Friday, March 11, 2011

Cash4Comfort Program

A message from Rick Wylie,
, Advanced Comfort & Energy Systems
Division of Beutler Corporation


Hello, friends, family, and associates. I hope all is well with you, and that your 2011 is off to a positive start.

I’ve never sent out a “mass emailing” like this to my Outlook contact list before, but…I’ve never had a reason like this before. For the last 18 months or so, we’ve been working on a “Comprehensive Home Energy Makeover” Federal Department of Energy grant program that has received $16.5 million in grant and loan funds that is finally hitting the streets, and I couldn’t face any of you if I didn’t let you know about it. We call this program our "Cash for Comfort" program, because it is all about helping home owners improve their comfort while reducing their utility costs.

The attached email is a Press release that will soon be in many local newspapers and TV stations. I won’t repeat what it says, but some key points of its message are:

  1. This program is a funded through a $16.5 million grant from the federal government, designed to help improve the efficiency of homes throughout most of California.
  2. It starts with a $1250 grant towards the cost of many possible energy efficiency improvements. A typical list of improvements could include caulking and sealing, insulation, new windows, water heaters, heating and air conditioning systems, and even new roofing and full-blown solar electric and/or solar hot water systems.
  3. On top of this grant, most utilities throughout our region are also promoting these “Home Energy Makeovers”, with additional rebates of $1000 - $5000 per home.
  4. The final financing piece is a low cost, 3%/15 year loan for the remaining balance of the improvement costs, assuring you of absolutely no "out of pocket" costs for these improvements. And these loans can be for amounts of up to $50,000 and even more, as long as the estimated energy savings can make the loan payments.

There is a very good chance that you or someone you know qualifies for this program, and if you do, you won’t want to miss out. There are also some other facts you really need to know that aren’t included in this initial press release:

1. We have just received confirmation that the program is not only available for these “Member Counties”, but also non-member counties such as Sacramento, Yolo, San Joaquin, Alameda, Solano, and Stanislaus: most counties in California can actually participate.

2. For member counties, we also have received confirmation that the very first applicants per county will receive an “early adopter” reward: THEIR LOANS WILL BE ZERO PERCENT INTEREST, 15 YEAR LOANS! That reduces already very-low payments by an additional 20%. This is an unbelievable opportunity, and if you are in a member county, you won’t want to miss out.

As an example of how this program works, I’ll tell you about one of our recent customers who just received their “Home Energy Makeover” through Cash for Comfort: here is their story.

This family was plagued by high energy bills, and their 2-story home was very uncomfortable, had a tired, old, inefficient heater and air conditioner with very leaky ducts, and was poorly sealed and insulated. Our Makeover dealt with all of those deficiencies, and included a Solar PV system, with a total contract price of ~$38,000. With the help of our program, they received $10,649 in tax credits, grants, and rebates to pay for a large portion of the work, and a 3% 15 year loan from CHF that required no out-of-pocket investment on their part at all. Their utility bills were running over $300 per month, and will now average less than $100, resulting in a savings of almost 70%. And because of the no-cash-up-front power of this program, and the “customer direct” utility rebates and tax credits, they not only are receiving $9100 extra cash in their pockets now, but over the next 15 years they will pay off the entire loan with their utility savings, and will actually end up over $17,000 ahead, while improving the comfort and value of their home.

If this sounds like something that is right for you, please call us at 916-646-3232 as soon as possible to see if you qualify (it is very, very easy….), and especially to find out if you can get in on the 0% loan program for the “early adopters”. You can also send an email to Martha Ledesma ( in our office, or visit us at "". As the program writer, we are a prime program partner, and currently the only contractor approved to offer these grants and loans.

None of this will last long, and probably will never be available again.


Rick Wylie

Advanced Comfort & Energy Systems

Division of Beutler Corporation


Beutler Does!

