Election Aftermath and Cabinet Posts

trump-cabinetListen in as Doug and Tammie talk about what happened in the economy after the election on November 8th.  They also talk about the Presidential Cabinet pics that affect housing:

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Dr. Ben Carson

Secretary of Treasury – Steven Mnuchin

Renovation ROI

Hammer on Stack of MoneyAs homeowners, we often feel like a home improvement will give us a positive Return On Investment(ROI).  The info-graphic shown from Remodeling’s 2015 Cost Vs. Value Report shows that most home improvements will give a negative return.  Continue reading “Renovation ROI”

Selling a Home in the Winter

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Winter may not be the most popular time to sell a home, but this doesn’t mean you have to wait until the weather warms up to list your property. With the right strategy and a bit of hard work, you can make your home stand out to potential buyers in a season where competition is less fierce, and some buyers are highly motivated to purchase.

It may take you a little planning and some prep work. However, when you need to sell your house, you need to sell your house – regardless of what season it happens to be. Knowing how to sell a home in the Winter can go a long way in increasing your chances of success.

Tips For Selling a Home In The Winter Continue reading “Selling a Home in the Winter”

Why You Might Want to Buy a Home in the Winter

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Is the winter a good time to buy a home?  There are several significant advantages to buying a home during the snowy season.  Here are the motivating factors that will help you come out on top.

Less Inventory and Less Competition

In most markets, winter usually means a lower inventory with less houses on the market. While this is often the case, it’s possible to find the right space and with fewer people looking, you’ll have less competition.  Continue reading “Why You Might Want to Buy a Home in the Winter”

Helping You Become “Smart With Your Money”

tam-doug-2Listen in as Doug and Tammie talk about the purpose and principles of the Doug Haldeman Show.

Principles:

  • Living below your means
  • Having a written budget
  • Save first, then spend what is left (versus the opposite)
  • Manage the details in life
  • Maximize your credit score

What’s Happening With Auto Premiums

Elaine Mahr Farmers Insurance Agent
Elaine Mahr Farmers Insurance Agent

Auto Premiums Going Up

Americans are driving more, thanks to rising employment and cheaper gasoline. But that also means they’re getting into more accidents — and that’s leading to higher insurance premiums.

Of course, it’s not just a matter of more people cruising the roads. Unsafe behavior also may be contributing to a national accident problem, according to research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. A report by the Department of Transportation found about 94 percent of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while behind the wheel within the past month, including using cell phones or not wearing seat belts.

Size of claims

The size of claims — which in industry lingo is called “claims severity” — is trending higher and affecting several auto insurance companies. Rising costs for medical care and auto repair are big drivers of increasing claims severity. The increasing price of auto parts contributes as well.

But critically, there are more personal auto claims as a result of Americans driving more miles. That trend, which is closely watched by industry analysts, can hurt the profitability of the insurance companies.

How do we mitigate cost?

  • Talk to Elain Mahr  today!  314.238.0055
  • Review Policy
  • Increase Deductible
  • Evaluate your car.  You can visit sites like www.nada.com or Kelly Blue book
  • Decide if you need Full or Liability Insurance
  • Good Student Discount

 

Business Insurance 101 with Insurance Expert Elaine Mahr

Elaine Mahr Expert Contributor show cardBusiness Insurance 101 with State Farm

Protecting your business is good business. Having the right insurance can be the difference between surviving a calamity and losing everything. Many business owners have learned the hard way that a lawsuit, theft, accident or natural disaster can wreak havoc on their companies.

Business Owner’s Policy

Often referred to as BOP, a business owner’s policy rolls multiple types of insurance into a single policy. Usually this is at a lower cost than buying each type of insurance individually. A business owner’s policy might include business property, business interruption and general liability coverage.

General Liability

This coverage helps protect your company if someone is injured at your place of business. I also covers if injuries or damage result from the use of your products or services. It can help shield your business from situations that could be perceived as negligence. Most general liability policies cover financial obligations such as medical costs, as well as legal defense expenses and settlement awards if your business is sued.

Professional Liability

Also known as errors and omissions insurance, this type of insurance helps protect your company from claims that its malpractice or negligence damaged a client or other third party.

Business Property

This insurance covers loss and damage to leased or owned company property resulting from a variety of events, such as fire, wind or vandalism. An “all risks” business property policy covers loss and damage from a range of sources, while a “named peril” policy specifies the types of hazards it covers.

