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Theft Proofing Your Mailbox

Although most people only think about their home and property when dealing with home security, the mailbox is equally as important.  On a daily basis, there is a lot of personal information that goes through your mailbox.  Even though burglary is a concern, identity theft is just as big of a concern as well.  Most people don’t even think about theft proofing their mailboxes, which easily explains the increase in identity theft over the years.  Almost all mailboxes can be easily broken into, giving thieves instant access to personal information.

Even though there are many mailbox designs in the United States, most of them are outdated in terms of security.  They may perform their duties of receiving mail quite well, although they normally don’t offer the security needed to protect people from identity theft.  These days, identity theft is a common thing – simply because people don’t do a better job with protecting their mailbox.

Each and every day we all get personal information delivered to us by mail.  In some cases, we get credit card offers or bills that contain our personal information.  Although we don’t think anything about it, most of us head out to our mailbox, collect the mail, and then go back in our houses.  All it takes is a thief to beat you to the mailbox, just a couple of minutes.  Once the thief has collected a few pieces of your mail, he can easily use your personal information to charge credit cards and other bad things using your identity.

To protect yourself against identity theft you should always include your mailbox in your plans for home security.  The mailbox is very important, and should always be protected.  If you have a traditional mailbox now, you should get rid of it immediately.  As a replacement, you should look into a safe and secure mailbox.  The ideal types are those made of solid steel.  The top of the box should be accessible to the mailman, allowing him to put the mail in without a problem.  The bottom side of the mailbox however, should only be accessed via key.  Mailboxes that require a key to get into will protect you from identity theft – as the thief simply won’t have access to your mail.

You can find secure mailboxes at a local hardware or department store, even online.  There are very affordable these days and will go a long way in protecting you for identity theft.  Mailboxes that are constructed from solid steel are nearly impossible to break into, yet they will open easily for you to check your mail with the lock and key system.  The next time you go out to the mailbox to check your mail – you should think twice about your safety and theft proof your mailbox to protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft.

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Videos You Can Find On YouTube

Each day, a large number of internet users visit an online video website. In fact, many internet users visit more than one.  Online video websites are websites that allow internet users to make, upload, and share their own unique video creations.  One of those sites is known as YouTube.  If you are looking to use online video websites, such as YouTube, for entertainment, you are in luck.  Online, you can find thousands, if not millions of videos that are available for your watch, often free of charge.

If you have never visited the YouTube website, you may be wondering what type of videos you can find online. With YouTube, most of the videos that you will find online are considered homemade movies.  This is because these movies are made by traditional internet users, ones just like you.  Since each internet user is likely to have different interests or experiences in a particular field, topic, or subject, you are sure to find a large selection of videos on YouTube.

YouTube makes video watching easy.  They do this by placing their videos into categories.  You can easily find online videos by examining the ones that are viewed the most, the ones that are rated the highest, or the ones that have the most comments. In addition to those categories, you will also find categories that breakdown videos into specific subject categories, based on video content. 

One of those categories is comedy.  Comedy, perhaps, is the most popular YouTube category.  This is because most individuals use online video websites to be entertained.  What better way to receive that entertainment than with an online video that leaves you laughing hysterically?  Comedy videos may include, but should not be limited to, funny comments, comedy club appearances, staged skits, and even unscripted recordings. 

Pets and animals is another one of the many categories that you can find on YouTube.  These videos are great for those who love animals.  A wide variety of different animals are featured on YouTube videos including cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, and birds.  Many of these videos can also be considered comedy videos because many of the videos focus on animals that have special, but funny talents.  Additional videos feature professional shows, such as dog shows or horse shows.

YouTube also has a category that is labeled travel and places.  The travel and places videos often include videos that vacationers have shot when they were in another area of the world.  Popular video locations are ones that are outside of the United States, but you will also find videos that focus on areas inside the United States.  In addition to filming interesting or historical locations, many videos have a focus on traditional events or activities.  It is not uncommon to find videos on YouTube that outline a particular festival or contest. 

Entertainment is another category found on YouTube.  This category covers a wide variety of different online videos.  Many individuals have created videos that they feel are a source of entertainment, while others have a focus on real entertainment, such as television shows.  It is not uncommon to find a collection of scenes, accompanied by music, of popular television shows, soap operas, and movies. 

