Tuesday, June 8, 2010 Edition #562

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Today’s Highlights:
1st Flash: BUYING A FORECLOSED HOME
2nd Flash:  ADOPT, DON'T BUY


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1st Flash
BUYING A FORECLOSED HOME

One man's difficulties can be another man's opportunity. So it is for those in the market for a home right now. A record number of foreclosures are available on the market, some priced so low that even Ebeneezer Scrooge would consider them a bargain.

While buying a foreclosed home may save you money, it also carries considerable risk. Conventional home purchases come with built-in consumer protection. It's buyer beware with a foreclosure.

Don't pay for property listings. They're available free from local agents.

Banks may put their foreclosed homes up for auction, or turn them over to a real estate broker. If it's been on the market less than 30 days, the lender will want full price for the property. After 30 days, they may accept a lower offer. After 60 days the price drops even further.

Get a detailed home inspection before buying a foreclosed home. Vandals may have stripped the copper piping, or the disgruntled original owner may have scavenged whatever he could before leaving. If the utilities were turned off, try to negotiate having them turned on for the inspection. You can't know if the pipes leak if the water is turned off.

These homes often need a lot of repair. And the longer it's been empty, the greater chance of deterioration. The home inspection can help you determine how much money you'll need to put into the home before you can move in or rent it out. Take a look at the landscaping as well. If the house has been neglected, you may find roots have forged a path into the foundation or vines crept into the windows.

Some states have a redemption period that allows the original homeowner to satisfy their debt and reclaim possession during a specified period after foreclosure, whether or not the house was sold. Know the laws in your state to avoid disappointment in case your sale wasn't really final.

Banks may take 60 days or more to decide whether to accept an offer on a foreclosed home. They may give you a target date for a decision, but it's not always met. One family we know made a cash offer for a foreclosed home. After the target date passed, they put an offer on another home, repeating the process four times before finally being accepted for the first one. Have patience.

Once the bank accepts your offer, be prepared to move quickly. Secure your financing before you start looking. Having that pre- approval letter in hand can be the determining factor in getting the house you really want. If you wait to apply, the bank who owns the property may choose to move on to the next bidder rather than wait for your mortgage to be approved.

Consider getting title insurance, even if you aren't getting a mortgage. It will protect you against any liens that weren't discovered.

Take a look at the neighborhood. If there are a lot of foreclosures or in a high crime area, you may not see much of an increase in value.

If you take the time to research both the foreclosure procedures and the property thoroughly, you may well land the deal of a lifetime.

2nd Flash
ADOPT, DON'T BUY

This isn't the type of subject material we usually offer in GCFlash. Yet some experiences just beg to be shared.

Pilots are well known for their humanitarian spirit. When a natural disaster strikes, they're first in line to offer their services by delivering relief supplies. Angel Flight pilots transport needy patients for medical treatment unavailable in their local area. There are pilot organizations that volunteer their time to preserving our natural environment by monitoring forests and ecosystem management. Others fly Christian missionaries to areas most in need of their support.

So we really weren't surprised by our pilot friend's offer when we were ready to welcome a new pet into our home. Jeff is with an organization called Pilots N Paws who save the lives of innocent animals. They work with animal rescue groups to match animals slated to be euthanized with new owners, transporting them to a forever home.

At first, I was a bit wary. Wasn't a shelter animal rejected by someone? What baggage would they carry? I was under the impression that an animal shelter was sort of like a detention center for bad dogs. They were just too troublesome to be anybody's pet. Or they were vagrants, too used to living on the streets to domesticate.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. People abandon pets for any reason. Many go into ownership without really wanting the responsibility. Others are moving to a new home where pets aren't allowed. Some do it for health reasons. Many people can't afford to feed their family in this economy much less a pet. And the saddest story yet was the woman who brought her puppy to be euthanized because he didn't match the color of her new furniture.

The problem is that animal shelters are over capacity. Some breeders are greedy and overbreed certain types of dogs. Those that can't be sold, or those confiscated from a puppy mill, end up in a shelter. And contrary to what the name implies, neither an animal shelter or humane society will protect the life of a pet. They have limits as to how many animals they can house. When the limit gets exceeded, those that have been there the longest or those deemed unadoptable are euthanized. Unless the facility has the word "rescue" in its title, there's no guarantee that the animal will not be put down.

We chose to save the life of one of these precious creatures rather than buy a puppy from a pet shop. We gave our friend Jeff a call when we were ready. What we weren't ready for was the overwhelming response. Within two hours, we had email pictures and profiles of over 40 dogs that matched our request. By the end of the weekend, we had twice as many to choose from.

Jeff told us not to worry about where the dog was located. When we found the right one, they would arrange transport.

My husband scoured the options from his PC at work, I did the same from home. He made a list of those who caught his eye and I did likewise. When he got home, we compared our lists and kept the names of those appearing on both. Here's where owning your own business has its advantages. Don't risk this if you collect a regular paycheck somewhere.