Cyber Liability

Customers and employees trust you to store their information. From billing information to social security numbers. If someone stole that data, how would that impact your business?

For every time a company like Target gets hacked there are dozens of smaller companies that suffer data breaches.

Cyber liability insurance can cover you for the expenses you incur from a data breach.

Expenses such as…

  • Fixing the breach
  • Loss of income
  • Notifying your customers
  • Public relations
  • Lawsuits

Business Vehicle

This type of policy protects your business against damage to an owned or leased vehicle that you or your employees use for business purposes. It also provides coverage if a third party claims bodily injury or property damage related to an auto accident.

Business Interruption Insurance

This policy guards against the effects that come from unexpected events and natural disasters that might otherwise cause your company to temporarily relocate or close. It helps businesses maintain cash flow while they replace equipment and repair physical damage to their facilities. It typically provides reimbursement for up to a year of lost revenue.

Umbrella Liability

This type of insurance fills any gaps left by the insurance that your company carries. For example, if your general liability policy has a coverage limit, an umbrella policy will cover losses that exceed this amount. It can also provide protection in areas excluded by other policies. The premium for an umbrella policy may be lower if you purchase it from the same insurer who provides your other policies.

6 Reasons Buying A Tiny Home Could Be A Mistake

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Tiny House Trend

Buying a tiny home could be a mistake

When it comes to a tiny home, less may not always be more. It’s a trend that’s sweeping home improvement channels. Like, really tiny homes. And while they can be cute the price per square foot isn’t.

They are considered a mobile home with running water and plumbing, appliances, and everything you’d need in a place to live. The truth is, for investment purposes, it’s wildly impractical.

Translation? The trend probably won’t last long. It also means your return on investment is next to none. Here are five reasons why buying a tiny home may not be in your best interest.

1. It’s a fad

Just like platform sneakers and leisure suits were once popular but are now widely ridiculed, the tiny home trend is one that may be hot now but is likely to cool off before long. The key word is fad.  This is a totally unproven market, buoyed by the intense interest in reality TV.

Although there can be compelling reasons to want to simplify your life by reducing your financial obligations via less expensive housing options it is just hard to say how this trend will pay off in the long run.  The artificial interest caused by the TV trend and the uncertainty in a newer, unproven market make tiny homes a risky investment.  You can find a small home that falls into “Real Estate” investment that meets your communities standards to what constitutes as a home.  Even if you do not live in a “tiny home” you can draw inspiration from that minimal lifestyle and apply it to a home of any size.

2. Buyers are few

If you think the demand for a home that backs up to a major highway is slim, then you’ll be amazed at how few people are actually willing to pull the trigger on a tiny home.  Real estate sales are dependent on supply and demand.  A tiny home is not recommended because it only fits a small demographic of buyers in the market. The more restraints the property offers the market, the more niche it becomes. The more niche the home, the less buyers available for the home.  In other words: The supply may be great, but the demand is really, really small. (Pun Intended).   That’s not to say if you love it and plan to stay put for the long haul, you shouldn’t go for it. Just be prepared, because you might end up facing a really long on-the-market period when it’s time to sell.

3. It’s less marketable

The vast majority of tiny homes can accommodate one to two residents tops.  Basically this means many buyers who entertain or host overnight guests are simply uninterested in even considering a tiny home for their primary home or even vacation property.  Tiny homes are simply less marketable.  The average consumer needs more space, bedrooms, and bathrooms than a tiny home can offer. An average home allows buyers to grow into it and keep it long term. A tiny home offers restraints to changes in the lifestyle of the buyer.  A tiny home on a piece of property that offers space for an additional, larger home to be built later could be the exception here, giving the new owner a place to reside while a dream home is under construction (and a cozy place to host guests in the future!).

4. It’s too darn small

Sure, the concept of downsizing sounds nice, but let’s be honest: Most people have too many personal belongings to squeeze into a tiny home. You may have just graduated college or moved out of your parents basement but think of your future space you will need.  Most Americans like collecting a lot of ‘stuff’ and have a tough time finding storage space for all of it in a small, regular house that has a garage and basement.

In a tiny house you have just enough room for yourself but no options for expansion, storage, hobbies, nothing. Need to fix your car? You’re doing it in the snow or pay retail for someone else to do it. Have a cat or a dog? Where does the cat box go? Dogs don’t like being confined. Where do you put your lawn mower? Your rake and shovel? Going to have a baby? Your small house is now too small.

