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The 'Balloon Illume' is a popular featured event on 4th of July weekend in Battle Creek, Michigan

The ‘Balloon Illume’ is a popular featured event on 4th of July weekend in Battle Creek, Michigan

During the summer months in Battle Creek, Michigan we host many balloon events.  Often there is competition from entrants not only from all over the U.S., but from other countries as well.  As part of the 4th of July festivities , they also feature ‘Balloon Illumes’ where the balloons are lit against the night sky for a few hours to the enjoyment of the spectators.  Here is a video I created a few years ago of this:

When one is driving through the Great Smoky Mountains, there is a tremendous amount of wonderful views and scenic places to stop and take a photograph.  One of the really unique things about this drive is the tunnels.  There are several of them along the journey as one drives from North Carolina to Tennessee.  I took this photo as we were emerging from a tunnel along this scenic roadway in September of 2012.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park September 2012.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park September 2012.

If you have not taken time to really explore Google Maps recently, I thought I would point out an interesting feature that is useful in Real Estate.  As a Realtor, I am frequently going to visit houses that I have never seen before, and sometimes in areas I have never been before.  Google Maps now has a feature called the ‘Walk-Around Man’.  This is new technology within the last few years, so a lot of people are not familiar with it.  So, I thought I would show you how interesting this feature is.  To begin, go to Google Maps.  That address is: http://maps.google.com/maps

Understanding Land Contract Homes: In Pursuit of the American DreamWhen you get there type in an address in the top field.  For the sake of example, I used the address of my Real Estate office at Troxel Realty in Battle Creek, Michigan.  When you have entered your address, hit enter on your keypad and the map of where you are looking for will show up.  Then, look for the little ‘Walkabout man shape’ on the left.  I show a yellow arrow on the map here in the picture.  Click on the little man, and drag him to where you want to look at on the map.  In this case, I moved him on top of the little balloon where my office it.

Once you do that, it will generate a photo of that location.  What is really nice about this feature is that you can then use the arrow keys on the photo screen (which I show in the last photo here with yellow arrows) and see a three dimensional view of the area.  You can then ‘Walk About’ the streets, and the pictures change and there is some limited zooming abilities.  You can also shift angles, and essentially travel the neighborhood.  You can check out homes you are interested from a far away place!

So imagine that you never have been to a place, and then you try this feature, you can get an idea of what the area looks like.  From the little experimenting I have done with it, I would say the photos are about two to three years old in most areas, but it is still pretty accurate.  I played around with this the first time and visited my childhood home, and other places I have lived through the years to see what the neighborhoods look like now.  So that is my summary of Google Maps and the ‘Walkabout Man’ feature.

Each spring brings a new round of tulips to usher in the season.  This year in Battle Creek, we have been fortunate to now have had an early frost that stunted any of these beautiful flowers, which we have experienced in earlier years.  Battle Creek, being in Michigan, in a northern U.S. State has a later spring that the rest of the country usually, but it is here nonetheless.  I hope you will enjoy one of these photos I have taken in the past few days.

Spring in Battle Creek, Michigan

Article From Houselogic.com
By: G. M. Filisko

Published: August 28, 2009

An annual check-up on your homeowners insurance can result in a healthier policy and a healthier pocketbook.

It’s time for your annual check-up. The good news is that for this one, you won’t have to don one of those revealing hospital gowns-and you may walk away with a healthier pocketbook. We’re talking about a homeowners insurance check-up, a task you should complete once a year, ideally around renewal time. This will ensure your policy still provides the right level of coverage for your family, and your premium isn’t costing you more than it should.
Remember, homeowners insurance is essential. The coverage is designed to protect your home and its contents, as well as shield you from liability for accidents and such on your property. Block out an hour of your time, call an insurance agent, and get answers to these three important questions.
WHAT TYPE OF COVERAGE DO I HAVE?

The most effective type of coverage is known as “replacement cost,” which covers, up to your policy limits, what it would take today to rebuild your house and restore your belongings, says Jerry Oshinsky, a partner at Jenner & Block in Los Angeles who has represented homeowners in litigation against insurers.
“Extended” replacement cost coverage provides protection to your policy limit, say $500,000, and then perhaps another 20% of the cost after that. Percentages vary, but in this example you could recoup up to $600,000 on a $500,000 policy, assuming your losses reach that high. Extended coverage can compensate for any unanticipated expenses like spikes in construction costs between policy renewals. Now harder to find due to the industry shift toward extended replacement coverage, “full” or “guaranteed” replacement coverage covers an entire claim regardless of policy limits.
A less attractive alternative is “actual cash value” coverage that usually takes into account depreciation, the decrease in value due to age and wear. With this type of policy, the $2,000 flat-screen TV you bought two years ago will be worth hundreds of dollars less today in the eyes of your claims adjuster. Kevin Foley, an independent insurance broker in Milltown, N.J., favors replacement cost coverage unless you can save at least 25% on the premium for going with actual cash value coverage instead.
Even if you have replacement cost protection for your dwelling and personal property, don’t assume everything is covered. Structures other than your home on your property-such as a detached garage or swimming pool-require separate coverage. So too do luxury items like jewelry, watches, and furs if you want full replacement cost because reimbursement for those items is typically capped.