We narrowed the field down to about eight dogs to consider. We requested more details on the finalists. There are several important things to consider. Did we want a male or female? What age works best for you? If you don't have a lot of time to housebreak a puppy, you might consider a pet past that stage. Are you willing to work with a pet that might have health issues? What breeds would we consider? Each has its own personality and behavioral traits so finding the right match for your situation is critical to your success as an adoptive parent. Research options before you decide.

We needed a dog that wouldn't pose a threat to customers coming into our shop. I wanted one who would swim by my side in the ocean. Neither of us wanted a dog that was small enough for us to trip over, nor large enough to knock us down. We finally decided on a golden Labrador retriever we found in a Huntsville, Alabama shelter.

Next came the logistics of getting her to her new forever home. Nancy from the rescue group who suggested our girl spent countless hours trying to arrange her transport. While the Pilots N Paws group was willing, a connection was necessary for a trip of this length. Schedules had to be coordinated, other pets had to be ready to travel as well to make it a feasible journey. One pilot got our lab from Huntsville to Thomasville, Georgia. Our friend Jeff took over from there.

Jeff has been involved with Pilots N Paws for two years. He's moved 267 animals in that time, 44 in the past week and a half alone. In addition to cats and dogs, Jeff has transported chicken, rats, snakes, a tortoise and other exotic pets.

He invited me along for the trip in his Cirrus SR22. When we got to Thomasville, it became obvious that he had done this a few times before. We picked up 11 dogs making the return trip to Florida. The transport moved like a well-oiled machine.

Jeff took the time to meet and greet each animal, posing for a picture with each one before it was locked into a crate for travel. Some of the smaller dogs shared a crate, including three adorable Dalmatian puppies that left us a gift bearing a horrible stench on takeoff.

Concerned about how the dogs would handle the flight in a small plane, Jeff assured me they might yap on taxi, but the hum of the engine puts them right to sleep. And they did just that.

First stop was Tampa where four of our passengers departed. The airport crew couldn't have been any nicer, offering to walk the dogs before we took off for the next leg of our journey. Next stop Boca Raton where another six parted ways, including the stinky puppies. Only one pup remained for the last leg home.

We named our new companion Dega to honor her home state. NASCAR fans will recognize the reference to the Talladega Superspeedway. She responded to her new name in a matter of hours. It wasn't much longer when she recognized the sound of the ice dispenser. We turned to find her sitting pretty, awaiting her favorite treat of a frozen water biscuit. She is one smart girl, beautiful and loving. Not at all what I expected of a shelter dog.

There are small behavioral issues to overcome. Those are to be expected. But when you're ready to open your heart and home to a new companion, save a life. Adopt, don't buy.

Financial News
As usual, the economy is being pulled in different directions. The economic unrest in Europe has provided a shaky under-current in the global economy. The fear that this financial distress could seep into the U.S. economy is a big caution sign to investors.

On the home front, U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday he is hopeful the economy will gain traction and not fall back into a "double dip" recession. "My best guess is we will have a continued recovery, but it won't feel terrific," Bernanke said. This is based on economic growth that is not broad enough to quickly drive down the unemployment rate, which is now 9.7%, down from 9.9% the prior month. The economy grew by 3.2% in the first quarter as measured by the GDP, followed by a 4th quarter growth of 5.6%. Net exports worsened on a slowing in exports and continued increase in imports. Although overall growth slowed in the first quarter, the composition shifted to a stronger domestic demand. The change is gradual - but in the right direction for domestic growth!

Today’s Market Rates
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Down 488.07 or 4.68% since 12/31/09)
9,939.98 (+1.26%)
S&P 500
(Down 53.10 or 4.76% since 12/31/09)
1,062.00 (+1.10%)
Nasdaq
(Down 53.10 or 4.76% since 12/31/09)
2,170.57 (-0.15%)
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 3.168%  
British Sterling 1.4445  
Euro 1.1960  
On The World Wide Web

The U.S. Government has single family homes for sale through the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA/Rural Development), and Veterans Affairs (VA). Search for available homes and learn how to buy them here.

Help provide food and care for animals at risk without spending a single penny. How? Sponsors donate for each link clicked at this site.

Learn more about the group that saves the lives of innocent animals at PilotsNPaws.org.

Tip of the Week
Tenants no longer need to fear a 24-hour eviction notice from their local sheriff's deputy. Shady landlords would pocket the rent money, but not pay the mortgage. The tenant often had no clue the home was under foreclosure until they got the unexpected call.

The federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act gives renters the right to stay in the property after foreclosure to the end of their lease if they had one. Month to month tenants can stay for at least 90 days. The exception is for buyers who intend to occupy the foreclosed property. They can terminate a lease with a 90-day notice to vacate.

Quotable

"The mind is everything. What you think, you become." - Buddha

Today in History

1982 - Ronald Reagan became the first U.S. president to address a joint session of the British Parliament.

Flash Fact

The oldest continually occupied residential street in the United States is Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley.

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