Hey lets talk about auto parts for a minute. Where is the best place to buy auto parts. If you work on your own cars like I do, you want to make sure you put in quality parts at the best price. I’m going to share what I found.

Where I Buy Auto Parts

There are 5 basic sources I use, NAPA, Autozone, Advance Auto, Rock Auto and Amazon. These are listed in the order I have shopped with them. Things have changed, and I will get into those changes in greater detail. I don’t want to put one supplier over another, and there are other suppliers such as O’Reilly Auto Parts, and a number of other auto parts stores, many of them independent. I’m sure most of you have your favorite auto parts store, and you are loyal to them. That’s okay. That’s the way I am.

I used to own an auto body shop and I dwelt with independent shops. Wisconsin Auto and Lohman Color were the best places to deal with. The people in those store were experts. They worked at those places for a long time, and always knew the answers, and were able to find what I was looking for. That was back in the days with no computers. Those people were good.

Things have changed, and I will point out some of those changes later. The fact is, you need parts, and where to go to get the best part is an issue.

Advance Auto

I am going to list these companies in alphabetical order. So the order you see them is not an indication of how good or poor they are. Each has good and some have bad points. Advance Auto sells car parts and tools. The local Advance Auto has some people that have been there a long time, and that is important. They know the terminology, and how to find the part you need on their computer. As with all auto parts stores, there are a number of choices with each part. Some parts such as brake pads have different features, and different prices. The people at the local Advance Auto know the choices and are able to make the right recommendation. I like that.

One thing about Advance Auto I have to mention. They have one of the best websites and apps to work with. One reason Advance Auto is on my top choice at the moment is their phone app. They offer BIG discounts. I know people with business accounts at Advance Auto, and they get better deals and discounts using the app. Now don’t you think that is worth looking into? Auto parts stores are competing for your business. Download the Advance Auto app and let them prove it.

I order parts on line from Advance Auto and pick them up at the store. I get some huge discounts. And if the sales person at the store tells me why I should upgrade, or take a step down, I still get a discount at the store. What more can you ask for?

Amazon

Yes Amazon does offer car parts. The only problem is, you can’t really be sure where they come from. You can talk yourself into thinking, “all parts come from China these days.” That is true to an extend, but it is quite an exaggeration. There are of course companies offering American parts on Amazon, and a variety of good auto parts and tools. The things that push Amazon into my short list of auto parts stores is their rating system, the reviews, and free shipping. Amazon has been posing such a threat to the other auto parts supply companies that almost every one offers some form of free shipping. Usually on orders over $25. Think about this for a moment. As long as Amazon is in business, the others are pushing to keep prices low. On the other hand, Amazon does not provide any instant support, or advice. They do have a way of registering your car, and the computer checks the fit for you. But computers are only as accurate as the person inputting the information. And do you really think the computer guy is an avid car guy? Amazon may not be the go to auto parts store for me, but tools are a different subject. We all need tools. And just about every job these days requires a specialty tool or two. I have another page here on hand tools you can look at and get an idea of my thoughts and recommendations on hand tools.

There is another thing to consider with Amazon. What about those warranties? Are they good at a company in another state, or overseas? Then there is the old, order a part only to find out the part is being shipped from China. Wait about a month for the part to arrive. I have worked with some Chinese companies. Most do have US based offices and some have US based supply houses for auto parts and tools. That makes shipping much quicker. But you can’t be sure of the shipping origin until after you place an order. In most cases I have found that Chinese and overseas companies do ship the next day. But we have that long wait for parts to make it to the mail box. Is it worth the money?

Auto Zone

Auto Zone used to be my favorite auto parts store, but now Advance Auto is much closer. I still use Auto Zone because I purchased a number of parts with their life time warranty. How can you go wrong? If you are like me, you drive your car and rebuild it until it dies, those life time warranties are worth it. Of course you are not getting the cheapest part, but a the most reliable part. Doing your own work on your car doesn’t mean you want to work on it every weekend.

Those life time warranties set Auto Zone on top. Other stores now offer similar warranties. When choosing the right part at the right price, look at the range of warranties.

Auto Zone also has a fine website, and phone app. Auto Zone also offers a series of discounts and special sales on their phone app. Use it and you will find yourself saving money on the best parts for your car.

Auto Zone has some good sales people behind the desk. Most of them know cars and the parts that go in them. But I would rate them a notch below Advance Auto.

NAPA

I grew up with NAPA. They always seemed to have knowledgeable people behind the counter who knew little tricks to change parts on cars. I don’t think that has changed. Another feature NAPA has that sets them in the top group of auto parts suppliers is their selection of parts and specialty tools. If you can’t find it at NAPA, you can’t find it anywhere. I do drive older cars, and not everyone stocks every part for them. But NAPA has a way of finding rare parts. If you get stumped on a part you can’t find, call your local NAPA store to see if they can help. I have not looked into any NAPA app. If you used the NAPA app, leave a comment and share your experience with the world. This website gets viewers from all over the world.

Rock Auto

Rock Auto may be the lowest priced auto parts store I have found. I check out prices at Rock Auto and find huge savings. The only thing is, Rock Auto charges shipping, which can quickly cancel out any savings. Their website is far above any auto supply website. But the format has been copied by others. Just go down a list on the side bar and choose your car’s make, year, model, engine size, so on and so forth. Then click on the parts group, and then the actual part. A pop up comes up with a selection of parts. Scroll down. There is an economy list of parts, a group of every day driver parts, and all the way up to performance parts. You can find some really good buys on Rock Auto. That shipping can kill you though. Rock Auto is great for those maintenance items, and things you can stock up on. Look for their sales. You can have Rock Auto specials and sales emailed to yourself. And Rock Auto doesn’t send out spam email everyday like some companies do.

