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I, like all Americans, am greatly concerned with the failing US economy.  I am sickened by the massive job layoffs in the USA and the forced closing of decades old American companies.   I detest being forced to buy Chinese products, when 14 million Americans are looking for a work.  And, it terrifies me to know that I can’t find Made in the USA products to buy, no matter how hard I search.  

I pray everyday that things haven’t gone too far.  I am in a battle right now to save my own 20+ year old company and the jobs of the people who work here, from a similiar fate.  In trying to save my own company, I learned a little bit about what has gone wrong in the US over the past 10 years.   Perhaps the following excerpt from the Economic Policy Insitute can help us all understand what happened and what we need to do to turn this tide around before we can’t.

How China Beat the USA…

“China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) was supposed to bring it into compliance with an enforceable, rules-based regime, which would require that it open its markets to imports from the United States and other nations.

The United States also negotiated a series of special safeguard measures designed to limit the disruptive effects of surging Chinese imports on domestic producers.   However, the core of the agreement failed to include any protections to maintain or improve labor or environmental standards.

As a result, China’s entry into the WTO has further tilted the international economic playing field against domestic workers and firms, and in favor of multinational companies (MNCs) from the United States and other countries.”  Robert Scott, Economic Policy Institute.

    Now, we at least have an explanation of why the US market has been flooded by cheap, defective and often, dangerous Chinese imports since 2001, only in the last ten years.    Now, I better understand why US companies suddenly find they can no longer compete in a free marketplace that they innovated and dominated.  

3 Things YOU can do today to stop further destruction to the USA and our way of life:

     #1   Please Stop using CHEAP as your #1 buying criteria.   

$1 Dollar spent in the US, circulates 7 times in our economy.   You pay the for a T-shirt, the T-shirt maker pays a seamstress, the seamstress gets her hair done in your beauty shop.   In other words, the same $10 spent on a Chinese T-shirt really cost $70, because your dollar is gone and you get nothing more.

Instead, make Quality, Safety and MADE IN THE USA the #1 buying criteria, when you shop.   Use the internet.  If you find no other selections or choices in your big box stores, complain to the retailer and tell them why it matters.  They do listen.

     #2   If you can not find a US made product to buy, buy as little as you possibly can.  

If you love those Old Navy jeans, buy one pair.  Don’t buy one of every color just because they are so cheap.   Check out Goodwill stores before you buy.  Goodwill has bargains that will send Wal-mart running in fear for once.  Goodwill has great bargains on work clothes, coats, prom dresses, Halloween costumes, housewares, etc.  and they are a fabulous, not for profit organization that recycles, job traines, hires thousands of US workers and supports local communities.

     #3   Get LOUD with your local government and politicians.

Email, Call, Attend Meetings.  Make sure your local taxes support Made in the USA businesses.  Then, demand that your national representives in Washington “Walk the Talk” and protect US jobs by legislating tariffs and restrictions on imports.

Thank you for listening to our opinion on Chinese imports and thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.   We are in this fight to stay, regardless of the outcome in our personal battle to Save InfoTube and InfoBox from Chinese copycats.   If you have a story or have information for us about US jobs, please send an email to tommi@infotube.net.  

If you have a home to sell and want to advertise it FREE on the internet, visit our website InfoTube.net and place an ad.

US Workers May Keep Jobs, Thanks to You!

Thursday, May 19, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

After months of silence , Crow Erickson, Inc.  received a telephone call today from senior management at The Hillman Group, distributor of InfoTube and InfoBox for Lowes and Home Depot stores. 

We feel the sole reason for this communication is due to the pouring of support and the hundreds of emails and inquiries sent on our behalf.  

Although, a decision has not been made about the outsourcing of our products to China, we do feel that we have some positive news to share with you for the first time.

On behalf of everyone at Crow Erickson, Caplugs and our associates, we want to extend our deepest Thanks for all your continued effort and support.   We hope that a resolution can be reached, now that the lines of communication have been opened. 

