RSS

Tag Archives: personal finance

Are You Buying A Stigmatized Home?

 

Hello everyone, Chris neighbors here and this is my blog post on stigmatized properties. So what is a stigmatized property? According to realestatewebmasters.com it is:

  • while the exact legal definition varies by state and country, typically it is construed to be where something has taken place on a property (such as the death of one of the occupants in a traumatic or notorious fashion) such that it has affected the value of the property.

This topic is something I’ve always wondered about. I can’t imagine anyone would want to buy a home where a gruesome event has occurred. I remember asking people about this topic, people that had no idea what they were talking about, and generally they told me stigmatized properties had to be disclose. As it turns out they were wrong. Every state has a different set of laws on the matter. As hard as I tried I couldn’t find a list that gives every state’s laws. Instead I found mixed information about random states. Here is what I found:

South Dakota is the only state that requires all stigmatized property issues to be disclosed.

Alaska requires this as well, but only for 12 months after the event took place.

The states that require stigmatized property information to be disclosed only when the buyer asks are: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

In California these events must be disclosed if they have happened within the last 3 years.

Tennessee and Florida don’t require any disclosure on these issues.

While it’s difficult to get a list of all the different state laws and definitions it has been made clear to me that you can’t expect sellers to hand the information over willingly. My advice for any perspective home buyer that cares about these issues is to always ask about it and do your own research. A great way to find out is to talk to the neighbors (that is how most people find out anyways). In this case just ask them before you purchase the home. In smaller towns this information should be easy to find, but larger cities will present more of a problem. In many cases ignorance might be bliss. A warning sign that the house might have has a shady past is it might be that the house is being sold really cheap with not a whole lot wrong with it. They have done studies that in large cities these properties, on average, sell for 3% less than comparable properties. In small towns, where the devastation lingers, the reduction can be a lot more significant.

I know that I would definitely want to know about any unfortunate history that took place in a house I was living in. that being said, I also believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt you (most the time). Have any of you thought about this topic before? Would you mind buying a house with a rocky past? If you were to sell one do you think you would willingly disclose?

Advertisements
 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Charge Your Way to an Extended Warranty

Costco: They have decent prices and products; it’s the home of Kirkland and they give out free samples. It’s a great store. It’s thanks to Costco that I have this blog post. You see, Costco used to refund everything as long as you bought the product from them. It didn’t matter what the condition of the product was or if I came back used. You could have bought it years ago and they would still refund it no questions asked. Well, awhile back they decided to change their policy. They are no longer the exchanging machine they used to be. Since I lost that buffer, I needed to come up with another way to get an extended warranty. I wasn’t going to pay for one because I always feel I’m getting ripped off when I do. If the warranty costs as much as the product I don’t see the benefit.  I did some research, and It turns out making my purchases with a credit card solves my problem.

Now there are a million different types of credit cards so I’m not going to go through specific ones. Everything I go over will be generalities that you can look for when choosing a card; However, I can give you some hints to push you in the right direction. If you want a credit card to help supply a warranty on your purchases look for ones that are considered premium cards. They will usually have names with the word gold or platinum in it. These types of cards generally have the best warranty opportunities. In some cases they will even double your warranty period.

OK, so you bought something with your platinum card and it broke. Now what do you do? Credit card companies will require you to send them an estimate, the original receipt, and your credit card statement. Once you submit this to them they should send you the money to either get the original item fixed or for you to buy a new one.

If you’re thinking “hey Chris this all sounds great, but why do they do this?” The answer is simple. They want your business. Credit card companies know that if you are buying something that requires a warranty it’s probably fairly expensive. Their hopes are that you won’t pay your card off right away. That’s why it’s so important to you do. If the credit card companies want you to do one thing you should do the other.

So go out there and find the right card for you. Just remember Pay it off every month!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Do Cash Back Websites Work?

Sometimes it amazes me the ways we can save money. Sometimes it’s a lot of work (like couponing) and other times it’s really easy. I was turned on to a website called TopCashBack.com, and they make it easy for us all to save a little money. Most offers are around a 10% savings (they do vary). This site is especially good for people that travel, and it’s also good for people that like to shop online. I’ll have to admit that I was a little skeptical at first. You always hear about ways to save money that end up being a scam, and I try to avoid those at all costs. Sometimes I might even miss a good deal because I’m worried about being tricked. A trustworthy source of mine has used the TopCashBack services, and they had no problems (I’ll be using it soon).

