Saturday, May 30, 2009

looking for a 2nd home?

If you are thinking of purchasing a second home, here are some tips to help you with the practical aspects:
Take the same things into consideration as you would when buying a primary residence. Is the location desirable and close to amenities you need? Does it meet your list of needs and wants? In addition, you should consider how long you plan to keep the property, and how well it will suit your needs as they change with time. A remote lakeside cabin may be a great retirement choice, but if you have a young family, you should probably look for something closer to a town. If possible, spend some time in the community before you purchase.
Financing a second-home purchase may be a little tougher than buying a first home. Typically, lenders assign a greater degree of risk to a mortgage loan for a second property because it may spread your finances thinner and you could be more likely to default on a second place in troubled times. Lenders may require a larger down payment and charge as much as a half-point more in interest than for a primary home -- as much as two percentage points higher if it is an investment home. One way to keep costs down is to use a home equity loan on your primary home to help finance your second property.

Home inspection
Don’t purchase a second home without having a qualified home inspector look it over. In some vacation areas, termites, mildew, leaky roofs, inadequate septic systems are major concerns.
Security, maintenance and insurance
Since you are likely to be away from your second home for long stretches of time, you should take extra security measures. Consider enlisting the services of a local handyman or a neighbor to collect mail, keep an eye on the place and take care of routine maintenance jobs such as leaf and snow removal and mowing the grass. Ask a neighbor or the caretaker to park his or her car at the house occasionally, and use light timers to create the illusion someone is home. An alarm system is a good idea as well. If your second property is a condominium, most of your insurance and security needs will be covered by your condo fees. You will still need liability and contents coverage, however.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

testimonial buyers Aruba real estate

We came to Aruba in 2007 as tourists to visit friends who had purchased a home the previous year. Once we were back in the United States we decided to sell our U. S. home and relocate to Aruba. I contacted Miriam Engeln of Century 21 real estate by email and telephone and sent her some listings we found on the internet and those that appeared in the online newspapers. Within a few weeks we scheduled another trip to Aruba to house hunt. Miriam was excellent, she not only showed us all the listings I sent her but did a lot of research and had numerous other listings from other realtors for us to look at.

We made an offer and counter offer within a week, signed a contract and returned to the U.S. to await the closing date. Miriam and the staff of Best and Solid answered all our questions, provided information on the recent sales of comparable properties to the one we eventually purchased and were thoroughly professional.

They know the neighborhoods, they know the island and most importantly they know the homes available for sale. We have used a lot of realtors in the United States over the last thirty years and Miriam rates as one of the best at both representing the seller and the buyer fairly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Keep a Positive Perspective in a Negative Market

I am sure you've heard the expression, "Attitude is everything."
This is very true. Right now, it's simply your attitude and mentality that will give you the edge over others who are trying to invest in this highly volatile market. You've undoubtedly heard the importance of thinking positive and having the right attitude.
Most people are intelligent enough to know that this statement is true. Some people reading this will argue that a positive attitude doesn't always work. Well, maybe not, but I know one thing for sure--negative thinking and a negative attitude NEVER works!
So your only choice and your only chance for success in this market are to pick the positive things in life and maintain a positive attitude at all times.
I know that if you are reading this article, times may be difficult and you need serious answers to your burning questions such as... "How can I profit in a slow market?" There are many answers to this question, but first I need to impart to you some relative perspective.

A history lesson on real estate cycles...
About every ten to twelve years, as an average, real estate values tend to double in most major metropolitan areas. For example, in the 1920s, the original colonial homes sold for just under $2,500 in Long Island, New York. Since then, real estate prices have doubled almost eight times over the last 80 years. That averages out to a 100% increase approximately every ten years. An interesting note is that about every ten to twelve years, real estate values must correct before they enter their next "doubling cycle." It's not a matter of if; it's a matter of when

