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Erika Wong's Blog

By Erika Wong | Agent in Miramar, FL
  • 10 most polluted cities

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Miramar  |  April 29, 2012 8:41 PM  |  363 views  |  No comments

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    1. Bakersfield, Calif
    2. Hanford, Calif
    3. Los Angeles
    4. Visalia, Calif
    5. Fresno, Calif
    6. Pittsburgh
    7. Phoenix
    8. Cincinnati
    9. Louisville
    10. Philadelphia
  • 6 Reasons Why You Should Never Purchase an Extended Warranty

    Posted Under: Shopping & Local Amenities in Miramar  |  April 29, 2012 8:32 PM  |  478 views  |  No comments
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    1. The Manufacturer's Warranty Is Often Sufficient

    Just about all products on the market today come with a standard manufacturer's warranty, which typically covers your purchase for one year. The majority of minor malfunctions occur within this first year, while major problems are more apt to occur much later, beyond the reach of an extended warranty's term.

    2. Extended Warranties Are Not Always Effective

    You may think that an extended warranty will cover anything that goes wrong with your purchase, but sometimes this is not true. Extended warranties are typically rife with exclusions and fine print. If you still want to purchase one for peace of mind, from a third party provider such as SquareTrade for example, be sure to read the terms and conditions first to make sure it offers adequate protection.

    3. Consumer Products Depreciate in Value

    Suppose you purchase a Blu-ray DVD player for $100, and acquire a two-year extended warranty for an additional $30. Chances are, within the next couple of years, the price of Blu-ray players will drop significantly. In other words, you're probably better off keeping the $30 in your pocket and just getting a new one should something happen to yours.

    4. The Necessity of Repairs Is Rare

    Consumer Reports has done studies on repair rates for a variety of small electronics and home appliances, and the percentages range from 5 to 37 percent, which generally indicates that you're unlikely to need a repair. Considering this, it often makes more sense to save the money on an extended warranty and put it toward a repair instead, on the off-chance you'll need one.

    5. Warranties Are Not Cost-Effective

    Another reason not to take the bait on extended warranties is that they are simply too expensive. For instance, I recently purchased a 2009 Toyota Corolla. The salesperson was pushing hard for the extended car warranty, which would offer bumper-to-bumper coverage for the first 12 months, at a cost of $1,800. I seriously doubt that I am going to need $1,800 worth of repairs in the next year for a car that is barely two years old.

    Furthermore, as previously stated, the extended warranty often overlaps the manufacturer's protection. You may purchase a two-year extended warranty, but with the manufacturer's protection covering the first year, you end up paying a two-year rate for only one additional year of coverage.

    [Related: How to Negotiate a Better Price on Everything]

    6. Credit Cards Can Offer Better Protection

    Certain cash-back rewards credit cards actually offer to double the length of the manufacturer's warranty, free of charge. This alone should give you more than enough coverage

  • Nice homes YOU CAN BUY AT $350K

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Miramar  |  April 29, 2012 8:27 PM  |  377 views  |  No comments

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    Chicago, IL

    3719 N Newland Ave, Chicago IL (below)
    For sale: $349,999
    Square footage: 1,227

    Whether it’s the deep-dish pizza, the culture or the city skyline, people have been moving to the Windy City for decades. The third-largest city in the U.S., Chicago is home to the second-largest business district after New York. While many well-established companies have roots in Chicago, the city has also seen growth in startups in the past decade, including Groupon, Orbitz and CareerBuilder.

    This Chicago home for sale is located 11 miles outside the downtown district. The 3-bedroom, 3-bath brick home was built in 1993 and features high-end details like a gas fireplace, steam shower, soaking tubs and basement with home theater and bar.

    New Orleans

    8416 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70118 (below)
    For sale: $358,000
    Square feet: 1,729

    Even though it’s known as “The Big Easy,” New Orleans hasn’t had an easy time of it lately. Despite the lingering devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and now a Watergate-like scandal with its beloved NFL Saints, New Orleans roars ahead with its reputation for excellent cuisine, music and festivals. New Orleans median home values are presently $159,000.

    This cheery yellow Victorian is located in the Leonidas neighborhood, just two blocks from the trendy retail corridors of Oak Street and Carrollton Avenue. Spacious open floor plan with 12-foot tall ceilings, original refinished hardwood floors, exposed brick fireplaces and separate office/study on the second floor add to the home’s appeal.

