I drove my daughter to school on Tuesday this week and almost failed as a parent. Her lunch box was left sitting on the kitchen counter and I was half way downtown when I realized my blunder. Where could I pick up a lunch item during breakfast time? Sending her to school with a box of Munchins from Dunkin Donuts was not an option.
So I pulled into a parking spot in front of Iron Bank Coffee, on the corner of Broadway and 11th Street. The employee saved the day! Where else could I find a grilled cheese sandwich at 9:00 am? Also, they sliced the apple into small pieces and placed it in a cup with a lid, so it would stay fresh until lunchtime.
Customers do not evaluate your service in rational or logical ways. Service is highly charged and emotional. Great Service: Providing consumers with a positive buying or selling experience in which the client feels that you have earned every dollar of your commission.
Thank you Iron Bank Coffee for providing great service!
The setup: A crisp edge where the lawn meets the flower beds looks great and eases mowing. Opt for rigid edging — the flexible plastic stuff looks amateurish from day one.
Use a charged garden hose to lay out a smooth curve.
Tip: A “charged” garden hose full of water makes for a smoother, kink-free curve; charge up by turning on the spigot but leaving the sprayer off.
With the hose as your guide, use a lawn edger or spade to cut away excess sod and make an incision for the edging. Tap in the edging with a rubber mallet and add the stakes. Trim the edging with a hacksaw, using a speed square to mark for cuts.
Specs and cost: Steel — $1.25 per lineal foot; aluminum — $2.25 plf; rigid plastic or fiberglass — $1.65 plf.
Tools: Garden hose, flour or powdered chalk, lawn edger or spade, shovel, speed square, hacksaw, rubber mallet, hammer.
Project #2: Add an Earth Berm
The Setup: Create an eye-catching front yard feature by shaping a few cubic yards of topsoil into an undulating berm. Topped off with mulch, groundcover, and bushes, a berm adds interest and buffers street noise.
Use a charged hose to outline the berm. Remove sod a couple of feet in from the perimeter. Add a few mounds, but max out at 3 feet high.
Specs and cost: Three cubic yards of soil is enough for a good-sized berm. Expect to pay $15-$20 per cubic yard and $15–$60 for delivery — a total of $60-$120.
Tip: Don’t be tempted by those bags of topsoil at the home center: At $2.50 per cubic foot, a cubic yard (27 cubic feet) will end up costing you $67.50.
Have a cubic yard of mulch dropped off as well ($15–$20). A dozen periwinkle starts, plus a few boxwood bushes and evergreens, will set you back another $140. Total for an 18-foot-long berm: $215–$280.
The setup: A stacked flagstone wall for your raised beds has an old-world look that mellows any landscape. Best of all, you don’t have to be stonemason to build one.
Begin by laying out the wall with stakes and mason’s line. Tamp a level bed of sand for the first course. As you add courses, stagger joints at least 3 inches. Set each course back ¼-inch so the wall leans backward slightly. Once finished, back the wall with landscaping fabric before filling with topsoil.
Specs and cost: Choose a stone of consistent thickness. Flagstone might be limestone, sandstone, shale — any rock that splits into slabs. A ton of 2-inch-thick stone is enough for a wall 10 feet long and 12 inches high.
Cost: About $300 for stones and sand.
Tip: Permanent retaining walls should be backed by pea gravel for drainage. In some locations, walls taller than 3 feet high require a building permit.
Tools: Stakes and mason’s line, spade, shovel, a 2-by-4 that’s 8 feet long, a 4-foot level, garden rake, tamper.
Project #4: Install a Flagstone Path
The setup: For a welcoming addition to your yard, add a flagstone pathway. Use a charged garden hose to mark a meandering path about 3 feet wide. Arrange flagstones within the path so they are 2–4 inches apart and mark their location with sprinkled flour.
Tip: Sprinkling flour over the stones creates a “shadow” outline on the ground. When you remove the stones, you’ll have perfect outlines for cutting away the sod.
Cut away 3–4 inches of sod beneath each stone, add a layer of sand, and level the flagstones as you place them.
Specs and cost: For a 40-foot path about 3 feet wide, plan on 2 tons of flagstones and about a cubic yard of coarse sand. Cost: About $550.
Tools: Garden hose, flour, spade, trowel, level.
Project #5: Add a Brick Tree Surround
The setup: Installing a masonry surround for a tree eases mowing and looks great. All it takes is digging a circular trench, adding some sand, and installing brick or stone.Tip: To create a nice, even circle around the base of your tree, tie a big loop of rope around your tree. Adjust the length of the loop so when you pull it taut, the free end is right where you’d like the outer edge of the surround to be. Set your spade inside the loop with the handle plumb — straight up and down. Now, as you move around the tree, the loop of rope keeps the spade exactly the same distance from the base of the tree, creating a nice circle.
