Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS
Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS

Jeff's Blog

Timing Couldn't be Better for Buying Real Estate

August 22, 2012 3:06 am

Making an investment in real estate is a smart move, financial experts say, and there’s no better time than the present to buy a home. Because of reasonable prices and record-low interest rates, the National Association of REALTORS® reports its housing-affordability index has risen to the highest level in history.

The median price of a single-family home as of June 2012, the latest month for which figures are available, was $190,100 – down significantly from the market peak of $230,900 in June of 2006, according to NAR. Interest rates for a 30-year mortgage are hovering below 3.6 percent, according to Freddie Mac. The all-time low occurred at the end of July, when the rate dropped to 3.49 percent.

Let’s do the math: If a buyer financed 80 percent of the median price - $152,080 – the monthly nut would be $691. That beats rent any day of the week.

Another benefit of homeownership is tax write-offs. Mortgage payments include interest, which is tax-deductible. Renters can’t deduct a penny out of their monthly payment.

REALTORS® report a healthy supply of homes on the market but say that number will start to rise as prices continue to climb. That’s because homeowners who want to sell have been waiting patiently for the real estate rebound so they can get their asking price, or close to it. As home prices rise, so do listings.

However, excess inventory should be cleaned out by the end of 2013, predicts the institutional-analyst firm Ned Davis Research. Then, housing starts will be on the rise.

All of this is good news for the real estate industry at large and to homebuyers with decent jobs and the ability to obtain a loan. While there always will be risks with homeownership, the benefits far outweigh them.

Source: Waterfront Properties and Club Communities

Published with permission from RISMedia.


New Tips on Managing ADD or ADHD for Parents

August 22, 2012 3:06 am

ADD or ADHD issues often go unexplored and ignored. Sometimes, parents might just think their child is plain old defiant. This is probably true, but the issues surrounding Attention Deficient Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder are a little bit more complex than that.

Some of the behavioral problems such as lack of concentration, forgetfulness, or boredom are symptoms of one of these two conditions. The hyperactivity is more of a problem with teenagers or even adults who have ADHD than for those who have ADD.

Of course, teenagers cannot use their ADD or ADHD as an excuse to misbehave, disrupt class or tell off a parent. They need to be disciplined in order to help them correct their behavior, maybe by thinking about enrolling in an engaging teen treatment center.

Of course, the question that remains is how can ADD and ADHD issues get resolved? What is the best way to train a child who suffers this condition to behave properly?

Here are some tips on how to handle children or teens afflicted with ADD or ADHD:

• Be stern and firm with the child or teen no matter how much the child reacts back. Then, discipline accordingly and always follow through with enforcing consequences of harmful or defiant behavior.

• Give the child structure by giving him or her a schedule. This daily or weekly schedule can include times when chores should be done as well as when homework should be done. Certain blocks of time for breaks or free time could also be added to this schedule.

• Make sure the child or teen is challenged in some way. This is very important because many people think that ADD or ADHD children are just not that intelligent. However, they are often so smart that they become easily bored. Draw out the genius in them and encourage them to always create or learn something new.

• Keep them as busy as possible. If they are busy doing constructive activities such as playing an instrument, creating art work, building a computer, or joining clubs they will stay out of trouble. Schools often provide extracurricular activities that can help resolve ADD or ADHD issues by keeping them occupied.

Source: Eagle Ranch Academy

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Avoid Roof Mishaps

August 22, 2012 3:06 am

Keeping your roof up to par is probably one of the most important things a homeowner can do. Your roof could be considered your home’s biggest investment, and although they only need to be replaced every 20-25 years, it is important to properly maintain your roof to lengthen its life.

Many homeowners don’t realize that their roof requires regular maintenance. Inspecting your roof twice a year, and after any major storm or natural disaster, is a great way to expand the life of your roof, and you don’t need a professional contractor to do this.

Loose, worn or missing shingles is a common roofing issue. Check for and replace loose shingles, or any shingles that look particularly worn—patch faulty shingles with roofing cement, negating room for water leakage.

Cleaning debris buildup is a simple task that can have a major impact. Leaves, branches and other environmental matter can collect on your roof, creating extra weight and making way for water to accumulate and cause leaks. Also be sure to clean out gutters seasonally.