    Philadelphia

    15 Station Ln, Philadelphia, PA 19118 (below)
    For sale: $358,800
    Square feet: 1,648

    Not only did Philadelphia give us cheese steaks and soft pretzels, it also introduced the row house in the early 19th century, called “Philadelphia rows.” It was the perfect urban home and developers could easily profit. In addition to row houses, Philly also developed “twins,” and sets of three or four homes all built together. Philadelphia’s median real estate home value is currently $103,700, but the city is projected to gain 0.9 percent in value between March 2012 and March 2013.

    A popular Pennsylvania barn star adorns the clapboard siding of this circa 1981 two-story “twin” located in the popular Chestnut Hill real estate market of Philadelphia where median home values are currently $390,800. Need to commute into Philly? The historic Gravers Lane Station is located just a block away and across the street is a baseball field. The home is within a walking distance to trendy shops and restaurants of Chestnut Hill and comes with a one-year warranty.

    Salt Lake City

    653 Wilmington Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84106 (below)
    For sale: $349,000
    Square footage: 1,960

    Founded in 1847 by Mormon leader Brigham Young, Salt Lake City has grown beyond simply being the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After hosting the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Salt Lake’s tourism industry has grown and the city is now known as a convention center hub. The median list price of homes in Salt Lake City is currently $225,000.

    Listed on the sweetly named Sugar House real estate market, this brand-new contemporary Salt Lake City home (above) offers an open floor plan with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths with floors made of concrete and bamboo. Even the garage has a slanted roof. The house is close to eateries and a planned streetcar line/bike trail.

    Milwaukee

    4375 N Alpine Ave, Shorewood, WI 53211 (below)
    For sale: $349,000
    Square footage: 2,015

    While Milwaukee is synonymous with breweries and home to one of the country’s biggest brewers, Miller Brewing Company, it is also headquarters to 14 Fortune 100 companies such as Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual, Manpower Inc., Harley-Davidson, and Briggs & Stratton, among others. And, in case you were looking for the perfect bedroom community, Shorewood, WI could be it. Located about four miles north of Milwaukee, the village of Shorewood is known for its neighborhoods, architecture, eclectic shops and restaurants, and exceptional schools. Milwaukee’s median home values are currently $87,900; Shorewood’s median home values come in at $189,000.

    This well-maintained English Tudor offers 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths and is located in a desirable Shorewood neighborhood. The home has hardwood floors, leaded glass windows, natural fireplace, newer kitchen, newer roof and newly finished lower level. Its family room on first floor was completely remodeled.

    Seattle, WA

    2764 Westlake Ave N APT A, Seattle WA (below)
    For sale: $350,000
    Square footage: 1,000

    As the national headquarters for Starbucks, Amazon, and Microsoft, Seattle is a city known for its tech companies, caffeinated city folk and spawning the grunge music scene in the 1990s. Despite the city’s many days of gray weather, the area continues to attract new people. Current median home values are relatively steep, hovering around $346,300.

    One of the best things about Seattle real estate is that some of the homes for sale float. Pay homage to “Sleepless in Seattle” with this floating home for sale. No, it’s not the one featured in the movie, but it does have French doors that open out to a wraparound deck with spectacular views of the city. The home also features slate and hardwood floors and built-in window seats and bookcases.

    Dallas, TX

    1046 N Edgefield Ave, Dallas TX (below)
    For sale: $349,900
    Square footage: 1,747

    One of the biggest cities in the United States, Dallas also has the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, including AT&T, Neiman Marcus, and ExxonMobil. According to 2010 census data, the Dallas-Fort Worth area grew more than any other metropolitan area in the country, adding 1.2 million people to the area.

    Built in 1927, this Dallas home for sale is a Tudor, which includes all the details of the period: leaded glass windows, hardwood floors and an arched fireplace. The 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home has also been extensively updated. The kitchen includes granite countertops and island, stainless steel appliances and a glass tile backsplash. The bathrooms also have marble countertops.

    Hartford, CT

    41 Whitney St, Hartford CT (below)
    For sale: $339,900
    Square footage: 3,461

    Home of the oldest park, art museum, and secondary school, Hartford is one of the oldest cities in America. Although the capital city made its start in industry, its current draw is its many insurance companies as well as proximity to state and private universities.

