Shasta County Office of Education

Education office focuses on growth

Another move in the right direction to improve the quality of education in the Redding area was the focus on the front page in Saturday’s Record Searchlight. The Shasta County Office of Education is buying the Shasta Builders Exchange Training Center in east Redding.

The purchase will enable the agency to expand and get the much-needed room to grow its career development programs for teachers and other educators. It also provides the Shasta County Office of Education a suitable place to host local and state educational conferences, said Adam Hillman, associate superintendent of administrative services.

The agency was planning to erect a 20,000 to 30,000-square-foot building behind The Shasta County Office of Education on Magnolia Avenue. The cost to build that building would run around $8 million. The high cost of building out weighs the cost of the anticipated purchase price of the existing building.

Shasta County Office of Education will move its instructional department into the Shasta Builder’s Exchange Training Center. Its administrative offices will remain on Magnolia Avenue and its early childhood program will remain on Hilltop Drive, according to Hillman.

You’ve heard it said many times before,”We need good teachers”!!! More so in today’s world. What a wonderful and beautiful area to train teachers and educators. Educators from all over the state will be attending educational conferences and lectures in a more natural setting vs. the Big Cities. Redding fits the bill.

Thank you Shasta County Office of Education for your contribution to education. We wish you great success for years to come.

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Mortgage Rates Hover Near 2015 Lows

Fixed-rate mortgages were mostly unchanged this week, remaining near the lowest averages of the year, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending April 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.67 percent, with an average 0.7 point, rising slightly from last week’s 3.66 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.27 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.94 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 2.93 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.33 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.88 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 2.83 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.03 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.46 percent this week, with an average 0.4 point, holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.44 percent.

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spring

Should Retirees Remodel or Relocate?

The decision on whether to renovate or relocate in retirement can be complex and emotional. A recent report revealed that as people edge towards retirement age, the more they value the emotional connection to their home rather than the financial value.

The Merrill Lynch and Age Wave report asked 3,600 people if they planned to stay in their homes after retirement. 36 percent of those surveyed said that they would. Most respondents planned to stay put because they felt a strong connection to their home and their neighborhood, and had relatives and friends living in the area. This echoes a recent report from Bankrate that showed as people approach retirement age, they become less enthusiastic about relocating.

Reports have shown a lack of affordable housing options for baby boomers, and a lack of overall housing inventory remains a problem in many areas of the country. These factors, paired with an emotional attachment to a home, means many close to retirement age are choosing to stay put and renovate their homes. The remodeling industry is seeing an increase in business, though many nearing retirement age are choosing to focus on small remodeling projects.

Still, the decision to remodel can be stressful and emotional, so experts suggest a disciplined approach.

“Write down your wish list,” says Kevin Anundson, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “Decide how much you want to spend and see how far down [on the list] you can get. Pretend like you’ve got all the money in the world,” he adds. “How would you change your house? That really frees up the mental limits you put on yourself.”

After meeting with remodeling experts, architects, real estate pros, and financial advisors, these remodeling guidelines should be considered:

  • Think about how long you plan to stay in the home and spend the money that’s comfortable to continue to enjoy living there.
  • Consider the potential consequences of the remodeling plan, so remodelers don’t have to go back and fix previous jobs.
  • Talk to a local real estate professional who knows the neighborhood and can advise on features that are currently in demand for potential buyers.
  • Focus on features that will improve the curb appeal and the overall value of the home.

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healthyhome

An Insurer’s Guide to a ‘Healthy’ Home

I found the following article so very important that I had to share it with you. It discusses how Health Insurance Claims and a Home’s condition share a common denominator. From experience I can guarantee you there will problems when Selling your unhealthy home.

Think about health insurance. Providers can charge you a higher premium if you fit a profile that indicates you are at higher risk of medical ailments. Though you can’t be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions anymore, they can still make your rates higher. Such conditions can also apply to those who are older, live in a location with statistically high health problems, smoke, or have a higher body mass index.