We will be sure to keep you posted on the outcome of our ongoing negotiations.  Made in America matters to us all.

Tommi Crow

President, Crow Erickson, Inc.

7 Secrets to Selling Your Home Now

Thursday, April 21, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

In today’s’ super-competitive housing market, it is essential that homebuyers picture themselves living inside the home you are trying to sell.    

7 Secrets to Selling Your Home Now

  • For starters, take down the Wallpaper – Trust me when I say, “Buyers just do not like wallpaper.”   If you doubt how personal wallpaper is…just walk into any wallpaper store and stare at the thousands of available patterns.  Chances of your tastes matching are at least a thousand to one.  Don’t risk it!  Pull that paper down!
  • The Clutter HAS to Go!  Living in a house is alot different than Selling a house.  It is easy to get blind to your own clutter.  Ask a friend, neighbor or neutral party to be honest with you.  Then, pack away every single thing you don’t use.  And, clear the kitchen counters completely.
  • Smelly Homes Will NOT Sell.  Agents have an old saying, “If I can smell it, I can’t sell it.”  Pet smells, musty odor’s, etc will kill a sale everytime.
  • White is not a Color.  But, paint is your friend.  Every room should have a fresh coat of paint in a warm, neutral color.
  • A Spot of Color.  Everyone loves flowers.  Place pots with colorful annual flowers by the front door or plant seasonal color in the beds to make your home inviting and memorable.
  • Househunting Begins on the Internet.  If your property is not exposed on the internet, your chances of a buyer finding you are very small.  Tip the odds in your favor by advertising your home on the MLS and all the major search engines for real estate.  InfoTube also offers FREE property listings on its website.   Also, make sure your listing includes at least 10 good photo’s of the interior and exterior of your home.  If possible, also include a video tour of the house and neighborhood.
  • Forget About Comp’s and Sold Properties.  Study your competition, which means homes currently For Sale.  If your home is priced too high when compared to your competition, it is going to sit for a long, long time.

Homeowners should please keep in mind that Buyers have a lot of choices.  The homeowner who can make their house stand out among the vast inventory of “For Sale” signs will the one who wins the selling game.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net homes for sale and rent website.  For up to the minute real estate news and tips follow InfoTube for Real Estate on Facebook.

Where Did the First Time Buyers Go?

Thursday, March 31, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

The lack of first-time buyers is hurting the housing market and their absense is hampering the recovery.

In normal markets, first time buyers make up 40%-45% of all home purchasers.  Since January of 2011, purchases made by first time buyers averages only 32%

Why is this important for existing home sales? 

First time buyers are crucial to the market because they buy starter homes so those owners can step up to a more expensive property.   Despite low mortgage rates and deeply discounted prices, they are remaining on the sidelines…at least for now.

What may be keeping first time buyers out of the housing market?

Some experts point to a hangover from the  Expired Tax Credit of 2009 and 201o, which may have lured buyers into a home sooner than later.   Some point to tighter lending standards and increased down payment requirements.  The best loan terms now kick in with a down payment of 20% or more, which may be very difficult for a first time homeowner.

The Silver Lining — The National Association of Realtors reported that a record 33% of all existing home sales in Febuary were to Cash Buyers.  In some parts of the country, cash buyers accounted for more than half of all the existing homes sold.

Thank you for visting InfoTube.NET a FREE homes for sale and rent website.  Visit our site to view listings or to purchase one of our Made in America InfoTubes or InfoBoxes to help you market your home on the street.

We can also arrange for your property to be shown on your local MLS and/or Realtor.com and all major real estate websites.  CLICK HERE for details.

If you have a condo, ranch, one level bungalow or a home with the master on the main level that you need to sell, this may be your lucky year.  The baby boomers (those 77 million people that were born between 1945 and 1964) are back in the housing market in a big way..and they often pay cash.

