House Tips that Help Improve Your Life & Home

A free biweekly guide to saving money, living life to the fullest and just enjoying life! 

Volume 12, Issue 2- December 7, 2010




In this Issue:


As I gather information on how to save money this Christmas, I have mixed feelings about the upcoming market for 2011.  I know houses will sell in whatever kind of market there is.  There are some indications of prices leveling off.  Some experts are saying the US Housing Market is to Rebound in 2011. Yes, the chief economist for Freddie Mac (2nd largest lender in the US) Frank Nothaft, said in a note on Monday:

“Accelerating economic recovery, low mortgage rates, a bottoming of home prices and increased affordability of homes at current low prices will be behind the improvement, and these forces will support a gradual recovery in the housing and mortgage markets.”

We all know about how reliable Freddie Mac executives are for telling the truth. 

I do believe that the market has somewhat adjusted for the current higher unemployment levels and won’t go down more for that. 

However many people that I cover are predicting serious inflation issues which will make living more expensive and have a ripple effect on the market that in short term will likely cause prices to lower.  There are still plenty of foreclosures and a so called “shadow inventory” of homes getting ready to foreclose.

Because of the economy many people are actually choosing to downsize their homes,  which is excellent for sellers with smaller to midsize homes but not a good trend for those with luxury properties.

Here is an excerpt from a newsletter I received from financial educator, Dave Rhamsey:

Downsizing your home can be a tough decision to make. For a lot of people, it has improved their lives financially and brought their families closer.

In 1970, the average size of a home was 1,400 square feet. By 2004, it was nearly twice that—2,330 square feet. Mortgage payments, maintenance, utilities, insurance and taxes now make up a huge portion of our budgets. And more and more families are finding that a reason to downsize their homes. 

We asked Dave’s Facebook fans about their downsizing experiences, and we found that most fit into three categories.

  1.     We Can’t Afford It 
    With unemployment remaining uncomfortably high, a lot of people downsized because they couldn’t continue to pay for their homes after a job loss or pay cut. Andrea Ward and her family downsized from a three-bedroom home to a one-bedroom condo when she was laid off this year. “At first, I was absolutely traumatized,” she explained in her post. “Now I have found a sense of peace, calm, less financial burden and the biggest benefit—less to clean!” 

    And, thanks to their cozy condo, her family is closer than ever. 

    Almost everyone who sold their home for financial reasons went through the same process. After holding on as long as they could, they finally went through with the sale and found it was the best decision they’d ever made.

  2.     We Want To Pay Off Debt Faster 
    A lot of Facebook families decided to cut their living expenses to turbo-charge their debt snowballs—some with dramatic results. For example, Kim Davis had a complete financial turnaround after selling her home and getting a condo. “I paid off $51,000 in credit card debt and paid off four mortgages,” Kim said in her Facebook post. “Now I’m debt-free and have the condo on a 15-year fixed mortgage.” 

    She plans to pay off her condo in seven years and says life has never been better. 

    “I was able to contribute to the Nashville Rescue Mission this week,” she said. “And I helped a friend who is behind on her mortgage. I could not have done that before!”

  3.     We Just Don’t Need It 
    For a lot of people, once the kids moved out, there was just no need to keep a big house. “The house was too big and costly to justify the payment,” Candice Cregier Price said. She and her husband are now renting. In fact, downsizing is a great way to make your money go further in retirement. With the proceeds of the sale of your home, you can boost your nest egg, buy a smaller home with cash, and use the money you save on maintenance to increase your retirement savings. “

If you find your budget squeezed, you may consider simplifying your life and getting rid of the extra square feet so you can spend more time with the people you love doing the things you love.  Call me, I can certainly help!

BTW: Would you like to receive Dave Rhamsey’s best selling book, “Total Money Makeover” for free? I am giving it way.  Email me and I will deliver it to you.

