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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Top 10 Ways to Sell Your House in a Slow Market

Author: Susan Bicksler | Posted: 24-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 1 | Got a Question? Ask.
The current real estate market in most areas of the U.S. has stalled, with no dramatic upswing in sight. At the same time, there are sales being made because people still need to re-locate for a job or have health issues, they may want to down size or are ready to become a first time homebuyer. With such a high inventory of single family homes and condominiums on the market, here's what you can do to get ahead of the curve and actually sell your home within a reasonable length of time.

#1 Beat your competition on price. Research what similar homes have recently sold for (not what they listed for) in your neighborhood and undercut by at least a few hundred dollars to start. A real estate sales associate can easily get you those sales figures. Indicate you are willing to negotiate.

#2 Assess your home's negative points with a critical eye and make repairs. Fix leaky faucets, replace broken or cracked windows, tighten screws on loose cupboard doors, nail down squeaking floorboards, put fresh caulk around the tub or shower, fill in nail holes or cracks in wall board and repaint, replace worn out window coverings or shades that don't work.

#3 Update and get with the times. Get a couple of gallons of paint in a soft or neutral color and go to work on those walls and trim. Replace those clunky, noisy ceiling fans with modern models. New faucets and showerheads will add sparkle. Change out worn (or missing) cupboard and drawer knobs. If your budget will allow, replace that old burner-top stove, ancient refrigerator, and worn out dishwasher. You don't necessarily need to do a total makeover, but if you have orange, shag carpet in the living room I would seriously recommend installing a new, inexpensive carpet and pad!

#4 Use soap, water, and elbow grease. It's a big turn off for potential buyers when there is visible dirt and grime and it can indicate that the seller has let other issues slide on the house as well. Mop floors and apply a good grout cleaner in tiled areas. Look for dirt and smudges on door trim and handles, dust furniture, vacuum floors and rugs and sweep down stairs. Clean out sink, tub, and shower drains, remove soap scum from bathroom walls, wash or replace shower curtains. Get on a stepladder and clean accumulated dust and dirt from ceiling fan blades, clean the oven, remove old food and wash inside of refrigerator. Replace air filters and wash all the windows inside and out!

#5 Do the Sniff Test. After being outside and coming into your house, how does it smell? Are there any obnoxious odors, such as wet dog, fish aquarium, birdcage, cigarette or cigar smoke, old garbage, gym clothes, stinky sneakers, mildew, or strong food odors from last night's meal? If so, thoroughly clean offensive areas and dispose of stinky articles. It may be necessary to wash down and repaint walls and replace old curtains and carpet if the smoke smell is overpowering.

#6 De-Clutter! We're all guilty of hoarding too much stuff. Getting ready to list your home is a great time to get a clean slate. Give away whatever you can to friends or relatives, or have a yard sale. Don't forget there are any number of organizations that would welcome donations of your unused or extra appliances, clothes, knick-knacks, outgrown baby items, sports equipment, tools and other household goods. Local libraries will take books. Habitat for Humanity will take certain items that can be used for construction. Look for their number in the phone book.

#7 Don't overstuff rooms, closets, or the garage. Make it easy to navigate through your house, even if it means rearranging furniture or removing a couple of overstuffed chairs. A small closet will look much larger if it's not jammed with everything under the sun. Just have essential items on hangers or neatly stacked and pack up or dispose of the rest. In the garage, what can't be thrown out can at least be stored or stacked in an orderly fashion.

#8 Remove distractions. Potential buyers should be looking at your house with intent to buy, not admiring your baseball collection, asking about the antique gun hanging on the wall, eyeballing risque posters in the bedroom, oooing and ahhing over the doll collection or the 9 x 10 glossy signed by Elvis.

#9 Don't forget the all-important Curb Appeal. Ever drive up to a house hidden beneath hanging tree branches, knee-high weeds, large, worn spots in the lawn, rusty toys strewn about, an old tire with a dog chained up, a broken down swing set or a junk car in the drive? How about the swimming pool water that's turned olive green? Trust me; that eyesore is not going to lure many serious buyers. It may, however, elicit ridiculously lowball offers from salivating investors.