The aging boomers have finally worked up the courage to sell the family house, depreciated as it is, and roll the home equity into their last ever home purchase.   Ironically, the catalyst for this trend has nothing to do with real estate.   The motivation is age, quality of life and the stock market.  The stock market is back, bringing with it the net worth of the boomer generation, who controls 80 percent of the financial assets in the United States. 

If you own a one level, low maintenance home…you are already sitting in tall cotton…but you can do some simple things to sweeten the pot even more…if you know what to emphasize and what needs to be done.

Capitalize on the needs of the 65+ year olds, who are looking for place that they can grow old in.  They are naturally drawn to homes that are easy and safe to live in, even if managing stairs and home maintenance is hard to do.

  • Replace door knobs with levered handles.
  • Replace knob-type plumbing fixtures and cabinet pulls with levers or open handles.
  • Today’s house only needs one bathtub.  Offer at least one,  barrier free shower on the main floor, even if means taking out a bathtub.
  • Put a laundry room on the main floor, even if you have to eliminate a closet or half-bath to do so.
  • Consider making entryway staircases longer and more gentle.  Create an option to add a wheelchair ramp to one side, if needed.
  • Consider adding grab bars in glass enclosures or  if your bathroom has wide open space.
  • Replace carpeting with tile, hardwoods or laminate flooring for easier maintenance, durability and a smoother surface.
  • Provide ample indoor lighting and don’t forget the outdoor security lights.
  • Provide outdoor handrails on stairs, inclines or wherever necessary

Marketing Insight:  Most home improvements, suggested above, offer easy living appeal for all ages.  Just because your house is senior friendly doesn’t lessen the appeal to everyone else, but always be tactful.  Design two InfoSheets for Buyers.  Offer one in a standard format and create another that highlights senior-ready amenities.  

InfoTube.net believes that 2011 will be a better year for home sellers, if they know how to reach and appeal to today’s buyer.  Visit our website for tips, insights and a FREE home listing!  What do you have to lose?  Did we mention we also offer a low, flat fee MLS listing package for home owners???

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 InfoTube.net 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!!!

Top 10 Cities for Property Searches

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

From Realtor.com…the Top 10 Cities for Real Estate related searches are:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun  
1 Las Vegas Las Vegas Las Vegas Las Vegas Las Vegas Las Vegas  
2 Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles  
3 Orlando Orlando San Antonio San Antonio Orlando San Antonio  
4 San Antonio San Antonio Orlando Orlando San Antonio Orlando  
5 Phoenix Phoenix Phoenix Phoenix Miami Miami  
6 Miami Miami Miami Paradise Valley Phoenix San Diego  
7 San Diego San Diego Chicago Miami San Diego Phoenix  
8 Tampa Tampa San Diego San Diego Austin Austin  
9 Chicago Chicago Tampa Chicago Chicago Fort Worth  
10 Fort Worth Fort Worth Fort Worth Fort Worth Beverly Hills Chicago

In 2010, Realtor.com was the #1 search site for homes, multi family and land.  If you are selling property, you need to be present on Realtor.com.  InfoTube.net can assist you in placing your property listing on Realtor.com for only $299…even better…your listing will stay active until you SELL or Cancel!!!   Click Here for More Details!!!

Housing Returns Beat Gold, Hands Down

Monday, January 3, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

Returns on Housing Beat Returns on Gold, hands down. Owners of Residential Real Estate reaped returns 150 percent higher than the Gold Bugs over the last 30 years. And, unlike gold, we can live in our houses, reap tax benefits for ownership and receive a $500,000 non-taxable gain on our homes when it’s time to sell. Real Estate Bulls Rule!

Check out great deals at InfoTube.net!!!

    While Wall Street wrings its hands and pulls its hair over the banking problems and foreclosure moratorium, home seller’s and home builder’s have a BIG reason to celebrate.  Their competition dropped the ball!!!

The moratorium on foreclosures effectively removes ONE THIRD of all the homes For Sale from the market!!   33 Percent of the competition is GONE!!!   For how long, we don’t know…but, we do know that this is a RARE opportunity and all property seller’s should take full advantage of it.

