school Supply Drive

Back To School – School Supply Drive

In an effort to raise school supplies through local organizations – Agape Youth and Family Center and Metro United Way – to help children in need, AmeriSave employees stepped up to the plate. In our Atlanta branch the team raised 1,500 items and in the Louisville branch the team raised 6,979 items with a combined total of almost 8,500 school supplies in just two weeks.

This has been an annual initiative for AmeriSave and we will continue to serve the communities in our branch cities. As we continue to grow, we look forward to expanding our charitable efforts in the communities of our Denver and Troy branches.

selling house right move

Is “For Sale By Owner” The Right Move For You?

Buying a property that’s for sale by owner, or FSBO, doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it may offer some advantages as you won’t have to pay fees or commissions for a real estate agent (although, using a professional is always recommended).

However, when pursuing a FSBO home, there are a few things that you should consider in order to ensure the home buying process goes off without a hitch.

Purchase Agreement

So you found the perfect FSBO and want to make a purchase, but you don’t know what to do next. Well, your first order of business should be drafting a purchase agreement. This will be an important document for your lender so you want to make sure you include all of the needed information.

  • Buyer and seller details
  • Pricing and financing
  • Insurance
  • Property details
  • Closing and possession dates
  • Conflict resolutions
  • Title considerations
  • Any additional info that may be needed

Insurance

After creating your purchase agreement, the next step should be obtaining homeowners insurance; without insurance you will not be able to procure a loan from a mortgage lender. Homeowners insurance protects you and everyone else invested in your home from property damage.

Appraisal

One of the next steps in purchasing a FSBO is scheduling an appraisal. The appraiser determines the worth of a property by comparing the values of comparable homes in the area. This also requires an inspection of the home to make certain repairs and safety conditions are satisfied before the loan can be brought into closing.

items every real estate agent should keep in their trunk

The 7 Items Every Real Estate Agent Should Keep In Their Trunk

As an agent, you know from experience the kinds of curve balls that can be thrown your way when you’re out showing homes to potential buyers. So being prepared in any situation is a must to make sure you can continue business as usual no matter what situation comes your way.

We’ve put together our list of must haves every real estate agent should keep in their car. Connect with us on social and share your must have items!

1. Digital Tape measure

More times than not you’ll find yourself in situations where you need to take quick measurements of an area.

2. Bottles of water

For days when the heat is too much to bare and you or a client just needs to quench your thirst.

3. Flashlight

This always comes in handy, especially if you’re showing a home in the evening and there is no natural light to light up the homes interior.

4. Toilet paper

This is for a pretty obvious use, but toilet paper is an essential item that you will want to keep at all times.

5. First aid kit

Always be prepared for a minor emergency and keep your first aid kit fully stocked.

6. Hammer

You may find yourself putting up and taking down open house signs pretty frequently so keeping a hammer at hand could save you on hassle.

7. Snacks

Whether you get “hangry” after a long day on the job or your clients’ kids are complaining about how hungry they are, having snacks is a must.

8. Work gloves

There are a number of things that you may come across that may have to be picked up or moved to prepare for a showing.

9. Dog treats

Yappy dogs can be a nuisance when showing a home. Keeping some treats for the furry friends can help keep them busy.

10. Air fresheners

Homes that have been sitting unattended for some time can develop unpleasant odors. Air fresheners may help alleviate the foul smells so that you and your clients can breathe easier in a home.

Things to never say to an real estate agent

5 Things You Should Never Say To A Real Estate Agent

If you’ve been in the industry long enough (or even for a short time) you’ve probably been on the wrong end of a flippant comment or something has been said to you that’s rubbed you the wrong way. Unfortunately, in the world of real estate many don’t understand just how big of an asset having an agent provides until they’re trying to purchase or sell a house on their own.

We’ve put together our list of 5 things clients should never say to a real estate agent. Do you have examples of your own? Connect with us on social and help us add to our list in the comments!

  1. “I’m still shopping around and not ready to commit to one agent.”

Having commitment issues is no fun in any relationship, not even the relationship between a client and agent. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the amount of work and time agents put into scheduling and showing home listings.

  1. “That’s not what it says on Zillow.”

Zillow is a great preliminary tool, but a professional agent can provide a comparative marketing analysis that is significantly more accurate.

  1. “I’m not ready to get pre-approved for a mortgage.”