HOW MUCH COVERAGE DO I REALLY NEED?

OK, now that you’re clear on what type of policy you have, you need to figure out how much policy(http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-are-you-over-or-underinsured/) you truly require in dollar terms. Let’s say you purchased your home five years ago and insured it for $200,000. Today, it’s worth $225,000. Simply increasing your coverage to $225,000 may nonetheless leave you underinsured. Here’s why.
The key to determining how much dwelling coverage you need isn’t the value of your home but the money you’d have to pay to rebuild it from scratch, says Carlos Aguirre, an agent for Liberty Mutual Insurance in Arlington, Texas. Call your local contractors’ or homebuilders’ association and inquire about the average per-square-foot construction cost in your area. If it’s $150 and your home is 2,000 square feet, then you should be insured for $300,000.
There’s no rule of thumb for how much your homeowners insurance should cost. Insurers use numerous factors-age, education level, creditworthiness-to determine pricing, so the same policy could run you more than your neighbor. In recent years the average annual premium(http://www.iii.org/media/facts/statsbyissue/homeowners/) was $804. Oshinsky advises against scrimping on insurance because big increases in coverage probably cost less than you’d think. He recently purchased a liability policy that cost $250 for the first $1 million in coverage. Adding another $1 million increased his premiums only $12.50 more.

HOW CAN I LOWER MY PREMIUMS?

The higher your deductible, the amount you pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in, the lower your premium. Landing on the appropriate deductible level requires remembering that insurance should cover major calamities(http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-to-claim-or-not-to-claim/), not minor incidents, says Foley, the independent insurance broker. Most homeowners should be able to absorb modest losses like a broken window pane or a hole in the drywall without filing claims. If you can, then you’re wasting money with a $250 deductible.
Foley’s rule: If you’re a first-time homeowner and don’t have a lot of savings, moving up to a $500 deductible will probably stretch your budget. However, if you live in a ritzy home and drive an expensive car, then you should be able to afford a $1,000 deductible. In Milltown, N.J., for example, the premium for a $200,000 home with a $500 deductible would be $736, according to Foley; moving up to a $1,000 deductible drops the annual premium to $672. That’s $64 in savings.
Every major insurer offers discounts to various groups, such as university employees or firefighters. Figure about 5%. Ask which affiliations would entitle you to a discount and how much. If an AARP membership would result in a $50 savings, pay the $16 dues and pocket the $36 difference. Many insurers also offer discounts ranging from 1% to 10% or more for installing protective devices like alarms and deadbolt locks, for going claim-free for an extended period, or for insuring both your car and your home with the same carrier.
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has been involved in insurance litigation. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Consumers Digest, Bankrate.com, REALTOR(R) Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, personal finance, and legal topics.

Reprinted from HouseLogic (houselogic.com) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Battle Creek Realtor’s Blog

Welcome to my blog on Battle Creek Michigan Real Estate! My name is Michael Delaware, and I am a Battle Creek Realtor. I am also a published author. If you are looking to buy a home or sell your home in Battle Creek or in the surrounding areas, please give me a call: 269-441-8182

