Archive for the ‘Hiring Services’ Category
This month, I was invited to preview the Lake Forest Showhouse, an annual tradition sponsored by the Infant Welfare Society. In all its grandeur, the Lake Forest home designed by renowned architect, David Adler, contained an endless supply of beautiful and innovative designs provided by interior designers, landscape architects and suppliers of every kind of product for the home you can imagine.
With 7-10,000 visitors expected over these few weeks, (ending May 19) the $40 ticket prices raise considerable funds for a charity that does good things for so many. Many other organizations are jumping in to offer showhouses, hoping to get the same turn out as the Infant Welfare Society Showhouse events.
SHOWHOUSES OFFER CHANCE TO GIVE BACK AND PROVIDE TARGET MARKETING CAMPAIGN
I asked Farrow & Ball, a high-end paint and wallpaper company from England why they have participated as a supplier, donating so much time and thousands of dollars in gorgeous paint and papers, and they responded: “It is a relevant way for Farrow & Ball to be of service in their local Chicago community while reaching an audience who is interested in their product.”
INTERIOR DESIGNERS OFFER SOURCES AT SHOWCASES
Most decorators offer the names of the pieces they are showing at these showhouses, so viewers can get ideas and maybe even shop by themselves. Usually, there is a caveat. You need to have a pass at a design center to shop for many of the pieces showcased in the home. Still, the donation to charity and the ability to walk through your dream home may be just the perfect outing for anyone looking for the most unusual ideas for their home. With some homes having more than 30 designers showing off their interior design skills, you can compare the work of these artists and use this as a chance to hire the best designer for your own home.
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Photo credits: Farrow & Ball
DOWNSIZING OR REFURNISHING? DONATE YOUR FURNITURE TO THOSE IN NEED
There is a wonderful way to improve other lives while improving your home. The Furniture Bank has 70 locations throughout the country, picking up furniture from your home or store and delivering it to those in need. With more than 1 million homeless in America, gently used furniture donations are greatly needed to provide comfort to seniors, battered women, the unemployed and students.
The Furniture Bank works with donators and the recipients of some very functional furniture. A side benefit of donating furniture is being able to write off furniture donations from taxes. You may also wish to send a check to the Furniture Bank.
Some local furniture stores are even offering discounts of up to 10% if they work with a local furniture bank to donate furniture. Ask your local furniture store.
How to Donate Furniture if You are a Homeowner
Visit www.furniturebank.org to find one of the 70 locations for pickup across the United States. Each furniture bank operates independently and decides which items they are willing to take. Large items like beds, sofas, dressers and lamps are all functional pieces that families starting over need.
Donate Furniture if you Own a Hotel or Other Business
Businesses can reap the benefits of donating gently used furniture. Many banks will pick up the furniture even two or three hours away.
Why not help someone else in the coming year? Visit www.furniturebank.org
CAR RENTAL COMPANIES HAVE INCONSISTENT BILLING PRACTICES
Though I typically don’t have a need to rent cars, I did so recently on a few different trips. My experience with Budget made me want to never rent another car again, and this isn’t the first time that my credit card meant carte-blanche to the car rental company.
CORPORATE CAR RENTAL OFFICES VS. FRANCHISE OPERATIONS
Apparently, when you rent a car from Budget, Hertz, Avis, etc., you are possibly renting from the parent company. However, plenty of franchise operations, privately owned and managed, rent out cars under the names: Budget, Avis, Hertz, etc.
AIRPORT CAR RENTAL AGREEMENTS
Once you book a daily car rental rate online, over the phone or through your travel agent, you must sign a contract at the airport. This isn’t easy to understand, because the rental contract invariably adds airport fees, etc., that you may not have seen on the quote. Then, of course, the car style you expected to rent is probably not even available anymore. You are now forced to spend more money and get a bigger, fancier car; or shift down a gear and get a more modest car that costs almost the same as what you expected to rent.
After signing the contract for the car rental, and hopefully not for additional insurance, a big money maker for the car rental companies, you get to check out your new car. In my case, I was given a van that had 25,000 miles on it and seemed very worn out and dirty on the inside.
