The Benefits of Using a Realtor Versus For Sale By Owner

If you are in the process of buying or selling real estate, you have some major decisions to make. A key, primary decision that needs to be made at the outset is whether you should retain the services of an experienced real estate agent of broker. The alternative is to go the for sale by owner, or FSBO, route. For most people, there exist some very real, significant benefits to electing to retain the services of an experienced, skilled real estate professional as opposed to trying to buy or sell real estate on your own. 

Education and Experience Matter

One of the most significant benefits of using a Realtor as opposed to going the for sale by owner route is education and experience. A Realtor has the training and experience necessary to understand how the real estate market works. 

While this is not meant as any reflection on your own intelligence, but unless you’ve spend a great deal of time involved in the real estate market, you will not have the precise type of education and experience sufficient to match what is fund with a skilled real estate agent or broker.

Price Guidance

A vital benefit that can be gleaned from engaging a real estate agent, rather than going it on your own, is what best can be called priced guidance. In the absence of an experienced Realtor, you are wandering somewhat in the dark when it comes to price issues associated with buying or selling a home.

An experienced, skilled real estate agent or broker has his or her own knowledge about property pricing. In addition, a real estate agent or broker has access to resources that can be of vital importance when it comes to the appropriate price for a piece of real estate. 

Market Conditions

Timing is everything in life, but it particularly is so when it comes to buying and selling real estate. Unless you have a strong background in real estate, and have been analyzing prevailing market conditions, you really must seek out a Realtor. A Realtor devotes a great part of his or her time considering and analyzing real estate market conditions.

In addition to an expansive amount of time spent on studying market conditions, a Realtor has access to expert market analysis. Because trends in the real estate market can shift and alter in short periods of time, this type of resource is crucial to making truly educated decisions about buying and selling real estate. 

Professional Network

On the plus side, a benefit of retaining the service of a real estate agent or broker is the network of other professionals that a Realtor typically has. The sale and purchase of real estate necessitates the assistance of professionals beyond the Realtor. These can include title insurance company, mortgage lender, and property inspection and so forth. 

If you go the FSBO route, you will not have ready access to these professionals. Indeed, you are not likely to have the resources and background necessary to make a thoroughly informed decision about who to hire in this regard. 

Dealing with Paperwork

Buying and selling real estate involves a tremendous amount of paperwork. Moreover, the paperwork must be completed with accurate manner of significant issues can arise. These issues may not arise immediately, but the can rear their ugly heads over time. This can even result in major issues related to the title to the real estate.

Negotiation Skill

Negotiation over the sales price, and other issues, is a major element of a real estate transaction. No matter how adept you may feel you are at in negotiations, you likely do not have the level of experience and skill of a licensed real estate agent or broker. With a Realtor, you will have someone on your team that is highly capable of negotiating the best deal for you. 

Best Financial Deal

Research reveals that much more often than not, a person represented in a real estate transaction by a real estate professional ends up with a better financial outcome than if that individual elected to buy or sell real estate without that type of help. In other words, the costs associated with engaging a real estate professional typically is more than offset by a better financial deal for the buyer or seller got this assistance.

Keep in mind that a Realtor will meet with you at no cost to explore options available to you. A Realtor will explain how he or she can be of professional assistance or you.

Jessica Kane is a writer for Viking Fence, the number on fence rental company in Houston.

Does My Homeowner’s Insurance Company or Do I Select a Contractor for Repairs?

In the aftermath of an event that causes damage to your home you undoubtedly will have a myriad of important questions and concerns. One key question and concern that you face is whether you or your insurance company select a contractor for needed repairs to your residence. 

There are two elements that come into play in answering the query about who selects a contractor for home repairs: state law and the terms of an insurance policy. 

State Law 

In years gone by, insurance companies had more authority over dictating where a car could be repaired or what contractor could be utilized to address damages to a residence. Generally speaking, across the United States, those days are gone. 

State laws in the U.S. permit homeowners the ability to make a final decision about which contractor or contractors will work on making repairs following some sort of damage-causing event. You might conclude that this answers the question about who selects a contractor for work on a residence. The reality is that the matter of selecting a contractor is rather more complicated than recognizing applicable state law where you happen to live. 

Preferred Providers 

Even though state law prevents an insurance company from dictating what contractor you can utilize to repair your home as part of an insurance claim, the insurer is likely to maintain what oftentimes is called a preferred provider list. This is a list of contractors that an insurance company likely has worked with previously and with which an insurer has developed some protocols regarding costs. 