Although music often falls into the category of entertainment, YouTube gives it its own category.  Many of the videos found on YouTube, with a focus on music, are created by those who are documenting themselves or their friends singing or participating in singing contents.  What is nice about YouTube is that they also have a special program for up and coming musicians.  This feature allows musicians to make their own music videos and share them with other internet users. This means that not only will you get to see an online video for free, but you may be alerted to a new band, that you otherwise never would have heard of.

The above mentioned categories are just a few of the many that you can found on YouTube. Additional categories include arts and animation, autos and vehicles, news and blogs, people, sports, and science and technology. 

Choosing Your Real Estate Appraiser

If you have been thinking about purchasing a real estate property for personal use or as an investment, you’ll need to hire the services of a real estate investor.  If you play to finance your home through a bank or other lender, you’ll more than likely need to get the property appraised first.  Banks and most lenders want to know the value of the home for your protection, as well as make sure that the home they are financing is worth the total amount that you take on the loan.

In most cases, the appraisal indicates that the home does indeed meet or exceed the asking price.  In some cases however, the appraisal will come back saying that the home is worth less than the selling price.  If this is the case, the buyer normally has to either drop the deal or try to negotiate with the seller to get a price that meets the appraisal.

For those very reasons, a real estate appraiser is very important.  When you are dealing with a home, one appraisal can make a deal or break it. Even though you may not be financing your purchase through a lender or the bank, you should still make an effort to get the home appraised and find out the true value.  You should also make a point to find the best appraiser that you can afford.  If you hire an appraiser who isn’t that experienced, you’ll pay for it later when you discover that the property isn’t worth what you paid for it.

A real estate appraiser will go through the home performing an evaluation, and then provide you with a written evaluation after he has gathered all necessary information.  Appraisers will also taken into consideration the replacement costs as well.  Also, they will have to very land descriptions as well.  There is a lot of work involved with appraisals, which is why it’s so very important that each step of the process is performed correctly by a qualified real estate appraiser.

If you have a real estate agent, he or she will more than likely be able to make a recommendation.  Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the recommendation is the best; it’s just someone who your agent works with.  To ensure that you get the right appraisal on your home you’ll need to find yourself an appraiser who is capable of completing the job.

When you look for your real estate appraiser, you should look for someone who comes highly recommended.  You can ask family and friends for their opinions, or search local papers, even the Internet.  If you take your time and search for the best real estate appraiser that you can find – you’ll normally get an appraisal that is right on target.

Using an Agent to Buy a Home

Do you know that you can use a real estate agent to buy a home? Many people think real estate agents only sell homes, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you are in the market for a new home you may want to get a real estate agent on your side. You may think that this is not necessary, but all in all a real estate agent can help you to find the home of your dreams. Many people pass this option by, but you should at least look into it if you are in the market for a new home.

 

So what can a real estate agent do for you if you are buying a home? First off, they have access to every property that is available in your area. This means that all you have to do is tell them what you are looking for, and in turn, they will be able to show you many different homes that suit your needs. This sure beats having to search through the newspaper for homes, or drive around neighborhoods that you think may suit your needs.

 

Another huge benefit of using a real estate agent to buy a home is that you do not have to pay them a dime. That is right; you can get the help of a real estate agent without having to pay out any money. So how does the real estate agent get paid then?  Simply put the agent that they refer you to will share their commission with your real estate agent. This means that you get the help of a real estate agent, the agent gets paid, and the seller finds a buyer. Talk about the perfect set up for everybody involved.

 

Overall, a real estate agent can help you to buy a home just like they can help you to sell a home. If you want to buy a home, why not get the help of a local real estate agent? They have a lot to offer, and you will surely be able to benefit from what they bring to the table.  It is at least worth a look!

For Sale By Owner: Pre-qualifying A Buyer

A big issue and pressing question for a lot of For Sale By Owner sellers is how to determine if a potential buyer can afford to purchase the home for sale. This situation is known as pre-qualifying a buyer. At first glance, this may seem like a complicated process and a complex dilemma but in actuality it is relatively simple and involves crunching a few numbers in some basic mathematic equations.