The only problem with Rock Auto is, they think their website is so great, they have no support. Order the wrong part and you get a run around like no one’s business. Call for help, and you get sent back to the Internet site.

I ordered a number of parts from Rock Auto for a project. One part came in wrong. It was not the part for the car. I looked at the part number and guess what. Two digits were in reverse order. It took me two days of calling on the phone and trying to find an email address to get in contact with someone to resolve the problem. Here is a little trick for Rock Auto. The only way to get in touch with someone if you need support is to send an email to the return address on the email confirming your order and shipping.

Someone at Rock Auto, actually their supplier, sent the wrong part. Plain and simple solution. Take the part back and send me the right part. But neither Rock Auto nor their supplier would bat an eye to admit they made a mistake and make good on the mistake. The problem was, it cost $150 to ship the part. Neither one was going to eat that mess. Not even to save their reputation. It took weeks before Rock Auto sent me an email telling me to put the part in the original box, with original Rock Auto packing tape, and call the trucking company for a pick up. They would take the part back, inspect it, and then determine if I was eligible for a refund. Refund the price of the part! What about the shipping? I was out at least $150. I demanded that Rock Auto take the part back and send out the right part. Rock Auto told me to send the wrong part back, and reorder the right part. I looked at their website, and the part I ordered doubled in price. Not only doubled in price, but I would have to shell out another $150 in shipping costs. Needless to say, I was not impressed with the Rock Auto process of handling mistakes. I ordered a part for a Dodge from their drop down computer system, and they sent me a GM part that ain’t gonna fit. I hate it when people think they can increase profits with computer systems and slice out the most important features of a business like customer support.

Other Great Auto Parts Companies

       

There are a number of other great auto part companies I had the pleasure of dealing with. I prefer to stick to a company that provides exceptional service. Original Parts Group is one of them. They have great phone support, and can easily find your order by name. Every time I call, I feel like I am chatting with an old friend, and they always come up with the answers in less than 10 seconds. That is the proper use of computers, to enhance customer service and support.

If you buy car paint, TCP Global is a great store who actually ships paints. Their prices are good, and they have excellent phone support from people who use their products.

Stylin Trucks is another web based auto parts store with great support. Have any doubts, call Stylin Trucks and they know how to ask the right questions to ensure you get the right parts.

Why A Real Estate Agent

You may be asking why a Real Estate Agent is writing stories about tools and car parts. Simple. I produce and maintain my own website. I work on my own cars, and fix just about everything on my house. I look into issues, and find answers. Look on the Internet these days and you can find a video on how to fix or make just about everything. I am more of a blue jean Real Estate Agent. Why is that important? After closing way over 100 sales in Real Estate, I have seen my share of unexpected issues pop up. One of the most irritating things that seems to reoccur is that one little issue that takes 5 minutes to fix, but can hold up a closing on a house for days, and require more paperwork than it is worth. I’ve seen so many little things pop up like a leaky faucet, a dripping faucet, a minor electrical problem, and a list of other issues. They may take 10 minutes to fix, but let’s face it, most of the people involved in closing the deal on a home don’t work on their own homes. I’ve left closings, got in my car, fixed the issue, and sent back pictures, or videos to show the drain is unclogged, the drip fixed, or whatever the problem was, has been resolved.

I guess it’s not a big mystery how people chose a Real Estate Agent these days. They click on the picture that appeals to their taste. A guy wearing a suit and tie, or a woman in a business suit or dress. If a problem comes up, what are they going to do? Crawl under a cabinet to fix the problem? In most cases they will produce more paperwork that requires other people to produce more paperwork, that causes more delays, and cost someone a great deal of money. That is the way of doing business in this day and age. What do you want in a Real Estate Agent? An agent who wants to look smart and impress you with paperwork, or an Agent in blue jeans who gets the job done? Better yet, an Agent who can identify a number of potential issues, and you can fix them yourself before the closing date.

There are other things like gardening, changing door knobs after the purcahse, and helping people when problems rear their ugly head after the sale is complete. When you do your own work around the house, you have a valuable service to offer. A service that sets me apart in this business. As you can see, I admire great service. And I offer service above and beyond what people often expect. That leaves a great impression. It also saves me a ton of money. I don’t have to pay agencies a boat load of money to plaster my picture all over the Internet so people can click on the face they think they can depend on.

Of course Advance Auto, Auto Zone, Amazon, NAPA, Rock Auto, Stylin Trucks, TPC Global, Original Parts Group, and other names mention here are registered trade names. Their images are have copy rights. If any of them have an issue with this, or any of the other posts I’ve written, contact me on the from the DCMA Notice page.

Additional Items to Consider When Building a New Home

After the initial cost of building your new home is determined, you need to budget for additional costs required to finish the home/lot package. Following is a list of some of the costs to consider.

Landscaping

Before you begin laying a lawn you may want to plan where you are going to plant flower and vegetable gardens. It will save you a lot of work and a little bit of money if you stake and rope off these areas when applying seed or sod. You may also want to apply a few extra inches of top soil to these areas. When looking for plants search the Internet for landscaping ideas and mail order suppliers. Here are a few I have used.

