a Wall Street investment fund manager. He and his wife, Jenny, funded the documentary “The Olmsted Legacy,” which is airing on PBS, and are funding the Red Fields to Green Fields research at Georgia Tech.

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Winter Home Sales Tips

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

   Seller’s often wonder if they should take their home off the market during winter.   My answer is usually “NO”.   Seller’s expend a lot of money and effort to get a home ready for sale and it does no good if the property isn’t on the market.   And, while there are fewer buyer’s during winter, there are also fewer homes for sale.  

But, if you’re still debating…consider the following:

  • Winter, spring, summer or fall…if you’re priced above the rest of the market, your home will help sell the well priced listings, but not yours.
  • There is less competition from competing homes during winter and less inventory benefits sellers’.
  • Buyer’s who are househunting during winter are serious and truly motivated.
  • Interest rates trend lower during winter months, when loan demand is low.
  • Gardens and landscape don’t look as appealing in winter.   If your home won’t exactly win “yard of the month” during summer…a snowy winter may actually level the playing field for you.
  • Don’t believe that if you pull your home off the market during winter, you can bring it back in the spring as a new listing.   No one is fooled by this trick.  Your listing will still appear as canceled and relisted in the MLS.
  • If it’s not on the market, the right buyer may come and go.

Thank you for visiting FREE homes for sale and rent listing website.  Visit our site for free tips, questions and answers, marketing products and more.  We’ve been helping home sellers through market ups and downs since 1989 and we can help you, too!!!

Legal Advice for New Landlords.

Monday, September 27, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

Some legal tips for Landlords:

1.  Some communities charge rental permit fee’s.  Property owners should be aware that unpaid fee’s can invalidate the lease agreement.

2.  All leases should include Key elements.  At a minimum include…dates that the lease active; the rental fee agreement; how the deposit will be held; the responsibilities of each party with regard to repairs and maintenance.

3.  The security deposit CAN NOT exceed 1 and 1/2 months rent… In other words, if the rent is $1000, the maximum security deposit that could be collected is $1500.

4.  If your property is not up to code…the tenant has the the right to hold rent in escrow versus paying it to the landlord.   Simply put, the rent can be withheld to force the landlord into making repairs and bringing his property up to code.

5.  Landlords can evict a tenant for damaging the property (serious damage, not normal wear or tear) or using the property for illegal purposes.

Thank you for visiting Free homes for sale and rent website.  Take a look at some fabulous properties or place a free listing about yours!  We are here to help you!

How Much Does It Cost to Sell a Home?

Monday, June 14, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

Whether or not you use a real estate agent, the process of selling a house will involve certain costs. 

Please note that some of the figures used in our examples will vary depending on the state or county a house is sold in, as well as the settlement company used and any other unique provisions that may be contained in a contract of sale. Additionally, the real estate broker commission is typically 6 percent of the sales price, but it is not a set amount.  It is a sales expense negotiated between individual sellers and brokers.   For the purposes of our example, a $250,000 sales price was used. 

Transfer taxes

As you might expect, most state and local governments make sure they profit when someone sells a house.  In most states, one-time transfer taxes will be due when a sale takes place.  It is customary for transfer taxes to be split 50/50 between the buyer and the seller, but there is no set requirement that they be divided in that manner.

Some states, like Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, have no transfer taxes at all. In other states, Colorado for instance, the transfer tax is nominal – the state charges only one tenth of 1 percent ($40 on a $400,000 house) in transfer taxes. The so called “Free State” of Maryland falls on the other end of the spectrum with some of the highest transfer taxes in the nation.


As we stated earlier, real estate commissions are not a set amount. They are a point of negotiation between the seller and the broker. For illustration purposes here, we are using the industry standard of 6 percent, or $15,000 on a $250,000 sale.

Another seller expense you may run across in some area’s is a listing broker administrative brokerage commission.  It’s usually adds another $250-$500 expense on top of the 6 percent commission fee.  The seller will see it as a separate expense on their closing statement.  So, what is this fee for? By law, brokers must keep records of all their real estate transactions for a period of years. And they must produce those records if asked for them.  Although it’s a ridiculous added on fee, the listing broker administrative brokerage commission is an expense passed along by some brokers to help defray the cost of this requirement.