#10 Market your listing every way you can. The more people that are aware your house is for sale, the more likely you will get interested buyers and a sale. Tell everyone you know. If allowed in your neighborhood, place a For Sale sign in your yard. But, be sure to have professional looking flyers attached, describing the good points. Real estate brokers can provide extensive advertising and marketing. They utilize computer multiple listing systems, ads in newspapers and magazines, agent pre-views, Internet web sites, email to other agents, etc. Post cards can also be mailed throughout the neighborhood announcing your listing. A well-planned Open House can also be effective.

Adverse Credit Unsecured Loans – Make a New Buigining

Author: Anton Gabriel | Posted: 24-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 1 | Got a Question? Ask.

Adverse Credit Unsecured Loans may have become a little easier to avail because of growing competition in the loan business. Still, you must not forget the fact that the very loan may result in new debts and its consequences may be unbearable. Therefore, go well prepared for these loans and keep your circumstances and requirements in mind.

These loans take in their fold all those people, who made late payments in the past, had arrears, defaulted on payments and had CCJs. Such people have few or multiple such problems. Certainly, these borrowers carry high risks. Hence, before approving a particular amount of loan, the lenders go through the earnings and overall repayment capability of the borrowers.

Under these loans, you can borrow up to £25000, depending on your repayment ability. You can use the loan for home improvements, debt consolidation, wedding, holiday tour, car purchasing etc. some people take out these loan for sole purpose of improving their credit rating on repaying the loan installments on time. The loan repayment duration ranges up to 15 years.

Because of your blemished history, adverse credit unsecured loans are costly, as the lenders tend to charge interest at higher rate. If the borrower’s FICO score has slumped to low level of say below 530, then the rate will go even higher. Therefore, keep the interest rate in mind while borrowing the money. Your focus should be over easier repayment of the loan.

Due to tough competition in the loan business, you can avail adverse credit unsecured loans at competitive rates. Apply for the rate quotes to make the comparison. You should also look for the loan offers of less additional fee charges for making the loan availing less costly. Repay the loan installments on regular basis for rapid improvements in your rating.

The Various Kinds of Mortgages

Author: Jason Jones | Posted: 23-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 2 | Got a Question? Ask.

If you are looking to buy your own home you need to get a mortgage to finance the deal. A mortgage is a type of loan that is usually spread over 25 years, although shorter and longer term mortgages are available. This loan then is repaid in monthly instalments which are arranged by whoever a person takes their mortgage out with. The house is yours as soon as you have your mortgage in place, however once your final instalment has been paid you will then get the deeds to your house. This means that you legally own the house outright.
Why are there so many types of mortgages?
There are various types of mortgages such as repayment, interest only, endowments and bad credit mortgages. Depending on your circumstances you will get a mortgage to suit yourself. There is no right or wrong mortgage and what is good for one person is bad for another, it is down to the individual to decide what is the best for them.
Different types of mortgages
There are many different kinds of mortgages and here are some of them on the market..
• 100% mortgage – these are mortgages where the lender gives the borrower the entire amount of the house, this is good if you have no money to put down. As well as 100% mortgages there are also 75%, 80% and 90% ones. The plus points of a 100% mortgage is that you don’t need to provide a deposit, however as you are borrowing 100% of the cost of the house you may find that the repayment term is longer and the payments are higher.
• Capped – this is where the monthly mortgage amount is capped at a certain price. If the interest goes above this price you will still only pay the capped amount, and if it falls you pay less. A capped mortgage is a very good if you want to know exactly how much you will be paying for your mortgage each month. However, there are not many lenders who will offer this type of mortgage.
• Endowment mortgages – this type of mortgage pays off the interest on the loan and is supposed to pay out a lump sum at the end of the loan period which should be enough to pay off the outstanding balance. Unfortunately this rarely happens and as a result these are not very popular today.
• Repayment mortgages – these are one of the most popular kinds of mortgage. With a repayment mortgage the interest and capital is paid off with a person’s monthly mortgage payments. This means that at the end of the loan the house being mortgaged will belong to the person who has taken out the mortgage. Repayment mortgages are ideal if you want to pay off your mortgage in full within a given timescale. Payments on these however can be higher than other mortgages.
• Bad credit, or sub prime mortgages – if a person has a bad credit score such mortgages may be their only option. Sub prime mortgages are becoming more commonplace today as the number of people with a bad credit score is increasing. Plus points for bad credit or sub prime mortgages are that they enable people who may have had a difficult time financially get on the property ladder. As a result though the payments will be high and so will the interest rate as borrowers are classed as being a risk. If the payments are made on time it is possible after a while to switch to a better mortgage.
With so many types of mortgages available it really is wise to do as much research into them as possible before opting for any particular one.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Using a Debt Consolidation Program to Help you Out of your Financial Jam