But before I could leave a little inspector man came out and asked us to look over the car, as he quickly walked around our car and told us there were just a few little scratches on the bumper—he put the little sketch of the scratches on the contract, mumbled a few words in broken English that we didn’t understand, and sent us on our way, as there was a huge lineup of cars trying to leave the Vancouver airport. I looked closely around the car, and pretty much agreed with the inspector, but it was dark in the garage and we were feeling the need to get out because of the long line of cars behind us. The kids were getting antsy.
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If you are shopping for a mortgage now, you have probably discovered that getting a mortgage just isn’t as easy as you thought it might be.
TRENDS IN THE MORTGAGE MARKET:
- Both the 15-(5.42%) and 30-(5.88%)-year fixed rates have gone down by about ½% point in 1 year.
- The mortgage crisis began in 2007, as people failed to pay their loans. This quarter, alone, 900,000 homes are going through the foreclosure process, and home values are the lowest they have been since 2001.
- Loss of jobs—in March, alone, the economy lost 80,000 jobs.
- If you had an ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage), you paid a low introductory rate, but rates have soared after 2-3 years, making it harder to pay your mortgage. EX: If you have a $200,000 mortgage and your introductory ARM was at 4% at closing, it might be 7.5% now, after the adjustment period. This costs you almost $400 more per month. Continue reading »
As featured on ABC7 Chicago.
With the real estate market being slow right now, you may be considering some home improvements. But beware of the scams and the contractors you allow to work on your home!
We can all relate to hiring the wrong contractor for our homes, the most intimate place that belongs to us. Getting recourse is very difficult and proving fault is not easy.
MOST COMMON SCAMS
- Asking for $ upfront for supplies, but never finishes the job.
- Bill at the end is higher than originally agreed upon.
- Doesn’t provide a written contract.
- Doesn’t provide in warranty or quote a list of materials/brand names to be used.
- Telling you that your repair issue is urgent so you won’t get other (possibly less expensive) quotes.
- Claiming the material you are buying is more expensive than the advertised price because it is custom.
- Not getting building permit before work begins.
- Demanding final payment before contractor pays subs/suppliers.
- Not correcting problems with the work quickly and without a question.
- Offering you a discount for continued business.
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BANK REFINANCING RATES THE BEST IN 50 YEARS
That’s what you see over and over in the press. True. Yes, the cash-strapped can win big when refinancing right now, saving money over the life of your mortgage, or so we’ve been led to believe. But wait. There’s a catch. In effect in most states now:
APPEALING YOUR REAL ESTATE TAXES WILL NOW REQUIRE YOU TO GET AN APPRAISAL, OR TO SHOW ANY APPRAISAL YOU HAVE GOTTEN IN THE PAST THREE YEARS
Wow. So if you have had your home appraised for refinancing purposes, that appraisal will come in most likely at much more than what you paid for your house possibly years ago. Your higher appraised home will hurt your ability to now get your real estate taxes lowered, ever. Especially if you get all the way to your appeals court. The counties will do anything to get revenue and property taxes are one of the best ways to recover the financial losses over the past few years.
HOME APPRAISALS MEAN A HUGE GAMBLE IF YOU WANT TO EVER TRY TO APPEAL YOUR ALREADY HIGH PROPERTY TAXES
Counties across America are getting smarter. They are coming down hard on people who claim they are overpaying for taxes relative to their neighbors. Too many people are hiring too many lawyers and the courts are overflowing with real estate tax appeal cases. With states and counties feeling cash-strapped, they are looking for any way to collect more taxes. Your county knows that if you are required to submit your appraisals done within the past three years you will be less likely to try to get your real estate taxes lowered.
Something important to consider when deciding whether or not to refinance. Don’t learn after the fact.
With the real estate market being in a slump right now, buyers can take such advantage of their strong bargaining position! Trusting the broker can be the hardest part of buying a house. Being a prepared home shopper can be the best bargaining tool you have.
The most important thing you need to do as a buyer is hire a highly skilled inspector. Most homeowners in the state of Illinois require you to have an inspection within 10 days of signing the contract. This doesn’t give you a lot of time to find an inspector.
COMMON MISSTATEMENTS MADE BY REAL ESTATE BROKERS:
- “The mechanicals have all been recently replaced”,
- “This item was just repaired”,
- “The house is environmentally safe.”
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