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Not long ago, real estate sales involved hammering a sign in the yard, placing newspaper ad’s and mailing post cards to neighbors.  Today, selling a home requires a huge amount of internet advertising and distribution…which means using great photographs, video’s and social media to boost your properties image and catch a buyer’s eye. 

If you are one of the thousands of  home sellers looking to capitalize on the real estate recovery and pocket maximum profit from your home sale, you have to embrace the internet.  Home buyers use Ipad, tablets, desktop computers and smart phones to shop online and compare hundreds of homes for sale.  Today’s buyers quickly scan through hundreds of listings on sites like Zillow and Realtor.com, looking for that one home that catches their eye. 

To maximize the sales price of your home, consider these 5 tech savvy tools and tips

  1. Use Professional Grade Photography.  A recent study revealed that professional property photo’s increase the perceived value of a home by 13 percent.  Considering that a 13% added value on a $250,000 home equals an increase in value of $32,500, it could well be worth your while to hire a pro.  Buyers are visually oriented, so selling your home has become a bit like a beauty pageant, of sorts.  To increase your sales price, provide the best possible pictures on the internet to grab the buyer’s attention and motivate them to schedule a home showing.
  2. Post a Video Tour on YouTube.  About 20% of buyers search online for home video’s.  Grab their attention by posting a video on InfoTube.net .  We will upload it to YouTube for you, or you can upload toYouTube.com by yourself.
  3. Include a Floor Plan of Your Home.   If possible, include an interactive floor plan that shows how rooms in your house relate to one another.  Interactive floor plans combine the floor plan with professional photo’s and create an exciting shopping experience for home shoppers.
  4. Get Rid of Clutter.  We have all heard this before, but it is amazing at the number of people who do not pay attention to this simple advice.  Buyers are not interested in buying furnishings; they are shopping for a home.  Your house will show much better if it is clean, organized and all personal items are removed.
  5. Advertise on the MLS.   The internet has made it possible for sellers to list property on the MLS and sell it By Owner.  The MLS is the national database of homes that are For Sale.  If your listing is not a part of the MLS, you are missing millions of home shoppers every month, who will never know your house is For Sale.  All MLS listings are distributed to every major search engine for real estate including Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Google, Yahoo and many more.  These websites report buyer traffic in excess of 24 million home shoppers each month.  If you want to maximize your sales price and profit, you have to be on the MLS

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Please search our website for fantastic deals on thousands of homes for sale by owner, investor and builder.    For more great marketing tips and home improvement idea’s…then be sure to LIKE us on Facebook. 

Housing Outlook for the Next 6 Months

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 posted by Tommi Crow

The real estate market was overheated during the first 6 months of 2013.  Low home inventory, record low interest rates and the lack of new construction were to blame for the unsustainable, rapid price increases and multiple bidding wars for properties. 

5 Reasons we do not feel the hyper-inflated housing market will, or should, continue. 

  1. Rising Interest Rates – Interest have risen sharply in the past few weeks and the trend continues up.  Current rates will slow the number of homebuyers and speculators that are coming into the market during the next 6 months.
  2. Marginal buyers have been priced out of the market due to bidding wars, rapid price increases and higher borrowing costs.
  3. Wall Street and large investment groups are curtailing their buying.  One-third of all homes purchased this year were Cash sales.  This translates to heavy investor buying, which will slow down going forward in 2013.
  4. Shocking run up in home prices are not sustainable.  In May, home prices were up 12.1% on average.  This brings home price levels to a 5 year high.  Pricing is now at a point that many of the short term gains have been realized, and the market will fall back to more normal levels.
  5. Realtors and builders report that inquiries and calls from new customers is down 11%, so far for June. 

Summary:  We feel that the housing market was under valued at the start of 2013, but a frenzied market chewed through much of the low hanging fruit.  With rising interest rates, and increasing inventory levels, we see a move to more sustainable and healthy growth moving forward.   It is still an excellent time to buy or sell.   Inventory levels will increase, but they will remain on the low side throughout the year.  Interest Rates are still at historic lows and price increases, although impressive, leave the average home price far below levels seen in 2006 and 2007.    

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net

6 Reasons 2013 is a Home Sellers Market

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 posted by Tommi Crow

Prices for existing homes rose another 7.7% in the month of December.  For our customers who have been patiently waiting for the market to favor sellers, instead of buyers…the tables have finally turned. 

Why is the housing inventory so low in 2013?

The Wall Street Journal writes a good article on this, pointing to six reasons:

1. Many homeowners are underwater, and thus can’t sell.
2. Homeowners with equity in their home don’t have enough of it to “trade up” to buy a bigger and more expensive  home.
3. Everyone wants to buy at the bottom, but few want to sell when they feel their home will be worth more next year.
4. Investors – from mom and pop and corporate investors have come out and become landlords, taking property that normally would be on the market into the rental realm.
5. With the foreclosure fiasco, banks have been slower at foreclosing homes.
6. There’s been a lot less construction of new homes by home builders.

What does this mean for home sellers?

1.   Advertising your property on the MLS and Realtor.com has never been more crucial to reach qualified home buyers.  Realtors and homebuyers are searching for new listings, daily, because there is nothing on the market that fits their needs.  If your home does not appear in these real estate search engines, chances are that no one will ever know your home is for sale and you will miss your window of opportunity.

