Monthly Archives: January 2015

Protect Your Family: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

•Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure incidents increase during the winter months and CO is often called the ‘silent killer’.

•CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that, when inhaled, combines with the blood and prevents it from absorbing oxygen, which can lead to illness or death.

•According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, municipal fire departments across the country respond to more than 60,000 CO incidents each year.

*******************************************************

Click on the link below to read more:
VIEW FULL ARTICLE LINK HERE
[via Lakeshore Weekly Newspaper]

Advertisements

Homeowners File Fewer Auto Claims | Wall Street Journal

According to an auto-insurance comparison company/site (www.insurance.com), a performance study of their data/statistics suggests a direct comparison between people who own a home, and resulting in being a better driver…

Insurers have long observed that, on average, drivers who own their homes file fewer auto-insurance claims than renters. And, in fact, many companies take homeownership into account when calculating a customer’s premiums, says Des Toups, managing editor of Insurance.com

To determine whether homeowners or renters are most likely to file a claim, Insurance.com analyzed data from more than 700,000 drivers who completed an online questionnaire between Jan. 1, 2012, and July 14, 2014. The company then broke out the numbers both by state and by age group. Data weren’t available for Alaska, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Most likely to file an auto claim are drivers between 18 and 24 who live with their parents. According to Insurance.com data, 24.4% of drivers in this group have filed a claim in the past three years. Meanwhile, 19.7% of renters 18 to 24 have filed a claim, while 17.6% of homeowners 18 to 24 have filed a claim.  The effect persists well into drivers’ 40s and 50s, albeit at lower levels. For instance, 15.2% of drivers 45 to 54 living with their parents filed claims, compared with 14.1% for renters and 13.4% for homeowners in the same age range.

As the saying goes, correlation doesn’t imply causation, and, Mr. Toups notes, the numbers don’t provide any explanation for why homeowners are less likely to file auto claims.  Asked to speculate, he says that income probably plays a partial role. “It’s also probably a function of stability”, but added, “we can’t look at this data & claim that to be true.”

When looking at the state level, Insurance.com identified Nebraska as home to the largest disparity between owners and renters, with 15.2% of owners filing auto claims compared with 22.6% of renters.  A few states, however, bucked the trend. In Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and Oklahoma, homeowners were more likely than renters to file a claim.

And then there is old age—the great leveler. Owners and renters 65 to 99 are equally likely to file a claim, with 14.7% of both groups reporting one.  In fact, the safest drivers overall—with only 11% filing a claim—are those 65 to 99 living with their parents. Something tells us they probably aren’t sneaking beers in the basement.


http://www.wsj.com/articles/homeowners-file-fewer-auto-claims-1420038394?mod=residential_real_estate

How the 2014 Housing Market Will Shape 2015:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/456/64414374/files/2015/01/img_2830.jpg
How the 2014 Housing Market Will Shape 2015.
Here are some of the trends realtor.com® notes from 2014 that will help drive a stronger 2015:

An improving economy: “After an especially harsh winter earlier in the year, the economy picked up steam and produced a banner year for new jobs,” realtor.com® notes in its report. “The GDP this year was higher, and is still trending higher, resulting in stronger consumer confidence.”

Low mortgage rates: Despite the end of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing this year, mortgage rates continued to decline and helped to lower borrowing costs of home buyers. In recent weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 4 percent.

Returns to normal price appreciation: “After two years of abnormally high levels of home price appreciation in 2012 and 2013, price increases moderated throughout 2014,” realtor.com® notes. “We are now experiencing increases in home prices consistent with long-term historical performance.”

Distressed sales decline: Foreclosures and short sales fell throughout the year. Foreclosures are projected to be down 30 percent year-over-year at the close of 2014.

Investor activity lessens: Coinciding with the drop in distressed sales and higher home prices, large-scale investor purchase activity in the single-family market decreased. Less competition from investors may offer more room for traditional first-time buyers to squeeze into the market.