 

It is important to determine the meaning of some terms that are involved in this process. The first term to understand is the acronym PITI. This stands for Principle, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. This is a figure that represents the total cost, monthly, of the mortgage payment including principal and interest as well as the monthly cost of property taxes and homeowners insurance. The second term is Ratio. This is a number that most banks use in order to determine how much of a buyer’s monthly gross income they can afford to spend on PITI. The most commonly used ratio is twenty-eight per cent. This ratio is determined without considering any other debts such as credit cards or car payments. Sometimes this ratio is referred to as the front-end ratio. When other monthly debt is taken into consideration, a ratio of thirty-six to forty per cent is acceptable. This is called the back-end ratio.

 

The calculations are as follows:  the front-end ratio is determined by dividing the PITI by the gross monthly income. The back end ratio is determined by dividing the PITI combined with the debt, by the gross monthly income. Four things are needed in order to determine the PITI. The sales price, the mortgage amount, annual taxes, and annual hazard insurance. From the sales price you must subtract the down payment in order to determine how much is needed from your bank.

 

The mortgage amount is generally the sales price minus the down payment. To determine the principal and interest portion of the payment you must use a mortgage payment calculator and input the loan amount, the interest rate, and the term of the loan in years. Mortgage calculator websites are available and can be found without much difficulty. Annual taxes are divided by twelve in order to determine the monthly property tax payment. The annual hazard insurance must be divided by twelve in order to come up with the monthly property insurance payment.

 

All of these terms and figures seem daunting, but once put into practice, things become easier and more self-explanatory. This is the most complex portion of pre-qualifying your buyer. Other requirements include the standard credit check and job history check. A good credit rating as well as at least two years of consecutive employment are usually necessary in order to get the best terms for a mortgage and to get the lowest interest rate possible.

 

It is not as difficult as it sounds in order to pre-qualify a buyer. This can usually be determined by a simple conversation where figures are discussed. With a small amount of due diligence, this process can be much simpler than it sounds and a profitable transaction can be completed.

Why You Might Not Want to Sell FSBO

Selling your home for sale by owner seems like an excellent idea.  You can do so much more with a few thousand dollars than pay it to a real estate agent for commission.  Even though saving money is a good reason to sell your home for sale by owner, the money savings might not be worth the work involved with selling your home.  This is especially true if you have to lower your asking price as many for sale by owner sellers end up doing.

 

When you sell your home for sale by owner, you take on all the responsibilities real estate agent would normally handle.  This includes marketing the home, fielding phone calls from potential buyers, having open houses, making the negotiations, and closing the deal.  If these steps were as easy as they might seem there would be more real estate agents.

 

Consider that a real estate agent’s only job is to sell real estate.  The agent doesn’t have an emotional attachment to the home.  He (or she) is experienced in juggling multiple priorities and can quickly determine what a buyer is looking for in a home.  In many cases, buyers feel more comfortable working with a real estate agent because they feel freer to voice their true opinions on the home than they would with the home owner.

 

Many for sale by owner sellers are not able to show the home to potential buyers in an objective manner.  Often the seller skews the home showing to his own point of view, talking about experiences that he and his family have had in the home.  This can make it difficult for the buyer to truly get a feel for what it would be like for them to live in the home.

 

Pricing the home is vital to the sale of the home.  A for sale by owner seller with no prior experience in setting home prices might end up setting a price that is too high.  Often homeowners have unrealistic expectations of how much their home is worth.  This expectation stems from emotional ties to the house.  A real estate agent, who might work with several houses a day, is better able to look at the home objectively and set a succesful selling price.

 

For sale by owner sellers often lack the negotiation skills necessary to ensure that they are getting a good deal from the sale of the home.  If the buyer has an experienced real estate agent, it could be difficult for the seller to negotiate a favorable deal.  This is the reason that many for sale by owner sellers end up walking away with a lower price on the home than they initially expected.

 

Buyers have schedules just like sellers do.  Selling for sale by owner put the seller in a position where he must schedule his day around showing the home to prospective buyers, some of which might not even show up.  This can end up being extremely frustrating for the for sale by owner seller.

Fine Tune Your Commercial Real Estate Crystal Ball

Don’t you wish you had a crystal ball that showed you what is to come in the future? A simple wave over the crystal ball, the mutter of a magic word, and your entire future is there, revealed in front of you. Now that you know what is to come, you can prepare and move accordingly so you can be ready for what the now identified future holds.

