Adding Value to Your Home From The Outside

Picnic table
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Studies have shown that may times putting money into the outside of your home produces a greater return than investing inside.

The following popular outside improvement projects will increase the curb appeal or value of a home: 

Adirondack chairs—Uniquely-American classic outdoor furniture is made entirely of wood and has a straight back and seat, which are set at a slant to sit comfortably on a hillside or mountain incline, but still be comfortable at any angle.

Gazebo—A gazebo can be freestanding or attached to a garden wall, roofed and open on all sizes to provide shade or shelter.

Planters and window boxes—Planters have become popular because they are both functional and ornamental. Additionally, some can be moved frequently to account for seasonal weather or just to create a change in scenery.

Picnic table—Picnic tables go well on a patio or a deck, but equally as well on the grass or under a tree in the yard. A traditional picnic table is all in one piece so that it wears well without a lot of maintenance.

Trellis—A trellis can function as a unique sun screen or it can be the framework for an outdoor hanging garden. Building it with pressure treated lumber can add life by minimizing rotting and other threats.

Trash can corral or compost bin—While many outdoor projects tend to be cosmetic in nature, here are two ideas that are both practical and pretty. With a trash can corral, you can hide unsightly trash cans and with a compost bin, you can reduce your own carbon footprint in a way that doesn’t take away from the visual appeal of the place.

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2022 Winter Games in Tahoe???

United States Olympic Committee logo
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The Lake Tahoe basin remains a potential host for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

While local organizations have spearheaded efforts to bring the games to Lake Tahoe in recent years, there is reason for renewed optimism, according to Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki, chairman of Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition (RTWGC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to having Reno/Tahoe selected as the next North American region to host an Olympic Winter Games.

“The latest comments from the USOC are an absolute shot in the arm for the Lake Tahoe region’s latest bid to host the games,” he said. “This will allow us the necessary momentum to create a network and a partnership between Nevada and California that can focus on putting a package in place that makes it compelling for the USOC.”

A shakeup in the United States Olympic Committee leadership has led to a reprioritization of how the committee will approach the bidding process.

USOC Chairman Larry Probst and newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun indicated they may want to pursue a 2022 Winter Games bid.

“Nothing’s off the table at this point,” chairman Larry Probst said during an interview at Associated Press headquarters Tuesday, when asked about a possible 2022 bid.

In the past, the USOC has focused on bringing the Summer Games to a bid city, as the games are typically viewed as a stronger economic engine for the host city.

However, in wake of Chicago’s last place finish in the bidding process for the 2016 Summer Games, the USOC indicated that bringing the Winter Games to the United States could be a positive step in repairing their relationship with the International Olympic Committee.

“The idea is to face in the right direction and start walking,” Blackmun said, “and we’ll know when we get there.”

According to reports from the Associated Press, the two strongest candidates to host the 2022 Winter Games are Denver and Reno-Tahoe.

“We’re really supportive of the USOC and the Olympic movement,” KieAnn Brownell, president of the Denver Sports Commission, told the Associated Press. “We have aspirations from the standpoint of wanting to host international events of all types. We’re going to follow the USOC’s lead and see where that goes.”

Local Impact

Bringing the 2022 Winter Games to Lake Tahoe would give the region an opportunity to dramatically improve its infrastructure, said Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Spokesman Dennis Oliver.

“Lake Tahoe could be the first Olympic site to deliver a Green Olympics with an underlying theme of sustainability,” he said.

Oliver said preparations for hosting the games should include installing a public transportation system capable of serving residents long after the event has concluded.

Oliver also envisions the creation of new more energy efficient hotel accommodations, athletic facilities with minimal impact on the local environment, and a system of feeding the athletes with locally grown agricultural products.

“It would be an event with an underlying theme of carbon neutral and I know a lot of local leaders would be interested in pulling it off,” Oliver said.

Krolicki agreed.

“The 2022 Winter Games would be a spectacle and a delight for several weeks,” he said. “But the improvements made to the infrastructure of the Lake Tahoe Basin in lead-up to the games would benefit residents for decades.”

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Free Radon Test Kits To El Dorado County Residents

Seal of El Dorado County, California
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Residents of El Dorado County can receive a free radon test kit until supplies run out.

The Tahoe Division of the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department has several hundred test kits available, said Virginia Huber, Tahoe Division Manager.

The kits can be picked up from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays at 3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Suite 303.

“We recommend everyone in the South Lake Tahoe area test their home for radon,” Huber said.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive case that arises from the decay of naturally occurring uranium and thorium in soil. The gas is linked to 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year, second only to cigarette smoking, according to the EPA.