What can home seller’s and builder”s do to take advantage of the Bank Error?

  • Realize that Time is of the Essense!  The banks will work hard and fast to get their inventory back on the market.  And, when they do, they will no doubt offer special incentives that individual seller’s can not compete against.  The clock is ticking…….
  • Price Right and Show Well!   If your home is priced right against its remaining competition, and it is staged, depersonalized and shows well, Your House Will Sell.
  • Marketing to the Masses is Key!    The MLS sells over 90% of all the homes in the United States.   If your home is not on the MLS, your chances of selling are less than 10%.   If money is tight, know that you don’t have to pay 6% for an MLS listing.  You can purchase an MLS listing for your Home for only $399.

                                                                     

InfoTube.net believes that “a bank moratorium on foreclosure competition” is a very unique opportunity and the window is open for a short period of time, only.   We are here to help you . “The clock is ticking”.  Don’t let this unbelievable opportunity pass you by!! 

                                                                 

Up to 1,000,000 Homeowners Dodge Foreclosure

Monday, October 4, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

An estimated one million U.S. homeowners, behind in their mortgage payments, are breathing easier today after three of the country’s largest banks agreed to immediately stop new foreclosure actions until they could review sloppily-read foreclosure filing by their own staffs.

The lenders are Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage Co. owned by Ally Financial Inc.  They are temporarily halting foreclosure actions in 23 states.

They are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

For the homeowners, the action by the banks gives them a little more time to catch up on their delinquent mortgage payments.

For the residential real estate market, the action means fewer houses will be dumped in the for-sale arena, giving falling prices a chance to stabilize.

For the real estate market as a whole, the banks’ actions give the industry another black eye at a time when it is struggling to regain the public’s confidence.
(This article posted by Alex Finklestein

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  We are always available to assist you with your home sale.  Visit our website for an overview of available options.

Tips for New Landlords

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

Given the millions of homes that are languishing on the market, it’s no surprise that many owners are considering leasing their homes in order to avoid big financial losses.  If you are an owner that is debating the pro’s and con’s of leasing your property, we have some very valuable advice to share with you.

Leasing out your home can be a great experience.   A good tenant will care for your property, while paying your mortgage.   Owning investment property also has tax benefits, and while the home selling market maybe soft…the present rental market is stronger than ever.

TIPS FOR A NEW LANDLORD!

  • Don’t be afraid of bad credit.  References are as important as a credit report.   In addition, many renters who lost their homes have gotten rid of their biggest expense…their mortgage.  So, if their references check out and they have good jobs, don’t let a bad credit report scare you.
  • Ask the tenant to provide a current copy of their credit report, references and their last paycheck stub. 
  • Call the renter”s employer to verify that they are still working there.
  • Consider hiring a private investigator for less than $50.  They can immediately find out whether the tenant is a scammer or not.
  • Check you local laws to see if you have to have a permit to rent out your house.
  • If you are using a standard lease agreement, ask your lawyer to look it over and avoid potential surprises.
  • Build in convenience for yourself.  Requests wire transfers and automatic deposits for monthly rent payments.
  • Craigslist and InfoTube.net are fantastic places to advertise your rental.  Best of all, both sites are Free and allow pictures.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net, your FREE homes for sale and rent listing website.  Please check back in with us tomorrow when continue our blog with Property Management Tips for Homeowners.

Price Your Home to Sell

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

Without the Federal Tax Credit in play, today’s home buyer’s are finding little motivation to sign on the dotted line.  Mortgage rates have remained low for a long time.  Inventory is creeping back up, so buyer’s have little fear of price inflation.   So, what can a seller do to increase a buyer’s urgency to buy?  