Http://www.musserforests.com/

Http://www.bluestoneperennials.com/b/bp/index.html

You may want to use a professional contractor for this service. Make sure you ask for references and view some of the projects they have installed in your area. Ask neighbors which contractor they used. Ask for prices and written estimates. Unless you have specific plans it will be difficult to obtain comparable quotes. Contractors will quote plants they are familiar with and plants their suppliers have in stock.

Lawn sprinkler System

It is best to plan for a sprinkler system before the home is finished. Collect estimates for this addition and ask questions. Many firms will quote you a package price that may include top soil, final grading and seeding or sod. If estimates include different options, go back and have them supply a new written quote including the options you want. That way you are comparing quotes on a level field.

Top soil

If possible have the top soil mounded when the site is prepared for construction. It is often less expensive to pay for the mounding than have the top soil replaced after construction. Mounding means that the top soil is scrapped from the site and stored in a mound which is out of the way of the construction site. After the construction is completed the top soil is spread back over the lot. If this is not done, you may have to purchase top soil. It will have to be trucked in and later spread out on the lot during the final grading.

Final grading

This may or may not be included in your construction cost. Many builders include rough grading. Rough grading spreads the mounds of soil from the basement around the lot to promote proper drainage of rain water away from the house foundation. Final grading spreads the top soil on the lot preparing it for grass seed or sodding.

Grass seeding or sodding

 

 

Few builders include this in the cost of construction but some builders provide what is referred to as a, “turn key house.” A term meaning, “all you need to do after closing is turn the key, unlock the door and move in.” Most turn key homes include seeding. If your contact does not, this is another cost you have to allow for. Before applying seed most contractors will go over the soil with a machine that turns up the top few inches creating a habitat for seed or sod to root. You may be able to rake a small lot. On a larger lot you may be able purchase or build an attachment for a lawn tractor. Search the Internet for some ideas on preparing the soil, adding fertilizer, watering and the best time of the year to start a new lawn.

Driveway concrete or asphalt?

A lot has been stated about the durability of each product. The fact is you have to find a good contractor that will do the job right for either one of them to last. Preparing the surface under the pavement is the key to success. Both products will last much longer when a layer of stone is installed under the pavement. This promotes proper drainage and reduces damage from freezing and thawing water. Asphalt surfaces will require compacting of the stone before the pavement is applied. The better the preparation the longer the driveway will last.

Typically asphalt will be less expensive. As for the durability of asphalt, look at the roads you drive on. The quality of asphalt has improved over the years to a degree equal to or better than concrete. Most new and rebuilt roads are paved with asphalt. Parking lots also use the same material.

Some people prefer concrete. It is known for it’s durability and low maintenance. Concrete can increase the resale value of your home. More contractors are offering different colors and patterns. Concrete patios and driveways can become a work or art using multiple colors and patterns.

Mail box and yard light

This is one detail you want to take care of before or soon after moving in. Some subdivisions require you to purchase these items from the developer, preferring that all the mail boxes and yard lights be of the same style. If you are buying the lot from the developer you should get all of the details on the subdivision regulations. The price and details of these items should also be disclosed on the offer to purchase. If you are buying a lot from a third party you should question these details. You may want to have the electrician installing the electronics in the home to also install the yard light. This may be a detail to discuss with your builder.

Trees

Many subdivisions require a certain type of tree at a specific size be planted at a specific location in the front yard. This information should be disclosed in the subdivision regulations. You may also want to plant additional trees and shrubs. These can be expensive. Visit a number of nurseries, talk to people and gather prices and information about the trees that interest you. Look up when you plant. Make certain that trees will be far enough from the house so that when it is mature, 50 years down the road, it will not be a problem. Branches should not cover the roof. Make sure you are not planting trees under power lines. Call diggers hot line to make sure you are not digging the hole where power lines or gas pipes are located.

Insurance

You will need insurance on a home during the construction process. Your builder may require specific coverage.

Miscellaneous

Some of the other details to consider are electricity and natural gas or other heating. The house will need these services during the construction process. Register with the post office for your change of address when you move. Also contact the phone company to install service. Cable installation for television and computer or satellite installation.

 

Milwaukee and the Great Depression

It worked once during the great depression, why wouldn’t it work again? During the great depression Milwaukee developed a plan. In stead of setting up the soup kitchens and feeding people day to day the County of Milwaukee created programs that put people to work. Among these projects was the creation of America’s greatest public parks system, including Alfred Boerner’s botanical gardens.

https://boernerbotanicalgardens.org/

Milwaukee embarked upon projects like Grant Park along the lake shore, County Stadium, the County Zoo and others.

Http://www.milwaukeecountyhistsoc.org/exhibits/past_exhibits.html

At first the country looked at these projects with scorn and ridicule, calling them a waste of money. It did not take long for other cities, states and the federal government to take notice of the first city in the United States to emerge from deficit spending to a city collecting more taxes than what was necessary to fund these enormous projects during the great depression.

Our elected representatives need to study history and find out how our forefathers defeated the last depression. Why not copy a system proven by trial and error and finally success during the bleakest economic turn down in the history of this world?

Discount Tools

 

Some people are afraid to buy discount tools, thinking they are cheap, will not last, and will break at the worst time. I’m sure other people had that experience. Buy a discount tool socket set that looks nice in the case, but the socket shattered the first time you use it. That was a cheap tool. But there are other options, and some of them may surprise you.