A report from the California Geological Survey in June 2009 estimated that 23,400 people in the Lake Tahoe area live in buildings where radon is likely to equal or exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level of 4 picocuries per liter.

The report was based on geological data, as well as results from a survey of 443 homes in South Lake Tahoe between 2006 and 2007.

According to the survey, about 40 percent of homes in the Lake Tahoe area are at or above the EPA’s recommended action level, while approximately 55 percent of homes in the El Dorado County portion of the basin who participated in the survey are at or above the recommended action level.

Winter is a good time to test a home for radon, Huber said.

“It’s the best time to test because your house is closed up,” she said.

For more information call (530) 573-3450.

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Possible Home Loan Modification Problems

Factors contributing to someone's credit score...
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Fire Sprinklers Required in 2011

Image of Sparky the Fire Dog, official mascot ...
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 Beginning in 2011 all new one and two-family homes and townhouses built in California must have automatic fire sprinkler systems.

The California State Building Standards Commission voted Tuesday unanimously b to adopt the 2010 California Residential Code, which includes the 2009 International Residential Code as established by the International Code Council in September 2008. The residential sprinkler requirement was voted into the 2009 IRC Code by building code officials from all over the United States, gaining more than two-thirds of the vote.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 3320 people perished in fires in 2008 throughout the United States. According to the NFPA, there has never been a documented fire death in a fully operational sprinklered residence with working smoke detectors.

“It is a tragedy for our nation to have those kinds of preventable fire death losses,” said

Lake Valley Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Michael.

For more information about the new building standards codes coming in 2011, contact the Lake Valley Fire Protection District, Fire Prevention Bureau at 530-577-3737.

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The Home Buyers Tax Credit Made Simple

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Why a Tax Credit???

Snow and Ski Report Week of 1/11/10

Ski slopes overlooking Lake Tahoe
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — After a rash of warmer weather, including fog and rain, some snow is expected to return this week to the area, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

A special weather statement forecasts two winter storms this week, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. They should bring gusty winds, along with mountain snow and valley rain.

“Significant snowfall is likely on the Sierra Tuesday and Wednesday, with total accumulations of 6 inches or more in the Tahoe basin …” the statement reads.

As the storm approaches, it is expected to scour the fog that has hovered over the lake all weekend, NWS reports.

Below is an extended forecast, complements of www.noaa.gov. Also included in this story is an update of snow conditions, lift information and operations at various Lake Tahoe ski resorts as of Monday, Jan. 11. Please check with individual ski resorts for latest conditions and operations.

Extended forecast

Today: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47. South wind around 10 mph.

Tonight: A slight chance of rain before 4am, then rain and snow likely. Snow level 7200 feet. Cloudy, with a low around 34. South wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Tuesday: Rain and snow likely before 10am, then snow. High near 41. Windy, with a south wind between 25 and 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Tuesday Night: Snow. Low around 34. Breezy, with a southwest wind between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Wednesday: Snow showers, mainly before 10am. High near 38. West wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Wednesday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow showers, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 42.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 31.

Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 48.

Friday Night: A slight chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 34.

Saturday: A slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.

Saturday Night: A slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25.

Sunday: A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 37.

 

Resort Round-Up

ALPINE MEADOWS

www.skialpine.com

Open lifts: 8 of 12

Open trails: 32 out of 32

Upper mountain snow: 65 inches

Lower mountain snow: 40 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed main runs, variable conditions off piste.

BOREAL

www.borealski.com

Open lifts: 5 of 6

Open trails: 41 of 41

Upper mountain snow: 75-inch base

Lower mountain snow: 75-inch base

Snow condition: Machine groomed packed powder. Watch for unmarked obstacles.

DIAMOND PEAK

www.diamondpeak.com

Open Lifts: 4 of 6

Open trails: 31 out of 31

Upper mountain snow: 36 inches

Lower mountain snow: 24 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

HEAVENLY

www.skiheavenly.com

Open trails: 80 of 94

Open lifts: 28 of 29

Upper mountain snow: 48 inches

Lower mountain snow: 28 inches

Snow condition: Machine-groomed and machine-made snow.

HOMEWOOD

www.skihomewood.com

Open lifts: 6 of 6

Open trails: 59 of 65

Upper mountain snow: 54 inches

Lower mountain snow: 40 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed main runs, variable conditions off piste.

KIRKWOOD

www.kirkwood.com

Open trails: 72 of 72

Groomed Trails: 32

Open lifts: 10 of 12

Upper mountain snow: 80 inches

Lower mountain snow: 60 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed and skier packed powder.

