Some police departments report as high as 98% of calls are false alarms. Not only is this an incredible waste of police resources that could be available for legitimate emergencies, it annoys neighbors, startles pets and results in expensive false alarm fees.
Know your codes – entering an incorrect keypad code is a common mistake leading to false alarms. The solution is to create codes that are easy for all members of the family to remember without them being obvious to potential burglars like your street number. Let everyone know when you change your code.
Secure windows and doors – be sure that all windows and doors are closed before activating your alarm. Disarm your system before opening a window or door.
House guests – tell visitors that you have an alarm system and when you normally arm it. Housekeepers, baby sitters, outside family and close friends also need to be aware of your procedures and possibly give them a code to disarm the system if it is accidentally activated.
Batteries – most systems have battery backup in case the power goes out. Know how often you need to replace the batteries; some last considerably longer than others.
Motion detectors – pets can trigger a motion detector and then, the alarm. There are sensors made for households with pets providing an alternative to turning them off. Other things that could activate motion detectors are helium balloons or curtains and plant leaves being blown in front of a sensor.
Home alarm systems are valuable to homeowners by increasing security, providing peace of mind and lowering insurance premiums. Some municipalities require a license fee for any home with an alarm. Use your alarm wisely.
During the holidays as throughout the year, getting cash from an ATM is normal for many people. ATM’s are available 24 hours a day and they’re located in bank branches, convenience stores, grocery stores, malls, airports, sports venues and on street corners.
Unfortunately, the convenience aspect can compromise personal safety especially if you are distracted or not paying attention. Planning for an ATM withdrawal and applying common sense can help you avoid trouble.
Be aware of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction like people sitting in a nearby parked car or someone offering to help you.
Safeguard your PIN. Don’t share it with anyone. Don’t write it down. Don’t use your birthdate, last four digits of your phone number or other obvious numbers.
If there are other people at the ATM to make a withdrawal, shield the keypad when entering your PIN number.
Keep your car doors locked and windows raised, except for your driver’s window, when using a drive-up ATM.
Minimize the time spent at the ATM by being prepared with your card ready, what you plan to do and do not count your money until you are in a safe place away from the ATM.
Take your receipt with you and destroy it if you decide to discard it.
Be aware that some thieves use skimming devices to steal account and PIN numbers. If something doesn’t look “just right”, consider finding another machine to use.
Especially at night, pay attention to locations with adequate lighting and being visible from the street. Don’t compromise your safety just because it is convenient.
After you have your money, pay attention to see if someone might be following you. If you are concerned, go to a nearby police or fire station or well-trafficked business and call the police.
If you feel uneasy during a transaction, cancel it, remove your card and LEAVE.
There may be a time in the not too distant future when we don’t have a need for cash anymore. Until that time, paying attention to simple safety precautions can help protect us during the holidays and throughout the year.
If you’re beginning to feel the pressure of running out of time to find the perfect gift, here are a few suggestions that may not be on their “list” but will certainly be appreciated.
The gift of really listening without interrupting, daydreaming or planning your response can be exactly what people want when they have something important to say.
The gift of affection with appropriate hugs, kisses and pats on the back can demonstrate your love for family and friends better than words.
The gift of laughter by sharing articles, cartoons and funny stories will say “I love to laugh with you.”
The gift of a simple, written note shows sincerity and real heartfelt sentiment that may be remembered for a lifetime and could even change a life.
The gift of a sincere compliment supports a person’s need to be accepted and appreciated. “You look great in that color”, “That was outstanding” or “I really enjoyed that” can make someone’s day.
The gift of random kindness or good deeds like holding a door or allowing someone to move ahead of you in a checkout lane shows respect for others.
Your smile, however, may be your most rewarding gift. Invariably, the person receiving the smile will in turn, smile back. The gift you gave will now be given back to you. It will be the right size and you can always use one more smile.
You’ve got $500,000 in liquid assets for your retirement and you’re still 15 years away. All your bills are paid; you have a small mortgage on your home; cars are paid
for and great credit. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back yet.
People think more about what they’re going to do when they retire than whether they’ll have the funds to do them. Ask anyone who has retired, it takes more money than you thought it did. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation.
To retire with $125,000 income in today’s dollars with a life expectancy of 25 years after retirement, you’ll need to have a net worth of $1.5 million at retirement including what Social Security may provide. Your $500,000 will grow to $1,045,420 in 15 years which will leave you about a half million short. You’ll need to save $24,149 each year for the next 15 years to reach your goal.
Is this surprising? Did you imagine that this example would be that far from its goal? It might seem staggering to save $24,000 each year but there is another way…investing in rentals.
Real estate over the long term has proven to be a solid, predictable investment. Cash flows, appreciation, equity buildup and tax advantages are the components that contribute to the rate of return. Increasing rents, available financing and solid appreciation make rentals particularly attractive in today’s environment.
Call me at (972) 407-1337 to find out more about how rental homes can help you reach your retirement goals.
Ralph R. Roberts is an internationally acclaimed real estate agent, speaker, investor, and consultant. Chip Cummings is a real estate lending expert, a Certified Mortgage Consultant with more than 25 years of experience, and a seasoned real estate investor. Roberts and Cummings coauthored Mortgage Myths: 77 Secrets That Will Save You Thousands on Home Financing.
Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced today that they are raising the loan amount for conventional loans for 2018. This means home buyers can borrow more money without having to take a jumbo loan (with a higher interest rate and tougher approval requirements).
For most of the U.S., the new loan limit is $453,100. For 2017, it is $424,100.
For “high cost areas” the new loan limit is $670,650. (These are areas in which 115 percent of the local median home value exceeds the baseline conforming loan limit. The calculation is 150% of $453,100.)
For a map showing the loan limits by county, click here.
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