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  • Tulips are beginning to break through April 17, 2014
    We are still up and down in temperatures here in Michigan, but the tulips are finally starting to become more prominent and emerge from the ground.  To me this is the sure sign that spring is really here.  Winter has snapped back a few days this week with icy wind and cold that has robbed us again of those warm walks in the park.  Hoping the tulips rising fr […]
  • An Old Hay Barn in a Snowy Field February 7, 2014
    I have a facination with old barns.  To me they symbolize endurance of americana in a very deep way.  Some are old and weathered, like this one in the photo.  It makes you wonder on its age, and the people who built it.  They always seem to last longer than residential houses, and some stand alone in fields without any connection to humanity sometimes.  This […]
  • Morning Sunrise February 19, 2014
    On Wednesday morning I was out on the road early and captured this moment of natures beauty.  There was a shot I wanted to get a few moments later which would have shown a half moon shaped sun upside down, but I was driving and there was no where to stop.  So it must remain in my minds eye, and until they develop a camera that allows me to transfer it digita […]
  • Shoveling, Shoveling, Shoveling... February 10, 2014
    Want to know what daily life is like in the Northern Mid-West? Particularily in winter?  Well Mother Nature bestows random work upon you without consulting your schedule, and shoveling snow becomes a routine part of life.  Here is my driveway taken just 2 days ago after a recent shoveling project dealt to my area by Ms Nature. What is interesting as the snow […]
  • Lessons from the Super Bowl February 3, 2014
    In the wake of the Super Bowl where the Seattle Seahawks defeated Denver Broncos 43-8, there are some interesting lessons one can learn by examining what happened.  Many watchers of the big game were perhaps in shock to see Peyton Manning and the Broncos perform so poorly and be beaten so resoundingly.  What happened? The best summary of this game would be t […]
  • Blizzard Wednesday, Here We Go Again... February 5, 2014
    Yesterday I had to venture onto some slippery back road, and even got mired in a icy area at one point and had to get out of the car and knock the ice off my tires to be able to move.  Yesterday, however, the skies were blue despite the cold.   Today however, we are in another blizzard here in Southwest Michigan.  Yay! Just what we needed! I was supposed to […]
  • Don't Want to List Your House in Winter? Read this and Reconsider... February 4, 2014
    I have spoken to many homeowners in recent years who are of the mind that they should pull their home from to market during the winter months of December through March.  Many wait until Spring and throw their house into the listing pool with so many other sellers.   It makes sense in a way. With the weather we have had in the Midwest and Northeast this seaso […]
  • Look who is under the desk! February 5, 2014
    I work at home in my office most of the time.  My dog Blue is my constant companion.  He comes and goes around the house, but his favorite spot to return to is at my feet under my desk. Sometimes I lose track of him, and think that he is not there... and then I move my feet to find out quite the opposite.  He sometimes has a way of slipping in without drawin […]
  • The Saturday Morning Winter Coffee Theory January 25, 2014
    This morning I got up and there was blowing snow and wind outside.  It was blizzardy conditions. My wife and I made some coffee and enoyed out morning conversation.  We looked up at one point, and saw the snow had stopped and the sky had turned blue.  When we ran out of coffee, it began to snow again.  We decided right then to brew another pot, and like a mi […]
  • Saying Goodbye to January 2014 February 1, 2014
    I thought I would share my last photo taken in January 2014, as a sort of tribute and parting with a difficult month weather-wise.  I took this photo after I had to trudge through knee deep snow to do a property evaluation on a foreclosure for a customer.  I was looking back at the way I had come when I was about half way there.  The home was about 500 yards […]

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  • The Art of Sales Management: Lessons Learned on the Fly February 23, 2013
    I recently released my newest eBook entitled: The Art of Sales Management: Lessons Learned on the Fly.  It is a project that I began to formulate as an idea fifteen years ago, and finally took time to put it together as an entire subject in one book.  The book covers lessons I learned as a Sales Manager spanning four decades."Salespeople are among the m […]
  • Monastery turned into Hotel - England January 27, 2013
    When I went to visit England last October, I stayed at an old monastery that had been converted into a hotel by a Canadian hotel company.  The place was a beautiful renovation throughout.  Once had to of course get used to long hallways and stairs, as this classic old castle-like building had no elevators.  The grounds were peaceful and green with life.  I e […]
  • Classic English Phone Booth January 26, 2013
    I took a trip to England last October, and during my stay there I took a trip into London with some friends.  We of course walked through the rain to Buckingham Palace, and toured some of the gift shops and opted out of a private tour of the Queen's horse stables.  London is quite the place to take in the architecture, and scenery.  I also had to take t […]
  • Water Towers & War of the Worlds January 7, 2013
    Do you ever look at a water tower and think of the old classic movies 'War of the Worlds' or some other black and white early science fiction film that depicted alien invaders with large bubble-like ships and dangling legs?  Even the new re-make of the War of the Worlds movie a few years ago carried this theme.  Sometimes I look at water towers and […]
  • Land Contract Homes for Investors January 6, 2013
    In December of 2012, I published a book entitled 'Understanding Land contract Homes: In Pursuit of the American Dream' which was made available as an eBook in the Kindle format on Amazon. This book covers the basics of the subject for both buyer and seller, and it is one that is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the subject as a whol […]

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