KIRKWOOD XC

Open trail: 50 kilometers

Snow: 36 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

MOUNT ROSE

www.skirose.com

Open trails: 45 of 45 (all chutes closed)

Open lifts: 5 out of 7

Upper mountain snow: 42 inches

Lower mountain snow: 20 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed and skier/rider packed snow.

NORTHSTAR AT TAHOE

www.northstarattahoe.com

Open lifts: 17 of 19

Open trails: 88 of 91 (11 easy, 40 moderate, 37 black diamond or above)

Groomed trails: 52

Upper mountain snow: 34 inches

Lower mountain snow: 20 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

ROYAL GORGE CROSS COUNTY

www.royalgorge.com

Open trails: Not available

Groomed trails: 58

Upper mountain snow: 52 inches

Lower mountain snow: 42 inches

Snow condition: Packed powder.

SIERRA AT TAHOE

www.sierraattahoe.com

Open lifts: 9

Open trails: 43

Upper mountain snow: 38 inches

Lower mountain snow: 36 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

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Handley Wood Housing Key Market Indicators

Housing Market
New home sales lost momentum in October while the resale market continued to surge due to lower mortgage rates and the extended homebuyer tax credit. Seasonally-adjusted new home sales fell 11.3% from the previous month to an annual rate of 355,000 units. The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of new home sales in November is back down to its lowest levels since April. New home sales for the previous three months were also revised lower by 49,000 units. It is worrisome that lower rates and the extended housing tax credit were not enough to fuel demand for new homes in November.

While the new home affordability ratio remains at very high levels, it is still almost 10 percentage points higher than the existing home ratio. Median new home prices in November rose to $217,400 from a downwardly amount of $209,400 in October. Prices increased 3.8% from the previous month but are still 1.9% lower than they were this time last year. Median new home prices have now recorded 11 straight months of year-over-year declines. Further price cuts and use of incentives may be necessary to attract demand in the new homes market. However, the continued reduction in inventory levels is a positive sign for stabilization in the new homes market. In November, new home inventories declined to 234,00 units from an October figure of 241,000 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Seasonally-adjusted inventory of unsold homes have declined for 31 straight months to 235,000 units.

Sales in the existing home market remained strong in November. The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of all existing homes jumped 7.4% from October levels to 6,540,000 units. This is the highest the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of existing home sales since February 2007. Existing single-family home sales increased 8.5% from last month while condo and co-op sales remained flat from October levels at 770,000 units. Lower mortgage rates and the extended housing tax credit have kept buyers interested due to all-time high affordability.

In November, the median sales price for an existing home increased slightly to $172,600 from $172,200 in October. This was the first gain in median existing home prices since June although prices are still 4.3% lower than they were this time last year. Existing home inventory posted declines for the fourth consecutive month in November, easing 1.3% to 3,518,000 units from a revised 3,565,000 units in October. This is the lowest level of existing home inventory on the market since December 2006.

After rising for nine consecutive months, the National Association of Realtor’s pending home sales index in November fell for the first time since January. The Pending Home sales Index, which is a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in November, dropped 16.0% to a reading of 96.0 from an upwardly revised reading of 114.3 in October.

National average mortgage rates declined from the previous week to 5.09% in the latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey released weekly by Freddie Mac on January 7th. This was the first weekly decline for average fixed rates since the beginning of December. Rates had been steadily moving higher and increased for four straight weeks before this past week’s decline. In the week ending January 1st, the MBA’s seasonally-adjusted purchase index increased 3.6% from the previous week but was still down 36.33% compared to the same time last year. This was the first weekly gain for the purchase index in the past month while the year-over-year drop in the purchase index is the largest since February 2009.

Finding the “Right” Agent

I would encourage you to talk to friends, family, and/or coworkers in your area who have recently bought or sold a property to get 3 or 4 references. Interview those agents- asking questions like:

1. How would you market my house? (Online must be PART of their answer).
2. How would you come to a listing price for the house? (A comprehensive market analysis of your comps. Be sure to share any unique features your house has).
3. What is their online experience? (My company in CA pushes listings to over 30 search engines and real estate sites).
4. How many houses do they currently have listed? (The less listed the more likely they are to show yours).
5. Commissions? Is there a reduced commission if the agent handles both sides of the sale? Is there a reduced commission if someone in their office handles the buyer side of the sale?
6. Is there anything you can do to make your house more inviting to buyers? (Like de-cluttering, painting, getting a home inspection and termite report, etc).
7. The last thing you should ask is if they have any questions for you.

I think that a great agent would ask to see and take pictures of your house before your formal interview. They should then bring a sample flier that they would post outside your house, a virtual tour, and hopefully the market analysis. All else being equal- go with who you feel the most comfortable talking with. Remember this is a business relationship.