May 28, 2012

My second grandchild is on the way.  Her name will be Maggie Ellis Andrews and she will be here in October.  I hope I can be the kind of Grandmother that mine were to me.  My granny on my paternal side of the family passed away when I was twelve.  I spent a lot of time with her.  What I remember most about her was spending time at her home in Clayton, AL.  Pink floral wallpaper in one room, purple in another and gold in the other.  Crushed velvet bedspreads, pomegranate tree, scuppernong trellis with plastic snakes to keep the birds away, a big red barn with wild kittens and a big German Shepherd named Rusty.  I always wondered why she had gallons and gallons of water and loads of food stored in her basement.  I discovered when she passed away that she was of the Mormon faith and for whatever reason I didn’t have a clue about it until that time.  My dad and his brothers were raised Methodist since their father was Methodist.  I suppose being a Mormon in South Alabama was a rarity.  She had a floral shop in her front yard.  She would give me a nickel and I would go across the driveway to a little country store and buy gum and one of those cookies out of a jar on the counter.  Can’t remember the name of them, but do remember they were really tasty.  My maternal grandmother was affectionately  called Mama Greene.  She was around much longer and passed away in 1997 when I was 34.  She was one of the sweetest women I’ve known.  Loving all of us just as we were.  Never judging or criticizing.  I like to remember her for her fabulous vegetable soup she canned each year, her beautiful daylillies and shrimp plants.  She loved to garden but mostly she loved to quilt and be with her family.  I spent the night with her on the night of my first date with my husband.  I came in WAY too late and she layed in the bed with me and I told her I was going to marry him.  She laughed.  She loved my husband just like her own grandchildren.  I hope my grandson Caleb and his new little sister, Maggie, will remember me fondly and I’ll be able to create beautiful memories for them to share as they grow up.



Giving their all

May 28, 2012

I never served in the military and have had few members of my immediate family serve, but I know many friends that did or are serving now.  I can’t imagine the stress they and their families endure when their loved ones leave for a tour of duty.  I attended the Montgomery Symphony performance Friday night on the grounds of the Archives and History Building across from the state capital.  What a great way to show our patriotism.  As I sat there listening to the beautiful music with friends I reflected on the incredible sacrifice our nation has given in order to be free to worship, work, live and play.  I’m a perfect example of opportunity.  Having obtained my real estate license in 2002, who would have ever thought my success would have helped me to achieve where I am today.  Working as an Independent Contractor for 5 years and then becoming Broker of the same company.  I’m grateful for my job, the rewards of my work, great friends, a supportive family and a company that stands behind me allowing me to grow.  Wishing everyone a safe and fun day this Memorial Day holiday and hope you will take time to reflect on things you are thankful for.  God bless America!

Protect Yourself

May 28, 2012

Home is a place you should feel safe and secure. Sometimes, we take it for granted and unfortunately, we do need to remain vigilant about things we do that could compromise our well-being. Here are a few tips you might want to consider.

  1. Everyone loves an inviting home including burglars. Make sure it looks occupied and is difficult to break in.
    • Always lock outside doors and windows even if you’re gone only a short time.
    • Leave lights on when you leave. Consider timers to automatically control the lights.
    • Keep your garage door closed even when you’re home; don’t tempt thieves with what you have in your garage.
    • Suspend your mail and newspaper delivery when you’re out of town or get a neighbor to pick it up for you.
  2. Posting that you’re out of town or away from home on social networks is like advertising your home is unprotected.
  3. Equally dangerous could be allowing certain social network sites to track your location.
  4. Don’t leave keys under doormats, in flowerpots or the plastic rocks; thieves know about those hiding places and even more than you can think.
  5. Trim the shrubs from around your home; don’t give criminals a place to hide.

The benefits of buyer’s pre-approval are without question; it is good for the buyers, the sellers and the agents. It saves time, money and removes the uncertainty of knowing whether the buyer is qualified. The direct benefits include:

  • Amount the buyer can borrow decreases as interest rates rise
  • Looking at “Right” homes – price, size, amenities, location
  • Find the best loan – rate, term, type
  • Uncover credit issues early – time to cure possible problems
  • Bargaining power – price, terms, & timing
  • Close quicker – verifications have been made

There a big difference in sitting down with a trusted mortgage professional compared to going through calculators on a website. The cost of being pre-approved is a bargain and generally, limited to the cost of the credit report.

Even if you have been pre-approved, a suggestion that can’t hurt but may help is to get a second opinion from a different lender. It will either verify that you have a good deal or you’ll discover that you can improve it. Either way, it works to your advantage. Contact me if you’d like a recommendation.

Just a thought

May 14, 2012

Whether you’re refinancing your current home or buying a new one, something worth considering is a 15 year loan rather than a 30 year term. The payments will be a little higher but you’ll get a lower interest rate and you’ll build equity much faster.

Let’s look at an example of a $200,000 mortgage with the choice of a 30 year term with a 3.75% rate compared to a 15 year term with a 2.875% rate. The payments would be $442.94 higher on the shorter term but the equity would be considerably higher even after you adjust for the higher payments.

Another benefit is that the shorter term loan creates a forced savings situation where the savings on a longer term loan might end up being spent rather than being saved and invested. Contact me if you’d like a recommendation of a trusted lender.

“Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible…for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.”
Judge Learned Hand

This opinion refers to federal income tax but the logic and spirit can easily be applied to any tax including property tax. Most property tax is based on a valuation called an assessment placed on the property by a government taxing authority.

When property values rise due to appreciation, the assessments usually rise. However, when values decline as they have done in many areas in the past few years, the assessments should follow accordingly.

If you don’t believe your assessment reflects market value, put together proof to support your position. Recent comparable sales, similar in size, condition and location are very persuasive. Check to see if the square footage on the assessment is accurate. If the home is not in good condition, take pictures to show that.

As your real estate professional, I can supply the comparables, filing deadlines and other pertinent information needed to make a challenge. Lowering your assessment will result in lower property taxes and more money in your pocket.

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