I use a lot of tools to do a variety of jobs. I’ve fixed or replaced just about every part on a car, and restored a number of cars. I own a lot of quality tools, and at times, it does not pay to skimp on tools that really matter. I used to custom paint cars and would not give up my Binks spray guns for anything. I’ve used other brands for primer guns, but they were also top quality like Devilbiss. On the other hand, I did buy a cheap $15 touch up, or jam gun that was as good as my Binks Model 115 touch up gun. Then there is always painting under the car, like the frame where a cheaper spray gun would be fine. But to paint a custom car, would you spray a hood with nothing less than a top quality spray gun?

Then there are hand tools like sockets, wrenches, and other associated tools. I’ve been rather lucky with some off brands. One of my favorite places to shop is Harbor Freight. More on them later.

My first set of hand tools was a Craftsman set from Sears. They were good quality tools. I’ve owned them over 30 years. My dad owned Craftsmen tools. My brothers bought Craftsman tools from Sears. They are all still reliable. All together, we have not had to return more than a half dozen tools on their life time warranty. That is pretty good

Although the Craftsman tool set I purchased 30 years ago is a fairly complete set of hand tools, it doesn’t include everything you need when you work on cars like I do. For one thing, it came with no impact sockets. For those I tried out a set of impact sockets form Harbor Freight. I’ve had them for about 20 years, and they are still going. I never had a problem with any of them, and at that low price, I consider it one of the best investments I’ve made.

 Years later pneumatic impact wrenches have gotten a lot more powerful. I bought a 500 ft/lb Earthquake impact wrench from Harbor freight. I’ve tested it against some leading brands, and it holds its own. Those impact sockets from Harbor Freight had not reached their limit with that impact wrench, or the extra long breaker bar I bought from Harbor Freight. Did I mention, hand tools from Harbor Freight come with a life time warranty? I’ve only had to use that once with a Phillips screwdriver that met its match on an old, 1961 car that has seen better days. Just take the tool in for a replacement. No questions asked. The same is true with Sears and their Craftsman tools.

I know a lot of people like to stick to their Snap-on tools. They spend a ton of money for their tools because they depend on them for a living. They have Snap-on everything. The thing about Snap[-on is, when there is a need to a new tool, Snap-on is typically the first one to come out with it. They also have sales people who come to your door, sell out of their truck, and keep you up to date on the new tools.

I want to keep this article rather short, so I will concentrate on hand tools here, and branch out on other types of tools on other articles. I can’t stress the quality of tools enough, and there are a number of companies offering good tools at a fair price. Stanley used to be another dependable name. We already covered sockets, and wrenches. I have not tried the Harbor Freight 12 point sockets, but their 6 point impact sockets are a good buy and have lasted me years. I own 6 point impact sockets in a number of sets. ½ inch drive deep sockets in inch and metric. 3/8 inch drive standard depth inch sockets. I plan on picking up a few other sets from Harbor Freight when they go on sale. I prefer my Craftsman wrenches. I have a set of combination and box wrenches that have went through a lot without a single failure. I also have a set of Craftsman combination wrenches in metric. My socket sets from Craftsman are 12 point standard length inch and metric. Also inch and metric 6 point deep sockets with standard walls. Out of all those sockets, I’ve only had one failure. I mostly use Craftsman socket wrenches. I wore out a few 3/8 inch drive sockets. Either the little ball that holds the sockets in place wears out, or the teeth inside the wrench wear. No problem, just take them back for a replacement. I’ve found out it is a good idea to oil the top and bottom of the wrench head every once in a while. Especially the little ball that holds the sockets in place. Just put on a little drop of oil, let it soak in for a minute, and wipe off the excess.

There are also ratcheting wrenches. I own an old set of Craftsman socketing wrenches. They come in handy when you need them, but that is not too often. Now stores offer offset and swivel head ratcheting head wrenches. I am looking for a set that has one size on one side, and the next size on the other side. That way you get more sizes. And why buy a ratcheting wrench set with an open end on one side and the ratcheting 12 point on the other side?

Locking pliers are another hand tool everyone will eventually need. I prefer the original Vice-Grip brand for short jaws, and will go to a cheaper brand when it comes to other, long reach, or clamping pliers. You will eventually round the corners on a bolt or nut, you will need a good Vice-Grip pliers to save the day. That is when you need a strong, well built pliers to do the job. I’ve compared Vice-Grip pliers to others and found the Vice-Grip pliers have larger rivets, and are typically less sloppy. I have never had problems with Vice-Grip pliers, but the cheaper brands I use for clamping can be a little wobbly, and less secure. I use different clamping pliers to clamp sheet metal and wood. Cheaper brands are good when you don’t need a lot of clamping pressure, but can twist more than a Vice-Grip clamp if you really need to bear down.

Specialty tools are available from all kinds of sources. These days we have the Internet, and some guy out there made a video on just about everything concerning cars and trucks. You can find answers on the Internet for just about every car problem, and videos that show you how to fix pert near everything. And these days, a lot of those repairs require a specialty tool or two. When that situation comes up, I ask around to see if anyone has bought the specialty tool. If they did, I borrow it. Guys know how to network, and share. Or at least they should. Otherwise I search the Internet or Amazon to see who has the best deal. By the best deal I mean, a quality tool at the best price. I just happened to run across an add-on for my Chromium browser called Honey. I thought it was a joke, spam, or some kind of scam. Honey developed a system that is supposed to search the site you are on like Amazon, Walmart, and other sites like that to find the best deal. I’m not sure Honey works. It keeps telling me the products I have on my lists in Amazon are the best price. I’ll have to test it some more and write another article on it.