You will be provided a list of preferred providers. You may even be pressured to select from list of preferred providers. Indeed, there are more than a few examples of insurance company representatives leaving homeowners believing that they must select a contractor from this list despite the law in a particular state. 

On some level, an insurance company is not obliged to do your home work or your due diligence regarding your complete set of rights as an insured. However, is an insurance company misleads or deceives you, that is likely to be considered an unlawful claims settlement practice. 

Noting these points, there are many instances when selecting from an insurer’s list of preferred providers makes sense. An insurance company typically strives to have qualified contractors on its list of preferred providers. Moreover, an insurer will have at least some working experience with the contractors on its preferred provider list, a reality that can make the repair and claims settlement process somewhat smoother in many instances. 

Selecting Your Own Contractor 

As discussed, you do have the essential right to select a contractor to address repairs on your residence as part of an insurance claim. With that said, if you are going to select a contractor from beyond the insurer’s preferred provider list, you need to coordinate the engagement with the insurance company claim’s adjuster. 

Depending on the terms and conditions of your insurance policy, there may be some specific qualifications that a contractor needs to satisfy in order for the policy to cover costs incurred in the repair process. In order to ensure that such requirements are satisfied with a particular contractor, you need to coordinate the hiring of the contractor and verification from the insurer that the selection is suitable. 

A contractor that is not on an insurance company’s preferred list may also have to do some negotiating regarding charges for repair work. There may be instances in which a contractor’s charges are above what an insurer will pay. 

If a contractor isn’t fully reimbursed by an insurance company, you become responsible for the difference between what was charged and what was paid by the insurer. If the lines of communication are kept open between you, the insurance company, and the contractor, you place yourself in the best position to engage a qualified contractor, have the insurance cover the repair, and limit your own out-of-pocket expenses. 

State Insurance Commissioner or Department 

If you find you have issues regarding the selection of a contractor and your homeowners insurance company, you can reach out to the insurance commissioner or department in your state. An insurance commissioner or department maintains a consumer assistance division or staff aid people with an array of issues, including those that might arise in a situation involving an insurer, you, and a contractor.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Scaffold Store, the favorite and trusted scaffold supplier of the largest contractors.

Increase the Market Value of Your Home with Lawn and Garden Enhancements

Nicely executed landscaping is both a positive and a negative aspect of a home’s curb appeal when it comes to putting a property on sale. On the plus side, nearly any prospective homebuyer has images of attractive landscaping dancing about his or her head. On the negative side, although a prospective homebuyer will be impressed with lovely landscaping on first blush, that individual will also nearly immediately worry about the time and effort that may be needed to maintain to property. 

There are some plumbing tactics you can take into consideration if you have a lush landscape and plan to put your home on the market. These plumbing additions will work to enhance the overall market value and general appeal of your residence when you put it up for sale. 

Comprehensive Drip Irrigation 

If you’ve taken the time to create magnificent looking flower beds about your property, you’ve created something in which you can take great pride. You may be a person who absolutely loves spending time each day tending to your flowerbeds. 

The reality is that not all people are so inclined. If you put your home on the market for sale you will encounter prospective homebuyers who sincerely admire your efforts in developing amazing flower beds. However, they may be internally cringing at the same time contemplating the work required to tend to these beautiful patches. 

One feature you can install, for a reasonable cost, is a comprehensive drip irrigation system for your flower beds. You can also add this type of system in a vegetable garden as well. 

A drip irrigation system can be placed discretely throughout your flower beds. With this type of system, your flowers and other greenery can be watered with ease. You can even add a timing system to have the drip irrigation system activate and operate automatically. 

Depending on your flower bed or vegetable garden setup, you’ve a couple choices when it comes to the manner in which these landscape spaces are watered. You can select drip emitters, which operate in a manner rather like a sprinkler system serving a lawn. You can also select soaker hoses, which work to ensure that water gets to even hard to reach places. You might even elect to chose a combination of both elements. 

When you advise a prospective buyer that this feature exists, you are certain to receive a positive response from that buyer. The prospective homebuyer will realize he or she can have the beauty of your gardening handiwork without expended an undue amount of time tending to the flower patches or vegetable garden. 