60 years of commitment to comfort

est. 1947

for more information, please visit:


More people choose to grow old in Carmichael than anywhere else in Northern California. More than 18% of Carmichael residents are 65 or older compared with 11% of the Sacramento County population. Excerpted from the Sacramento Bee, 7/11/10, by Anita Creamer

Carmichael is where you will find Sacramento’s only Continuing Care Retirement Community. Eskaton Village Carmichael is a gated community nestled on 37 beautiful acres and home to 425 residents. Residents live in spacious apartments and cottages. You can see for yourself this unique lifestyle at their Spring Open House and Home tour on Sunday, March 13th between 10am and 3pm. 3939 Walnut Ave. Carmichael 974-2000

Linda Neal
Sales and Marketing Director
Eskaton Village Carmichael
3939 Walnut Avenue
Carmichael, CA 95608


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

7 Basic Home Security Tips

7 Basic Home Security Tips

by Andy Anderson - President, CPP Alarm & Video Systems
916.484.1484 -

Before giving out the 7 basic home security tips, know first the most basic rule in deterring burglars and keeping your home safe: Never assume that it won’t happen to you, even when you’re at home. With this in mind, you’ll need to be careful with even the smallest things in keeping your home safe for you and your family.

1. Keep your keys with you.

Keep your keys to yourself only. Don’t go giving it to anybody. Don’t just leave it anywhere, especially not in obvious places like under the doormats or flowerpots or above the door. Burglars already know about these simple “tactics.”

2. Don’t let strangers into the house.

Don’t let anyone you don’t know of into your house. Make your children aware of the risk of this situation, too. Even before opening the door to accept anything or let somebody in, you should ask for identification or call with the company that the stranger (assuming he/she is a salesman) represents to make sure.

If the stranger requests to make a call, then make the call for them. If he/she has a medical problem, then call 911 for them. But do not let them in until you’ve made certain that they’re harmless.

3. Lock your doors and windows.

This is a given. Always keep your doors and windows locked. Keep them locked even if you’re at home. There have been cases wherein burglars perform a quick and quiet break-in while the residents are on other parts of the house. Teach your children to do this, too, and make it a habit.

4. Change your schedule often and be unpredictable.

Try not to stick to a regular schedule. Be unpredictable and spontaneous when going out and going home. There are burglars who would usually observe you and your house and plan out a break-in when he/she is sure that no one’s home. Of course, you can’t change your work schedule. But you could try to be unpredictable when buying groceries or going to the mall.

5. Don’t display your valuables.

A burglar’s goal is to steal your valuables. So displaying your valuables --- wallet, electronics, paintings, etc. --- would be like inviting them to break into your house. As much as possible, don’t show your valuables openly. Take a walk around your house and try to look through the windows and other openings if any of your valuables can be seen.

6. Watch what you keep outside your house.

When putting out your trash, be careful on what you expose. For example, you just bought a new television. In throwing out the box, cut them down to pieces and put them in trash bags. Shredding personal identification information is also important, since identity theft is also getting worse nowadays.

7. Be alert.

Look around and be aware of anything new in your neighborhood. You never know, you might spot someone suspicious hovering around. It would be for everyone’s safety, especially for your family, that you watch the area where you live from time to time.

Being careful and simply paying attention to what’s happening around you can be rewarding. Your efforts in making sure that every door and window is locked, that your trash is shredded well and hidden, that your valuables are out of sight and out of reach, and that you keep a sharp observation on what goes on around you will keep the burglars wary and hesitant in breaking into your home.

6 Red Flags Of A Financial Scam

6 Red Flags Of A Financial Scam
Posted: November 17, 2010 11:26AM by Claire Bradley

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is - how often have you heard that great bit of advice? Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell if you're being taken for a ride or if you really are being smart and getting a deal. Financial scammers have gotten savvier and more aggressive in their pursuit of your money and identity. So what should you look for when you think you're getting a deal, but aren't sure if it's really a rip-off? Here are seven red flags of a financial scam, so you can avoid them. (Don't make yourself a target - steer clear of these attention-grabbing tax-filing practices.)