Pre- approvals are important for a number of reasons. They show prospective sellers that you’re a serious candidate and gives the seller confidence in your ability to obtain a loan. They also give your agent confidence in your commitment before they invest countless hours helping you find your next home.

  1. “I want to do a FSBO, I just want some advice.”

Just “picking your brain,” is the nice way of telling professionals you want their help and knowledge for free. Not to mention, advising how to sell a home isn’t a one size fits all type of scenario. Agents do this for a living; if you want their help, pay them.

  1. “I’d love to get payed to look at pretty houses all day.”

Trivializing anyone’s profession should always be a big no-no! Agents do a lot of back end and front end work. Seeing pretty houses is just a perk on top of all of the other tasks they perform.

Spring Cleaning Tips For The Home Garden

If the presence of birds chirping and sunnier days are any indication, many can expect an early spring this year. This can only mean one thing, it’s time to start getting things cleaned up and in order for the new season. That’s right, its spring cleaning time!

Although maintaining your home garden is really a year-round chore, spring time is when you really have to kick things into high gear. Spring brings new life and new blooms. Following the below tips will make sure your garden is in tip-top shape and ready to welcome in the new season!

1. Set up a compost station
Composting your garden is one of the best things you can do for your garden’s overall health. If you’ve never composted before, the beginning of spring is the best time to start. The best compost is your own organic creation from food and yard waste. All you need is space, natural air, fresh materials and a large bin to hold everything. Your garden will thank you, trust us!

2. Purchase new seeds
This is the fun part. Before the regular season really gets going, you should spend time browsing and deciding which seeds you want to plant this year. Purchasing them early will give you time to start growing your seedlings indoors in preparation for your outside garden.

3. Nurture your soil
Winters can be harsh, that’s why it’s important to make sure your soil gets the appropriate TLC to ensure a viable living situation for your spring time growth. Breaking up the soil after a frozen winter is your best bet for making your life easier once consistently warm weather hits.

4. Set up shop
Getting all of your gardening tools ready will help you stay accountable when gardening time comes around. Whether it’s a corner of your garage, section of your patio or in a shed, give yourself ample space to store essentials.

5. Pruning time
Don’t allow disease to ruin your garden. Prune all trees, plant and shrubs before the warm weather brings new growth.
Have your own springtime gardening tips that work for you? Connect with us on social (is media supposed to be here?) and tell us in the comments!

Take Our 15 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge

Day 1: Put the dishwasher to good use

I know what you’re thinking, “I already use my dishwasher almost every day.” Yes, most of us use our dishwasher to wash dirty dishes regularly, but this appliance can be used for much more. Fill it up with things that don’t typically get as much care, like glass light fixtures, plastic toys, toothbrush holders, etc.

Day 2: Fluff up the mattresses

Most of us probably make a point to clean our bedding (sheets, pillowcases, blankets) pretty regularly, but how often do we spend time cleaning what’s beneath the sheets. Vacuum, spot clean, and spray a disinfectant on all of the mattresses in the house.

Day 3: Get rid of cabinet grime

This is especially important in the kitchen where dust, mixed with grease can create buildup. Give all the cabinets in your home a good wipe down.

Day 4: Clean the machines

The appliances we use to clean our things also need a cleaning of their own. Run a disinfectant cleaning cycle with an appropriate cleaning agent in your dishwasher and washing machines. Then make sure to wipe them down and remove any buildup. Also, give your vacuum a little TLC by replacing the bag and cleaning the nozzles and dust cup.

Day 5: Strip your closets

Sometimes the best way to clean up unwanted clutter in drawers and closet spaces is to start throwing things away. If you find clothes you haven’t worn in over a year, donate them!

Day 6: Sweep the broom

Or nix it altogether. Your broom can get filthy and without proper cleaning, you may be spreading more mess and germs. Clean your brooms or replace them with new ones.

Day 7: Down and grout

Grout stains are unsightly and a pain to clean. Spend a day getting those hard to reach spaces spick and span. Grab your soap, bleach, water or whatever works best for you, mix it up and start scrubbing.

Day 8: Comfort your comforters

Comforters and pillows don’t have to be cleaned often, but they still need to be cleaned.

Day 9: Declutter the clutter

Throw out old magazines, makeup brushes, plastic cups etc.

Day 10: Attack the oven

Crumbs and tough stuck on food can be a pain to remove from the oven, but a good oven cleaner, or even a little baking soda and vinegar, can make the process so much easier.

