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Understanding the threat of identity fraud

by Samia S. Morgan


Businesses can avoid potentially embarrassing and expensive instances of identity fraud -- the illegal use of someone else's personal information -- by keeping only essential personal information. Use technological and physical means to create an impenetrable barrier, and, in case all else fails, have a disaster plan in place.

Read more about Identity Fraud by visiting Hartford Business Journal

Samia Morgan is proud to be listed with the Better Business Bureau -
BBB Accredited business since 03/01/1994

BBB - TrustBrief - Advancing trust in the marketplace

Late customers force owners to get creative with collections

by Samia S. Morgan

Faith Smith has been cracking down on late-paying customers at Eyes Cream Shades, which sells children's sunglasses to gift shops and other stores. She, like other small-business owners, has seen an increase in delinquent payments in the past year and a half. Smith instituted late-payment fees, began selling more products through distributors and now asks new customers to fill out a credit application. But her strategies carry some risks, experts say.

Visit Wall Street Journal for more information.

Samia Morgan is proud to be listed with the Better Business Bureau -
BBB Accredited business since 03/01/1994

BBB - TrustBrief - Advancing trust in the marketplace

Utilizing Your Current Space

by Samia S. Morgan
Many homeowners will at one time find that their current home is running out of space. A growing family or changing needs over the years contibute to homeowners need for more space. However, with the sluggish economy, many are unable to purchase a new home to fill their growing need for more room. The good news is that there are some solutions to utilize the space you have with some helpful hints below!
 
Take advantage and utilize attic and basement storage. For most attics you can store almost anything up here as long as you gauge the temperature and the moisture. The last thing you need if your attic gets moldy is for your clothes to get moldy! If your attic does have a lot of moisture, you can consider placing other items up such as old toys, sports equipment you aren't going to use right now, baby furniture, etc. Now, if you have no attic and no basement, but you have a lot of wall space, you could consider utilizing wall shelving units for things like books or pictures.
 
Make the most of your closets.  The problem a lot of people have with their closets is that they put too much in here and they don't utilize all the space available. If you need to reorganize your closet, it's a good idea to get your hands on some shoe racks, clothing bags (with hangers), storage systems, containers, etc. Try using some jewelry boxes as well for your earrings, watches, and necklaces. Storage systems are really popular right now for closets and most can be customize for your specific needs.
 
Don't overlook hidden space.  The solution to finding extra space can be found in the areas you might have not thought about before. Some ideas are building drawers and shelves beneath a staircase or installing ceiling shelving units in the garage. Nooks and corners you may have thought were useless might end up being the extra space you need!
 
/kh

5 tips for handling a cash crunch

by Samia S. Morgan



Cash flow is key for businesses, but predicting its ebbs and flows can be difficult. Unexpected events such as a big customer falling behind on payments or a lull in business can have a huge effect. If business owners find themselves in a cash crunch, they should review their line of credit, step up collection, and get out and sell, writes Colleen DeBaise.

Read more by visiting Wall Street Journal

Samia Morgan is proud to be listed with the Better Business Bureau -
BBB Accredited business since 03/01/1994

BBB - TrustBrief - Advancing trust in the marketplace

Credit card use by small businesses helps job creation

by Samia S. Morgan

Increased credit card use by small businesses as the loan environment tightened "contributed directly to the creation of 592,000 small-business jobs and an additional 1 million direct or induced jobs throughout the U.S. economy," according to a report conducted for the American Bankers Association by Keybridge Research. A report from the National Federation of Independent Business showed that 83% of small businesses used credit cards in 2009, up from 70% in 1998. 

You can read the complete article at Inc.com

Samia Morgan is proud to be listed with the Better Business Bureau -
BBB Accredited business since 03/01/1994

BBB - TrustBrief - Advancing trust in the marketplace

Loan Programs - Important Consideration for Buyers

by Andy Block - Mortgage Advisor

As you know, the temporary conforming loan limits of $729,750 for conventional and FHA programs are slated to expire on December 31, 2010. While there is discussion that this increased loan limit may be extended, the decision has not yet been made. What we do know is that taking advantage of the increase while it is currently in effect will make a big difference for buyers.

With the existing loan limit of $729,750, a buyer can put down 20% and purchase a home up to $913,000. When the loan limit reverts back to $625,500, that same buyer with that same 20% down payment will be able to purchase a home up to $782,000. This is a substantial purchase price difference; $128,000.

If the loan limit increase is not extended, we will begin to see increases in rates in advance of the December 31, 2010 expiration date. This is because lenders will anticipate the end of the program and they will want to clear their books of these loans.

Another important consideration for buyers is that, unlike most conventional fixed rate mortgages, FHA loans are assumable. With the current FHA limit at $729,750 and 30-year fixed rates at about 4.5%, this can be a significant benefit for today’s buyers. Should they want to sell their home in the next 5 or so years, they will have a very attractive assumable fixed rate loan when rates are likely to be significantly higher. Selling their home would be much more appealing and marketable if it came with a 4.5% fixed rate loan compared to another house requiring new financing at possibly 7-8% interest rate - or more.