    It’s not a Colonial-style home, but this Hartford home for sale still has plenty of period charm. Built in 1910, the Victorian home has been “lovingly restored” with soapstone countertops in the kitchen, hardwood floors, a new roof and new windows. The home has 5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathroom and includes a third-floor mother-in-law suite.

    Miami, FL

    9672 SW 158th Ave, Miami, FL 33196 (below)
    For sale: $349,000
    Square footage: 2,784

    With four major professional sports teams, vibrant economy, sizzling beach and night life scene and a growing population, it’s no wonder Miami’s home values are on the rise. Median home values currently ring in at $184,600, which is an increase of 1.9 percent year-over-year.

    This Mediterranean-style home in The Hammocks neighborhood of Miami offers 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and is situated on an oversize lot. The home has tile on first floor and wood on second floor as well as a brand new A/C unit.

    Napa, CA

    4441 Moffitt Dr, Napa CA (below)
    For sale: $335,000
    Square footage: 1,500

  • Builders ready for home construction rebound

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Miramar  |  March 31, 2012 6:03 AM  |  403 views  |  No comments

    Home builders are getting ready for a stronger construction season, filing for the most building permits in more than three years, in another sign of recovery in the long-battered housing market.

    The government reported builders filed for permits at an seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 in February, the strongest reading since October 2008, which was the month after the meltdown in financial markets. It marked a 5.1% rise from January and a 34.3% increase from year-earlier levels.

    New home construction is still only a fraction of levels during the building boom in the middle of the last decade. But years of low building since the housing bubble burst have left inventories of new homes for sales at a record low, helping to spur more activity by builders.

  • Investment and vacation home sales soar in 2011

    Posted Under: Investment Properties in Miramar  |  March 31, 2012 5:58 AM  |  481 views  |  No comments

    Sales of investment properties and vacation homes soared last year as investors snapped up homes that were selling at beaten down prices.

    Homes purchased by investors skyrocketed 64.5% to 1.23 million in 2011, up from 749,000 the year before, according to the National Association of Realtors.

    Vacation home buyers also came out in larger numbers, with sales climbing 7% year-over-year to 502,000. Meanwhile, sales to ordinary home buyers, who plan on living in the home full-time, fell 15.5% to 2.78 million, NAR said.

    Many investors were on a shopping spree, with 41% of buyers picking up more than one property during the year, compared with 34% in 2010, according to NAR. The median number of properties they bought rose to three from two during that time.

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  • FHA to reject borrowers in minor credit disputes

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Miramar  |  March 31, 2012 5:55 AM  |  386 views  |  No comments
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    The Federal Housing Administration is about to make it even tougher to borrow money from Uncle Sam to buy a home.

    Starting April 1, borrowers in ongoing disputes with creditors over debts of $1,000 or more may no longer qualify for FHA-insured loans. Even borrowers with perfect credit scores can be denied over a single $1,000 problem charge.

    Before this, individual lenders decided whether debt disputes constituted grounds for denial. You could be fighting a charge, say a hospital bill, and your lender might still decide that your credit history merited an approval. Now, a lender will have to justify the approval to the FHA and back its decision with documentation.

    The change is part of the agency's effort to reduce its risk as it grapples with a depleted reserve fund that has fallen below legally-mandated levels. The FHA insures mortgages which are originated by private lenders. To help bolster its capital reserves, FHA will also hike the insurance premiums it charges borrowers beginning in April.

  • Broward February unemployment lowest in region

    Posted Under: In My Neighborhood in Miramar  |  March 31, 2012 5:32 AM  |  515 views  |  No comments

    Broward County's unemployment fell to 7.9 percent, the lowest rate in South Florida, the state reported Friday.

    Statewide, unemployment dropped to 9.4 percent, a three-year low, and the third consecutive month below 10 percent, the state said. January's rate was 9.6 percent.

    Job creation also picked up steam, after jobs were lost in January, with 10,100 jobs gained in February, according to Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity.

    Job gains for the month in Broward were in education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and business and professional services.

    Since February of last year, Florida has added 72,300 jobs, ranking 4th among states with significant employment changes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

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