IN PICTURES: What Is Your Risk Tolerance?

1. Email From Someone You Don't Know

We all get our share of spam, those unwanted solicitations via email that software filters neatly away from your other message. There are those emails that slip through - you've likely heard of the Nigerian email scam that asks you to deposit money to an overseas account. Ignore email if you don't recognize the sender, particularly if there's an attachment that could send a virus to your computer. If a bank or business contacts you for some reason but you feel something's off, trust your gut. Don't reply to the email or click on any link - just visit the bank or business website to see if there's anything that requires your attention.

2. Callers Asking For Personal Information

It's in our nature to take information at face value, so if someone calls saying he or she is with XYZ Bank, it must be true, right? You can even hear the call center in the background. Don't assume the person calling is being truthful, particularly if this person is asking you for information like account numbers or passwords. Politely end the conversation, and call your bank. When in doubt, go to the source.

3. You Have To Pay To Apply

Guaranteed approval for your loan! Sounds too good to be true, right? Here's how this scam works: a telemarketer will tell you that for a fee ranging from $25 to several hundred dollars to apply for a loan or credit card. Customers are told they get this fee back, but they don't - it's all a scam. This scheme preys on people enduring financial hard times, making it particularly successful in dire economic times.

Another scheme like this one is the scholarship scam, where a company or advertisement promises to find you scholarships for a fee - free money for college! Scholarships searches and credit repair are things you can accomplish on your own for free. These services are scams.

IN PICTURES: 8 Signs Of A Doomed Stock

4. Promises To Fix Credit Problems

Bankruptcy or bad credit is a tough road, and those who find themselves with low credit scores are lured by easy fixes - like the credit repair companies. These companies promise to dispute any false things on your credit report, which is something you can do for free. Some credit repair companies even suggest people with bad credit get an EIN (Employee Identification Number - like a social security number), which is actually against the law. While there are legitimate companies that do offer credit repair help, make sure that you perform the necessary research prior to getting involved.

5. No Value, No Product

Work from home, make thousands a week! It sounds so good, you're thinking of calling after another bad day at work, right? These promises are hollow, and the scams often have you recruit more people to post ads, and so on - a pyramid scheme. If an advertisement is vague about the work, and sounds like they're selling you something, it's probably a scam. (Considering joining an "investment club" that promises phenomenal returns on your sign-up fee? Read this article and think again! What Is A Pyramid Scheme?)

6. No License

There's this smooth salesperson, maybe it's even someone you know personally, who is trying to sell you insurance or investments. It sounds really good. He or she promises high returns, low risk. But is this salesperson licensed? Ask - some of the biggest scams right now involve sales of unlicensed securities by unlicensed sales people. If there's no license, avoid the deal.

The Bottom Line

These are just a few of scams out there today, designed to steal your money. If you have elderly family members or friends, talk to them about these schemes - many scammers prey on the elderly, since they often have sizable retirement savings, and are deemed more vulnerable. Protect your identity, and don't be afraid to say no if something seems off. Trust your gut - it will tell you if something is too good to be true, like the old saying goes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

12 Hidden Costs of Home Ownership

Luke Mullins,
Apr 8th, 2010

As the spring season gets underway, many Americans will be looking to take advantage of the lower real estate prices, attractive mortgage rates, and federal tax credit by purchasing a home. But remember: Not all of the costs associated with homeownership are reflected in the listed price. Indeed, many buyers -- particularly first-time buyers -- may be surprised by the amount of cash they'll need to set aside for housing-related expenses that they hadn't previously considered. These often-overlooked expenses can include everything from title insurance to lawn mowing. To give would-be home buyers a better sense of the budget they'll need to buy and maintain a home, U.S. News spoke with a handful of real estate experts and compiled a list of 12 hidden costs of homeownership:

1. Home inspection. Since a home purchase is likely to be the largest financial investment of your life, it's a good idea to have it professionally inspected beforehand. A home inspector can point out areas of the property that may need repairs. Buyers can use this information as leverage during home-price negotiations or simply to determine whether or not the property is worth purchasing. "It's not required, but certainly I recommend it to buyers," says Judy Moore of Re/Max Landmark Realtors in Lexington, Mass. "It is actually very helpful in that [buyers] learn about the property and how to maintain it and it also alerts them to any potential issues that may be coming up in the near future or need to be taken care of." The cost of a home inspection, which can run several hundred dollars or more, is typically incurred by the buyers before they go to closing, Moore says.