The evolutionary process is three steps forward and one step backwards. For example, imagine a 100% increase occurring in three steps of one-third parts each. The last market cycle of the 1980s was one in which real estate values doubled, followed by a correction of the early 1990s, which equated to a 20% to 30% decrease over a three to five year period. This cycle was then followed by the post-millennium cycle boom of 100% from the last high point of the previous cycle. We are now in the naturally-occurring phase of a correction in the cycle. This essential and beneficial adjustment gives the market pause to reflect and regather momentum and strength for the next doubling cycle.
This has occurred time and time again because the long-term demand for housing is growing an exponential rate based on population growth to almost double in the United States by 2050. This will continue to drive prices higher as it has for the last 100 years.
Since we now know based on history that nearly all real estate prices will double again, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when your existing houses will sell. Sharing these facts with your prospective buyers will put them in the right frame of mind to buy now versus next year if they plan on staying in the home more than five years. If a buyer is apprehensive about being the right time to buy, ask him if he'd like to buy his parent's home for the price they paid for it--the answer will be obviously "yes."
Keep a positive attitude assuming a negative result

In Winning Through Intimidation, author Robert Ringer talks of the importance of maintaining a positive attitude through the assumption of a negative result. In other words, Ringer suggests that you be prepared for the worst-case scenario while at the same time putting your best foot forward to get the best possible result. This will take the mental pressure off of you and allow you to focus on getting the job done. This approach, I believe, allows you to be positive and realistic in your mental assessment buying and selling houses.

If it bleeds, it leads
There's an old expression in the media business, "If it bleeds, it leads." In other words, the media loves to cover negative news more than positive because it sells better. When the real estate market is in turmoil, the media loves to run these negative headlines to keep reminding people how bad things are.
When buyers hear the bad news, it affects demand because the negative news drives fear, which makes buyers worry about whether the time is right to buy a home. Is the media simply reporting the news or does the media actually affect the news in this regard? The answer is obviously both. The media reporting negative news alone can't shape a real estate market. However, since perception is often reality, when buyers are spooked, they may shy away from buying. This affects lenders, builders, real estate agents, and other professionals who rely on the real estate business for their income. It becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy because things get worse, and the media again reminds us how bad things are. But, are things really as bad as the media reports? At the time of this article, the numbers certainly do reflect falling home prices and rising foreclosures.
Despite the doom and gloom, there's always a buyer for a well-kept home offered at the right price and terms. In short, don't read the paper if you want to keep a positive attitude and sell your homes fast!

Ready, fire, aim
Well done is better than well said. You have to take a whole lot of action to get your houses sold in a slow market. In a good real estate market, people can sell a house fast, so when things slow down, they figure, "Oh well, there's nothing I can do." Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is there something you can do, but there's a lot you MUST do to get your house sold. However, it's not just about working hard; it's about working SMART. You need to do things in the right order and in the right way to get the proper results. However, don't focus too much on perfection before you take action. The bottom line is getting your house exposed to as many buyers as possible, not necessarily getting it done perfectly. For example, many sellers want to show their house only when it's convenient for them and the house is in perfect shape to be shown, instead of when a buyer is ready. While showing a house in its best condition is a priority, it doesn't make sense to put off a ready, willing, and able buyer for too long.

Many people reading this are prone to inaction because of fear of doing it incorrectly. Remember, it's not a matter of doing it perfectly, but putting forth your best effort. Lack of knowledge certainly makes it difficult to sell a house fast in a slow market. In fact, it is probably the single biggest drawback for the average person. Most people only have the opportunity to sell a few houses in their lifetime and often rely on professionals to do the work. The average home seller does not have enough practice to get really good at the job. Taking the time to learn what to do is a very important part of the success in selling a house. In the classic book Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill writes about the importance of learning the right things and distinguishes between general knowledge and specialized knowledge.

Monday, May 18, 2009

showing your house for sale- tips

Showing the House
Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you.
Most agents will call and give you at least a couple of hours notice before showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to sell your home.

Try Not to be Home
Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Visit the local coffee house, yogurt shop, or take the kids to the local park. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of they way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.

When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a "homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.

Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house, have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner (or the oven) for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.

Pet Control
If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your listing. The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, It is best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property, but they may panic and try to escape.