Roof flashing, the galvanized metal or aluminum placed over surface intersections and edges, provides extra protection from weathering. Most major flashing repairs should be left to a professional. However, there are some simple DIY tricks most homeowners can manage, including repairing or replacing bent, loose or rusted nails; replacing crumbled or dry roofing cement, and recaulking.

Major roof repairs can be costly. Make major mishaps less likely and get the most out of your roof by inspecting it twice annually and making any necessary small repairs along the way. While you can conduct most of your inspections yourself, hiring a professional once every few years is a great way to ensure you aren’t missing anything, and elongate the life of your roof.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Back to School Clothing Choices can be More Stressful for Kids with Eczema

August 21, 2012 3:04 am

For the 20% of children with eczema, it is not only how an outfit will look, it is even more important to consider how an outfit will feel in order to avoid exacerbation of the skin. Recent surveys report that up to 80% of people of all ages with moderate-to-severe eczema feel self conscious in groups. Beyond the daily itch, the challenge with many young children is that there can be teasing by those around them, often unintentional as children will often point out what they perceive as different, without the understanding of empathy which often occurs later in their development.

Top ten things that a parent can do to help:

1. Understand ahead of time as much as you can about your child’s eczema, what some of the causes (triggers) are, how to deal with them through medication and equally important, avoidance of triggers when possible.

2. Speak with your child’s teacher and medical staff at the school. Let them know what your concerns are. Does the school use hand sanitizers, art supplies, etc., that your child may react to?

3. Choose clothing carefully, or have your child wear a protective silk eczema underclothing. Even a material against the skin as soft as cotton can look like a thornbush under a microscope. Avoid woolens.

4. Speak to you child and let them know they are not alone. There are a number of websites devoted to children with eczema. The more they understand, the more confident they will be.

5. If any of the triggers are diet related, ensure you know what foods are served at the school, and your child knows what to avoid.

6. Reduce early morning stress. Plan your mornings in advance to reduce the rush. Stress has been proven to increase levels of eczema. Use mattress and pillow encasings at night to block exposure to dust mites.

7. Teach your child to moisturize. There may be a need during the school day for your child to moisturize themselves and often school staff are unable to help. Teach your child proper technique and ensure there is a supply with them at school.

8. If teasing or bullying occurs, deal with it straight away by you or your child reporting to the teacher. It may be quickly resolved by the bully getting a true explanation of eczema, and knowing it is not contagious. If that does not resolve things, it should be treated the same as any other type of bullying.

9. Be prepared for possible days away from school. Having a plan for missed school days and keeping up with schoolwork from home simply makes sense.

10. There are thousands of websites that can provide valuable information. Search out sites that you can share with your child, but ensure that they are well established and credible.

With a bit of planning, speaking with teachers, understanding triggers, and the proper use of prescribed medications, those first few days of school can be a lot easier and happier.

Source: Dermasilk Clothing

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips on Locating the Source of Water Leaks

August 21, 2012 3:04 am

Water damage almost always presents itself in a uniquely identifiable way. Ceilings and drywall may stain, swell, or soften. Telltale lines may exist demonstrating where water ran down or across a given surface area. Even dried out locations where water once was will provide clear evidence of a water damage problem, such as circular stains or discolorations.

As with any case of water damage, the key is to find the source of the water problem and shut it off, plug it, or repair it in order to prevent any more water from coming in. Repairs serve very little purpose if the door remains open for water to continue to have access.

If there is condensation on the windows or doors, that is a clear sign that the seals have failed. These will need to be replaced in order to stop the leak. Window replacements vary when it comes to cost, but high quality double paned windows are preferred in order to keep the problem from recurring.

Stains on the ceiling are a clear indication that the roof has failed somewhere. However, the mistake that is most commonly made is thinking that the leak must be directly above the ceiling stain. This is many times not the case, since water may run along wooden beams or pipes for a considerable distance before flowing downward. It becomes necessary to go into the attic or upper crawlspaces and check the roof interior thoroughly for signs of leakage. If the light from outside is visible through the roof, that is one clear sign, but many times it may not be so obvious. Look instead for striations or other signs that water has run across a surface and trace the leak back to its source.