Andrew  Morris


10 Tips to Save $$ this Christmas

  1. Make a List (Plan your Gifts). Determine who you really have to buy gifts for, and make a list of those people. Because without that list and knowing exactly who those people are, you’re going to have a very expensive Christmas by buying way too many gifts.
  2. Set a budget. Take the time to sit down and determine exactly how much you can afford on Christmas, be realistic. If you really think about it, putting your Christmas on your credit card really hurts you long-term.
  3. Buy gift cards at a discount. Find those discount cards online. Imagine you could get $100 gift card for $75 to $80 bucks.  You can easily buy discounted gift cards for hundreds of online and off-line retailers. Discounts are usually 30% to 50% off the face value of the gift card. Check it out www. and
  4. Get on the Social Media Train. You can stretch your budget by following the crowd on the social media arena. We’re seeing in today’s economy, many companies are offering rate discounts to their twitter followers, and Facebook fans.
  5. Google Discount Codes. You would be amazed with the amount of savings you can accomplish by searching for discount codes on whatever marketplace retailer you are purchasing your product or gift at. Check out,, and to pull up a list of the discount coupons and codes.
  6. Use CASH in Envelopes. This keeps you honest. If you go to the store with $100, you’re only going to spend $100. You will be amazed with how honest this keeps you.
  7. Don’t Sign up for those Pesky Credit Cards for just 10% off. There is a reason those retailers will give you 10% off your purchase when you get a credit card, because they get their hooks in you! Beware most Store credit cards usually have very high interest rate and lousy terms.
  8. Give a home-made coupon. This is the type of gift that might mean more to somebody than anything else you can give.  One main reason, it shows you care. Also you can give so many different coupons promising simple things like a house cleaning or babysitting the possibilities are endless.
  9. Find a Tree for almost free. If you wait a little you might be able to find a fake tree as much as 50% off.  Real trees can be found for a song at your local garden centers or the big box stores which will sell them as low as $25 as it gets closer to Christmas.
  10. Avoid Shipping Fees. Free shipping is one of the most common holiday promotions. Check out or L.L. or many other retailers. Also most of those stores will provide free delivery on most of their products to their stores and you pick up the gift there.



2 Tips to save $$ on your home (Caulk & Air Filters) WHAT?

Yes it’s kind of funny to realize sometimes the simplest things in life can save you so much money. So caulk your Windows and caulk all the places in the house where air comes in and comes out.

Also changing your air filters on a monthly basis. This will save you a lot of money on your electricity bill.


The Homeowner Bill of Rights

The big banks made mistakes and received a bailout. They have the resources to lobby congress and the courts to have laws written to suit them.

But, what has the little guy received? Nothing. So we decided to put together a Homeowner’s Bill of Rights. It’s time we had Washington look at what we want, versus taking care of the big banks.

Considering that the big banks have way more rights than the little guy, here is what we think should be done to “level the playing field.”

The Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.

1. Stop The Loan Modification Insanity! The Right to an open and transparent loan modification process. Any homeowner that can no longer afford their mortgage payment, petitions their lender for a loan modification, and it’s turned down shall receive a written, coherent response from their lender detailing why they were denied and what they can do to be approved for a loan modification.

2. The right to get an answer to a voicemail or e-mail from a loan mod or short sale negotiator within one business day.

3. The right to obtain the rules and guidelines for the loan modification and short sale from the loan servicer. Most loans are owned or insured by someone other than the lender the homeowner mails their payment to. However, these front entities still make decisions contrary to the investor or insurer’s guidelines.

As such, the loan servicer should send any and all guidelines regulating the loan modification and short sale process to the homeowner.

4. The right to deal with one person who will make the decision to approve or deny their loan modification or short sale. This person should be available to reach by phone or e-mail.

5. The right to attempt to negotiate a loan modification or short sale without fear. The homeowners have the right to have all foreclosure proceedings stopped when they are negotiating a loan modification or short sale.

Many lenders use an impending foreclosure sale date to force a higher payment from homeowner’s attempting to secure a more affordable payment.