Author: Jon Arnold | Posted: 22-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 1 | Got a Question? Ask.

You don't want to think about debt consolidation. Sometimes debt can catch up with you before you even realize it has been chasing you for a long time. Most people do not intentionally dig themselves into a debt pit. But sometimes the financial obligations can be overwhelming to the point where you need to look at the best options to get back on track.

In fact, the majority of consumers in the US who find themselves with more debt obligations every month than they have income have found themselves in that position due to no real fault of their own, at least not directly. Most people find themselves in this very undesirable place due to circumstances outside of their direct control, such as a divorce, a job layoff, very high medical bills, and similar things that they have little to no control over.

But the reality of it is that sometimes you have no choice and need to keep yourself afloat financially. Typically, this period of hardship is hopefully a temporary one, where you just need to be able to weather this temporary setback until you can get back on your financial feet.

Seriously consider a good debt consolidation program. This is also applicable to new college grads that have a ton of student debt, where the same company can usually provide a student bill consolidation to accomplish the same purpose. A debt consolidation program is much better than taking out a personal loan, because with a personal loan you are simply digging your hole deeper, which is not the direction you want to go. Bankruptcy is probably not your best option either, since the long term negative effects of bankruptcy will haunt you for the next 7 to 10 years via a huge blemish on your credit report.

But be aware of what a debt consolidation company does and what they don't do. They do not pay off your debt all at once. You turn your bills over to them and then you make payments to them every month. They work with your creditors to lower each of your payments and reduce your interest. So if you had say $3000 a month going out before to satisfy your monthly bills, the bill consolidation company might be able to reduce that to perhaps under $2000 a month, giving you the financial breathing room you need right now.

These companies are very experienced in doing this, and can frequently also reduce or sometimes even waive the accrued interest that has built up on some of your outstanding financial obligations. This aspect in itself can save you a ton of money.

Another huge benefit to you is that you only need to make ONE payment each month, which is to the consolidation company. Compare this to making separate payments to 10, 15, 20 or more different creditors each month at different times of the month.

Seriously consider a debt consolidation program to help you out of your current jam. It's nothing to be embarrassed about and can put you back on the right track from a personal finance aspect.

Buy Repossessed Cars Wisely – Where and How

Author: Davion W | Posted: 22-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 3 | Got a Question? Ask.

You may be inspired by profits individual car dealers make, want to flaunt driving a posh or rare model, or simply have a tight budget that doesn’t allow you to purchase a new car – in any case, information on where and how to buy repossessed cars is the answer to your needs.

Daily, vehicles of all models and conditions get repossessed by financial and government agencies from those individuals who failed to pay back their mortgage or loan. These repossessed vehicles then become the property of the lending institutions, their idle assets. Not willing to bear expenses on the autos’ maintenance, the institutions tend to get rid of them as soon as possible in order to recover at least a part of their price. So, they are more than happy to sell them off at repossessed car auctions, sometimes as low as mere 10-20% of the vehicle’s market value.

Although repossessed cars are very similar to seized cars, the latter are often taken from criminals and therefore, there is a greater chance of them having defects. At the same time, you can buy a repossessed car in a well-maintained or nearly new condition in most cases.

Locating a repossessed car auction in your area is the first step to owning a vehicle of your dream. This can require a lot of patience and dedication, since you will have to scan local and national newspapers, contact auction companies and banks, make online research for possible auction announcements, etc.

To make things faster and easier, however, you can use online auction directories. They normally charge a small fee for their services, but since you are granted up-to-date and comprehensive information at a few mouse clicks, it is totally worth it. You really can’t afford wasting time if you want to buy a repossessed car at a fantastic price.

