Tuesday, February 21, 2012
GCF Bank proudly participates in the Gloucester County Cares About Hunger Food Donation Collection Drive. Drop off your non-perishable food items at any GCF branch between Monday, February 13th and Thursday, February 23rd. For a list of preferred items, click here.
Our Current Rates:
For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, click here.
Tips on Buying Foreclosed Property
Realtytrac.com reports a total of 1,342,037 foreclosed homes as of January 2012. One of every 624 housing units received a foreclosure notice that same month.
Homes are foreclosed on when the owners can't, or won't, make the monthly mortgage payments as agreed upon. No need to go into the housing crisis in depth here. Every living, breathing American is aware of the gravity of this problem.
But one man's loss is another man's treasure. While nobody really wants to benefit from another's misfortune, the level of available homes makes this the perfect opportunity for those in the housing market.
If you're a first-time homebuyer, relocating for a job or downsizing as a new empty nester, you're in luck. Your timing couldn't be much better.
Buying foreclosed property is a little different than with a standard real estate transaction. You may get a great deal on the price, but it can be a little tricky to find the right one and seal the deal.
First, get a mortgage pre-approval from a lender. Don't assume the bank selling the property will offer you a mortgage. With a pre-approval letter in hand, you are assuring the bank that you are a serious buyer. You'll know in advance how much you can spend on a house and what your payments will be.
Find a real estate broker who works directly with the banks. They'll have the inside scoop on properties that haven't yet hit the listing services. Search online to find properties, availability, features and price for comparison. You'll see them designated as REO, real estate owned (by a bank). Many banks feature properties they have for sale directly on their website. You can find GCF's here.
You have to see the house for yourself, don't buy it unseen. Or hire an agent to do so for you if you don't yet live in the area. There are horror stories of buyers learning too late they bought vacant lots. The homes in the pictures they were shown never existed.
Budget carefully. Foreclosed homes have been vacant. Repairs can be costly. And they're your responsibility. There's no negotiating the cost of repairs off the purchase price. The longer the house has been vacant, the more problems you may incur. Plumbing, heating, air conditioning, sewer gas backups, mold, and bug infestations are just a couple of the issues you may find. Check the electrical wiring as well. Crooks have been stealing the copper wiring from vacant homes for easy money.
Check out the neighborhood. Both day and night, on weekdays and the weekend. Make sure it's somewhere you want to live or raise a family. What's the value of the surrounding homes? Are they vacant or is the neighborhood stable? Don't risk moving somewhere that may change in a way that would make you uncomfortable.
Do your homework before making an offer. Banks want to recover as much as they can from a property. Some will offer a foreclosure at full market value. Others are willing to discount a property as much as 30 percent, particularly if they've been stuck with it for a while.
HUD and other agencies often auction foreclosures. Be careful before putting in a bid. You may not be able to inspect the property properly. And you could end up paying too much for something that requires costly repairs.
Buying a foreclosed property is not for everyone. But if you have the time, resources and ability to handle potential problems, luck could be on your side.
Caring for the Caregiver
I got a phone call yesterday from a sobbing friend. Her father is in a nursing home and caregiver responsibility has fallen on her. The pain of his frustration and anger at losing his independence is all directed towards her as the only of his six children involved with his care. She's the one living closest, even though it's over 800 miles away. And feels totally helpless that she can't comfort him in his pain.
Harder yet is the plight of another friend whose mother-in-law moved in with them. Her battle with Alzheimer's had progressed to the point where she could no longer live alone. She doesn't recognize anyone a lot of the time, going so far as to threaten him with a baseball bat thinking him an intruder when he got home from work recently.
Americans are living longer. But not necessarily better.
The care of aging parents most often falls on those still raising a family of their own. With demands tugging from both generations, along with those of performing on the job and maintaining a household, there's no time or energy left for caregivers to tend to themselves.
Senior citizens are not the only group of people in need of care. A child born with a disability, spouse involved in a traffic accident or who developed a medical condition, or family member wounded during military service can require more time and attention than would an average, healthy person. Demands on the caregiver are the same.
These challenges are seldom discussed in the workplace where outside distractions can be deemed an impediment to job performance. This is particularly true for women, who often have to prove their career holds equal priority to their parenthood to be taken seriously.
Employers expect total commitment in exchange for a weekly paycheck. Can someone juggling urgent life issues live up to that expectation? Rather than risk losing a job, caregivers often toil in silence.
This is the real problem. For if one person speaks up, chances are good there's a co-worker experiencing the same difficulties. You now have a support group. And taken the first step towards getting yourself some badly needed relief.
It helps to know you're not alone. While no two situations are identical, skills used to persevere can be similar. Everyone has much to gain when you can learn from another's perspective or problem handling. You can draw from their success, and avoid those attempts that didn't turn out quite as planned.
Do you have a friend, neighbor or co-worker serving as a caregiver? You can help.
Offer to sit with their loved one for a couple of hours a week to give them a break. Shop for their groceries while you're out buying your own. Take their kids out for pizza one night so they can take a hot bath. Mow their lawn or shovel their snow.
Let them know they're not alone. Offer a shoulder to cry on. Or at least a sympathetic ear if distance prevents you from giving a strong hug.
Share this newsletter with them, along with the resources offered in "On the World Wide Web" section below. Merely knowing someone cares can brighten their day. Be that light.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), a widely watched market index, broke through the 13,000 level today for the first time since May of 2008. Investor confidence was once again buoyed by evidence that the European debt mess, while still a mess, would not cause a worldwide panic - at least not as of yet.
While a 13K DJIA is a far cry from the record high of 14,164.53 set on October 9th, 2007, it still is moving into what many analysts would consider bullish territory. Yet it is amazing how expectations have changed. Or more specifically, adjusted downward - lest investors be cheering regaining four-year-ago levels. On the other hand, a 13K DJIA is approximately twice the level of the index from as recently as March of 2009, during the depth of the financial crisis.
So what does it all mean? In the short term, it means the economy is improving. Finally, after the worst economic downturn since the 1930's, the economy appears to be on the mend.
Don't misinterpret this as being related to any action taken on the part of the government. It has been three years since the massive nearly trillion dollar stimulus was enacted - an act that produced none of the promised recovery. Quite likely, the recovery was actually delayed by such action, as private investors hunkered down, trying to preserve principle.
The same often-repeated lesson was learned once again: Governments spending money for non-productive assets creates no wealth. And most often interferes with the private market to such an extent that more harm than good is done. When the history is written on the great stimulus, this will be the conclusion.
But WAIT! - you say - an even worse depression was averted if it weren't for the massive stimulus! BALDERDASH, as my grandma used to say. There is simply no empirical evidence to support this claim. To be sure, government spending can be a source of fiscal stimulus, PROVIDED THE SPENDING IS FOR PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE. Projects, when completed, aid economic development and commerce. The Interstate Highway System was a successful stimulus project - no telling to what enormous extent that completed project has aided commerce since the 1950's. Similarly, many of the nation's dams, airports, bridges and other economic infrastructure were built during the Great Depression via the Public Works Administration (PWA) - the mother of all fiscal stimulus entities. Had our current government followed this depression era model (lesson?), perhaps we would be discussing a new record high DJIA today and not the return to nearly half a decade ago levels.
Next week we'll discuss how a strong central currency is also needed for a prosperous society.
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