2. Pest inspection. Buyers should consider obtaining a separate inspection for wood-destroying insects, such as termites. Although no laws mandate pre-transaction pest inspections and not all lenders require them, Greg Baumann, senior scientist for the National Pest Management Association, says buyers would be smart to have the procedure done prior to closing. "If you buy a house and you don't have an inspection and the house is riddled [with termites], you go to closing and now the house is yours," Baumann says. "It happens at a time in their lives when [homeowners] can least afford repairs." Termite inspections typically cost between $50 and $200, Baumann says.

3. Appraisal fees. Before you can purchase a home, your lender will require you to have the property valued by a professional real estate appraiser. Lenders use such appraisals when determining the amount of money to offer mortgage borrowers. In years past, appraisal costs were often rolled into the fees that borrowers paid at closing, says Tom Vanderwell, a mortgage officer for Fifth Third Bank in Michigan. Today, however, he makes sure to collect this fee up front. "We've got to pay the appraiser whether the deal goes through or not," he says. "And with the way that the market has been, there is certainly a substantial percentage of deals that are not going through." After buyers pay the fee-which typically ranges between $350 and $400-it appears as a credit on their closing statement, Vanderwell says.

4. Closing costs. When you arrive to sign your closing documents, be prepared to pay thousands of dollars in assorted fees. Such expenses-known as closing costs-can include processing fees, underwriting fees, recording fees, survey fees, and title insurance fees. "This industry has done a bad job of explaining to people that there are legitimate fees which must be paid in order to grant you a mortgage loan," says Keith Gumbinger, of "There are various service providers who are involved in this process-they have their costs and [lenders] have some of [their] own administrative costs as well." But savvy consumers can limit these expenses. Gumbinger recommends that would-be buyers ask several different lenders for so-called good faith estimates, which outline closing costs in detail. (Lenders, however, are under no obligation to offer you such information before you apply, he says.) "If lender A charges a document preparation fee and lender B doesn't, that might be one of the considerations," Gumbinger says. Closing costs vary, but they usually range between 2 to 3 percent of the mortgage loan amount, he says.

5. Moving expenses. Buyers face an additional wave of costs once their home purchase is complete. Take moving expenses. Unless your new house is around the corner or you have a large group of helpful friends, you'll likely need some professional help to transport your belongings. Such expenses can reach several thousand dollars or more, depending on the distance of the move. "Moving is a significant expense-particularly across the country," says Gail Cunningham of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. For those moving on account of a job, Cunningham recommends asking your new employer to chip in for some of the costs associated with the transition. "I know that people are probably so excited to get the job that they don't want to rock the boat, but that's a pretty normal question," Cunningham says. "A lot of these companies have standing contracts so it is certainly a question worth posing because you don't want to have to cough up that out-of-pocket expense unnecessarily."

6. Furniture. Once you've lugged all of your furniture into your new property, you may find that your old sofa and dining room table aren't nearly enough to fill out the house. "Maybe [the buyers] came from a one-bedroom apartment and they are buying a three-bedroom house," Cunningham says. "They are really going to have some major expenses just to furnish the house with the basics." The beds, lamps, and tables often needed to furnish additional rooms can add up quickly. "The expense of that can really catch you by surprise," Gumbinger says.