However, the realtor.com® report notes several factors that continue to plague the housing recovery and prevent it from being stronger, including:

Tight credit standards: “Despite historically low rates, many households were prevented from capitalizing on mortgage access because of overlays lenders added to qualification standards in order to limit put-back risk,” realtor.com® notes. “A tight spread between approved and declined FICO scores shut out nearly half of the potential population this year. As a result, mortgage credit availability did not improve in 2014.”

Tight inventories of for-sale homes: Inventories did rise this year, but supply failed to outpace demand. The monthly supply of new homes and existing homes continued to fall beneath normal levels, and the age of inventory was down year- over-year.

Fewer first-time buyers: The share of first-time buyers dropped to the lowest level in nearly 30 years, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. “But the first-time buyer share is showing signs of modest improvement by the year-end,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. Federal policy actions, such as revised regulations for lenders and new low down-payment programs introduced in December, are believed to have a positive impact in increasing first-time home buyer share in 2015.

Record levels of renters: The home ownership rate continued to fall this year as the number of renters increased. Rent increases have become an inflationary concern this year, and the pace of rental increases does not appear to be slowing down.

Sluggish new-home building: Single-family new-home starts barely budged in 2014 compared to 2013. New home sales remain far from normal levels. They are typically near 16 percent and instead remain around 9 percent. Still, new home prices rose substantially again this year, revealing that higher priced product is limiting the demand.
_______________________________
(Source: REALTOR MAGAZINE)

Solera Restaurant In Downtown Mpls. Closes

WCCO | CBS Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Solera Restaurant and Event Center in Minneapolis has closed its doors.

The restaurant announced it was closed Saturday afternoon.

The general manager released a statement saying, “With hundreds of new dining options in town, most offering small plates, the Spanish food and wine niche seems too small for a 220 seat restaurant, two floors of event space and popular rooftop bar.”

The statement said the building owners are currently looking for a more accessible concept for the space.

View original post

‘RENOVATION RAIDERS’ (HGTV) HOUSE IN SHAKOPEE HITS THE MARKET!

“Shakopee homeowners went out to dinner, and came home to a new kitchen and dining room as part of HGTV’s “Renovation Raiders.” Now, you can have it for $259,000.”


Peter and Lauren Soderberg’s split-level house in Shakopee had its 15 minutes of fame in June 2013 when it was featured on HGTV’s “Renovation Raiders” and in the Star Tribune’s Sunday Homes section.

At the time, “Raiders” was a brand-new show with an offbeat gimmick: The homeowners vacate the premises for a long, leisurely dinner, and a crew descends on their house to give it an instant makeover. To add some suspense, one member of the couple is kept completely in the dark until arriving home for the big reveal.

When the Soderbergs appeared on the show, Lauren was the spouse who got the surprise.

Peter had proposed one of his occasional “mystery date nights” and taken her to Spill the Wine in Minneapolis for a seven-course dinner. “I had no suspicions whatsoever,” she said.

But there were a few clues that something was up. “He was acting kind of strange, texting a lot during dinner, which is not like him,” she said. A waitress brought Champagne and told them Peter’s friend had ordered it for them, which extended their stay at the restaurant. “I did feel it was taking a long time.”

Then on the way home, after reading yet another text message, Peter decided to stop for gas. “It was like 11:30, and I had to get up at 6 a.m.,” said Lauren, who at the time was in her final year of veterinary school. “I said, ‘Let’s go home,’ but he rerouted us to some weird gas station.”

When they finally arrived home, and walked into a brand-new kitchen, it looked so startlingly different that Lauren thought they were in the wrong house. “I was so confused! The kitchen is the first thing you see. Then I saw camera crews. It was an out-of-body experience.”

RUSTIC MODERN:

Even though Lauren didn’t get to choose the look of her improved home, she was delighted with the changes. “They hit the nail on the head with the kitchen,” she said. “It has a rustic country feel, yet modern.” She wasn’t sure about the blue island at first, but she’s come to like it.

The couple had bought the house about a year and a half earlier, intending to tackle the kitchen eventually. Lauren, who loves to cook, wasn’t thrilled with its mismatched cabinets, stained laminate countertops and an island that wasn’t anchored to the floor.