The Kitchen Trash
Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home – even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.

Keep the House Tidy
Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in the family room, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try your best to have it look like a model home – a home with furniture but nobody really lives there.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Want to get top dollar when you sell your home?

Want to get top dollar when you sell your home? Listen to what professional appraisers say.
Their job is to determine the true market value of homes so they know what makes a property sell for the greatest amount and can tell you how to best ready your home for market now and later.
"A few years ago, houses were selling quickly with little effort. Now many homeowners actually have to make improvements before they can sell their home.

In the term, cosmetic touch ups can help a home sell a faster. They include:
• Updating the paint and carpeting. A fresh coat of paint (preferably white) inside and out and new floor covering give the home the look and smell of "new." With the facelift treatment, gone are the wrinkles of cracking paint, the sags of aging wallpaper and the dark age spots of stains and spills. When in doubt, nothing works better than a fresh coat of white paint.
• Heighten the curb appeal. How you home looks upon approach is its first impression. The idea is to make that first impression one that invites visitors inside for a longer look. At least work on the front yard, the backyard can wait, if necessary. Improve the landscaping, fix cracks and stains in the driveway and remove extraneous clutter.
• Clean house. Cleaning house means mop, pail and elbow grease action, but also clearing clutter. Put stuff in storage if that's what it takes to rid your home and garage of that unorganized look. Less is more when it comes to the appearance of larger looking rooms.
If you won't sell your home for some time, but know that possibility looms, do the right improvement things, including:
• Adding square footage. Appraisers say an addition provides more returned value to your home than most other improvements. While that doesn't necessarily mean the buyer will pay the cost of the work in terms of a higher price, you likely will attract more buyers.
• Build out your garage. All that clutter you cleared? The new buyer will want to put his or her junk right back in there. Buyers also want a comfy room for their cars. Add, expand or improve your garage and you'll also increase the value of your home.
• Think before you sink money into a pool. You may love the idea of having a pool, but a young family with small kids may see it as a potentially fatal accident waiting to happen. Other buyers don't want the upkeep and costs that come with a pool. A pool will limit your buyers pool to only those who want a pool.
• When you buy, think location. The best locations sell faster. Proximity to good schools, jobs, ocean, shopping and attractions and away from crime, heavy traffic, business, commercial or industrial locations helps homes sell faster and for more. Buy a home in a good location. Then you'll have a home to sell in a good location. Location rules.
"It pays to plan to make home improvement decisions strategically if you may be selling a home in the next few years. Think in terms of increasing the value of your home and not just about design and decor."

Friday, May 15, 2009

real estate joke

Two women were walking through the woods when a frog called out to them and said: “Help me, ladies! I am a real estate broker who, through a curse, has been transformed into a frog.

If one of you will kiss me, I’ll be returned to my former state!

”One woman took out her purse, grabbed the frog, and stuffed it inside her handbag. The other woman said, “Didn’t you hear him?

If you kiss him, he’ll turn into a real estate broker!

”The second woman replied, “Sure, but these days a talking frog is worth more than a real estate broker!”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

a key to retirement

A Key to Retirement
Buying a second home as rental property makes a great centerpiece to your retirement plan.

It forces you to make regular savings in the form of mortgage payments that become your equity.

You only need cash for the down payment, and you should make sure that your monthly rental payments will cover the mortgage and any additional expenses. This is a real possibility if you buy the right house at the right price, because a good single-family house should always stay rented.

Your investment money is subject to less income tax, and the interest and property taxes may be deductible. Housing has appreciated in value over the recent years, making a second home an important hedge against inflation.

Most experts predict that interest rates for fixed-rate and adjustable mortgages should remain in single digits for the foreseeable future, so it should be easy to acquire financing with a small down payment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

top Honeymoon destination

You'll find many "Top Honeymoon Destination" lists floating around.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they tend to list the same places.

Hawaii makes every list, usually ranked right at the top.