Here’s how it works. You go to TopCashBack.com and register. You look through the stores they have deals with (there are over 2,000), and you click on their website. Once you buy something it will recognize how you got to their website. The store gives TopCashBack a fee for the referral. In turn they give that fee back to you. They are able to do this because they make all their profits from advertising. In the end it works out really well. Also, not all the stores are crappy online stores. They services places like Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and hotel chains. Have any of you used a cash back site like this before, or do you know of a better one?

If you would like to get there easily to check it out Click Here.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Helpful Chart for Out-of-Season Shopping

Buying anything out of season is a trick budget friendly people have been using forever. I’ll have to admit that I’m terrible at doing this. It’s one of those things that always sounds good to do, but ends up being forgotten about. Then, once the item is needed, I remember I should have bought it 6 months ago. Luckily I needed a water resistant jacket for my upcoming trip to Ireland (yes it’s supposed to rain the whole time we are there) which enabled me to see other great deals on jackets. We are talking +80% off kind of deals, or the clearance on top of clearance items. I kept thinking, “If only there was a way for me to remember when the best time is to buy certain things so I can get these types of bargains all the time.”

I searched the internet, and I found lifehacker.com. They compiled charts that list which months are best to buy different items. For example, they say that January is the best time to buy sporting goods, furniture, linens, carpeting, and digital cameras. Now I’m sure it’s different everywhere, but it can give you an idea of when to really search hard for that item you want to buy. I know that I’m going to go through my shopping list and set a reminder on my phone. That way I’ll remember next January that I need to buy a new tent! Does anyone have any other advice for out of season shopping?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Will Complaining Save You Money?

From a consumer’s standpoint I think that companies have some customer service practices backwards. We all like to save money, and I think that by being a loyal customer we should get a price break. Unfortunately, I see the opposite occurring all the time. People that are unhappy with a company’s performance/product get a special deal while their customers that are loyal get nothing. From a business’s point-of-view it makes sense. You want to keep your customers so why not give the angry ones a price break to help the odds that they’ll do business with you again. Before I go into how I think the system should work I’ll give you a few examples of the backwardness I’ve seen:

 1) Freecreditreport.com- I wrote about them a few months ago, and I mentioned that it really isn’t free at all! When I called to cancel my subscription the automated response offered me 6 months at 50% off (or something close to that). So if you never tried to cancel your account you wouldn’t know about the money you could save.

2) Xo Chai chocolates- I went on a tour of their factory not too long ago. The product they sell “healthy chocolate” was great. The thing I didn’t understand is I was told that if a customer tries to cancel their order they are offered a better deal. If you were setup to receive one box of chocolate a month they would offer you three boxes for the price of two. A decent discount, but one only a complaining customer would receive.

What I’m getting from all of this is that I should be a cranky, complainer in the hopes getting a better deal (and I hate that). I worked in the restaurant business for 10 years, and there is nothing worse than having to deal with an upset customer. The way these companies are doing business rewards unfavorable behavior. I could say, “In order to save money complain to every business you use and see what happens.” Honestly, you probably would see dramatic savings (and some people definitely do this). Instead I think companies should rewards people through the use a loyalty program in which repeat business leads to lower prices. Many companies have set up their organization to run like this, but we need all of them to. Consumers will always expect freebees when they feel like they were wronged, but let’s help loyal customers save money too. Have any of you saved money by complaining, and do you think it’s OK that companies only give discounts to complainers?

 
15 Comments

Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Student/Military/Government Discount Lists- Help Your Budget

 

I’m getting ready to go on vacation next week (Ireland here I come). This means that I’m looking for ways I can save money. After looking online, I’ve found some helpful websites that list locations that give great student, military, and civilian government employee discounts. It’s important to note that most of these places don’t advertise these discounts, but if you ask for them you’ll be getting a fair reduction in price.