Settlement fees

The buyer is responsible for hiring the settlement or title company to perform closing, so the buyer will usually pay most of the fees associated with settlement. But, the seller does have some settlement expense.  If the seller has an outstanding loan on the property, the settlement company will take care of paying that loan off out of the sales proceeds. They’ll charge something for the service, plus the cost of overnight fees to quickly get the loan payoff to the mortgage holder. In our example here, we’ll use $250.   And, since interest in collected in arrears, the seller will be responsible for any interest charges that accrue after the last payment thru the day of closing.

The Bottom Line

If you sell your house for $250,000, you can probably expect to walk away with around $230,000 after taxes, real estate commissions and fees.  If no real estate commissions have to be paid out, the seller could expect to walk away with approximately $245,000.  The real number will depend on exactly what it says in the sales contract and where the property is located.

Thank you for visiting homes for sale and rent website.  We have over 20,000 active home listings on our website.  Please take a moment to search for great deals, often seen no where else on the web.

If you know where to look, you can drastically cut or eliminate real estate closing costs.     On average, closing can run from  3-6 percent of the purchase price of your home.   But we know 3 ways to stop the pain…

  • 1.  Ask the Seller to Pay Them.  Most lenders allow the seller to contribute up to 6 percent of the purchase price toward the buyers closing costs.  For buyers who are short on upfront cash, it may make sense to offer the seller more money for the property, but ask that they pay for the closing.  (Bonus:  Mortgage points are tax deductible, even if the Seller pays them.
  • 2.  Shop Loans.  Loan fee’s vary drastically, so plan to shop and negotiate.  Ask 3-4 lenders for their best rate (without points) and an estimate of their fee’s.  Submit a loan application with the lender that is offering the best deal and carefully read the good-faith estimate they provide.
  • 3.  Buy Cheaper Title Insurance.  Title insurance is required by all lenders and protects against disputes or challenges to ownership.   Keep in mind that it is insurance, so as much as 80 percent of the premium will be paid to the agent as a commission.  Shop for cheaper title insurance with companies like EnTitle Direct, which charge less for insurance by eliminating the middleman.

Thank you for visiting homes for Sale and Rent FREE website.  The Fed left rates unchanged today.  Let’s Celebrate!!

InfoTube has been showing homebuyers the beauty of what’s inside since 1988.     And, it’s made 100 percent in the USA!   Seller’s, what’s not to Love????

If you love fun tidbits about real estate…check out for Real Estate Facebook Page.  Post Before and After Pictures, Ask a Question, Brag about a Genius Real Estate Deal, Check out Your Agent…Become a Fan Today.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who are outraged by the unrepentant behavior of the “too big to fail” banks, please consider moving your money to a local, community bank.   These arrogant, “Walmarts of Banking” have continued to reward themselves with huge bonuses, expensive trips, parties, private jets and fancy offices at the expense of working people.   And, to add insult to injury, these banking shysters are spending millions of  tax dollars to lobby Congress, solely to prevent financial reform that might protect us from paying for their fraud and financial fiasco’s in the future.  


Forget about the politicans in Washington DC, they don’t really work for us and we don’t need them to make our position clear.   Americans can simply move their checking or savings accounts from the Wall Street “bailout” behemoths such as Citibank, Bank of America and Wachovia to their local, community bank or credit unions.  And, switching  banks is not a lot of trouble.  If you want to read over a checklist before you start, go to the website for tips and helpful information. 

Millions of taxpayers and outraged citizens have already moved their money.  They’ve had enough and they’re not taking it anymore.   The bonus… even though it surprised many people who made the change, the rewards for switching to a local bank are huge   All banks, large and small, now offer Debit and Credit cards, ATM’s and Online banking.    But, the big banks can not match small banks in terms of service.  Local banks offer lower fee’s, higher interest rates on deposits, personalized service focused on the local community and perhaps best of all, you can speak face to face with someone you know, who can make a decision for the bank.   What’s not to LOVE????

Crow Erickson, Inc., parent company of, puts our money where our mouth is.  We conduct all our business at a local, community bank and we hope every hard working American follows our lead.  Are you Tired of Feeling Helpless??   Do you Want Change Really???   You have the power, this time!  Move ALL Your Money from the Megabanks today.  Action is the only change Wall Street understands.