 

I figure Honey is in the collect and sell information business. They collect your shopping habits so search engines can put ads focusing on what you are shopping for. I’m not sure Honey goes much deeper than that, but you never know. I hope they don’t collect passwords and such. I bank on line.

I have a collection of old tools like a special grip screwdriver for those little distributor screw that hold points in. And other old tools this younger generation has not seen. Those make for an interesting conversation on some days when you are talking tools.

I did buy a few cheaper sets of screwdrivers . Once again, I prefer my Craftsman tools. But Harbor Freight does have some tempting buys. I bought an older set with black handles and magnetic tips screwdrivers I keep in the basement. That saves a lot of running out to the garage for a tool. The black handle set is made to look like Snap-on screwdrivers, but are not as good. The set from Harbor Freight is good for around the house, and car work. They were a little more expensive, but worth the money. The less expensive Harbor Freight screwdriver set has red handles, is under $10, and has good tips. Like I mentioned earlier, I broke a Phillips tip, and Harbor Freight replaced it free. The thing is, we need a good set of tools for the garage, but should consider discount tools that cost less for inside the house, or in the trunk of the car. Or to loan the discount tools to the neighbor who is always over borrowing things. I’ll update this later on a few other hand tools.

When you shop Harbor Freight, look at the on line ads. Check the sales, and look for that 20% and 25% OFF coupon they put out from time to time. You’ll need it. Wait for the extra tools you need to go on sale. I will be adding articles on electric power tools and pneumatic tools I bought and used.

As usual, I have to mention, Sears, Craftsman, Binks, Harbor Freight, Earthquake, Snap-on, Honey, Amazon, Vice-Grip, and all the other names I mentioned here are Registered Trade names. If anyone considers the use of their name or pictures an infringement of their copy rights, contact me through the DCMA Notice page, and I will remove them.

 

Some people are afraid to buy discount tools, thinking they are cheap, will not last, and will break at the worst time. I’m sure other people had that experience. Buy a discount tool socket set that looks nice in the case, but the socket shattered the first time you use it. That was a cheap tool. But there are other options, and some of them may surprise you.

I use a lot of tools to do a variety of jobs. I’ve fixed or replaced just about every part on a car, and restored a number of cars. I own a lot of quality tools, and at times, it does not pay to skimp on tools that really matter. I used to custom paint cars and would not give up my Binks spray guns for anything. I’ve used other brands for primer guns, but they were also top quality like Devilbiss. On the other hand, I did buy a cheap $15 touch up, or jam gun that was as good as my Binks Model 115 touch up gun. Then there is always painting under the car, like the frame where a cheaper spray gun would be fine. But to paint a custom car, would you spray a hood with nothing less than a top quality spray gun?

Then there are hand tools like sockets, wrenches, and other associated tools. I’ve been rather lucky with some off brands. One of my favorite places to shop is Harbor Freight. More on them later.

My first set of hand tools was a Craftsman set from Sears. They were good quality tools. I’ve owned them over 30 years. My dad owned Craftsmen tools. My brothers bought Craftsman tools from Sears. They are all still reliable. All together, we have not had to return more than a half dozen tools on their life time warranty. That is pretty good.

Although the Craftsman tool set I purchased 30 years ago is a fairly complete set of hand tools, it doesn’t include everything you need when you work on cars like I do. For one thing, it came with no impact sockets. For those I tried out a set of impact sockets form Harbor Freight. I’ve had them for about 20 years, and they are still going. I never had a problem with any of them, and at that low price, I consider it one of the best investments I’ve made.

 Years later pneumatic impact wrenches have gotten a lot more powerful. I bought a 500 ft/lb Earthquake impact wrench from Harbor freight. I’ve tested it against some leading brands, and it holds its own. Those impact sockets from Harbor Freight had not reached their limit with that impact wrench, or the extra long breaker bar I bought from Harbor Freight. Did I mention, hand tools from Harbor Freight come with a life time warranty? I’ve only had to use that once with a Phillips screwdriver that met its match on an old, 1961 car that has seen better days. Just take the tool in for a replacement. No questions asked. The same is true with Sears and their Craftsman tools.

I know a lot of people like to stick to their Snap-on tools. They spend a ton of money for their tools because they depend on them for a living. They have Snap-on everything. The thing about Snap[-on is, when there is a need to a new tool, Snap-on is typically the first one to come out with it. They also have sales people who come to your door, sell out of their truck, and keep you up to date on the new tools.

I want to keep this article rather short, so I will concentrate on hand tools here, and branch out on other types of tools on other articles. I can’t stress the quality of tools enough, and there are a number of companies offering good tools at a fair price. Stanley used to be another dependable name. We already covered sockets, and wrenches. I have not tried the Harbor Freight 12 point sockets, but their 6 point impact sockets are a good buy and have lasted me years. I own 6 point impact sockets in a number of sets. ½ inch drive deep sockets in inch and metric. 3/8 inch drive standard depth inch sockets. I plan on picking up a few other sets from Harbor Freight when they go on sale. I prefer my Craftsman wrenches. I have a set of combination and box wrenches that have went through a lot without a single failure. I also have a set of Craftsman combination wrenches in metric. My socket sets from Craftsman are 12 point standard length inch and metric. Also inch and metric 6 point deep sockets with standard walls. Out of all those sockets, I’ve only had one failure. I mostly use Craftsman socket wrenches. I wore out a few 3/8 inch drive sockets. Either the little ball that holds the sockets in place wears out, or the teeth inside the wrench wear. No problem, just take them back for a replacement. I’ve found out it is a good idea to oil the top and bottom of the wrench head every once in a while. Especially the little ball that holds the sockets in place. Just put on a little drop of oil, let it soak in for a minute, and wipe off the excess.

