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Selecting The Right Generator

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

The electricity can go out in any season whether due to storms or equipment failure. Having a backup emergency generator as part of your emergency plan can be a lifesaver. There are various types and sizes of generators on the market and depending on your needs, can range in cost and quality. If you are a homeowner considering investing in a generator, below are some helpful tips that can help you in your research..

Types of Generators

You can get generators in various sizes and types of power. The more items you plan to to provide power to, the bigger and more costly the generator.

Stationary Generators

A stationary generator is  outside-mounted and run on propane or natural gas and supply more power than a portable. They are typically equipped with a forced air or other type of cooling system that allows it to be enclosed typically outside mounted on a concrete pad similar to a central air conditioning unit.

  • Permanent generators are installed as part of the electrical system and provide power to the building wiring.
  • Electrical current from the generator may back-feed into the home's electrical system and cause damage or fire and ruin equipment if it is not properly installed. It is recommended a qualified electrician install a generator to a home electrical system.
  • Stationary generators are far more powerful than any portable unit, a stationary generator will allow you to weather any outage for an extended period of time.


Portable Generators

This type of generators are typicaly wheeled and are ususally the most popular, You will need to make sure you have an ample supply of fuel when using this type for extended use. This type is idea if you plan to use a few selected circuits such as  for lights in the general living area, heating or cooling systems, or refrigerator.

  • If deciding to use a portable generator, it is important to select one that is adequately sized. Some electrical motors in home appliances and equipment can be ruined or damaged if they do not receive enough electrical current.
  • Portable generators are least expensive and can be transported for camping, trips or other locations where temporary power is needed


Before you purchase a generator be sure to you have determined the total watts needed to power the items you need. This is important to help you determine what size generator is required. An electrician can help make this determination or you can check the manufacturer information for each appliance.

Whether you choose a portable or a stationary, all generators burns fuel and must be run outdoors. Always follow the manufacturers instructions and never run it in the garage or inside the home.

Avoiding Loan Scams

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

One of the major things you will need to do if you are purchasing a new home, is to obtain a home loan. Unfortunately with the difficult economy and the availablity of loans more difficult, loan scams are on the rise. People with bad credit and the elderly are the most vulenderable and often targeted. Below are some tips to help you from being a victim.


Avoid Being A Victim

  • Avoid Unsolicited phone calls. Be wary of any phone call offering remarkably low interest rates on loans, especially if you have registered your phone number with the Do Not Call Registry. Most major nationwide lenders do not solicit business over the phone. Never give out personal information over the phone unless you are absolutely sure who you are speaking with.
  • Don't agree to anything with a too-high interest rate
  • Don't buy insurance from a lender without shopping around first.
  • Watch the terms for reinforcing. They might end up worse than what you've got now.
  • Don't sign anything that's been given to you as a surprise! If the terms aren't what you'd agreed on, do not sign the document.
  • Avoid bad credit mortgage rates when looking for a loan.
  • Many loan scammers use high pressure sales tactics, so if you feel pressured or uncomfortable in anyway, never sign anything. It is a good idea to contact a real estate lawyer if in doubt to review the documents. If the company is legit, they should have no objection to a lawyer looking over the loan agreements before you will sign them.

Warning Signs

  • Do business with reputable companies, stay away from unsolicited calls, e-mails or letters offering you a loan.
  • Never do business with anyone who asks for money to be sent in advance to cover "processing", "application", "insurance", or the "first month's payment". Legitimate lenders never ask for these things to be paid before a loan is disbursed.
  • Requests that you "wire" or "send" money, as soon as possible to a large U.S. city or to another country, such as Canada, England, or Nigeria, by Western Union, Moneygram, or similar means.

What To Do If You Think You Have Been Scammed?

If you feel that you have been scammed or the company you have been in touch with is suspicious, contact the below agencies.

  • The FTC
  • The FBI
  • File fraud alerts with each of the three credit bureaus. This is important if you have provided the scammers with your sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number and information on your driver's license. They can use this to obtain credit in your name.

Reverse Mortgages

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Reverse mortgages are becoming more popular as a alternative for senior citizens who are homeowners. A reverse mortgage provides a way for seniors to borrow against the equity in their home with no repayment due until the homeowner dies, moves or sells. Any remaining equity after repayment goes to the borrower or the estate.  

 If you are considering a reverse mortgage, it may be of benefit if:

•You need cash assets or income and have no other source available.
•You are unable or unwilling to sell your house.
•You do not care what the costs are to get the income or assets you need. (Recent law has helped limit the outrageous costs of reverse mortgages.)
•You have no concern about which assets are left to your heirs.
Make sure you thoroughly scrutinize all costs and provisions.

The amount of money you can borrow depends on your age, the current interest rate, and the appraised value of your home or FHA's mortgage limits for your area, whichever is less. Generally, the more valuable your home is, the older you are, the lower the interest, the more you can borrow. You can use this online calculator on the AARP website to get an idea of what you may be able to borrow.

There are some cost involved, many of the same costs that someone pays to obtain a home purchase loan, or to refinance their existing mortgage, apply to reverse mortgages too. You can expect to be charged an origination fee, up-front mortgage insurance premium (for the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM), an appraisal fee, and certain other standard closing costs.In most cases, these fees and costs are capped and may be financed as part of the reverse mortgage. If a reverse mortgage sounds like it might be a solution for your situation, visit this website to locate a lender in your area.

Snow Removal Options

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Winter is in full swing in the Des Moines area and with the recent storms, snow removal is a necessity. Waking up to a driveway buried in snow is not always a welcome sight--especially on days that you need to be to work on time! Whether you want to remove the snow yourself or you would rather pay for the service, you have some different options to clear the snow from around your home and get on your way.

 Snow Blowers

Also called snow throwers, these come in both gas and electric. If you don't have too long a driveway, electric snow blowers provide an alternative to heavy, high-maintenance gas snow blowers. While they are sometimes less powerful, they typically require less maintenance. Gas snowblowers will have a wider clearing width and you don't have to worry about the cord but they are more expensive and require more maintenance such as tuning and yearly checkups.

Professional Snow Removal Services

If you prefer to just hire a professional to clear the snow for you, commercial snow removal companies are the way to go. Snow removal cost can vary greatly, some companies will offer a lump sum seasonal rate for businesses or residential. Others will charge on a each time basis which can range from $35 to $100. The downside can be a long wait if you are not a regular customer and a big storm hits. It is important to make sure the person you hire is experienced and insured. Visit the Snow and Ice management association's website to find a qualified company near you.

Lawnmower/Tractor Attachments

If you have a long driveway and have a riding lawn mower or lawn tractor, you may want to invest in a blade attachment or snow blower attachment for snow removal.  These attachments fastens to the front of the mower and throws snow or plows to the front or side. For longer and wider driveways, a snow plow attached to the front of the mower can quickly remove large amounts of snow. You can also purchase tire chains to help prevent the mower's wheels from spinning in their tracks.

 Shovels

Some homeowners prefer to use the tried and true traditional snow shovels and moves the snow themselves. It is important however to consider your physical condition. If you have a heart condition or other health issues, you should proceed with caution. Snow is heavy and shoveling is hard work - you don't want to risk a serious injury or jeopardize your health. On the positive side, it is a great way to burn calories and it doesn't cost you a thing! 

 

 

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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Contact Information

Photo of Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR Real Estate
Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR
Iowa Realty
3521 Beaver Ave.
Des Moines IA 50310
515-240-2692
Fax: 515-453-6404
 

 

 

Licensed in the State of Iowa