Day 11: Ventilate the ventilation

Dirty vents can blow dust and germs throughout your home. Clean them out and keep them clear.

Day 12: Clear the fridge

Many refrigerators have shelves that can be popped in and out of place. If they’re small enough, they are perfect for the dishwasher. Make sure all spillage is wiped up and old unwanted food that’s been sitting on the back shelf is thrown out.

Day 13: Make your sink shine

Lemons can be used to clean the exterior of your sink, and running lemon rinds through the garbage disposal can help with unwanted smells

Day 14: Don’t forget the walls

Cleaning your walls and trims is usually not at the top of a cleaning to-do list, but these surface areas could use a good spring cleaning. Also, wipe down all of the doors in your home and disinfect the knobs.

Day 15: Pet cleaning day

Throw all pet blankets and toys in the wash and rub down all of their living surfaces (kennels, cages, beds, aquariums).

How To Stay Motivated When Your Home Is Also Your Office!

Working from home is becoming increasingly more popular for today’s workers. Whether it’s working remotely full time or part time, having a home office comes with its challenges. However, for many, the flexibility and freedom is well worth the challenge.

Staying focused and motivated can be tough, but with the right preparations, you can turn your home working space into a functioning and inspiring atmosphere as if you were sitting in a corporate office every day.

1. Set sleeping hours
If you’re working from home, discipline is key in order to make sure you are staying on top of your work load. Yes, you get a little more leniency with when you start your work day, but sleeping in until noon will probably not help you produce your best work. Go to bed at a decent hour and wake up early in the morning.

2. Get ready for work
Treating your home office like all other office jobs is a great habit to start and maintain. Hopefully you wouldn’t head out of your home to an external office without first brushing your teeth and changing out of your pajamas, so you should do the same when you work from home. Get showered, get dressed, and get ready.

3. Your Bed is not your desk
Productive workdays are affected directly by your environment. Doing your work in a space that is conducive to great work ethic will increase your productivity exponentially. Your bed is where you go to unwind, relax, and sleep; the opposite of what you’re trying to do when you’re focused on meeting deadlines and getting work done. Set up a workspace that is as far from your bed as possible, and commit to only using that designated space for work.

4. Set working hours
When working self-sufficiently one of the biggest things you have to stay on top of, and make sure you don’t miss, is deadlines. Setting up a schedule of set work hours will help you stay on top of responsibilities, and will help you track how much working you’re getting done.

5. Get rid of distractions
One of the biggest time wasters is social media. Having your Facebook or Twitter feed open while you’re trying to get work done is not only distracting, but seriously debilitating to your productivity. Social media isn’t bad, but save it for breaks or time when you’re not supposed be doing work.

6. Check out open work spaces
Remote work is becoming more and more popular as employees look for work life balance and the freedoms working from home offers. With that, many open work-spaces have popped up to accommodate the growing remote workforce. If you live nearby, check one out, or head over to a local coffee shop. Even the most introverted person needs some human interaction every now and again.

Getting Your Home Garden Cold Weather Ready

The winter season is in full swing, and with it brings chillier weather and freezing condensation. These things can wreak havoc on your home garden and leave you with a mess to deal with come spring. However, taking pre-winter steps can help you achieve success during blossom season and your vegetation will thank you.

Clean things up

Cleaning up your garden beds will help keep weeds and tangled vegetation from choking the remaining plants that don’t die off from the cold weather. Removing dead/rotten plants will keep the rest of your vegetation from getting diseased and ruined.

Insulate

Layer your flower bed with mulch to suppress weeds and protect your soil. Mulch just enough to cover soil so it’s insulated and not exposed. This doesn’t keep the soil from freezing, but actually helps the roots keep cold and at an even temperature. Make sure to research which mulching materials are right for your flowers.

Snip away

Once the temperature drops below freezing, your perennials will begin to die away. This is the time to snip their stems. Make sure to make cuts within 1-2 inches to the ground and dispose of the stems as they can carry diseases that affect the plants in the spring.

Bring inside

Tender plants can make great indoor plants. Perennial or annual flowers that can’t handle even a light frost will do just fine potted and brought inside to be monitored and nourished in your home. Once the spring season gets into full swing and things warm up, these plants can go right back in the ground.

Make a cover

If you have a vegetable garden, make a garden cover or vegetation box to protect seedlings against the harsh elements. Covering with blankets and plastic when temperatures hit below 28 degrees Fahrenheit will help prevent tissue damage and freezing.