Caribbean islands like Jamaica and Aruba and St. Lucia appear again and again. Tahiti, Italy, Paris, London, Fiji—repeaters all. That's a good thing, though. Those places are popular for a reason, offering the sort of beauty, amenities, activities, and other goodies that romantic travelers are seeking. If your fantasy matches one of these popular destinations, you're in good company.

e based our list of the 2009 Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations on a combination of objective and subjective criteria, including a formal poll of readers at The World’s Greatest Honeymoons; an informal poll of travel-writer colleagues; statistical industry trends; and an appreciation for destinations that we feel offer consistent reward and value.
Here are Numbers 6 through 10 of our 2009 Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations. We’ll post Numbers 1 through 5 shortly.
6. Italy: It’s no mere coincidence that Italy’s pace-setting capital, Roma, is “Amor” spelled backwards: Italy has always been synonymous with thoughts of love, sex, and romance. After all, among the heavenly pantheon of the ancient Romans were Venus, the Goddess of Love, and her son Cupid, the God of Love. A visit to this land of immense contrasts could encompass just about anything from peaceful lakeside towns, to vibrant cities, to Renaissance villages, to the golden coast.
7. U. S. Virgin Islands: Between them, the three major US Virgin Islands offer most of what’s best about the Caribbean. The largest island, St. Croix, has a diverse landscape ranging from tropical rain forest to near-desert and is home to Buck Island Reef—the only underwater national monument in the U. S. and a snorkeler's paradise. St. Thomas, the most developed and sophisticated of the trio, is where you’ll find the capital city of Charlotte Amalie—and major duty-free shopping, terrific restaurants and resorts, and plenty of night-time action. And St. John, two-thirds a National Park, is an outdoor-lover's dream filled with hiking trails, incredible beaches, and protected reefs teeming with colorful tropical critters.
8. Aruba: It may be the smallest of the three Dutch-Caribbean "ABC" islands lying off the coast of Venezuela (the other two are Bonaire and CuraƧao), but Aruba is packed with things to do and see. That's one of the reasons Aruba boasts the Caribbean’s highest rate of repeat visitors. Another reason: temperatures averaging 82° and cloudless skies almost every day...perfect for swimming, diving, parasailing, horseback riding on the beach, or whatever your tropical adventure fantasy might be. And, of course, there are those beaches, mile after mile of sugar-sand stretches that count among the Caribbean's finest.
9. Las Vegas: A razzle-dazzle nightlife, some of the world’s top restaurants, simply incredible hotels and resorts, over-the-top architecture, instant weddings for the elopement-oriented, a nearly endless list of activities and outdoor adventure…those are just a few of the many reasons why Las Vegas is so popular with honeymooners. And, in 2009, there’s another: amazing bargain rates. The economic slowdown has hit Vegas hard, allowing you to reap the benefits.
10. Turks & Caicos Islands: There’s a reason why the Turks & Caicos are sometimes called the Forgotten Islands, or why a magazine poll once graced them with the distinction of having the least name recognition of any nation in the world: this island group is truly off the beaten path. Most people heading for this part of the Caribbean end up in the more well-known (more crowded, more expensive) Bahamas. If they knew about the Turks & Caicos’ reputation for tranquil beauty and relatively modest prices, they’d travel a bit further.
For more info: Still curious? Check out different lists of Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations offered by other publications around the world.Author: Suzie Rodriguez

Suzie Rodriguez is an Examiner from San Francisco. You can see Suzie's articles on Suzie's Home Page.

Monday, May 11, 2009

buyers market- good time to buy

Is the real estate section of your local paper filled with stories about how slow the real estate market in your area is? Is it taking months to sell the homes on the market?

If this description fits your area, and you have been waiting for the perfect time to buy a house, this is the time!

This kind of market is referred to as a "buyers' market" for good reason--it is an opportunity for buyers to select from a large number of homes that could satisfy their needs. Everyone involved is ready to bend over backwards to make it possible for you to buy your dream home.