The #1 way that seller’s can entice buyer’s and get their attention is  an aggressive price reduction.   As many as 24 percent of home sellers have slashed prices in the last month–that is a 9 percent increase from June levels.   And, seller’s should forget about small, nickle and dime price drops.   Instead, they should dramatically drop their price  to reach a search level that will open them up to new buyers that are not aware of their listing.  For example, if your list price is $220,000, a drop to $199,000 will attract a new audience that is searching up to the $200,000 price point.  

Bottom Line:  If you are sick of waiting and want to move now, price the house to attract multiple bidders and you might even get more than you’re asking for.  And remember…if you are selling your home to buy a new one, you will likely break even because the person you are buying from is in the same gut wrenching position you are.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net homes for sale and rent website.  Add us to your RSS reader, Become our Facebook Fan and Search our Site for Great Sales Tips and Deals on Homes.

If you are selling real estate in the United States, you need to familiarize yourself with The Federal Fair Housing Act.   According to the Federal Fair Housing Act, you cannot discriminate against someone when selling a home.

The act defines seven different classes that are protected against discrimination, these include: 

Race

Color

National origin

Sex

Religion

Handicap

Familial status 

(You may notice that Age is not a protected class, in and of itself.  Sellers of property that are zoned 55+, adult only, etc. can discriminate on the basis of age, if it violates deed restrictions, zoning or restrictive convenants.

Attention Home Sellers:   You put yourself at serious risk of violating this act, if you refuse to sell or show your home to an interested buyer.  Remember that ignorance of the law is not a viable excuse or defense.  You will be held legally liable, even if you accidentally violate these laws without realizing it.

Review the following list of words that cannot be included in advertisements of your home, because they are in violation of the Fair Housing Laws.  

Bachelor apartment

Children welcome

Couples

Gentlemans Farm

Golden Agers

Handicapped

Integrated

Married

Mature

Mother-in-Law quarters

Professional

Section 8

Seniors

Singles only

Sports-minded 

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net homes for Sale and Rent website.    We work hard at helping sellers market their homes.  Visit the website or our Facebook page to learn how we can 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.

Commissions

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 InfoTube.net 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.

Purchasing a For Sale by Owner property has a number of unique benefits that all buyers should be aware of.    Too often, buyers don’t consider fsbo listings because they are working with a real estate agent.  They are unaware that most builders and owners are willing to work with buyer’s agents and many advertise their homes on the local MLS.  If you are in the market for a home and you are not considering “by owner” listings…you could be missing out on some great deals.   Here are a few of the Advantages of buying a For Sale by Owner home.

Save Thousands on Commissions and Fee’s

When purchasing a home listed by a traditional listing broker, a 6 percent commission is factored into the seller’s asking price.  Buyers often think they aren’t paying the listing commission…but in fact…the agents $6000 cut is included in every $100,000 of the asking price.   When a homeowner or builder sells their own property, they pay no commission or a much smaller 3 percent to the buyers agent.  This substantial savings can be passed onto the buyer, who can now afford more home or get the same home for less money.

Easy Appointments to View

If you want to look a home listed with a full service broker, you have to schedule all appointments through the listing broker.  The listing broker then has to contact the owner and the buyer agent to schedule a time to look inside the home.  This process can often be inconvenient or sometimes aggravating depending on the time lapse in getting everyone on board.   When dealing directly with the seller, there is no need to go through other people to schedule a tour.  The seller will look at his schedule and immediately give you the date and time, making the entire buying process much simplier.

Negotiating the Offer

When purchasing directly from the property owner, negotiating the offer can be much easier, too.  Typically, the buyers agent first presents the offer to the listing agent…then, the listing agent makes an appointment to relay the offer to the seller.   If the seller makes a counteroffer, the whole procedure is reversed back through both agents making the whole process take a lot longer than it should.   When making an offer directly with the seller, the middle men are eliminated, which increases the odds of putting together a deal that works for both parties….and does so in record time.

InfoTube.net has over 20,000 properties listed directly by owner or by builder.  We encourage buyers to seriously consider these properties, whether you are working with an agent or not.  Working directly with the owner has many distinct advantages and benefits….no drawbacks.