7. Property taxes and homeowners insurance. If you have never had a mortgage, be aware that your monthly bill won't simply reflect the loan amount plus interest. It will also reflect property taxes and premiums for homeowners insurance, which all mortgage borrowers are required to obtain. For that reason, housing experts encourage buyers to think of their baseline monthly mortgage payment as encompassing "PITI," or principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Annual homeowners insurance premiums typically range between 0.5 to 1 percent of the mortgage loan amount, Gumbinger says. Property taxes will vary a great deal, but can run several thousand dollars a year or more.

8. Supplemental insurance. Consumers who buy homes in areas exposed to flooding may have to purchase a supplemental insurance policy, says Guy Cecala, the publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. "[For] just about any mortgage you get now that's in the 100-year flood plain, you have to get flood insurance," Cecala says. Buyers can use online tools to determine if the property they are considering is located in such an area. "There is no real cheap private alternative. You really have to get into the federal flood insurance program, and it's relatively affordable," he says. Premiums on such policies will cost most homeowners less than $20 a month, he says.

9. Homeowners association/condo fees. Consumers who buy into certain developments will have to pay an additional monthly fee on top of their payments for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Condominium and single-family developments often charge residents for services that benefit the community, like lawn mowing or employing a front-desk attendant. "Condo fees are specifically for condominiums. Home association fees can also be for single-family home developments," Moore says. "They are essentially the same thing but different variations." Such fees will vary, but can total more than $100 a month.

10. Utilities. You may be surprised by how much you'll need to budget to keep your house warm and the water running. "You might have been renting an apartment and you [were] paying some portion of your utilities or maybe all of them, but the first cold winter you are in your house, you [might] say, 'Wow, look at these power bills,'" Gumbinger says. "That's one of the costs I think you really don't think about." Utility costs will vary by region and consumption. To get a sense of the costs, home buyers should ask sellers for monthly utilities estimates before they close the transaction.

11. Ongoing maintenance. Although that big backyard might be a great place to grill burgers, it's also an expense. As a homeowner, it's your responsibility to keep your property maintained. That means raking the leaves, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, and clearing out the gutters, among other tasks. (Unless, of course, you live in a development that handles these chores for you.) To maintain the exterior property, you may have to buy a lawnmower, a hedge trimmer, or other equipment that you didn't need when you lived in an apartment. "If you are a first-time buyer, you may fail to appreciate just how much stuff you need to buy in order to manage your home," Gumbinger says.

12. Repairs. Remember, when you move out of that apartment, there's no longer a landlord to call when the sink backs up. Instead, it's up to you to contact—and pay—the plumber. And the sink is just one of the many home features or appliances that homeowners may one day need to repair. Homeowners are encouraged to set aside funds to take care of such repairs when they become necessary. And because broken appliances can be a major hassle and a significant expense, Ron Phipps, a broker with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., recommends that buyers put key appliances under warrantee. "What we really recommend is that the buyer negotiate into the transaction a home warrantee for one year," Phipps says. "That's about a $500 item, and if [the buyer] gets the seller to pay for it, that minimizes [the cost]."

5 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed

Here are some tips from the Office of the Attorney General to avoid fraud and scams. If you suspect fraud, abuse or believe that you may have been victimized by a scam, contact the AG at

Modification fraud website (

Don't pay up-front fees. Foreclosure consultants are prohibited by law from collecting money before services are performed.

Don't ignore letters from your lender or loan servicer. Responding to those letters is your best bet for saving your house.

Don't transfer title or sell your house to a "foreclosure rescuer." Beware! This is a scam to convince homeowners they can stay in the home as renters and buy their home back later. It might also be part of a fraudulent bankruptcy filing. Either way, a scammer can then evict the victim and take the home.

Don't pay your mortgage payments to anyone other than your lender or loan servicer. Mortgage consultants often keep the money for themselves.

Never sign any documents without reading them first. Many homeowners think that they are signing documents for a loan modification or for a new loan to pay off the mortgage they are behind on. Later, they discover that they actually transferred ownership of their home to someone who is now trying to evict them.