Most sellers are highly motivated and so are the local Realtors, loan officers and other professionals involved in the transaction. It is important to remember that the real estate market runs in cycles, and conditions can change without a lot of warning. This could be the perfect time to contact a good Realtor at Century 21 to discuss your needs and to explore the possibilities available to you. For Aruba inquiries, contact me at:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why buying a home is a great idea

Why Buying a Home is a Great Idea, The Best Investment.
As a fairly general rule, homes appreciate about four or five percent a year. Some years will be more, some less. The figure will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, and region to region.
Five percent may not seem like that much at first. Stocks (at times) appreciate much more, and you could easily earn over the same return with a very safe investment in treasury bills or bonds.
But take a second look…
Presumably, if you bought a $200,000 house, you did not pay cash for the home. You got a mortgage, too. Suppose you put as much as twenty percent down – that would be an investment of $40,000.
At an appreciation rate of 5% annually, a $200,000 home would increase in value $10,000 during the first year. That means you earned $10,000 with an investment of $40,000. Your annual "return on investment" would be a whopping twenty-five percent.
Of course, you are making mortgage payments and paying property taxes, along with a couple of other costs. However, since the interest on your mortgage is tax deductible, the government is essentially subsidizing your home purchase. Your rate of return when buying a home is higher than most any other investment you could make. Invest in Aruba real estate now.
For Aruba inquiries, email me at:

Saturday, May 09, 2009

where to honeymoon in September?

Where to Honeymoon in September?
We want to go on our honeymoon September 9, 2009 and we are worried about where to go because of the season. What options do we have with beautiful beaches and great weather during that season?

Yours is a good question because early September is the peak of the Caribbean and Atlantic hurricane season and is also a very active time in the Pacific hurricane season.However, there are destinations located south of the hurricane zone.

The far southern islands of the Caribbean--especially Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao--are considered south of the "hurricane belt" so they generally miss the storms which develop and move to their north.

You'll find great beaches--and beautiful days on each island. Aruba is especially noted for its around the clock fun, from great beaches like Eagle Beach and Palm Beach to its shopping and nightlife fun (not to mention sports activity--it's a windsurfing capital).

Bonaire is far quieter and is a real favorite with scuba divers.

Curacao offers a variety of beach properties and natural attractions.As far as other destinations during hurricane season, usually you'll be just fine...but always check and see if the resort you're considering offers a "hurricane guarantee." These guarantees will cover your honeymoon if it's interrupted by a hurricane.Cruises are another option; most Caribbean and Mexico cruises make daily port stops so you can hit the local beaches. If there's a weather problem, cruises just reroute and head to another sunny isle! Happy honeymoon!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Radisson Aruba Resort's Five-O-Sale

Summer is when many people head for the idyllic islands of the Caribbean. At that time of year, temperatures average only a few degrees warmer than in winter, and you can usually find a sea breeze to caress your body.
More importantly, prices normally drop dramatically in summertime, sometimes as much as 50 percent lower than in winter. Now, with the lagging economy also tugging down at prices, bargain rates are showing up on the tourism radar.

Aruba: A variety of 50-themed discounts are available at the Radisson Aruba Resort's Five-O-Sale. Included are a saving of $50 on a 50-minute spa treatment and 50 percent off on massages, a $50 per person, prix-fixe menu at the resort's Sunset Grille and a $50 coupon at the hotel's casino. Rates start at $175 per night, are valid through Sept. 30 and must be booked by July 30.

Friday, May 01, 2009

visit Aruba this summer- skip Mexico

The Centers for Disease Control reports there are 109 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States and one confirmed death. The outbreak has many vacationers worried about upcoming plans. Despite the mildness of the outbreak in the region, local travel agencies are busy reworking Mexican vacations and dealing with a number of calls about swine flu and its impact on travel plans.
World Travel Mates, in Matthews, is recommending other destinations.
"You can't get a similar situation,” said company president Cathy Reavis. “They have beautiful five-star resorts in Mexico for much less expensive than you can get the same standard of accommodations in say Aruba or the Bahamas." However, there are GREAT prices in Aruba also:

From $455 one week stay, apartment for 2 persons, pool, walking distance to the ocean.

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