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May 2010

Switching to Rappahannock Electric

Our electricity provider switched June 1st, from Allegheny Power to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. We live in Amissville, but this is happening to quite a few people in these parts.

If you're one of those people you should have received a notice from Rappahannock Electric by now. If the cooperative structure is new to you, here's what REC says on their website:


So, this is going to be a little different. You'll likely not notice much difference in rates, initially. At least according to REC's web site. But their rates are higher than those of Allegheny. And, eventually we will all be moved up to those higher rates. That might make this an excellent time to look at ways to increase your energy efficiency before those higher bills hit. (And while there are tax incentives to use!)

You should also have received a package from Rappahannock Electric in the mail this week that includes an application for membership. I don't know about you, but that's definitely new to me. Their web site says that your electricity will NOT be turned off if you do not complete the application. They'd like you to, but it is not a requirement.

I had no complaints with Allegheny, but have no reason to oppose the switch to Rappahannock either. Come the next big ice/snow storm we'll all have a better idea of how good they are. Let's hope it's a long, long time before we know!



Cooperatives are local, customer-owned, democratically controlled, not-for-profit utilities. Cooperatives exist for only one reason – to serve. Anyone who receives service from the cooperative becomes a member and has an ownership interest in the cooperative. At the end of each fiscal year after all expenses are paid, any excess revenue is assigned to the members based on their patronage with the cooperative. As financial conditions allow, a portion of those assignments are retired and returned directly to the members.

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Panera Doing Good

Date: May. 29, 2010
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I'm a big fan of patronizing your local businesses rather than chains. But occasionally a chain does something that warrants giving them some of my business as well.

You may want to stop buy Panera Bread this week. They just opened a new store where patrons are invited to pay what they can or what they want.

The motto hung in the restaurant says: "Take what you need. Leave your fair share."

I've heard about other tests of this theory. I hope it works. I hope Panera opens lots more of these and that it helps hungry people get fed!

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Dates Matter, Kind of

There is a clause in the real estate contract that says "Time is of the essence". It means that dates and deadlines in a real estate contract are important and are to be treated as such.

So, what happens when reality conflicts with the contract?

Let's take a current transaction as an example. And, by the way, it's a pretty ordinary situation.

It's a short sale with Bank of America holding the lien on the property. They have insisted that the contract contains language saying that once they get around to taking their time and approving the deal, it must go to settlement within 30 days.

With the changes in lending in the last 24 months, increased paperwork and scrutiny on loans, very few are settling in 30 days any more. Bank of America is, a mortgage company and surely knows this.

So, what will happen when/if we finally got BOA approval and ask the lender for the buyer's to rush to meet that 30 day commitment?

Everyone will try really hard, it will likely take slightly more than 30 days. And, in the end, BOA will not walk away from a deal in hand because it's a couple of days late.

One thing to watch for is contract language that would allow BOA to charge per diem late fees for every day beyond 30 days it takes to get to settlement. But I'm seeing this less these days and haven't had one enforced against a buyer client yet.

Dates do matter, but putting time frames you know to be highly unlikely to be met seems senseless. The bottom line message BOA is trying to send is that "time is of the essence".  Guess they didn't read the contract and notice it already says that!

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Where to Retire

Baby boomers are starting to think about retiring. (They don't have enough money to actually retire!)

And early evidence shows that how and where they will retire is different than the preceding generation.

Baby boomers are apparently not dreaming of golf communities in Florida or Arizona.

By and large, baby boomers are hoping to retire right where they are. They may downsize. They may move closer to the city and mass transit so they can get rid of their cars. It seems the suburbs were OK for raising kids but not where they see themselves going forward.

This raises lots of interesting real estate questions. What does this do for FL and AZ? Surely it will make their recovery from the real estate slump much harder.

Access to train service into DC will be increasingly important to towns in the area hoping to keep their retirees. What else could places like Warrenton do to attract and keep retirees? (Who require fewer public services but contribute plenty of tax revenue)

Are the inner suburbs and DC ready for the influx of retirees?

What do you think? Where will you retire?


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How To Absolutely, Positively Sell Your House

Date: May. 16, 2010
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I lived in New Jersey for five years. Coming from the midwest I found the bluntness a little hard to get used to.

And this blog by Scott Friedman , a New Jersey real estate coach gets right to the point. More agents should be this blunt with their sellers.

If you price it right, it will sell. If you don't want to sell it for what the going market price is, don't put it on the market.


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