Student discounts:

I love getting student discounts. I’ve always used my student ID to get a free drink at Qdoba Mexican Grill and a reduced rate at the movie theater. Once I started to do more research I realized most places give student discounts. I never asked, so they never gave them to me. If you visit GiftCardGranny.com  you’ll find 81 places that offer price reductions for students. They have everything from software and insurance to food and retail.

Military Discounts:

Military members definitely get the best discounts. A co-worker of mine didn’t have to pay taxes on anything while her husband was deployed. The best part about military discounts is you don’t have to be an active member to get most of these. They are open to family members and retirees. If you visit MilitaryConnection.com you’ll find a list of over 100 different military discounts. This list, like the student discount, has a variety of industries/stores.

Civilian Government Employee Discounts:

A lot of government employees were military personal at one point or another. These people get all the military discounts, but what about people like me that work for the government but were never part of anything like that? Well don’t worry; there are some discounts for us too. I will say that I couldn’t find a huge list like the ones above, but the discounts are out there. If you go to Fedsmith.com you’ll find some companies that offer discounts to civilian government employees. If you aren’t sure if you can get one or not just ask (like I mentioned above they aren’t going to advertise it). I do know that a lot of hotels offer “discounts”, but it’s important to make sure you’re actually getting a better rate. I would recommend finding out what the normal rate is before asking about the discount. You don’t want a situation where it would have been $100/night, but with the special government discount it’s now $150/night.

Senior Discounts:

I seems like everywhere gives a senior discount! Enough said…

Hopefully some of you can use these lists to help your budget. I know I plan on using them (not the senior discount)! I don’t think I need to mention that to get most of these discounts you need a valid ID card. Do you know of any other ID cards that can get us a great discount?

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

7 Safety Tips for People That Sell Things on Craigslist

We finally did it! We sold that old desk that’s been taking up way too much space in our kitchen. We decided to sell it on Craiglist.com because we knew it would be quick and easy. Luckily everything went well, and we added money to our budget. I will admit that I do have mixed feelings about using Craigslist to sell items (especially when they are big). The family that bought our desk was really nice. They even brought their two little girls with them to pick it up, but while we were waiting for them to come I couldn’t help but feel like doing business through Craigslist can be dangerous. I was wondering if we were inviting criminals into our home. I’ve heard stories of people getting robbed, even killed, by Craigslist bandits. While I was sitting there worrying about the people coming to buy our desk I developed a list of things I wish I had done to protect my family from a potentially bad Craigslist experience (better late than never!). If I could re-do it, these would be the precautions I would have taken:

1)      Don’t give the potential buyers information on when you WON’T be home. While talking to the potential buyers on the phone I said, “I won’t be home until 5.” At this point I had already given them my address. If they wanted to rob me they would have known I wasn’t there. I should have said, “I’ll be working on a project at home until 5 so feel free to stop by any time after that.” 

2)      Never hand over your product without being paid first. I was surprised because the family that bought our desk wanted to pay for it that day and pick it up the next day. They were worried about us selling the desk to someone else (apparently they thought it was a very sought after desk!), but I would never recommend trusting someone with things like that. Make it easy and do the trade all at once.

3)      Put the item for sale in front of your house and lock the door behind you. Sometimes the product being sold will be too big to do this, but I don’t like strangers in my home.

4)      Do the sale in a public place if possible. I wasn’t going to haul the desk to Starbucks, but if it was something like selling a movie I would have preferred to meet somewhere public.

5)      Have someone keep any eye out. This way they can call the cops if something goes wrong. Also, they can take down the license plate number of the vehicle the buyers arrived in. The more information they get the better.

6)      Let the buyer know the precautions you’re taking. An honest person will understand the situation, and a thief will probably decide they don’t want to mess with you.

7)      Talk to them on the phone instead of just text messaging. I feel a lot better after hearing someone’s voice rather than just getting a text message. After talking to someone on the phone it will be easier to follow your instincts. If things don’t feel right don’t be afraid to cancel the transaction.

We all like making a little extra cash by selling things we don’t need anymore. All we need to do is take a second to think about our situation to make it safer. I know from now on I’ll be dealing with people through Craigslist a lot differently. Do any of you have more advice for people selling things on Craigslist?

 
9 Comments

Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,