The same principle applies to homeowners insurance. Purchasing a home that has had past claims for structural problems or has characteristics making it more susceptible to damage will increase the premium a new home owner pays. Oftentimes, it’s not until a sale contract is signed and a home inspection is completed that a home buyer catches wind of possible issues with a house. By then, they’ve already fallen in love with the place, and unfavorable inspection results can be devastating.

But there are ways for buyers to spot problem properties before they get too invested in any particular home. “You want to look at the condition of the house from an insurance perspective,” says Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president of the Insurance Information Institute. “It can save a lot of time and money.”

So here are a few ways buyers can tell whether they’re looking at a “healthy” home:

Ask for a History of Losses on the Home

Disclosure laws in many states require a seller or seller’s agent to inform the buyer of any known issues with a home. But a seller’s disclosure should always be backed up with other documents, says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst with InsuranceQuotes.com. You never know issues could exist that a seller isn’t being forthright about.

Ask sellers to provide a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report, which documents insurance claims made on a property in the last five to seven years. LexixNexix manages a database of CLUE reports for every property in the country, though only the current home owner is allowed to pull a CLUE report on their own property.

Prior claims will affect the home insurance rate a new owner gets, so a CLUE report not only informs prospects of possible defects with a property, it also tells buyers whether they might pay a higher premium for insurance.

“Even if something happened before you owned the property, that is going to impact the rate that you have to pay,” Adams says. “That may seem a little unfair, but for the insurance company, past claims are a red flag that tells them that this is a property that could have issues.”

Buyers could also glean some good news from past claims, Salvatore says. “If there was a claim, then there was an improvement to the house — perhaps a new roof or plumbing system,” she says.

Identify Risky Structural Elements

According to the  Insurance Information Institute, 4.8 percent of insured home owners filed a claim in 2013, with 97 percent of those claims related to property damage. A leading cause of property damage is water, says Tim Arone, vice president of risk management at PURE Insurance. He says 32 percent of claims at his company last year were water-related, costing an average of $55,000 per claim. Arone points out common elements of a home that make it prone to water damage:

  • Flat roofs: “If there’s a portion of the roof that’s flat — often over an enclosed porch — it is much more susceptible to leaks because of drainage problems,” he says. Be aware that gutters need to be cleaned far more regularly for this type of roof. If you’re not the cleaning type, you may want to pass on the home.
  • Exposed pipes: Especially in the attic, some pipes may not be properly insulated. Guess what happens to them in winter? They freeze and burst. “You can’t do patchwork yourself to fix a burst pipe,” Arone says. Busted pipes often lead to more extensive damage in a home, he adds. Buyers who find exposed pipes have a couple of options: Pay extra to get the pipes insulated, or keep looking for their dream home.
  • Rubber tubing on appliances: This is an issue that can easily be fixed, but it’s often overlooked. Rubber hoses, used often on laundry machines, can wear out and break in as little as five years, Arone says. Use braided hoses instead; they’re more durable.

Red Flags for New Construction

Many buyers assume that new homes are sturdier and safer than existing homes, but because of certain building materials, the opposite may be true. Lightweight lumber, for example, is used by many builders because it’s cheaper. “But from a safety standard, it’s not good,” Arone says. Lightweight lumber burns very quickly and collapses more easily than traditional framing materials, he says. So if a fire breaks out, the entire house could be up in flames in minutes. Salvatore adds that this should be a particular concern for smokers, as smoking is the most common cause of fires.

Obviously, this scenario is perilous to buyers’ safety first — but their pocketbook may be a close second. From 2009 to 2013, the average cost of an insurance claim for a fire, lightning strike, or debris removal was $37,153, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That could send your insurance rate soaring.

Corrugated stainless steel tubing, which is used to deliver natural or propane gas to a home, is also a major concern with new construction. It’s a particularly good conduit for starting fires. “Reports have indicated that when lightning strikes, it goes to the tubing and can set the house on fire,” Arone says.

But perhaps the most common frustration of home owners is a particular problem in new homes. Have you ever noticed that one room stays cool while another room is always hot? That’s usually due to an HVAC system that wasn’t properly sized for the home.