2.   Holding an Open House on the weekend is a great way to get people who see your listing online  into your home for an actual showing.

3.  Place a FREE listing on InfoTube.net.  InfoTube is visited by thousands of people daily who are looking for “by owner” property.

4.  The homes that are flying off the market are the properties in the best condition, location and they are priced right, ready to sell.  Homebuyers will not look at a house that is overpriced, hoping to negotiate back and forth.  They are buying homes that are reasonable to purchase and are ready to move into.

5.  Keep your InfoTubes and InfoBoxes full of flyers.  We receive calls from buyers everyday who want more information, but the container is empty.  Be sure to keep a back stock of brochures on hand in time of high traffic.

Home sellers should act quickly to take advantage of the present market conditions because they will not last.   Home inventory levels will increase as home builders react and start more new homes.  Banks will quickly work there way through millions of foreclosures that are still sitting in limbo.    And, home buyers are snapping up houses right now to lock in low interest rates and low home prices.   If you want to sell your home for the most money, in the least amount of time, you should act aggressively.  Time is of the essence.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.   Post a free property listing on our website.  Search for thousands of homes for sale seen no where else.  Buy an InfoTube or InfoBox to market your property..nothing beats providing a brochure about your home, instantly to a prospective buyer.   Put your property information in front of millions of internet home shoppers and real estate agents with our low cost MLS and Realtor.com listing packages.   Whatever you need to sell your home….we have you covered since 1988.

2013 Marks Rebound in Housing Market

Monday, January 14, 2013 posted by Tommi Crow

    InfoTube is bullish on housing in 2013 and here are a few reasons why.

Home prices rose 7.5% last year, largest increase in six years.  Total number of  homes sold increased 6% last year, to 4.2 million, marking the first increase since 2005.  The same forces that helped propel prices last year will be in play this year, including improved housing demand fueled by good affordability, fewer foreclosed homes for sale and a low inventory of unsold homes.

Trends that will Boost Home Prices Again in 2013

  • The Fed feeds housing rebound in 2013.  Interest rates for mortgages are at historical lows, making monthly payments affordable than renting for millions of families. 
  • The rate of new foreclosures has fallen to normal, pre-bust levels. 
  • Banks have cleared a lot of bad debt off the books and rising home prices will loosen up their purse strings.  Expect loans to be easier to come by in 2013.
  • Stronger job growth will drive more housing demand as people living with friends and relatives move into their own homes.
  • Increasing rents and lack of desireable rental inventory will push many tenants out the door and into a home of their own.
  • Investors are snapping up distressed property, rehabbing and flipping it.  This means higher average home sales prices and fewer homes vacant or in disrepair.
  • Rising home prices will increase borrower equity in their homes.  This means that few people will be interested in walking away…or requesting a short sale.
  • The Fiscal Cliff settlement left housing tax benefits in tact.  Mortgage interest deduction, property taxes deductions, depreciation schedules and one time tax free home sales were left in tact, making real estate one of the few remaining tax havens for the average working American.
  • Rising home prices will allow more sellers to list their homes and sell near the asking price.
  • The supply of homes for sale fell to 4.8 months in November, the National Association of Realtors says.  That’s the lowest level in more than seven years.  Realtors consider a six-month supply to be a balanced market between buyers and sellers.
  • Market researcher, Corelogic, calculates that home prices will increase 6 percent in 2013.
  • According to a December survey of 105 real estate experts and economists by real estate company Zillow, home prices will rise 3.1% in 2013. 

All the evidence stacks up to make a good year for real estate in 2013, whether buying or selling.  If you have been waiting for the market to improve to sell your home, the time is now.  If you have always wanted to own a home of your own…the odds are stacked in your favor, too.  

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Place a Free Property listing, advertise your home on the MLS or Realtor.com, follow InfoTubes very popular Facebook page for up to the minute news and home improvement idea’s that you won’t see anywhere else.

Real Estate Benefits on the Budget Cutting Block

Thursday, November 15, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

    Some of us may not have considered that real estate benefits are on the political chopping block in Washington…but, they most definitely are.   Ramsey Su, writer at Seeking Alpha, outlines the mostly likely cuts that will effect most homeowners and real estate investors in the future.

Mr. Su asks…Is the perfect storm approaching? 

First, there are no more stimulus plans on the table that he knows of.  Everything ahead are takeaways.  While he has heard these mentioned, he  no idea what is real and what is just talk.  We should find out more as the fiscal cliff cage fight moves into the later rounds, but we wanted to give our readers a “heads up” about what may lie ahead for real estate investment.

1. QE3. QE1 and QE2, one way or another, dropped mortgage rates from the 6% range to the sub 4% range. That is hell of a lot of stimulus but the results have been minuscule. QE3 has been in effect for close to two months now and so far mortgage rates may have dropped 10-20 basis points with no noticeable change. The Fed is exhausted. There is nothing they can do to pump up a real estate bubble.

2.Capital Gains. This is one scary storm for real estate. If the upcoming tax reforms include changes to capital gains so that Warren Buffett can pay more taxes than his secretary, it may be very detrimental to the real estate market. With less than two months left, it is probably too late to try to sell before year end, which would be locking in the favorable capital gains treatment of old.