Unfortunately, this crystal ball does not literally exist, but in commercial real estate there are many tools that you can use that act like a crystal ball. They can show you the future in an indirect way so you, too, may plan and move accordingly in order to take advantage of the market place.

Fining tuning your commercial real estate crystal ball is really a matter of paying attention, doing some basic research, and being on top and aware of all elements in your comfort zone, or concentrated area of focus and influence. It does take vision and an element of creativity to really fine tune your crystal ball, and, for some, it is the best aspect of commercial real estate! Being able to predict, envision, and then create something that at one time did not even exist, not even in an idea, and then search out the resources to create and put the plan in motion is a commercial real estate insider’s dream.  When done effectively, it can be very satisfying and lucrative!

You should already be doing many things that assist you in predicting and planning for the future, which is extremely important in commercial real estate. If you can see an opportunity coming before it actually presents itself, then you are able to prepare for that opportunity before anyone else, and reap the benefits. These things may include driving the streets of your community to see what land and buildings are for sale, what centers are vacant for leasing, attending planning and zoning meetings, reading the local newspaper for economic and real estate changes or trends, as well as researching other cities and how their market may affect yours in any way, shape or form.

As a real estate insider, it is pertinent that you are up to par, and even an expert in your comfort zone. These things listed above are how you are constantly informed and a step ahead of other real estate people, as well as your own market.

Besides doing these things religiously, and always analyzing the data that you collect, their area a few other specific tools that will allow you to see into your commercial real estate future and identify opportunities that others will miss.

The first is a city’s future land use master plan or map that shows the future zoning and use for all the land within a city’s limits. Some cities may not have one if they are too small and not looking for growth. However, most cities do have master use plans that are used to dictate the entire future of a city’s economic make-up.

This map is used to plan for growth so that all elements of a city are controlled. Zoning and use may change for operating properties; others may remain the same. There is the possibility of raw land to be annexed into the city, having a specific use, offering huge opportunities to the commercial real estate investor. There may be a need to tear down or renovate old properties, and develop them for a different use.

The possibilities of what a future land use map holds is gold in the eyes of an investor, and extremely important to all those working in commercial real estate. Refer to this map, and actually visit the locations of where there is change to identify opportunities. As every area is different, you will be amazed as to what opportunities will unveil themselves when you bring to it a little vision, creativity, and insider information regarding the zoning and use of a property.

Another tool to see into the future is the economic forecast for your area. By looking at both the past and future per capita income, population growth rates, housing costs and other such data that can be found through the census and local Chamber of Commerce, you can see the overall economic environment of your city and how it is performing.

Perhaps a continuing decrease in population means people are moving out of the city, telling you not to invest in new home or apartment development in that area. Or, the growth has been so extreme that the city is in desperate need of commercial property in order to support the influx of people. You can definitely plan on how you are going to move in the market with this information by your side.

The final tool I urge you to utilize when predicting your commercial real estate future is already approved infrastructural changes within your city. This will require you to attend city meetings regarding zoning, planning, development, etc. There could be discussion of a new development a year or more before it actually occurs, and once you hear about it, you can start putting your own ideas into place.

As I am sure you already know, large, influential, infrastructural changes can greatly increase the land values of properties that surround them. For example, a large strip mall being developed will increase the value of all the land surrounding it, as well as possibly call for a greater demand of residential units, and an increase in the lot and rental prices that can be charged according to the new market.

Let’s say that you hear two years in advance about a strip mall that will begin development after it is approved. You are then going to get a jump on all competition, look at the site, the land surrounding it, and the opportunities it may offer. Can you purchase the now extremely cheap land adjacent to this site, or perhaps the poor performing apartment complex in anticipation of this new development so that you may benefit from the price increase this major infrastructural change is going to cause?

Absolutely!

These things happen all the time, and I urge you to be a visionary and look to the future. After all, this is where a majority of commercial real estate profits is made by creating something that either wasn’t there, or improving upon what is there.

As you can see, you may not have a crystal ball that does all the work for you, but I promise that if you use these tools and follow these guidelines, you will be preparing yourself for great opportunities that others, quite simply, will overlook. It will take some effort and constant dedication. However, the results that you yield will be way worth it. Actually, it is much easier to be the first mover, rather than suffering the increased land prices and changes after a development is already in place or even underway.

Realize your power to predict the future and plan your goals accordingly! You will be successful with these tools, so implement them today.