Use the spade to cut into the sod all the way around the tree. Remove the rope, and dig out a circular trench about 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide. Add a layer of sand. Set bricks at an angle for a pleasing saw-tooth effect or lay them end-to-end. Fill the surround with 2–4 inches of mulch.
Specs and cost: This is an instance where buying small quantities of materials at the home center makes sense. Brick pavers cost $.50-$1 each — figure about 20 per tree. A bag of mulch, enough for one tree, costs $2.50.
Opportunities to reduce electricity use abound around most homes, say experts from Dominion Virginia Power.
“We encourage customers to use energy wisely and to find easy ways to reduce the amount of energy being wasted,” said Ken Barker, vice president of customer solutions and energy conservation. “If you are using an old, inefficient refrigerator in your garage or if you leave televisions and lights turned on when no one is in the room, you have an opportunity to reduce your electric bill. If you look around your home, you might find appliances and devices like phone chargers that can be unplugged when not in use. The results of small actions can add up to big results.”
Home heating and cooling systems are a major contributor to energy use and should be routinely inspected by a trained professional to ensure they are operating efficiently.
Here are 10 more ways to take control of your energy usage:
In the summer, set the thermostat to the highest comfortable temperature. Dominion and the U.S. Department of Energy recommend 78 degrees for maximum efficiency.
On hot days, cook outdoors, use a microwave oven, or prepare cold meals to avoid excess heat in the kitchen. If you cook outdoors, plan carefully to minimize the trips in and out of the house when hot air can enter and cool air can escape.
Use ceiling fans to make it feel colder so you can set the thermostat higher and still be comfortable.
Replace or clean forced-air heating/cooling system filters monthly.
Wash clothes in cold water and clean the lint filter in the dryer after every use.
Use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting on your dryer if you have one.
Air must be able to circulate freely around the outside unit of your air conditioner or heat pump. Keep the area around it clear of weeds and debris.
Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
Keep the water heater set at 120 degrees and insulate the heater and adjacent pipes to prevent heat loss.
Close the flue to any fireplace that is not in use.
Do you want to buy a house and your credit score is a little low? Below are some easy ways that you improve your credit score.
First you need to know what is on your credit report. To do that you can go to annualcreditreport.com and request your credit report from the three credit reporting agency’s – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. On this site you can view all three credit reports for free for 30 days. Make sure you print each report for your records because you will only be able to view your report for 30 days. Each individual is entitled to 1 free credit report per year from each agency.
Now that you have your report, view the ledger key which explains the information on your report.
If you see that you have delinquent or charged off accounts on your report, one or all of three steps listed below can be followed to improve your credit score:
Delinquent account – should be brought to a current status by contacting the creditor and negotiate a payment plan.
Charged off accounts- if these are still being reported to the credit bureau every month contact the collection agency and settle the account. Request a letter from the collection agency confirming the settlement amount that you owe and request a letter to confirm the payment from you was received and the account has been settled.
Reestablish some line of credit. You can obtain a secure visa or master card from your bank or other credit card companies and begin using your new credit responsibly.
Additional Ways to Improve Your Score: If you have credit cards or loans of course making your payments on time will always help, but in addition to doing this, decreasing the amount you owe to the credit card companies will also improve your credit score.
If you have a credit card with a limit of $1000.00 and you owe about $600.00 on this card you will start losing points. By paying the bill on time it shows your responsibility with a credit card, but to see a significant increase on your credit score paying this card down to $200.00 will increase your points significantly.
If you are a responsible credit user, you can improve your credit score by requesting your credit limit to be increased. Using the example above you can request your credit limit to be increased to $1500.00 and by doing this it will increase your credit score.
You passed the State Real Estate Exam and received your license …now what? First, interview with a few local brokerage firms, begin marketing yourself ($$$), pick up a few clients, and you are on your way. But wait, it’s not as easy as it seems and if you are like most newly licensees, it takes a while to get your feet off the ground (6-8 months). Becoming an assistant to a successful real estate agent or broker might be a smoother transition into the real estate business for you. Benefits could include, normal work week, salary or hourly wage, and the experience of working with a top professional. NO, you won’t have all the clients and glory to start with, BUT you will have the opportunity to learn the systems that help agents manage successful businesses. As an assistant with a sales license, you can help out tremendously. You can speak with clients, answer questions related to properties for sale, organize “agent open houses”, show buyers property, and attend appointments. As licensed assistant, handling inquiries from the public and responding to clients questions, will save a your agent several hours a week and keep their pipeline full of good prospects. I welcomed the opportunity to be an assistant for several “top producing” agents in my office, and they have taught me the business by giving me an active role. One day, I might be confident enough to branch out on my own, but I love what I do and I am learning so much from these agents. I have learned more from being an assistant than I did in class. Why don’t they mention this in Pre-Licensing?