3. $500,000 Homeowners Capital Gains Exemption.   How many homeowners would have a $500,000 gain, when that is way above the average, medium or median price of a home in the U.S.?  Could this trigger a massive sell-off in the higher end of the property market to capture this exemption while it is still in effect?

4. Mortgage Deductions. No comments needed if this is changed.

5. Tax Deferred 1031 Exchanges. This is one of the best tax breaks, available to real estate and not stock market investments.  By being able to trade up and deferring taxes on the profit, real estate investors have far more capital to build upon.

6. Mortgage Debt Relief Act. This act exempts debt that has been forgiven from being treated as income.  This freebie is due to expire by year end.  Even though the odds are it will be extended again, it should be a wake up call for those with negative equity that this gift may not be available indefinitely.  It is also a gift the significance of which many do not appreciate.  For example, let us say you are a doctor in Las Vegas, with a $200k deficiency in your mortgage and a $200k income.  Without the exemption, a short sale would push you into the over $250k bracket immediately.  You would become the target for higher taxes.

7. Loop Holes.  There are lots of references to closing loop holes.  Pertaining to real estate, I do not know what they may be.  Are they looking at depreciation schedules?  Other deductibles?

In conclusion, we believe tax accountants and tax attorneys are going to be very busy strategizing the most advantageous moves for their clients.  There may be many different outcomes, but Wu is wondering, will there be any tax related reasons to buy?  So it is likely that all the pressure will be on the sell side, the only question is how big it will be.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Post property on our Free Real Estate Listing site.  Search for great deals in complete privacy.  List your property on the MLS and Realtor.com.  Purchase our #1 selling marketing tools for real estate, The InfoTube and The InfoBox.

4 Tips to Become a Successful Landlord

Monday, September 24, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

   Owning a piece or real estate with the objective of earning regular cash flow is probably the best known and most common form of real estate investing.   The rental property is the way a lot of people in the “middle class” have found a real opportunity to make a fortune, if they know what they need to be successful.

Thousands of distressed and vacant properties, historical low interest rates and rapidly increasing rental rates have converged and created a great opportunity.  If you are considering becoming a landlord, focus on 4 basic fundamentals to insure profits and success.

1.  Paying Tenants-  This may sound obvious, but the first fundamental you need to be a successful landlord is a good quality tenant who can pay the rent.

One of the biggest challenges for a landlord is keeping good paying tenants and avoiding vacancies.  If a property is vacant, it usually results in the loss of at least one month’s rent while the place is being freshened up and a new tenant is found.   We highly recommend that all prospective tenants be screened, including a background and criminal record check.   Landlord screening services are available to assist you or your property manager.

One of the best way to keep your rental occupied at all times is to invest in a location that attracts a lot of renters.  Neighborhoods near colleges and universities are filled with students who rent while they attend school…and for the most part, parents insure the rent will be paid.   Homes near education facilities are also in high demand and landlords can usually charge a rent premium for these properties.  Any area with a lot of employment opportunities will also have very good rental demand.  In many markets, larger, 4 or more bedroom homes are scarce.   Find a niche in your market that provides a stream of ready tenants. 

2.  Keep Expenses Low – Contolling costs are one of the basic fundamentals of successful real estate investing.  Some costs of property ownership are known, such as taxes and insurance…but, others are often beyond an investors ability to control. 

Property taxes and insurance are expenses that are determined by third parties.  Combined, they can easily cost at least one months rent each, or more.  On average, budget about one months rent to cover your insurance premium.  Property taxes are another matter and they can vary greatly.  High property taxes helped trigger the housing collapse in Florida, when landlords couldn’t earn any cash flow on rental property.  When searching for an investment property, make sure you verify the taxes because tax rates can easily cost as much as two or three monts rent.

3. Property Maintenance – Keeping your property in good working condition is a big part of managing a successful investment.  Again, screening tenants is key in keeping costs down.  A good tenant will certainly have normal wear and tear and your property, but they won’t do much damage.  However, a bad tenant can cause thousands of dollars in property repairs in a very short period of time.

As far as controlling expenses  is concerned…it is cheaper in the long run to address maintenance issues as they arise.   For example, a roof leak can cost a few hundred dollars to fix, but the price can quickly escalate to thousands of dollars and lost tenants, if ignored.   Although no one likes to pay maintenance expenses, being a slum lord is a costly proposition.  Deferred maintenance brings down the value of the entire property, increases ownership costs in the long term, decreases the amount of monthly rental income that can be charged and atracts renters with less than stellar references or ability to pay.

4.  Reduce Mortgage Costs – Refinance and lock in historical low interest rates.  Current quotes for investor loans for residential property are under 4%.  If you can reduce the amount of interest you pay for your money, it immediately increases your bottom line.  It is also a good idea to appeal tax assessments.  Contact your local taxing authority to see the procedure required.  Most people who go to the tax office armed with recent comps and educate themselves, can get some tax relief.