Overflowing gutter systems may also be a source of water leaks in the home. If a search of the roof does not turn up any signs of damage, the gutters should be checked to make sure they are unclogged and channeling water in the right direction. Overflowing gutters can send water down the sides of the exterior walls where it may gain access to the interior.

Leaks around appliances may almost always be traced back to the supply hoses running to or from the unit. Old or worn hoses should be replaced in favor of newer steel braided hoses, which are more expensive but also less prone to leak problems.

Source: Restoration Local

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Selling Your Vacant Home

August 21, 2012 3:04 am

Selling a vacant home can be challenging. Empty homes lack character and warmth, and can sometimes seem oddly eerie. So how do you make sure your vacant home sells? Here are a few tips that can make the process go by quicker, all while keeping your home at a high selling price.

Sweat the small stuff. Once furniture is removed from a space, even the slightest imperfections become apparent. Spend extra time fixing up any noticeable damages, repainting and caulking, getting new carpets, pressure washing and fixing up anything in need of repair.

Air it out. It’s amazing how quickly an empty house can begin smelling stale and musty. Before a showing, throw open windows and doors to allow for fresh circulation, and consider some mildly scented candles or air fresheners.

Amp curb appeal. Since the house may be lacking inside in terms of character, make sure the exterior packs a punch. Not only should you clear clutter and debris from your yard, keep grass neat and repair those broken fence posts, but you should also consider planting new flowerbeds, upgrading that tired front walk or even hiring a landscaper.

Consider staging. Even if you have moved all your furniture out, you may want to consider hiring a staging company that offers furniture rental. These professionals can make an empty space into a scene of warmth and comfort. Potential buyers are not just looking for a roof over their head. They are looking for a place to start a new chapter in their life. You want to show them everything your property has to offer. Since vacant homes often sell for considerably less—typically 15-20 percent lower than the asking price—hiring a staging company is usually a solid investment.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Fashion Dos and Don'ts of Back to School Style

August 20, 2012 3:02 am

Long gone are the days of awkward haircuts and uncomfortable first-day-of-school outfits., a private sales site for kids’ clothing, offers the following tips for parents as they get ready to dress their little ones for the first day:
  • DON'T make them wear anything too matching, whether it's a boldly patterned top and bottom paired together, or the matching licensed character ensemble. Or even worse, matching with their siblings…
  • DO leave the blankie at home. It's okay to tell your child to leave their favorite stuffed animal behind. One day they'll thank you for it!
  • DON'T get too fussy over their outfits. Leave the fancy dresses and vests at home—we all know arts and crafts time and the leftover lunch ends up smeared everywhere.
  • DON'T ever forget a kid's greatest accessory—their smile!
  • DO remember that what was considered cute when they were sitting in high-chairs and strollers may not be quite as adorable now. Look at them head off to school with the other kids—they're growing up!
  • DON'T let them leave without a hug and kiss! They may seem too cool for plastic lunchboxes or Velcro sneakers, but don't let them forget that Mom and Dad never go out of style.
  • DO your research and buy this year's hottest accessories in advance. Last minute shopping always leaves your kids with oddly colored and patterned backpacks, notebooks, pencil pouches and such. Shopping beforehand also ensures that you won't forget the necessities.
  • DON'T overdo the hairdo. Go back to the basics with girls and try some wavy curls, soft and patterned headbands, ponytail or bun. Meanwhile, test out rock n' trendy 'dos with the boys—the classmates will love a mild faux-hawk but hate the bowl cut.
Source: Totsy

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Apartment Firms Staff Up to Meet New Rental Demand

August 20, 2012 3:02 am

Reflecting the growing demand for apartment homes, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of multifamily firms grew their staff last year and 62 percent increased their merit bonus pool, according to the National Multi Housing Council's (NMHC) 2012 Apartment Compensation Survey. The annual survey, based upon the data of over 50,000 employees at 93 major apartment firms, provides detailed analysis of industry hiring practices - including salary, variable pay and total compensation of nearly 100 industry positions.