The house, built in 1992, had gone into foreclosure, and the previous owner had ripped out some cupboard doors and light fixtures. The bank had fixed up the house to sell, but only minimally. Still, the Soderbergs were game to move in now and upgrade later.

“We had looked at a lot of foreclosed homes in our budget,” Lauren said. We were looking for something that was livable, but could be improved upon.”

“Renovation Raiders” put the project on the fast track. Peter had a friend with a connection to the new TV show, and he suggested the Soderbergs’ house as a makeover candidate. “He knew it was up their alley,” Lauren said.

Peter took a video of the kitchen and dining area on his cellphone and sent it to the show. “I explained how I wanted to surprise Lauren, and why she deserved a new kitchen,” he said at the time.

QUICK FIX:

Their home was selected, a date was set, and Peter and Lauren went off to their very long dinner date. While they were gone, a crew from the show removed a wall and replaced the mismatched golden-oak cabinets with new white cabinets accented with metal mesh inserts. They installed new stainless-steel appliances and built a new island, with a mini-doghouse for the couple’s pug, Toshiro. New wood floors tied together the kitchen and adjacent dining room, which also got new window treatments, light fixtures, a table, and a custom bar with a wine refrigerator, wine rack and kegerator for Peter’s home-brewed beer.

The enhancements changed the way the couple live in their home, Lauren said. “We definitely do a lot more entertaining now.”

Since the TV show aired, the couple have tackled a few home improvements on their own. They recarpeted the lower level, and remodeled one of their two bathrooms, adding Travertine tile, a new toilet and vanity.

Now that Lauren has graduated and is a veterinarian, the couple have decided to move to a house in Prior Lake with a hobby farm where she can keep horses. Their new house is very similar to the one they’re leaving — minus the new kitchen. “It’s a three-level split, but the kitchen is definitely a downgrade,” said Lauren. In addition to the new kitchen, the 1,800-square-foot house they’re selling features three bedrooms, a cul-de-sac location in a kid-friendly neighborhood and a spacious back yard.

She’s looking forward to having a place where she can keep her horses at home, but she’s sorry to leave her made-for-TV kitchen behind. “I just love the butcher-block countertops, and the white cabinets are beautiful,” she said. “I’ll miss everything about it.”


CLICK HERE TO READ: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/286880881.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue 

RADON REDUCTION WORK GROWS IN MINNESOTA

More Minnesotans are fixing up their homes to reduce the level of cancer-causing radon gas, partly because of a year-old state law governing real estate sales.

The Minnesota Radon Awareness Act, which took effect last January, requires home sellers to notify buyers if the home has been tested for radon, provide the results of that test and disclose if any work has been done to fix problems. Sellers are also required to provide a “warning statement” and written information about radon to buyers.

The number of homes getting radon mitigation work has averaged 1,279 annually in recent years, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. But in the first nine months of 2014, that number had already nearly doubled, to 2,389.

“We encourage every homeowner to test their home and fix it,” Tranter said. “Because if they don’t now, they may have to during the home sale — and they can also receive the benefits of reduced radon exposures.”

Radon testing takes a few days, and homeowners can get test kits from city and county health departments, hardware stores or radon testing labs. Mitigation work typically involves installing a pipe beneath the home that helps vent dangerous gases out of the home.


CLICK HERE TO READ:  http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/287166161.html

SIGNED CONTRACTS TO BUY HOMES RISE 0.8 PERCENT IN NOVEMBER [2014]

National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that 2014 sales will end up below 2013 levels. The trade group forecasts that 4.94 million existing homes will be sold this year, down 3 percent from 5.09 million in 2013. Analysts say sales of roughly 5.5 million existing homes are common in a healthy real estate market.

Hopes are higher for the new year. In 2015, the group expects sales of existing homes to jump to 5.3 million.

The U.S. economy has generated 2.65 million new jobs so far this year, and the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent from 6.7 percent at the start of 2014. Buying could also be helped by average 30-year mortgage rates staying close to a 19-month low. Rates nationwide averaged 3.87 percent this week, according to the mortgage company Freddie Mac.


CLICK HERE TO READ: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/287206911.html