There are also ratcheting wrenches. I own an old set of Craftsman socketing wrenches. They come in handy when you need them, but that is not too often. Now stores offer offset and swivel head ratcheting head wrenches. I am looking for a set that has one size on one side, and the next size on the other side. That way you get more sizes. And why buy a ratcheting wrench set with an open end on one side and the ratcheting 12 point on the other side?

Locking pliers are another hand tool everyone will eventually need. I prefer the original Vice-Grip brand for short jaws, and will go to a cheaper brand when it comes to other, long reach, or clamping pliers. You will eventually round the corners on a bolt or nut, you will need a good Vice-Grip pliers to save the day. That is when you need a strong, well built pliers to do the job. I’ve compared Vice-Grip pliers to others and found the Vice-Grip pliers have larger rivets, and are typically less sloppy. I have never had problems with Vice-Grip pliers, but the cheaper brands I use for clamping can be a little wobbly, and less secure. I use different clamping pliers to clamp sheet metal and wood. Cheaper brands are good when you don’t need a lot of clamping pressure, but can twist more than a Vice-Grip clamp if you really need to bear down.

Specialty tools are available from all kinds of sources. These days we have the Internet, and some guy out there made a video on just about everything concerning cars and trucks. You can find answers on the Internet for just about every car problem, and videos that show you how to fix pert near everything. And these days, a lot of those repairs require a specialty tool or two. When that situation comes up, I ask around to see if anyone has bought the specialty tool. If they did, I borrow it. Guys know how to network, and share. Or at least they should. Otherwise I search the Internet or Amazon to see who has the best deal. By the best deal I mean, a quality tool at the best price. I just happened to run across an add-on for my Chromium browser called Honey. I thought it was a joke, spam, or some kind of scam. Honey developed a system that is supposed to search the site you are on like Amazon, Walmart, and other sites like that to find the best deal. I’m not sure Honey works. It keeps telling me the products I have on my lists in Amazon are the best price. I’ll have to test it some more and write another article on it.

 

I figure Honey is in the collect and sell information business. They collect your shopping habits so search engines can put ads focusing on what you are shopping for. I’m not sure Honey goes much deeper than that, but you never know. I hope they don’t collect passwords and such. I bank on line.

I have a collection of old tools like a special grip screwdriver for those little distributor screw that hold points in. And other old tools this younger generation has not seen. Those make for an interesting conversation on some days when you are talking tools.

I did buy a few cheaper sets of screwdrivers . Once again, I prefer my Craftsman tools. But Harbor Freight does have some tempting buys. I bought an older set with black handles and magnetic tips screwdrivers I keep in the basement. That saves a lot of running out to the garage for a tool. The black handle set is made to look like Snap-on screwdrivers, but are not as good. The set from Harbor Freight is good for around the house, and car work. They were a little more expensive, but worth the money. The less expensive Harbor Freight screwdriver set has red handles, is under $10, and has good tips. Like I mentioned earlier, I broke a Phillips tip, and Harbor Freight replaced it free. The thing is, we need a good set of tools for the garage, but should consider discount tools that cost less for inside the house, or in the trunk of the car. Or to loan the discount tools to the neighbor who is always over borrowing things. I’ll update this later on a few other hand tools.

When you shop Harbor Freight, look at the on line ads. Check the sales, and look for that 20% and 25% OFF coupon they put out from time to time. You’ll need it. Wait for the extra tools you need to go on sale. I will be adding articles on electric power tools and pneumatic tools I bought and used.

As usual, I have to mention, Sears, Craftsman, Binks, Harbor Freight, Earthquake, Snap-on, Honey, Amazon, Vice-Grip, and all the other names I mentioned here are Registered Trade names. If anyone considers the use of their name or pictures an infringement of their copy rights, contact me through the DCMA Notice page, and I will remove them.

Thank you Agents for your reply. When we all work together, we can all be more effieient. Here is a short Showing Report form with pull downs and a space to leave comments. If you have any great news about an offer, or any questions, feel free to call me.

Dennis Herman

414-426-1784

Showing Report

Working with short sale properties has become an art. I have written offers to purchase dozens of homes, contingent upon lender approval, in other words, a short sale. Less than one out of twelve has successfully closed.

I have witnessed a lot of blame pointed at the banks, rather the agencies, who process short sales for the banks. They claim it takes a long time, or the agency never responds. These are the deals that will never be completed.

I have also listed a number of short sales. I have been in the position of supplying, what seems like a never ending stream of paperwork to bank affiliates. I know the process takes a large amount of time, patience, and attention to detail. This is why I know short sales require a highly dedicated and motivated agent.

Following is a brief list of the information required to initiate the process of a short sale.

Comparable Market Assessment (CMA) to estimate value
Search and Hold / Title Report
Listing Questionnaire Regarding Title Issues
Net Sheet to project Seller’s Proceeds / Deficits
Mortgage terms and conditions

Forbearance agreements to temporarily suspend loan payments
Repayment plans with the Seller’s Lender(s)
Loan Modification
Refinancing with the Seller’s lender

Listing Contract and Addendum SSL
Seller authorization to negotiate with Seller’s Lender(s)

Pay Studs and W-2 forms
Bank statements
Financial Statements
Cash Flow Analysis
Hardship Letter

As you can see by the above list, short sales require a large amount of paperwork. The main reason most short sales fail is due to incomplete or missing forms. Unless the Lender has a complete file, there is no chance of proceeding to the next level.

