Service and Maintenance Agreements

3 Aug

PrintAre maintenance agreements worth the expense? This review of three major categories of service agreements may help you make up your mind.

New Appliances

While having an extended warranty can sometimes save you appliance repair costs in the long run, the smart consumer will want to research before buying an extended warranty for a new appliance.

Be aware that it’s rare to find appliance warranties providing full repair or replacement of all parts. Know what the warranty does cover and whether it includes labor and shipping, or in the case of a large appliance, a home service call. Buy only from a trusted source and always read the entire policy.

HVAC

All HVAC (Heat, ventilation and air conditioning) systems require some routine maintenance. If you have the skills and expertise to do it yourself, and can perform the routine maintenance on a schedule, you might save some money. Otherwise, a plan from a trusted HVAC company is often advisable.

HVAC service agreements start with a basic plan and can go up in level of service and price. Basic usually includes a seasonal HVAC checkup and only cover the labor costs associated with the routine service. Any worn parts or consumables (such as the air filter) will cost extra.

The next level of coverage usually includes checkups, repair parts and priority service.

The premium level of contract likely includes checkups, repair parts, emergency service and priority service. This can be useful for those who are risk-averse and budget sensitive.

Plumbing

Minor faucet drips or running toilets can use hundreds of gallons of water each month, raising your water and sewer bills. And few homeowners want to deal with a real plumbing crisis.

Examples of services that may be a part of a plumbing maintenance agreement include:

  • Annual plumbing inspection
  • Routine maintenance
  • Extended warranty on repairs
  • A percentage of savings on any service
  • No overtime charges
  • Priority service day or night; 24 hour emergency service

The right service decisions can save you headaches and money down the line. We’re happy to help you evaluate your options through Allen Tate Home Services.

Tony Jarrett
Regional Vice President, Triad

#flashback Friday – iBinge

31 Jul

From the archives, one of our favorite blogs!

The nights are getting longer and the weather is getting colder…so I’m ready to cocoon in my Carolina home and167651784 binge.  As alarming as that sounds, I assure you that I’m not doing myself any harm other than eyestrain and an ever-widening bottom. I’m referring to binge-watching, the latest television trend. To “binge” on TV is to watch voluminous hours of television in one long sitting. Are you guilty?

My personal demi-god, Bruce Springsteen, recorded a song in the early 1990s called “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” 20 years later, I have hundreds of channels (and still nothin’ on), but thankfully I also have a DVR, on-demand cable, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Netflix. I have all the technology I need for a gluttonous stint of watching multiple episodes of my favorite shows.

In no particular order, here are my 10 top TV shows worth mainlining:

  • Homeland on Showtime on Demand is full of intrigue and plot twists … and Claire Danes! I’ve been told I look a bit like Mandy Patinkin, the “Saul Berenson” character on the show. Here I am (I mean Mandy) with Claire Danes.
  • Speaking of Claire Danes (as I do often), Hulu subscribers can binge on My So-Called Life, a terrific but short-lived teen drama with the precocious and charming Danes.
  • If I want to feel part of the aristocratic Crawley family, I can gorge on all four seasons of Downton Abbey … one of the most successful TV shows world-wide. And if you don’t like it, then oompah, oompah, stick it up your jumper! It’s on Hulu.
  • I include Breaking Bad here, if only because I know so many folks were addicted (no pun intended) to that show. Maybe I’ll binge-watch it on Netflix this Holiday season … it sounds cheery. Plus, I love the song that closed the series.
  • Oh, how I enjoyed thirtysomething, now available on Amazon Video. I was a baby boomer yuppie in my late 30’s when the show aired, so I was right there with them … whining about the same pathetic stuff.
  • House of Cards, an intense political drama set in modern-day Washington, DC, debuted on Netflix this year, and it’ll return in 2014. This is the show that proved that producing TV expressly to stream and binge upon is no longer the future. As director David Fincher said, “The captive audience is gone. If you give people this opportunity to mainline all in one day, there’s reason to believe they will do it.”
  • Netflix also has Scandal, an over-the-top melodrama starring the amazing (and gorgeous) Kerry Washington. My wife and daughter are obsessed with this show. Should I be worried?
  • Hipsters may miss the obvious ironies in the terrific IFC series Portlandia, available via Netflix. Folkies, feminists, radical vegans, anarchists, and more are all lampooned in this hilarious comedy that stars former SNL standout Fred Armisen and rocker Carrie Brownstein.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm is an HBO series that’s been around for 8 seasons, and it is absolutely binge-worthy. Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld, stars as himself … and his tics, vanities, faults, anxieties and neuroses can provide hours of entertainment for those of us with no tics, vanities, faults, etc.
  • Another funny one on HBO on Demand is Veep, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer. The show is about to begin its third season, and Dreyfus’s sophisticated, furiously sharp comedic timing is not to be missed.

I could also mention Mad Men (Netflix), X-Files (Hulu) and the “space western”Firefly (Netflix). And then there’s Lost complete with the smoke monster and the polar bear. Clearly, binge-watching could replace other critical activities, like bathing and paying bills.