Snooping Real Estate Agent Caught on Camera

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

ATLANTA — When real estate agents representing buyers show your home, should they be allowed to examine private or confidential papers? How would you react if you caught them doing just that?

 Channel 2’s Tom Regan talked with one home seller who was shocked by what he caught on camera in his home. David Scitthelm owned a beautiful home in Buckhead. He was proud to put it up for sale, but he wasn’t pleased with the conduct of the two real estate agents who arrived to show the house. 

To Learn More or Watch the Short Video, CLICK HERE

Commentary:  ALWAYS advises that home sellers  hide or pack away anything that is private or could be used against them in a negotiation.   And, private mail and legal notice issues aside…did you see how this agent hunted for books, stereo equipment, family photographs, collections, etc. to gain personal knowledge about the sellers?   Hopefully this story plainly illustrates to homesellers the importance of packing up all personal items BEFORE they put their home on the market.  Added Bonus:  A staged home always shows better and appeals to a wider audience, too.  

P.S.  And, don’t forget your medicine cabinet (: on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, February 12, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow announced some recent updates to it’s website that make it easier for homeowners to share information and property details on the internet.

Share Your Property Information with One Click has provided a direct “Share” link on every home listing.  The “Share” link automatically feeds your property listing to all major sharing websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.  If you use social networking or RSS feed websites, simply select where you want your property listing posted and click.  It’s that easy.  (The Share Link can be located under the “Email Seller” link on every home listing.)

Sellers and Buyers Communicate, Learn and Get Advise for Real Estate has an Offical Facebook and Twitter page where you can post pictures, questions, idea’s or funny real estate stuff you want to share.  Become a Fan and Contributor Today. 

Thank you for visiting for Real Estate.  We hope you like the new improvements.  If you don’t already have a FREE property listing on, post one today, you’re missing buyers.

To All Animal Lovers

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

InfoTube has a very simple request for animal lovers.  Please go to the Animal Rescue Website and Click on the Purple Box that reads… “Fund Food for Animals for Free”.

The Animal Rescue website needs daily clicks to meet their quota for providing FREE FOOD for neglected and abused animals.  Their corporate sponsors use the number of daily visits to donate food in exchange for their advertising.

Clicking the link takes only 15 seconds and doesn’t cost you one thing!!  Please do it today and everyday.  And, please tell your friends.  It’s a great way to make a difference with no strings attached!!

Thank you for visiting a FREE homes for sale and rent website, that also has no strings attached.  Feel free to post your property listing or search for over 20,000 great deals on homes with complete privacy.

I’m thinking Turkey.  The leaves have fallen, lawn mowers are stored and furnaces are in use.   It’s at this time of year that many of our customer’s ask…  “Should We Take Our Home Off the Market During the Holidays?”

The answer is definitely “NO”.  There are a lot of reasons to keep your home listed right through the New Year.  And, there’s a special timely reason this holiday season!!

  1. The First Time Buyers Tax Credit has been extended until April 30, 2010 AND it’s been expanded.  Step Up Home Buyers, who make a lot of money, can also receive $6500 in Tax Credits until April.   Big tax incentives mean that smart buyers will be house shopping vs mall shopping this holiday season.  
  2. Interest Rates are at Record Lows.  30 year fixed rate mortgages are below 5 percent.  But, with the dollar weak and falling, low rates may not be around for long.   Serious home buyers are aware of the difference that even a small interest rate increase would make in their house payment.  The combo of Tax Credits and Low Interest Rates create strong urgency among buyer’s.  Smart seller’s spruce up their homes and play into the pressure.
  3. Holiday Shoppers are Serious Buyers.  Trust me.  Everyone of us loves the holidays.  So, the people who are out looking for homes in November, December and January are SERIOUS Buyers.  Do you really want to pull your house off the market when the most serious people are shopping??  Think about it and gear up!!
  4. Less Competition.  Many sellers don’t read our blog.  They foolishly pull their homes from the market during the holidays, and this year will be no exception.  Less competition and MLS exposure could make the difference between For Sale and Sold, this Christmas. 
  5. Houses are Pretty during the Holidays.  Staging your home is easy during the holidays.  The mood is festive.  Holiday colors are warm and inviting.  Candles, centerpieces and decorations touch the heart and convey a peaceful lifestyle.  Light the candles, make a roaring fire, bake some goodies and turn on some relaxing holiday music.  Buyer’s love to see a home decorated and looking special.  Don’t let this once a year opportunity pass you by.
  6. Curb Appeal.  If your landscape and lawn isn’t that great, breathe a sigh of relief that no one else’s is this time of year, either.   Add seasonal color, a wreath, perhaps some decorations.  Just keep it subtle and classy.  No mowing, no weeding and trimming, and best of all snow covers all…