The harsh temperatures may have already arrived, with most of the country seeing snowfall already, but it’s still not too late to protect your gardens and salvage your crops! Get to work now and your spring season will be a breeze!

Improving Your Home’s Efficiency

For many individuals, home related expenses add up to be their largest monthly cost. From utilities, repairs, mortgage payments and more, being a homeowner can feel a bit like a money guzzler, and unless you’re a billionaire, you’re probably always looking for ways to cut costs.

Improving your home’s efficiency can save you a good chunk of change when it comes time to pay bills. Check out our list for tips on how to make your house as energy efficient as possible.

  1. Insulation

Remember as a kid getting scolded by your mom or grandmother for running in and out of the house because you were “letting out the bought air.” Well, they were definitely on to something. Homes that aren’t well insulated allow heat to seep out in the winter, or in, in the summer, which means your home’s heating and air units must expel twice as much energy to heat and cool down the home.

  1. Window and door upgrades

Like with bad insulation, old faulty windows drive up your energy usage. Replacing them with energy efficient models, or adding weather-stripping or storm windows for a lower cost option, can save energy and costs.

  1. Plant Trees

Landscaping with your home’s efficiency in mind can help you save money and energy usage. Planting trees on your home’s west facing side allows foliage to protect your house from infrared radiation that warms up your home in the summer. During the winter, once the branches are bare, the same radiation can come through and help heat your home.

Related: Landscaping ideas that can make your home more secure

  1. Trade out your light bulbs

Compact florescent lamps, or CFLs, use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Yes, CFLs may cost a few dollars more than a standard incandescent bulb, but the electricity it takes to light the bulb costs way more than the actual light bulb. A CFL lasts 10,000 hours and uses 27 watts to generate light; for the same amount of light it would take an incandescent bulb 100 watts, and only lasts 1,000 hours. You may be saving pocket change in upfront costs, but switching to CFLs will cost you less than a third of the costs annually of incandescent lights.

  1. Purchase a programmable thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat can save you an average of 10% on your cooling and heating bills. That 10% adds up quickly and after a few months, the new unit will have paid for itself.

  1. Upgrade air and heating units

Energy efficient heating and cooling units go hand in hand with well insulated and sealed interiors. If you have one without the other, you’re still overworking your houses energy use. An outdated furnace or HVAC system can waste a large percentage of fuel, so installing a newer model could save you up to 27% on heating bills.

  1. Water heaters

You can increase your water heater’s efficiency by turning the temperature down to 120 degrees so that it’s set at its warm setting. Also, insulating your water lines can keep them from cooling off at a faster rate between uses. If you recently installed a new water heater, many of these things are standard and maintain their own temperature and cooling for better efficiency.

Put these tips into practice, and increase the efficiency in your home in no time! For information on maintaining energy efficiency in your home, check out our blog post on solar panels.

Being A Good Landlord

For many individuals who have ventured into investment real estate, the potential rewards can be great. However, there are considerable risks and a lot of responsibility that comes with being responsible for real estate property and tenants.

Everything that’s worth having is worth working for, so don’t let additional responsibility take you out of the running if this type of investment is feasible for you.

Follow these 5 tips, and be the best landlord your tenants ever had!

1) Remain Business Professional

If you own rental properties, then you have a business. Treating your property as such is a must in order to maintain order and professionalism. Like with any business, if the boss isn’t taking his/her job seriously, then the business will be hard pressed to be successful and profitable.

2) Screen Your Potential Tenants

This needs to be done in a professional, legal manner in order to avoid discrimination. The typical requirements you should look for when screening are stable income, felonies on criminal records, recent evictions and positive references.

3) Respect is a Must

Finding a good tenant is important, but being a good landlord to a tenant is equally important; since this is your business, a tenant is your customer. Make sure to treat everyone with the proper respect and dignity they deserve.

4) Don’t Be Taken Advantage of

Respect is key on your end as well as your tenants. They must respect the rules and regulations you put in place when they signed their lease. There’s nothing wrong with being understanding and compassionate, but once you allow your tenants to break rules, it will become an expectation.

5) Stay On Top of Maintenance

Unless previously specified, if there is a repair needed, it is your responsibility as the landlord to make sure arrangements are made to fix the issue in a timely manner. This is especially if it puts your tenants at risk.

At the end of the day, having a successful business and happy tenants depends on you being a great landlord. Make sure to follow these steps and always be open to learning new things and listening to feedback!