Let’s spread this TV catnip further. What will you be bingeing upon this winter?

By Tom Gongaware (General Sales Manager, Triangle Region)

In the Classroom and Community: You might be surprised where we show up

30 Jul

01_Dfrnt_FUNday_Boost (2)Each fall for the past 17 years, Allen Tate Realtors® have gathered to support a cause that is near and dear to them. It’s a cause that impacts their local communities; and one that makes a huge difference to their chosen livelihood.

We call it FUNday. In short, it’s a fundraiser for public education.

On FUNday, Allen Tate agents, employees and guests “pay to play” and raise money for local public education organizations. Since it began, FUNday has taken the form of a field day, tailgate picnic, community workday, and evening reception.

In 2014, FUNday was held as four separate regional events throughout the company’s footprint in North and South Carolina. More than 1,100 agents, employees, guests and sponsors were in attendance. To date, FUNday has raised more than $1.52 million for public education in our 40 local communities across the Carolinas.

Plans are currently underway for FUNday 2015 regional events which will take place this September in the Triad; October in the Triangle and Charlotte, and November in the Upstate.

In addition to our annual FUNday events to raise money for public education, the Allen Tate Companies also raise money for two other major initiatives under the Tate Cares giving umbrella: arts, culture and history and United Way agencies. During our spring 2015 Tate Cares campaign, Allen Tate Realtors® and employees contributed more than $104,000 to local arts and cultural programs and United Way agencies.

We are proud of the generosity and commitment shown by our Realtors, leaders and staff who continually do their part to dramatically impact quality of life – both in the classroom and in the community.

Pat Riley

Pat Riley
President and Chief Operating Officer, Allen Tate Company

Fake it but still rake it: Today’s artificial turf

27 Jul

Artifical Grass TextureWhile the Carolinas aren’t quite in the severe drought conditions of the West Coast, it has been a long, dry summer for most of us here, making a lush green lawn only a dream. However, if you’re open to alternatives, you might be surprised to know that according to houselogic.com, 10 to 15 percent of households a year in the U.S. are installing synthetic grass.

Today’s artificial grass is not your grandfather’s AstroTurf. It may have long, smooth blades of grass that look exactly like real grass but are made of plastic. You can also get putting green short or somewhere in between. Variegated strands or a thatch layer can give it an even more realistic look. The sheets of artificial grass are made of filaments threaded into a backing that lets water through.

How much does it cost?

Artificial grass runs $5 to $20 per square foot, installed. Once down, it’s virtually free for the next 15 to 25 years.  And while professionally laid sod costs only 14 to 60 cents per square foot, you have to water, mow, and fertilize — all of which cost money and take time.

Intrigued? Let’s look at pros and cons:

Pros:

  • You’ll conserve water.
  • It’s easy to maintain.
  • Synthetic grass can be environmentally friendly.

And according to the Synthetic Turf Council, the recycled layer used in installation keeps 20 million rubber tires out of landfills every year.

Cons:

  • It’s not 100% maintenance-free—you still have to blow and rake leaves.
  • It can’t absorb and break down pet urine—you’ll have to hose off regularly.
  • It heats up in direct sun.
  • It can’t be recycled.

So, fake may be the real deal for you if:

  • You’re tired of watering, weeding, fertilizing, and cutting real grass, just to have it turn brown in the summer heat.
  • Your water bills are high.
  • You don’t want to use chemical fertilizers and herbicides.
  • You believe artificial grass looks as good as real grass — maybe better.

For more information, visit http://www.sunset.com/garden/landscaping-design/synthetic-grass-lawn.

By: Susan Larkin (Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations)

What You Need to Know about Homeowners’ Associations

23 Jul

You’ve found the perfect home, and had it inspected inside and out.  But do you know everything you should know about it prior to closing?

If your new community is governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA), it’s time to read the fine print.  Not understanding the rules (or lack of) of your HOA can result in frustration, conflict and lower property values in the future.

iStock_000006650982_SmallIn North Carolina and South Carolina, sellers are required by law to provide buyers with an “owners’ association and mandatory covenants disclosures statements” prior to acceptance of a signed purchase contract.  This includes information regarding restrictive covenants, HOA contacts, dues, services and judgments.  Additionally in South Carolina, sellers and buyers are required to complete and sign an Addendum that covers HOA covenants, conditions, restrictions, bylaws or rules (CCRBR) before making an offer.

Sometimes HOAs lack restrictions—and professional management.  If rules are too lax, i.e. parking, mailbox design, etc…and management is elected from the community, then each situation becomes a decision of neighbor vs. neighbor.  Proper cash reserves are also necessary to maintain community amenities such as pools, landscaping, signage and common areas, or special assessments are likely.

Buyers should look for a professional management company vs. a board of homeowners, clear guidelines, deed restrictions, policy on how assessments are enforced, and a detailing of proper reserves for capital investments.

Sellers should understand that they will need to disclose any HOA information to buyers, and that the HOA may charge a fee for current budget information, etc.  Sellers may want to proactively obtain this information and position as a benefit to potential buyers.

phyllis_brookshire2

Phyllis Brookshire
President, Allen Tate Realtors®
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