If renting is so great..why does your landlord own? For all the challenges of owning investment real estate, earning income while owning an asset that someone else pays for is still one of the best ways to create wealth.   If you get really good at it, you can make a good money, decrease the amount of taxes you pay and increase your networth multi-fold.   Lucky you.  Timing has never been better.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Visit our site to search for homes, place a free listing, purchase an MLS or Realtor.com listing or buy marketing tools to assist you with sales or rentals.  Like InfoTube on Facebook for up to the minute news, marketing tips, design and staging idea’s.  You will LOVE it!      

Proof the Real Estate Market Has Turned Around

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

The cover story for the September 10th weekly magazine Barron’s is on the recent surge in real estate and how the rise in property prices is no fluke.  We agree with the many experts and professionals that believe the recovery is real…and that is will continue in the foreseeable future. 

First take a look at the chart below.  You can see that housing starts (crucial to rebuilding our economy) bottomed in 2009 and have been trading in a healthy base pattern for 2 years.  In February of 2011, we finally started moving up off the bottom and the trend is continuing.

We all know that real estate can not thrive in an environment where lenders will not lend money.  Tracking real estate loans is a good indicator for the future direction of housing.  As you can see in the chart below, there has been a dramatic increase in lending, which has pushed the housing market higher over the past year.  We believe this trend will continue and will improve as lenders work there way past non-performing assets and bad loans liablities.

Finally, we show a chart of home prices since 1991.  The chart shows that home prices are certainly on a sustainable upward trend, since the 2006 crash.

 

In conclusion, we believe conclusive evidence shows that there is immediate long-term opportunities for homebuyers and investors in the housing market.  InfoTube is BULLISH on housing and the stocks of home builders, some REIT’s and home improvement giants like Home Depot and Lowes Hardware.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  We are Made in the USA manufacturers of the InfoTube and InfoBox real estate marketing tools.  If you have a home to sell…you need this product.  Exposure is everything in this market!!!  Show and Sell! 

Thanks to Barrons and Seeking Alpha for giving us facts and charts for this story.

New Rules for Comparable Sales and Apprasial Info

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

The real estate meltdown has changed many things about the way we think about real estate and property values.  

Recently, we watched 3 home sales close in the same neighborhood.  Typically, the price per square foot and price range for all 3 homes would be similar…given that the ranch style homes were of similar age, size and were located in the same small neighoborhood.    What we learned today was that the 3 homes sold in a range from $200,000-$400,000…or from $100-$200 a square foot.  

The vast difference in the prices tells us a story about why comps (or comparable sales data) is not the indicator of true value that is has been in the past.   Today, we have essentially 3 housing markets, thus 3 price ranges in every neighborhood. 

    First, we have the bank owned home that sold for $200,000.   This is the home that no one cares about.  The lawn is 2 foot tall…the air conditioner has been pilfered through for copper and spare parts, the appliances have been stolen and the home has been abandoned.     This property was purchased by a rehab company, who will put a lot of money into its restoration, then resell it for a profit, at an estimated $400,000.

   Second, is the home that sold for $300,000, but, far short of the loan balance owed against it.  This house was always lived in and had never been vandalized, but all maintenance had been deferred and no updating had taken place in years.  The seller knew they were losing the home and had no money available to properly maintain the residence.    This home was sold to a young couple who didn’t mind doing some cosmetic work in order to save money. 

The third home located right around the corner from the other two closed for $400,000.  This home was meticulously maintained.  The interior and exterior had been upgraded with high end finishes and colors.   The home was move in ready.     The only thing this move up buyer had to do was unpack their personal belongings and enjoy themselves. 

As these 3 properties illustrate, we have 3 different real estate markets developing across the USA.    Typically, homes in the same neighborhood were very similiar to one another, so sales data was easy to compare.  Today, there may be 3 distinct markets in every neighborhood, so beaware that price ranges can vary greatly.  

If you are attempting to value property today, you must look at the category your home is in…ranging from bank owned/abandoned to high end/move in condition to determine the average price per square foot in your neighborhood.   Eventually, all this upheavel will work itself out… and houses in a neighborhood will once again be more similiar than different…but until then, make sure that you compare apples to apples when buying or selling

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Visit our website to place a FREE home listing, view great deals on all types of property, place an MLS listing or feature your property on Realtor.com.

                If you think that the world will not end in your lifetime, then this condominium project is probably not for you.   But, it is definitely an interesting project, nonetheless.

A score of billionaires have recently caused a run on condo units at the Survival Condominiums project based in Kansas.  The facility is built deep underground in an old, 1960’s nuclear missile silo, and is said to be self-sustaining in the event of a nuclear attack. 

A few of the Doomsday ammenities include:

This project offers is much more than just a “Survival Condo Unit”.   This “Package” includes mandatory training, a five-year per person food supply, fully furnished and custom designed interior, special equipment for registered members, computer access to condo systems, and much more. Only a portion of the total fee is for the actual Survival Condo Unit. 