“An HVAC system that isn’t properly sized isn’t getting enough fresh air into the home,” Arone says. That could make the indoor air quality in a new home poor. Aside from the disparate temperatures throughout the house, a poorly sized HVAC system can also decrease the energy efficiency of a home and cause higher energy bills.

Smart Homes Pose Fewer Risks

Common problems can be avoided with the use of technology. Homes that have smart appliances generally have added safeguards. Smart appliances run on default programs when the home owner isn’t using them, and that can keep other elements of a house in good working order.

For example, a Nest thermostat can detect when no one is home and keep the temperature from falling below 60 degrees in colder months, ensuring that it never gets cold enough for pipes to freeze. Smart fire alarms like the Birdi also monitor air quality, including dust, soot, and carbon monoxide, and can alert authorities when necessary.

Obviously, buyers can have these products installed in a home after purchase, but a home that already has them is a sign of a well-kept property.

PURE Insurance, a “reciprocal” organization whose policy holders are also shareholders of the company, even pays $2,500 for a member who has claimed certain property losses to install smart appliances that can prevent a similar loss in the future, Arone says.

Does the Home Fit Your Lifestyle?

Certain property features can be a bigger hazard depending on how a buyer lives. Adams notes that if someone hosts parties often, even having a swimming pool becomes a liability. “If you have a lot of coming and going on your property, anything that can cause a flip or fall or something can translate to trouble for you,” she says. Personal injury claims were the second-costliest insurance claims in the country between 2009 and 2013, averaging $19,466 per claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“Think about dog bites: That’s a huge claim for home insurance because people go to the hospital and have health care costs associated with it,” Adams says. For that reason, buyers with dogs should seek out a property with a fenced-in yard.

Theft and vandalism are also common claims. If a buyer is out of town often, they should be aware of the neighborhood where they’re looking at living. “If you see claims for theft in a seller’s CLUE report, that could tell you you’re in a riskier neighborhood,” Adams says. She advises buyers talk to potential neighbors about their own experiences, and ask an insurance agent about claims that have been made on other homes in the area. That can give a buyer a good idea whether the home they’re considering really fits their lifestyle.

if you have no clue to what a CLUE report is mentioned in the preceding paragraph I’ll give you an explanation. A CLUE report will be ordered during Escrow. It is usually at the Seller’s expense. It should be ordered at the Opening of an Escrow along with a Natural Hazards report that is required by law. Generally the Insurance company goes back 5 years to see if there were any Insurance Claims paid. Unfortunately more often than not Insurance coverage is denied for the new Buyer. The Buyer is forced to find a company that will cover it or pay a higher premium for the home.

March 2015 | By  Graham Wood

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crowdfunding-photo

Investors Turn to Crowdfunding for Flips

As home prices rise, investors looking to cash in are back to flipping properties, but they’re using online Crowdfunding sites to fund their flips.

Unlike the housing boom days, lenders are showing more caution in granting financing to those looking to quickly rehab a property and attempt to then sell it for a profit. As such, investors are turning to other financing avenues to fund their flips.

A growing number of online Crowdfunding sites are offering some financial aid for housing flips. Crowdfunding is the source of $$$ for investor / contractors looking to flip a foreclosed property that is often in poor condition and does not qualify for conventional types of financing.

Crowdfunding is a new to the real estate industry / lending source. It’s funded by other investors across the country who are lending money for single-family flips. The borrower pays interest on a loan and the investors earn about a 9—11 percent return. The interest charged is much higher than conventional financing, however – loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are around the 4 percent range.

The investor / contractor and Crowdfunding Investor usually agree to short time terms ranging 3—6 month turn around. However it’s not uncommon to see longer turn around periods in some markets. The rule of thumb is the shorter the time the higher the interest rate is.

The Crowdfunding source has been a positive force in the housing market. It provides funding for properties that Banks will not loan on even though they hold the note. It allows more available money in the free market place vs. institutional financing. As a result we see more increased homes sales.

I personally have not worked with an investor / contractor using the Crowdfunding process. Most contractors have their own sources they have used over the years. However some of those sources have disappeared. Thus contractors may have to explore the idea of Crowdunding.

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