Be aware, entering into a short sale requires disclosure of sensitive financial documents. For this reason it is important to deal only with local, state licensed individuals with fiduciary duties. This means, they have license agreements with the state, agreeing to safeguard your personal information. Many Internet web sites will do nothing more than gather your personal information and sell it to anyone willing to pay.

Before considering a short sale, talk to a local HUD authorized agency. These agencies are experts in the field. These services are often free. More than 80% of their clients have lost money on Internet scams before contacting them.

I have no problem admitting my limitations. I do not list homes for short sales. I have worked with a number of agents specializing in short sales in Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls, Brown Deer, Greenfield, West Allis, Franklin, Oak Creek, Hales Corners, Germantown and other parts of Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Washington Counties. I would be happy to talk with you about your situation, and begin the initial process. Once we have gathered all the facts, and exhausted possible options, I will make a recommendation for the agent whom I feel is best equipped to handle your particular situation.

That’s right, just like the title says – there are some houses purchased as foreclosures and flipped. Some of those houses may have seen severe mold problems. I’ve seen a few of these. I’ve been asked to list some. My response has been, “we have to disclose problems that may severely effect property value.” Seller’s response has been, “I’ll look for another agent.” It doesn’t take much for investors to find Real Estate Agents who don’t ask questions.

How do you protect yourself against those types of issues? Most of the time its not that difficult. Many REO properties with mold problems can only be viewed after signing a release. Any Real Estate Agent worth a plate of beans will be smart enough to look at the property history on the MLS to get an idea of how much the seller paid for the property. A quick look at the old listing will tell if it had a release for mold attached to the listing. After all, if the Real Estate Agent your working with represents you, don’t you think they should be looking out for your best interest? This is one reason why it’s important for a Buyer to have an Agent represent them.

Don’t expect your Agent to do miracles on price. It all depends on the quality of the work done on the property and what buyers are willing to pay in the area. Most foreclosed properties have few if any pictures which makes it difficult to gauge the amount of work done on the property. If the property did have a mold release form attached to the listing, the seller should have proof of proper mold removal by a licensed or certified professional. After all, the seller has to pay income taxes on profits from the sale and a deduction would come in handy. Common sense tells you the repairs should be accounted for.

An experienced Real Estate Agent will be able to walk into a remodeled home and assess the quality of the repairs. After viewing hundreds of foreclosed and remodeled homes in the area, Agents are familiar with the quality of repairs and sometimes the investor doing the work. Real Estate Agents are not licensed to perform a complete inspection or tell you if repairs are up to local codes or not, but can point out questions to bring up to the licensed inspector of your choice. Buyers are often surprised at details that come up when they have a new set of trained eyes looking over the property. This is why its so important to work with a good Real Estate Agent and hire a good inspector.

In Real Estate, I use my computer everyday. I look for the best free products that work, are easy to use, and are stable. Not to mention, do not add unwanted features to my computer. The following products I have used, tested, customized, and found they work.

Best Computer Products for Free

I have to start this list with Linux, the Ubuntu system. I’ve been on Windows since the old DOS system, but changes and the agreement on Windows 10 forced me to change. I don’t know about you, but I like to get my computer working the way it should, and leave it that way. We are in the day and age of forced updates. Unfortunately, most of those updates introduce things we don’t want on our computers, better, more efficient spy-ware, passed off as a feature that will enhance your Internet experience. Linux has the only answer I know of for that. No one can add anything to your system without the proper key. You are in control of updates, and you make the decisions. That is not to say Linux is perfectly safe. Watch out for what you add to your computer. Browsers add features that share your browsing experience. Other programs can add other spy-ware features. I hear Apple computers are also rather safe, but I never tried an Apple computer.

Linux is great if you know a few basics about programming. If you can work with simple codes, you are good to go. There is one minor hang up with Linux. Many programmers assume everyone knows programming and the step by step procedure. Some programmers assume you can fill in the blanks, and that can confuse a beginner. Or should I say, a beginner can get lost, confused, and frustrated. It happened to me a few times. On the other side of the coin, with a little searching, you can find an article with the proper code on the screen you can copy and paste, and the step by step procedure to get the code installed.

Linux offers some of the best products over a wide range of programs. To edit pictures, Linux offers a number of choices. Gimp was made to work wit Linux, and is easy to install. And it is one of the most powerful photo editing programs for free.

The Linux installation includes a word processor that is one of the best in the business. Libre Office is powerful, easy to set up, customize, and best all free, and well supported by Internet articles. I love to write, and as you can see, I have a number of books published. Libre Office is very similar to Open Office and a lot better than any Word program from Windows. Libre comes with the Linux, Ubuntu installation and is easy to customize.

Linux has a CAD program I want to work with, but didn’t have the chance to look at it. Other features include Chromium, a web browser much like Chrome that imports your book marks, history, and everything from Chrome and Firefox. Once you are up and running, you won’t notice the difference Firefox also installs with Linux.