Lawn Sprinkler System 

Another step you can take to enhance the attractiveness of your landscaping when you put your house on the market for sale is a lawn sprinkler system. This is another step that will lessen the concern of a prospective buyer in regard to caring for landscaping. 

There are a number of different types of lawn sprinkler systems to consider: 

  • pop up sprinklers
  • rotor sprinklers
  • impact and flush sprinklers

As is the case with a drip irrigation system previously discussed, a lawn sprinkler system can be placed on a timer. The fact that a lawn can be watered automatically is likely to be a positive addition for a prospective homebuyer. 

Professional Assistance 

Some people do undertake the installation of these two types of residential watering systems on their own. These usually are people with at least some experience in regard to plumbing issues, including basic installation. 

With that said, a majority of people do seek out professional assistance when it comes to the installation of the two types of landscape watering systems mentioned previously. One reason why many individuals gravitate to a professional is because an experienced pro can assist in designing the layout of both types of watering systems in the first instance. The reality is that proper design undertaken in the first instance ensures a properly functioning system for the long term. 

Cost Issues 

The reality is that the costs associated with the watering systems discussed in this article are reasonable. Indeed, there exist some highly affordable options. The fact that the installation of these two types of systems makes you residence more attractive to a would-be buyer. Thus, obtaining these types of watering systems serves as a solid investment in your residence in advance of putting it on the marketplace. In the end, the enhancement of the landscaping through these systems may increase the market value, rendering these installations a solid investment.

Jessica Kane writes for PlumbersStock, the top choice of do-it-yourselfers and professional plumbers alike for all of their pumbing supply needs. 

Essential Information for a Pinball Machine Investor

If you are a pinball enthusiast, you may want to take your passion for the game to a while new level. You may have friends who’ve become involved in putting money into different types of collectable items as an investment alternative. For example, you may have colleagues you invest in such collectables as: 

  • wine
  • coins
  • stamps
  • automobiles
  • pins

With your enthusiasm for and interest in pinball, you may wonder you can make a go out of investing in vintage pinball machines. As part of contemplating pinball machines as a potential investment opportunity, you need to consider some essential information about the game and its history. 

The Big Three 

As part of your overall due diligence in advance of putting money into vintage pinball machines, you need to understand some basic facts about pinball machine manufacturers. Throughout the 20th century, when pinball was at its pinnacle in the United States and elsewhere around the world, there were three major manufacturers of pinball machines: 

  • Bally
  • Gottlieb
  • Williams

These three companies each came up with some unique derivations of pinball machines which remain collector’s items, and even potentially profitable investments. Gottlieb was established in 1927 in Chicago. The company produced one of the first tabletop pinball machines. The machine went on the market in 1931 and was called Baffle Ball. It sold for $17.50. 

Williams came up with a unique game in 1952 called Horsefeathers. This game allowed to players to play next to each other on the same machine. 

In 1966, Bally developed a game called Caperville. This pinball machine featured highly stylized spies found in an underwater world. 

Pinball Machines Through the Years 

By the 1970s, there was a major shift in pinball machines. The electromechanical pinball machines popularized in the 1950s and 1960s were replaced by solid-state ones. These newer pinball machines were able to compute scores instantaneously. Pinball machines in the 1970s featured an amazing array of sound effects. 

The rise of video games in arcades during the 1980s nearly wiped out pinball machines all together. In many ways, pinball was saved by creative licensing deals from movie producers. These licensing deals resulted in the development of movie themed pinball machines. Indeed, the post popular pinball machine of all time came out in 1991. The pinball machine was based on the Addams Family and was the brainchild of Bally. Over 20,000 units of the Addams Family pinball machine have been sold. 

These three major pinball players from days gone by are out of business. Thus, their machines oftentimes have increasing value because these companies will not be manufacturing any more. 

The leading manufacturer of pinball machines in the 21st century in the United States is Stern Pinball. Indeed, this really is the only major manufacturer of pinball machines in operation at this point in time. 

Although Stern stands alone, this may not be the situation in the not too distant future. In the past few years, there appears to be something of a revival when it comes to pinball and pinball machines. 

This revival is two-faceted. First, there is an increasing number of people who are taking up playing the game, which accounts for the fact that a company like Stern is enjoying steady business. 

Second, the vintage pinball machine collectors market is advancing as well. This is the market that you will need to be in tune with if you decide to include vintage pinball machines in your overall investment scheme. 