Each Full-Floor $2 Million Dollar Unit Includes these Key Features:

  • Approx. 1820 sq. ft. of Living Space (accommodates 6 to 10 people)
  • High-end floor and trim packages of your choosing.
  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms, Kitchen, Dining room, and Great Room.
  • LED Big Screen TV in every unit.
  • State-of-the-art Kitchen: Stainless steel kitchen appliances include refrigerator, dishwasher, dual-fuel (electric & propane) professional range, wall oven, professional ventilation hood, wine cooler or beverage center. Granite or custom concrete countertops.
  • State-of-the-art energy efficient washer and dryer in each unit.
  • Built in recessed full spectrum LED lighting.
  • Kohler bath fixtures and jetted Jacuzzi tub in each master bath.
  • Digital HVAC controls.
  • State-of-the-Art Home Automation System with structured wiring throughout including closed circuit security system camera viewing, public address/intercom system, digital weather station access, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, satellite TV feeds, public and private Internet access.                             
  • Outdoor “simulated view” window in each unit. Window simulates “Life-Like” outdoor views complete with varying light levels that reflect time of day, creating a normal living experience as if you were above ground.
  • Biometric Key locks (you won’t need to worry about losing a key).
  • Elevator and Stairwell Accessibility to all Units.
  • The $1 million units offer the same ammenity with the half the square footage and serve 3-4 people.

    The infrastructure also offers features and ammenities to shield owners from armageddon.  

  • The Missile Silo is capped by a type of monolithic dome known as a Torus. This dome is capable of withstanding winds in excess of 500 MPH, well beyond the winds of the most powerful F-5 Tornodos which produce winds up to 300 MPH.
  • The air supply for the entire facility is filtered by Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) filters and the physical air intakes are protected by what are known as blast valves. Blast valves function to prevent an overpressure air wave created by a nearby explosion from entering the facility and killing those inside.
  • The facility has a military grade security system that includes visible spectrum cameras, infrared cameras, proximity sensors, microphones, trip sensors, passive detectors, as well as confidential defensive systems both automated and manually operated.
  • The facility has two floors of hydroponic gardens that will provide fresh produce as well as an aquaculture system designed to provide fish for food.
  • Additional amenities include a minor medical/surgery center, an indoor pool with waterfall, a workout room, a home theater, a classroom & library, pub & game room, bulk storage, walk-in freezer, elevator, security & communication control center, spare parts, machine shop, high-speed fiber optic network, both online and offline Internet and computer communications.
  • And, finally, there is a full-sized pool featuring a massive wall mural and curved ceiling to enhance the feeling of space and height.  
  • Of course, there will be plenty of guns and ammo, too.  

If you think that this project is just a dream of a crack pot…think, again.  The developer, Larry Hall, reported that every one of the $2 million full-floor units have been sold…and only a few of the $1 million, half floor units are still available.   Doomsday Prophets with an extra $1 million on hand may want to inquire today.  Evidentally, these units are selling like there is no tomorrow :)

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Visit our website to learn about all the marketing tools we offer to sell your home and save a ton of money.

Nearly 1 in 10 Homebuyers are Foreigners

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

   The 6 year slide in U.S.  home prices and the dollar weakness against some currency are driving a property buying binge with Asians, Canadians, Europeans & Latin Americans eager to own a piece of America. 

Plowing money into real estate may sound like a risky venture to many Americans.  But to a growing number of foreigners, U.S.  housing has never seen a smarter investment. 

International buyers accounted for $82.5 billion, or 8.9%, of the $928 billion spent on residential real estate in the 12 month period ended in March, according to a survey released Monday by National Association of Realtors.   (Article by the Wall Street Journal)

How does this news impact your potential home sale and your marketing efforts?  

Simply, if you are not on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or Realtor.com, you miss out on 1 of every 10 homebuyers looking for property in your area.   International buyers primarily use these services to locate property and if you’re not listed there…they can’t find you.   

BONUS:   Foreign buyers also pay in CASH .  No Loan Qualifications.  No Apprasials.  No Delays and No Waiting.  CASH NOW!

The cost of listing your home on the MLS or Realtor. com is only a few hundred dollars for a 6 month listing.   The summer selling season is well underway.  Get your house on the MLS and Realtor.com today.  There is no other way to get your property in front of all the homebuyers in the marketplace….and Time is ticking!!!

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Homes are definitely moving this year.  Don’t miss the season or you may be sitting for a while.  Contact us for help with your MLS listing today.

CUMMING, Ga. (AP) — The government wants you to install solar panels at your house, and will even give you a tax break to do it. But your neighbors? Maybe not.

It’s a lesson Angel and David Dobs discovered when their homeowners association north of Atlanta denied their request to install solar panels on their roof. Neighborhood officials said the panels would look out of place and might lower home values in a community that regulates details as fine as the coloring of roof tiles, the planting of trees and the storage of trash cans.

“It’s like living under communism — someone gets to dictate every possible thing you do,” David Dobs said.

Homeowners associations around the country have banned or severely restricted the installation of solar panels, and the solar industry has pushed back to halt the practice. A recent attempt in Georgia to expand the right to go solar had support from environmentalists and some Republican lawmakers concerned about private property rights but it succumbed to opposition from developers and real estate agents.

Roughly two dozen states now forbid or limit homeowners associations or local governments from banning solar panels, according to a database run by North Carolina State University. Similar disputes have prompted lawsuits in Nebraska and California.

Angel and David Dobs supported the Georgia legislation after their run-in with the homeowners association. David Dobs had viewed the project as his personal contribution to prevent global warming.