Many times the reason the sale date is so near is because the lender has dragged their feet on negotiating with the homeowner. Because they are under duress, many homeowners will agree to a payment they cannot afford.

Sure the loan mod negotiator at the bank gets a bonus. But, everyone loses when the homeowner re-defaults and the lender has to process a loan modification all over again.

6. The right to walk away from their upside down mortgage debt. We often see the lenders hold such a hard line on getting repaid everything they owe that they allow the collateral (the home that is mortgaged) to decline in value even more than they ever would have received as repayment from the debtor.

7. Stop the Debt Collector Harassment! The right to tell any and all debt collectors to stop calling and never receive a phone call from then again. In addition, this would include debt collectors that know the person’s phone number, but will call family members in an attempt to embarrass the debtor.

This is America people! Debtor’s prison was abolished two centuries ago! It’s time to update your activities to the Twenty-First Century!

8. The right to have their short sale handled competently. The short sale process with most lenders is seriously flawed. Because of this, we see short sale offers for 385k rejected, only to see the home sell for 230k after foreclosure. This hurts homeowners, the banks, the housing market, and the American Economy.

Is it fair to pursue a homeowner for a larger deficiency when it was the lender’s decision to reject the short sale that caused the deficiency to be larger? I don’t think so.

Because of that, the homeowner has the right to have their short sale handled as detailed below.

A. All deficiencies are forgiven. We often see the lenders hold such a hard line on getting repaid everything they owe that they allow the collateral (the home that is mortgaged) decline in value even more than they ever would have received as repayment from the debtor.

Making the infamous difficult short sale process simpler and more attractive to buyers would net the banks way more money than will ever be recouped chasing down sellers.

B. To have their short sale handled to process everything as smoothly and quickly as possible so the home sells for top dollar and the loan owner receives the most money possible.

C. The right to work with a competent, experienced agent who specializes in short sales.

D. The homeowner is given a written list of investors, mortgage insurance companies, etc. (with contact information) that need to be satisfied for the Short Sale to be approved.

E. An appraisal is ordered and then the home is listed for sale at that price. The price is dropped by 5% a month, or whatever that lender’s standard price drop is for Bank Owned Properties.

F. Home buyers get an answer to their offer within 2 business days.

G. Allow short sale buyers 45-60 days to get their loan approved. Many lenders have loan servicing departments that handle short sales. These departments demand that a home buyer close the transaction within 30 days of short sale approval.

However, these same companies have lending sides that cannot close a loan in less than 45-60 days. So essentially, they are demanding that other banks close loans in 30 days, when they themselves cannot do the same thing. I would call that serious hypocrisy! Don’t you agree?


Business Spotlight

: Akin and Akin Collision Repair in North Ridgeville and helpful tips if, God forbid, you get in an accident.

Many of you know that I had quite a collision with a deer.  I got the better of the dear and I now have 60 pounds of venison in the freezer.  However my car had more than $2,000 of damage done to it (that is $33 / pound of venison).

I was referred to Akin and Akin by a friend. I brought my car in to them and talked with Jared Akin co owner of Akin and Akin.  He actually spent 45 minutes educating me; staying long after closing hours to talk to me.  I learned a few interesting things which I will share in a moment.

I actually decided not to have them repair my car after visiting them.  Instead I choose to have someone else come out to my house and just fix the windshield.  I was going to just keep the insurance check for the rest of the damage to the car (which I was just going to cover up with a car bra). Well… it turns out the guy I hired put the wrong windshield in. It was terrible.  He even lost a part and I think broke my rear view mirror. He then blamed it all the issues on my car saying it had been tweaked.