Pinball Machine Collectors and Investors Resources 

Thanks to the internet, there is a decent number of helpful and reliable resources for people who have an interest in collecting or investing in pinball machines. These include everything from websites at which pinball machines are bought and sold to informational resources that provide vital data about a wide array of different types of vintage and valuable pinball machines. 

There are also an increasing number of pinball collectors and investors groups forming. These are coming together in cyberspace but also in the brick and mortar world. For example, a notable number of larger communities are seeing the creation of Meetups dedicated to pinball enthusiasts, collectors, and even investors. This trend is expected to carry forth into the foreseeable future. 

A final note about using vintage pinball machines as an investment vehicle. You may be able to make money collecting and investing in pinball machines. However, you need to bear in mind that this type of investment is risky and should not be the only egg in your financial basket.

Jessica Kane is a writer for The Pinball Company, the best online source for new, used, and refurbished pinball machines, arcade cabinets, and more!

Should You Take Your Pooch on a Business Trip?

What can be fairly called a quiet trend among business travelers is an increasing number of people who bring their dogs along with them on business trips. If you are wondering about the advisability to taking a business trip with your dog, there exist a number of facts and factors to ponder.

Hotel Accommodations

An increasing number of hotels are becoming more pet friendly all of the time. This includes not only permitting pets to stay in hotel rooms, but offering other services for pets as well. It is these other services that can prove to be particularly important for you if you want to travel with your dog.

An increasing number of hotels provide access to “doggy daycare.” This sometimes is on site. In other situations, doggy daycare is in close proximity to a hotel. 

You really will want to be on the lookout for accessible doggy day care when you travel with your dog on a business trip. This will be a godsend to you and will help ensure that your pooch is properly tended to while you’re dealing with business. 

Other Dog Friendly Accommodations

With increasing regularity, a growing number of businesses in the United States and elsewhere around the world are becoming strongly pet-friendly. For example, an increasing number bistros permit dogs to join their humans in outdoor dining areas. Some stores permit dogs to join their humans inside as well. In other words, a dog owner has a great deal more flexibility in regard to what can and cannot be done with a dog, including while traveling for business.

Dogs that Tagalong

Although this is the exception and not the rule, in some situations, pooches can tagalong with their humans to certain meetings or functions associated with a business trip. More than a few entrepreneurs or business owners with different locations bring their dogs along on business trips. Moreover, they bring their pooches along with them to specific business related events.

Again, this is a narrow situation in which a dog can accompany a human to actual work-related functions. An employee of a company should never presume that this is acceptable. On the other hand, a business traveler should never absolutely rule out the possibility that this type of tagalong situation might be workable in limited circumstances. 

Lowers Stress

Time and again, people who bring their dogs on business trips make the same comment. They proclaim that having their pooches along keeps their own stress in check. 

Business travel can be stressful. For many business travelers, the level of stress is persistent until the jaunt ands and the person gets back home. 

Having a pet along provides a business traveler a much needed companion who can assist in relieving stress. That can come in the form of something as simple as taking walks with your furry friend while on a business trip.

Oftentimes Cheaper Than Boarding

When contemplating whether or not to take your dog on a business trip, boarding may be a consideration. When you travel for business, you may need to board your dog or hire a dog sitter. Even if you have a friend pop in on a daily basis to feed, water, and check on your pooch, there may be an expense associated with that assistance, particularly if you will be gone for more than a short period of time.

Research comparing and contrasting the cost of taking your dog on a business trip with you or boarding your canine companion indicates that it’s cheaper to travel with your pooch. You may pay upwards to $125 one way to bring your dog on a flight with you. However, boarding costs can run between $30 and $60 a night. This, unless your business trip is very short, you’ll end up saving money by bringing your dog along.

Plan Well in Advance for Pooch Travel

If you plan to travel with your dog on a business trip, you must be highly proactive. You need to undertake all associated due diligence and make suitable arrangements for your dog in regard to all elements of a business trip. This includes everything from confirming that a particular airline can accommodate your pooch and that there is room in the proverbial inn for your furry friend. 

Nothing can be left to chance of speculation. You simply cannot have a business trip tossed into turmoil because you failed to properly plan all aspects of the trip with your canine in mind. Transposing the cliché about your dog eating your homework doesn’t work in a business travel setting.

Jessica Kane is a writer for Handicapped Pets, your most trusted source for dog wheelchairs and harnesses.