Leaders of the Vickery Lake Homeowners Association in Cumming say the dispute is about architecture and aesthetics, not the merits of solar power. Homeowners automatically accept the community rules when they purchase a home there.

“We’re not going to debate whether it’s a good idea to have green energy or not,” said Jim Pearson, the association’s president.

These debates are likely to keep flaring as more people install solar energy systems because the equipment is getting cheaper and governments subsidize the cost. Taxpayers can now deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing solar panels from their federal tax bill. Other states and local governments offer additional incentives.

The fight is not new. Some solar rights laws date back to the 1970s, while other states have added similar measures more recently.

California’s law, first enacted in 1978, prevents homeowners associations from forcing residents to make aesthetic changes to photovoltaic panels that raise the cost by more than $2,000 or decrease a system’s efficiency more than 20 percent.

Most disputes in California are worked out privately, but a few have reached the court system. Last year, a California appellate court upheld a decision forcing a couple to remove solar panels that were installed in their yard without the approval of their homeowners association. They were allowed to keep other panels on their roof.

“They don’t like the way they look,” said attorney Michael McQueen, who represented the couple and others in similar disputes. “And (homeowners associations) are all about looks. Is your lawn green? Are your hedges trimmed?”

Ricardo Cestero, an attorney for the homeowners association, said neighborhood leaders were concerned the ground-level panels were not set back far enough from the street, were inadequately protected from damage and might cause erosion.

Texas adopted a law last year preventing homeowners associations from totally blocking solar panels. The law makes clear that residents can install them on roofs or in fenced-in yards or patios, subject to some limits. 

In Georgia, the fight between the Dobses and their homeowners association started in 2010. David Dobs said the rules required that he and his wife seek permission to build solar panels.

He first proposed installing 30 panels on two areas parallel to the slope of his roof. People could have seen sections of the three-by-five-feet panels as they walked or drove along the street.

The homeowners association rejected that request and three others from Dobs.

Board member Jim Graham said that to win approval, the panels would probably need to be out of view, perhaps mounted in a backyard and obscured by a fence — though fences too are subject to association approval.

Graham said that if people don’t like the rules, they are free to buy elsewhere.

“They chose to come into this community,” he said.

Lawmakers in Georgia tried to resolve the problem with legislation giving homeowners associations the rest of the year to decide whether to ban solar panels. Any neighborhood that did not set a ban by next year would be unable to stop a homeowner from installing solar panels in the future.

There were limits. Homeowners associations could restrict the panels to roofs or fenced-in backyards and patios. They could require that panels be installed parallel to the slope of a roof and ban any backyard solar equipment that rose higher than the surrounding fence.

Even in states that give homeowners the right to install solar panels, homeowners associations still ban them.

Neighborhood leaders in a Salem, Ore., subdivision rejected Larry Lohrman’s request to install solar panels on his roof because their rules banned the equipment, Lohrman said. He successfully argued that a 1979 solar rights law made that ban illegal, and he and a neighbor helped the association draft guidelines governing the installation of solar panels.

His panels were installed and started producing power in 2010, though Lohrman said he nearly abandoned the effort in frustration during the year it took to write the new guidelines for his homeowners association.

“They’re just afraid that someone’s going to put up this big, honking ugly thing that reflects light and just looks ugly,” he said. 

Associated Press reporter Kate Brumback contributed to this report. Follow Ray Henry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rhenryAP

InfoTube thinks some logical thought should prevail on this issue.   On one hand, we want to encourage US independence from fossil fuels that harm our environment and fund terrorism.  On the other hand, homeowner association rules are in place to protect the beauty, value and function of a neighborhood..  Restrictions against solar panels are common in most associations and those rules were in place when the homes were initially purchased. 

    

President Obama just announced a plan to help US families.  And, miraculously, he doesn’t need the approval of Congress to help us.

  • Obama promised relief to homeowners who are trapped in high rate loans by banks.  If a homeowner is current on their current high interest loan payment, they can not be turned down for a lower interest rate loan that reduces their monthly payment.
  • Obama will cut closing costs for loan refinancing on FHA loans to make refinancing affordable.  The average borrower will save at least $1000 a year in fee’s and charges, in addition to saving about half of the closing costs on the new loan.
  • Obama waives appraisal value as a criteria for refinancing a high rate loan.  In other words, your bank can no longer use an appraisal against you…no matter how much you owe on your current loan.
  • Obama promises to compensate all US Servicemen and Veterans who were foreclosed upon during their tour of duty.  All Veterans who attempted to refinance their home to avoid foreclosure, and were turned away by their lender…are entitled to full compensation for all penalites, fee’s and losses.

We applaude this action and feel that it is long overdue.  This is exactly the type of change that Americans, and the housing market, need to avoid further personal and financial losses.  There is no legimate reason for a bank, who received taxpayer handouts, to turn down a borrower who wants to benefit from low Fed bank rates.   If a borrower is able to afford a $1500 house payments at a 10% interest rate, then why would a lender turn them down for a loan payment of a $1000 per month at 4.5%?    The only answer is a unfortunately a common one…GREED.    Banks are closing ranks to protect their 10% rate of return from dropping to 4.5%, even though the Fed’s (ie: taxpayers) are giving them the money for nothing.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  If you have been turned down for refinancing…reapply today.  