Firms that added staff increased their total number of employees by an average of 11 percent, with maintenance, leasing and property management positions being in the highest demand. These same positions were also most likely to receive a salary increase, typically three percent. Overall, 81 percent of firms reported an increase in their total compensation budgets.

The uptick in hiring comes on the heels of a strengthening multifamily market. Over three quarters (77 percent) of firms rated their financial performance better in 2011 than 2010, and 78 percent expect 2012 to improve further. The optimism also feeds into projected 2013 budgets, as 69 percent expect their merit budgets to grow next year.

Additional survey findings:
  • The staff turnover rate was a steady 30 percent in 2011 and 31 percent over the three-year period of 2009-2011.
  • In addition to salary, bonus and health benefits, 53 percent of apartment firms offered a wellness program, nearly half (49 percent) of firms allowed telecommuting and 23 percent provided a flexible hours program.
  • More than 60 percent of firms offered education assistance to various staff, and more than 74 percent offered housing discounts to on-site property management or maintenance staff.
Source: National Multi Housing Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Housing and Manufacturing Adding Momentum to US Recovery

August 20, 2012 3:02 am

While the U.S. economy continues to face an uphill recovery, a variety of sectors are witnessing significant growth, according to the Fall Outlook for Financial Markets report by Harris Private Bank, a part of BMO Financial Group.

The report revealed that in the second quarter of 2012, the U.S. economy slowed to an annualized 1.5 percent growth rate – down from a 2.0 percent pace in the previous quarter. However, there were some positive indicators:
  • The housing sector continued to stabilize as a result of low interest rates and early recognition of troubled loans.
  • The manufacturing sector made gains through inventory building, rather than user demand, focusing on stock as current inventory levels are below historic norms.
Overall, incomes in the U.S. rose 0.5 percent, pushing the nation's savings rate to 4.4 percent as consumer spending stagnated.

The report also noted that the U.S. is not alone in its economic challenges, with China, India, Brazil and Europe all facing issues. The U.S. Treasury's benchmark 10-year note closed July at an all-time low yield of 1.47 percent, and sovereign bonds in perceived havens such as Germany, Austria, Finland and Japan all reported 10-year yields below 1.5 percent.

In the Eurozone – despite policymakers' best intentions – bond yields in Spain and Italy remain at crisis levels, which could make a bailout necessary in both countries. Meanwhile, China and India posted slowed growth results in the last quarter; Brazil also stalled in the face of its stronger currency.

In the energy and commodity sectors, widespread declines caused profits to decrease more than 15 percent; basic materials companies witnessed a profit setback of nearly 19 percent. However, the report noted that reported growth in the U.S. should pick up once lower energy and commodity input costs filter into third quarter income statements.

The S&P 500 benchmark index gained nearly 12 percent in 2012; however, foreign markets have had less positive results. The MSCI EAFE index of advanced economy stocks gained approximately five percent this year, while emerging market equities have seen growth of slightly more than six percent for the year.

Source: Harris Private Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Consumers Anticipate Spending More Money on Electronics for Back-to-School Shopping This Year

August 16, 2012 2:54 am

According to a recent study, one-in-four shoppers indicated a plan to purchase tablets and 28 percent plan on buying laptops while shopping for back-to-school items. Forty percent of people expect to buy computer accessories and another 23 percent plan to pick up smartphones. The survey also found that 36 percent of shoppers expect to spend more money on consumer electronics this year for back-to-school necessities than last.

Surveyed consumers anticipate spending more money on electronics and computers this year because tech gadgets have become increasingly critical to the learning process. Consumers have demonstrated they are getting the most for their money by turning to online shopping and coupon codes in search of the best deals available.

The survey results indicate that 75 percent of consumers may plan to purchase a PC laptop over a Mac. Thirty-seven percent of consumers who may plan to purchase a tablet anticipate buying an iPad compared to 22 percent of those expecting to buy a Google Nexus and 14 percent, a Kindle Fire. Of the consumers planning to purchase a tablet, 14 percent said they would be using it as their primary device in place of a desktop or laptop, an interesting statistic given the current tablet-versus-laptop war.


Published with permission from RISMedia.