Please contact me to discuss strategies for your buyers and sellers.

Andy Block - Mortgage Advisor & Financial Advisor
Opes Advisors

Email Me

Direct: 650.931.0605
Fax: 650.931.0601

License #01096311
400 S. El Camino Real
Suite 250
San Mateo, CA 94402
Fax 650.931.0601


Opes Advisors is licensed as a registered investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is licensed as a Residential Mortgage Lender by the CA Dept of Real Estate.

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But Where Is the Money?

by Samia S. Morgan

Small Business Administration head Karen Mills says her agency has focused on high-growth entrepreneurs in an effort to boost job creation. She advises small-business owners to get involved in the SBA's counseling network in order to refine their business plan and loan package. In this Q-and-A she also discusses government contracting and the small-business climate in Washington and backs President Barack Obama's business initiatives ~  

You can read the complete article at Entrepreneur

Samia Morgan is proud to be listed with the Better Business Bureau -
BBB Accredited business since 03/01/1994

BBB - TrustBrief - Advancing trust in the marketplace

Should children be trusted to make online purchases?

by Samia S. Morgan

Allowing children to spend their pocket money on appropriate websites can help them learn valuable planning and saving skills, writes Ted Sorom. As a counterargument, Liz Ryan writes that allowing children to shop online will only serve as a manifestation of the "I need it now" culture.

You can read the complete article at BusinessWeek.com

Samia Morgan is proud to be listed with the Better Business Bureau -
BBB Accredited business since 03/01/1994

BBB - TrustBrief - Advancing trust in the marketplace

Home Improvements that Pay Off

by Samia S. Morgan

What is the most common misconception about the value of home improvement? That your investment translates dollar for dollar into added value. When investing in remodeling – from small updates to major renovations, take a good look at the real impact of the project on your home’s value.

The state of the market, the homes in your neighborhood (‘comps’), how long you hold on to your home and the kind of improvement all play a role in determining what you will recoup out of the initial investment. Sometimes remodeling pays of and sometimes it does absolutely nothing to increase your home appraisal.

Here are some of the home improvement winners:

  1. Kitchens: Updates to cabinets, appliances or flooring can really make a difference in both the appeal and actual value of your home. Kitchen makeovers rate an A+ for adding value.
  2. Additions:  These are great as long as the addition doesn’t take your home out of the neighborhood comps, well thought out square footage adds a value approximate to the investment you put into it.
  3. Extra bathroom:  An extra full bath, well done can come close to paying for itself, but gets only a percentage back of the actual cost.
  4. Decks: A great way to add square footage cheaply and create outdoor living space, which is a hot trend right now.
  5. Windows: As long as the windows are a standard size and you make the extra effort to get double pane, energy rated glass and trim, you will save money on utility costs while waiting to sell and they will make the home more appealing.

One home improvement that likely won't bring a return on investment is a swimming pool. Only put one in if you love to swim and plan to use it, don't install one on the assumption you will get your money returned. In some markets such as warmer clients a pool may be expected, in others it can be a wow factor if well done, but pools add no resale value to your home and may even be considered a liability.

A good piece of advise is to keep your home well maintained, make sure all the basics are take care of before you add any new features.

 /kh

Better Business Bureau - Top News Stories

by Samia S. Morgan

Business news you can use from your Better Business Bureau®

▪ Banks seek new strategies to earn customers' trust

After years of relying on less-than transparent fees and risky products, bankers are attempting to rebuild trusting relationships with customers by interacting with them through more honest means. New laws and the crippling effects of the economic downturn have also prompted banks to find new ways to connect with customers. The New York Times/The Associated Press

▪ IRS has turned its focus to small businesses in recent years

Small businesses have attracted a disproportional amount of Internal Revenue Service scrutiny in recent years, even as the audit rate for the nation's largest corporations declined to 25% from 42.6%, according to a study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The revelation highlights the need for enhanced tax protections for small business, Dean Zerbe writes. Forbes

▪ Some credit card issuers extend protections to business customers

Bank of America, American Express and some other credit card issuers have extended protections recently mandated by law for consumer cards to their business customers, in part because it's more cost-effective to have one set of rules. But the rules could hamper credit to business borrowers, and, without legal regulations, issuers could choose to reverse the rules at any time, experts warn.

▪ Have a problem with your bank? Call BBB

If you're frustrated by coming up against dead ends in trying to challenge what seems like unfair treatment from your bank, take heart in this statistic: BBB has a 95% resolution rate with banks. BBB's Alison Southwick reminds customers that this doesn't mean everyone who complains gets their way, but BBB can help find out whether you've been treated fairly and legally and then take action if you haven't. WalletPop

Article from www.bbb.org

Samia Morgan is proud to be listed with the Better Business Bureau -
BBB Accredited business since 03/01/1994

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Samia S. Morgan, Inc.
dba Samia Realty Group
BRE# 00967165
San Mateo CA 94403
650-678-3633