Smart Utility Meters Spark Health and Privacy Fears.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

Utility companies across the US are spending billions of dollars to install so called “smart” meters to moniter electricity usage.  The premise is that consumers can save energy by knowing when and how much power they use at all times.  Electricity customers pay a reduced rate for electricity used during “non-peak” useage hours and more for power consumed during high usage periods.   Utility companies say they can save even more.  The Smart Meters will eliminate meter reading jobs and help Americans cut energy costs…

Consumer advocates, state goverments and consumer protection groups don’t alway agree, though.  Many don’t feel the cost outweights the savings and they don’t feel the Smart Meter is very Smart at all.  In fact, many fear the devise can invade your privacy and damage your health.

What you Need to Know About Smart Meters.

1.  YOU ARE PAYING FOR THE SMART METER!!  Each Smart Meter costs between $250-$500.  Utility companies operate by passing along operating costs to consumers, so this cost will be passed directly through to you.  For example,  Texas residents are now being charged an additional $3.24 per month for their new Smart Meter.  It is estimated that $1 Billion will be collected by Texas utility companies over the next 10 years.   WSJ

2.  SHORT NOTICE DISCONNECTS.  Consumer advocates fear the costs of the Smart Meter could be greater than the savings for many households.   They also worry that the meters will make it easier for utilities to terminate service — so easy that they will disconnect power for small unpaid balances that wouldn’t have caused a termination in the past.   WSJ

3.  WHAT ARE THE TRUE COSTS VS SAVINGS?  There is a lot of concern about the lack of information on meter deployments.  Utilities have claimed “trade secret” protections for important financial details about their meter programs, including contract terms with vendors. Such secrecy makes it impossible for consumers to analyze why costs for what appear to be similar services vary so much among utilities.  WSJ

4.  HEALTH CONCERNS.  The “Smart” Radio Frequency Meters do NOT have a UL safety rating and it doesn’t appear that it will have one anytime soon.   There is science to back up the theory that Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency energy contamination from smart meters exceeds allowable safe and healthful limits for domestic environments as determined by the EPA and other scientific programs.

5.  PRIVACY AND BIG BROTHER SURVIELLANCE CONCERNS:  “Smart Meters” are, by definition, surveillance devices which violate Federal and State wiretapping laws by recording and storing databases of private and personal activities and behaviors without the consent or knowledge of those people who are monitored.

According to the Watch Dog Group StopSmartMeters.org, Smart Meters monitor household activity and occupancy which watch dog groups alledge violate rights and domestic security.   They transmit wireless signals which may be intercepted by unauthorized and unknown parties. Those signals can be used to monitor behavior and occupancy and they can be used by criminals to aid criminal activity against the occupants.

The Data about occupant’s daily habits and activities are collected, recorded and stored in permanent databases which are accessed by parties not authorized or invited to know and share that private data by those whose activities were recorded.   Those with access to the smart meter databases can review a permanent history of household activities complete with calendar and time-of-day metrics to gain a highly invasive and detailed view of the lives of the occupants.   Those databases may be shared with, or fall into the hands of criminals, blackmailers, corrupt law enforcement, private hackers of wireless transmissions, power company employees, and other unidentified parties who may act against the interests of the occupants under metered surveillance.

6.  STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS PLACE MORITORIUM ON SMART METERS.    Until more information is gathered about health, safety, privacy concerns and costs to consumers, 47 local governments in California have banned Smart Meter installation until more is learned about them.  Connecticut and Delaware are also asking for volunteers to test the Smart Meter vs rolling it out to all electricity customers.

Whether you like the Smart Meter or Hate it…there is no denying that “they” will know when you’re cooking dinner and they will know when you’re awake….like it or not.   Even more scary…maybe…I wonder if those Smart Meters are Made in America or China?  

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Email questions, comments and information to info@infotube.net.   Also, visit our Facebook page for up to the minute info and updates.

Are you looking for a cute, adorable Made in the USA toy for Christmas?  Well, look no further than the Original Sock Monkey and Sock Monkey accessories. 

The Original Sock Monkey is one of the quality products made by Fox River Mills in Osage, IA.   Fox River was founded on the principle of offering a superior product with great service at a fair price.  Today, Fox River Mills in one of the leading outdoor, athletic, and lifestyle sock manufacturers in the world.   Fox River socks and handwear can be found worldwide in the finest outdoor, sporting goods, specialty stores, and online retailers.   Their Store Locator will make finding FOXSOX simple.

The old-fashioned, handcrafted sock monkey dolls made with Original Rockford Red Heel® socks from Fox River Mills have become a favorite piece of “Americana” over the years.  Intended and worn even today as work socks, mothers in the early 1900’s fashioned these Rockford socks into sock monkeys for their children. 

Clever crafters have been making Sock Monkeys and other animal sock dolls ever since.  In 1890, Nelson Knitting began manufacturing these Red Heeled socks. Fox River Mills purchased Nelson Knitting in 1992. Today, the instructions for making these dolls are still included in each package of authentic Red Heel Monkey socks.   Crafters have been lovingly making Sock Monkeys for generations.  Please browse through their website and view the adorable selections.     