If you have never participated in auctions before, it may turn out to be handy to have somebody experienced along with you. Make sure to assess the condition of the cars as well as their estimated value before the auction starts. Be practical and set a certain price limit for each of the cars you are interested in, otherwise you can easily get involved in a bidding war and eventually raise the price to unreasonable heights.

If you are determined to buy a repossessed car that is really cheap, be ready to lose the auction and let a lot of vehicles go off your hands. View every auction you take part in as a learning platform, an opportunity to master your bidding skills. To buy a repossessed car is no big deal, but to buy it wisely and eventually save tons of money is definitely an achievement.

To find out more information, check out my auto blog below.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Before you Cash Out, Catch Up on Choices

Author: Daniel J Wansten | Posted: 20-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 1 | Got a Question? Ask.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - There's a growing trend with U.S. workers who change jobs - they're cashing out their retirement accounts. A recent survey of 401(k) participants, done by Hewitt and Associates, shows that about half of employees that leave their jobs choose to cash out their 401(k) plans instead of rolling them over. This trend might seem harmless at the time, but it can jeopardize future retirement.

There are several reasons why people are choosing to cash out now, instead of saving the money for retirement. A common reason might be the increase of health insurance premiums. People aren't used to paying several hundred dollars a month to insure their families. Insurance costs combined with a loss in stock value or other investments; make people feel the need for extra money now. They also believe that they'll make up for it down the road. Many people would rather pay penalties and taxes than wait for a larger return. The rising value of real estate has people believing the value of their homes will replace retirement savings. And it's true that a lot of money can be tied up in real estate, but it shouldn't be your only source for retirement savings.

People need to look at what they will lose by cashing out. You have to pay income taxes on the withdrawal, which could end up putting you in a higher tax bracket. Plus, there's a 10 percent penalty if you're under age 59½ and more importantly, you give up years of tax-deferred compounding. With longer life expectancies, you're going to need enough savings to cover long-term health care. After you look at what you're going to lose, look at why. Is it because you need the money to pay off high interest credit card bills or is it because you don't want to go through the hassle of transferring the money to another account? To avoid regret, you should look at all your choices before making a decision.

Choice #1: Rollover into an IRA - You won't be limited by the investment options in a new employer's plan and you can take distributions from the IRA without penalties under certain circumstances. In short, you'll retain the ability to borrow from the account.

Choice #2 : Rollover into New Employer's 401(k) - Not all companies allow such rollovers. But if you like the plan, the rollover will allow you to consolidate your savings in one place.

Choice #3: Rollover a Portion - It doesn't have to be all or nothing. This can be a great option for those that need money now, but realize they will also need it later.

Choice #4: Liquidate - If it's really going to improve your life, then it can be a viable option. But there's a difference between life and lifestyle. Be careful to distinguish between the two.

We all have trouble saving money, but everyone can do it if they have a plan. If you're unsure about what you should do with your 401(k) or retirement plan, seek the advice of a financial professional you trust. The initial consultation is usually free.

Panama Banks: Safe, Secure, Stable

Author: Earnest Leibermanso | Posted: 21-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 2 | Got a Question? Ask.
Panama was once listed as a "non cooperative tax haven" but the small country has worked hard to shed itself of that rogue image. If you are interested in a Panama bank, you should educate yourself about the policies, procedures, risks and benefits involved in doing business with a Panama bank.

Panama has recently tightened its anti-money laundering laws and has created a banking system that is extremely private and highly competitive, but it is monitored well by the international offshore banking community. Doing business with a bank in Panama is generally hassle free. You can rest assured that your assets are being managed in a reputable and safe banking jurisdiction.

Before the major reforms of the mid 1990s, Panama was home to over 150 offshore banks, but that number has been trimmed to around 80 banks. The remaining banks must adhere to strict banking and privacy regulations while at the same time ensuring that illegal activities are not allowed to happen.

Banks in Panama have many advantages over banks in other offshore jurisdictions. The only type of monies that are taxable in the Republic of Panama are those that are generated outside of the country. If you choose to incorporate your business in Panama, but you decide to conduct your business elsewhere, you can deposit all of your assets and earning into your Panama bank without being responsible for paying local taxes on your money.

