Help on the way for unemployed homeowners

With talks still ongoing this weekend about the debt ceiling and if lawmakers will reach an agreement, there is good news to come from Washington, at least for those unemployed homeowners.

The Obama administration has announced that they will extend unemployed homeowners a few months’ forbearance on paying their mortgages to 12 months.  This is another action by Washington to put a halt to foreclosures and keep people in their homes.  Obama has been quoted as saying the housing market has been a terrible issue to solve and that “The continuing decline in the housing market is something that hasn’t bottomed out as quickly as we expected, and so that’s continued to be a big drag on the economy.”

He also mentioned that they will be communicating with banks in the hopes that they will work more efficiently to help modify loans for those in need.  And in order to qualify for the 12 months’ relief, homeowners must be in the process of looking for a job.  And for those that can afford to pay a portion of the loan, they must do that, as well.  You wouldn’t be mortgage-free the entire time.

Comments to this USA article suggest that programs like I’ve described just drag this crisis out longer and makes it tougher for those not struggling to make money on their home.   What are your thoughts on this?  By offering relief to some, is it negatively impacting others?  Will this keep the housing market at an all-time low for too long?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please leave me a comment or visit me online.

Blagojevich forced to sell home

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been forced to use his Ravenswood Manor home and his Washington D.C. condo as collateral against a $450,000 bond ordered by a judge.

Lawyers mentioned during the court appearance that the Ravenswood home is for sale, although no listing yet exists on the public market.  It’s possible that the home sale will be kept private, only allowing those qualified to see it.   Guesses are that the home will be listed around $900,000.  Blagojevich purchased the home in 1999 for $505,000.  It was built in the 1920s and has 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and is 3817 square feet. 

Blagojevich was convicted in June on 17 counts of wire fraud, bribery, attempted extortion, and conspiracy after prosecutors argued he tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat when he won the presidency. 

More information can be found here. Please be sure to visit me online for updated news, articles, and tips!

Tips for a successful yard sale

Just driving through some neighborhoods this week, I noticed a lot of garage sale signs.  With spring and summer being a key time to make some extra cash by holding a garage sale, I figured it would be a good idea to offer some tips on having a successful one.

1. Plan ahead.  Find out when the best dates are in your area.  For instance, in some local suburbs here, garage sales are much more popular on Thursdays than on the weekend.  So to make a lot of money, you’ll want to make sure to have your sale locally starting on Thursday.  Check the weather forecast ahead of time.  And consider that most people get paid around the 15th and 30th of the month, so the middle of the month and beginning is when people will most likely be carrying around extra cash.

2. Advertise.  Make sure to let all your neighbors know, especially if they want to contribute items to your sale.  Advertising a MultiFamily Sale can bring in a lot more customers.  Post on Facebook, Tweet it.  You’ll want to advertise on your local Craigslist for free.  And consider placing a cheap ad in your local paper.  Put up brightly colored signs.  If you are going in with several families, pick one or two locations that are on the main street in your neighborhood to drive the most traffic.

3. Price well.  I was just talking to my neighbor the other day that often shops garage sales for her kids.  She usually has some great finds on clothes.  She went to one recently where the woman running the sale priced some nicer brand clothing for $5 each.  That’s still high in the garage sale world.  People go to garage sales expecting to find a bargain.  Kids clothes no more than $2, and pack in bundles for even less.  Books should be 25 cents to maybe $1 at the most.  And be willing to bargain, especially at the end of the day.  That’s what people expect.  If you think something is worth more, eBay or Craigslist may be the way to go.  And make sure you have a lot of change with you, as people often bring larger bills.

4.  Be safe.  Try to keep one other person there at all times with you.  Carry a cell phone.  Do not let anyone into the house under any circumstances.  If they need to use the restroom, direct them to the closest public one.  Keep your cash box with you at all times.  You are sure to have some early birds arrive before the sale.  To prevent that, make sure to post “No early birds” in your advertising or let them know to wait in their cars until you officially open.