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Our business is manufacturing outdoor document containers and helping people market real estate.  Our passion is creating, saving and growing American jobs.   Thank you for your business and support over these last 20+ years!!

The male-dominated industry has never seen anyone quite like Lynn Tilton, a New York financier who since 2000 quietly has been amassing an empire, acquiring or investing in more than 70 companies, with holdings totaling $8 billion. 

Lynn Tilton, New York financier and owner of MD Helicopters, gives out signed photos of herself to well wishers as a line formed in front of her exhibit booth at Heli-Expo recently in Anaheim, Calif.

Rotor blades and turbine engines were supposed to be the showcase at the annual helicopter convention in Anaheim, Calif., the last week of February, so pilot James Costa wasn’t sure what to make of the crowd surrounding a woman in a leopard-print dress and knee-high boots.

She had long, blond hair who was signing glossy photos of herself as a line formed in front of her exhibit booth.

“I thought she was a stripper,” said Costa, a helicopter pilot from Tulare, Calif., before he found out that the woman was Lynn Tilton, owner of one of the nation’s largest helicopter makers.

“Very cool,” Costa said in disbelief. “You know, she brought that company back from the brink of destruction. She’s our rock star.”

The male-dominated industry has never seen anyone quite like Tilton, a New York financier who since 2000 quietly has been amassing an empire, acquiring or investing in more than 70 companies, with holdings totaling $8 billion.

“She doesn’t fit the usual pattern of an executive,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst for Teal Group. “but she has stayed in this game a lot longer than people thought.”

Part Warren Buffett and part Dolly Parton, the 49-year-old native of the Bronx borough of New York owns or has an equity stake in companies that are as eclectic as her wardrobe — and include brand names such as Arizona Ice Tea, English Leather cologne and Isotoner gloves.

Through her private-equity firm Patriarch Partners she also owns companies with some of the world’s most iconic names, including mapmaker Rand McNally, firetruck manufacturer American LaFrance and Italian factory-machine maker Ansaldo Sistemi Industriali.

In 2005, Tilton acquired Mesa, Ariz.-based MD Helicopters, a company founded by Howard Hughes.

Common trait

Although diverse, the companies had a common trait before Tilton began investing in them. They produced well-known products but were about to go out of business.

“We turn dust to diamonds,” she said at the Anaheim Convention Center. “We buy what everybody else tosses away.”

Although some of her companies have had to lay off people because of the economy, they employ a total of 60,000 workers in the U.S. The return on her investments has averaged 25 percent annually, she said.

“Making money and making the world a better place don’t have to be mutually exclusive objectives,” she said.

Within the aviation industry, Tilton often has been described as the “dominatrix lady” because of her penchant for black-leather dresses and high-heel shoes.

“Well-behaved women seldom make history,” she said when asked about the initial impression some people might have. She has a bachelor’s degree from Yale and an MBA from Columbia.

She acknowledged that she has used the image to her advantage because many people upon first meeting her underestimate her abilities.

Before she began signing autographs, Tilton already was shaking up the helicopter convention. As four executives of the world’s largest helicopter makers, including Bell Helicopter Textron and Sikorsky Aircraft, finished up their presentations, Tilton, who was running late, walked up to the podium wearing that leopard-print dress.

“I don’t have pretty slides,” she said. “But I’m wearing a sexy dress. I hope this will do for some of you.”

Then, taking a more serious tone, Tilton said that the industry was “not a chosen one that defies gravity” and warned the audience that more improvements were needed, including making helicopters safer.

Tilton, who has three siblings, said she grew up in a dynamic family. Her father was a professor, and her mother later became publisher of a newspaper in Teaneck, N.J.

Single parent

At 23, Tilton became a single parent, and for the next several years she “worked 100 hours a week on Wall Street” to support herself and her daughter. “Compared to then, this is nothing,” she said of her workload juggling more than 70 companies.

Tilton worked at top Wall Street companies including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch before becoming an expert on distressed loans. She later would obtain a patent for a method of turning around bad bank loans.

Tilton had enough money to retire comfortably at age 40 but decided to form her own company to “give back to the world.”

Her most challenging and endearing acquisition has been the helicopter company, one of the few that she personally has overseen and managed, Tilton said.

Because of parts problems, the company stopped producing helicopters in 2005, putting more than 250 jobs in jeopardy just before Tilton acquired an equity stake.

After going through three chief executives in one year, she personally took charge, handling the company’s reorganization while acquiring faltering businesses.

At the same time, she began to be the “face of the company” as she led the sales force and was able to regain the attention of its customers.

“She’s turned things around at MD, and I think that’s helped her gain some respect,” said Matthew Arnold, chief executive of Alabama’s Marshall County Economic Development Council, which has worked with Tilton on aviation matters.

The company expects to deliver 70 new helicopters this year, up from 52 last year.

“My ultimate legacy would be if I could keep people from going home and telling their families they’re unemployed,” Tilton said.

By Peter Pae  Los Angeles Times.   Source for this article is the Seattle Times Company.

InfoTube.net salutes Lynn Tilton and applaudes her effort to employ Americans and rescue US companies.  If I can be of service to you Ms Tilton, please let me know.  It would be an honor to work for you and I would do it for FREE.   Tommi Crow