One note about Linux. Windows 10 will fight a Linux installation to its last dying breath. But it can be installed along side of Windows 10. At least for the moment. And any Windows 10 update my hide the hard drive partition that has Linux on it. Search the Internet for articles about Installing Linux on the same computer using Windows. There are some good step by step articles about how to partition your hard drive, set up your computer to choose the Linux operating system when it is started, and how to install it for the first time using either a CD or thumb drive. The sad part is, Windows 10 knows the steps and some of the latest updates I have seen try pretty hard to identify the Linux install and block it. Windows claims that is for your safety, but the truth of the matter is, Windows wants a bigger piece of the pie. What pie? The one I refer to as the dark market. The Internet market centered on stealing, and selling every scrap of information they can get from your computer. There ought to be a law against that, but governments are their biggest customers. When you check the tax return box to support election funds, you are supporting the latest technology in spyware. Political parties buy every shred of information on people so they can send them customized ads that are supposed to match the mood you are in at the time. It doesn’t matter what side of an issue a politician in on these days. Remember the old movies showing how a politician takes one side of an issue at one meeting place, and the opposite side of the issue across town on the same day? If you pay attention to the news, you see the same thing. Well now politicians can change sides on an issue at Internet speed. As soon as they find out your view on any issue, a computer customizes a choice selection of ads designed to pop up on every site you visit. If I find some good programs to block them, I’ll let you know. Firefox used to have some good apps to block your on line experience from prying eyes. Check them out and you may be surprised to see how well they work. Just search some like, “block tracking on… the name of the browser you use.”

E-sword, a free Bible program that will work fine after you install Wine, a program that links your Windows hard drive with Linux. Wine will run between your C drive on Windows, and your drive for Linux. The Windows operating system will not be running. Wine will allow Linux to access Windows programs and run them on a Linux system. E-sword, my favorite Bible computer program is free. It is a little quirky running through Wine, but works fine. E-sword is powerful, and has a list of free Bibles and reference material to download. You can download E-Sword here.http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html

Linux also has accounting programs, games, anti-virus programs, games, and other useful programs. Setting up a printer is not difficult. Most printers will support Linux. Wi-Fi printers require a little tweaking, and Wi-Fi scanning can be a chore. But there are plenty of articles on line. I tried a few accounting programs and I prefer GnuCash. It is easy to figure out and use. Much easier to print reports tham Microsoft Money was.

Gimp is the best photo editing program I have used, and works great on Linux. You can do anything with a picture with Gimp. I use Gimp to create my own book covers. There is a lot more you can do with Gimp. Gimp has great on line support with a long list of You-tube videos showing you exactly what to do. You can download Gimp from their website. https://www.gimp.org/downloads/

My favorite Anti-Spy-ware program is Spy-bot. They are the only anti-virus program I know of that has not gone commercial. In other words, gone over to the dark side of the spy-ware and data collection and sales side of the Internet. Spy-bot is free, easy to use, and you can purchase the full featured option at a much lower price than we see these days for other anti-virus programs. Here is a link to Spybot. https://www.safer-networking.org/dl/

Thunderbird is my favorite E-mail program that is easy to install, set up, and use. Again, there are easy to follow instructions on line. Ad ons include a calendar program that can link to your cell phone using Android and Google calendar. I wish I could go Google free, but it looks like we are stuck with them.

Of course you can listen to music on Linux. You can look at a few of the music programs and choose one that suits your taste.

If you really like Windows 7, there is a program you can install that lets you set up our computer to look just like Windows. It is amazing, and has more set up features than Windows offers. There are a number pf programs you can find by searching the Internet and doing a little research.

Master PDF Editor is a great program offering more features than anything I have seen in any Windows system. You can open PDF files, edit, and save them all for free. Not tricks or gimmicks. Just open the file, do what you want to do, and save it. Programs like this can be added to Linux through their own version of an online app and program store. Most are free and a lot of powerful, stable, user friendly than many of the Windows and Microsoft programs on the market. 

Free websites are another subject and I plan on adding a page to get into greater detail. I’ve been using Word-press for years. You can set up a professional looking website in a few hours. It has some powerful features, and lets you do just about anything. If you are thinking about going to a paid website, master WordPress for free before you spend the money. A paid Word-press site offers more advanced features, and may be a little intimidating. WordPress.com offers free websites. WordPress.org is for paid sites. 

Look for another post on the best Android apps for Real Estate.

I think I have to add, Linux, Libre Office, Gimp, Spybot. Microsoft, Windows, E-sword, Master PDF Editor and all the other names I mentioned are registered trade names. There are copy right laws, and I hope they don’t mind me using their logos. If you have an issue, check out my DCMA notice.

Family

Here is a short segment I want to work on. Family is important and one of the main reasons people look at buying a house. Family size and needs are some of the major considerations in looking for a house. So far I am adding a video of my kids. I’ll add more later. I hope this give you a few ideas of what you can do with your family. Trips and special events are also important. In the future I’ll post other pages with things to do around Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties. Keep your eyes peeled for them. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Wisconsin Property Listings in Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Washington Counties, and all points in between.

1. Tour your property.

2. Review the outstanding features of your property.

3. Review current market conditions in your area. Determine a sale price.

4. Review suggestions on how to prepare your property for all future showings.

5. Identify your motivation. Explain to you your marketing options. Agree on showing arrangements.

6. Answer your questions concerning marketing, advertising, commissions, contracts and any other issues.

7. Review all tax and special assessment information, loan information utility cost and history.

8. Supply you with a detailed estimate of selling cost and proceeds.

9. Complete Listing paperwork. Sign the Contract.

10. Take photographs and room measurements.

All Property Listings are available on a variable listing commission rate based on the services required and marketing options chosen by you, the Seller.

For more information on listing your home, call me 414-426-1784