Safety Tip: Bump Beats Lock

February 28, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Lock bumping is not a new lock picking technique, but it has attracted some press lately.

Lock bumping is the lock-busting practice of using a specially-crafted key to open a pin tumbler lock.

Most homes feature these types of lock exclusively.

According to Wikipedia, a “cheap” lock may actually offer better protection against lock bumping than a pricey one.

When changing the locks around the house, the safest option is to use a trained locksmith who can advise you about choosing the best locks at the best price for your home.

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Transform Radiators Into Artwork

February 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Radiators can be a fantastic way to heat a room. Unlike central heating systems that alternate a room between “too hot” and “too cold”, a radiator by contrast emits a steady heat.

A major disadvantage of radiators, though, is that they occupy floor space and can make designing a room’s layout difficult. It’s a challenge to decorate around an “obtrusive, immobile hunk of metal”.

Old House Journal ran an interesting story about the history of radiators and offers some design tips for making them less conspicuous.

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How To Put Your Home In A Favorable Light

February 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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A well-lit home shows better than a poorly-lit home

Most sellers know that their home will sell faster and for more money if it is clean and de-cluttered.

Many don’t understand, however, the impact that a home’s brightness can have on a buyer’s overall mood, and the their first impression of a home.

A home makes a more favorable impression if it is well lit.

For a seller, to open blinds and drapes is free and can add value to the home in the eyes of a buyer.

Electricity isn’t free, of course, but leaving lights on can have similar positive impact.

Replace all of your lightbulbs, turn on your lights, clean your home’s windows and open the blinds — let your home be viewed in the most favorable “light” possible.

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Simple Real Estate Definitions: Absorption Rate

February 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Absorption Rate is a real estate term for the length of time required to sell all of a given stock in a given area.

We can use it to determine how quickly homes are selling in a neighborhood, city, or region.

The formula to calculate Absorption Rate is simple.

Add up the number of homes on the market, and then divide it by the number of homes taken off the market in the past 30 days because offers were accepted for the sale of those homes.

For example, if 500 homes are on the market and 89 of these homes received offers in the past 30 days, the absorption rate is 500/89, or 5.6 months.

In generally, the smaller the absorption rate, the more seller-friendly the region.

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Your Rush Hour Commute Should Be Tested During Rush Hour

February 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Studies show that Americans are spending more time than ever commuting to work and, for a growing number, the commute is reaching epic lengths.

A recent Census Bureau study revealed that 2.8 million people have “extreme commutes” — drive-times that tops 90 minutes.

Before choosing a new neighborhood in which to love, be sure to check commute times and maybe even give it a test drive. Rush Hour is a terrific time to drive from your office to a potential new home in order to truly understand how long a commute will be.

You may find that a short distance doesn’t always equal a short drive.

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Mail Fraud For Vacant Homes

February 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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A postal inspector once called a real estate agent about a listed property that was vacant.

The USPS guy was not interested in buying the home (too bad for the agent!); he instead needed a way to get in touch with the sellers.

Many people leave their homes vacant and forget to stop and/or forward their mail.

In this case, a criminal used a stolen credit card to order merchandise which he, in turn, had sent to the vacant home. He also arranged to have his mail and all of his bills sent to the same address.

When it got dark, he would go to the house and grab his stuff.

After the real estate agent relayed the story to the seller, he quickly installed a lock on the mailbox and had mail delivery re-routed to the local post office for pick-up.

He could have also chosen to have his mail forwarded to his new home, of course.

When leaving a home vacant, be sure to tell your neighbors to keep an eye on the house and remind them that mail and packages should not arrive on your doorstep.

The local police department should also be notified that the property is vacant.

As an added precaution on For Sale homes, make sure that the marketing materials do not mention that the home is vacant — it’s an invitation for fraud.

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Make Changing Your Locks Step Number One

February 16, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Have you just purchased a new home? Did you change the locks?

Probably not, right? You just got handed the keys and the code for the garage door from the previous owners. They seem like nice people and they probably are, too.

What you don’t know, though, is to whom else they gave a copy of the key.

The baby sitter? The dog walker? Aunt Jenny?

The point is that as the owner of a new home, you have no way to know just who has a key to your abode. Your home is probably safe while you’re at work, but then again, you never know.

When buying a new property, make changing the locks and the garage door code your first step as a rightful homeowner.

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I’ve Got This Furniture. Where Do I Put It?

February 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Whether you are buying a home, selling a home, or living in one, from time to time you need to decide how to arrange furniture.

There is a lot of advice on the HGTV web site including a terrific room planner for all of your furniture layout questions.

For home sellers, rearranging and removing furniture can actually improve your home’s marketability (and bottom line).

For home owners, better furniture arrangement has been shown to actually improve your mood.

And, for home buyers, sometimes just knowing that your king-sized, four-poster antique bed will fit in your new bedroom is enough to make you commit to buying it.

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To Paint Or Not To Paint? It Depends Whose Side You’re On.

February 14, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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With so many colors to choose from, choose wisely

A tip for sellers:

Buyers will offer 3-4 times less than the cost of a simple repair or paint job required to make a home perfect for them.

So, if $500 dollars fixes a real (or perceived) problem, buyers will reduce their offer by $1,500-$2,000 for the property, or will make no offer at all.

Unfortunately, buyers and their real estate agents are not always honest in their feedback. Sometimes, they’ll give no feedback at all.

A tip for buyers:

The home with the ugly paint in the kitchen may actually be a better investment and a better buy than the home down the street with a kitchen painted using your favorite kitchen color.

Often, a seller is ignorant about their home’s features that buyers detest. When you make an offer, you can always ask for the desired repairs or changes prior to move-in.

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Are Foreclosures a Bargain?

February 13, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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There are many homes on the market right now that are bank-owned. Are they a bargain? In most cases, no.

There seems to be a myth that banks sell these homes for what is owed on them or at a discounted price. Not true. Banks usually get a couple of price opinions and an appraisal to determine the value of a property before putting it on the market.

However, once the property is on the market for a time they will start reducing the price just like any other seller would.

Surprisingly the best source for information on foreclosed properties is through your local real estate agent. The web sites that feature foreclosures are not always up-to-date, and some sell your information to real estate agents as leads. Most banks work with and hire real estate agent to list and sell the properties they own.

Buying bank-owned homes is a little different from a “regular” home because banks have their own rules and policies. Offers are usually presented via fax and it sometimes takes days (or weeks!) to get an answer. Offers need to be perfect and complete with special clauses that the banks require.

In addition, foreclosed homes are always sold “as is”. The owners/bankers usually have never seen the property and will not take responsibility for its condition.

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