I’d love to hear any other tips you can offer on a succesful sale.  Please leave me a comment or visit me online.

Create luxury looks on a budget

I found this very interesting and timely article on MSN today.  It talks about adding budget-friendly luxury items to your home.  I think this is great for those of you who need to sell your home but also want to update some things without spending a lot of money.  And instead of remodeling an entire room, you can add bits and pieces to give the look of luxury.  And even if you’re not selling but want to update here and there, there’s some great tips.

1. Create dedicated spaces.  This basically means to create space in your home to do a certain activity, such as exercising, craft space, or having an office.  And you can do this without turning an entire room over.  For example, you can create a nook in your family room with a desk, computer, filing cabinet, etc. to create an office.  A great way to do this without completely separating the room is investing in one of those decorative or wooden screens, one that looks like a trifold.

 2. Add quality features.  I love this idea.  You can easily transform a room to make it look updated by investing a little money and lots of creativity.  Take the kitchen, for example.  You can completely update it without breaking the bank by repainting cabinets (not replacing), updating drawer and cabinet pulls, and buying a luxury faucet.  So instead of spending the money on granite countertops and new stainless steel appliances, choose little items that can use an upgrade.  And as I’ve said before, keeping countertops clean and clear gives the illusion of a larger space.

3. Create an outdoor room.  Increase the size of your living space by focusing on an area in your backyard.  If you already have an enclosed porch or four-season room, you’re one step ahead.  For those of you who don’t, create a space with nice patio furniture and an outdoor fireplace on your deck or in your yard.  

4. Focus on furniture.  And I’m not even saying you have to go out and buy all brand-new furniture.  It’s simple to update your furniture by choosing a new fabric and getting it reupholstered.  You can also make the room pop by choosing new accent pillows to complement an existing colored sofa.  Even consider rearranging the furniture in the room for a change of pace or to create a new focal point, the fireplace, for instance.  

If you have any more tips on creating a luxury look on a budget, I’d love to hear them.  Please leave me a comment or visit me online.

Your best local fireworks displays

Since this blog was so popular last year, I figured I’d return to it over the holiday weekend to let you know where you can catch some of the best local fireworks displays in the Chicagoland area.  I hope you’ll all be able to get out to view some of these fantastic shows. 

Evanston: July 4th at 9:15 pm at Clark Street Beach (Clark Street and the lakefront).  Palatine Concert Band will be playing from 7:30 to 9:00 pm at Dawes Park.  View Evanston’s site for more info. I have to say, even though I do work in the Evanston area and am probably a little biased, that this show is absolutely fantastic year after year!

Glenview: July 4th starting at 7:30 pm at the Glenview Park Golf Club at 800 Shermer Road.  View the park district site here.

Skokie: Skokie is planning a Picnic in the Park concert beginning at 6:00 featuring music.  They’ll also have food and drinks. The fireworks show is at dusk on July 4th at Niles West High School, 5701 Oakton Street.  

Wilmette: Wilmette is also planning their fireworks display for tomorrow, July 3rd.  The show is at Gillson Park at Lake Avenue and Lake Michigan and starts at 9:30.  Starting at 4 pm tomorrow, Wilmette is having a Tastefest and carnival rides for the kids.  View their Web site for more information.

Buffalo Grove: You’ll be able to view their fireworks from three locations starting at 9:15 pm July 4th.  You can see them at the Buffalo Grove Golf Course, Rotary Village Green, or Willow Stream Park.  Starting at 7 pm, the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band will be playing a concert at the Rotary Village Green.  More details here.

Libertyville: Fireworks begin at 9:30 on July 4th at Butler Lake Park, located on Lake Street west of Milwaukee Avenue.  In the Butler Lake Band shell, the Libertyville Village Band will play a concert at 7:30 pm.  View their site.

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday weekend. Visit me online if you need anything!