Panama banks offer many banking services for the banking client that requires a number of different options for their business. There are three types of accounts that you can get at a Panama bank including; merchant accounts, personal accounts and business accounts.

Non-resident Panama bank customers can have Internet account access set up by the bank's management in order to access any necessary account information and in order to transfer funds to and from your Panama bank. It is also easy to apply for and receive a debit, ATM or credit card from a Panama bank to make access to your money even easier.

The majority of banks in Panama require that their potential customers have an initial minimum deposit which can be as low as $1000 USD. Many banks also require that each account must maintain a minimum balance in order to avoid costly fees.

If you decide that a Panama bank is for you, you are able to choose many options. You can open a personal account or you can takes steps to incorporate an IBC or an offshore company. Be prepared to show your personal information and verify your identity by providing a notarized copy of your passport, reference letters and a drivers license or equivalent photo id.

Only you can decide if opening one of the many available accounts at a Panama bank is for you, but you can rest assured that Panama is no longer the place for shady business dealings. The Panama bank system has been cleaned up and offers savvy customers the opportunity to keep their money in a safe account while watching it grow with little tax burden.

Credit Freeze, Fraud and you

Author: Liz Roberts | Posted: 20-02-2008 | Comments: 0 | Views: 2 | Got a Question? Ask.

What is a credit freeze and what makes it different from credit fraud alert? The credit freeze was first introduced in California in 2003. Today, however, a credit freeze can be done in all 38 States and can be requested from any of the three major credit bureaus- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Once a consumer puts a freeze on his credit , no lender, insurer, employer or anyone else can make an inquiry or request on his credit report. The fact is, not even you, can look into your credit report unless you order the credit bureau to "unfreeze" or "thaw" your credit.

Unlike a credit fraud alert which only lasts for up to 90 days, a credit freeze will last for as long as the owner of the report doesn't request that his report be thawed. Therefore, if you want to apply for a new credit card or you plan to get a loan, you need to notify the credit bureau in advance to get the freeze be lifted.

The unfreezing of the credit report can take from within minutes or up to a week, depending on the State or the credit bureau issuing the report. You have the option to choose whether you want to unfreeze your credit report permanently or for just a limited time period. Also, within this period, you can limit the list of people who can look in your report.

Why Freeze your Credit

Putting your credit report on a freeze definitely gives you more protection from identity theft or fraud. Going through the procedures of freezing and unfreezing and paying a certain amount, usually about $10 each time is definitely worth spending your money on rather than risk being victimized by ID theft or fraud.

How do you ask for a credit freeze?

A fraud alert can be done by phone but if you want to freeze your report, you need to send a letter of request to the credit bureau via registered mail. Generally, at least two proofs of residency such as a billing statement or a copy of your driver's license is required. The cost for a credit freeze ranges from $10 to $12. Unfreezing or thawing will also cost you about $10 to $12 for each bureau.

More Credit Precautions

But aside from putting your credit report on a freeze, what other steps can you do on your own? Here are valuable tips you should not overlook:

* Shred all receipts, past billing statements, and old documents that contain your bank information or any of your personal details on it. If you don't have shredder, tear the document into tiny bits and throw the pieces in separate trash bins.

* Don't write your bank information, credit card numbers, PIN codes or passwords on just any sheet of paper. Keep all these important details in one log book and keep it in a secured place or a locked storage.

* If you want to use your credit card for shopping online, ask your credit card company for a different credit card number that you can use exclusively for online transactions.

* Access your online account regularly. Most credit cards today provide an online account service where you can check the status of your account over the internet at any time. Thus, you don't have to go out of your way to visit your local bank to update yourself. It takes only five minutes at most to access your account from your computer.

* Sign up for your credit card's fraud protection service. Some credit cards provide this feature automatically but if your credit card doesn't, it's a good idea to sign up. This service will give a quicker response from your credit card issuer in case your wallet or your credit card gets stolen.

* If you need to get in touch with an agent from any of three credit bureaus- Experian, Equifax or Trans Union- by phone, visit to access the latest contact numbers where you can speak with a human representative from the credit bureaus and not just a recorded message.


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