5. It’s not less expensive

Downsizing is supposed to help you and be less expensive. But that’s not necessarily the case with a tiny home.  There is no storage space, so you’ll need to rent a storage unit, which means paying for it, and then you have to go back and forth to it every time you need anything larger than a toothpick.  Want to have a party? Rent a venue. The list goes on. You can buy a plain old ‘non-tiny’ house for the same money and get much more utility from it.

Finally, most lenders have a minimum square footage they will lend on, so you’ll pay cash for your tiny home and so will your potential buyer, which eliminates most of the few remaining prospects you’ll have.

6. Place to put it

This increase in popularity of tiny houses, and particularly the rapid increase in the number of both amateur and professional builders, has led to concerns regarding safety among tiny house professionals. In 2013, an Alliance of tiny house builders was formed to promote ethical business practices and offer guidelines for construction of tiny houses on wheels.

Planning and Zoning

This effort was carried on in 2015 by the American Tiny House Association. In 2015, the nonprofit American Tiny House Association was formed to promote the tiny house as a viable, formally acceptable dwelling option and to work with local government agencies to discuss zoning and coding regulations that can reduce the obstacles to tiny living.

One of the biggest obstacles to growth of the tiny house movement is the difficulty in finding a place to live in one.  Zoning regulations typically specify minimum square footage for new construction on a foundation, and for tiny houses on wheels, parking on one’s own land may be prohibited by local regulations against “camping.”  In addition, RV parks do not always welcome tiny houses. DIYers may be turned away, as many RV parks require RVs be manufactured by a member of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association “(RVIA)”.

Is it an RV?

Tiny houses on wheels are considered RVs and not suitable for permanent residence, according to the RVIA. From RVBusiness, “The RVIA will continue to shy away from allowing members who produce products that are referred to as ‘tiny houses’ or ‘tiny homes’. (However, the RVIA does allow “tiny home” builders to join as long as their units are built to park model RV standards.)”

In 2014, the first “tiny house friendly town” was declared in Spur, Texas; however, it was later clarified that a tiny house may not be on wheels but must be secured to a foundation.

In July 2016, Washington County, Utah revised their zoning regulations to accommodate some types of tiny houses.

Tips For A Smooth Loan Approval

check-markGetting a pre-approval is one step of the mortgage approval process. Having a smooth loan process depends partially on you.  As a potential homeowner you must remain responsible throughout the process. In the end only you can determine your future. Here are some tips to help you stay connected to your end goals.

  • DO continue making your mortgage or rent payments
  • DO stay current on all existing accounts
  • DO keep working at your current employer
  • DO keep your same insurance company
  • DO continue living at your current residence
  • DO call us if you have any questions
  • DON’T make a major purchase (car, boat, fur, jewelry, etc.)
  • DON’T apply for new credit (even if you seem pre-approved)
  • DON’T open a new credit card
  • DON’T transfer any balances from one account to another
  • DON’T deposit money into the bank that you can’t explain
  • DON’T pay off charge offs without a discussion with us first
  • DON’T pay off collections without a discussions with us first
  • DON’T buy any furniture
  • DON’T close any credit card accounts
  • DON’T change bank accounts
  • DON’T max out or over charge on you credit card accounts
  • DON’T consolidate your debt onto 1 or 2 credit cards
  • DON’T take out a new loan
  • DON’T start any home improvement projects
  • DON’T finance any elective medical procedure
  • DON’T open a new cellular phone account
  • DON’T join a new fitness club
  • DON’T pay off any loans or credit cards without discussing it with us

If you encounter a special situation, it is best to mention it to us right

away so we can help you determine the best way to achieve your goals.

Homeowner’s Maintenance Checklist

Maintenance leaves-in-gutter
Clearing out the leaves from your gutters is an important home maintenace task.

Yearly Home Maintenance

Owning a home can be the most exciting time of your life.  Most people probably first think of the financial responsibility. Don’t let yourself forget about the time and labor that home ownership also requires. Keeping up with regular home maintenance tasks will keep you from future headaches and wasted money.

It can be intimidating to think about these various tasks, especially if you’re a new homeowner. The good news is that you can do the majority of it on your own without much experience. Google is your best friend, and if you really get stuck, call up your local handyman to help you out.

Checklist

We have compiled a list of things you should make sure to do throughout the year. However, do what works for you and your schedule, and as long as all these things get accomplished, your home will be happy for years and years to come.

Feel free to print off the checklist and make it part of your goals this year!

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