As lenders work through a backlog of over five million delinquent mortgages short sales are becoming more popular alternative for lenders. A short sale is where the bank allows a home to be sold for less than the value of the mortgage.The bank takes the loss, but that loss is generally less than a more costly foreclosure.
The short sale is debt forgiveness and debt forgiveness is taxable. In order to help troubled homeowners Congress passed the “Mortgage Forgiveness and Debt Relief Act”. The debt forgiveness from a short sale would no longer be taxable. This act is part of the Bush era tax cuts and is due expire at the end of the year. Without an extension short sales would probably come to a halt as well as mortgage modifications that involve principal reductions.
Realtors believe if the legislation is not extended, households who are already struggling to pay their mortgage will be further burdened with thousands of dollars in additional taxes that they probably can’t afford to pay.
If you would like to speak with one of our Short Sale Specialist, about how this legislation may affect you or your neighbor, please call us at 706-653-1400
Have your Googled yourself to see what information about you is being displayed online? As most people know, the Internet is a great place for doing on-line research for all types of things including PEOPLE. And if someone is searching for a real estate agent, Google is where they start.
According to RealEstate.com, there are 5 imperatives to Maintaining a Positive On-line Reputation. Follow these steps to ensure that your current and potential clients are viewing you and your place of business positively.
1) Research Yourself: Once and a while conduct a search for yourself by entering your name and city in the Google Search Bar and see if the search engine can locate you. Then try entering your name and type “reviews” next to it. Some of the websites, such as yelp.com, allow customers to rate or leave a review about businesses and their employees. If customers posted feedback on you or your business, the reviews should appear.
2) Publish Client Reviews: Make sure you have a space on your website (or company website) that highlights client testimonials. Ask your clients to provide feedback on you, and ask for their permission to publish it. This will improve your organic search results when someone Google’s you or your business in search of reviews (you’ve probably done this when making a purchasing decision for your new laptop). Displaying this on your homepage will help combat any negative reviews (if any) that are posted on other sites (yelp, Yellow Pages, etc).
3) Ask Clients to Review You: This is two fold, to make sure your clients are happy and to make sure your clients voices’ are being heard. Also, if you know your clients frequent other platforms, like yelp.com, or other review sites, ask them to rate their experience with you. Especially when its been a positive one.
4)Stay Current on Social Media: FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google + are all parts of Social Media. Keep your posts and comments current, and provide valuable information to your followers and friends. And ALWAYS respond to questions and posts in a timely manner.
5) Respond to Client Reviews: Not everyone is going to have a positive experience, that’s why it is very important to be proactive when a client has a negative experience and decides to share it with you and others. Responding to their comments in a timely manner, will show you care about your customers and value their input. Also, by being proactive potential clients we see first hand how well you handle a crisis.
Buying a foreclosed property in the state of Georgia is a relatively simple transaction. Georgia is a non judicial foreclosure state. This simply means that when a home owner, who has a loan against their property fails to make the required payment in a timely manner or simply stops making payments, the lender can initiate the foreclosure process. However, this does not usually happen until after the homeowner has been in default for several months, during which time there would be a lot of correspondence from the lender to the homeowner.
The lender can then advertise the property in the local newspaper once a week for four weeks and then auction the property on the court house steps the first Tuesday of the following month. Typically, a number of people attend these sales each month in order to bid on these properties. The highest bid would get the property and must be able to provide cash or certified funds at the time sale. If you have ever attended a foreclosure it is quite an interesting event.
August 17, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — During the month of the 30th Olympiad, housing medaled in several arenas. A few short years ago, housing was considered a headwind to economic recovery. Today, housing is seen as a tailwind to a stalling economy. For the first time since 2005, housing is on track for contributing positively to national GDP in 2012. That can occur either by way of direct residential investment or through remodeling and other ancillary services. Watch for signs of sustained tailwinds in a variety of indicators, including market times, seller concessions, prices and absorption rates.
In July, New Listings in the state of Georgia decreased 9.3 percent to 10,880. Pending Sales were up 28.4 percent to 9,145. Inventory levels shrank 30.9 percent to 46,956 units. Prices moved higher. The Median Sales Price increased 2.3 percent to $116,500. Days on Market was down 16.4 percent to 82 days. The supply-demand balance stabilized as Months Supply of Inventory was down 40.9 percent to 6.4 months.
Sustained recovery will not occur without real employment and wage growth. Consumers must be confident in both the economy and their family finances before signing on the dotted line. Cheap borrowing costs have served as the glue binding things together. Unimaginable a few years ago, the rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage recently ducked below the 3.49 percent marker. Job creation and GDP numbers will garner particular attention this quarter.