Thank you for visiting FREE homes for sale and rent website.  Thanks to all Veterans and Active Military Personnel!!!  Call us today and receive a FREE Property Listing Upgrade as our gift to you.

Home Buyer Tax Credit Extended.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

Great news for home buyers, sellers and owners, alike.  The homebuyer tax credit has been expanded to include step up buyers, who have owned a home for 5 years.  It also extends the tax credit through the end of 2010.  


It appears that Senate Democrats have recognized the tremendous value of the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit and odds are it will be renewed soon. At this time, it is believed that the credit will allow anyone purchasing a home, by April 30, 2010, to participate and receive the full credit available.

The credit will continue until the end of 2010, but the amount of tax credit will drop by 2 percent every 90 days.  The graduated benefit should help the housing market recover into and through the 2010 summer selling season.

Here is the text of the story as reported in Bloomberg News today:
Senate Democrats on Board with Credit Extension

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) says Senate Democrats have agreed to extend the first-time home buyer tax credit.  The latest version extends the program to home sales signed not closed by April 30. Purchasers would have another 60 days to close the sale.  The credit will also be expanded to include so-called step-up buyers who have lived in their current home for at least five years.

The credit would be cut slightly to a $7,290 cap.  Income eligibility for first-time home buyers would stay the same, but it would rise for step-up buyers to $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.
Source: Bloomberg News, Dawn Kopecki and Ryan Donmoyer (10/27/2009)

What Happens when Apartment Co-op Owner Dies?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

Dear InfoTube,

My Uncle, who owned a unit in a co-op apartment building, passed away recently.  If the heirs decide they do not want to sell the unit, will they be allowed to stay there part time?  Or, can they chose to live in the apartment if they  wanted to? 

Dear Niece,

Unfortunately, the answer to both of your questions is No.  Under all proprietary leases, occupancy is limited to the shareholder, only.  If a shareholder is deceased, no other person can live in the apartment without the consent of the co-op.  When your Uncle was alive, he could ask family members and guests to stay in the apartment, but only if he was there, too.

If you decide to keep the apartment, the new shareholder of record will need approval from the co-op board before they occupy the unit.   Even for a week or two.

Thank you for visiting FREE homes for sale and lease website.  We have been in the business of connecting buyer’s and seller’s since 1989.  We can help you, too.


How to Handle a Low Appraisal

Thursday, August 20, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

Low Appraisals and Appraisal problems are causing a lot of headaches for sellers, buyers and agents.  For a look at one customer’s problem with an appraisal and some practical solutions to solve the matter, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting  We invite you to place a Free Property Listing or Search for some great deals on our site.  We have listings seen no where else and we have NO dead links or come on ad’s.

A frequent question we receive about correctly pricing a home is “Should we use Comparable Listing Prices or Comparable Sales Data to correctly price our home?”

The answer is overwhelming, Comparable Sales Data.

Looking at the prices of listed property is a big mistake, when determining the correct asking price for a home.  Take a moment and think about it.  If the neighbors list price was motivating, the property would be Sold, not Still for Sale. 

Always use accurate a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) to correctly price your home.   A CMA features only properties that have sold for all cash or a funded loan.  This is important because many properities aren’t appraising or closing for anything near their “under contract” price.   In our declining market, a home that is worth $250,000 today, may only be worth $220,000, 60 days later when it closes.   Appraisers are aware of this fact and generally appraise very conservatively these days.

Click here To Read more about Appraisal Problems and What you Can do About it.

To obtain accurate Sales data about competing properties in your neighborhood, visit your local county tax assessor website.  Or, research MLS data which can be viewed at sites like

Thank you for visiting  We are here to help you sell your home.  Feel free to place a free property listing on our site or search for a great value on your dream home.