I brought the car to Akin and Akin not wanting to make another mistake.  The price was $50 more but the experience was day and night different.  They detailed my car cleaning off years of break dust build up off my alloy rims that I had never managed to be able to remove with my scrub brush and special cleaner.  They of course found new replacement parts and had no problem fitting in the proper windshield (no my car was not tweaked). They also found major damage to my car left over from a severely botched body shop job (thank you Bob Serpentini) from a previous wreck.  Because the body shop that did that was recommended by our Progressive, they tried really hard bringing Progressive reps out to try and get them to fix the terrible job done by their shop.  The reps actually chose not to make the problems go away because they said because the job was originally handled through their concierge service we had to take it to the concierge service to get everything corrected. 

Before continuing the story let me first say, never use your insurance company’s recommended repair shop.  When you get into an accident the Progressive concierge service will call you and tell you about how wonderful it is if you work with their special company (other companies are similar).  Be warned it is a lie.  It seemed too convenient and I thought “Hey how can you go wrong with Bob Serpentini.” What I learned is that your insurance company will instruct the shop to cut corners.  Because the shop get’s their business through the insurance company they don’t have the same motivation to do a quality job. 

In this case there had been $12,000 worth of repairs to the car previously, yet they left unsealed and exposed metal underneath a whether strip that had caused water intrusion and now there was interior rust that was about to lead to major problems with the body. There had been leaking shortly after the repair and when we called our insurance company concierge they made up excuses as to why it had nothing to do with the repair.  I didn’t have expert knowledge to use as leverage in forcing them to fix it properly at that time…….

In the current deer collision repair case, the progressive estimator gave instructions that would have left my bumper askew and my hood not properly matching my side panels in paint color among other deficiencies.

What I found out is that a reputable body shop will act on your behalf and negotiate with your insurance company to make sure that your car is fully restored as it should and that no corners are cut.  Jared said that 90 percent of his time is spent on the phone with the different insurance companies making sure his clients cars are fixed properly.  He also let me know that we could call him first after an accident and he would negotiate repairs from the beginning, having the insurance adjusters come out to his lot instead of dealing with the so called “concierge”. In my case I would have saved a lot of time doing this instead of driving out to the Progressive’s special office and waiting an hour for the estimator to rip me off.

So folks I learned my lesson the hard way so you don’t have to.  If you are in accident call the police first and then call Akin and Akin and let them deal with your insurance company.

Jared or Matthew Akin Co-owners of Akin & Akin Collision Center



phone: (440) 327-9810

Do you know of any deserving professionals for the local business spotlight?  Send me the email and share your nomination.


Thinking about a short sale? I can help you short sale your property and never pay the bank another penny. Contact me for a free consultation.

About Me:

I am a Local Realtor in “Westlake, OH” that truly wants to help people. Nothing feels better than when one of my tips helps somebody save or improve their life.

If you do want to sell your home in today’s market, or are looking for an amazing deal in today market., please consider me as a choice when you pick a Realtor to work with.

I will make sure you save money and guarantee you will be happy with the services I provide. Well, that’s all folks. If you have any real estate related questions,  e-mail me. Thanks for reading this.

Hope to talk to you soon.


Andrew Morris

Realty Trust Services

Office: 440-427-0103


Homes for Sale Website:

Company website:

Short sale and loan modification blog:

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P.P.S. Searching for that perfect home? Here are a few that might meet your needs.

Check out 33979 Harding Ave, North Ridgeville, OH: 3 Bedroom, 3 Bath, Open Floor Plan! Spacious Colonial! Move In With Little To Do!

View your home here. Contact me to learn more about my marketing plan and how I can sell your home fast for top dollar. Reply to this e-mail, or call me.

Copyright 2010 Realty Trust Services, LLC All Rights Reserved. This is not intended as legal, technical, or tax advice. Please speak with a licensed professional before making any decision. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed as of the date of writing. The views expressed here are Andrew Morris’ personal views and do not reflect the views of Realty Trust Services. This information is provided as a courtesy to our viewers to help them make informed real estate decisions. Your Privacy is important to us. We will never rent or sell your name to anybody.

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Andrew Morris, 1991 Crocker Road Suite 600 Westlake OH 44145, 440-427-0123

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